Why I Love Skype….

Being a long way from home can be hard – like now. I’m currently in Wellington, New Zealand working and finishing up the next book in the Abby George Series.  It’s so pretty here, and the people are incredible….But it’s WINTER. Yes, if that confuses you, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Several of my friends have been shocked when I shared pics with them or the temperature. While most of my friends and family prep for temp’s in the 90s today, I’m in front of a fire, drinking coffee and dusting off my Uggs.

Life is good 🙂

However, I do miss my home, my family, my pets and my friends. Thank goodness Skype  – makes it so folks like myself can see those we love and get to feel like we’re “a part of” the daily life we may be missing. With that lead in, I want you to say hello to  my nephew, JW. He added a graphic to his Skype when we chatted the other day. Luckily, I grabbed this screenshot 😉

Here’s to a great weekend… and  go Skype someone YOU love today! Right now…Do it!

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Need Some Help? How to Design on a Budget!

I’ve decided that Tuesdays for the month of October will be themed with budget-friendly ideas for those of us who either don’t want to spend a ton of money OR who don’t have a ton of money to spend!

(Jump back to last Tuesday’s post about budget-friendly date ideas f you need some or missed it!)

Today I’m sharing with you an article I found on the HGTV website: 11 Ideas for Designing on a Budget. Most of the advice is simple and really, it’s the kind of advice you’d give a close friend if they were in the middle of this type of at-home project. However, we forget how easy it is to change our homes with little to no money to spend!

Enjoy this article and feel free to post a comment here or send me a note with YOUR idea of how to get creative with your home-decor design budget – I love your feedback!!

RUM PUNCH REGRETS – REVIEWS!

August has been beyond busy – which is good for me, but bad for my bloggin’!

Just so you can see a bit of what I’ve been up to, I’m going to post some of the reviews here for you to check out. I’m also extending my CHARM GIVEAWAY for another few weeks just because of the response AND because we will be rolling out some new charms in the line – stay tuned and make sure you add a review to AMAZON to enter for the charm of your choice!!

The first review up is from the Jersey Girl Book Review blog. This one gives you a two-for-one! You get a guest post from yours truly AND a FOUR STAR REVIEW!!

I’ll add more  posts for your reading pleasure as the week goes on – plus I’ll have some pics up from the Lupus LA Poker Tournament and Rooftop Party that’s happening this Thursday September 13th here in Los Angeles! I’m playing in the tourney and look forward to attempting to WIN BIG…

Want more info on LUPUS LA? Click on the link and check out a charity I love dearly and fully support.

 

Another Giveaway! Wanna win a charm?

It’s time for my big, fabulous contest announcement – are you guys ready for it?

WHO WANTS TO WIN A CHARM?

Starting tomorrow, August 3rd, I will be running another EASY contest. This time the winner will get the choice of one of my charms…in gold or silver!!

They are so cute and can be added to an existing charm bracelet, or used as a necklace or on a leather wrap bracelet (my FAVORITE way to wear them!!) These are the charms inspired by ABBY GEORGE and RUM PUNCH REGRETS. Don’t you want one of your own?
To enter, you just need to review one of my books – which I’m sure ALL OF YOU have read by now…right? 😉 – on Amazon. Any names popping up for reviews from August 3, 2012  through September 4, 2012 will automatically be entered to win! (I tell ya where to buy my books below!)

And don’t forget, I give a portion of my proceeds from the ABBY GEORGE SERIES to Lupus LA – help me help them, please?

Good luck and happy reading!!

NEED TO BUY A BOOK? You can get them here:

AMAZON – eBook

AMAZON – print version

BARNES AND NOBLE – Nook

iTunes – NOW AVAILABLE!!!!

Anyone else want to go to Italy? Costa Rica? BALI???

Free things are awesome.

I can’t always say no, so when someone offers me something free I tend to say yes then figure out if I can make it work or trash it. From clothes to pillows, I’m the “one man” they speak of  in “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…” Replace man with Anne, and well….you get it.

