Mad Men Final Season | 4.12.14

4.12.14

It’s time again for the new season of Mad Men to begin, and this is the beginning of the end. The final season comes on tomorrow night and it’s definitely cause for a celebration.

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What better way to celebrate than to throw a little themed party to start the new season off. We’re going to share with you some retro inspired treats and some classic cocktails, as well as fun decor touches to add to your party.

1. Pink Deviled Eggs - Something that I haven’t seen in a while are the colored deviled eggs that were prominent at a 60′s dinner party (via The Year in Food). Thought of as chic and modern back then is still classy and fancy today. Their pink hue comes from beet juice!

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2. Printable Coasters – These coasters are sure to add a little conversation at your party (via Second City Soiree)

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3. Homemade Bitters – If you’re a little more adventurous, try these homemade crafted bitters recipes. They will surely make your classic cocktails stand out (via How Sweet it Is).

homemade-bitters-I-howsweeteats.com-4

 

4. Swedish Meatballs – These meatballs are always a good go-to for an appetizer. They are timeless and go with any theme party (via Bon Appetit).

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5. Classic Old Fashioned – The Old Fashioned is one of the most classic drinks from the 50′s and 60′s, you can’t go wrong with an original (via Food52).

old fashioned Food 52

6. DIY Chalkboard Martini Glass – These custom martini glasses are great for guests to keep track of their drinks, and can also serve as a party favor (via Something Turquoise).

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7. Dyed Simple Syrups – These simple syrups aren’t just pretty to look at, they add unique flavors to any cocktail (via A Subtle Revelry)

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8. Advertising – Of course you can’t have a Mad Men party without advertisements. This ad shows the culture of advertising at the time of the show.

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9. Mad Men Masks – Set up your own photo booth for your guests to have a little fun before the show, or between commercials. These printable masks are like an instant costume, or you can just use them as decorations (via AMC).

mad men mask_betty

 

10. Classic Martini – You can’t have a Mad Men viewing party without a martini. This is a classic martini recipe. It’s simple and just perfect (via AMC).

mm-cocktail-classic-martiniI’m sad that this is the last season of Mad Men, but I will be sure to watch the madness of Sterling Cooper & Partners. Who is your favorite character? What’s your favorite cocktail? How will you watch tomorrow?

Mad Monday | Batter Up!

3.31.14

 

Tigers-Opening-Day

Today is Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers. And in the city that means an unspoken holiday for some. People tailgate like no other, and the city is full of people from dawn until dusk. The fans are supporting in and around the ballpark. There are block parties, parties, rooftop events, and people even dressed in costume to show their support. It’s a time when people enjoy the city and get together to support a sports team, as well as a welcome to the spring/summer season.

 

Baseball is a pastime in this country. So today was full of nostalgia, celebration, and tradition. The final score was 4 – 1 Tigers, so it was a good day for Detroit. We have won 7 consecutive home opening days, so it just added to the fun for the fans. No matter the weather, fans come out in droves and take over a one-square mile radius.

Tigers Opening Day win

Well it’s official! Spring is here, the summer is near, and the Detroit Tigers are on fire! Let the season begin, and welcome spring…Finally!

Congratulations to the Detroit Tigers! Get ‘em boys!

Mad Monday | Spring, where art thou?

3.24.14

Well, in case you missed it. Spring came last Thursday at 12:57 p.m. EST, and we have yet to really see spring temperatures. Some of the country are still in freezing and below freezing temperatures, and with the brutal winter we all have had we were hoping for some relief with the spring season approaching. But to our dismay, we haven’t had many warm-ups as of yet.

Sunrise image

 

Oh how I miss those dewy sunrises, warming temperatures, the occasional rain storm, the fresh smell of blooming flowers and grass, and of course the shedding of layers of winter clothing.

Belle Isle Conservatory Outdoor Garden

Belle Isle Conservatory Outdoor Garden

I think I can speak for all of us when I say…Spring, where art thou? 

We should warm up by the end of the week, and I hope this trend sticks! I am truly over winter! So chin up, and let’s make the most of these, hopefully, last days of winter.

