Please Forgive Me. I Am A Grad Student.

April 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm (A Little Fun, back to school, Studies, Time Off Together) (, , , , , )

Not that I really have anything interesting to post in the first place, but life has pretty much been put on hold for the last 2 semesters.  I have been totally immersed in my studies.  A master’s in statistics does not come easy, especially when your background is in Theology and social services.

Hopefully I will have something interesting to post soon.  It is going to be a busy summer, but hopefully a little pleasure will be mixed with business.  I have finally agreed to go backpacking with Josh.  He has been asking for quite some time and I finally took pity on him.  So a few weeks ago he plopped this ball of plastic down on in front of me and said,


“This is our tent”



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What I Do In My “Free” Time

March 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm (A Little Fun, A New Career, Employment, Job Satisfaction, Working from home) (, , , , , , , , , , )

You have seen from previous posts that I have a new Thirty-One business.  I didn’t want to take over this blog with my business (not that I have done much updating in the past couple of years!) so I started a new blog dedicated to growing my business.  Please jog on over there and follow if you like.  Among other things I will have fun with videos demonstrating products so customers who can touch and feel the products will have a better idea of what will work best for their needs.

Also, stop by my Facebook group.  I am required to make it a closed group so just request to join.

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Who Would Like to Be a (Thirty-One) Hostess of the Month?

March 7, 2013 at 1:41 am (A Little Fun, A New Career, Employment) (, , , )

All it takes is a commitment to placing a $35 order each month from April 2013 to September 2013 and YOU will receive the benefits of hosting YOUR OWN party one of those months!  That is, at least $35 in FREE products (YOUR CHOICE!), one half-priced item (YOUR CHOICE!) and one hostess exclusive (amazing products offered ONLY to hostesses!).  I will choose names randomly when I have the commitment from 6 people, so you will know ahead of time which is your month.  You can choose to host a party that month, either in home or online to boost sales for your party and in turn earning even MORE free products!

This $35 amount will also qualify you for the monthly customer special.  When everyone takes advantage of the specials, EVERYONE BENEFITS!  What a great way to start stashing away Christmas gifts or planning ahead for birthdays!  Win, Win!!

If you are interested and want more information, please join my facebook group What’s In Your Tote Today? or send me an email at 31 partyatzohodotcom.

cindy tote

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Introducing Thrifty Third Thursdays!

January 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm (A Little Fun, A New Career, Fun Photos) (, , , , , , , )

Drum roll, please!!! Now is the time for our first ever Thrify Third Thursday! And for the first ever TTT I am offering a deal on one of our brand new products which I think will be a favorite.

I am going to offer you our Inside-Out Bag PLUS a scarf to accessorize for just $31! (plus shipping and tax). That is a $19 savings! This bag is incredible. It is reversible and you can wear it as a cross-body or shoulder bag. Talk about versatile!

This will also qualify you for the January special, an item from the Your Way collection for 1/2 off. This is already very popular for organizing the home.

When you bundle my TTT deal with the January special today I will ALSO give you 10% off the total!

Here is an example: The original price of the new Room for Two Utility Tote is $60. When you purchase my TTT deal along with this tote you will only pay $54.90 (plush shipping and tax) for all three items, a $55 savings!! That is LESS than the original cost of just the tote! This is our most expensive tote in the line so that is the most you would pay for anything in this bundle.

There are 4 prints in the Inside-Out Bag and 5 prints in the scarves (plus 10 prints in the varsity scarves).

Jump on this deal right now. Only available today! Tell your friends and when they join the group they can get this offer, too!

Shipping is available to anyone in the US.

You must going my Facebook group to take advantage of this deal today.  What’s In Your Tote Today?

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Thanksgiving 2006

November 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm (A Little Fun, Fun Photos, Memories) (, , )


As I was preparing my customary Thanksgiving dishes today I was thinking about what is probably my favorite Thanksgiving celebration.

We were oceans apart from family in a country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving (that’s right American friends, Thanksgiving is not celebrated across the pond).  We were dirt poor.  I was a supervisor at Starbucks and Josh was not working.

But we had so much to be thankful for.

We settled on 15 November as the deadline for Josh to get a job before we had to buy our tickets to move back home.

On 14 November Josh was hired!

