Circle of Life (chocolate cake)

Today was a Circle of Life Day.

I started the morning with a baby naming celebration for twins, born 1 month early, then spent the afternoon at a Memorial Service for Addie’s teacher, Frank, and ended the evening with dinner in the backyard with our cousins from Idaho.

I get it. You’re born. You die. And in-between, you try and spend as much time as you can with people you enjoy.

In honor of this magnificent day,  I baked what I now call my Circle of Life Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake. When folks have babies, I bake one for the family. When I pay a Shiva call (the Jewish ritual for condolence calls), I bring the cake. It’s my dear friend Jill’s recipe. I’ve adopted it and adapted it. I barely follow the instructions anymore. I use what I have in the house (No sour cream? Use plain yogurt. No oil? Butter will do just fine.)

After dinner, we cut large slices and enjoyed every bite. It was our metaphor for taking big bites out of life. That seemed to be the lesson of the day. Whether one is celebrating the beginning journey of life or mourning its’ ending, starting a new chapter as empty nesters or figuring out a next chapter, all we can do is eat up every moment and savor the flavor.

At Frank’s service, they played a photo slide show.  The Vaughan Brothers song – Tick Tock – was the soundtrack. I loved it. I found it on YouTube for you. Perhaps you’d like to bake the Circle of Life cake for your family and friends; pop on this song while you stir the batter. May it become about more than baking a cake. Maybe it become about enjoying a slice of life.

The Vaughan Brothers song – Tick Tock  


Circle of Life Chocolate Cake


1 package of instant chocolate pudding

¾ cup vegetable oil

1 package of Fudge cake mix

6 oz.  chocolate chips

¾ cup of water

½ sour cream

4 eggs

Mix everything together, fold in chips, pour into greased bundt pan and bake at 350F for 40 minutes. If you really want to impress em’ , mash up any kind of berry, drizzle on plate and over cake.  Easy and DELICIOUS!

How do you MindFULLY celebrate  the Circle of Life? Let us know!


Sad News. Over the weekend, authorities think they may have found Frank.

Not much has been said, but according to news reports, “The body of a man thought to be Frank Stanley, 44, was found during a search Saturday in the Pike National Forest. His family was notified of the discovery, a family spokeswoman said Saturday. Stanley’s sister confirmed the death to 7News, and a family friend said his body was recovered from a fall of more than 100 feet.”

Ugh. My heart sank at the news. I was truly holding out for a happier ending. Knowing Frank, I was praying that he had set up camp somewhere and was using the skills and intelligence with which he taught my daughter, to keep himself safe until he was found.

School starts tomorrow.  Looks life this year’s lesson is about life.

We talk of only having this moment. Of not knowing what time brings. Of only getting one real chance at life and of the question, “How are you going to live it?”

Please do not let Frank’s passing be in vain. Let it be a reminder of what matters to you. And then let it be how you live.

Our family heart goes out to Frank’s family.

May he be of blessed memory. Amen.

A Prayer For Frank

Today’s MindFULL Creative posting is about the power of prayer. It’s about holding out hope.

This blog is supposed to be about ideas and musings that inspire. But no matter how we try, sometimes life intercedes and we are overcome with fear and sadness. It’s a part of life. So, as I sat down yesterday to write, I couldn’t help but notice that all of the fun things I had lined up to write about didn’t really matter in the face of my own fear and sadness.

One of my daughter’s teachers has gone missing.

According to news reports, Frank has been missing since July 25 near Bison Peak in SE Colorado). His blue Jeep was found Thursday at the Lost Park trailhead after friends reported that he had failed to return from a hike. Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener said the search began Thursday night and includes four search teams, including one canine unit.

Yesterday a group of parents joined in the search. Late evening emails suggest that there is more of a Search and Rescue game plan formulating, but still no idea of how this  happened. Teachers reported to school today. Classes begin next week. Everyone is concerned and anxious.

When my daughter returned home from camp yesterday, we told her the news. Ever optimistic, she suggested that Frank, a loner, simply extended his camping stay. But her eyes misted and she, too, knew that this was serious.

It’s my worse nightmare. A missing child. No matter the age, you always worry about their well-being. All I can think about is Mrs. Stanley and her angst.