 

Mad Monday | Feeling Lucky

3.17.14

clovers

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. The day that started as a religious feast day to honor the patron saint of Ireland. The day has become a celebration of Irish culture including food, parades, being lucky, and a lot of green! Well, I won’t bore you with another St. Patrick’s Day post.

mega millions 400M

I’m  curious about what you think about when fantasizing over winning a huge lottery jackpot. The Mega Millions Jackpot is now $400M! Any time there is a huge jackpot like this, I go through all the things that I would do with a large winning like that. I have realized that in growing up, my desires have changed and I think I’m a bit more realistic now. I have the typical items on my list like a car, a house, some clothes, and some other physical possessions. Mainly though, I would do more practical things like focus on my business and grow it like I want. I would never stop working though. Working is just something that I am programmed to do. I feel that if you do what you love, you’re never truly working anyway.

If you won, what would you do? Would you buy an island, buy a farm, buy a plane. Or would you be more practical, buy a bigger house or a newer car. Are you feeling lucky enough to buy a ticket? Well I know I’ll be getting a ticket. Good luck!

Mad Monday | 3.10.14

3.10.14

As I’ve gotten older, I’m starting to realize how important breakfast really is. So I came across a recipe last week that I was determined to try out. Very rarely do I get that serious of an urge to try out a recipe from the internet. So when I was so determined to try this one, I decided to share it with you.

I am a follower of Recipe Girl on Facebook. And last week she posted a recipe for Cream Cheese Pancakes. Now a little bit of history…as a kid I didn’t really like many breakfast foods. Then at a popular breakfast restaurant with my mother, I got an order of pancakes that were not cooked through and I bit into raw dough in my stack of hotcakes. It truly soured me to breakfast ever since.

Now the recipe originally came from Barefeet In The Kitchen, but I kind of adapted the recipe slightly for myself. This is one of the simplest recipes ever! It’s simply cream cheese and eggs. I did add some vanilla and regular sugar.

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Cream Cheese Pancakes

3 oz Cream Cheese
3 eggs
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
Pinch of sugar

Take the cream cheese and eggs and put them in a blender. Blend until smooth and fully combined. It’s a thin batter, so you don’t need much. Let the batter rest while you heat a griddle or cast iron pan. When you pour the batter, it will spread fast and wide (I used a 6 1/2 inch wide cast iron pan).

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The pancakes come out thin  and light. Not too sweet and not too thick. Something that avoids the possibilities of raw centers of my hotcakes.

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These pancakes remind me of the crepe batter we used in culinary school. When we made them in school, I was more inclined to like crepes because of how thin and versatile they were. You could make them sweet or savory, and they were just as filling as pancakes.

The batter I made yielded about 15 pancakes. You can top them how you want. I topped mine like I like my favorite crepes, with powdered sugar and lemon juice.

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I can truly say these pancakes made me feel like I could actually eat breakfast now, and like it. The next thing I am going to do is try and create variations of the recipe to make both savory and other sweet versions to share with you in the future.

I hope you try these out. They are good for kids and don’t take long at all to prepare. Simple, fast, and delicious.

Bon apetit!

 

Mad Monday | 3.3.14

3.3.14

Today is Mad Monday! Winter still has a hold on most of the country, but spring should be arriving soon. Spring is set to arrive March 20. So, a little more than two weeks. Yay!!

Spring is one of my favorite seasons as it is a time for renewal, growth, and new beginnings. The colors are bright and the earth seems to mimic that with the blooming of the trees and flowers. The birds return, the grass makes an appearance once again, and of course the temperatures begin to up.

stacked bracelets

 

Things are lighter and fashion is no exception. There are lighter fabrics and we tend to shed our winter layers. A girl can feel more girly with a cute skirt, and the sandal makes a return as well.

spring 2014 outfits

 

And for me, I hate wearing coats. Well, for a few weeks a coat can be quite fashionable, but now it is something that is truly irritating and very cumbersome! So, to be able to shed that extra layer to wear short sleeves again. Maybe a cardigan or wrap sweater.

Spring_fashion_trends

 

Either way, spring is close and I cannot wait to dress accordingly. Are you excited to see the snow (or rain, depending on where you live) leave? Waiting for more sunshine and longer days? Get out the sunglasses and open-toe wedges, spring is almost here.

~Kia

Mad Monday | 2.10.14

2.10.14

Well the past couple weeks have been trying. A drain backup in my basement, basketball games, after school tutoring, shoveling snow, ice storms, and snow days….I’m truly over this winter!