I love sharing holidays with friends and this was special because many of our friends had heard of this crazy holiday of ours but never experienced it and the strange foods we concocted.

We squeezed 10 people into our 650 sq.ft. apartment (which actually was the most spacious we had had at that point!).  It was probably a Saturday evening since people obviously do not have the holiday off and it is just easiest to do it on the weekend.

This was actually the size of our kitchen.  Just a few inches behind us is the wall.

We had a tiny oven.  I didn’t even THINK about what a challenge it would be finding a pan for the turkey that would fit in the oven!  I think Sam came to the rescue on that one.

The refrigerator was also tiny, though not as tiny as our first one!  It was by far the most tricky time I have ever had planning a meal this big.

A living room/kitchen view.  I LOVED our doors.  Even though we didn’t have a balcony it was great to let in fresh air and it was crucial for this girl who was deeply affected by dark winters to have as many windows as possible.

The meal: Turkey (the first I had ever made), brown sugar ham, scalloped potatoes with chipotle, mashed potatoes (from scratch), gravy (from turkey drippings), Stove Top, cranberry relish, sweet potato casserole, salads, cheddar garlic biscuits (scones, not cookies!).  Imagine doing all this with just an apartment oven and a microwave!  On top of that is the challenge of actually finding the foods we need for this meal.  Pumpkin is pretty much non-existent unless you can find an American imports store and pay at least twice as much.  Turkeys are really not around until closer to Christmas.  Stove Top had to be shipped in.  Chipotle, again, imports store.  The cheddar cooks differently, the potatoes are different, everything is just…DIFFERENT!

I was pretty excited about the Bisquick (probably found at ASDA, owned by Walmart).  I was also thrilled that Stephanie sent me a care package with fall goodies including STOVE TOP!

Explaining to my Chinese friend exactly what these dishes are and how you eat them.




Countries represented that night: USA, Scotland, England, Nigeria (sort of), China, Australia, Spain.

The cook finally eats when everyone else is full.

Pudding (dessert): the most important part of the meal!  Friends were always so intrigued by pumpkin flavored desserts but when they tried the pumpkin cheesecake it was always a hit!

This memory is so fond to me because we had dear friends with us, we were able to share a special holiday with friends and other internationals, and could offer a place to go for other Americans who couldn’t be with family.

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De Dos Dias

August 27, 2012 at 9:00 am (A Little Fun, Fun Photos, Time Off Together) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

We first set out for wine country.  We just wanted some wine for the apartment so we just wanted to pop in and out of a couple of places.  One red for Josh, one white for me.  We also ended up with a really excellent Port which we brought back with us.

When Stacey got off work she took us to her favorite Indian place which happened to be in San Rafael.  They have a delicious all you can eat buffet for lunch.  I particularly loved the naan and tikka masala.  I wanted to eat more but I had no room left!

When we were done eating we headed out to the city.  I had wanted to take a picture similar to one we had done on our previous trip to San Francisco.   So we went to the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square.

Do you see any difference?

Maybe just a little.

It was a beautifully sunny 83 degrees when we left San Rafael, which is a mere 15 minutes from the bridge.  As we approached SF we watched (and felt!) the temperature drop.  On the bridge it was 56!.  Cold and blustery in SF!

Josh let Stacey use his ultra light backpacking jacket.  She needed four hands to fight the wind!

We could have flown her like a kite!

Josh looks like he is enjoying a warm summery day.

Josh needed help getting his jacket back on.  Like  a kite I tell you.

What a stud!

A gratuitous VW van shot for Andy.  There were PLENTY of these around!

Stacey took us to this lovely park that was plopped right down in the middle of the city.  In Buena Vista you almost forget you are in a city as you climb the steep hills, pick wild blackberries, and gaze up at the eucalyptus trees (not pictured, I know).  There is such a variety of flora in this park.

This is one of the lookout points in the park.  They say there is this big bridge and an ocean out there, but honestly I’m not sure they know what they are talking about.

The one place I REALLY wanted to try in the city was Humphry Slocombe.  Just a little before our trip I happened to pick up an ice cream recipe book from the library and guess where the shop was ?!  They had some really off the wall flavors that I wanted to try.

