~Don't feed chickens blueberries while wearing Midnight Sky toenail polish.

~Never wear an orange shirt to Home Depot.

~Chapstick will stop the sting of a paper cut.

~In 2006 Time Magazine named "You" as their "Person of the Year." This a great thing to include on a resume.

I wish that I could have appreciated my time living in Baltimore more. A taxing work environment, divorce and the death of my mother has me remembering that time of my life as pretty dark...some things did leave an unforgettable memory watermark...
I vividly remember the cherry blossoms. So many graceful shades of petal pink…like a swarm of mini ballet dancers.The enveloping, sweet fragrance was well worth the round of "3-Claritin-a-day" days to follow. My political views and suspicions leave me very leery of recommending anyone spend time in Washington, DC, but if you have a chance it is a magnificent sight on a scale with any other ranked natural wonder. This amazing photo op always happens around April fool’s Day…which might be the perfect time to visit Washington, DC after all.

They fooled me with the crabs…The “All You Can Eat” and “Crab feast” deals sound incredible to a Pacific Ocean girl…until they dump a steaming pot of Blue Crabs in front of you. What!  They are tiny little babies…something you would use for bait to catch a Dungeness crab.  Then to make it worse, they boil them in Old Bay Seasoning, a spice blend made out of celery salt and battery acid, added to the pot by the shovelful. So at the end of the evening, you have a pile of 23 carcasses…you are exhausted from picking…your hands are on fire from the “Old Bay” and you have eaten about a quarter cup of crab meat. I think the whole thing is a scam to sell more beer, which is about the only thing that will wash the taste of Old Bay out of your mouth.     

On the other hand…I cherish the memory of the lightning bug miracle. You blow off the first one or two sparks...did I see something? Maybe a piece of metal caught the porch light. Then a few moments later there are a dozen flashes...then fifty...then a hundred...then suddenly the lawn is ablaze!   
All that magical, twinkling light is a siren call to the joy-full child’s heart lying smothered under a hulky pile of adult debris. All you can do is dance out into it with bewildered breathless wonder or lay on the grass and gaze up at fairy stars glittering only a fingertip away against the blue velvet night sky. 
There is something pure and mystical about being surrounded like this. I have been transfixed in the same way a few times before, once in a monarch butterfly sanctuary and another time when a herd of deer surrounded my campsite. In that precious, breath-holding instant all time, space and boundaries cease to exist and the lovely, existential phrase… we are all one…becomes a tangible, heart-beating thing.


iece /Peace of mind...

"Life is hard. It is even harder when you are stupid."

John Wayne

 Webster defines ambiance as, “atmosphere with a romantic flair.”  Although I think their definition is perfection…I probably would have rambled on a bit including words like glimmering, sensual, mysterious, captivating, charming, and alluring. 

Ambiance is one of my most beloved words and something never to be underestimated. Good restaurants are undeniably divine and dressing up and going out to celebrate and be festive has its place. However, there is something so lovely about being home, warm and intimate and all tucked in for the night. Devoting time to cooking for those I cherish and then creating a romantic space with all the soul-full, inspiring trimmings of candles, music and flowers is one of my favorite love-making acts.
 As poor, starry-eyed newlyweds, my ex-husband and I quickly learned that the best way to indulge our champagne tastes was to make it at home. Steak and lobster from the grocery store could be squeezed into our budget and with a little wine, k.d.lang and candlelight, the hand-me-down kitchen table in our horrid dive of a first apartment could be transformed into quite a magical place.


Thank you to all the self-less gurus vigorously pumping out innovative theories to improve my life and nurture me, mind, body and soul. 
     I love the multi-sensual approach, I am told that peaceful, glorious nirvana can be all mine just a gluten-free, rose oil-infused, pink candle lit, drum circle accompanied, headstand away.  Despite all this fresh, bountiful energy generously devoted to increasing my welfare, the two theories that have rung out to me clearly above the loud expanding expansion gobble goop are based on ancient Japanese wisdom.
     The first that resonates so deeply in me is the philosophy of Kintsugi.  This soul-full art form dates back to the 15th century when shogun/inspired lifestyle guru, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, asked a local craftsman to bind together a damaged tea set with melted gold.  He wanted to repair the brokenness in a way that would make the dish even more beautiful than it was prior to being broken…more exquisite and valuable than other more “perfect” sets. 
     This lovely way of thinking can be stretched out to embrace the fragile human condition…broken hearts, broken dreams, all patched back together, tenderly with gold spun out of hope, compassion and rising above.  This makes you “Kintsugi, stronger and more beautiful thanks to your damaged pieces. 
     The other philosophy I love is “Wabi Sabi”.  Not to be confused with Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo, the Wikipedia description reads, “Wabi Sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."  Wow.  I know it is a little anti-American to not be frantically chasing perfect, but just between us, you have to agree Wabi-Sabi is a lovely notion, takes a lot of pressure off and is really fun to say. 
     I fully embrace “Stop the Glorification of Busy” as my new favorite bumper sticker driven lifestyle philosophy, but I wonder if “I Love Wabi-Sabi” might have any mainstream traction?
     Maybe we need a reality show to build some momentum.  Go into brand new homes…strip paint and carpet down to the wood, replace all the artwork with children’s drawings, chip some of the china, dig up the yard and replant wildflowers.  I can imagine the opening title shot… a wobbly table, a handful of fuzzy dandelions, and a dinged teapot…simple charming and best of all beautifully imperfect.
    P.S.  Shogun Yoshimasa’s reign also introduced the grace of ikebana style floral design, government patronage of Noh musical theater and the tea ceremony. 

"*Recently someone pointed out to me that not everyone is lucky enough to know what the “Santa Ana winds” are. For the unfortunate…close your eyes…
Picture yourself walking along a dry creek bed…sprawling ancient oak trees gently filtering the silvery light from an enormous, luminescent full moon…the air  is faintly scented with the spice of pepper berries and somewhere off in the distance your favorite “Eagles” song is softly playing.

Now imagine a heavy breeze blowing across warm, primordial desert sands, whispering tales of Arabian nights, gypsy caravans and exotic spice markets, tenderly stroking your hair and caressing your skin… it’s kinda like that."

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”
― Albert Einstein

~ A childhood spent in southern California comes with many blessings… unfortunately an appreciation for the seasons is not necessarily one of them. Days and forecasts idle along and pleasantly blend together without any major meteorological drama. It took living in Baltimore to truly appreciate just how brilliantly green a new spring leaf can really be. 
Late Winter is grey and gloomy…all the crisp and sparkly white snow has turned into dingy, grey slush, dull naked tree limbs are faintly visible against sullen skies…everyone is in post-holiday, worn out, vitamin D starved depression…blah, blah, blaher…and then there it is…that first teeny, tiny nub of green promise. 

My default color authority, Crayola box of 120, calls it most appropriately “Screaming Green”, renamed from “Ultra Green” in 1990. About 5 days after those tenuous leaves appear, the entire landscape is gloriously, screaming green!  Salvation comes to our winter bleary eyes! The earth starts popping out a sexy palette of crocus, tulips and fruit blossoms in every luscious coral/pink shade imaginable. The birds and bees start to mambo and then the rest of us join the line… reborn, hopeful and in love.

What we hunger to eat follows the same song…after hearty, soul-full, warming stews, soups and roasts, our palette is starved for bright, fresh, tangy, and crunchy.  To me Spring’s plate is tart, lemony asparagus, dill dusted salmon,  sun-warmed morning strawberries, tender green onions and the only time of year peas are tolerable.

~"Anything awesome is a sore spot for assholes."

Joe Rogan

Never assume an Altoids box in someone's bag has Altoids in it.

Ode to the Marigold

     ~The Marigold has always been one of my least favorite flowers.  I resisted planting them for many years in spite of their well fortified, front end cap presence at every single nursery and garden center I went to.   
      To begin with, they are yellow or orange…colors I seldom prefer outside of a Autumn landscape shot. During a long career of flower arranging, there wasn’t anything elegant you could do with a silk marigold plant, the best bet was to just bury it in a clay pot by itself or in the back of a color bowl. 
    The thing I dislike most is that they are stinky…not rotted trash or hot roofing tar stinky but plenty unpleasant just the same.  To make things even crueler they are down there low competing with my very favorite garden smell of all time, sweet alyssum…me and the bees…crazy-wild for it.  

     But that fetid smell is what makes the marigold so valuable. They will just sit there calm, peaceful and secure in their own power, their pungent scent confusing and repelling every starving pesky insect that thought for sure something delicious, like tomatoes, roses or strawberries, had been planted around here somewhere. 

     Their “handicap” is their glory…a metaphor with a long, deep reach.

~Sugar will cure a burnt tongue. This will work both literally and figuratively.

~One part baking soda mixed with one part toothpaste will remove sharpie marks from ceramic tile.

Life hack #2...make sure there isn't a black sharpie in your back pocket when sitting and working on the white tile floor. Especially your customer's white tile floor.

~The difference between the bottom of the Marianas Trench and top of Mount Everest is only about eleven miles.

When I close my eyes, I imagine all of the recipes in this book being savored outdoors at a long, rustic, wooden table. The air is rich with the conversation and laughter of family and good friends. Crickets and Spanish guitar softly underscore the sun as it sets behind rolling Umbrian hills, gilding a surrounding ancient grove of gnarled olive trees in final moments of golden light.
Candles are lit, wine is poured and brightly patterned stoneware bowls and platters brimming with fresh from the garden vegetables, succulent roasts and fresh baked bread are eagerly passed around…all redolent with the heavenly scents of garlic, spices and herbs. Dessert…a caramel-topped pear tartin, a fragrant lemon pound cake and a bowl of perfectly ripe figs wait on the sideboard along with extra glasses and a bottle of home-made limoncello. Everyone’s favorite songs are sung, new stories are told and old dogs wait patiently underfoot for delicious tidbit or two to fall their way as the moon rises languidly through the trees to add her silvery magic to the spell…