Be Mindful

My assistant principal does her very best to inspire our little school. I’ve been an elementary teacher for a loooong time! It’s so nice to come to work and know that we will laugh and smile because of something she’s cooked up! She is always dressing up and celebrating special days like national angel food cake and national chocolate milk day. This time she gave the teachers a different Simon Sinek quote on their door. My quote was, “When we help ourselves, we find moments of happiness. When we help others, we find lasting fulfillment.”


Simon Sinek is an author and motivational speaker about life, leadership, and doing the right thing. Sinek’s quote makes me think of how important it is to maintain yourself before you try to help others. My first thought was meditation…It’s like changing the oil in your car! We run better and are more able to help others and do our job when we’ve created space in our heads to focus, de-stress and be our best self. The essence of meditation is kindness…it softens the mind, nurtures the heart, and allows us to reconnect with the people and world around us. 


Sinek reminds me of Andy Puddicombe (the Headspace meditation co-founder). I think that Sinek and Puddicombe are both all about improving relationships and they way we live our lives.


Andy Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk and the voice of Headspace. He says this about meditation…, “No chanting, no sitting cross-legged but rather just a really a quick and easy way to de-stress, focus and improve your relationships, sleep and overall way of living.”

Meditation is a part of my daily life. It helps me de-clutter my mind. There’s a healing and healthy feeling after I’ve meditated that helps me remember my connection to the universe and recover a sense of peace. I chase happy feelings! I chase them right into a ballet class. After I’ve carved out space to take ballet, I feel elated…like my true self. When I’m dancing, I’m speaking the hidden language of my soul. After this gift to myself, I come home a better mother, wife, teacher, daughter… It’s these moments of happiness that prepare us to help others.


I’m reminded of one of my favorite people, Grace Kelly. She said, “I would like to be remembered as someone who accomplished useful deeds, and who was a kind and loving person. I would like to leave the memory of a human being with a correct attitude and who did her best to help others.”

Grace Kelly had the right mindset and was mindful just like Sinek and Puddicombe.


Have you seen the documentary “I Am?”  It has interviews with prominent philosophers and spiritual leaders (including Archbishop Desmond Tutu) about what ails the world and how to improve it. It’s about how we should be compassionate and empathetic towards one another and shows through science how mankind’s true nature lies in helping one another and how some day maybe we can all be truly happy and help others. Everyone in the world should be required to see it.

Watching Tom Shadyac’s “I AM” can be a transformative experience. Shadyac says “The solution begins with a deeper transformation that must occur in each of us.  I AM isn’t as much about what you can do, as who you can be.  And from that transformation of being, action will naturally follow.”

The quote that my principal left on my door made me think about people like Puddicombe, Sinek, Shadyac and even Grace Kelly…what resonates with me and what I feel is natural is to be mindful to yourself so that you can be mindful to others. 

Offer tea, celebrate friendship

When my daughter wants to know if I like someone, she’ll ask me, “Mommy, would you make tea for her?” This is her test to know if I’ve made a friend. If someone that I care about is coming by the house, I will naturally say, “I’ll make us some tea.” My dearest friends know this about me…I’m not just offering tea, I’m celebrating our friendship. It will always be tea…never coffee or lemonade.

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” ― Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

I think I have maybe six tea pots plus my keurig, a copper kettle and a one-touch tea maker. Making tea has always been something I enjoy and I’m not alone… My husband is an iced tea drinker and he makes a pitcher full daily. My children will be content to do their homework with peppermint tea. There’s something ceremonial and comforting about making tea. Tea makes the world a better place.

Here are some enjoyable facts about tea that you might not know…

  • Tea is the most popular drink in the world (after water).
  • Ireland has the highest amount of tea consumption per person…six cups a day. Did I mention that I’m Irish?
  • Most teas…black, green, oolong, and white are naturally caffeinated. They come from the plant Camellia sinensis. Herbal teas are infused by dried herbs, fruits, or flowers like chamomile or echinacea.
  • Adding milk to tea keeps porcelain tea cups from cracking and helps keep teeth white.
  • Loose the tea bag…Tea becomes more flavorful as the leaves expand, which can’t happen when they’re crammed into a small bag. Instead, use an infuser to steep your leaves so they’re able to float around. Then strain before drinking. I love my Breville one-touch tea maker for this reason.
  • If tea is too hot, you can’t taste its subtle nuances…it should be like Goldilocks said, “Just right!
  • The tradition of afternoon tea was begun by Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford in the 1840’s as “a way to quell the inevitable hunger pangs between lunch and dinner.”