I could not make up my mind because what tasted best to me was just the ordinary strawberry ancho chili chocolate.  I really wanted something different so I chose pluot cardamom something or other.

Josh and Stacey both got the secret breakfast, which apparently is one of their best sellers.  It involves corn flakes and whiskey.  It really was tasty!

The Mission District reminds me a little of Pilsen, but a bit more hard core or edgy.

I really wish I would have taken pictures of some of the murals.  This was one of those places I really didn’t want to stick out like a tourist.  The picture above was taken at my hip.  😀

Once we were thoroughly chilled with our ice cream (did I mention it was 56 degrees?!) we, at least Stacey and I had to get our coffee fix at Philz.

I love this picture!  It seems like it should be in a newspaper article about Philz.  🙂

They brew your coffee up for you right there!  Fresh!  And you can mix beans, too.  Since it was evening but I knew we would be having a very late dinner and a late return I mixed decaf Ethiopian with the regular Silken Splendor.  It was quite good!  And a fun place to hang out, too.

It was finally time for dinner so Stacey took us to the place she volunteers.  Old Skool Cafe is a not for profit that gets at risk kids off the streets and trains them for jobs.  The cafe is not only a place to train the kids, but it is where they can be employed which offers them a legitimate place of employment and good reference for their resume.  I encourage you to click the link to their website and read about them.  And it is not your typical not for profit that just does what they do and expects pity and hand outs.  They really do what they do well.  The food is excellent and they offer live entertainment.  Yelp is proof that the general public really enjoys the food.

The jazzy/clubby music was superb.

And there was salsa dancing when the musicians cleared out.

We were the last customers out.

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August 22, 2012 at 8:49 pm (A Little Fun, Time Off Together) (, , , , )

Up bright and early at 3:30am.  We actually got to the airport later than we had hoped so Josh dropped me off so I could drop off our luggage and he could park in remote parking (later to find it was the wrong lot, $129 later.  ouch!).  We were already checked in so we just had to hope in the line to get through security.

Even though they asked who was flying Virgin to SF and they said we would be ok where we were in line, we were still almost late for our flight.  The lady at the desk said, “You didn’t hear my page?”.  I’m thinking, first of all how can you expect to understand ANY of these pages.  Secondly we were going through security and there is still 10 minutes to departure.  Why is the door already closed?

On the plane someone was sitting in one of our seats.  When we claimed the seat she looked a little upset and said, “Well, do you want to sit there?” and pointed to two seats across the isle.  Being a little frazzled I said fine.  When I sat I realized I had just given up my window seat.  😦  During the flight I couldn’t not help looking over at the girls who sat with the empty seat between them yacking it up, buying movies, ordering food, and thinking that these girls are spoiled.

All in all we made it to SFO and had time to kill before Stacey picked us up after work.


Little did we know that we would somehow bring fog with us that would not rise until just after our flight left for Chicago.  Our only view of the GGB was on our arrival.


Stacey took us to her stomping grounds and we got to see where she lives, view and all!


She took us to pick up our car (Josh’s mustang!) and we picked up some lunch at the Bay Cafe.  Cute place but nothing fancy.

Our home for the week was an apartment in a house in San Rafael.  It was a really beautiful apartment.  The owner’s had thought of every little detail, right down to the home baked cookies and little package of Peet’s coffee.  Mmm!  It was very much our style.




After we got a little settled Stacey took us to one of her spots off Muir Beach.  We had to walk through Slide Ranch to get there.  Such a beautiful place and probably one of my favorite views on the coast.

The drive was on what I think MUST be the most wind-y, curvy part of HWY 1.  The map says it will take 11 minutes to get there, but that is a lie.  It is more like one hour!


I LOVED the eucalyptus!!!!



Unfortunately we had to rush back because the parking lot was going to close at 6pm so we could only spend about 3 minutes looking for starfish.


There was a lookout point at the parking lot.




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August 9, 2012 at 12:21 am (A Little Fun, Fun Photos, Time Off Together) (, , , , , )

Summer is nearing an end and we have been wanting to take Stevie to a Railcats game.  So we did.

