SIMPLE Summer Uniform – For Mom!


My recent endeavors have all been in pursuit of SIMPLE.  A simpler life, a simpler beauty routine, simpler habits… Thanks to my obsession with French lifestyle, I just want more time to BE.

I think I’ve mastered the perfect way to get through summer without fussing over What to Wear.

I’m a real estate agent in New Orleans, so I am lucky to have control of my schedule, to a point, and I’m planning to keep my nine-year-old son out of camp this year; we’re going to focus on having fun and being productive at home.

Here’s the problem:  I usually have to meet with customers at some point during the day.  When I’m running errands, I’m encountering other professionals, my banker, co-workers and of course, clients.  So… I have to be ready at all times, looking presentable and professional – New Orleans is a small town!

On the other hand, we have LOTS of kid activities going on.  Several days a week, baseball practice and games.  Most afternoons, dog walking, visits to the park, play dates, birthday parties, and the list goes on.

So for many years now, I’ve started my day in “work clothes,” and I try to finish up all the professional things I have to do before 3pm.  Then I change into my “Mom clothes,” which can be shorts or jeans, yoga clothes, or whatever.  But, if any of those activities end up overlapping (which they often do), there I am… overdressed, or underdressed… wishing I was wearing something else.

Now I’ve found a simple cure, and I wanted to share it, because it will make my summer SO much easier!  The summer uniform, for ME.

I’ve long been addicted to the simple, easy-to-care-for dresses from GAP and OLD NAVY.  Sometimes Banana Republic.  GAP, in particular, runs sales so often things are rarely sold at full price; and because I shop there so often, I’m always getting “GAP cash” coupons, which also save me tons.

For about $30 or $40 apiece, I find the cutest summer dresses that fall perfectly between casual and dressy, and once I find a style I like – I just buy several different colors and/or prints, especially online since I already know the fit.

And thanks to the fact that Keds white sneakers are back in style – voila!  I’ve found my summer uniform.  Now I can get dressed ONCE for the day and be dressed just right, no matter what comes up.

See?  In the morning, or during work appointments, a pair of nude-colored shoes – flats, casual heels, or sandals, can change the simple dresses to appropriate work-place attire.  I can add a bit of jewelry, if I want, but this summer, I’m just keeping it simple, keeping a simple silver necklace and ring on at all times, adding earrings if I feel like it.

Time for baseball?  Throw those shoes in the back of the car and reach for my Keds.  Now I’m a baseball mom, just chilling at the ball park in a simple, cool summer dress that’s not too dressy at all.  Bonus points for the fact that this is MUCH cooler than shorts and shirt (or jeans) during our brutal New Orleans summer.

Best of all, in either situation, I can switch to the other look by a simple change of shoes.

So that’s my summer uniform.  I bought 6 dresses yesterday, to add to the 6 or so I already have.  These also wash-and-wear, and they travel well, too.

A few other notes:

Hair:  I wash and condition every other day.  Let air dry when I can, twist up and secure in a bun for working or if it’s hot (and it’s always hot).  When I want to embrace my hippie look, I can let my hair down with the beachy waves created by the bun, add a floppy hat (or not), and move onto evening, go out to dinner, to an outdoor concert, whatever.

Handbag:  A big straw purse… for everything, anywhere, ready for what comes up.

Makeup:  Minimal.  Focus on great skin care in summer, use BB cream for moisture and “foundation,” a little mascara, bright lipstick at work, Burt’s Bees gloss for everything else.

** Also keeping a “bullet journal” to stay organized and keep notes on everything I need to do, and my endless collection of “lists.”

** Grocery delivery.  Enough said.  Life changing.

Bye for now!  Enjoy summer, and consider adopting your own “Mom uniform” for a simpler life!



Parenting Cheats for ADHD Children

I’m struggling right now with how to help my son.

He is nine years old, just starting fourth grade, and after just two weeks, I’m already fighting for his right to stay “drug free” with a new teacher, and feeling frustrated that she doesn’t have the classroom freedom to explore his unique style of absorbing information.

I get it.  She has twenty-two kids to work with and a short amount of time.  My little guy is jiggling, chatting and Fortnite dancing his way through much of the day.  These first few weeks of school are a hard adjustment for an over-active child who has been free in the world all summer.

