Dr. Laurie Santos’s Five Favorite Coping Tips

Let’s be candid. I haven’t made a “C” since I was in 6th grade  – and that was in volleyball. I remember telling Coach Chrisman – “how can someone make a “C” in P.E. if they try? I show up here every day, wearing this terrible gym outfit and give it my best even though I hate this sport.”  He just blinked at me, not knowing how to respond to a 12-year old girl who speaks in complete sentences.

Fast forward, I am taking the most challenging class of my MLA pursuit – Freedom of Speech. I am learning a lot, but I can definitely see how my left brain is frustrated with this topic. While I still have an “A” in the class I have made C’s on the last two quizzes, despite all the studying I have done. It’s driving me mad I tell you!  I can completely understand how college students feel so defeated and unworthy when they make grades lower than what they had hoped.

When I got an email from Coursera on the Science of Wellbeing from Dr. Laurie Santos and her Five Tips for Coping for World Mental Health Day – it gave me pause. I need to let up on myself. Watch her video for her explanation. But here’s my takeaway:

  1. Exercise – a half-hour of cardio is as effective as a prescription for Zoloft.
  2. Taking some time for gratitude – happy people focus on the positive. Data shows by simply writing down 3-5 things every day can significantly improve your well-being in just two weeks.
  3. Sleep – get rid of technology before bed.
  4. Get social – happy people are more social. Double down with other coping strategies.
  5. Be with your emotions – it’s easy to run away from your emotions. She recommends a meditation exercise RAIN – Recognize, Accept, Investigate, Nurture.  This last coping skill really resonated with me.

She also has a great article here on how to deal with COVID. Check out her Happiness Lab podcast here. She’s takes listeners you through the latest scientific research and shares some surprising and inspiring stories that will forever alter the way you think about happiness. She’s changed the lives of thousands of people through her class “Psychology and the Good Life,” and she’ll change yours, too.

Are you ready to feel better?


What’s Your Word for 2020?

I had such a great time leading a workshop recently for the members of my book club helping them craft their vision for 2020. It was empowering for us to spend this time together focusing on what’s important.

We discussed the big differences between the more traditional style of “making a resolution” versus the recent philosophy of intentions. Simply put, resolutions are fixed absolutes, somewhat inflexible demands we put on ourselves to commit to a change in our behavior. It’s the goal we want to achieve but does not outline the steps to get there.  Here is an article on the “Top Five Resolutions” and I have made all of them over the years.  Did you know 80% of us will fail at the follow-through of our resolution by mid-February?  This is due largely to our lack of self-discipline (link here for a great article).  A resolution doesn’t focus on “the why.”

In contrast, an intention is “the why.”  It’s the steps we need to take to reach our goal.  Intentions can be adjusted and are more forgiving and allow us to stay on course even while changing direction.  Here’s an article on how to take those top five resolutions and change them into intentions.

Ready to find your word?  Still need more ideas?  Here’s a link to brainstorm ideas for your Word for 2020.  My word for 2019 was #movetobloom and in 2018 it was #celebrateeveryday – which turned into my mantra for my blog that I still use today. For 2020 I chose “Nourish”. I am focusing on three key areas in my life – Body, Mind and Soul and how I can practice nourishing each of these.

At the end of the workshop, we created our own My Intent bracelets stamping by-hand the word we chose. Each woman selected something different and unique to the season of their life – Bloom, Create, Worthy, Courage, Grace, Balance, Forward, Trust, Bold, Strength, Present, Be Still, Connect, Boundary, and Simplify.

Finding your WORD is a simple, fun, and empowering exercise.
In a world inundated with distractions, it’s powerful to have a daily reminder of what you want to actively focus on, or manifest, every day. The WORD you choose will evolve over time, it’s what you want to remind yourself for this chapter of your life, it may be a few weeks or months.

To cap the day off, we shared our takeaways from our January book club selection – The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates.  Here’s an article outlining “Seven Lessons” from Gates’s first book in which she discusses the complexities of feminism and the phenomenon that communities can only flourish when women are lifted alongside men. It’s an enlightening book and made me realize I have formed prejudices that I need to reframe.  I highly recommend all women (and men, for that matter) read this book.

For 2020, forget setting a resolution. Instead, ring in the New Year with an intention. This slight change to how you set your goal can actually improve your success in achieving whatever it is that you desire.

