lifestyle, Uncategorized

letting the light back in

I stumbled. I was a little wobbly. I am back up again.

I just couldn’t bring myself to post without sounding perfectly intentional or inspirational. It’s just a tiny blog! You’d think I was trying to write a sequel to the I Ching.

I was totally over-thinking it. Trying too hard. Perfectionism is venom in the veins of creativity.

And then a friend of mine from the Vineyard sent me this video. It reminded me that simple beauty, perfection and creative inspiration can come from the most humble of places.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
~Leonard Cohen

That was the intent of my Living Lola blog all along. A small serving of creating a beautiful, meaningful life from the banquet of everyday living.

Simply put, it has been tumultuous times in Texas. Honestly, I’d settle for a little mundane right now. It isn’t anything I can’t handle. In fact, it is just another opportunity to widen the frame and sharpen the focus. Doesn’t the struggle make the story?  Or something like that? I know I want good lighting. Anyway…

So, back to basics. Gently coated anecdotes, well-intentioned wisdom, good food, brilliant beverages. Creative, authentic, sincere living.

I Ching, rest assured. “Book II-Dynasty Quest” has been shelved.

the Scared is scared from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.

friends, home, lifestyle, Martha's Vineyard

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.  … Read the rest


make your plan

Set out and do it. Really. Whatever you truly want.

Career, relationship, parenting, dream home. Just like your next trip to the grocery store, it all starts with a plan.

Precise, direct, simple.

But, a life well-lived is not supposed to be precise or direct. Certainly not, simple.

Keep your aim in the general direction. Roll up your sleeves and be prepared for the hard work. Setbacks, big and small, await. Dig deep, breathe and fight your way through.

If you really want it, then it is worth fighting for.

 When the really big obstacles become just that, obstacles…step back. Think outside the box. Look at it another way.

There is always a way.

And, I’m pretty sure it won’t take six men to figure it out.

all photos from our first week of demo and salvage at our Woodland Heights house in Houston, Texas 

decorating, home, Houston Heights, lifestyle

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 … Read the rest

decorating, home, Houston Heights, lifestyle

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! 

lifestyle, marriage

living wide

September. Almost the middle, no less. Wow.

Larkin and I have had some big decisions to make lately. Some were made for us. What happened to the lazy days of summer?! Business life, family life and our personal life have all posed big crossroads for us.

“What do they call it…when everything intersects? The Bermuda Triangle.” – Sleepless in Seattle

When a challenge appears, you can look at it as a speed bump to slow you down or an adventure to live and learn from.

After almost 25 years together, I know this much is true about our relationship:  Lark and I will always choose adventure.

It’s a main tenet of Living Lola. When faced with a challenge, presented with a slight chance at a dream or risking it all for what’s behind Door #3, we are just crazy enough to do it.

The doubt, fear and uncertainty usually lasts…about…9… seconds…then, we are all about, “Oh, we can so do this!” High-five-ing, trash talking ensues. Nobody is a bigger fan of Jack & Lark, than we are.

Don’t get me wrong. We practice The Art of Doing Nothing like a freaking religion. Just ask the “family” bag of M&M’s and “family” box of Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies we can put away, lying in bed, watching movies and DVR essentials. We celebrate our down time, full-out. Also, a Living Lola tenet.

Just when it gets comfortable and settled for a length of time, boom! We can shake things up pretty quickly by taking a sharp left turn, that wasn’t even on the map.

“Hey, let’s get married!”  they said, after only knowing each other for two months.

“Let’s put our kids in private school and move to the city!” they said, soon after they moved into their new suburban dream home, that they had built.

“Let’s buy a vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard!” said the couple who lived 2000 miles AND a ferry ride away.

“I know! We can sell our big house and get rid of all our stuff and get a grown-up townhome!” they cried, when their kids left the nest…and kept coming back.

Yep. Adventure is calling. I can feel it coming. Something is in the hot, September Texas air.

Read the rest

lifestyle, movies

The Tao of Hepburn

 TCM’s Summer Under The Stars celebrates Katharine Hepburn.  This post is inspired by the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon hosted by two fabulous classic film blogs Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence and ScribeHard on Film.  TCM will be airing a day of Hepburn’s films on Friday, August 17th.

 As my loyal Living Lola readers know, Ms. Hepburn is one of my personal heroes because of how she lived her life. She represents all I hope to convey in my little blog of big living. I have reviewed several of her films here on the blog and a few of my favorites are airing today, including Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Adam’s Rib and The Lion in Winter.


When I was gathering my thoughts in regards to writing a tribute piece for her and her films, it occurred to me in re-reading my highlighted parts of her autobiography, ME, that all we really need to know, we can learn from Katharine Hepburn. So, instead of film reviews or a profile of her life, I have compiled ten of her quotes that really speak to pursuing your own well-lived life, without reservation. Although her attitude and personality were considered “spirited” and “headstrong” for a woman making her way in the early days of Hollywood, her ideas still resonate boldly today.


The Tao of Hepburn~ 10 Life Lessons from Katharine Hepburn 

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” Finding your passion and making it your life’s work is a choice, your choice.

“Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don’t do that by sitting around.” Do not stand on the sidelines and wait for someone to put you in the game. You are the quarterback of your life.

“I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun.” Every day, every minute, each mundane moment is a chance to create. You can conjure up boredom and complacency or you can make magic. It is all on you.

“Being a housewife and a mother is the biggest job in the world, but if it doesn’t interest you, don’t do it – I would have made a terrible mother.” If you choose the mission, then give it your all without demanding anything in … Read the rest

empty nesters, health, home, lifestyle, motherhood, recipes

For Julia


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 … Read the rest


carry each other

Let me just say, I was boycotting “Chik-Fil-A”, before it was cool.

Not because of the comments of their president, but because of his actions in suing Vermont small business owner, Bo Muller-Moore, over his “Eat More Kale” t-shirts. I thought that the giant fast food chicken joint was being a bully.  I don’t like bullies, so I don’t eat bully-made chicken. There. Done. I haven’t had Chik-Fil-A in over 2 years. My life carries on.


All the recent hullabaloo over the anti-gay remarks, mayors and city officials not wanting their “anti-gay” business is a whole lot of noise in the wrong direction. This also screams of intolerance and tolerance is a two-way street.

Anyone who knows me, knows how I feel about tattoos. They are not for me.  (Or, for the children I’ve raised. Especially the two 9-pound babies, that I shoved through my normally 110 lb frame, which brings cause to mention the collective 100 extra pounds I gained and lost from those most beautiful, momentous occasions. Do you think I carried those babies to have them permanently mark up their bodies….oops. Sorry. Off-topic.

Anyway. Tattoos.

I do not like tattoos. Am I going to try to shut down tattoo parlors in a small effort to push my opinions on others? Of course, not. Can I really stop my grown children from getting tattoos?  Of course, not.  But, they obviously know how I feel. They will make their decision and they have that right because they are adults.



I don’t like tattoos, so I won’t get one. I support your right/opinion/statement to get a tattoo. With barely any judgement, as an added bonus.

I don’t like bullies, so I don’t eat Chik-Fil-A.

You may not like Pilates or Maker’s Mark bourbon or 4 lb. dogs or old movies or any of the things I love. I’m confident that you wouldn’t want to take away my right to enjoy those things, correct? Why can’t we each just be responsible for ourselves?

This morning, after reading my Twitter and FB feeds filled with mentions on this subject, I took to my workout, really meditating on the idea of tolerance for all things. Then, Bono spoke to me. No, really. He actually sang to me. U2’s “One” with Mary J. Blige came up on the iPod.  (FunFact: This song was released 20 years ago. FunFactBonus: Read the rest


for my Namesake

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis would have been 83 today.

It is no big secret that I was named after her. My parents were young, liberal, idealists still in school during Camelot.

I love that Jackie O is my namesake. Proudly, I have always carried a little part of her with me.

Since I was born in 1966, I only had the images, pictures and stories of a young president and his beautiful wife. My first memories of seeing her on TV were that of the cool, stylish, 70’s “Jackie O.”

I assure you, she left an indelible mark on the way I would dress, live and just be. When I was young, I honestly thought I owed it to her. Like I had to carry our name with special care. I wanted to make her proud in case I ran into her at party…on a yacht…in Greece. I was 8.

But, I wanted to be prepared, anyway.

I never got to meet her. It’s okay, though. I didn’t have to. I get to carry a little part of her with me everyday. And, I will always treat “Jacqueline Lee” with a little special care.

Happy Birthday, my dear Namesake.