3 Essentials to Collect for Easy Entertaining


It’s the first day of summer and that means good weather for entertaining! 

While I love spending time with family and friends over good food and drink, I used to find entertaining so stressful.

The to-do’s seemed never-ending: preparing the food, setting up decorations, making sure there were enough utensils and cups … all of it turned such a joyous event into one I dreaded.

What I found was that when I shopped ahead of time for all those items that can slip through the cracks—even when I didn’t yet have plans to entertain— suddenly the entire process became enjoyable!

So instead of creating a last-minute to-do list for a specific occasion that sends me running around town and my house in a frenzy, I slowly collect all these essentials throughout the year. 

That way, when the opportunity to entertain comes around, I can revel in the broad strokes like cooking and decorating rather than worrying about how many napkins I need to buy.

So as we enter this warm and sunny season, I want to share with you my three essentials to have on hand for easy entertaining.

1. Paper Goods

Usually you can find matching sets of cups, plates, bowls, and napkins, which makes the decorating and set up so simple! I designated a drawer in my kitchen for these paper goods that I find while I’m out and about. I get all different colors and patterns so I can mix and match depending on the occasion. And instead of buying specific holiday themes, I buy colors that correlate to those holidays. For instance, I might buy red and white striped cups for Christmas, but they can also be saved for Fourth of July, or even Valentine’s Day. 

2. Cloth Napkins

I love to keep a fresh stock of cloth napkins for a fancier touch to my entertaining. What’s great about shopping for them throughout the year is that you can wait for sales. I usually keep in mind a color scheme or theme I might need in the future and shop accordingly. And since you can, of course, reuse them, once you have specific theme or color, you’re set for that specific holiday or season!

3. Salt and Pepper Shakers

It may seem silly, but salt and pepper shakers are my favorite collectable items! Of all the seasonings, salt and pepper are what people want for a little extra flavor once the food is on the table. So themed shakers can create a festive centerpiece that’s also practical. This is the one decoration that I do search for specific holidays and themes. Since they’re so small, they’re easily stored in a drawer or box. And even when you aren’t entertaining, they can sit on the kitchen counter for a little extra flare. 

These three essentials are sure to ease the stress of entertaining so you can spend more time simply enjoying your company and the occasion! 

Do you have other tips for easy entertaining? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!


My Favorite Technology-Free Entertainment For the Whole Family


Children always need to be entertained and, in our technology-saturated lives, that entertainment often comes in the form of bright screens. 

While there are wonderful TV shows and films for children that help them learn and grow, there’s nothing like giving them a good book and watching their imagination unfold as you read together.

So during National Children's Book Week, I always welcome the yearly reminder to slow down and read.

It’s a simple joy in itself to gift a child a book, but that much better to share the experience with them.

That’s why I love a particular story book experience called: And Then... Story Starters by M.H. Clark. 

Instead of a bound book, it is a stack of large cards, each one with a beautiful illustration and the beginning of a story.

These story starters leave it up to the readers to finish the story.

Not only does it encourage the young reader to use their imagination, but it becomes a shared experience and memory for friends or family who participate.

It also means that no one will get sick of the story because it can be different every single time you pick it up!

You can even make the whole set into a game, with the whole family choosing a card and adding to each other’s stories. 

Or even adapt the stories into a theatrical living room play by making back drops and costumes to express it.

The possibilities for creativity and simple joys are endless!

A lovely companion gift to Story Starters would be my all-time favorite children’s book, Harold and The Purple Crayon, where Harold creates his own world. 

I’d love to hear in the comments below what your favorite children’s book is!

Why You Should Carry A Poem In Your Pocket Today


Today is National Poem in Your Pocket Day and I love the idea of this simple gesture!

Not only is it a fun way to celebrate one of the most beautiful forms of expression, poetry, but it also serves as a connection to those around you as you move about your day.

Poems are such a diverse art form, some just a couple sentences or a few words, and others pages long.

But what’s so special about poetry is how succinctly its words can conveys emotions.

Each author adds their own twist to universal ideas that connect us.

So even if you do not want to write your own poem today, select your favorite one.

Write it down or take a copy of it, put it in your pocket or bag, and share it with whoever may cross your path.

Let the words connect you as you pause to enjoy the story they tell.

A simple gesture, a simple joy.

With that, I leave you with my poem:

With a pen, a pencil, or a computer and its screen

You can write a poem about any of your dreams.

Don't be afraid to expose who you are.

Let people in instead of keeping them a far.

If you do, the world will open up to you,

Creating a new path,

Cleansing you like a bath.

A poem in your pocket,

Or, if you wish, in a locket.