Making Date Night As Important as I Do

I ordered a book recently from Amazon Date Night In: More than 120 recipes to nourish your relationship.  Sweethearts, spouses, and parents Ashley and Gabe Rodriguez found themselves deep into marriage and child-rearing when they realized they were missing the connection of their early relationship, and needed to prioritize each other. They instituted a weekly date night at home to sauté, roast, mix, dice, and spend time reconnecting over delicious meals.  

I loved the part that it’s just enough food for two people.  One of my favorite things to do with Mr. Bee is cook alongside each other in the kitchen. This book got me to thinking about the importance of date night.  To be totally honest, in my first marriage my then-spouse didn’t make time for me to do this and I was always fighting a losing battle trying to get him to see the value of it.  Ultimately, I believe the non-verbal message I received was that I wasn’t important enough to carve out time together and we drifted apart. I decided that if I could be lucky enough to find someone to love again that we’d make each other feel important.

I did some internet research and found The National Marriage Project founded in 1997 by Rutgers University Sociology Professor David Popenoe. NMP is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian, and interdisciplinary initiative whose mission is to provide research and analysis on the health of marriage in America, to analyze the social and cultural forces shaping contemporary marriage, and to identify strategies to increase marital quality and stability.

Here’s five reasons date night is important to your relationship.  If you really want specific information on why date nights help strenghthen commitment, sexual satisfaction and communication download this handout from NMP on the value of date nights (if you and your sweetie love charts and graphs and data, this may be a great read for an upcoming date night!). This study suggests that even just one night a month can increase your chances of staying together.

A while ago I created a date night board on my Pinterest page.  When I find things I think would be fun to do together I pin them there so I won’t forget. Here’s a fun one…60 Questions to Ask your Partner

According to this NYT article most studies of love and marriage show that the decline of romantic love over time is inevitable. The butterflies of early romance quickly flutter away and are replaced by familiar, predictable feelings of long-term attachment.

But several experiments show that novelty — simply doing new things together as a couple — may help bring the butterflies back, recreating the chemical surges of early courtship. Here’s a fun fall date nights check list to try…

“You don’t have to swing from the chandeliers,” Dr. Fisher said. “Just go to a new part of a town, take a drive in the country or better yet, don’t make plans, and see what happens to you.”

My Heart’s in Two Places: Countdown to College drop-off – One year later

I know for many of you this time of the year is full of firsts and lasts.  It is an exciting time full of check-lists and shopping trips to Target picking out their 100th ruler and twin XL sheets for their dorm room. At the same time, when you let your heart and mind be still with each other long enough, there is a wave of sadness that the years passed you by so quickly – we were warned of this from the time they were placed in our arms, but we didn’t believe it.

Since seeing Miss Bee off to college last fall I can look back and say it was different dropping her off than I thought it would be.  First, you’re exhausted and dripping with sweat from the dozens of visits to and from your car to unload all the stuff your child is confident will fit in their tiny room. I remember thinking several days later after the realization she wasn’t away at camp, our “party of three” wasn’t the same. I felt this need to get a text from her every night before bed so I knew she was okay and at first she induldged me, but after the first week those texts stopped.  I didn’t protest.  I had to trust that God was taking care of her. That all the conversations we had about safety and following your instincts would kick in. I had to put pictures in my head of ponies, rainbows and friends that loved her as much as her parents do.

As the months moved ahead I found I actually enjoyed coming home to a quiet space where I didn’t have to cook dinner, ask about homework, or drive her anywhere for glue or tennis practice. I enjoyed the company of my husband.  If we wanted to skip dinner and just eat cereal we could. If we wanted to go to a weeknight movie we would. It was funny the first time she came home during Christmas she was totally perplexed that we had no snack food in the pantry, just enough food for the two of us in the fridge, and no meals planned. It blew her mind.

What I did observe during her visits home, which even though she attends school 15 minutes from our home we didn’t see her much at all, was a woman.  Full of ideas and new knowledge she was taking in from her classes. We had wonderful philosophical conversations at the table about the world we live in.  This summer we enjoyed going to movies, cooking dinner together and laughing.  This past year gave us “space” to find ourselves separate from our threesome.  Miss Bee still sees us as her parents, but we’ve moved more into an advisory role versus managers.  This past year has been full of trusting moments.  Dr. Benjamin Spock said it best, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” And with a little faith, so do your children.

