The Eve of Election Day.


Well folks, tomorrow is finally November 6. For half the country tomorrow will end in triumph celebration and the other half defeat. Literally. With polling so close and a different winner predicted by every other pundit there is not clear winner in tomorrow’s Presidential Election. One thing is for certain—tomorrow is going to be exciting. Each state’s return will be something to talk about, scrutinize and tally in the race to 270.

Tonight the country is energized, tomorrow we’ll be on pins and needles and Wednesday the complaining returns. So enjoy tomorrow while we have it—it comes once but every four years and this go round is certainly going to be one for the history books!

In the meantime make your predictions for toss up state results in a more-fun-than-usual electoral map: http://tinyurl.com/cbcb7m2. Who will carry more balloons? And for Tweeters (Twitterers? Twits?), fill out an election Mad Lib to be published based on creativity: http://tinyurl.com/ckwhtp6

Now go vote, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

So these things are real...

Every city has their own chain of convience/pharmacies—in Chicago, it’s Walgreens; New York has Duane Reed; and in little ol’ DC there is CVS. I’m no expert on the first two, but CVS is damn near my second home. Living downtown the store has become my everything, because it has just about everything. Everything you don’t need, just when you do.

Recently during a midafternoon break for fuel, a la Starburst Jelly Beans, some of my fabulous colleagues and I discovered an entire aisle end devoted to life changing products. (If I were not myself there would have been a winking emoticon here.) Really, it is still beyond me as to not only why they are in a store. And I can talk myself into needing just about anything and everything.

To let you in on a few of the world’s wonders, I sucked up my pride and took photos. The existence of these things is the work of functioning crack addicts…


There’s the Genie Bra, “what all women wish for.” Ladies, you can discover comfort! Discover support! And even discover seamless! All that you ever hoped you could have is now available, and you may not have even known. It looks like there are even colors to choose from. But how will you make such a decision? Hurry, quick, go get your adult training bra before it’s too late!






The Toe-kini (I actually got a little nauseous typing that), which promises to “prevent toe-squish.” (Again, with the nausea. And, is the hyphen really necessary?) This must-have item resembles a brief—not a bikini, quite frankly, but I suppose toe-ief was probably already under patent—for your foot. While it may actually be somewhat useful, the name and well, the product in general is far too disgusting to belong in this life. Really, underwear for your feet?






Oh, and the Cami Secret! This is just getting worse. It’s like a quarter, no, no not even a quarter, more like and eighth of a shirt that “quickly and easily clips on.” Yes, that is right, we have all been searching for something to save us from wearing entire shirts under sweaters, because good Lord, a whole cami is just too much. So bulky, right? What sort of garment can this even be classified as?  Yes, you too can shred your last piece of dignity and quickly clip on your shirt piece before heading out for the day.





This last how-do-we-live-without-it product is simply, well, it’s simple. Because “no more bending to clean your feet” with Easyfeet! Please clean your feet, people. And, while I know the built in pumice stone is tempting, and the promise of a massage may be a deal breaker, I think soap may be the real answer. And a washrag. Or even a loofa. And while I’m sure Easyfeet is 100 percent sanitary, and not weird in the least, ask yourself what guests will think when they use your restroom to find foot shaped scrub brushes sitting next to your shower. Don’t you want to have at least one friend?




I’m not sure what makes my heart palpitate more—the fact that these things really exist for purchase, or the flagrant use of ampersands, randomly capitalized words and exclamation points on their packaging. Cue anxiety attack.

I'll take s'more of that.


I try to cook, I really do. Well, full disclosure—I tried to cook and occasionally try again to no avail. Every once in a while, I think it can’t be that hard and it turns out that cooking, for me, in fact is that hard. There are so many moving parts to a meal, and it’s a dash here and a to taste there and take this off the heat before…before what? To whose taste? Dash is a form of running, like the Presidential Fitness test in which we were all forced to participate in elementary school. I didn’t like running a short distance for an eraser and I don’t like the term near my food. Case closed.

But baking, now that is something I can get on board with.

Such exact measurements with specific directions that must be followed to a T. And the end result is pure happiness, because no one is baking to get skinny. There is no such thing as a lean brownie or a light cheese cake. At least not in the land of the normal. Desert is simply for goodness; a treat, if you will. Nobody orders a birthday risotto with candles. No, because cooked goods are for sustenance and baked goods are not rational, but for fun. I mean, you need a pair of winter boots, for commuting purposes, so your feet don’t freeze and fall off, but once you get to work, you probably have something a little more fun, a la Tory Burch for your feet to bask in while they rest all day for the trip home.

