Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

Where is “The Golden Rule” today? January 19, 2012

Filed under: Life Balance,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:35 am
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I remember being taught The Golden Rule when I was a child.  You know… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  The rule that parents brought out any time you did something mean or rotten to someone else?  The rule that teachers hung on the bulletin boards that decorated the classroom?  The one rule that we were all supposed to live by?  Where is The Golden Rule in today’s society?

I know that it seems as if there is a new Golden Rule that has superimposed the old one… the idea that you must “do unto others before they can do it unto you”… but that’s just something I find totally abhorrent.   If we could all live as simply as following the Golden Rule, don’t you think the world would be a nicer place?

Think about it… you see a woman struggling to put her groceries in the car while keeping her infant from trying to escape the cart seat.  Would it be so difficult to take a moment and offer to help put the items in her car so she can concentrate on her child?  What about the man in the line at Starbucks who seems so impatient and frustrated with the two-person wait for his coffee order.  Would it really ruin your day to ask if he wants to go ahead of you?  Is it too hard to wait a moment and hold the door open for another person… pick up a dropped item… ask if they need help… smile at another human being?

I know there will always be those who refuse offers of help… who have been kicked around by the other Golden Rule.  My theory, though not scientific in the least, is that those are the people who will eventually come around to looking for the good in people instead of expecting the bad.  If you kick a dog enough times, he’s going to flinch if you start to make the motion toward him.  People aren’t so different… if they’re treated badly by society, they look for the bad before being able to see the good.  Maybe if we all start trying to show one another the good instead of the bad, we can create a world where The Golden Rule is the norm again and not  the exception.

“What Would Jesus Do” was really popular a few years ago and was viewed (for lack of a better term) as the “new hotness”.  Bumper stickers, wrist bands, signs, slogans, all asking us to stop and think about what Jesus might do in any given situation… but isn’t that really just the Golden Rule?  Jesus had two main commandments: Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself. We’re commanded to love God, but we’re also commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves.  That second part?  Isn’t that another way of following The Golden Rule?   As Christians, we can talk WWJD all we want, but doesn’t it all come down to “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you”?

I ask, dear reader, that you think about this over the coming weeks.  Before you just let that door slam in someone’s face… before you laugh at the unfortunate person who just dropped their purchases on the floor… before you ignore that plea of help in someone’s eyes as they’re trying their best to make it through the day.  Not just “What Would Jesus Do”, but what would you want someone to do for you?

You might find that it feels pretty amazing to treat others with the respect and appreciation that you’d want in the same situation.   To compliment someone can brighten their day in ways you’ll never know.  To simply smile at a person can lift their spirits and make their day.

In my humble opinion, The Golden Rule shouldn’t be questioned.  It should be the way we all conduct the business of our lives.   Wouldn’t that just make your day?

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Thoughts on Karma June 20, 2018

We are in the middle of a relocation that began four months ago. We’re currently living in a furnished apartment in Delaware while closing on our home in Maryland and working on the process to purchase a home in Pennsylvania. Everything is within a 50-mile radius, which has presented interesting challenges, unique to our fairly “local” move. We are in the midst of our journey and I’ve found that the concept of Karma has popped up so many times that I needed to share some thoughts.Karma1

If you’re not familiar with the word “Karma”, it is a word with Hindu and Buddhist ties that has nothing to do with actions. It’s actually been called the law of cause and effect. The Bible refers to Karma in the book of Galatians (Galatians 6:7 KJV) “Be not deceived God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” It’s the old adage “what goes around, comes around”… bad begets bad while good begets good. I find that karma goes hand-in-hand with The Golden Rule of treating others as you wish to be treated.

 

My way of putting “good” into the world becomes very tangible at times. I have made an effort to bake things every week or so for the office staff in our apartment building, varying the baked goods once I learned that one of the staff didn’t eat chocolate. When we were presented with the results from the MD home inspection, we made every effort to accommodate the buyer’s list of concerns. Prior to signing the closing documents for our MD home, I made a batch of my Lavender Wine Sugar Scrub to give as gifts to our agent, title agent, and buyer. I baked a batch of cookies for both the septic inspector and the home inspector for the new home in PA. I bought a small toy to take to the home inspection for each of the two dogs who live in the PA home. My husband recognizes that this is my way of putting something positive into the world at a time when so many are only focused on their own needs or wants.