Come on! I love free stuff, don’t you?

When people are giving away free things – I’m sorry “gratis” if you want to be classy – most of the time we hem and haw and don’t want to sign up for something like a “sweepstakes” or a giveaway.

Not this time, my friends. Not this time.

I’ve been turned on to a sweepstakes that can benefit you AND your friends! Seriously – what else could be more fun than winning a trip to a vacation home in Bali, Costa Rica or Italy? As much as I’m dying to go to Italy, I’m now daydreaming about Bali!

FlipKey, a blog associated with TripAdvisor.com, is sponsoring their “FlipKey’s Flippin’ Awesome Vacation Giveaway” which can be entered either using the link I’ve provided or through their Facebook page.

FlipKey even has a bonus for signing up via Facebook: Get your friends on Facebook to sign up and you get an extra chance to enter for each person who also signs up! Get a group of people and invite each other and enter – the more chances the better, I say!

It’s easy, quick and what is the worst that could happen?

You could win a trip for you and up to 10 of your friends to an amazing destination… That’s terrible, right?

Yep. Terrible. So, go ahead and enter and get your friends to enter, too!!

What’s stopping you?

***Contest is running until January 10, 2012!!***

If It Ain’t Broke…(Re-print from the Frederick News-Post & one of my faves!)

I was scrolling through the web applications offered for my new iPhone the other day, and I came across one for downloading backgrounds as screensavers. These are either picturesque scenes of nature, cute animals or art, or they have positive sayings, so when your phone is idle you have a cute picture to enjoy or an affirmative thought to read. One particular background selection actually disturbed me, and I am still trying figure out why.

It was a peaceful, serene, meadow scene and the cursive inscription over the picture read, “I Want To Love Someone So Much That They Know Everything About Me”. For the record, I am not a pessimist when it comes to love or relationships or anything romantic, just the opposite actually. Yet, this particular statement made me shake my head. Do we want someone else to know everything about us?

It is actually right in tune with a conversation I had with my cousin, Shelly, last week when I was visiting her. She stated to me that no one that is together for any length of time ever really knows the other person they are with at all. I, being the debater I felt I needed to be that day, proceeded to argue the point with her – Only I found myself understanding her side. It does seem to me that in this day and age you need to get a DNA swab and a background check for anyone you go out on a date with, much less you get married to them. You never know what you are really getting, do you? How many times have women I know wanted a money-back guarantee in their relationships?

Take my friend Laura. A sweet, put together, type-A personality that is the marketing director for a major corporation. She has been happily married for about fifteen years now, has an amazing home near Venice Beach and two children. When I spoke to her recently, I asked her if she had any secrets that her husband was not aware of that only she knew. She laughed as she told me that he still has no idea to this day that she was a stripper for a few years after college. And he never will. As she said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Then there is my cousin’s friend that was dating someone for 2 years and never told him about her bankruptcy. She said that she thought it was unnecessary information to be passed on,  since she felt that they were never that serious anyway. (They are not together anymore actually, so she obviously made the right decision.)

Personally, after hearing these stories and thinking about this, I decided to take stock in how forthcoming I had been in my relationships past. Let’s just say, I have no filter. I realized that I seem to offer my own personal information as trust is earned, in a slow-leak kind of way. Are there certain things I never divulge? I can think of one or two I probably should not – Actually I can think of twelve – Yet, with the right amount of wine, I am a modern day version of “Deep Throat”. My own worst enemy. Enemy mine.

Would I change this about myself, since I know other women think that too much information given out is only to be used against us in the future? No. I am who I am and I cannot regret that. I will always spill too many secrets and laugh too loudly at my self, but hold back info? No way. I guess at some point I may find someone that believes in that, too.

We’ll see…

 

Due Diligence or Cyber Stalking? (Sneak peek at my next column!!)

