Everyday Inspirations


~ fashion ~


When shopping for vacation clothes in downtown Salt Lake turned out to be a bust, Dan and I headed up the canyon to the Park City outlet mall. Thanks to Memorial Day weekend sale overload, I brought home some great finds, including this gorgeous gray and white strapless dress. It's deliciously lightweight--a perfect outfit for hot summer nights. I can't wait to wear it to my friends' wedding in August (yay, Lindsey and Mario!), though I know I will be looking for a dress-up opportunity before then.


I feel it's necessary to also use today's post to thank the men and women who defend our country every day. It's because of them I am able live this inspired life--one where I can blog about my interests and buy a dress just for fun. I know I'm lucky to have been born in America. I also know the freedom I enjoy is easy to take advantage of. Today, I hold in my heart those who have sacrificed their lives so I can live mine. Thank you for your honor and your bravery.

~ how to ~

Relaxation on the lake
Happy three-day weekend everyone! How many of us have plans to relax? ME! How many of us will actually succeed in relaxing? Hmmm... Well if you're anything like me, on these bonus vacation days I often plan to have a fun, relaxing day and get to the end of it and feel a little disappointed. That will not happen to me this Memorial Day! Here are some tips on making it happen for you.

1) Turn Off the Technology
We are all bombarded and interconnected by technology--phones, Facebook, Twitter, this blog, the television, the list goes on. Normally, I love it, but when I'm trying to relax it totally hinders my mindset. Turn off the technology and just have a day to live your life with those you love. That may mean leaving your phone at home (I wince at the thought) or unplugging the TV or computer.

2) Have a Late Spring Cleanfest
I know. You didn't think cleaning would be on my "how to relax" list did you? But this is actually a measure for future relaxation. Sometimes you get it clean, but the build-up of stuff to get rid of or those deep cleaning projects can weigh on you more than you might think. Finally getting those projects done and out of the way may actually free up your stress in the future.

3) Plan Your Day, But Be Open to Twists
Planning the day's itinerary before you leave the house may allow you to relax and just experience rather than be stressed trying to figure out what is next. Plan it out the night ahead (i.e. right now if you haven't already done so) or first thing in the morning so you can get up and be relaxed and ready to go. That being said, don't stress out if all your plans don't happen. Be open to a change in plan or a spontaneous, fun opportunity should it arise.
4) Play in the Sunshine  
I don't know about you all, but I have been seriously lacking in sunshine. Hello vitamin D, come visit me! If your weather is good, make sure you soak in those rays before it's sweltering hot. Shop at an outdoor mall, go on a hike, play in the park, window shop downtown, or go to the ocean or lake. Just be sure you bring your sunscreen.

5) Take a Time Out
You may have a busy day planned, but schedule a time out in there. That is, some you time, where you can have a moment to do what you want. That may mean a nap, some time away from the kids, a trip to your favorite restaurant, a moment to be by yourself--whatever will give you a moment of sanity.

Have a safe Memorial Day everyone!

~ small inspiration ~


Yesterday I brought home my new baby: my first SLR camera. We decided to take her for a walk in downtown Salt Lake to test out a few of the features I'd read about all morning.

About ten minutes into the walk, we came across this cute little consignment shop, Now & Again. I snapped a few photos as we approached it. I just love, love, love all the colors that are in this casual shot. The blues, reds and yellows against the late May green fill my heart with joy.

Discovering the charming businesses that are scattered throughout downtown make exploring my city so much fun.

~ our world ~

New York City Splendor
New York City. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. And of course, for all you Sex and the City fans, the scene of a very sucsexful TV series about the classy and fabulous. My brother, who lives there when he's not off interning in foreign countries, tells me he is pretty sure there is no part of the city, no nook or cranny, that has not been photographed or documented. That being said, there's probably not much I can write that's never been written. New York is just fabulous--the people, the food, the excitement, the constant entertainment, the art, the museums...the list goes on. It's probably on nearly everyone's "want to visit" list or "want to go back to" list. It's the object of many ballads and the subject of many artists. Despite what my brother says, it can't keep me from trying a new angle on something right? I took this photo a couple years ago on our family trip. After he moved there he tried to go back to recreate this photo but it just didn't quite work the same. Nice to know I could at least take a semi-original photo in the ever-captured, never-sleeping Big Apple.  

"Sex and the City 2" Review on Girlfriendology

Check out Ashley's review of "Sex and the City 2" on Girlfriendology.com. Inspired by the movie? Share your review with us in the comments.


~ food ~


A couple weekends ago Dan and I went to Meditrina, a lovely tapas restaurant/wine bar in South Salt Lake. I highly recommend you try it out if you're in the area. One of the plates we ordered was panko and bacon-crusted pork tenderloin. It was amazing.

