Summertime Birthday Inspiration

Summertime is the most popular time to have a baby. Chances are you know many people who have summer birthdays coming up. Here are a few of my favorite people who have inspired me to create the perfect summer birthday party…recipes, music and gift inspirations for each special person. Bonne fête!!


Inspiration for your Taurus childhood best friend who is playful, fun‑loving, adventuresome, and rebellious (mostly when she was sixteen).  We grew up on Pretty in Pink and Desperately Seeking Susan. If Madonna’s Get in to the Groove comes on, it’s time for disco dancing and glitter make-up!

Jen’s birthday fun…

DRINK: the perfect summer cocktail

GIFTS: Birchbox, It’s All Good: recipes by Gwyneth Paltrowpretty earrings


1. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)/ Michael Jackson

2. Head to Toe/ Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam

3. 1999/ Prince


Inspiration for your Gemini mother-in-law who is energetic, quick-witted, and super systematic. Her recipe for a happy life might go like this…read a good book, love your job and cook with gas!

Mother-in-law birthday fun…

SALAD: Green Goddess

GIFTS: a really good cookbook, flowers every month, houndstooth clutch (because she’s a really big Alabama fan)


1. You Send Me/ Sam Cooke

2. When I Fall in Love/ Nat King Cole

3. All I have to do is Dream/ The Everly Brothers


Inspiration for your Leo Dad who is truth‑loving, loyal and passionate. My children call him “Coach” because he coached most of the teams my brother and sister and I played on…my daughter’s soccer team too. He will encourage you to give great effort, sing a song for fun, and always cheer on your favorite team.

Dad’s birthday fun…

SIDE DISH: Green rice with nectarines and corn

GIFTS: pinhole press photomy son wants to give him a new golf “stick”, Birchbox for men


1. Sherry Baby/ Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

2. Where Did Our Love Go/ The Supremes

3. Louie Louie/ The Kingsmen


Inspiration for your Gemini Mom who loves copper, entertaining and majolica. She’s patient, charismatic and immensely creative.

Mom’s birthday fun…

ENTREE: Sausage and roasted peppers

GIFTS: Dinner Diaries, sun and sea necklace, a pretty phone case


1. Somebody to Love/ Queen

2. One/ Three Dog Night

3. Suspecious Minds/ Elvis


Inspiration for your Gemini husband who makes the best cocktails, lives for Alabama football, and is a huge Beatles fan. He’s positive, diligent, charming and resourceful.
Derek’s birthday fun…

DESSERT: chocolate cake with m&m’s like this! 

GIFTS: beard trimmerThe Beatles LyricsBose Quiet Comfort Noise Canceling Headphones


1. King for a day/ XTC

2. 2112/ Rush

3. Women in Love/ Van Halen


Inspiration for your Cancer daughter who is artistic, imaginative and fantasy‑rich.

GIFTS for your daughter: American Girl Doll, heart sunglassessnowball machine

Your Cancer son who is daring, exciting and athletic.

GIFTS for your son: Lego airplane, PokemonLED light up football

DESSERT: cinnamon ice cream


1. Blame it on the Boogie/ Michael Jackson

2. Chicken Dance

3. Starchild/ Jamiroquai


Wishing all your summer birthday celebrations to be fun and festive. Bonne fête!!

P.S. My birthday is in the summer too! xx

Vail: Like Nothing on Earth



Vail, Colorado looks like a quaint European village. It has jaw-dropping postcard views of sunny blue skies and spectacular powdery snow conditions. Vail is plentiful in great restaurants, spas, and fun. Vail’s slogan is “Like nothing on Earth.” It’s true… Vail is a dream vacation.

Growing up, my family spent many spring breaks in Beaver Creek and we’d visit Vail to ice-skate and have dinner. Those happy memories are now being creating for our children. Both Beaver Creek and Vail have such a relaxed atmosphere that make you want to stay longer. My husband looks like a typical Vail skier now because he started to relax while we were there and grow a beard…I love it! It’s very easy for me to get into the haute hippie style of Vail. I like the healthy vibe and appreciate that it’s a town full of real athletes. The relaxed atmosphere was enhanced by the music that would follow us…it seemed that everywhere we’d go, eighties music was playing!