So, in the spirit of MindFULL Mondays, can we all simply stop for a moment and send a prayer out to Frank; that he is using his Boy Scout skills to stay alive and to his family, that they receive their son back safely. Being inspired isn’t simply about doing something. Its about being something. Compassionate. Caring. Mindful.

Let today be MindFULLY full of recognizing all that you hold dear. And please, let us pray for Frank.

How do you MindFULLY hold out hope? Let us teach each other. Let us know!




This week is my 49th birthday. I can’t believe I am going to be 49. On one hand, I am glad to be 49 (I lost a friend to breast cancer when we were 36). On the other hand, 49 means a lot of time has passed!

Some folks tell me I don’t look 49. What does 49 look like?

Recently, I was talking with my friend and art muse, Judith Cassell-Mamet ( about my new “journal for my birthday” ritual. For years I would get a new black and white composition book for doodling and collecting ideas. Then I met Judith and Tamara (another friend and awesome creative muse) and they taught me how to make my own journals.

Making a journal is pretty easy: Take any size paper you’d like and decoupage anything you want on it. Grab a stack of printer paper and head to the nearest copy store. Ask them to laminate the decoupaged piece of paper and bind it with the printer paper. Viola’! A journal that means something to YOU.

As such, I was pondering what this birthday’s journal cover would be. Given my obsession with the number 49, I decided to take this year and make it the year of numbers. Combined with my interest in using my camera more often, I was looking forward to seeing how those numbers appear in the world around me.

The crazy thing is that the moment I said this out loud to Judith (she was driving), I looked out the car window and there on the street were 4 cymbals sitting in front of a Jazz bar. 4. I took them to be a “symbol” and have put this picture on the cover of my new birthday book.

Then I realized that this moth is 8/11. And my birthday is 8/11! Nothing to do with 4 and 9, but kinda cool in the number realm.

I always say my husband is the numbers guy. Maybe this year, as I get more comfortable with looking for numbers, I’ll learn how to balance my checkbook, too. OK, maybe I’ll just take it one number at a time.

It’s all fun. And it’s all just a number. What really matters is how you feel. And I feel 36.

What’s your MindFULL age vs the number of the birthday coming up? Let us know!

Crack Up To What It’s Supposed To Be

My daughter is away at camp for 3 weeks. I had visions of catching up, resting up and attending to all of the things I had on my list  for the last year. For sure at the top was seeing friends and dining in the backyard.

The vision I missed was the one where I was so bone tired that I found myself feeling cracked. Like the pipe in our powder room. The one that set our powder room floor awave. The one that the plumbers said they couldn’t find and then let out an “oh, here it is…”

I also missed the vision of re-doing the basement bathroom. Who knew the powder room down there was experiencing water damage and new mold. Really? Argh. I wanted to spend my days laughing with friends and shopping at the new IKEA. Instead, I was tethered to the house waiting for workmen again.

But in the waiting, something shifted. I realized that I wasn’t quite as cracked as I thought. I was tired, but actually leaning toward grateful. Grateful for the friend who noticed the floor. Grateful that I have great plumbers who made me the first stop the next morning. Grateful that the cost to fix the pipe was reasonable to me. Grateful that my husband could understand what the heck the mold guy was talking about and could take time off of work to be here, when I couldn’t be.

Grateful it wasn’t worse.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what goes wrong. But what about getting caught up in what goes right? How about appreciating the people who show up and help? Or the job you have that pays you well enough that you can afford to fix it? How about the cold ice in the freezer to fill your glass at the end of the day, as you reflect on how it really will be?. Or the knowing that your family is safe and that no one is sick from it?

Now, when I walk by the plastic trash bag covering the hole in the wall to the basement, I see it as canvas. I can project anything I want on it. And the bathroom in the basement? Well, hopefully Tuesday will bring news of nothing serious and the boys can get to dry walling it back up. Worst thing, we have it remediated and I re-tile the whole thing. And, if I get to repaint it? Purple it is!

Years ago, a wise friend gave me a coffee cup. It’s a great color green and says, “Friends”. Over many washings it developed a chip in the rim and a crack down the side, but it still holds liquid. I love to use it. Every time I look at it, I feel like she is reminding me that we are all cracked. And still, we are able to hold what we need to.


How do you MindFULLY crack and then use what is broken to make something new? Let us know!