10 New Year Resolutions for Online Dating

Toad Kissing New Year’s Resolutions: Promises to help you Never Kiss a Toad Again!

Ladies, repeat after me…

In 2012 I will:

  1. Learn to tell the difference between kissing a frog and kissing a toad.
  2. Toad-Proof my Online Dating Profile.
  3. Understand that while I may kiss a couple of frogs this year, I’m going to stay away from the wart-infested toad variety.
  4. Recognize the mating call of the toad so that I stop answering.
  5. Join a Toad Kissing Support Group and help myself and other women avoid warts.
  6. Identify my own personal toad tendencies and work on making sure I am a princess instead of a toad.
  7. Commit to kissing one less toad this year in my search for my handsome prince.
  8. Promise not to give up on online dating and go back to drunk sloppy guy at the bar – realizing that he is and always will be a toad.
  9. Listen to my gut – or at least the guts of my girlfriends – when Toad-Warning signs show up in Neon Pink.
  10. Be true to myself, first – last – always, and not compromise my instincts in the name of Toad Kissing.

And, Dear Friends, I promise to help you!

Happy New Year – Happy New You!

Loving Regards,
Heidi Lee

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A Single Dad’s Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner: Part One

Dear Friends,

Do you ever wonder how single dads and bachelors survive if they can’t cook? I’m sometimes amazed at what can be found in their cupboards. So as a Thanksgiving treat, our endearing Jake from Project Toad has invited us into his kitchen.

Jake has full custody of his 2 teenaged sons. He has never really given them a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that didn’t involve cutting a slit in the top to vent and removing the film from over the dessert. With both boys growing up, he wants them to have a warm memory before they are out of the house.

Jake and I were catching up a little earlier today when he asked me what time on Thursday he should take the turkey out to thaw. Uhm, gee… how about now?

OK, so this guy needs more help than just in online dating. Our subject requires hand-holding to turn out an edible Thanksgiving Feast. Game On! I’m always up for a Turkey-Day challenge. And as we continue with the care and feeding of Heidi Lee, I won’t be preparing my own Thanksgiving feast. Mom is doing that, so I can baste my turkey vicariously through Jake.

Today’s tasks for Jake’s Norman Rockwell table:

  • Thaw the turkey
  • Prepare the menu
  • Shop for ingredients

As we were going down the grocery list, I mentioned that he would need green onions for the stuffing. His reply; “That’s a problem. What the hell is a green onion?”

“Jake, write this down. Find the produce section of the grocery store, and look around for a cute woman. Turn on the charm and ask her to help you find the scallions so you can make a turkey dinner for your sons.”

Jake, “What the hell is a scallion? Hold on….did you say cute woman? Can I sleep with her?”

Really, Jake? Seriously? Moving on….

For my readers who may have culinary challenges, scallion is another word for green onion.  I suppose I could have just said green onion again, but I have so much fun messing with him. LOL

Back to the prep work – something I didn’t understand upfront was that Jake’s kitchen tools include a skillet, a pasta kettle, a sauce pan and a few random utensils that have probably gotten more action swatting flies than cooking dinner.

Oh wait! He does have a George Foreman Grill. I believe that this grill is a staple kitchen appliance that can be found in most bachelor pads. Likely purchased while cleaning up beer cans at 2:00 AM from Poker night, men are drawn to this machine by the magic that happens when meat is put over heat in and cooks to perfection in a 2.38 minute infommercial.

Jake also doesn’t have a mixer to make mashed potatoes, so he will be making Mashed Baby Reds with the potato masher. No worries, I’ve texted him a picture so he can find one in the Utensil Aisle at the grocery store while he is also hunting down a turkey baster.

Here’s where I fess up. PC’s mother makes really good instant mashed potatoes, and my instant potatoes suck. Therefore…I make homemade. I’d love to teach Jake the easy way out, but PC says not to teach him how to make something that could be found in a glue factory. Believe you me; Colonel Sanders can’t make mashed potatoes like PC’s mother. She’s made Idaho Spuds an art form.

