It looks like I took another unintentional blogging hiatus. Life has thrown a lot of busy curveballs my way and I have been navigating them with as much grace as I can muster. This post is about three months in the making and I do hope you will forgive my tardiness. Let's begin, shall we?
Another year, another RWA Nationals. I had the great privilege of going to Denver to network with fellow writers, to learn and to grow. I also found a number of ways to mix business with pleasure in the form of a family vacation before and after. That meant rather than being away for a long whirlwind weekend, I was out of pocket for two full and glorious weeks. Let me share more about Nationals and our big family adventure.
When my husband found out that Nationals would be in Denver, he threw out the idea that we combine it with a family trip. He hadn't been out west since he was a kid, and I had no memory of being out that way. It seemed like a great idea.
So, we left right after The Boy's gymnastics class the Saturday before Nationals to begin our long trek to Denver. The trip took two days but we found stops along the way to break up the monotony of driving. My favorite stops on our way to Denver included the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, especially their exhibit on the North Platte Canteen from World War II, and our brief stop at Lee's Marble Museum. Lee was incredibly sweet to The Boy. The most amusing part of this leg were the Sapp Bros. "Mom Approved" bathrooms. Not only were they the cleanest public bathrooms I have ever seen, but imagine my surprise to find that I could heat my bottom and use the bidet feature if I really felt the need. And to answer the question I'm sure I'll get...no, I didn't try out all the features.
We had a couple days in the Denver area to do some family sightseeing. That included a trip Rocky Mountain National Park, the Garden of the Gods and Cave of the Winds. The stark beauty and the contrasts in nature at varying elevations was absolutely breathtaking. But, the reaction to elevation was NO JOKE! I was huffing and puffing, and guzzling water like it was going out of style!
Probably my favorite side trip before Nationals was Wednesday. A local friend took me to the Forney Museum of Transportation and to Wings Over the Rockies. I got to see Amelia Earhart's car, a lot of planes from my childhood (I'm an Air Force brat) as well, and learn more about World War II aircraft. I learned what all the dials and levers were from the cockpit of a C-45 and got to wear an X-wing pilot helmet next to a model of an X-wing...not that it looked great since I had a turban on my head. I also was able to try out a World War II era stencil cutter and see aerial reconnaissance cameras. The only bummer was that I didn't have time to go try out the simulator. That would have been a blast. I highly recommend a visit!
The conference got underway for me in full force on Thursday. I presented one of the 20/20 programs on the first half of the 20th century. It was hard to cram 50 years of history into 20 minutes, but I did my best. I brought lots of show and tell from my personal collection. I hope everyone who attended got something out of it. The RITAs were fantastic. I wasn't supposed to attend them because my local friend had invited me out swing dancing with his scene that night. But, he was late which meant I could attend and still go dancing. Suzanne Brockmann's Lifetime Achievement Award speech really inspired me and I'm glad I could witness it in person.
The rest of conference was a blur with workshops, classes, networking, speed pitching, etc. I barely saw my boys as they were off on their own adventures. I enjoyed the camaraderie, reconnecting with old friends and contacts, and making new friends. I also had a new head shot taken and I love it. I had to narrow it down between two, and will likely go back and buy the second one. You can see the one I went with on my website home page.
Once Nationals ended, we were off on the rest of our journey. We had a week of traveling and driving, but the pace was not nearly as breakneck as the drive to get to Denver. Our first stop was Yellowstone, and as we had on the way to Denver, we made stops along the way. My definite was favorite was getting to walk on the Oregon Trail (yes, I am of that generation). My husband even "died of dysentery."
After reaching our destination, we explored Cody, WY and took in our first rodeo. The most poignant part of that day was visiting Heart Mountain. I grew up knowing about Japenese internment camps, but had only heard of Heart Mountain after seeing George Takei's Allegiance musical (which I also HIGHLY recommend). Not only did I want to see Heart Mountain for myself, but we wanted to use the visit as an opportunity to teach The Boy what can happen when people are discriminated against because of who they are or what they look like. If you are ever out that way, I encourage you to visit. They did a wonderful job of educating the public, and even The Boy took something away from the experience.