I thought you might like to see my post from last year – our countdown to drop off.  God bless you in your new journey, whatever that might be.

August 8, 2018

Today is the day.  A day I have been prepping myself for since she said “yes” to going to college.  Full disclosure:  Miss Bee is going to college 15 minutes from home and also where I have worked for the past 21 years.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like if I were dropping her off hundreds of miles away.

But, this is my story.  For the past 18 years, my first thought of each new day has been her and the day we have ahead together.  My last thought at night, as my head hits the pillow and I drift off to sleep, has been of her and thanking God for the day He gave us.  We now will have new rituals and routines as I wake up in a house without her presence.

The way I have been approaching this day is similar to how I felt when I dropped her off for the first day of Kindergarten.  I am excited for her because she is ready for a shiny, new experience.  She is so pretty and has carefully shopped for new school clothes, books and dorm room decor.  And while all of that fills me with joy and excitement, the part pulling at my heart is leaving her to fend for herself.  Will she make friends, will people see how special she is, will she feel safe and treasured the way I have been trying to make her feel for 18 years?  What if she needs me and I am not there?  Like I did for Kindergarten drop-off, I’ll grab my muffin with other moms, smile, then go home.  I hope to choose happy. But, likely I will go home, stare into space, gaze into her empty room and cry.  Happy tears.

Follow me along today for an on-line journal of how the day progresses.  I’ll try to post at different times and let you know what and how we are doing.

We will start with yesterday…

Tuesday, August 7:

2 p.m.  Miss Bee texts:  “I want my last meal at (insert our address) to be Daddy’s homemade pizza.”  I responded with crying emojis.

6:30 p.m. Miss Bee wanted to see the movie Christopher Robin.    The very first movie I ever took her to see as Winnie the Pooh’s Springtime with Roo.  She was two. I cried then.  I cried again now.

9 p.m. She’s packing everything in the van for move-in tomorrow.

1 a.m.  Miss crawls into bed with me and sleeps.  We don’t spoon.  But I smell her and hear her breathing.  It’s like when she was little.

Wednesday, August 8:

6:40 a.m. Alarm goes off.  I kiss my baby and whisper in her ear I love her.

6:45 a.m. I bake her favorite coffee cake — I rename it “Off to College Coffee Cake.”

8:10 a.m. I kiss her goodbye and tell her I will meet her at 1 p.m. for move-in.

9 a.m. I write her a card to leave on her pillow after move her in…

“Wow!!  What an amazing, joyful journey watching you grow into the young woman you are today.  I admire your tender heart, your quick wit, your self discipline, your love for your family, friends and God, and your ability to see the best parts of all kinds of people.

I know it’s been a challenge to feel like you belong when everything is new.  But, if you are always true to yourself and you believe in yourself you will be just fine.

Being your mother has been the best thing I’ve ever done in life!  You make me laugh everyday.  Now, my heart is in two places — with you and at home.  You are never alone.  There is nothing we can’t solve together.  Life is not intended to be a solo experience.  I love you dearly.  You are going to soar! Momma”

9:29 a.m. Co-worker gives me a beautiful succulent arrangement and a card.  I cry.

11 a.m. My friend and personal trainer, Jess, stops by to tell me I am amazing and what an important person I am in her life and gifts me with the cutest flip flops that say Queen Bee.  I accept her compliments, and cry some more.

2:05 p.m.  Miss Bee was planning on checking in at 1 p.m.  Apparently she had more stuff she packed in Mr. Bee’s pickup so now we have two cars full of stuff.  Was supposed to meet me at my office, have a sandwich then walk over to check in to get her key card.  Instead, she and her dad went over without me.  I’m okay.  I’m happy in my air conditioned office right now. This plan saves her the embarrassment of me wanting to take selfies and tell everyone I know she’s my daughter.

2:26 p.m.  I get to eat my sandwich in her dorm room!  We are taking a load of stuff over now.  I’ll get pictures and share them on facebook. (Looking back.on this was highly ambitious).

3:30 p.m. Cancel the tuna sandwich. It’s locked in Mr. Bee’s truck. Of all days, he doesn’t have his phone with him. It’s hot. Why did I wear jeans? I’m in her room unpacking things. The heat was on. Did I say it was hot?

