College Roommate Tips

naked roommateLast year, Bob Andelman (aka Mr. Media, and a friend) interviewed Harlan Cohen, of “Help Me Harlan” and author of The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only (which I’ve read and recommend), about parenting teens leaving for college. I took notes because my daughter’s boyfriend was a graduating senior, and my daughters were a junior and sophomore, so I figured I had some relevant lessons to learn.

There was a lot I enjoyed about the interview, found here: Today I share with you, paraphrased…

3 Roommate Rules:

1. Your roommate is there to share the fees and does not need to be your friend. I had this problem with my first college roommate. I got there, we bonded, then I made other friends and she felt left out and retaliated in rude ways. I wasn’t wearing a promise ring from her, I just wanted to get along… which brings us to…

2. If you want to get along with your roommate, you’ll find a way. Seriously, all you need to do is be respectful. You can avoid drama even if you don’t like each other. But sharing space is always more comfortable if you do like each other!

3. The Uncomf0rtable Rule: If you are ever uncomfortable with something that happened with your roommate, you must communicate about it in 24-48 hours. Not before, not after. Make this a pact with your roommate so you BOTH do it. People suck at uncomfortable, but if there is a plan in place it helps.

One parent asked about a very sexual roommate living with her religious, virgin teen, and how that might play out. Remember, says Harlan, living with someone who has different values probably won’t change you. You won’t start having threesomes five times a day because of a sexually active roommate if you are saving yourself for marriage. You won’t become a huge partier after watching your roommate throw up from drinking too much and failing math class. In fact, it might make you second guess their poor choices. You’ll learn and grow from it, like a visit to a foreign country. I discovered the band “The Cure” from my roommate even though she ended up being a butthead.

My daughter found two roommate leads before freshman in year in different ways. One was through a cousin who had a friend with a daughter interested in the same school. The other was through a Facebook group her college made for her graduating class, like “College Name Class of 2019.” People left little notes about themselves and their personalities, and could message others who sounded compatible. “I’m a science major who plans to rush Ate Two Pizzas sorority and I like loud techno music. I’m a night owl who eats peanut butter out of the jar, and I will totally help you with your hair – I’m really good with braiding and products.”

Good luck to whoever lives with DD1! She’s a mess! But she’s honest and fun, which will probably matter more.


Beauty and the Beast

When I was in college, I knew someone whose mom worked with Broadway costume designers. She offered us tickets to a special event. Disney was putting together Beauty and the Beast for Broadway, and there was going to be a reveal on stage of some costuming, a couple of songs, and other ideas for a V.I.P. crowd. Directors as well as cast would be on stage with a big projector screen to bring the ideas to life.

I already loved the story. When I was a senior in high school, the movie hit theatres and I saw it with my friend Cindy. I remember leaving wow‘ed by the attention to detail. During the big ballroom dance scene, you could see the reflection of the chandelier in Belle’s fingernails. Now THAT’S animation!

beauty_and_the_beastobjectsI don’t remember who I went to this Broadway preview with, but I remember seeing the jovial Lumiere with his hands in the air representing a candelabra, and an over-the-top yellow ballgown for Belle. “Disney might actually be able to pull off people playing people turning into inanimate objects,” was my parting thought.

When my daughters were little princess freaks, the movie was played on a huge IMAX screen near us, and we went as a family. I’m pretty sure we have it on VHS in the attic too. And we’ve seen the stage show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and enjoyed Enchanted Tales with Belle in the Magic Kingdom. Now you can even drink LeFou’s Brew (an apple soda with a marshmallow foam topping) in the Beast’s enchanted castle! 

beautybeastThen my daughters became older princess freaks, and their school performed Beauty and the Beast Junior. DD2 was in 7th grade and was in the chorus. She sang, danced, and swung a metal beer stein around. She wore a dumb flowered dress. And her best friend played a whisk! With shiny, wobbly things around her head she danced to Be Our Guest along with forks and plates.

