keep your peepers open!

keep your peepers open!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

magna traditions

When we speak of traditions, food is included in the dialog. I was in a cab at dawn on Christmas morning listening to the radio as the driver headed for the train station. The commentator was interviewing people about holiday family recipes passed down from one generation to the next and culturally indicative food traditions. Immediately, I thought about the dish I would make once I arrived at my sister's house. Stewed corn is a labor-of-love family (and friends) favorite that my grandmother used to cook not just for holidays but quite often throughout the year. A recipe from the heart, only the ingredients -- fresh sweet corn sheared from the cob simmered in a buttery cream heavily laced with garlic and just enough salt and pepper -- sans measurements are written in the inherited cookbook. It's one of those dishes you had to have tasted from the hands of the originator in order to be able to combine the perfect amount of each thing to yield a pot of lip smacking, lick the bowl goodness!

Thankfully, I learned it well from one who guided me on my culinary path, preparing the dish now almost exactly as she did when I was by her side at the stove, which also means I must cook it in a Magnalite covered skillet.

Cooking in Magnalite pots and pans is a discipline I also follow whenever I fry chicken, something I don’t do very often though it truly is one of my top five favorite foods. I have used other pans when mine aren’t at hand; my best chicken to date is chicken fried in Crisco, preferably the white solid kind (sorry, some things
are best left unchanged as long as we consume in moderation) in a Magnalite pan. That said, I offered to cook the chicken for Christmas dinner. I didn’t realize that I was already using the largest Magnalite for the corn and yes, there were other large pans available; I opted to fry in a much smaller skillet that carried the brand name I trust. My chicken was crispy brown perfection!

Traditional family and cultural recipes prepared well bring a comfort that touches all of our senses. Done right, we can close our eyes and imagine the first time we smelled and tasted that deliciousness that becomes part of our being. Add to good food preparing it in the company of family and friends; my last minute decision to run up the east coast to spend the day at my sisters turned into the best gift I received this year. Being there and in the kitchen brought me some peace of mind right on time that would have escaped me had I stayed in DC.

Hope you too had a merry, merry Christmas and as we begin the countdown to 2014…

keep your peepers open!®

ps…much to my delight, Magnalite Classic cookware is still being made; they come with a 50 year warranty and I’m pleased to say that they hold up since mine have been in the family for over 50 years and are still going strong; truly well made, not flimsy and heats evenly; highly recommended…shop around for the best price.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

merry, merry to you!

merry day

Merry Christmas is today,
to celebrate in many ways.
Gathered round the trees that stand,
in homes, in hearts throughout the land.
Drinking eggnog, singing songs,
joy and cheer the whole day long.
Lounging by a fire is nice,
cookies, a movie, naps once or twice.
But it's more than presents, getting things
as holiday bells begin to ring,
say prayers for those who are in need
t’is the season to do a good deed,
let go of pent up stress and strife
and give thanks, be grateful
for the wonders of life.

I send today a holiday wish
for all you hope for, desire or miss
and take a moment just to say
peace on Earth this Christmas day.

May peace, joy, and a grateful heart be yours this holiday season and throughout the New Year to come.

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, December 22, 2013

holiday imagination

T’was the last day of school before holiday began
the kiddos arrived in pajamas, how grand!
They had waffles, hot chocolate, oh my that’s great fun
so I wonder, a new holiday tradition? DONE!

The creation of my little ditty was inspired after hearing that the grandson of one of my co-workers did just that with his teacher and classmates. I thought it was just the best thing ever, immediately decided to do something on that order next year.

There are many reasons why people re-imagine the holiday season, as one of my friends said she was doing. Creativity and imagination have to come together sans guilt to fashion traditions, permanent or temporary, that fit who we are and what our own needs, wants and desires might be even if that means baking a frozen turkey pot pie, putting our feet up and watching lots of holiday movies or sporting events. Honestly, if you share the motivation behind the changes in how you’d like to spend the season with those who need to know, you’ll be surprised how many people will understand, follow your lead, and/or be relieved that they can stay in bed while you’re off scaling Mt. Everest instead of busting out the pots and pans! As long as you keep the spirit of whatever you believe alive in your heart and home, all will be well.