I’m a firm believer in due diligence. Having as much knowledge on any given subject can only be helpful, right? I mean, I think it was the television network ABC that did the “Knowledge is Power” ad campaign… I’m sure we all remember “The More You Know”?

For example, if I’m about to meet someone who could possibly be a new business aquaintenance, or if I’m researching a new restaurant or retail store, I like to “Google” them. That’s right, I Google. I Google all day long, it is after all, a search engine! With that being said I feel it’s safe to admit, that yes, I have Googled myself on more than one occasion. Don’t judge me. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

Even Wikipedia defines research as “the search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, with an open mind, to establish novel facts…” Search for knowledge, or in my case, a quest.

Apparently, even though I think it’s wise to use Google as a research tool, I have a few friends that think I abuse the Google tactic when it comes to meeting someone I may possibly date for the long-term. I stand firm in my belief that all I’m doing is “due diligence”.  If I felt I could do a background check or a DNA swab on a potential boyfriend, AND get away with it, we all know I would.

Now, by due diligence, I don’t mean I find your Facebook page or, heaven forbid your MySpace page, LinkedIn, Twitter or whatever it is you use for social networking and then proceed to learn all I can about you so we appear to have more in common than we really do. Please, that’s child’s play honey. No, I’m looking for something along the lines of you being arrested for bank robbery or fraud against the elderly. Or in the case of one lucky man, the article where he expressed his opinion on aliens in outer space and how he “might have seen one hovering above the mountain” near his home here in LA.

When I forwarded this particular article to one of my best friends, she promptly – and sweetly – told me to stop cyber-stalking. “What?!?” was my innocent reply. “Cyber-stalking? Hardly, I’m making sure I don’t go share a meal with a kook or a rapist. Hell, I could be in a getaway car and not even know it!”. That’s when I realized that yes, this type of behavior can appear to border on insanity, but think about it: I knew enough at that point for me to know I didn’t want to even tread out of my house to go on another date with this person.

Is it fair? Probably not.  I do try to make sure I never judge a book by its cover and I try to see the whole picture. I really do, it’s just that sometimes, especially after years of experience in the dating world, you smell the red flag coming before it ever really starts to fly. Maybe it’s the freak flag that I smell more so than the red flag, but either way, listening to your gut instinct is important, too.

No matter what the scenario, when you meet someone and begin the first dates as part of the “ritual”, we are all taking a chance. The chance that this person will be good to you, will have your best interests at heart (at least for the night) or that they won’t cut you up into a million little pieces and bury you in the desert (or throw you in the Chesapeake). We trust that that they are honest and we trust ourselves that we chose correctly in our decision of who we wish to share a meal with or have as our escort for the evening.

Some people call my “way” annoying and immature, others have obviously accused me of cyber-stalking, even though I can argue based on the social platform of Four Square (Really? Who’s stalking who now?).

Personally, I call it brilliance.

 

Denial, You Beast!

Do you ever live in denial? I mean, really, really live in denial? Like true, honest to goodness DENIAL.

I don’t mean like the type of denial where you fudge your weight on your drivers license (yes, we all do it) or the type of denial where you should balance your checkbook and just haven’t “gotten around to it”. What I mean is the type of denial where you need to look really hard at yourself or a situation that you’ve found yourself in. That’s what I’m talking about.

Denial was defined by Freud (Wikipedia backs me on this) and he labeled it as a defense mechanism where a “person is faced with a fact and is too uncomfortable to accept it and rejects it instead”. It doesn’t matter that there is a ton of evidence piling up around said fact. Basically, as a person you kinda get scared senseless and don’t wanna deal.

I’ll goes first; Hi. My name is Anne Kemp and I love denial. I do, I do, I do! (Say that like the Cowardly Lion in the “Wizard of Oz”. I did. Made me laugh!)

I probably have had a better relationship with denial than I ever had with any man – well before therapy. I’ve actually learned over the years to allow myself denial for a brief time then I have to face whatever the demon is I’m running from head on.