When I first heard Beauty and the Beast was coming to the Straz Center, I felt like I had enough experience with the show and I really didn’t need to go see it. But princess moments are becoming fewer and further between as my daughter age out of the house, and DD1′s good friend played Belle in the school production, so I thought we’d have a fun girls night out at the show.

It ended up not being girls night out, because the show fell during AP Exam week. *shudder* (Be happy you’re not in high school anymore!) We managed to get a group of 4 excited viewers together for the show.

Most importantly: The touring Broadway musical is a lot like the movie come to life. I missed Mrs. Pott’s accent and didn’t care for the alterations made to Belle’s dress in the final scene of the show, but other than that it is exactly what someone who enjoys the movie would expect. There are many of the same jokes – LeFou and Gaston had us laughing out loud a lot – and some extra songs. Jillian Butterfield had me believing she was born to play the role of Belle! Her sweetness, chutzpah and smarts filled Straz Center’s Carol Morsani Hall almost as well as her beautiful singing voice did. Gaston had the giant biceps, Chip had the adorable innocence and the Beasts yak-like horns were creepy.


Despite my prior experience with the story, I had a new perspective last night. The beast can certainly represent a rotten brat becoming loving, but suddenly I thought of the story being all about one character. What if Belle, the Beast, the inanimate objects of the castle, Gaston and all the others were parts of the psyche of the same person!? The moral there could be that the Beast is trapped in his current state – which might be low self esteem or depression – and until he can throw off the Gaston parts of himself and embrace the Belle parts of himself, he’ll never become the Prince he longs to be. If he lets life go by without learning to love himself, he remains a Beast (in nature) forever.

This is truly a magical musical – and a great first musical – for little ones who love fairy tales, ballgowns and princesses. Running time for Beauty and the Beast at the Straz Center is approximately 2 hours 30 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission. There were still plenty of little ones dressed in their yellow dresses and hugging blankies despite the late run time. Hurry – the show is only here through May 10!

Thank you Tampa Bay Bloggers and the Straz Center for 4 free tickets to the show. All opinions and my latest Beast epiphany are my own! #ad.


Chicken Drop Bingo

A few years ago I met Marilyn McCloskey. Someone told me about a 5k in downtown St Pete at the base of The Pier that needed volunteers. They knew I was tapped into the local running scene and might be able to help out. That was before Running 4 Brews had a team at virtually every race in Tampa Bay.
Somehow I managed to rope in the Cross Country team of Shorecrest Preparatory School to volunteer. The team needed an annual service project, and the kids were seasoned 5k runners, so it made sense.
Last week at the 2015 Iconic Women of St. Petersburg “Celebrating Women with Vision” Awards luncheon, I bumped into Marilyn again. She remembered me. She said that not only did we have great volunteers who brought supplies for the course, like huge water jugs, but after I shared the Facebook event she was contacted by two people who knew me who knew someone who had Huntington’s and asked Marilyn for people to contact for medical assistance locally.
Apparently, Marilyn has a much better memory than I do. That was YEARS ago. But I remembered reading something much more recently on Facebook about an upcoming event to support the Huntington’s Disease Society, and I asked what she was up to. That was when Marilyn told me about Chicken Drop Bingo.
“Win a CRAPLOAD of Money” at Chicken Drop Bingo! the flyer earnestly proclaims. It’s meant to be funny, but if you don’t know what Chicken Drop Bingo is, there’s some explaining left to do.
Basically there’s a giant bingo board. Instead of having your own board, like in traditional bingo, this is a large shared board. You put money down on a square, like in Vegas. And then a CHICKEN wanders around the board. People call out and cheer and try to get the chicken to walk around the board and POOP on the square they put money on. If it drops on your number you’re the winner!
$5 buys you a numbered square. It’s FREE to watch, and just $5 to play, so you can bring friends and have a silly time supporting a great cause!
When: Saturday, May 16th, 2015. 3:00-6:00 p.m.
Where: Quaker Steak & Lube, 10400 49th Street North, Clearwater, FL 33762
15% of food sales will be donated to HDSA. There will also be drink specials and auction Items.
And back to my recent luncheon – Congratulations to Marilyn on being a finalist for the Community Service Iconic Woman of the Year!! Marilyn says, “I volunteer for HD in memory of my sister Connie, and for all those out there who are fighting the disease or worried they might have it!”
Be there – buy a square!
Learn more about the crazy day on their website – or Facebook event.

