Much Younger Siblings

Having a much younger sibling can be an ‘interesting experience’ to say the least.  Imagine my surprise as a rebellious teen to find out one day that my mom was pregnant with another baby? I couldn’t believe it.  I was 14 and had little interest in another baby coming into household.  I mean, “what was my mom thinking?” as I rolled my eyes and teased my hair even further up on my head.  My sister and I were aghast (but secretly kind of excited too).

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Blurry but here he is!

Robby Chughtai came into the world kicking and screaming, and nothing has ever been the same since.  Instead of going out with my friends on the weekends, now I was having to play babysitter much of the time and change many dirty diapers.  I learned all sorts of things about raising a child that I never knew about: how to heat bottles, rock a baby to sleep and give him a bath in the sink. There were nights that I went to high school with red, puffy eyes because Robby had stayed up crying the entire night and nobody in the house got any rest.

Before I knew it, the time had come for him to start Kindergarten, and I was right there with my parents dropping him off for his first day of school.  Something really strange happens when you have a much younger sibling. You really do start to feel like a second mom.  As he grew up, I got to know all his teachers and they would even call me or my sister if he had any issues.  I even remember going to several parent/teacher conferences for him!  The “baby” was growing up fast!

Mornings I would fix him breakfast and search in vain for his school uniform. I would also pack him a lunch and make sure he got to school in a timely fashion. Thinking back on it the whole time seems like such a blur!

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Here we are taking another infamous selfie

Then, shortly after I finished college, when he was busy with friends and life, I got the call to move to Alaska for my first television job!  I was so excited to start this new life and got busy saying my goodbyes to everyone.  Who knew when I would be back?  The world was my oyster!  As I got ready to head to the airport I gave every family member a quick hug and got in the car chock full of every emotion you can imagine.

As I backed out of the driveway – I saw Robby coming out the front door. Big crocodile tears running down his face as I left.  I will never forget that sight.  It was just how I had felt when I dropped him off for his very first day of school.  I may not be a parent to any children of my own, but I do get the feeling that parents have when kids grow up.

Now I am 36 and Robby is 22!  We are closer than ever before.  Our relationship has changed in the most amazing way where he is my best friend and advice giver.  Anytime I need someone to vent to, I can call my little bro and he is always there to lend a listening ear.  I am so blessed to have a younger sibling who I once thought was going to ruin my life entirely (teenage angst and drama)!

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Time sure does fly!

Tell me about your younger sibling?

 

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My Summer Tradition

Pretty much every summer for the majority of my life, I have traveled to Lake of the Woods.  Have you heard of it?  It occupies parts of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, and northern Minnesota.  It is over 70 miles long and wide and has 14,552 islands.

When I was young, we would attach one of those Winnebago foldout campers to the back of our car, and drive three hours up and three hours back.  Somehow, we packed: my parents, my brother, a couple of my stepbrothers and sisters and our huge black standard poodle, Mitzi into the car.  We did this EVERY weekend of the summer!  This is where I sat on a bee and got my first sting, and had my first wee little crush on a boy a few campers down.

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From the Winnebago, we graduated to a little white house on Rainy River. Rainy River runs into the big lake and is just outside of Baudette, Minnesota, population about 1,100. Now that we had the benefit of heat, plumbing, etc., we started traveling here during the winter months, too . . . again, EVERY weekend.  This is about the time where I just wanted to be home on the weekend.  I had friends and a social life where, if I missed out on something happening, my life would be over and I would die (I’m a teenager now). I had a hard time convincing my parents I should stay home so, instead, I would bring my friends along.

lynne-blog-3-2There is a tiny little island that my best friend, Jillie, and I would love to sneak off to. She had a tiny fishing boat, kind of like a dinghy. She would pull up to my dock, pick me up and off we went.  We were always alone on this island; it was like our little secret.  The island was very remote, had nothing on it to speak of except a bunch of sand ,so no one ever ventured there but us. One time, we thought we would be super grown up and sophisticated and sunbathe topless.  That was the very rare time that another fishing boat came floating by.  Now, the island has somehow been discovered and is full of big boats and lots of families picnicking.  My family and I still love to go there.

My parents decided to build their dream home at the Lake about the time I was starting my own family.  I had moved to Minneapolis and, so now, the three-hour drive is a seven-hour drive.  The drive takes us through many quiet, small towns and truly is a slice of Americana.  Homes with wrap-around front porches, lawn art and flags waving proudly.  Nobody is in a hurry to get anywhere, and everything is slowed way down.  So lovely.

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There really isn’t that much to do at the lake . . . except for fishing, and so heading out onto the huge lake means spending the entire day on the boat . . . fishing.  I’m not that great of a fisherwoman as it takes great patience, and I get extremely bored waiting for something to happen.  We usually catch walleye and trout.  Nowadays, we bring a couple of boats onto the lake and have fishing competitions between them, which can get really loud and boisterous.  To this day, my boat has never won.

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Fourth of July celebrations at the lake are my favorite part. Thousands of people come into Baudette for the street fair and fireworks.  At the street fair you can listen to bagpipes, enjoy fried walleye, get a tattoo or our favorite thing, watch someone else get a tattoo. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the tattoo truck is located right next to the Beer Garden. At dusk, it is so cool to see all the families sitting on blankets with their coolers, fluorescent light-up necklaces and twirly thingies in anticipation for the fireworks.  Our neighbors in Canada across the river have lit up American flags in their backyards as a sign of friendship.  The fireworks are choreographed to music, and always end with Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” When it’s all over and we’re walking back to the car, it’s always the feeling of “best night ever.”

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Another life . . .

I love my life as a host at Evine, a wife, and a mom.

At one time, however, there was my first love . . . dance!

These blogs have been a wonderful way to share more about our other passions that we don’t often get to talk about on air.  I couldn’t wait to share my discovery of salsa dance!

fatima-blog-3-1I found dance late in life, well, relatively.  I was in my early 20s and my girlfriend dragged me out to a salsa club.  As I started to learn the steps and become familiar with the music, the obsession . . . oops, I meant passion, grew intensely.

It wasn’t long before I was out dancing 4-5 nights a week, pouring over YouTube videos, and traveling all across the country in search of the ultimate dance fix.

The community of dancers is one of the reasons that I dove in so deep.  Not just locally, but anywhere I traveled, the environment was electric with people from all cultures and all walks of life sharing a common thread and a universal love of music and dance.

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Within our local community, many of us attended classes and events at a dance studio.  I began teaching there, and soon after, started performing with the dance teams.  I have to admit, my favorite part of performing was the costumes!  And yes, there were many hours spent “bedazzling” .

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Another huge draw to being on a performance team was the challenge of each new routine and creating something unique and special with our groups.  We did most of our own choreography and having it come to life was such a thrill!

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Being so immersed in the world of Latin dance, I quickly became intrigued and enamored with the Afro-Caribbean rhythms melded with jazzy big band sounds that create this genre of music. Salsa, Cha cha, Bachata, Merengue . . . I love it all! I became a fiend and began amassing a collection of music that may be enough to start a small radio station.  At some point, I think my weekly iTunes budget was more than my grocery budget!  I was truly eating, sleeping, and breathing salsa.  The next step: I started DJ’ing salsa music.  That was a whole new level of indulgent fun.  I would put together a playlist of my favorite songs and dance on the job.  Work and play came together as one . . . it was a beautiful thing 🙂

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Fast-to post knee injury and a one-year old at home.  Salsa dancing may now be a seldom enjoyed delicacy but, to me, it’s just as juicy and sweet as it’s always been. The great news: it’s like one of your oldest and dearest friends.  You may not see one another for ages, but the moment you reconnect, it’s like no time has passed.

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My Parents

I celebrate my parents every day but even more in August since their wedding anniversary is August 31st.  They’re celebrating 53 years this year!  What a gift of love to have that melissa-blog-3-mom-dad-1many years together.  My husband Lewis and I, along with my brothers,  hosted their 50th Wedding Anniversary in Ohio a few years ago and it was an amazing celebration with family and friends traveling from MN, FL, WV, KY and of course Ohio to celebrate their love.

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They met on a blind date in January 1963 and were married in August of that same year! My brothers and I always loved hearing that story of how my dad’s sister Betty met my mom and said, “Are you dating anyone?”  My mom said, no – and my aunt went on to say “well’ I have this brother who I think would really like you!”  Life is funny – you never know who you will meet on your path who will change the course of your destiny.

