Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dear Bloomingdale's.... Here is what I have to say about you promoting date rape

Add from Bloomingdale's 2015 Holiday Catalog

Dear Bloomingdale's,

I once had someone "spike" my drink. It wasn't the holidays and it wasn't egg nog, but he took it upon himself to slip something into my drink without my knowledge. In many ways I'm thankful that my memories of what happened after are spotty. A date rape drug will do that.

I'll tell you what I do remember, I remember how it felt to wake up feeling powerless, unable to move or speak while I was being sexually assaulted. I remember that moment when I realized I couldn't fight back or stop him. I remember what it felt like the next day to have multiple bruises on my body. I remember what the shame felt like.

I remember what it was like to spend two decades afraid to sleep with a window open or a door unlocked. I remember what it's like to be afraid of crowds of strangers, especially where anyone is drinking alcohol.

I remember what it was like to try to control the anxiety and fear I felt years latter for my own daughters as they went out into the world.

I'll tell you what I know today. I know it wasn't my fault and this man was a coward, the shame is on him not me. I know that my body is mine and no one has a right to take advantage of me in any way. I also know that I have no interest in spending a dime at Bloomingdale's or any company that doesn't have the sense to see this ad as not just inappropriate but dangerous.

Your creative team and anyone who let this ad be printed needs a serious education in what date rape is and the long term affects it has on a person. It's nothing to joke about. Personally I'd like to see Bloomingdale's do something to support organizations who help the victims of sexual assault. It would be a start. That's what I know.

Someone who didn't enjoy having her drink spiked
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Monday, November 9, 2015

A Hawaiian's Guide to Surviving Winter in Minnesota

Surviving the cold when you are from the beach
The questioned I'm asked most when people learn I was born and raised in Hawaii is, "What the hell are you doing in Minnesota?" I've spent 20 years explaining to people what brought me here. Now I just simply answer "I've always had a thing for midwest men."

My friends outside of Minnesota in Hawaii, or other warmer parts of the country are always asking "How do you survive Minnesota winters being from Hawaii?" Well, I'm going to answer that once and for all with my top 7 tips in, A Hawaiian's Guide to Surviving Winter in Minnesota. This is how I've done it during the colder months and why I love living here.

1. Learn to make and love a good Hot Dish! One of my favorites is this Enchilada Casserole. I got the recipe from Lifestyle Expert Ross Sveback who happens to also be a friend of mine, which means I make endless calls to him asking how many cups in a pint or what the heck are scallions. He always answers me without judgement, but then asks me if I think his name is google.  I've also learned to make a killer tater tot hot dish and multiple crockpot dishes.

Enchilada Casserole aka: Enchilada Hot Dish

2. Regularly enjoy a dish that reminds you of a warmer place. For me it's sashimi, which I can't get enough of. My raw fish addiction regularly takes me to Yumi's Sushi Bar in Excelsior, which has the best sushi I've had in the country, including Hawaii. I'm obsessed with their Chirashi Bowl, which is a mix of sashimi on a bed of rice. I usually order a side of salmon belly and seaweed salad.

Yumi's Sushi Bar in Excelsior, Minnesota

3. Try new wines with friends, or even the dog. There is nothing more cozy than sipping a lovely glass of wine next to a roaring fire. A great way to pass the time during the winter is to do so with friends, the two-legged or even four-legged variety. I make weekly stops at Excelsior Vintage to try new wines during their weekly wine tastings Fridays and Saturdays. They are wonderful at helping you with not just food and wine pairings, but pairing wines with activities. For example I can ask Greg or Susan "Which wine goes best with a bubble bath." or "Can you recommend a wine that will go well with binge watching something on Netflix?"

4. Learn to embrace winter activities. This one took me almost two decades. I finally now enjoy snowmobiling, fires outside during the winter and even ice skating. It isn't always colder than a polar bear's balls here in Minnesota. Last winter was quite mild.