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A Walk

April 2, 2011 at 11:32 am (A Little Fun, Fun Photos) ()

I take the shuttle to and from campuses on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have class.  We have a Watertower campus, which is right downtown, and we have a Lakeshore campus which is in the north of Chicago, in Roger’s Park.  My class is in the Lakeshore campus.  I have been wanting to walk to my train after class, rather than taking the shuttle.  I have just been waiting for better weather.  I was going to use the lakefront path and the winter winds sweeping off the lake is not fun!  So there was finally a good day with decent weather and nothing I had to rush back for.  So I walked the 8.6 miles down the path.  I took detours for pictures and including the mile I walk from my station to the shuttle in the morning, I walked a total of 10 miles that day!  With a 15# backpack!

So enough words.  Here are the pics:








There’s a story with the above building:

They advertised $888/mo mortgage, parking and storage incl. No fine print.

This was when we still had hope of buying in Chicago.

We always liked this building because all of the units have a view of the lake.

We figured it would be really tight, but if we pinched pennies we could make that kind of mortg, plus association fees.

When we looked at it we found out parking was tangent and the ‘storage’ was a 3X3X3 locker.

THEN they told us the $888 was for the first year only. Then went up to $1295.

Oh, and “The value of your property will go up because they are planning another construction right in front of this one!”

*blink* *blink*




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First Day

January 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm (A Little Fun, A New Career, back to school, Studies) (, , )

Yesterday I automatically woke up at 4:30am.  Don’t know why.  I think this made it easier to get out of bed when the alarm went off at 4:45 this morning.

I waited 40 minutes at the train station for my train.  I was 10 minutes early.  The train was at least 30 minutes late.  South Shore was kind enough to make the announcement that the train would be 10-15 minutes late.  The radio reported the trains were on time.

As I stood in the rain listening over my music for the horn I debated whether it would be better to take the train and be late (I only have 5 minutes to get to class when the trains are on time) or to drive in the sleet, in the dark (my night vision is not the greatest), in bad traffic and be late.  I guess I made the right decision because as I was getting into my car I heard the ding signaling an announcement and shortly after the parking lot was suddenly flooded with others heading back to their vehicles.

It only took an hour and a half, traffic was not great.  I arrived in Evanston at the time my class was starting.  Now I had to find parking.  Parking in this area is difficult, to put it kindly.  I found a spot at a meter and prayed I had some quarters.  They were a staple in our car when we lived in Chicago, but not any more.  The meter said “1 1/2 hours for $1.50”, but I’m wondering what you got 1 1/2 of because the meter only gave me 60 minutes.  That was all I had.  I had to give up another little supplication that I didn’t get a ticket.

I made it to my class 10 minutes late, but fortunately someone save a seat for me.  Right in the front.  Middle.  About 3 feet away from the overhead screen.  I was frazzled, my hair was in my face, and I was doing what I could to avoid an embarrassing snot situation.  There at the front of the class.  I’m not sure I absorbed much.  Statistics, that is.

After making a mad dash out to my car to move it to a non-metered spot after class, I was happy NOT to see an orange envelope hanging from my window.  Now I have to pray I don’t get one in the mail.

I found a spot several blocks away and made my way back to campus to take care of some business.  I walked in circles around campus because there is construction and many paths are closed.  I got the ID.  I went to meet with an advisor who couldn’t help me and sent me to someone in the mathematics department.  On the other side of campus.  He couldn’t help with my specific question either.

I felt like I deserved a coffee after all of this and popped in to one of the many independent coffee shops in the area.  LOVE THIS!  There are so many different ethnicities in the area and I was getting so excited about all of the potentials for lunch.  Oh, wait.  I don’t have money to eat out.

I turned down the street I THOUGHT I had parked my car.  Then I went down next.  And the next.  This isn’t like me to lose my parking spot and it unnerved me a bit.  But I saw the Devon Market and went in to look around and this cheered me up.  Josh called to see how my day was going and as I was babbling and randomly walking down the streets I found my car.

Although I wanted to get home and get started on homework (I’m in a training all day tomorrow), I thought it would be great to drive through our old neighborhood since I didn’t plan to have my car any other time.  I saw some new buildings and couldn’t believe that one of the dilapidated apartment buildings that housed immigrants was gone and a Dominick’s in it’s place.  A stop at my favourite Middle Eastern Bakery was necessary and I got falafel for tonight’s dinner.  That makes me happy.