The next two days were spent driving all around Yellowstone. It's a huge park and we actually did pretty well with seeing most of it. We only missed the northeastern corner. The wildlife, natural features and the whole area is stunning. That said, I will be honest when I say I do not miss the smell of rotten eggs from all the sulfur. The Boy wanted to watch Old Faithful erupt three times and loved the mud pots. My personal favorite part of the trip was my hike up to Wraith Falls.
After Yellowstone, we began our journey east towards home. It was amazing to see the beauty of Bighorn National Forest and the Black Hills. I grew up on Doris Day's Calamity Jane, so we had to pay our respects to Wild Bill and Calam in Deadwood even if it was only a visit to the cemetery and dinner. We also made a short pitstop in Buffalo, WY to see the Occidental Hotel, visited Devil's Tower and Crazy Horse before stopping for the night.
The next day found us at Mount Rushmore. If I'm being honest, this was the place I was most underwhelmed by. It was the most commercialized of the National Parks and Monuments we stopped at. But, it was nice to scratch it off the bucket list of places I needed to see at least once in my life. After Mount Rushmore, we continued east and visited Wall Drug (which was an experience) before reaching the Badlands. The stark beauty compared to what we had seen in Yellowstone, and the other National Forests really struck me. We hiked up some of the gravelly peaks and took it all in. I honestly don't know how anything survives out there, but it does and thrives. We even finally caught a glimpse of bighorn sheep (something The Boy really wanted to see), as well.
Our last day before getting home was quite literally a travel day. We had no plans to stop anywhere except to get home that night. We happened across one more National Monument we hadn't heard of before, and we are really glad we stopped. Pipestone National Monument is in Minnesota. It is a quarry where Native Americans are still able to quarry with a permit the pink pipestone that makes their ceremonial pipes. We also came on a day they were having a sundance so we were able to hear the singing and drums. It was a wonderful experience. The volunteers working on their pipes engaged The Boy and answered all his questions. It's another place I'd highly recommend. The area was very serene and beautiful. The only other places of note to mention was the beautiful Dignity: Of Earth & Sky statue at the rest area when we crossed the Columbia River and the Jolly Green Giant statue (with Sprout) in Blue Earth, MN. We made it home very late that night, tired, relaxed and with many more memories.
I'm so glad my husband had this idea. It took a lot of planning and there were some stressful moments, but the good definitely outweighs the bad. Probably the thing I will treasure most outside of the time spent together is that we were able to teach The Boy some valuable lessons about the world, about diversity, and about nature. He is still talking about the trip and his favorite parts. I hope we can do something similar in the future.
In closing, I'll leave you with a slideshow of pictures from the trip.
Till next time.
I'll be seeing you,
P.S. What was your most memorable trip? What was one takeaway that still impacts you from it? Let me know in the comments below.
It is always my intention to get my blog post out at the end of every month, but as the poet Robert Burns shares in his poem To a Mouse, "[t]he best laid schemes o' mice an' men." April proved to be a month of constantly moving pieces for me personally and professionally, and May followed suit. But, of all the events and running around over the last few months, the one that stands out the most would be the Titanic Dinner.
The third annual Titanic Dinner at the Al. Ringling Mansion was held on the 106th anniversary of the sinking. It's the brainchild of one of my dearest friends and I love participating in it. My husband and I were cast as first class passengers for this multi-course dinner that honors all who sailed on the doomed ship. As with most events I go to, all members of the cast were dressed period appropriate and had researched our characters to the nth degree. Our cast takes this event seriously even while we are having fun. We do not take lightly the fact that we are keeping the memory of these many souls alive by telling their stories.
I have had the great fortune to play Miss Elsie Bowerman, a WSPU Suffragette, the last three years, She was an amazing woman and I have learned so much from her even though we never met in person.