Right? Right.

Recently at a friend’s surprise birthday barbeque, I enjoyed one of the most to die for post-meal treats I have devoured to date. In fact, so delightful I was caught hoarding a take home plate full of them. In my defense, it’s a long drive home from Pennsylvania, and I really think when not regulated with processed sugars, that in my blood drops low, causing an uncontrollable crabbiness. It really was for the benefit of everyone in the car.

It wasn’t just me who found these reinvented S’mores to be the epitome of culinary experiences, just about everyone at the party was trying to mask their chocolate covered fingers, so to have another without looking like a glutton.

Luckily we snagged the recipe and because I feel like joining the running for the Nobel Peace Prize, I’m sharing with you. With the happiness they bring, these treats are going to stop wars. I just know it.

Also, though instantaneously addicting, you will be surprise and delighted to know, crack is not an ingredient. The recipe says it will serve 24, but I will say it’s a hearty two.

Enjoy!

T’s Smores
12 whole honey graham crackers
Non-stick spray
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange graham crackers in a single layer in 1x10x1 inch pan lined with parchment paper and sprayed with non-stick spray. Melt butter and sugar in saucepan on medium high heat. Heat to boiling – boil for 2 minutes without stirring. Spread over graham crackers. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with semi-sweet chips. Let stand 2 – 3 minutes. Spread melted chocolate chips over baked layer. Sprinkle with white chocolate chips and let melt 2 – 3 minutes. Use spatula or back of spoon to create swirl design. Cool completely in refrigerator before breaking into pieces. Serves 24.

F-A-B-O-L-O-U-S


Ladies and gents, it’s been a short while again. After detoxing from wedding week, trying to catch up on work and attempting to fight off a disabling head cold accompanied by a Dayquil high, I’m back. Errr, well my partner in crime is standing in as me on this return.

As I have mentioned before—perhaps time and time again—I have been blessed to find myself surrounded by some of the more fantastically awesome people on this planet. And I have been just dying to have the honor, or at least guilt the honor out of them, to add some of their own thoughts to Attempted Domestication.

So for the inaugural guest post on the newly remodeled space, I find it very fitting that the author is a lovely lady, whom I knew I would be friends with, when after a couple of weeks “working together,” she filled me in on a redecorating project she had undertaken at her boyfriend’s home. It was practically love at first sight.

Without further ado, I present Miss Ashley.


***

When Abbi, first asked me to guest blog, I had mixed emotions. Me? Blog? Of course I was flattered, but what did I have to write about that would be of any interest? Then it dawned on me…why not give y’all a glimpse into our daily life?

Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Ashley, aka Ash-a-sass. One half of the fabulous ladies. (Et voila, the title. Albeit spelled incorrectly, (yes, I realize this) it was my ill attempt at being witty and paying respects to Philly and my love of hip hop. (Cue Music) Clueless? Google. It works every time.

Obvs, Abs is the other half of this fabulousness.  

For those of you that do not know, Abbi and I have the privilege of working together. Well… we don’t technically work together; rather we coordinate our respective boss’ schedules. I work for JB and she works for CB—power couple extraordinaire. Since this jet-setting, socialite duo is in high demand, it requires mad coordinating skills to keep them organized and functioning. Our duties include, but are not limited to: Executive Assistant, IT training and trouble shooting, on the rare occasion, doggie sitting and everything else in between. Think Devil Wears Prada, minus the devil and well…the Prada too! (Le Sigh)

I digress. Truth is, we work for two of the most FABULOUS people!

After a few months of daily interaction, our relationship blossomed. (She had me at checklist.) We realized that we had A LOT in common…and by a lot, I mean twins separated at birth, A LOT. Aside from the aforementioned checklists, our love of good manners, Kate Spade, JCrew, shoes and all things sparkly…the girl stole my heart! 

It is not an uncommon occurrence for us to exchange emails, at the same time, re: the same thing. Don’t believe me?

Exhibit A:
________ 

Sent: Thursday, September 20
To: Abbi
From: Ashley
Subject: Morning

What do we think about these?  I typically don’t wear one piece, but thought these were pretty cute.  

