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

Setlist:

Money Changes Everything

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

When You Were Mine

Time After Time

She Bop

All Through the Night

Witness

I’ll Kiss You

He’s so Unusual

Yeah Yeah

Encore

Sex is in the Heel

Change of Heart

Fearless 

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.

Devotedly,

E.R.

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.

Battle of the Books…Make Way for Young Readers!

When I told my daughter Zooey that I was coaching her team for Battle of the Books she said, “Mommy, you HAVE to make it FUN!” I think that it was pretty easy to accomplish her wish because the books WERE so much fun. 


Battle of the Books is a school program that began in the 1930’s to encourage excitement in reading while exposing children to quality literature. During the competition the children are asked eighty questions that all begin “In which book” and the team has twenty seconds to agree on one out of twelve books. 

The Battle of the Books is a silent competition. Do you know how hard it is to keep kids under seven silent? I had six wonderful children on my team (grades kindergarten through second grade) and we did not /could not practice silent the whole time. It was a challenge to practice silent even for a little while. This is how we practiced most of the time, but we also practiced silently like this.   

Out of the twelve books we read, these four were some of my daughter’s favorites. 

A Bad Case of Stripes | David Shannon

A favorite book of many teachers to read at the beginning of the year to encourage their class to be happy with who they are and not follow the crowd. Poor Camilla must go through her “case of the stripes” as she worries about impressing her classmates. I think Camilla is a lot like my daughter…She loves lima beans but won’t eat them because her friends don’t like them. She tries on forty-two outfits before the first day of school. She doesn’t want to be embarrassed. “Everyone at school laughed at Camilla. They called her “Camilla Crayon” and “Night of the Living Lollipop.”

Gregory, the Terrible Eater | Mitchell Sharmat

Reading about Gregory had my team giggle like crazy. Gregory likes the kind of food you hope for your children to like…eggs, vegetables, fruit, and fish. Gregory’s parents want him to eat like they do…tin cans, boxes, tires, and mostly garbage. His parents take Gregory to see Dr. Ram who advises them to compromise. Mother goat says, “We have your favorite today. Vegetable soup. But there is one condition. You also have to eat the can.”

Make Way for Ducklings | Robert McCloskey

This beautiful book was given to me when I was a child. I used my 1979 copy for our team practices. This is one of those books that is a treasure to be passed down. The story continues to translate and be relevant to today’s young readers even though it’s more than seventy-two years old (written in 1941). I remember my mom reading it to me…it’s one of my favorite children’s books. I have fond memories of visiting Boston’s Public Garden and seeing the statue of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings created by Nancy Schön. Barbara Bush gave a copy of the sculpture to Raisa Gorbachev in 1991 that can be seen in Moscow’s Novodevichy Park

Officer Buckle and Gloria | Peggy Rathmann

Poor Officer Buckle wouldn’t have an audience without Gloria who could be on Saturday Night Live. Safety is not interesting, but with Gloria, the children learn while they laugh. This story is in second grade’s basil reader and always brings lots of laughs. The children remember all the safety tips. Just the other week in my classroom, I stood on a swivel chair to reach for something in my cabinet and one of my students shouted out, “Mrs. Cooley, safety tip #77! NEVER stand on a swivel chair!” Oops!!

Here were the other eight books in the Battle of the Books K-2 competition:

Big Al | Andrew Clements

Click, Clack, Moo-Cows That Type | Doreen Cronin 

Ira Sleeps Over  | Bernard Waber

Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook  | Michael Garland

The Pain and the Great One  | Judy Blume

Zen Shorts  | Jon J. Muth

Zinnia and Dot  | Lisa Campbell Ernst

Leah’s Pony  | Elizabeth Friedrich

Pinkalicious the Musical is Pinkeriffic!

Pretty in pink, tickled pink, pinktastic, pinkeriffic are just a few words that come to mind when describing Pinkalicious. Pink is the color of happiness and Pinkalicious is just that…a colorful explosion of pink sparkly fun.
 
How many times as parents have we heard, “Just one more?” It’s a phrase Pinkalicious Pinkerton says when she wants another pink cupcake. Pinkalicious turns pink from eating too many cupcakes and is diagnosed by Dr. Wink as having “Pinkititis.” The only way to cure it is with a healthy dose of green foods. 

