soulful spring cleanse

via dawnontheville.wordpress.com

I’ve done nothing but clean, cull and move since January! I am so over it. So, I’m offering up a different kind of spring cleaning. You know how I love to be different.

The Windows=Attitude.

How do you see the world? Your world? This is all you; your attitude. Do you need an attitude cleanse? A cold, long winter can build up feelings of inner despair. All that hunkering down with comfort food because you “deserve it”, because your job is miserable, your relationship isn’t what you hoped, “True Detective” is over…whatever the reason. This I know is true: YOU are in control of your attitude. Guaranteed change only comes with change in you. Let’s Windex that attitude for the season and see what good energy reflects back your way.

What you send out through social media says a lot about your “window”, as well. (No, not that your hand on your hip makes your arm look thinner…we get it.) Are you sending out solutions or are you adding to the noise? Are you a hater or are you an inspiration to others? If someone were to pull up your “feed”, what are you serving up?

The Baseboards=Relationships

We all need a support group. Maybe not in a fluorescent lit room, in a circle of chairs, jones-ing for a cigarette, but a group of friends that support YOU, no matter what, without question, James Taylor/Carole King style: you just call out their name and they are there.

I wouldn’t have the gumption to write, live big or simply survive without my Scrabble girls. We started getting together for speed Scrabble, 10 years ago, but, then it became oh, so much more. We have gone through life and death together. We have prayed desperately together, we have traveled together. We have cried together. And, my God, have we laughed together. As we recently reminded each other, our friendship is based on absolute acceptance. We never have to apologize for ourselves when life gets in the way of our time together. True friendship should never be taken for granted, and the care and keeping of these special friends is vital.

I have a group on Twitter that shares a passion and love for classic film. I love when I have free evening, turn on Turner Classic, open my Twitter feed and instantly we are all together; offering trivia, critiques and laughter from all over the planet. Luckily, many of us will converge in Los Angeles next month for the TCM Film Festival; finally meeting some new faces and seeing others for our once a year blow-out.  Now, obviously this is more of a theoretical baseboard, but during moments of solitude or insomnia, I assure you, “they are real and they are spectacular”. I can always count on TCMParty.

Step out into the sunlight. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to search out and develop strong, empowering friendships with like-minded people.

The Junk Drawer=Procrastination

What holds you back from making those little, everyday decisions? Turning the report in on time, getting bills paid, cleaning out the emails, starting that DIY Pinterest project, signing up for that yoga class, healthy eating, exercising, etc? Procrastination.

Not going to write much on this, let’s not waste one more moment on it.

Pull that drawer out and dump it. Today is a new day. It is so easy to accumulate that junk drawer of excuses; all those lame little reasons for not getting started. You’ve always wanted to (insert exciting endeavor) So, go do it, already!

images

Your Closet=Life Changes & Letting Go

What, who are you needing to let go of to make the big decisions. What is holding you back from the life change you know you want? It’s just like those jeans you can’t throw away, because you swear you’re going to fit into them again. Look, I believe you will fit into them again, I really do. But, regardless of being a size whatever again, those stonewash, pleated jeans aren’t going to look good on anybody! You’re going to want new jeans!  If it doesn’t make you feel beautiful, pitch it. You have to clear out to make room for the new and improved.

If you have people in your life that don’t make you feel beautiful, well, pitch them. Those “friends” that pay back-handed compliments, talk behind your back, gossip and silently resent your life, have to go. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic Bette Davis scene with yelling and screaming. Just let them gently go. You don’t have to take those drunk dials in the middle of the night. You deserve better than that guy that pops in, conveniently at 2:20am, after the bars have closed. You most certainly do not need anyone manipulating your time, your life, your well-being.

It is time to let go of anyone that you cannot trust. Love, business, friendships, partnerships; trust is key. Without it, you have nothing. Let go and make room for the trusting, loving, healthy relationships that you deserve. Holding on to toxic, untrustworthy people is like holding on to a closet full of stonewashed mom jeans. Not good for anybody.

i_ve_got_your_back____by_shutter_shooter-d4vvxv1

The Fridge=Health & Prosperity

A perfect example of false over abundance. Toss the expired and recycle. Make a silent promise to only fill this cold box with healthy, fresh food that fuel your mind, body and soul. How many times have you opened your fridge, stared at the full shelves and proclaimed that there is nothing to eat? Clean, cull and be a good steward of what is on hand. Then, you open the space for fresh opportunity. New, healthy, exciting prospects. And, make sure that you always have that bottle of champagne chilling. That is you offering, your intention to bring celebration into your life.