Allow me to share a little bit about Elsie. Born in 1889, she was 22 when the Titanic sank and went on to have an amazing life and career. She did significant work in both world wars, became one of Britain's first female barristers, and even helped create the UN's Commission on the Status of Women! You can imagine how terrified I was when asked to portray her. She's formidable! But, I love her and I hope I do her justice. Even from the grave, she has shaped me and made me rethink a number of things in my own life. I can honestly say that I am a better person because of what she has taught me. In fact, because of what I have learned about the women's suffrage movement and Elsie, a friend and I are planning on being in Washington, D.C. in 2020 (dressed as suffragettes) for the centennial of the 19th amendment.
What I love about this dinner is every person who attends is given a person to embody for the evening. They are encouraged to do some research to learn about who they are playing, and to dress up if they desire. What a delight to get to know these passengers. It really hit home when the evening finished and you learned which of the people around you did not survive the disaster. It struck me quite hard at the realization. In the end, it connected us all on a deeper level and helped us realize how fragile and precious life is.
We don't know the future of the Titanic Dinner as the mansion will be unavailable for events in their ballroom starting next year, but I can guarantee I'll be ready and willing to play in 1912 again should the opportunity present itself.
I'll close with a picture of our entire cast before the dinner started. I'm honored to have performed with this lovely group the last three years.
Till next time.
I'll be seeing you!
P.S. Here's the question I'm posing this month: Have you been to an immersive event? Did it give you a new perspective on the past or about some of the people portrayed? Let me know in the comments below.
I know I missed posting last month but I had some unexpected business hit my plate that needed immediate attention. I'm back in full force with a fun post this month.
Have you ever done something you thought you'd never do? Earlier this month I had just such an opportunity. My best friend (pinup model, Pamela Marie) is the creator and organizer of a retro fashion show in my area with proceeds benefiting a local charity. This was the second year of her brain child and it was fantastic! I was supposed to participate last year but due to recovery from my medical crises, it was not meant to be. This year's fashion show benefited Stars and Stripes Honor Flight and was held at the Milwaukee County War Memorial.
When Pam approached me to help out, I told her I'd be happy to help however she needed, even if it was just behind the scenes. But, she also encouraged me to fill out a model application and throw my name in the hat. What a surprise when I found out I'd also be walking in the show! She also asked me to sing between the two portions of the evening. Of course, I said yes, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. The whole thing positively petrified me.
I modeled three looks not counting what I changed into to sing. First, I was honored to model a vintage confection that made me look and feel like Disney's Cinderella from Modest May Boutique, a local retro/vintage clothing boutique. Next, I modeled Pam's fashion line, PMdesigns by Pamela Marie. I actually wore the dirndl she made me for one of our adventures last summer. The last look I modeled was one of my own vintage dresses paired with an amazing hat from The Hen House. I literally gasped when I saw it.
After intermission, and before the second half began, I came out in another of my vintage outfits and sang "Til There Was You" from The Music Man. I sang the same song at Pam's wedding a few years ago, and it was great fun to pull it out again.
I had an absolutely amazing time. The models were very welcoming and kind. It was a pleasure getting to know them. I was also thrilled to have The Revolution Hair Studio do my hair again (they did my hair for Pam's wedding). And, I finally got meet the owner behind Bomber Betty Custom Cosmetics. I'd used her products and heard a ton about her, but never had the pleasure of meeting her. Many thanks to Bonnie Holly and her Crew at Revolution and to Jessica at Bomber Betty for all their hard work!
Best of all, Pam raised over $3,000 for SSHF, which will allow 7 more veterans to take their Honor Flight. It was a great night!
So, I guess the question is, would I do it again? I'd have to say a big resounding YES! The whole thing was a blast, and Pam was right. It was a very body positive experience. I loved every minute of it.
I'll leave you with a picture of me with my best friend and best bombshell at the end of the show. Until next time....
Have you ever done something out of your comfort zone? What was it and how did you feel after you accomplished it? Let me know in the comments below.
I'll be seeing you!
P.S. Unless otherwise noted, all pictures were taken by Cardinal White Photo.
I turned 37 earlier this month. While in days gone by it was considered not polite to ask a lady her age, I'm not against sharing. And, besides, they say life, like a fine wine gets better with age. I've always liked the analogy and so far it has proven to be true. It was a wonderful day and my mind, in adding to the festivities, had this little bit of dialogue on repeat.