The Dallas Children’s Theatre had an audience full of giggly girly girls in their pink tutus and tiaras but also little brothers who tagged along. My daughter’s little brother was one of the boys in the audience who was tickled pink to be there. Boys like the color pink too!
 
Most of the boys in my second grade classroom like pink. I was listening to a conversation between some boys after one of them chose a pink Expo marker to work a math problem on the whiteboard. Another boy said to him, “Dude, pink is NOT a manly color!” In his defense, several other boys commented on how they like pink and for the whole math lesson, boys kept picking the pink Expo marker. I decided it would be a perfect time to read the Pinkalicious book to my class. Then there was more discussion…about how pink is awesome dude!
 
The DCT Pinkalicious musical followed Victoria and Elizabeth Kann’s book beautifully. Walking into the theatre you see a plethora of pink. The lobby is decked out in pink hearts, dots, fabric, twinkle lights, tulle and they have Sprinkles red velvet pink cupcakes in the concession stand…It’s a mecca for lovers of pink, a pinkapalooza!
 
Pinkalcious Pinkerton has the average American family (mom, dad, brother, sister) who do everything together…baking, going to the park and the doctor office. One of my favorite scenes was when Pinkalicious turns pink and the family hops on their four person bike to ride to the doctor’s office.  

The music has lively numbers reminiscent of old classics. “Buzz Off” is a number when butterflies, bees and birds mistake Pinkalicious for a flower made me think of Guys and Dolls, “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” The scene when Dr. Wink diagnoses Pinkalicious as having “pinkititis” brings a Bob Fosse style that reminded me of the musical Chicago. All the songs are enjoyable for the adults as well as the children. My little boy loved the “Cupcake Dream” where the cupcakes sing during the night.
 
Pinkalicious and her brother Peter are pinktastic! The family literally finds their true colors along with lots of laughter love. The show is high energy and a lot of fun. Go see it, you’ll be tickled pink!
 
Pinkalicious is playing at the Dallas Children’s Theatre now through October 28th. Get your tickets here.

A Taste of Vienna

 

Austria is beyond rich in history. This little landlocked country has gone from being the grand Habsburg Empire to being nonaligned. Vienna was left with little to rule as the Great Depression swept the Nazis to power. Austria’s neutrality in 1955 led to better days but the past is still hauntingly present.

Our book club recently selected Daniel Silva’s, A Death in Vienna and to match the Austrian theme we ate at Jorg’s Café Vienna. My friend Margot is Austrian and it was through her that our little book club became a history lesson that we could taste.

On a cold October day a hearty Austrian meal hit the spot. Think…Traditional goulash, Gurkensalat (cucumber salad), Wienerschnitzel with red cabbage and spatzle on the side. It made for very happy stomaches. This was all found not in Austria but Plano, Texas at Jorg’s Cafe Vienna.  

Nestled in between quaint antique shops in charming “old” Plano you can find Jorg’s Café Vienna where our book club enjoyed a taste of Austria. The atmosphere is warm and cozy with an accordion player encouraging an involuntary body sway to the oompah sounds as the friendly waiter brings another round of Austrian beer.  

After eating hearty warm Austrian cuisine the belly is full but the waiter kindly asks, “How about some homemade bread pudding with Austrian rum”…you simply must say, “ja bitte!” Then when the waiter comes back with shots of jagermeister, you smile and say “prost!” Once again the belly is happy.

Jorg’s Café Vienna reminded me of an Italian Osteria where the dishes are rustic, not fancy and you feel a communal experience with the biergarten style seating and home style food and service. The Austrian “guesthouse” type restaurant is very family friendly and full of babies that all look like they’ve been raised on sausages. Reading “Jorg’s menu tells you that many of the recipes are old family dishes from his Mutti and Oma. When you taste Jorg’s food, you taste old world Austria and the love that went into the preparation (today and decades ago).

As soon as Margot sat down at Jorg’s restaurant, Jorg saw her and with such exciting intensity beckoned her to come meet his wife. The three of them became instant family. They share something that only expats can understand…a connection with their first home.