(links have been omitted)


Sent: Thursday, September 20
To: Ashley
From: Abbi
Subject: Re: Morning                                 

HOLY CRAP. SERIOUSLY?! This is exactly what I was looking at and wondering the same thing…

__________

Hey now, don’t be judgey! We DO work—a lot, actually. So what if our correspondence is littered with “did you get flights/schedule dinner/book the driver? Btw, what do you think of this?” (Insert JCrew or Kate Spade link.) After all, life’s too short to not be FABULOUS!

Since meeting Abbi, my wallet is a little lighter, but my day a little brighter. (Paging  Dr. Seuss) We started out as colleagues but were destined to be friends. The fact that we are the same size with the same taste, well… that’s just an added perk!

Stay fabulous! 

Until next time,

xoxo
  


My Dixie Land Delight.


It’s no surprise to anyone, that I love “wedding week.” The five to seven days before the big day that are so emotionally charged and filled with endless to-do lists. Gah, the check check check checkcheckcheck is just like paradise. And the week of togetherness that comes but once, well every wedding, is unparalleled. Plus, our mom supports a lot of things she wouldn’t normally. J Luke and Alecia’s wedding week was no exception to fabulous, and I am here to provide you with my top ten favorite moments, aside from the obvious ones (at least the ones I can remember…):

10. Spending three hours in Hobby Lobby with the bride and groom to be. We had stopped by for fabric and three vases. We left with a pilsner glass that holds a pitcher of beer, a basket full of props from the “bat cave,”(from pirate hats, to mustaches, umbrellas, grass skirts, etc.) almost a “Congratulations, you are Grandparents” sign, before we thought better of ourselves, and a garter (phew, remembered it a few days early this time).

9. Luke correcting his bride to be that the dance he had taught her for their first dance together at the reception “is just a simple waltz.”

8. Zachary, older brother and best man extraordinaire, drinking his entire pitcher- holding-pilsner glass at the rehearsal dinner and watching his appearance go from, “wow he cleans up nicely,” to “you don’t look like the same person who entered the restaurant.”

7. Practicing my speech with Quintin and Dusty at the reception before it was my turn to give the toast. Quintin may have a future career as a speech coach—cue tears.

6. The inaugural Stuaan Family Bar Crawl, which consisted of one bar, one pick up truck no firefly vodka, purchasing two shirts and five coozies to commemorate the occasion, throw back country music, Zach picking up the tab by writing a check, a late night game of basketball and Luke dipping tortilla chips in a Sam’s Club sized can of cold processed cheese. All around classy.

5. Alecia and Luke opening their wedding gifts from each other—one of the sweetest moments of the day. The bride was stunned by her pearl and diamond ring and the groom was so excited about his watch that we immediately had to go have links taken out so he could wear it right then.

4. Our mom dancing at the reception. She is self proclaimed to be "not fun," (I'm just not fun, never have been, just get over it--I believe was her exact quote) and while that is far from the truth, it was still surprising, AND AWESOME, to see her cutting a rug on the dance floor.

3. Wedding coordinating with Miss Kelly. Now that my brothers and I have reached a point in our lives where we are no long the three kids of the family, but six, I feel so blessed that my brothers gave me two fantastic sisters. I mean, I didn’t even have a say in it and they chose perfectly!

2. Luke’s groomsmen. Usually the boys of a wedding party are a liability, allowed in a limited amount of photos and seated far from the bar, but these gents were an all star line up. From the little boys I watched get detention after detention...after detention, they have grown up into outstanding young men. From Quintin’s suspender dancing, to Logan’s impromptu speeches and Blake’s adorable wife and baby (plus of course my handsome husband and charming middle child brother)—these guys were the life of the party.

1. The McBarker Boys (at least part of them) reuniting to perform Long Tall Texan at the end of the reception. Dad, Bret, Greg and Jim have still got it. Bam.

Honorable mention: While helping clean up at the end of the night, I turned music on my iPhoneand everyone chimed in, "I spend my dollar parked in a holler 'neath the mountain moonlight..."


All for love.


Well, my baby brother is a husband. And at that, I think he is going to be a good one.

Reflecting back on my own wedding, which was three years prior, nearly to the day, I remember my dad telling me a few days before I walked down the aisle, to soak it all in. He said that I would blink and it would be over, so try to freeze the moments. And wow—he was right.

I look back, and the seconds, minutes and hours I see suspended, are filled with love. The love of our family and friends dedicating themselves to making certain the day Dusty and I would begin our lives together, was all that we wanted it to be. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the selflessness and joy of our loved ones, and just completely consumed by happiness that day.