Jake is at the grocery store as we speak, so for now I will say good night. He has promised, though in return for the advice, to share every dirty detail and to photograph his victory dinner for us. Tune back later in the week to see how Dinner with Dad turns out…

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

Project Toad: Help us Create an Online Dating Profile…Pretty Please?

“I try not to drool when I eat in public, and I don’t spit my food when I’m having a conversation.”

Truly, friends, this is the response Jake gave me when he was asked to find his 5 best qualities that a woman may admire. He went on to tell me that, while finding admirable qualities in others was easy, he really struggles to list 5 strengths that someone else may value in him.

My response? “Perfect start, Jake! Looks like you were raised with a knowledge of good manners. We are on a roll!” Honestly, he also has a pretty good sense of humor also.

Following our little pep-talk, Jake was able to complete his homework assignment in preparation for designing his Online Dating Profile. He has a little bit of insight in how to tackle the personality profile now, because he has a level of self-awareness.

When asked about himself, Jake says he…

  • Generally doesn’t drool
  • Keeps himself in shape
  • Is loyal
  • Can be intelligent enough to know to use a spell-checker before sending an email and sometimes even intelligent enough to know to check for the correct tense
  • Remains open-minded and always wants to learn and improve both personally and professionally

So if I were to translate this back to Jack, I would say:

Jake is…..

  • Well mannered and respectful
  • Physically fit
  • Loyal
  • A Life-Learner
  • Open-minded
  • Is conscientious and able use Spell-Check before hitting Send

So he actually gave me 6 positive qualities – even better.

And for admirable qualities he looks for in others, he gave me these:

  • Ability to juggle multiple tasks while remaining calm
  • Patient and even-keeled
  • The ability to do the right thing even when it’s the hard and unpopular thing to do

Which tells me that he…

  • Needs a woman who thrives with spontaneity
  • Hopes to share patience and understanding
  • Values integrity and self-respect

I’d say we have a great start to who he is and what he is looking for in his Princess Charming. And Jake seems like a pretty great guy, right?

Perfect! We can move on to the next exercise.

Jake’s next homework assignment involves his interests. I’ll warn you, friends, he is going to be a little frustrated with this next task. He is excited to get a profile up so he can start winking, but I’m not allowing him to be so hasty. He needs to know what he wants to say, and who he wants to attract when he goes live on Match.

Jake’s list of good qualities now needs to be complimented by the type of hobbies and activities he enjoys. He took quite an interest in my earlier post that discusses creating the anti-profile, so we will use this concept as a foundation for building his How about we…. section of the All About Jake page.

Let’s find out what he absolutely would never do so we can start leveraging those Open-Minded Life Learner qualities that he claims to own. So, my toad kissing friends, here is where I ask for your help. Can you start throwing out some hobbies or interests that you enjoy? Maybe even share your idea for your favorite date?

I can promise that Jake will be reading each of your suggestions, and he’ll mull them over one at a time. This will help to open up his mind to enjoyable activities that don’t involve school plays or Pizza Night at Chuckie Cheeses.

So, how about it, friends? Help a Fellow Toad Kisser out? What are some activities you enjoy – on your own or sharing with others?

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

The Mystery of the Grape – What’s in a Name?

Good morning to all of my wine enthusiasts. I’d love to share with you how to read a wine label in response to your interest in the 5 S’s of wine. I’ve had a few provocative questions since from that post, so I’d love to share more information.

Jake from Project Toad wants to be able read the wine list when he starts meeting women through online dating. My brother is studying wine to be knowledgeable for business functions. Beverly – heck, she wants to get more out of her tastings 😉

Today, let’s start walking through the label. Knowing the label may help you feel more confident when picking out a bottle for a hostess gift, a date, or even business dinner.

Personally, I think the most interesting part of the label lies in the name of the wine (not to be confused with name of the vineyard). Traditionally, European wines are named for their appellations (growing regions) while American wines are named after the varietal (the kind of the grape).