So now that it’s February, Valentine’s day is upon us. A day to celebrate your love for someone special. Some think it’s a Hallmark holiday, but others think it has a more meaningful significance.

mean vintage valentine

Whether you celebrate it or not or don’t have someone special, it’s good to just do something nice for someone else. Give a little card or a piece of candy. Something to make someone’s day.

I remember as a kid we used to have Valentine’s parties and you could buy little cards for your friends in school. Or the little two-sided  perforated cards that you bought for your classmates with the conversation hearts that came in a box. You were all excited to go to school the next day with your goodies to share with your friends. Those were the days. Now days, schools have dances and sell roses or cards. That’s all fun and good, but there’s nothing like writing your own little note on the back of the card personalized for your friends.

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If you want to be more romantic, try cooking a special meal for your loved one or making them a card by hand. Something personalized shows you took time to really think and feel about them.

Try a special cocktail to share together. Or even better, a signature cocktail or even a jello shot recipe from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.

Valentine's Jelly Shots

Valentine’s Jelly Shots (via Jelly Shot Test Kitchen)

 

They have recipes for all occasions for all tastes. If you are adventurous and want to try something different, here is a recipe that will get you started. It’s simple and fun, and you could even get your Valentine in on the fun.

Valentines Jelly Pops
Ingredients:
 
Red Layer
1/2 cup boiling water
1 3 oz package strawberry flavored gelatin dessert (sugar free dissolves very easily)
1/2 cup cold water
 
Pink Layer
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 envelopes plain gelatin
1 6 oz container strawberry yogurt
 
White Layer
1/3 cup cold water
1 envelope less 1/2 tsp plain gelatin
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
8 each wooden coffee stirrers, cut into 2 inch lengths for garnish, if desired
 
Instructions:
These pops are super cute whether they’re made in a silicon mold, or set in a baking pan (I’d use a standard loaf pan – about 8″ x 4″)and cut into squares.  If using a silicone mold, prepare mold by spraying lightly with cooking spray, then wiping each mold cavity clean with a paper towel. This will leave a slight residue to aid in un-molding without affecting the taste or appearance of the jelly pops. If setting in a glass or non-reactive metal baking pan, no prep is needed.  The instructions below are for molds – so if you’re setting in a pan, just pour in the layers!
 
Red Layer: Dissolve strawberry gelatin in boiling water. Add cold water. Pour 1 tsp. of the gelatin into each mold cavity. Refrigerate until firm but not fully set (should be fairly firm, but still slightly sticky when touched – about 20 minutes). While the red layer is chilling, prepare Pink Layer.
 
Pink Layer: Pour water into small saucepan. Sprinkle with gelatin and allow to soak for a minute or two. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt. Allow to cool to room temperature – you may want to pop the gelatin in the fridge or freezer for a minute or two to help it along. Pour 1 tbsp into each mold cavity. Refrigerate until firm but not fully set (should be fairly firm, but still slightly sticky when touched – about 15 to 20 minutes). While the pink layer is chilling, Prepare White Layer.
 
White Layer: Pour water into a small saucepan and sprinkle with gelatin. Allow to soak for a minute or two. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved (about 5 minutes). Stir in the sweetened condensed milk. Allow to cool to room temperature. Pour approximately 2 tsp. into each mold cavity.
Refrigerate several hours or overnight, until fully set. (Overnight is ideal as it allows the layers to fully bond.) Garnish each jelly pop with a coffee stirrer segment to make the “popsicle” handle, if desired.
Makes about 15 jellies.

Mad Monday | 1.13.14

1.13.14

Today’s Mad Monday poses the question, are you still on track with your New Year’s resolution? Now that the Polar Vortex has subsided and we’ve all dug out of the snow, how are you on the path of your resolution. Do you make resolutions? How do you set out to make this year the best?

Family Planning

Making resolutions is not reserved to just the beginning of the year. It is a good idea to always evaluate your path in life, and reevaluate often to make sure that you are on schedule to completing or achieving your goals. Making goals for yourself is a good way to keep your actions focused. There are studies that show about 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions achieve them successfully. So to be productive and achieve success, here are some tips you can use to stay on track.

man thinking

1. Make goals tangible.

It’s good to be ambitious, but making vague or being unrealistic with goals can set yourself up for disappointment. Instead of saying “I want to lose 100 pounds this year” make a goal to stop eating junk food and cut back on breads for 2 months. Then after that 2 months you can reassess your goals to adjust or continue as needed.