Heating up some cocoa right now as I stir up cool ideas for 2014, so…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

happy joy

There really must be something wrong in the world when we need a magazine to guide us in the ways of happiness OR how wonderful to know that a magazine exists that talks about being happy. Depending on what’s going on around and through me, I could concur with either of those statements. I happened on Live Happy while moving through the train station; I doubled back to the newsstand to grab a copy, like its content and then thought that so many people need to read it. I particularly enjoyed a quick tip article on giving the gift of happiness. Number 18 mentioned focusing on the things that bring us joy, which immediately made me recall how happy I felt as I opened and read the message of my first holiday card this season.

The ability to bring joy to others is a special quality that not all possess. Perhaps being happy with oneself is the key to embodying that gift so just imagine if more folks could find that place within and begin to spread joy throughout the year. I will conclude by saying that both of my opening statements hold some validity. Unfortunately we do live in a time when happiness is fleeting for many; yes, we need to be reminded how to find it once again. Start by recognizing that moment when something small warms your heart. Let that feeling flow until joyful happiness blossoms so fully within that the only place it has to go is out into the universe to be shared with others. Try it and as you do…

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, December 15, 2013

holiday wander

In the midst of rockin' waters, I find consolation in a cut & paste or other creative endeavor. I love Christmas trees. Since I haven't decorated one in years, I seem to find myself designing artistic interpretations every year which allow for just as much freedom of expression, maybe even more, as trimming a tree. This December was no exception, offering me an escape when I needed to take a moment.

Once I made and photographed the original concept, it was time for a touch of creative license and with just a bit of editing, wella!

Making trees brings back memories of grammar school art class when green and red construction paper for a tree and ornaments, maybe some yellow for garland and a star were distributed every December; how very limited. The holiday season is a rainbow of colors and moods. Though I always incorporate a smattering of traditional tones as I work, use of the full spectrum and a wide variety of materials reflects how I feel the spirit of the season. This year, the diversion of selecting and pairing papers that unfolded into a delightful creation provided me with hours of good cheer. Turning it into a tree of plenty was a dose of much needed solace during this most wonderful time.

I’ve said this before, sometimes you have to get lost to find the way back to center and as you wander…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

holiday heart

“The heart loves a cheerful giver.”

There is something richly satisfying about giving. Be sure to do so this holiday season by writing a check, volunteering your time, or in some other way, like baking as your annual thank you to the door attendant or mailperson if cash is a little tight this year. Moreover, after you have given to others, give yourself a little something too. Be it time or tangible, may it warm your heart and…

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, December 8, 2013


In life, moments arise that give us pause, unite people around the globe. We join hands as we let go of our differences and collectively create an energy that could change the world.

A feeling of sadness mixed with the joy of having witnessed greatness takes hold and a celebration unlike no other begins never to happen again.

As the coverage swept the airwaves, I wished I had been fortunate enough to be in the presence of Nelson Mandela as he lived, had a moment when I wanted to hop a flight to join the crowd gathering to pay tribute upon his death. Since that was not to be, I tapped into the interviews conducted with non-celebrity types, people like me who admired from a distance with no less love and awe than those whose positions in life afforded them up close and personal contact, individuals whose feet were now planted on the street in South Africa right outside of Mandela’s home. People spoke with eloquent emotion and the words of one caught my attention, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!” he jubilantly expressed. For some reason, that simple statement resonated deeply with me, really summed up the mood of the crowd who through their tears were dancing and singing. So to those words I will add a few of my own…and let us rejoice!

We are better for having known personal or from afar, indeed let us rejoice and…

keep your peepers open!®

PS - When I lived in NYC, I did have the good fortune to meet, have an instant connection with and then receive an invitation from Zindzi Mandela to have a private lunch with her. We giggled like two friends who had known each other for years and though we had such different lives, we had so much in common. We kept in touch for several months before we lost contact; a photo of us is in my memory box. To her and her family, my best.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

sonetto moderno

Without intending to do so, I wrote a sonnet. I remember studying the sonnet with no enthusiasm or love light years ago while in high school. The homework assignments to write them caused me such great angst as I struggled with the rigid constraints that defined this form of literature. All I knew is that understanding and following their rules garnered a good grade, which is what I was after; my soul was never in anything that I submitted (freedom of artistic expression was a concept brewing inside of me that wouldn’t fully take shape until sometime in my distant future). So I’m not sure why hearing the word sonnet in reference to my piece sounded much sexier than simply saying I wrote a poem or that I needed to express myself while trying to grasp a devastating situation looming before me. I decided to reinvestigate a lesson long forgotten.