4:18 p.m.  I’m eating my sandwich. I don’t care if it’s rancid. Things are looking up now. Rearranging furniture. Miss Bee scolded me for making friends with her RA Olivia…and for offering an open invitation to our house anytime they want. I can’t help it.  I’m so hot. Maybe it’s a blessing so I won’t cry when I leave.

4:38 p.m. Okay, I think we’ve turned a corner. I rigged a fan up from my office so I think the temp might be dropping to 92 in here. Getting ready to make her bed.  Feeling good. No tears.

5:14 p.m. it’s still hot. I think with 700 people moving into the dorm all at once has shocked the system. Right now Miss Bee is applying faux marble peel and stick contact paper to her desk top. It looks super chic. I’m on her bed.  I was going to get out of their way and sit outside her room, but she insisted I stay on the bed. Positive gesture.  I think God makes you dislike moving in so you won’t focus on the end.

5:33 p.m. I think it’s starting to cool down, or maybe my brain is liquid and I don’t feel it.  Everything is put together and in its place. We are now hanging stuff on the walls.  Her theme is Boho chic. She purchased a gorgeous tapestry for wall behind her bed.  Crisp white linens and pillows on the bed.  I think I’ll get some fresh flowers for her desk.

She told me I could put anything I wanted to on the lightbox. She hung it up next to her bed.

6:45 p.m. We are exhausted. So we are seeking cool air, chips and salsa to build up our strength.  Then, it’s to Target for a few things and back for phase two.

6:55 p.m. This morning when I woke up I wondered if Mother would make her usual appearance on days like today (she appears as a cardinal).  On the way to the car, I heard her in the distance and suddenly she appeared right above us in the trees, singing the most beautiful song to Miss Bee.  It was a sign.  She will be fine…Mother’s got this.

7:45 p.m. At Target.  Asked Miss Bee if she wanted to pick out some flowers.  She said only if there were sunflowers – my daddy’s favorite flower.  They didn’t, but I made a mental note to find some for her this weekend.  I don’t have to look very far.  We have a whole bunch of them growing in the flower bed in our front yard.  The summer after Daddy died, sunflowers started growing everywhere and to this day, every summer, we see him in our garden.  This was his own doing, as we never planted any seeds.

8:30 p.m. We are back home packing up little things and a BIG fat fan for her room.  Lordy, I hope it’s cooler in her dorm room by the time Miss Bee makes it back there or she is quitting school.  I am going to say my goodbyes here at home.  I think the last little bit of time should be with her Daddy putting together a rolling cart.

I am really okay.  Better than I thought I would be.  I have spent the last 18 years preparing her for this very moment.  When God blessed me with a child after years of losses, I promised Him I would put my heart and soul into raising a woman He would be proud of.  With God’s help, Mr. Bee and I have met that goal ten-fold.  She’s ready.  I’m ready.  It’s time.

There’s a quote I love from Nanny McPhee…

“There is something you should understand about the way I work. When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.”

One last thing before she left was to say, “Can we have breakfast together in the morning, Momma?”  Yes, my darling girl.  Always.

8:39 p.m.  The End.

The Randomness of January: Breaking Up with Cable, Simmer Sauce, Kind Replies and Other Stuff

Coming down from the hustle and bustle of the holidays is a challenge.  I had such a great two-week staycation from work and did exactly what I set out to do — nothing.  I slept late, binge watched tv and movies, took naps, read, cooked and spent alot of time with my brother who was in town for almost three weeks and stayed with me.  He makes me laugh like no one else can.  It’s like “home” to be with him.

When you don’t have a schedule, it’s so easy to get out of routine, especially with your sleep schedule, so last week I leaped out of bed on Monday for work and by Thursday I was so sleepy.  My brain is also not firing on all cylinders for blogging, but I thought I would at least share a few random things I am finding fun, helpful or interesting.  And, I hope to post a podcast this week, too.

First, I broke up with cable television.  I was paying almost $250 a month for channels I have no interest in.  I took a poll at home and the only two channels Mr. Bee was adament we keep was the History Channel and MSNBC.  Me — I only care about HGTV, the Hallmark Channel and cooking shows.  I did some shopping around and found this helpful article  comparing all the companies out there that provide low cost streaming services.  I was already strongly considering Sling TV, and based on my research, they offered just what I wanted for my budget (with a free month of service).  Now I am paying about $50 for Sling, Netflix and DVR.  Then, I spent about an hour on live chat to negotiate my internet bill down to $40 for internet. For less than $100 (a $150 monthly savings) I am done for all the TV and internet I can possibly want.  AT&T took it like a champ and let me ship my equipment back for free at the UPS store.  I also lowered my insane phone bill by $15 a month with bundling my phone and internet.  Monthly savings in total – $165.  Thank you.

