With a Full Heart

thanksgiving heart001

Having a full heart doesn’t just mean gratitude. For a holiday that is based in gratitude, Thanksgiving can be problematic because God knows any number of gratitude violations can occur. Having a full heart means feeling the emotions of the day whether they are good or bad, the impact of your world and, yes, gratitude. If you’re open to it there are little miracles happening if you’re not your heart may ache.

I began my holiday on Tuesday making Stollen, a new tradition I’m starting for my sister-friend Evi. She and her family join us for the traditional “family” holidays each year and I can’t picture it any other way now. While Stollen is a traditional Christmas bread, that holiday belongs to her husband, Walter, and his fruit cake. It’s a yeast bread, anything can happen but only good came from the yeast this first time out. The house smelled wonderful and I believe it was a welcome addition to the table.

Wednesday is my pre-prep day. The brussel sprouts are roasted, three bags of them this time because somehow everyone decided to like them after all these years. I roast them on Wednesday so that I can have every single one of those crispy chips to myself. They are salty and flavorful and oh so CRISPY! Stuffing is made, cranberry sauce is made, and table is set.brussells001Just as I’m finishing all my prep I get a text from two of my favorite people, the Riley’s, who are just sitting down to lunch at our favorite place at our favorite table the day before Thanksgiving when there shouldn’t have been a seat to be had. The rules of serendipity kick in and I’m on my way, no makeup, cooking clothes, smelling like brussel sprouts and we couldn’t have had a better time.

thanksgiving 2015002

Thursday brings my sister and my mother to the house first. My mother has been practicing going up the stairs and walking each day so that she can make it into my home. She was a champ! She has also been having a wonderful love affair with our Toti Nonna, the dog who I’m sure was the motivation for all that “practice”. I am convinced they are saving each other on so many levels. It is an amazing thing to watch them together. It really fills my heart, and everyone else’s.thanksgiving 2015001Every once in a while when I cook in my kitchen I feel just the slightest twinge of regret for the magnificent kitchen I left behind. My kitchen is very tiny but then when I see the miracle of something going from raw to roasted, the ease with which I can move around and the number of people who feel comfortable in my home I let the twinge come and let it go just as quickly.thanksgiving 2015003thanksgiving 2015005

I’m sure my sister is feeling the same thing in reverse. She is enjoying her magnificent kitchen and turning out some fabulous dishes where she was once an onlooker to Honey’s domain. And it was Honey’s domain from which came incredible meals the likes of which we won’t see again. I wait all year for her pumpkin pie and she truly truly truly outdid herself this year. My heart swells when I picture her at her baking counter with her Cuisinart and KitchenAid mixer putting together her newest rendition with shortbread crust and creamy amazing filling. She brings two, I put one away to enjoy throughout the weekend but it “must be gone by Sunday” or I will never get back to a normal diet. The new rendition is a keeper that I will enjoy year after year, right?thanksgiving 2015004

Each year when we are all around the table I manage to get a picture. I never really manage to get in the picture because…well you know. This year however through the magic of IPhone, a rigged stand made out of binder clips and delayed exposure I got in!!! It’s a beautiful picture and I’m so thrilled to have it but it makes me laugh. We all have a perfect smile as if we are looking at someone taking the picture, but really we’re staring at the phone, counting down one second away from bursting out laughing. As if the picture weren’t enough we have that silly moment as well.thanksgiving 2015007


Surrounded by people I love, Mom and Terri going home early but far later than previous years, the Girls coming in with hugs and love, still others coming in like a whirlwind in need of a friendly atmosphere, the over lapping and fellowship among all just goes straight to the root of life on Stowe Lane. Texts from friends, a wonderful phone call from my newest old friend, too much food, way too much wine, so much laugher, complete exhaustion at the end of the day, or rather the three days, my heart is full. I am in awe of the love that resides in this home, of the people in my life and the good fortune that I’ve found. It all came home to me the next day on our walk, we were cutting through the fog, figuratively and literally from the “richness” of Thanksgiving, and the sun made its way out.

File Nov 28, 3 43 14 PM

I saw a heart in that emerging sun, I see a sun in my emerging heart…

The Art of Dining Alone

dining alone001

There have been several articles on the subject of dining alone lately and I couldn’t help but think, what’s the big deal? I’ve been dining out alone for years, decades maybe, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Perhaps it’s not for everyone but practice can bring you closer to others and out of your room, or apartment, or office and into the enjoyable experience I’ve come to know.

dining alone004

You can begin on a small scale by being one among others. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg named this the “third place” where one goes by choice to be alone among others. It’s what you can do easily at Starbucks or Panera. Many restaurants have recognized the advantage of communal dining, bench seating, and family style service. They are beefing up their bar areas to make it more enticing for solo diners and alleviating the angst over a single eating at a table for two. Street food served in the vicinity of picnic tables and benches are a good way to ease into dining alone also.

Ehmer's 2015-07-11 wtrmk1

Making a reservation whenever dining out is usually a good idea. Open Table, online restaurant reservationists, are reporting tables for one have gone up 62 percent over the past two years. Caroline Potter, Open Table spokesperson, states “Solo dining is about treating yourself to a delicious experience and savoring every bite. From communal and counter seating to doting table service, restaurants are welcoming parties of one with open arms.”

dining alone005

If you can’t make a reservation, take a seat at the ultimate counter seating, the bar. Ripe for conversation with the bartender and other transient guests waiting for their tables the bar is at once inclusive and private. The food is delivered more quickly at the bar in my experience and if you’re in a new town the best local info comes from behind the bar, always.

