Currently: March

Happy Friday, My Dears…

We’re almost to the end of  March already!!!  That’s so hard to believe… but I figured there’s no time like the present to post this month’s “currently” post… Enjoy!

CURRENTLY: MARCH 2014

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Current Book:

I’ve been so busy lately!  Downtime, schmowntime… Who needs it?? {Um, I totally do!}  I took some time this weekend to just relax and disconnect.  In doing so, I stumbled across this book by Elin Hilderbrand… and I am loving it so far.  I’ve read a TON of her books, and I’m such a fan.

Summer People by Elin Hilderbrand | No Thanks to Cake

Her books also have a lovely way of taking me to Nantucket Island, on the beach and splashing in the ocean.  Needed that, Elin.  Thanks!

Current Music:

I got a new iPod last month, and it has been making me dig through my archives for songs I haven’t listened to in forever.  I may or may not have landed on some Air Supply last week… and I freakin loved belting it out in the car!  No judgment… who doesn’t love Air Supply??

Air Supply | No Thanks to Cake

Current Nail Color:

I’ve been rocking “Power Clutch” by Essie this month… LOVE IT!

Essie Power Clutch | No Thanks to Cake

It’s sort of a greenish-greyish color, and I’m wearing it on my nails and toes!  I do, however, feel summer colors coming on pretty quickly… stay tuned!

Current Drink: 

As always, I’m drinking mostly water… but I’ve gotten hooked on a new drink at Starbucks.  How about a tall skinny latte with 1.5 pumps skinny hazelnut and 1.5 pumps skinny mocha??

So delish!!!  And, I’ve needed the caffeine kick lately… so it’s been my afternoon pick-me-up!  110 calories worth of warm tasty goodness!

Current Food:

I’m eating a LOT of Jenny Craig these days, and I’m LOVING it!  Specifically their amazing cinnamon rolls…. they make my tastebuds sing!

Jenny Craig Cinnamon Rolls | No Thanks to Cake

Current Favorite Show:

Grey’s Anatomy has been amazing lately.  I’ve been watching it for years, and frankly… it was amazing, and then it sucked for a while, but it’s back to incredible again.  I must admit some of the draw to Grey’s Anatomy has everything to do with the Jackson-April storyline…

Jackson Avery | No Thanks to Cake

Move over, McDreamy and McSteamy…

Current Outfit:

I’ve been all about dresses lately.  Whether it be this sparkly number

A Night on the Red Carpet - Belcourt Theater Nashville | No Thanks to Cake

Or these dresses… from JCP, New York and Company, and H&M

Cute Dresses | No Thanks to Cake

 Hurry up, Warm Weather!!!

Current Wish List:

Another black tie event to look forward to…. yeah, I freakin’ love getting dressed up…

A Night on the Red Carpet - Belcourt Theater Nashville | No Thanks to Cake

Current Excitement:

I am heading to Phoenix on Sunday night for a work trip.  I’m excited to get out of Denver for a few days with one of my favorite co-workers.  There’s something delightful and healing about the desert.  I can’t wait to get there…

Desert | No Thanks to Cake

Current Needs:

I need to decide what the heck I’m doing for Fitbloggin this year.  I’ve booked my room and my registration… but I can’t decide if I’m going to spend a few extra days on the east coast.  I need to get with the friends and family and decide!

Current Indulgence:

Mug Cakes… after making this cake on Saturday night, it’s all I want to eat.  So delish!  Click here for the recipe details…

Microwave PB2 Chocolate Mug Cake | No Thanks to Cake

Current Online Obsession:

Sole Society – - I’m not sure how I even found their site, but they have the cutest shoes… including these DEA wedges in BEET that I had to order.  I have a feeling I’m going to be living in them for the next few months.  So cute!

DEA Wedge Sole Society | No Thanks to Cake

Current Inspiration:

This mantra, and saying it often…  It can shift your energy pretty fast, in the best possible way.  Try it…

Happy Healthy Wealthy Healed Whole | No Thanks to Cake

Current Mood:

Determined.