I made a list of two foods I want to perfect this year — Roasted chicken and souffles.   I follow this cutie Trent from Store Bought is Fine blog.  His mission is to cook every single one of Ina Garten’s recipes.  I think Trent is up to 663.  He’s inspired me to try new recipes this year and Ina’s Perfect Roast Chicken was the recipe Harry and Meghan were cooking when he proposed.  My brother got me a French cookbook on souffles so that is also on my list.

I made the most amazing meal this weekend.   I did a little grocery shopping on Saturday morning and saw these simmer sauces from Albertson’s Signature Select.  They were on sale for $2.49 a jar so I bought several varieties.  I decided to prepare the Chile Verde with pork.  I got a pork shoulder for about $5, a box of lime cilantro rice, a package of Hatch green tortillas and a can of black beans.  For about $12 I had a dinner meal that ended up making enough servings for lunch the next two days.  The meat was flavorful and the entire meal was delicious.  Really, one of the best meals I’ve made in a while.  I plan to keep these sauces on my shelf.

Kind replies and comments.  I have met some of the sweetest people in my blogging journey.  Strangers send me the kindest notes letting me know how much they appreciate my posts and most recently my podcast.  Here’s a recent message I received in my email inbox last week…

“I just wanted you to know I found your website and podcast, from following Euna Mae’s. I have binged listened to your podcast this past week, and I can’t wait to hear more! I have also looked through a lot of your blog.  Just wanted to say “hi”. Can’t wait to read and hear more!!!!  K.”

Let’s see what else…I cleaned out my pantry so I can start fresh.  Alot of the food I didn’t need any more (our eating habits have changed alot since Miss Bee is away at school), I took up to my church’s food pantry for someone else to enjoy.  I plan to go through all my cabinets in the kitchen and do a purge of things I am not using.  I usually always have at least one “donation” bag going at all times so as I find things I don’t want it goes into the bag.  When the bag is full it goes into the car for drop off the next day.  This trick keeps things from piling up and causing clutter.

I learned something new from  The Kitchen Counter Podcast, which I love, about the difference between convection and conventional cooking.  A “light bulb” moment was that I have the convection feature on my oven and I never use it.  Well, no more!  I made a batch of my favorite chocolate chip cookies with chopped dried cherries (that I found when I organized my pantry) and used the convection mode.  They were amazing.  Seriously.  I love learning and trying new things.  Another fun tip from this podcast is to shop your pantry.  Try to challenge yourself to cook from what you already have instead of buying more.  My pantry purge made me realize I have 100 cans of tomatoes of all varieties.  I need to make a great sauce and freeze it!

So, that’s it for this Monday.  I hope your week is great!

Monday Motivation: Eleven Things to do on Sunday and Shipt Coupon Code

One of my favorite things, as I approach the weekend, is knowing I am going to have free time to relax and make my own schedule.  Sunday, in particular, is a day I want to make sure is free of commitment so I can mentally prepare for the work week ahead.  When I came across this post for “Eleven things to do on a Sunday to prepare for a better week” I knew I wanted to share it with you in my mission to help make Monday the best day of the week — not your least favorite.

Here’s a recap (for the full article visit here and you can also find it on my Pinterest board).

