As I sit at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego for a quick “girls trip” with my daughter, I think of a quote that pretty much sums it up for me right now: “Nobody puts ‘web pages I want to visit’ on their Bucket List.”
As I sit at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego for a quick “girls trip” with my daughter, I think of a quote that pretty much sums it up for me right now: “Nobody puts ‘web pages I want to visit’ on their Bucket List.”
Decoding Dress Codes
“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” CocoChanel.
Who would know better than Coco Chanel? So, with wedding and summer travel seasons upon us, here are some Coco-style style tips regarding dress codes:
Black Tie – There is no wiggle room here. Women should wear formal full-length or cocktail dresses and men should wear a tux. Black or other dark colors are preferred.
Black Tie Optional/Semi-Formal – Elegant long or knee-length dresses should be a lady’s option. If you choose to wear a short dress, be sure to pick one in rich colors and “dress it up” with special jewelry. Men should wear either a tux or dark dress suit.
Cocktail – This is your chance to be playful yet tasteful. Use color or sparkles to add a little “je ne sais quoi,” but be sure to keep it classy. Dark suits for men.
Beach Formal/Business Casual – Women should wear a light and airy dress and even the right pair of sandals will work. For men, a linen suit is perfect.
When all else fails, keep in mind “better overdressed than underdressed.”
Finally, as I always tell my daughter, casual doesn’t mean sloppy and formal doesn’t mean slutty.
Recipes for Life
Just in the last week, two of my dearest friends and I, on two separate occasions, discussed recipes, recipe books, and recipe cards. Leslie and I have, for years, talked about publishing a recipe book filled with interesting recipes and inspirational quotes. Deb, who recently lost her sister to ovarian cancer, would like to work on a very special one in her honor, with proceeds going to charity. Her idea is brilliant but one I promised I wouldn’t share with anyone. Sorry! It all got me thinking, though, about our culture’s current state of recipe affairs.
Many moons ago, recipes really didn’t exist. Grandma had her mom’s “recipe” for chicken soup, but it was all in her head. Not until sometime in the 19th century did women begin actually writing down recipes. Still, several of my mom’s recipes that I cherish today are written either in my sisters’ handwriting or in my own. Even my mom’s recipes that she’s passed on from her grandma, great aunts, and mom exist only in her head. Any recipes I do have in my mom’s distinct handwriting are true treasures to me. I recently saw on Pinterest the idea of framing a family recipe and I love the idea! It’s only right, as recipe cards of years gone by are really special pieces of history. They are often splattered with sauce, frayed and torn, but are worth their weight in gold.
Sadly, today many of us get recipes on-line or on TV. They are not written in perfect script but rather typed in our favorite fonts. Recipe boxes have also gone the way of recipe cards, as the 8 ½ x 11 sheets of paper we print recipes onto today don’t fit in yesterday’s little metal boxes. Magazines also serve as popular sources for recipes today, which is both fitting and ironic at the same time, since they somewhat started the recipe card trend back in the 1930s. All of these – the internet, television, and magazines – have in a way replaced friends and family as our sources for pumpkin pie and the perfect punch. Today we are much more likely to rely on anonymous Google buddies for savory salmon and gluten-free recipes. I’m as guilty as anyone, having clipped many a magazine recipe and printed many a Pinterest idea.
How to save and store this plethora of downloaded recipes is yet another dilemma facing today’s chefs. As I mentioned before, they stopped fitting in traditional recipe boxes years ago. Leslie has developed her own spiral notebook system, which I may try. For now, I’m resigned to my old-fashioned sticky photo album method. What about you? Do you scan them, file them, or keep them all on your trusty laptop? What works best for you?
Finally, does anyone out there still buy good old-fashioned cookbooks anymore? I enjoy doing so, but admit that it’s most often when I’m traveling somewhere. I tend to buy a city or town’s local flavor cookbook and then use it almost more as kitchen décor rather than a meal how-to. Charity cookbooks are big now, as are theme cookbooks. You can find everything from breast cancer awareness books to tailgate cooking books. They all have fun or pretty covers, but does anyone really use and refer to them?