Like when you’re done cleaning the fridge. Cheers.

The Crystal/Fine Jewelry=Family/Spouse

Look in the mirror, people. We are not getting any younger! Neither are our parents and sibs. One of the best things of 2014 for me, is that my mom has learned how to text. This makes life so much easier and I will forever be in debt to Steve Jobs. In this day and age, there isn’t any reason we cannot stay in touch with our family. It doesn’t have to be every day or even every week, but those delicate, precious gems that we lived with for the first 18 years of our lives deserve a shout-out every now and then. No matter your complicated history, they are the only ones that know your full history. Let’s keep them happy and keep them from testifying against you, if the case should arise. Everybody wins.

My grown children. In the 27 years of polishing and shining them up for the world, they are now out of the “safe” and on their way. Their OWN way. Not MY way. I’ve got my own roads to travel, my passport to fill, new goals and aspirations. What they need from me is simply my support and love. Sure, a little advice here and there, but no agenda of my own. I want them healthy and happy. I have no demands or expectations, besides the obvious. Be kind, put good into the world, make responsible choices, don’t go to jail and give me grandchildren someday. Please.

Psychologists are still out on soul mates, but I have proof and I am blessed. This relationship needs more than the infamous once a year polish. Everyday, your partner should feel loved, cared for and cherished. Simply. It doesn’t have to be big, epic events everyday. Just the basics: “Please”, “Thank you” and “I love you”. Don’t let too much time pass by without showing gratitude and admiration.  Then, it becomes as cumbersome as the laundry. It’s all piled up, you have nothing to wear, you’re totally overwhelmed and it kind of starts to reek.

And, nobody wants a marriage that reeks. Ever.

 

Happy Spring, dear friends & family. I thank you for taking the time to read LivingLola. I’m appreciative when you “like”. I’m grateful when you “share”. I’m committed to spreading a little “Lola” in the world, one little post at a time. Namaste.

 

 

 

 

oh, happy day

living lola mantra
living lola mantra via My Chickas

While I don’t remember posing for this picture, maybe it was that awesome champagne in my hand, I do love the sentiment.

Living Lola Life Lesson:

Always keep a good bottle of champagne in the fridge. Today just may be the day that calls for the bubbly. You never know what is coming around the corner.

Be prepared to celebrate.

via TCM

 

Classic Champagne Cocktail 

1 dash of angostura bitters

1 sugar cube

Cold, dry champagne

Twist of lemon peel

 Add the dash of bitters to the sugar cube in the bottom of a chilled champagne glass and slowly pour in the champagne. Garnish with the lemon peel.

Cheers,

lola

 

busy living

Busy just doesn’t cover it.

I am not complaining. I am more than lucky. I know that. I live a big, full life; trying to practice what I preach.

I was fortunate to spend a few days in NYC with my girlfriends. We did a little shopping, caught the musical “Once”, which I highly recommend. We stayed up late drinking champagne, played Scrabble in our pajamas and laughed and laughed and laughed. It was just one of those ‘good for your soul’ trips. Not hectic or over-planned. Just fun.

One of the best parts of the trip was taking a total tourist turn and hopping on a “Movie/TV” tour of the city. My  partner-in-crime, JWH, couldn’t contain the antics as I shot my hand up at every trivia question. I may have even sang a Seinfeld bit for the whole entire bus. But, I had to stop before I became the “obnoxious know-it-all from Texas.”

 We were more than fortunate to catch the last plane back to Texas before Hurricane Sandy hit. Since we are all seasoned Gulf Coast hurricane warriors, we would have found a way to “survive” at our swanky hotel. Larkin and my contractor were ready for me to get back home…and get back to work on our “little” project.

Project Restoration is steam rolling ahead. I have never worked with a more positive, dedicated group of people. I love our contractor, the crew, the plumbers, the electricians. They all greet me each day with smiles and “Miss Jackie” this and “Miss Jackie” that. What’s not to love?!

They sing along with the classic rock booming through the rooms. There hasn’t been a structural or design problem that we haven’t been able to solve creatively, not to mention easily. It just feels like we are a team, all working to bring this old house back to her old glory.