  1.  Create a to-do list writing down everything you need to get done for the week.
  2. Once you know what you need to do prioritize your to-do list so you accomplish what’s most important first.  The rest is easy which will give you confidence to complete the remainder of the list.
  3. Go grocery shopping for the week.  Or, in my case, I use Shipt grocery delivery.  I make my list at Target (depending on your area you have several grocers to choose from), send it to Shipt and they do the shopping, delivery and drop off on my kitchen counter or porch.  Here’s a coupon code to use for $50 off your annual delivery fee (with unlimited deliveries as long as they are $35).  I haven’t been grocery shopping in over two months and it’s been a huge time saver.  You can also use their service to have groceries delivered to a friend or college student.
  4. Spend time decluttering.  I go through unopened mail, tidy up the house, take out the trash, stack up books and magazines from my weekend reading.
  5. Do meal prep.  This is when I place my Shipt delivery order for the week.  I have my groceries delivered on Monday after I get home from work and I have everything I need for meals for the week.
  6. Do laundry.   No one wants to run out of underwear mid-week and the weekend is a perfect time to look through your closet to determine what you will be wearing based on what you have put on your to-do list.  Have a funeral to attend on Tuesday, make sure your dress is clean and pressed.  This is also when I put on a new set of clean sheets for the week ahead.
  7. Clean out your email inbox.  I delete, delete and delete all those emails I don’t need or have already read.  Also sort into folders to save important emails for later reference.
  8. Get outside.  Right now it is cool in my area and I have really been enjoying sitting on the patio, sipping coffee and reading books.  Hazel loves to go for walks with me on the weekends because we aren’t rushed to get home.
  9. Take a look at your budget.  Do your mobile banking, check balances and make deposits for the week.
  10. Get enough sleep.  Weekends are perfect for napping — my favorite hobby.  It’s not indulgent to take naps.  There’s a whole lot of science out there to support the important of getting rest.  I think of a nap equal to how we re-charge our devices:  It’s necessary to operate.
  11. Enjoy the time off.  Monday will be here before you know it.

What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend?  Have a great week ahead!

Motivation Monday: Flowers on your desk, a mantra and a blanket of humanity

I found this Monday checklist from Business Insider. You can find the full description and suggestions for each task on their site.

I was intrigued by number 13 — “blanket of humanity” on your emails.

“It’s tempting to power through all your emails in the most efficient way on Monday mornings. But before you hit send, read them over to ensure that they’re friendly and clear. “Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. It’s relatively easy to appear curt when you’re in a hurry, along with the impersonal nature of emails and texts. You want to mitigate false starts and misinterpretations,” Taylor says. One way to do this: Start the email by saying “Hi” and “I hope you had a great weekend.”

Want to know what successful people do on Sunday nights?  They have a post on that, too here.

Another idea I like to plan for Monday is to make time to leave a little early for work and stop at the grocery for a bouquet of flowers to enjoy on my desk for the week.Lastly, everyone needs a mantra.  Years ago, we made the life changing decision to be caregivers for my parents when they came to live with us.  During that time I met with a therapist to help me work through the transition of adding this new role to my already busy life as a wife, mother and employee.  One of the best take-aways she suggested for me to try at night before I go to bed was to say to myself “life won’t always be like this.”  It was a positive message for me to imprint in my brain so that it would hear a message of hope and relief.  We tell ourselves everyday negative messaging and as a result our brain hears nothing else and we start to believe we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough… This Monday morning message from Empowering Women Now is the perfect mantra.  Print it off and put it in a prominent place.

Make your Monday the best day of the week!

Friyay Fit: Home with a Twist Featured in Voyage Dallas

I began my first blog, Buzz In Around the Hive, about six years ago as a way to journal my experience as a caregiver to my parents. Sprinkled in between stories of the joys and challenges of caring for aging parents, I shared recipes, ideas for home decor and entertaining, the milestones of being Miss Bee’s mother and a few stories including, Mr. Bee, my husband.

My mother, Earnie, was a big inspiration for my blog material. With her permission, I would share comical things she said or did. She always laughed and found the funny in most everything, even heartache. When Mother died very suddenly in 2013 from a brain aneurysm, my world stopped turning. I missed her daily presence in my home where we lived together as a family for six wonderful years. She was my “zip.” It took me a LONG time to find any reason to write. I had no motivation. My muse was gone. About two years later, I slowly found the desire to write. But, even then, it didn’t seem like anything I was sharing was interesting.

When I was with my three best friends on a getaway, I shared all these feelings I had and, with their help, I realized that my blog had revolved around a life I didn’t have anymore. I had moved on to the next chapter of my life – a life yet to be lived with infinite opportunities to redefine who Melissa is and will be next. However, it is really important to me that I stay close to those ties I had with Mother and the inspiration she gave me throughout her lifetime.

