The Evil Eye: A Lucky Charm


Nobody has more evil eye charms dangling from their pot rack, key chains, doorways, rear-view mirrors and necklaces than a Turk. My sister-in-law Jeyhan is Turkish. We have a few evil eye charms that she has given us that we proudly display in our home…they are our lucky charms.

The evil eye is said to absorb negative energy and to ward off anything that will attract envy and greed. My sister-in-law graduated from college with a 4.0, was the Homecoming Queen, the president of her sorority and is now a plastic surgeon and a Mom. Do you feel envy now? Could it be that growing up surrounded by evil eyes her whole life has brought the ultimate luck? Here’s hoping some of that good luck will rub off on us.

The Turkish evil eye is called the Nazar Boncugu, which literally means the “evil eye bead.” The blue and white glass beads look like eyes. The evil eye is most effective if given as a gift.

The Nazar Boncugu is a beautiful blue color because blue is believed to hold shielding power and absorb negative energy. Don’t you want them all over your house? I have an evil eye on my necklace that I wear every day…it’s my lucky charm. This evil eye jewelry is dainty, sweet and perfect for layering.

Turkey is not the only place where evil eyes are used. Greece, Brazil, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, German…have all been wearing and using the evil eye for thousands of years.  Many different cultures and religions love the evil eye. Nazar Boncugu is unique for Turkey with its long-time glass making history.

You can’t go wrong; the evil eyes are beautiful, and they just might protect you and bring you good fortune. Wear or display yours proudly for good karma and say…serefe!

evil eye 2

Related posts:

Three sisters saying serefe!

A Charmed Life


Graceful Grace of Monaco

Grace Kelly is loved for being a movie star icon and a princess. Born in 1929, she came from an upper class Irish family in Philadelphia and was extremely well educated along with her three siblings.

She was the daughter of a self-made millionaire who was a socially enthusiastic brickworks owner and Olympian, Jack Kelly. Grace’s Dad was a champion sculler who won three Olympic gold medals as part of the U.S. rowing team and Grace’s Mom, Margaret, was the first coach of women’s athletic teams at the University of Pennsylvania. Grace displayed talent for performing on the stage instead of the Olympics early on.

Grace became famous in the 1950’s starring in movies such as Dial M for Murder (1954), The Country Girl (1954), for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress, To Catch a Thief (1955), The Swan (1956) and High Society (1956).

She had the right connections and was a muse to many…Hermes even renamed one of its most popular bags “the Kelly” after her. She wore powdery gowns designed by Edith Head and MGM’s costume designer, Helen Rose. The pearls, ladylike clothes and hats (that she had to wear to all public functions) were all part of Grace’s charm.

She had a lot more independence than most women of her time and was hardly innocent. She supported herself early on, lived by herself and chose her movies, friends, social activities and men. She was comfortable with her sexuality and enjoyed the company of most of her costars off camera…and in her bed.

In 1955, Grace was asked to attend the Cannes Film Festival where her film, The Country Girl, would be shown. During her visit in Cannes she was invited to participate in a photo session at the Palace of Monaco with Prince Rainier. There were several complications and delays on route to the Palace but the end results were memorable and the Prince and Grace began a long series of correspondence with letters.

After getting to know each other through their letters, Rainier traveled to Philadelphia and met Grace and her family and friends. He proposed after three days and she accepted. Jack Kelly agreed to pay a two-million dollar dowry to Prince Rainier in preparation for their wedding…”The Wedding of the Century.”

As Rainier’s princess, Grace was forced to give up her acting career.
Her movies were banned in Monaco by the Prince. Besides being Catholic and the love for their three children, (Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, and Princess Stéphanie) they didn’t have very much in common. Grace didn’t speak French and usually remained silent so not to embarrass herself or Rainier. It was an adjustment for Grace to have her life centered around her husband.

Grace was kept on close watch in the Palace by her lady-in-waiting, Madge Tivey-Faucon. Her role was to spy on Princess Grace and watch her every move for Rainier.

Grace began to lose herself and became extremely unhappy. Rainier forbid her to act in what would have been her fourth Hitchcock movie, Marnie. Grace contemplated divorce but their Monaco priest, Father Frances Tucker said, “Your children will suffer most. They are heirs to a European throne. You’ll be lucky to see them again. I suppose the world will also hang its head in disappointment. She also consulted an American divorce lawyer but after being advised that she would lose her children, she accepted her life in Monaco.

Princess Grace may have seemed to have a fairy-tale life but she missed the freedom she was used to before marrying the Grimaldi Prince. She missed the closeness of her New York friends. She became more of a loner in the Palace due to being surrounded by Rainier’s disreputable friends.