So how do I help him make the shift and get back to learning?

I’m not qualified in any way to diagnose or make recommendations about ADHD.  All I have is the experience of my six grown children, two of whom are ADHD, and were once on Ritalin.  I feel it was damaging, and with this late-in-life child, I feel there’s a better way for him to manage his attention deficit.

In our case, it’s a matter of awareness.  He is becoming old enough to understand that “they” want to put him on medicine which will dull his personality, creativity and excess of motion.  He is old enough to understand that some of the problems he’s having at school can be corrected by his own choices, so we’re working on that – progress, not perfection.

To make myself clear, I will never expect his teachers to understand or tolerate an over-active child in a classroom setting.  I also do not expect them to make exceptions or change the rules for one child.  I also do not expect him to be able to do his best work in a classroom – I’m not worried about teaching him to be a perfect child.  I want him to learn to be a free-thinking adult!

Do I need to recount the number of billionaires in our world today who “suffer” from attention deficit?  Is it really a bad thing… or just inconvenient?

So our focus this “back-to-school season” is on just one thing:  organization.

My son does do his homework.  When he doesn’t, it’s because he forgot to write it down, forgot to bring home the right books, or forgot to turn it in!  So, I’ve been talking with him about minimizing these problems, which are 95% of his problem with homework.

Involving him, rather than punishing him, has definitely made a difference in his awareness and the results.

I never take away privileges, as long as today was better than yesterday.  Improvement is all I ask of him, and we are chipping away at the issues, one at a time.

Some helpful things have been:

  1.  At the end of each homework session, I ask him, “What is going to happen tomorrow morning.  Where will your backpack be?  What things might you need in class that you forgot today?  What homework will you need to turn in, and where is it in your backpack?”
  2. I say, “Let’s make a morning plan.  I’ll have your uniform ready when I wake you up.  Can you make your breakfast and let the dog out?”  I’m finding that he gets out of bed quicker when he knows the plan, and he’ll check to make sure I did my part, then he does his very willingly.  We are a team.
  3. On the way to school we talk about self control.  We’ve been listening to some adult “YouTubers” who are very successful, and he’s absorbing business tricks that work at school, like pausing before speaking, techniques for visualizing his brain settling down and focusing, and so on.  He’s only nine, but it seems to encourage him that people of all ages need “hacks” to be successful.  He likes that he’s getting his hacks from cool guys like Jeff Bezos and Tim Ferris.
  4. Planning.  We are currently working on cutting big assignments up into little bits to do each day.  This includes projects, studying for tests, and things that are not due tomorrow, but have to be looked at daily.  We are also working on trying to “think ahead” of his teacher.  What will she say, what will she expect, how do we avoid the behavior notices on the class app.  How do we get good ones?

I know that over the past two weeks, just talking through potential land mines before he steps on them have avoided tons of problems and strangely, it has made me his “favorite” for taking the time to try to understand what’s going wrong.

Without judgement, I’m trying to be on his side and be more understanding of the challenges he faces every day.

In turn, he is absorbing and being open to the mindfulness I am trying to teach him.  At first he rolls his eyes, but later I catch him “visualizing” and doing mindfulness exercises on his own, which is helping him focus at school and at home.

Hopefully, as the school year progresses he will find his way through fourth grade in a more methodical way than he did third grade.  I’ve stopped being angry and started trying to show him what I do when I’m overwhelmed and need to get organized.

It seems to be helping, and it has created a new bond between us as co-conspirators against the “system.

Don’t Trash Your Diet Just a Little Bit! (Lemon Icebox Pie Thoughts)

The above recipe takes nothing more than 10 minutes, and will absolutely ruin your diet.  I mean, ruin it.

Or… here’s another way to look at it.

My favorite fast way to drop weight quickly comes from Tim Ferris in the 4 Hour Body book.  It’s a “slow carb” diet that is followed 6 days per week with absolute strictness – then there’s…

A cheat day.

I love this diet, and it totally works.  I’ve dropped weight very quickly, then, just when I can’t take it any more – it’s cheat day!

On cheat day, I can have whatever I want.  Absolutely anything, including donuts, pizza – just WHATEVER.

