Daily Inspirations and Adventures

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Trip to London for Bev’s 60th!!!

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A few weeks ago we went on a girls trip to London for my Mom’s birthday.  We managed to fit in A LOT over a two and a half day period.  We took a tour bus all over the city, went to the Tower of London (and saw the Crown Jewels), went on a boat cruise, got caught up in the middle of a protest, had a special Indian dinner in Chelsea, had a proper tea at Harrods, went on a paddle boat tour in Hyde Park, had dinner at a pub, bought my (and now my mom’s) favorite chocolates on Bond Street, walked through Buckingham Palace (which you’re only allowed to do in September when the Queen is out-of-town) and a took a tour of Westminster Abbey (where Mom sang once as a little girl).  I had two work two days while Mom did her fabric tour of London which I hope she shares with you soon.

Here are a few pictures of our time together!



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When I travel I get a little too obsessed with seeing everything I can possibly see.  I forget that I’m actually living life instead of walking through a travel book.  And when you have to mix in working on top of that it’s a disaster waiting to happen . . . because not only am I trying to exercise every day, see every single thing to see wherever I am and trying to not think about home too much . . . I’m also checking my work phone every two seconds and responding to phone calls and emails.  So the bottom line is that I’m the WORST travel buddy that you could possibly find (or actually the best when you’re married to a person that is the exactly like you so you can both be crazed nutsos together).  My mother . . . who beats to her own drum, has legs that are half the length of mine, actually takes the time to take everything in . . . instead of taking in a little and then rushing to the next task . . . was amazing on this trip.  She kept up with me every second of every day.  Even walked barefoot because her blisters had blisters . . . just to keep up with me.  I feel guilty putting you through a “tornado trip to London” but I hope you enjoyed it, Mom.

Mom, what a life you’ve lived these past 60 years.  Growing up in Philadelphia with a bunch of characters (and ONE BATHROOM), to going to college in Delaware, to moving back to Pennsylvania and eventually to Florida.  To go from advising people what to eat . . . to running an assisted living facility . . . to working at a college . . . to now be making a career out of quilting (while also running the Sale Household).  There have been ups and downs and tons of challenges and tons of rewards.  You’ve lived your life with grace and a smile.  You’ve taught me, throughout my entire life, that being kind and positive is the only way to live.  And in turn, I’ve taught my son that.  I can see glimpses of you in him every day, for which I’m so grateful.

I really wanted to do something special for your 60th birthday.  You are a special person.  I hope you had a nice time and that you will cherish the memories, and these photos, for the rest of your life.  And when you’re blisters heal, maybe we can do it again.  Love you and happy birthday!


Written by bevanddara

October 9, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Posted in Dara, Travel

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There are two recipes I’ve been holding onto lately that I want to try . . . so I figured I would post them here so I remembered where I put them (and maybe you can try them too!).

First up, Cookie & Kate’s Banana Oat Pancakes .


You can eat these, Mom. She uses coconut oil instead of butter.  They remind me of Pop-Pop’s Oatmeal Pancakes.  Can you please post that recipe so I always know where to find it?

Second up is this Zucchini Pasta with Pesto.


It’s ANOTHER meal you can make (sans the parmesan cheese).  I guess I need to also buy myself a spiralizer.

YUM!  Have a great weekend!

Written by bevanddara

July 24, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Posted in Dara, Dara's Tid Bits, Food

My Dream Kitchen

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Have you seen this ad?  Their kitchen is MY DREAM KITCHEN (the white, openness and the cute little window seat/dining table . . . even a sink at the window and in the island!!) . . . DYING!

Then I found out that this kitchen belongs to Jennifer (my old boss from SunTrust) and Michael down in Atlanta.  How crazy is that!?!?!  Maybe I should move to Atlanta so I can get a kitchen like this.

Written by bevanddara

June 2, 2015 at 11:00 am

Can Your Relationship Handle a Trip to IKEA?

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This was in the Wall Street Journal today.  I think it’s so funny.  Mike and I have a system when we go into Ikea.  Most of the time we don’t walk through.  We look on the website, find the bin number for the item, go in the exit and grab the item and then run to the checkout lane.  I think its pretty brilliant and may be the reason we are still married.


Can Your Relationship Handle a Trip to IKEA?

The furniture store can easily lead to arguments for stressed-out couples; how to avoid the ‘IKEA meltdown’

By Hilary Potkewitz

April 22, 2015 1:37 p.m. ET

In therapy, so many couples mention fighting while shopping at IKEA or while assembling what they buy there that clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula has started embracing the retailer as a tool for a communications exercise. The Santa Monica, Calif., therapist often tasks couples with putting together a large piece of furniture at home and reporting back on how it went.

IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer with 367 stores in seven countries, can look like a domestic wonderland. Its walkable showrooms offer a path through sleek model bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms and children’s rooms. Shoppers are encouraged to spend time sitting on a sofa and envisioning what their lives could be in these spaces.

And that’s where couples’ trouble often starts, says Dr. Durvasula, who is also a professor of psychology at California State University Los Angeles. “The store literally becomes a map of a relationship nightmare,” she says. Walking through the kitchens brings up touchy subjects, like who does most of the cooking. Then you get to the children’s section, which opens up another set of issues. And that’s before you’ve even tried assembling anything.

Dr. Durvasula says constructing the small Nornäs coffee table is fairly undemanding. But a massive wall unit like the Liatorp? She calls that the Divorcemaker.

IKEA, based in Almhult, Sweden, knows shopping for big items can be stressful and lead to arguments, says Janice Simonsen, design spokeswoman for IKEA U.S.

“While IKEA has no set philosophy on couples shopping together, we want everyone to have a good experience,” she says. As for the company’s furniture being used for therapy, she says, “We’re just happy to be part of the process.”

Though the company doesn’t provide mediators or counselors, she points out that about 85% of its U.S. stores offer home-furnishings consultants, available by appointment, who can give design advice.

Ms. Simonsen spent five years as a furnishings consultant and compiled a list of guidelines for couples preparing for an IKEA visit, including agreeing on a style from the catalog before ever setting foot in the store.

“We’ve seen it all,” says Mary Ann Barroso, a local marketing specialist and former kitchen designer at IKEA’s Burbank, Calif., store. She points out that most of the time, couples come to IKEA because they’re renovating a home or moving, which are already stressful situations. According to a 2013 survey conducted by home design site Houzz, 46% of couples doing remodeling projects together found the experience frustrating, and 12% of couples surveyed admitted that they considered separation or divorce during the renovation.

“If I felt a conversation was going to turn into an argument, I wouldn’t take sides,” Ms. Barroso says. “I’d just say, ‘Here’s what you need to consider. I’m going to step away for five to 10 minutes. Discuss amongst yourselves.’ ”

“I’m convinced that IKEA is Swedish for pissed-off boyfriend,” says Courtney Frappier, a New York City publicist whose recent trip to IKEA with her boyfriend Alex Mele ended in tears.

The pair, both 26, was furnishing his new one-bedroom apartment with an eye to Ms. Frappier moving in later this year. But while they were walking through IKEA picking out items, Mr. Mele recalls thinking, “‘Oh man, she’s going to take over and I’m going to lose all control of my place.’ ”

Ms. Frappier says she saw the meltdown coming but couldn’t stop it. “Once we were in the store, the reality of combining two individual lives started to sink in,” she says.

That was three months ago. They are still together, and so is the furniture they bought. But instead of calling the pieces by their official names—the Bjursta sideboard and the Bekant desk—Mr. Mele just refers to them as Terrible and Misery. “I’m never going back there,” he says.

This kind of IKEA meltdown appears in YouTube parodies and an episode of the NBC comedy “30 Rock,” where Tina Fey’s character Liz Lemon breaks up with her boyfriend at an IKEA.

While couples with existing communications issues are more vulnerable, no relationship is immune, says New York-based marriage counselor and radio host Dr. Jane Greer.

“I’ve had couples go to the mat over a couch that neither of them even liked,” she says. “Underneath, every discussion is really about how important am I to you? How important is my comfort and happiness to you? If I want this couch, and it’s important to me, then why isn’t it important enough to you?”

Once a couple makes it out of the store, they have to get everything home and put it together—another relationship minefield.

Furniture assembly often causes more friction than the shopping experience, according to March data from consumer research firm CivicScience. It surveyed nearly 7,000 adults and found that among those who assemble furniture together, 17% said they always get into arguments, compared with only 6% who said they often argue while shopping together.

Remya Thomas and Jacob Varghese, both 35, learned that lesson from an Oppdal queen-sized bed frame and headboard.

When the couple moved into a new apartment in Chicago’s South Loop two years ago, Ms. Thomas convinced her husband to use IKEA to furnish the new place.

“I knew it would be a hassle to put together, but I was thinking we are two people, we can do it,” she says. They breezed through the shopping part. But when they finally moved, she was pregnant and couldn’t lift anything.

All their furniture was in flat IKEA boxes and they had nowhere to sleep. The pressure fell on Mr. Varghese, who works in finance and says he’s not particularly handy. “I had never done any of this before, but I thought, how hard can it be?” he says.

He estimates that it took him, his father and a friend about 10 hours to put the bed together, including two hours of arguing with Ms. Thomas. “She would give directions and then leave the room!” he recalls.

