Archive for the ‘Giving’ Category

Something Sweet…

October 12th, 2010 by Jane

My husband loves macadamia nuts. His parents gave a jar of them to him and his sister every year as a stocking stuffer at Christmas when they were growing up. Sometimes they still do.

So, when we got married, I bought a jar of the roasted Hawaiian nuts for Christmas morning. On a trip to Sam’s Club that first year, I found a large box of CHOCOLATE COVERED macadamia nuts. Eureka! A little something extra for him! He kissed me on Christmas morning and told me how thoughtful it was of me.

Chocolate covered macadamia nuts became a holiday tradition. We had a tradition!

When we had been married about 14 years, I mentioned that the chocolated covered nuts were scarce that year. My husband said, “You don’t have to get me any. It’s okay.”

“No, no” I said. “I get them every year, I’ll keep looking.”

He said, “No, really. You don’t have to get them.”

“But you like them so much,” I replied.

“No, I don’t. I don’t like them at all.”

“What?!  But you eat them every year.”

“No, I don’t,” he said.

“Then who does?” I asked, incredulous.

“You do,” he said, with only the hint of a smirk.


7 Bright Spots

April 7th, 2010 by Jane

Spring has sprung and the world looks a little brighter, yes? Here are a few more bright spots for you to enjoy!

1) Who is Amy?
No, not our own lovely, Amy K. Brown. I am talking about the equally lovely Amy K. Rosenthal. She is a Chicago-based writer and maker of merriment. Her books are whimsical and touching, her small films are truly inspiring. And in my opinion, The Beckoning of Lovely is brilliant. Her work will be a definite bright spot in your life.

2) Guess What’s Exploding in Central Texas?
See the above photo, shot by our favorite photographer, Amy K. Brown.
We are having an awesome wildflower year here in Central Texas, due to all of the fall rains we had. The state flower of Texas is the bluebonnet and they are showy flowers in any year, but this one is a bluebonnetpalooza! Bring your toddlers on up here to put a heinie print in a field on the side of the highway!

3) Do you know TED?
If you are feeling down about the state of the world, then watch some of these TED conference videos. At the Technology Engineering and Design conference each year, some of the smartest people on the planet share their ideas and plans for making the world a better place. It gives one hope.

4) Got Gratitude?
I have been a fan of MJ Ryan’s books on gratitude for years now, my favorite being A Grateful Heart, but I didn’t know that she is an expert on change and adaptability. Peruse her website and blog and you might become a fan, too.

5) Know Any Young Poets?
Check out New Moon, no not that one. New Moon, the online and print magazine for girls, written by girls.

6) Wanna Get Lucky?
Katherine Center’s new book, Get Lucky is out today. I know what I am reading this weekend!

7) How Do You Eat an Elephant?
One Peace at a Time, a documentary by actor, writer and Austin-resident,Turk Pipkin, is out on DVD this week. If you missed his first film, Nobelity, then run out and get it.  In Nobelity, Pipkin asked Nobel laureates what to do about some of the world’s most pressing problems and their answers are simple and fascinating. A movement grew out of that filming experience and the Pipkin family started an non-profit to help solve some of those problems. Watch both of them back to back; with nine Nobel laureates, great music and Willie Nelson-you won’t be sorry! Or go meet Turk this Friday at the release party at Waterloo Records, if you are in the Austin area!

7 Thoughts on Arts & Culture

October 6th, 2009 by Jane

This week, someone asked me if I thought a community could have too much art and culture. When I picked my jaw up off of the ground, I gave this matter some serious thought. My answer is no, a community cannot have too much art or culture. I have lived in places with innumerable opportunities to immerse oneself in the arts (Santa Fe, New Mexico and Houston, Texas) and I have lived in places (which shall remain nameless) that have been referred to as cultural wastelands. Believe me, the former is utterly preferable.

Having said that, I think it is crucial that you do not overburden a community with more non-profits than it can reasonably support. However, building infrastructure for arts organizations takes time, patience, planning and money. Making the effort to bring art and culture to a community is good for the citizens, as these programs bring a chance to see beauty, to experience something larger than oneself. as well as inspire interesting thoughts and dialogue. Art and culture are good for economic development because business leaders look at what communities can offer employees in terms of quality of life experiences before they develop a business in that city. And finally, art and cultural opportunities are imperative for the intellectual development of children. But we do not have to convince them of that, children already know. Ask a child you know to attend a play and see what she says.