When you arrive, connect with your host, when you are seated connect with your server. DO NOT dive right into your devices. Don’t make your server interrupt you. I get that technology makes you feel less awkward and more comfortable but have a conversation with your server, they are there to make your experience memorable. Find out their name and use it same as you would meeting anyone for the first time. Ask them about the signature dish, what’s their favorite thing on the menu.

dining alone002

Order something new, different, and original to the area. Enjoy your food, act as if you’re a restaurant critic. Savor each bite. If you dine alone in different areas make at least one meal a “best of” meal. I try to have a cheeseburger prepared in the style of every city I visit. Houston is winning so far…it’s beef country after all. When I’m on the Cape I try the lobster roll every chance I get, Wild Goose Tavern has my vote hands down.

If you’re going to drag out a device, take an image of what you’re enjoying and share on social media. Let your server know that you’re sharing your good experience. On the other hand, if you’re not satisfied with your meal let the management know, they want to know from you and they want to make it right, Yelp doesn’t give them that opportunity.

dining alone003

Another way to avoid your devices and engage is to people watch. People watching on your own can be amusing, heartwarming, nostalgic, and very entertaining. And then there’s eavesdropping. I know, but sometimes it can’t be helped and it can be downright hysterical. Try your best NOT to laugh out loud like I did recently, it actually turned out fine and I made a couple of new acquaintances. They actually knew they were “those people”.

At the close of your meal, thank your server BY NAME. I had a wonderful meal on the Cape recently and Raluka made all the difference. I was happy to tell her so and she couldn’t thank me enough for actually remembering and calling her by name. That is a legacy moment.

dining alone007

There is nothing that brings me more happiness than enjoying a meal with friends I love but I’ve come to love dining alone nearly as much. I’ve met some interesting people and enjoyed some delicious meals that never would have been available from room service in my hotel room. The best conversation starter is the audible swoon over something incredibly delicious.

Venture out on your own, enjoy your surroundings, and experience all the exceptional food that’s out there. These are the moments in time that you’ll remember as the best of your vacation, business week or just plain Tuesday night.

4 O’clock In The Morning


Some people (aka my mother and that entire generation) say no good can come from anything that happens at 4am. Once upon a time I believed that too. It was the exact time when exhausted me was disturbed by a certain someone’s self-induced insomnia coming to a crashing end. Nightly.

I’m starting to believe that 4am has become my witching hour. By definition a witching hour is a time deep into the evening, usually midnight, when anything might happen. A period of relative calm, during which a person or people undergo a significant mood change. The witching hour is NOT a time of violence, it is the calm that precedes a storm. Is writing a storm?

I’ve had a full writing schedule for the last few weeks and some of my best inspiration is coming at 4am. So what to do? Go with it, I’ve created a 4am survival kit and I get to work because I know damn well that if I don’t write it down it will be gone in the morning. I’m listening to my mind instead of trying to shut it off, making notes and researching and playing with new concepts and surprising myself by letting my mile-a-minute mind run wild.


4 O’clock in the morning has become an interesting phenomenon for one man whose cockamamie TED talk, before TED talks were popular, created a crowd sourced sensation that is at once crazy and touching. You’ll love the Museum of 4 in the Morning. Want to take a stab at when I discovered this….yep doing research at 4 o’clock in the morning.

The problem becomes what to do when all this inspiration is duly noted and my mind is quiet. How to get back to sleep? For those of you with active minds and trouble getting back to sleep try these steps that I’ve found helpful:

Do a body scan, are you too hot, too cold, do you have to pee, are you thirsty, does something hurt? If any of these pesky things are effecting you take care of them! Put a sweater on, take something off, just get up and go to the bathroom for crying out loud, you know you’re not comfortable. Have a glass of water, take an aspirin…

Back in bed find a comfortable position and tell yourself not to worry about going back to sleep, just rest your body. Let each part of your body relax and try box breathing. Inhale for 5, hold for 5, exhale for 5, hold for 5…repeat. Once you give yourself permission to just rest the pressure is off and you’ll be asleep in no time.

4am Toti

Toti Nonna has no idea what’s been going on, she’s slept through the entire thing lights on and all. Thankfully she’s the only one I have to worry about disturbing. One caveat, make sure your alarm is set before you do fall back asleep…I know like I know you’ll blow right by your normal wake time if you don’t.   Sweet dreams.

Grateful Nomination

Blogger Recognition Award 2015

Thank you Maria Baird of Manifesting Me and the Small Changes for Life Project for your nomination.  I am grateful you found me (through that terrific cousin of yours) and have been a supporter in the very short time we’ve know each other.  I love your work, you are indeed a legacy in the making.

The Rules:

Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you
Give a brief story of how your blog got started
Give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers
Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog
List those you’ve nominated in the post and comment on their blogs to let them know you’ve nominated them.

My blog started after creating a new life after divorce.  Sounds like so many other’s reasons but I was on a mission to build a legacy and show others that even ordinary people could leave behind extraordinary legacies.

My advice for new bloggers is to know like you know that you are sharing your truth, even if you’re scared to death.  The truth resonates like nothing else.

The not so ordinary list of people I keep up with and would love recognized:

Intoxikate-Living Life Deliciously

Daily Presents

Snap Maven

Chris Guillebeau

Green Mountain at Fox Run

Namaste House Wifery

Elke Trick Photography

Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary

Mad Hungry

Local Kitchen

124 Park

Jeff Goins

The Strangers Project

Drew Dudley

Becoming Minimalist