Do you have a favorite poem you'll carry? Leave a comment with it below!


How to Encourage Young Writers


Writing is a sacred practice. It is a way to make our thoughts and ideas permanent and sharable for generations to come. It is a way to communicate imagination and reality, whether in a journaling form or a storytelling fashion.

It's National Encourage a Young Writer Day, and I take "young" to mean not just children and teens, but people of all ages who are new to the craft. I love to encourage family and friends, no matter their age, to write. 

At events and casual get-togethers friends and family tell me incredible tidbits of their life stories. People love to talk, but when I suggest they write down their experiences, they always say, “Oh, no, I can’t write.”

And I always respond, "Yes you can, and it’s fun!” 

The next time I know I’m going to see that person, I bring them a little gift: a spiral notebook and erasable pen. It encourages them to write down their ideas with no pressure because it can always be erased, but won’t smudge and fade like pencil lead does. What’s more, it creates a new part of my relationship with them.  

So on this day of encouraging young writers, I also want to encourage people of all ages to begin writing. Write and bring your ideas and stories to life, short or long, and share them with all!




Real or not



3 Simple Ways To Keep A Care-Free Home


Happy New Year!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays with their loved ones. I spent this holiday season at home, cooking new and old recipes with my family. In that down time, I reflected on how peaceful and calm a home can be when everything is in it’s place and when we have the time to spend simply being there. The New Year is often associated with a fresh start, and so I wanted to share my simple steps for keeping a care-free home year round:


1.  Remove clutter

My general rule is that if you don’t use something for six months to a year, you don't need it. (Holiday decorations excluded, of course!) Nowadays there are so many places to donate unwanted items where they will be given to people in need. 

Another great way to remove clutter is to get rid of or donate something old when you get something new. This is especially helpful to make room for new clothes, new books, or even new household items that make old ones obsolete. 

With these two strategies, you will always know what you have and what you need, and your home won’t feel too crowded with extra junk. I always get compliments on how “clean” my home looks, simply because it’s clutter-free!


2.  Organize

Once you’ve removed the extra clutter, it’s time to organize. Those items you no longer need will go into three piles: donate, trash, and storage. For storage, you will need a box or bin to place the items in. Label it and then this can go in a closet, the garage, or under your bed. 

My home memory boxes are plastic bins labeled with a black marker. My daughters have one for birth through middle school, high school through college, and after college. All their special items are there for them to look back on and cherish. I also have bins for family photographs and heirlooms. We keep most of these bins in the garage, but special items go in the closet.

For items you need to access daily, you can get drawer and closet organizers, shelves, and bins, depending on the size of your space. You can even use old laptop boxes or shoe boxes to organize within drawers. 


3.  Have a schedule

Once your home is clutter-free and organized, it will be a lot easier to actually get work done! Creating a schedule will help keep your household running as efficiently as possible. 

I keep a schedule for chores like laundry, changing bed sheets, grocery shopping, and even cooking meals. Each chore has a designated day or time. This schedule makes it so much easier to navigate my week—I don’t have to worry about those chores on the days they aren’t designated, which leaves me time for all of my other endeavors, be them work or social.

And remember, these steps are not necessarily a one-time deal. I do them whenever life starts to feel more hectic or when my family begins to accumulate more items than usual. It’s a constant cycle, but one that leaves more time to enjoy the simple joys of life!



Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, not because of the costumes or parties, but because of the joy on the trick-or-treaters’ faces when I hand out the candy. When my girls were younger, I always planned ahead, buying the big candy bars to set me apart from the other houses on the block. I was known as the house that gave out the best candy!

But now my girls are grown and I live in a neighborhood with few children. So I decided if no one would come to my house to trick-or-treat, I would bring the fun to them. I call it “reverse trick-or-treating,” which is exactly as it sounds. I still go to the store and buy those big candy bars, but I also search for cute bags and age-appropriate toys. I make a bag for each special kid in my life, complete with a festive card so they know who it’s from. When halloween rolls around, I drop off the bags and revel in their priceless reactions.  

Such a simple twist on an old tradition that brings such joy to both me and the recipients!


Originally built as a guest house, my home was designed for ultimate practicality and comfort. Each of its rooms fulfills all my family's needs. Yet as I started writing my book, I found it lacked just one space: an office. 

For me, the kitchen is spiritually the heart of our home, and gave me a good energy for writing. So I happily used my kitchen's island counter as a writing space. Yet I needed somewhere close by to keep supplies for working and daily life. 

Tucked just beyond the kitchen in the transition space to the dining room is a cabinet. It is just steps away from my "writing desk."  So as I wrote, I added to my cabinet. Many piles began collecting inside its closed doors.

