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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Who Chopped Down the What Kind of Tree?

George Washington Chopped Down the Cherry Tree - Mark Otto Chopped Down the Dead Tree in our yard.

Not such an exciting day at our house today, but some good came of it. Played the organ at church, accompanied the choir, sang with the choir, had help from a good friend with a tough piece of offeratory music (thanks Jim), then helped teach Sunday School. Then...had some friends over for lunch, did some additional painting in the house, and THEN...Mark went to work chopping down (sawing I guess I should say) the dead tree in the yard.

I was convinced the tree would fall on one of the kids, so he brought it down instead. It was fun seeing the kids stacking wood, and we ended up meeting one of our neighbors and the project created some make shift seats around our firepit. The tree damaged a bit of the fence, but we found out it was OUR fence, so the apologies were much easier.

That's all off to bed for a busy week ahead. Tomorrow begins with coffee! (tomorrows writings will be much more profound - I promise)

...may your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and good friends!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Who Is/Was Seymour Althen?

Yup...once a geek always a geek. I lost the braces and glasses long ago (still chubby though), but the geekiness isn't quite as easy to get away from. We are planning this wedding with a reception to be held at the Lighthouse Inn in Two Rivers. The name of the hall within the facility is called the Seymour Althen  Banquet Facility. Every time I think about it, I say to myself..."self, don't you think you should know who Seymour Althen is or was since he is indirectly involved in your wedding?" and then I get busy and I don't get back to it.

The children are playing in the yard and I have a few moments to myself this afternoon. I suppose I could take a nap or do laundry, but the geek in me is urging me to figure out who Seymour Althen is. Would you like to come along with me on this little quest?

The first thing I found was a post on confirming that Seymour died in 1975 and confirmed that I had the right Seymour (more popular name than you might think) by showing that he died in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

Then I found some bits and pieces of history about Two Rivers claim to fame as the birthplace of the ice cream sundae and this document made it seem like Seymour was some sort of newspaper reporter or historian in Two Rivers

We forge the Milwaukee Journal paper from July 11th 1972 (,628549) where it seems that Seymour Althen was President of the Two Rivers-Manitowoc Development Co. Inc.

Seymour Althen was also listed as Managing Editor of the Two Rivers Reporter

I think I'll ask the question the next time I'm at the Lighthouse Inn to learn more, but now we know...and isn't it ironic that someone who loves to write is having her wedding reception in a banquet facility named after a managing editor of a local paper? hmmm......and I have a feeling he probably knew my daddy too. Good vibes!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and geeky moments when you have time to answer your own questions and dig for the truth!


Be Rewarded for Enjoying GREAT Food at the Lighthouse Inn - Two Rivers, WI

Many of you know that I love love love to eat at the Lighthouse Inn in Two Rivers. I love it so much that we celebrate birthdays there (yes, even for the children), stop for ice cream cones for no particular reason, would go no where else for a business lunch, AND we are celebrating our wedding there in August. There are so many reasons to love the Lighthouse Inn and for those of you who may not have caught previous posts, here are a few things I appreciate the most:

*courteous staff - they go above and beyond [the waitresses are amazing and a certain bartender (Janelle) is just as wonderful - the experience resembles stopping at a friends house where they remember you versus just being another number]

*clean facility - the exterior and interior of the facility are both clean and well maintained. Even the aquariums are free from finger prints!

*amazing food - I can honestly say that I have NEVER had a bad meal at the Lighthouse Inn's restaurant/The Water's Edge. My personal favorites include: the french onion soup, the bananas foster cheesecake, the baked Alaska, kneecaps, the rueben sandwich, and the gnocchi with cream sauce and shrimp.

*fabulous drinks - Ask for a melon ball and you'll know what I mean - enough said! (it tastes even better than it looks which is hard to believe)

*fair prices - I may have complained about the cost of feeding people at a wedding, but in reality...I called around and the Lighthouse Inn has great prices and if you consider the view and the service - they should really be charging more (but don't tell them that)

*family atmosphere - The Water's Edge Restaurant is the type of place you can bring grandma for breakfast, the children for lunch, and then in the evening you can go back for a romantic rendezvous with that special someone! (and if it's your birthday you may find yourself serenading with a happy birthday played on the violin by one of the concert musicians on staff - Jim Jr or Jim won't find that anywhere else!)

I could go on and on - but the point of today's post was to tell you how you can be rewarded simply by eating at the Water's Edge Restaurant. This is not the official explanation mind you - I am in no way affiliated with the business other than by way of patronage. A year ago my Aunt Dorothe told me to fill out a form and get a reward card. I did as I was told and as you can see on their website, it's really short:

Every time I eat there or stop for drinks/ice cream cones, I hand them my rewards card along with my payment and then I don't think much of it. I was hoping to save up enough to stay overnight or take the kids for lunch. Things are a smidge tight at our house right now, so today I just asked if whatever rewards I had on my card could be used toward today's lunch (it was me, the two kids, and our special friend - Grandma Bev dining today and I wanted to treat). I was expecting $10 or so off the bill...and to my amazement and excitement, I had accumulated enough points that our lunch was FREE.

That's right folks - FREE! Usually when something is free it isn't very good at all, so I want to tell you more about what we received today for absolutely nothing:

*2 bottles of Root Beer

*2 tall glasses of Diet Pepsi

*1 bowl of French Onion Soup

*1 plate of Perch with french fries, rye bread, and coleslaw (and I'm talking lots of pieces Perch)

*1 chefs salad the size of my head

*1 order of pan-papes (ask Andre....but you and I call them pancakes...and there's 4 pancakes on a plate)

*1/2 order of line sausage (Andre again...sausage links)

*1 slice of bananas foster cheesecake

*2 waffle cones filled with Pirate's Booty (from Cedar Crest) Ice Cream

*1 specialty pizza (for more details on that, see the previous post from today) 

I don't even know how much this meal cost - I would guess well over $50 and I got it for FREE. I highly suggest you sign up for a rewards card and then eat eat eat at the Lighthouse Inn/Water's Edge Restaurant every chance you get. (and if you have no one to go with, just call...I can always make time for good food and good friends)

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and friendships!


