Feeling Blue……. Tiffany Blue!

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Is there any woman who doesnt love the look of the Tiffanys bag and gift box?

Is there any woman who doesnt love the look of the Tiffany’s bag and gift box?

Breakfast at Tiffany’s…….

Those of you who know me know I’m ALL about putting on a party. And theme parties are even BETTER! So many people tell me they don’t begin to know how to entertain, and can’t imagine where I come up with the ideas that I do.  I absolutely LOVE using my creativity – and theme parties are just the ticket to going “hog wild.”  In many cases, it doesn’t cost very much — in time or effort— to put on an event.  I hope that this article will prove to you just how easy it is!

I had wanted to do a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” party for a while.  About 6 months ago, when ordering tablecloths for my new dining room table, I saw one that was Tiffany blue, and decided to go ahead and order it while I was getting another for an event. (You know the drill….. spend  $X amount and shipping is free. Always a GREAT reason to spend more money!)

Most of the lovely ladies who came out to enjoy the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" party!

Most of the lovely ladies who came out to enjoy the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” party! (Just our photographer, Lauri was missing from this picture!

THEN- I saw a picture pop up on Facebook with a Tiffany Blue Mimosa, and WHAM……. I had to do it. It was the clincher for a fabulous “theme” brunch!

Patti - channeling her best "Holly Golightly" and holding one of the "Tiffany Blue Mimosas!

Patti – channeling her best “Holly Golightly” and holding one of the “Tiffany Blue Mimosas!

This party was going to be a bit different than some of my parties. I wanted this to be a small and intimate brunch. The hardest part of THAT is deciding how to only invite 8 friends. Where do you start? No matter who you invite, you wish you could invite 6 others too!  So, I decided to do a mix of 2 of my dance friends, 2 of my networking friends, etc….. and I literally did some point and pick….. very scientific… and away we went.

Back in the day I used to put a lot of time and effort into creating invitations, but now I just use Evite. The invitations are created and sent in about 5 minutes total, so it’s easy as pie!

Channeling Our “Inner Audrey Hepburn!”

On the Evite, I instructed the women to all “channel their inner Audrey Hepburn.” What is nice about this theme is that almost every woman has a black dress, and Audrey wore a number of them in the movie!  A black dress, an updo, and a cigarette holder, and you are pretty much decked out as “Holly Golightly!” We had to laugh, because my friend Karen went to pick up a cigarette holder the day before the party, and the lady at Party City said they had had a “run” on cigarette holders the past few days!  Sure enough, 4 of the girls had picked theirs up within a day of each other!

 

Olha channeled a perfect Holly Golightly! She may have given Audrey a run for her money!

Olha was a perfect Holly Golightly! She may have given Audrey a run for her money if she had been around when  Truman Capote was choosing his starlet!

A Rebel in Our Midst!

We had one rebel though!  My friend Stella copied the pink number that Audrey wore in the movie with a fabulous pink tiara to mimic the scene where Holly Golightly has her meltdown over losing her brother. We all think about the black dresses, but there are a few scenes where Holly is shown in pink!

Miss Stella with her creative pink hand crafted tiara! Who could beat that smile?

Miss Stella— the rebel— with her creative pink “hand crafted” tiara! Who could beat that smile? I love how someone’s cigarette holder is “photo bombing” the background, and looks SO real!

 

The menu was easy, as I have a few “go to” recipes for brunch.  We started with 2 different homemade scones with jams and cream, then a tasty fruit salad I recently got the recipe for, vegetarian quiche and a baked cinnamon apple French toast. Brunch is simple, you don’t need to go overboard.  Both main dishes, and the scones are something I can make ahead and freeze if I choose, then just bake the day of the event.  (I made the main dishes a day ahead, and put extras of both in the freezer for a Girl’s Getaway I’m doing in a few weeks! Do the work for 2 or 3 events at once ladies!  It makes entertaining SO much easier!)

The whole gang toasting to Holly Golightly and Breakfast at Tiffanys!

The whole gang toasting to Holly Golightly and Breakfast at Tiffany’s!

If you wanted to make this simple party even LESS work, ask 2 or 3 of the guests to bring  a dish. Others could bring a bottle of sparkling wine, and your work as a hostess is almost as easy as setting the table! Personally, part of the fun for me is the cooking, so I almost always turn down offers for someone else to bring a dish.

Laurie.. channeling her best Audrey Hepburn, as I suggested in the invitation!

Lauri.. channeling her best Audrey Hepburn, as I suggested in the invitation!

When I started thinking about what to do for the centerpiece I thought that somehow incorporating some of Don’s grandmothers vintage stemmed glasses and pearls would be fun. So I started putting it together.  Remarkably, other than buying 2 “Tiffany blue” bowls I stumbled upon at Home Goods, and one container of pearls and “diamond” shaped jewels I saw at Michaels’, every thing else was just stuff I had around the house.

A close up of the table centerpiece just before the party. I just put together some vintage glasses, blue glass, an orchid and pearls I had around the house. In the background on the table you can see the little Tiffany bag that Don snuck in- with a surprise gift for me!

A close up of the table centerpiece just before the party. I just put together some vintage glasses, blue glass jewels,  an orchid and pearls I had around the house. In the background on the table you can see the little Tiffany bag that Don snuck in- with a surprise gift for me!

Since the time setting for Breakfast at Tiffany’s was from “back in the day” I even used Don’s grandmother’s vintage champagne glasses, made some blue sugar for the rim, tied a blue ribbon on the stem- and viola- the perfect way to serve the Tiffany Blue Mimosas! FABULOUS if I do say so myself.  I scoured my house for other “Tiffany” colored items, rearranged a few of my knick-knacks in the dining room, and added them to pull the theme together.

Make it “Instagramable!”

Everyone LOVES photos nowadays, and the “photo booth” seems to be prevalent at most parties, so I made some signs to hold up for photo ops!  It is the little details like that, which add so much to an event! Lucky for me, I had some blue card stock paper- since I didn’t get this brainstorm until about 10 PM the night before the party! I printed out the sayings I wanted on the card stock, cut into a “bubble”, and glued some bamboo skewers I had in the kitchen drawer on the back as “handles.” Then in the morning, I added a bit of glitter embellishment on some of the signs. Quick and easy!

Another last minute idea was a game of answering questions about Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This is one movie that has had a lot written about it, so coming up with 15 questions just took a few minutes.  Did you know that Truman Capote (the writer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s) wanted to cast Marilyn Monroe in the part of Holly Golightly?  Her agent didn’t want her to be associated with being a “call girl”- which is what most people assumed was how Holly paid the bills! Audrey Hepburn wasn’t first choice for the part! Imagine that!

Most of the ladies hadn’t seen the movie in years, so they didn’t know many of the answers, but it was a fun little game to play.  Miss Stella had just watched the movie again a few days before the event, so she was the grand prize winner!

Stella & Patti hamming it up with props!

Getting silly is part of the fun when you gt together with the girls, right? Miss Stella and I had to do a goofy picture!

Right before the party started, I had an unexpected last minute surprise! My amazing man, Don had gone out to an appointment and  I went in the dining room to take a picture of the table. On the table, at my place was a Tiffany’s bag!  I had scoured my house the night before, certain I had a Tiffany bag I could use for decor…… but couldn’t figure out WHERE this one had come from!  Don had taken it upon himself to go to Tiffany’s a few days before, and surprise me with a gift from there! THAT is the kind of stuff I need to put up with, with this man! Can you believe it? (If you remember the movie, Holly and Paul go in to Tiffany’s , and he gets her a gift.  Funny thing was, he only had $10.00 to spend on her!)

This is where the sneaky little devil snuck in a REAL Tiffanys bag for me to be surprised with!

This is where the sneaky little devil snuck in a REAL Tiffany’s bag for me to be surprised with!

All in all, the Breakfast at Tiffany’s was an easy and fun theme, it was an inexpensive party to put on, and we all had a FABULOUS time.  I must say, every one of the ladies looked amazing! After the first photo was posted on Facebook by one of the attendees, immediately the responses were, “I wish I was there.” “Why wasn’t I invited?”  “Pout, pout!”  So, invites have already been sent out for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s 2.0” with a whole new cast of friends!  Recreating this little event will be a snap!

And if you weren’t invited, it’s not because you aren’t “good enough” –or that I don’t love you to pieces– or that you aren’t as fabulous as Audrey Hepburn……. please refer back to the previous blog article I did, entitled  Emily Post is Dead.  It will help you understand why there is NO WHINING ALLOWED! No hostess can invite ALL the people she knows to EVERY event!