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My parents were blessed with four children –  1 daughter, 3 sons, and 6 grandchildren! We have so many memories as a family and I can’t thank them enough for their unconditional love and support that they always show us.  They are always there, a phone call away to celebrate with us or give us advice on raising kids.  Trust me – there have been many emotional calls over the years and my mom, in her patient wisdom, always says . . . this too shall pass. It seems they have always been spot on with their advice and I consider myself so incredibly blessed that I have them as my parents and I’ve been privileged to celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary this year!

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What’s a Hoosier Anyway?

Last week my family and I set out on our longest road trip to date. Minneapolis, MN to Bloomington, IN.   I can’t believe I didn’t discuss road trips in my earlier blogs . . . isn’t this the season dedicated to hours in the car eating junk food, listening to the radio and counting cows?! I feel like it’s a rite of passage for every American child, and mine were totally up for the challenge.

Backing out of the driveway, my hubby had ‘Holiday Road’ blaring from the speakers (all great road trips must pay homage to Nat’l Lampoons Vacation, whether Aunt Edna is with you or not) and both boys were armed with their favorite movies, headphones and snacks for days. I planned to use these hours to catch up on email, sort through photos on my phone and make sure our family calendar was on point when we returned. But, as always, motion sickness set in half way through my first email and in lieu of being productive, I counted cows.

I feel like when we travel, we throw all rules out the windows. Bed times, nutrition, screen time, all take a back seat to accommodate the road trippin’ timeline. So, when we made our first stop in Chicago, already past the boy’s bedtime, it was fitting that we entered the lobby of the hotel to some serious bass, dark lights and a bar full of 20-somethings in their finest “I’m looking for a date” fashions. The lobby bar was a total club scene and there I stood with my family, covered in chip crumbs, ice cream spills and backpacks full of stuffed animals and dinosaurs. (Parenthood Erin blog 3 fireworkssure does change a Saturday night.) We definitely cramped the cool-kids weekend vibes and found immediate refuge up a few levels in our room. My kids were thrilled to be up way past their bed time, ordering pizza in bed and watching the Olympics. And if that wasn’t good enough, just like in a movie, outside our huge picture window, over-looking Lake Michigan, a fireworks show erupted right in front of us and for the first time in 8 hours, we were all silent, staring out the window. What a treat!! I could get used to this. But all good things must come to an end and all good kids must hit the hay (as my dad would say), lights were soon out and we were all happily in bed.

Erin blog 3 Chi2The next day, we had breakfast in bed, went swimming in the rooftop pool and took the boys on the Navy Pier ferris wheel before packing back up. Next stop: Bloomington, IN. The home of Indiana University, my husband’s Alma Mater. He’s a third generation Hoosier and couldn’t be more proud. By the time we Erin blog 3 ferrisarrived on campus, he was already plotting out what fraternity our boys would pledge, where they will live on campus and how to get the best seats at Assembly Hall for a little IU Bball. (Side note: I really love his love of his school, but grooming our boys this early in life is just not fair to me and my hometown University of MN Golden Gopher pride. Not to mention, I’ll never stop crying if my boys move that far away from me. A counter plan to keep my boys in MN begins now . . . I’ll keep you posted on the progress.) We quickly jumped out of the car and did a walking tour Erin blog 3 IU familythrough campus. Even though IU is a rival Big Ten school to my U o MN, I have to admit, that campus is beautiful!!! After a dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, my husband took the boys to the book store to load up on all things Hoosier red and white. Outfits, posters, stuffed animals (are you kidding me?? This is too much), my boys emerged from the store looking like the newest freshman recruits. We checked IU off our road trip list and got to bed, the next day we were taking off for destination number three.

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Lake Wawasee, in Syracuse, IN is where my husband spent every summer of his childhood. Leaving IU and driving north to Lake Wawasee, my boys were already in their swim trunks, sunscreen on, ready to dive into the Erin blog 3 slidewater as soon as we arrived. Pulling into the cottage my husband spent weeks at as a kid, we made this insanely long road trip, worth every minute. The lake is clear and clean, there are boats and jet skis and toys for everyone. And the cottage is a perfect setting to enjoy the final few days of summer.