There was also the charming music of the old world clock tower at the Arrabelle. Every four hours the clock would play a sweet tune and the king and queen would come out to ring the bell. My children were enchanted and it made it feel like we were visiting a little town in Austria.

The Arrabelle has a warm and inviting ambiance that is enhanced by Vail’s crisp alpine air.  It has a European feel and is ski-in/ski-out…only steps from the Eagle Bahn gondola. The Arrabelle suites are cozy with a fireplace and warm colors. The ski service is a families dream… storing ski gear at the foot of the mountain. The ski concierge makes it so easy that you never need to carry anything. After you ski, the Arrabelle’s hot chocolate trolley welcomes children with endless combinations of how to decorate your hot chocolate. My children choose fresh raspberry whipped cream and chocolate marshmallows…happiness is a hot chocolate trolley.

Vail, Colorado is THE giant of ski resorts in North America… offering 195 named trails served by 31 lifts. It’s world-famous for its “Back Bowls” that span around 3,000 acres. Vail is VERY family friendly… (it’s not all about the bowls) there are plenty of groomers to enjoy with your family. No matter your level, there’s huge terrain for beginners all the way to the crazy advanced skiers.

A nice perk is that Vail’s interchangeable lift ticket lets skiers explore the many possibilities of nearby mountains like Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Arapahoe Basin and Keystone.

The ski schools are out of this world offering every possibility, age and ability. They are known to have the best and largest ski schools on Earth. Our children loved their ski instructor and also enjoyed meeting other kids from all over the world.

Getting to Vail is super easy! It’s about forty minutes away from the very user-friendly Eagle-Vail airport. Like my children say…”it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy.”

Vail is like the Disney World of skiing… it’s a decorated amusement park for skiers (but the lines are not at all like Disney)! The many lifts are fast and easy and they’re always improving to make them even faster.

Getting around Vail is just as easy with free shuttle access to shopping, activities, food, spas, ice-skating… Vail reminds me of Rosemary Beach in the way that you never need your car. It’s nice to be able to walk or ride the shuttle and always feel safe to stroll around the town.

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Here are a few recommendations if you decide to visit Vail:

  • GEAR: Pack your GoPro Hero3 so you can capture your kids runs.
  • EAT: 

For lunch…

The 10th at Mid-Vail has incredible views of the Gore Range and a wide range of healthy energetic food choices to keep you going.

For dinner…

Up the Creek is a contemporary American cuisine that is family owned and serves fresh organic local foods on the banks of Gore Creek. Get the tri-color quinoa, Ashley baby beets and a berry crush cocktail.

Montauk Seafood Grill: Has wonderful fresh fish selection and you can mix and match your sauces. The seared Shi Tuna and the linguini and clams are favorites…the clams were a hit with my children! Try the Bee Hive cocktail.

Lancelot Restaurant: The most old world charm. My husband enjoyed the prime rib. My children and I loved the Weiner Schnitzel and homemade apple strudel. Try one of their signature Moscow mule cocktails.

La Bottega: Traditional Italian cuisine. They have wonderful wood-fired oven and make their pizza from scratch. The arugula salad with fresh burrata cheese is a must before your pizza. I also couldn’t help ordering an Aperol Spritz in an Italian restaurant.

  • Après-ski:

The swimming pool on the roof at the Arrabelle and the many spa treatment options or sip hot cocoa around an open fire pit after taking a spin on the ice skating rink. A nice glass of wine at the Arrabelle’s Tavern on the Square is also a nice Après-ski treat.



IMG_2184Every serious skier will agree that Vail is the best and most varied resort. Whether it’s your first time on a snowboard, or you ski the bowls, Vail will be the ski trip of your dreams…it’s like nothing on Earth!

Many Happy Returns little sister!!


Let me tell you a secret…I love my little sister! Today is her birthday and I’m sending my sister, Paige, warm wishes from deep in the heart of Texas to LA.