Ultimate College Packing List

packinglistfeaturedAfter scouring the internet (mostly Pinterest) and getting advice from a college freshman AND a recent college grad, I present to you my ultimate college packing list!

Please keep in mind, tastes on food certainly differ, and boys and girls don’t need all of the same items (e.g. tampons!), but this is a robust list that will help you get ‘er done!

Parents, maybe shopping can take your mind off the whole LEAVING part…

[Printable Version-PDF]



  • Agenda/Calendar – at the very least a digital one, but writing helps to remember!
  • Desk Lamp
  • Paper Clips
  • Pens & Pencils
  • Post-It Notes
  • Postage Stamps
  • Envelopes
  • Rubber Bands
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Staple Remover
  • Stapler & Staples
  • Three-hole punch
  • Wastebasket
  • White-out

Tech Related

  • Cell Phone & Charger
  • Computer with software, iPad
  • Cables, Chargers, Power Strip, Extension Cords, etc.
  • DVDs
  • CLIPFANFan (clip on?)
  • Flash Drive
  • Flashlight, batteries
  • Google Drive Account
  • Headphones
  • Keyboard
  • Light Bulbs (rarely)
  • Mouse
  • MP3 Player
  • Printer with ink and paper
  • Surge Protector
  • Speakers
  • TV
  • Video Game console


  • Alarm Clock (don’t rely on your phone, because you’ll be up late and the battery will die!)
  • Command Hooks
  • Duct Tape
  • Games
  • Earplugs, Eyemask
  • Instrument
  • Posters / Photos
  • Safety Pins
  • Safety Whistle
  • Sewing Kit
  • Sleep Mask
  • Sports Equip.
  • Sunglasses
  • Umbrella


  • Backpack
  • Calculator / Graphing Calculator
  • Dividers
  • Erasers
  • Row of color office foldersFolders, Binders
  • Highlighters
  • Index cards
  • Notebooks, Notepaper, Graph paper
  • Textbooks


  • Belts
  • Dress Clothes
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Jackets (coats, rain jacket, fleece)
  • Jeans
  • Jewelry
  • pjsPajamas
  • Pants
  • Purses
  • Scarves
  • Shoes, Boots, Flip Flops
  • Socks, stockings, tights
  • Shorts
  • Skirts
  • Sweaters, Sweatshirts
  • Swimsuit
  • Underwear, bras
  • Watch
  • Workout Clothes


  • App (some school have an app to download to track when your laundry is ready for the dryer. If your school doesn’t have one, set an alarm on your phone for :45 minutes.)
love these for better smells!

love these for better smells!


  • Bagels, Bread
  • Cereal
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Coffee, Tea
  • Condiments
  • Crackers
  • Fruit
  • Granola bars
  • Juice Boxes
  • Ketchup
  • Mints
  • cookiebnutterNut Butter & Jelly
  • Pasta
  • Pepper
  • Popcorn
  • Salt
  • Soup
  • Veggies

Kitchen Supplies

  • Bowls
  • Can/Bottle Opener
  • Chip Clips
  • Coffee Maker
  • Cups
  • Microwave
  • Microwavable mug/plate
  • Minifridge
  • Paper Towels
  • scizzaPizza Cutter
  • Plates
  • Plastic food containers
  • Sponges
  • Sports Bottles
  • Towels
  • Utensils
  • Ziplock bags


