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


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


SAME OLD?

It is funny how things change, but yet, they really don’t. I’d say it’s more of an unfolding, or evolution, rather than being another Big Bang!

I turned 70 since I last posted, and as those of you that have preceded me know, it’s no big deal. More of a societal issue, actually.
We have all been conditioned to think of 70 as old, (hell, women dread turning 40… can you imagine?) but I still feel years younger than my chronological age. I’m still l learning new things, still doing Nia, and still having fun. But there is one change I have noticed – I would dearly love a nap most afternoons! I’ve decided it’s because I am still recovering… because I’m certainly not old yet!

I had a lovely birthday – I got to speak to all three of my sisters, AND they all sent me beautiful gifts. My 93-year-old father called me and we had a very upbeat conversation. I thought he wouldn’t remember, but he did. And my sweet son posted a playlist for me on Facebook, then called, and we had a nice conversation, too.

My long-time friend Mike came over for a joint Birthday supper, and whipped up some very complicated, but utterly delicious cocktails to go with a tray of chicken enchiladas verde. Isn’t Mike’s shirt fun? And our drinks were even gin-based!

For dessert, I made my first rustic apple tart and “tweaked it” to compliment the enchiladas by adding finely minced jalapeño, raw sugar and cinnamon, and topped it off with toasted piñon. I was surprised by how simple the crust was to handle, and how light and flaky it turned out! A win worth duplicating for Turkey Day, sans jalapeños.

But, just so I didn’t get too cocky with my pastry success, the Kitchen Gods intervened and the next morning I boiled-over my oatmeal and had a mess to clean-up before my first cup of coffee!

It seems that some things never change, and microwaving oatmeal continues to elude me, so back to the stovetop.

Never get cocky!

Besides time in the kitchen, I’ve spent lots of time poring over photos, ordering cards, and getting everything ready for my Etsy shop. I know you’re going to love it! I finally settled on the perfect name for it – Fairview Photos. Fairview Avenue is the only address where all five of us O’Klock sisters lived together. It was a great house, although with six gals and only one-and-a-half baths, it was a squeeze.
No wonder my poor outnumbered Dad was usually overwhelmed. Its location was ideal – the Great South Bay was just at the end of our street. Lots of kids our age, school was only a few blocks away, and we had amazing neighbors. So many great memories there, so the name suits me to a tee.

Speaking of memories, these mailboxes are among my favorite photos from Santa Fe, shot in 1995. I always smile when I come across these pictures. I always assume that Larry was their friendly local mailman. Can you imagine actually knowing your mail carrier these days? I wish I did, and I’ll bet some of you do.

Gentle Spirit, indeed.

This is just some of my art that will be available on Etsy. Some details are still unfinished, but, in less than two weeks it should be ready for its opening and you will be the first to know!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a bright and meaningful Hanukkah. While many things around us are changing right now, there is always so much to be thankful for. Goodness, love, and light – that Gentle Spirit – are what I am most thankful for!

With my love and heartfelt respect,

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


COWGIRL UP!

I got to spend the morning on my friend Barbara’s ranch a couple of weeks ago. Her ranch manager was out of town, so she invited me to come along to check-up on her livestock.

Lookout Cow

She’s an orthopedic surgeon who’s been taking care of my shoulders for years now. You know… those pesky rotator-cuff issues most of us have from years of slinging around ridiculously heavy purses, lifting bag upon bag of groceries, hoisting our kids to our hips, and now hoisting grandkids, if we’ve got them.
I don’t have any “grands”, but I had my arms raised for years cutting and blow-styling hair.

Barbara is also an accomplished horse-woman. And a wonderful singer/songwriter/storyteller. And a lot of fun!

After a 90-minute ride through rolling green land east of Austin, we pulled off the main highway and turned onto a long dirt drive to her property. I was expecting something more rustic, but the land was beautifully fenced and mowed, fields green, and her farmhouse was charming cottage.

We checked on things inside as she showed me around, and after having a drink of water, we made the short walk from the cottage to the barn, with its adjacent henhouse and the fields where the horses and cows were anxiously awaiting us.

Thanks. But, no, thanks! Picky chickens.

Barbara had mentioned that her hens liked scraps, and if I wanted to bring them some, I could. As I recall, my Grandmother threw everything to her chickens, her philosophy being, “eat it or go hungry.” But when I proudly presented my leftover goodies to these gals, they looked at me like I was stupid. Grumbling as they went, they moseyed off.


