My Forever Valentine

February is the month of love so I wanted to dedicate this month’s host blog to my sweet, wonderful husband Noel.

This is our 5th Valentine’s together.  Noel has delighted me over the years with many lovely gifts and cards, for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and just because. One tidbit  about my sweetheart Noel is that he’s a romantic, but a more fitting title would be practical romantic. Noel’s gift are always thoughtful, sweet and often useful.  I’ve been gifted a survival gift for my car (needed for Minnesota winters), mace (for my long walks), a GPS (with a large screen for easier, and safer navigation), gloves for fishing and gloves for yard work (to protect my hands and nails) and a flashlight for my keychain (great for parking garages). Please know these gifts fill me up with so much love and gratefulness. Noel not only cares for heart but also my safety.

With that I have to share the 3 best Valentine’s my honey has gifted me. These lean more on the romantic side than the practical.

Here we go, 3 of my favorites:

3 years ago, on February 11th to be exact (because he said he couldn’t wait for the 14th), he proposed to me at our favorite restaurant.  He made reservations and planned it with the help of the owner and our “regular” waitress.  It was perfection.

With my dear husband direct communication is the best.  To me greeting cards are really important. I love getting and reading mushy cards. I told Noel that I love all of the gifts he’s given, but I also want to open up a card.  He responded like he always does, “Thanks for telling me, now I know. You got it honey.” Well, here’s the card…huge, sweet and adorable.  I keep it up all year round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, Noel created a photo montage of me fishing. I squealed when I opened it.  It captured so many wonderful memories.

 

 God has given me a man of love, honor and faithfulness. I’m a blessed woman.

What are some of your most beloved Valentine gifts and memories? Please share below, I’d love to know!

Be Good to Others

We all lead busy lives and time is often a commodity that we never seem to have enough of. We barely have enough time to get all we need done for ourselves and our families, let alone carving out time for random strangers or the numerous causes that pop up.

As we begin to get settled into the new year, NOW is the perfect time to reflect upon the past and how ‘doing good unto others’ may not actually be as hard to accomplish as we might think.

 

Whether it’s as simple as holding a door for a stranger, dropping spare change into a collection tin or taking a few hours to deliver meals, run errands, or help finish a ‘to do list.’ Find an organization that speaks to your heart and I promise you the personal reward is so worth it when you see the moment of surprise, gratitude, happiness and unbiased love on a strangers face-I sure hope you’ll try it at least once this year.

Cheers xx

My Valentine

Meet my Valentine, the love of my life, my “Sweet Lew”

I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate him this month in my blog since February is the month of love.  We will celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary this year and we have two wonderful sons who bring so much joy and love to our lives.  We are now empty nesters so we have a lot of time on our hands but don’t waste a minute of it.  We really enjoy spending time together and just hanging out.  He really is my best friend.

I would have to say travel is our favorite thing to plan for and do, whether it is hopping in the car and driving to Glacier National Park in MT, or taking a trip to Italy for my 50th birthday (best trip ever), or just a weekend up at the Northshore in MN, we always have a great time together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also enjoy being Great Aunt Melissa and Great Uncle Lewis!  We have 4 great nieces and 3 great nephews and are enjoying watching them become parents and let the next generation begin.

I consider myself so incredibly blessed that I found my true love, my life partner who stands beside me through all of the ups and downs in life.  I have always said he is the tree by the water, so calm and steady in my life.

Happy Valentine’s Day sweetheart, I love you!

 

 

 

All That Glitters

All That Glitters is Not Gold...but with the right technique, you could be golden.

It just so happens that I like nice things.  Call me odd.  Call me over the top.  Go ahead and say it: “Who does Brian think he is, a Rockefeller?”

Well, it turns out I’m neither a Rockefeller nor a Vanderbilt.  So how does one lavish their “castle” without a tycoon’s bank roll?  We improvise.  It’s a matter of knowing what you want and making it happen with a little bit of effort.

A couple years back I was exploring my heaven on earth: H& B Gallery.  It’s Minneapolis’ premier antique store.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, I came across a mirror costing several thousand dollars.  It was a  www.carversguild.com piece – hand carved of wood and gilded to the hilt.  It was so me and oh so mine, but I couldn’t lay down the cash or put it on a credit card.  All I could do was store away the image of it in my mind and sleep on it for a couple of years.

