Not A Pink Girl

Letter to my niece on her confirmation (stay with me on this)

January 3, 2014

“When you send forth your spirit, you renew the face of the earth.” Psalm 104:30

Dear Katie,

Happy Confirmation! This will be a time you will always remember as a turning point in your life. You may not realize it now (it may take some years of life experience for it to sink in).

There are so many artificial milestones in the life of a teenager. When you turn 13, yippee! No more single digits! But really, what does that mean to your life? Basically that your parents will now be charged the adult ticket price when they take you to the movies, you can’t legally order off the kids’ menu at restaurants, & that now you’re supposed to be able to smile knowingly at all the off-color jokes in a PG-13 movie.

How about when you turn 16? You’ve probably been driving with your mom or dad in the passenger seat for about six months. You have this dreamy idea in your head that when you get your driver’s license that suddenly your life will be transformed.


Okay, turning 18 is a bit more real. You are considered to be an adult, overnight. You can vote (hopefully you’ll be a lifelong Democrat). You graduate from high school & go to college (none of this taking a year off to Find Yourself; if you ever want to find yourself, just ask me; I’ll show you where you are). You can have a job (but if you’re like me, you would have had some moneymaking racket going on since you were in sixth grade).

But when you get confirmed, suddenly you have all the tools you need to live a good life. This doesn’t happen overnight. For months, you’ve been studying & memorizing for your confirmation day. You’d think that when the Bishop lays hands on you it would be like an exclamation point at the end of a L-O-N-G sentence.

But here’s the important part: in that moment in the church when it’s your turn to step up to the altar in front of the Bishop, the Holy Spirit enters your soul. How lucky & blessed you’ll be at that moment! That’s what’s real. That’s what matters. The gift God bestows on you at that moment can never be taken away from you.


You’ll be able to use that gift of the Holy Spirit as a “toolbox” for how to live a good life, but more important, you’ll use the gift of the Holy Spirit to help others live a good life, which is the whole reason Jesus came to earth in the first place: to teach us, through His example, to love one another as we love ourselves, & as God loves us.

You’ll learn to recognize when someone is filled with the Holy Spirit, whether it’s a priest, a friend, or a cashier at the grocery store. You’ll also know when the Holy Spirit is actively working through you.


With me, my guardian angel taps me on the shoulder or gives me goosebumps or tingles up & down my spine. She’s saying, “Yes! It’s true!”

Trust your feelings, Katie. If you learn to do this when you’re young, you’ll have a much longer, happier life. Don’t let anyone tell you that your feelings (dreams, hopes, fears) are not valid. If you’re feeling it, it’s real.

Don’t waste time doing things you’re not comfortable with for someone who doesn’t truly matter in your life. If you find yourself constantly struggling outside your comfort zone to impress a “friend” or to attract or keep a certain guy, then you must heed this as a signal that the person is not right for you. This will make more sense to you when it happens.

You are a beautiful, funny, caring, special girl. You need to look in the mirror every morning, Katie, & tell yourself that! You can say, “Girlfriend, you got it goin’ ON!” Because, Katie, YOU DO. Don’t ever make a project of making less of yourself for someone who just doesn’t matter.


I’m including the words to a song by Erykah Badu that just about says it all.

I love you! How blessed you are, Katie! Use your toolbox (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord) well & often! Most important, SHARE YOUR TOOLS!

Love, Aunt Kathie



Written by Erykah Badu

from her first album,


“See, I pick my friends the way I pick my fruit

My auntie taught me that when I was only a youth

I don’t walk around trying to be what I’m not

I don’t waste my time trying to get what you got

I work at pleasing me because I can’t please you

And that’s why I do what I do

My soul flies free like a willow tree…

And if you don’t want to be down with me

Then you don’t want to be from my apple tree

I have a hoe, and I take it everywhere I go

‘Cause I’m planting seeds so I reap what I sow

I can’t control the soul flowing in me.”

Thinking about eating healthier? This sounds great to me!

January 30, 2011
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It’s a Groupon for 3 meals & 2 snacks delivered by The Fresh Diet for only $29. This includes discounts on future purchases. Not bad! Great for busy moms & single ladies who find themselves going through the drive-through to get dinner. I love Groupons too. They always offer a true bargain.

MAD MEN Season 4 Pitches: Most Wouldn’t Cut It on Madison Avenue

January 13, 2011
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The American Cancer Society pitch was fundamentally flawed. Teenagers are NOT afraid of death. That’s why the tobacco companies want them to get started smoking as young teenagers. They think death is what happens to old people, not them. Also, they’re not sentimental; they want to be in with the “in” crowd & part of the latest fads & trends. Terrible pitch.

The Vicks cough drop in church certainly would have been offensive to Catholics, who are not allowed to eat or drink anything but water 1 hour before receiving communion.

The Jantzen pitch made no sense. “So well-built, we can’t show you the second floor.” Is the “second floor” the woman’s breasts? So you can show us the first floor? Is the first floor her derriere & privates? Makes no sense. Terrible pitch.

Sugarberry Ham was fabulous. Housewives would always remember that commercial with the housewives duking it out over a ham, of all things. Housewives abhor the grocery store, & believe me, they’re in the mood for a fight while they’re there. They’d rather be ANYWHERE else. Those Sugarberry hams would be flying off the shelves.

Fillmore Auto Parts was great because men define themselves by how handyman-ly they are, whether they’re work on Wall Street or Main Street. White- & blue-collar men would be drawn to Fillmore because of this ad.