A Special Treat for Our Special Day

Oh yes...I believe we have thought of everything to make our wedding day a success. We even thought our guests might enjoy a special treat toward the end of the evening. Of course, the Lighthouse Inn was happy to oblige ( and  here's the scoop:

We decided we wanted to serve either a hearty appetizer or pizzas between 9-10pm the night of our reception. Jean from the Lighthouse Inn who had initially helped with booking the event put me in touch with Steve Becker to work out the details. Now, I'm getting ahead of myself, but I must tell you that Steve is fabulous. He is patient and smart, and he's funny too. A few months ago my Aunt said that he and I resemble each other enough that you might think we are I guess Steve is a hottie too (he's going to kill me)!

All joking aside. Steve called me a week or so ago and asked if I had ever tasted the Lighthouse Inn pizza. I admit that I eat there at least twice a month but I have never had the pizza. (it's because it's not on the menu) Steve ordered what they needed for the specialty pizza and arranged for me to come in today to try some. This worked out great since I was going there any way. Not only did Steve have this amazing pizza made especially for me, but he had it made just the way Mark likes pizza...hearty and loaded with veggies and meat. The sauce and the crust were amazing and the pizza was fabulous (no canned ingredients at all - - fresh mushrooms, herbs, seasonings, etc...yummmy). The pizza looked as good as it tasted and smelled so Italian that I was looking everywhere for Toto' or Dean Martin (and if you don't know who they are, google famous Italians to find out)!

When I thought things couldn't get any better...Steve comes out with a 12x12 box filled to the brim with pizza for me to take home for Mark to try. I didn't look at the bill, but I don't think they even charged me for this amazing treat! a special treat to ourselves and our loved ones on August 11th - we will be enjoying some specialty pizzas from the Lighthouse Inn. I know we won't be disappointed in any way - especially with Steve and the staff at the Lighthouse Inn tending to every last detail!

Stay tuned for the next post where I explain how my entire lunch at the Lighthouse Inn was FREE today!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, amazing food, AND great new friends!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

From Our Family to Yours...With LOVE!

Since this week the topic on the tip of my tongue seems to be families, I thought I would tout all the great activities we have right here in Manitowoc County. If you are from here, you might find some new ideas to try and if you aren't from here, COME VISIT!

Manitowoc Marina - take a walk out to the lighthouse, check out the sailboats, power boats, and even some kayaks from time to time. And if you're into fishing, bring along a pole and join the many fisherman bringing in the big one from the pier and docks surrounding the marina. The marina even has a gift shop and full service boat facility - a relaxing place for boaters and non boaters alike! (stop in for an ice cream treat at the ships store and say hi to my friend Kelly!) []

The Lincoln Park Zoo - animals, exhibits, an education center, and a playground make this the perfect afternoon treat for the entire family! Learn how you can help conserve and be better to the world and animals around you! []

Woodland Dunes - for a hands on family friendly experience, stop at Woodland Dunes nature center to learn about birds, frogs, foliage, and the environment. Even on a rainy day, there's something brewing at the dunes! []

Wisconsin Maritime Museum - here's your chance to learn, play and explore! Have you wondered what it would be like on a submarine? Wonder no longer and tour the sub with your family and talk about what it must have been like to live for days/weeks at a time under the water! []

Rahr-West Art Museum - you name it, they've got it - from a children's art exhibit to a place setting exhibit for valentine's day. Check out their website to find out what's going on right now - guaranteed you won't be disappointed if you add the Rahr West Art Museum to your families list of adventures! []

PineCrest Historical Village - step back in time and discover the lifestyle of yesteryear at this charming village. []

Meadow Lanes North - Bowling & Golfing fun for all ages (bumper bowling is available). []

Henry Schuette Park - a park for all ages and a safe place to meet new people. This park has towers to climb, sand ready for castle building, and swings for all levels. The bathrooms are clean and there is ample space for picnics (including sturdy wooden picnic tables) []

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sunshine, sugar, and family friendly activities!

~Crystal ('et al)

Support or Subord? Your Choice

Before I became a parent, I would hear all these stories about how parents were judgmental of one another. I guess I didn't "get it" because I didn't understand the whole parenting dynamic - for example, I remember vowing to myself that I wouldn't bribe my children. Guess what? YES, I'll give them a cookie as we walk into the grocery store in hopes that it will keep things peaceful long enough to accomplish all of my shopping. YES, I'll get them to leave the park by promising we will stop for ice cream on the way home (it's much easier than dealing with a tantrum and carrying two toddlers away from the swing set).

There are more than likely parents out there who are judging my parenting..."if only she would show those kids that she is the boss...." "if she wouldn't spoil them..." "why a cookie instead of a carrot, doesn't she..." blah blah blah

These parents aren't wrong...but neither am I. What they don't know is that my daughter hates carrots and my son will hold them in his cheek until he thinks I'm not looking and spit them somewhere. They both happen to like cookies, and they are readily available for a small fee at the bakery counter of most grocery stores. They also don't know that I have a 40 pound lifting restriction from an old back injury and I cannot physically carry both of my children out of the park and it's technically not legal to leave one in the car while I go back for the other one.

What's the point? The point is that it's easy to judge when we don't know the specifics. It's easy to make assumptions. The problem is, it's not in any way helpful. If you see a mother struggling with her children, or if you know a mother who is having troubles, offer her your support. Point out all the things she does well. IE: "your daughters hair always looks so nice" "the children are so well behaved, you've taught them good manners" "wow, you are very patient with your children..." etc...

If you aren't supporting these parents, you are treating them like subordinates which by definition means you think more highly of yourself than them. The truth is, every parent is simply doing the best they can in the given situation. No two children are alike, and no two parents are alike. Let's spend our time supporting one another instead of judging one another. Parenting is hard enough as it is without feeling the glare of judgment.

It's a choice - you are either supporting or subording - what choice will you make?