Rainier was very opinionated and insensitive. He thought Grace’s appearance should remain unchanged. Grace wore low healed shoes so not to appear taller than him. Once she cut her long hair into a bob of the moment, the new artichoke style, and Rainier was so angry that he threw his drink to the floor and stormed off.

Rainier Grimaldi said of his wife, “She had the Irish in her, a mixture of good-heartedness and kindness, combined with strong will.” 

The spirit of freedom remained missing from such a beautiful heart, banished as a part of one of the world’s highest profile trades of one life for another. Sadness and happiness often walk along the same road of difficult choices.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie, Grace of Monaco due to release this year. Have you seen the trailer?

Five things Grace Kelly said:

“Fairy tales tell imaginary stories. Me, I’m a living person. I exist. If the story of my life as a real woman were to be told one day, people would at last discover the real being that I am.”

“It would be very sad if children had no memories before those of school. What they need most is the love and attention of their mother.”

“I’m basically a feminist. I think that women can do anything they decide to do.”

“My real difficulty was to become a normal person again, after having been a movie actress for so long. For me, at the time I was living in New York and Hollywood, a normal person was someone who made movies.”

“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.”


 Other posts you might like:
Elizabeth Taylor: National Princess
Romy Schneider: Greatest Actress of All Time

Romy Schneider: Greatest Actress of all time

Romy Schneider was only introduced to me within the last couple of years by my Austrian friend. Romy is not as well known in America but she is unforgettable in Europe. She was known as the “German Shirley Temple” in her early age. Romy Schneider was an Austrian-born actress who starred in German, French and American films from 1950’s through the early 1980’s (making over fifty films).

Although she played the Empress of Austria in Sissi, her life was far from a fairy-tale. Her father left Romy’s mother (actress, Magda Schneider) when she and her brother were young. Magda’s new husband (Romy’s stepfather) embezzled her acting money. On romance…her heart was broken several times (first by Alain Delon who left her for another woman and then the suicide of her first husband). The worst was when she lost her son when he was only fourteen in a tragic accident.

Romy Schneider was voted “Greatest actress of all time” by the readers of French newspaper “Le Parisien” and voted the premiere star of the 20th century in 2006.

Romy didn’t want to play princess roles or be known as a movie star. She said this about her role as a princess…”Sissi sticks to me just like oatmeal.” She refused to make a fourth Sissi movie. She wanted to be taken seriously as an actress. She moved to France and escaped her stepfather and was also challenged more as an actress.

She was stunning and a true talent. She died of natural causes when she was only forty-three. Her friends and family have complete conviction that she died of a broken heart.

1. “The moment I put on that first Chanel suit I knew I’d never wear anything else. Fashion is unimportant…elegance is all important.”

2. “If you get a great opportunity you have to grab it and don’t let go, then extend it with a lot of effort…talent is nothing more than love for the cause.”

3. “To get everything, one has to give everything. Which is quite a discovery for me. I know I am not easy to live with. I am hot tempered. I ask too much of friends. One should ask the maximum of oneself. But not of others.”

4. “Work, work and more work is my only true life. Life must go on. My work gives me strength.”

5. “The most important thing about me is that I am an actress. It would be a lie to say that acting was just my job or something I did for fun. It is my life. I have my home, my husband, my son. I have to be a little schizophrenic to cope with it all. But I am basically an actress who has a family; not a wife and mother who also acts. I prefer to work in films but if I was unable to then I would work on the stage. I couldn’t just stop and not be an actress any more.”

*This post is dedicated to my Austrian friend, Margot. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag und danke for introducing me to Romy Schneider. xx

Mastering the Art of French Eating: love, food and France

You know those books that grab hold of you from the moment you start reading the first few pages? Mastering the Art of French Eating is one of those treasures.

Ann Mah’s book will make you hungry for a crusty baguette and thirsty for a good rosé. Her book is about love, food and France. The life-lessons she learns in France truly give her food for thought and make memories you can taste.

Mah’s diplomat husband was assigned to Paris for a three-year posting. They were living the “American in Paris” dream together until her husband was transferred to Iraq for a year.

Mah’s situation was similar to Julia Child’s…both diplomatic spouses spending their days in Paris learning about French cooking. She even bought a house on the same rue de l’Universite that Julia lived on.

At first, the Skype chats she schedules with her husband are all she’s looking forward to until she gets a part-time job working at the American library and starts exploring France.