Then, out of no where, came my “diamond in the ruff.”  Or, should I say, “carved wood mirror, painted an ugly buff”.  It was a machine-carved mirror frame made in the 50’s and finished in a pickled peach.  It looked pale, sickly and no wonder someone had cast it off.  What’s more, it was part of a dresser set so it had carved wooden feet on it that would rest on the larger dresser that I didn’t want.  But it was the perfect size for a foyer and it was only $150.  So off it went for a ride home to my place.

Flash forward a full year later, on a day with a list full of things I didn’t want to do, I cut the dresser legs off it and attempted a gold gilding using a product from Michael’s I had never tried before: Rubb n Buff.  Ya, it worked but it didn’t look like it was gold leafed.  Plus, I really wanted it to look old.

For almost a year, I passed that mirror a couple times a day and each time I said to myself, “Brian, the world isn’t right and neither is this mirror.”

Now flash forward to February 2017.  It was just another day with a list of must do’s around my home that I just wasn’t interested in doing.  So to distract myself I said, “The Mirror.” And it was through more improvising with trial and error that I got the finish just right.
Most old mirrors have a layer of plaster in between the carved wood and the gold paint or gold leafing.  So with the help of Martha Stewart’s acrylic white paint, I was able to give it that traveled, moved, chipped and moved again exposed plaster look that could give this mirror from the 50’s an aged, early 20th-century look.

So next I took a small brush and haphazardly applied that white acrylic in random areas on the mirror frame, because age never hits any piece of anything (or anyone!) evenly or symmetrically.

After the white paint dried the fun of the gilding could begin.  Of course I had the option of gold leafing the mirror, but what a mess that is with tiny fragments of 24K all over. Sounds neat I know (what a problem to have, right?), but it’s not.

So I tried Plaid’s version of Classic Gold Leaf in the form of paint.  Wow, it worked and one little 3/4 oz jar was much more than I needed to do the entire job.  Keep in mind, I carefully and intentionally left spots of white exposed.  And to my satisfaction (not easy people!) it turned out great.  More on this technique when I attempt it again on another piece in another room.

If you ever see something you love, but don’t care for the finish, it’s probably waiting for you to take it home and give it a new color.  So many things of value get overlooked that way.

Please leave me a message here or on Facebook if I can be of any assistance to your next improvisation project.

Wedding Planning

Wedding planning is part scary beast with fangs and a scowl on his face and part joyful child shrieking with excitement over a new kitten. It can bring out a range of emotions as well as tons of stress to tons of excitement and anticipation! There are days I just want the wedding to be over and other days where I am excited about all the fun details and creative things we are trying to do.

Bring on the FUN!

 

We finally decided on a wedding date of August 4th and 5th of this year! There were lots of things to decide including if we wanted to go more traditional Pakistani or make it more of a blending of two cultures. Traditional Pakistani weddings can go for 3-4 days with tons of fanfare and details. Day one is usually a henna ceremony. The bride and groom wear yellow and are adorned with a red paste of henna and turmeric! The turmeric is put on the face to give the bride a glow on her actual wedding day. Guests take turns coming up to wave money around the bride and grooms head which is a sign of luck and well wishes. All the ladies sit around and play a huge drum while singing traditional wedding songs. This is my favorite part and I love the cultural aspect of it. There is also usually always a jolly-natured rotund Uncle that is making bad jokes during the whole affair.

All of that in mind, we needed to figure out if we were going to go all out cultural or try to do a fusion wedding. Me and my fiancé are both Pakistani but we are first generation as I was born in Minnesota and he was born in England. After some hemming and hawing we are paying homage to both cultures we are proud of.

Day one is going to be a fun dance party! I have decided to wear a white wedding dress, heck why not?! I have always been enamored with the gorgeous gals in white and tons of lace and I figure if we are not going totally traditional let’s go all out! BUT I do want to keep some aspects that are Pakistani so we will probably still do the drum singing and also have a grand entrance for both the bride and grooms families. There is still the question of food to serve? Taco bar and Curry? I will keep you posted on that! Even things like an open bar had to be considered. Most Pakistanis don’t really drink because of religious reasons but I will have tons of friends coming in from all over the United States and wanted to have the option for them. The solution? A cash bar or drink tickets for them!