Many expats who live abroad can be found in restaurants like Jorg’s because there’s something about being there that reminds them of their home. The food, music and nostalgic atmosphere can link them together.

I have often thought that my Austrian friend seems to have two hearts…divided by countries. Expats have unbreakable bonds with friends and family in both places but they are torn between their old and new homes. So much of who we are is based on where we are.

Talking about Daniel Silva’s A Death in Vienna (the third book in a series) stirred up many feelings. There are characters in the book that would rather ignore that the Holocaust ever happened. It’s a thought provoking story that conjures up many emotions about the sensitive subject, the Holocaust and those who helped the Nazis escape punishment.

Gabriel Allon has the cover of an Italian art restorer, but is an Israeli assassin. He is not anxious to go back to the city of Vienna where his wife and son were victims of a car bomb. Gabriel learns that a man named Max Klein may have had something to do with the bombing. Klein was a Jewish violinist in the Auschwitz camp orchestra and remembers a Nazi named Erich Radek who killed camp prisoners. Gabriel is on a quest to find him as he remembers his mother.

History shapes and molds us all. Enjoyment of literature like the book A Death in Vienna is certainly a good way to raise awareness and heighten sensitivities about how the history of an “old country” like Austria has contributed to the personas of its citizens. Notwithstanding the benefits of literature however, actually hearing, seeing and tasting culture as we did at Jorg’s Café Vienna was truly a delightful educational awakening.

 

I’m Eloise, I’m Six

“Hi, I am Eloise.  I am six.  I am a city child.  I live at the Plaza,” said my daughter Zooey twirling around the room. Zooey recently told her grandmother that she’s changing her name to Eloise. When I asked her why, she said it’s because she rawther likes the sort of fun that Eloise has…throwing parties at the Plaza, ordering room service, having tea in the Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel and learning French.

I think I’d like to change my name to Eloise too! If life could be as simple is pretending you’re sick so you can play, ordering room service so you don’t have to cook dinner and saying ,”charge it please!” Let me try!

Hi, I’m Eloise and I’m thirty-six. I am a mom and a teacher. I like to play dress-up and wear fancy shoes and drink tea everyday…not bad, I would try on Eloise’s Mary Janes any day!

Oh, to be a kid again…not just any squirmy, wiggly six year old, but a kid who has a love for the finer things in life (circa 1950s), the color pink and rooms on tippy-top floors. Oui, I am that thirty-six year old kid at heart and my daughter could easily be six-year-old Eloise.

Eloise was created when the author (also actress, singer and dancer), Kay Thompson, showed up for dance rehearsal ten minutes late. MGM’s dance instructor, Rober Alton asked Thompson, “Who do you think you are?” Thompson responded in a little girl voice, “I am Eloise. I am six.”

Kay Thompson created one of the most cherished children’s books of all time that follows the adventures of spunky Eloise who does whatever she wants and gets away with it. You may have read Eloise books as a child or have seen the movies inspired by the books. It’s easy to love Eloise. Her “enfant terrible” character as an overprivileged six-year-old, the terror of the Hotel Plaza in New York is hilarious.

I rawther love that Eloise is never bored! Think about all the good things that come with being the age of six…the world is still a playground. While Eloise’s mother knows Coco Chanel, my little Eloise (my daughter) has a grandmother named Coco…not too far off. My grandmother, who we call Gigi, reminds me of Eloise too. She’s sassy and always up for a party. Even at eighty-years-old, she has that enfant terrible personality. That’s the essence of Eloise, there’s never a dull moment.  

My grandmother Gigi who is so much like Eloise

Eloise has a great big imagination and confidence to match. I love her free-spirit and the way she makes my daughter laugh. Eloise is one of those classic books that is still enjoyed by ALL ages.

I can hear Eloise reciting the poem that my dad had my brother and sister and I say when we turned six:

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever

Be like Eloise, keep your days busy and never be bored! Now go and read the book, watch the movies and charge it please, thank you very much!

My little Eloise

I’m going to France today…sort of!

À quelque chose malheur est bon. Every cloud has a silver lining…if you can’t go to France, bring France to your home.