 

I don’t look at these gifts or things as bribes, and I’m not expecting anything from these people in return. I am doing what I feel I do best… I’m treating people as I wish to be treated and putting out good karma. It doesn’t always work, but it certainly makes me feel so much better. I’ve learned that when I get snarky and bitchy with people, I almost always regret what I’ve said or done, so it’s not worth the trouble.

I recently had an instance where our communications were being misinterpreted.  Messages directed to us were terse and snippy, causing us to feel defensive about any possible response. We were being bullied. It took awhile for me to seeKarma2 the situation clearly, especially since the bully was someone I wouldn’t have expected… someone who apparently had been behaving this way for long enough that it was generally excused with a simply comment “Oh, she’s from New Jersey”. Seriously? Once I realized this, I felt the best way to respond was to be kind but to also remove ourselves from any direct interaction with this bully. We made arrangements to handle our part of the transaction separately and distanced ourselves from the situation yet continued to be as positive as possible, within the scope of the situation. Thankfully, everything wrapped up nicely…. made me glad to see that Karma was on our side because we didn’t sink to a negative level.

I recognize that this post may seem a bit “Pollyanna” to people who don’t know me, but I truly prefer to look for the good in people. My Happy Yellow Lab mentality may seem old school or out-dated, but I will always maintain that I feel better and function more effectively if I stay positive. Maybe it’s something that’s worth trying in your own life? Try putting good out into the world and see if you aren’t rewarded with some good things coming back to you… Karma can truly be a wonderful thing.

 

 

Pick your “person” carefully… January 30, 2017

Filed under: Communication,Friends — beatitudesofmylife @ 6:48 pm
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My mom had two best friends who lived close to her. She did nearly everything with them… from singing in choir to celebrating birthdays to just dropping by for a glass of wine on a random evening. She shared her life with these two women… her hopes, her fears, her dreams, and her plans. These two were her “people”… the reference comes from Gray’s Anatomy where Meredith says that Christina is “her person”… as in, these were the two people she could call in any sort of emergency, or I could call regarding anything involving my mom. I was always felt so blessed that she had people like them in her life… that is, until she died.

One of her people (we’ll call her “G”) was the woman who found my mother after she died. G sat with her body while she called 911… she stayed in the house until the paramedics arrived… G was the person who called to tell me that my mom was dead… and she didn’t leave her until the coroner sealed mom’s house after the funeral home came and took her away. G did everything she could think of to honor her friendship with my mom while grieving for the loss of her dear friend. She brought photos and items to add to the remembrance table at the funeral and she checked on me and my family to make sure that we were ok.  She seemed to truly mourn the passing of my mom and her dear friend.

Her other person (we’ll call her Y) has been strangely absent from the picture. I didn’t call Y after I found out about my mom because I thought it would be better if G did that notification. Honestly, I was so broken, especially by the immediate tasks at hand, that I couldn’t have formed a coherent sentence to speak to Y. No matter the reason, I never heard from Y. She never called, never wrote, never even posted a FB message. While she did attend the funeral, she never spoke to either my sister or me or go through the receiving line to see us. I still have never heard from Y. Maybe *I* should have been the one to call her, but I still feel betrayed and incredibly upset by her actions. I’m so hurt that she has blocked me out of her life. She knew my mom in a way that I never will… because she was my mom’s friend. I called Y’s home number a week after the funeral to apologize for not telling her about mum’s death, but she never returned my call. I called her today to wish her a Happy Birthday tomorrow, because that’s what my mom would want me to do, but I have sincere doubts that she’ll call me back… and I have no idea why.

