Every now and then I have a moment of madness! One of these days that moment may be considered pure genius, but for now they've mostly been considered worthy dinner party stories! My last moment of madness was just that, with a bonus... a return letter from Kensington Palace!
I've been blogging now for just over a year and have progressed into the realms of "Influencer" - how very modern (I really dislike that term). I prefer to call it "Sharemonger" with a specific authority on all things good in midlife!
Along this chosen path I've learned many things from my younger peers who've been sharemongering for years. This particular story begins with a plan I had, to make it back to England for the summer by way of collaboration with British Airways. And why not, since British Airways has always been my, and my friends' airline of choice when travelling anywhere, particularly between London and Phoenix AZ!
My young peers think nothing of approaching companies for collaboration opportunities. I on the other hand am not so much at ease with this behavior, and being British, I am naturally reserved! It was then that the idea came to me, and I figured if I write to Prince Harry to request some sort of access to his Wedding, then approaching British Airways would have major significance - they'd have to get me to The Wedding on time!
I was already aware that the happy couple would be inviting up to two and a half thousand members of the public - humble and obedient servants! I was just hoping they hadn't sent out the invitations already!
With no knowledge of the selection criteria and a keen awareness that my humanitarian efforts on the British Isles have been somewhat lacking these past eighteen years, I quickly ruled out the direct approach to request a wedding invitation and settled for a more modest hint of some sort of media access!
It's quite tricky, not only is there a proper way to communicate with members of the Royal Family when speaking or writing to them (phrases like "Hi there", "Hello mate" or "Wassup" are not considered polite), but also the envelope must be addressed correctly - Mr Harry Windsor isn't going to cut it!
Feeling inspired the letter came to fruition. In no time at all I had myself convinced that I could possibly get a one-on-one with Prince Harry or Meghan, or perhaps a celebrity guest. I wondered if the Beckhams would be there, who I would sit next to, and found myself fretting over what I would wear!
Of I went pleased as punch, with letter in hand to the post office. I stood in the queue for several minutes which was more than enough time to contemplate my actions... not good! I was starting to think this was a foolish idea. The counter clerks at my local post office are super friendly, which is why the queue is always so long! But now I was beginning to consider what type of friendly discussion a letter addressed to "His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales" was likely to rouse at the counter, how many people might over-hear this conversation whilst patiently waiting their turn, and would I now be considered a total madwoman in public as opposed to behind the security blanket of photographs on social media! I couldn't stand it, I had to leave the queue!
I opted instead to mail the letter via the automated machine. I'm not very good with machines, I feel the need to read everything on the screen and somehow still miss the obvious and get stuck part way through the process, causing yet another long queue in this great American institution. But it went quite smoothly, obviously the letter was meant to be sent!
I told my husband about the post office dilemma and horrified anticipation of discussing the letter with the clerk, to which he replied, "You should have said... I know it seems weird, but he keeps borrowing money from me and I'm writing to tell him that it has to stop!" Why can't I think of things like that! Ha ha!
Four weeks later, a letter addressed to me with the Queen's cypher - EIIR, and franked from Buckingham Palace arrived in our mail box. The back of the envelope indicated it was from Kensington Palace! OMG... a letter from HRH!
Well, it wasn't a wedding invitation! It was a very well-penned letter explaining why I hadn't been invited, which to be honest was rather exciting nonetheless. So, the pressure was off for a new outfit!
As a loyal British subject, to receive a letter that comes with Prince Harry's "very best wishes" is an honor indeed, one that will be framed and mounted on the wall of Above and Beblonde's office, a perpetual reminder of another mad moment, a dinner party story, and the realization that I'm not yet a pure genius! Oh, and the need to dream up another collaboration idea for British Airways.
Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. This blog comes with my very best wishes for your future happiness together.
Using tennis as an excuse for a girl's trip to Las Vegas is a sobering thought. What could possibly go wrong? But it's as good an excuse as any given that these six ladies in their midlife have friendship in common because of tennis.
The trip had been in the pipeline for months until one evening at the bar during a happy hour gathering, and far from sober, dates were secured, and flights were booked right there on cell phones. A mere $45 each way from Phoenix to Las Vegas... cheers to Southwest Airlines!
As Valentine's Day approaches romance is in the air and spring tickles our senses with the melting of snow, peep shows of sunlight and flowering buds
Only recently did bike-sharing make its debut in Scottsdale AZ, although the program has been active in Phoenix (on a much smaller scale) and elsewhere within the US for several years.
They appeared like magic out of nowhere. Abracadabra... suddenly there were lime green and bright yellow bicycles left randomly on street corners, at bus stops or lined up in neat rows like soldiers.
Bicycles were multiplying across the city faster than you could say "on your bike mate"! We are being invaded by aliens disguised as neon colored bicycles!
In case you're unfamiliar with the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auctions, they are the car lover's dream and for those who can afford to bid, and win - perhaps a dream come true!
With high street shops and mall store favorites closing down on a weekly basis, we better get our heads around this online shopping malarkey. It's here to stay and millions of online vendors selling everything from cat litter to cat walk designer clothes are magically opening their virtual doors for business out there in the ether of internet land. So too are the plethora of "influencers" jumping on the band wagon from here to Timbuktu persuading their followers that this, that or the other product is the best. But it's not all bad... let me explain!
