11.19.2017

Confessions of a Foster Failure: Meet my New Baby, Andy Hines

I had heard that a dog was man's best friend, but I did not truly understand how true that statement was until October 22 of this year.  I am now a believer. Dogs are truly man's best friends. Cats are only your friend when they want to be your friend.



Confessions of a Foster Failure: A FUREVER Love Story by Leigh Powell Hines


Throughout my life, my friends had dogs. They seemed happy with their dogs, but I never really wanted a dog. In fact, I was not sure that I even liked dogs. This was especially true in my single days. I thought some dogs were cute, but others....well, they didn't impress me much.

You see. I was one of those aloof cat people. Cats just seemed easier and I thought they were my spirit animal. I have had cats all my life. Big. Fat. Cats. Sonny, a yellow tabby weighed in at 18 pounds and lived 18 years.

His remarkable story could be a children's book. He was a frisky cat and bit people who tried to feed him when we were out of town. It was a pain. At this time in my life, my family had two houses, our main house in the mountains and a beach house in South Carolina.  My Dad thought it would be a good idea for Sonny to live with one of his employees who had a  house across the mountain from us.  By car, it was about an 8-mile journey.  Unfortunately, Sonny did not stay with this family. He left after a day. He never came back, We thought that was the end of Sonny, but as luck would have it, I was watching TV about eight months later and Sonny appeared in front of the sliding glass doors. Sonny was home again, and he ended up staying with us several more years until his death while I was in college.

After college, I got Rover, a grey tabby kitten while doing a TV story on adopting animals for the holidays. He lived ten short years and was a fabulous cat. I mean with a name like Rover...how could you not. His talent was fetching beer bottle caps.

Bailey the cat. He was a 24 pound cat who loved cheese


My last cat was Bailey, a whopper at 24 pounds.  He was the cat we had when Jack was born and the last pet that was part of our family.  Even though I was dating Will when I adopted him, he thought Will was his owner.  When we got married,  I became a second class citizen that he would chase down the halls and bite my ankles. Will was the man he worshipped. Not me. He was our last cat.

This cat worshipped my husband. He would chase me down the halls and bite my ankles, according to Hines.


We have been a pet-free family since 2009.

Jack is allergic to cats so I knew cats were no longer a possibility for us.  We helped my Mom adopt two Russian Blue cats this Spring and Jack loves them, but his allergies flare up each time he is in their company. We knew we would never own another cat.

Will had no interest in getting a dog. I really didn't either.

However, curly-haired dogs started getting my attention. It first started with the Goldendoodle.I would want to pet one every time I saw one. I would go to a brewery and see a Goldendoodle and the kids and I would run up to them like they were "Hollywood Stars".

After we moved into our new home, my obsession grew with my new neighbors, a Westiepoo and a Cockapoo. I saw how much Liza loved our neighbor's dogs. She walked them. She also visited them almost daily.

I also knew that Jack liked animals, too. I also read that kids benefit from having a dog in many ways.

The Hines Fostered this poodle for two weeks before adopting him.


Will was not on board though.  He liked being pet-free. Our kids are already a huge pain in our butts for our middle-aged lifestyle. Why would we want to add a dog to our craziness?

I started obsessing about small curly-haired dogs and would look at them on Petfinder. One popped up for adoption in Durham. When Will was out of town at a Boy Scout function, I started sharing this particular dog's photo on Facebook saying it needed a home. My friends replied that it needed to live with us.

I knew Will was against us getting a dog. But, I called about the dog anyway. I listened to my Facebook friends. I was too late on this one. The little white, curly-mixed breed was already under pending adoption by the time I got in touch with someone at the shelter.

Andy Hines, the Car Pool Poodle


However, they told me I could call back to see if the dog got picked up because they said that many times, the adoptions don't go through for many reasons. The rescue worker told me that this dog would need to be picked up by 5 pm two days later.

I waited. Should I call? Should I not call? It was on my mind.  I called and they told me that the little dog had just left the building with his family five minutes before I placed that call.

I was a little disappointed. I knew that I would need to act quickly if I wanted our family to have a -curly-haired small poodle-mix dog. I decided that I was all of the sudden hit with the "I want a dog" bug.  The kids wanted a dog.

