looking good

Dressing appropriately for work really says a lot about you, but it has nothing to do with being trendy…even if it’s not the right thing to do people are going to judge you by how you look first.

Here are a few guidelines to help you make good choices when you don’t know what to wear:

Make your choices so that you are wearing clothes that look more like the big shot senior people where you work than the newcomer junior associates. Dress seriously- people will take you seriously…

What you wear for “business casual” should emphasize the business part, not the casual part.

If you have casual Friday where you work don’t dress so that it looks like you have already started the weekend. People will assume how you look is how you feel about your job.

Dos and don’ts: sleeveless may be ok, but strapless is not, no leggings, no shorts, no really short skirts, no holey denim, nothing that shows skin that should not be seen in an office, no flip-flops, no sneakers (even expensive ones) and keep the accessories and jewelry to a minimum.

Dos: hemlines around your knees, a little above or below is always appropriate, tailored ankle length or a bit longer slacks, button-down blouses, collar-less tops that are not t-shirts, tunics, cardigans, blazers, pullover and turtleneck sweaters are all fine as long as they are not too big and sloppy or too tight. Pumps, loafers, maybe boots, flats and wedges are all good choices as long as they are not stilettos or purple and pink striped.

It’s really mostly common sense, you represent the place you work while you’re there…so dress accordingly

eat, drink and be nice

Dear Ask Mom- I have some “work friends” that I also go out with after work. We all eat lunch together and take a break from work. Someone that works with us has started joining us for lunch and talks about work the whole time and complains about everything. Our fun lunchtime feels like it has turned into work time. What should we do?

I think you’re asking me what you can do to get rid of the co-worker? The bad news is: you can’t. If you are eating at the place provided for you to eat at work she is just as entitled to eat there as you are. You can’t control where she eats, but you can control the conversation. Don’t respond to her negative work comments and do include her in the happy, unwork related topics that you have usually discussed.

(you could talk about what you did for your birthday and if today is your birthday- have a happy)

To go? or No?

Hi Mom, Someone I know pretty well, but I’m not socially friends with is intimidating me into going to a concert about 2 hours away. I reallyI don’t want to go. She’s not taking no for an answer. What should I do?

This is a little more complicated that it sounds. If you don’t go your potential friendship my be over. If you give into the intimidation you may feel disappointed in yourself. Most of the time the best way to deal with a big problem is break it down into smaller problems. Answer each part and it should help you find an answer to the bigger problem. Is money an issue? Is time an issue? Do you have something else to do?

warm and delish

It might not be really cold enough, (and I’m sorry if it is) if you have to turn your air conditioner down  and make Pumpkin Spice Latte at Home

2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more to garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
1 to 2 shots espresso, about 1/4 cup
1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped until firm peaks form

Mixer, whisk, or hand blender, to whip cream
Wooden spoon
Espresso maker or coffee maker

Heat the pumpkin and spices: In a small saucepan over medium heat cook the pumpkin with the pumpkin pie spice and a generous helping of black pepper for 2 minutes or until it’s hot and smells cooked. Stir constantly.
Stir in the sugar: Add the sugar and stir until the mixture looks like a bubbly thick syrup.
Warm the milk: Whisk in the milk and vanilla extract. Warm gently over medium heat, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t boil over.
Blend the milk: Carefully process the milk mixture with a hand blender or in a traditional blender (hold the lid down tightly with a thick wad of towels!) until frothy and blended.
Mix the drinks: Make the espresso or coffee and divide between two mugs and add the frothed milk. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg if desired.
Milk Fat: This recipe is most satisfying when made with whole milk, but 2% and skim can be substituted.
Canned Pumpkin Substitution: You can substitute 1 teaspoon Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup for the canned pumpkin if you have it on hand.
Sugar Substitute: You can use a sugar substitute in place of the sugar if desired. Add to taste.
Pumpkin Pie Spice Substitute: No pumpkin pie spice? No problem — use our recipe to make it out of cinnamon, ginger, and other spices: Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
Espresso Substitute: If you don’t have espresso on hand, you can use strong brewed coffee instead. Increase amount to 1/3 to 1/2 cup.
Recipe Notes
Make a big batch of pumpkin spice mix-in: If you like, you can make a big batch of the pumpkin spice base, and refrigerate.