2. Keep your list simple. 

Again, keep your list of goals short. As you reevaluate your goals throughout the year, you can add or adjust the goals you already have.  Start with a list of 3 goals you want to accomplish and start there. Make them simple goals. That way, you can  easily know the focus of your goals and where you need to be. That’s another reason to not be vague with your resolutions. It leaves ro. om for doubt or loss of focus.

3. Make your goals obvious and clear.

Create a mood or vision board. Sometimes visualizing your goals can make the vision more clear to you as you go along. If you’re a visual person like myself, it’s good to get your ideas and visions on paper to see what direction you’re supposed to be headed in. You can keep track of your progress this way, as well as with a to-do list. This forces you to hold yourself accountable for staying focused on your path. I have used Google Docs to create vision boards, or you can use other photo editors like PicMonkey. Photo editors allow you to add your photos and place them so you can create your inspiration to keep going forward with achieving your goals.

4. Stay positive and believe in yourself.

You have to be positive and self-empowering when achieving goals for yourself. The reason people fall off their resolutions is because a lack of willpower. Sometimes I think its good to have people around you for support and motivation purposes. If you share your goals for the year with your friends, maybe one of them will have similar goals or just want to be a support to you in your achievements. Having those who support you around to help keep you motivated to stay focused on your goals and resolutions. Willpower is still important to have, but combined with consistency and support from those around you it is more likely that you will have success.

In essence, stay focused, organized, and consistent you will essentially be successful in keeping your resolutions. Be reasonable, realistic and open, you will surely be able to achieve your goals.

Inspirational image

 

Happy New Year!

Mad Monday | 1.6.13

1.6.13

Happy New Year! I know the holidays are over, so our Merry Mondays will be replaced with our new Mad Monday! Not in an angry sense, but the madness that Monday sometimes brings deserves some equal or balancing inspiration to help you get through the day.

Snow BootsHere is the madness most of the country is feeling today! No matter where you are in the U.S. you are feeling the brisk cold and maybe even a ton of snow (literally!), but there are ways to get through the extended holiday vacation.

Right now here in Michigan, it is -13 with a wind chill of -41. The weather is absolutely ridiculous and absurd if you ask me, so what better way to stick it to Mother Nature is to join her!

hot cocoa_breville

Yep, that’s right! If you can’t beat them join them. So get out there and enjoy this snowy weather (with precaution to frostbite). Make snow angels, a snowman, or have a snowball fight. Or, stay indoors and enjoy a hot beverage or do some things you don’t normally get to do. Yoga…meditate…organize your office…catch up on reading your favorite magazines or book. Use this extra time to truly enjoy not having to rush back to the hustle of your weekly schedule.

magazine stackSo stay warm, enjoy this extra day or two off. If you have to work, please give yourself plenty of time to get to where you’re going. It’s treacherous outside no matter where you are. And if you’re in a warmer climate, enjoy some sun for us in this frigid polar vortex!

~Be Warm!

 

 

Merry [Monday] Christmas | 12.24.13

12.24.13

holiday facebook icon

Christmas is two days away. A time with family and friends, creating memories that will last forever. Sharing gifts and special traditions with those you love most. This season I hope you all enjoy your loved ones.

For me it’s a little tricky. My step dad passed last February, and he was that spark of the season for me. Now that spark is gone, it’s just not the same. Not that the season wasn’t special with my mom all 18 years of my life, but when you add another person to your family and they bring such joy to your space. It is a huge hole in your life that goes away with them. We’ll keep our traditions alive, but those Christmas songs won’t be the same without his bass voice singing them.

Have a wonderful Christmas holiday and be well and blessed.

~Kia

Wedding Wednesday | Christmas Weddings

12.18.13

Wedding Wednesday_121813

With Christmas around the corner, weddings have not slowed down. Sometimes having a themed wedding can make things easier planning wise, and more fun. It can also make the planning simpler. There’s a built in color scheme and all kinds of decor choices that are simply there because of the holiday. Sometimes choosing a set color scheme can be over done, but we’ve found that there are ways to do a color focus classy and effectively.

Check out this board of ideas we pulled together. Let us know your thoughts or share with us your suggestions and ideas. What do you think is good for a Christmas themed wedding?

~Enjoy!

Limoncello | 12.17.13

12.17.13

You know that saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, for this holiday, use those lemons to make Limoncello. Limoncello is a lemon liqueur made of lemon peels and vodka. When I first came across Limoncello, I thought it was something fancy and only Italians were privileged enough to know the formula. Well I came across a few recipes and realized how simple it is to make your own limoncello.