Hence, Home with a Twist. A daughter’s twist on her mother’s traditions. I will still share the same ideas with you on cooking, home keeping, entertaining, my spiritual growth and whatever else I may find interesting. It’s my twist in the tale.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As fun as social media can be, it can also be a burden to always feel like you are not good enough. I love the quote by Steven Furtick, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” On the days when I share quick, personal stories about me and my life, they seem to get more “likes” than the beautifully staged photos of something I’ve spent a lot of time on. People want authentic.

We’d love to hear more about Home with a Twist.
I have had such a wonderful professional career as an event producer for almost 20 years. Being able to blend my gifts of hospitality and creativity with my “day job” has been very fulfilling. But, I do look forward to retirement someday when I can blog full time.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
My mother is my inspiration. Growing up pulling on my mother’s apron strings, I learned to prepare fabulous food, entertain guests with style and design a traditional home with a retro twist. She taught me to always be kind, gracious and practice empathy. My sister is also important to me. She was fifteen when I was born, so she has always been more of a Mother figure in my life. She taught me to tie my shoes, count and do multiplication tables. She is very creative and has great personal style.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Rooted In Love Photography and SRC Photography

Monday Motivation: Being Brave, Pancakes for Dinner and French-inspired living

Via the Culinary Bee

I love this letterboard quote from the Culinary Bee, Anna Mae H. Worth.

Here are some ideas to inspire you for the first day of the week…

Start a daily journal with this new book I got:

This past weekend my church hosted a program from their Women at the Well series for our women’s ministry.  It was facilitated by author, counselor and life coach Kelly Johnson.  She has a new book entitled Being Brave:  A 40-day journey to the life God dreams for you.  I can’t wait to start day one tomorrow.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

God has made us brave, not fearful beings. In a forty-day devotional format, author and blogger Kelly Johnson invites you to consider a new way of thinking about what it means to be brave and challenges you to seek a greater intimacy with God and the people God has placed in your life. 

Through Scripture, stories, prayers, and thought-provoking questions, you will recognize the seeds of divinely inspired bravery and learn the strength found in community. Using letters of the word brave as a guide, Being Brave highlights what God’s Word has to say about the characteristics of bravery: Bold, Resilient, Authentic, Vulnerable, and Engaged and Empowered by the Spirit. Banish the fear that holds you back.

Eat pancakes this week.

National Pancake Day is September 26.  One of my favorite memories of cooler weather was when Mother would make breakfast for dinner.  This weekend I bought a bottle of Trader Joe’s vanilla bean infused maple syrup.  There are two big vanilla bean pods floating in the bottle and when you pour it out over your pancakes, you can see the flecks of vanilla bean.  Drop whatever you are doing this week and stock up on these bottles.  I bought the last one on Friday, it’s that good folks.  Even the butter on my cakes formed a heart shape!  A bottle of this and TJ’s Pumpkin Spice Pancake Mix would make a wonderful gift this season.

Listen to this podcast:

The Simple Sophisticate podcast is from the Simple Luxurious Life blogger and author Shannon Ables.  Do yourself a favor this week and take a coffee or hot tea break and listen to her podcasts or read her blog.  It’s beautiful.  “If you are someone who is trying to live their best life, reach their full potential if only you could figure out which one of your many strengths to tap into, all the while love and appreciate simplicity, but a welcoming home and well-stocked kitchen are a must, oh and don’t forget the style quotient: if you are someone who loves to dress well, but could do without the fuss and confusion with the trend, let’s just say it, if you could dress like the French women that appear effortlessly chic, yep, life would be complete, then this blog is for you.” 

This is Shannon walking her dogs….

This is Shannon’s breakfast…

I want to be Shannon for a day and dip my toast points in a poached egg…

Have a blessed week y’all!

Monday Motivation: Take a bath, cook with garlic, self-care checklist

I’ve rounded up three ideas for inspiration to get you motivated for the week.

First, take a bath…I’ve blogged about the positive effects of using Epsom salts for foot soaks here, but let’s also add it to your tub.

Via Pinterest

Roasted garlic.  It makes the house smell like you have been cooking for days.  It is super easy to do and you can use it for so many recipes, including spreading it all over french bread, or on the base of your pizza dough.  Simply Recipes has the step-by-step directions and a video tutorial, too.

Lastly, how about a self-care checklist.  One of our readers, Stacy, said she printed last week’s “night before Monday” checklist and taped it to her bathroom mirror.  Maybe this will inspire you as well.

Via Pinterest

Have a great Monday out there, folks!