Simple Pleasures



“The real things haven’t changed, it is still best to be truthful and honest, to make the most of what you have, be happy with simple pleasures, and have courage when things go wrong”

Think simple pleasures. I have discovered they save me every time.  Simple pleasures of your own making.  Simple pleasures that you make me feel good.  Simple pleasures that comfort you.  Simple pleasures that inspire you. Are you thinking you can’t think of any?  Think again.  The list is endless, finding your simple pleasures is a key to your happiness.  Simple little activities that you string together like rare beads, creating a strand of precious baubles that represent all your simple pleasures.  Grow to rely on your simple pleasures. Keep them close, use them regularly, they are designed to delight and balance you.  Here are a few of my favorite simple pleasures I’d like to share with you.  I would love to hear about your simple pleasures or what has come to mind, future simple pleasures….

Good Tea – Do you like tea?  Yes, good. Let’s make ourselves some good tea. You can make a cup of tea with a tea bag right in the cup, but making a pot of tea is a pleasure.  A simple pleasure, one of mine.  Buy a teapot, you will never regret it.  I like my hot drinks in a mug.  Many of my tea drinking friends love their tea cups.  Perhaps you already have one you would like to use, if not, and this is how you would like to sip your tea, buy one.  I see awesome tea cups for sale at thrift shops, flea markets and yard sales. Pick one up.  Fill your kettle up with water and set it to boil.  Fill your teapot up with hot tap water.  This allows your tea to stay hotter longer in your tea-pot. There are so many varieties of tea to choose from.  Check out the teas in stores you frequent.  Do some research on-line to discover tea you like you would like to try.  There are many brews that are good for you.  There are medicinal teas to uplift, cure and care for you.  I occasionally select a tea because I am attracted to the scent. Have fun and experiment.  There are so many choices.  Pour out the tap water out of your teapot and add your bags or loose tea.  Some pots have strainers that sit at the top, where the loose tea sits, and is lifted out prior to pouring.  Loose tea placed in a pot will need to be strained while pouring, or you may choose to use a tea ball which works like a tea bag.  Tea bags are a good option for quick and easy tea making.  I enjoy the ritual of the loose tea.  There are caffeinated and decaffeinated tea.  Please be aware of this. There is a wonderful world of herbal teas available.  There are teas to soothe, teas to aid sleep, and teas to settle your stomach.  Look to these to cure what ails you.  Pour your boiling water into your teapot and let stand to brew. If there is any boiling water left pour it into your tea-cup or mug to warm it.  Many teas are delicious just as they are. You may want to “garnish” your tea. You may sweeten it with different sugars, brown rice syrup or honey. You can brighten the flavor with a slice of lemon. Use a cinnamon stick to stir your tea and add flavor, or toss in a few cloves, if you care for that flavor.  Empty the hot water from your vessel, pour yourself a cup and garnish your tea as desired. Sip your tea as it slowly cools, have a second cup or pour it up and drink it later, room temperature or iced.  Experiment and enjoy this ritual, it is a simple pleasure, certain to be enjoyed.

Letter Writing – I get snail mail, letters and cards. The reason I get snail mail is because I send snail mail.  I enjoy it, always have, always will.  This may or may not appeal to you.  If it does, give it a try. It is never to late to start a correspondence.  Letter writing for me has been a valuable experience. I text, I email and I love technology. I love a hand written letter too.  I love when I open my box and see that personal piece of snail mail sitting there. I anticipate the moment I will open it.  I like looking at the envelope, my address, the return address, the stamp, and the stamp cancellation. I love opening up the envelope, but I never rush that.  I don’t tear it open at the post office or read it in the car.  I want to open it at home, perhaps with a cup of tea. I open it slowly, like a gift. I read it carefully, I savor and treasure the words.  I hold a piece of time in my hand from a dear friend. I sit quietly thinking about my reply.  What stationary or card I will use,  I will look in my letter writing box.  It is a magical box filled with paper, stationary, cards, stickers, a wax sealer, and things like gold stars I occasionally place inside that tumble out as opened.  I am always am on the hunt for items for my letter writing box. The simple pleasure of writing something from my heart to someone I care deeply about Is a great joy to me. I recommend this.  Delightful and virtually free, the cost of a first class stamp. It is an investment in your well-being.  The simple pleasure of letter writing is so much more, it is making connections with people who are special to us. It just doesn’t get better that.

