Thursday, December 29, 2011

Do the Hard Thing: Budget

I've worked in Political Communications for about a decade now. For all of those 10 years, I've heard politicians use one line when they discuss unpopular budget cuts:

"The economy is rough. Every family is sitting at their kitchen table right now, making cuts to their family budget. We are called to be financially responsible, too."

I completely agree with the sentiment. Government should spend, at a minimum, what they bring in but should also really only spend what they need and return the rest to taxpayers.

However, how many families are really tightening their budget? How many have a budget?

Many conservatives like to say the debt Washington politicians have accumulated is "passing debt to our grandchildren." Personal debt may be even worse. You're mortgaging your future dreams for your current passing fancy.

Ten years from now, I may decide that my life long dream is to open a restaurant, open a business, or move to Colorado. By then, I may be able to travel to the moon. When I decide what those dreams are, I want to be in the financial situation to make them happen.

If you're struggling with personal finance, now is the time to take control. Remember, spending more than you take in is only spending your future.

Personal Finance Tools: (Love their boot camps!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is engagement all that matters?

I've worked in social media marketing at Newsblasters for about a year now. Our company focuses on political candidates and non-profits, but we have picked up some traditional business clients as well.

To be on social media, you have to have something to say. After all, your fans and followers won't visit your page often and you have to show up in their timeline. We help our clients produce daily content so they are heard.

If you keep up with social media discussion, you know there's a lot of focus on engagement. Do people "like" what you say? Do people re-tweet it? Are they leaving glowing comments about you? Yes, social media should be a conversation and should encourage familiarity with your brand.

But does that make you successful?

I use social media mainly for information. To keep up with the news or politics, to stay abreast of social media developments, the Braves and a little gossip and jokes, too. However, I don't interact with every post I see, even the ones that I find interesting or compelling.

A recent study found that Twitter accounts with more than 1,000 followers engage less than accounts with fewer followers. They have more followers, which indicates some level of success, but they're not really cultivating relationships with their followers. Their followers are interested in the information, not looking for a friend.

I'm not arguing that we should discount all forms of engagement and ignore the people that follow us. But, there is value in broadcasting your message via social media, even if you're not dedicating resources to engaging. Unfortunately, it's more difficult to measure.

Updated Cookbook

Head on over to my cookbook page for a bunch of updated recipes. Let me know what you make and how it turns out!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Education and Necessary Skills

There's a lot of debate over public education and it received a lot of media coverage. With so much at stake, it makes sense. In Georgia, school funding has been a big issue over the last few years. Georgia also made a controversial decision to change the high school math curriculum that the new superintendent has promptly undone.

Steve and I don't have kids but I've recently given a lot of thought to a subject missing from our schools. Why don't we teach kids responsible personal finance?

It's a subject that I've recently found interesting. Earlier this year, I picked up Dave Ramsey's book which convinced me that I needed to finally start budgeting. I'm glad I started when I did because I was able to save a few grand that eventually went to help a family member in need. Now, Steve and I have established financial goals, I've become coupon crazy and I devour all kinds of personal finance news and advice.

I wish I would have started earlier. I'm curious to know where I would be if I'd started at 22 instead of 27.

Our economy has suffered significantly as families collapsed under debt. It started with the housing bubble and many believe student loan debt will soon cause more problems. Wouldn't it make sense to teach our kids how to live within their means and what to do with their eventual wealth?

The Girl Scouts rolled out new badges a few weeks ago, which include Good Credit, Money Manager, Budgeting and Financing My Future. Bravo to this organization for teaching girls the skills they need to really be successful today. I hope our schools take their lead because, at the end of the day, personal finance success is a skill we all need.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm Thankful for 2011

This letter almost didn't happen this year. It seems that my to do list is always much longer than the hours available in the day. Five years is a good run, right? No need to stress myself out with something else to catch up on.

But, that's the reason why I write. With so much rushing, it's good to sit down, forget the stress and remember the blessings, of which there are so many.