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine and support!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Biggest Salary Means Nothing

the biggest salary in the world doesn't mean anything compared to the ability to bring a smile to someone's face. This Facebook post says it all. It cost less than a dollar and the result was priceless.

If you would like to learn more about how you can quickly send a personalized card, watch this video and let me know when I can get you signed up:

The gift of a smile is priceless!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Better off Alone?

Are you in a relationship and wondering if you'd be better off alone? Are you alone and wondering if you'd be better off with someone? Isn't it the same story about girls with straight hair getting perms and girls with curly hair buying expensive flat irons? Or is it...??? (I seriously wish I could find a picture of my permed mullet from the 80's to put right here...kid you not, THANKS MOM!)

Here's the answer - being comfortable alone is just as important is being in the RIGHT relationship. If you are in a relationship with someone who is not truly your partner is frustrating. If that is where you are at, it's true that you would be better off alone. If you know you are the only one you can count on, you won't be let down. If you have someone who SHOULD be helping you that isn''ll be constantly frustrated and feeling let down.

What am I talking about? I have some experience in relationships and until recently I would have told you I only had experience with dysfunctional relationships (ie: those relationships where you feel like you are doing everything and the other party doesn't appreciate or contribute and they probably feel the same way about me).  I really and truly enjoyed being a single parent because it was a lot easier than trying to juggle a newborn and feeling like someone should be helping me but knowing they had chosen not to.

For those of you who are in a relationship and frustrated, try to remember the passion and love you once had and work like hell to rekindle that. So many people throw away a relationship that could have easily been saved. And for those of you who are alone, please hold our for Mr or Mrs my Daddy used to say: "hanging out with Mr right now only means you won't be available when Mr right knocks on the door".

That's my piece of mind for this evening!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and teamwork!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Medicine for My Soul

Today was one of those days where I had my mind set on what I was going to do. The first thing that needed to be done was a thorough spring cleaning of the entire house. I'm an all or nothing gal, so it wasn't a two hour task, it was a seven hour adventure. Had you drive by before 2pm today you would have seen one hideous looking woman with a mop, a pony tail, and a pair of sweat pants - - - she looked awful and smelled even worse. That's why the doors were locked - no one needs to see that!

I even turned down a few offers for coffee - now that's a serious 'bad hair day' sort of day!

Then I got the text I needed - it was a dear friend who just wanted to know if she could stop in to chat. She also offered to bring coffee (which may indicate that I have a problem - but I digress) - I asked her to give me twenty minutes so I could toss on make up (by this time I had already showered and gotten into some presentable clothing). She obliged me and we spent four hours laughing, chatting, and catching up. It's amazing how the voice of a dear friend, the embrace of a loved one, and/or kind words can have a medicinal effect on one's attitude - - it really is medicine for the soul.

My take away from today is this:

No matter who it is, or how long it has been, make it a point to reach out to someone and invite them for a chat. It will do you both a world of good and can make all the difference in the world if they are hurting.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and dear friends!


The Arbonne Experience - YOUR Invitation!

Please join me to experience an exciting line of herbal and botanically-based health, beauty
and wellness products that are
pure, safe and beneficial.

Friday, May 4, 6:00pm

Lovely Hostess: Crystal Casavant
1417 Hawthorne Ave.
Two Rivers, WI

Call or text to reserve your spot:

Presentation by:
District Manager
Michelle McClelland
        Refreshments and prizes available
and feel free to bring a Friend.
Can’t make the date?   Let me know and we can set something up!

Ask about the amazing Business
Opportunity available from Arbonne!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Relax Wedding Consulting?

Planning a wedding is fun - kid you not...I'm having a blast! If you Google wedding planning in Manitowoc County you are directing to a site called: Wedding Wire ( and there are NO wedding planners in this area. So first of all, there is a need and second of all, it's a fairly profitable endeavor. The going rate for a wedding consultant or wedding planner is  15-20% of the total wedding budget. This means, if your wedding costs $15,000 the consultant would be paid: $2,250-$3,000. A consultant can offer as much or as little guidance as necessary and may want to offer help with building a wedding website as well as arranging the wedding itself.

Relax...I'm not planning on increasing what we offer at Relax Consulting. Just a random thought. I do have to say that if has been less than three weeks since Mark's proposal and I am proud to announce that

*Invitations and Response Cards have been designed, printed, and are ready for mailing
*The guest list has been finalized
*The reception hall has been booked and the down payment has been made (menu finalized)
*The cake has been designed and the baker contract is signed
*The wedding dress has been chosen and alterations are done
*The miniature brides dress has been chosen and ordered
*The parties have been planned
*The couple has registered at Kohls
*The church has been chosen and retained
*The flowers have been chosen and ordered
*The unity candle has been chosen, purchased, and is displayed in the brides kitchen
*The cake topper, unity candle stand, and cake server/knife have been chosen, purchased, and are on display
*The hair appointments have been made
*The white doves have been reserved for the special post-service launch

Here's what we are waiting on:

*The City Manager to return the call about ordinances allowing a horse drawn carriage through town.
*Brides Maids to choose dresses
*Grooms Men to choose tuxes

I'm feeling very relaxed as I write out the invitations. I'm hoping that this thorough preparation helps ensure that I'll be no bridezilla when the big day gets closer.

If you think Relax should consider adding wedding consulting, let me know - I'd consider it (if this goes off without a hitch).


Monday, April 16, 2012

What Can't You Let Go Of?

I Love Oprah - now that I got that off my chest we can move forward. But really - Oprah's Life Class this week talks about The One Thing You Have to Let Go Of. There are several things we have to let go of, and I'm not always 'captain obvious', so sometimes I go about things a bit backwards. If you have a hard time narrowing down your list to determine what you have to let go of, I recommend making a list of things you would Never Never Never Never - Not in a Million years - Never Never Never let go of. Once you have that list, it will make it easier to figure things out. This goes for personal possessions, tasks at work, etc...