One day my daughter came home and opened the cabinet. She was in shock at how much stuff I had crammed inside “my office."  She told me I needed to organize it. I was hesitant because it was organized to me—I knew what lay in every nook and cranny—and yet I could not deny she was right. So off we went to the store  to buy separators and organizers for my office space. 

We spent a few hours going through the cabinet’s contents, threw out piles of obsolete papers and unnecessary objects, and created spots for the rest. 

My cabinet and my counter top combined are now the perfect office space. Now It is so easy to find what I need in a snap. And when I put away my notebooks and laptop and shut the cabinet doors, no one would ever be the wiser of what I really use the space for!


Everyone knows when the fair comes to town! The set up takes days, sometimes weeks. Enough time to circulate talk and excitement. Some people plan weeks in advance the exact day they’re going, others wake up and decide, “today’s the day!” Whether on break from school or playing hooky at work, the fair is worth fitting in. Even if you aren’t big on crowds, give it one more try. It’s hard to regret attending a fair!

There is a sense of community as you walk through the entrance. Others moving along with you, smiles wide across their faces, experiencing the same joy of exploring. The environment overwhelms the senses; colorful back drops, enticing smells and flavorful tastes from the crazy foods offered, musical bands and performers perched in different corners, the abundance of things you can buy, carnival games that catch your attention as you walk by. If you are lucky maybe you win a prize. Although, in the past, my husband has given up on winning the prize and haggles with the game attendant! Sometimes it works, and our girls would happily hug their giant bear or monkey for the remainder of the day. Your fair also might have a tarot card reader where you can experience the sixth sense.  

Attending a fair is like entering a time warp, the hours fly by. Somehow, eventually, you’ll find your way to the exit, the fun exhausted out of you. As you leave, notice all those walking in to begin their journey of fun in the open air. Happiness and anticipation on their faces, content and ease on yours. When you get home, rest and reminisce over your fun day at the fair. 


Self-made traditions are one of the best joys in life. As my girls were growing up, we always enjoyed eating what we call "the curly chips” from the chip bag. These were the chips that folded over during the baking process. We loved the extra crunch they gave, that just couldn’t be beat by layering a few chips together. 

I would put aside some of these curly chips and, when I packed their school lunches, sandwich one chip carefully between a folded napkin inside of a plastic bag. This ensured the chip didn’t break before their lunchtime, and it quickly became a gesture to let my girls know I loved them and was thinking about them.  

One day in years past, I came across a curly chip and decided to mail it to my daughter who was attending a university out of state. I went to the store and found the perfect little box, took it to the post office and found some light weight bubble wrap to keep it safe. It had just enough room to gently hug the ever-so-important curly chip—because the goal was to get the chip to her in its perfect condition. That was the thought in the back of my mind: do not let the chip break! For this was the real gift; the gift of extra thought, and extra love, which makes the chip’s journey the real message.

Nowadays, an unbroken curly chip saved for a family member or friend is the ultimate way we show love and affection. It can have no rough edges or imperfections along its edge. It must be in perfect curly shape and form. When I get my new bag of chips the first thing I do is search for a few curly chips. I set them aside and begin deciding who I am going to give them to.

After you do this a few times, everyone catches on, and you soon see curly chips appearing around you. My daughter’s best friend sometimes texts her a picture of a curly chip—and the thought works just the same. This gives us such a simple, easy way to spread our positive energy. The person who receives this curly chip can't help but smile and feel good.  


My husband had a business conference in the same city where my best friend lives, so I decided to go with him and create what I called my own underground conference. I enjoyed the environment of the hotel, did some writing and visited with my friend.

Rather than a single tall building, the hotel spanned across a flat expanse of land, where short buildings were arranged in a circle with a pool in the center. Because there were multiple pools, some of them, ours included, sat vacant the entire few days we were there. I’m not much of a swimmer, but the serene, uninhabited (and incredibly hot desert) environment beckoned me. So I took the opportunity to use the pool in a different way.

I grabbed a towel and a bottle of water, and headed outside. I laid the towel flat on the edge of the pool, took off my sandals and sat down. Then I pulled my pant legs up and put my bare feet into the cool water. My feet sat just below the water’s surface enjoying every ripple that flowed over them. A calm feeling settling over me as I basked in the sun, felt th wind on my face, and listened to the silence. I sat in solitude for quite a while and when I finally went inside, felt refreshed.  

Even if the pool you find is busy, I bet you can find a little spot on its edge and enjoy, no bathing suit needed, just your bare feet. 