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My oldest, William, has a brand new Go Pro that he proudly wore as he jumped in the lake and sped around on the jet ski. James, our baby (fine. He’s almost 5, but will always be my baby) worked up the courage to make the giant lily pad his stomping grounds. We swam, boated, ate and repeated for 36 Erin blog 3 jetskihours! It was mostly marvelous, with just a few minor meltdowns. I mean no family of four can go 36 hours without a few meltdowns over whose turn it is anyway and who was really responsible for dropping the brand new Go Pro and letting it sink to the bottom of the lake . . . right? Right. Other than a few minor mishaps, we returned each night to the cottage a brand new shade of tan (even though we wear a lot of sunscreen) and a whole new level of exhausted.

It was bittersweet packing up for our final voyage, not only because I simply adore time with my three boys, but also because Syracuse, IN to Minneapolis, MN is no joke. About 10 hours, with stops and a nasty rain storm, to get back to home sweet home. But on our way home, there was definitely a sense of pride from all four of us. The kids were thrilled with the new adventures and are already plotting ways to permanently eat breakfast in bed. My husband was beaming with pride that his family had a blast in his favorite state. And I, to be real honest, am thrilled that I was able to keep this family unit in one piece, without massive meltdown for a total of 1000+ miles across the Midwest. Phew.

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Thanks for taking this road trip with me! Next stop: Vancouver with my college roomies . . .

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Blood, Sweat & Years

Rightfully or wrongfully, I’m just gonna start this entry by saying that the signs of the Zodiac are seldom wrong. In fact, the sign Brian blog 2 1crabunder which I was born, Cancer, could not be more spot on. Cancerians value family, love and not the least of which, their home and surroundings. In our homes, we find expression, peace and, when necessary, escape from all those other Zodiac signs that can drive us nuts.

I have to admit I never really got how much I appreciate creating a home until I was in a place long enough to invest in one. Up until 12 years ago I was always on the move, from college to grad school, to jobs in marketing, entertainment news and then to home shopping. It seemed that I was in a different city every couple of years.   It didn’t make sense to paint walls, much less buy a home.

Finally, upon moving to Minneapolis 12 year ago, I knew it was time to settle in. Designing and decorating my first home was fun, easy and in no time it was complete. I thought it was nice, but when local publications were asking for interviews and photo ops, I felt a sense of possibility in the air.

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It was around the time when friends like Wendi Russo and others were telling me to sell and create a new home, that I went to Lowes Hardware to buy the necessary items to add some much needed extra storage in my garage. No sooner had I put all the materials in my car and I said to myself “Forget it. I’m going to move.” It wasn’t so much that I needed extra storage, but that my heart was saying there is more of you to express and more ideas you have to create.

Which leads me to the Blood, Sweat and Years.

After days of looking at over 700 homes online in my price range, I found my Grey Gardens Home in Minnetonka and didn’t look beyond it. It was love at first sight.

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I kept it a secret from almost everyone, including my family. Only my agent, broker and financial advisor were in the know. The house needed so much work that I didn’t want friends and family calling me crazy.

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Then it was love at first fright. The day of the home inspection it was raining and dripping inside several areas of the house.   (Luckily, that brought the sale price down considerably!) Nothing a new roof wouldn’t fix. Then, the day after I closed, my dog Molly discovered a family of raccoons under the back porch. Nothing a frantic call to a local pest control wouldn’t fix. Cha-Ching! And so many other ‘Discoveries’ both large and small on top of the inspector’s finds that I accepted with large exhales. Like needing a jack hammer to remove kitchen tile set in over an inch of cement (Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching) and chewed wires in the floor (Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching, Chaaaaa-Chinggggg!).

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Brian blog 2 6NicoleDid I have help with the construction? I certainly did. Did I do any of the work? You bet. All the redesign and any stripping, sanding, painting and landscaping where I could save myself some cash. Did I eat a lot of dust ? Absolutely, for breakfast, lunch & dinner! Was it uncomfortable at times? YES! At one point I had the refrigerator in the dining room, the coffee pot and microwave in the powder room, and only the working sink in the laundry room. And that was just one room of 4 that were out of commission at the same time. But I would do it all over again. Yes, let me repeat: I would do it all over again. Just in a different house that needs a whole lot of love.