In 2011, I couldn't be more thankful for:
-Steve and forgetting you drove a Camaro, getting dropped off at Turner Field with your luggage, making hand grenades for my birthday, Leon, take me to the farm, scary clown face, your truck that doesn't fit in the garage, tailgates, Oscie and Marlie, your love and your patience with me, your warm heart and generosity, and your incredible sense of humor.
-My mom, who is strong despite herself and can find humor in any situation.
-My dad, who has taught me the power of dependability and quiet prayer.
-Taylor, who is more like my mom than she can deal with and is willing to take the risk to improve her future.
-Reed, who has grown up so much in the last year and picked an amazing, nurturing bride.
-Our sweet pretty puppy Marlie, whose quirks keep us constantly entertained

My friends are really the best a girl could ask for. I realize the ways God blesses me through you. I'm so very thankful friends that:
-Make me laugh. Hard.
-Sleep over and make scones for the Royal Wedding
-Obsess about the Kardashian wedding
-Give side-eye
-Share a single old memory and brighten your day
-Ask if I have a Sharpie in my purse
-Share their struggles
-Attend/Throw girly cocktail hours
-Let us crash the pool they don't have access to anymore.
-Fall in love
-Love Will Hoge
-Tailgate for Opening Day
-Watch the Braves in Macon bars
-Quote 30 Rock
-Don't know if they need new contacts or need to wash their windshield
-Encourage me
-Don't get mad when I back out of half marathons (again)
-Let me sleep at their house
-Warn me about zombies in Vinings
-Dance in my dining room
-Predict the Braves' collapse
-Have an irreverent sense of humor
-See Breakfast at Tiffany's at the Strand
-Make honey badger jokes
-Search for movie sets with me
-Are happy
-Wear two different shoes to her birthday party
-Carry Steve through downtown Atlanta
-Wear hats in Marshall's
-Pick me up when my car breaks down
-Rescue my pretty red elf shoes
-Show me how to start over and learn new things
-Say "good talk"

I thank God regularly for: Molly, Wylly, Rick, Chris Brown, Sharon, Nate, Nikki, Steven, Chris Connolly, Ben, Matt, Krisi, Sarah Beth, Brett, Liz, Patrick, Tom, Kevin, Ivan, Cat, Meaghan and Billy.

The men and women in uniform who put their lives on hold to keep us safe.

Thank God for: Twitter; sangria, Riesling, Malbec and tequila; treadmills; DVR; Homeland and 30 Rock; blogs; Sharpies; Susan B. Anthony; Will Hoge and Miranda Lambert; Coke Zero; pecans; covers; celebrity gossip; vacations and new adventures; people that drive better than I do; hurricane coverage; Jackson Square; fortune tellers; my bed; the days I can work at home; Mardi Gras miracles; coupons and contests; old pictures; awkward conversations and situations that are funny later; the laughter that comes from being easily amused and a little bit childish; and the million other small things that get me through the day.

The moments of truth that you never see coming. The little girl in the grocery store showing her mom where the sunscreen is that reminded me how patient and loving my mom is with me. The fortune teller who summed me up by saying once I lose respect for people I can't be around them. The ex-boyfriend who told me I was immature and unnecessarily confrontational. The short miracle who told me, "Sometimes all you can do is put your hands on the computer and pray, and hit delete!" The learning moments that make me realize so much.

God bless the Braves, Baby, Everyday Johnny, firing Larry Parrish, Freddie Freeman hugs, getting rid of Scott Proctor, Zambrano hitting Chipper, the man in the wedding dress that jumped on to Turner Field, the Twitter Braves family, and the cursed locker. 

That my heart was good and shattered once and I survived.

That I completed the Peachtree. 

That I have a Savior who blesses me everyday and loves me for who I am but loves me too much to leave me this way.

And finally, the chance to share my blessings. Despite every hardship and change I've faced, I'm truly blessed and lead a charmed and amusing life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We went to Boston!

Steve and I joined a bunch of our lovely friends in Boston to see FSU take on Boston College. Steve is a nutty FSU fan. He woke me up in the middle of the night in February because he had a dream he talked to Jimbo Fisher and he wanted to talk to me about it.

Steve walking through the BC stadium. It's blurry because he was in Game Day mode and I was trying to keep up.
Anyway, we had so much fun in Boston and can't wait to go back. During baseball season.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book 5: Bossypants

If you can make me laugh, I want you to be my friend. You can be a terrible, horrible person. You can be the worst cynic ever. If you make me giggle, you win.

Someone told me they were shocked that I liked 30 Rock and Tina Fey. "She's so liberal. How can you listen to that? She's out to destroy our values."

Yes, there are values I hold dear and I've worked very hard for candidates I believe in. At the end of a hard day though, I just want a good laugh, folks.

..And, that's why I love Bossypants.