Think about doing an event yourself, and invite that hostess who has entertained you so many times!  She might enjoy the chance to just be the GUEST for a change! Entertaining is easier than you might think!

Tiffany Blue Mimosas

The Tiffany Blue Mimosa that was the final "inspiration" for the whole Breakfast at Tiffanys event!

The Tiffany Blue Mimosa that was the final “inspiration” for the whole Breakfast at Tiffany’s event!

I thought I’d share the Tiffany Blue Mimosa’s with you. Because of the time period of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and because I happened to have some,  I used the old fashioned type of champagne glasses that were popular in the 50’s and 60’s. Champagne flutes would also be nice for this drink.

Make “Tiffany Blue” sugar for the rim by taking a plastic bag, put enough sugar in it to cover the rims on the amount of glasses you have for your event.  Take blue food coloring, and put just a few drops right into the sugar.  Work it through until it is a beautiful “Tiffany Blue” color.  If it’s too dark, add more sugar.  If it’s too light, add more blue. Pour the sugar into a medium size plate (one that will accommodate the width of your  glass rim easily.

Take a slice of orange, lemon, lime- whatever fruit you have, run it around the rim of the glass, turn the glass over and dip it into the blue sugar.  (I often do the step the day before the event, so it’s one less “last minute” item I need to do.)

The drink itself couldn’t be easier.  Just put a bit of Blue Curacao in the bottom of your champagne glass or flute, and pour sparkling wine, Prosecco or Champagne  on top!  Viola’, you’ve got a beautiful Tiffany Blue Mimosa!

Here are the champagne glasses, with the rims "pre-sugared." This is another thing you can do ahead of time, so you don't have so much "last minute" flurry! I'm all about making the day of the party easy and fun! Nobody wants a stressed out hostess!

Here are the champagne glasses, with the rims “pre-sugared.” This is another thing you can do ahead of time, so you don’t have so much “last minute” flurry! I’m all about making the day of the party easy and fun! Nobody wants a stressed out hostess!

I have 2 "alcoves" in my dining room, so I just put whatever items around my house had a bit of a "Tiffany or Hepburn" feel to them......

I have 2 “alcoves” in my dining room, so I just put whatever items around my house had a bit of a “Tiffany or Hepburn” feel to them…...

FREE EVENT TICKET CONTEST!

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Who Wants a Fun Night Out On Me?

If you read my blog, you know that I am ALL ABOUT women having more fun! I believe that to “Live a Royal Life” you have to schedule fin into your life.  “Girl’s Night Out” is an UBER important part of the “having fun” concept.  Sometimes, I hear the lament, “I just can’t afford it”…….. OK girlies, I’m taking away ALL of the excuses now!

I am giving away a FREE TICKET valued at $35.00 for an event a friend of mine puts on every year! My friend, Mandy Rodriguez puts on a dance party that a fabulous group of women attend each year. The event happens this Saturday, August 25th, from 5-10 PM at Springhill Suites in Oceanside.

I love to reward my subscribers with occasional contests and “freebies” and this is just another bit of fun I want to bless someone with.

Mandy is one of the most fun DJ's around, and the ladies that attend are some of the dearest to my heart!

Mandy (of Mandy Mixes)  is one of the most fun DJ’s around, and the ladies that attend are some of the dearest to my heart!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Now, God knows, Mandy can’t ADVERTISE this as a “girls’ dance party”, because sure as shootin’ some jackass would spring forth and claim discrimination……. but, we are just a bunch of women who love each other’s company and have a great night out without the guys!

Remember the fun you had dancing with your girlfriends in grade school?  Middle school? High School?  Well, it’s not to late to STILL enjoy dancing with the girls!

Not only am I going to give away a FREE TICKET to the event, I’ll also buy your first drink!

So, here is how it works.  I am giving the ticket to someone who has never gone to Mandy’s dance party, and is one of my subscribers.  You can text or email me, tell me you’d like the free ticket, and MAYBE you want to give me a reason why I should choose YOU to go! Or, get really clever, and tag me on your facebook with why YOU should be going to the Dance Party next Saturday…….. I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday.

You can text me at 800-680-9133 or email me at Patti@TheQueenofDamnNearEverything.com

If you are the lucky winner, you will get a free swag bag from me, the ticket to the event, the EVENT swag bag, a drink and the opportunity for you and I to get to know each other better AND a chance to meet a group of fantastic women……. AND dance your butt off all night! That’s like a win-win-win-win-WIN!

What are you waiting for?  Isn’t it time to get going on winning this contest?

 

A Small Sacrifice for Our American Heroes

Events, Every Day is an Adventure, Giving Back, Helping Our Heros, Living a Royal Life, Out and About, Serious Shit, Uncategorized
One of the units which received boxes from Operation America Cares

One of the units which received some of the boxes from Operation America Cares

Operation America Cares

I had known about the monthly packing events for a few years.  I meant to get around to it, time after time, but never had.  Then my great-nephew joined the marines in late June, and suddenly what they were doing jumped further to the top of my list.  I put it on my calendar, made a few phone calls, and showed up.

When I spoke to Linda Milimaki she told me to come about 8:45.  I pulled up at 8:50, because, once again, I had pulled away from my house without my cell phone, and needed to go back for it.  When I pulled up to the beautiful Escondido neighborhood that Linda lives in, I saw a flurry of activity.  Cars were lined up and down the street, the driveway was filled with tables, and her  3 car garage  was wall to wall tables and people in an “assembly line” filling up boxes.

This simple little hand lettered sign greeted me as I walked up the driveway, already bustling with volunteers diligently at work!

This simple little hand lettered sign greeted me as I walked up the driveway, already bustling with volunteers diligently at work!

The organization I had come to help on that Saturday morning is Operation America Cares. The organization was the brain-child of two sisters who found out that many of our troops never receive a care package or mail from home. They wanted to change that by providing a little ray of sunshine into the lives of some of those troops.

The Start of Something Great

They packed their first 35 boxes for Christmas in 2008. Since then there have been over 24,000 boxes send out of Linda’s home, with the help of donations and monthly packing “parties.”

I was first introduced to this endeavor through my local Realtor Caravan meetings a few years ago.  Every quarter we choose a local charity, and collect weekly donations. At the end of the quarter a check is presented to the chosen charity.  After hearing about Operation America Cares, I invited one of their volunteers, Cheryl Sutcliff, a local lender I know and trust in our community to come and speak to my Kiwanis club.  I was president of the club, and wanted my members to know about the need.

When Cheryl stood in front of our group with one of the boxes filled with the items sent off monthly, I felt like I was watching Mary Poppins pull things out of her magical carpetbag! I couldn’t believe how many goodies were stuffed into that small “Priority Mail” cardboard box!  Each and every item had been well thought out for the wants and needs of a young military hero.  There wasn’t one inch of wasted space, and nothing that wouldn’t be appreciated and enjoyed, by at least one young man, and most likely shared among a number of them!

This is just a small portion of the items organized to go into boxes each month. I was impressed with the efficiency of the whole process!

This is just a small portion of the items organized to go into boxes each month. I was impressed with the efficiency of the whole process!

One of the things I found most fascinating about the boxes was the fact that they send a little zip-lock sandwich bag filled with some spices.  One of them is taco seasoning from Del Taco.  It turns out, as I was told that the MRE meals lack flavor, so the taco-seasoning is a HUGE hit with the young men!  When told that their hot sauce was the one the young men preferred the most, the Del Taco at 9822 Magnolia Avenue in Santee, CA volunteered to donate enough to be sent off every month! Kudos to them for repeatedly stepping up to the plate for our military!

When I pulled up to Linda’s Escondido home that Saturday, it was a bee-hive of activity! I couldn’t believe how much was already happening by the time I arrived. One of the first things Linda did was to pray for the people working and for the military who would be receiving the boxes. She then read a few letters that had been received from some of the recipients of the boxes.  You would have thought that the boxes held the greatest treasures in the universe when you heard the heartfelt thanks for them!  It brought tears to my eyes to think that the simple little “shoebox” size boxes would bring such joy!

This letter and a handwritten note went into each box that we packed for our servicemen.

This letter and a handwritten note on a greeting card went into each box that we packed for our servicemen. Often, pictures drawn by schoolchildren in the area also go into the boxes. Because school was out of session, we didn’t have any of the children’s drawings to put into the boxes this particular month.