Example 1 - I want to clean my office. Instead of deciding what I should get rid of (ie: donate), I make a list of things that I cannot live without: The motivational poster that brings me joy each day, my computer, the discs with the children's pictures, my favorite coffee mug, Seeing Red Cars by Laura Goodrich, Quotable Women coffee table book, and Stan Slap's book. Now, hypothetically, everything else can go. These are the things that I would want to run in for if the house was on fire.

Example 2 - I want to move up in the company by delegating things to grow others (ie: leadership). I make a list of things that I would still need to do to feel valuable: Newsletter articles, training presentations, and annual reviews. The rest is fair game, but those things I enjoy so much that I wouldn't want to stop doing them all together.

Example 3 - I want to lose weight and get fit by eating right and exercising (ie: dieting). I make a list of things I am not willing to cut out of my diet: cheesecake, frenchfries, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I'll eat all sorts of other things and exercise my heart out, but if you told me I could never each cheesecake again, I'd laugh at you. I would rather live life plumply than live it without cheesecake.

By being authentic with myself and admitting these things, it helps me make a list of what is NOT important to me and therefore I am much more comfortable letting go of things. I don't mind giving up cinnamon rolls as long as I can still have one slice of cheesecake each month, but had I not identified cheesecake as a necessity, I might fight back when you deny me a cinnamon roll.

For what it's worth - I find this to be a great way to prioritize and grow.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


The Power of Love & a Positive Attitude!

I've been working on a book and thought I'd tease you a bit today with a few of the opening paragraphs - enjoy! (your feedback is welcome)

A story about the power of love and a positive attitude – ANYTHING is possible with a dream!

“Why are you always smiling?” people often ask, and I’ll tell them a bit of the truth, but the whole truth is a long answer filled with a menagerie of stories, characters, places, and challenges that ultimately boils down to the power of a love, a positive attitude, and a desire to succeed no matter what the cost.
I.                    Strength and Dedication
Between 1880 and 1930, more than 27 million people made the journey from around the world to Ellis Island. Some were looking for work in the United States; others were trying to escape the unrest in their own country. Jeanne Maurice boarded the LaTouraine steamship at the Havre with less than $100 and the clothes on her back. She was determined to leave Paris and her past behind her; knowing she would never see her family again, she put a determined foot forwarded and walked away from everything she knew. One of nearly 2,000 passengers following their dreams, she wasn’t even 18 years old yet, and wasn’t sure what she was getting herself into. She knew that the economy in France wasn’t improving and this was her chance at a brighter future. She arrived at Ellis Island on January 6th.
Jeanne worked her way from Ellis Island to the French friendly towns we now call the quad cities in Minnesota. She was comfortable there, and found others who spoke French or French-Canadian which made things much easier as she hadn’t mastered much English. She worked hard taking odd jobs sewing, harvesting, and laboring in whatever factory would give her work. The working conditions were not ideal, especially for a young woman. She looked forward to going to work at the factory where the handsome dark-haired man kept watch at the gate. She was excited when she learned that he was also an immigrant who spoke very little English but whose French was fluent and as lovely as the breeze on a warm summer day. His name was even music to her ears – Felix Casavant…almost as lovely as those dark eyes with so many stories left untold. Felix and Jeanne quickly fell in love, married, and started a family of their own.
Felix had a desire to provide a better life for his family, but immigrants received far less in wages than US Citizens. He moved his two young children and his lovely wife to Wisconsin and claimed Minnesota as his home-town. He wasn’t sure how long people would believe his story, but he kept as quiet as possible so no one would notice his broken English and French accent. Felix continued to work in security positions and Jeanne worked when she could between children; by the beginning of 1930 their love had produced four beautiful children – two boys and two girls. The couple purchased a modest home on the East Twin River in Two Rivers, Wisconsin where they lived amongst other immigrants on a cobblestone street within walking distance of Lake Michigan.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Eloping Sounds Like Heaven!

Eloping sounds like Heaven right now!
It's very important to me to get married in my church and to be surrounded with friends and family - truly it is. On the other hand, I am shocked at how much everything costs. My parents house didn't cost as much as this wedding is going to (granted that was 45 years ago - but still - you see my point). The dress price wasn't bad, but the under garments, accessories, and alterations really add up. Then you have the cost for the meal which increases drastically if you want to offer two types of meet...or even more drastically if you want to offer a sit down meal instead of a buffet. Well, too late to change our mind on the dress (mine at least), but the invitations are going to cost almost as much as my dress and hypothetically I could just call these people instead of spending the money on the printing, mailing, postage, etc...and my time to hand address everything.

I don't know how people do it - I'm overwhelmed and I just keep seeing dollar signs.

How does everyone feel about bringing your own dish to pass and I'll bake cupcakes instead of having a cake? We can get together in my back yard...???

Kidding - truly kidding - we will do it and we will do it right...

Just venting!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, supportive undergarments, and plenty of calligraphy and cream cheese frosting.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Oops! It wasn't Decaf

I love having children that enjoy coffee as much as I do - what I don't love is when they assume it's decaf and drink my entire cup of coffee at 7pm. It wasn't even both was just one...and he's usually very chatty, but tonight takes the cake. I may need a drink (as in a stiff one with whiskey in it) so I can tolerate the caffeinated boy who is bouncing around the house chatting uncontrollably.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine...and decaf coffee


Thursday, April 12, 2012


It Doesn't Get More Transparent Than This!

For years, I would avoid letting people see me without makeup on. I still cringe at the thought of leaving the house without feeling "put together" (ie: no sweat pants in public and at least lipgloss and mascara). So - this is what you are NOT seeing:

I'm showing you this because I want to tell you what a fabulous experience I had tonight with two lovely MaryKay ladies and my dear, beautiful, friend - Heather. We laughed, we learned, we lifted one another up and talked about our strengths and our beauty. And then...

I tried a new lip color, a new foundation color and technique, and check out those eyes (notice you couldn't see them in the first picture?)!

We were under no obligation to purchase anything and we gained so much. New friendships were forged, ideas were exchanged, and we left feeling beautiful and appreciated. Now that's priceless!