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Seeing potential in homes and creating beautiful, inviting spaces for living and entertaining are some of the gifts God has given me. And being able to see what’s possible in homes other people would reject is so incredibly satisfying to me. (My house was on the market for two years before I came along.) Shopping for materials, finding amazing fixtures and decorating the spaces all bring me incredible joy. And knowing where and how to find all of the materials and furnishings at such huge discounts is a resourcefulness I value in myself as I am not one to ever pay full price. More like 40-80% off retail. And I’m talking for both the materials and the home.

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To say which room brings me the most joy would be hard. I took on every space in this home over the last six years with a lot of passion.

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Of course there are a couple more designs I am currently working to incorporate. But then what? Like the sand crab, is it time for me to find a new shell?

So many of you have been so supportive of my projects.   And some of you have even let me help you with yours. Know that any tips I’ve learned over the years are yours for the asking. Write me for any ideas you may want to add to your list of considerations. If you find it really helpful, then I will invoice you for a nickel.   Let’s learn from each other to make our nests (and shells) the best they can be.

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If at first you don’t succeed, do what your mother told you . . .

The other day a friend asked for my advice and, as I was trying to help, I heard myself say, “Well, as my mom always says” . . . then, I quoted one of her many sayings.  This is when I realized that I not only have a great mom who’s kind, fun, and endlessly supportive, but she’s also darn smart.

Kristine blog 2 mom 2016When it comes to navigating life’s twists and turns, she always seems to know the right thing to do and the right thing to say.  This blog is to both celebrate my mom and share some of her gems with you . . . and I’ve included just a few below.  As you read through these, please think of your own mother and the words of wisdom she’s shared with you, and then please share with me!

 

Smart Quotes from my Mother Marilyn:

Kristine blog 2 1976“We Go By Improvement” . . . This means: don’t kill yourself trying to be perfect.  The goal here is to improve the situation.  For example: You wake up, stumble out of bed, look in the mirror and scream because you didn’t get you beauty sleep (the dark circles, and bags under your eyes prove it). Don’t crawl back to bed because you feel hideous, just be better, go by improvement.  Grab your under eye concealer, comb you hair, put on a bright color shirt . . . just improve the situation. I use this one all the time, as trying to be perfect is exhausting!  But, being better is not only doable, but also energizing.   You can always improve.

Kristine blog 2 mom 1983“Always Pray for the Truth” . . . When you’re confused, frustrated or unsure, look, ask and seek the truth.  You can’t fix a problem with speculations or assumptions.  When you have the truth, you can go forward. If you don’t have the facts, you’ll just make up a story and live in uncertainty.  The truth sometimes hurts, but it’s always a gift.

“Your Intuition is Your GPS” . . . Mom would say “I never worried about you, Kristine, because you follow your intuition, and your intuition is always right . . . so listen when it talks to you, it’s your GPS.” I follow this one to Kristine blog 2 mom 1989this day.  At times, I’ve gone into a room, turned around and left because it didn’t ‘feel right’ while, other times I’ve taken leaps of faith when a surprised opportunity came my way, just because it ‘felt right’. Intuition is God directing you, so don’t try another route.

 “Never apologize for being overdressed” . . . You go to a BBQ, and the dress code is casual. You show up in a pretty sundress with matching sandals, while the rest of the guests are wearing cut off shorts, t-shirts and flip flops. Your ‘casual’ is just different than theirs, and that’s okay!  You never have to apologize for trying to feel, look or act your best.

Kristine blog 2 mom 2009 “We’ll Have None of That” . . . This is my mom’s way of saying: not acceptable. You don’t have to raise your voice, or discuss a situation to death.  If you don’t like something . . . just have none of it.  End the discussion.  Stand for what you believe, and don’t apologize for it.

 Thanks Mom your guidance, love and wisdom . . . you’re the best!

 

Please share your motherly wisdom with me  – I’d love to know the smart things your mother says!

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Get out of your comfort zone!