The second day will be more traditional. I plan to wear a Pakistani wedding dress but not in the traditional color of red. I am considering several options including maroon and teal together. The DJ will play some traditional music and we will follow many customs that are common to this day. One of those customs is the “Rukhsati”. At the end of the night the bride departs for her life with her new husband and in what can be a somber moment she says goodbye to the life she used to have with her parents. It dates back to when girls would truly leave from one home to another to start a new life. Usually they had never lived without their parents before this and were venturing into an unknown world with a man they barely knew as arranged marriages were common back then. Things have changed greatly over the years and many times it’s now more tradition than it is anything else.

It’s so fun trying to incorporate two cultures into one wedding! Check back on my blog as I continue to navigate the never-ending maze of wedding planning!

Cooper the Wonderdog

In honor of my fur baby Cooper’s 5-year adoption anniversary I thought I would blog about the way too skinny, battle weary, “vicious” stray with broken ribs, broken legs and worms that changed my world!
Yep, you heard it right. He was battered and broken and a stray on the streets of Texas that eluded the local dogcatcher for over a year.
Once an animal rescue finally got a hold of him they deemed him virtually “unadoptable.”  You gotta love an underdog, right?

So this is our story. Our story of trust, love and friendship.  My little monster is a Miniature Pinscher that we named Cooper.  Yes, he has baggage and yes he can be terrifying, but he is the furry love of my life.  About 5 years ago the kids were all out of the house to college in another state.  So we were empty nesters.  Sounds awesome right?  It had its moments of awesomeness but it’s really quiet after 2 ginormous boys are not taking up space in your house any longer.  On one of those really quiet Saturdays, I took out my motor scooter and went into town to run some errands and ended up in an accident.  Surgery was next and a LONG recovery process.  This is where the Coop comes in.  Since I was laid up I knew that I had some pity points with my husband and could pretty much talk him into anything.  Now was the chance for a new puppy!  I started looking into animal rescue places and found one called Midwest Animal Rescue right here in Minnesota.  I wanted a Miniature Pinscher because it was a good size and because I wanted a dog that would go everywhere with me and be up for any adventure.

I reached out to see if they had a Min Pin for me; I wanted one that no one else wanted and that is how I found the greatest dog in the world.  The rescue place sent me this picture of “Lambert” – that was the name they gave him.  He is SOOO NOT a Lambert – and I went to see him.

 

I knew that this was the dog for me; he needed me and I needed him.  Even though he had a REALLY rough history he was amazingly adaptable, was playing with the other puppies and was very inquisitive.  I wish that I could tell you it was love at first sight for Cooper but he was leery, can’t blame him.
Fast forward 5 years, that’s 35 years in dog years, and now Cooper is the smartest, quirkiest dog that knows how to dance like Beyoncé, jump like Wonderdog, sit like an angel and shake like a gentleman.  He can also sing to Bruno Mars “Locked out of Heaven.” He goes to the dog park, puppy day care and loves to find a sun puddle to lie in at home.  He has the run of the house and my entire heart!  The house is NEVER quiet now, the boys LOVE him and he has made my empty nest full of crazy Cooper fun.  I hit the puppy lottery when I adopted him- that too skinny, battle weary, “viscous” unadoptable stray just needed someone to trust and someone to love.  Guess what?  The unconditional love that he returns to me is 10 fold!

 

New Year, New You

This New Year’s Eve I had an epiphany whilst on the dance floor at the Minneapolis Black and White Ball. In between navigating pools of spilled beer, over-zealous revelers in 3” heels and a ballgown I had a sudden realisation. The reason I am so determined and focused with my New Year’s resolutions is that whilst most people are waking up with a sore head on the first day of the year I wake up the day after that a whole year older as my birthday is on January 2nd.