Study – Is there something you have always wanted to learn, or a skill you wish to master?  We live in an Information Age – most things are right at our, as I like to say, our google finger.  I say go for it, for example, learning a second language, that seems to be on many bucket lists. It is never to late to learn something you have always wanted to learn, there is satisfaction in it.  American History – ride a skateboard – knit a sweater – build a boat – learn how to cook, you see the possibilities are endless. Honestly it won’t take but a moment to come up with something, it lives right beneath your skin, you have wanted to do it forever.  You can take it, run with it and before you know it will be your passion.  Next week you could be setting up that train set you always wanted. Direction and resources are at our finger tips.  Yeah, go for it.  Surprise yourself and find out that you are a natural at something. There is a reason you are attracted to studying and learning, it is pleasurable. Imagine next Christmas you are playing those carols you always wanted to play on the piano.  Do you see the joy in this?  Studying will make your heart smile, learning something will lift your spirits, and mastering something will fill you with joy.  My incredible mother always said, “if you can read, you can do anything…”. Think about that, not to mention you and I have YouTube.  Your dedication to a focus, studying is right in your pad or phone, that we all walk around with clenched in our hands.  Yes, we walk around with the world in the palm of our hands. Take pleasure in all that information.  I think if you were to check your bookcase you would find more than one book on something you are interested in, meant to get to, perhaps have gone unread. Take these books out, put them where you will look at them, read them and see if this is so thing you wish to dive into. Get a notebook and begin to study, it will expand the horizon and you may find great pleasure in it.  Learning, studying and exploring these are sure simple pleasures for me.

Yoga Stretch – I have been doing a simple yoga stretch twice a day for about three years.  Once I learned it, it takes about 10-15 minutes tops.  I do it in the morning and in the evening.  I learned this yoga flow as part of a mindfulness training.  I was told it would balance my chi and that my energy would travel along my meridians clearly and cleanly. It is designed to energize you. I began to do it.  It is very easy to do, not threatening at all. Most everyone can do it, the entire flow happens while standing. There is no yoga bendy bunny required. It is simple and straightforward.  I had done it for five days and I remained skeptical.  It was designed to energize me, I hadn’t felt a thing but I did my morning flow the next day.  An hour or so later I did feel something, my body felt electric, with a pulsing in my torso and upper legs. It felt fantastic.  I have been doing it ever since.  I so it soon after I wake up and again as I move toward bedtime. I have shared this with everyone who is interested, the feedback is very positive.  This is a simple pleasure of mine, simple self-care, an honor to do, with great benefits.

Foot Care – Ah yes, the feet. My experiences this year have changed my foot care which previously had been a couple of pedicures a month and moisturizer.  I have been unable to have pedicures as I have surgical edema and I had a bout of cellulitis.  I am sure the salon I go to is clean, I have been going there for 16 years with no problems. I just can’t risk an infection at this time.  I have had to take care of my feet and I have gotten pretty good at it, they feel great.  Investing in a simple foot bath is a wonderful thing.  Mine has plenty of room for my feet, the bottom surface is covered with small ‘nobs’ for stimulation and an area to place your feet for heat.  There is also a vibrate setting which I enjoy. I begin my foot therapy by rolling my feet on a wooden foot roller which has raised ridges.  We store toxins in our feet and they become crystallized there. The foot roller breaks these up, you can feel and ‘hear’ this as you roll.  Foot rolling stimulates your Venus return – your blood returning to your heart and carrying those toxins to be cleansed. It is important to stimulate your Venus return and getting your blood back up to your heart.  I use warm-hot water the foot bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil.  It is very calming and soothing.  Once the water cools I dry my feet.  I am not polishing my toenails as I am perfectly awful at it.  I keep my toenails clean and cut fairly short.  I do a long thorough foot massage with plenty of moisturizer. I massage my feet and my calves in the direction of my heart, more circulation stimulation. Tending your feet is very relaxing, it will keep them soft and supple. Dry and cracked feet are unattractive but unhealthy as well. Your feet work very hard for you, they hold you up and get you around, show them some love and gratitude by keeping them well.  They will continue to work well.  Happy feet, happy person.  Your footwear will feel better too.  It is a great routine, twice a week works for me.  This is a simple pleasure, really worth the time investment. I am looking forward to having some color on my tootsies again, but my foot care routine will remain.

What are your simple pleasures.  Thinking on this will lift you up, and as you begin to incorporate these pleasures into your everyday routine you will certainly see and feel the benefits of your simple pleasures.