One of my tests for determining how much I like a dish is whether or not I crave making it again in my own kitchen. Last Friday, I tried my hand at a similar, simpler version: bacon-crusted pork chops. Or, as Dan and I affectionately observed, pig on pig deliciousness.

Bacon-Crusted Pork Chops
(Serves 2)

  • About 1 cup of breadcrumbs (Meditrina uses panko, which are Japanese-style breadcrumbs, but since I already had the regular kind in my pantry, I used those)
  • About 1 cup of flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2-3 slices of bacon, fried until crispy and chopped into very small pieces
  • 2 pork chops
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Add the chopped bacon to the breadcrumbs, adding salt and pepper to the mixture (not too much salt--the bacon is salty enough). Divide the flour, eggs, and breadcrumb mixture into three separate bowls big enough to hold the chops. Arrange the bowls into a workstation, starting with the flour, then the eggs, then the breadcrumbs. Like so:
Dip the chops into the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs mixture, covering each side completely at each station.

Pour a couple tablespoons olive oil into a grill pan. Grill the chops for 4-5 minutes on each side, until they're cooked through (no pink). We served ours with broiled fresh vegetables. Delicious!

~ a better you ~

Guest Blogger: Susan Cannon
Susan Cannon is a Salt Lake City-based commercial banker with fifteen years of experience in risk management. Since she was laid off last August, she took a leading role in finalizing arrangements for her daughter's September wedding, completed a contract risk policy assignment with a Utah financial services company, started a blog, and continues training for stock market trading. Check out her blog at www.feliciaevita.blogspot.com.

No question, unemployment can be tough. Your entire world as you knew it changes. But you can survive and thrive while you look for your next job. A few helpful hints that have saved me during unemployment ...

Reframing “I'm Unemployed”
Fascinating how some people meeting you for the first time or even long-time associates assume you have a strange disease called unemploymentitis. Maybe this is why there are leper colonies. I've found it more fashionable to say I'm "between jobs."

Muchas Gracias
Be sure to thank the kind friends and thoughtful former colleagues who send job leads and postings within their organizations. Keep in touch with former colleagues to let them know you are still looking. And be careful what you say if your former colleagues are your Facebook friends!

Click SUBMIT To Apply
Online applications are great, but don't forget networking and if you are at the appropriate level in your career, work with a headhunter (or two). Don't be discouraged if your interviews are phone interviews at first – you can do them in your pajamas. You may apply for hundreds of jobs before you even get a face-to-face interview. And be as flexible as you can about job function, work location, work hours, and other factors, even compensation, if possible. In some cases, people may need to consider temporary or contract work while they job search. I did a three month contract assignment after I was laid off. The environment of the company where I worked was just what I needed to transition out of the stressful pre-layoff situation at my previous job.

Stay Positive
The job market can be tough, especially if you were in a middle or senior management. People have said “wow” when they saw my resume, but I'm still seeking that elusive job offer, as are several of my work peers who were laid off about the same time last year. Several of us “unemployees” are sending each other postings and ideas for how to attract the attention of employers, as well as providing much needed moral support.

You Can Trip Over Someone While Walking Sideways
Even though you may have overlapping skills that would be applicable in another field, lateral moves may be more difficult. A higher number of applications means that employers will be able to select from candidates with direct experience in the job function. For example, even though I was willing to take a 33% pay cut for one job, another candidate who held the same position in another organization was selected for the job.

Don't Let Your Brain Atrophy
Keep a regular but flexible schedule. If nothing else, put yourself in school at no charge. The internet has hundreds of free classes to improve your skills in everything from spreadsheets to writing. I'm learning all about stock options trading and search engine optimization. You may develop skills that would be valuable if you switch industries or decide to start your own business instead of getting another job. And be sure to eat healthy and get plenty of exercise to boost your spirits.

Life Goes On
Unemployment status won't give you a bye on other life eventualities ... relationship drama, car problems, putting our dog to sleep, toilet troubles, and heating system failures. I've had it all. Still, life will be more pleasant if you can find things to be thankful for.

With a Little Help From My Friends
A friendly phone call can work wonders! So can a meal out at an inexpensive diner or the $1 menu at a fast food restaurant. In my case, getting together with my weekly jewelry making group is a delight.

Seek Rebate Checks and Free Coupon Offers
Spend only on necessities. I never used to get so excited about rebate checks from my credit card company or my insurance carrier. Free coupons with no purchase minimum from Victoria's Secret, Wal-Mart and Kohl's have arrived in the mail. Fast food freebies from Einsteins and Chick-Fil-A have appeared in my email, along with deep discount coupons from Groupon for purchase of essentials like garden plants, meat and cheese at more than 50% off.