I’ve never been a fan of giving anything up for New Year. I find setting an intention to take something up is far more proactive, fun and achievable. I took up yoga seventeen years ago and still practice to this day. I remember having to take up Facebook when it eclipsed MySpace as the social media platform to be seen on. I find it exciting to step into a new year as a new version of myself and defining who I want to be. This year has been particularly special as on Saturday 21st January I had been in Minneapolis a year to the day. 365 days earlier I had stepped off a plane with just two bags and didn’t know a soul in the State of Minnesota outside of the Evine family.

Fast forward to January 2017 and my Saturday couldn’t be more different. My day began bright and early at my Miracle mornings discussion group in a local coffee shop where we watch a short YouTube video on a topic and then discuss it. This week was the philosophy of Stoicism. After the group, I drove to brunch with a writer friend whom I met when I volunteered at the Minneapolis Saint Paul International Film Festival last Spring. I just read the lead in her play and now wants me to resume the role in a short film she’s writing.

Afterwards I burned off my brunch at salsa class. My friend and fellow Evine host, Fatima, has given me the bug for salsa but she is one of, if not THE best dancer in the Twin Cities. I, however, am still stepping on people’s toes and turning the wrong way, which is incredibly frustrating as I’ve always loved to dance but that’s a whole different experience to learning to dance!

Next, I went to Uptown Minneapolis for a Soul night with a friend. It was a strange coincidence as we’d both found out about it months before from totally different people but just as I was about to ask her if she wanted to go, she mentioned it to me. Soul night was not about the musical genre but a gathering of people wanting to connect on a spiritual level. There were hugs, crystals, sageing (an ancient practice where people burn sage to clear energy) and some positive live hip hop. Lastly, my friend and I grabbed dinner before I headed home.

The reason I want to share this with you is to show what’s possible in just one year. Even as I write this I just went to an outdoor Shanty art festival on my way home from buying groceries.

As a life coach, a common question I ask is, ‘What’s stopping you?’ So often the answer is ourselves. It’s not that we consciously hold ourselves back but more that we don’t give ourselves permission to ‘colour outside the lines’ so as we get older our worlds get gradually smaller.

Something I’ve done differently this year for myself and my clients is to mind map my 2017 goals. It’s really simple. Print out a photo of yourself that you like (or photos, if you’re doing a family one). Get a big board – the foldable science fair ones work well and they’re about $5.

Paste your face into the centre of the board and then just get busy with the Sharpies and BIG ideas. Draw lines coming from you and begin to create categories like, ‘Family’, ‘Creativity’, ‘Fun’, ’Fitness,’ Community’, ‘Vampires’. OK, so not vampires, I was just checking you were still reading but, YES – vampires! Think outside the box, nothing is off limits and have fun.

Then put it somewhere where you can see it every day and keep adding as ideas pop up.

Putting your face next to, ‘Win Nobel Peace Prize’ is literally aligning yourself with it in front of your very eyes.

An even faster way that takes up zero space and you can do when you’re half-watching TV is to create Pinterest boards for your goals. I have one called Fashion Goals 2017 to achieve the perfect capsule closet (Prince Harry’s new girlfriend Meghan Markle is my current style crush!).

I can’t guarantee it will stop me from buying random things like neon pink PVC boots (but to be fair the mileage I got out of my Mum howling with laughter when I couldn’t get them off in the shop far outweighed the cost and the fact I never wore them) but it does give me a structure for when I go shopping.

I also want to travel across America this year and I’ve created a board called Bucketlist USA.

 

When I travelled back to the UK a few weeks ago, I sat next to a guy called Mike from Minnesota who is stationed in the Air Force in London. He was telling me I must visit the Boundary Waters – I’ve Googled it and it’s on the list. I have friends in San Diego, Portland, Hawaii so they’re all must-sees and the Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list forever. 2017 is the year!

 

With technology as sophisticated as it is now we’re all visual people even if we don’t consider ourselves creative. Pinterest makes everything look pretty for you but having a visual image – especially if you can put yourself next to that beach in Costa Rica – is sending your brain a powerful message of possibility! In 2006 I went on holiday to the island of Ibiza with some friends and when I came home I made my screen saver the view of the sunset from the very popular Cafe Mambo. Two years later I moved to the island, got a job at Cafe Mambo and on my first night looked out and had an emotional moment as I realised that what had become background – something I didn’t even notice on my laptop – was now not only my reality but my ‘office’ view every night when I went to work. In January 2015 whilst on a coaching course I spent 3 days being coached around the topic of moving to the US. Six months later without having done anything else, I got an email from Evine offering me a job. Don’t question the ‘how?’ just trust this stuff works!