A while back, I posted a recipe I learned in culinary school for making vanilla extract. Well, yeah it’s that simple. All you need are lemon peels (no piths…white layer under the peel) and a good, stiff vodka.

The Kitchn suggests 100 proof, or higher grain-alcohol, for best results. The reason why is purely scientific. The higher proof the alcohol, the more flavor will be extracted to yield a smoother flavor.

One recipe that was easiest to follow was Giada De Laurentiis.

Giada-Limoncello

Limoncello

Ingredients

10 lemons
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar

Directions

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

Since it’s the holiday season, this recipe is good for hostess gifts or little guest take-aways. Use swing-top bottles to store and share. They keep well and look presentable too.

limoncello swingtop bottles

If you want to be fancy, try using specialty labels and personalize them to your specifications. I think anyone would be glad to get this gift.

kitchn bottles

They can sip the limoncello on its own over ice, or in a specialty cocktail. Try adding the limoncello to sparkling wine or sparkling water.

Merry Monday | 12.16.13

12.16. 13

Today is Merry Monday!!! Pretty soon the holidays will be over and things will go somewhat back to normal. But if you’ve been procrastinating in decorating your tree, here may be some help with how to make it go by a little smoother and more merrily.

Have a tree trimming party! Invite your friends over to decorate with you, bring an ornament, or just join in songs of the season. It’s a good time to have those you don’t see often or haven’t seen in a while around to share in the joyous holiday spirit.

Serve hot cocoa with marshmallows and chocolate shavings. Try the snowflake shaped marshmallows from Williams-Sonoma and the monogram mugs to add a personal touch to your gathering.

Williams Sonoma Hot cocoa

Or mulled wine for the adults: [recipe here]mulled wine

The menu should be simple. Ask your guests to bring a favorite dish, one that isn’t fussy and is easy to prepare and carry. A vegetable and fruit tray is always a great staple for a gathering. Try with this ranch dip sauce:

Ranch Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, or 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. minced shallot, or 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 garlic clove, minced, or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • Dippers for serving: raw cucumber spears or slices, carrots, snow peas, celery sticks, jicama sticks, cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, zucchini slices and bell pepper strips

Directions:

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk, parsley, shallot, garlic, the 1/2 tsp. salt and the 1/4 tsp. pepper. Stir until blended. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, if needed.

Transfer the dip to a serving bowl. Serve cold or at room temperature with your favorite dippers. Store any leftover dip in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes about 1 cup.

This salad is also a good side for guests.

sonoma chicken salad

Sonoma Chicken Salad

Ingredients

Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
5 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Salad
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
2 cups red seedless grapes
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

Method

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes until completely cooked through. Remove cooked chicken breasts from pan, cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.

When the chicken is cold, dice into bite-size chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pecans, grapes, celery and dressing.

The good thing is, all these things can be prepared ahead of time, and don’t take a lot of time to make. So this holiday share time with your friends and family and be merry together. Trim your tree and hang your stockings. Happy Holidays!

Be Merry!

Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine

Ingredients:

  • 12 whole cloves
  • 2 nutmegs, cracked into pieces with a hammer
  • 2 bottles (each 750ml) dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Stripped zest from 2 oranges and 2 lemons, plus more zest for garnish
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Directions:

Tie the cloves and nutmeg pieces in a small square of cheesecloth, or put them in a large metal tea ball.

In a large nonaluminum pot, combine the wine, sugar, orange and lemon zests, orange and lemon juices, and cinnamon sticks. Add the clove-and-nutmeg bundle. Heat over medium-low heat until steam begins to rise from the pot and the mixture is hot, about 10 minutes; do not let it boil. Remove the clove-and-nutmeg bundle. Keep the wine warm over very low heat until ready to serve.

Ladle the wine into cups or heatproof glasses, garnish with the citrus zest and serve warm. Serves 8 to 10.

*Note: Try Williams-Sonoma Mulling Spices to make things a little simpler.

Wedding Wednesday | 12.11.13

12.11.13

I-do

On this Wedding Wednesday, we ask the question: Who do you tell first once you are engaged?

This is a good question. Some people think it’s their parents who should be the first to know, but after the excitement fades what next.

Brides.com asked this question and spoke with an etiquette expert for some advice. Read their answers here.