Will texted me from Southern Pines when he saw Facebook posts about dogs and said, "Are you doing something behind my back?"

"No, I was just trying to find the dog a home, " I replied.

When the HurricaneMaria hit Puerto Rico in September, many shelters here were trying to get the dogs they had in their care fostered so they could take more dogs from devastated Puerto Rico. They were in desperate need of people to foster dogs. When people step up to be a foster, they need to be committed to getting the dog adopted. I was thinking that this may be something good for our family to do to see if we could handle a dog and also see if Jack's allergies were OK for us to have a dog one day.

To make a long story short, I discovered Dog Warriors via Facebook. A 10-year-old poodle had been surrendered to an animal shelter in Louisburg. This dog needed a foster family or else the rescue could not save him because the shelter thought he was too old to be adopted.

Andy is a ten-year-old poodle saved by Dog Warriors, a non-profit organization in Apex, NC.


I called Will and said, "Can we do this?"

Will has a heart of gold and said yes to my request.

Andy arrived at our home on October 22 and it was love at first sight. We fostered him for about two weeks and decided to make him part of our family on November 3, 2017. He is such a sweet and patient dog. He also knew he had one guy to win over and he certainly did. Will loves him as much as we all do.

Andy, the first day he was brought to our home as a foster.


He weighs almost six pounds. I adore him. He's really my dog.  I take him with me to pick up the kids. He sits with me in my office. He's my new baby. And honestly, after having kids, he's so much easier than they are.

The rumor is true. We are official foster failures. We were not a family that could foster several dogs for this agency. Non-profits like Dog Warriors do need fosters for the animals they save until permanent homes can be found for these animals.

I'm now navigating the world as a dog owner. There is so much on the market and I'm excited to explore the hotel industry even more with dogs. I do not see us taking Andy out of North Carolina though, but I never say never.

Leigh Powell Hines and her new love, "Andy the Poodle."








11.10.2017

HinesSight Insight Travel Trends: What will be Hot in Luxe Family Travel in 2018?

Luxury. Sometimes that word scares people when it comes to travel and they immediately think "that's for people who are ultra wealthy." Travel is about experiences and yes, some luxury vacations may be out of the price range for a lot of people including myself, but on the other hand, I like to think you may be more like me. I travel less often in a year and splurge when I do because it's about the experience. I want a quality and memorable experience for my family.

Jekyll Island Resort in Jekyll Island, Georgia, a lux property
Experiencing Southern Hospitality at the Jekyll Island Resort a few summers ago. 
You may want to think of it like shoes.  Do you buy a few type of classic shoes you can wear with most anything for the quality or do you have 25 cheaper shoes in your closet?  It's basically a style and budget choice.  A family's choice of travel is no different. Yes, it would be nice to never have to worry about the cost and just go as you desire, but that is just not reality for most people. For most families who earn less than 200K a year, travel becomes a lifestyle choice on how they want to travel.

Do I go to Disney every year or do I go less often and spend more money on my vacation when I go?  I fall into the less often camp. We only take the kids to Disney every four years. Our last trip was the WDW Yacht Club Resort. 2018 is supposed to be our year to go again and I have one child who wants to go to Universal Resort now.

Disney the Luxe Way
Our last Disney trip was almost four years ago. Liza was four. Jack was eight. It is time for another Orlando vacation, but I want to curate it differently this year. Less about the parks and more about the resort and experiences. 
Sure, if I had more income then I probably would travel more often because I would have more disposable income.  Who wouldn't? I also think it boils down to your partner's likes, too. Will doesn't like to spend money often so he has no problem traveling less often. He also has the philosophy that traveling with older kids is more enjoyable as a family or at least that is what he says right now.  He has not traveled with a teen so he really does not know, but he's finally ready to start talking about taking the European plunge in the near future with our children.  He thinks they are ready because they will remember it.

