The Cherry on Top

I’m certain you are trying to get everything ready for the holidays. Don’t panic, but add a stop at the liquor store to your list… because I have a present for you!

Nobody would ever call me old-fashioned, but I have developed a crush on Old Fashioneds, and have learned to make them and share them. Now my friends are as excited about them as I am.

img_0394This drink has been around since 1880, and has been credited to a bartender who brought the recipe to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar from a private social club in Louisville, Kentucky. I want to share my version with you.  If you like bourbon, and want to indulge yourself and your friends, the Luxardo cherries I use elevate the cocktail to new heights!
I balked when I saw their cost for the first time, but like diamonds and caviar, they cost what they cost – and there is no substitute.

I love to serve them in my sweetie’s leaded crystal rocks glasses, inherited from his Dad. The weight of the glass, their design, the caramel color of the bourbon, and the almost-black Luxardo Cherries, which taste of almonds,  make it a sensory delight. Perfect for celebrating any special occasion!

For each, into a cocktail shaker:
2 oz. smooth bourbon (our fave is a local one, Treaty Oak’s Red Handed)
1/2 oz. fresh simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar)
2 splashes Angostura Bitters,  2 splashes Orange Flower Water (optional).
Shake two or three times, gently, then pour over ice in a rocks glass. Add a slice of orange to the rim.
Retrieve a Luxardo cherry from the jar (allowing some syrup to come along with it, so it may settle onto the drink with it’s cherry)  then decorate your cocktail.

img_0397Hand this beauty to your holiday guests and be prepared for lots of compliments. I wonder how I ever lived without the luxury of these Luxardo cherries? They are heavenly.

Happiest of Holidays to you all!
XO Donna

 




Very Lost in Translation

imageLast week Facebook posted some photos I had shared three years ago… as their way of showing me they care about me. I don’t believe that for a minute, but I was happy to re-experience the thrill I had the day I took those photos.

For years I had driven past this patch of stone with all of it’s cactus plantings, but the full moon had been the night before, and on this morning every single cactus had a flower! I was so thrilled to witness this miraculous event that I stopped on my way to work to walk among them and photograph them. They even had a soft scent.

Seeing the flower photos again, they brought to mind a delightful comedy, “Cactus Flower,” starring Goldie Hawn and Walter Matthau back in 1969.
And they also reminded me of one of my favorite perfumes then, “Desert Flower.”
Wait, let’s revisit that… it wasn’t called a perfume, it was called a toilet water. And as much as I wanted to be sophisticated about wearing perfume, the name cracked me up. My younger sisters and I would laugh our fool heads off, wondering if they actually used toilet water to make it.

imageTruthfully, I didn’t care what they used to make it, it had every single one of the fragrance notes I loved; jasmine, ylang-ylang, cedar, patchouli, musk, vanilla, sandalwood, and ambergris. And more than that, it was advertised as Modern, Mysterious, Magnetic.  All of the groovy qualities I wanted to embrace as a teenager. I felt delicious and decidedly modern when I wore it!

It’s only now, more than half a lifetime later, that I can see that toilet water was a very poor translation for eau de toilette. “Water for bathing,” not water from the toilet. But, it was a fantastic trip down memory lane. Thank you, FB.

XO Donna

 

 

 


Someone You Know

imageWe were camping in the rain when I heard news of the flooding in Louisiana. It seemed a world away, although from where I live in Austin, TX – to where it happened – is only 450 or so miles. Close, and even closer, when those floods affect someone you know. The way the news was solely focused on an Olympic swimmer’s bad behavior, I had no idea how bad things were in Louisiana. To my relief, my friends in Lafayette and Baton Rouge had “checked in” on Facebook saying they were alright.

Then I received an email from another friend. “Just a quick note to let you know, even though Lucy and Ricky’s house didn’t flood inside, things are bad for them.” (For their privacy, I have changed their names.) “Please drop her a couple words of encouragement.”  That’s the kind of woman she is. I wrote Lucy that night, asking if there was anything at all that we could do to help.

imageShe responded this morning, and we emailed back-and-forth for more than two hours. Lucy told me they’d been in their new house for less than a year, and thankfully the house was okay. While their new neighborhood in Greenwell was damaged, (see left) their old house and neighborhood in Central, (below) just three miles away, were ruined by the flood. They have three people living with them right now, and Ricky’s company was a total loss. “I am focused,” she said, “on keeping everyone fed and comfortable.”