Ready for Christmas, I wish! It's a rare occurrence for me to be fully prepared for Christmas in advance of the actual due date, in particular the buying of gifts. Even less likely to be gift ready for those I know who celebrate Hanukkah since the due date for that is even earlier! You probably think I have a fear of deadlines... perhaps so!
At least I have the decorations up! Last year the hubby didn't erect the tree until it was so late I didn't have time to hang the baubles on it! We had a naked tree all through the holidays with the only consolation being that it's pre-lit so it sort of had it's underwear on!
Keeping up with the fast pace of fashion on a modest budget is a challenge to say the least. Just when you think you're covered with an outfit for every occasion, at the sight of an invitation to something you suddenly find yourself with nothing to wear! Have you ever pondered your closet and wondered if you hadn't bought so many clothes you could have purchased the Louis Vuitton purse or the Gucci shoes, probably yes! Well you still can, at a fraction of the cost. With a few extra pennies from heaven to help keep your closet current, consignment may keep the fashionista in you afloat!
Beside the obvious things like cleaning the house from top to bottom, the patio furniture, manicuring the garden, there are a host of other things you can do to make your guests feel loved and welcome. I moved to Arizona from England in 1999, so I've had more than my fair share of guests come off an eleven hour flight to visit me and inevitably stay at least two weeks to make the long journey worth their while! The truth is I love it, so I do everything I can to make them a return visitor - having a background in the hotel industry helps!
The Guest Bed
On a recent business trip to Houston staying two nights and two days, I was advised to take carry on luggage and dress comfortably as the days would be long and action packed. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect so I wanted to cover all my options and ensure I would feel confident and comfortable. Somewhat nervous that I wouldn't fit everything I might need in a carry on suitcase, I knew I had to be strategic in this effort. I'm happy to say I pulled it off with room to spare and an outfit for every occasion. Here are my tips on how to pack your carry on luggage to get the most into it, and ultimately the most out of it at your destination!
If you live around Scottsdale or have passed through recently, you may have noticed the giant white tents standing alongside Loop 101 and Hayden Road. For ten weeks at the beginning of every year as many as 100 of the finest artists from across the country gather in this enormous arena to display their work. Many of the artists create new work whilst visitors, art lovers and art collectors meander the studios taking in spectacular art in various forms from paintings to sculptures, and can chat with the artists and see how their work is created.
There is always somewhere good to be in Arizona at any time of the year, despite the soaring temperatures in the summer. It's a state with it's own climate control. A couple of hours north or a couple of hours south, we've got it all covered, just find your comfort zone. At this time of year, you want to be right here, Scottsdale and Phoenix, the places to be, weather included. With so much going on, from music festivals to rodeos, art shows to championship golf tournaments and everything in between. It's alive with life, the State's own entertainment capital.
On a recent visit to target to get the hubby some Advil, I stumbled across a bag of Kraft Jet-Puffed pink heart marshmallows. As is my weakness, attracted to all that is pink, I had to get them because they were too pretty not to! Who does that? Whilst I was there, I stumbled across a few other fun things to sweeten up the Valentines festivities.
Locally, this event has quite a reputation for being the single most popular people watching arena in the west. Of course, some people do actually go to watch the golf! Many girls dress up as though they're going to a star studded party on a yacht in the Caribbean. It was a gloriously warm day which favored the skimpy clothes, and with no concern for the general terrain of such event, the scenery was more than entertaining with high heels and platform shoes tottering about the sloping grassy banks of the vast 18 hole championship TPC golf course.
This was my first time to a golf tournament, and the first time to any event that hosted a record breaking almost 205,000 people on a single day. It was a sight to behold. I didn't see much golf but that wasn't really why I was there, as I believe was the same for a large number of other folk in attendance!
Every year in January, Scottsdale Arizona hosts the Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions. This year it takes place from January 14th to January 22nd.
It's the largest concentration of cars from old classics to modern day prototypes and everything in between here in the beautiful city of Scottsdale. Rows of gleaming polished chrome like the dinnerware on a banquet table, paintwork in every imaginable color like perfectly lined up bottles of nail polish. Proud owners dusting off their pride and joy, the crowds milling through the tents, browsing, dreaming! Celebrity cars for sale, rare cars in impeccable condition, so much to look at, not enough time. Then there are the auctions, the excitement, the big spenders looking to catch their dream toy. Outside, the tempting smell of barbecue, food trucks, and if you're game, you can tackle the worlds largest turkey leg!
What's in it for us girls? Men are not the only ones that these cars invoke fond lifetime memories for. Today, I saw my very first car, a red Mini Cooper. Forty years on, I can't believe I actually fit inside that car! The Morris 1000, the very first car my parents owned when I was 10 years old. The day my daddy brought that car home, I spent the whole day playing inside it pretending it was my play house! There's a huge Exhibitor Marketplace to stroll around and shop, plus, there are lots of happy men walking around, all in very good moods, some dashingly handsome!
This is my first time visit to a car show and I liked it! If you are in the neighborhood and have a chance to go, it is well worth a visit. A general admission ticket is just $20, with senior, military and student discounts available. Auction and VIP packages vary, but all can be purchased from the Barrett-Jackson website here.
Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.
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Click the picture below to see my interview with the lovely Jonet Wooten from Fabulously Chic Over 50