If you are interested in having your own evening of pampering and positivity you should email: and tell my friend Cathy that you want to set something up! (or visit her site: ) MaryKay even has a smartphone application where you can take your before picture and have a 'virtual makeover' and Cathy would love to show you that too. Even if you don't wear makeup, you need skin care - even if it's just some great moisturizer or sun screen...and a night of pampering doesn't hurt either.

Seriously - take some time for yourself! I wasn't truthfully excited about the evening - but now I am super glad that I did it. My take aways are worth ten fold the time I invested.

Thanks Cathy, Marge, and Heather - what a memorable night. You are all amazing and beautiful and I am proud to count you as friends.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


My Mentor

I just had an opportunity to nominate a female mentor for the Manitowoc Chapter of Women in Management. I am certain that this post is going to embarrass my humble friend (and nominee), but she truly is a mentor to many and deserves credit where credit is due. Below is my submission for the award:

I would like to nominate Olivia Gaeth-Brey for the WIMI Mentor award. By definition, a mentor is:  a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.  Boy does Olivia fit that bill!

Olivia is the office manager at Advanced Family Chiropractic in Manitowoc and she also owns her own business called OH! Photography. She is so much more than either of these titles imply. She is a young, vibrant, vivacious young woman who brings smiles to many people each day through her positive attitude, great smile, sense of humor, and her photography. Olivia has every reason to be crabby and negative. Her husband passed away unexpectedly within two years of their wedding (he was only 29). He was her best friend and they had a lifetime of dreams left to fulfill. She took that difficult situation and used it to better herself and become an inspiration to others. The depth of her character shows through in the pictures she takes (she captures the spirit of each individual), the words she writes, and the overall way she conducts herself each day. The patients and staff at Advanced family would gladly attest to what a mentor and amazing woman Olivia is, as would the customers and families photographed by OH! Photography.

I am glad to know such a strong and kind woman and I can say with certainty that she is a mentor to many (myself included).

During difficult times, it is especially important to align yourself with positive and strong individuals. Olivia has been right with me through the last few weeks and months and she has been cheering me on and pushing me forward. She was one of the first people to know about Mark's marriage proposal and we are blessed to have her as our photographer that special day. Here are some of the photos Olivia has already done for our family - you can easily see why I say she captures the spirit of each person - she is amazing and you can see her positivity show through in her work as well:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Website Feedback Please

New website is up with new logo - your thoughts?

I Like Heat. I Hate Maps...Did you say HeatMaps?

I like hot coffee, spicy foods, and warm weather. I hate maps and I'm convinced that GPS devices were invented for people like me. I cannot even fold a map back up right much less read one.

When today's instructor started talking about HeatMaps I was thinking it would be a great time to re-apply my lip gloss and then he grabbed my attention when he explained that a heat map isn't really a map at all (at least not by my definition). Bare with me while I digress a bit. In my professional life I write fiction, but also write policies, procedures, compliance and security reports, business plans, requests for proposals, grant requests, etc...and you put hours and hours of work into some of these complex documents. You turn them in, and you hope for the best. In the case of grant writing, you can consider yourself successful if you receive one out of every ten grants you go for. That leaves you constantly asking yourself:

**Does anyone actually read the entire thing?

**What is important to the reader?

**Is this worth my time?

**What did I do right? What did I do wrong?

You don't generally receive any feedback and you wish you knew what competitors documents look like,'s not like putting on a nice outfit and getting that immediate gratification when someone says you look nice or that color looks good on you. Whether the desired end result is achieved or not, you never really know what caught someone's attention or what didn't.

That being said - you'll have a better idea of why HeatMapping appeals to me as I explain to you what it is. HeatMapping is a way of measuring value with a colorful graph. There are applications of heat mapping that can give you feedback about your website based on what viewers spend the most time looking at, and the instructor today was telling us about glasses that a reader can wear that sense what the reader is drawn to and that data is turned into a chart/graph that can give the author feedback about what works and what doesn't. The example given today was in reference to resume's and the gist of it was that a resume with bolding, clean crisp lines, and a neat format gets more attention that one that utilizes too much underlining and an undetermined format.

This intrigued me and I did some research when I got home - if this is something that interests you or your organization, you may want to find out more about some heat mapping providers such as Crazy Egg Analytics:

This is nothing new - here's a helpful article:

Let me know your thoughts - is this something that could help your business, or is it just interesting?


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Amazing Networking Opportunity - Sharing With You!

Not sure if this should be on my personal blog or the business blog - either way, here goes:

I had a fabulous networking opportunity today...actually, the entire day thus far has been filled with networking and opportunity. Here's how things have gone (keep in mind it's not even 3pm so there are more opportunities yet to come) -

9am - stopped at a fabulous chiropractic office to chat with some very nice ladies and enjoy the scenery and ambiance (picture a pond, a water fall, and a real live mallard swimming in the pond). If you are looking for a great chiropractor in the Manitowoc area - check out Advanced Family Chiropractic - during that visit I was able to chat with the talented Olivia Brey from OH photography (talk about talent folks): Olivia is as inspirational as she is talented and it's such an honor to consider her a mentor and friend.

9:30am - met with Steve and Tom from SCORE counseling chapter #508 if you need help with your business or just want to chat with professionals about a dream that you may have for a business - this is the group to get in touch with. Talk about being authentic and providing feedback. What a great experience. They even recommended some books for me to read (being the book worm I am).

10:30am - chatted with Tess and Ron of Fallier Automotive about their adventures and future plans. I can tell you that I've bought several vehicles from them, had work done, and rented a U-Haul - very nice people to deal with:

11:15am - Women in Management Inc. meeting (learn more about us at: and met some great people and heard a presentation about Networking with Purpose and Passion by Joyce Nelson of Joyce Ventures: and also had a fabulous lunch at the Holiday Inn in Manitowoc.

Here I am - writing thank you notes to each of the amazing people who made today such a great day for me. I'd like to also let you know who they are:

United Way 
Contact Sandy to find out how you can volunteer!