That's how I'm looking at this birthday year. I'm not old. I've got a lot ahead of me. In fact, I felt excellent my whole birthday. Everything made me smile! As if that weren't enough, the universe seemed to share with me that this year is going to be a sweet one. I received so many kind birthday wishes, and best of all...cake!
I had not one, but five total cakes over the course of birthday celebrations. Sadly, we only captured picture of four of the cakes. We dug into the fifth one too fast, but rest assured it was amazing and delicious. You can see what they looked like in the picture on the right.
First was a cake The Boy and I made for my day job, a pineapple carrot cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. Next up, one of my bosses made me a homemade German Chocolate Cake (my favorite!). Would you believe she used whole wheat flour and less sugar? It was one of the most decadent cakes I have ever tasted. Don't get me started on the toasted walnuts and the coconut frosting. After that, a slice of Polish cheesecake. We typically go out for Polish food for my birthday. Well, our local place found out it was my birthday so I received that lovely slice and a rousing rendition of both Happy Birthday to you and Sto lat. Last but not list (at least of the ones shown), The Boy and my husband made me a chocolate pear cake. Somehow The Boy decided this was the kind of cake I needed. Nothing would steer him from it and we have no idea where he came up with the idea. It was pretty good. As if that weren't enough, for my birthday party, we had a delicious Chantilly cake from Whole Foods. It's a good thing calories don't count on one's birthday.
In non-cake related sweetness, I would say my favorite part of my birthday was said birthday party. My husband invited several of our closest friends for a casual gathering. Good food, good fellowship, lots of laughter and as noted above...cake! I couldn't have asked for a better celebration.
All the sweetness, abundance and fun surrounding my birthday and the days that followed feel like a clear indication that I am in for a sweet year. I will take it with open arms and you can guarantee I will share it with others. I'll leave you with a rare shot of The Boy demolishing his slice of the epic German Chocolate Cake.
Have you had a birthday or special day that brought a smile to your face? I'd love to hear about it. For now, accept a little sweetness from me (and perhaps a slice of leftover cake). Until next time.
I'll be seeing you.
It's hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone. I can tell you I was nowhere near ready for it. With all that has happened this past year, it's sometimes hard to find the joy of the season, but I'm striving to do so. I've had a lot of good moments and a lot of defining moments. As I look to 2018, I am grateful that I faced the challenges I did and walked out stronger on the other side.
I thought I'd share my top five moment from 2017 with you. Sometimes it's so easy to look at the negatives, but I strive daily to find the positive and especially earlier this year, it was the only thing that got me through.
I've made a list of goals for 2018 both in my personal life and writing life. I thought I'd share a some of them with you.
What are your goals for the New Year? I'd love to hear. How do you plan to achieve them?
Till next time...
I'll be seeing you,
Whenever I think of Thanksgiving, I get Bing Crosby's "I've Got Plenty To Be Thankful For" from Holiday Inn stuck in my head. This year especially the song holds a great deal of meaning. If you followed me on social media earlier this year, you'll know I went through two surgeries back to back and lost about three months due to recovery. It has been a very humbling experience. The lyrics Bing sings in the movie talk about how he doesn't have much, but that the simple things he does have are enough to get by. And, it's a great reminder in these times that at the end of the day, I have plenty I can be thankful for.
This month, I thought I would reflect on the top 10 things I am most thankful for. I know I have plenty to be grateful for, so I'll keep it simple:
Time for me to get back to NaNoWriMo! What are you thankful for this year?
Till next time.
I'll be seeing you!
Yes, the above title is something I hear quite a lot when it comes to my hair when it's pin curled. If you've been following me for a while you know that I desire to share the dying art of pin curls, and that I love a good retro wet set. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was blessed with a lot of hair that is extremely healthy and stick straight. None of those things are really conducive to wet sets, but I'm stubborn and I make my hair conform to my whims.