  • towelsBath Towels & Mat
  • Bathrobe
  • Bobby Pins
  • Contact Lens gear
  • Cosmetics
  • Cotton Balls, Q-Tips, Tissues
  • Deodorant
  • Eye Glasses
  • Face wash
  • Feminine Care
  • Hairbrush / comb
  • Hairspray / products
  • Hair Appliances: Hair Dryer, Curling Iron, Flat Iron, etc.
  • Hand Lotion
  • Lip Balm with SPF (boys too!)
  • Mirror
  • Nail Clippers, file, nail polish, remover
  • Razor, shave gel
  • Shampoo / Conditioner
  • Shower Caddy
  • Shower flip flops
  • Soap
  • Sunscreen
  • Toiletry Kit
  • Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Mouthwash, Floss
  • Tweezers
  • Washcloths


  • Acne wash, cream
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Band-Aids
  • Birth Control, Condoms
  • Bug Repellent
  • Cough Drops
  • Decongestant
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hot / Cold Packs
  • Pain Reliever
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Thermometer (digital)

Important Docs

  • Bank Info, Checks, Cash Card (You might want to see which bank has an ATM on campus before opening your account)
  • Car Registration (if driving on campus)
  • Drivers License
  • Financial Aid Forms
  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Renters Insurance
  • Social Security Card
  • Student ID, holder

For athletes

  • sm_grid_foam_matrix1Compression socks
  • Foam Roller
  • GPS watch/tool & charger
  • Gym Bag
  • Nuun and a few sports bottles to stay hydrated
  • Specialty Equipment
  • Yoga Mat and carrier

[Printable Version-PDF]

If you have something to add to my list, please leave a comment and let me know! I would love to keep this updated!


Getting FonDONE at the Melting Pot

featuredHoppy Eastover! That’s my Easter / Passover combined greeting. It’s tradition at a Passover seder (grand meal) for the youngest person at the table to recite “The Four Questions”. There are 4 specific question, usually sung in Hebrew, but the point is to open the floor for anyone at the seder to feel comfortable asking any questions they have while retelling the story of the Hebrew slaves leaving Egypt.

The 3rd question is, “Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip [our food] even once, but on this night we dip them twice?”

One answer: The first dip, of the green vegetable in salt water, symbolizes the replacing of our tears as slaves (salt water is like tears) with gratitude, and the second dip, the bitter herb (horseradish is bitter like slavery) in charoset (a yummy blend of apples, nuts and wine), symbolizes the sweetening of our burden of bitterness and suffering. Charoset also looks a little like the mortar used between bricks by Hebrew slaves to build Egyptian pyramids.

This was not my favorite of the 4 questions, because I happen to be a “big” dipper. I love sauces and juices, and making foods more luscious by adding more drippy flavor. From flavored ketchup at EVOs, to hoisin sauce, to garlicky pesto, dipping is the fun in my meal.

Melting Pot's popular Ying Yang martini

Melting Pot’s popular Ying Yang martini

Ironically, I rarely eat fondue. I LOVE cheese, and I enjoy fondue, but I guess I forget about it. The people around me don’t. My aunt used to love The Melting Pot in St. Louis, and now that we are in St. Petersburg, my daughters have enjoyed The Melting Pot near our home with birthday parties, dates and girls nights out.

Before Homecoming this year, DD1 was with her boyfriend at The Melting Pot and was seen by my friend Beth. Beth flashbacked to a prom she went to way-back-when, and someone paid her check, so she decided to pay-it-forward, and asked her server to cover DD1′s bill as well as her own. The teens were stunned and thankful!

I was part of a lucky group of people (through Tampa Bay Bloggers) who got to test out the new menu items at The Melting Pot last week! I finally made my way beyond picking up a daughter in the parking lot to a private room in the back with deliciousness and friendly faces.

The new menu includes traditional fondue you prepare yourself, as well as fonDONE - with your courses already served cooked to order.