Reading her book, we can travel with Ann as she meets fellow food enthusiasts…a farmer’s wife who offered to give Ann the details and secrets of her cultured butter, a fellow food writer that she invites over for dinner to make soup dumplings and a wine adviser who leads Ann through her wine cave in Pommard.

Using Thomas Jefferson and Julia Child as tour guides she journeys through France, searching for the country’s most famous provincial and iconic dishes. Mah loved traveling to Alsace for choucroute, Brittany for butter and crepes, Lyon to experience a Salade Lyonnaise, Languedoc to taste cassoulet and Provence for soup au pistou…including regional recipes along the way.

Ann writes, “There is no croissant as crisp and flaky or as sweetly buttery as the one you eat, still warm from the oven, on your first morning in Paris after a long absence.”

Ann Mah is easy for me to relate to…she’s shy, has had a love for France since she was a child, is a tea drinker and loves Julia Child. I want to be her friend and make a pumpkin pie with her…a fellow Francophile.

Reading Mastering the Art of French Eating will make you want to be in Paris…preferably with your husband because as she writes,“If you want to go fast, eat alone. If you want to go far, eat together.” And “Somehow everything tastes better eaten with your favorite dining companion.”

Merci Ann! I so look forward to reading your next book.

Other books you might enjoy that take you on a journey through France: Eight Days in Provence, Paris to the Moon, Almost French, Chasing Matisse, A Year in the Merde and My Life in France.

Other French inspired posts you might enjoy:


When I Was Little

Grandparents’ Day was chosen in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter to be the Sunday after Labor Day each year. In elementary school, we celebrate the whole week long…inviting grandparents to have lunch, spend some time with their grandchild at school and maybe even read a story.

Second grade children are asked to do an interview with their grandparents, finding out three questions: What was transportation and communication like when they were little and how did they have fun with their family?

I read a captivating story to my second grade class called “When I Was Little” by Toyomi Igus that focuses on the special relationship between a little boy and his grandfather. The little boy, Noel, can’t imagine living without TVs, video games, refrigerators, and indoor plumbing. Noel is taken to another time (maybe seventy years ago) and tries to imagine what it would have been like back when his grandfather was little. What they realize is that the need for love and caring never changes.

I’ve given this assignment for years but this year, because MY daughter is in second grade, has been the most meaningful. It was so sweet to hear my daughter interview both sets of grandparents…it was funny too! 

We had my husband’s parents on speaker phone and my husband would whisper a question for our daughter to ask her Nana and Pappo. “Did you chase dinosaurs? Was everything in black and white when you were little?”  Nana just happened to be making cookies while we were interviewing her.

We were also delighted to hear that both sets of grandparents learned something new about each other (after forty-one years for my parents and 52 years for Derek’s parents). It was a pleasure to hear them laugh and say, “I didn’t know that about you!”

I think you’ll enjoy taking a walk back in time through several seven-year-old’s interviews with their grandparents’. Take a look at some highlights from my second grade class (and my daughter’s) interview with their grandparents:


· There were no electric windows, seat belts, or air conditioning. They had to walk, bicycle, ride the trolley or the bus. They had airplanes but most people didn’t fly…if they did, they would dress up.


· They did not have cell phones, but rotary phones. They sent letters. They had a party line which about eight other families shared so you had to make sure you answered the right calls!

Family fun:

· Fishing, swimming, camping, drive-in movies, playing in the woods, helped make butter, picnics, going to the A&W root beer stand for fresh watermelon, jumping rope, going to Bell Dairy for ice cream, roller skating, camping, ice skating, ice fishing, riding horses, going down to the train station and watching the trains go by, flying kites, playing cards, going to sporting events, listening to the radio, playing cowboys and Indians, playing with dolls…

We love our grandparents. They are the puzzle pieces to who we are and shape who our children become.

“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”  ~Rudolph Guliani

Cyndi Lauper: Still Unusual, Still Totally Fabulous!!

Cyndi Lauper is currently on her She’s So Unusual thirtieth anniversary tour.

She turned sixty last week and has accomplished mountains in the last thirty years, having won countless awards…Grammy (with 14 nominations), Emmy, and most recently a Tony. What an unbelievably successful career! Cyndi is the first female artist to have four top ten singles on a debut album (Girls Just Want to Have FunTime After TimeShe Bopand All Through the Night). 

More than just a rock star…she’s a mother, wife, author of Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir, Broadway composer and philanthropist.

I really always thought Cyndi Lauper was Irish with her red hair and fiery personality. She grew up in a big Catholic Sicilian family in Queens. She had her aunts, cousins, mother and siblings in many of her videos.