I would love to hear your goals, plans and dreams for 2017. What do you want to be looking back on this time next year? And if like Minnesota Mike you have somewhere you think should be on my Bucketlist USA, let me know and I’ll add it to the board.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

What is the PANTONE Color of the Year?

During our fashion shows you may hear guests and hosts alike talking about the “Pantone color of the year.” PANTONE is the world-renowned authority on color. The PANTONE® name is known worldwide as the standard language for color communication from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer.

On their website they state:  The PANTONE of the year is a symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.  The PANTONE of the year is a symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.”

For 2017, the PANTONE color is Greenery. Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew.

Nature’s neutral ugh.  My friends know green is NOT my favorite color—here is how PANTONE chose Greenery for this year:

So, how can you incorporate green in a fresh way if it is not a color you normally buy, wear or own? In jewelry, we have seen Emeralds and jade worn beautifully with black with celebrities. Green in small doses can go a long way to create a memorable contrast instead of the traditional diamonds.  Peridot will be a favorite this year paired with pastels and florals in spring, and certainly pops a neutral outfit!

 

In home, Sage is a tranquil color in the bedroom and one of the top colors used by interior designers, complemented by peaches and creams.  I do love the sage Cozelle sheets I pair with my peach silk duvet cover, pale pinks and ‘shabby chic’ florals—a little green can help cut the femininity in a home with a grounded color that our hubbies are sure to like!  My husband is very tolerant of my feminine aesthetic so he is welcoming the idea of a more neutral and unisex color!.

With fashion and accessories, olive green can unify an outfit that is more feminine and frilly, floral or peachy-pink!  Heather Hall received the most beautiful shoulder bag for Christmas from her hubby from a French designer and it was an awesome shade of grounded sage green/olive that she wore with denim and an ivory sweater—elegant and understated.   Hey, maybe I am starting to like green!

I love how this floral skirt and clutch is fresh—I personally would wear this lime clutch or handbag. A lime green heel with denim and a simple white blouse with peridot earrings and lime green bangles.  Only adding accents of color to my outfit rather than actually wearing a top or skirt in green.

For beauty I do like teal eyeliner! A makeup artist in Italy told me it would make my blue eyes pop, which it did. However, as a base shadow color, I wouldn’t recommend using green.

My recommendations after researching ideas to incorporate green is:  Pair it with neutrals, brights, deeper shades, pastels, metallic and the PANTONE Colors of the Year for 2016: Rose Quartz and Serenity blue.

See the palette below of 10 colors that show how versatile green can be as a “Trans-seasonal” shade that lends itself to many color combinations.

If you have any ideas of how you wear or decorate with green, please leave your ideas below, I’d love to hear them!  Enjoy Greenery YOUR way!

Xo Wendi

 

More Than Food

You all know of my love for cooking and baking.  You have helped make the Air Fryer Book the one selling book in the world on Air Frying as it is now published in 5 countries. As I finish up on my 9th book, I thought it would be appropriate to explain what inspired and brought me to the kitchen.

It seems that all of my life there have been big moments celebrated with food.  Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and weekends were a time when I would gather with family and friends to mark big moments in our lives.  That being said, for me, any moment that I get to sit down and break bread with those I love is a special time for me.

We live in a world that is constantly moving, with fast cars, planes, workdays, kids — so taking time to stop for a moment each day and give thanks for the good things in our lives is important.  Why not take that moment over a delicious meal? I grew up in a home where Sunday was always accompanied with a big family meal that I eagerly awaited all week.  My mom is the best person I’ve ever known.  She raised her children in a home filled with love, conversation, and laughter.  She was quick witted, driven, and warm in a world that was not always so kind.  My mom was thankful for every moment with her children and her family, and that came across in her cooking.