And now, here’s my dilemma: 

You see, shortly after my mom died, both G and Y started asking about an envelope of money… a total of $45… that they were sure had been in my mom’s possession when she died. It was the ‘party money’ for their Just4Fun group and they wanted to make sure that it was returned to them for their next get-together. They asked my brother-in-law… they asked my husband… and they even went so far as to ask mom’s cleaning women, T, (the woman who, imho, has been the most incredible blessing to our family by stepping up and simply *doing* anything and everything when I couldn’t think past the next day… this woman has been our fairy god-mother/god-sister )… but neither one ever asked my sister or me. After a few days they called T and suggested that they privately take and sell an item that they had seen left in the house so they could recoup that $45… and both my sister and I were dumbfounded. A day or two later, they called T again but wanted to tell her that they think they may have been mistaken, that only $10 was “owed” to the Just4Fun group, and they felt they could “forgive” that amount. “Forgive”?

I try very hard to take the high road in most situations. I follow The Golden Rule and use that to guide my actions as often as I can. I do my best to be kind to everyone. How am I supposed to react to this situation? How am I supposed to feel each time I see these people? How am I supposed to simply “let it go”?

As of now, I’ll be praying about this… I’ll be trying to take the high road… and I’ll be kind. I won’t be anyone’s doormat… but I *will* be kind.

 

The Benefit of Compliments August 18, 2015

Filed under: Communication,Life Balance,Random Thoughts — beatitudesofmylife @ 12:58 pm
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Have you ever been at the store and someone, totally out of the blue, pays you a compliment?  I’m sure we’ve all been in this situation… and doesn’t it just put a lovely positive spin on the rest of your day?  I was on the receiving end of a compliment this weekend and it’s been playing on “repeat” in my head ever since… which means to me it’s something worth discussing.

There are so many benefits to offering someone a compliment.  Every day, we have the opportunity to have a positive impact on the people with whom we come in contact.  It doesn’t have to be something astounding, like “Wow, you look like you’ve lost a lot of weight since I saw you last!” or “You look 10 years younger with that new haircut!”, to have a huge impact on another person’s day.  Complimenting someone, especially someone you don’t know, on the color of their shirt or even their choice in a specific purchase can boost another’s confidence in such a unique way.  

While it’s not necessarily fair, comments (positive or negative) from random people can sometimes carry a little more weight simply because we see them as being more unbiased than those coming from people who are familiar with us.  Our friends see us on a regular basis… they get used to what we typically wear or how we tend to look.   Our loved ones want to see the best in us… just as we always want to present our best selves to them. Seeing ourselves through “fresh eyes” can provide a new prospective which can really lift a person’s mood. 

The other benefit of a compliment, especially for a woman, is when that compliment comes from another woman.  Instead of trying to tear each other down, what would happen if we tried to build one another up when we have the opportunity?  While this may seem totally out of whack, I stand by the idea that a positive compliment, no matter how insignificant or random it may seem, will have a positive outcome for the other person.  

Does it really take much out of our day to look for the good in another person and pay them a compliment?    It may be the only kind thing that person hears all day… it may be the only positive thing that person experiences all day… and it didn’t cost you a single cent.  Paying someone a compliment is simply sharing “The Golden Rule” with another human being.  Treat others as you, yourself, would like to be treated.  A kind word, a helpful gesture, a simple compliment… they can each go a long way toward making this world a much more loving place in which to live.

I think a positive compliment trumps a negative comment in any situation… don’t you?

 

Answering Leadership Questions January 21, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Communication,Family,Life Balance,Uncategorized,Volunteering — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:19 am
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I was recently approached by a grad student-friend who asked me some questions for her Women’s Studies Leadership class. I was flattered that she would consider me to be someone who might have something to contribute, but as I looked through her questions, I quickly realized that I would have to contemplate a bit before replying. This young woman was asking me, as I would have once asked another, and I couldn’t be glib or pithy… I needed to share the insights that I’d found through my life’s leadership journey. When reading my responses, I felt called to share this on my blog… and I hope you agree.

Here are the questions I was given:

Basics
1. Name:
2. Work Position Title(s):
3: Family Structure:

Leadership Journey
1. How did you get interested in your current position?
2. How has leadership played in your life?
3. What was you first experience as a leader?
4. What educational and professional experiences did you have that prepared you for work?
5. Has your journey as a leader ever changed directions?
6. Have you had any mentors? If so, what did you learn from them?
7. As a woman, what challenges have you faced?

Day to Day Life
1. What is a typical day/week like for you?
2. Do you mostly work alone and/or in groups?
3. What major roles and responsibilities do you have?
4. What is the most rewarding part of your work?
5. What is the most challenging part of your work?