Bags unpacked from NYC and the contractor’s “to do” list all caught up, it was time for one of my favorite nights of the year. Halloween. I love, love Halloween. Dressing up, scaring young children, kid candy in “fun sizes”: I love it all.

Larkin and I, along with Jen and Tim (my sis and bro-in-law) dressed up as KISS.  As you can see, we are not camera-shy nor do we have a fear of jack-assery.

And, then, just like that, it became November.

Our President was re-elected.  Now, suddenly, it’s almost Thanksgiving.

This week, I am holed up on Martha’s Vineyard at the cozy Red Door Cottage, far far away from the restoration and remodeling that is going on, back in Houston. The fire is going and holiday music is quietly filling the air.

So, in the spirit of the week:

I am thankful for this cozy vacation home. I am thankful for the soon to be completed home waiting for us, back in Texas. I am thankful for my husband that has worked hard to purchase said homes. I am thankful that he is getting a much-needed break.

I am thankful to have 3 out of 4 kids here this week. I am thankful that the “missing” daughter is realizing her dream and working in Austin. I am thankful for the family and friends that make my life full. (Full of what, exactly, depends on the day.)

I am thankful for my health, good food, Manhattans, TCM, the Pats, Scrabble gals, Twitter pals, laughter and my pup, Juliet.

 But, mostly, I am thankful that I have been busy living.

our own Granville place

“Old Granville place”- It’s a Wonderful Life

George: You see, you make a wish and then try and break some glass. And you got to be a pretty good shot nowadays, too.
Mary: Oh, no, George, don’t. It’s full of romance, that old place. I’d like to live in it.
George: In that place?!
Mary: Uh-huh.
George: I wouldn’t live in it as a ghost. 

Day One

 

Okay, so it’s not quite the “old Granville place” but, there is a broken window upstairs. Besides, Lark and I have always loved “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  FunFact: We actually have a picture of “George and Mary” in our house. 

Pressing on.

Day one was a successful romp through the plans and procedures of what is to come. Trying to decide what walls stay, which walls go. Can we add a bath here? Is a clawfoot tub really practical? Should Juliet get her own room? These are the questions.

The first floor, not so bad. It looks harmless. Nice floors. Pull up the carpet. Reconfigure the space.

Sand, paint and, oh, yeah…add a kitchen! Enter Tom Hanks and Shelley Long.

 Yep. This is the current kitchen. You can tell by the paper towels and wine.

The second floor has plenty of room for creative control. From the bank of windows, I can see Russia! Sorry. But, we do have a fabulous view of the downtown Houston skyline. Probably going to need a good tree trimming service, though.

Our Master suite is sounding pretty sweet. My one big add-on today:  coffee bar upstairs. As we get older, navigating the stairs in the morning, on the hunt for precious caffeine is getting quite dangerous. Better to be safe.

Ellie, our architectural designer; Scott, our contractor and Jack, our lender with Larkin. Lots of discussion on “what will be” and when the first party will be.

The ivy drapes will not be. Already in the dumpster. I don’t do vintage drapes. Something about the dust…and smell. But, there are little treasures here and there. Fixtures, old glass, gorgeous doors. Restoring an old house is something I have always wanted to do.

It is going to be a lot of work, but I am so excited that I can hardly stand myself.

I am telling you, this house has the potential to be “Before and After” porn.

But, we’ll keep it more “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

we bought a zoo

Not really. But, life is going to be just that for the next several months.

Larkin and I have decided to purchase and restore a c.1900 home in the historic Woodland Heights neighborhood, part of The Heights in Houston,Texas.

We will close on the property next week. This weekend, however, the house will serve as the setting to a fundraiser benefitting the re-opening of the Historic Houston Salvage Warehouse. Historic Houston is a resource for reclaimed historic building materials.

In the country’s fourth largest and “coolest”city, according to Forbe’s magazine, it is vital to preserve our historic places, while growing, building and modernizing. You could spend hours and hours on the internet, reading stats and graphs documenting all of the benefits of using salvaged and reclaimed materials.

To me, however, the benefits are simply fundamental. Reusing, reclaiming and recycling while “re-storing” is just common courtesy, no?  Helping out the planet, our Mother Earth, as she has taken care of us.

Let me be quite clear, though. We are not building a “green” house or going off the grid. Just sensible salvaging, wherever we can, while restoring the beauty and integrity of this vintage home, with a little Living Lola style, of course.

