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7 Summer Highlights

September 20th, 2010 by Jane

Today is the last day of summer. Officially. Although, here in Central Texas it still feels like summer. Sure, there is a slight drop in the morning temperatures, but by midday it’s summer again.

My family and I are mostly back in the swing of school things and summer vacation is a memory growing more distant. Here are a few of our highlights. How about you?

Stay tuned for some exciting changes for 7OF to be announced soon!

1) Hair
The above photo is of one of my daughter’s heads-I love the golden, red and blonde highlights she gets after spending the summer outside. They each have red and gold in their hair-I hope they keep it when they are adults!

2) Galveston
My husband’s family has a beach house on Galveston Island and this is the first year that we spent some time down at the house without any relatives. Much as we love ‘em, it was a great getaway. We explored The Strand, The Elissa, rode the ferry to look for dolphins and had a great time.

3) Slower Pace
The best thing about summer break is that our family time increases, but at a slower pace. We stayed up late playing games, watching movies, hanging out with neighbors and generally goofing off.

4) Speaking of Movies…
You may recall that last summer became known as the Summer of Jane Austen because my girls and I watched every film or TV version of her books that we could borrow or rent. Inspired by our stay on Galveston Island, this was the summer of Jack Sparrow. We spent the summer watching all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies until we were quoting our favorite lines.  My husband’s favorite: “But you have heard of me!”  Mine: “Hoist the colors!” It’s now my call to arms for the family. Check out Elizabeth Swan’s badass costume. I’d walk around everyday dressed like that if I had an such an outfit! Really-I would.

5) Friends and Family
We spent time with both sides of our extended family as well as some friends that feel like family. Shout outs to the whole Fam Damily, Uncles Malcolm and Gray, The Fabulous Padget Family and the Irrepressible ‘Tine. We had joy, we had fun!

6) San Antonio
My husband had a conference in San Antonio and for the first time we all tagged along on a business trip with him. The girls were wonderful and we had a great time in  the lovely river city. We remembered the Alamo and we rocked the Riverwalk! We enjoyed the shopping, the food, the Tower of the Americas and cable TV in our hotel room! It felt like we were somewhere else besides Texas-really!

7) Seasonal Goodies
I love summer, especially the foods associated with the season: fresh fruit, ice cream, cold drinks (alcoholic and not) and cold salads. The Summer Drink this year was the mojito. Great for a party, but I made some just for myself: a party for one!  Gotta love it.

7 Things I’ve Been Doing…

May 15th, 2010 by Jane

You thought we’d given it up, didn’t you? No, no, we just got busy doing Spring/End-of-the-school-year stuff. Also, my computer crashed. One new hard drive later and I am up, if not running, per se. No photos for this post because Word and iPhoto are not installed yet!

I spent part of an afternoon cleaning out the nest a rat made in the back of my dryer. Yuck.

How about you? What have you been up to?

Take a gander, or a goose, at this list.

1) Yoga
Most of you know that I teach yoga for my day job and I love it. I’ve been developing a new class that I might offer during the fall, working on a brochure and consulting with a web developer to improve my website. I’ll let you know when it is running again.

Favorite quote from a student this week: “I need a non-compete clause…with myself.”

2) Sweating
I made a promise to myself that I would increase my cardio workouts, so I’ve been to the gym five days a week for months now. I’ll keep you posted on results.

3) Party, Party, Party
The twins turned six this month and we had a party for them last weekend. We have our parties at home with the general theme being: running amok. A bouncy house, some red Kool-Aid and birthday cake equals happy children.

Then our neighbors had a deck party and too much sangria was had by a few, who shall remain unnamed.

Also, we had an impromptu party with two other couples who live on our street because we all share the same wedding anniversary. Weird, huh?

Today we have a swim party for a six year old friend and tonight our neighbors are having an iron chef party where another neighbor will accept challenges form the crowd. We live on a fun street.

4) Friendship, Friendship
I’ve been on call lately with a few friends who have needed a little more support. One found out she was four months pregnant. Yes, you read that right. She is ecstatic and I am thrilled to be along for the ride with her. Another friend is preparing for an international move and is handling all of the stress that comes with that in a beautiful way. I am glad I can help in some small way.

5) Reading Two Perfect Books
This month, I read Lift, by Kelly Corrigan and I cried the entire way through it. Really, if you need some catharsis, this is the book for you. It is a small, easy, powerful read. She wrote is as a letter to her children about the risk and reward of being a parent. I’m still thinking about it.