I guess it tricks your metabolism into thinking you’re not on a diet any more – and when I cheat, I do it right.

WARNING.  You might eat this whole entire pie in one day.  If you don’t, you’ve GOT to get it out of your house.  Give it away.  No one is going to complain.  They will talk about this every time they see you.  I mean it.

But if you’re going to binge… this recipe is my favorite.  You can make it quickly, it’s super easy, and it freezes well, so you can use my version above, (which makes TWO pies), freeze the second one, and you’re all set next time you have to bring something fabulous to a cookout, family reunion, school thing, or potluck.

Binge-ing is going to bring you guilt.  Make sure it’s worth it.

3 “Quickie” Ways to Live a Better Life

That sounds like a big promise. After all, how can just three things give me a better life?

But we have to start somewhere, and I get overwhelmed with the many “self-help” articles and podcasts I take in every day. There’s NO WAY to do all the things I want to do to make life better.

These three, however, make the top of the charts for me. Anything else is what we call in Louisiana, “Lagniappe,” or, a little something extra.


1. START THE DAY WITH GRATITUDE. Whatever we focus on expands. This is an absolute law of consciousness, and WILL NOT FAIL when practiced consistently.

This morning, for example, I skipped my usual half hour of journal time, spending that time hand writing four THANK YOU notes. Two were to clients, one was to someone who helped me through a real estate crisis last week, and one was to a new friend, who invited me to breakfast and shared some gardening secrets.

Sending actual thank-you notes in the mail is a lost art, and has huge impact these days on the receiver – and the sender. I picked some beautiful notes from my collection, put aside everything else, and wrote notes of sincere thanks, with detail, to each of these four people, and used my “wine country” stamps to mail them in their linen envelopes. This made me feel old-fashioned and thoughtful and kind. And it expanded my outlook for the day into creating new reasons to give thanks, based on my inbox.

Whether it’s taking time to write in a journal, a quick “gratitude walk” around the block, or a simple gesture like sending a “thank you” note… start every morning with a deep breath and a review of the wonderful things that have happened – and thank anyone who helped make good things possible. Without fail, when I do this, I am given more than I need throughout the day.


I’m drinking bone broth, doing smoothies for breakfast, trying to eat only organics, and taking collagen supplements right now – plus trying to remember all the beauty routines I’m supposed to be doing for clear skin, a tighter butt, better flexibility, and more energy. NO WAY am I ever going to make it through the whole regimen of self-imposed responsibilities for a healthier me. I have about twenty daily things I’m supposed to be trying!

So, rather than beat myself up about what I forgot to do consistently, or feeling ashamed of not taking any of it seriously enough… I’ve committed to start each morning with a banana smoothie, because I am dangerously low in potassium right now – and everything else will fall in place as I go through the day.

I don’t do any of it perfectly, and things fall by the wayside as quickly as I commit to them; but just by starting my day with my banana smoothie, I find it easier to drink the bone broth at lunch, then I feel like I’ve accomplished two important diet goals, and I just find myself eating a more sensible lunch – then I feel I can eat whatever I want for dinner. I’ve earned it.

It’s an imperfect system, but just ONE right choice leads to many others throughout the day. By the time I settle in for evening, I feel like I’ve stayed on track, I tend to exercise before bedtime more often, and then that leads to more mindful skin care, etc. It all starts with just one thing. Without that, it’s easy to fail all day.


This is really hard for someone like me, who is always dissatisfied with something.  It always seems I SHOULD be working harder at something, progressing on a project, seeking enlightenment, whatever…

But lately, I have been forcing myself to enjoy the “lazy moment.”

I actually set a timer for this.  30 minutes in the afternoon before I pick up my son from school.  I don’t read.  I don’t work.  I don’t allow myself to think about what I haven’t done today.

I simply go outside and “chill” in my garden and drink juice or coffee.  I close my eyes, listen to the noise of the city, force myself to be still and listen deeper, for the birds, conversations, the swaying of trees and the rustle of leaves.  All the sounds of the country exist in the city, too, if I make myself be aware.  Mindful.

Then I breath in and note the smells.  I drink slowly and savor the taste of my drink.  I try to name every color I can see without turning my head.

I just sit there.  It’s very hard to do, but once my 30 minutes is up… I feel like I’m starting a brand new day, with plenty of energy, and I look forward to getting moving again.