Enjoy Your Time Away from Office Politics
I admit, I don't miss caustic emails and meetings filled with jockeying. And I miss all of this even less when I read Meeting Boy, who mentions the Seven Dwarves in a meeting: Grumpy, Dopey, Sleepy, Bossy, Boring, Spacey, and Conniving. If you are working, you know those fellows! And there's no time like when you are off work to travel because your vacation time doesn't have to be approved by your manager! I've gone on two very inexpensive vacations, made possible because of frequent flyer miles and a free place to stay and pooling of resources in a large group.

And Finally, Add Water to Almost Everything
I've always been a fan of adding water to my drinks, but I now add water to everything from salad dressing to hair styling milk. Amazing how product manufacturers con us into thinking that a certain consistency is necessary for use of their products. What I cannot add water to I make at home, laundry soap and bread, for example.

Unemployment is like everything else in life. Embrace it, make it your friend, and sooner or later, you really will find the next big thing.

~ home ~


Making a house a home is easy when you add personal, unique touches. I adore accenting a room with family photographs, particularly when those photos are from a time I don't even remember.

One picture I display is of my parents on their first wedding anniversary. I love the simpleness of this image: my 24-year-old parents, full of life, embrace for a quick photo before going out to celebrate their first year of marriage. This picture fills me with joy and wakens a deep love and respect for who my parents were and who they became over the years. These are the faces I longed for as an infant. This is a story with details I both know and have to guess.

Add your own family history to your shelves. Go through albums and pull out pictures that mean the most to you--birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, trips. Ask your parents or grandparents for images of your mom and dad as children, teenagers, young adults. Fall in love with their past.

I recommend scanning your favorite photos (for long-term protection of the images and as a first step of simple restoration). Print, frame, and set the pictures throughout the house as reminders of where you came from.

~ fashion ~

We had record snowfall here in Salt Lake and people everywhere were tweeting and posting about the cold front we've had today. You can be sure there were some choice words when I looked out on the frosted rooftops of the valley this morning. So how did I inspire myself today? I just kept thinking about bright, flowy, floral summer sundresses. Festive, comfortable and perfect for showing off your beautiful tan (or seeing as it's May and freezing, perhaps getting that tan started). It may have snowed today, but checking out the weather report, I'm really hoping I can don this dress by next week. Don't have a fun new sundress yet? Check out all these fun, bright styles at edressme.com. They will definitely get you thinking warm summer sun.

~ how to ~


There's rarely a Sunday in my life that goes by where a friend doesn't mention how much he or she is dreading Monday.

Poor Monday. We live in a world where we're taught to hate it. It signifies the end of two days of freedom and the beginning of a week filled with seemingly never-ending tasks we don't want to face. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that many people would feel differently if they prepared for Monday.

This week, don't jump into Monday without some simple, mind-saving prep:
  • Make a list of to-dos. Avoid walking into your office and allowing yourself to become overwhelmed. Instead, spend 10 minutes on Sunday writing a list of things you have to accomplish this week. Get tasks off your mind and onto paper. Prioritize them. Come up with a game plan. Then put the list away and enjoy the rest of your Sunday.
  • Clean up. I'm not talking deep-cleaning; just take care of clutter. You'll feel a lot better waking up tomorrow morning if you don't have to face a pile of clean laundry that's still sitting on the floor. 
  • Take time for you. Even if you can only spare five minutes, focus on your needs and spoil yourself. It's easier to work on other tasks when you know you've made time for a personal reward.

~ small inspiration ~

Me doing what I love
Today I did a photo shoot at a figure skating competition and had a mother come up and thank me for taking such wonderful photos of her daughter and the other competitors. I, of course, was just doing my job, though it was a great reminder of why I love what I do so much. As a skater myself, I remember all the hard work I put in before competition and how much those experiences made me grow. To be able to capture a memory of that experience for these young ladies is such a joy as a photographer--a combination of two of my greatest passions--skating and photography. My friend posted on Facebook the other day that if she had all the money in the world, she would still be a professor. In her shadow, if I had all the money in the world, I would still be an artist and forever be a skater. That is a comforting thought. The fact that I can make a living doing what I love is just a bonus and for that I feel incredibly lucky. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans between 25 and 54 spend an average 8.8 hours per work day in work or related activities. That means people who don't like their jobs waste a good portion of their lives being unhappy. If you don't do what you love already, try to love what you do. Remember why you chose the career path you did and try to recapture your passion for it. Take a moment, close your eyes and think of five reasons you love your job. Or maybe it's time to be brave and make a change in your career. You deserve to be happy. Do what you love and love what you do.