In a way, the demise of family recipe cards is a tad depressing. They once served as kitchen-like diaries, now replaced by blogs like this one. I am a very nostalgic person and I plan to always keep my favorite recipes both for my own convenience and in hopes that my daughter Kristen will someday want my handwritten and collected recipes. I look forward to the day when she renames my “Mom’s Natillas” recipe with “Ama’s Natillas.”
Recipe for a Happy Day
Into each day put equal parts of faith, hope and love. Add heaping cups of patience, courage, hard work, kindness, rest, prayer, and one well-directed solution. Add a quarter cup curiosity, a teaspoon of tolerance, a dash of fun, a pinch of play and a cupful of good humor. Season to taste with the spice of life and cook on low setting. Don’t boil! Serve individually and generously.
“Don’t be wishing for what you don’t have, for real life and real living are not related to how rich we are. Every man is a fool who gets rich on earth but not in heaven.” Luke 12:15 and 12:21.
HELLO & GOODBYE
Two sides of motherhood and how friends help you through them
Sometimes to be a good mom, you have to get away from it all.
Once a year, I go on an annual “girls’ trip” with four former college buddies. Every February the five of us gather in a different city and enjoy a few days of laughter, love, and letting go. We take turns picking the destination and the four whose turn it isn’t; fly in from four different states to where they’re told to show up. Sometimes we haven’t seen each other since our last trip. Next year I get to choose the destination but feel a bit under pressure being that’s it’s our “10th anniversary” trip. Truth be told, we could go anywhere and have the time of our lives, but I want next year to be extraordinary.
Each trip has been memorable but, for some reason even we can’t figure out, 2009 was particularly special. For some magical reason, that year’s outing was no different, yet at the same time, very different. You see, before we arrived in Sea Island,Georgia, we had reached some monumental motherhood milestones during the previous year.
Barbara became a mom again, giving birth to sweet Huntley, a little bundle ofTennessee joy who joined a big sister and brother in the family. Huntley is our group’s first baby in many years and we couldn’t get enough of Barb’s stories and photos. Even though we were away from our husbands and kids and the responsibilities that go with them, much of what we talked about was our families.
During our time together, we shared a year’s worth of our kids’ heartbreaks and achievements. Many hours were spent asking about Huntley. “What’s it like having a baby in the house again?” “How do you juggle a high school senior, a high school sophomore, and a one-year-old?” “How are the other two with him?”
The answer to the last question came unexpectedly while driving to a restaurant. Barb’s daughter called her in tears. She was worried because Huntley was upset and out of sorts. To make matters worse, Huntley’s dad was at work and her brother was of no help. The compassionate and seasoned mom that she is, Barbara handled it all calmly and carefully. While she did, the rest of us turned down the 80s music we were rocking out to, listened quietly and anxiously, and were subconsciously reminded that in the end, we are all moms through and through, near or far.
Shelley, on the other hand, was experiencing a totally different side of the motherhood spectrum. Her son was in the middle of his freshman year of college. She was the first in our group to send a child off to college, and although it’s our goals and dreams to do so, it comes with an emotional price.
Even though he’s grown up to become the young man she hoped for and is only an hour’s drive away from their home, Shelley missed her little boy. Born with a baby face identical to his dad’s, he was now officially in college…the very college the five of us attended and the one where our event-filled story started. In a way, it was difficult for us accept, or maybe just to admit, this. Blake can’t be in college because we feel we were just there!
Now, four short years later, we as a group boast a total of 7 college-aged sons and daughters. I’m the first empty nester but, this fall, Shelley will join me as her daughter heads off to school. Yes, days go slow and years go fast.
Still, to me at least, we all look the same and feel the same. Ann is forever our rock. Christie continues to be our voice of reason and style. Barb, she’s our “idea” person. And Shelley is the life of our party. Me? I really don’t know what I am except grateful.
All of this really bubbled to the surface during those few but frenetically-prized days we spent together at The Cloister. We laughed. We cried. We worried. We re-lived treasured past memories and envisioned promising futures. We went shopping for ourselves yet we were constantly searching for that perfect something to take home to the kids. They are always on our minds and forever in our hearts. We don’t stop being moms just because our kids grow up and we don’t stop being friends just because we live in different states.