As many of you know I’m the newest host here at Evine.  Taking the job a year ago followed many months of uncertainty and a visa process so lengthy it probably deserves a blog of its own!  I finally moved here from London in January this year.  Arriving in Minnesota in the middle of winter might sound like the worst time of year, but I had done my research, got some good boots and a big coat. With the beautiful houses and the snow it was like landing in Christmas-land!

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When most people talk about stepping out of their comfort zone, they think about doing something extreme like bungee jumping or leaping out of a plane.  But those are short, sharp shocks that are over quickly.  Moving to a new country, everything you do is new. New, job, new home, new people.  Even the car I drive (and the side of the road!) and where I buy groceries have all changed, so it takes a while to come down back to earth because there’s nothing familiar to come home to.  Plus, as there are so many decisions on a daily basis there’s no time to procrastinate!  You have to seize every moment, a way we often talk about in terms of living our lives but rarely get the chance to.

I’ve always had a love affair with America.  When I was little I used to watch Moonlighting from my bed and imagine that New York was outside my curtains.  I first went to New York when I was twenty years old and, in 2005, worked on the BBC documentary series ‘Soul Deep: The Story of Black Popular Music’ where we traveled the country interviewing some of the most influential names in soul music.  On my travels I’ve visited San Francisco, Las Vegas, LA, New York, New Orleans and Connecticut.  I’ve always found people in the US to be open, friendly and even an exchange with a stranger in a elevator can brighten my day.

Right place, right time..

Moving your whole life is a huge, but I had so many signs that this was the right place to be.  I’d lived in London for 10 years and always thought I would move after a decade but just hadn’t decided where yet.  Then my apartment building was sold and I’d be talking to my coach about moving to the States.  I was working in Dublin and walking down a street that could have been straight from Minnesota, thinking to myself that I always thought I would live in America one day and just weeks later I was approached by Evine!

In Minnesota, people are always curious when they hear me speak. “I love your accent”  is a daily thing, or “I could hear you talk all day” to which I say that can only be a good thing as I talk for a living and tell them they can watch me on Evine!  The question I get asked the most is, “What the biggest difference?” or “What do you miss the most?”  My advice to anyone going to live in a new country is to say your goodbyes to what and whoever you’re going to miss before you set foot on the plane, and look for connection rather than what’s different.

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When I first arrived I did miss being able to walk everywhere, as well as the architecture of London.  Unlike most Brits, I don’t crave PG or Tetley tea (British tea brands); I’m more of a Pukka girl when it comes to having a ‘cuppa’.  There aren’t any TV shows I can’t get online or live without.  In terms of fashion, I was sad to leave was my beloved Topshop.  I actually cried when I saw they’d come to Nordstrom’s – to see the familiar logo I’ve loved and worn for years in an unexpected place brought up unexpected emotions!

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There’s a French expression, ‘Vive la difference’ and ‘long live the difference’ is how I feel about living in America.  I love the four seasons that we have in Minnesota, I’m a water-baby (which you can read about in my last blog) so very well suited to lake-life.  I’ve also enjoyed the challenge of making new friends with the interests and person I am now.  I adore the weather here because, although Minnesotans refer to it as a short summer, three months is a cause for celebration and very different from our wet summers in the UK!

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Here’s my advice if you’re thinking about taking plunge and moving somewhere new:

Embrace the new

One of my mottos has always been ‘I’ll try anything twice’.  I hated sushi the first time, now I love it!  If you’re somewhere new you’re not the same ‘you’ so, be adventurous – you might surprise yourself!  When I came over last year, I went to the State Fair to sample the many foods on a stick and then drove to St Paul to hit up the yard sales.  A few months ago, I volunteered at the Minneapolis film festival; both to meet new people and so that I had to drive across Downtown in rush hour!  I often set myself ‘missions’ just to get myself up and out and about.

Laugh at yourself

Taking yourself too seriously can leave you feeling overwhelmed.  Another motto of mine is ‘Lighten up and let go’.  I like to try and laugh at situations and notice my negative self-talk.  Telling yourself, “I’m such an idiot” doesn’t serve you.  Try laughing at the situation rather than making it your fault.  We can’t all be comedians 24-7, but sometimes cracking up at a situation lightens the mood and gives you a new perspective.