When things went a little off plan, as things will do, before I could blink someone swooped in and took charge. Like when we realized the meal choices weren’t on the name cards the day of, or having forgotten to get a garter until the night before, the chairs nearly not being delivered, the décor misplaced, but like magic, things were taken care of.

Love. They all wanted us to focus on our love that day and nothing else. And when I stood with Dusty and exchanged vows in front of all of those people, everything was perfect in my eyes and all I could feel was happy.

Luckily during Luke and Alecia’s wedding week, I got to spend a few hours with my little brother before we let his bride take the reins. While I’m always shocked that the kid is an adult and not the doe eyed, toe headed, little boy in my mind, our conversations prove him to be quite a big kid, and dare I say a thoughtful and well cultured grown up. But most important of all, he is as happy as one person can be and wanted nothing more than his girl to have the day she had dreamt of. I shared similar advice with him that my dad had given me—enjoy the day and don’t worry about a thing, because you have every other day of your life to worry.

The week went by so quickly, running errands, attending final appointments, shopping for gifts and laughing a lot. In what seemed like a few minutes, the big day arrived. And the emotions started—it was a moat sprung up around my eyes. Seeing Alecia in her veil that morning and the joy when she opened the pearl ring Luke had given her as a wedding gift, my heart soared. And instantly I understood what led everyone to help on my wedding day—the sheer happiness that took over her, filled the room and I wanted nothing more than the bride and groom to experience those moments over and over again.

And the next thing I knew, Luke was standing at the altar he had built, looking like a little boy all dressed up, and waiting for Alecia to become his wife. Then they were exchanging vows, rings, looking back at us one last time as two individuals and before I could wipe away another tear we were rushing off to the reception and they were dancing as they had practiced and toasting to a life together, smiling, hugging and laughing, and in the blink of an eye we were chanting "encore" as our dad’s band reunited to sing one last song.

Before I left for the wedding, a coworker asked if this was going to be my first “sibling wedding,” and when I responded yes, he said it would be like nothing else, that the feeling is indescribable. He was right.

All for love.

Hot diggity dog!

Since randomly zoning onto an episode of the Food Channel which featured a tiny neighborhood hotdog joint in Chicago, I have been drooling. Think bucket list, randomly interrupting conversation to mention it, popping into dreams kind of need to go to there. Luckily for me, my best friend is a resident of Lincoln Park and planes fly from the District to the Windy City. Phew.

With wheels up at 6 a.m. on Saturday, surely you can picture semi-permanent grimace my face was contorted into. But come 9:30 a.m. I was one of the more happy people on this planet to be waiting in a line half a block long.

Waiting in line at Hot Doug’s.

(Insert blissful sigh.) Let’s back up a tick, because for those of you who are not familiar with the legendary sausageateur, at this point you think I should be committed. But Doug has perfected the craft of cased meats and is not serving up the average Oscar Meyer mystery meat. Oh no. His is a menu of entire gourmet meals served in a bun—duck, ribeye, pate, chorizo, chicken, bison, venison, veal, and the list of meats goes on, some infused, others flash fried or boiled. They are adorned with an array of delectable accompaniments to rival a toppings bar at a fro yo shop, a la crème fraise, pate, goat cheese, truffle sauce, salsa, caramelized onions, and the list goes on. On the weekends, fries cooked in duck fat can be ordered as a side. Do you see what I am saying? Because if by now you are still thinking I have better things to do with my time, a.) I don’t and b.) you are reading about me talking about rambling on about a trip to get a fancy hotdog so before you roll your eyes again, perhaps an evaluation of better things in your life should be brought to the table. I’m just saying.

The line to get into Hot Doug’s--from when we joined--was about an hour, but the weather was lovely and we had catching up to do with our BFFs anyway. So even though I would not have complained I about the wait given the purpose, on this occasion I was an especially enthusiastic line stander.

When our party of four made it in the front door of the small neighborhood-esque restaurant, the dining room was almost shockingly serene—tables were empty, fellow patrons were all smiles and servers calmly balanced trays. But then again, I shouldn’t have really been too surprised, given the menu of God that hung before me. The only unsettling aspect of the experience was having to make a decision of which dog I would enjoy. We each ended up with two. I chose a chicken sausage to ensure satisfaction and went out on a ledge with the day’s “Celebrity Sausage.” Ahem, naturally.

Needless to say none of were hungry again until about 11 p.m. and despite our heavy stomachs practically floated out of the restaurant, carried by the happiness that only an experience living up to expectations can bring.

Abbi Flo for the win.





For vanity's sake.