“I thought he was going to kill me,” Ms. Thomas says. She concedes that the bed was probably too complicated for their first project. They’d also bought a Hemnes secretary, two Kullen chests, a Brusali wardrobe and a Borgsjö cabinet.

More than a year later, Mr. Varghese says, “It feels like a badge of honor.” But he vows he’ll never do it again.

Ms. Thomas, on the other hand, sees it as a bonding experience, and would happily take on another IKEA project.

“We created something together,” she says. “But then again, I may be taking more credit than I deserve.”

Written by bevanddara

April 22, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Posted in Dara, Dara's Tid Bits

Recognize This Neighborhood?

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Written by bevanddara

April 10, 2015 at 2:23 pm

Posted in Dara, Dara's Tid Bits

A good parent prepares the child for the path, not the path for the child.

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We just got back from our first little family trip to Miami.  I was a nervous nelly going into the trip (even though I was trying my best to pretend I wasn’t) . . . what if Julian had a tantrum on the plane?  What if the room wasn’t as nice as I was expecting it to be?  What if Julian got bored on the beach and I couldn’t spend a second relaxing (which I so desperately needed) because I would have to run around after him the entire time?  What if Mike worked the whole time and that annoyed me and we would fight about it?

As life would have it . . . everything I worried about came true.  The hotel we stayed at was nice and in an awesome location . . . but the “1 Bedroom Suite” was just a glorified studio with an open doorway between the living room and bedroom (which isn’t ideal when you have a toddler that goes to bed at 7:30 and you want to stay up and spend time with your husband).  I had the hotel staff show me three different rooms until I settled on the room we stayed in.  I spent an hour on the phone with Starwood trying to figure out where we should move to the next day because there is no way this current situation would work out.  When I really exhausted all options and came to the realization that we were “stuck” there, I made the most of the situation.  I poured myself a glass of wine and put Julian in the bathroom sink for his bath (no bathtub at this hotel!) . . . he thought it was the best thing in the world (he pulled every single tolietry into his little “tub” with him).  He also LOVED the room.  He had a smile on his face from the time he woke up until the time he went to bed (which he did . . . every night at 7:30 . . . and never woke up while Mike and I sat in the living room catching up).


The moment when I saw this little face happy as can be . . . taking a bath in a sink . . . I decided that I wasn’t going to let anything that happened on the vacation bother me . . . and just soak up every single moment of the time I had with my boys.  It was seriously one of the best vacations of my life because of that mindset.  Yeah, I told Mike that I was going throw his phone in the water (after the 10th hour-long phone call he took ended) if he didn’t start relaxing (which he eventually did).  I didn’t get to relax much on the beach . . . but that was because I WANTED to build sand castles with my little boy in the shade . . . and run after the ocean waves . . . and get wrinkly hands (my BIGGEST PET PEEVE) because he’s a little fish and wants to spend every second he can in the pool “swimming”.  I did get to spend a few moments like this . . . though.  Heaven.


Julian had MULTIPLE tantrums on the plane (in First Class – eek – never sitting up there with a toddler again!) but we made it through and I’ll NEVER see those people again.  Most of the tantrums were the result of people behind us not saying hi to him . . . after he had said “hi” and waved to them for 10 minutes straight (meanies in First Class).

The resort ended up being awesome.  In every single way.  Everyone knew who we were by the time we left . . . Julian had charmed the socks off all of them.  Running, barefoot, through the halls with the biggest smile and cute little laugh . . . arms flailing . . . like it was the best moment of his life.  Noone could pass him without stopping and smiling and commenting on how adorable he was.  Most of the time he would stop, and say “hi” to them and, if they were lucky, he would tackle them with a hug.

We had nice family meals out . . . and strolls along the beach at sunrise . . . and sunset.

j and mike

I was worried that a 5 star hotel and flights in first class would not be good enough for us.  That we wouldn’t have fun because our 600 square foot incredible room didn’t have a door.  I was worried that playing with my little boy on the beach was going to make me not have a good time.  Shame on me for having that mindset.  Shame on me for being blinded by my outrageous expectations, rather than be grateful for the time with my boys, the sand between my toes and a crisp glass of rose at noon on a Thursday. I worry WAY too much and need to stop and enjoy this beautiful world we live in.  Especially when it comes to raising Julian.  I really hope he turns out like his Dad – more carefree and spur of the moment.  I am going to really try to make sure he’s prepared for life and takes it all in. Maybe I’ll have to buy some Tab, bologna and white bread (you have to read the article to get that reference).


Thank you, Miami, for giving me what I needed.

Written by bevanddara

April 7, 2015 at 11:34 am

I Have Skills . . . And Guts

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Do you remember when I proclaimed I was an “Orchid Whisperer” in June of last year? (here is the post if you forget) . . . well, I continue to be.  My orchids are all about/are blooming for the THIRD time.  They were all given to me around the time Julian was born . . . so that means every 6 months they bloom again (he will be 18 months on the 4/7).  Pretty awesome, right?