Let yourself mess up

Things will go ‘wrong’ but, as a life coach, I’m a great believer that the only mistakes we make are the ones we don’t learn from.  Allowing yourself to fail allows you to grow.

*Pssst! I failed my written Minnesota driving test the first time and then spent two days revising the whole Minnesota drivers handbook!*

Make it your own

I’ve practiced yoga for 16 years and love to swim, dance and work out in the gym.

I bought my yoga mats with me and joined a studio the first week.  If your life is feeling all over the place, try and create your own routines to feel grounded and move your body to get those feel good endorphins.  I love the quote, ‘If Oprah has time to meditate you have time to meditate.’ (Even if I don’t always find time to meditate! 😉

Get out there!

Don’t stay in and wait for life to happen. Meetup.com is a great way to meet people with the same interests as you.  If you’re feeling you can’t go alone, post a message to say that you’re feeling nervous!  A lot of meetups wear wrist bands or something to make it easy for you to find the group. Go for it!

 

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My Life Changing Trek

Kathy blog 2 15There are moments that you never forget, those moments that could be called ‘life changing’.  One of those times for me was my mission trip with Smile Network. This is a humanitarian organization that provides life-altering reconstructive surgeries and related healthcare services to impoverished children and adults in developing nations.  When you make a donation for a dollar, ten dollars, five hundred dollars or more, you are giving someone in need the priceless gift of dignity.  In fact, I learned that 45 minutes and $500.00 changes a life forever.

Kathy blog 2 4 So here is my story.  After a major health scare and recovery, I was feeling pretty lucky, blessed.  So I wanted to give back.  Turns out my good friend and college roommate, Dawn, felt the same way.  We went to a meeting to find out more about the organization and the work they were doing in Peru with many children from the Ketchwa tribe.  Wow!  Here is what we signed up for . . .

 

Kathy blog 2 21We were going to be gone from our families and the basic comforts of home for 17 days.  The first few days in Peru we acclimated to the elevation in the beautiful town of Cusco.  Beautiful people.  Then, it was off to the classic Inca Trail where we would be bonding with our surgical team by hiking together for five days and four nights.  We hiked about eight hours each day and summited at ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’ at around 13,000 feet above sea level.

 Kathy blog 2 9The Inca Trail is really three overlapping trails: Mollepata, Classic, and One Day.  Mollepata is the longest of the three routes, with the highest mountain pass, and intersects with the Classic route before crossing Warmiwañusqa (‘dead woman’).  Located in the Andes mountain range, the trail passes through several types of Andean environments including cloud forest and alpine tundra.  Settlements, tunnels, and many Incan ruins are located along the trail before ending at the Sun Gate on Machu Picchu mountain.

Kathy blog 2 12We trekked with moms, dads, teenagers, photographers, porters and even a Peruvian shaman, Roni.  There were lots of laughs, really bad camp food, twisted ankles, altitude sickness and NO BATHROOMS!  The trail tested our physical fitness, mental toughness, even our modesty.  But, man-oh-man, was it ever life changing.  I was truly present for every moment.  Nothing but the trail and your walking stick for days.  The scenery was breath Kathy blog 2 22taking, but the moment that we got to the Sun Gate – the end of the trail – Machu Picchu was beyond words.  We were exhausted, dirty, hungry and SOOOO awe inspired to see in person what we have only seen in pictures.  I mean when was the last time you did something for the very first time?   Machu Picchu is enormous!!!  We spent hours there soaking it all in and then it was off for showers and food! 

Kathy blog 2 13But after all that, the REAL adventure was about to start.  We were there for a medical mission and it was time to start the process, our higher purpose.

 Day 1 of the mission was where we started the screening process.  Some families had walked for days to just get the chance to see one of the mission doctors in hopes that their child’s face could be repaired and life changed.  There were hundreds that came in to be screened, and Kathy blog 2 14less than 75 that would get this life changing surgery.  I have to say, much of that day was heartbreaking, having to turn away families and knowing what they had gone through just to get there, much less what their lives were like back home.  Gut wrenching really.  The doctors are made up of volunteers from all over the world; pediatricians, plastic surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, all here ‘on vacation’ working 15 hour days to give the less fortunate in this world another chance.