Support/Personal
1. Where have you found support?
2. How do you find/make balance in your life?
3. How do you balance work, marriage and children?
4. How does your work fit with your identity, values, etc.?
5. How would you rate the stress level in your work?

Advice
1. What would you recommend for someone interested in becoming a leader?
2. What advice would you give to young women aspiring to be leaders?

Here are my responses…

Basics:
1. Alison Blair Althouse (nee: Drum)
2. Event Coordinator, James River Cellars Winery, Glen Allen VA
3. Married for 24+ years with 2 sons (ages 23 and 21)

Leadership Journey:
1. I love working at the winery and sharing our wines with the public. As I spent more and more time at the winery, I found that I had a flair for organizing events at our winery and had a desire to become more involved in the event side of our winery’s business.
2. Leadership is a deliberate decision for me. I have held many varied leadership positions throughout my life and I have learned to “pick my battles” and be very determined when and where I become involved.
3. My first experience as a leader came during my sophomore year of college when I took charge of our Freshman Bash. I volunteered for the position and found that I had an ability to find the “interesting” within the mundane and sometimes tedious sides of leadership.
4. I have held a myriad of volunteer positions that have challenged me to test the waters of leadership before eventually seeking and obtaining paid positions within various organizations.
5. My journey as a leader is constantly changing direction, depending on the needs of my life and my family. Early in my life, leadership seemed more about following what had been done before and guiding others to look toward the pre-determined goals of a specific organization. As I’ve gotten older, I’m less likely to be satisfied by static growth and historic plans. I do my best to try and challenge myself using current technologies and question the viability of protocols in place… are these working? If things aren’t working, how can we make things better?
6. I have had a great number of mentors throughout my life… and each one has shown up at just the “right” time and for the “needed” length of time. The women in my life have continued to provide me with strong female role models throughout my life, but I don’t have a problem seeking mentors (both older and younger than me) as I find a need.
7. I faced challenges when working as the Athletic Director for a boys’ lacrosse team – setting up and organizing their schedules in what had traditionally been a male-dominated world was fun as I exceeded expectations and succeeded where others had failed (or just not flourished). The idea of “catching more bees with honey than with vinegar” was especially helpful – people would much prefer to do something for you if they feel appreciated than if they feel they *have to* do it.

Day to day life:
1. A typical week for me will find me working at the winery 3-4 mornings each week (unless I’m actually included on the schedule), from 8:30AM until 1PM or so. I then go home and start planning/making dinner before Michael comes home from work. I like to make dinner as often as possible – even if the entire family isn’t able to sit down at the table together, I love being able to have food for them to eat at home – it’s part of why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Spending time together is key, no matter where or how.
2. I work in a small office setting that can vary from 2-5 in number. If conditions warrant, I can do some of my work from home (via my iPad) or using the company laptop, although I much prefer to be around people if possible.
3. I am responsible for coordinating the events that are booked at James River Cellars Winery in Glen Allen, VA. I am also responsible for the Social Media for the winery (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Yelp, etc) and some of the documents created within the winery (wine club newsletter, chalkboards, ID cards, etc), depending on the needs of our manager. I also write and manage a wine blog where I post recipes and wine-related information. (www.fromthebottomofawinebottle.wordpress.com)
4. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing people enjoy our wines – I love doing tastings and introducing people to the non-snobby side of wine.
5. The most challenging part of my job is sometimes figuring out the “how” of a project – learning the different idiosyncrasies and nuances of how my boss has done things in the past with my own abilities and availability.