This is real progress toward the more mindful life I long for.  It’s all right here, I just have to notice it by forcing myself to be lazy.

Progress, Not Perfection

As a recovering alcoholic, I give credit to my roots in AA for many of my “zen” moments.  So many times, life gets in the way of my positive thoughts and best mindful practices… and I remember quotes like, “We seek progress, not perfection.”

That simple idea gives me permission to let go of my own impossible standards, accept a few failures in my journey toward better health and spiritual growth, and just move on and make improvements tomorrow.

As an example, I included a picture of the back landing off my kitchen.  Eventually, this will not be here.  My husband intends to put a balcony across the entire back of the house, so the stairs extending from this little porch will be moved, the roof line will change, and the railing will be replaced.  Of course, the floor will be different as well.

So… imagine this space as if I had taken a “before” picture.  Unfortunately, I didn’t.

If you look at the top left, you’ll get an idea what the whole area looked like… just scrap wood holding things together, the floor had been patched with two overlapping pieces of sheet metal (dangerously tacked down with nails into the rusty pieces).  The iron railing is peeling and corroded.

Since it will all be replaced next year, it really didn’t make sense to spend any money fixing it up, but I couldn’t stand that this little pocket of peace overlooking our back yard was pretty much impossible to use – a complete waste of a great spot for enjoying the mural I’d painted on the garden wall!

With just $200, I decided there was no place for perfection in this moment.  I just needed to do what I could for now.

I totally cheated.  I threw a coat of paint around the edges of the porch, bought an indoor/outdoor rug to put down, nailed around the edges, and an inexpensive little table and chairs, along with a few hanging plants and planters.

So… far from what it will eventually be – but it’s fine for now, and a happy place to be!  I spend cooler mornings out here, enjoying a cup of coffee and gratitude journal time.

Like me, it didn’t have to be perfect, just useful.  By letting go of “I’ll do it perfectly tomorrow,” I was able to piece together something that the whole family uses in different ways.  Bryce does homework here sometimes, and Bobby likes to check out his progress on our evolving yard, and even cooks out on the terrible grill we bought to fit the space.  The steaks, burgers and fish taste just fine!

The lesson in this for me is to realize, once again, that just getting started and doing the best we can with what we have is enough.  Abundance flows not from the end result, but the little steps we take along the way to make things around us better.

All the little things add up to our whole lives, and the more I let go of perfectionism, the more I see things like this little haven in my life, coming into reality as less than perfect, but beautiful anyway.

Vinegar Cleansing – Pros and Cons


All the hype about vinegar cleansing over the past few years brought back memories.

My first husband, Bob, dabbled in anti-aging strategies for all the years we were together.  He passed away in 2007 from lung cancer, but throughout his life, he definitely tried some strange home remedies, and I usually tried them with him.

One of them, back in the nineties, was the vinegar cleanse.  He did a “shot” of vinegar every day to “clean his veins,” and he did this just like a shot in a bar – straight vinegar, down the hatch, in a shot glass… just like that.

Me?  I tried once, gagged so hard I almost vomited, then felt the burn down my throat and chest for a whole day after that.  This was not my idea of a good way to cleanse!

Here in the new millennium, these things are cycling back through, and all the talk about the vinegar cleanse made me laugh… but then again, I’m 51 now, not 25.  Maybe it’s time to think about cleansing those veins after all.

In truth, weight loss was my main motivator.  I am a slender person and always have been; but having a baby at 42 has definitely made me struggle with an extra five to eight pounds of belly fat.  It’s a see-saw of getting rid of that “bump,” and losing a bit too much in my arms and face, looking a bit too skeletal to seem like I’m at a healthy weight.

So, the vinegar cleanse initially solved this problem.  Completely.  A shot of vinegar each night added to orange juice was my solution.  When taken in this way, the vinegar did alter the taste of the OJ a bit, but it was drinkable and just made the juice taste more like grapefruit.  I could live with that.

Then, on our summer trip to visit family in Ohio, my brother-in-law introduced me to his amazing concoction for vinegar, and I was hooked!

The recipe you see in the mason jars above is:  about one cup (maybe more) in the blender with fresh blueberries, honey, strawberries and some cranberry juice to fill the rest of the blender.