I approached one of the women working, who seemed to be knowledgeable about the procedures,  and she gave me a brief  “assembly line” walk through, and  set me to filling up boxes.  I went through the assembly line process and filled a few of the boxes.  It was then time to “repack” the boxes, and I was instructed in that.  Because there are toiletry items, and food items, they are separated into 2 different zip lock bags, so that if something should leak, everything isn’t ruined. There is a real science to packing the boxes so everything gets there safely, usable and fitting in the box. Everything is boxed in a Priority Mail box, which is $16.75 for all you can fit in the box, no matter what the weight.  And fit it in, they do!  Toilet paper, socks, a book, a magazine, numerous snacks, both salty and sweet, talcum powder, eye drops, toothpaste and toothbrush, lip balm, crossword puzzles and other assorted items fill the boxes to the brim! Every box also gets a hand written note, and often pictures drawn by children.

A few of the volunteers of Operation America Cares, preparing the monthly boxes to be sent to our Military Heros who don't get recognized personally by family or friends.

A few of the volunteers of Operation America Cares, preparing the monthly boxes to be sent to our Military Heros who don’t get recognized personally by family or friends.

After I had helped fill a number of boxes it was mentioned that they were very short with hand written notes this month, so I went into the house to sit down and write out some cards to our Heroes!  This was right up my alley!  I LOVE writing letters, notes and cards! When I was younger and moved away from home, I used to hand-write up to 60 letters a week to friends and family!  (Obviously, that was Pre-email and Facebook days! I still miss handwritten letters updating us on what our loved ones are doing!)

We were writing notes to go into the boxes for our service men. Every box gets a handwritten card in it.We were writing notes to go into the boxes for our service men. Every box gets a handwritten card in it.

We were writing notes to go into the boxes for our service men. Every box gets a handwritten card in it.

I had the pleasure of sitting at the kitchen table in Linda’s house and write out notes with a few other volunteers.  The time flew by, and before I knew it, packing was done, and it was time for a photo with all of the packaged boxes and the volunteers from the day.

The boxes go to Military in all four branches who typically don’t ever get any care packages from home. Linda works closely with the Family Readiness officer at Camp Pendleton, and he gives her names and addresses of chaplains and commanding officers who have requested boxes for their men in the field.

I was happily surprised to see Liz Beach Hallin, who I've known since she was a small kid. Although Liz is fighting her own battle with MS, she was there to do her part to help our military. Liz was there with her husband Micah, and her mom Sarah Beach. Liz has a brother, Kenneth, who is in the Army. My son and Kenneth were friends as small boys, and Kenneth always said he was going to go into the military!

I was happily surprised to see Liz Beach Hallin, who I’ve known since she was a small kid. Although Liz is fighting her own battle with MS, she was there to do her part to help our military. Liz was there with her husband Micah, and her mom Sarah Beach. Liz has a brother, Kenneth, who is in the Army. My son and Kenneth were friends as small boys, and Kenneth always said he was going to go into the military!

The Starfish Story

 

What two sisters put in motion 10 years ago is awe inspiring!  I’m so glad to have been a part of it! What I can’t help but think though is HOW MANY MORE young marines could use one of these packages each month!  Probably, literally THOUSANDS!  Please don’t misunderstand and think that I am in ANY way putting down Operation America Cares.  Heavens NO!  What I’m saying though is that we could use 50, 100, 500 more “chapters” of this charity across the country, doing what is being done here for our young military heroes!

It makes me think of the Starfish story.  There are a few versions of it, but the gist of them are all the same.  The story goes something like this……..A little boy is walking along the beach, and thousands of starfish are washed up on the shore, going to die.  He leans over as he walks along, and continues to throw in one starfish after another.  He is walking with his grandpa who says to him, “Why bother? You can’t make a difference, with all of these starfish dying on the beach.” The little boy’s response is “It makes a difference to this one.”

That’s what Operation America Cares is all about.  It’s making a difference to that marine who receives a package.  Hopefully, that package puts a smile on his or her face, knowing that someone they don’t even know has thought about them, and making their day better as they serve our country. It is a very small drop in the bucket, but it is a drop that wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for this amazing organization!

A picture of some of our young military Heros receiving one of the packages. Look at the delight on their faces, over something so simple!

A picture of some of our young military Heros receiving one of the packages. Look at the delight on their faces, over something so simple!

A Job Well Done!

The packing is down to such an efficient routine that it was over quickly! When we were finished, Linda took a photo of that months’ volunteers behind the 150 boxes we had prepared to be shipped off.  It takes a number of vehicles to get the boxes to the post office, so I volunteered to fill my car up.  I wanted to see the process “start to finish” so to speak.  One van and two cars filled to the brim, and off we went to get the boxes on their way to our well deserving military in the field.

The volunteers who worked at the July packing day, with the completed boxes ready to go off to the post office!

Some of the  volunteers who worked at the July packing day, with the completed boxes ready to go off to the post office! What a great group of people, doing their part to say “Thank You” to our heroes out in the field!

You Can Help Too!

You may wonder how you could help this worthwhile cause.  Go to their website. Make a donation, if you can to c,over postage, or to purchase items they may be short of one month. Perhaps, think of starting a similar organization in your area.  I don’t think we could possibly over saturate the “market” of needy Marines! If you are in the local area, purchase some of the supplies listed below,and get them to Linda for future packing dates.  Write some notes to marines to be included in future boxes. Arrange to come and help pack boxes one day.  Whatever you do to be a part of the this endeavor, you’ll be blessed by being a part of it, I’m sure!

Please, go and check out the website, and do what you can to help!  http://OperationAmericaCares.org

The back of one of the volunteer's shirts. She is a proud marine mom!

The back of one of the volunteer’s shirts. She is a proud marine mom!

 

Are you local to Operation America Cares, and wondering what you might purchase to help the cause out? Some of the goodies that go into the well planned out boxes are listed below:

What’s In a Box?

ITEMS INCLUDED IN THE CARE PACKAGES
(MOST OF THESE CAN BE PURCHASED AT A DOLLAR STORE!!)
  • $$ for postage (currently $16.75 per care package)
  • Socks crew or athletic (no shorties please)
  • Eye drops (any brand) The wind, sun and desert sand hurt their eyes!
  • Triple anti-biotic ointment/Neosporin or other anti-biotic cream w/pain reliever
  • Advil/ibuprofen/generic pain relievers
  • Insect repellent – no aerosol spray cans
  • Sun screen – no aerosol spray cans
  • Full sized baby wipes/body wipes (80 count or larger)
  • Hand santizer – individual size
  • Chap sticks
  • Kleenex – travel size
  • Gold Body Powder (available at the Dollar Tree for $1.00 each)
  • Disposable razors
  • Shaving gel – no aerosol cans
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrushes/dental floss
  • Toothpaste – regular size tubes
  • Toiletries from your hotel stays
  • Soap – any size
  • Gum – individual packs
  • Mints – individual packs
  • Single serve drink sleeves – for adding to bottles of water
  • Single serve coffee sleeves – such as Starbucks VIA
  • Top Ramen – no cup of soup (to big for care packages)
  • Canned soups, stews, fruit
  • Jerky – all flavors
  • Energy bars and snack bars
  • Nuts – individual bags or small cans
  • Sunflower seeds – individual packs
  • Dum dums, tootsie roll pops and hard candy.  Must be individually wrapped
  • M&M – individual bags ( they melt in your mouth, not in Afghanistan)
  • Cookies  – individual packs
  • Condiments – small giveaways from fast food restaurants and such – any kind!!!
  • Peanut butter/jam – individual servings
  • Crossword books/word game books/travel games
  • Magazines – no older than 3 months – please focus on men or social mags such as People
  • Paperback books – no romance novels please
  • DVDs – can be recycled
  • Blank paper, envelopes/pens – for them to write home
  • Thank you notes – written from us to them!  If you include your name and address, you may get a letter!
  • Pictures and notes from kids
  • Zip lock bags – gallon, quart or snack size
  • One more picture of a happy recipient of one of the boxes. You can see that by the time they receive them, the boxes look like they have been through the ringer!

    One more picture of a happy recipient of one of the boxes. You can see by the time they receive them, the boxes look like they have been through the ringer!

    Feel free to contact Operation America Cares directly, or get your donations to me and I will be happy to put them in Linda’s hands when I go over to volunteer for the next “packing party!”

Do You See What I See?

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Am I the only person who sees not only a well defined crotch, but a waistline at the bottom of this tree?

Am I the only person who sees not only a well defined crotch, but a waistline at the bottom of this tree?

A Cabo Getaway

A few months ago, Don and I went down to Cabo for a little getaway.  We had really scored on an amazing condo through a fundraiser auction.  The place we were staying was part of the Pueblo Bonita Sunset Beach Resort, which includes three hotels, some private homes,  time shares and condos.  It’s a great place, because you can sign to your room or condo no matter what amenities or restaurants you are visiting.  It makes it so convenient! And between all the restaurants, pools, food court, shops and lounges, you won’t get bored!