Whole families benefit from happy moms and being a mom is hard work. It’s even harder without fellow moms you connect with and respect. You could say motherhood is our group’s new sorority. The five of us literally look forward to next year’s trip the minute we’re boarding our planes after the conclusion of one. Yes, it’s sometimes difficult to get away for just a few days, but it’s worth every effort just to reconnect and recharge. While mom is gone, kids cope, dads learn, and we all grow. As Barbara says, “happy wife, happy life.”
Ann, Barbara, Christie and Shelley make me happy. We laugh till we cry and say things that still make us laugh years later. They also make me confident, thankful and just plain better; all qualities you need to be a good mom. As the saying goes: good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you always know they’re there. The same could be said about moms.
“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you,” John E. Southard
(Photo courtesy “Wisteria,” my favorite décor catalog)
Thought I’d share some very basic design tips for your home today…
“Have nothing in your house that you do not believe to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
“Your living room should seat at least as many as your dining room so no guest is ever left standing.”
Designer Elaine Griffin
Have one “surprise” element in every room.
Think “big,” even bigger than you think, especially when it comes to artwork, pillows, vases & anything on your mantel.
GREAT advice from Marni Jameson!
And my personal favorite
Two Saturdays ago I sat and watched tennis star Maria Sharapova win her first ever French Open title. Even if you’re not a tennis aficionado, you may have heard of Ms. Sharapova. She’s the 6-foot, gorgeous, Russian born, Americanized blonde who has won many titles, including several Grand Slams. Several, that is, except for the aforementioned French Open. Her most recent tale of tennis triumph can be summarized in three powerful words: “never give up.” It’s a mantra we should all live by.
Rewind to 2008, the year Sharapova was sidelined by what could have been a career ending shoulder injury. The process the former world #1 went through to rebuild that shoulder was both slow and painful. What’s amazing is not so much that she did rebuild it, but that she even tried. You see, at the time Sharapova could already boast of an envious career. She wonWimbledon at 17, was #1 at 18, won the U.S. Open at 19, and the Australian Open at 20. She had it all…fame, fortune and a fabulous life. Then, her shoulder gave out and she fell to a ranking of 126. The shoulder gave out, but Sharapova never gave up.
“I could have said I don’t need this. I have money; I have fame; I have victories; I have Grand Slams. But when your love for something is bigger than all those things, you continue to keep getting up in the morning when it’s freezing outside, when you know that it can be the most difficult day, when nothing is working, when you feel like the belief sometimes isn’t there from the outside world and you seem so small.”
Sharapova pressed on though and believed in herself; something I have impressed upon my daughter since day one. For her perseverance, Sharapova not only won the French Open, she became only the 10th woman in history to win a career Grand Slam, and guess what? She’s once again the world’s #1.
Maria Sharapova did it. Gymnast Kerri Strug also did it when she literally vaulted into American sports history on a bum ankle during the 1996 Summer Olympics. Competing on what was later learned to be a third-degree lateral sprain, Strug’s courage and heroics pretty much guaranteed the Americans the coveted all-around gold medal. All because, painful ankle and all, she didn’t give up.
Thomas Edison was told by his teachers that he was “too stupid to learn anything” and was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.”
Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express, received a “C” on a Yale paper describing his idea for an overnight delivery service.
Michael Jordan was cut from their high school basketball team.
12 publishers rejected J.K. Rowling’s book about a wizard boy.
Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7 and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.”
Fred Astaire kept a memo over hisBeverly Hillsfireplace that read “can’t act, can’t sing, slightly bald, can dance a little,” the words he received following his first screen test.
Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh all went winless their first seasons as NFL head coaches.
Louis Pasteur was only a mediocre chemistry student and was once told his theory of germs was “ridiculous fiction.”
“We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out,” is what Decca Records of the Beatles.
Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded.
Both Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana’s first NFL passes were intercepted and returned for touchdowns.
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lacking “imagination and had no good ideas.”
R. H. Macy tried and failed seven times before his store inNew York Citycaught on.
When Lucille Ball was once told to “try another profession” when she began studying to be an actress.
