Crack Friday

That’s the new name my daughter and I have given the Friday after Thanksgiving. While all the advertisers want us to think of it as Black Friday, the only thing black about it is the hole you fall down if you buy in. We suspect that more people “crack” on that day then any other. Overeating, over sharing, over expecting things and people to be certain ways – how could you possibly not crack?

When did I get so cynical?

Maybe it was as I sat on the overstuffed chair at the Mall Friday morning at 7am so that my 13 year old could get 50% off at Abercrombie. Crack.

Maybe it was when she got home and realized none of it fit and that she was “over the whole thing.” Crack.

Maybe it was when I  said, “Enough! Did we not spend the whole day, yesterday, giving thanks for all we have and now we are being bombarded with ads that tells us of  how little we really have and need? Did we not race home and whip off our clothes after not one, but two kinds of stuffing, three pies and g-d knows how many sticks of butter?” Crack.

Color me crazy, but I think even she felt it. I could hear the music coming from her room while she cleaned out her closet to try and get a grip on what she had and really needed. I sensed a shift in desire. A girl after my own heart. 4 trash bags later (one for GoodWill, two for re-sale, one to return borrowed clothes) she suggested returning her 50% off items and, instead, came up with a handful of reasonable needs for the next day of “have to haves,”  — otherwise known in our house as Chanukah.

What I loved most about the day, was that after we cracked, we found a way to put ourselves back together again. We went to the movies, out to lunch and took long deep breaths. We gained new perspectives; me, on what it means to be 13 years old; her, that as much as we love a Sale, sometimes you can pass it up.

Now, if only those brown suede boots I want get marked down soon and the sweater she “had to have” arrives in time for Hanukkah, we will not only have learned to bake a cake, we will get to it eat, too.

How do you MINDfully navigate the day after Thanksgiving? Let us know!

Supper Friends

How do you make supper something fun to create and look forward to? Share it with friends and challenge yourselves to stretch your culinary imaginations!

Such was the challenge our friend, Rebecca, put forth 10 years ago, when she suggested we start a Supper Club. They would bring a couple and we would bring a couple. Rotating 4x a year, one would do appetizers, one would do a main course and one would do dessert. The couple that hosted the last gathering would get a free meal.


Now, let me say that these three families aren’t food shlubs. They make for dinner and pour wine, on a normal Tuesday, what others have on special occasions in a nice  restaurant. As the hosts of the first club night, I left Rebecca’s, not only blown away by the food and wine itself, but wondering how I could ever arrange a simple centerpiece to reflect such elegance and warmth.

As we gathered last Saturday night to a rousing rendition of “upscale bar food”,  I couldn’t help but be overcome with gratitude for the laughter, creativity and delicious conversation we have nurtured amongst us. As we sat around the dining table in our friends’ lovely home, we gasped at the time. 11:30pm had come too fast.

You see, it started out being about the food and has really grown into being about the people. Together, we have grown. Together, we have weathered job losses, disease, divorce, growing pains, serious stress and uncertain times. Gathering for dinner and pouring ourselves into the care and thoughtfulness of the meal, has given us a shelter in life’s storms.

Saturday night, our friends made gourmet pizzas with the best home-made crust I have ever tasted. I dined at Spago’s last week, the original gourmet pizza restaurant and was disappointed; my fig and goat cheese pizza at Spago’s was not half as good as our friend’s. Their topping selections ranged from rotisserie grilled chicken and fresh sausage on the stove to roasted figs, sautéed red onions, truffle oil and spicy red sauce. The list of  unique and delicious ingredients was endless. Forgetting that John had been an Exec at Domino’s in a past life, the tweaking and cooking resulted in a potential competitor.


I was on deck for appetizers and made lamb sliders with taziki sauce, sweet potato fries with ketchup chili sauce and handcrafted beers. We played music we haven’t heard since bellying up years ago and everyone’s hearts, for a few hours, seemed to lighten. When the last course of dessert came out and there was not one, but two amazing options of amaretto cake and homemade mousse, we squealed with delight. Everyone had put their hearts into their course. And we went from simple to complex, without being  complicated.

As Adelle Davis once said, “We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.”

We are all busy and scheduling a time has gotten more challenging over the years. Still we manage to come together. And when we needed to come together Saturday night to challenge life and lighten our loads, we all clearly left, better for the time spent.