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Days 2-4:  Surgeries began and recoveries continued.  Most of the families didn’t speak English or Spanish but rather a Ketchwa dialect that required translators to help them discuss the surgery and what to expect.  Mostly Kathy blog 2 3for me, it was telling moms that it was going to be okay by dishing out a lot of hugs and prayers.  It’s so surreal – a mother handing over their child and their trust to you while they really can’t begin to understand what is happening.  I became a ‘godmother’ to many of the babies that we were able to help.  I actually even got to assist in the surgeries, becoming sort of a ‘scrub nurse’, in what are not modern surgery centers, but more like M.A.S.H. units.  Pictures tell it best.  Truly, in 45 minutes, these doctors and nurses changed lives forever, mine too. 

This experience has changed the way I think about the world and my life . . . forever.

 Kathy blog 2 1

 

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Skincare 101, or “I bought it, now how do I use it?!”

Hosting beauty shows each week is so much fun!  I get to work with fantastic guests, learn about the latest trends in skincare and, of course, sample EVERYTHING!  The one question I hear from you week after week is: ‘how do I use all of this stuff, and in what order do I use it?’ So, I thought a good, basic overview would be a fun blog post and I hope you find it helpful.  Keep in mind: this is a basic overview as we carry so many great brands. For brand specific questions, you can go to our website and find that most brands have super informative tutorial videos.  If you don’t find answers there, either leave a comment below with your question or visit my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherHallEVINELive/, post your question and I’ll try to answer it for you.  Ready for Skincare 101??

Step 1: Cleansing

Heather blog 2 consultThis is critical to great skin.  Sleeping with our makeup on is one of the biggest mistakes we make, it REALLY ages us!  The skin rejuvenates while we sleep and, when its dirty and clogged, we slow or even stop this process.  I know we all get lazy at times but, as a general rule, we should all be going to bed with clean and hydrated skin.  Use a clean washcloth each time you cleanse and, if you own a cleansing brush, you get bonus points!  Alcohol-free cleansing wipes are okay every now and then, but shouldn’t be a substitute for thorough, old-fashioned cleansing.

Step 2: Exfoliating

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This is a done on an as needed basis, and everyone will be different.  I personally exfoliate three days a week, but you should test what works best for your skin. As we age, our cell turnover slows wayyyyy down (thanks, mother nature) and we need to start doing manually what our bodies once did naturally.  If you’re over 35, you should be exfoliating!  We offer tons of choices and I’m sure you can find one to work for you.

Step 3: Serums

Heather blog 2 immortalThis is usually the most concentrated and powerful anti-aging step we have!  If you’re looking for one area to splurge in, I’d say either serum or eye cream. Most brands we carry tell me their most advanced anti-aging ingredients are in the highest concentrations in the serums.  Some brands even offer eye serums!  As I layer skincare, I use the thinnest products first and then work my way up to my moisturizer. Serums go from the top of your forehead to the bottom of your neck. BONUS TIP – use leftovers on hands.

Step 4: Moisturizer

Heather blog 2 DimitriAlways apply your moisturizer with an upward sweeping motion. Gravity’s working hard enough to pull our skin down, so I’ll take any lift I can get!  Take time to massage your moisturizer in, and let serums absorb fully before taking this step. Massage is great for circulation and can make our daily skincare chore feel like a mini spa treatment.

Step 5: Eye Cream

Heather blog 2 all beauty 1If you can afford it, consider getting a cream specifically for the eye area. The skin around the eyes is more delicate, and requires more TLC, than the rest of our face. Apply eye cream in all areas of the eyes that your sunglasses would cover (I just learned this great tip recently from our of our fab guests!) This includes above the eyebrows, under eyes, along sides of eyes, and really work in the crows feet area. BONUS TIP: work extra product on forehead between brows to avoid the dreaded number 11s.

BONUS ROUND: Masks, peels, face oils, tools and supplements 

Heather blog 2 SonyaThis is where you take your skin to the next level!  Invest in your five basics first and, when you can, splurge on something from this category. Or let your friends and family know that, when holidays and birthdays roll around, this is a GREAT gift idea for you. We offer too may to go through, but please read all the reviews at Evine.com and watch for our great Day of Beauty sales.

Here is to glowing skin!!

Hugs, Heather

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