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An Arizona Getaway

When I booked my trip to Iowa in October, I pretty much thought that was going to replace my trip to Montelucia this fall.  After all, Donna and I would have a chance to catch up at the wedding… so, I assumed that would suffice as our fall catch-up trip. I’m so glad I was WRONG!

The Montelucia advertises specials this time of year, and a special that included spa credits and a great deal on room rates made it impossible for us to turn down.

And… how could I wait another 7 months to see this beautiful view?

Montelucia has very quickly become one of my favorite places on the planet.  While San Francisco caught my eye this year as a contender for favorite new city, Montelucia blows it away completely.

Prado Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Donna and I have been coming here for several years now… and it’s become a second home to me.  The service on property is phenomenal, the experience exquisite.  Frankly, I can’t get enough of this place.

Montelucia Pool | No Thanks to Cake

And, it’s not like we do the same thing every trip…. there are some commonalities (pool time, yoga for me, and Donna running her “loopty-loo” around the property), but there are always different events going on here to help us mix it up. This visit, for example, we didn’t even leave the property… not once!

Joya Spa Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Some might argue that this trip came at a horrible time for me (due to majorly stressful work events greeting me when I return home), but I’d like to instead say that the timing was absolutely perfect.

Oasis Pool Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

I’ve ruined my share of vacations by overthinking what will come on the other side of trip.  I’ve spend too much time thinking about what’s going to happen… rather than just enjoying the now.  My escape to Montelucia has reminded me that THE NOW is beautiful and should be appreciated.

Joya Spa | No Thanks to Cake

It’s kissed by sunshine and drenched in laughter… and absolutely delicious.  And, you can kind of miss its delight if you’re just worrying about the tomorrow.  I refused to miss it this weekend.

Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

I think it also helps that I’m spending this trip with one of my favorite people.  Donna and I have been friends for years and years… and just get each other.  We can spend time in silence, soaking up the whisper room or reading a good book.  Other times, we’re enjoying the fire pit singing old Huey Lewis hits… yep, that happened this trip (Note to self: Must download more HL on iTunes when I get home.)

Oasis Pool Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

The conversations that cause me pause though are those where we’re talking about the things that matter.  The things that make us grow.  Everyone needs a friend that digs beneath the surface a little, and makes you think about those things that matter most.  Those dreams you’re chasing and the challenges that you’ve faced.  Donna is that friend for me, and I adore her for it.

Joya Spa Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

As always, it was an amazing two days in the desert, and just what the doctor ordered.  While it’s difficult to say goodbye to this beautiful place, I know I will see it again in May… and look forward to the joy it brings me upon my return.

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Vacationing Alone

One of my favorite vacation buddies just took an amazing vacation ALONE.  She didn’t just travel to the next city over, she traveled internationally… to two countries… all on her own.

On Traveling Alone | No Thanks to Cake

It really doesn’t surprise me at all.  Donna has been talking about traveling to Iceland for as long as I’ve known her… and I love the fact that she made it there.  Another reason that it doesn’t surprise me is that she is an incredibly fierce woman:  independent, street smart, and adventurous.

When she said she was traveling there, one of the first questions I asked (after blurting out excitement) was “Are you traveling alone?”  I asked that because I just assumed she wasn’t going solo.  Why do we assume that afterall?  Regardless, she responded back that she was jetting off alone, and I knew this trip was going to be a great one for her.  One for the books.

While we’ve chatted a lot since her trek to Iceland, we haven’t had a chance to talk details… but she shared with me this fantastic story of what she learned on vacation.  When I read it, I knew it was something that I wanted to share because it’s real, it’s raw… and it’s something we all should consider:  Vacationing Alone.

I hope you enjoy reading her story as much as I do.  To follow more of her adventures, follow her on Facebook here.

How Going on Vacation Alone Made Me

Realize How Much I Like Myself

An unexpected benefit I received by taking a vacation to Toronto and Iceland by myself was that I realized I like Me.

But let me start from the beginning…

This year was supposed to look different – I was going to be planning my wedding, decorating my new home, continuing to do great things at work and creating the best blended family there could be.