Because of his travel mindset, I can get away with my luxury travel ways and desire for nice experiences. I travel to experience culture, food and to feel pampered a little even on shorter excursions. We are also middle-aged and had our children later in life.  Some of our friends are even grandparents now. I think that our age dictates how I want to travel. However, my college friends will tell you that I have not changed in 25 years either.  Rest and relaxation always come first even with children in tow.  I've always joked that my blog should be the lazy traveler's guide.  Here is how I did  Asheville, N.C. this summer and I still have lots more to write about on this trip. We give our son the experience of a summer mountain camp each year near Asheville. His Dad went to the same camp and I've now embraced Asheville as an area I frequent often.




Virtuoso, a leading luxury travel company with curated travel experiences revealed this their annual Luxe Report which forecasts travel trends for 2018.

There were two trends on this list and you can read the entire press release here, but these two trends continue to resonate with me and are really how I like to travel. I think of more of my immediate family which is the four of us, but I want to create lifelong memories, strengthen our relationship as a family, and I want my children to learn and experience. To me, travel is the best classroom.

  1. Connecting with family through travel. After topping the list of trends since 2010, multigenerational travel has firmly established itself as a travel niche. Following close behind is travel with immediate family, also a consistent trend that will carry forward in 2018. Whether renting a European villa for a celebration with loved ones, cruising to the Galapagos Islands, or snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, a family trip creates lifelong memories, strengthens bonds, and plays a pivotal role in childhood education.
  2. Be a traveler rather than a tourist. Immersive experiences not found in a guidebook or brochure, opportunities to meet locals, wandering neighborhoods and making spontaneous discoveries are the best ways to experience a destination, according to Virtuoso advisors. Whether it is wine tasting, or learning a traditional craft or a new language, travelers will be seeking out the true culture of that area they are visiting.
The Top Five Family Travel Destinations for 2018 

1. Italy
2. Mexico
3. Orlando, Florida
4. Hawaii
5. Costa Rica 

The Top Five Travel Trends for 2018  

1. Multigenerational Travel
2. Active or Adventure Trips
3. River Cruising
4. Food and Wine Travel 
5. Celebration Travel 

The Top Five Emerging Destinations for 2018

1. Iceland
2. Croatia
3. Japan
4. Cuba
5. Portugal 

The Top Five U.S Destinations for 2018

1. New York, N.Y
2. Maui
3. Miami, South Beach, FL
4. Las Vegas, NV
5. Napa Valley, Sonoma, CA

The Top Five Travel Motivations for 2018

1. Exploring New Destinations
2. Crossing off Bucket-List Destinations
3. Seeking authentic experiences
4. Rest and Relaxation
5. Personal Enrichment

I have given you the trends and insights so where will your travel take you in 2018? 


10.29.2017

3 Easy Tips to Help You Get Dinner on the Table Quickly on Weeknights

If you are like me then the late afternoon to early evening hours are the most hectic hours in a day, especially if you've not been home all day. We've now thrown in a foster dog so I am budgeting in his walks, too.  Let's face it.  Busy weeknights are tough and figuring out a quick dinner is a must to keep your sanity.

As kids age, extra-curricular activities start becoming during the dinner hour. What if you have more than one child and one activity is at 5 p.m and one is at 7 p.m. If you are not careful, you'll be eating out way too much during the week and blowing your family meal budget very quickly. When you are my age, too many restaurant meals cause extra pounds and bloating.

I thought I would share with you what I do in my home. I'm not perfect, and I make timing mistakes all the time, but I've been relying on the 3 tips that help me get dinner on the table more quickly for my family.

easy-tips-to-get-dinner-ready-on-weeknights


Tip OneSearch for Easy, Simple Recipes
I love a good recipe just like anybody else. But, honestly, if there are a lot of ingredients or a lot of preparatory work which translates into several pots or lots of chopping,  I toss that recipe aside.  I no longer have the luxury to plan my meals around recipes that require a lot of ingredients or steps. Times for different when I had younger kids who napped and watched TV late in the late.  I now save those types of meals for weekends.  Our family meals usually consist of a meat (protein), a vegetable, and either brown rice or orzo pasta with feta cheese. It's quite simple. The kids will eat most of it and there is very little waste.  Look on Pinterest for recipe ideas that you cook ahead, freeze and pull out on a weeknight, too.  Use your crockpot and some people use an Instant Pot for busy nights. It cooks crockpot meals very quickly. I've yet to see one in person, but I'm seeing a lot of recipes for them.