For those of you in the area, interested in seeing the “before” and helping out a great cause, I am including the details for this Sunday’s event.

I will be updating and posting pictures of our chaos, I mean, progress.

Lola in a hard hat. This should be stunning.

Please join Ashton Martini of Martha Turner Properties for a fundraiser benefitting Historic Houston at 2615 Beauchamp in Woodland Heights on Sunday, Sept. 23rd from 3-6 PM. Help “restore” and re-open Historic Houston’s Salvage Warehouse and tour this c. 1900 home in the early stages of its own restoration. Enjoy good food and wine and take this opportunity to make your donation to help re-open Historic Houston’s Salvage Warehouse as a resource for reclaimed historic building materials in Houston. Bring your friends and support this great organization! 

For Julia

via HookedonHouses.net

When I began this post, I didn’t realize I would be posting it on the 100th Birthday of Julia Child. A recipe post is very apropos. Her legacy lives on in every food blog, every recipe “Pin” and every Instagram picture we share. Creating good food is an art and social media has helped up become part of this Food Appreciation culture.

Julia encouraged us all to simply TRY. She is the Godmother to all of us, the kitchen goddesses and gods everywhere, that play in our kitchens each day cooking, baking, entertaining and sharing our love of food.  Happy Birthday, Julia!

 

Everywhere I go, people are kicked into high gear “Back to School” mode. Especially this past week, as I have been helping my sister and her teacher/friend/colleague decorate their classroom. (Jen, what the ‘h’ do you call Carolyn?) As you can see, I have had to turn on my “teacher speak” since working at a place that molds and shapes young minds. Not easy when a hammer, nails and a power sander are involved. That is how my sister and her teacher friends speak…”What the “H”?!…”Don’t be such a ‘B’!”

That is why I could never be a teacher. I would yell, “What the HELL?” Then, open the TOP drawer of my desk for my flask. Why even bother hiding it in the bottom drawer? I have raised four children. I know exactly where the stash should be hidden: Within reach.

I remember those getting ready days. All the forms to fill out, the summer reading to cram in, the packets to pour over, trying to wind down summer sleep schedules for the brutal early mornings around the corner. I lived it. I loved it.

I do not miss it.

I listened to my sister and her friends going over “first day” itineraries and lesson plans. As I worked quietly on the bulletin boards, all I could feel was relief and gratitude wash over me. Relief, that I do not ever have to receive an email from “EDLINE” again and Gratitude, that the good Lord up above gave me the strength to survive emails from “EDLINE”.

(FunFact: Edline is an online service for students and parents to keep up with grades and assignments under the guise of being helpful, when really all it does is stress you out entirely.)

Being an empty nester, I found myself all caught up in the Back to School hoopla, but, with time on my hands. Since I am not out in the 102 degree heat, schlepping Staples/Target bags filled with school supplies into my car, I decided to come up with a super-power filled muffin that I would feed my kids for the first few days of school, if they were here, of course. I had been wanting to try a variation of a Morning Glory muffin with kale. We already eat carrot cake, why not?

I was so amped, that I even dragged my still-like-new food processor out of the cupboard. I always see this apparatus as cumbersome. I cooked and baked for 23 years without it. Just getting it out and setting it up requires a musical score. But, once it is all set-up, it’s pretty amazing. I shredded the carrots and kale in less than 2 minutes. Although it did take me 20 minutes to wash, dry and put the darn thing away. Yin and yang, I guess.

Before you say to yourself, “There is no way in hell, my kids would even try a veggie/healthy/power whatever muffin,” let me just say two things.  1) It’s “…no way in ‘H'”…remember, the kids…shaping and molding young minds, and, 2) These muffins are sweet and you can even make them sweeter by simply adding a little more sugar.

If your kids start school as early as mine did, then it’s still dark outside when you’re trying to get a balanced, nutritious  breakfast crammed down their throats, before you hit the carpool line or bus stop. They won’t even be able to see all the green goodness and protein power these little muffins pack.

If they ask, just tell them it’s what “The HULK” or superheroes have for breakfast. Or something about making them smarter or stronger or faster. You’ll know what to say. We are mothers. We are great at this “s”.

Morning Glorious Bran Muffins

The beauty of this recipe is that you can mix and match to get your 2 1/2 cups of flour. Use what you have on hand. I just happen to keep a variety of flours and bran (hello, fiber) stocked in my pantry. Also, your fruits, veggies and nuts can be substituted and adjusted for your family’s tastes. Let your inner Julia shine and go get creative!

Serve warm with butter, orange marmalade, apple butter or Larkin’s suggestion, cream cheese frosting….Enjoy!

1 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 c. quinoa flour

1 c. wheat bran

1 Tbs. milled flax seed

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon or baking spice (I use Penzey’s)

1/2 c. dried cranberries (or raisins)

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

8 oz. crushed pineapple, drained

2 c. shredded carrots

1-2 c. shredded kale (of course, I used 2 cups. Hence, the Green.)

1/2  Greek, Non-Fat, Plain Yogurt (little tub)

1/2 c. all-natural applesauce (little tub)

2 Tbs. canola oil

3 eggs 1/2 c. agave nectar (or brown sugar or molasses or honey)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line muffin tins with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, bran, flax, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cranberries and walnuts. Fold in shredded carrots and kale. In a second bowl, gently whisk eggs, yogurt, applesauce, oil and agave. Pour the egg mixture into the dry mixture; mix well. Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Makes 18 gloriously healthy muffins.

Note: Value does not include cream cheese frosting

the summer of peace

I am getting settled for another summer on my beloved island. It is always a little bittersweet, because Larkin has to commute every few weeks. We really do hate to be apart. Texas is very far apart. It takes a car, a plane, another car and a ferry to get here. But, as a dear friend once told me, “if it were easy, everyone would do it.”

While here, I will get to spend more time with our two college kids. Jordan is finishing up at BU and can take the ferry over on weekends. The Boy is spending his summer here on MV, searching for a little summer job, a few gigs and a lot of artist peace and quiet.

In between ALL of those loads of laundry (!), he and I have had some long talks about peace, comfort with who your are and being comfortable in your own skin. Why is it so easy for some, while others have to really fight for a place at the table of calm?

 

Do you find yourself searching for peace?

If so, then please stop. Just stop. You cannot go out and search for it. Be still. Let it be. Allow peace to come into your life. It is there waiting patiently and quietly…after all, it is peace!

I believe some people do not see themselves worthy or deserving, so they fool themselves into searches for causes or purpose or bliss, whatever the current blog buzz word happens to be. It is like busy work, tricking yourself into believing that the search is the hard work. If you’re out looking for it, you are missing it altogether.

The hard work is being still. Accepting what is. And, simply, let it be. No shame. No judgement. This is life. As Katharine Hepburn put it, “Life is hard. After all, it kills you.”

We’ve always known that life is ups and downs, ebbs and flows. So, why can we get so thrown?

Conquering unhappiness, depression, addiction, insecurity, health issues, divorce, unemployment, financial fiasco, anxiety, obesity, self-harm, loneliness or even general malaise; they all share a starting point, a first step towards the light. It begins with peaceful acceptance. “It is what it is.” (Larkin’s favorite.)

Now, you are ready.

 Facing the issue, steadying yourself to be open to the calm, will bring you to a state of peace; an unshakeable force to handle stressful times at work, school, parenting, dealing with difficult people, bosses, bullies, relatives or even teenagers. You will be armed to fight off any mental, emotional or physical issue.

Peace is your superpower. Set your buttons to your default, locked on peace. Then, nobody can push those buttons, “not even the people who installed them”, one of my favorite Larkin-isms. (Can you tell I miss him?) Your own thoughts are the most challenging enemy to your peace because they live on site. Your thoughts and your peace are roommates. But, you can give those thoughts strength or you can render them powerless.

 It is all you.

Peace is not a geography problem. Although, I highly recommend the Vineyard for some serious down time and relaxation. “It’s so choice.” (Quick! Name the movie before you get to the end of the post.)

I am thankful everyday for our home here. Even more so, that Joshua is finding his own calm here, too. But, being 19 and an artist, it is going to be just like his keys or his wallet. He has to remember to take his peace, wherever he goes.

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Got to love a blog that quotes Emerson and Ferris Bueller.

Peace.

No TCM, No Cry

TCM Tuesday from Martha’s Vineyard, has been preempted, in order to do the 11 loads of freshman dorm laundry.

I have had 3 girls return home from freshman year. This is my first boy. Did I miss something? Is there a protocol?  Was I supposed to just burn all of this?! Wow.

As I’m finally going to bed, I realize that I have an answer to the age-old hypothetical question:

If you were stranded on an island, who would you want with you?

Easy. Lorena. My housekeeper back in Texas.

Back to classic movies soon.

Goodnight!

The Art of the Gift- A Guide

The month of May always brings an onslaught of gift giving necessities with Mother’s Day, graduations and June brides. In our family, we even have several May birthdays compounded with Mother’s Day. I always refer to the second week in May, lovingly, of course, as “Hell Week”.

Here are some suggestions I have come across in my online search for mothers, grads, brides and birthdays.

 

 

GRADUATES

Whether High School or College, I think The Every Girl’s Guide to Life by Maria Menounos is an exceptional gift. Her book is brimming with small the details that we have tried to instill in our daughters, but in that un-nagging, not bitchy, cool-big-sister sort of way.

She is not only a beautiful girl on the outside, but she lives her life from a unique, calm, beautiful center and her inner beauty is just as stunning.

Her advice, tips and ideas are brilliant and savvy for a young woman getting ready to conquer her world.

 

 

 

Since my first home is Texas, I will give a shout out to the King Ranch Saddle Shop for the perfect Texas Grad guy gift. They have an array of gorgeous, quality leather goods in a variety of price ranges. Their luggage is stunning, yet very practical. This would be an awesome gift for a Texas student going out a state. Classic and understated; proud to be a Texan.

 

 

If you are not a Texan, first of all, my apologies. Second, I will throw a little support to my island home, Martha’s Vineyard. Vineyard Vines has an amazing on-line catalog with great gift ideas that make shopping a breeze. They have a huge selection of collegiate  ties and tote bags, so your student can fashionably show support for their favorite school or alma mater.

 

BRIDES

Sure, couples make it so easy by registering for all of the things they think they are going to need. But, when there is that special couple and you want to give that special gift, one word: Tiffany’s.

When Larkin and I registered, we were that typical couple in ‘la la love land’ …clueless. Of course, I was 22 and did not really have a sense yet, as to what my home decor style was going to be. I just knew I wouldn’t be able to tack up posters on the wall anymore.

From one of my husband’s business associates, we received a tall, gorgeous crystal vase. At the time, I couldn’t possibly imagine where I would put it or how I would use it. Did crystal even match papasan chairs?!

Today, I love what that crystal vase represents and I cherish it. When I arrange flowers for that vase, I remember how far we have come. It strikes me that somehow, the person who purchased this vase for us, could foresee that we would eventually make our way. We would be the people who would come to use that gorgeous crystal vase. It seems to say, I believed in you.

Tiffany’s online has a great selection of various price point crystal vases and bowls. Their customer service is just as impeccable as if you had walked through their revolving door, under the Tiffany blue awning. You will find that special gift that tells that special couple: I believe in you.

Mother’s Day

If you are shopping for your mom, be thankful to have a mother to shop for. I have several loved ones in my life who no longer have that blessed opportunity.

Flowers: easy and always my personal favorite because I LOVE flowers. My kids know to have them sent in paper, because for me, arranging them is the gift. I always use 1800Flowers because they have gorgeous variety, they have wonderful customer service and they always kick back a coupon for future purchases.

You can even set up a calendar, inputting dates and addresses so you’ll never miss an occasion again. Here is the DIY tip of the day:  If you have a forgetful significant other, simply go to their website, set up your birthday/anniversary info and add his email address. He will receive a reminder in due fashion with ideas and suggestions. Crisis averted. You’re welcome.

 

When my daughter, Jordan, became of self-sufficient gift giving age, she always sought out gifts that had a dual, social activist benefit. (Sometimes, I do miss the whole “glittered pasta glued to crap” years.)

Coming from a Catholic school upbringing, which instills social justice, she became adept in finding organizations that would match gifts or donate a portion of purchased items, back to impoverished or struggling communities. Almost all of my gifts from her, come with a card stating that someone, in some far away land is receiving a bag of rice to feed a family. Or, the start-up money to plant a new crop. So my next suggestion is inspired from her. I always say your kids are your biggest educators.

Heart of Haiti is a “Trade, Not Aid” initiative launched by artist and social entrepreneur, Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Macy’s. Already, Heart of Haiti has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti, providing financial benefits for an estimated 8,500 people in the country.