Embracing Minnesota Outdoors

5. Puzzles, puzzles and more puzzles. I discovered I have a passion for puzzles, which by the way goes well with my passion for wine. I love to sit inside on a cold day, listen to music, enjoy a glass of my favorite Sauvignon Blanc and puzzle my heart out! It's very relaxing! I find many of my puzzles at The General Store in Minnetonka.

One of my most recently completed 1000 piece puzzles.

6. When all else fails, plan a warm getaway. Recently I took a cruise around the Greek Isles with Just Girls Travel. I made memories that will keep me warm all winter long.

My breakfast view on Silversea Cruises throughout the Greek Isles

7. Embrace the beauty of a Minnesota winter day. Winter is actually quite gorgeous and scenic in Minnesota. If you are going to be dealing with the cold, it may as well be in a beautiful place. For me that is the Lake Minnetonka area. Plus there is always happy hour at Coalition Restaurant!

Lake Minnetonka on a beautiful winter day

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why Facebook Is Worse Thank Your Crazy Judgmental Relatives

Facebook has taken stirring up emotions to another level entirely with their "Your Memories on Facebook" application.  They now take photos and memories you posted anytime in the last 5 years or so and throw it in your face.

To add insult to injury, like a crazy judgmental relative at Thanksgiving dinner they try to soften the blow with this post:

Who at Facebook thought this was a good idea? It's like being bombarded over turkey by your crazy, judgmental Aunt who says "Honey I care about you and I don't want to see you alone, which is why I'm not handing you the pie. Last year you were at least 10 lbs thinner."

Facebook says "We care about you and the memories you share here. We thought you'd like to look back on this post from 1 year ago." Inserts photo from a year ago before you discovered the joys of enjoying gelato while binge watching Sons of Anarchy on Netflix.

Thank you for pointing that out Facebook.

Facebook also enjoys pointing out our past relationship failures be it friendships or romantic ones, but with the same lovely note which says "We thought you'd like to look back on this post from 5 years ago." What they really mean is, "Have you discussed your inability to trust with your therapist yet. We would like to see you with more than just your cats."

I find myself posting today with a question in mind. Would I want to see this in 5 years? Like a jilted lover, is this something Facebook is going to throw in my face 3 years from now. It's not enough that I need to be concerned with what my friends and family thinks about me, or how they might judge me later. Now I can add Aunt Facebook to that list.

Maybe it's just me. I know we learn from history so we dare not repeat it, but like mullets and shoulder pads, past posts should stay in the past. Stop the madness Facebook.

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My Top 10 Adventures in Greece

In October I took a trip to Greece through Silversea Cruises on the Silver Spirit. My trip was booked through Sue Thompson at Just Girls Travel. I can not say enough about how amazing it was! Sue knows how to hook a girl up! The mission of Just Girls Travel is "To create unique and meaningful travel experiences for women." This is exactly what they did for me.

I consider myself to be fairly savvy when it comes to planning my own travel, but I can say without a doubt, my trip would not have been as unique and meaningful (as is their mission) without Sue's help.

I've traveled a fair amount and I'm from Hawaii. Greece was the first place I've been  to that rivaled Hawaii! You have seen the gorgeous photos of Santorini, the ruins of the Acropolis and more. I'm going to share my top 10 adventures in Greece.

#1. Having my own butler on the Silver Spirit! Each room on the Silver Spirit is a suite, most with their own private veranda. You also have the services of a butler. Prabath taught me how to say yes instead of "No thank you, I'm fine." I learned to say "Yes Prabath I'd love more wine. Yes Prabath two desserts with my 5 course in-suite meal sounds delicious. " You get the point. I also appreciated how Prabath indulged my desire for multiple selfies with him.

You never forget your first butler

#2. I discovered why Greek people have such amazing butts! It is from all the hiking and walking they do around Greece. I walked and walked and walked. Each day I awoke at a new port. I'd throw back the curtains and experience a new view. Silversea has multiple excursions you can book yourself on and I took full advantage of that. You really get more out of the experience when you have a guide explaining what you are looking at.

Trying to get the "Greek butt".