P.S. Put the kettle on

Eggnog belongs to the winter

If I were the editor of SKI Magazine, I would probably put a picture of a skier being offered a warm glass of eggnog on the cover of the January issue. It’s what I want to drink when my bones feel like they’ve been on the top of the mountain…bumps then bourbon.

Homemade eggnog is fresh tasting and not too sweet…like the kind you get in the grocery store. It’s light and frothy like custard and it warms your bones and soul. I’m all for those warm apres ski cocktails in the winter time. Even if you’re not celebrating a great day on the slopes, you can celebrate that it’s winter because eggnog belongs to the winter…not just the holidays.

That delicious warm boozy milk is rich with frothy goodness. It’s light and yolky…the way custard is.

If you make a big batch, it will thicken up and get velvety…more flavorful as it ages, and it’s good for up for a week.

  • 6 eggs, separated (1 egg per person)
  • 1/3 to 1 cup sugar (make a simple syrup and add a vanilla bean for fun)
  • 3 cups whole milk with 1 cup heavy cream
  • Up to 1 1/2 cups bourbon
  • Nutmeg

Make simple syrup and let it cool slightly. Separate eggs and gradually add bourbon to egg yolks then milk and simple syrup. I like to use my immersion blender. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and add sugar to your liking (or skip this part and save your egg whites for breakfast). Eggnog is most delicious served warm but you can store it in the refrigerator…the longer it sits, the more luscious and thick it becomes. Top with nutmeg.

Eggnog is flexible…you can swap out bourbon for brandy or rum. You might try using maple syrup or honey instead of a simple syrup. Eggnog has restorative powers, it’s the perfect apres ski drink because it puts you back on your feet…with a little buzz.

P.S. Cozy Winter Cocktails

Chanel No 5: a revolutionary perfume

Ohh, that smells nice! Can I have a squirt? My twelve-year-old daughter asked while brushing her hair in my bathroom. We were both getting ready for the day. The squirt that she wanted was Chanel No 5. Remember that scene in The Parent Trap when Hayley Mills tells her grandfather she’s making a memory and says, “You smell like peppermints and tobacco?” I know that is what my daughter is doing…making memories with her nose.

I’m never monogamous with perfume…I love it too much. Some days, you want to recreate a feeling from a memory. Perfume has that power…the smell of a fragrance can be recalled and bring a flood of memories. I remember being eighteen-years-old shopping in Galeries Lafayette…Chanel No 5 will forever make me feel like that eighteen-year-old girl shopping in Paris on a rainy summer day. 

I like knowing that Chanel No 5 was created during the summer of 1920 when Gabrielle Chanel went on holiday on the Cote d’Azur with her lover the Grand Duke Dimtri Pavlovich.

There she learned of a perfumer, a sophisticated chemist, Ernest Beaux who had worked for the Russian royal family. 

Beaux used a mixture of 128 ingredients highlighting jasmine, rose, sandalwood and vanilla. 

Gabrielle Chanel was obsessed with cleanliness and wanted something that would last until bedtime. Beaux mixed floral extracts with aldehydes…chemicals that artificially gave a clean smell but would last throughout the entire day. 

Beaux made up ten versions of the scent, numbered 1-5 and 20-25. Coco chose her lucky number five…et voilà!

Coco invited Beaux and friends to a popular restaurant on the French Riviera to celebrate and decided to spray the perfume around the table. Women would stop in their tracks and ask what the fragrance was and where it came from.

This was the moment that confirmed to Coco that it was going to be a revolutionary perfume. She had changed perfume forever. 

For ninety-eight-years this iconic scent has remained the Mona Lisa of fragrances. 

For me, wearing red lipstick, my grandmother’s jewelry and Chanel No 5 makes me feel like everything will be fabulous because I have a fabulous memory. It’s my good luck charm that makes me feel like I smell…refined, chic and French…shopping at Galeries Lafayette

Every woman should own a bottle of Chanel No 5!

Merci Coco! 

1. “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” 

2. “I can’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little, if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny and it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”

3. “Elegance is when the inside is as beautiful as the outside.”

4. “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”

5. “There is time for work, and time for love. That leaves no other time.”

6. “To be irreplaceable, you must be different.”

7. “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.”