Instead, I am maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding, decorating my new apartment, and learning every day how to turn my idea into a successful business.

These are enough changes from the Master Plan to knock the wind out of anyone’s sails – and they did for a while — but I was determined to persevere.

And then I got this wild thought about knocking out some bucket list items – doing whatever I wanted to do, because I could.  (It’s probably similar to having a party in high school when your parents go out of town – so defiant!)

So I planned a trip to Toronto for the Film Festival and then on to Iceland, because I have always wanted to go there.

As it got closer to trip time I got more excited and then I got anxious – the Holy Shit, I am really going to do this! – type of anxious.

Once I arrived and spent time doing walking tours of these cities, figuring out my way around, planning my agenda for the day, it got easier.

I remember walking up Younge Street in Toronto thinking, “I am really doing this.  I have actually done what I said I was going to do!”

And it was a great feeling!! 

I am so proud of myself for being a woman who set a goal, worked a plan to accomplish the goal, and then executed it.  I am used to doing that in the business world, but when you do it in the ‘real world’, for you personally, it feels so much better.

Toronto Film Festival | No Thanks to Cake

Traveling alone means you can set your own schedule, linger in a museum, catch a ball game on the fly (Go Blue Jays!), try out new foods, and do whatever makes you happy.

It also means that if you want to have a conversation, you will have to strike one up with a stranger.  I don’t consider myself a shy person, but being forced to speak if you want to be spoken back to can be daunting.

As I result of striking up conversations with strangers, I met folks from Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Sweden and Germany.  I discovered that I could make acquaintances with people from any part of the world, share experiences with them and hold their attention.

I was reminded that I am an interesting person; I had forgotten that quality about myself!

I had also forgotten the luxury of alone time.  Spending time with yourself can really change your mindset.  I stopped thinking about money, career, even what my kids were up to and actually spent time thinking about myself.

What did I want to do next, what have I accomplished thus far that I should be bragging about – all the stuff that women tend to put aside while assisting others, I had the time to create a mental list of.  It’s a darn good list too!

On Vacationing Alone | No Thanks to Cake

Being alone does not mean that you don’t have friends, that you are undesirable, that you are not interesting.  In fact, to me, it means the opposite – that you are confident, interesting, and can make friends from strangers. 

I recommend to women that they find that alone time.  You don’t have to go on a bucket list trip – I may have been a bit extreme with that – but you can go to a museum alone, a pub, a seminar – some place where it is just you with you, yet you still have the opportunity to meet a new friend along the way.

I am back home recharged, motivated and actually quite fond of myself!  Yea Me!

Donna Drehmann is a Certified Net Promoter Score™Associate  and the President of Listen Learn Live, providing customer satisfaction consulting to businesses throughout the US and improving customer loyalty through customer feedback survey development, best practices implementation, and results analysis.  Click here to follow LLL on Facebook.

Have you ever vacationed alone?

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A Weekend in the Windy City

A few months back, the ladies I used to work with reached out and wanted to plan a girls’ trip to Chicago.  Having left my previous job over a year and a half ago, I hadn’t the chance to see these amazing women for just about as long… and jumped at the chance to get together.

When we were deciding where to meet, it got a little tricky.  We all live in different places afterall:  San Diego, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, and Columbus.  When Lisa offered to host us in Chicago, I was really excited.  Afterall, I just adore the Windy City… and it had been a few years since I traveled there.

Due to conflicts with the dates and other commitments, we ended up being a party of three instead of a party of five.  Just the same, we had an absolute blast.

Friday morning, I woke up bright and early to catch my flight.  I didn’t land until 2, and I didn’t want to be delayed by a checked bag.  And, while it sounds impossible… I carried on!  I tend to travel heavy and to pack WAY too many liquids to make this possible, but I downsized and made it happen!

Lisa picked me up at Midway, and we headed downtown to check into our hotel.  We chose the Marriott Downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue as our hotel, and OMG… what a great place to stay!  Our room wasn’t ready when we first arrived, so Lisa and I headed to the lounge to have a cocktail and catch up. 

