Behind the Tiara, Vol 2

Continuing the fun of sharing more about moi.  Check out “Behind the Tiara, Vol 1” here!

Something YOU want to know?  Chime in using the comment box at the bottom or email me at meandmytiara (at)

I have a fairly decent voice.  I sang in church choir in high school (and got to record a CD – one of the coolest experiences ever), and while I don’t do it much now, I did sing at a couple friends’ weddings over the past few years.

  • The next thing I usually hear is “sing something”!  Ehhh.  For me, big difference between singing a few bars softly or just for funsies and truly belting something out.  I’m far more comfortable singing with a mic in front of a lot of people I don’t know rather than a person or two that I DO know.  There’s maybe a handful or two of folks that are the exception to this.  You know who you are 😉
  • There IS however a YouTube clip from one of the aforementioned friends’ weddings.  I’m not visibly in it, but I’m in the background singing a rewritten version of Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You”.  I don’t post it publicly because in the same clip, my friends are saying their wedding vows, and that’s a super personal thing.  But if you’re REALLY wanting to hear it, lemme know and I’ll consider it.

My husband and I met in high school back in 2002.  Check out this prom picture, circa 2004 – sweet, isn’t it? 😀  



I have no idea what my feet look like without scars.

  • When I was four and a half, I had necessary corrective foot surgery.  I kid you not, it wasn’t until a few years ago – faaaaaar into adulthood, LOL – when I had the realization that I don’t have a clue what my feet would be like scar-free.  I have three on each foot – two on top, one on the side, all of them about two inches long.

I’ve jumped off a catamaran into the Caribbean to swim to a bar. 

  • By far one of my favorite vacation experiences EVER.  We sailed from St John USVI to the Jost Van Dyke (BVI) aboard Kekoa.  There’s a bar called the Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke in White Bay, but there’s no dock.  So, if arriving by boat, you jump off and swim to shore if you want to taste their famous Painkillers.  Doing it again this August – WOOT!
  • Side note – this was also the experience that taught my husband NOT to give me his credit card and let me wander into a gift shop after several rum-tastic drinks.  I think I came out with like 5 or 6 items 😀

My favorite candle scent is Eucalyptus Mint.  

  • Soooo relaxing.  Try it if you haven’t.  A close second favorite scent is cinnamon/spice scented ones that just scream the fall season.

I think I have like 90% percent of Friends episodes memorized. 

  • Never have and never will get sick of watching them.  Sometime, I’ll do a post about some of my all-time favorite clips or episodes.





Behind the Tiara, Vol 1

Who doesn’t love a good little get-to-know-you game of Q&A? 🙂

I thought I’d share a little insight into ME – go ‘behind the tiara’, if you will.

(Yes, I know a more appropriate title might be beneath the tiara, since tiaras sit on your head.  But it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

I’m gonna start answering a random set of questions each week so you fabulous people can get to know me better.  If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, use the comment box below!

  1. Favorite color?  Blue.  All shades of it.
  2. Mottos or quotes I live by?  Oh gosh.  I have lots.  Here are a few at the top of the list.
    • “C’est la vie.”  (translation? ‘that’s life’)
    • “If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
    • “Actions always speak louder than words.”
    • “Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.”
    • “Collect moments, not things.”
  3. College and major?  Indiana University, B.A. in Journalism, minors in Marketing, Spanish, and Psychology
  4. Favorite family tradition?  We went to the Outer Banks every summer growing up and rented a big house on the beach where my entire dad’s side of the family would stay for a week.  It was amazing.  So many happy memories in the OBX!
  5. Furthest I’ve been from home?  Ecuador, Italy, Hawaii
  6. Weirdest things I’ve ever eaten?  Wild boar, frog legs, and a watermelon gazpacho shooter with chili oil (it was INSANELY good)
  7. Candy that describes your personality, and why?  SweetTarts.  I’m a kind, sweet person at heart, but I for sure have a sassy side too 😉
  8. Beer or wine?  Neither – I would choose a mixed drink that has a base of tequila, rum, or vodka.
  9. Dream vacation?  Anywhere in the Pacific where I can stay in a hut over the water 🙂
  10. First concert I ever went to?  Either Paul Simon or Melissa Etheridge.  Both were with my family when I was a kid, and I don’t remember which came first.