Support/Personal:
1. My support comes from my relationship with my husband… he is my rock, my helper, my best confidante, and my favorite sounding board. He knows me well enough to help me keep a strong work/life balance and understands when I need to simply vent with no expectation of answers. He makes me want to be my best at all things and loves me unconditionally. Knowing his complete belief in me has enabled me to take risks I might not otherwise have taken… I am most richly blessed with his love.
2. Balance is hard… I like to go at things 150% but my MS (multiple sclerosis) requires that I rest and recharge more than most. My husband is wonderful at reminding me to take time for *me*…
3. As my kids were growing up, any outside work I did was third in line for my attention. My husband and my boys were the MOST important thing as they were growing up – including their HS and college years. They always know that they (hubby and boys) are my highest priority but I’m able to work my job around them and their needs. Family comes first… no questions asked. My boss is firm on this as well – I couldn’t work for a company that didn’t believe in the importance of family.
4. My sense of identity has been fairly fluid over the years. I have been M’s wife, D’s and E’s mom “forever”… and I will always be in those roles. I’m now learning that there’s no shame in being “the recipe lady” at the winery… and there’s something very satisfying about a job well-done, no matter what it may be. I strive to do the best I can in anything I do… no one can ask more of me.
5. My stress level at work is as high as I make it – if I’m getting too stressed out about something, then I’m not focusing on the joy of my job. I get to work with wine… I get to teach people about wine… if I can’t find the joy in that, then I’m in the wrong business. 🙂

Advice:
1. If someone is interested in becoming a leader, whether it be in their community, their church, or at work, my suggestion is to study the characteristics of those leaders you admire. Leaders, in my opinion, are people who are able to gather the strengths of many and raise up those who can contribute most in specific situations. When I was Senior Warden (President of church council) at our parish, we faced a financial difficulty – since my Junior Warden was a CPA and CFO of a local company, I relied on his ability to translate the financial issues to our parishioners, rather than attempt to convey the information myself. There are opportunities for leadership in all aspects of our lives – you simply need to recognize them as such and be confident in your abilities. Learn from the mistakes of others, and those done by yourself, so they aren’t repeated. Recognize when you need to step back to allow for growth. Sometimes the best leader is the one who can recognize when someone else needs to take the helm for awhile.
2. The advise I would pass along to women who want to be leaders would be to use your femininity as an asset and NOT as a crutch. If you’re working with an entire group of men, realize that many will underestimate you, so use that to your advantage. If you’re working with a group of women, you should recognize that there will be a few who will see you as “the competition”, no matter your role in the group. Be firm… be kind… and follow the golden rule…. do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I hope this helps. There’s a terrific book called, “A Single Piece of Paper” that I have found to be an invaluable resource with regards to leadership and finding your leadership style. It was written by a friend/colleague of my husband (Mike Figliulo) and worth the read. I blogged about it on my other blog (beatitudesofmylife.wordpress.com) under the piece called “my maxims”. That might be helpful information to consider.

Wishing you all success as you travel this life’s journey, finding your own style of leadership and coming to grips with the type of leader you want to become.

 

“I’m sorry” August 7, 2013

Filed under: Blessings,Communication,Life Balance,Random Thoughts — beatitudesofmylife @ 7:07 am
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“I’m sorry”…. why are these words so hard for people to say these days?  Shouldn’t this be an automatic response if you have done something that affects another person?  What is so wrong with apologizing?

I had a really sweet exchange with a gentleman in the parking lot of my local “box” store which drove home this point.  To set up the scene: I had wheeled my cart to empty my items into my trunk and then walked it around to the front of my car and left it.  Yes…. I know the cart-space was only four car-lengths away, but I was tired and it was starting to rain.  I *do* try to return the carts to their proper area when possible, but this was just “one of those days” for me.  I’d been shopping… I was tired… and I just needed to get in the car and go home.  That’s no excuse for poor cart-etiquette, and I do know better, but that’s really not the point of this story.ImSorry

Back to the exchange:  As I start to open my car door, the gentleman (whose family had fled the car as soon as it stopped so they wouldn’t get wet) walked over to my cart and turned to me, saying that he’d use the cart and take it back to the store.  I responded by thanking him very much and apologizing for not returning the cart to its rightful space.  He then mentioned a recent situation in which he had gotten his car dinged by someone’s cart while they were emptying it and mentioned that they didn’t even apologize for doing so.  I was struck by how much this episode still seemed to bother him…

Maybe they thought that if they apologized for dinging his car he might turn around and make them accept responsibility and pay for repairs (apparently it was a small paint chip, but still…)?  Maybe this person didn’t want to acknowledge that they had done anything wrong?  Maybe they were so lost in their own world that they couldn’t see past it to recognize that they had infringed upon someone else?