#3. Got hit on by a little person atop the Acropolis in Athens. Surrounded by the awe inspiring beauty created by a civilization thousands of years ago, I found myself most fascinated by a little person I met. If you follow my blog you may know I have a soft spot for little people and anything miniature. I took it as a blessing from the Greek Goddness Aphrodite that this man started up a conversation with me. Being that my heart belongs to another, I had to decline his offer of a ride down from the top in his private elevator.  It truly was the highlight of my time in Athens.

Wish I had gotten your name. If you know this man, contact me.
#4. Reenacted the first Olympics. My friend Tara and her husband Nic (Who happens to be half Greek like my man) were also on the trip. Moved by the energy of the location of the first Olympics, Tara and I took off like a lightning bolt from Zeus. Of course we lasted about 20 feet before the Ouzo (Greek booze) we indulged in earlier kicked in and slowed us.

If only there was a wine drinking game in the Olympics.

#5. I returned to the sea in Nafplio. On a walk around a local town I stumbled upon this swimming area. There was one local woman in the water. It was the off-season for beach time, though it was a beautiful upper 70's day. Luckily I had my suit under my dress and was able to join her. It was one of the most beautiful setting I have ever swam in, and remember that is a statement coming from someone who is from Hawaii.

Rinsing off after channeling my inner mermaid.
#6. The food! With 24 hours a day room service and exceptional on-board restaurants, it was no wonder my clothes shrank. On the Silver Spirit you can order a 7 course meal in your suite if you like. You eat when you want, everything is all-inclusive including premium liquor. They needed a wheelbarrow to get me off the ship.

Hello lamb, oh how I've missed you.
 #7. The stunning sunsets. My travel agent Sue Thompson at Just Girls Travel is so good, she was able to schedule multiple stunning sunsets for my personal enjoyment. Truly spectacular to witness.

Nothing manmade can compare to the beauty of what Mother Nature creates.
#8. Meeting the local people. While on Santorini I took off on my own after a tour for a nearby beach. One of the people I met was this cab driver, whose name escapes me now because I can barely remember my own kids names. Anyways, he had just picked up a large pizza and shared a slice with me. I found most of the Greek people to be friendly, helpful and possessing a wonderful sense of humor. My kind of pizza.

Cab drivers in the States have never offered me pizza.
#9. Meeting people on the Silver Spirit. Though friends of mine went on the trip we did most excursions and meals separately. I loved being in bed by 9pm. My friends Nic and Tara could fill you in on the nightlife aboard the ship. I collapsed each night in a food coma. I had the pleasure of meeting my new friends Marion and Amanda. Marion is from Minnesota and her daughter Amanda lives on the east coast. We hiked, drank, explored and got lost together multiple times. Lovely people who I look forward to seeing again. Though, if never let Marion take your photo unless you want her thumb in it.

My fellow explorers.
#10. Coming home! One of the best things about my trip was coming home. Though my trip was the trip of a lifetime in many ways, it made me realize even more, how fortunate I am to have the people I do in my life. Dorothy had it right when she clicked her ruby red shoes and said "There's no place like home." Can you blame me? Look what I got to come home to.

My own piece of Greece, at home where my heart is. 
Just Girls Travel and Sue Thompson truly accomplished their mission of sending me on a unique and meaningful trip. I'm looking forward to our next adventure together. If you would like to join me or book your own, be sure to get ahold of Sue Thompson at 800-634-7414 or email at
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Celebrating My Mom and Her Wise Words

My mom and I a few years back
Tragedy and loss have a way of helping you to keep things in perspective. Four years ago today my mother Donna-Gail Wilcock died, surrounded by family. She was there when I took my first breath and I was there when she took her last.

I've come a long way in dealing with the loss of my mom, but on the anniversary of her death I seem to re-live the day in a way that feels beyond my control. So, I let the tears fall and the memories of that day come flooding back.