My mom had surgery earlier this year and I spent the whole day in the hospital reading passages of Bossypants.. to my grandmother, who didn't understand. I reread the book a few weeks ago, on a football Saturday, aloud to Steve, who pretended to listen but at least laughed.

One of the best passages in the book is about Amy Poehler's first day at SNL. She's goofing around with Jimmy Fallon, who returned the joke by saying she was unladylike and he didn't like it. "I don't f*cking care if you like it."And she moved on.

It made me think about my own work demeanor and personality. How often do I shy away if someone doesn't laugh? How often am I scared to reach out at a networking event for worried I might be shunned? Why do I care if they like it?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What does brand loyalty mean?

This week, the story is about Netflix, who lost 800,000 subscribers after raising subscription rates, splitting their streaming and DVD services and then changing their mind. Next week, a citizen-run social media campaign is encouraging Americans to switch their banks after several large banks announced new fees for debit transactions. (The group has over 25,000 Facebook fans, no less.) That's right, banks are now going to charge you to conveniently and safely access your money.

Marketers work to inspire brand loyalty amongst their customers. They try giving stuff away (I like money), funny commercials, contests, social media messaging is meant to sound hip and fun.

Our friends raved about Netflix. They had both DVD and streaming subscriptions, even if the streaming feature didn't offer much and you could only check-out a few DVDs at a time. As soon as prices jumped, so did they. And loudly.

One thing is clear: Just because a customer gives you money, even over a sustained time frame, today's consumers aren't loyal to your brand and are ready to jump if they feel taken advantage of. So, if a business relationship isn't the basis of brand loyalty, what is? What companies inspire you to keep your business? Why?

*Side note: Steve and I cancelled our Netflix subscription this month and we're loyal members of the ING nation, but probably not if they start charging fees.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Experience the Gold Dome from your iPhone

Georgia's State Capitol is truly one of the best ways to learn about Georgia history- and its free. Another way to experience it for free without even having to travel to Atlanta is this new iPhone tour app from Georgia State University.

The video segments are narrated by Monica Kaufman Pearson (etc., etc.) and there is even a welcome from Governor Nathan Deal. I hope they update it with more videos and definitely more pictures (I mean, there isn't even a two-headed animal mention), but it is an awesome start.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mug Shot Monday for October 17, 2011

In an effort to blog on a more regular basis, I'm going to work on some weekly themes. Welcome to the first, Mug Shot Monday: Yes, you're stuck at work but it's better than jail.

Meet Bobby Sigman, mayoral candidate in Covington, Ga., who was recently arrested for paying people to steal his opponent's yard signs. Nice. Wonder if he wins?

(h/t 11 Alive/ WXIA Atlanta)

Friday, October 14, 2011


My brain functions like a website. I like to see headlines that I can click on for more information, not everything in one place. I don't want to flip through pages to find anything.

When I was working for the Secretary of State, we constantly received media inquiries relating to State Election Board cases. To stop the stacks of paper, I taught myself basic html and built a database of all the documents. Search, click, boom. Everything right there.

This is also the approach I take when it comes to recipes. Now, you're the beneficiary. I have posted my basic html cookbook that I update as I get new recipes. You can click here or use the little tab above. It's created for personal use so I'm not saying it's perfect. Let me know if you see any problems. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

All I Want For Christmas

My mom had a garage sale recently where she finally cleaned out all of little things we accumulated in our childhood. We had told her for a while we didn't want them, but she was convinced that one day we'd be sentimental about boxes of notes, pictures, old clothes. She was disappointed when we weren't.

So she sold off board games, purses, posters, books. When I was there, I realized how much of it was once gifts. In high school and college, we all felt the need to buy everyone a gift whose phone number we had. Even now, we spend money on gifts for family, friends and co-workers that we don't even know if they'll like- or even care. It's the thought that counts, right?

I'm blessed with a great friend, Sarah Melissa, that introduced me to the Five Love Languages. Gary Chapman wrote the books to help people understand compatibility and how individuals, even great people, may not be compatible because they express and receive love in different ways.

For me, I feel loved through physical touch, words of affirmation and quality time (also, proving I'm high maintenance). Steve feels loved through physical touch and quality time. Neither of us feel loved when we get gifts. Last Christmas, we bought each other small gifts but spend our money on something we really needed, a new mattress and bedroom furniture.

With everyones' finances a little tighter this year, why don't we focus on what our friends and family really need? Sure, some people want gifts, but others want some time together, support, a hug. What do you really need for the holidays? Ooo, take the quiz, too. What's your love language?