The second perfect book I read is Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo. No, I didn’t read this children’s book to my children. I read it in one afternoon, for myself. I knew the story because I took the girls to see the movie when it came out a few years ago. We all loved it and we all cried. But the book, oh, the book. The character’s voices are so perfect and rich. There is an economy of words in children’s books that leaves me awestruck. Especially this one.

6) Reading a Book-to-Be
A friend has written a manuscript for a political thriller and he asked me to read it. I’m honored, so I am reading it slowly to give it my full attention. It’s great and I’ll let you know when it comes to a bookstore near you!

7) Making and Baking
The month of May seems to bring endless occasions for which I need to take a dish or a gift or both. The kitchen goodies I have made in the last few weeks include, but are not limited to: four batches of homemade hummus, one devil’s food cake with cream cheese frosting, 48  matching cupcakes and 48 red velvet cupcakes with the same frosting, a vat of sangria, Italian bean dip, homemade tomato soup, ranch dressing (from scratch)  the most decadent flourless chocolate cake with raspberry-champagne coulis and trail mix.

Whenever possible, we try to make a gift for the special people in our lives. So, I have made a few necklaces lately for some friends. I use vintage buttons and mix them with various gemstones and beads for some fun pieces.

So, that’s the short version of what I’ve been up to, how about you? Happy Spring-Almost-Summer!

7 Summer Treats!

August 17th, 2009 by Jane

As you can tell by the infrequency of our posts this summer, we have been doing other things! We have had an unusually hot summer here in Central Texas.  Hopefully yours has been more temperate!

In reviewing the last twelve weeks, I was struck by the range of things that have happened this summer. My favorite uncle passed away, my dad turned 70, my children outgrew all of their shoes, all of our grass has died and we got a new dog. Pretty eventful. Here are some things we have been enjoying this summer!

1. Books
I have read several books and my only requirement was that they be enjoyable. Try Molly Wizenberg’s lovely book and recipes in A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table.  Or for fun mysteries, try Reed Farrel Coleman’s Mo Prager series. You will read all five back to back.

2. Cherries
The cherries have been cheap and delicious this season-just the way I like them!

3. Homegrown Tomatoes

Every spring, my father plants 56 heirloom tomato plants and we are the recipients of his generosity.  Ever had a sandwich with homegrown tomatoes, mayo, arugula and provolone on 9-grain bread?  The perfect lunch! Try Brandywine, Green Zebra and Cherokee Purple next summer-so good they will bring a tear to your eye.

4. Movies
This will be known as the summer my girls discovered Jane Austen. Even the 5 year-old twins love the movies. We rented the BBC versions and we would watch an hour every night. After dinner the girls would ask to watch “Mistah Dahcy.” Little British accents-aahhh!

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as well as Julie & Julia this summer. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci were adorable. This movie made me want to know more about the love affair of Julia and Paul Child. Of course, Streep is without equal, but I have had a little crush on Mr. Tucci since I watched The Daytrippers years ago. After watching that movie based on my recommendation, my sister called and yelled into my ear “Why didn’t you tell me this movie was about our family!” Still funny.

5. Raspberry Lemonade

We have made our own limeade several times this summer, but we are completely hooked on this Simply Raspberry Lemonade.  Widely available at supermarkets, it is very close to homemade. Put lots of crushed ice in a lovely glass and fill to the brim. So refreshing.

6. Splash Pool
Our local Rec Center has added a fabulous splash pool. We have been going in the evening with sandwiches and hanging out until it closes. Everyone comes home cool, happy and exhausted!

7. Sunscreen
My children are very fair, so 70 SPF sunscreen is imperative. They don’t like it when I put it on them. I didn’t like putting it on wiggly children. Until I realized it was my chance to notice how the shapes of their faces are changing or how many new freckles have popped up. Pretty soon they will be able to slather themselves, but until then, I will continue to enjoy smoothing my fingers over their beautiful faces.

7 Quotes I Love

May 28th, 2009 by Jane

As you probably already know, we love quotes here at 7Of. The following  are a few of my new favorites. I hope one or two will brighten your day!