I am thankful for the great server Darryl who speaks very quickly, but if you listen carefully he has tried every combination on the menu and will tell you exactly what to dip in what to have the best meal possible.

We started with drinks: Brian tried the Whiskey Thistle – Jameson Irish whiskey, white peach, raspberry, fresh lemon and a splash of Sprite. I had the blackberry sage lemonade with Bacardi limon. This can also be served without the rum for a nonalcoholic favorite.

While we chatted and enjoyed our drinks, Darryl brought out starters: Premium Cheese Fondue Dippers – artisanal Italian meats, chopped apple and little gerkins for dipping. Rosemary fries – thick cut french fries with rosemary infused sea salt, not originally meant for dipping but PERFECT in the Classic Alpine fondue – aged gruyere, raclette and fontina cheese with white wine and garlic. We also had the Wisconsin Trio fondue – Fontina, butterkase and buttermilk bleu cheese with white wine, scallions and a hint of sherry. I don’t usually like bleu cheese, but blended with its cousins everything was divine!



Next we moved on to the FonDONE Small Plates. Instead of a small pot of fondue, three hot dipping sauces are kept warm over the fondue burner and you can dip your already prepared foods into them.

For dipping, we were served filet mignon prepared beautifully and tender over horseradish mashed potatoes with a great kick, lemon pepper chicken over quinoa and tomatoes, jumbo shrimp over corn chutney, lobster tail, wild mushroom sacchetti with a trio of dipping sauces – goat cheese fondue, marsala and savory cabernet.

Lobster tail

Lobster tail



The marsala and cabernet sauces went well with everything and tasted as expected. The goat cheese was unique but a little limiting because of its distinct flavor. Luckily you get all 3!

The wild mushroom sacchetti was delicious. These wavy pillows of pasta are filled with light mushroom mush. They were superb and flavorful and melted in my mouth! DD1 tried them yesterday and loved them too. They don’t need sauce because of their flavor, but it’s still fun to dip them. I asked if the pasta was made fresh there, and it’s not, but it sure tasted like it! I thought both the chicken and lobster were slightly overcooked and tough to chew. I didn’t try the shrimp but Brian loved it.

wild mushroom sacchetti

wild mushroom sacchetti – perfecto!

We also had 2 shareable sides: the quattro macaroni and cheese had a bacony flavor without the bacon, and the fresh asparagus risotto had the crunch of barely steamed asparagus and a kick of lemony flavor.


asparagus risotto

Darryl says to try the rosemary fries and the mac and cheese with the marsala sauce for a flavorful surprise!

Then Destiny came out with plates for everyone that she had decorated with gel icing individually to reflect our blogs and media outlets.



These were for dessert! Rob brought out dessert with the advice that, “There’s always room for a cream puff.”


For Dessert: We were able to try both the Flaming Turtle chocolate fondue - milk chocolate, caramel and candied pecans flambéed tableside; and the white chocolate creme brulee - white chocolate and caramelized sugar. I was pretty full by then and a bowl of sugar didn’t really tempt me even though I’m often a chocoholic, but I tried a few bites from the dipper plates of raspberry cheesecake and berries. There were also crème puffs, pound cake, cookie-crumb-covered marshmallows, bananas, pineapple, rolled gaufrette cookies, and crisped rice treats which Brian wanted to gobble up! 


I learned two fun things about The Melting Pot that night:

  1. Raised over $9 million for the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
  2. The Melting Pot celebrates national cheese day with free cheese fondue for you! (reservations are needed, and I’ve already had an email about it so you better jump on that if you’re interested.)

FonDONE is new to The Melting Pot and is being tested in the St Pete market. I tried it on the 19th day! It’s a way for even those in a time crunch to enjoy The Melting Pot. Try not to overdose on deliciousness!

(I received a free meal with my husband at The Melting Pot. All opinions are my own. Eastover does not exist, but I hope your spring holidays rock!)