Wear: Something French and fabulous! If I had on one of these French inspired outfits, my day would surely be wonderful! Kate Spade has a French flair with a great sense of humor…especially this season. I love the Pardon My French and Joie de Vivre shirts. Anything striped seems French to me…bien sur! Stripes never go out of style. I love the color contrast on the Madewell shirt and the simplicity of the striped dress.

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. ~Coco Chanel

Use: Paper that makes you smile. Wouldn’t you love to receive one of these merci or global greeting cards in your mailbox. The cities calendar will be a treat to use for the coming new year.

Tout arrive en France. (Everything happens in France) ~François de La Rochefoucauld

Read: When I need an escape, I tell my friends and family, “I’m going to France!” I do go to France…through books! These books make me happy: At My French Table, French Essence and Lunch in Paris.

Toute chose appartient à qui sait en jouir. (Everything belongs to those who can appreciate it) ~André Gide

Listen: To French Cafe Radio on Pandora and hear music from Pink Martini, Nina Simone, Madeleine Peyroux…jazzy artists that will have you imagining you’re in France as you clean your house.

Art is the most beautiful deception of all. And although people try to incorporate the everyday events of life in it, we must hope that it will remain a deception lest it become a utilitarian thing, sad as a factory.
~Claude Debussy

Buy: It’s the little things in life that make us smile! I love a rainy day when I can carry my red Merde il Pleut umbrella. The merde pillow is a happy little accent to any chair. Who wouldn’t love to open this box of colorful macaroons?

Shit always sounds better in French!
Pardon my French

Happy 100 Julia Child: Our Lady of Butter

Julia Child will forever be the queen of cuisine. Her joie de vivre, charm, personality, voice, quick wit and confidence make for an excellent role model for all ages. August 15th marked the centenary of her birth. There are many ways to celebrate Julia Child because she left such an incredible legacy and truly savored all of her ninety-two years of life. Simply remembering her will make you smile. Here are a few ways to celebrate Julia’s 100th birthday.

Read: Two new book releases about Julia Child, Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child and Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child. Both books coincide with Julia’s 100th birthday celebrating her life and capturing her larger than life spirit.

Reading Jessie Hartland’s charming new children’s book, Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child you will see the illustrations and little scribble notes are child-like and joyful. I’m so excited to be able to introduce Julia to my children through a bedtime story. It’s sure to inspire children to try new foods and find their own talent. 

Another new Julia book is Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz. This book captures Julia’s joie de vivre. Reading it we see what a fearless, funny and confident woman she was.

These two new books are a wonderful birthday present to Julia on the centennial commemoration of her birth.

Two more absolute must reads are As Always, Julia and My Life in France.

Sip: Julia’s favorite drink, Angosoda:

6 oz Perrier Sparkling Water
dash Angostura Bitters
lime slice
ice

Pour Perrier into an icy glass and top with a dash of Angostura Bitters. Garnish with a slice of lime and say cheers to Julia!

Eat: Everyone should make Julia’s boeuf bourguingnon every now and then. It makes your home smell like a Parisian cafe and fills the people that you love with contentment and comfort. On Julia’s birthday, I made her boeuf bourguingnon. It’s the middle of August and hotter than Hatties but after watching her make it on the PBS reruns of The French Chef, I simply had to make it! 

See: Julia’s Cambridge, Massachusetts kitchen that was relocated to the first floor of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D. C.  If you can’t see it in person, you can still view it here through the Smithsonian’s virtual museum.

Watch and Listen: You know those movies you pull out when you need to relax? These are my go tos for feel good entertainment. I gave my mom Julia’s The French Chef collection for Christmas one year and it has brought many happy memories back. Julie and Julia is a wonderful book and movie but the soundtrack is equally as delicious. Try cooking while listening to Margaret Whiting sing Time after Time and you will feel like Julia is cooking with you. 

Flash back to hilarious clips of Dan Aykroyd As Julia Child, watch her appearance on David Letterman, and PBS celebrates her birthday with a remix.

Buy: Julia has an app! You can download Julia Child on your ipad or nook be able to download 32 selected recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It is such a joy to hear Judith Jones (Julia Child’s editor) tell stories about her friend. You can also see clips from The Way We Cook, videos, photographs, quotes and grocery lists.

Quote: Words of Wisdom from Julia:

Remember, No one’s more important than people! In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.

Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.

This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!