*Thanks to my favorite website for inspiring this post.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What We Had For Dinner

STOP what you're doing right now and make this dressing. Holy mother, is it life changing. *swoon*

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Can you spare a few dollars to fight ALS?

Steve, Sharon and Ben

I hope you don't mind this brief update asking for your help in the fight against ALS.

As many of you know, Steve's mom, Sharon, lost her fight to ALS over two years ago. I wish I would have met her sooner, before she was sick. You could see how much energy the disease had taken from her, even though she made sure you could still feel her love. Since Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with the disease, little progress has been made to determine the cause or to find a cure. It remains a fatal disease for everyone diagnosed.

On Saturday, October 22, Steve, Ben and I will participate in the Walk to Defeat ALS, sponsored by the ALS Society of Georgia. Not only does this organization fund research for ALS, they also help the families provide for their loved one's basic needs during their fight. For Sharon, they provided everything from a chairlift for stairs and a hospital bed to education materials and support groups. They truly do important work for patients.

I understand budgets are tight but please consider donating a few dollars to this very worthy cause. If it's not in your budget now, maybe you can remember them before tax season, forward this email on, or even just offer a prayer for those suffering from ALS and the families support them.

Please click here to donate.

Thank you so much for your help. We're looking forward to spending a pretty autumn morning supporting the ALS Society of Georgia.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Some Lucky People Can Soon Vote on Sunday Sales

Steve moved to Atlanta in 2002. One of his first Sundays in Atlanta, he visited a convenience store to purchase beer. He opened the dark cooler (I doubt he noticed) and carried his purchase to the counter. The clerk told him the bad news.

"Sir, we don't sell beer on Sundays."

"Why the hell not?" my impatient future husband replied.

It's coming. After years of back and forth under the Gold Dome, legislators returned local control to counties and cities whose citizens will be allowed to vote on Sunday alcohol sales. 

Many counties/cities will hold the first votes on November 8. You can find a full list here. I am a full supporter of the initiative, although it looks like this Cobb County voter will have to wait longer. If you don't want to buy alcohol on Sunday, don't buy alcohol on Sunday.

You have the power to make the decision. I highly encourage you to vote, especially because the State of Georgia makes it so convenient. Here are the steps.

1. Are you registered to vote?

You can check your voter registration on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website here:

Complete the form and submit. If you aren't matched in the database, you probably aren't registered to vote. On the right side of the page, it will give you helpful links to register, including this one Submit it to the Secretary of State (address on application). The deadline to register and be eligible to vote in the October 11.

If you are registered, the next website will show you the address where you are registered, your polling location, a mail in ballot request and a sample ballot (closer to Election Day).

You are legally required to vote at the address where you reside. If you are currently registered somewhere else, make sure to update your registration prior to the voter registration deadline.

Step 2: How do I vote?

Voters can choose one of three ways to cast their ballot.

1. Vote by mail (my favorite!): To receive your ballot via mail, fill out the absentee ballot request form on the Secretary of State’s website ( and mail it to your county elections supervisor. Addresses can be found on the Secretary of State’s website (

You can request ballots for the General Election now.

Ballots must be received by the time polls close on Election Day. Please consider the time it takes to receive and process an application, mail a ballot to you, and return the ballot by mail when requesting a ballot.

2. Vote early: Honestly y'all, I'm not much help here. They changes the rules recently and I think they're even different for municipalities. If you would like to vote early and in person, I suggest you call your county elections supervisor, who many need to transfer you to the city elections office. Phone numbers can be found on the Secretary of State’s website (

Remember, voters casting a ballot in person must provide photo ID.

3. Vote on Election Day: You can find your Election Day precinct location on the same place you checked your registration. Your municipal voting location may be different than your county location. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. I will be shocked if the whole process takes more than 10 minutes.

Remember, voters casting a ballot in person must provide photo ID.


If you need more help, call your county or municipal elections office. They can tell you if/when your area will hold an election. Either way, please vote. With all these options, you're really a lazy bum if you don't.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book 4: Game Change

 I love politics. Since I was 16 years old watching Bush debate Gore, I've been enthralled with candidates, campaigns, media and grassroots politics. I love America, I love her promise and I want to know about the individuals who will make decisions about her future.

Also, there's something exhilarating about politics. It's the biggest reality TV show there is. There's so many elements, strategies, personalities, tactics. It's easy to find yourself deep into the minutia before you realize it.