So, here’s to you, Howards, for your amazing ability to inspire, uplift and model gracious hosting. And to you, Farbers, for elegance, creativity and generosity. And Johnny D, for fast setting the challenge bar we all strive to reach. While we gather to fill our stomachs, you all get 5 stars for filling our hearts.

How do you MINDfully and creatively cook with friends? Let us know!



Love Me Tender

This weekend, my brother and his girlfriend of 11 years  got married at The Little White Chapel. Along with 4,000 other couples in Vegas on 11/11/11, they finally tied the knot.

I have no idea what took so long. And what I learned this weekend was that it simply didn’t matter. What matters is that THEY are happy.

As I cracked up while the Reverend Belinda (Melinda?) read the vows, I teared up a bit as well  as I watched my brother and Randi beam. They genuinely like each other and you could see they loved the kitsch. People were swarming The Chapel. Some were married in pink Cadillacs by Elvis at a drive up window. Others waited for their wedding room reservation as if at a chain restaurant that was promoting an Early Bird special.

It could have been easy to snicker. And I am grateful I caught myself. I finally remembered what we all talk about – Be In The Moment.

In that moment, it was all about Love.

I wasn’t so in the moment the week/months before. In all honesty, I brought my “supposed tos” to bear on how my brother planned (or didn’t plan) this momentous event. He just doesn’t have the same Type A gene I inherited. Now instead of cursing him, I kinda envy him. It all turned out splendidly in the end. Darn. Once again I see that things turn out the way they turn out and you can either fret all the way there or save your energy for celebrating when you arrive.

And so, I found a way to show up in joy instead of judgment and ya know what? It became one of the top 10 family memories I will hold forever. Their love was palatable, their kindness knew no bounds. They were so happy we came and didn’t miss a beat in letting us know how much we mattered to both of them. They asked my 13 year old daughter to be their Witness. My father, ever the attorney, asked if that was legal. It was not only legal, it was honoring of their love for her, as well. She was touched. So was I.

After the ceremony, we went back to The Mandalay Bay and ate as if Rome was burning. My childhood memories are made of meals where we over ordered at restaurants. I used to be embarrassed. Now, I am grateful that we can have anything on the menu we want. My brother ordered The Feast; literally one of everything on the menu. We ate til groaned. We laughed. We tasted everything, including delight.

So, here’s to Elvis, Jon and Randi and accepting that your way/my way isn’t the only way. It’s simply A way. And if we are lucky, it will lead us together again, soon.


How do you MINDFULLY remember to let go of  “Shoulds? “Let us know!




We All Make Misstakes

“We all know we are powerfully influenced by first impressions – rightly or wrongly. For instance, have you ever taken a test, picked an answer, then thought about changing it – but didn’t? …More than 70 years of research on answer changing shows that most answer changes are from wrong to right, and that most people who change their answers on a test improve their score.”

Such was one of many interesting ditties that caught my eye in a terrific book I just finished, Why We Make Mistakes: HOW WE LOOK WITHOUT SEEING, FORGET THINGS IN SECONDS, AND ARE ALL PRETTY SURE WE ARE WAY ABOVE AVERAGE by Joseph T. Hallinan.

As quoted from the back of the book: “We forget our passwords. We pay too much to go the gym. We think we’d be happier if we lived in California (we wouldn’t) and that we should stick with our first answers on tests (we shouldn’t). Why do we make mistakes? And could we do a little better?”

The cover goes on…”In exploring the reasons behind human error – our eyes play tricks on us and our stories change in the retelling – journalist Joseph T. Hallinan uses real-life stories to illuminate findings from such diverse fields as neuroscience, economics and football. He finds that we are all biased in the way we perceive, not only ourselves, but the world around us… This book not only offers valuable advice, such as how to remember where you’ve hidden something important for safekeeping, but also explains why multitasking is a bad idea, why men make errors women don’t, and why most people think San Diego is west of Reno (it’s not).”

I loved it. Not because I think I make a lot of mistakes (and the author explains why I think I this) but because so many of the little observations and details in life can be found in the understanding – and that makes my MindFULL Monday really Mind FULL.

It was a fast read and a delightful illumination of the reasons behind my mistakes. It helped me to clean up my passwords, trust my gut more often and think about asking my daughter to proofread my work (kids are more likely to catch your errors than other adults).

I highly recommend it. Now, where did I put my keys?


What have you MindFULLY read and learned recently? Let us know!