Topaz pantyhose was good too, because it appealed to women of all classes. Women who were scraping by would like the “only pair you’ll ever need” & figure that meant they wouldn’t have to spend as much money on hose because they got a run. Richer women would like the name Topaz & the fact that it was a “singular” brand (not like all the other, run-of-the-mill cheaper brands).

Kathie’s Kassoulet (with apologies to Julia Child)

December 16, 2010
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As a child, I was mesmerized by watching Julia Child make a true cassoulet. I decided (many years later) to make a much simpler one, & you can change the ingredients to suit your & your family’s tastes.

Sear about 4 bone-in Australian lamb chops in olive oil after dredging in mixture of flour, salt & pepper (go easy on the salt if you’re adding higher-sodium au jus or broth later), marjoram, winter savory & crushed rosemary (no regular rosemary for me; too much like little sticks).

Gather 1 plastic container of baby redskin *sniff* potatoes; 1/2 a bag of fresh green beans; a bag of baby carrots (REAL ones, not just big ol’ sinewy ones cut really small); a red onion, sliced; a bulb of garlic, each clove crushed (yeah I said it); a bay leaf & 2 cardamom pods left whole.

Spray the inside of a lidded iron French oven with Pam. Throw in baby carrots, cardamom (one pod on one side, the other on the other side), bay leaf (stuck in the middle), half the onions, & garlic. Put the lamb chops on top. Then add the rest of the onions, the green beans, & the potatoes (whole).

Now pour 2 jars of GOOD au jus on top of everything. You can also use a jar of high-quality demi-glace & a box of good beef, veal or vegetable broth (you might want to mix them with a whisk in a large measuring cup & then pour them over). You can also buy some good portobello mushrooms (rinse them well) & put them in (my fellas don’t like mushrooms). A splash of red wine wouldn’t hurt (we’re teetotalers).

Put the lid on & pop into a 300-degree oven for as long as you want. Can be reheated the next day on 225 for as long as you want.

You can increase the number of chops (don’t be like Mary Richards & not have enough when Sue Ann stops by unexpectedly) & use more or less green beans & carrots. As long as the lid goes on tightly, you’re golden.

The whole flippin’ house is gonna smell heavenly. And your family will suddenly notice you after years of benign neglect.

The Sword of Avalon by Diana L. Paxson

September 10, 2010
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Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword of Avalon (Library Edition)Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword of Avalon by Diana L. Paxson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love the book Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Diana L. Paxson took up the baton when MZB died. I’ve enjoyed her prequels. This one was good. I get the allegory of sword into fire is like a man & woman gettin’ bizzay, but a little of that goes a VERY long way. ;D I do want to reread Mists though!

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Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs

August 9, 2010
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Death by Darjeeling (A Tea Shop Mystery, #1)Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh dear, where do I start? This was a selection for our Goodreads “cozy mysteries” book club (our July author was Laura Childs). I wanted to like it. I love tea & love the idea of the owner of a teashop as the protagonist for a mystery series.

Childs has an issue with writing in complete sentences. Also, she has an odd way of changing well-known phrases into you-almost-got-it-right word groups. For example, instead of saying “dribs & drabs,” she uses “drips & drops.” Instead of “slapdash” she says “slap-dab.”

I got to the point where I was convinced she just needed a decent editor. She wrote, “Rounded cobblestones poked at the soft leather soles of her Todd loafers…” She meant Tod’s loafers. She uses “noodled” instead of “doodled.”

Referring to the classic Parker Brothers board game Clue, a character says, “Mr. Mustard in the library, so to speak.” No, it’s Colonel Mustard. Little things like this are so easy to research (for the author) & should be double-checked or corrected (by the editor).

One loose end that wasn’t properly tied up was the character who had a romantic interest in Theodosia. He just rather faded away, instead of there being a substantive exchange between the characters to provide closure for the reader.

Some things I enjoyed were the descriptions of exotic kinds of tea, & the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina (where the story takes place). I like the idea of an ensemble of characters who work in the tea shop & share a sense of ownership & camaraderie.

This is the first book in the Theodosia Browning Tea Shop Mystery series. I also bought the first in the Scrapbooking Mystery series, Keepsake Crimes (which I haven’t read). Both books are going to Goodwill.

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The New Year’s Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

June 23, 2010
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The New Year's Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts, #11) The New Year’s Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love this series! I’m a quilter & quilt restorer so I really relate to the moments when Ms. Chiaverini’s characters are searching through their stashes or lingering over the fine stitches in an heirloom quilt. The narrator of this CD, Christina Moore, makes the experience of reading Ms. Chiaverini’s books all the more sublime.

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The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart

June 23, 2010
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Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Epic trilogy about the Arthur legend from the point of view of Merlin. Engrossing story & characters. I adore Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, so on the recommendation of a good friend I read Mary Stewart’s take. My eyes glazed over during the in-depth & complex descriptions of the various battles. Wished there was more magical passages too. I liked that Stewart didn’t succumb to pressure from previous Arthurian accounts, & that she wrote her own story with its own outcome.

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Can’t Wait to Travel to Europe (someday)!

June 16, 2010
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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

June 16, 2010
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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Reminds me of the 1957 book by Vance Packard, The Hidden Persuaders, & The Status Seekers, also by Packard. I found Tipping to be fascinating & memorable. BTW I’m a maven, connector, & salesman, but I’m not an innovator. Too much of a nervous Nellie… ;D

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