mistakes are ok

So many of you are harder on yourself than anyone else could be. When you write to me you tell me that you’re beating yourselves up for your old mistakes for a long time, stop. We all made mistakes and we will all make more mistakes, but who you are is not all the mistakes you’ve ever made. It’s ok to make mistakes because you can’t learn what the right things are, if you don’t do the wrong things sometimes. Your future will be better because of your past, even the bad parts…move on from your mistakes and try not to make them again.

the best kitchen

One of my most favorite websites, The Kitchn, listed 10 Things Every Kitchen Needs That You Can’t See.The point is you don’t need fancy stuff to have a great kitchen to cook in…

1. Space
It doesn’t matter how big or small your kitchen is, it needs room to breathe. It needs less clutter and more space to work.

2. Smell
Smell is about having a clean space where what you smell is the food, not the trash can. It’s important to routinely clean things that absorb smells.

3. Light                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you’re lacking in the natural light department, try adding a lamp or under-cabinet light to make your space glow and come alive. Any extra light will make a small space feel larger. When all else fails, add a mirror to bounce around what little light you have to the deepest darkest corners.

4. Sound
What are the sounds in your kitchen? Your kitchen should have a nice, soothing hum…

5. Tradition
Tradition in the kitchen can be as simple as having tools or treasures your parents or grandparents used. It can mean making a recipe that’s been in the family for years.

6. Love
Love!  To nourish and feed one another is a human instinct and it’s important to give it an outlet regularly.

7. Passion
Although it sounds like love and passion are the same thing and sure, they might share a certain vibe, they couldn’t be more different. Passion is what fuels you. It’s what sparks your creative vibe and says, “Today… today I will make pasta.” It’s what ignites inside you when you do something really well and makes you want to do it again and again until it’s perfected.

8. Lightness
Maybe there are things you’re holding on to and shifting around in your cabinets that you don’t need to keep; letting them go would make you suddenly feel lighter. It might be that your counters are too cluttered. Maybe those old vines and plate displays on top of your cabinet should finally go. The goal of your kitchen is to feel light like the way a knife feels when you cut through a tomato. That way your food shines and lets good things flow throughout. It doesn’t mean your kitchen has to be light in color, just in feeling!

9. Air Flow
An open window or a ceiling fan can do wonders to freshen your space. A small desk fan— you know the tiny ones that don’t actually look like they’d provide any relief from heat — will tuck behind your flour bin on your counter and move air around enough to keep things fresh. Open windows when you can too, but remember that stale air is icky air!

10. Music
There’s no denying that a good soundtrack makes any meal prep better. Some people like calming classical or jazz to cook to, others love rowdy rock or super sweet pop. Music helps you forget that the heirloom tomato salad you wanted to bring to that potluck involves cutting 200 cherry tomatoes and keeps a beat in your feet and a swing in your step.

positive attitude

Dear Mom, Every time I have to do something new I get so anxious that I can’t enjoy myself even if it’s a good thing. How can I stop letting anxiety ruin my life?

Most people are a little nervous about new things, but if it’s interfering with your life you should do something about it. You need to realize that it’s not the new event that you’re worried about, you’re afraid of what might happen that you have no control over. Meditate for a few minutes and concentrate on your breathing this will stop you from thinking about the things that are stressing you out. Start thinking positively and stop thinking about everything that could go wrong that probably won’t and move on…

rude v. rude

Hi mom, I stop and get coffee before work and lots of people are saving seats so I have no where to sit. I think that’s rude, can I tell someone that they are being rude saving a seat and sit down?

Probably not! because then you are being just as rude…but, you can ask if you can sit in the seat until their friend shows up and by then another seat is going to be empty.

eat as much as you want…

The bad news is: almost no one eats enough fruit and vegetables, the good news is: it’s very easy to do…Someone who eats 2000 calories a day should eat: 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables

If you’re not sure what a cup means— just measure out a cup of grapes or a cup of chopped carrots, and ta-da, you have your measurement. There are a few exceptions though:

  • When it comes to salad, a cup is not a cup. It takes 2 cups of leafy greens to equal 1 cup of vegetables.
  • Juice counts as a fruit, but you’re not getting the fiber and other good benefits of eating whole fruit.
  • When it comes to dried fruit, cut the amount in half. A half cup of dried fruit equals one cup of fresh fruit.
  • One big piece of fruit is roughly a cup. An apple, an orange, a large banana, a nectarine, a grapefruit — one piece of fruit gives you one cup.

Here’s a quick look at ten ways to get a full daily serving of fruits and vegetables:
The easiest is salad— about 5 cups of greens plus extras are your vegetables for the day!

A few more are like this for one day:

Fruit: 1 large banana. 8 ounces apple juice.
Vegetables: 5 cups salad greens (which equals 2 1/2 cups vegetables), plus onion.

Try berries at breakfast, berries for dessert, and vegetables for lunch, snack, and dinner.

Fruit: 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup strawberries (about 8 large)
Vegetables: 1 cup coleslaw, 6 baby carrots with dip, 1 cup sautéed kale

If you snack on fruits and vegetables all day, this is the way to do it: Cut up some vegetables and pack them in your lunchbox with some hummus:

Fruit: 1 cup cantaloupe, 1 cup champagne grapes
Vegetables: 1 cup sugar snap peas, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 stalk celery

The Big Salad approach: eat a big salad for lunch or dinner, and round it out with some fruit or put the fruit on the salad.

Fruit: 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1 apple
Vegetables: Large salad with about 5 cups salad greens

A side salad probably has about 2 cups of greens (which equals one cup of vegetables). Add a cup of cherry tomatoes and you’re almost there:

Fruit: 1 cup cantaloupe, 1 cup blueberries
Vegetables: 2 cups salad greens, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 stalk celery

Deli salads count, too. You can buy out of the case at Whole Foods or gourmet groceries: an asparagus salad with a bit of cheese and salami is a great lunch, and it’s mostly veggies:

Fruit: 1 cup cantaloupe, 1 cup champagne grapes
Vegetables: 1 cup asparagus salad, 1 cup sautéed kale, 1/2 bell pepper

Applesauce and other cooked fruit preparations count, too…

Fruit: 1 cup applesauce, 1 large banana
Vegetables: 1 red bell pepper, 1/2 cup cucumber slices, 2 cups salad greens

Snacking approach:

Fruit: 1 cup strawberries (about 8 large), 1 orange
Vegetables: 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 stalk celery, 1 cup sautéed kale

Munch on dried fruit with your breakfast oatmeal, cucumber and carrots at your desk, kale for dinner, and a nectarine for dessert.

Fruit: 1 nectarine, 1/2 cup dried cherries
Vegetables: 1 cup sliced cucumber, 1/2 cup baby carrots, 1 cup sautéed kale

One more time — slaw for lunch, veggies for snacks, fruit for breakfast.

Fruit: 1 cup cantaloupe, 1 apple
Vegetables: 1 cup coleslaw, 1 bell pepper, 1 stalk celery

You don’t have to eat a lot to get the recommended amount and the calories are low, so don’t worry- with veggies and fruit it’s better to eat too much than not enough…



don’t do it at work

Bad manners at work must be a big problem because I get lots of email complaints about it…it seems like we are working in the middle of an uncivilized jungle with uncivilized creatures. Here are a few of the emails that I get the most often:

  • An office mate plays bad music and it’s way too loud, what should I do?…the person playing the music should always take into account the people around him/her and always respect other people’s ears
  • Shaking hands seems to be more complicated than it should be how do I shake hands correctly?…practice a ‘firm’ handshake, not limp or bone crushing, somewhere in-between. It should not last for 5 minutes, shake for as long as it takes to say, “Hi, my name is …”.
  • Close-talkers is another problem. There are people who carry on a conversation nose-to-nose. That’s not appropriate for the work place, about half an arm’s length away is the right distance.
  • Work is not the place to have 45 minute conversations and don’t give your opinion about everything, all the time. You’re at work, it’s not a social occasion, keep the conversations on a professional level.
  • Last but not least, don’t eat smelly food at work! Everyone will complain and ruin your lunch…