In any case, that short conversation left an impression on me.  I know our lives are busy and we always seem to be hurrying from one activity to another, but would it really take that much time for us to slow down and be responsible for our actions?  Would it be so bad to apologize if we inadvertently do something that bothers or upsets someone?  I do recognize that there are always going to be times when apologizing might bring on more drama than you may be prepared to handle at the moment…  Maybe you can find a better solution that will acknowledge your behavior and allow the other person to understand that you truly didn’t mean to offend or hurt them?

Are we hoping for absolution for our wrong-doing or do we simply want to apologize for our actions?  We cannot control how other’s respond to our apology, but I don’t believe that offering one should be such a chore.  I’ve written about this before… follow The Golden Rule.  Do unto other’s what you would have them do unto you.”  If you would want an apology… a simple statement saying, “I’m sorry”… then why is this so hard for us to do for others?

Can’t we all just slow down a tad and recognize the feelings of others around us?  You’d be surprised how far an immediate apology can go to repairing a situation before it gets out of hand.

Let’s all try to be a little more humane instead of just being human.  The world might just seem like a much nicer place…

 

My Maxims October 10, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Communication,Life Balance — beatitudesofmylife @ 7:37 pm
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I’ve been reading a really amazing book. It’s called “One Piece of Paper” and is written by a guy named Mike Figliuolo. The best way I can think of to describe this book is to quote the author:

“Imagine explaining your leadership philosophy on one piece of paper – a simple 8.5” x 11” summation of all you are and all you want to be as a leader. How powerful would it be to have a discussion about that single page with the members of your team? But that’s impossible.
Or is it?
This book will help you do exactly that.”
– Mike Figliuolo

M read this book when it was first published and has shared it with a number of colleagues. I saw it sitting in our house and it sparked a conversation about leadership styles and expectations that had me taking my own crack at writing down a set of maxims… but first, I had to figure out what a “maxim” was…

By definition, a maxim is a noun. It’s (1) an expression of a general truth or principle and (2) a principle or rule of conduct. Once I began reading this book I realized that, while Figliuolo’s book is focused on those in the business world, I could easily apply these practices to many different areas of my own life. I may not spend hours upon hours in corporate America, but I operate under a set of principles or rules of conduct that could certainly qualify as Maxims.

I’ve been on PTA boards and athletic association boards, been part of a governing body for our church, and am now working in the wine industry. Each position has required a working set of principles that helps to guide my participation and/or leadership. When reading this book, I gained new insight into what did or didn’t work in each situation. I learned more about my strengths and weaknesses in past ventures and am continuing to evolve into the person I strive to be in the future.

I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who actively participates in their life. I believe that the act of putting down, on a single sheet of paper, the principles by which you live your life, is an extremely helpful tool, no matter what you do in life. Whether just starting out or hitting your stride late in life, this book should resonate with everyone. I hope you’ll take a moment and consider your own list of Maxims… it doesn’t have to be complete, but it should be something that grows as you do…

Here’s my list of Maxims… they may not make sense as they’re written, but they resonate with me or remind me to focus back on an important ideal. If you want to know what they mean, just ask…

Follow the Golden Rule.

Corral the “shiny”.

Save the drama for your mama.

Fool me once, shame on you.. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Be true to your beliefs and trust your gut.

Don’t ask anyone to do something you would not.

Praise in public, correct in private

Did anyone die?

SMILE!

Be truthful… Be honest… Be trustworthy.

Always honor your commitments.

Tell me something good.

Family isn’t just blood.

It’s not about me.

Let those who know, do so those who don’t, won’t.

I’m sure I’ll add or amend these as my life evolves, but this is a good representation of the core of my beliefs… are you ready to do the work to figure out your One Piece of Paper???

Thanks, Mike F, for coming up with something so simple, yet so timeless.

 

 
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Ramblings on wine from a German in Ann Arbor

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The Wine Experience and everything that comes along with it.

frugalfeeding | Low Budget Family Recipes, UK Food Blog

n. frugality; the quality of being economical with money or food.

The Gleeful Gourmand

Being grateful for everything in my life.... no matter what...

Rantings of an Amateur Chef

Food...cooking...eating....tools - What works, and what doesn't!

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