Again, I see the sensual pose of a womans bent legs.

This tree had “2 sets” of people.  On the bottom portion I see the sensual pose of a womans bent legs. Then at the top left it also made me think of a torso with legs.  This is a “two-fer” tree!

Tree People

Funny thing is, as we were driving from our condo to the hotel, I noticed the trees that lined a lot of the streets.  All I could see when I looked at the trees, for some reason was what looked like people, turned upside down!  I know, I’m a strange and sick individual.  I will be the first to admit it.  But once I pointed it out, Don could see it too.  Some of our “vision” didn’t translate well in photos, but I think we got enough of them for you to get the gist of what we saw.

This tree looked to me like a set of legs on the left, facing one way, then the waist, crotch and legs of another person facing the other way.....

The “Menage-a-trois Tree” This tree looked to me like a set of legs on the left, facing one way, then the waist, crotch and legs of another person facing the other way and the spread legs of a third person on the right.  What can I say?  Kinky mind I guess!

 

This one looked to me like a torso, with the stomach, then butt, then bend of the knees......

This one looked to me like a torso, with the stomach, then butt, then bend of the knees……Like a woman in a long straight skirt.

Sad thing is, just like the “small world” song that sticks in your head for the next week after you hear it, now when you go down to Cabo and see these trees, YOU TOO will be picturing people standing on their heads, when you see these trees…… Honestly, I guarantee you will!

 

This tree makes me think of a basketball player from the back... you can see the shape of the back of the knees, the butt and the waistline...

This tree makes me think of a basketball player from the back… you can see the shape of the back of the knees, the butt and the waistline…and LONG, LONG legs!

Can you see this soccer player, leg up in the air after his kick- with the arm straight out?

Can you see this soccer player, leg up in the air after his kick- with the arm straight out?

 

This tree, once again reminded me of a womans torso, with her hands upstretched, her breast- with even the nipple showing, waist butt and legs.....

This tree, once again reminded me of a womans torso, with her hands upstretched, her breast- with even the nipple showing, waist butt and legs…..

 

 

Doesnt this one look like someone carved a stomach and belly button into this tree?

Doesn’t this one look like someone carved a stomach and belly button into this tree?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This made me think of uplifted arms holding torches....

This made me think of uplifted arms holding torches…. or laser sabers!

 

 

 

Finding interesting things in the everyday is kind of fun!  Take a look around, and you might be surprised at what you find! If you get down to Cabo and find some of these trees, let me know what interesting shapes you find!

 

 

 

 

Living a Royal Life, Part 3 of 3

Every Day is an Adventure, Living a Royal Life, My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Travel and Adventure, Uncategorized
Living a Royal Life. What does that mean to you? for me it includes travel, lots of fun, delicious food and time with my man! My Royal Life may not be YOUR Royal Life! That's OK!

Living a Royal Life. What does that mean to you? for me it includes travel, lots of fun, delicious food and time with my man! My Royal Life may not be YOUR Royal Life! That’s OK!

Living a Royal Life

I have previously released 2 videos in this series. This is part 3 of 3.

Are you living you best life? If your life isn’t all that you want, and you feel like you are leading a mediocre life — what do you need to do to improve it?

This video gives you some moresteps to help you lead your best life.  You must first decide that you DESERVE to lead a “Royal Life.” No one else is going to give you the perfect life.  No one else can decide what your perfect life even IS!

If you want to improve your life, expand your tribe, add to your bucket list and make each day better than the last!

Here are your steps to you holding your head up high, wearing your tiara and learning that it doesn’t matter what other people think about you. Once you learn to “do you” and are comfortable in your skin, other people’s opinions don’t matter.

I hope you enjoy this video, and if you do —- share it with a friend who might also like to Live a Royal Life!

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to both my blog and my Youtube channel, so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming series and other fun and fabulous articles, events and adventures!

 

Not Just Another “Pretty Face”

Adventures With Attitude!, Every Day is an Adventure, Fabulous After 50, Living a Royal Life, My Humble Opinion, Out and About, Productions & Concerts, Royal Ramblings!, Sexy After 60!
Mary Jane Wilkerson as Ms. Senior California 2017

Mary Jane Wilkerson as Ms. Senior California 2017

Age Has Nothing To Do With Beauty!

Why does our society push the theory that when women age they aren’t beautiful any longer? There are a group of amazing women who are proving that theory to be completely wrong! Mary Jane Wilkerson is one of those women.

When you first meet Mary Jane Wilkerson you will be greeted by a slender, attractive and poised 63 year old blonde, with a genuine smile that lights up a room. If you were told that  MJ has held the title of “beauty queen” more than once, you probably wouldn’t be too terribly surprised.

The part of the story that might surprise you a bit, is that her titles in the pageants  came in 2016 and 2017!  MJ was Ms. Senior San Diego 2016, Ms. Senior Palm Springs 2017, and Ms. Senior California of America 2017. As the title holder for Ms. Senior California, Mary Jane also competed in the National Ms. Senior America competition held in New Jersey, October 2017.

Meeting Another “Queen”

Our paths first crossed when we somehow connected through facebook a few short months ago. One of those “friend” connections that sometimes happen, because you have mutual friends, and a particular post catches your eye.  The one that caught my eye was MJ holding a coffee cup, which said “It’s Good to be Queen.” Well, needless to say, as The Queen of Damn Near Everything I NOTICE when there is other “royalty” present!

MJ definitely falls into the category of “royalty.”

This is the picture I saw on Facebook that drew my attention to MJ! I have the same cup in pink! I had to see what this "Queen" was all about!

This is the picture I saw on Facebook that drew my attention to MJ! I have the same cup in pink! I had to see what this “Queen” was all about! ( A girl has to know who else is rockin’ a tiara like MJ does!)

I wasn’t really very aware that “Ms. Senior” competitions existed until a few years ago. When I did hear about them, I told my cohort in crime……. Stella that she should compete! I’m of the personal opinion that there are few- if any- other 73 year olds who could begin to hold a candle to Stella.  That was about as far as my knowledge of the competitions went!

Then MJ crossed my path, and I wanted to know more.  I noticed on Mary Jane’s page that there was going to be the pageant for Ms. Senior California 2018. That would be MJ’s last event a reigning “queen,” so I asked when and where it was being held, and off I went.

All “Beauty Queens” Are Not Barbie Dolls!

Contestants in the “Ms. Senior” competitions must be 60 years or older.. The competition is FAR more than a “beauty contest”- as the contestants are judged on talent, an intensive interview with the judges and their poise on the stage. I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the competition to see that the 2018 contestants weren’t all skinny-minny, perfect Barbie Doll types who had had numerous plastic surgery and botox procedures to form them into the perfect woman.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see women of different sizes, shapes, ethnic groups and styles! Gray hair wasn’t forbidden, nor were a few well earned laugh lines and “wisdom wrinkles!”

I was very impressed with the level of talent the women showed, although not really surprised.  When I arrived, I noticed a number of familiar faces, both on stage and in the crowd.  I had seen many of them perform over the past few years in CCT (Christian Community Theater) at the San Diego Senior Follies. Singing, dancing, performing and being on stage isn’t new to any of those women!

I must say, I am envious of their talents, because I can’t carry a tune if I had 6 buckets lined up to do so!

Those of you who know me, know I absolutely LOVE long gowns, sparkle and bling! There was no shortage of any of that at the Ms. Senior California pageant in San Diego!

Finding the venue was quite a challenge, let me tell you.  It was at The University of San Diego in one of the theaters, but finding that, once you were on campus just about took a group of Eagle Scouts or world explorers! There were no signs or anything to direct you to the right building.  Lucky for us, we had left plenty of time to figure out the details, so we were in our seats long before the event kicked off!

After the festivities of the pageant, I asked Mary Jane if we could meet one day soon for lunch, and if she would share some of her experiences with being a senior beauty pageant winner.  She was more than willing, so we decided to meet for a delicious lunch at Red O in the UTC area.

This is the day I met MJ. Unfortunately, it wasn't the best photo. MJ was back in the shadows and it looks like I"m with a cardboard cutout!

This is the day I met MJ. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best photo. MJ was back in the shadows and it looks like I”m with a cardboard cutout!