And as far as guts?  I’m sure you can remember when we sleep trained Julian, when he was 10 weeks old.  Well, our pediatrician’s process for that was in the New York Times yesterday (article here and below).

Sleep Training at 8 Weeks: ‘Do You Have the Guts?’

“She could be sleeping 12 hours a night,” she said. “It’s time to think about sleep training.”

Sleep training? An 8-week-old?

Our doctor coached us on the recommended technique. Place all 12 hungry, needy pounds of our daughter in her crib at 7 p.m. Close the door and return at 7 a.m. No checking, no consoling and definitely no feeding. She would cry — for hours, possibly — but in about three nights she’d get the picture that nobody was coming to her rescue and would begin to sleep through the night.

The promise that she (and we) could sleep longer was certainly alluring, and I’m no stranger to the idea of allowing your child to cry-it-out in order to learn to sleep. But I was surprised to hear it suggested at 8 weeks. Was it really O.K. to try cry-it-out on such a tiny, hungry, helpless little creature?

The man behind this idea is Dr. Michel Cohen, who founded Tribeca Pediatrics in 1994. His practice now sees nearly 32,000 patients at offices in New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles. “It comes down to this,” Dr. Cohen told me when I called to ask about this approach. “Do you have the guts to do what I’m suggesting? If so, you’ll see it works.” And if not? “Then I expect to see you back at six months, exhausted, asking why your kid is still getting up a few times a night.”

Dr. Cohen, who was born in France and is known for pushing the envelope on conventional parenting wisdom (cow’s milk is fine at 8 months, hold off on antibiotic use for ear infections) did not arrive arbitrarily at the idea of sleep training at 8 weeks. For about a decade, he — and the dozens of doctors he employs — suggested sleep training at 4 months. But over time, Dr. Cohen began to pay attention to the number of patients whose children were naturally sleeping through the night at a few weeks of age, leading him to question his own advice. If a child could sleep through the night without eating at 4 months, why not 3? When people reported that sleep training at 3 months had worked, then why not try 2? “I then began to suggest sleep training at one month, but found that to be too early,” he said. “Parents were too emotional. Nobody was quite ready.”

According to some professional sleep trainers (yes, those exist), the idea of sleep training at 8 weeks is beginning to gain momentum among other pediatricians, and it’s not difficult to find families willing to sing its praises.

“My wife’s maternity leave was almost over. I was already back to work. We needed our sleep,” said Marques Tracy, who decided with his wife, Roopa, to follow the Tribeca Pediatrics approach soon after their son Aidan turned 2 months old. On the first night, Aidan cried for about three hours on and off. The second night he cried for 45 minutes, and the third, maybe 20 minutes. Aidan has largely slept through the night ever since. “I’d say it worked like a charm,” Marques said.

But it certainly isn’t for everyone, nor does it always go as smoothly. “When our pediatrician gave us the green light to sleep train at 8 weeks, I was surprised, because he was so young. But we decided to try it,” said another mom, Manali, who was reluctant to allow me to use her last name because she fears that her actions sound harsh. Her son is now 7 months old. On the first night, he cried for two and a half hours. On the second, more than five. “At four in the morning, I gave up and went to get him. I held him and cried my eyes out, wondering if I had traumatized him.”

The popular on-the-Internet claim that prolonged crying can cause a host of problems — from attachment issues to brain damage — is not supported by research, and as Janet Krone Kennedy writes in her new book The Good Sleeper, top sleep researchers in the United States say that cry-it-out is proven to be safe and effective. But science and logic may not always be enough to reassure parents trying to endure the agony of listening to their baby cry for several hours in the middle of the night.

“I can see why people struggle with the idea of doing this, because it’s a very hard thing to do,” Mr. Tracy said. “When we first told our in-laws what we were doing, and the approach we were taking, they thought we were monsters. Now they think we’re geniuses.”

As for my husband and me? We, in the end, did not have the guts. And as we prepare for our daughter’s next appointment, chances are we’ll show up, probably exhausted, asking how to get her to sleep through the night.


After hearing from countless (and the best) parents I knew that sleep training Julian the way his pediatrician suggested made the most sense for us.  It definitely took some guts (and sleeping pills for Mike) but you really can’t argue with the fact that it worked – and has in no way harmed him.  In fact, I believe it has helped him.  He’s one of the happiest, healthiest and sweetest little boys I’ve ever met.

(I may be biased, but he’s also one of the cutest. :))


Have a great weekend!!!

Written by bevanddara

March 27, 2015 at 2:49 pm