I imagine her as kindred spirit. At her Dallas concert the crowd was screaming, “I love you Cyndi” and she’d say, “I love you too but don’t confuse my work with who I am, because you’ll be disappointed.” I get that but it’s easy to see she’s a good person…it radiates from the inside.

My mom used to call me her Cyndi Lauper kid because I would want to dress colorfully and uniquely. I loved the eighties bright colors/bold patterns. Now my mom says I dress my daughter like Cyndi. It’s true, I do! Her style is youthful, spunky and artistic. Fashion makes a huge impression and Cyndi’s fashion statements have always made a happy impression on me.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun is an anthem to every girl (I imagine she had her Sicilian grandmother, her many Aunts and Mother in mind too). It’s a strong anthem that resonates with EVERY girl.

Reading Cyndi’s memoir, you can almost hear her Queens accent. She’s honest and upfront about her struggles. She’s very spiritual, growing up an Italian Catholic. She says in her book that Mary and Jesus are “her secret friends who you can call on in times of trouble.” She mentions several times in her book that she has visions and dreams of Jesus and watchful angels always above her.

She didn’t do so well in school. She was better at being a “student of life” with her biggest lesson, “As you treat others, at one point in your life, whether it’s now or later, you’re going to get it back.”

She compares wanting to sing to the movie “The Red Shoes” (I LOVE that movie). In the movie, red-headed ballerina, Vickie is asked by her ballet master, “Why do you want to dance” Vickie responds, “Why do you want to live?” That’s how Cyndi feels about singing. She’s lost her voice several times and was determined to get it back…she still sounds amazing!

Wednesday night in Dallas, Cyndi told stories in-between songs. It was very intimate…she brought the audience in with her storytelling. Cyndi performs for the audience, taking us in, going to each corner, stepping into the crowd…there’s no barrier and she’s totally captivating.

I kept thinking about how my parents AND my children would have enjoyed her show. She reaches every generation. My Dad would have loved to hear Cyndi talk about Ellie Greenwich who wrote “Be My Baby” and “Leader of the Pack” and how it was Ellie who knew just what to do after listening to Girls Just Want to have Fun and chanted Girls/ They want/ want to have fun. She also told Cyndi to make her Queens accent prominent…it’s who she is.

I am of the Goonie generation. I AM a Goonie! My children are Goonies now too. Whenever they hear me play Cyndi and Good Enough comes on they shout, “GOONIES!”

The 80’s music is nostalgic to me like the 60’s music is to my parents. Cyndi’s songs from thirty years ago are still relevant today.

She says, “I have always believed that music is like cooking- you take a little bit of spice from this cabinet and that cabinet and you mix it all together and see what you get.”

Cyndi has been a dedicated advocate for the gay community with her work for the True Colors Foundation and Kinky Boots musical (a true story about the power of acceptance). She recognized the rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 during her performance at the Dallas House of Blues.

Saying, “For those of you from California, hey, congratulations! You’re married again! Now we just gotta fix the 37 other states.” Then said with seriousness, “Now, just because you can get married don’t just run out and get married… You’ll be just as miserable as the rest of us.” See it here.

Cyndi’s She’s So Unusual album doesn’t have the True Colors song on it but it had a very special significance celebrating human rights (especially last Wednesday). It was suiting that she ended the show with True Colors (without the band, just Cyndi and her dulcimer), the audience was elated.  

Thank you Cyndi! The girls had fun!! xx


Money Changes Everything

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

When You Were Mine

Time After Time

She Bop

All Through the Night


I’ll Kiss You

He’s so Unusual

Yeah Yeah


Sex is in the Heel

Change of Heart


True Colors

Make Your Earth Day, Emeraldalicious!

My daughter Zooey is a huge Pinkalicious fan. We’ve read all the Victoria Kann books and have even seen the play so when the new Pinkalicious book came out, Emeraldaicious, her green eyes flashed with eagerness to read it. 

You can see the Emeraldaicious book trailer here

Pinkalicious and her brother Peter are walking to their favorite park and while walking through the woods and she breaks her wand and tiara. She decides to make an extra-special wand out of a stick and flowers and finds out that the wand is magical. To their horror, they find their favorite park is a junkyard. To their delight, the find the magical wand makes beautiful things out of junk when Pinkalicious makes a rhyming wish.

The wand eventually loses it’s magic but Pinkalicious and Peter find that they can keep making the world Emeraldaicious by loving the Earth. This is the perfect book to read for Earth Day because it teaches recycling and reusing in an imaginative and happy way. I’m borrowing my daughter’s copy to read to my second grade class.