Lucy told me it had been very emotionally and physically draining, knowing that so much of Louisiana is a total loss.  “We will be fine,” she said, “I went through all of this during Katrina when we had 18 people living with us for four months. Back then, I saw the home and city I grew up in completely destroyed. This time I saw the home and neighborhood where we raised all three of our girls completely destroyed.”

imageI can’t imagine going through that once, but to go through it twice is mind-bending. Lucy agreed, “It’s definitely been an eye-opening and heart-breaking experience.”  I asked why they had moved. “We needed more land for the race cars and motorhome.”  It was good that they moved when they did. I pointed out that their toys saved them, and she laughed. “That’s true!” then she added, “I’m glad we moved, this house definitely saved our lives, and has given shelter to others.” Those others are her youngest daughter (who is expecting) and son-in-law, and a friend who has also lost everything.

“Last thing. . . looking on the bright side, we should have 5 1/2 people by next week. Our daughter should be induced if she hasn’t gone into labor by then. Can’t wait to get that baby in my hands!”

With all of her family history gone, she’s focusing on the good that is yet to come, because, that’s the kind of woman she is.

XO Donna


AWOL

I know it probably seems like I’ve been “absent without leave,” but the last three weeks have been crazy-busy, stressful, and exhilarating, as if I’ve been riding a giant roller-coaster… and, mind you, I hate riding roller-coasters. I’m always afraid I’ll be that person… you know, the one who gets sick!

Long story, short: On July 15th we moved again,  and downsized even further. On July 20th, up to our ears in boxes, we finally found our dream motor-home just up the road in Georgetown, TX.  The owners have been a dream to deal with, too.  Talk about getting lucky!

imageThen, on July 31st, the book I’ve been writing (for a couple of years) – Sick and Tired… & Sexy: Living Beautifully with Chronic Illness became available on Amazon. If you (or anyone you know) are dealing with chronic illness, I’m sure you will find this book to be both helpful, and a fun read.

I hope you all enjoy it. If you do, please tell your friends, and please write and tell me. I’d love to hear from you!
Here is the link:
https://www.amazon.com/Sick-Tired-Sexy-Beautifully/dp/1943658110

XO Donna

P.S. – I also wrote a new article for the online women’s magazine: 1010ParkPlace.com

 



GIVE PEACE (of mind) A CHANCE

meditationI wrote about meditation in my book; how I struggled with it, but did it anyway. I benefited from my commitment,  but  it wasn’t until I began working with a personal coach last September that meditation became a focus in my life. I once had a boyfriend tell me that I was “too airy-fairy.” As it turns out, I wasn’t airy-fairy enough.

My coach urged me to surrender to meditation, to move from a place of “having to” into a place of willingness.  She also urged an a.m. and p.m. practice. I resisted. I didn’t see how it could help beyond making me feel a little more relaxed.

Here’s what happened after I finally did surrender:

  • Within 90 days of wholeheartedly meditating, I realized I could retire. I was ready to take the risk and go for what I truly wanted.
  • 90 days after that, I was finished writing my book, Sick and Tired & Sexy, Living Beautifully with Chronic Illness.
  • In the next 120 days – the book is now ready to go to print, I just approved everything this morning!
  • I used The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo and got rid of all of my extra “stuff.” What is left brings me joy, and I have a new awareness of who I am, without all of my stuff.
  • I was invited to join the team of talented women writing at 1010ParkPlace.com.
  • A new book idea appeared for me, and I am making daily progress on a “spiritual murder mystery.”
  • And last, but not least – we move into an even smaller, but sexier, apartment tomorrow morning. This will allow us to travel and I can write-on-the-go.

Here is what I realized: we are only having a one-way conversation with our Spirit/God/Higher Power/The Universe if all we do is talk, ask, pray, but never sit still and listen.  We need to make time for answers, guidance, solutions, and inspiration to come into our lives. These charge us, like magnets,  to attract just what we need in the form of wonderful coincidences and seemingly miraculous occurrences.

Here is a great article including a video (01:48 mins!)  by Madeline Diamond:
http://www.huffingtonpost.comentry/a-tibetan-buddhis-masters-simple-guide-to-meditation_us_57850a79e4b07c356cfe8158

Take a few minutes to sit down, get still, and give inner-peace a chance. Let me know what happens!

XO Donna