1. We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.  - Anais Nin

2. Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality.                 -Goethe 

3. In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death. -Anne Frank 

4. You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day.           -Marian Wright Edelman

5. It’s important to remember that feminism is no longer a group of organizations or leaders. It’s the expectations that parents have for their daughters, and their sons, too. It’s the way we talk about and treat one another. It’s who makes the money and who makes the compromises and who makes the dinner. It’s a state of mind. It’s the way we live now. -Anna Quindlen

6. At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. -Albert Schweitzer

7. I do yoga so that I can stay flexible enough to kick my own arse if necessary. -Betsy Canas Garmon 

7 Reasons I Love Beyonce

May 21st, 2009 by Jane

I must admit that I was late to the Beyonce Knowles fan club, but the more I get to know her music and acting talents, the more I love her. Perk up your day by visiting some of the links I have provided. (Apologies to Ms. Knowles because I cannot figure out how to put the accent over the “e” in her name!)

1. The Eyes of Texas
Beyonce and I are both from Texas, so it is so nice to have someone from here that shows the world that there are Texans who are talented, smart and gracious.

2.  Proud Mary
I first “got” Beyonce when I watched her tribute to Tina Turner during the Kennedy Center honors in 2005. Others have tried to due this song justice, but no one has ever come as close as Beyonce in  this performance

3. Curvaceous
Beyonce has been candid about her body image and how she keeps in shape, thus giving hope to the rest of us. Her dream of winning an Oscar keeps her motivated and I just think that is adorable. 

4. Shoe Envy
The days of wearing high heels were definitely over after I had the twins. My feet were never the same. However, I have deep admiration, and more than a little concern, for a woman who can dance in 5 inch heels all day. 

5. Dance, Dance, Dance
She can dance. Better than Justin Timberlake. And probably Paul Rudd, as well. 

6. Real Emotion
Beyonce sang “At Last” for the first dance at the Inauguration earlier this year and she was visibly moved onstage. She teared up several times when being interviewed during the evening and said she was so happy and proud to have been asked to be part of the event. Lovely.

7. If You Like It…

Okay, if you are still not a fan, then watch this video. I cannot get this song out of my head. I defy you to not get up and shake it. Or at least copy those hand moves. Hah! I saw you! 

7 Things on My To Do List

May 19th, 2009 by Jane

I have lovely, talented friend who has put her career on hold until her kids are a little older. She is very grateful to be able to have the freedom to make this choice, but sometimes finds it difficult to find a sense of accomplishment. To make herself feel better, she will occasionally write down everything she does during the course of her day. No job is too small to make the list: sorting socks, grocery shopping, cleaning the fridge, letting the dog out 25 times, etc. She says it gives her a sense of validation. So here are a few things that I am doing today and later this week. Try making your own list-I’ll bet you do more than you think. Need some cute notepads, like the ones above,  upon which to write your list? Visit one of my favorite sites: See Jane Work!

1. Music
This week, I need to download the 50 free songs I got before my two week trial is up on a music site and they start charging me for the subscription. That’s how they get you, you know.

2. Bake a Cake
Today is my mother’s birthday and I am going to make her a cake a little later today. Happy Birthday, Mom. Thanks for keeping it real!

3. Clean out the Fridge
Something smells. I need to do this before the garbage truck comes. Here are some pointers on how to do a thorough job, if you want to be anal about it. I didn’t even know refrigerators had drip pans until I read this article. My standards aren’t that high-I just require my appliances to not hit me in the face with stench when I open the door.

4. Third Grade Fun
This week, my third grader will be in a mock trial at the county courthouse AND field day. She wants me to attend both of these events. When you work from home, everyone thinks you are always available. 

5. Non-Profit Work
I am attending a workshop for non-profit managers this week. The goal of the workshop is to help organizations find funding. I plan to put the FUN in fundraising! Whoo-hoo!

6. De-Goo
I need to get various types of gunk off of the floors. I think I need a scraper.

7. Figure Out My New Phone
I got an iPhone this weekend and I need to get to know it. I needed a phone, but I do not have time to start a new relationship. Maybe next week. Or maybe there is an App to help me with that?

7 Pooh-isms To Soothe Hurt Feelings

May 18th, 2009 by Amy

This weekend my small daughter got her feelings hurt.


In fact, she was heartbroken.


After all the shock, sadness, anger, and tears, we’ve had some talks about the Nature Of Things … in a Pooh sort of way.

1.  “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

2.  “A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.”


3.  “Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.”


4.  “If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”


5.  “Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh,” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw, “I just wanted to be sure of you.””


6.  “It’s so much more friendly with two”.


7.  “Some people care too much, I think it’s called love”.

