GOOD THINGS

Since I last posted, I had a birthday and turned 71. Unimaginable! If you’re not there yet, it’s just fine, I don’t suddenly feel “old.”
Old is absolutely a state of mind, a way of looking at life. A choice. And one I am not choosing.

To celebrate, we had a delicious lunch out – yes, in a public place! I have been hesitant to go any place without a mask for a long time, despite being vaxxed and boosted, and having had both a flu and pneumonia shot. As Dr. Fauci said, “An over-abundance of caution.”
I love that, and I think he’s pretty cute, too. So, I’m finally dipping my toes in the water.

The restaurant we chose was spacious, with lots of room between the tables, so I felt safe. The building was originally the old city post office here in Georgetown which has been newly renovated into a modern and elegant space, with tall charcoal wainscoting and soaring ceilings. There’s even a grand piano in the main dining room, which could be another wonderful reason to return.

As a reminder of its past-life, they’ve left a bank of post boxes in the entry foyer. We used them as a backdrop for our photo. I always judge a restaurant by the state of it’s Ladies Room – and it was immaculate and beautifully appointed. Add a daybed and it would make a lovely boudoir. Gave me some decorating ideas!

My dear friend Mike, (on right) whom you’ve met before, came with us to celebrate our Scorpio birthdays! We’ve been doing this for years. I’m lucky to have him in my life. The three of us were seated in a spacious, yet still cozy, booth. The food was great, and our waitress was on top of every single thing, a delight in this age of indifferent service. We even met and chatted with the manager. As were were leaving our waitress took this photo of us. Another great birthday on the books!

I’m a big BBC and Masterpiece fan, and I have a couple of things to recommend. First, “Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont,” was a joy. It stars Joan Plowright, who strikes up a sweet (not romantic) friendship with a young writer. It turns out they have more in common with each other – despite the age difference – than they do with people their own ages. I really love the theme of intergenerational friendships. Living in a place where everyone is the same age, I really miss having that, as I did when I worked.
In my rating system, I give this movie 5 hearts.

Next is “Enola Holmes.” Do I mean Holmes, like? Yes, Mycroft and Sherlock’s Holmes younger sister. A wonderful, exciting romp about a young girl who was unconventionally raised, then abandoned, by her suffragette, firebrand mother – played by Helena Bonham Cater.
Enola struggles to find her place, though her gift is undeniable, and eventually, after lots of adventures and misadventures, all becomes clear. It’s in two parts, and worth watching on your own, but it would be fun to watch with kids old enough (10+) to follow the plot and be inspired by the lessons learned. Especially liberating for young girls. This movie gets another 5 hearts.

And last, but not least, I am anxiously awaiting a new film starring Bill Nighy. You know him, of course – he played the aging rock star in “Love Actually.” (Which you must put on the top of your holiday watchlist!)
I believe I have seen everything he’s ever acted in, he’s that good and that watchable. The new film is called, “Living,” which comes out here in the States on December 23, after its debut at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

The film has an amazing pedigree: inspired by the 1886 novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy, with a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, the Nobel and Booker prize winner who wrote The Remains of the Day. It’s set in the 1950s about a civil servant who has dutifully trudged through life, and upon finding out he has cancer, and not a lot of time left, decides to make his remaining time count. If anyone can make this beautiful, it’s Nighy. I can’t wait…. c’mon Santa!

For now, I wish you all a lovely Thanksgiving, and a safe journey if you’re traveling. I am thankful that you are all at the other end of this post, reading and maybe learning some fun new things. I look forward to hearing how your Thanksgiving went.

And, if you are a Black Friday fan, I’ve got a sale running in my shop, starting Friday with Free Shipping, no code needed. Here’s the address.
I’ve been told the link didn’t work, but you can copy and paste, or just type this out. Thanks to Trish for letting me know!

etsy.com/shop/fairviewphotos

XO Donna


ASK YOUR MOTHER

My youngest sister Elizabeth and I have been having long conversations lately where we wonder about our Mom’s relationship with her older (and only) sister Wilma. Their age difference was also 14-15 years. I know my mother adored and missed Wilma because she took me, then me and Terry, then me, Terry and Lynn to visit her each year. And I remember watching her write letters. Lots of letters.

I’ve talked about my love of those long train trips trips from NYC to St. Louis, MO before. I enjoyed every minute, but can you imagine being a young woman of 25 with three babies traveling by train across country? The question we ask is, “Why did she move to NY when her whole family was in the St. Louis area?

I’ve never wondered why my parents married at City Hall with a Justice of the Peace, just accepted it at face value, but Elizabeth finds it inconceivable that they wouldn’t have had a wedding with all of Mom’s family in attendance. Maybe they didn’t accept my Yankee father… or his religion, and dealing with that was more than they wanted to do. Maybe money was an issue, Dad had just come home from the Korean war and was building a career. Maybe it seemed more romantic to them to elope. There is so much that we know nothing about…

(My parents. December 3, 1950. My mother’s jacket and skirt were the loveliest camel-colored velvet.)


As we talk about this gap in our knowledge of our Mom, we wish that we’d been more present, asked her questions, listened between the lines to what she was saying. Well, just listened, period. Kids tend to be innately more self-centered.

With a house full of kids and all the work that caring for six other people entailed (Mom had the five of us girls by the time she was 35, birth control not being an option back then) I’m sure she didn’t have time to reminisce about her hopes or dreams, or why she made the choices she made. And having married at only 19, had she even had time to think about any of it yet, really?

There are so many questions that neither of us knew to ask. I think this would make a good book – asking everyone, asking all of you, “What do you wish you had asked your Mother while you could?” Please, please , please if you have a suggestion, leave it in the comments. Who knows where it’ll go?

She’s been gone 24 years now, and I almost miss her more, but the things I miss about her are different now; I miss the “her” that I never knew.

I appreciate you all,

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


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


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