Okay ladies, have you ever looked in the mirror midday and thought (out loud on occasion), “God, why do I look so tired?” The obvious answer is the five hours of sleep you got last night and the minimal time spent decompressing. But, if you are like me, at this point in your life, time spent sleeping is time wasted; and I don’t have time for that. Fully aware that I am a marketer's dream, near to capable of turning the economy around by my own spending in consumerville, I have made it one of my charges in life to perfect my personal beauty regiment. I just can’t not buy into what they tell me. Literally.

Earlier this year my cosmetic product spending jumped to new heights when, for the first time in my 27 years of existence, my usually clear skin decided to try acne on for size. Much to my horror, no zit zap, face mask, sonic scrubbing, cleansing cream, rub or wash was ridding my pores of the ghastly blisters that had taken residence. Perhaps a tad dramatic, but adult acne is not for the faint of heart and never having to do more than wash and moisturize to avoid more than the occasional outbreak, my self esteem plummeted quickly. And my search for makeup that would mask, what I felt like was alligator skin, became a near obsession.

Suddenly my usually powder, blush, eye shadow and mascara routine was thirty plus minutes of priming, blending, covering, swirling, tapping, covering again, dusting, dabbing here and smudging there just to pray to God that it wouldn’t rain that day. During this time I swear to you I tried ten different foundation products and I’d hate to guess how many concealers. Do you think I get a tax break?

A few months of moping went by before I finally sucked up my pride and faced reality that I needed medical intervention. The dermatologist fixed me right up and returned my skin back to somewhere near its beginning state. That is not to say I have ended my quest to find the best combination of products for a beauty regiment of minimal time and maximum effect. Now I'm back on track to rid the tired eyes.

And once again, the Today Show has done it—captured my attention, I’m guessing my hard earned money and now airtime on Attempted Domestication. So for all you fellow seekers of quality cosmetics, check out their segment from this morning, featuring Shape Magazine’s top beauty award winners that are brand new for this year. All of the products were voted on by readers and tested by their task force to bring us certified awesomeness.

Yes, you are welcome.


Here is a short list, provided by today.com, of some of the fabulous products dubbed the best of all. To see all of the award winners visit www.shapemagazine.com

Primer winner: Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Radiance
$30, Lauramercier.com
Think celebs and movie stars are the only people who can benefit from a primer? Think again! Primers help give everyday makeup major staying power. Plus, some of the best primers out on the market smooth out the skin and create an even surface so makeup can be applied and blended more easily. This primer from Laura Mercier has a pearl tint that adds luminosity and helps minimize the appearance of fine lines. It comes in one universally-appealing shade.

BB cream winner: Dior Hydra Life BB Crème
$56, Sephora.com
BB creams (aka: beauty balms) have made a big splash in the beauty world this year. The main reason? They pack a lot of punch in one small bottle, often providing the benefit of hydration, wrinkle-protection, and SPF protection all in one step. This tinted beauty balm from Dior conceals imperfections, softens skin, controls oil, and protects with SPF 30.

Powder winner: Revlon ColorStay Aqua Mineral Finishing Powder
$14, drugstores
A great powder is essential for setting makeup and preventing oil build-up and shine in the T-Zone area. Revlon ColorStay Aqua Mineral Finishing powder minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines and leaves a translucent finish. Best of all? It contains hydrating coconut water and feels cool upon application.

Concealer winner: Sephora Smoothing & Brightening Concealer
$14, Sephora.com
A good concealer can do everything from hide unsightly blemishes to brighten the undereye area. Hyaluronic acid in this creamy cover-up plumps fine lines and prevents it from caking, while light-reflecting pigments camouflage dark circles. Its tapered brush makes hiding pimples a cinch and its small size makes it super portable for on-the-go touch-ups.

Eyeliner winner: Yves Saint Laurent Effet Faux Cils Shocking Felt-Tip Eyeliner Pen
$29, Yslbeautyus.com
Most eyeliners smudge, flake, or create imperfect lines. The extra-fine tip of this easy-to-wield, marker-like liner combines the precision of a pencil with the intensity of a liquid liner. It's ideal for women who want to wear a wing-tipped cat eye look, but is also great for everyday usage.

Lipstick winner: Lancôme Rouge in Love Lipcolor
$25, lancome-usa.com
Dread lipstick that imparts bold color at the expense of drying out your lips? Lancome's Rouge in Love Lipcolor has a lightweight, silky feeling and provides a bold dose of color with just the right amount of shine. It's available in 21 chic shades.
 
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