I miss my sister and wish she lived closer. It’s been a long time since Paige has lived in Texas but my mom noticed that her accent can still come out with a few long ‘i’ words like knives and pie. We stay in touch using Facetime (even when she’s wearing a face mask)! On Christmas morning, Paige was showing us around California with Facetime and making everyone smile and laugh with her Texas accent coming through as strong as ever.

This picture of us makes me so happy. Secrets between sisters are the best!

She was home for Thanksgiving and we went to a yoga class together. If you’ve ever gone to a yoga class with your sister, you know you risk totally loosing it if one of you falls…it’s happened before and is almost impossible to regain composure. Those are the memories I love the most…laughing with my sister!

This holiday we missed watching our favorite movie together, White ChristmasThis is our song.

There were never such devoted sisters

Never had to have a chaperone “No, sir”
I’m there to keep my eye on her

Every little thing that we are wearing

We’ve shared plenty of clothes and jewelry…maybe not these earrings from the 80’s but the “caring, sharing” sentiment is true. We are different flowers from the same garden.

Many happy returns ma petite soeur! I love you so much! xx

Read more about my beautiful little sister here and here.

Clara’s Tea: Nutcracker Dreams


The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition that truly puts you in the spirit of Christmas. Each holiday season, if we’re very lucky, we get a glimpse of what makes the moments of the season sparkle.

For weeks my daughter was saying, “Mommy, I can’t wait for Clara’s Tea!” She would have liked to have driven herself there in twice the speed.

Most little girls would like it if they were just a little bit older. I imagine my daughter thinking, “How great would it be to live Clara’s dream, wear pretty dresses, dance in the snow, meet the Sugar Plum Fairy but then come home to Mom and Dad after the dream is over?” Clara has a very special Christmas magic and little girls like my daughter, eat it up…

Clara is infectious and very relatable to most young girls. My little girl aspires to be Clara but she’s not too far off in being similar in character at just age eight. Both, my daughter and Clara, are sweet and optimistic. They both have little brothers that are sometimes annoying. They also both love to play with dolls and believe in a sweet kind of magic you can taste.


Really understanding the story helps make the Nutcracker ballet become even more magical. It’s a wonderful way to introduce children to the ballet before seeing it. For many, it becomes a holiday family tradition and it all starts with Clara and her dreamy journey into the Land of Sweets.


My daughter’s dance studio recently hosted Clara’s Tea and the party guests were made to feel like they are part of the story…dressed for a Christmas celebration that felt like a fairy tale. Children would join Clara and her friends…including the wind-up ballerina.

The artistic director of Ballet Conservatory, Kelly Lannin, read the Nutcracker while guests sipped hot chocolate and ate Christmas muffins and quiche. Before the tea party was over, the children walked the red runway in a holiday fashion show followed Clara and her friends.




My little girl doesn’t have to awaken from her Nutcracker dream. She will continue to live it…this year as a mouse.

Happy Nutcracker Season!! xx

Related posts:

LakeCities Ballet Theatre Presents its 30th Anniversary Nutcracker

Jenifer Ringer: Mom, Sugar Plum Fairy, Role-Model


The Little Red Hen Comes Full Circle

little red hen play little red hen play1 little red hen play2

It’s a beautiful thing when life comes full circle. My first year of teaching first grade (I’ve taught fifteen years in second) and I kept thinking of my beloved first grade teacher, Mrs. Lane. It is such a coincidence that Mrs. Lane found herself in my new first grade classroom at the beginning of this school year. Her granddaughter just happens to be in my son’s class.

When I was a six-year-old, Mrs. Lane gave me swimming lessons, took me horseback riding and had me over for dinner. She had hair like Crystal Gayle and she used a pencil to hold her bun. One of my favorite memories of first grade is when I was the Little Red Hen in the first grade school play.

“Who will help me harvest the wheat?” asked the Little Red Hen. “Not I!” said the pig. “Not I!” said the cat. “Not I! said the dog. “Then I will do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

Thirty something years later, I find myself teaching the same lesson that Mrs. Lane taught me.