Steve Sorenson
Contact Steve to make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality!

Task Management & Consulting
Michelle Kvitek
Contact Michelle to build and maintain your website and so much more!

On Call Assistant/Card Connection
Melissa Lake
Contact Melissa - she's your on call assistant with years of experience & great results!

Manitowoc Public Library
Connie Willems
Contact Connie to find out about great programs available in Manitowoc County (and if you have library fines, now is the time to bring in a food item - each food item is worth $1 up to a total of 20 items toward your fines and the food will be donated to local food pantries)

Felician Village
Roselle Hoschbach
Contact Roselle to learn more about the restaurants, catering, independent living options available at Felician Village and the Gardens!

Amber Dunmire
Contact Amber to learn more about the Thirty One opportunity (cute ideas for organization - including purses!)

American Family Insurance
Pamela Wargin & Julie Nelson
Contact Pam - she believes there's more to insurance than the policy itself - she will provide you with dependable protection and service. Earning your trust is her priority!

Joyce Ventures
Joyce Nelson
Contact Joyce who guides individuals, businesses and organization in professional relationships!

On that note - may your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and as much sunshine as your soul can bear!


Monday, April 9, 2012

Hurt Feelings

I have hurt feelings - and they were hurt by none other than our resident mouse. Logic tells me that he probably scurried in while I was mowing the lawn. The children were in and out that day and he could have simply been looking for a safe and quiet place to hide from that nasty lawnmower. Illogically, I take his presence to mean that my house is dirty and that I'm a terrible mother. It's not like I propped the door open for weeks with a little 'welcome' sign advertising cheese, crackers, and sugary cereal...but for some reason, my feelings are really hurt because the little bugger is here.

I canceled everything this afternoon so I could clean the house from top to bottom. Sadly or gladly (not sure which yet) I found 4 mouse tirds on the pantry floor and none on the shelves, behind the fridge, under the stove, or any where that actual food is kept. He seems to have checked out the recycling and that was it...that reassurance didn't stop me from going through 4 pairs of disposable latex gloves and a bottle of lysol though. I spent from 1pm until nearly 8pm cleaning...and I can assure you that every nook and cranny is sanitized, cleaned, organized, and sparkling. I can also reassure you that the mouse traps are empty (except the peanut butter I'm using for bait).

The children don't think I'm a bad mom, they want to keep the mouse and name him...which we just may do if he outsmarts my traps. I'm hoping that by making sure he has nothing to eat, I'll drive him out the exact hole/door he came in and he will move out on his own accord - call it the rodent relocation seems much more humane than actually catching him in the traps.

Wish me luck - and hopefully tomorrow we will be rid of him, because this lemon's got lemonade to make (or work to do as they say in the grown up world)!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine (and no rodents unless you like that sort of company).


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mother's Day

If you are planning on crafting something for Mom this year - you'd better start now. Mother's Day is Sunday, May 13th so you have just about a month. If you are looking for some great ideas, check our local gift shops and thrift stores. If you have young children, start cutting up those old magazines and make Mom a collage in the shape of a heart with a poem written in the middle. There's ideas all over the place - just don't forget that special day.

If your mother is singing with the angels, this is a great time to adopt a mother or grandmother from a nursing home or assisted living facility. It's never a bad time to appreciate someone and share some sunshine and a smile.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar & sunshine!


Friday, April 6, 2012

Compliment Compliance

Many of us love giving compliments but bristle at the thought of receiving them. Here's my down and dirty compliance lesson when it comes to compliments (and yes, there is intentionally only one RULE if you will when it comes to receiving them).

Giving Compliments 
*Be sincere
*Be specific "you're so nice" is to generic...this is much better "I appreciate how you _____________" (or "I love your floral bag vs. nice outfit)
*Look them in the eye - a compliment without eye contact feels like manipulation

Receiving Compliments
*Say Thank You

For some reason, we feel like we need to return the compliment - THIS IS NOT A TENNIS MATCH MY FRIENDS! If someone tells you that your hair looks nice and you say - "thanks - so does yours" you are rejecting the compliment they gave you and giving them a half hearted and insincere compliment instead of being genuine and sincere. This little compliment volley is what you want to avoid. Look the person in the eyes and say thank you. No need to return the compliment, make excuses, or explain anything - just two little words will suffice


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wedding Plans - Coming Along Nicely

This post is multi-purpose - it will help me go through my to-list, help me be organized, and will also tip readers off to some amazing people and businesses in the area - so here goes:

August 11th is the official wedding day and we've chosen a 3pm service time, 4:30 cocktails, and 5pm sit down meal. We didn't want anyone waiting around wondering what to do or wasting their time between the church and reception, so we hope this time-frame works for all. For similar reasons, there won't be any rehearsal. Several of those standing up live out of town and we hate to inconvenience anyone making them drive twice.

The Church: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church was so helpful and even assisted with arranging for special music, musicians, and gave me a hand out to help with making arrangements:  - I feel so blessed to be getting married in the church I was baptized and confirmed in! ##date confirmed, organist confirmed, violinist to be confirmed tonight (note to self)

Food: The Lighthouse Inn has been incredibly helpful and we are leaning toward chicken and tips family style instead of buffet which might be easier for some of our older family members and the children (or parents of children). Jim at the Lighthouse Inn has gone out of his way to help us: and we cannot wait to enjoy the lovely view of lake Michigan as we celebrate with friends and family. ##Don't forget to sign the forms and make the down payment (note to self) ... they also give the bride and groom a complimentary room - can't wait to relax...another note to self ##ask grandma is she can take the children over night.

The Photographer: Olivia Brey of Oh Photography has agreed to be our photographer ##don't forget to sign the contract and get her the 50% down (note to self) and she did such an amazing job on our family photos, we cannot wait! I feel so blessed that she will be part of our special day!

The DJ:  Kelly Froelich of KTC Fallout has agreed to be our DJ - I've heard Kelly before and he's fabulous, we are excited that he will be part of our special day and trust that he will play only the most fabulous tunes to keep us jamming all night long!