So there you go!  Again, share ideas for questions if you have ’em.  Until next time!



Spring Blooms

Happy Monday!

I don’t know about you, but I had a fabulous weekend.  Lots of family time, lots of time outdoors, and a beautiful Easter Mass.

On Saturday, I visited the Indianapolis Museum of Art with my mom and grandma to see their Spring Blooms exhibit.  There’s something like 250,000 blooms on the property – what the WHAT??!?  It was so amazingly beautiful.  The gorgeous weather we had on Saturday didn’t hurt either, LOL.

I looooove flowers, especially tulips and gerbera daisies.  They’re particularly happy-looking flowers, in my opinion 🙂  But I also enjoy irises, hydrangeas, dahlias, and roses.  And I’m not picky – I equally love simple bouquets from the grocery store and elaborate arrangements from a florist.  Flowers make me happy.  Period, end of story.

Here are some photos from our walk through the Spring Blooms.

IMA tulip bench
Is this not one of the most precious places to sit and relax?  So pretty.






Beautiful weather, spectacular flowers, and family and friends?? Yes, please.

If you’re in Central Indiana before May 31, go check out the grounds at the IMA.  You won’t regret it!  🙂



Dunk City – Some Of My Fave IU Basketball Moments

So, we’ve already established that I love music.  One of my other loves is Indiana University basketball.

I’ve been an IU fan since I was in the womb and went on to be a fourth generation Hoosier graduate.  The beautiful campus and all it has to offer feels like a second hometown to me.  I never even applied to any other universities during my senior year of high school.

Two days ago, #13 IU beat #3 North Carolina at Assembly Hall.  My parents were lucky enough to be at the game, and it looked like an amazing atmosphere.  One of the highlights of the game for me was OG Anunoby’s alley-oop dunk from Josh Newkirk.  I freaked 🙂  (One of the differences between my husband and I…when a highlight-worthy sports play happens, he tends to do a Tiger Woods-esqe fist pump and a simple “YES!”…I am not so subtle.)

After calming down, I started thinking of some of the other monumental dunks I’ve seen over the years from my beloved IU basketball teams.

Here are a few of my favorites:

(And to head off any doubters, I did not Google ‘best IU dunks’…these were all in my memory…I’m not one of those girls who says they’re a sports fan but is really only doing it for show.  And no offense to those who are – you do you.)

Tom Pritchard, IU vs Minnesota, February 2011

Marco Killingsworth, IU vs Duke, December 2005 (I actually saw this one LIVE 😀  Fast forward to about the 1:10 minute mark in the vide0.)

Victor Oladipo, IU vs Michigan, February 2013 (so yes, technically he didn’t make this dunk…but the anticipation and attempt was enough to count in my mind 🙂 )



You Just Figure It Out

Today marks 14 years of being with my high school/college sweetheart 🙂

Our very first photo together ever, Nov 2002

We’ve been married since May 2008, and the past couple years have been particularly interesting from a work and relationship perspective.

My husband’s career revolves around birds and the environment.  The short version is that he started by building a website from scratch shortly after we were married that helps people know where to go bird-watching.  In early 2009, he began working at a local Wild Birds Unlimited store and volunteering for various not-for-profits.  Birds and Blooms magazine invited Rob to be their online bird blogger in October 2013, and then he became co-owner of a birding and photography tour company in the summer of 2014 (Sabrewing Nature Tours).

I work in market research for a pharmaceutical company.  Pretty straightforward 😉

Over the years, many people have asked him, “how have you been able to do all this bird stuff” or “how are you making a living out of this”.  He usually responds with something along the lines of me having a really great job that provides for us financially while he’s building his business and that it’s a lot of hard work every single day.  And that I support him in a lot of ways.  Such a sweetheart ❤

I’m so proud of everything he’s accomplished, but it hasn’t been without its ups and downs.  For awhile, I didn’t understand all of this bird business.  (And heck…sometimes I still don’t.  But I don’t need to.)  And we struggled to communicate effectively about his vision for his future and his career.  Right before he joined the tour company, we hit a pretty rough patch for a variety of reasons that I am going to keep private.  But we made it through and honestly have been rock solid since 🙂

Around that time, we started thinking of ourselves as #TeamRipma.