Vince Lombardi was one thought to “possess minimal football knowledge and lack motivation.”
Beethoven’s teacher called him “hopeless as a composer.”
The first time he went to bat professionally, Hank Aaron went 0 for 5.
Charles Schultz’s high school yearbook rejected every cartoon he submitted.
Julie Andrews was told she “was not photogenic enough for the film” following her first screen test.
The first time Jerry Seinfeld walked on-stage at a comedy club as a professional comic, he looked out at the audience, froze, and forgot the English language.
A manager of the Grand Ole Opry once told Elvis Presley “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”
27 publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’s first book, To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
In the world of history and politics, a popular urban myth has it that Winston Churchill once gave a speech in which he said nothing but “never give up, never give up, never give up.” The tale is somewhat true, but what the British Prime Minister actually said was “Never give in, never, never, never, never, never” during a 1941 speech at theHarrowSchool. The Allies still today can thank Mr. Churchill for practicing what he preached.
Never give in and never give up. I supposed they could be considered somewhat similar, but at the same time, totally different. I strive to never give in to prejudice, pettiness and pessimism. At the same time, I vow to never give up trying to lose weight and get in better shape or on my 26-year-long marriage even though we are empty nesters and the “nest” is not quite as exciting as it once was. I will also never, ever give up on the people I love, regardless that “sometimes you have to give up on people not because you don’t care, but because they don’t.”
Instead, I will work hard at turning my cant’s into cans and my dreams into plans because “we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. God never abandons us. We get knocked down but get up again and keep going,” 2 Cor 4:8.
Never give up my friends. You never know what’s down the road!
To my dad, my daughter’s dad, and all dads out there: Happy Father’s Day!
“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty,” Unknown author
“Give your children enough to do something but not enough to do nothing,” “The Descendants”
Dads: a son’s first hero and a daughter’s first love.
Anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad.
“The best example you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life,” Dan Zadra.
Happy “Flag Day” everyone! Did you even know today, June 14, is Flag Day…every year? What are we really celebrating anyway? Seems we’re all very familiar with the Fourth of July, traditionally celebrated as America’s birthday, but a whole day just to celebrate our nation’s flag? That, my friends, is a whole different story.
Many believe the first “Flag Day” was celebrated in 1885, but the holiday as we know it today commemorated the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 and was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916. Still, it was not until August 3, 1949, that President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.
What’s up with those stars and stripes?
No one knows with absolute certainty who designed the first flag or even who made it. Many believe Congressman Francis Hopkinson designed it, and it’s widely believed Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, produced the first one.
Until the Executive Order of June 24, 1912, however, neither the order of the stars nor the proportions of the flag were set in stone. How it looks today came about through several official acts. On June 14, 1777, he first Flag Act of the Continental Congress established an official flag for the new nation made up of 13 stripes alternating in red and white, and a union of 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation. Much later, on August 21, 1959, an Executive Order of President Dwight Eisenhower provided for the arrangement of nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and 11 rows of stars staggered vertically.
The U.S. Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to our nation’s flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. They include:
The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
Note: Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a dignified flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day, June 14th. Many Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, and Girl Scout Troops retire flags regularly as well. Contact your local American Legion Hall or Scout Troop to inquire about the availability of this service.
When the flag is displayed from a staff (pole) projecting from a window, balcony, or building, the union (stars area) should be at the top of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.
When displaying the flag against a wall whether vertically or horizontally, the flag’s union should be at the top, to the flag’s own right and the observer’s left.
When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east.
When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles that are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor – to its own right. The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger. No other flag ever should be placed above the American flag.
When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height and flag should be the same size.
Raising and Lowering the Flag
When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
When flown with flags of states or communities, the U.S.flag is always the first flag raised and the last one lowered. When flown with flags of other countries, all flags should be raised and lowered simultaneously.
The U.S. flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset and should be illuminated if displayed at night. As it is hoisted and lowered, the flag is saluted. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest.
To salute our flag, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute while citizens not in uniform place their right hand over their heart. Head covers should be removed and held over left shoulder with hand over the heart.