My mother was not complicated but she was complex. She wasn't the best mother in the world, but she was the best mother for me. Donna-Gail was a strong woman who knew her weaknesses, wasn't afraid to laugh at herself and could give a shit about what you thought about her love of dancing in the rain with her grandson.

There are a few things she taught me in life that I want to remember and share today.

My mother's life advice:

"You can only control what you can control."
Getting to the airport on time is in my control, the flight being delayed is out of my control. Someone choosing to spread slanderous rumors about me is out of my control. Me TPing their house is in my control.

My mother's advice on relationships:

"The man is the head of the household, but a smart woman is the neck and she knows how to turn the head."
It's possible my mom got that from a movie, probably The Joy Luck Club, which she loved to quote often.  Regardless, it make sense.

My mother's words on family:

My mom with my middle daughter when she graduated.

"It's easy to appreciate memory."
This is one my mom said often, especially to the grandkids when they weren't making time for her. It was her way of saying you had better appreciate me while I'm here. Another good one I'm fairly sure she got from The Joy Luck Club.

My mother's advice on health:

"Poop with a nice S curve to it is the sign of a healthy digestive system."
Yes, my mom would often inquire about the shape of my feces, even well into my adult years. She also liked to bring her own up in conversation. Oddly, this advice came in nicely as a parent and I educated my own children on the power of the S curve.

My mother's advice on pets:

My mom protecting Lee Ling from the eagles and owls.

"Always dress your small dog in an outfit. That way an eagle or owl won't mistake them for a rodent and fly off with them." 
My mother had a deaf chihuahua named Lee Ling (Probably a name from The Joy Luck Club now that I think about it.) whom she loved to dress up and protect from the eagles and owls of Lake Minnetonka. I must admit, I did follow this advice when I had small dogs. Sounded crazy, but kind of made sense.

There is so much more, but for whatever reason those are the ones I'm thinking of today as I remember and celebrate her.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Eric Paulson and Victor's on Water Vs. The Excelsior Farmer's Market

If you live in the Lake Minnetonka area or follow the Excelsior, Minnesota page on Facebook, you are aware that there is a dust up happening on the shores of Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior. Local restaurant Victor's on Water and its owner Eric Paulson versus the Excelsior Farmer's Market.

Before I share my thoughts on this I'll catch you up on exactly what happened.

Eric Paulson wrote a letter to Excelsior Mayor Mark Gaylord dated July 1st requesting that the Excelsior Farmer's Market be moved off of Water St. Here is that letter:

Paige Keifer, the community editor for the Excelsior/Shorewood Sun Sailor became aware of the letter and decided to poll 35 business and restaurant owners who are affected by the Water Street closure during the Excelsior Farmer's Market. She asked them if they would like the market to stay put or be moved.

You can read her article in full here: Victor's on Water Owner pushes to move Farmer's Market.

Of the 35 businesses polled, 20 want the market to stay where it is, 14 would like to see it moved and 1 was undecided.

The Sun Sailor article was shared on social media where Eric Paulson and Victor's on Water received harsh backlash and very little support. Here are a few of the over 50 comments to the article.

There were a few who did agree with moving the market to the Excelsior Commons, which is a park area down the street on the shores of Lake Minnetonka:

You can read all of the comments in full at the Excelsior, Minnesota Facebook page.

The day after the Sun Sailor article was posted online, Victor's on Water owner Eric Paulson wrote a response letter, which was shared on the Excelsior, Minnesota Facebook page. Here it is in full:

My decision to get involved in the Farmers Market issue is out of care for the city and all the parties involved.  It is to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs.  As a 40 year resident of Excelsior, I care for and have been involved in the betterment of this community.

The Farmers Market located on Water Street every Tuesday afternoon and early evening creates an unneeded conflict.  While there are shop owners that benefit from its time and location, there are others whose businesses are negatively affected.  I believe that the city and the Chamber of Commerce each have a responsibility to create a business environment that helps all businesses, not just some.

Victor’s is a huge proponent for local businesses and farmers.  We source most of our menu from local purveyors.  We support and enjoy having the farmers market in our town.  That is not the issue.  Being cognoscente of all local business is the point of my concern.