This also gave us a chance to wait for Crystal to arrive, along with her friend Roxanne.  Shortly after everyone arrived, our room was also ready, and we went up to the 42nd floor to check it out.

Being so high up, I knew that we’d have a great view, but I didn’t expect ANY of this…

Double doors are always a good sign…

I also knew that the guy at the front desk booked us an upgrade, but this was a little crazy… in the best possible way.  Plenty of room for the 3 of us for the night, and about 20 of our closest friends…

And the view from the room was absolutely spectacular… Note:  Lake Michigan in the background!

We quickly got settled and then headed to Fleming’s for happy hour.  Fleming’s has $6 drinks and 1/2 price appetizers until 7, so we jumped on this opportunity.  I ended up finding a non-happy hour martini on their “Skinnier Cocktails” menu that I had to try called “The Farmer’s Skinny Daughter” – - made with muddled strawberries, basil, cranberry juice, and Ketel One – - Uh-mazing, and less than 100 calories!

After a few snacks, we headed across the street for a quick stop at Pops for Champagne (a nearby champagne bar.)  Everyone loves the “champs” and what a cute little place… perfect for girls’ night!  

Next, we headed to the Signature Room to see the views from the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building.  The walk to the Water Tower Place gave me a chance to see a part of Chicago I had never seen… MICHIGAN AVENUE.

Suddenly, I became the smartest girl on Michigan Avenue..

OMG… How in the world haven’t I been here?  As someone who LOVES to shop, I was so excited to see all these enormous versions of stores we had at home, as well as new stores I’d never set foot in:  Top Shop, Zara, and Burberry.  Of course, as we were walking on Friday night, most had closed, but I set my eyes on where I wanted to go on Saturday morning.

After a claustrophobic, sweaty ride to the top of the John Hancock Building, we arrived at the Signature Room.  WHAT AMAZING VIEWS!!!

 The crazy part:  The best views of the city were from… the ladies room.

Yep, here we are in the bathroom posing…

What a great spot in Chicago, and a great way to close out the night.  Oh… I nearly forgot that we decided to have late night pizza at Pizzeria Due.  We chose the Spinoccoli – A deep dish spinach/broccoli pie – that was delicious that night, and even more amazing for breakfast the next morning!

My first experience with deep-dish Chicago-style pizza.  Now, I know I prefer a thinner crust… but it was fun to try it.

Saturday morning, we got up and headed back to Michigan Avenue to get our shopping on.  Zara was at the top of my list on places I wanted to go, and Crystal and Lisa were totally game.

We spent a pretty long time there, trying on clothes and looking at all the fun things that Zara had on display.

After hearing Taylor talk about Zara for years on my morning show… it was fun to actually be there.  And, I LOVED their clothes!  I picked up this super-fun winter coat.  It’s outerwear… and no, I won’t be pairing it with a white skirt. :)

I also found a navy dress that might be my dress for the Iowa wedding next month, and a few tops.  SO CUTE!  Where I thought these would fit in my carry-on… well, that’s another story altogether, but I couldn’t resist!

After Zara, we peeked into an ENORMOUS Express, and then headed to Trader Joe’s for some snacks for the road.  Oh, Trader Joe’s… I can’t even believe how much fun it was to be in there again.

I can’t wait for our store to open in Denver.  Absolutely can’t wait!  I picked up some pretzel chips and reduced fat greek yogurt guacamole, and a caprese-arugula salad for the car ride back to the ‘burbs. 

We spent our 2nd night at Lisa’s house in St. Charles. LOVED this area, and so incredibly nice to meet Lisa’s family after hearing about them for years. 

We ended up visiting at the house, and then heading to a local Asian bistro for dinner with new friends.  With early flights on Sunday, the night ended early with Crystal and I needing to rest up and pack up for our trips home.

One awesome outcome of this trip:  We’re definitely going to do it again.  Lisa, Crystal and I had an absolute blast… and we’re hoping that next time Janet and Paula can join too!  Now to figure out the when’s and the where’s… No one’s been to Denver, so I might end up hosting next time!

Regardless of where we choose to meet up next, I can’t wait to see these ladies again.  Such a great weekend!

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