MJ Took Charge of Her Life & Health

Mary Jane, who is a health and wellness coach with OPTAVIA, shared with me her story of having lost almost 60 pounds a few years ago. Her husband, Allen, lost 40 at the same time.  MJ’s story wasn’t that different from many of ours.  After being very physically active for most of her life, MJ took a job in the mortgage industry.  Long work days sitting in front of a computer, along with the “grab and eat” lifestyle that goes along with those long work days resulted in a few pounds here, a few pounds there, until WHAM, suddenly that body doesn’t quite look like you want it too.  When MJ’s daughter was going to get married, she wanted to lose weight in the 6 months she had, but she didn’t seem able to trim down. So, she attended her daughter’s wedding an unhappy size 16.  MJ’s stepdaughter had suggested (many times) she get on the “Take Shape for Life” program (OPTAVIA’s  former name), but it was a while before she jumped on board, and found it to be the perfect solution to not only lose weight, but to get in the best shape she’d been in in years.  That is how Mary Jane became a Health and Wellness coach, wanting to share with others the success she had found in her journey.

So, now slim, trim and in fighting shape, MJ was one of the talented women in Christian Community Theater, entertaining audiences every year at the SD Senior follies.  Many of the women involved in CCT had also been contestants (and winners) of previous Ms. Senior competitions, and encouraged Mary Jane to compete, so finally she decided to give it a try. After all, as she said to me “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

MJ at one of the pageants. (I'm so jealous of all the sparkley gowns!)

MJ at one of the pageants. (I’m so jealous of all the gorgeous gowns!)

Her first competition was Ms. Senior San Diego 2016. She competed in the State pageant that year and took First Runner-up. Then she competed again, this time in  in Ms. Senior Palm Springs 2017, where she won. And once more competed in the State pageant, where she was crowned, Ms. Senior California of America 2017.

When I asked MJ if there was any of the horrible cattiness and back-biting that you hear about in beauty pageants, she said no.  In fact, she described the all the pageant ladies as “Lovely”, especially at the National Senior America pageant as one of her favorite experiences ever.  She said that the women she met on the national level are what she would consider, “friends for life.”  Accomplished, friendly, beautiful and amazingly talented women. True “Women of Elegance” in her words.

This is a picture that was taken at the National Competition, where MJ met so many wonderful and amazing women!

This is a picture that was taken at the National Competition, where MJ met so many wonderful and amazing women!

MJ did say there was more work to all of it than you might imagine.  Needing to come up with new ideas for the opportunities to perform, and the pageant activities take time. When you win the pageants, there are appearances which have to be made at area events, TV interviews and travel. There is also a performing group the pageant contestants in California  become a part of called the Classic Divas, and they put on performances throughout the year.

Of course for me, the BIG attraction to becoming “Ms. Senior Anything”  would be the wearing of tiaras. I am all about wearing a nice tiara!  I truly believe that “every woman deserves a tiara” and I happen to be the proud owner of a number of them! And then there is yet another excuse for wearing a long gown.  Hell, I’d wear a tiara and evening gown to the grocery store and car wash if they wouldn’t bring the guys in funny white jackets to take me away! (The voluntary wearing of Tee-shirts and jeans by any woman is beyond my comprehension! Give me heels, dresses, bling and I’m happy!)

Mary Jane did share with me that her business suffered due to her time away during 2016 and 2017, so she is now rebuilding it back up to “pre-pageant” numbers she previously had. You can’t take on coaching clients if you aren’t around to do the coaching! I have no doubt that MJ will be right back up to speed in no time. I love one of her quotes, “The Power to Choose is the Power to CHANGE, so Choose to be Extraordinary!”

I truly believe that we can choose to change our lives for the better, one step at a time, until we are leading what I call “a royal life.”  I was pleased to find that Mary Jane and I held the same views on what women can accomplish.

Family Values Are Top Priority

Mary Jane and her handsome husband of 15 years! Don't they make a handsome couple?

Mary Jane and her handsome husband Allen. Married 15 years! Don’t they make a handsome couple?    ( I’m loving the sequin dress!)

Often, people look at a woman who have held a position like those MJ just had, and think they are shallow, conceited or unapproachable.  Mary Jane is just the opposite of all those things.  Besides her warmth and compassion, which is obvious from the moment you meet her, MJ is a person of strong Christian beliefs and values.  Her husband, her family and her friends are her top priorities, followed by her strong ties to the community. MJ is one of the people who makes San Diego a better place by her presence here. Who would make a better “face of San Diego” than a woman like Mary Jane?

Besides building her business back up, and speaking at numerous events in the area,  Mary Jane has recently started a new endeavor, along with two other former Ms. Senior California winners. They have a group called the “California Girls” and are performing throughout San Diego county at events. They love going into senior retirement communities, women’s functions and anywhere their talents might be needed.

The California Girls at one of their recent performances.

The California Girls at one of their recent performances.

You can find more information about the California Girls at www.BollesArtsInternational.com or call 619-807-3280. Find MJ and the “California Girls- Singing and Dancing on Facebook and “Like” their page! (https://www.facebook.com/California-Girls-Singing-Dancing-Entertainment-311668412734634/)

Living A Royal Life, Part 2 of 3

Adventures With Attitude!, Every Day is an Adventure, Fabulous After 50, My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!

Living a Royal Life

A few weeks ago I published the first video in a series of 3 videos on how to Live a Royal Life.

This is part 2 of 3.

If your life isn’t all that you want, and you feel like you are leading a mediocre life — what do you need to do to improve it?

This video gives you some steps to help you lead your best life.  No one else is going to give you the perfect life.  You need to do what it takes to make the happiness in your life happen.

Here are your steps to you holding your head up high, wearing your tiara and learning that it doesn’t matter what other people think about you. Once you learn to “do you” and are comfortable in your skin, other people’s opinions don’t matter.

I hope you enjoy this video, and if you do —- share it with a friend who might also like to Live a Royal Life!

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to both my blog and my Youtube channel, so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming series and other fun and fabulous articles, events and adventures!

No Plain Jane………

Adventures With Attitude!, Family Time, Health = Happiness!, My Humble Opinion, Serious Shit, You Can't Make This Shit Up!
Close up of mom at her Open House Reception. I still keep this picture up to this day- almost 40 years later. Who would think it would be the last time she would sit on that chaise lounge?

Close up of mom at her Open House Reception. I still keep this picture in my home to this day- almost 40 years later. Who would think it would be the last time she would sit on that chaise lounge? My mom really understood that life is short, and made each day count!

Life…Is…Short!

I had intended to write this article and publish it for Mother’s Day this year…….. But alas, we were wrapped up in travel plans, then travel for most of April, and the thought, the time, and the writing never took place…….

I could wait until next Mother’s Day, and release it then… but if you know me, you know my saying… “You never know when they are going to call in your chips.”  Hell, we don’t know what tomorrow brings, so you’ve got to do things today. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

You may think that is a morbid way to live, but it’s just the opposite.  I do more, accomplish more, enjoy more and live more than many people combined. Why?  Perhaps it’s because I know how short life can be.  I have now outlived my own mother by 3 years. LIFE…IS…SHORT!  I never want to look back and say “I should have.” “I could have.” Or “I wish I had.”

I believe FULLY in taking life by the tail and getting the most out of it EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I often have people look at my schedule and ask me if I ever sleep.  Often, when I have exciting things to do, a lot on my plate and a busy schedule, honestly—— I don’t sleep much.  I can go weeks on end with 3 or 4 hours sleep.  I figure that at some point I’m going to have an extremely long time to sleep… as in eternity…. so I’ll catch up on it then!  For me, typically, every day is a busy day.  That’s how I love to live my life. After all—-as I said previously—- you never know when they are going to call in your chips!

A few months ago, in sorting through some things after our move, I came across a photo album I keep with mementos about my mom. Jane Clark. Her birth name had actually been Jane Hatheway, until she married my father at the ripe old age of 18. To say my parents had a tumultuous relationship would be putting it kindly! YIKES- those two fought like I’ve never seen anyone fight……. (But that’s another story for another day.  Getting married at 18 probably isn’t the #1 best idea in life either….)

My mom died when I was 22, after fighting cancer for about 8 1/2 years.  I remember when she came home one afternoon, while I was in Jr. High and told me the doctors had told her she had cancer, and only had a few months to live.  Of course, my first thought was “what happens to me?”  (Thank you teen age years for putting myself before everyone else!)

A Long and Difficult Battle….

That is when the fight began. Mom began a long, difficult and painful fight with cancer. The cancer she started out with wasn’t the cancer that ultimately killed her.  She was originally diagnosed with Lymphoma, but she picked up a second cancer, Leukemia, along the way, and that was the eventual ending battle of  her life.

Throughout those last years though, my mom helped SO many others in their last stages of life.  38 years ago, hospice wasn’t allowed into hospitals. Dying was treated differently.  We had to “buck up” and take care of one another.  No matter how sick she was herself, my mom was right there, making certain that WHATEVER her friends needed in their last days, they got it!

For one friend, it was important that she had some nice lingerie and a sexy nightie.  Jane provided those things. Some may have thought that at that stage of the game lingerie and nighties weren’t important.  She didn’t question it.  It was her friends’ desire, and that was all Jane needed to know. For another friend, it might be a specific dish they wanted to eat before they died. She made sure they got it, even if she had to sneak it into the hospital.  There comes a time when needs are far more than “medical.” Those needs are often more important than the medicines, the treatments or the “rules.”

The “Dress Rehearsal”

This was my mom at her Open House Reception. She went into the hospital the next day for the last time.

This was my mom at her Open House Reception. She went into the hospital the next day for the last time.

My mom had been in and out of the hospital so many times in the 8 plus years that I couldn’t even begin to count them.  In October 1979 I went on a last minute 1 week trip to Hawaii. While I was gone my sisters told me that they were giving an open house for my mom the day after I returned from the trip.  I wondered why they couldn’t just wait a week, so that I could help more with it. My mom insisted that it happen THAT Sunday. She went in the hospital the day after the party and never came back out.  SHE KNEW it had to happen then, or it never would.

When the end was near for our mom, we wanted to make sure someone was with her all the time so she didn’t die alone.  One of us always spent the night at the hospital for the last few months she was there.

My mom longed to see a local hospice in the area – which could help people like her in their last days.  I remember attending talks by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross with my mom, learning about the 5 stages of death, and what other countries were doing for their dying. Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in the hospice movement in the United States back in the ’70’s.  Our country was, and still is so far behind how other countries deal with death and dying.

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had. “ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Because of my mom’s frustration with the lack of hospice care, she started the ball rolling to get a local hospice formed.  After my mom’s death, my two sisters and I helped to bring to fruition a hospice to the Fox Valley. That hospice served my dad a number of years later when he died.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree…

 It’s often said by people that knew my mom that I’m a lot like her. Jane was a talker………. (sound familiar?)  Oh, she could talk!  And you always knew where you stood with my mom. She didn’t beat around the bush………… and this app;e didn’t fall far from THAT tree!  My mom would do anything for anyone, but cross her, and watch out! She would do WHATEVER it took to make things right!  If there was YELP in her day, Jane would have had 2,000 reviews on it, I’m sure! I’m my mom’s daughter there!  I’ll help the underdog any way I can, and when things aren’t right, I’ll let WHOEVER needs to know, until things are made right.

In the album of mementos I have poems and stories written about her.  Reading them, I thought how great it would be to write an article about her. And of course, Mother’s Day would have been a fabulous time to publish it.  Or perhaps her birthday, which is September 16th…. or perhaps, just whenever I get around to getting the damn thing done… Yes. That’s probably EXACTLY when I’ll get it out.  Whenever it is finished. Because THAT is the kind of organized I am.

No Plain Jane

In the memento book is a poem. I have no idea who wrote it, or if it was, indeed, written expressly about my mom. In trying to find it on Google, I can’t, so I assume someone wrote it about my mom. Sorry I can’t attribute it to the right person! Here goes:

No Plain Jane

I know a Jane,

Who isn’t plain

As any heart should see…

She’s more fair than a rose

That in Springtime grows

Yes, she’s beautiful to me.

For Beauty is in the face of love

And lovely is beauty’s name….

And ti’s love that lights the smile

That shines in the face of Jane.

Call other Jane’s plain— if you insist

But please don’t include our Jane.

For many a lovely thing is she

And one thing she isn’t is “plain.”

 

During the years my mom was ill, we were very involved in an organization called Make Today Count.  It had been started by a man named Orville Kelly, who had Lymphoma. He formed a support group so that people could find support among others who had long-term or life threatening illnesses.  Family members were also encouraged to attend.  I don’t know how I would have gotten through my mother’s illness and subsequent death, if we hadn’t had this resource at the time.  (At the time of my mother’s illness there were at least 140 chapters across the United States.  I believe that a handful are still active, one of them being here in San Diego.)

In our Make Today Count chapter, there was a woman I befriended named Kay Catlin. Kay’s journey was just a few months ahead of mine.  Her mother, also a cancer victim, died about 6 months before my mother did. I would often talk to Kay to see if my feelings, my emotions and my journey were unusual—- typically to be told that she had experienced exactly the same reactions to her mother’s illness.

Kay became a writer, and wrote a story about my mother, which was published in the Chicago Tribune on May 7, 1980. Kay wrote the story and gave it to our family at my mother’s memorial service, just a week after my mother’s death, which was December 21, 1979.  We felt so honored to have this wonderful story about my mother published in a major newspaper.

Having lost contact with Kay many years ago, when I found the article I contacted Kay and asked if I could publish it here in this blog, and she graciously gave me permission. Ties that are made in a situation like we were in many, many years ago still hold, as was demonstrated when I contacted Kay.

This is the front cover of the scrapbook I keep that has articles about my mom, marriage cert, birth cert, death cert, etc.

This is the front cover of the scrapbook I keep that has photos, articles about my mom, marriage cert, birth cert, death cert, etc. There was a store that made these scrapbooks many years ago, with your details on the front cover. I really liked them!

Following is the story as Kay originally wrote it and gave it to us.  It was edited some, and the tenses changed for the Chicago Tribune final article.

The Dying of Jane by Kay Catlin

The screen door ricocheted shut one final time. The party was over: the last guest had left. But before the weary hostess could call it a night, there was one more thing to do.

Jane draped her tiny frame across the painted rattan chaise and slipped her hand int the “everything” basket lying next to her on the floor. As she pulled out the tattered list of name and numbers, the freshly signed guest register was brought to her.

Methodically, Jane compared the “invited” names to the “attended” ones. By the time she was finished, it was clear triumph was in her corner.

“Look at that, would ya’, just look at that,” she said turning to her youngest daughter. (That would be me, by the way, just sayin’!) Look, only eight didn’t show. That’s pretty good…. real good.”  Jane was satisfied.

But in spite of her social coup, Jane’s, thought turned quickly back to the eight no-shows. One by one she recited their reasons for being elsewhere. The first had to work.  The next two had previously scheduled meetings, and besides the family of four who lived too far away, the only other people who couldn’t make it had car trouble. That settled it then. Everyone was accounted for.

Things like that matter to Jane. She is the original party person. Even mere acquaintances know she’ll be at any function someone bothers to call a party.  It doesn’t matter what the reason or where it’s held. If there’s a party, Jane will be there even if she’s dying.

And this time she was.  Dying, that is.

Dying is nothing new to Jane. Her doctors say she has been doing that ever since she was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer seven years ago at age fifty.  As a matter of fact, Jane was handed a less-than-a-month-to-go death sentence in 1973 only moments before she was advised not to take a scheduled Florida vacation to visit her parents. The doctor said she’d come back in a box.  Jane went anyway, and looking back, glad she’s glad she did. It was the last time  she saw her mother, who, at the same time was dying from cancer.

Jane didn’t come back in a box, and the doctor who told her not to go has since died himself from cancer.  Instead, Jane enjoyed her trip and, upon returning, decided the one thing she had to do was learn how to live with her disease so if one of her five children ever got cancer, “they’d know how to handle it.”

That was a mighty big order for someone recently divorced who had to keep on working in spite of pain, exhaustion, radiation treatments and chemotherapy. But she says she was too busy living to be bothered with dying. Besides, she had some pretty fail-safe logic going for her.  she figured it was a lot harder to die standing up.  As long as she could stay off the couch and on her feet, she had the odds beat. No one was going to catch her lying down long enough to die.

And they didn’t.

Between her once a month trips to Mayo’s from her suburban West Chicago home and her accounting job, Jane was terribly busy. She’d fly up to Rochester, Minnesota, on a Thursday night and check into the clinic Friday morning.  Saturday afternoons she’d fly back, and by Monday morning it was business as usual. Jane would make up time lost at her job by working Saturdays and week nights. Then, when she got caught up, the whole cycle would begin again. But she never missed a day’s work, and that’s something she’s still quite proud of.

The way Jane tells it, the whole first year was more like a piece of cake than the parcel of hell it really was. Pressed, she will relate stories of the many nights she and her only still-home child would stay up trying to temper the excruciating pan of muscle spasms. She will talk about the days she would pray for the phone not to ring, so she wouldn’t have to reach for it. But those aren’t the things she likes to concentrate on now. Jane would much rather tell someone about all the things she did do, the good times, than dwell on the horror of  it all. Even under pressure, she is an artful dodger of gloom. Any further questions about the endless nights and uncertain, painful days, she brushes off with, “I didn’t worry about any of it.  I’d just call my sister-in-law and tell her to start praying. Then I’d turn the rest over to the doctors and let them do their thing.  It worked every time.” And somehow, it did work…….. every time.

No, it hasn’t ever been Jane’s style to worry about herself. In the face of hardship, she is more likely to light up one in an endless chain of Newports, lean back, and give vent to another positive thought. She even has a pat answer for all those cigarettes.  “Well, they can’t tell me I’m going to get cancer anymore, can they?” So, I figure if I’m going to die, I might as well not be nervous about it.”  Good ol’ Jane!

In-spite of her logic, Jane was doing well until 1975 when her boss quit. A new comptroller took over who was bent on getting rid of everyone.  Not a person to be trifled with, Jane saw what was coming and got rid of herself.  “I couldn’t take that ass one more day, so I blew” is how she puts it.  (BTW- side-note, I can STILL remember my mother venting about the new boss and what an unreasonable and horrible jerk he was! That was my senior year of high-school!)

As she told of quitting her job, Jane suddenly looked down and then slowly turned her gaze upwards again. Pointing her finger to punctuate yet another point, she said, “THAT hurt me more than anything.”

She couldn’t get another job.  It didn’t matter that she was well qualified or willing to work, or desperately needed insurance. What mattered was that Jane had cancer. As far as the job market was concerned, Jane was already dead.

In spite of the fact that she faced rejection almost constantly, Jane continued to look for a job, any job.  She needed reason to stay standing up. Once, she even came close to getting employed. The owner of a marketing firm didn’t so much as blink an eye when she told him, as she told everyone, that she had cancer. She  would be employed and insured anyway.  No questions asked.  But the man died  before the deal went through. It was cancer that got him.

Jane didn’t work again until March of 1977. She had heard about a CETA job and, when she found two bosses who were willing to look away from her illness and toward her qualifications, she was hired. The job instantly became like new life blood to her.  She still feels if she hadn’t landed that job, any job, she would have lain down right then and died.

She worked well and steadily until July. Then she became inexplicably weak, unable to wash or dress herself. She went back to Mayo’s for a check-up and two days of transfusions, but came home having received even more.  A new diagnosis: Chronic Leukemia.

That’s not to say Jane had been undergoing treatments for the wrong disease all along. She just had them both lymphoma and leukemia. Snake eyes.

Jane went back to work almost immediately and tried to keep up. She had to. The doctors’ bills alone were breaking her financially even when the paychecks were steady. But there were intermittent hospitalizations, days off here and there. By March of 1978 the word had filtered down.  Any more days off and she would be out.

A few weeks later, Jane was in too much pain to report for work. She had reached too suddenly for something; that’s all. Two ribs, brittle from years of cancer therapy, snapped, and with them went everything. (I can’t tell you how many times my mom broke a bone by simply riding in the car and hitting a bump, standing up from a chair, or other simple things we do on a daily basis.  It was awful!)

Or so she thought.

With her body literally hunched in pain, Jane had someone drive her to and from job interviews when she wasn’t in the hospital. She knew she needed to get out of bed or she would die.  All she wanted was “to push a pencil somewhere.”  Her mind didn’t have cancer, after all.

On February 15, 1979 she landed her last job.  Each day, one of her children would take her to work and pick her up again in the evening.  It was tough going, but she was needed again. There was a reason to get off that couch.

That lasted until April 6th.  Jane went back into the hospital then and wasn’t released until July 6th.  Two days later, she was back at work.  For a few weeks, she pushed her pencil until on Friday afternoon when she found herself breathless from pain.  It was all over.

During the past months, Jane has only been out of the hospital for a few days at a time.  Each reprieve from doctors’ whites and intravenous drip coincided with one thing and one thing only—- a party.  She made them all. (Again, I told you this apple didn’t fall from the “Jane tree!” My mom never missed a party and neither do I!)

But her party days are dwindling and she knows it. When her leukemia turned from chronic to acute over Labor Day and her disability and Medicare benefits were cut off in October because she had worked three days too many the year before, she was beaten. Forced to apply for Public Aid, this fiercely independent woman was given two choices one afternoon by her doctors. She could either die outright or go through a painful bone marrow transplant, isolation and Chemotherapy program and probably die anyway.  What to do….

Jane decided she was going to go out trying and endorsed the treatments  Then she went home to make her funeral plans.

Already having donated her body to science when she was first diagnosed, Jane worked calmly and methodically on all the other arrangements. She secured the church, talked to the ministers, and had someone come over with sheet music.  Together they looked for “A King is Coming” and “He Touched Me.”  Because she wants those two songs sung by everyone at her memorial service, copies had to be made ahead of time.  Jane knew where she could get it done cheap.

She then named a charity for donations and instructed everyone she met not to send flowers.  “That’s like getting buried,” she said.  “Never could see throwing money away on being put in the ground and having a bunch of flowers around.”  I want the kids to take what I give them and blow it.  I want people to have a good time with what they got.”  And no one argued.

Jane then called her family together and worked out the nitty-gritty plans for the party afterwards,  They were to feed everyone and then go back to the house and have a family party like they always did.  “I want them to play poker, do some charades, and laugh a lot. If they have to sit around reminiscing, I want them to remember the crazy things, the fun things.” Then a devilish grin spread over her emaciated face as she added, “And they all know—- I’ve told them ever since I knew I was dying— that I’ll come back and haunt them if they don’t do what I say.”

With the family still around, Jane parceled out her promised possessions. She took pictures off the wall, rings off her fingers, and held a drawing for her remaining treasures. She sorted out photos and mementos, and gave each adult child his own picture laden history book. She signed over her stocks, gave away her car, and then took out the insurance policies. Each had been carefully studied, filled out, and stamped.

Then Jane sat back in relief ready to reminisce. Since she had sold her home to one of the children a while back, all she had to do was die.  Everything else was done.

That’s when the idea set in.

Jane’s eldest daughter thought as long as everything was taken care of ahead of time, they might as well have a party now, the kind of party people usually have after the funeral, but this one would be before while her mother could enjoy it.  After all, Jane wouldn’t want to miss a good party for anything. Why should she have to die for one last reason to celebrate?

So, while she was home for a brief, uncertain stay waiting for her body to become strong enough to give her at least a fighting chance to survive the treatments, her children called together 80 or 90 of Jane’s closest friends.  People came steadily from late afternoon on to pay their respects, say their goodbyes and share a laugh with the still living.  Jane was clearly on a mental high through the tiring, day-long affair.  She was having the time of her life playing the queen once more.  (Interesting, isn’t it that this was nearly 40 years ago, and my mother was referred to as “the queen.”  Now, here I am- The Queen of Damn Near Everything!”)

A week later, she herself would call the party a dress rehearsal for the memorial service and casually remark that only eight people didn’t show.

Now Jane waits to return to the hospital, knowing she probably won’t come out alive. She exhibits fear only when she refers to the painful, “worst ever” treatments she has to face.  It is not difficult to believe her when she says, “Some things are worse than dying, you know.”

(Jane Clark of West Chicago, Illinois, died December 21 1979, without having undergone the bone marrow transplant. The rest of the details are unimportant. She just died with the same dignity she had known in life.  That’s all.  End

There were a few things very interesting about my mother’s last weeks (about 9 of them), while she was in the hospital.  My mother was a feisty little ball of fire, and you ALWAYS knew where things stood with her. She wasn’t technically “in a coma”- but there were weeks where she basically laid and slept, not really talking to anyone.

We told her sister, my Aunt Pat, that if she wanted to see mom again, she’d better get here for a visit.  I never thought of my Aunt Pat as weak, but my mom must have understood her in a way we couldn’t. When my Aunt Pat came into the hospital room for her visit, upon arrival, my mom sat up, had a conversation with her, then laid back down.  The next morning Aunt Pat came back in, mom had another lovely conversation with her, and my Aunt left for home, saying “She doesn’t look too bad to me.”

We were all mystified at how amazing my mom looked and sounded while Aunt Pat was there.  Later we understood that mom knew that my Aunt couldn’t have taken seeing her sister in an almost “vegetative” state, and did what was needed to help Aunt Pat get through it.

From L-R: My niece Kelly, Sister Sharon, Mom, My niece Michelle and my Sister Dianne. Not long before my moms death. Who knows where the hell I was for this? It looks like Kelly was dressed up for a school dance, corsage and all!

From L-R: My niece Kelly, Sister Sharon, Mom, My niece Michelle and my Sister Dianne. Not long before my moms death. Who knows where the hell I was for this? It looks like Kelly was dressed up for a school dance, corsage and all!

There were also a few times that my mom sat up, called out “Mom” and reached for someone unseen, with such a peaceful look on her face

Then the story that some people think is “just horrible”- but was my mom’s and my personality to a T…… Mom hadn’t spoken for weeks—- probably since Aunt Pat’s visit, and I went to the hosipital after work, just days before her death.  I was wearing Tabu perfume, a heavy scent popular in the 80’s.  As I leaned down to kiss her, out of the blue mom mumbled, “What’s that perfume?”  I told her and she responded, “Don’t ever wear that again, you smell like a French whore.” That’s the last thing my mom ever said to me!  I laugh about it, and let me tell you…… when I get into an elevator with someone wearing that perfume….. to this day, do you know how hard it is not to repeat that line to them????? Often, when I share that story, people are absolutely AGHAST that this would be our last conversation. Not me though!

The other great story about “The Dying of Jane” was that it was UBER IMPORTANT to my mom that she not be buried. She wanted to donate any organ possible, then donate her body to science so that others might learn from her body and prevent others in the future from enduring cancer such as hers. (Once you’ve gone through all the cancer treatments my mom went through, not too many organs are viable, unfortunately. We had learned that the only organ which could be donated at that point were mom’s eyes.) My mom had always been ADAMENT that not one cent should go toward a burial. Back then, not too many people got cremated.

Well, the end was obviously VERY close, and we happened to call the family friend who owned the funeral home, and was going to help us with my mom’s details.  When we spoke to him, he told us that if my mom didn’t die that afternoon by about 4:30, she’d either have to hold out until the next Wednesday, or her body and organs wouldn’t be able to be donated, due to the weekend and holiday.  (Can you believe it?  Back then, organ donation was more of a 9-5 Monday through Friday kind of business.)  I think it was about 3:15 when we got this news, so we leaned over my mom and said, “Hey mom, we’ve got some bad news we just found out. Bruce told us that if you don’t die today by about 4:30, you have to hold out through Christmas, and wait until the day after, or they won’t take your body and eyes. You will need to be buried.” My mom died at 4:30 PM that day.

When Jane had a plan NO ONE was going to screw it up if she had anything to do with it!

Again, when I’ve told that story to some people, they can’t believe we would tell our mom she needed to either die or hold out.  Let me tell you, you didn’t want to cross Jane Clark, and had she not been told once we knew the details, she probably WOULD have come back to haunt us for not getting the body donated!

My mom lived a certain way, and she died the same way—- parties planned and attended and details acted on, down to the last detail!

When we had my mom’s memorial service my oldest sister Sharon read a beautiful poem that pretty well summed up my mom, and the way she chose to die. I’ll share it:

“To Remember Me…”

The day will come when my body will lie upon a white sheet neatly tucked under four corners of a mattress located in a hospital busily occupied with the living and the dying. At a certain moment a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped.

When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don’t call this my deathbed.  Let it be called the Bed of Life, and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.

Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby’s face or love in the eyes of a woman. Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain. Give my blood to the teenager  who was pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play.  give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week.  Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk.

Explore every corner of my brain. Take my cells, if necessary and let them grow so that, someday,a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her window.

Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow.

If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all my prejudice against my fellow man.

Give my sins to the devil.  Give my soul to God.

If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked I will live forever.

—- Robert N. Test in Cincinnati Post

 

Would you like to leave a legacy after you are gone?  You need to plan ahead.  Here are a few interesting articles that might help you figure out what would work best for your desires.

For info on donating your organs, go to: https://www.organdonor.gov/about/process/deceased-donation.html

For info on donating your body to science check out this article:https://www.wikihow.com/Donate-Your-Body-to-Science

 

 

 

 

 

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The “Berry Delicious” Martini

Cocktail Time, Entertaining, Living a Royal Life, Martini Magic, Martinis, Sensational after 70!, Sexy After 60!
Berry Delicious Martini. (I'm admitting it right now- I had to use my daughter KT as the hand model. WTF has happened to my hands? They look 100!)

Berry Delicious Martini. (I’m admitting it right now- I had to use my daughter KT as the hand model. WTF has happened to my hands? They look 100!)

A Fun Summertime Drink!

I’m known  for creating a “signature drink” for all of my parties.  If I’m out at a restaurant and they have a martini menu, I pour over it looking for some tasty concoction that I might be able to plagiarize and make for an upcoming event. I call this “R & D.” You might think that stands for Research & Development.  I guess you could call it that…… or Rip-off & Duplicate! However you want to look at it, with a bit of knowledge as to what the ingredients are in a drink, I can form my own delicious version to share with my friends.   I can’t tell you how many drink menus I’ve snapped pictures of, so I can recreate my own tasty drinks.

Recently, I  created the Berry Delicious martini for my girlfriends at our monthly Bunko.  It was refreshing and perfect for summer.

I chose to “sugar” the rim, because I always love it with fruity martinis- not to mention, it looks so much more festive and fun!  You can make your own sugar, or take the easy way out!  I recently found some really nice colored and flavored sugars at Home Goods, in the section where they keep all the food items.  The colors are crisp and fun, and it’s a lot easier than mixing food coloring in with the sugar at home. (Also cheaper, and better than the ones you find at a liquor store. They seem to not clump up as much.)

If you are entertaining a large group, and want Martinis as your signature drink, use my trick to make up large batches.  Make up some of the martini ahead of time, freeze some of it in small round plastic containers and/or in ice cube trays. (if desired, put some blueberries or blackberries into the ice cube trays so they look nice as they melt.) Then for the event, put the martini mix in a big drink dispenser, or a punch bowl, and use the frozen martini cubes to keep it cold without watering down your delicious concoction!

A toast to you! My Bunko Ladies Enjoying The Berry Delicious Martini

A toast to you! My Bunko Ladies Enjoying The Berry Delicious Martini. They are always willing to try out my new concoctions each month!

Berry Delicious Martini Recipe

I don’t make my martinis really strong.  I’d rather people have fun and enjoy the drink – than get intoxicated and act like idiots.  You can make yours stronger if you want. Most martini’s you get out are primarily the alcohol, with just a splash of the juice for flavor…… adjust as you see fit.

I chill all the ingredients ahead of time, and actually put my alcohol directly into the freezer for a day or so ahead, so it’s frosty cold!

1 Part blueberry or raspberry flavored vodka

1/4 Part triple sec

2-3 Parts Blueberry Lemonade (I use Simply Lemonade with Blueberry)

1/4 Part Simple Syrup (optional)

Put all ingredients in a martini shaker and shake, or  if making a larger batch, put in a pitcher drink dispenser or punch bowl.  Stir, and add the ice you made with the martini mix to keep it cold.

Pour into martini glasses that have had the rims “sugared.”

Garnish with 4 or 5 blueberries on a toothpick, or just throw 3 or 4 berries into the bottom of your martini glass.

Another pretty garnish is a fresh cherry when they are in season.

Martini's in a punch bowl

I used this punch bowl to make martini’s a few weeks ago for a large party we had. They must have been good, because I went through 6 punch bowls in the first hour….. Can you IMAGINE if I tried to keep up with making them by the shaker full????? I would have gone bonkers!  Making them this way allowed me to enjoy the party! At this particular party, I didn’t serve my drinks in my martini glasses, because we were going to be out around the pool, so I served them in Mason-Jar glasses and called it “punch.” For another event, I’d have martini glasses ready, and call them martinis!  It’s all in the presentation ladies!

Living A Royal Life… Part 1 of 3

Adventures With Attitude!, Every Day is an Adventure, Living a Royal Life, Royal Ramblings!, Sensational after 70!, Sexy After 60!

Living a “Royal Life”

Do you feel that you are living life to the fullest? Is your life meeting your expectations, or are you often left feeling disappointed?

I believe that everyone can, and should lead what I refer to as “A Royal Life.” This isn’t the life that the monarchy is living in Buckingham Palace.  It isn’t the life that William and Kate are living……  It’s living YOUR BEST LIFE, while in the midst of “real life.”  We can all take simple steps to improve our lives and to make our life happy, fun, fulfilling and prosperous.

If you think there is room for improvement in what you are receiving from life, please take a look at my attached video.  It the first video  in a series of 3 videos- Living a Royal Life.

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to my blog so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming series and other fun and fabulous articles, events and adventures!