Can the Tuesday afternoon Farmers Market be moved to a location that adds value to all businesses on Water Street and at the same time free up parking, thereby creating more shoppers?  In a new location, can the Farmers Market be more successful by having their parking closer to their stands thus preventing their customers from having to carry their purchases from the Market some two blocks or more to their car?  Would people buy more if it was made easier?  Is there a location that would continue to add foot traffic to the central business district providing new Tuesday opportunities for all?

For example, would something as simple as changing Tuesday’s hours from a 2:00pm start to starting at 8:00am and ending 12:00pm provide the Water Street merchants with the same, if not improved, buying power and not damage the lunch and early dinner business of the restaurants on Water Street?  I believe there are other options that deserve to be explored.

One last issue is:  Do we really need to put a flower stand directly in front of our local florist, do we need to locate the jewelry stand in front of the local Jewelry store, and, lastly, is it necessary to locate a food truck in front of a restaurant?  People indicated to me that they were initially told there would be no direct competition with the local business.  Have the rules changed?

There are people who agree with me and those who don’t, we all have a right to voice our opinion.  Please feel free to contact Marketing to address any further comments or concerns.  612-306-4711, Shannon would be happy to discuss this with you further.

Let’s work together to find a solution that benefits everyone.

Eric H Paulson
President and CEO, 

Compagno Hospitality

The response to his letter didn't get much better than the article the day before.

Based on the poll taken by the Sun Sailor and the majority of feedback on social media, it would appear that the majority of people do NOT want the Excelsior Farmer's Market moved off of Water Street.

Though what Eric Paulson and Victor's on Water wants is not a popular idea, it is an idea they have the right to voice and even push for. Many of the comments on social media were outright mean and hateful. Nothing ever gets resolved when people are being nasty.

Several commenters said they would not be dining at Victor's on Water as a result of the actions the restaurant and its owner are taking to move the Excelsior Farmer's Market.

Personally, I don't want the Farmer's Market moved. I love having it on Water St. It's my hope that Eric Paulson, Victor's on Water and any other businesses that want to move the Excelsior Farmer's Market take a step back and look at the big picture.

Community building is not always convenient or profitable, though many businesses on Water Street see a spike in business during the Farmer's Market. Jake O'Connors Public House is across the street from Victor's on Water. Their outdoor seating is usually packed during the Excelsior Farmer's Market. They love having the Farmer's Market on Water St. Owner Dermot Cowley had this to say about it:

Jake O'Connors opens at 11am. Victor's on Water opens at 4pm. The Excelsior Farmer's Market goes from 2pm-6pm. The street is closed from 1pm-7pm for set up and break down. Both restaurants are on the same street, across the street from each other. Each restaurant is having a very different experience when it comes to the Farmer's Market.

When I go to the Farmer's Market I easily find a parking space within a block. While I'm at the market I also visit a few of the boutiques. I usually then sit outside at Coalition and enjoy a glass of wine, a snack and people watching before I go home. Tuesdays at the Farmer's Market is my main day for shopping in Excelsior.

Though I don't agree with the stance Eric Paulson and Victor's on Water is taking in regard to the Excelsior Farmer's Market, and I don't think the way they are going about it is smart in terms of building relationships in the community, I do support their right to voice their opinion and take action if they feel so strongly about it. Ultimately it is up to the Excelsior City Council to accept or deny a permit to close Water Street for any event, including the Farmer's Market.

Victor's on Water opened in November of 2014. Their food is amazing! They took meticulous care in renovating the space they are in and it shows. The name Victor's on Water pays homage to Victor Bacon who once owned the popular Bacon Drug visited by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones during a concert in Excelsior many years ago.

This is a restaurant that I want to see succeed in Excelsior. We needed a fine dining place like Victor's, who also prides themselves on locally sourcing as much of their ingredients as possible. You don't get more local than right outside your front door.