7 Quotes for Mother’s Day

May 7th, 2009 by Jane

Sometimes I think that any forward momentum that our planet and our species have is due to the work of mothers. Everyday, I pass many other mothers moving children to and fro, volunteering in the schools and the community. All quietly making  the world a better place, to the best of their abilities. Whether you have children or not, the impact made on your life by your mother or your birth story is profound. For some, this is the driving force in their lives, blessed or anguished. But there it is and we all have a story about our mothers. So this weekend, may you be treated well by your children, may you have peace if your mother is no longer with you and may you find forgiveness if your story is not what you wished.

Here are some quotes on the subject in my favorite range: from ridiculous to sublime! Thanks to QuotesDaddy and Quote Garden for these!

1. If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?  ~Milton Berle

2. The formative period for building character for eternity is in the nursery. The mother is queen of that realm and sways a scepter more potent than that of kings or priests. ~Author Unknown

3. Any mother could perform the jobs of several air traffic controllers with ease.  ~Lisa Alther

4. Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.  ~Marion C. Garretty, quoted in A Little Spoonful of Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul

5. Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother.  A child is a child.  They get bigger, older, but grown?  What’s that suppose to mean?  In my heart it don’t mean a thing.  ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987

6. My mother is a poem
I’ll never be able to write,
though everything I write
is a poem to my mother.
~Sharon Doubiago

7. “When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.” – Erma Bombeck

7 Books for Writers

May 5th, 2009 by Jane

Have you always wanted to write? Maybe you have an idea for a novel or screenplay. Or maybe you have something to teach and writing a book would be a good way to reach your audience. Here are a few books that I love on the subject and a few that are on my To Read list. Enjoy!

1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott 
This is my absolute favorite book on writing. Lamott is funny, self-deprecating and a great teacher.

2. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard 
I am halfway through this one. I love this quote from her: “One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place…. Something more will arise for later, something better.” 

3. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
Originally published in 1986, this book is written in a friendly voice and aims to give courage and tools to emerging writers. Goldberg explores the spiritual aspect of writing which is meaningful or off-putting depending on your philosophy. 

4. On Writing by Stephen King
I have not read this one yet, but I am very intrigued by the reviews I have read.

5. Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See
If your favorite aunt were a writer, this is what she would tell you. I love this book.

6.  The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner
One of my favorite writers, Po Bronson,  highly recommends this book.

7. Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting by Jeff Kitchen
I have not read this book, but it has had great reviews. Recommended by Screenwriters Online.

7 Ways to Turn Around a Bad Day

May 1st, 2009 by Jane

It seems that there is a whole lot of yucky going on in the world right now and I know several people who have had some bad days
lately, myself included. My yoga training has taught me that I can change the course of the day by bringing awareness to any situation and focusing on what I can learn from it. Many times, though, I find it incredibly difficult to get to the point where I can be open to learning from challenges. So, here are a few things I do to re-center myself so that I can move past the yuck.

1. Breathe
I bring my attention to my breath and I try to feel as though it is moving through my whole body when I inhale. On the exhale, try letting go of negative feelings. Repeat.

2. Hydrate
Sometimes I stand in the kitchen and drink a cool glass of water. I don’t do anything else until I finish the entire glass. It is amazing to me how much my attitude can be affected by dehydration.

3. Eat Something Soothing
If you don’t feel better after drinking water, eat a little yogurt or something else soothing, but healthy. It is almost always hot where I live, so a cup of cool yogurt helps immensely. For you, it might be soup or something else.

4. Walk
I meet a couple of friends and we walk together four days a week. No matter what has happened during the day to any one of us, we feel so much better after endorphins are coursing through our bodies. 

5. Practice Gratitude
If you can bring an attitude of thankfulness to even the worst day, then you will not succumb to negativity. Gratitude neutralizes even the most dire situation. It may not solve your problem, but the issue will not seem like it could devour you.

6. Give In
On some days, the best you can do is just get through the day with as much grace as you are able to muster. Try not to make an ass of  yourself and then just go home. Turn off the phone, rent a few movies, crawl under a favorite blanket and eat popcorn. Drink a root beer and shut out the world for a few hours. In the morning, everything will seem better. This works for me and my family every time.

7. Long-Term Solution
If a series of bad experiences has led to a systemic problem with your attitude, then please turn your efforts to something constructive. Find a volunteer position helping people who are really struggling: your local food bank, the homeless shelter, a domestic violence shelter, the animal shelter, any shelter.  The cure for a life that has become a series of bad days is to reach outside yourself and offer what you can. After all, we’re all in this together (disclaimer: this video is a sweet motivational video for a youth sports team, however, I highly recommend a glass of spirits if you are of age.) Have a nice day!

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