“Simple pleasures – all the pleasures I knew as a child” Willie Stargill

Always dazzle, Karen


Contentment – it really is close at hand………



“He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature” Socrates

Contentment, yeah a wonderful way to feel, contented. The word even sounds good, I tend to say it softly with reverence.  Last night after I did my yoga flow, I thought about today.  A day of rest. I get wrapped up in my practice in good way.  I feel the balance it provides me. I like when I feel like I am on track. I take pride in it. Life seems good. Some times my practice feels annoying,  I run negative tapes like, “why do I need to dedicate so much time to my practice?”.  The old poor me, “what’s wrong with me, is there so much wrong with me that I am straddled with dedicating so much time to working on things?” Wait a moment, let’s reframe that.  Try a different approach.  Where does content live?  What makes me feel contentment? This is the fork in the road I talk about, the choice we have.  We can decide to think of anything from a different angle.  I heard a great line in a movie we watched yesterday,  This is where I Leave You, think about this, “anything can happen all the time”. Love that!  Think about taking stock about what has been accomplished, what has been sorted out, along with just living through our days and finding the joy where it is, this is worth reflection.  What makes us feel contentment?  I am pretty sure it is right up there with gratitude, we have many sources of contentment, just as we discovered there are so many things we are grateful for, everything that brings us contentment are many more than we ever imagine.

I am going to free associate here, let my mind float and make a list of the things that give me a sense of contentment presently.  Remember just like your gratitude list, list the smallest and silliest things that contribute to your contentment, they all count. Close your eyes and begin, once you have a few, you will feel the flow……I am writing, John is here watching football, companionship, nice toasty fire, great holiday weekend, my good friends grandson is coming for a visit, soup month is here, spending time with a 7-year-old, taking one week off from therapy, good sales in my shop, my daughter is well, my daughter is in love with a good man, my muscles are stronger, I am able to make this list, Jamaica is on the radar, we have dear friends, my siblings are thriving, I sleep in a comfortable bed, I feel inspired, I have a new bracelet design, I work in my studio at home,  prayer comes easily to me, I am in the mood to do the work…….writing these here I clearly see how gratitude and contentment are the same thing, many things we are grateful for bring us a contented feeling. I drove in the driveway recently and noticed the kitchen light was on, it gets dark early now, I was grateful to see it.  That light meant John was home before me. I felt my body get warm, not because it is wonderful to be married to him, or that I love him, or that he is my lover, it was the “hi honey, I’m home”, and the gratitude I feel for his companionship, and this quite simply makes me feel very content.

Wow, this was interesting.  I have never specifically made a list of things that provide a sense of contentment. I can see and feel how much contentment and gratitude overlap. It makes sense, things we feel grateful for provide us with that sense of contentment. This focus – exercise is a great idea.  It opened me up to the reality that there are more things that make me feel content than I imagined. Try it, remind yourself what brings you contentment.  It is always good to remind ourselves what is positive and what works for us. It is a great approach.  I have discovered my contentment is everywhere.

I had an amazing visit with my dear friends grandson, Cody. She was off to see friends and hear some music. Cody would have my undivided attention., another way to put that, he would keep me completely entertained for the entire time I am with him. He did not disappoint.  He brought over so many goodies.  He gave me a deck of cards he got on his recent trip to Disney World, and mom brought me new pictures, great gifts! We have an ongoing card tournament, Fish, I have never been in the lead I am always catching up, and I am trying to win!  We built Mixels, they are Lego creations, we studied the Muppet Identification Book, he led me through the coffee table book, The History of Homer Simpson, we played United States Scramble, a fun learning game, we drew and colored, and it was all fun.  I adore the company of children.  They are a blessing.  I adore how clear he is, full of energy and excitement.  We have such a good time. I do not have any grandchildren.  He is all the evidence I need to see how fantastic it really is.  I also watched my friend bloom since the day he was born.  We had planned to make dinner together, but when it came time I was genuinely tired, we ordered pizza and later heard from mom that pizza is his dream dinner. I know he has fun too!  It is a very special relationship I have with Cody, and I treasure it. Talk about content, just spend some time engaging with a child, they will bless you and you will feel totally content. And like I heard from so many grandparents, “the grandchildren are wonderful, and then they go home”. I understand that so much more than I did before. I can be the heroine, I am not the mom. Now that’s a cat-bird seat, a fabulous place to land, feeling completely content and in the moment, only to feel a great sadness, because yes it is true, they do go home.  Yes, his Nana came to pick him up I could see he was onto the next part of his day, a place he adores, being with his Nana. The more you think about something you will think bout it more and more. Think about your contentment and where it dwells. Do this mindfully. Invite contentment in, welcome it. Offer this up to the universe.  See that contentment is all around you.  Relax, take a seat, sit down into your contented place. Know that your contentment is there for you.  Be mindful, life just got better…………..