The cows, on the other hand, were not at all picky. Quite the opposite, they were curious and bold. It was a bit frightening coming face-to-face with a 1,200 lb. creature, if truth be told! But I “cowgirled up” and shooed the cows away like an old hand, as I dumped piles of grain from a sack on the back of the Gator, walking behind it as Barbara drove. What an experience!

Too close for comfort

After the work was done, we drove the fields checking on the hay bales as big as Volkswagens. They never look that big from the road.
We checked fences and then rode the trails through the woods. There was even a cove with a few large pieces of Petrified wood! I wish I’d planned ahead for better photos, but I am glad I grabbed a few fun shots to share.


It was a morning well spent – I came away with a dozen beautiful eggs, courtesy of the girls, and a reminder of how hard our farmers and ranchers work to bring us all food.

Look like Easter eggs!

As my dear friend, Karen, always says, “If you have food to eat… thank a farmer.” Indeed.

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.


ErroR notiCe

I had a nice (well, at least I thought so) post ready to go… but a glitch with the new, and infuriating , WordPress editor wouldn’t cooperate.

The best laid plans o’ mice an’ men often go awry.

Robert Burns

Hopefully, I will rise to the challenge and have the issue resolved quickly!

XO Donna


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


Comfort Food

Now that my sweetie and I have had both of our vaccines, we celebrated by having a very dear friend, who has had both of his vaccines, too, come to dinner. I cooked a “comfort food meal,” and for dessert I made a delicious carrot cake with a light glaze of cream cheese frosting. Like many of my favorite recipes, this one has a story attached, the story of me.

When I moved to Austin, TX in 1978, I found out there was no reciprocity for my hairdresser’s license here. Although I had been working as a hairdresser for two years in NY, I had to go back to beauty school to earn more credits for a Texas license. This was not what I expected!

To make ends meet, I worked evenings at the Austin Opera House slinging cocktails and buckets of beer. The music was good, the tips were great, and I made my first friend there, Terry. Her husband was a musician and her sister worked at Austin Public Library – she’s the one who told me about a part-time day job in the Children’s section of the library.

I was hired, and I was in Heaven. I worked with amazing people in a beautiful new library. Books everywhere! About six months later there was an opening next door in the Central Texas Library System film department that offered a few more hours, a little extra money, very interesting work, and another group of interesting and creative people.

Many of us were working towards something – a masters in library science, a masters in archival studies, degrees in public administration, library management, or creative writing and theater. I was working my way back toward enough credits for my cosmetology license.

Along the way, I developed wonderful friendships and became part of the tribe that made up the Austin arts and music scene in the 80’s. The early Capitol 10K races! Carnival Brasiliero! Liberty Lunch! Whole Foods! Armadillo Christmas Bazaar! Fiesta! at Laguna Gloria, Spamarama! Zilker Hillside Summer Musicals!

Soon, I was happily divorced, had earned my cosmetology degree… and began cutting hair at my kitchen table, or in good weather, out on my patio. A year or two later, and I was cutting most of the Austin Public Library staff’s hair, and a bunch of the local artists, artisans, actors, writers and musicians. That’s when I decided it was time to open my first salon. Many of the friends made then remained my clients for my whole 30+ year career.

This recipe was given to me by my boss, Biruta. She was a beautiful woman who looked very much like Ali Macgraw. She was an exceptional hostess, and a delicious cook, whose whole lifestyle exuded what is now being called a “Scandi” aesthetic: simple beauty and naturally elegant furniture and textiles. None of this was what I had grown up with at all – and I admired her style tremendously.

This is her carrot cake recipe… the original copy she handed me, jotted in her neat handwriting from 40 years ago, now stained, wrinkled and splattered from many great cakes.

You have the option of more white flour than whole wheat, but I always make it equal. I grate my carrots in a Cuisinart now, rather than by-hand using a box grater. My cream cheese frosting is just one 8 Oz. package of Neufchâtel at room temp mixed with enough powdered sugar to make it sweet, but not disgustingly so – about 1 Cup – and a teaspoon of vanilla. My electric oven baked it in 30 mins. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Let cool to room temp before frosting, then chill in fridge to set icing. 12 servings, more or less.

Bon Appétit!
XO Donna