Making A Difference During Uncertain Times

Making A Difference During Uncertain Times

Making a difference during uncertain times is a stress reliever. In our hearts, we all want to make a difference. It’s in our DNA. During the coronavirus pandemic, we can make a difference.

One of the best ways is by supporting local, family-owned businesses. Simple, easy and the BEST way to give back and make a difference. It is critical for the economic vitality of local businesses as well as our communities.

No doubt there is fear and concern surrounding this outbreak. However, in the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Let’s think long term for a moment. Once the coronavirus pandemic is behind us, how will our communities and local businesses look? Will our favorite mom and pop stores still be around for customers?

Making a difference together. During the coronavirus pandemic, we are fighting for the safety and health of every person. We are staying home, events have been cancelled, our world has been turned upside down. With these losses, how are we feeling?

During a recent podcast with Brene Brown, David Kessler, said “It’s good to name the emotion. It is grief.” He advises to find meaningful moments during our days.  Very wise advice. While we are searching for ways to do this, one choice is by shopping at local, family-owned businesses(mostly grocery stores, hardware stores, nurseries and restaurant take-outs that remain open). By making this choice, in our hearts, we know we that are making a difference.

Making a difference with fundraising:

Remember the last time you attended a fundraiser . . . who were the business that underwrote the event? Most likely, they were family-owned, local businesses because they can be counted on every time. It’s so easy to walk into a family-owned business and ask for a donation. They continually give back to local communities.

Now is the time to pay it back by supporting local, family-owned businesses with your shopping dollars. Every single shopping dollar is critical. Together, we can make a difference!

Are the savings truly worth it?

In many ways, we have been led to believe that shopping at the big box stores, (not named because everyone knows who they are) are the answer. In good times perhaps they are helpful. During our current economic situation, perhaps there is a better way . . .

Making a difference during uncertain times:

  1. Shopping locally
  2. Cooking more frugally
  3. Finding peace
  4. Loving our family and friends

Together, we can make a difference during these uncertain times!

The Spirit Of Texas Pervades H-E-B

The Spirit Of Texas Pervades H-E-B

The spirit of Texas pervades H-E-B. Since its founding in 1905, H-E-B has grown from a store to so much more.

We are grateful for the spirit of Texas that seems to pervade every H-E-B store. It starts with the employees, these quiet heroes . . . they are cheerful, dedicated employees of H-E-B. During the coronavirus pandemic, an employee greets every customer with a smile and a hand/shopping cart sanitizer, throughout the store many employees help customers find special ingredients and offer a helping hand, during the checkout process, an employee quickly scans and bags groceries . . . the entire process is swift and efficient. Even more, it is a positive, good-for-the-soul experience. With the current quarantine restrictions, grocery shopping is often the only time for us to see other people – while minding our social distancing etiquette.

In addition to the great customer service, H-E-B’s shelves are filled with top quality products at affordable prices. The produce, meat, seafood, wine, bakery, and deli departments are loaded with special, high-quality, and tasty ingredients. There is something at H-E-B for every one!

In January, while most of us(I can speak for myself here) were in denial, H-E-B was busy making plans in order to serve their customers. Thanks again.

It’s a good feeling, knowing how the spirit of Texas pervades H-E-B.

The spirit of Texas at H-E-B serves communities:

Paula Lambert, founder and owner of the Mozzarella Company sells her delicious line of cheese to H-E-B. She is the lady on the left side of the photo. Valerie Jarvie, the very talented freelance writer of food, lifestyle, real estate and travel is the lady on the right side of the photo. I admire both of these lady’s beautiful spirits and their profound use of talents.

The spirit of Texas pervades H-E-B!

If You Have A Garden And A Library

If You Have A Garden And A Library

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” -Cicero

This is just as relevant today as it was back in the days of the Roman Empire. During our quarantine, gardening is a wonderful new hobby to enjoy! It’s ideal for an individual or a family.

Yesterday’s New York Times ‘Sunday Styles’ section included an article about gardening. Apparently, there is a big increase in people wanting to start their own food.

Growing up in Louisiana, I enjoyed gardening with my father, Boots Apple. We had a simple, small garden. Mostly, we planted radishes, corn, and lettuces.