The flowers are going to be simple - I'm thinking we won't have anything elaborate, and possibly just a yellow rose on the altar in honor of those who have passed on and cannot be with us. We will probably contact the Flower Gallery for the bridal bouquet. Diana there is so talented and the staff is friendly and dedicated to customer service! ##this is still on my to do list once we choose a color (note to self)

The Cake: We have chosen to have our cake done by Cravings - Home of Kristy's Kakes for our cake - and I am meeting with them on the 18th to make that decision - the cake topper will be the cake topper my parents had at their wedding so many years ago - it will be close to having my father there in sort of a reassuring and teasing way...yup, he's the little guy on top of the cake - LOL ##remember to ask about petit chocolates or something decorative for the head table (note to self)

The Dress(es): I think I am going to go with something from David's Bridal as they have online specials for $199 and maybe even better deals in the store and they offer free shipping. And for those standing up - I'm hoping they can find something by Vera Wang that would be nice enough for them to wear again - they have such cute styles. Otherwise, just something in the same color is fine, I don't want to make it more work than it's worth for the special ladies!

The Manly Men Outfits: The plan is black suits with ties - instead of renting a tux...that way they have something they can wear again, and Schroeders has such great prices - and then just a tie in the right color.

Unity Candle: This is on the to do list - any suggestions?

Invitations: This is on the to do list - planning on using Send Out Cards to simplify the process.

What else are we missing? Post your comments - we appreciate your help!!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!!


An Amazing Day on the Shores of Lake Michigan

What a gorgeous morning. It's brisk (37 degrees without the wind), but the sun is trying to break through the clouds and the lake is an amazing shade of blue and the contrast between water and sky is breath taking! There were a few years that I didn't live on this particular lake, so I feel very blessed to be back in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. In fact, my house is so close that you can hear the waves; a comforting sound to my ears.

There's plenty going on around town today - I had an opportunity to chat with some other mothers when I dropped Carmen off at school this morning, and then there were the usual suspects hanging out at Red Bank Coffee (inside Schroeder's Department store), a fun group of children when I dropped Andre off for his gymnastics class, and then I even had time for a shopping trip to the Honey Pot to visit with some friends and pick up some great rain boots (every farmer's fiance' needs a pair of floral rain boots suitable for the barn and the fields alike.

And now, I am sitting in my office with the windows open (so I can hear the waves) and the fireplace going (to counter the cold breeze blowing in the window) and I'm returning calls and emails and trying to plan a wedding.

Here's the scoop:

July 21st was our first choice and the Pastor is available but not the photographer or the restaurant. Now we are thinking (what's this we thing? it's me...Mark said he'll be wherever whenever) - so I am thinking: August 11th since the LightHouse Inn is available that day (, and the most amazing photographer  in the world - Olivia Brey of OH Photography ( is available that day too. Now I just have to wait for the good word from Pastor...and hope that the 3 couples standing up are available. I'm sitting here laughing because I was just asked if we were having a grand march and I stopped dead in my tracks thinking "what's that and do I want it?" wedding brain seems to be as bad as pregnancy brain - I even missed choir rehearsal last night because I didn't realize it was, need a vacation!

Once again, I hope you're laughing with me and not at me and furthermore, I hope your paths are abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I Want the World To Know - It's Fresh Like Spring!

I've been walking around with a smile on my face and a secret "in my pocket" as they say...and it's official...I can tell the world now and I really want the world to know:

I have been blessed with the opportunity to marry the most amazing man - last Saturday night (at 12 minutes to midnight on the eve of April Fools Day) Mark asked me to marry him - and yes you romantics out there, he got down on one knee to do it!!!

We are planning for a July/August wedding.

For those of you who don't know Mark well, I'll hit on the high points:

-he is incredibly handsome with amazing green twinkly eyes and a smile that lights up a room

-he has a fabulous sense of humor and can make me laugh so hard that I can't catch my breath

-when he walks in a room my heart skips a beat

-when he hold my hand or kisses me, I hear choirs singing

-he works from sun up until the wee hours of the night - he is the hardest working man I know

-he is compassionate with the weak, the young, and the fragile

-he is articulate with his feelings, thoughts, and emotions

-he shares his dreams and encourages mine

I could not imagine my life with him and the thought of being his wife makes me feel like the most important, and prettiest girl in the world. I don't deserve someone this amazing, and I am humbled that he would have me to love honor and cherish until death do us part. God truly has blessed the broken road and it has led me right to Mark A. Otto.

And as for you my friends - may your paths be as abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and mine have been!!


We Get To Wobble With Weebles

Betty Brinn's Children's Museum is hosting a Weebles Around the World exhibit and they were looking for children and families to participate in some video taped events, commercials, etc...and we've been accepted. Can't wait to head down there in a few weeks with the kiddos!

Weebles were a favorite of mine as a child - my cousin Lynn and I could play for hours, laughing and singing the weebles wobble but they don't fall down times! I'm super excited to be part of this upcoming event!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Down N Dirty Day

Today was a down n dirty day for this girl and her family. We had to drop a few things off at the farm (owned by my boyfriend Mark) and once there, we didn't want to leave. I didn't get a lick of work done around the house or in the office, but it was an amazing day. If you want to skip the play by play, go ahead...but scroll down for the moral of the story.
Play By Play:
- arrived at the farm with a fruit smoothie for Mark (who never takes time for breakfast, so we were helping)
- got to watch one of the silos being filled...amazing how all those gadgets work together
- helped sweet the barn
- helped feed baby calves - twins - they are the size of a medium size dog...adorable
- loaded up a bull-calf for the livestock auction and sent Andre off to the auction (his idea)
- ran back to town to get Carmen
- ran home to let the chihuahua out
- dropped cauliflower and broccoli salad off at a friends
- back at the farm...found a baby laying out in the field
- found a very sick mommy at the edge of the pasture near the creek
- called the vet
- ran to pick up a new to us but used tractor
- taught Carmen how to drive a 5-speed (on the drive home)...she's pretty smart about knowing when to shift, and  I was impressed
- watched the vet give the mommy cow and IV (she had milk fever)
- mixed feed
- headed home to do laundry and bathe 3 very stinky people
- mowed the grass before showers
- 3 baths and 2 loads of laundry
- invited Grandma over for supper
- ate supper
- cleaned the kitchen

and here I am...

the moral of the story:
Some people say if you fail to plan, you will I feel like failing to plan was really the key to a successful day. We experienced so much just because we were open to whatever the day had to offer. I am a firm believe in goals and having a plan, but some days you should just give yourself permission to go with the flow. I heard things I never would have noticed if I had been in a hurry. Standing in the pasture I saw things I would have otherwise overlooked and I made memories with my children that will live longer than I will.