For example, if you would like to bring a French wine to your hostess for a Thanksgiving dinner, you might look for a Red Burgundy. The Burgundy region of France is famous for the Pinot Noir grape. This varietal is rich yet delicate, so the Pinot Noir is a lovely with turkey.

If, however, you prefer to bring along an American wine, perhaps look for a Pinot Noir from Oregon. See how the same grape is named differently based on the appellation? The wine growing regions bring different characteristics based on many factors: the soil, the humidity, the amount of sun exposure, and even the slope of the hills in the regions.

Learning the characteristics in the European regions that drive the naming may be more than we want to tackle with Thanksgiving being so close. Let’s take a peek instead at the American wines. Read the label for specific growing regions.

A wine that lists Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley as the region will be more concentrated than a wine that names Northern California as the appellation. This is because to list Napa as the region, the grapes need to all be grown in that region.

However, a Northern California wine may use grapes from a few growing regions within Northern California. The more generic the label’s appellation, the wider the growing region. Make sense?

Now the real lesson – while the wine from Napa may be considered a higher quality of wine due to concentration, this does not mean the bottle of Cabernet that you grab from Northern California is any less enjoyable.

Remember, wine is subjective. Paying $50 for a bottle doesn’t guarantee that you will like the wine any better than paying $15 for a bottle. With a little bit of information, you can start to make informed purchases. Take your time to get to know what you like. You can find good labels in every price point.

And for Jake or anyone else wanting to learn about wine to enrich your dating life, don’t waste the date by throwing out every tidbit you learn about wine. Don’t feel threatened by the guy one table over who sniffs and says,

“Oh Buffy, how reminiscent this Merlot is of that Cuban cigar you brought me from your adventures in Panama. The tobacco does mingle so perfectly with the wild blackberry nuance.” He is showing off!

Instead, offer a quick comment on the wine, and then spend your time learning about the man or woman sitting across from you. After all, that person should be the most interesting topic at the table if you hope to get a second date.

Cheers,

Heidi Lee

Project Toad: A How-To Guide to Online Dating

Hello friends. Welcome to my how-to guide to digital dating. By now, you probably know that I met my Prince Charming through Match.com. What you may not know is that I survived years of countless failed relationships in the journey to Happily Ever After.

I have kissed my fair share of toads, and I hope to help other people with what I’ve learned. Until now, I have given you a handful of tips for safety and for fun. I haven’t really shared anything, though, that isn’t common sense.

Today, I have an opportunity to let you into my dating secrets. My friend Jake wants to try a new approach to finding love. He knows several people who met their husbands and wives online, and he has asked me to coach him through internet dating.

Jake also agreed to let me share this journey with you. He has been reading my blog quietly since I started, and now he is ready to dive in. I am thrilled to welcome you to participate in Project Toad.

The first step is to develop a dating profile for Jake – not an easy task. You see, Jake says that he doesn’t know what qualities women look for in a prince. This, to me, is a big problem. Jake wants to create a profile to which he could never measure up. He wants to fit himself somewhere for the sake of belonging.

The first challenge; therefore, is to help Jake understand that he has the right qualities for the right woman. He can’t reinvent himself into something he is not, so he has to find pride in the person that he already is.

Yesterday, I asked Jake to make two lists for me. In the first list, Jake needs to describe his best 5 qualities. The only catch – he cannot talk at all about being a parent in this list. Whenever I ask Jake what he likes about himself, he somehow ends every sentence with “for my children”.

Jake has to look inside of himself to know who he is when his kids aren’t around. That is the person who will be taking some lucky lady to dinner. Jake needs to introduce us to the man who holds the door open for his date as they enter a restaurant that doesn’t have a menu option for Children under 12.

Making this list is harder than it seems. As a single mom, I always thought I needed to find someone who would be a perfect dad to my son. Single parents put their children first, so our views are often skewed by the needs of our kids. I didn’t realize that I was interesting because I was more than Cole’s mom.