I wanted to take a picture of my first day on campus, but the sleet and the wind off the lake didn’t really make me want to linger long enough to take out my camera.  I do hope to have more time to post about my experience coming full circle and studying once again in Chicago.

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April 27, 2010 at 3:22 pm (A Little Fun, Fun Videos, Time Off Together) (, , )

I had such a lovely day yesterday.  It was my day off and I am normally pretty stressed on my days off.

The sun was shining.

I went to an interview and when I got home I got in comfy clothes, set up the bunny pen, got my homework, and sat out in my garden studying for my exam and watching the bunns have a wee run about the grass.  Mostly watching the bunns and looking at my garden.  I usually keep to my homework without a problem, but I guess there were too many distractions.

I have TONS of garlic coming up which was planted last fall.  I have some carrot and parsnip stragglers coming up that I planted to late last fall.  I’m not sure how they will do, but I will give them a chance.  Rhubarb, onions, strawberries, blueberries, cherry tree, raspberries, snow peas.  These are all my distractions right now.  And now I have a plum and pear tree and my mom got an espaliered apple tree with 6 different kinds of apples on it!

Late in the afternoon Josh called to set up an impromptu date.  He comes home for lunch whenever he can.  It’s not often, though, and many times it is late, like yesterday.  At 3:30 he came to pick me up to fetch some Subway in the neighboring town.  We laughed as we got back in the car with our subs that we have a wee bit of Kentucky in our backyard.  It felt like it took an hour just to get our subs.  We drove over to the wildlife preserve and backed the car in so we could have a lovely view of the fields in front of us.  Yes, our date consisted of Subway eaten in the car.  But it was lovely.  It was impromptu.  It was time to catch up together.  I had to get back to my studying and he to his work.  But I enjoyed the time we did have.

I just HAVE to share this video I found on a friend’s blog.  Blogger has not been letting me post comments of my friend’s blogs.  Erin, if you see this tell Eric I have watched this over and over and laughed so hard!

Alright, I can’t embed the video and I don’t have time to mess with it any longer.  Go to Eric’s blog and scroll down to the Japanese binocular soccer.

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A “Real Housewife” Switches Places With a Real Woman

April 8, 2010 at 9:20 pm (A Little Fun, Fun Videos) (, , , )

Yes, I have actually watched the Real Housewives.  It was during one of those 12 hour Saturdays at the group home and there was nothing to do and nothing else to watch.  First instinct is “ICK” and quickly change the channel as I am rolling my eyes.  Then I come back to it and linger a bit longer, disgusted at how some people live.  And then, whadayaknow, I watched how-many-hours-of-this-Housewives-marathon (while doing my other duties, of course). 

If you’ve never seen it, it is about rich housewives and all of their petty bickering and their shopping, vacationing, condo buying, house redecorating, car buying for their kids after saying they don’t get a car because of their grades, and the token charity fundraising.  The show follows a small group of women in various cities and they have become celebrities.  There’s The Real Housewives of New York, The Real Housewives of Orange County, and I think another but I forget.

One of these Housewives was on Rachael Ray yesterday (watching it with my client) and they showed video of her changing places with a single mom who holds down 2 jobs.  It was funny yet sad to see the starke contrast in lifestyle.  I was looking for video of the whole segment, but this is all I could find.  They left out the part where Ramona stares up the stairs to the 350 square foot walk-up apartment and says, “I have never been to a walk-up before.”  And even better is when she is going out to do the laundry and she struggles down the flights of stairs with the bag in her mini dress and high heels and just kicks the bag down each flight.  She takes a cab to the laundromat, which I doubt a struggling mom would do (by the way, Ramona took a limo to the apartment.  The single mom walked the whole way to Ramona’s condo).  At the laundromat Ramona says, “It would just be easier to PAY them to wash and fold the laundry!”  Hmmm…

At the end of the segment Ramona gifts some of her jewelry from her True Faith line to the single mom.  I thought the sweetest thing was when the mom said, “I like my life how it is.  I wouldn’t trade it” or something to that effect.

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April Fool’s!!

April 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm (A Little Fun) (, , )

A friend of mine from Scotland actually believed this!  Gives a little glimpse into their views on Americans and their portion sizes.  😀

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