After volunteering my time and working in an official capacity on campaigns since I was a wide-eyed College Republican, I finally took a step back early this year. While I now work with candidates, non-profits and companies on social media and messaging strategy, I don't consider myself a full-time politico anymore and I was happy for the reprieve.

However, after six months away, I find myself being drawn back in. Maybe it's the economic climate or the heightened partisan rhetoric. Maybe now that I don't feel like my career is dependent on the right talking points, I can embrace it more. Whatever the reason, I'm finding joy in keeping up with politics again.

Game Change is written as the behind-the-scenes information on the 2008 Presidential campaign. It's kind of written like a reality TV synopsis: gossip and play-by-play over policy. Written by two reporters and compiled from lots of off-the-record interviews, I took it with a grain of salt. However, the insight was unmatched and it was really interesting to see the candor with which some of the information was given. (I guess that's the benefit of off-the-record interviews.)

Most of the book focuses on the Democratic race because (let's face it) it was more interesting. I did enjoy the McCain section. I was always confused how McCain went from carrying his own luggage at campaign stops (literally) to becoming the nominee. The book didn't shed a lot of light on that, but it did help me understand the campaign structure. I heard horror stories about the campaign's disorganization throughout 2008. From the book, you can see the candidate was never fully sold on running. Sure, he'd be President but campaigning didn't really appeal to him. Also, his staff was cobbled together after his first round of staffers quit when funding ran out. We were left with a candidate who wasn't committed to the campaign and staff that wasn't committed to the candidate. That campaign will never work.

Game Change assumes that you come to the book with a lot of knowledge of the Presidential campaign process and doesn't offer much background on the progress of primary dates or campaign deadlines unless they fuel the story. Also, I frankly found the authors' writing style pretentious. However, overall the book was a great read with enough gossip to keep it interesting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Did you know it's August? the subject of the panicked email to my friends. Summer is almost over and I hadn't even made sangria yet, my favorite summer drink. So even though I shouldn't have, I invited six of my favorite girls over last night for sangria, cheese, laughs and lots of gossip. (Sangria circle of trust.)

Things aren't good for anyone right now, but these girls always send me some sunshine from God.

If you're not ready for summer to end, I'm happy to share my dad's sangria recipe with you. I hope you share it with some good friends, too.

4 cups dry red table wine
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 limes or 1 apple, sliced, to serve.

Also, help yourself to some cheese plate tips.

Biggest fail of the night? I didn't take pictures. Suffice it to say, we all looked fabulous.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What We Had for Dinner

When Steve and I got married, I was still a bit of a cooking novice. I assumed I didn't have the patience to cook, since I don't have the patience for much of any hobby. I've challenged myself, though, and realize now I'm very good at following a recipe.

Last night, Steve's boss came over for dinner and I treated them to Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas. Had I known his boss was coming, I probably would have made something nicer but these were a big hit. They were a bit spicy for my palate, so next time I'll probably reduce the chili powder. But, I'm a wuss.

I don't know what it is about football season, but we usually end up with at least one unannounced guest. Chicken enchiladas will be a great Saturday meal for welcome friends.

Tonight, Steve and I enjoyed Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Vegetables, which was excellent but may be more of a fall meal. Also, you can freeze these and cook later.

If you're not on Real Simple's recipe e-mail list, you're missing out. They send you a daily recipe and everything I've made has been a hit!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Check out my skills

"If a boss has given you assignment and you procrastinated, it means you don't know how to do it or you don't want to do it."
Wisdom I paraphrased from Twitter

In this case, I didn't know how to do it. I bought this table from a thrift store in November, but really had no clue what to do. I sanded it down but needed more help. When my dad came in town two weeks ago, I finally had the guidance I needed.

I went from this:

To this:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book 3: Charlie Wilson's War

Hello, friends. Despite my terrible record on blog posting, I have been reading books without your knowledge. A few months ago (yikes!), I finished Charlie Wilson's War. You're probably familiar with the movie starring Tom Hanks and Julie Roberts, with Amy Adams in a fabulous supporting role. Seriously, I felt like you could see my frustrations about working in politics all over Amy Adams' face.

Anyway, I hadn't read the book, but it came highly recommended from a friend after I professed my love for All the President's Men (one of my favorite books and movies).