On the beaches of Espanola in the Galapagos Islands, Sept 2016

We realized that in order to give the tour company the best shot possible, and to maintain us as a couple, we both needed to be all-in with business efforts and our marriage and our friendship.  We committed to fully supporting each other 1000% and outwardly showed that support to each other and other people, too.  (Which admittedly is something we had previously struggled with at times.)

And because that wasn’t enough, a couple months after the tour company started, I began a new position at my then-employer that had me traveling to Chicago for 2-4 days every other week or so.

Our schedules became insane.  Like really, really insane.  His tours and scouting trips lasted for 2-3 weeks at a time, and I was seemingly always cruising I-65 in one direction or another.  It took awhile to get used to, and more things have changed since then (like me changing jobs and no longer working from home full-time), but now it’s simply our new normal.

Let me be crystal clear on one point.  Just because Rob has an amazing career where he gets to do what he loves (and gets paid for it), and gets to travel to some amazing destinations, this does not mean it’s not still work.  He loves what he does, truly.  And so the long hours and challenges and successes all ladder up to something he really, really enjoys.  This gets lost on people sometimes who just focus on the destination and experience rather than thinking about who planned all (literally ALL) the logistics for that trip for a group of people he may or may not have met before.  And this doesn’t even take into account all of the volunteer work he does, both here in Indiana and throughout the Midwest.

I heard Mark Cuban say once, “If you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”  PREACH, Mark.  We’ve been on the other side of the coin, the one where you hate your job and those feeling seep into your personal life.  It sucks.  There is no replacement for finding your passion in life and throwing everything you’ve got into it.  Rob busts his behind to build his business and career.  I’m lucky to have a front row seat to it.  But I digress slightly….

The questions we get about our lives now have shifted to “how do you two do it?”  And honestly, the answer is pretty simple. There’s no magic formula…

You just figure it out.  

One day, one situation, one thing at a time.

Whatever comes our way, we just deal with it and get it done.

  • Stepping into a puddle of water in our garage as I’m heading to Chicago before 6am due to a broken water heater?  Rob had to figure it out.
  • Juggling mystery sounds in one of our cars and tire issues in the other while Rob was on another continent?  That one was on me.
  • One of us serving as representative from #TeamRipma while the other was away for work, whether at a birthday party, funeral, friend’s get-together, etc?  Both of us have been there.
  • Dealing with unexpected potential medical issues and determining what friend or family member we’d like to accompany us to doctors appointments in place of our spouse, if needed?  This one’s newer, but it’s happened.

We stay connected as best we can when we’re traveling and make lists of things we need to be sure to tell the other. We regularly do ‘calendar checks’ to make sure that we have our schedules straight.  We plan date nights months in advance so we can reserve evenings after one of us returns from a trip so we can catch up face-to-face.  We’ve even been known to have dates at the airport as paths were crossing, one of us returning home and the other leaving.

Our sweet little 19 month old godson has heard “figure it out” a time or two over his short lifetime as he’s trying something new or is confused about how something works.  It’s said with love and encouragement, of course.  He’s just learning, growing, and adjusting.  And he eventually gets there, as he’s one smart little kid.

We do the very same thing everyday with my husband’s business, with our marriage, with our friendship, with the life we’ve built together.

We learn.

We grow.

We adjust.

We just figure it out 🙂

Happy 14 years together, love.  Saying ‘yes’ to a date with you when we were teenagers was just the first of our many adventures.  Cheers to many more!  #TeamRipma





On the Importance of Writing…

I’ve missed writing.  A lot.  And I wonder why I haven’t made it more of a priority when the simple act of typing on a computer screen can serve so many purposes for me…

Sometimes I write to share fun things.  Or to enjoy memories that make me smile and reminisce.  Or because I want to save a video or news story or lyrics or poem.

Sometimes it’s getting feelings out on paper when you can’t share them aloud.

Sometimes it’s about sorting through your thoughts to help you work through confusion.

Sometimes you need a reset button when you’re feeling down or in a funk.

It’s therapeutic in many ways.  And I think back to why I started this blog.  Here’s an excerpt from my very first post:

Long story short, at the very end of a three-week trip to Europe with my family, I ended up sobbing in a hotel room for quite a long time as a result of feeling completely overwhelmed at all of the crummy things happening in the world.  (I am not normally a crier.)  The few English television stations we had access to were running what seemed like 24/7 coverage of the Charleston shootings, racism in America, and the atrocious dog festival in China.  It seemed like there was literally nothing positive to report on, and I got to a point where I simply couldn’t take it anymore.