The very best field trips are those that are outside with wide open spaces to explore. My love for the Dallas Arboretum continues to grow. Earth Day is the perfect time to talk about trees. The Dallas Arboretum offers a field trip called “Tree Works” that allows children to explore the connection to plants and people. Hands-on activities are always a hit with children…it’s THE best way to learn. Digging in the dirt to make discoveries and looking at “treecookies” were some of my favorite activities during our most recent field trip that our second grade took to the Arboretum.  

The stars at night are big and bright…so are the lights! Here’s a gorgeous photo of the United States in April…perfect for Earth Day! See more photos from NASA.

Read more on the Dallas Arboretum here and here.

Wishing you an “Emeraldalicious” Earth Day! xx 

Letters from three famous Americans that are out of the little sewing box

There’s a charming German phrase, “Aus dem nähkästchen redden.” It means “out of the little sewing box.” I imagine old ladies knitting and gossiping as they sip tea.

Looking at other people’s personal and intimate letters certainly gives us a reason to use that phrase. Ernest Hemingway, Georgia O’Keeffe and Eleanor Roosevelt were letter writers…the very best kind of letter writers. Their sewing box is open. Is it gossip if they’re dead? Are we snooping by reading the private letters of the three famous Americans? Well, they’re “out of the little sewing box” now so I suppose it’s alright…

Letters have always been something I’ve enjoyed writing and receiving. There is so much more of a person’s character and personality inside their letter versus an email, text…even a phone call. Through the letters of Ernest Hemingway, Georgia O’Keeffe and Eleanor Roosevelt, we get a glimpse of their relationships and inside their heads.

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 1, 1907-1922 

My son Quincy shares the same birthday as Hemingway. I’ve read that Hemingway’s parents taught their children the importance of letter writing at an early age. I hope my children will write to me just as Hemingway did to his parents.

Hemingway holds my attention through his novels like no other writer but reading his letters, I feel I know HIM…the real Hemingway…and he was so caring (and funny). Reading letters to his family takes you into his heart.

Hemingway urged his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald to write to him in Pamplona: “Or dont you like to write letters. I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something.” 

One letter to his mother made me laugh out loud written on September 8, 1914:

Dear Mother,

I got your card thanks very much. Our Train was 2.25 minutes late!! so no school.

The Program is all changed around lunch at a different time and alot of other changes. There was a report circulated around that I was drowned and some of my pals thot I was a ghost. May I PLEASE have SOME LONG PANTS. Every other Boy in our class has them, Lewie Clarahan Ignatz smith and every other little shrimp. My pants are so small every time I wiggle I think they are going to split. And I have about 8 or Ten inches of wrist below me cuffs thusly.

Please say I can have them long ones.

Your drowned son

Ernest Hemingway

P.S. My shirt buttons all fly off when I take a full Breath.

I feel a bit guilty reading Hemingway’s letters after knowing that it was his wish that the letters NOT be published. Hemingway wrote to his executors: “I hereby request and direct you not to publish, or consent to publication by others, of any such letters.”

I’m sorry Hemingway but I’m so happy that your sewing box is open!

My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz: Volume One, 1915-1933

Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz exchanged over 5,000 letters. Each letter makes the reader feel like they should not be reading such private details of their romance. That’s what letters do…exude romance.

One letter Georgia wrote to Alfred on July 11, 1916 shares how she feels about letters.

I think letters with so much humanness in them have never come to me before- I have wondered with everyone of them- what it is in them- how you put it in- or is it my imagination- seeing and feeling-finding what I want-

They seem to give me a great big quietness- that relieves the tension that I always seem to be feeling.

Empty Without You: Intimate Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok

Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok (known as her “first friend” and referred to as Hick) became close in 1932 when Hickok, who was a reporter for The Associated Press, began covering Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidential campaign. They wrote letters to each other for twenty-nine years and dearly, dearly loved each other…and their country.

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote to Lorena Hickok from The White House on March 30, 1934:

Darling, I love you & I have just marked five days off the calendar. May seems so far away & yet I know I’m going to be busy & so are you & it will pass but dear one when I sit here just before dinner I wish the door might open & let you in. I wonder if always I’m not going to feel that a day is incomplete which we don’t start & end it to-gether? Well, I don’t on paper anyway. So much, much love & bless you dearest one.



Letters are treasures. I’m so glad these letters are “Aus dem nähkästchen redden.”

Want more books with letters…look here. Inspiration for writing here.