But, how did I get there? It's only fair to tell you that it's taken me seven years to get my sets to where they are today. It took a lot of work, a lot of patience (which is not my virtue), and tenacity. I also would not be here today without the help of my amazing stylist, Dez. She has worked with me every step of the way to help me achieve my #hairgoals.
When I started, I hadn't a clue where to really begin. One of the first resource books I acquired was Daniela Turudich's 1940's Hairstyles. Talk about a scare! Setting patterns? Specialized hair cuts and hair cutting diagrams? Brush outs? What was this sorcery? Stubbornness prevailed and I set to work with some help from a few people (like Dez).
The best part about having Dez as my stylist? She knew exactly what the sorcery meant. We usually talk about a new (to me) technique or something I'm curious to try at each hair appointment. I'm always learning and always striving to make my sets better.
We also have things pretty much down to a system. She cuts my hair in a modified 1940s haircut: the middy. She usually uses a razor rather than scissors, and modifies it with layers rather than a blunt cut so if I don't feel like setting it, I don't look like I have a bad mullet. It is also not uncommon for her to take out a ton of weight to make it easier for the curl to hold. It has made all the difference!
Want to see a horror story set? This was early on. The curls are squashed and barely hanging onto life. You can see the massive amounts of hair that weighed the whole thing down. I'll guarantee that shortly after the Honor Flight was finished that set fell. I've at least learned now that should my set fail me (for example if it's still wet or for some reason the curl didn't take), I can restyle it with a snood, put it up in a poodle-do a la Betty Grable, or create a back roll. While I force my hair to do as I want, I also am flexible enough to listen to what direction it wants to go. And working with it rather than against it usually results in an awesome brush out. Clear as mud?
By contrast, this is what seven years of hard work and practice (and the right hair cut that doesn't pull out the curl) looks like.
I can say I feel much more at ease and accomplished with wet sets. And that book by Daniela Turudich? It has become one of my greatest resources because the sorcery has been unlocked. Wet sets will always be known to me as "pin curl adventures," but now I can sit back and enjoy the ride a bit more.
Have you tried pin curls or did you wear them daily growing up? What was your biggest challenge and what did you find was the most useful tip to help you achieve a great set? Leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear.
Till next time. I'll be seeing you!
This past weekend, I went to the event that introduced me to World War II reenacting. Every year, Midway Village in Rockford, IL hosts World War II Days, the largest World War II reenactment in the Midwest. It's always a nice trip for me when I get to go because I have so many friends attending. I went on Saturday only as a paid spectator rather than as a reenactor, but you can guarantee I dressed.
The weather was brutal! If you read my post about the RWA National Conference at Walt Disney World, I can safely say it was about as bad as the weather that trip. Hot, humid, oppressive! Several people went down from the heat over the weekend. I was so glad I opted for a cotton day dress and a poodle-do (in all its frizziness), though I could have done without the foundation garment. I honestly didn't even make it back into the woods or out to the main battle (which they ultimately cancelled when a brush fire started thanks to the dry grass and pyrotechnics). I spent much of the time hidden in the shade gabbing with friends. One friend, Lisa, decided to take advantage of me sitting in front of the typewriter at their RAF encampment to snap a few pictures.
Overall, though, I enjoyed visiting with friends, shopping amongst the vendors, and getting a chance to play in my favorite era. I even scored a new vintage purse that I can't wait to use in the near future. It's a nice event that has a lot of history in the area, though I am probably a bit biased.
I'll close with my top three moments from the day.
1. The delicious Polish food served by a local church. Even though it was heavy, the salt was perfect for replenishing electrolytes. But, really, I never turn down Polish food.
2. Chatting up an adorable World War II Army Air Corps veteran and hearing his stories. His wife told me my outfit and hair looked perfect, but that she would have worn socks with the espadrilles I was wearing. Who knew?
3. The working World War II spotlight that someone brought out. It was amazing! Your eyes couldn't help but draw themselves heavenward, searching for enemy aircraft. And the distance it could be seen from was crazy!
Till next time.
I'll be seeing you!
What a whirlwind! RWA Nationals is over for another year and I still feel like I am running around. It probably doesn't help that this past weekend I took a trip to the 16th century.