Yes, part of it was exhaustion and just being ready to get home, but never before had I thought, “The world is such a sucky place right now.”  MAJOR PROBLEM…that’s not me.  I’m generally a pretty positive, upbeat person.  But between the news, the dark thoughts that had crossed my mind, and even more recently the constant bitching and complaining about one thing or another on Facebook, I’ve had it.

So, enter this blog.  Whether it’s a quote I like, a song I find inspiring, a photo that makes me smile, or a story that warms my heart, I’m going to post it here.  This will be a ‘happy place’ of sorts; somewhere that’s completely void of negativity.

‘You know that bad things are gonna happen, right?’  Absolutely – I’m not naive.

‘Don’t you realize that there are serious problems in the world around me?’  Yep.

‘So why are you ignoring them?’  I’m not – I’m just choosing not to focus on them and instead finding the happy🙂

It’s still all true.  There are still crummy things happening (some would argue more now than last year).  Complaining on Facebook feels like it’s at an all-time high with the upcoming US Presidential election (oy).  While I may not be the same person I was last summer – more on that to come in a future post – this blog is every bit as important now as it was then.

So I shall start writing again.  More consistently.  Still focusing on and still finding the happy.

And still enjoying my dang tiara 😀



Music Monday: Fight Like A Girl

It’s never too late for New Years resolutions, right?

Life…it ebbs and flows, right?  Lots of changes over the last couple months for this gal, but now that I feel like the waters are a bit calmer for the time being, time to get back to the fun stuff, like writing on this blog.  Not only #findingthehappy, but choosing the happy.  BIG difference between the two.  Think about it…I know I have this year 🙂

Anyway, time for Music Monday!

I heard this song for the first time a couple weeks ago, and it resonated with me for several reasons.  The general mood of the song fits me well – mix of sassy and sweet, with confidence and a ‘don’t you doubt me’ attitude.  And the second verse is just perfection – little but loud (ummm…PREACH), tell without a doubt I’m my mama’s daughter (truth…I’m a total mini-me).

The music video isn’t my fave, but I like the tune – click the link at the bottom of this post.  Lyrics are pasted below (from

Perhaps it will remind you of someone in your life 🙂

Kalie Shorr – “Fight Like A Girl”

He’s calling out my name, says Iʼm just a featherweight
He thinks the slightest breeze could blow me over
But what he doesn’t know, is Iʼve got a slingshot and a stone
And I can win with no one in my corner
So donʼt you even try to hold me back

I got my high heels on with my boxing gloves
I can knock you out with a one two punch
Iʼm perfume sweet and whiskey strong
I damn sure ainʼt no underdog
I might fall down, but I get back up
I shine brightest when the goingʼs tough
You say I canʼt, well darling watch me
You canʼt stop me
Cause I fight like a girl

Iʼm little but Iʼm loud, just wanna make my mama proud
And you can tell without a doubt that Iʼm her daughter
She raised me to believe that I can be anything
So when you push me I’ll just push back harder

I got my high heels on with my boxing gloves
I can knock you out with a one two punch
Iʼm perfume sweet and whiskey strong
I damn sure ainʼt no underdog
I might fall down, but I get back up
I shine brightest when the goingʼs tough
You say I canʼt, well darling watch me
You canʼt stop me
Cause I fight like a girl

I fight tough, I fight hard, I fight fair
Wonʼt stop fighting til I get there
No I ainʼt afraid to cry
Everybodyʼs gotta feel something sometimes
I fight tough, I fight hard, I fight fair
Wonʼt stop fighting til I get there
I ainʼt afraid to cry
I ainʼt afraid to fight

I got my high heels on with my boxing gloves
I can knock you out with a one two punch
Iʼm perfume sweet and whiskey strong
I damn sure ainʼt no underdog
I might fall down, but I get back up
And I shine brightest when the goingʼs tough
You say I canʼt, well darling watch me
You canʼt stop me
Cause I fight like a girl

I fight tough, I fight hard, I fight fair
Wonʼt stop fighting til I get there
No I ainʼt afraid to cry
I fight like a girl