Monday, December 30, 2013

The sun sets on Happy Birthay

Mid-elementary school, my parents gave me a Christmas/birthday present - a bike. I was thrilled to have the freedom of riding up and down the street.

On my 19th birthday, just a week after my first son was born, my then-husband convinced me that leaving my new baby with a sitter and going to the comedy club to see Gallagher was the thing to do.

My 25th birthday was the day everyone I ever knew took the opportunity to say 'you're old, a quarter of a century.' What happen was, what they would have called it a nervous break down.

Birthday 38 was spent in the eerie quiet of the last ice storm of the 20th century.

By the 43rd birthday, my ducks were in a row... things were moving along quite well. The kids baked me a cake.

The years fly as did mine and the country's economy... birthday 47 came and went without a peep.

More than half way through a century, I found watching the sunset while sitting on a Mexican beach absolutely the best present ever.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Traditional Kolache

We just called it Grandma's nut bread but it was so good. After Grandma passed, my mother and her sisters tried to make the bread but it wasn't as good. Within a few years, it was dropped completely from the Christmas menu.

I have fond memories of sitting around the kitchen table cracking bags and bags of walnuts. Each batch of bread required 4 1/2 cups of finely chopped walnuts. The yummy smells that came from the kitchen when my Grandma was cooking are among my dearest childhood memories.

In a moment of nostalgia, I googled then found a recipe that seemed like what a 40 year ago memory of me as a 10-year-old could remember about Grandma's nut bread. Here is what I found:


2 packages active yeast
½ cup warm milk
¼ cup sugar
In a bowl, mix the warm milk, sugar and yeast. Let dissolve.
1 cup butter
1 cup sour cream
3 eggs
4 - 4 ½ up to 6 - 6 ½ cups flour
In a separate bowl, mix butter, sour cream, eggs and flour. Pour in the yeast mixture. Stir together.
The dough should be sticky.
Turn the dough on a floured surface. Knead until smooth. Cover & let rise about an hour.

1 ¼ sugar
½ cup butter
1 egg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 ½ cups ground walnuts
1 large apple, peeled & grated
In a skillet, add all filling ingredients & cook until warm on low. Let cool.

Punch down. Turn on a floured surface. Divide into four. Roll dough into a rectangle. Spread filling. Roll dough like a jelly roll. Place on baking pan. Cover & let rise to double about 30 minutes.

Bake 350 for 40 minutes. Remove from pans to cool.

After all these years, I made the bread today. It's as delicious as I remember. My husband and kids love it too. Ommie's nut bread recipe is found. :) 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

23 Years

Good Morning. Happy Anniversary, he said, kissing her gently on the cheek.

What? It's morning? she answered, not really awake.

23 years today, he smiled.

What? That's impossible! she declared.

Why? he asked.

That would mean we're old. Why did you wake me up to tell me I'm old or am I dead? She threw the covers up over her head with a humph.

Yes, you're dead, he laughed.

That's what I thought. 23 years is impossible! And she went happily back to sleep.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chateau Elysee

Originally built on three acres of land, the garden at Chateau Elysee harkens back to its illustrious past. The small path and labyrinth provides a quiet place for contemplation in the middle of Hollywood.

Chateau Elysee better known to many A-list movie stars of the 1930s and 40s as the Manor was built for the convenience of Hollywood's acting community. The hotel was designed by architect Arthur Harvey. It is reminiscent of a 17th century French chateau. The period and style of architecture was popular in the early part of the 20th century.

Today, the gardens are a small but important part of the property. The chateau is open to the public for tours.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's Right to Complain

Somewhere corporations have lost the ability or desire to provide customer service. It's gotten so ridiculous that the standard of non-service would have been the death knell for stores 50 years ago.

What's different now? It's you. It's me. It's the customer. We put up with it. So they're horrible.

Just don't take it anymore. Share your experience with poor customer service with others on Yelp or Site Jabber This is a perfect way to process through your tough day and help others avoid doing business with bad businesses.

Sadly, there have been several companies that have been so bad with their service that they border on fraud or blackmail in their business tactics. In fact, one company's service center people stole my credit card number & tried to use it in their area... It was easy to identify because I'm not in Florida...duh... and the company tried so say 1) it was my fault 2) if I extended the service contract with them, they would complete the contract I had already paid for and 3) it was my fault. Oh yes, they said it twice.

This season hold your retailer, in store or online to a standard:

1) If it's broken or the wrong item, return it.
2) If they don't provide the service you expected, cancel the service & get your money back.
3) If their rude, complain to a superior.
4) If they don't make up for the shabby treatment, write a review at yelp and find another provider who will treat you like you're the one paying them.
5) Keep all your receipts.
6) When you call customer service, take names. Why?
7) If all else fails, make a complaint to your credit card company, provide documentation of the dispute and charge it back.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Task At Hand

A few weeks ago, I was asked to give a talk about this way of life I choose to live. It's a week from tomorrow so I should give it some thought.

In preparation, I read a book by one of my mentor's mentor times three, meaning I'm fifth in the chain. Actually, I re-read it. Re-reading material packed full of information is worth the time.

Funny thing happens when re-reading books that  have profoundly impacted situations, life in indescribable ways, when it's re-read years later, it means the same yet more.

So what I discovered was that Chuck was 29 years on the journey when he gave the talks that became the book. He stuck close with the familiar text for the newbie but threw in some gems for those further on the path. But most of what I discovered was that 29 years on the path is a long time.

On the re-read, I recalled the first reading. I remember thinking, that length of commitment was longer than I'd been alive. I remember thinking, surely he had forgotten what it was like to be new. Then I laughed at my young self because this older self sees it from a different perspective.

My path, my life is the direct result of following the path. The result is I'm relatively happy on a daily basis with what life gives me. I own my choices. And somewhere along the way, I've become truly free.

Next week, I'll share with a group about this beautiful way of life and hope someday that they'll be sharing the same message with others 29 years from now.

The year my journey began,1984, was his last, he died before the end of that year. I met him briefly. I'm glad I did. A New Pair of Glasses by Chuck Chamberlain