Briefly, a sonnet (from the Italian word sonetto meaning little song) is a poem containing fourteen lines of iambic pentameter with a specific rhyme scheme; my piece is composed of 14 lines and that was the only criteria it met. Having grown into one who is quick to push beyond and break the creative boundaries imposed by “the way it’s always been done,” I felt that it was indeed a sonnet, so I kept reading. I was pleased to find that some other rule breakers out there have loosened the requirements putting an updated spin on the little song, “…modern sonnets are typically still short, lyric poems in the spirit of the traditional sonnet. The most common modern sonnet is a fourteen lined lyric poem that does not employ iambic pentameter or a set rhyme scheme” ( And there it was, an affirmation that I had produced my very own modern sonnet. It’s a tad on the dark side, reflective of past and current experiences, but what is life without contrasts and contradictions?

bait & switches - tsl©
nice until they're nasty
beholding they hold back
genuine, they lie
giving as they take.
we fall down under false charm
hook, line then sink
into a heartless pocket
of hearts unknowingly picked
and taste the sting of a lash.
the dagger sliced, retreats, repeats
just left of main arteries
between the blink of blind eyes
we forgive in pain and step forward
to crush glasses of rose.

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, December 1, 2013

beauty exchange

During a recent exchange, I found myself reflecting on the following posed by the person I was conversing with via email, “If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what is it that makes us say beautiful?” My first thought was that only a day before, I had written the words "in the eye of the beholder" for an article about my collage art. I too had inferred that we each have our own idea of what beauty is; to me, true beauty rests somewhere in our soul where our own truths reside. Our constant challenge is holding tight to our opinions and feelings when it comes to people, clothes, art, everything as we face the many outside forces that could jade what we really think.

My thoughts then shifted to the quiet reaction that takes hold of me when I stand before a flower. I'm overcome with how lovely it is even when only a few petals remain and some have curling brown edges. Something stirs inside me, I find myself whispering, “beautiful”. This same feeling surges through me when I meet a genuine person with good spirit energy, beauty flowing from their place within touching my soul. Now I must admit that indeed I do react to the physical appearance of a person, to individuals who match a program in my head that reads beautiful. So yes, a gorgeous specimen of a man will turn my head every time. Thankfully, my barometer for real beauty rests in my soul and spirit bringing me back to reality when my mind goes ga-ga!

So as you ponder what is beautiful in your eyes…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

begin the begin

I took a break from a rather bazaar day to write a Thanksgiving email greeting, selected a photo to go with it, blind-copied hundreds of people who are on my mailing list and hit send; a message popped up to tell me that the email could not be sent because one address was no longer valid. Really? Which one? Was this a cell phone limitation or something with the carrier? I gazed at the phone exasperated and then just lost it realizing that because I had BCC’d recipients, I had no way of seeing who I had selected to receive the greeting. I would have to begin again. As I cursed for no real reason, a deep felt understanding that my agitation had nothing to do with an unsent email and everything to do with a few days of unexpected happenings silenced the rant. In the stillness, I decided not to start over on the same email path choosing instead to post my message here.

During this season of gratitude, be thankful and thoughtful
and may you find time for tranquil moments.

Happy Thanksgiving and…

keep your peepers open!®

ps…several hours after I posted the above, I sent the following message to less than a hundred people whose email addresses I knew were correct -- “be thankful, be thoughtful, be tranquil…happy thanksgiving.”

Sunday, November 24, 2013



…until wednesday…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

day break

One of the things I admire about the people who make up my team at work is their creative energy. Last week, each of us received a copy of the same page from a book along with a box of colored pencils. The directive was simple -- use words from that page to create a written piece and, if we were so moved, some art to go with it. I love a word challenge, dove right in. Maybe 30 minutes passed before all pencils rested and the sharing commenced. The first thing I noticed was how we each approached the task. I skimmed for words and phrases that jumped out, felt connected in energy and spirit; someone else zoned in on one word and the words that followed it throughout the text while another chose to read the entire narrative. Though seven distinctly different creations were plucked from that same page of words, I noted a connecting thread that linked the pieces, was pleased with the synergy that flows between us without uttering a word.

Now the art thing was a whole other matter; I struggled for a few minutes then let loose with abandon so whatever wanted to come forth could find its way to my paper. I was less impressed with my childish doodles than I was with...

electric jolt sensations
meticulously spiked in wild pink patterns
represented her journey.
images telling stories
evolving over time
realization that the butterfly is

Breaking from the workday for creative expression is quite a refreshing break. Try it and...