Tip Two:  Utilize Delivery Services
I use a produce delivery service, and I order my produce and/or meats on Monday, and it gets delivered on Wednesday. I find that having an abundance of different seasonal produce has really helped me go to more basic cooking like sauteing fresh vegetables or roasting them than serving the vegetable as a side.  I don't rely on recipes as much on weeknights. PapaSpuds, which is the produce delivery service that I use also offers fresh pasta and organic meats. I tend to order the chicken thighs and chicken legs the most often just because it is a better bang for your buck. My kids love my roasted chicken and kale recipeIt's simple and easy for a busy weeknight meal. 


Hello_Fresh_Pork_Chili_Meal


I also rely on the meal kit delivery service of  HelloFresh. I like it because I have a ready to go meal kit waiting on me in my fridge. I place my meal selections by Thursday and the meals are delivered to my doorstep the following Tuesday.  It helps supplement two meals a week for my family.  The service is flexible so sometimes I skip a week, depending on what we have going on that week. HelloFresh meals are typically quick to prepare and really help working moms out a lot.  As part of the service, you keep all recipe cards so I can cook our family "HelloFresh" favorites anytime I want.

Another thing that I like about the service is that when you regularly for the type of meals that HelloFresh offers families, the grocery bills add up for the ingredients you need to prepare this type of food.  Your meal kit has everything you need in it to make the recipe except for salt, pepper, and olive oil. Those are three items that every cook needs to have in stock at all times. If you have those in stock then you can make any HelloFresh sent to you. I sometimes freeze my meats and wait on the meals. Obviously, you cannot do that on every recipe, but I've done it if I have things going on and I don't even have time to make a HelloFresh meal or we have school events where food is served. This one-pan hearty pork chili is a dish I made recently from my menu choices. We loved it, especially my kids.


Tip Three: Change your Grocery Shopping Mindset
Think like a European. In America, we tend to load up when we go to a grocery store.It's like we feel there is a food shortage or a snow storm coming any minute.  It's a mindset thing here, I think.  Maybe we do it because we think it helps us on time management, but when I do it I sometimes spend more monthly and end up wasting food. For example, I would buy another box of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish because I was at the store and did not know when I would go to the store again.  Later, I would open the pantry and those pesky kids of mine opened the new bag of goldfish instead of finishing the older one first.  and didn't finish the one that still had a half a bag. Now, I had two bags open and one would get stale.


Shop at local farmer's Markets. Buy what you need

Now that I do a lot Tip 2 consistently, it has cut back all that I need at a grocery store and I have more of a European mindset, I stop in little markets and pick up just a few things.  When you do not have to shop a long list, you will be surprised at how easy it is to pop into a market and pick up just a few items.

My kids love seafood so these little quick trips to a market the beginning of a week, it enables me to add it to your menu more often for a quick meal with a side. For working moms, if you have time to go home at lunch or stop by right after work then it will make it easier for you. You can get quality seafood then cook it that night or the next night and serve with starches and vegetables already in my kitchen. It's a very quick trip to the market.

Europeans do this all the time in their little neighborhood villages. People in larger cities are the same way. They may only have flowers, wine, chicken, bread, and asparagus in their carts. For years when I saw someone with only three items at checkout and my cart looked liked I shopped just once a year  I was like, "who are these people that only buy a few things at the store?"

Well, I'm now one of them.  I pop into The Fresh Market in Cameron Village in Raleigh because they have good specials on Tuesday. We all have a little go-to place near our neighborhood and that one is mine. The minute I step in that place I relax. It's small, and I always grab a little coffee sample. It used to be more high-end seventeen years ago when I first moved to Raleigh and at times, frustrating because I could not be able to get some staples that I may have needed. For example, if they even carried Heinz ketchup then it would be small and overpriced, but they revamped their selections and now, you really could shop there for most everything, including Heinz ketchup. My husband grew up on Heinz ketchup and he is not happy if I bring home another brand. We joke, "After all, our name is Hines." Utilize those small markets and even Farmer's Markets more often, it will cause you to buy just what you need at the time and nothing more.


Disclosure: Referral links for the services I use are in this post. 

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