I really enjoyed the inside glimpse into history and the candid interviews. Charlie Wilson was not the most ethical lawmaker, but he's not afraid to admit it, either. It's also crazy to read this and think about America's current role in the Middle East. A lot of the first steps are outlined here.

For me, the book had two distinct sections: the section with Joanne Herring and the unfortunate, boring section without her.

Joanne Herring, or the inspiration for Julia Roberts' character in the movie, was the Texas socialite who brought the Afghan freedom fighters to Charlie Wilson's attention. She's everything a good Southern woman should be: passionate, outspoken, stylish, wealthy and fabulous. My favorite line to sum her up: "Invariably, when reporters wrote features about Joanne Herring, they invoked Scarlett O'Hara."

Even though I don't like fiction, I'm still a girl that falls for romance and passion. Joanne brings that to the book. As the story moves along to weapons, battles and Congressional action, it loses all the glitter Joanne brought. 

My verdict: The beginning is a must read, but stop when it gets boring.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"No, Daddy. I can do it."

My Dad's favorite story to tell about me must have started when I was five. He came home every night from work and asked if I needed help with my homework. I never let him help me.

"No, Daddy. I can do it."

Sure, I'm a pretty independent girl who works hard. He thinks the story highlights those qualities.

Maybe not. The more I think about the story, the more I see other traits that aren't so great. Stubbornness. The need for control. 

Lately, God's thrown a lot of obstacles my way and I've handled them the best I could. But, the stress has definitely taken a toll on me and I haven't been the nicest person to be around.

I'm finally ready to admit it.

No, Father, I can't do it. I need Your help on this and I know You'll be there for me. Instead of worrying and trying to bend every problem to my will, I'm ready to let go and let You take care of me and my family.

I've said it. Now, I need to do it. :-)

*Please pray for my Mom who is facing several surgery to correct back problems that are causing her severe pain.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My 5 Favorite iPhone Apps

After years of being glued to my Blackberry, I converted to an iPhone in February. I miss Blackberry Messenger, but that's really it. I'm hooked!

The coolest thing about iPhone is the apps and everybody has their favorite. Here are mine!

1. SimplyTweet (Free version): Since I manage social media accounts for work, I've learned most people like to read Twitter by seeing what's going on right then. I, however, like to read ALL the tweets from the users I follow. I love SimplyTweet because it loads from the bottom up and loads all of the tweets, not just 200 or so. It also allows you to tag people and add pictures and links really easily.

2. WhatsApp (Free): Similar to Blackberry Messenger, this app lets you text people without incurring text messaging charges. It's not as versatile as BBM and doesn't let you send pictures. However, since Steve and I talk by text a lot during the day when he's on the road, this app is a must!

3. Instagram (Free): iPhones take great pictures, and Instagram makes it fun! Take a picture and then add a filter to it for an artsy look. Sharing options make it easy to send your pictures over Facebook and Twitter.

4. Words with Friends (Free version): I'm a Scrabble junkie and this free variation makes it easy to play with people. My friend Rick lives in Vegas and we've just started a round of games. So much fun!

5. MLB At Bat ($14.99): I'm a baseball fiend and my new job doesn't offer a TV in my office. On Opening Day, I found myself unable to watch the 1:30 game that kicked off our season. This just wasn't going to work. So, even though I hate buying apps, I bought this app which will let me listen to every game this season. That's a great deal!

Honorable mentions: (Wow, picking only five was harder than I thought!)

  • Color
  • Four Square
  • Electric Miles (works with
  • Kindle
  • Dragon Diction
  • Netflix
  • Facebook
  • Gas Buddy
  • Into Now (just started using but it's really cool!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary, baby!

Happy Anniversary to my sweet, patient and funny husband. To everyone afraid of marriage, the first year isn't as bad as they say. :-)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I love these boys.

I am a huge Braves fan. I have the sticker on my car, the t-shirts in my closet. I countdown to Opening Day the way children countdown to Christmas. I call Brian McCann "baby."

I can't explain it easily. It's summer. It's the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd. It's the personalities and the game.

Family Braves game.

My sister and I on Opening Day two years ago.

Most think I'm just exaggerating when I say I love baseball but think of this: My then-fiance and I went to Braves Opening Day last year, flew to San Fran, got married in Napa Valley and then went to the Giants home opener where they played.. the Braves. That's right, we planned our wedding around the Braves schedule.
2010 Giants Home Opener against the Bravos.

It's hard to meet the excitement we had for Opening Day last year. Every year, however, holds new promise and more excitement.