“When you get to the fork in the road, take it” Yogi Berra

Always dazzle, Karen


-SOUP- sipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice……



 This post is dedicated to my daughter, Blake………..

January is upon us. I am thinking of the promises I have made to myself, I am working on them, keeping my promises to myself……What I am thinking about is soup. Soup, soup and more soup. Soup is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. It is my favorite thing to cook. It is my favorite thing to make for others. Soup recipes are my favorite ones to share. Teaching people to make soup is one of my favorite things to do. I have a connection to my daughter with soup.  She is making it professionally as I once did, I enjoy nothing more than hearing what kind of soup she is making and how she is making it. My hat is off to the chef! Soup, certainly one of life’s greatest meals. It is meant for sharing. It is meant to comfort, it is a culinary healer.  I see January as a vast sea of calm. It is a quiet month. It is the month I re-group.  It is the month I read new books.  I save books to begin reading in January.  The read always seem better in January.  It is the month I dream of spring. It is the month I make soup, a lot of soup. I collect recipes all year.  I make soup all year-long.  I discover new recipes and I set them aside for The January Soup Festival.  You know, there’s Woman’s History Month and Black History Month, well in our house, we have Soup Month.  I love to cook. I did it for a long time professionally, I worked as a chef. I am a good cook. I enjoy it, I am completely passionate about it.  My great cooking skills have enhanced my marriage.  I have a great guy to cook for.  He is grateful for my cooking, he loves my cooking. There is only one thing I have made for John that he did not care for, Cuban Pork Roast.  Let’s just say I have a captive audience.

Soup is my greatest culinary pleasure. If you make a great soup, chances are you are a great cook.  I have gotten my recipes out in preparation for Soup Month.  We will take down the Christmas tree and Soup Month will commence.  We look forward to it. I love the process, the recipes, the grocery lists, the marketing, making the stock, prepping the soup, making the soup, and drum roll, eating the soup.  Soup is mom and apple pie to me, it is comfort, it is home and it feeds my soul.

During my illustrious career as a cook, I was the head chef at a small eat-in, take-out shop in Vermont. I am very proud of my work there, I learned many of things there that fine turned my skills.  We procured delicious fresh raw ingredients to prepare amazing, delicious fresh food. We had a wonderful lunch crowd, a line out the door crowd. We were steadily busy usually for two hours. This is where my love affair with soup began, I had some incredible teachers.  We offered three soups each day. We had a chowder, a vegetarian soup and one other like Beef Barley. We sold 1/2 pints and pints. Our baker made delicious fresh rolls, sourdough, rye, and whole wheat. Folks ordered soup with a roll. We spilt the rolls and slathered them with butter. Off the folks would go, certain to be delighted.  We had big soup fan club, it was a delight to me. We had an open kitchen, long before it was hip. I could see the front door. I loved the open kitchen. I would spend the lunch rush out working the counter, I enjoyed the contact with the customers.  I took their words seriously.

One day a regular customer, a man, a quiet man, he came in alone, after the rush. He never said much. He always took his food to go. There was an old mill near-by that had been renovated in to artist studios.  I knew he was a sculptor, his studio was in that building. He came in every day during the week for lunch.  He always had a pint of soup and a roll.  This particular day, he gently waved me out front. I naturally assumed something was wrong.  I had no idea I was about to receive my favorite (to this day) compliment ever. I greeted him, his name was Bill. He said, “you can go anywhere in the world and all you would ever need to do is make soup”. Whoa! I thanked him profusely, and he was gone.  It was like a dream.  I have had the best visual fantasies about traveling the globe and making soup.  I have thought about different cultures and countries and the cuisines of those people and places.  I would travel place to place, making soup, and soup and more soup. It sounds like the perfect journey to me. I offer my thanks to Bill, this man, the soup loving sculptor for his compliment he uttered so long ago.

Each January when I launch soup month, it actually began early this year. We had ham for Christmas dinner. Timing is everything, I had the ham, split pea soup it was and it was Yumbo (delicious).  I will keep you in the loop as we move through the wonderful month of January.  I will let you know every time I make soup.  It’s Soup Month, we are off and ready to create.

What do you have planned to launch in the new year.  January – full of possibilities.  How will you use your talents in January?  How will you sashay into your new year? I always sashay in, as I always wrap up the year with a flourish, whether I am in my favorite flannel pajamas or a ball gown. It does not matter what you wear, what is key is that you show up.  A very wise woman told me a long time ago, “God doesn’t care what you wear to church, he only cares that you show up”.  I have believed it ever since across the board.  I believe that God cares that you show up in your life.  Show up in your life, see yourself in your life.  We can design the set, we can’t stop there, we must show up and “get on set”.  So all I have to say is, What is your “soup”?

