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Being Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday is about food and family, but even more than that I like to use it to remind me how thankful I am for what I have, and for those around me.

 

For over 25 years my parents were very active doing disaster relief with The Salvation Army, and even raised the money for a state of the art canteen for the Tyler Texas location. Whenever there was a disaster or need and my parents got a call they dropped everything and hit the road. One of the most memorable phone calls I ever received was when Hurricane Katrina hit and my parents answered the call. They called me when they were outside the Super Dome not having a clue what was going on inside. For six weeks they were in the French Quarter feeding the volunteers – my Dad always joked he always wanted to have a restaurant in the French Quarter and he finally got his wish!

 

Whenever this Lifestylist® could I joined them on the road helping my Mom cook up to 2,000 hot meals a day and seeing first hand what mother nature can dish out. People were so sweet and hospitable, even though many had lost everything that they had. It was always hard to leave – I wanted to stay there and help rebuild.

 

This year I have been blessed to be involved with three amazing organizations – Shared Housing, Genesis Women’s Shelter and HomeAid/Homebuilders Care. I am always so drawn to the kids – many of them have seen things we can’t even imagine, but they always have the best manners, always say please, thank-you and give the best hugs :)

 

It’s harder than ever to make a living, but even if you can’t make a donation to a worthwhile charity think about donating your time -you’ll be very thankful that you did.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Steve Jobs: Thanks for the iMemories

I started writing this when I heard Steve Jobs was retiring from Apple, and now after I heard of his passing I thought it was time to share it. Rest in Peace Mr. Jobs – you’ve made the world a better, unforgettable place.

Dear Mr. Jobs,

Thanks to you, I have memories that wouldn’t have been possible without your vision, drive, and ability to see the world like no one else could. Because of you, the consumer got a voice in the crazy world of computers and electronics, and you also gave us a company that would listen to that voice. We stopped being looked at as consumers that were a hindrance and not smart enough to understand code, but parents who want to stay in touch with their children and grandchildren. By creating the Apple Stores I know I am never alone, and there will always be someone there to guide me through the technology tunnel.  Questions become solutions with a “genius” by my side. There is no such thing as a stupid question, and not only have I found answers, I’ve also found life long friends.

Vacation photos became more than a stack of photos – you allowed us to make beautifully presented books that chronicled our dreams, wishes and aspirations. Because of your vision a dummy like me was able to put together videos using iMovie about a new animal rescue group that stirred the heart and soul, and made people understand what Animal Rescue Corps was all about. Because of you, 1,000s of animals have now been saved. I’ve been able to watch my grandchildren grow up on my iPad using FaceTime, and have been able to experience their first time to roll over, steal home base and fall in love. it seems if there is ever something you need, “There’s and App For That”.

You have not only changed the world, you have made it a better place to be. Your passion and vision has changed all of us, and I thank you. You will be missed, and never forgotten.

Finding Joy in 2011

It’s hard to believe that in a few hours it will be a new year, but I’m ready for it! 2010 was a struggle for many, and I love the fact that each year rings in with it a sense of optimism and hope.

We all make New Years resolutions that we may or may not keep, but this year I’m making one I’m going to work on every day: finding joy. I have so many blessings, and it’s important to remember that. This year I’m determined to enjoy each and every minute I get to spend with my kids and grandchildren, enjoy the journeys I get to take whether that’s to the local Mexican supermarket or to another country, and to slow down and enjoy my gardens, a spectacular sunset and my family.

I’m also going to make a commitment to help stop suffering and have compassion for all living beings – animals and people alike. We have rescued quite a few animals on our own, and the love they share with me every day makes it all worthwhile.This year I’m going to extend that effort and try to do more.

I also am so lucky to be able to love what I do and be able to make a living doing it. Helping as many people have a safe roof over their heads and a clean bed to sleep in is a purpose that I’ll continue to work on. Every day I go past my neighbors new house and know that I helped get them a safe roof over their heads makes it easier for me to sleep as well.

Having a fantastic and successful New Year isn’t just about making more money or being more successful, for me it’s about finding joy, and appreciating it when I find it.

Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Kwanzaa Cake

Many of you may be familiar with Sandra Lee – the Food Network personality. On one of her first shows she introduced us to her infamous Kwanzaa cake, and I’ve been confused ever since. She assembles an angel food cake adding chocolate frosting, apple pie filling and “acorns” – which most of us call corn nuts.  To this day the recipe calls for acorns which is frightening since actual acorns aren’t edible to my knowledge.

We got a very special holiday gift this year – the incredibly talented food stylist Denise Vivaldo has come forward in an article in the Huffington Post to let us know it was actually Denise who came up with the Kwanzaa cake, and the Chanukah cake as well. Her recipe did call for corn nuts – not acorns though, and she does give Ms. Lee total credit for the massive tapers that were inserted in the top.

For the record, Ms. Vivaldo is actually an incredibly talented food stylist -I’d dare to say one of the best. I would give anything to spend a few days and learn from her. Since that probably won’t happen, I’ll settle for the next best thing – a copy of her new book The Food Stylist’s Handbook. It shows you the right way to pay homage to food, and I’d even dare to call it “food porn” – you’ll be lusting after everything you see in the book. Denise can also be found on Twitter. She is very generous with her knowledge and also has a great sense of humor!

So if anyone wants to know what would be the perfect gift to give this Lifestylist®, now you know!