“We all know that you can’t go wrong with the original Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe, right? I’m always tempted to switch out the semi sweet morsels for milk chocolate morsels but it never tastes the same. The reason semi sweet chocolate morsels are a better versatile chocolate to use are because they have a good balance of chocolate and sweetness while milk chocolate can be too sweet and dark chocolate can be overwhelming. Hence, the name semi sweet.”

-Whitney Saller-Prieto, Former Director of Operations, Burger 21, Orlando and Viera, FL

While eating oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that my husband and daughter made last evening, I couldn’t help but remember the quote above by the late, beautiful Whitney Saller-Prieto and how it applies to our life right now. We may have milk chocolate kind of days, sweet days with being home together with all those blessings, or we may have semi-sweet chocolate kind of days where we feel fortunate that we don’t have the virus but long to get society back rolling the way it was before the pandemic. We are tempted to metaphorically switch the semi-sweet chocolate of our lives for the milk chocolate time and time again in our day-to-day lives. However, enjoying the moments we have together, playing games as a family, spending time on a project or two, experimenting with a new home-made ice cream recipe (or THREE) are all moments I will treasure long after this pandemic lifts. THAT is the semi-sweet chocolate which is the balance of good, the times together with the memories we’ve created and bad, or the effects that the pandemic has created in our world right now. The beauty, then, is truly in the semi-sweet chocolate morsel after all. I have come to that realization time and time again. It’s not what happens in any given situation, it is truly our perspective. This last month has truly been a gift in very many ways, despite the bad situation we’re all in right now. Yet, the day before yesterday, I used the wrong type of chocolate in my chocolate chip ice cream, as it was the only chocolate chips I had in the house at the time. Such is life.

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

-Forrest Gump

I would suggest that maybe life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re going to get, but you do get to choose which chocolate you want to try. You get to spit it out, half-eaten, and try another. You get to close the box when you don’t want to try a piece, or you get to eat the whole box of chocolates. You get to share the chocolates or eat them all by yourself. You get to take the pieces of chocolate out of the box to display them on a pretty dish before eating them, or you get to eat them straight out of the box. You can eat them all at once over a few days or you get to freeze them for later. You get to experience all the different fillings, from creams to caramels, from crunchy fillings to nutty fillings, if you want as well. Or, you can eat only the cream chocolates, the caramels, or the nut-filled chocolates, too.

Life is about choices and finding the right application for the the milk chocolate or the semi-sweet. Life is about knowing when to use the right chocolate. Some days will bring about the bitter chocolate, or unsweetened chocolate, but other days it all comes together with that perfect chocolate chip cookie, made with the perfect chocolate chosen for the recipe, baked with a little bit of love, and shared with laughter with those you love. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends……………..



Aerogarden two weeks or so ago with romaine lettuce

There is something about starting a plant from a seed and watching it grow. The daily anticipation of wondering if the seed has germinated. Then the daily anticipation of wondering if the first leaf unfolds. Then the daily anticipation of wondering if the the first “true” leaves unfold.

While maintaining self-isolation, we decided to get back to our “roots” as gardeners, a hobby we have not tended to in quite some years. Growing up in the northeast, gardening was so much easier than here in Florida. There was the watchful waiting of looking for the very first crocus to bloom as a harbinger of spring. There is something magical about watching a flowering plant wake up, unfolding it’s bloom among snow on the ground.

When we moved to Florida several years back, it amazed me that the plants we grown indoors in pots were the landscape plants outside my house. Something wasn’t quite right about that, but something wasn’t quite right about gardening and putting my hands in soil while risking surprising a poisonous snake at the other end of my trowel.

I had given up gardening in the fourteen years I’ve been living in Florida, but when we recently started self-isolation and social distancing from the Covid-19 pandemic, we decided it would give us something to look forward to if we started a plant from seeds. Watching and waiting for the seed to germinate somehow soothes my soul. Surrounding myself with something growing while being stuck inside was just what I needed.

Would I grow a green plant or a flowering plant? Would I grow edible flowers? Would I grown some vegetable to sustain me in case the food supply chain became scarce. I sent away for seeds for my Aerogarden with excitement. I had decided upon romaine lettuce seed pods, knowing how delicious freshly harvested lettuce is. It is too hot this time of year to grow lettuce outside here in Florida, as it is a cold weather crop.

Two weeks ago, I set up my Aerogarden indoors and inserted the seed pods into the hydroponic growing machine along with the nutrients and water that they plant needs. It always amazes me when I see plants growing without soil and reminds me that we all can “bloom where we are planted” and can thrive with less than we THINK we need.

Each day, I look forward to checking on the status of my new plants and today I tried my first piece of lettuce from one of the plants. It was the freshest tasting lettuce I had ever eaten. Romaine lettuce from the market doesn’t really seem to have much of a flavor, but these dark lettuce leaves from my Aerogarden are tender and delicious.

Aerogarden today with bigger romaine lettuce plants

The need to grow something hit me all over again. Before the stay at home orders and shortly after planting my Aerogarden pods, I went to the garden center to purchase some herbs to grow in pots on my patio so I could be less likely to inadvertently bump into a not so friendly slithering friend. Walking by and touching the leaves of aromatic plants gives me joy. Maybe even bliss. It provides me with that in-the-moment magic that I adore. There is something about using my five senses when I am around plants that gives me that same feeling as when I see a flock of birds above my head while they change direction yet still maintain formation. There is beauty all around us that captivates my eyes and soul.

It is so easy to stop doing something you live for the time being for whatever reason. There are a million reasons why we USED to love something that we no longer do. The pandemic has given us the luxury of a little more time in our homes. Why not take up a hobby you used to love all over again to find some joy.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow…..”

-Audrey Hepburn

Find a way to believe in tomorrow, for it will be here sooner than you know. Life is good; carpe diem, friends……….


“Home of the Brave”

While we are at war with Corona, we stand united knowing that we will eventually win the war together. There are so many beautiful things happening right around us at the same time this virus takes its toll on our health, our family, our homes, our communities, our nations, and our world. But there is a glimmer of light, a bright spot on a dark dark day…..

Oh say can you see….how our community comes together to help those who need help?

Oh say can you see………how wonderful it is to have extra time with our families while self-isolating?

Oh say can you see…..how we have learned we really can do with less stuff?

Oh say can you see…..how we now have more time to tackle those projects we put off like refinishing some furniture?

Using Annie Sloane Chalk paint by mail order from “Purple Painted Lady” in NY to go from “drab” to fab” in the garage

Oh say can you see……how most of the time we really have all that we need in our homes already?

Oh say can you see…….how spending time with a good old fashioned board game with those we love really beats the computer any day?

“Teen Traveler”, my daughter, pulled this game off her shelf. We bought it last year not having a clue how ironic with would be to play THIS year.

Oh say can you see…..how resourceful we can be when we really put our minds to it?

Oh say can you see…..how much better dinner time is with a home-cooked meal shared with those you love at the dinner table at the same time?

Oh say can you see……how exciting the thrill of a scavenger hunt to find toilet paper at the store is when shared with your child?

Oh say can you see……..how you can calm your child’s fears if you model calm behavior yourself?

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?…..”

-“The Star Spangled Banner”, The United States of America National Anthem, by Francis Scott Key

Life is good; find the bright spot in the dark day today………

So…….oh say what can you YOU see?