The Excelsior Farmer's Market has been on Water St. for 3 years now. Victor's on Water now sits where Bacon Drug once was, the place many believe an exchange occurred between Mick Jagger and Excelsior's Mr. Jimmy, which inspired a hit song. My hope is that Eric Paulson and Victor's on Water take a step back and follow the words of Mick Jagger, possibly inspired at their very location. "You can't always get what you want." - Mick Jagger

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

This is What Men and Women are Really Thinking About!

When I'm not writing these witty and informative blog posts, or doing my radio show, I also do some freelance writing, which often includes a bit of research.

I was writing copy that involved men and fashion trends. This got me wondering "Why do men dress well?" In other words, what motivates them to dress well when they do.  Of course I turned to the genie lamp that is google for answers.

If you use the magic google search box, you know that as you start typing in your request google, like an annoying spouse, it tries to finish your sentence for you based on what most others have asked it. So, I start entering into the magic search box "Why do men..."

What popped up to finish my sentence based on popular searches took me by surprise!

These are the most popular searches for "Why do men...." Apparently as a society we are more concerned with why men cheat and watch porn than why they go bald. Nothing wrong with that. I just found it very curious.

Of course this immediately made me wonder what it would be if I entered "Why do women..." into the magic google search box, so I did. I get paid by the job not the hour, so I had plenty of time for this today.

Here was what the magic google box popped up when I started to enter "Why do women..."

Both sexes are highly concerned with why the other cheats, but the similarities stop there. This is science people! I'm assuming that it is women asking "Why do men..." and men asking "Why do women..."

Men if you are wondering what your woman is contemplating the next time she looks at you with curiosity, she is probably wondering if you are a cheating porn watcher who is going to lie to her, pull away and then go bald.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Adventures in Urban Farming and Zombie Apocalypse Prepping

I'm a believer in preparing for the coming Zombie Apocalypse. As part of my post apocalyptic preparation, I've been trying to learn how to grow herbs and vegetables. I fancy myself somewhat of a budding urban farmer, pun intended.

Though I've never really had a green thumb, I've impressed myself with my progress. Check out my Spam can herb garden. Reduce, reuse, recyle. I've finally found a use for some of the many cans of Spam I go through.

From seed I grew my first carrot. Reality did not meet my expectation! I'm holding my carrot, to the left is what I expected.

Regardless, I'm not giving up. Rome wasn't built in a day, and my Zombie Apocalypse Prep Garden won't be either.

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Why My 50th Birthday in 2020 Should Matter to You!

If you like 24 hour room service, a butler at your beck and call, an endless supply of wine and vodka, fine dining, suites and exotic locations, I'm about to become your new best friend.

Throw on your best pair of spanx and your favorite lipstick because we have some celebrating to do! In September I'm turning 45. I've decide to kick off a 5 year celebration of my coming 50th birthday in the year 2020. I've been taking a month to celebrate my birthday since I turned 40. It's time to up that game!

Of course I still have work, responsibilities, blah, blah, blah, but it's time to also get serious about some of my bucket list items, especially the ones involving travel. To do so, I've partnered with Just Girls Travel and will be hosting multiple travel tours domestically and internationally. I don't think there could be a more perfect job for me unless I were hired as the personal assistant of my favorite little person, Peter Dinklage.

Most Awesome Little Person of All Time
My first trip with Just Girls Travel is to the place that is NUMBER ONE on my bucket list! If you follow me on social media you know that I'm madly in love with a Greek man. What better way to deepen our relationship than for me to leave him home and go on a luxury cruise around the Greek Isles!

I'm doing this for us baby! 
You can join me on this Adventure With Natalie! Contact Sue at Just Girls Travel. Full details about this adventure is on their website. CLICK HERE

If you don't already, be sure to follow me on twitter @NatalieNWebster and on Facebook. In addition to my usual daily shenanigans, I'll be sharing the many #AdventuresWithNatalie involving the 5 year celebration of my 50th birthday.

I'll let you know about other trips as we schedule them. In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you! What is on your bucket list?

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