The Little Red Hen works so hard,” said one of my first graders. This made for a great discussion. Poor Little Red Hen! She is always asking for help before she does anything but her friends refuse to help her… lazy farm animals! Once she has made a delicious bread, she asks “Who will help me eat this bread?” Finally, her friends agree to help her… This was everyone’s favorite part of the story because the Little Red Hen says, “NO! NO! NO! You did not help me…I will eat it all myself!”

The Little Red Hen is a cherished folk tale that teaches children the importance of a good work ethic…those who are willing to contribute, will reap the benefits.

I’m hoping that my hard-working little first graders will remember our class making bread together. Some of the best memories involve food…the smell of yeasty bread in a first grade classroom made for twenty-one very happy children. I think Mrs. Lane would be proud! Who knows? I may have a future first grade teacher in my room…and wouldn’t that be wonderful!

When someone asks you, “Who will help me plant these grains of wheat?” You should reply “I will!”

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There are several very cute interpretations of the Little Red Hen. My first grade class enjoyed The Little Green Witch just as much! The Little Green Witch is left to do all the “unhousework”…hanging cobwebs, dirtied laundry, and spreading soot. When she finds some pumpkin seeds and asks for her “tree mates” to help her plant them, the trio is too lazy (much like the farm animals). The BEST part is when the Little Green Witch turns her “tree mates” into LITTLE RED HENS!

Another Little Red Hen transformation is The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza. This Little Red Hen grows basil in a pot on her balcony apartment. The animals live in a city and are busy listening to music, jumping rope in the street, playing in the spray of a fire hydrant or chasing after an ice cream truck. When the Little Red Hen realizes she is missing an ingredient for her pizza, she cries out “Cluck!” The Little Red Hen calls out the window to see if anyone would like some…unlike the original, this hen likes to share. When the Little Red Hen asks, “Who will help me do the dishes?” The animals all reply, “I will.” “I will.” “I will.”

Related posts:

Battle of the Books

I had a Favorite Dress

P.S. Every first grade teacher should own a bread machine!

Many Happy Returns to my Dad!!

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust

This is my Dad…a charming gardener who takes care of his trees and makes all those he comes in contact with, smile.

Isn’t he the cutest little boy? I think he looks a lot like my son in this picture.


Something my Dad always says is to “SMILE! You’ll feel better! Just let the corner of your mouth move upward ever so slightly and you have a start on it that won’t stop!”

My parents recently got together with some of their old friends. My Dad and his friend Quentin have been friends since they were kids. They were talking about old injuries, knee surgeries…when Quentin asked Dad if he wanted to race. My Dad couldn’t get his running shoes on fast enough!

He has the same excitement with my daughter when they’re swimming together in the pool and she’ll say, “just one more race Coach?!” He will NEVER say no to the words, “just one more!”

My Aunt Ann (the one trying to give my Dad gum in the picture below) remembers my Dad saying that his birthday was on “August fust!” You can see, even as a baby, my Dad was having a happy effect on his sisters (Ann and Pat).


My Dad is many things: he’s a coach (on and off the court), a proud Tar Heel, a teacher, a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, most importantly…he’s a good man!

Many happy returns Dad! I’m grateful to you, my charming gardener!

A little more about my Dad:

Ten things I’ve learned from my Dad

Happy Birthday Dad!!

The unwavering courage and parenting philosophy courtesy of Midland 64

Besame Mucho: Blue Ribbon Basset Hound


The last few months, we’ve been noticing that our fourteen-year old basset hound, Besame Mucho, has been looking extra elderly. Her once black head is now completely grey. She can’t see or hear anymore but still has her super sense that basset hounds are known for…smell! She is always appreciative for a big doggie bone and a good belly rub.

Besame is our first baby. We got her shortly after we were married in 2000. I remember pinning her ears up as a puppy with my pink roller clips because her ears were so long they would get in her dog bowl…then she’d come kiss you!


It was an unforgettable day picking out Besame. My husband and I went to a basset hound breeder’s house in Azel, Texas. There must have been at least twenty basset hounds inside this little home. I remember thinking that there was so much love in that house. Imagine a sea of basset hounds all tap dancing around a country house, wagging their tails and passing out sweet kisses to any friendly hand that comes their way. There isn’t anything cuter than a basset hound puppy.