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, November 17, 2013

holiday best

I officially began my holiday season by meeting some of the best girls for lunch then the movie The Best Man Holiday. Listening to the music selected for the soundtrack reminded me that I forgot to share something I emailed to friends well before I went on vacation...Hey music lovers...OMG...mellow, a little sexy, serious laid back groove, sittin' in my office working and found myself zoned out, head boppin', swayin'... oh, oh, oh... yeah...get/download this one! George Duke has been part of my soundtrack for so many years. Though this CD is not new, it was to me when I happened on it. I eagerly snatched it up to add to my collection much like the way I snapped up a ticket for the movie several days before to ensure a seat in the theater opening weekend; it didn’t and as stated neither does the CD disappoint. Check them out, share with the best in your lives and as the holiday season gets underway…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

sand in the hourglass

I say this often and it’s true…I just can't keep up with how quickly the days pass! Only a minute ago, or so it seems, I found myself traipsing barefoot in the wet sand along the Jersey shoreline in Cape May,

a second ago trekking through the smooth auburn sands of the Sahara (by the way, the shadow to the far right is me on my camel!).

Yesterday, I found myself moving swiftly along an urban street to escape the chill in the air as the forecast called for snow showers, no sand on any corner as time rushed by in the whirl of the wind. Yet, I still make it a point to slow down, taking long pauses to bask in Autumn glory while it lasts...

...because the sand continues to run down and in less than a quick glance, the leaves will be gone and there really will be snow on the ground (unless you live in places where the seasons are not so distinct), so...

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Back in early September, I promised to share a goddess collage commissioned for auction for a fundraising event once said event was over. Sitting through an auction of my work was somewhat surreal; I ate breakfast without knowing what entered my mouth, chewing faster than my heart was beating as the auctioneer called for bids. I am pleased to note that the piece sold and will hang in the very center that commissioned me to create her. The Capitol Breast Care Center’s mission is to “provide culturally sensitive breast cancer screening services and health and wellness education guided by evidence-based practices to all women in the Washington, DC area, regardless of their ability to pay”. It was my honor to create a bold piece that represents the strength, courage and resilience of every and any woman. Without further ado, meet "sassy!"

Between "sassy!" and my return from an inspiring holiday abroad, my creative fire is burning so…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

return to center

may the heart’s garden of awakening
bloom with hundreds of flowers.
- thich naht hanh

While working on a project, I came across the above quote; it brought me back to my morning mindfulness practice that I had gotten away from while on holiday in Maroc.

There is comfort in coming home.

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, November 3, 2013

a time to remember

A month ago today, I celebrated my birthday in Morocco. Here’s what I wrote that day with a few edits to keep people mentioned anonymous…

Oct 3 - It is my birthday! On my morning walk around the property, I stopped in the gift shop and there they were ... the perfect princess slippers for this birthday girl! Scooped them up of course as my check-list includes the right pair of the local pointy-toed shoes to bring back.

When I boarded the bus, a group of gay couples we have come to adore led those on the bus at that time in singing to me; our tour guide Khalid later sang happy birthday in Arabic and at our lunch stop way up on the High Atlas Mountains, a most delicious cake arrived that I shared with the entire group who were thrilled to partake in such an unexpected treat (just can't figure out how that cake got up to where we were, but I know my BFF made it happen).

The road from Ouarzazate to Marrakesh unnerved me more times than I can count as we traveled along the highest road point in Morocco, the Tizi n'Tichka Pass in the High Atlas Mountains which is 6,860 feet above sea level. Though the views are spectacular, I held my breath and prayed as the bus navigated countless hairpin turns on the edges of cliffs that quite frankly scared the you know what out of me! Oh, and it was not a short ride. Each time we seemed to be heading down, up we climbed again...when would it be over is what I repeated as I just kept snapping pictures.

The biggest delight was the surprise evening at Amanjena Resort and Spa where the four of us were treated to a private spa experience followed by dinner outside under the night sky accompanied by a quartet of musicians. The resort was actually closed as they prepared for a group who had reserved the entire place for a four day 75th birthday celebration; somehow my BFF convinced Khalid to get us in, she was not going to deny me or any of us a visit to this wonderful place, we were just to close to miss out!