I needed to learn to separate the mother from the woman. I needed to learn to have a conversation that didn’t involve grass stained soccer uniforms or lead roles in school plays. Making this list for myself helped me to understand that I was more than just Tuesday Night on the carpool rotation.

Jake is also supposed to write down 3 qualities that he admires in others – qualities that draw him to those people. Is ambition a top quality, or is it sincerity? Qualities that Jake admires in others can compliment his own strengths and characteristics.

For me, I admire someone who is grounded and stable – my polar opposite. I’m still out chasing my rainbows. My Prince Charming often comes to my rescue because he makes sure I keep at least one foot on the ground. We are a perfect balance between security and adventure.

I’m anxious to see what Jake comes up with. He has so many good qualities. I believe that he needs to recognize his potential so he can share himself with other people. I promise to let you know as soon as he finishes.

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

The Toad-Kisser’s Guide to Wine: Your 5 “S”s of Tasting

Hello, fellow toad-kissers. Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten a bit rusty in my wine tasting knowledge. I used to have a small wine tasting business where hosts would invite me into their home to teach friends about wine and food. While PC and I enjoy wine together, I’ve forgotten many of the fundamentals in the art. Yesterday, my autumn wine club shipment arrived from Paoletti Winery, so I thought I might start brushing up on my wine etiquette. While I do, how about if we learn together. A little bit of wine knowledge comes in handy in the dating scene.

When we taste wine, we enliven our senses. We use the 5 S’s.

See – Wines have vivid colors, but when you see you look for quality. The ideal wine glass is clear instead of tinted for visual clarity. Hold your glass up against your white napkin and take in the color. If the wine appears cloudy or murky, sending the bottle back is appropriate. If you see gorgeous, clear red or gold move on to the next step.

Swirl – Why do we swirl? We swirl to get oxygen moving through the wine that has been corked up tight since bottling. We swirl to awaken the flavors. Have you been intimidated by watching an expert create a beautiful whirlpool by swirling the stem? So have I, so allow me to give you a perfectly appropriate cheater. Holding by the stem, set your glass on the table for stability. Place the stem between your middle and your pointer fingers, and move the glass in a circular motion. Gorgeous whirlpool! This is a great way to start knowing how the rotation feels to get that gorgeous whirlpool effect. In time, you will swirl like the experts too.

Sniff – Don’t be shy – get your nose in the glass. Absorb the aromas of chocolate, tobacco, pear, or berry. Smell is subjective. Finding blackberry in Cabernet doesn’t mean the winemaker added blackberries, and it doesn’t mean you are wrong if someone else smells raspberry. It means that the scent in winemaker’s artistry reminds you of the that fragrance. The earth, the vine and the season brought the berry flavor out of the Cabernet grape, and you were able to recognize the subtleties. This is a great conversation-starter for your date.

Finally, Sip – Hooray! Get a hearty sip. Allow the wine to coat the different areas of your mouth. Is the wine sweet and fruity? How about dry – does the sip leave you thirsty? That is my favorite – a deep, dry red.

Now the final “S”. I’ll bet you think I’m going to say spit., right? Heavens, No. Savor the excitement as the wine awakens your taste buds. Swish it around your mouth. Feel the weight as it lingers. Would you describe the wine as heavy? Bold? Light? Maybe delicate? This is known as the body.

Enjoy the wine’s finish – this is the taste that is left behind for you to enjoy – the aftertaste. How long does the finish linger? This is known as the length. The longer the finish, the higher the quality of wine. If the experience leaves you as soon as you swallow, you might comment that the wine was rather flat.

Most importantly, wine is subjective. You don’t need to know how to choose an expensive label to enjoy the grape. With a few basics, the mysteries of wine become intriguing rather than daunting. And the vulnerability of learning to share wine can be quite appealing to someone who wants to get to know a little more about you.

Cheers,

Heidi Lee

Dating’s Gone Digital! A Smart Phone App for Singles?