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: Maurice Sendak – Chicken Soup with Rice





“God did not promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but he did promise the strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way” …..unknown

How do you celebrate your New Year? Do you have any traditions you hold true? Do you make resolutions? Do you make them religiously at the beginning of the New Year? I am always curious about this. We all know the story, we all know that resolutions ultimately fail.  We also know ourselves or others have experienced success making these resolutions. I think the outcome is connected to how we frame the resolutions. Are we reasonable when we make out our lists. Do we set ourselves up to win?  Perhaps your resolutions have failure painted all over them from the moment you make them. Do you set yourself up to fail? I think in the past, I have put too many resolutions down on the list, I overwhelmed myself with too many resolutions, I set myself up to fail.  Do not misunderstand, plain and simple, too many,  yet each one made the list with good intention. The idea of making the list and putting it down on paper is a good thing, it opens one up to the possibilities of those said resolutions.  Those resolutions were good thoughts, forces of growth, and the world of endless possibilities. Let’s be realistic about this.  We all have room for improvement, but does the resolution list have to be all about improvement and “fixing” things?  Perhaps we could frame our resolutions in a different way.  I will be making promises to myself. I know it is just a word, a word I like and feel more comfortable with. Promises vs. resolutions. I think I have a better shot at keeping promises to myself rather than succeeding at a resolution.  A new way to frame It differently, a way to garner a successful outcome.  The promises I am making to myself are an extension of the path that has manifested itself from my experiences over the past year. It is an ongoing process, the journey. I am nowhere near accomplishing what I have set out to do.  I will share them here with you as to inspire you to reexamine your resolutions/promises and how you will frame them to enable yourself for success.  Consider this long list of resolutions you are planning, are they a stretch?  Will they overwhelm you?  Are you setting yourself up to fail?  What would be the point?  I want to clarify here. I am not saying that your resolutions shouldn’t be a stretch, or that that feeling of being overwhelmed is a terrible thing, and certainly I am not saying that you would intentionally set yourself up to fail.  I believe that anything worth accomplishing is worth working very hard to achieve.  What I am asking you to do is to carefully decide on what you put on your resolution list, how important it is to you, and are you willing to do the work required to succeed?  I believe how we frame the process is the start of a wonderful new adventure, Another piece of the puzzle, a continuation of the journey you are already on.  Please examine where you are, where you think you are going, and what you need to get there.  We travel down the paths of our journeys we are building our lives, learning and enriching ourselves with new ways and rhythms to our music.  The point is setting ourselves up to accomplish our resolutions. This is why deciding on what our resolutions are is critical to the process.  Firstly we will have to decide that we will take the process seriously and make the necessary  commitment to your resolutions or plan on adhering to the promises we make to ourselves.  This is a question that begs an answer.  Anything can be accomplished if the commitment is there. We must commit to our success, not just make a list of what we would like to accomplish. Decide on what I it is that you want for yourself.  What is important for you to be working on.  I think a short list of resolutions is what works, whittling down your list down to the essential things you desire to accomplish may spell success.

Here is my essential list of promises I am making to myself:

1.) Work on my practice. What I eat, how I move, what I drink, how I rest and what I think.

2.) Meditate more effectively. Make time to sit and breathe at the same time each day.

3.) Focus on building my business. Set aside a set time each day to grow my business.

See what I mean? Three small promises, they are huge. They are all things I am currently engaged with. My desire is to make the time and the room to grow and improve.  Try it – set yourself up to win. Make your resolutions, or your promises to yourself.  Get up in your new year and begin, each and every day. Your commitment as you move forward into your new year will energize you as you peruse what is important and precious to you.

Oh, one more thing: Love Yourself. No one lifts you up better than you. Loving yourself simply make your life better, it fosters all positive things. It makes you easy to love. It says I am worth it. It says I consider myself as valuable.  The very best part of loving yourself, once you hold that as a truth is is absolutely impossible to hate yourself.  Loving myself has fostered growth.  I love my life and the people in it more fully and completely. Loving myself is a blessing. Loving myself makes the path (journey) less of a struggle, and more like a joy.  It puts me in a wonderful place to to keep my promises to myself. Living in my own skin is pleasurable.  It fits! Be sure to take a peek in the mirror and tell yourself how grateful you are for just who you are. Now for those resolutions/promises………….

“Resolve to never criticize or downgrade yourself, but instead rejoice that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Elizabeth George

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: