Forever Young

Have you ever read something (other than politics) that just pisses you off?

I read a post on Sunday by a fitness guy I follow who said “what do you think of when you think of the average 62-70 year old? Shuffling along, stooped over, looking down at their feet to see where they’re going so they don’t trip, right?”

I’M INSULTED! After reading further, I realized that his ultimate point was that our bodies are designed to be strong and capable well into old age, but only “IF you never stopped moving, playing, lifting, climbing, and running… from childhood on.” Our society has become too sedentary, thus, too unfit and unhealthy too early. But, not us, right?

MY FIRST WAY to stay “young” is to stay strong and flexible. If you are playing, chasing, lifting and entertaining your Grands, do it as much as you can. If they wear you out, don’t start sitting on the sidelines, get stronger – for them and for yourself.

There are so many ways to accomplish this. What is my routine? I’ve done Nia Classes taught by my dear friend Holly (http://hollynastasi.com) for more than 20 years. Now I do them on Zoom with people from all across the world!
I also walk briskly 2-3 times a week, do crunches after walking, Plank daily, yoga stretches and crawling/playing on the floor regularly.

FLOORPLAY – MY HAPPY PLACE

While walking is great, it doesn’t engage your whole body; add some Yoga, Chair Yoga, Nia, Pilates, Zumba, Bicycling, Water Aerobics, Light Weights training, or Kettlebell. Just find something you love and go for it!

THE SECOND WAY to stay “forever young” is to develop intergenerational friendships. I have been very lucky to have friends both much older and much younger than myself.

The young stylists I met at work were a tough crowd, LOL. We could have easily dismissed each other because of our age, but they teased me into learning the latest technology, fashion trends, and music, while showing me a lot of respect for my life-skills . They are what I most miss about no longer working in the beauty industry.
Other friendships were formed over a love of good food, photography and art, and mutual admiration. These talented young women have been willing to include me in their lives. I am honored.

My older friends guided me with nurturing, encouragement and the benefit of their life experiences. Two set great examples of being young at heart, and were certainly stand-ins for my Mom after she passed in ’98. They were always generous, engaged, and active.

Nancy became client in the mid-1980s, and we became fast-friends. She was a little-bit coastal-grandmother – her family had a large Victorian summer-home on Rhode Island – and a little bit hippy. She hiked for years, and did yoga into her 90’s. She read widely, had been a librarian. I loved her style, her thoughtful way of speaking, her comfortable cottage in South Austin. We lived near each other, and I especially enjoyed being invited to lunch at her home.

We shared a love of blue & white Asian bowls, and on one of our last visits, I photographed these on her sunlit shelf, creating this watercolor.
She was always open-minded, curious, and inclusive. I miss her terribly.

NANCY’S NEW CUT (that bone-structure!)
Nancy’s Bowls

I met Lee at BookPeople in Austin, when we attended a book-signing for three women we both knew. She “took me under her wing,” became my friend, and was always a steadfast cheerleader as I wrote my book and struggled to regain my health. She is the first person I acknowledged in my book, and I don’t know if I would have finished it without her checking in on me.

Lee and I shared a love of hair and fashion, and Lee loved being right in the thick of things, in the spotlight if possible. Being shy, I admired that quality a lot!

She was a successful public speaker, who left Exxon to pursue her own career, then created a school to train hundreds of others to do what she did. Lee’s 90th birthday party (below) was an amazing gathering of all the people whose lives she had touched. She pledged that night to have another for her 100th, but passed away last year, 4 years shy of her goal. I really miss our annual birthday lunches, and her bright, cheery voice!

Lee’s 90th Birthday Party
Lee @ 93 Our Annual Birthday Lunch @ Cheesecake Factory

I came across this photo the other day which I’d saved, and it’s a reminder to myself after I found myself thinking, “what does it matter if I go out looking like this?”
This is the THIRD WAY to stay youthful, and this picture really is worth a thousand words.

We’ve gotta live like we’ve got lots more life ahead of us, because we may have. What we do today will affect our tomorrows.

Thanks for being in my life. I loved all of your comments!
XO Donna


KINDER AND GENTLER

IF you’ve noticed I haven’t shown up in your mailbox for a while, it’s because I have had Covid.

Yes, despite being vaxxed and boosted, and wearing a mask everywhere indoors, I got it anyway, as did my sweetie. I gotta say, I never had any doubts about my need for the vaccine, and I am grateful that so many people worked so hard to make one… I can’t imagine not having the vaccine – it knocked me on my ass, not gonna sugar-coat it. Today is the first day out of the last 14 that I have felt a bit like myself again. But I could sure use a nap. LOL

Let’s magically go back to what I began to write 3 weeks ago:

I am making a quiche for my son. It’s one I made all the time when he was growing up and it is dependent on perfectly-ripe farm-fresh tomatoes. I bought a few at our farmer’s market this morning, along with some onions, and I can’t get the memory of this Tomato & Onion Pie (what it is called in this cookbook I’ve had since the mid-1970s) out of my mind. A chunk of Jarlsberg, a few eggs, some half & half, and it will be heavenly!

Much used, well loved.

This cookbook was published in 1972, a year after my son was born, but I didn’t buy it until three years later when I began my first hairdressing job. There was an incredibly beautiful woman who owned a shop half a block from the salon where I worked. She was my boss’s client and we would always talk as I shampooed her hair.

Her shop – The Jade Garden – just around the corner from our shop, was full of airplants in stunning seashells from all around the globe, suspended everywhere in the delicate macrame hangers she made. Acrylic pedestals in varying heights featured whimsical terrariums she constructed. She was fascinating and exotic to me: she’d been to India, where she’d been given her name by her guru. She ran her own very chic business, something unimaginable to my twenty-five year old self. Her jewelry! And, she was a vegetarian.

I never really enjoyed meat, but I had no idea there were options other than what I had been raised with. There was a small health food store within walking distance of my shop – frequented by all the people coming into town from NYC to catch the ferries to Fire Island. We walked there together for lunch one day, and I was hooked. Down the veggie rabbit-hole I went!

I bought this book there. I had a Bohemian heart, and this book with it’s sweet stories of sharing good food which has been lovingly prepared struck a chord within me. Growing up, dinner was something to be “fixed” and on the table on time every night. Usually it was a very stressful event, to be endured. Not something to be enjoyed. This book presented a better way for me raise my son and enjoy our meals together.

These illustrations appealed to my Bohemian heart.

Between this book, and it’s follow-up, AnneMarie Colbin’s book, “Food and Healing, ” and James Beard’s book on bread – plus all the wonderful vegetarian friends I met when I moved to Austin a lifetime ago, I’ve always eaten well. Often on a tight-budget as a single-mom, but always well. Going back to my hippie roots always makes me happy. Food should be delicious, made with healthful ingredients, and beautiful. I am happy I made this quiche before I got sick; it made me feel better knowing that my son was enjoying it!

It is beautiful, no? if any of you are interested in the recipe, please leave a remark in the comments – I will gladly send it to you. It’s fabulous with a nice salad, a glass of buttery Chardonnay, and pears or peaches for dessert. And just as good when reheated in a toaster oven the next day!
XO Donna

Tomato and Onion Pie, oh my!


SYNCHRONICITY

Isn’t it odd how someone you haven’t seen for years can suddenly float into your mind, and then, bam! you run into them in a place you would never have imagined?

I live 35 miles NW of Austin, Texas… and my dentist, and quite a few of my doctors, are there.
I’m completely unwilling to go to anyone else, so I usually plan a few things around medical visits when I am going to be in town. Today was a twice-rescheduled dental cleaning and new x-rays. Then off to get bloodwork done. Last stop, visit my son to sit in the shade to enjoy lunch with him.

I parked on the street in front of the big old brick home where he rents an apartment. It’s a beautiful neighborhood close to the university, lots of tall trees and still has un-metered parking. He has a tiny brick patio under those tall trees, and that’s where we always visit.

When we said our good-byes, I climbed into my now very hot car, got my purse settled, and was waiting for the A/C to cool the car. I was just about to fasten my seatbelt and leave, when I saw a man walking towards the car parked in front of me.

It couldn’t be… I was thinking about him and his wife just yesterday, remembering their swimming pool, with its dark bottom, shaded and made private in the middle of downtown Austin, by bamboo. I wished I was in that pool, and hoped they were well.

Side-note: our friendship ended about seven years ago – when she and I fell-out.

I got out of my car and called out to him, never stopping to wonder if I’d be rejected, and was greeted with a warm hug, and a nice conversation.

I always do my best to forgive and move on. Sometimes the ending of a friendship is wistful, you wish it had gone down differently, you miss them. Other times, you chalk it up to a lesson learned, and that person becomes “just somebody that I used to know.” You know?

This fell into the first category. I don’t know if anything will come of this, I expect nothing. But I finally got to say that I am sorry for the way our friendship ended, and let him know that I think of them often, fondly. He said they felt the same way, too.

As he was walking back to his car he turned to me, “Your birthday is still November 6th, right?”

I’m amazed at everything that conspired to make this happen – 30 seconds later and it wouldn’t have. I feel like I am finally getting my mojo back!

XO. Donna

PS – Speaking of Mojo – everything in my Etsy shop is on sale half-price. They make lovely gifts. Link below. XO

etsy.com/shop/FairviewPhotos


AND HERE’S TO YOU

“Mrs. Robinson. Jesus loves you more than you will know… “
No, wait! That’s not what I meant to say, but now you’re humming it too, aren’t you?

Here’s to you, 2022, because you’re going to be a great year!

I believe this wholeheartedly, and the fact that I accomplished two major goals last year, and turned 70 to boot, gives me a foundation for my belief.

My first goal was to have what turned out to be a life-saving surgery. Now, almost seven months later, I feel so much better that I can look forward to a healthier, exciting year. My cardiologist is thrilled with my improvement – I saw her Tuesday and she reduced my meds because my blood-pressure is now too low – because my heart is working properly again!

My second goal (and I went right down to the wire accomplishing it) was taking an idea that came out of a therapy session, and turning it into a reality. I’ve opened a shop designing/selling greeting cards on ETSY. The cards are made from some of my favorite photos and professionally-printed for me on lovely card stock.

Maybe it’s my age, although I’d rather blame it on anything else, but the learning curve to get the thing up-and-running was an absolute bear! Have you noticed this, too? Does everything seem more complicated?
It took me months to get all of my ducks-in-a-row, but it opened with a bang on December 31!

Here’s the link to visit: etsy.com/shop/FairviewPhotos

It is so exciting to sit here working, surrounded by packages of beautiful cards in shiny wrappers, imagining all of the loving notes that will be written and received.

Flower Power

Naming the shop was a challenge, but I set an intention one night before bed: I would know what to call it when I woke in the morning. And I did: FairviewPhotos is named for the only street where all of the O’Klock sisters lived together.

It was just me, Terry, and Lynn when we lived in Bohemia, a little town on Long Island, in the mid-50’s. Then, new baby sister, Andee, joined us in Sayville in the 60’s while a new house was being built. When the Bayport house was ready, we moved in, and Elizabeth (whom you met in my post in August) was born. All five of us on Fairview Avenue.

There are two other reasons I believe it will be a good year – and yes, they are “airy-fairy,” but, I study Tarot and Numerology a bit, and last year was a chaotic “5” year. (2+0+2+1 =5) all about personal freedom in all it’s forms – and look what that turned into!

This year will be a “6” year, (2+0+2+2 = 6) and the preponderance of twos is also good because they are about partnership, diplomacy and love. Yes, THANK YOU!

The number “6” is about taking responsibility, with an emphasis on relationships and equilibrium. This year may be more about “What’s good for ALL of us?” and less about “Me, my rights, and what I want.” With this mindset there is room for an emphasis on growth and healing, cooperation, and service to others.

I read that 2022 is also a magnetic year; meaning that you can attract things more easily, both good and bad. Focus on your goals, and think BIG. Stay positive, drop judgements toward yourself and others. And drop guilt. Who needs more of that?

The icing on the cake for me, is the Pantone Color of the Year 2022, is VERY PERI. It’s not quite blue and not quite violet, but it is the color of the Sixth chakra, our Third Eye. It’s the color of the Vitex flower, above.

Last year’s color was Ultimate Gray… if that tells you anything. Don’t get me wrong, I love grey. This chakra, and it’s corresponding color, relate to self-responsibility and the ability to see things from a higher viewpoint, rather than satisfying your own ego. It also gives us the experience of being part of the whole.

The gift of this chakra is seeing AND understanding.

Let’s have faith that things are improving, let’s focus on what’s good. It’s a magnetic year, after all.

Let’s decorate our home with indigo-colored flowers, or better yet, plant some iris, lavender, and periwinkles in your garden. We planned to plant a Vitex tree and lavender bed this spring – I knew there was a reason I was focused exclusively on purple plants for my garden!

Frankincense, Lavender, Neroli and Juniper are all supposed to be beneficial for the Third Eye Chakra – they are available as incenses and oils, which I love and my sweetie hates. Relationships and equilibrium, huh? I’ll get back to you on the incense.

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.
XO Donna


LASAGNA

Lasagna is a special occasion dish: Easter, Christmas, maybe a big birthday. All of the hours of preparation and assembly are done step-by-step with a sense of duty, tradition, and love. An obligation willingly accepted. It is understood that no matter what is happening – good or bad – a lasagna will always make it better, and the family gathered around the table to share in the deliciousness was the best thing of all.

This I learned from my in-laws.

Growing up, we didn’t eat lasagna, my Mom didn’t know how to make it until I’d married and my in-laws taught her. Our family’s go-to for special occasions was a ham… but most of our holidays were, well, not very special. My father’s anxiety and frustration increased as the hours ticked by, and by dinnertime everyone was wound-up so tight that nobody was really hungry.
My Mom may have made a perfectly delicious meal, but as good as it was, there was very little room for fun or conversation at the dinner table.

I met my future husband when I was just sixteen. My first invitation to dinner at his home was a revelation. They were a three-generation family under one roof, only the second I’d ever met, and everyone was working together, music was playing – probably opera – and when we sat to eat, there was lots of talking around the crowded dinner table… and a lasagna. One mouthful and I felt I had gone to Heaven!

Although my marriage didn’t last because we were too young, we always stayed friends. Or friendly, depending on the year. Lucky for me, my relationship with my in-laws DID last, for more than 40 years. When I think of Christmas dinners, it’s always theirs that comes to mind. Theirs that was the exemplar. From my father-in-law’s delicious French onion soup, to my MIL Dot’s multi-course extravaganza, and finally to her mom, Gram’s pleasure in asking, “Whatsa matter, isn’t it good?” when compliments weren’t immediately forthcoming because our mouths were full of her delicious lasagna.

I am sad that those days are only memories now, and happy that I got to be part of such a family.

This year I am going to make a lasagna for Christmas Eve. I haven’t made one in at least 7 years, since I had to quit eating wheat products. When I learned that Barilla makes good no-boil lasagna noodles that hold their shape, I knew it was time. I have had enough experience with gluten-free cooking that I believe I can make this work.

And yet, I’m a little nervous, doubting myself. For some reason, I feel the weight of all of those delicious memories bearing down on me. Will I get it right? Here’s where the rubber meets the road: all of my years of absorbing their experience and wisdom added to my years of cooking, plus the very best ingredients I can find, will, of course, add up to a wonderful lasagna. My version of lasagna.

What do I have to be nervous about?

I will serve it proudly to my Sweetie, my son, and his Dad – we are all sharing a meal this year, and even if it’s not like the old ways, they will all love it.

Here’s hoping that everything you cook turns out perfectly, and fills both bellies and hearts. And here’s wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, and love-filled New Year!

Gratefully,
XO Donna


Flowers

MOTHERS of REINVENTION

After spending the last six months recuperating, my energy is returning and my mind is busy searching for a project. Something to make. Something pretty and shiny. Something to share.

In order to free my mind, first I needed to clean out my closet, yet again and make space for that idea to come to me. I hate clutter.

I realized two things as I sorted through my clothes: first, I have lots of clothes I thought would be great for “retirement,” but I don’t like them anymore. They feel baggy now, and frumpy to me.
And the other thing is that the clothes I want to wear, and add to my closet, seem to be clothes for a lifestyle I don’t have.

Those clothes are more appropriate for a city-slicker on-the-go, than for living in Sun City, Texas.

I made a large donation pile that went to our local Goodwill, and I made a “sell on Poshmark” pile. You can’t recoup your money here, not even close, and not even on clothes that still have their tags on them, or have simply never been worn (why do I do still that?) but it is an excellent way of recycling good clothes and getting a couple of dollars for them.
My last pile is going to the tailors to be taken in and up. That’ll give me more options for now, and I haven’t even dug through winter clothes yet!

My next project was to finally choose a paint color for our bedroom, and maybe our bathroom. And maybe the guest bath, too. Our interior throughout is a lovely golden-tan that changes shades all day with the sunlight. Except in our bedroom – which abuts the screened porch, so it’s always dark-ish. I don’t like golds anyway (not my color) so without the benefit of sunlight, the color looks murky to me, especially in the corners.

I used to love to paint, was tidy and efficient, and became good at it after a professional friend gave me a couple of lessons. But it’s been ten years since I’ve painted a room. My sweetie wanted nothing to do with the project, he thinks the color is fine. It’s obvious we see color differently (men and women do, but that’s another blog). In order to get some visual aids to show him my idea, I bought stick and remove wall paint samples from Sherwin Williams. On their website, go to SAMPLIZE to order 12″ x 12″ squares of the actual paint colors for $6.00 each.

My first choice was a Greige, but it turned out to be the same murky tone as the gold when on the wall. I also ordered Shoji White and Alabaster White, wanting to keep them warm-ish. The clear winner is the Shoji White in an eggshell finish. You can see Agreeable Grey and Shoji White above. Now I really need to get that portrait by my friend Lory framed!

Although he doesn’t want to help paint – and that’s okay – when he sees how much fun I’m having, I’m sure he’ll roll up his sleeves and jump in! I’m not planning to begin painting right away, I’ll wait till the weather is cooler, but I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and now have a pretty and shiny new bedroom to look forward to by finally making a decision.

And last, the idea that finally arrived, and the one I am most excited about… the “something pretty to share” project: I am opening an online shop in ETSY where I will have some of my favorite photographs from the last 25 years available as “Fine Art” archival prints, “Fine Art” archival canvas, some “Fun Art” canvas, and packs of beautiful blank-inside greeting cards just waiting for your words.
For the cards, I’m beginning with a flower series, and have added four images below. I love that shy sunflower. The site will be called “Fairview by Donna O’Klock” and I will let you all know all the details in my next post!

My birthday is in just 16 days, and it’s one I worried I wouldn’t reach… I am glad that I always took good care of myself so that I could now join other women who are in their 70’s, and 60’s, and still chomping at the bit for something new and creative to do, to offer. Reinventing ourselves again.

Love you all, and thank you for reading,
XO Donna


endless summer

Stevie Wonder’s album, “Hotter Than July” generally describes our Texas weather to a tee! It usually becomes unbearable by now, but it has been a great year for being outdoors, for a change. So, I’m walkin’, yes indeed, I’m walkin!

Mark’s Daily Apple, a health/fitness blog I have been reading for years, had an article on the benefits of having a walking routine. As did CNN, calling it the “most underrated form of exercise.” I gotta admit, I love it when I’m ahead of a trend!

And to make things even better, my youngest sister, Elizabeth, came to visit for eight days! She lives in Wisconsin, and pretty much hates the weather there ten months of the year. All she wanted to do while she was here was go for walks and lie by the swimming pool each day.

So, that’s exactly what we did, sometimes walking twice a day! We also went out riding in our golf cart most evenings – and we were generally able to talk my sweetie into chauffeuring us around.
We saw lots of deer and their still-spotted fawns everywhere. Loved it.

Elizabeth is 14 years younger than I, but of all my sisters, we are the most alike. We both share a love for hair and makeup, healthy foods and fashion. And we both have a warped sense of humor… that certainly goes a long way right now.
Take this photo, for example – I have so few photos of us together, and just when I thought we’d finally have one, she licked me!

I planned a special dinner while she was here, and invited my darling friend Mike for dinner. His new hobby (he’s already mastered being a barista) is mixology. Lucky us! We told him our planned menu and he made us a special cocktail to go with it, the base of which was freshly made watermelon juice, made from a Pecos watermelon! The best of Texas, for sure!

Can you believe I was too busy having fun to take any photos?!?

Elizabeth loves feta cheese more than anyone I know. I’m talking obsessed with feta. And a week or so before her arrival I found a Bon Appétite recipe I had to make for her – a Spinach Feta Tart with an almond-flour crust. Is your mouth watering?

She can’t eat wheat, either, so it was perfect for us, and came out better than we could imagine! Again, no photos. BUT, I will make the tart again and post photos and the recipe. I promise.

Unfortunately, vacations end and she had to return home and go back to work. Still wanting a nice photo of the two of us, I told her to act right. She told me she thinks she always looks awful in photos.
I told her the same thing I’ve said here before – if we think we are going to look awful, it will show.

I coached her a little bit, told my sweetie to give us a count, and lo-and-behold, a great photo to remember our week by!

XO Donna

P.S. – If you haven’t noticed the new button on the right side of your screen yet – the book is a link directly to Amazon where you can purchase Sick and Tired & Sexy! Cheers, y’all.


SLEEPY TIME

“To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub.” Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Now that I am finally sleeping blissfully again, I can look back at how elusive sleep was for more than two years. I tried everything in order to get a good night’s sleep, and while nothing worked then, all of those new habits are now paying off splendidly!
Experts call this process Sleep Hygiene; revamping your habits and developing practices to improve sleep.

A good night’s sleep benefits everyone, in every way, from infants to centenarians.

My long-time favorite evening beverage.

This past year I saw lots and lots of people on social media complaining about sleep deprivation. Yes, there was a whole lot to be anxious about, so you can blame some of our collective sleeplessness on that. But a lot of our new behaviors are causing this sleep disruption: being glued to electronic devices at all hours, a lack of fresh air and daily exercise, working in a new environment (at home, in our pajamas, and often from our bed). Any one of these can contribute to sleeplessness, but compounded?

There are many consequences of poor sleep, especially when it occurs repeatedly.

  • Weakened immunity
  • Mood changes
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, and both short and long-term memory loss
  • Weight gain
  • Low sex drive
  • Risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Have you ever dealt with a cranky, frustrated, and over-tire toddler? Lack of sleep creates all of those emotions in us, too. Fortunately, we don’t usually throw a screaming tantrum. Although…

Developing a good night-time routine will help reinforce “Bedtime” in your mind, making it easier for you to sleep..

  • Limit naps and caffeine in the afternoon.
  • Build in a one hour buffer before bedtime to unplug from electronic devices. They cause mental stimulation and produce blue-light which can disrupt sleep. If you like to read at night, read a book, or use the black-screen on your e-reader.
  • Lower your lights to signal your brain that it’s time to relax.
  • If you’ve been working in pajamas all day, change to a different pair for bedtime.
  • Make your evening facial cleansing/moisturizing/tooth brushing routine into a relaxing ritual.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool enough, and if you need it, add some white noise. I used a small old-fashioned fan that whirred softly, but there are also white noise machines that you can purchase.

Experts say you should make this your Golden Rule: only use your bed for sex and sleeping, but I’m not about to hang-out on the couch when I don’t feel well, so I would include recuperation too.

I used to become anxious each night at bedtime because “I knew” I wasn’t going to fall asleep. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy until I developed a Daytime/Bedtime distinction in my mind. I also learned that if I went to bed and wasn’t asleep in 20 minutes, to get up. Stretch, read a book, sit quietly, or do something else calming, in low light, before trying to fall asleep again.

Do you have any tricks or practices that work for you that you would share? Let me know in the comments below.

We’d all like to be sleeping like a baby.

XO Donna


Business As Usual

Well, I say that… I certainly have my routines: I walk every other day, I do Nia classes twice a week, I cook every day and bake often- more and more it is sweets, and I do have to lay off them a bit. Or walk a little farther a little faster! Then I watchJeopardy every afternoon and British crime/detective shows after dinner. But I feel bored quite often. Or is it ennui?

RETIREMENT is waking up in the morning with nothing to do and by bedtime only having done half of it.

– Unknown

About that – there are things I can do, and that I tell myself I want to do, but I guess I’m just not bored enough yet to clean out closets for Goodwill, or do my taxes, or get out the sewing machine to sew or tailor a few blouses so they will fit better. And those things weigh on me.

But I also haven’t given myself credit for the things I have done, and I’ve accomplished some things I feel good about;

  • I have been studying Spanish on DuoLingo for more than a year. I had a 346-day streak going, but missed Monday because of an opthamologist appointment that left my eyes too dilated to do anything for hours. My reading and comprehension are much improved, and I understand many of the idioms and nuances of the language. I am now at the point where I need to practice speaking to someone. My friend Holly (who teaches Nia movement classes) does weekly classes on ZOOM with a native speaker. I am ready to sign up. I am also terribly nervous… but, I am sure it will be fun.
    I started DuoLingo with their free APP, but quickly upgraded, as it has so much to offer. For the price, I highly recommend it – I’ve been trying for years to become fluent again.
  • I learned about the HOT GIRL WALK exercise trend. Young girls are doing it, aiming for an hour daily, five days a week. Dressing in cute outfits and accessorizing! What struck me about it though is something we all will benefit from – while walking, “ONLY think about your goals, what you are grateful for, and how “hot” you are.”
    Walking and mindfulness are both great for improved memory and cognition, cardiovascular health, lowering stress and improving mood. Why not do them together AND make it an act of self-love, too!
  • For all of my Jewish friends, I want to wish you a very sweet and Happy New Year! I made my very first matzoh ball soup and it was delicious. I read Ina Garten’s recipe, and Martha Stewart’s recipe, and between my stock in the freezer and the herbs I had on hand, plus ideas from their matzoh recipes, the result was good. Even my sweetie tried it and went back for seconds. That’s saying somethin!
Fluffy and Flavorful.

This involves a friend – and it’s a WARNING about something I’ve never even thought about! A dear friend travels frequently for her job, and carries her vitamins/supplements in a daily pill carrier which she leaves in her room. She’d come home from her trip and was “refilling for next week” when she noticed two black capsules in the two remaining compartments WITH the rest of her supplements. They were not hers, and she didn’t put them there!

She notified the hotel, and the police, and is having them tested. I am so glad she noticed them, rather than just gulping them down!
When I travel again, I will keep my medicine carrier in the safe from now on. I used to just leave it in my carry-on after checking in… no more.

Thanks for reading, let’s all go out there and be HOT! Try new things, cook new things, share new things. Write letters to people to tell them you love them. (My cards are on sale at etsy.com/shop/fairviewphotos ) Go travel, have fun, stay safe. And get ready to vote soon. Vote for everyone that supports women, girls, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. Nobody’s going to give us equal rights, we have to support each other and think about our kids and their kids.

All my love and gratitude –
XO Donna


Busy Bee

As I sit to write this, I realize that the bed in our guest room is unmade. Not that any of you can see it, but I feel it. BRB.
Done and dusted! Yesterday I did the floors and rugs, changed and washed the linens in both bedrooms and baths, and left the linens folded on the guest room bed to do them first thing this morning.

But something more fun came up: we went to look at an Airstream Trailer for sale nearby. Gorgeous. Modern. Iconic. Shiny. Soooooo shiny!

It was beautiful and had been very well-maintained, but the shower felt cramped to me, and the bathroom – well, imagine yourself having to use an airplane lavatory every single day. Soooooo tiny.
I’m only 5’4″ and I felt that way, it would have been impossible for my 6′ tall sweetie, so we didn’t make an offer. Fantasy, meet reality.

We have two more RVs we’re looking at that are similar to what we used to have, just a bit smaller.

Tuesday is usually my Farmer’s Market day, and since it’s right here in Sun City I can run up there in the golf cart and stroll the stalls picking just what I need. Fresh okra has been my favorite thing so far, but last week I got both fresh red and sweet potatoes, and Sunflower sprouts. Love sprouts! I’ll have to see about making it to the Thursday market downtown. Do you have Farmer’s Markets where you live?

On Labor Day we drove to College Station to see my dear friend Holly, (the Nia instructor I’ve talked about here before) and spend an afternoon with her and her darling husband. Her gardens are glorious, as was her pool… first time I’d been in the water all summer. I forgot how healing the water is. I brought a batch of my gluten-free brownies with toasted walnuts along.

On Wednesday we both got the new Covid bivalent booster shots. And our flu shots, one in each arm! He had no reaction to either, but I felt a touch under-the-weather the next day, and Tylenol fixed that. A couple days later I had a reaction at the injection site. It was itchy, hot and red. The doctor said that is a rare reaction, but since my immune system is a bit wonky, we weren’t surprised.
A bit of ice, moreTylenol, and a couple of days later I am fine. It seems like this will be an annual booster now. Grateful to all the scientists who made/make this possible.

And two more fun things – my friend Mike came over for dinner and we usually collaborate on a cocktail to go with dinner – I cook and he brings the makings and acts as our mixologist! I found a recipe from Nigella Lawson for No Churn Margarita Ice Cream. I read it through and wondered if it was worth the splurge. OMG, yes, absolutely! It was Mike’s idea to start and finish the meal with a Rita, so he whipped us up top-shelf cocktails, and after dinner I pulled our treat from the freezer hoping it would be good. It was beyond good!

(My apologies for the monstrous link below, but there was no short-link that I could import.)

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjbp_zMx5L6AhV_nWoFHVJuDPgQFnoECAYQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nigella.com%2Frecipes%2Fno-churn-margarita-ice-cream&usg=AOvVaw0vM3EOzx_FpF6sbkfPRMFD

I plan to make it again, but this time using the box of fresh Meyer Lemons I have in the crisper. I’ll let you know how it turns out. It feels good to feel good and be busy again. Hope you are all well and enjoying these cooler mornings. I’ll talk to you soon.

In gratitude,
XO Donna


M-M-M is for Macaroons

I trust you all had a lovely Passover, or a beautiful Easter. Maybe you were lucky enough to celebrate both, as I did. Life is short, holiday food is wonderful, celebrate everything!

I wanted to bring a special dessert to our hostess for Easter Dinner – she’s allergic to eggs – so I decided to make coconut macaroons sans eggs. I love experimenting, and after reading quite a few eggless versions on Pinterest, I created my own.
It varied from all the others because I feel that using sweetened condensed milk AND sweetened coconut flakes is just TOO much sugar.
And, since I’d be eating them, I also made them gluten-free.

Egg-Free Coconut Macaroons

I chose to use unsweetened coconut, and let it soak in the sweetened condensed milk for 15 minutes because these flakes tend to be a bit drier than typical commercial shredded coconut. Then I added the remaining few ingredients, and using two spoons, scooped blobs onto my parchment lined baking sheet. With damp fingers I pushed them together and mounded them.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler:

  • 10 oz. bag Bob’s Red Mill coconut flakes (Whole Foods, Amazon, maybe even Trader Joes)
  • 14 oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 Cup gluten-free Cup-4-Cup (or similar) OR all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 almond extract
  • 4 ounces chocolate chips, or any other semi-sweet chocolate, chopped for melting and drizzling over top.

First: I let the coconut sit in the condensed milk for 15 minutes. Then I added the two extracts, stirred, and sprinkled in the flour and salt. Stir this all till thoroughly combined.

Second: Using a cookie scoop, or two tablespoons, place mounds of mixture on prepared cookie sheet. Dampen fingers and press up into mounds.

Third: Bake 18 – 20 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit 5 mins on cookie sheet, then gently move to wire rack to cool completely. You can eat them now, as is, but I think they were better the next day after softening-up a bit.

OR: You can melt the chocolate in the microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring each time creamy and liquid, maybe a minute. Using a teaspoon, I filled it with the melted chocolate and let it fall off the edge of the spoon as I’d wave the spoon back and forth, zig-zagging it onto the cookies while they were on the wire racks.

It took a couple of tries to get them looking the way I envisioned them. ( I ate all of the messy evidence of my learning curve! LOL)

All Mixed Up

And here they are fresh from the oven! If you put chocolate on them, put them back on the cookie sheet and in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden the chocolate. Then plate them and cover with plastic wrap. These keep in a Ziploc type bag for four days, if they last that long!

Perfectly Baked

It is always nice to find simple treats to prepare for friends and family that can accommodate multiple food allergies and taste so good that everyone enjoys eating them. Maybe you can make them for Mother’s Day? And if you do, please let me know what you thought.
Thank you for reading, I appreciate you!

XO Donna


ODDS & ENDS

I know it’s been forever, but I haven’t had much to say until two great things came along to share.

After writing the above title, I realized that Odds & Ends was the name of the first salon where I worked upon graduating from beauty school in NY in 1976. It was my first, but unfortunately not my last, experience with a drug-addled boss. That’s a story for another post. On the positive side, I began my career with some lessons in “what not to do,” and realized I was capable of running things.

I’m having a hard time deciding whether to tell you about my fan-girl crush on an actor, or about a new-to-me book; “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Make Your Loved Ones’ Lives Easier and Your Own Life More Pleasant.” But, since we’re here, let’s do this.


I love the simplicity of nature-inspired Scandinavian style, and the way they have a concept called hygge (h(y)ōōge) to explain it: finding comfort, pleasure and contentment in simple things, such as a cozy atmosphere and the feeling of friendship.

So of course I would find the ideas in this book right up my alley. Margareta Magnusson’s book picks-up where Marie Kondo’s leaves off, by taking it to the next step – that when we reach a certain age, we need to think our mortality and what we will leave behind.
Will it be an orderly and uncluttered space, or will it be disarray?

If anyone brought up death or dying when I was growing up, it was quashed, and quickly! But what is the point of ignoring the fact of our death one day, when it is the natural conclusion to life?

Is this just a thing in our country, as it appears to me to be?

Magnusson says her book about Döstädning, or death cleaning, is a permanent form of organization that can make our lives run more smoothly by eliminating what is unnecessary, and in the process, we are doing a favor for those that survive us.

Our generation grew up with both the means, and the ability, to have all that we wanted. Yet, I noticed after downsizing three times since 2014, that the less stuff I had, the freer I felt, because there was less to take care of. Even after three times, there are still things we seem to be stuck with (for sentimental reasons) that we don’t use. And we are both aware that our kids don’t want any of this aside from a couple of antiques. I’m sure you’ve seen all of the articles in the papers and magazines recently touting that as their headline!

I know contemplating this isn’t for everyone, but it appeals to me. After all of my father’s threats when I was young to send me to a convent, the absolute simplicity of such a lifestyle has a certain appeal to me.

You may not know this, but I love British crime/detective shows, so much so that I subscribed to BritBox. I don’t watch series that are too gory, too cute, or about serial killers… but I love a well-scripted, well-acted series, and gorgeous countryside and unfamiliar locales make it all the better. I’ve watched tons, and my fave show so far, hands down, is “Shetland. ” Yes, the Scottish actor I have a crush on.

Douglas Henshall plays Jimmie Perez, a man with a strong sense of family and duty. He’s an honest cop, a loving father and loyal friend. Picture a Clint Eastwood character, but with a really big, gentle heart. Picture Walt Longmire. Now throw in a knock-out Scottish accent, (sub-titles really helped on this one) and put it all on the island of Shetland. When you finish that series there’s a great movie called “Doors Open,” also starring Henshall, a few years younger. Fun romp. How have I just now heard of him? LOL

If you have something that thrilled you, please let me know below. I feel like I’ve watched everything worth watching!

I’m wishing you all a Peaceful and Happy Passover and Easter.

(P.S. 20% off everything in my Etsyshop through Sunday.)

XO Donna


A KIND ACT

Did you know that there is a “Random Acts of Kindness Day?” I didn’t know, but there is, and it was last Thursday, February 17th.

I remember the idea of Random Acts of Kindness being put forward in a workshop I did way back in the late ’80s. It was a nice, and novel, thought. Then it became a bit of a trend and all of my friends and I cultivated the habit of making donations to causes we supported, and randomly doing nice things for strangers, expecting nothing in return. Just because. And also because it was good Karma.

I loved the rush I got from putting extra money in my parking meter, leaving time for the next person. Or surreptitiously paying for a stranger’s coffee. Or leaving flowers on a friend’s doorstep anonymously because I knew it would cheer them up.

As it turns out, that “rush” I got is because being altruistic stimulates the reward centers in our brain, releasing oxytocin and giving us what is called “a helper’s high.” Not only does spreading kindness help others feel good about themselves, it contributes to our overall sense of belonging and community – which has become so sadly divided in the last few years. It also boosts our energy, happiness, and health. In study after study, it has been shown that:

  • Volunteering improves depression, reduces stress, and lowers our risk of cognitive impairment.
  • Making donations to charities lowers our blood pressure and improves heart health. Think, “Open Hearted.
  • Giving to others deactivates our pain centers leading us to feel more comfortable and at ease.
  • Committing a variety of kind acts throughout our week leads to improved happiness.
Write a nice note to someone. FairviewPhotos

Our random acts can be either anonymous or visible. We can plan them ahead of time or just go-with-the-flow and follow a spontaneous impulse. You can do something as easy as giving a heartfelt compliment. You can mail a handwritten note to someone you haven’t seen in a while. Write a positive review. Donate a couple of books to your local library, or pick up a little litter on your walk. Drop your judgements for a whole day, all of them, even (or especially) the ones about yourself.

I’m sure there are as many ways to show kindness as there are people to do them, but in case you need new ideas, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has lists of wonderful ideas to try. I know I’ve been more inwardly focused than in the past, but that’s going to change.

Remember, giving kindness to others is also a gift to yourself. Let’s make Kindness contagious, in a good way!

XO Donna


HODGEPODGE

I don’t know if it’s that I’ve been home so much, only going to the grocery store or to visit my son and bring him home-made baked goodies, but I think my brain is beginning to turn to mush.

I’ve actually enjoyed my reclusiveness, but just when I started to feel comfortable thinking about going out again, vaxxed and boosted, both a dear friend, and my sister (also vaccinated and boosted) caught the Omicron variant.
They are well again, but it was not “like a cold” for either. They were lucky enough to be able to get a monoclonal antibody infusion.

Like Punxatawnie Phil the Groundhog seeing his shadow today, I am perfectly content to go back underground for 6 more weeks!

I’ve been irregular in my posting, but not being out-and-about I’ve felt I had nothing of import to share, then it occurred to me that lots of us probably feel that way these days. Lots of us are struggling a bit to overcome our boredom, after all, it’s winter and it’s difficult to get out and exercise, which always helps me. Here’s when we can get by with a little help from our friends.

So, it may be a hodgepodge, but I’m going to share what’s been getting me by: movies, books, blogs, etc. and I’ll bet you will find something new that strikes your fancy!

Let’s start off with movies – two that we’ve loved are “The Tender Bar” starring Ben Affleck, and “Don’t Look Up” with an all-star cast. As my sister Elizabeth said, Ben Affleck is better in The Tender Bar than anything else I’ve seen him in. Set in 1972 on Long Island, NY (my home) it’s about a young boy looking for a father figure, which he finds in his Uncle Charlie, a self-educated and worldly-wise bartender played by Affleck. Perfection.

And if you need a zany spoof of everything right-this-moment, “Don’t Look Up!” is just the comic-disaster to deliver it!
Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio play astronomers who discover a comet that’s headed straight for Earth… and total annihilation, but can’t get anyone to take it seriously. An indictment of our current world. With a karmic ending.

On our to-watch movie list are “Eye in the Sky,” “Two Faces of January,” and “Jean of the Joneses.”

I signed up for BritBox after talking to a neighbor who also loves all-things-British when it comes to TV. I especially enjoy legal thrillers and detective series. After Midsomer Murders finished, I was lost – but now I’ve become hooked on a new-to-me series called “Vera.” It’s formulaic – always opens with a murder that’s always solved in 90 minutes – but that doesn’t make it boring. I’ve fallen in love with the main character, Vera, a wise woman who is fearless, dependable, earthy, ruthless in her pursuit of justice for the deceased, but still has a capacity for tenderness in spite of all she sees.

I’ve only read one book lately, because I’m having trouble trying to focus right now. Thus my escape into murder mysteries, and why I think my brain is turning to mush. But, I follow a blogger who I think you will also enjoy. It was her recommendation that led me to “Reading in Bed,” by Sue Gee
about two 60-ish women, friends, one married and one single. It was sweet, honest, poignant, and well worth the read. I may reread it because all I can remember is how it made me feel, but not the details.

The blogger is Sue Burpee, and her blog is ‘High Heels in the Wilderness.’ https://highheelsinthewilderness.com

It’s beginning to rain now. We are expecting the cold front that most of the rest of the country is experiencing right now – with temps in the 20’s for a couple of days. Not our usual Texas weather. Whether our power-grid will hold up this year remains to be seen. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and I’ve got flashlights, candles, blankets, and bottled water just in case. Who knows, maybe I’ll even read a book by candlelight if our power goes out. Stay warm, y’all!

XO Donna