In today's game, the Braves' Tim Hudson (a pitcher) slid into home plate HEAD FIRST (a big no-no) to score. How do his teammates handle it? Let's check Twitter:

How could you NOT love these boys?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I like to move it, move it.

One of my 30 for 30 goals is to run a half-marathon. I actually trained for one back in 2009 and made it up to 7 mile runs before I bought a house and changed jobs. (And became a lazy bum *cough*)

Now, I'm shooting for the Silver Comet Trail half-marathon in late October. I finally chose that race for two important reasons: it's flat and it's very close to my bed. My friend Theresa will be my race buddy.

Are you ready? This is going to be me!

I started running regularly at the beginning of the year and this week got a number for the Peachtree Road Race. I'm excited, especially because this goal will keep me in a year-long pattern of fitness.

Check me out on Daily Mile! (And be nice to me. My short little legs aren't very fast.) Let me know if you're running the Peachtree or the Silver Comet half!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I want a bookcase.

Does anyone out there share my love of bookcases?

I mean, I really love bookcases. It probably springs from my love of surface area and the ability to use all that surface area for whatever you want: books, photos, accessories.

As part of my 30 before 30 list, I need to decorate our home, and I can't live without a bookcase.

Our current house doesn't have a built in bookcase and since we're in an end-unit townhouse, there's not a lot of opportunity without covering up windows. Well, except in the man cave.

My husband has taken over the basement with a huge television and Braves, Cubs and Florida State Seminole paraphernalia. It also has the greatest alcove for a built in bookcase.

See where the wall protrudes on the right side? Against this wall!

(Image courtesy of i suwannee)

And this would be my inspiration. Not so cluttered and obviously the TV needs a little more room. It fills the space so well and gives the room such versatility.

Now just to convince the Mr....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Well hello, blog!

Confession: I've been a bad blogger lately. When I started Magnolias Bloom, I promised I would post regularly. Well, after a lengthy absence, I'm ready to admit I've fallen short of my goal but I'm also ready to try again!

My last post was February 7, which was right around the time I accepted a new job! For a while, I've known my career in media relations was no longer fun for me. In fact, some of the days I dealt with reporters were stressful enough to make me question my life decisions.

Also during this time frame, I fell in love with Twitter. I've been on Facebook since 2004 (yikes!) and Twitter since 2009. While Facebook is fun for pictures and funny posts from friends, I actually learn things from Twitter, from news to sports to diet advice. Twitter is what you make it and if you take the time to build a community you value, you will find it's a treasured resource.

I've been blessed to find a job in social media marketing for political candidates and non-profits. It's been such a great, challenging, educational and exciting month for me, and I'm so excited for the future.

So, in addition to my 30 for 30 challenge, I will also use this space to share some interesting new media news and advice I learn along the way. I hope you'll still come along!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Laughter is medicine from God.

On Friday, I was blessed to stand for my father-in-law as he got married. I can only wish them all the happiness God has blessed Steve and I with in the last year (almost!!).

They decided to get married during their Sunday School class's retreat so it was a very small ceremony in Rome. The minister was borrowed from a neighboring church and it was his first wedding. (I think he's happy he doesn't have to face us again.)

He did say something beautiful during the ceremony: "Remember that laughter is medicine from God." How simple and beautiful.

I've been trying to find some artwork to put above our brand new bed. I'm not artsy at all and I'm worried about how this will turn out, but I'm going to try. (EEK!)

What does everyone think of this? The text would be stenciled on and the blue transition darker in the center... although I don't yet know how to do that.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book 2: Courage and Consequence

One of the perks of my job is that I get to meet Republicans as they swing through Georgia. In 2010, Karl Rove visited the Georgia Republican Party as part of our Republican Round-Up, which included training sessions for grassroots volunteers as we geared up for the election cycle.

Mr. Rove was nice enough to hold press availability before the event and I sat in on the session. Marietta Daily Journal reporter Jon Gillooly was kind enough to record most of it. I was so struck in the interview by Mr. Rove's depth of knowledge (heck, he threw in some Georgia knowledge) and his likability. A speech to our attendees only underscored those observations.

I enjoyed reading his book immediately after President Bush's because they discuss similar events with the different perspectives.

I also enjoyed it because the political insight it provides into both the Bush campaign plans and their agenda in office.

Above all, I was touched by the dedication and admiration Rove had for Bush, even after a tumultuous professional relationship. I hope to be blessed with that type of trust in my career.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." 
-Dolly Parton

Monday, January 17, 2011

Puppy Blues

My husband, Steve, and I have been married for nine months. We don't want kids but desperately want puppies. However, our jobs don't allow a lot of flexibility, especially when it comes to housebreaking a small one.

We're trying to strike the right balance between what we want and what will be best for a dog. Surely, we can't be the only individuals fighting this battle. So, if you're a dog owner in Atlanta, fighting traffic and work to give your pooch the right amount of attention, how do you find balance? What have you sacrificed or what would you have done differently?

Any wisdom would be appreciated. If you know Steve and I, you know we need all the help we can get!

P.S. Some of you notified me that the "Comments" weren't working properly. I have made it less complicated. If you still have problems, feel free to tweet me @BravesFanWhit.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book 1: Decision Points

Another goal on my 30 Before 30 list is to read more. I still need to define "more" but I'm already on my second book of the new year. I'm pleased with my progress.

I've been toying with the idea of buying a Kindle. While in Louisiana, I downloaded the Kindle application to my Blackberry, which turned out to be a much wiser decision. The application is free and my Blackberry is almost like an additional appendage anyway. Now, I can read on the go without carrying an extra device.

The first book I read was President Bush's Decision Points. Let me preface a couple of things here. I work in political communications. I was drawn to my profession during the 2000 Presidential elections, when I was 16. I watched the debates and the stories. I was drawn to Bush's convictions, his plans and his style. The first thing I did on UGA's campus was join the College Republicans.

I understand that some people do not like Bush. I am not one of those people.

With that out of the way, let me give a resounding recommendation for Decision Points. He writes it to explain many of the difficult decisions he made throughout his presidency, including those surrounding 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also includes biographical information that is really touching, especially his relationship with his parents.

The book showed me how enveloped he became in an issue before making a decision, how well-read he is (both for research and for personal benefit), and how deeply each decision weighs on him, especially decisions involving our military. Several of the stories moved me to tears.

I believe he will come to be regarded throughout history as a better president than he is currently given credit for. After reading the book, I don't think it really matters to him either. He made decisions based on the information he had and personal convictions. That is all you can ask for from an elected official.

The 24-hour news cycle bothers me for many reason, including it makes caricatures of our elected officials and demonizes them for ratings. I do not think Bush or Obama are the people the news makes them out to be. Above all, I enjoyed reading the book because it was his first-person account of his presidency, which we never got while he was in office.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Orleans

I was born in New Orleans and lived there until I was about 7 years old. Since then, I've lived in four other cities and multiple other houses. Really, Atlanta feels like home.

But New Orleans still seems magical. My dad lives about an hour outside the city now and we make the trip to see him once a year, usually right after Christmas.

When I go to heaven, I really hope it looks like Jackson Square. I can't explain the peace I feel sitting in the grassy square, staring at St. Louis Cathedral.

The nativity at St. Louis. The churchyard is actually behind the church and backs up to Royal St.

Statue honoring Andrew Jackson.

St. Louis Cathedral

 I have several NOLA traditions. I get my palm read in the shadow of the Cathedral. We visit the Abita Brewery. I also collect local artwork of Jackson Square and St. Louis.

If you've never been, Jackson Square is surrounded by an iron wrought fence. Local artists hang their art during daylight hours for tourists. I have two paintings and a line drawing. I also have an AP photograph from 2008 when it snowed in New Orleans.

I wasn't really planning on buying a new painting this time, but when I saw this, how could I resist?


The blue the artist used is so striking and whimsical. After some bartering at the artist's insistence, Steve and I purchased this gorgeous painting of St. Louis at dusk. We're going to hang it on our third floor landing so I can see it as I climb the stair at night. 


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Kicking Things Off

New years can be very promising, but, when you're carrying the same ol' baggage, it can be a bit discouraging, too. In an effort to change my karma, I'm making a promise to myself to start something new.

In February 15, 2014, I will turn 30 years old. Remember when 30 seemed old?

There are things I want to do before I turn 30, and I have so much time to do them. So I think I'll start now!

Another blogger had a 30 before 30 list and I thought it was a great idea. I'll catalogue my journeys here along with some other in-the-life tidbits.

Plus, one of the items on my list is to blog. Well, I've got a blog. Now I just have to keep it going.

So, thanks for tuning in. Feel free to leave a note. I'm looking forward to this!