In 2001, the year that my fourth son, Ben was born, my father introduced the Earth Box gardening system to me. As a proficient gardener for years, he appreciated the design and efficiency of them. For years, I continued his Earth Box gardening system. In fact, I still have those original Earth Boxes that I purchased in 2001. They have withstood the test of time! They are in perfect condition(no cracks or chips). Other companies have copied the original Earth Box gardening system and they look very similar. However, I cannot vouch for the durability of these products.

When we moved into our new house in 2008, three raised garden beds fitted with irrigation systems were in the backyard. I was delighted and couldn’t wait to plant a garden. I have had some luck with gardening . . . mostly with Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, lemon balm, basil, mint, thyme, and a variety of herbs. However, the Earth Box gardening system consistently outperformed the larger raised garden beds!

Three advantages of Earth Box gardening system:

  1. Better yield of vegetables and herbs.
  2. Efficient use of water(water reserve in the bottom of the container).
  3. They don’t take up as much space. They are perfect for an apartment terrace, patio or porch.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” – Cicero

Practicing Gratitude

Practicing Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is powerful!

On a cold November morning, my alarm goes off at 5:00am, I’m tempted to roll over and go back to sleep. Something tells me to get out of bed.

By 6:25am, I find myself at St Rita’s for daily morning mass. I arrive just in time for Fr. Joshua’s homily.

He shares about his days of seminary. He admits, “It was hard.” One day, he thought “You moron, you should be grateful.”

Look at all of your blessings. Fr. Joshua says, “We shouldn’t be fools.” He continues, “We should have gratitude.”

Back at home, I’m sitting in my office, writing a Gingerbread House blog post. Decorating gingerbread houses is one of my favorite holiday traditions. Writing a blog post about it is hard. It’s boring. I would much rather be sewing a dress or baking a cake. My thoughts drift back to Fr. Joshua’s homily, I focus on gratitude.

I’m checking all of the blog boxes – key phrases, alt tags, pixel size, eternal links, internal links, etc. the list is long. Suddenly, I notice a GREEN LIGHT by the SEO box. I have been blogging for ten years. This is the first time to get a SEO green light.  I am so excited! I sense a connection between gratitude and this first-time accomplishment.

Practicing gratitude is powerful!







Decorating With Lollipop Ponds

Decorating With Lollipop Ponds

Decorating with Lollipop Ponds will add color and a pop to your gingerbread houses. Your friends will LOVE them. Most likely, they will think that you worked for hours making them.

Just in case you are short on time, no worries. Decorating with Lollipop Ponds is a snap! The Lollipop Ponds may be made ahead too.


Check out my easy recipe for Decorating with Lollipop Ponds!

Lollipop Ponds

Easy to make and impressive decorations for your gingerbread houses!


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup Karo® syrup
  • 1-2 drops Wilton® blue food color


  1. Place a Silpat® on a cookie sheet; set aside.

  2. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan placed over medium-high heat, add the sugar, water, and Karo® syrup; cook until sugar dissolves without stirring.

  3. Cook the sugar mixture until it reaches 300º.

  4. Remove from heat; add the blue food color and swirl. It's okay to have a variation in blue color.

  5. Pour the sugar mixture on the Silpat® forming irregular pond shapes.

  6. Be careful: the sugar mixture is very HOT!

  7. Set aside; cool.


Decorating Gingerbread Houses

Decorating Gingerbread Houses

Decorating Gingerbread Houses is a special way to unite our communities – neighborhoods, offices, families, moms, hospital patients unable to home for the holidays, and so many more. Planning and spending a little bit of time each day is the secret to hosting a memorable gingerbread house party. For years to come the friendships and memories will be cherished!

This is the first of a series – a guide to planning and hosting the most spectacular holiday party of the year!

For over 25 years, I have been decorating gingerbread houses. I am happy to share my tips with you. If this is something new for you, then you will love the new holiday tradition. However, if this is one of your favorite traditions, I have some new ideas for you!

Decorating Gingerbread Houses is something for all ages, 2 – 99. It’s creative and brings out the child in everyone. It’s happy chaos!

I have the honor of speaking at the Junior Charity League – JCL – meeting. They are celebrating their 60th anniversary with a “Celebration” theme. How perfect! Gingerbread House Celebrations is my topic! With the holidays just around the corner, everyone is ready to celebrate with family and friends!

National Gingerbread House Day is on December 12th. I hope that you celebrate it!