Here are some further thoughts on the matter. Thanks to the Kennedy Center’s Artsedge for the great quotes.

The beautiful painting above, entitled The Road to Awe, is by my compadre Dan Zinno. Call him up and buy some art-you won’t be sorry.

1. Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.
-Stella Adler

2. Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us.
-Roy Adzak

3. Where words fail, music speaks.
-Hans Christian Andersen

4. Any museum can invite you to look. A great one changes the way you see.

5. There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.
-Vicki Baum

6. The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

7. In the end, art outlives politics.

7 Features Of Friendship

October 1st, 2009 by Amy

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours sitting around with some gal pals laughing and trying to keep from peeing my pants.


To the untrained eye it didn’t look like much – a little gaggle of 40-something moms lettin’ it all hang out – but if you looked closely, it was the of picture of friendship.


Seven Features of Friendship:


1.  Understanding

Appreciating complementary skill sets, realizing you have much to learn from one another, and brainstorming together are all hallmarks of a flourishing friendship.


2.  Self-disclosure

Give some, get some. Not necessarily secrets, but hopes, dreams, and opinions. Even if they differ, you’ve traded something important.


3.  Reciprocity

This give and take allows both friends to wear all the hats in the friendship. Sometimes you get to be the one scraping a friend off the ceiling and sometimes you are stuck there yourself. A good friend makes sure the mess-to-cleanup ratio doesn’t get skewed.


4.  Trust

The exchange of sympathy and empathy create trust … as does honesty.


5.  Social Identity Support

Sounds heady, but basically the best of friends are those who understand and support each other not just as individuals, but also understand and support each other’s role in society. Otherwise known as being a mom … to another mom.


6.  Interaction

Good friends write, call, email. No matter physical proximity, good friends take the time to catch up. Turns out that the content’s not important, it’s the act of communicating itself that creates the closeness.


7.  Pleasure

Sharing the ups and downs of life is what friends are for and In my book, keepin’ it real isn’t necessarily being negative. That said, the net gain from a relationship needs to be pleasure. While there may be little storms along the way, good friends ride it out together, trusting the clouds to clear and the sun to come out again.

7 Quotes for Father’s Day (Belated!)

July 7th, 2009 by Jane

Apologies for having been away so long, everyone! Last week was my dad’s birthday and I have been thinking of all that he has taught me: how to shake hands properly (use a firm grip and look the person right in the eye,) to cook, to have a sense of humor about the earthier things in life and how to find some fun in almost anything. I hope you spent some time with your father or favorite father-figure. Besides, we can celebrate those men we love everyday, right? Thanks to thinkexist and about for these quotes!

1. A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.  -Author Unknown

2. There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself.  -John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994 

3. There are three stages of a man’s life:  He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus.  -Author Unknown

4. Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.  -Bill Cosby 

5. I felt something impossible for me to explain in words. Then, when they took her away, it hit me. I got scared all over again and began to feel giddy. Then it came to me… I was a father.
                      -Nat King Cole

6. Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then, fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher’s mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.
               -Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby

7. Never raise your hand to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected.
                      -Red Buttons

7 Ways To Restyle An Old T-shirt – Redux

May 12th, 2009 by Amy

One of the most common ways readers find our blog is through a Google search for “restyling an old t-shirt.”


Given that the warm weather is here to stay and y’all are looking for T-shirt ideas … here is the original 7of  … and here are some more!


1.  Chaos

The “Chaos” T (at right) is brought to you from the fun folks at Compai … who are also the masterminds behind 99 Ways to Cut, Sew, Trim, and Tie Your T-Shirt into Something Special.

The following can all be found at (links provided):


2.  Flapper

Feisty and very feminine … you’d never guess this little number (at left) was made from unflattering Ts.


3.  Gathered Yoke

A tailored look … very little sewing required!


4.  Pin Tuck

Form-fitting, yet entirely flexible.


5.  Ruffles



6.  Scarf

Paul, over at, sent in his idea for transforming pre-loved Ts into scarves … cozy!


7.  Skirt

Fun, flirty, and totally functional (at right). 

7 Hysterical Magnets For Mom

May 8th, 2009 by Amy

I love being a mom and I’m sure Anne Taintor does, too.


Pure love … covered with a thick sauce of What You’re Really Thinking!


Which I also love.


Thanks for keepin’ it real, Anne!


Happy Mother’s Day!


All designs available for purchase at

Photo credit & copyright Anne Taintor.

7 Benefits Of Hugging

May 6th, 2009 by Amy

Remember when Michelle Obama broke royal protocol and gave the Queen of England a hug?


Ensuing media frenzy aside, the strangest thing about the whole incident was that while the Queen had never been that intimate in public before, she seemed to like it just fine.


As well she should.


According to family therapist Virginia Satir:

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival.

We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.

We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”

Which is exactly the premise of the Free Hugs Campaign.


Here is a portion of  Free Hugs founder Juan Mann’s story:


“I’d been living in London when my world turned upside down and I’d had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown.

Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.

So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words “Free Hugs” on both sides.

And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.”


Be sure to watch the video (42.5 million people already have!) and spend the rest of your day getting your hug on!


7 Benefits Of Hugging:

1.  Reduces heart disease

2.  Diminishes stress

3.  Promotes longevity

4.  Strengthens social ties

5.  Lowers blood pressure

6.  Lowers heart rate

7.  Benefits the hugger and the huggee equally

7 Foster Care Statistics

May 4th, 2009 by Amy


I was a foster child.


While I have no memories of the experience, it has profoundly shaped everything about who I am now.


May is National Foster Care Month … and a good time to share a few facts and debunk a few myths.


1.  There are well over a half a million children in the U.S. Foster Care System.


2.  According to, “Four in 10 American adults have considered adoption, according to a National Adoption Attitudes Survey funded by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. That translates into more than 80 million Americans. If only one out of 500 Americans adopted out of the foster care system, these children would have homes.”


3.  You do not have to be married, make a lot of money, own your own home, have your own children, or be a stay-at-home parent to be a foster parent.


4.  While you must be 21 to be a foster parent, there are no other age requirements. In fact, many older adults have the time, patience, and perspective necessary for raising foster children. “Empty nesters” often enjoy becoming foster parents.


5.  “For the children in foster care on September 30, 2005, the average amount of time they had been in the system was 28.6 months. Half of those leaving care that year had been away from home for a year or longer. 54% of the young people leaving the system were reunified with their birth parents or primary caregivers.”


6.  45 percent of Americans erroneously believe children enter foster care because of juvenile delinquency, but in fact children enter the foster care system through no fault of their own, as victims of neglect, abandonment or abuse.


7.  The myth persists that foster children “have been abused so much that they’re beyond repair.” Foster parents report that with lots of encouragement, structure, and support foster children are able to grow up to live healthy and productive lives … complete with ups, downs, and bumps along the way.


As any parent of any child will tell you  it’s the love that makes the difference!

7 April Observances

April 29th, 2009 by Jane

April Fool’s Day, Passover, Easter and Earth Day have come and gone but there are two more days left in the month to celebrate or observe something important, or even whimsical. Take your pick from these:

1. Join a Cause
April is national Autism Awareness Month and I am betting you know someone that this condition has affected. For more information on autism and to learn how you can help, visit the  Autism Society of America.  

2. In the Garden
Spring is in the air and you can celebrate by working in your garden or the local community garden because it is National Garden Month! This great site has projects, information and links galore to get you started. 

3. The Music in Us
Never heard of Clark Terry, Marian McPartland, James Moody or Chico Hamilton? Then peruse the Jazz Appreciation Month site, hosted by the Smithsonian and listen to these fascinating oral histories brought to us by the NEA. 

4. Save a Life
April is a good time to remind those you love that you want to become an organ donor. Make sure your wishes are understood and choose someone to ensure they are carried out. For more information, visit the government’s organ donor site. Your organs and tissues could potentially save or improve the lives of dozens of people.  

5. Lower Your Stress
Economy got you stressed? Well, take advantage of some available resources during Stress Awareness Month, like this free e-course on living a low-stress lifestyle.

6. Daisies
Yes, the flower for April is the lovely, unassuming daisy. Daisy Paradise is the site of all things daisy! Visit it and brighten your month!

7. Diamonds
The stone for the month of April is the diamond. Want to be assured you are buying a conflict-free stone? Then visit this interesting site for more information. To be green and guilt-free, purchase an antique piece of jewelry.

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