My Dad is quite the singer. When we brought our baby home, he sang to her Besame, besame mucho, Como si fuera esta noche la ultima vez…Besame loved it, she would wag her tail as fast as a humming-bird flaps its wings.

Yes, Besame was our first baby…we were her pack. She has always loved to be right with us, preferably touching both of us. Later when we had children, Besame became Nana…just like in Peter Pan. She would lay by the bassinet babysitting our children.

I remember taking her to the vet when we thought something was wrong with her. I was so worried that when the vet’s receptionist asked me, “What is Besame’s last name?” I replied without hesitation, “Mucho! Her last name is Mucho.” My husband shook his head and the receptionist laughed at me.

sleepy besame mucho

I have dreams about Besame. In my dreams, she talks like Scooby Doo. She saves our family from danger and leads us home…talking to us in her deep basset hound voice, “Follow me guys, I can smell the way home.” 

Our neighbor’s love Besame too. She’s wandered off several times…following a scent, a friendly child or the mailman. Everybody loves Besame! She’s our neighborhood mascot bringing people joy and good luck one belly rub at a time!

Basset hounds don’t walk, they shuffle. Our basset is a shuffle award winner. Every year in Hurst, Texas they have a “Basset Hound Shuffle” and one year Besame won big! You haven’t lived until you’ve seen four-hundred basset hounds coming at you. They have many contests like howling, best trick, longest ears…Besame won the blue ribbon for “low rider” and “biggest paw.”

Besame’s soundtrack to life includes “Besame Mucho” and War’s “Low Rider.” They’re two of the most perfect theme songs for our basset.

Besame will always be our blue ribbon baby. For now, she seems content sunbathing in the grass in the early morning, eating her favorite milk bones and getting extra belly rubs from loving hands.


Many Happy Returns to my Mom!!

Happy Birthday Coco!

One of my funniest memories of my mom was when we went to a drive through for lunch one day. I think it must have been quite the day because we stopped at the first window, paid…then bypassed the second window and FORGOT our lunch! I remember my mom asking me to pass over her drink…I can still hear us laughing, “Oh my gosh! We just paid and drove away!” When we came back for our lunch the lady at the window couldn’t stop cracking up at us…we couldn’t stop laughing either! I’m grateful my mom and I are brunettes!

My beautiful Mom…Maid of Cotton!

We’ve had a lot of good times together in NYC when my sister used to live there. This trip was just the two of us there for a friends wedding. This was such a fun trip, but this happened.

My Mom with my son. Just look at those happy faces!

Always a Daddy’s girl.

 Many happy returns Mom! I hope you listen to Three Dog Night and eat something French today. We love you so much! xx

Enjoy these posts about my Mom:

Happy Birthday Mom

10 things I’ve learned from my Mom

Happy Father’s Day!!

Happy Father’s Day to my three favorite Dads…my husband, my Dad and my little brother.

I’ll never forget, the day I skipped high school to go to the ’94 Dallas Cowboys Parade to celebrate their Super Bowl victory. It was one of the most exciting days but I was nervous about getting into trouble with my parents. I called my parents to tell them what I had done (they already knew). When my Dad answered the phone, ” How bout them Cowboys!” I knew my Dad was the coolest and that everything was going to be just fine!

I love these proud Dad faces!

This is one of my most favorite pictures…my little man with his Daddy.

Where it all began…

That proud Dad face is also a proud Grandfather face! My daughter loves her “Coach!”
Happy Father’s Day to my three favorite Dads…and to all Fathers!

Happy Birthday, Honey!!

School’s out for summer! We’re all singing Alice Cooper and celebrating glorious summertime. We’re also celebrating because summer means…birthday season for our family. My husband’s birthday was a few days ago.

Derek loves cheesecake. You can tell we all had fun with this one. My daughter did the decorating and my son helped with the candles.


Derek’s cake was a New York-style cheesecake. Have you ever made a cheesecake? It takes a looong time…but it’s worth the wait. If you want to try one, this is the one to make.

Happy Birthday Derek! We love you! xx

Another summer post you might enjoy:
Summer is Happiness…Woo Hoo!