This year, RWA held it's National Conference at the Swan and Dolphin Resort on Disney World property. RWA + Disney = One awesome time for me! I apologize in advance that I didn't get more pictures of the RWA action. I am a Disney girl at heart.
I arrived on Tuesday with fellow WisRWA members, Lori Oestreich and Carla Luna Cullen, and immediately dove into the parks. Hot and humid doesn't even cover it. The weather made you feel like you were in a veritable oven. But, when one is at Disney, one powers through.
I was most excited to try out the new rides in Pandora in Animal Kingdom. I had a fast pass for Flight of Passage and it did not disappoint. Check out some of the beautiful scenery while I waited for my turn to ride.
After spending some time in Animal Kingdom it was time to head back to set my hair.
I did make it a point to hit the parks at least once each day. Even though I'll be back later this year, I wanted to visit some of my favorite haunts, eat some of my favorite foods (Can we say Jambon Buerre Sandwich and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels?), and check out some of the new things. They also announced the day after I arrived that The Great Movie Ride and Ellen's Energy Adventure would both be closing in the middle of August. I adore The Great Movie Ride, so I had to cram in a visit to that.
One of my favorite park moments was Wednesday when I went to Hollywood Studios in the morning. It has been my dream to have my pictures taken while dressed in 1940s attire down the Old Hollywood portion of Hollywood Studios. Thanks to a wonderful PhotoPass photograher, my dream became a reality. He took some stylized pictures of me next to my favorite spot. They were perfect! Sadly, I don't have any to share right now as I have not ordered them, but do watch my Pin Curl Adventures page because I guarantee at least one will go up there.
The rest of the conference was amazing. I attended some great presentations. Most notably, I learned a lot from Damon Suede and Heidi Cullinan on marketing no matter what level of writer you are. They have a choose your own adventure e-book called Your A Game: Winning Promo for Genre Fiction. I highly recommend it.
I also met some wonderful new friends as well as connecting with those I don't see on a regular basis. I can't say enough about the community RWA has built. We are a community set on building each other up, making everyone feel welcome, and helping each other grow no matter what level a writer is at. I am honored to be a part of this organization.
Saturday, I attended RWA's Chapter Leadership Breakfast and Town Hall. Since I am the Vice President of Communications for WisRWA, I gained a lot of valuable information and was able to connect with other board members from other chapters. I am looking forward to taking back the information to WisRWA to help make us stronger.
I also had a blast at the RITA awards. Our small contingent of WisRWA members even had a chance to congratulate Beverly Jenkins on being the recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. She was inspiring!
Sunday was Lori's and my last day so I made it my mission to visit all four parks before we left. I rode all my favorite rides, though I passed on Flight of Passage simply due to stand-by wait times. While it poured all day, I thoroughly enjoyed having Disney time. The only sad part was that France sold out of my favorite sandwich. Oh well, guess I'll just have to get it next time I go.
I'll leave you with a picture of all of my day outfits from the conference. I, of course, dressed 1940s every day, but made sure to keep my hair off my neck. For more pictures, check out my Facebook Fan Page and tell me which outfit you liked the best.
I'm already looking forward to RWA18 in Denver! Hope to see you there!
I'll be seeing you!
As I begin my very first blog, I hope this finds you well. One would think that as a writer blogging would be easy. I do not find it so, but am willing to give it the old college try. My aim is to share fun tidbits about the 1940s era, bring you with me on some of my Pin Curl Adventures (and maybe some of my other adventures), and have a place to share news as it comes. I hope you'll follow along with me on my journey.
I'm off to RWA Nationals next week in Orlando, FL. I've been outfit planning for months. I plan to take on the heat, humidity, and threatening thunderstorms with poodle-dos, rain bonnets, and adorable overshoes as I not only attend the conference but have a wonderful time at Disney World. I expect to learn a lot, network, and enjoy being in the company of my fellow writers. If you'll be there, please stop and say hello. You can also follow me on social media to see all the highlights.
Here's to a wonderful weekend!
I'll be seeing you!
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