Each item is a one-of-a-kind design and handmade by a Haitian master artisan from raw materials such as recycled oil drums, wrought iron, papier-mâché and stone. The collection features more than 40 home decor items including quilts, metalwork, ceramics, jewelry and paintings and is made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable items such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums and local gommier wood.  Heart of Haiti products are available exclusively online at Macy’s.com. Most items range from $25-$60.

 

There is an art to finding, purchasing, wrapping and delivering a beautiful gift. If you have a “go to” arsenal, you will never be caught off guard in finding the right gift. But, more than “right”, it should always be meaningful. “The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.”  ~Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur

The added bonus of the above suggestions is that they can all be purchased from home, lying in bed in your pajamas. Just as I am doing right now, prepping for “Hell Week”. I think even Pierre would appreciate my “manner”.

 

Spring Cleaning for the Soul

If you are not sneezing with tissues in hand and flying high from a Claritin D buzz, then maybe you are considering a couple of Spring cleaning projects for your home. (The “D” must stand for “Damn, I’m high.”)

Just the term “Spring Cleaning” sounds determined and full of promise, even buoyant. The current commercials for “Home Depot” rival chick-flick montages where the heroine suddenly loses 30 pounds, passes the big exam and makes over her entire New York City apartment, all to a Natasha Bedingfield song.

Gardening, re-decorating, cleaning, painting…..it is almost like we have to be doing something.

You can have the same effect without major project overload, all the while bringing order to your own personal chaos. Here are three easy Spring Cleaning exercises that are not only good for your home, but good for your soul, too. You can even create your own playlist to achieve that same triumphant montage soundtrack from the movies. I have added some musical suggestions, just to get you started.

Before you begin, though, stand in front of your home. Apartment or bungalow or mansion or cottage or dorm, this is your home. You have a roof over your head. Be thankful. Now, show it and get to work.

Don’t Bring Me Down/ELO

If you have anything on the floor, a pile for dry cleaning, stacks of books or catalogs you haven’t had a chance to peruse; any clutter at all, pick it up. Everything should have a place, but if you must have clutter, put it on a high shelf. It only stands to reason that clutter on the floor represents an in your face “to do” list: laundry, errands and unfinished projects. This will only bring you down. If you are feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated, chances are high that you have a few clutter areas that need to be cleared. Picking it up will pick YOU up. When you de-clutter your home, you will de-clutter your mind. Get ready to feel a rush of energy. No, really, you will, so go dance to the ELO song. (Now, you’ve just burned a few calories, too. Boom.)

I Can See Clearly Now/Jimmy Cliff

Where is the window in your home that you stare out of and dream? Or, plot your revenge?  Look closely at this window, pretty dirty, huh? Grab the white vinegar, newspaper and clarity will arrive in a flash. Here is a RealSimple link that shares some easy tips for cleaning a window. Wiping away the grit and grime will help you bring your ideas into focus. (I came up with 4 blog ideas while cleaning my bedroom windows.)  When you have a big decision to make or a problem looming over you, clean a window as you meditate on a solution. You shall be enlightened, my friend. Isn’t there a saying: Clarity and clean windows are the best revenge?

Vogue/ Madonna

Dramatically throw open your closet doors ala Marlene Dietrich and just look at all of those clothes you don’t wear anymore. Gather clothing items that you haven’t worn in the last year. If you cannot decide whether to part with that fabulous dress or suit, then consider how it could help someone who is new to the job hunt. Many charities can benefit from your good taste.  The Dress for Success program “solves the catch-22 that confronts disadvantaged women trying to enter the workforce: without a job, how can you afford a suit?  But without a suit, how can you get a job?” An act of generosity can tilt the scales in the “want vs. need” dilemma.  This should give you the little nudge you need to be generous and fill a bag of goodies for a good cause. Now, you’ll have a little extra closet space for_______________! Truthfully, nothing fits you better than showing kindness and helping others.

There, you have it. Three easy ways to bring good juju into your home and your spirit. Start with one room, one window or one closet, concentrating on the quality of your task, not the quantity. You’ll be amazed with the transformation of energy in your home.

Lovely Day/Bill Withers

I am a long time practitioner of yoga and meditation. But, I don’t believe that you always have to be on the mat or seated in lotus to get to a better place in your mind, body and soul. Sometimes a little cleaning, a good song and a Claritin D will work just fine.