Place is exquisite! We were warmly greeted by several staff then walked the impressive property to the spa where we sat in a waiting area with a bowl of pink roses floating in a huge bowl of water at our feet. Mint tea and cookies were served before we were taken to a huge group steam room where each of us was scrubbed, hand bathed with black soap, rinsed with bowl after bowl of rosewater, reclined for a rest, slathered with mud then rinsed in fresh for each of us eucalyptus water before our attendants helped us into our robes and led us down a short flight of stairs lined with rose petals to recline. Next was a stop for water and sliced fruit... happy birthday was scripted in French in white chocolate on my glass plate and they gave me a spa candle as a gift. Then we were taken to a room for a massage where our giggling, chatty foursome was reduced to silence as each of us melted beneath the hands of our own skilled personal masseuse; it was hard to get off the table. We took a quick tool around the gift shop, then dinner under the stars where they practically feed you!

My birthday was just a dream that I won't soon forget and yes, I wore my princess slippers to Amanjena! Happy Birthday to me :)

PS - I am most fortunate to have the best best friend a girl could ask for. How did I get so lucky?

It truly was a memorable day and vacation and with this post, I will close out the Moroccan experience. Not sure what I will write about next, so…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

book it

Prior to my departure for Morocco, I made a paper book with my staff at the hospital as part of our weekly wellness meetings. We were all supposed to complete a front and back binder for our books, I promised to do this while I was away since I would be across the ocean when the team met to share their creations. Honestly, when I packed it with a small box of art supplies, I thought that box would only see the light of day when I unpacked it back in the States. Imagine my surprise when we had a free afternoon in Ouarzazate and I found myself taking watercolors to the pool to paint in the book as I chatted with my friends and other travelers from our group.

Another night in Marrakesh, I had a sore throat. Not wishing to get really sick and wanting to be well enough to go to Essaouira the next morning, I missed seeing the Square at night, took some medicine, and thought I would doze off. Instead, I collaged on one page of the book and used a large postcard obtained in the medina in Fes to make the front and back binders. And then it hit me…this book was the size of a passport! I decided that I would turn it into a Moroccan memory; slept like a baby once that was settled.

In Casablanca, I glued clippings of the logos from each of the six hotels along with my boarding pass onto a page and thought about what else I’d include when I got home. Eventually local stamps and money, my favorite postcards, a picture of me and my three girlfriends, pictures that I took of two elders that I met who had deep wisdom etched on their faces, my badge from the Mosque, my name written in Arabic, a page dedicated to how I spent my birthday, and the business cards from restaurants completed the pages.

I tied the tiny Hand of Fatima I wore while there and a bead found in a small store in Casablanca to the outside as finishing touches and tucked in a photo of me on the camel on the Sahara dunes along with a picture of artwork seen in the most unexpected location.

The book became a place to put the trinkets that normally find their way to a box or somewhere else when I get back from a trip. It’s something I now hold dear and will continue to cherish each time I take it out of a special packet that I put it in along with small three dimensional objects, larger postcards that wouldn’t fit in the book and the orange “b. glaurieous” bracelet worn each day in memory of our friend Barbara who would have been with us on this trip had she not passed in February; she was there in spirit every step and marvel along the way.

Never would I have imagined that a plain book of paper, sewed together with ordinary yarn would come to be so extraordinary with meaning. By all means use this idea, I know I will again because speaking of booking it, I’ve already made a deposit on a trip for 2014, so stayed tuned and …

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, October 27, 2013

le grand mosquée

On our last day in Morocco, we toured the Hassan II Mosque (مسجد الحسن الثاني) built directly on the Atlantic Ocean in Casablanca. This magnificent structure, finished in 1993, took over seven years to complete, is the largest mosque in the country and claims the largest minaret in the world towering 689 feet; its spotlight shines towards Mecca. I could actually see the Mosque from my hotel window the first day we arrived in the city. From a distance, I felt its impact wondering what it was, if we were going to visit. It took my breath away from afar and when I stood before it, my mouth gapped open as I craned my neck 1) to take a picture of the tower and 2) in absolute awe.

I marveled at the size of the space when I stepped past the giant front door and removed my shoes, wanted to run my hands over the beautifully carved woods that lined the staircases, did just that to the gorgeous mosaic walls and fountains, felt the cool marble floor and soft carpets beneath my bare feet (I decided not to put on the cotton booties we were given just as I had done when we visited the mosque in Egypt), wanted to be immersed in the pool of water, and gazed at the intricate windows and elaborate chandeliers high above -- it was hard to take it all in. The mosque even has a sliding roof!

Overwhelmed, I decided to look up...

This is decidedly my favorite picture...

Something divine is up no matter what the faith so...

keep your peepers open!®