I literally feel the antioxidants flowing through me when I drink this, plus the cleansing of the vinegar (almost immediate), and I can make batches to keep in the fridge for use each night.

Long story short – I did it too often, for too long.

First, it stopped working the way it did with the orange juice.  I was getting my bloated belly back, and no matter what I did… it would not go away.

Second, I think daily is too much.  I have been pretty consistently using vinegar cleansing every day for about a year.

On a hot August Saturday in New Orleans, I decided to work in my garden and plant a few new things I’d picked up over the past few weeks.  My “garden” consists of two flower beds with a sidewalk between them, and I was inspired by a visit to a new friend’s house… Doris’ garden is an overflowing English garden that meanders all the way around her house, up and down the sides, bordering her sidewalks…

In New Orleans, we have tiny postage-stamp yards in the city.  Our houses are close together with small driveways (if you’re lucky) between them; so our gardens are big time important.  They really define the whole house from the street, and we are competitive in our efforts to have “effortless” tropical oases throughout the neighborhood.

Mine looks awesome, I must say.

But.  On that particular day, the heat really got me.  I paced myself, worked a section of the garden at a time, took breaks, drank water, went inside for half hour intervals.  Still, by the end of the day, I felt really drained and exhausted.  I was only out there for a total of two hours, but I sweated profusely and, I think, lost lots of fluids.

I think I dehydrated more quickly because of the vinegar allowing all my liquids to escape through my skin.  This is very unscientific – I’m just saying, I did a lot of sweating, which I usually do not do, and for the next week, I fought dizziness, weakness and had a very unstable, “fluttery” feeling in my muscles and a “twitchiness” that ran throughout my nervous system.

Someone suggested laying off the vinegar and focusing on rebalancing my electrolytes.  It seems all the acid had stripped away what I needed, as well as what I didn’t.

It took about two weeks of letting my body tell me what it wanted before the strangeness stopped.

I craved pasta, red meat, and bananas.  I seemed to need lots of potassium and protein, and I even added Pedialyte to my drinks a few times a day, since I have my doubts about the healthfulness of Gatorade and other sports drinks.

Now, finally back to normal, I’m trying a new theory for keeping belly fat at bay.  I’m back to the orange juice and vinegar, but just once a week.

I’m also adding more fiber to my diet, having frosted Mini Wheats for lunch every day, to keep myself “regular.”

This is a good example of what I always lack – moderation.  I think the vinegar cleansing is a helpful addition to my efforts to purge toxins from my body, but too much strips away the good things, too.

If you’re vinegar cleansing and not feeling “right,” it may make sense to take a break and focus on other ways of ridding toxins, while maintaining a healthy balance of nutrients and liquids.




Thrive Market

This is a great health food hack I recently found by listening to a podcast about eating better foods.

I had been looking for carob powder, and locally I could only find the unsweet chips (like baking chips).  When I heard about Thrive, I was pumped, because I’ve noticed that our local health food stores seem to be going out of business.  The only thing that survives is the chains, like GNC – which is no good for my purposes.

Thrive is an online health food store with tons of ingredients for baking and very inexpensive options for simple things, like coconut oil, which I use a lot – as a beauty solution and to bake.

They also had bone broth, which is something I’ve been hearing a lot about to strengthen bones and prevent bone loss.  I think, based on family history, this is something I should work on.

The best part is, they have free shipping on minimum orders of $49, and you get credits each time you shop toward next time.  I spent about $80.00 and already have a $5.49 credit.

So… here is the link to THRIVE.

Give them a try, and let me know what you think!

Try & Tell: No Red Meat for 30 Days

Here is an experiment I’m starting today, based on what some beautiful, young twenty-somethings have told me about their diets.

They don’t eat red meat.

Of course, it’s not the first time I’ve heard of eliminating red meat, and I’m not sure what the benefits may be – but I’m going to try it, and I’ll do a weekly update of any changes I notice.

Mostly, I want to feel more energetic as we enter fall.  I’ve got lots of gardening and outdoor work to do in our courtyard – and I need more energy!

So… here it goes.  Day one.  We will be eating trout tonight, along with a mixed green salad and probably mac and cheese, to keep our nine-year-old, Bryce, happy.