P.S. Peonies: the most romantic flower in the world

Apples season is here…toast to Johnny Appleseed

It’s apple season…time to decorate for Halloween and sip on cozy apple cocktails. Johnny Appleseed’s birthday is this week! Toast to Johnny with this cozy Apple Autumn Spritz and German Apple Pancake.

I had about ten apples just waiting for me Saturday morning so I used my juicer and was inspired to enjoy apples all day long.

This bubbly apple and Aperol blend will make you want to roast marshmallows and enjoy the fall night air.

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In Good Taste: John Mark Gleadow

Inside a charming little art gallery in Rosemary Beach, Florida you might find yourself standing in front of a Marc Chagall painting…wearing a bikini, flip flops and smelling of sunscreen. Curate30A art gallery is special because it gives the viewer a casual environment…with that beach hair don’t care atmosphere. 

The walls in our Texas home host a collection of art that can best be described as eclectic and remind us of our past travels. The moment that I saw John Mark Gleadow’s painting In Good Taste at Curate30A, I could not stop smiling. It’s not the kind of art that will express a past vacation…it expresses my past cooking. There’s so much about it that’s personal to me. The same books that I’ve loved for years, titles that speak to me and especially seeing Julia, the queen of cuisine! Julia Child said, “I see every recipe as a little short story.” That’s what Gleadow’s art is to the viewer…short stories that provoke powerful memories. 

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Jell-O Girls

A few weeks ago, I was watching my children endure life in the sweetest season…summer. They would swim, I would read. They would sleep in, I would read. They would stay up late, I would read. Then my favorite…they would read and so would I! Reading curled up in a beach towel and lost inside a story with one foot in the pool. On a recent summer Sunday, my children persuaded me to walk out of Barnes and Noble again with a heavy shopping bag and a lighter bank account. I was so excited about my new book, Jell-O Girls.

I used to think that when someone new moved in to the neighborhood, had a baby or was sick that the kindest thing to bring them was a Jell-O mold. I can only guess that this came somewhere from an American upbringing. Jell-O is a part of our culture. That Jell-O jingle rang in my head as I picked up Jell-O Girls…but don’t think that this story is upbeat! No, the Jell-O family history has a dark side. “Teaching women, it turns out, was a tenet of Jell-O’s marketing…Jell-O, so pliable, so good, teaching them how to mold themselves to match it, pliable and good.” 

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Book Fairies do exist

Our secret mission began on a cloudy summer morning. My daughter carried the package under her arm, hoping not to attract attention. I whispered, try to look normal. Zooey surveyed the coffee shop…a dark cozy table with summer flowers in a green vase. Looks good. Casually, she wandered to the table and laid the package (Judy Blume’s Blubber) on the window sill by the flowers. When you’re a book fairy, you can’t attract attention. Zooey would have turned bright read if she heard…Hey, kid, you forgot your copy of Blubber.

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Old-fashioned summertime lemonade & limoncello

Remind me again, is that a lemon or a lime tree,” my husband asked? My parents gave us a beautiful lemon tree in the spring. It’s finally looking like it will be ready to harvest soon. 

I’ve learned that lemon trees are grateful sun worshipers…ours looks like it’s trying to hug the sun. Thankfully, lemon trees are happy in a container and have been protected from our lemon loving dogs. 

Our family loves the refreshing summer flavor of lemons in iced tea, ice cream, muffins and most of all lemonade.

My daughter and I made a batch last week and have savored every sip.
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Mermaid bath bombs

The kitchen is a swirl of purple, green and blue. Twelve-year-old girls are squealing. Flash back to 1988 and I’m feeling twelve again…wearing acid-washed jeans, making friendship bracelets and listening to 10,000 Maniacs. This feeling is just as I remember it, but better because it’s for my daughter Zooey. It was a full evening. We had pizza, made bath bombs (with glitter), dance skits were performed and there was swimming like mermaids. This is twelve. 

My friend Angela and I met in yoga teacher training. I remember going around in a circle and introducing ourselves. Angela said that she was a certified aromatherapist from Switzerland and my inner twelve-year-old wanted to say, “let’s be friends!” She is my friend and fellow mermaid and Zooey and I adore her bath bombs. We gave them as party favors at her last birthday and this year, we wanted Angela to show us how to make them.

Angela’s products are part of who she is…a Swiss/American aromatherapist using essential oils for mother and child. Oh, and she uses them in her yoga classes too! Yep, she’s the real bomb!! Follow Angela on instagram to see more of her creations. 

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