My love for cooking grew from our Sunday meals and the other big moments of my childhood and adult life.  In culinary school, I was lucky enough to enhance my experience in the kitchen under the guidance of the most inspiring mentors.  They taught me to appreciate each ingredient — the look, the taste, the texture — and experiment with different flavors.  I found serenity under their mentorship, and a deep appreciation for the way food heals and brings joy.

Today, I find joy every day in a trip to the market — finding fresh fruits and vegetables, preparing a meal, and sharing an evening with family and friends.  Everything comes together when you find a tomato so ripe, it’s almost sweet; or take in the aroma of fresh baked bread, knowing the care that went into the many hours of mixing, kneading, rising, and baking.  It is, for me, the best way to find a balance between salty and sweet, robust and delicate, good and bad.

Today, I’m blessed that I’m able to share these experiences in my personal life and in my work.  I get to share the warm moments with my mom and my daughter, Jordon.   I get to make new memories every day.  And, of course, I try to do as my mom did — be kind, give love, and share laughter, in and out of the kitchen.

I’ve learned that one person does not make a conversation, nor does one tomato make a sauce.  So, invite a friend over to your kitchen, try something new for dinner, and enjoy.  You will always walk away with more than you came to the table with.

On that note….what should be the next book feature?

Grading Coins 101

I have been collecting coins for over 30 years. I have hosted hundreds of coin shows for various networks and I have worked with some of the most respected numismatists in the business. The question I get all the time is “Should I have my coins graded?

Before I answer these questions, let me provide you with a brief description of graded coins. Coins that are submitted to a professional grading service are inspected and assigned a grade. They are also certified authentic and are placed in a protective holder called a “slab.” Other information besides the grade may be placed on the holder such as the denomination, precious metal content, and sometimes the provenance or the source where the coins were discovered.

The reasons to consider grading or collecting graded certified coins are:

To establish a Coin’s Grade

Location is to real estate as the condition is to the value of the coin. The grade will establish this condition. For example, uncirculated coins will grade from MS60 to MS70. An MS70 will be more valuable than the same coin graded as an MS63. When you are ready to sell or upgrade your coin, it’s important to know its value so you get the most for it. The condition will always be an issue when buying or selling a collectible coin. Having the coin professionally certified and graded by a reputable company will eliminate any argument over its condition.

 To establish authenticity

1893S Morgan Silver Dollar
Here is an 1893S Morgan Silver Dollar that has been improperly cleaned.

Professional coin graders will reject any coin they believe isn’t authentic or altered. If a coin has been altered in any way such as cleaning, polishing, or modifying the design, it would be unfit to authenticate. You want to be assured your coin is the real thing.

To establish identity

Value of $1775 based on NCG Price Guide

 

It is the coin grader’s responsibility to identify any critical devices on the coin that may affect its value. A mint mark is one such device. A 1909 SVDB cent is worth much more than a 1909 VDB cent of the same grade (the “S” denotes the San Francisco Mint,“VDB” are the initials of the designer Victor David Brenner). Design changes may identify different “types” or “varieties.” A good example of this is the $1 gold coin that was originally minted in 1849. When Lady Liberty’s design was changed in 1854, it became a Type II.

Value of $25 based on NGC Price Guide

To protect your coins

Any damage to your coin may mean a loss of value. Damage could be caused by fingerprints, dropping your coin on a hard surface, or even environmental exposure. A slab is an airtight holder and protects your coin from these damages.

Credibility and Consistency

As mentioned, the grade of a coin is an important factor in establishing its value. You will want to choose a professional grading company that is reliable and consistent. The reputation of a grading service may also be a consideration when buying or selling a coin. They must follow strict grading guidelines of the ANA (American Numismatic Association). The four most popular grading services are:

NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation)

PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service)

ANACS (American Numismatic Association Certification Service)

ICG (Independent Coin Graders)

I hope this was helpful for those who collect coins or want to begin a collection. I will admit when I first started collecting coins, it was in the hopes of someday selling my inventory to raise a nice profit. The larger my collection grows, the more my original intent has changed. I can’t imagine selling many of my coins now, they have become treasured possessions.

Wally likes coins, too!