Is it fun? Nope, not one bit. But I’m not a girl that is known in social circles for her patience. I’d rather “rip the band-aid off” than slowly peel it back. But that’s just me.

My dear friend Abby is also a “denialist” from way back. I think when I stepped down and threw away my Active-Duty Denial Crown, Abby found it in the dumpster and put it on that hard head of hers.

She is a genius when it comes to denial. In the past, she denied that she needed to pay her bills – which led to her becoming terrified of answering her phone due to all the creditors that were calling; she denied that her car needed to get an oil change…twice – resulting in both cars completely dying on her at the worst possible times; and she denied that she had a problem in one (ha! All) of her relationships – until it was over.

Look, I’m the first to admit that no one’s perfect. We all just wake up and try to connect our own dots everyday, right? No one sets out to screw up their job because you didn’t complete your project in time, resulting in the loudest silence ever at the board meeting right before you had your butt chewed out in front of everyone….right?

Look at Abby’s denial of anything that happens with her boyfriends. Seriously, it’s an addiction (I mean, it has to be!). No matter what, at some point while with someone, she shuts down just a tiny bit and stops paying attention. Sometimes she projects, blaming it on them and their actions, but we all know the truth. She denies that she has stopped loving them, or in the case of one ex, denies that he has all of his own issues (alcoholism, gambling, drugs) to deal with. She pretends he’s fine or they’re fine and keeps moving on.

***Disclaimer: Abby said a few of her ex’s fall into the description above. So, please, don’t be narcissistic and think it’s all about you. Cause it isn’t! ***

I think denial can come in handy for severe issues, like trying to fit my size 7.5 feet into my new vintage Dolce & Gabbana Mary Jane’s. I’ve never been a shoe person, but these are flipping brilliant! I wear them, and it hurts like a mother. I can only wear my Uggs or Converse for days after. Why do I do it? Cause I’m in denial. Or am I just an idiot?

Denial comes in all kinds of lovely packages: denial that your marriage or relationship has changed, denial that you gained a few pounds (so you still try to squeeze into those True Religions you love so much!) or denial that a parent is becoming the child right in front of you. Denial is there, all around you, me, Abby…I think it’s more of a common thread these days than anyone wants to admit (cause they’re in DENIAL!).

I guess denial can be a positive thing, though. I’ve just proven to you that we are all in this together. And if you deny that I’m right, well…We all know you’re lying, cause you are in denial of my rightness (see what I did there? Boo YA!).

Happy Thanksgiving!

— — —

Anne Kemp writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

How To: Properly Use Emotional Blackmail

Whatever happened to the good ole days when emotional blackmail was all the rage and manipulation was viewed as “okay”? No? Was I dreaming? Hmmm…maybe I was the star of a soap opera in another life.

Emotional blackmail can be used by us or against us – either way, it’s a true form of blackmail. I have family members that use it, and they are well-practiced (you know who you are, Mother…) and I’ve also had good friends attempt to utilize this approach (“Are you sure you can’t just swing by and help me set up for the baby shower? Remember the time I helped you move? That was fun.”). It’s a form of manipulation that can never end well. Someone will emerge from this confrontation a little worse for wear. Trust me, I’ve been on both sides.

My friend Abby has used emotional blackmail on boyfriends (or on boys who are friends) that she wants to get to do something. Whether she has gotten them to help her with an Ikea “put-this-crap-together-yourself” project or when she’s sick and needs medicine or soup, she could teach a master class on manipulation. She once even used this tactic to get one of her good friends to sleep with her (or, since my nephews and nieces read this, she wanted him to help her ‘hang some pictures’).

How did Abby do this, you ask? Well, Abby had returned to LA after a death in the family. She admittedly used that scenario as her catalyst to lure a friend over, make him dinner so she could “talk” and then…well, let’s just say they hung a lot of pictures that night. Apparently, once all was said and done, she needed to finish the project they had started, so he came back over another night to ‘hang some more’. I suggested they volunteer for Habitat for Humanity (sarcastic much?).