Meanwhile… I think it would be helpful here to post some facts, but I’m not going to.

I literally know nothing about the reasons for avoiding red meat, so I’m just going to notice my own reactions, then I’ll post more information after this 30 day experiment, to provide more help to you in your own journey, and to see if any of the changes I notice are actually “a thing.”

Let’s call this a completely un-scientific blind study.


  • Right now I have a bloated feeling in my belly, and about three pounds of “pinchable” fat on my abdomen.  In spite of daily vinegar cleansing, this is not going away.
  • I feel sluggish and in general, my stomach is very “full” feeling and I just feel lazy and unhealthy right now.
  • I’m sweating like crazy these days, and having to use men’s deodorant!  (Not in a hot-flash kind of way.  Just overall seem to have a high body temperature).

August 17 update:  For now, this topic will have to be put aside.  Over the past weekend I worked in my actual flower garden – in heat over 100 degrees.  I seem to have thrown off my electrolytes and am experiencing ongoing dizziness while I try to rebalance them.  It seems that changing too many things in my diet right now is not a good idea.

Will restart this experiment at a later time.

Mind vs. Mindful… Not the Same Thing!

Thinking and being mindful are definitely not the same thing.

To me, Mindfulness is a practice of experience.  I work on this constantly, as I’m always in a rush, rarely being mindful of what I’m doing.

The mind, however, needs nurturing, too.

We are like computers.  We have two processes – input and output.

We spend much of our time regurgitating things we have learned, putting into practice our knowledge, skills and education.  We do a lot of output, and in adulthood, we often feel that we are full of information that can be shared with the world.  And that is true.

What is also true is that our hard drives are never full.  The brain has so much capacity “they” say we only use 3% of the available ability of the mind.  Just three percent!

So to me, education is a life-long pursuit.  I’m an avid reader, and I believe this helps me grow in every area of my life.

But I have to be careful.

So much study of web traffic, blogging dynamics, search engine optimization… all good to know, but not what makes a good blog.

I’ve also read a million books on childhood education, ADHD, raising a happy child… and a mother with her nose in a book, or always on the computer, is not supporting her child with attention and guidance and love!

Again, balance rules everything, and I love when someone shares a great read.  It helps me narrow my selections and spend less time reading things that aren’t helpful.  My mind needs to be kept under control, and reading time is precious and rare.

On that note, I’ll share some of the best things I read with you here, in the Mind Garden.  Hopefully, this will help send you in the direction of helpful reading to nourish your mind, without overwhelming with too much information.

4 Criteria for New Products and Efforts

I’ve decided there needs to be a framework from which I decide what’s a “good” self-improvement, and what is a “bad,” more damaging effort that’s a no-win situation.

Particularly in the arena of anti-aging, I see many things targeting our fears about aging and the ravages of time.  Fear-based buying and endeavors are absolutely not winning situations for any of us, and I think I have to create a set of rules for my journey.

That said, I’m just jotting down some quick truths that I hope will guide me, and I hope to refine this thinking over the next few months.

Realistically, as much as I’d like to live a whole and spiritual life in which I don’t care about how I look or how time passes me by… I’m just too vain and human to allow that kind of wisdom to prevail.

Not yet.

I know very good and well that my “wellness” efforts have ulterior motives.  I want to look better, feel better, remain young and fit as much as I can.  So… how to get the ego under control and let reason rule my decisions?

Here are my instinctive thoughts on protecting myself from things that will fail and disappoint me:

  • I must evaluate each new purchase or effort with a simple question, “Is this ego-driven, or spirit-driven?”  I won’t always choose things that are spirit-driven, but at least I’ll be facing the truth about why I want to try it.

  • I must ask myself, “If this works, what will the reward be?”

  • Also, “If this fails, what will the consequence be?”

  • Is my desire to “correct” this beauty or health flaw driven by ego or love for myself?

That’s just a really quick assessment of some things I have failed to ask myself in the past, and a resolution I’m making today to avoid a never-ending cycle of trying diet yo-yo situations, snake oil beauty remedies, and quick-fix products for physical wellness.

Doing the work should nourish the soul and always represent progress, not an unattainable goal that will lead to disappointment and a sense of failure.