No matter how busy we get, we always find time for our animals. These loving creatures add so much depth to our lives and souls. Their non-judgmental, unconditional love is a precious gift and an important life lesson. It’s probably why I always love those who care for animals and share them with others. 

One of my favorite pastimes is going to my local specialty pet store or, for larger animal friends like horses, a tack and feed store. Even if I do not need to buy anything for my little creatures at home, I sometimes stop in simply to browse the space. I take deep, slow breaths, smelling the amalgam of leather accessories, plastic toys and treats—the smell that only animal lovers understand. 

Each visit I purchase my family’s horses' favorite yummy treat: a grain, molasses muffin with a peppermint candy pressed onto its top.  It made me so happy to discover them and also makes me happy to watch our horses love every bite of these treats.

Being around, not only these animals and stores, but also a stable or animal shelter can be a major stress reliever.  My oldest daughter was away at college and was a bit home sick.  She grew up riding horses and realized she missed this hobby in her life. So she researched and found a local horse stable, and began spending time at this stable; helping them cleaning the horse stalls and doing a bit of riding. She also just enjoyed sitting around the stable and, believe it or not, just taking deep breaths of the stables. The smell gave her memories of her childhood and helped her de-stress from her rigorous class schedule and workload.  These moments definitely helped her get through her college education away from home.

Never hesitate to stop what you are doing in your day and visit one of your favorite animal-related sites for pure enjoyment.



A Poem


We awake on this special day

To shining light

With special thanks to more than just our land.


On the outside are three colors.

On the inside are all colors.

 Colors that stand singularly.


As this land surrounds them and protects them,

These colors blend and spread.


Mothered by this land.

Its water.

Its air.

Its dirt.


A land that wants to nurture.


Standing strong from its first special day.

Now with each anniversary of that date.

Growing from the inside out,

And the outside in.


Its unconditional love that protects.


With each anniversary of this special date

Are reminders of the need for protection.


Those blended colors within need stand strong with this land.

These blended colors within must protect this land’s three colors.


In doing so this land and its colors 

Will be free to be.


Happy Fourth of July



I have talked before about my favorite flower: the white rose.  As summer presents itself, I look out my window and see my roses blooming in my garden.

A garden is a wonderful thing. It does not have to be outdoors. Creating a space in your home using a pot of soil instead of the ground has proven great for city dwellers and those in cold weather.

Growing up, my mom always had a rose garden. Regardless of whether it was a holiday, birthday or an ordinary day, she always had her roses from her garden placed in a vase in our home, sometimes a few and sometimes a single rose.

When my mom passed away and we moved my dad to his new home to start a different chapter in his life, he did not want to leave my mom’s roses behind. So we bought some big clay pots, dug her roses out of the garden and carefully repotted them into their new home. With this he has been able to move this special thing of my mom’s with him no matter where he is.

I remember my mom every time we look at our roses.


Having framed pictures around the house is a must in our family. I love when I’m cooking in the kitchen and look up to see a photo of my girls, or when I’m writing at my desk and glimpse my mom and dad on their wedding day. But I also like to keep my house clutter-free, since I am allergic to dust—the less there is to clean the better!

So instead of dozens of frames, I carefully selected a few picture frames that I love. Every year or so, when I get an updated photo of my girls, for example, I change the photos in the frames. I open the back of the frame up, take out the photo, put the new one in against the glass and place the previous photo behind the newer one. I then shut all the photos back into the frame. This makes it easy for me to look through these favorite photos I have had out in the past. I know they are a moment away from viewing if I want.  Simple storage of our favorite pictures.



Everyone has a preference for how to eat and prepare a favorite meal or snack. It may sound strange, but I absolutely love my favorite treats soggy. For instance, I pre-make my ice cream cones, scooping the ice cream out of the container and stuffing it into the cake cone, all the way to the top rim. I use a cake cone for its flat bottom, so I can set the cone on my kitchen counter for a few minutes and let the ice cream soften. I then push this ice cream into the cone further and add a scoop of ice cream on top of the rim. Sometimes I eat it immediately after adding that top scoop, and other times I wrap it in a bag or container and put it in the freezer to enjoy another day.

Another soggy food I love is either pancakes (or waffles) soaked in syrup. I call it “marinating." I place the pancake in a bowl, add a tad of butter, and then drench it in delicious maple syrup (honey also works if syrup isn’t available). The syrup slowly soaks into the pancake or waffle. It takes a little patience waiting for the perfect sogginess, but you’ll know its done when the pancake significantly darkens in color and there is no syrup left in the bowl. Usually, everyone else has finished eating by the time my pancake has marinated, but for me the wait is worth it.