A friend recently forwarded me a New York Times article, With an App, Your Next Date Could Be Just Around the Corner. The concept: “I’ve just finished up with a long day at the office and could use a relaxing drink with a charming man. Crap! No handsome man in my life right now!”

If I’m not curled up in front of my home computer, I may not have access to a readily available Little Black Book. No worries; I’ve got my 4G technology.

Yes, there’s an app that can act as a Little Black Book full of potential blind dates. Sites like OKCupid Locals and HowAboutWe allow for flirty singles to meet up in the spur of the moment. The app delivers recommendations based on geography and timing – a list of singles in a 5-mile radius right now. A couple of quick scans over profiles, and I could send a “How about we…” invitation to another trendy mobile-dater nearby.

Reading the article, I couldn’t help but thinking about a handful of my friends. Many have asked me about the various traditional dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony because I found Prince Charming online.

Wait, did I say “traditional” as if to mean “old school”? Yes, I suppose that I did. If I look at how I met PC a little over a year ago, I am reminded of the thousands of Singles Profiles I scoured during my digital dating days. Reading this article I felt as if my once oh-so-progressive approach to Happily Ever After may now be considered somewhat dated by the younger generations. The 20-somethings might gravitate towards this new spunky way to meet a match, or at least to have a date for a Friday night.

I thought about my single-and-seeking friends as I continued reading. Who might I recommend use this type of dating service? Clearly both the old-school online and the new-aged cellular sites have credibility. Here is what I came up with:

Sites such as Match allow singles to take their time and to get to know people before they actually meet. Singles even have the opportunity to speak to each other using and anonymous Call Me tool. They don’t have to divulge a personal phone number, a last name, or where they might be found. I think these sites are perfect for my friends who need a little caution and security in their lives while also wanting a touch of romance.

The thirty-something single or divorced Mom, for example, can cautiously multi-task through laundry, dishes, and Match-surfing. She can build up a nice little stash of men who may be available at the same time as her babysitter. Single moms and dads probably have the roughest time actually meeting like-minded people, so online dating is a perfect social channel.

I ran into many single dads online – I found many good guys who took a more private approach to meeting Ms. Right. Many of the men were dating online because they didn’t feel they were meeting the right women during bar crawls with their single, child-free buddies. Other men were simply motivated professionals who sought women outside of their existing social and professional circles. Yes, I met a few “creepy, wish I could roll back the clock” sort of men. All-in-all though, the men were vulnerably putting themselves “out there”.

Some of my younger friends are a bit more adventurous. A last minute suggestion for grabbing a martini might be just what they need after a long day at work or in school. I’m sure that a quick invitation from a handsome stranger could put a little kick back into a fallen step. A missed deadline, a failed project, or perhaps a celebration of a tiny personal conquest might be all the reason someone needs to reach out and spin the wheel. Whatever the reason, I think the App is aimed towards instant gratification rather than long-term commitment.

As long as the singles follow a few rules for safety, either sort of blind date could be a load of fun. I have 2 rules that clearly apply to both channels, but even more specifically to the Mobile App.

  1. Always meet out in public until you are comfortable that you are not dating Jeffrey Dahmer. If your gut check tells you not to go back to his place, your gut is really
    smart.
  2. Cash – not credit! A lady always knows when and how to pay for her own drink.

While the first rule may seem self-explanatory, please allow me to elaborate on Rule #2. None of these sites give away your personal identity – you shouldn’t either. Men and women both should always carry cash-on-hand. Paying for a drink with a credit card can give the other person the opportunity to glance at your last name – something you don’t want if your date seems to be sizing up your body parts for a coffin in the basement. Keep a spare $20 or two in your purse or wallet, and use it wisely. One day you may find yourself grateful to have listened to your mother’s advice to tuck a $20 away just in case – this advice comes from experience.

But have fun – enjoy – be creative. Most importantly, be safe.

Happy Dating!

Heidi Lee

Reference: Jenna Wortham. With an App, Your Next Date Could Be Just Around the Corner. New York Times. November 2, 2011.