If done correctly, emotional blackmail can be entertaining. I like to pull this on my family members, especially if they think they have the upper hand. Now, the rule here is to use it on your elders every once in a great while, as they are more practiced in the art of any type of blackmail. For reals. But those younger than you?  Two words – OPEN. SEASON.

My nephews, Dan and JW, are my usual victims. Tis true, and I say it here openly because they would agree with me. I started them fresh at a young age.  I would threaten to take away my love or toys in order to have them help me with a project around the house (FYI – They are more like my brothers as we are only ten years apart. Please don’t think that someone in her thirties is torturing her five or six year old nephews!). Dan, the older of the two, still remembers that I would beg him to rub my neck or feet and promise him money. He recently tried to convince me I owed him at least a semester of his college tuition – I pretended I couldn’t remember.

(For the record, I probably do. But you can’t manipulate the master, Daniel. Puh-lease.)

Am I condoning this? Nah. But I feel like we all need to be aware that this form of relationship warfare is alive and kicking. You can use it or be abused by it – It’s up to you.  Keep your eyes and ears open for it, and practice throwing back.

Remember that time I told you about emotional blackmail? Now you owe me one…

 

 

 

You can always go home again…(From October Frederick New-Post Column)

They say you can never go home again. I don’t who “they” are, but I can prove them wrong.

I moved away from Frederick roughly sixteen years ago. With each trip back, I’ve seen so many changes, from the stores and restaurants on Market Street that have opened, to high schools likeLinganore that have been built from scratch to match the growing population, to the highways and exits that are growing and changing daily. On each trip, I’ve been amazed at the significant differences that are shaping this beautiful city. This city that I call home.

The term “coming home” has a different meaning for everyone. You come home to see your family, for the holidays, for a celebration or sometimes because you just have to. You reach out to friends from your past and spend time with family, sucking in their love and energy to help fill you up before you go back out into your own world. At least, that’s what I do.

My last two trips back home I’ve been more than blessed. In July, I was able to come home for my twentieth high school reunion. Seeing people I had not seen since I had graduated and spending time with friends old and new, we picked up like it was just yesterday. That showed me the power of friendship – and the internet!

Thanks to websites like Facebook, many of us have been able to watch the progress over the past few years of our classmates, see the families many of our friends have created now, as well as experiencing highs and lows together.

During my second trip, the one I am just returning from, more “reunion” stars aligned. Several folks I had worked with during my days on Market Street at Donnelly’s (pre-Firestone’s for those that don’t know) happened to come in for a visit as well. To say these two trips were mind-blowing is an understatement.

Change and growth are the two words I thought of when I sat with old friends over the last few months and caught up. Seeing how some had taken charge of their lives and are going on to create their place in the world was heart-warming. We shared our adventures; whether they were affairs of the heart (I had PLENTY of those!) or trips abroad, there was lots of catching up.

The common thread here? We were all home. Yes, we have places that we fly or drive back to where we have our residences or our families and pets…But to all of us? Frederick is home. We grew up here, physically, preparing to go out in the world to grow up mentally. Sitting with people that can say “we knew each other when” is the best feeling in the world. And to still be able to have common interest with them or to find yourself cheering along with them as they climb higher with their goals or take small steps in their own lives makes me happy. I guess it’s just the little things.

Yes, we can get together and laugh with our friends at ourselves. No matter who we are now and what we did then, we are remembered. We are loved and we can hold one another dear and close as long as we are able, or as long we’re supposed to. Good friends are truly hard to find, and I’m seeing that I’m surrounded by many good friends on both coasts.

I’d like to ban the phrase, “you can never go home again”. Because, I can. I can come home again and again. I’ll always find the love, friendship and strength that we all need at some point to fill our souls up to go out there and attack the world – or at least attempt our own mini-takeover.

So, my advice to the person that coined the phrase? Think of a new saying, because Anne Kemp has proven you wrong.