The Flag in Mourning
The flag is to be flown at half staff in mourning upon presidential or gubernatorial order.
To place the flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered.
When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed with the union at the head and over the left shoulder. It should not be lowered into the grave.
On September 8, 1892, the Boston based “The Youth’s Companion” magazine published a few words for students to repeat on Columbus Day of that year. Written by Francis Bellamy, the words were reprinted on thousands of leaflets and sent to public schools across the country. On October 12, 1892, the Quadricentennial of Columbus’ arrival, more than 12 million children recited this “Pledge of Allegiance,” beginning a required school-day ritual.
It was not, however, until 1942 that Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance. One year later, in June 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that school children could not be forced to recite it. Today only half of our 50 states have laws encouraging the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom.
In June of 1954 an amendment was made to add the words “under God” by then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”
The Pledge of Allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting.
In a time when as many as two out of three Americans do not know the words to our national anthem, maybe it’s time to revisit just where all those unfamiliar words came from and how they relate to our flag.
In short, Georgetown lawyer Francis Scott Key wrote the poem “Defense of Fort McHenry,” which was later put to the tune of John Stafford Smith’s song “The Anacreontic Song” and retitled “The Star Spangled Banner.” The song slowly spread throughout the United States, gaining acceptance by citizens and the military alike until finally, in 1931, President Herbert Hoover declared the song to be the official national anthem of the United States.
It all goes back to the War of 1812 and Britain’s attempts to regulate American shipping and other activities. At the star-shaped Fort McHenry and during heated battles between the two countries, Commander Major George Armistead asked for a flag so big that “the British would have no trouble seeing it from a distance.”
One night, young Key was on board a ship in the harbor watching the British bombardment of the Fort, which lasted through the night. Key was said to “know” the U.S. would win the war if the flag could be seen above the Fort at daybreak. The flag was indeed still flying when the sun rose, inspiring Key to write his famous words.
That very flag went on view for the first time on January 1, 1876 at the Old State House inPhiladelphia for our nation’s Centennial celebration. It now resides in the Smithsonian Museum of American History. An opaque curtain shields the now fragile flag from light and dust. The flag is exposed for viewing for a few moments once every hour during museum hours. In addition, since May 30, 1949, a flag has flown continuously over the monument marking the site of Francis Scott Key’s birthplace, Terra Rubra Farm inKeymar,Maryland.
The actual copy that Key wrote in his hotel on September 14, 1814 remained in the Nicholson family for 93 years but was sold to Henry Walters of Baltimore. In 1934, it was bought at auction inNew York from the Walters estate by the Walters Art Gallery of Baltimore for $26,400. The Walters Gallery sold the manuscript in 1953 to the Maryland Historical Society for the same price. Another copy that Key wrote is in the Library of Congress.
Today, when the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note.
Q: Why is the flag patch “backwards” on military uniforms?
A: According to the Department of Defense website, when authorized for application to a proper uniform, the American flag patch is to be worn so the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the oberver’s right and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.
Q: What exactly is a “rampart” mentioned in our national anthem?
A: The definition of a rampart is “the defensive wall of a castle or city.” In the instance of “The Star Spangled Banner,” most believe Francis Scott Key was talking about the walls surrounding Fort McHenry.
Q: What’s the difference between “half staff” and “half mast?”
A: Both Merriam-Wesbster and dictionary.com defer any definition of “half-staff,” advising readers to “see half-mast,” defined as “the position about halfway up a mast or pole at which a flag is flown as a symbol of mourning for the dead or as a signal of distress. Also called half-staff.” Neither definition makes any reference to the use of half-mast as a nautical term, although U.S. law and military tradition indicate that “half-mast” is generally reserved to usage aboard a ship, where flags are typically flown from masts.
In yesterday’s Austin American-Statesman, columnist Ken Herman reported that in 2011, $3.6 million worth of American flags were imported from other countries, with the vast majority ($3.3 million) coming from, yes, China. Although that amount is a small percentage of the $55 million in total annual sales of made in the good ole’ USA flags, it’s still somewhat embarrassing. Please, please, please make sure the American flag you buy is actually made in America!