It was a down n dirty day but my soul is smiling = priceless!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine and sweet surprises!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Be Sure To Join Us On Facebook

Be sure to join Relax Consulting on Facebook and give us your two cents about what the next give away should be.

You'll Never Share in Love Until You Love Yourself

I love RENT - and my kids love Rent, and my adorable daughter asked if we could watch Rent today while we were putting together new chairs for my office - gotta love her! There are so many profound things about this production, but just a moment ago I heard "You'll never share in love until you love yourself" and wow, isn't that the truth?

I wonder if this speaks to any single folks looking for love?

Just had to share...

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


PS - today is national PB&J day - so if you aren't inspired to make anything for dinner tonight, whip out the peanut butter and jelly in observance of this special day!

Get Passionate!

Do you ever feel like you are going through the motions? Did you have a dream once but it's written on a cocktail napkin hidden at the bottom of your underwear drawer? Do you stop to think about your passions? Not sure what I mean? Let me explain...

Remember that feeling when you met "the one"? (or the one you thought was the one) Some things that might jog your memory:
-you wanted to spent every waking moment with them
-you couldn't imagine what you would do if they didn't call you back
-every dream included them
-their touch, their felt like a million dollars

Take a moment today and think about what you are passionate about. Some of these questions may help you refocus:

**Who do I want to spend my time with?
**Where do I want to be in five years?
**What do I believe in so strongly that my mind is unchangeable?
**How will I make a difference?

Now - here's your call to action - GET PASSIONATE! Get passionate about something and get to it; it will bring you immense joy and great satisfaction and will help guide your course.

And finally...get accountable - share your passion with others. If you'd like, share it with our blog, email me privately, or if you prefer to be more private - write it down...just don't put it in your underwear drawer...look at it often as it will be your roadmap to the future and all that you are meant to be!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stop Judging Yourself!

Just a quick note tonight to remind everyone to stop judging yourselves. The examples go on and on but I'll name a few:

-Letting your children play outside without a coat on because the coat is in the laundry, or you can't find it...does NOT make you a bad mom - it shows your children that it's okay to improvise!

-Missing a day of work because you don't feel like getting out of bed but you aren't really super sick...does NOT make you a bad employee - it makes you human!

-Wearing mis-matched socks because the dryer ate one of each pair...does NOT make you a fashion disaster - it makes you crafty, artistic, and fun!

-Cussing when you stub your toe and using the F word...does not make you a literary makes you human (and if you don't make a big deal about it, your children will likely forget it quickly).

There are enough people out there who are happy to judge you, point fingers, and kick you own a__...why do you want to do it for them? Cut yourself some slack as a human, parent, spouse, etc...

If you didn't wake up tomorrow, it wouldn't much matter if your socks matched or if your children had a bad haircut - what matters is who you love and how deeply...and the legacy you leave behind has nothing to do with a one time slip up.

Stop judging yourself and start living!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!


Easter Thanksgiving? - We want to hear from YOU!

Easter and Springtime bring such happy thoughts to mind - budding flowers, singing birds, warm lake breezes, and a time of rebirth for nature and the living things. I am thankful for so many things year round and I'm interested in hearing what YOU are thankful for this time of year. Please leave your comments before April 15th at noon. Please leave a comment answering one of the following questions:

1)At Easter/Springtime, I am thankful for:

2)My favorite Easter/Springtime memory is:

3)A Easter/Springtime tradition that is special to me is:


The truth is - you can drink fine wine out of either of the vessels shown above. Similarly, you can sail around the world in a personal sailboat or on a cruise ship. Each option has it's own pros and cons and there is a time and a place for the plastic cup and a time and place for the wine glass, etc...

In the world of business, we think about the image of our product, ourselves, our clients, etc...or at least we should. We should strive to provide the best possible product, look our best, align ourselves with successful people, etc...This seems like a no brainer in the business world, but I challenge you to look more closely at your personal image. This is something my father said to me when I was very young: "Punkin, you should always put your best foot forward because you never know who you'll run into and where".

This was very true last evening. There happened to be a very successful gentleman and his lovely wife sitting at a table close to where I was sitting at a local restaurant. The man owns a business (out of state) and he is very successful, smart, witty, and charming. Unfortunately, last night he wasn't the least bit concerned about his image. He had had a few too many glasses of wine and was rude to his wife, impatient with the waitress, kept complaining about the food and service even though they were both fabulous. He even went so far as to be loud, rude, and obnoxious. 

Try as I might, I would never categorize him as polished and he is not someone I would choose to align myself with. Image isn't simply about what we look like or the clothes we buy. Notice I said nothing about the mans clothing - the way you treat others, the words you say, and your body language have a lot to do with the image you create. Choose your personal image as carefully as you choose your professional image and you'll be impressed with the results!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and plenty of sunshine ~it's your day, make it everything it should be!


PS - I've been known to drink fine wine from a plastic cup...and guess what? it tastes just as good, but let's save those plastic cups for campfires and boat trips!

The Winner of Amy Chua's Book is...

Drum roll please for Natyxia!
Thanks everyone who shared with us via public post, private message, or just those who made a commitment to themselves.

may each of you find the happiness you seek!