Red Solo Cups

January 11- who knew? It surprises me that we are here!  My Christmas tree is still up and adorned- it still looks fabulous as it is a faux AND pre-lit tree.

I’ve hesitated on the take -down. Maybe because I keep taking down everyone else’s decor, and when I get home, I just want to enjoy my own holiday. I got a new tree this year, one that my forever hiking husband says it looks like a tree he’s slept under while backpacking. hah! It does look like a wild, mountainside tree, with much space in between branches, but the ornaments show off beautifully. img_0528img_0643

So, here is a dilemma- It seems as though after every Thanksgiving, I am mending and glueing ornaments and decor- no matter how carefully I pack the holiday decor away the previous year.. Gorilla Glue and I have a bonding relationship. And E600 remains the back up repair cement.

I use Rubbermaid 18 gallon roughneck totes * for packing the ornaments- and I am not a fan of the prescribed ornament boxes, since lots of my ornaments don’t fit in those spaces. I did see a pretty clever use of red solo cups on the floor of a storage box-I like this method of separating glittery or fragile ornaments from each other. Usually, unprinted newspaper in layers is my go to method for ornament pack up. And this method of flat newsprint would work to add a second or third layer of red solo cups to the totes.


For one of my elderly clients, I’VE gone to see thru inexpensive Ikea Samla containers. I move the boxes, I know the lids do not clip shut, but I do know she can see what’s inside, which is emotionally important to this senior citizen. I can tell you that Ikea’s Samla are the best value- they break/crack as easily as more expensive Sterlite brand. RIGHT NOW they are on sale. Is January organizing month?

So, I remain quite happy having my tree still lit. Were we still in Louisiana, the Christmas ornaments would be exchanged for Purple, Green and Gold- as after the Epiphany, Mardi Gras begins. The days and the culture we miss so much.

So, here’s to packing up Christmas ( eventually) – I hope yours was a happy one and may we make 2017 a “good” year, by doing the most good we can.

* (all under lifetime warranty- perfect size for loading and lifting AND STACKING,  and shut tight from the elements and critters)

PS just to show you how some holiday intense folks sort their balls 😉



Blame and Responsibility

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With so much anger/ hostility in the world, in the USA, in politics and within families-I hear too much blame and whose fault something is.

And then, these same “blaming” folks- without shame, talk and share about kindness and love on social media, and manage to stand in church and profess his/her allegiance to Christianity (it could be any faith, this though is the current popular faith claim) Really?  How does that work? How does that descriptor fit into one’s everyday living? I am tired of hearing about whether you are Christian or Muslim or Catholic or Saved. Your faith is not important to me, your integrity is.

We can all profess a faith- or not- but why aren’t we living with personal responsibility each and every day on the streets and in our own hearts? The blame game is easy. Blaming someone else is an easy rationalization for avoiding self reflection.

And there are those who fall victim to working or living with wrongness- from colleagues, siblings, spouses. They remain complacent and filled with  guilty knowledge for not standing up for the belittled, betrayed and marginalized- for accepting what is knowingly wrong. These bystanders are as guilty as the oppressor. Silence is complicity.

What happened to kindness? What happened to mercy? What happened to goodness? Where is personal integrity and responsibility in life?

Why can’t we get beyond blame? It is our own actions that make us who we truly are. Do we practice what we preach? Are we all living with intention?

We need to change this world, we need to be better citizens, neighbors brothers and sisters, and to do that, blame must end, and responsibility must win.

Read on to Tom Rubenoff’s article on blame and responsibility- written 4 years ago- it is as prescient in 2016. (Tom Rubenoff, Senior Editor, My Eye on Life)

Blame is a dead end.  Responsibility clears the way for action.

Blame is all about whose fault it was.  Responsibility is all about repairs and/or amends, restitution and/or apology.  In short, blame is about the past and responsibility is about the present and future.  Since the past cannot be changed, blame is of very limited value.  Assigning responsibility changes the present and so affects the future.

It is true that blame has its uses.  Some things cannot be fixed, amended or repaired and as a society we find them to be beyond apology.  Then we affix blame and assign punishment.  Yet we often use blame to avoid responsibility.  We find a scapegoat to blame for our own mistakes, or, for example, blame the President for the deeds of those who hide behind the mask of a corporation.  We often blame others when they reflect parts of ourselves of which we are ashamed.  Misplaced blame is an enemy of personal growth.

Accepting responsibility is empowering.  Assigning responsibility expresses confidence that the recipient will rise to the task of making things right.   Sometimes we find that we must accept responsibility for another’s misdeeds or mistakes.  We have a choice then to feel persecuted, wrongly required to clean up someone else’s mess or we can feel empowered and entrusted to be the hero and make things right.

I wish you peace in your quest to rightly decide whether it is blame or responsibility that needs to be assigned.

square peg round hole #57





hardboard perforated by a pattern of holes in which articles may be pegged or hung, as for display

I was recently reminded of just how brilliant pegboard storage systems are when I toured the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American history. The Julia Child’s kitchen was a must see display for me- and the marvelous use of pegboard in her kitchen made me envious of the ease with which she could cook on her Garland range. She and husband Paul arranged the Cambridge, MA kitchen in 1961 for her gorgeous French copper pots and pans and her gadgets- of which Julia herself says she was an obsessive collector.

Pegboard is almost a forgotten resource when we want to organize and reclaim our lives/homes from our accumulated stuff. It’s popularity began in the 50’s when workbenches from our parents and grandfathers would have been tidy and in order.

There will always be tools- hammer, screwdriver and a pliers that we need to keep our apartments, offices or homes running smoothly. The power of DIY is prevalent and although the Container Store and ELFA make incredible organizing tools, there are less expensive and easier methods to create space/ storage and relieve us from searching for tools in the ever infamous junk drawers. The stuff in our lives can all be controlled with pegboard from the necessary kitchen tools in tiny kitchens, the pots and pans, workbench space, school supplies, washi tape order, ribbon control, school supplies- like the forever missing protractor, and trowel and weeder for the potting shed- it’s a cinch to manage once the pegboard is in place.


And don’t forget to check pinterest for some amazing uses for pegboards- organizing kiddie toys and creating a room divider that doubles as a display shelf, to creating a function over form backsplash, and even updating the potting shed. It is no longer just for the garage, and it comes in pre-finished colors. The common brown pegboard with which we are all so familiar can be readily painted. That durable brown comes in sheets of 4” x 8’ retails for about $15 a sheet at Lowes, which is relatively inexpensive. And it can be cut to fit any vertical space.

And there are plastic and metal variations, and  thicknesses from 1/4 inch to 1/8th inch. All have 1/4” holes evenly spaced holes and there is a multitude of hanging hardware, shelves and baskets from which you can hang it all. Lowe’s sells a 43 piece set of hardware that sells for about twelve bucks.


Even the DIY network offers step by step how-to install pegboard.

I would like to try framing it with molding- to make it a more finished piece in the house or office. Certainly this vertical & visible storage option makes it a dream to use, adds huge function while it is a great value. I am dreaming of adding these walls to my new workspace-look for photos in the upcoming months of my pegboard heaven.

#100 Cooking Tip- No Fail Recipes

It is not so often I rave about cooking magazines, but somehow in this day of overly advertised magazines, I take such pleasure in receiving my Cook’s Illustrated. This every other month subscription has worked thru the many options to cook or bake a particular recipe and by purposely making all the cooking mistakes for you, the result is a guaranteed success. Cook's mag covers Whether it is a secret ingredient- like adding rice flour to shortbread or cooking down peaches prior to  building a peach crisp- the test kitchen has done all the experimenting for you.  America’s Test Kitchen- is a part of the PBS world. America’s Test Kitchen And not like the food channel, it is it’s own entity. Cook’s Illustrated is the magazine published from the test kitchen.

With time so precious to all of us, why not follow the fool-proof methods that guarantee a fabulous dish- Cook's Ill inside recipeeven when it is as simple as cooking the perfect bone-in-chicken breast ? Guaranteed moist and flavorful- this chicken basic is an absolute treat to make. And I never knew that baking first,  then searing would bring such fabulous results to an often mundane entree!  Included with the fail-proof recipes, the test- kitchen chefs will provide some alternative flavorings for each of the recipes.

The illustrations are straightforward and clean, and the cooking tips and equipment review have yet proven me wrong. I am keen on the hand drawn art in black and white and the gorgeous hand illustrated front and back covers. And best of all, there is NO ADVERTISING within the binding- none, nada- quite amazing in this day and age.

For all you digitally driven foodies, there is an online membership- even an online cooking school for those interested. For those of us who like the hard copies, and like to write notes on given  recipes- there is an annual compendium-Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 8.03.11 AM which includes all 6 issues for the given year in a hard bound book,  with a great table of contents.  I am lucky enough to get one each Christmas- and am thrilled to search thru my favorites recipes from each year. BEST. GIFT. EVER. Cook’s Illustrated– worth checking out.




#26 Good Tip Tuesday – Gal Pal recharge


This weekend was my annual girls club gathering- a fabulous group of 3 with whom I share years of friendship. Although we don’t get to together as much as we’d like, the times we share are filled with so much learning and laughing, it is a jammed packed head and heart session mixed with much creativity.  The kind of combination of goodness that motivates me.

In our chats, I spoke of Brene Brown*- who studies vulnerability and shame and what keeps us from living a WHOLEHEARTED life. As quickly as I said her name- my gal pals introduced me to Shawn Achor** who studies happiness and presented his findings in a Ted Talk.

His proven formula for rewiring the brain is below-what is fascinating is that our productivity can increase with his changes. Love these outcomes!

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Good Tip Tuesday # 57 Connection

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I am often inundated with work details (feels like flying debris) and learn that connecting with others creates more space and understanding, rather than constantly pushing on with the must-do’s and impending deadlines.

Spontaneous or planned interactions with someone in my network are invaluable to refreshing my outlook and increasing productivity.
(*photo compliments of @gettoworkbook)
Keeping and making connections strengthen our work– be sure to make & keep those connections!
Thanks to a author Brene Brown, for teaching me what is a solid connection.


“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
― Brené Brown

#1 Blizzard of Recipes



The Blizzard of 2016 hit this weekend and of course I found myself happily in the kitchen with time to cook. All good, however I found myself caught in a recipe saving dilemma.

I find I am embroiled too many recipes formats with too little order for them. As hard as it is for a personal assistant to admit, my recipes are holding me hostage.

There are those I keep in my computer, in a folder called Recipes, which makes them easy to find and so quick to share.
And then, I find I want to keep and store those I’ve printed, because they have my working notes on them- perhaps doubled or tweaked and notes of caution, i.e. too much pepper, or presentation tips, preserving tip freezes well or pack in tins, etc.
I have a recipe box, from a wedding shower 26 years ago filled with handwritten recipes from aunts and cousins I couldn’t bear to remove. It came complete with fancy cards to add/write new recipes,
Then there is a 3 ring notebook, with hand-written family recipes, which I copied page by page from a cousin. And now I have file folders to organize those printed pages I’ve used or  those sent to me from friends that I want to try in the near future.
Plus, I have recipes torn from magazines and newspapers- which somehow get tucked into file folders or various cookbooks ( likely Joy of Cooking, as that is my go to).
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And sentimentally, I have recipes written by my mother and mother-in-law that I cherish not only for the recipe, but to see their handwriting which provides tender moments of remembrance- and a source of family heritage.
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I’ve attempted to use my iPad for using those online recipes while cooking, but the screen fades and my hands are messy just when I need to see the recipe.
I can’t imagine giving up my cookbooks, as I use them hard- pages are marked/tabbed with notes written beside the recipes, and the inside back covers have recipes with pages noted and birthday cakes chosen by my daughters for different birthdays- with the years written when I made them.
The recipe organizer apps are plentiful for Android and IOS : AllTheCooks, Pepper Plate, Dinner Spinner, Big Oven,Smarty Pans, Cookpanion, and Epicurious- most with online recipe boxes to save tried and true results. Many friends are securing favorite and online recipes in Evernote.
Yet, I just don’t know that we are able to dispose of the family recipes and scan them into the computer.
I’ve tried to go digital, and it still doesn’t fill all the needs of keeping recipes available and in order.  I feel lucky enough to get groceries in the door without the additional time needed to scan and save recipes into the computer. It is just so much faster to open a book or pull out a recipe from my card file.
Would love to know what method you use, and any systems you recommend.
If you’ve gone all digital, I am so impressed.
Have you considered what method would be your favorite? Are you using a seamless method for saving/organizing recipes?
Would love your input as I wade through the winter sorting mode I am in.
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Speaking of winter/snowy specials- let this recipe warm you up!
I totally recommend Ina’s Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese