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Happy Valentine’s Day, dear reader! In my neck of the woods, it is frigid and weather conditions are expected to get worse by Monday. Thankfully, my hubby and I are on vacation all this week. We have no aspirations to be out and about today. Instead, we plan to stay at home relaxing and enjoying a warm, crackling fire. I believe my sweetheart also mentioned cooking a pot of gumbo. YUM! We will celebrate Valentine’s Day by simply spending some quality time (a precious commodity) together.

While romantic love gets all the hype on Valentine’s Day, there are different forms of love that are expressed every day. Love is a powerful feeling and most often extends to those closest to us. Most of the time, showing love to the special people or even the fur babies in our lives is easy. We share a deep and significant connection to our loved ones. Still, there seems to be a need for more love for humanity in general. This type of love may be harder to express for some because it requires empathy for everyone and anyone in any situation. In addition, it is given without the expectation of anything in return. A great way to share this love with others is through random acts of kindness and being aware of our own actions towards our fellow human beings. Therefore, today and every day, spread more love and compassion into the world.

Love and hugs to you, dear reader. I am grateful for YOU. Have a splendid, heart-shaped day spending time with someone you love or spending time doing something you love. Happiness!

“We’re all a little weird, and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Hot Chocolate Bombs: a Valentine’s Day gift from my friend Helen

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Kat & Michelle 2Over twenty years have passed since the blossoming of my friendship with Michelle. Our friendship took root while working together at WYES-TV in New Orleans. I was a guest at her wedding and an attendee at her baby shower (and she attended my shower when expecting Andrew). We have remained steadfast friends despite living an hour away from one another. I love her adventurous spirit and the willingness to try new things, especially food. After all, she is the one who introduced me to Vietnamese food. We both like cats, reading, chatting, writing, and putting puzzles together. She also likes plants which is something else we have in common, except she has a better green thumb than I have even though she claims to garden by neglect.

Tall Love Leaf PlantBack in February when I visited Michelle, I noticed a few of her plants on her front porch while waiting for her to answer the door. They were unique looking (one looked liked a plant you would see in a Dr. Seuss story), and I had never noticed them before, so I asked her about them. She told me they were “Love Leaf” plants (Kalanchoe plant, indigenous to the West Indies) and that they grow from the leaf of the plant. She explained that when leaves fall off and are carried off by the wind, depending on where they land, they can grow into a new plant. A leaf had been blown into her fountain and roots had sprouted. I was fascinated since I had never heard of anything so amazing and asked where she found this plant. As you may expect, the story of how she obtained her “love leaf” plant is stemmed from LOVE.

Panama RickyMichelle explained that she discovered this plant 28 years ago while honeymooning with her sweetheart Richard. They went on a cruise and bought the leaf on one of the islands (Grand Cayman, Domenica, St. Martin, or St. Thomas). It traveled all the way back to the Louisiana encased in a sealed cellophane bag (plants can only be brought back to the United States if commercially processed). Love Leaf with BloomsWhen Michelle returned, she carved her sweetheart’s initials in the leaf and planted it (see picture at the bottom of post with “The Lore of the Leaf”).  She currently has 10-15 plants, not counting the “volunteers” that have sprouted up after landing in a spot they can take root. All of her plants have originated from the original leaf although the original plant is no longer alive. The plant does eventually grow bell-shaped flowers that will get a tinge of pink when they mature.

Michelle & Richard

Esneault FamilyMichelle and Richard celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary this month. They met their sophomore year of high school at a Brother Martin Drama Club meeting. Michelle attended Mount Carmel (all girls) and Richard attended Brother Martin (all boys). After a year of just being friends, they started dating and the rest is history. They are happily married with a brilliant and beautiful daughter who has recently graduated from high school. Their love for each other continues to grow like the “love leaf” plants.

Kat's Love Leaf

Kat’s Love Leaf Plants

Since Michelle planted that first leaf, she has shared the love by giving away many leaves and plants over the years. On that visit back in February, she gifted me with a couple of love leaves which I brought home, and my hubby planted them for me. My plants are growing terrifically. Each day, when I see my “love leaf” plants, they make me smile, and I think of Michelle. It is definitely a daily happiness boost.

Michelle's Love LeafGrowing this delightful plant is quite effortless. It can be grown inside or outside. You simply place the leaf on some soil and give it water and sunlight. My two plants are kept on the front porch. Occasionally when I’m expecting rain, I will put my pots out on the bricks of my flowerbed and they get watered naturally. If they are kept outside, Michelle recommends covering them in extremely cold weather, so they do not freeze and die. Additionally, when it freezes, she picks a few leaves to bring inside in case the sheets she puts over her plants do not protect them enough.

What a flowery expression of love that can flourish over a lifetime! I think we can all use more love in our lives, dear reader. My plan is to share more love, whether by sending a card, chatting on the phone, expressing it verbally or physically (hugs and kisses), or giving a love leaf. There are so many ways to express love towards your sweetheart, children, family members, friends, or fellow human beings in general. What are ways you express love? I’d love for you to share your expressions of love. Happiness!

 

“Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity.” ~ C.S. Lewis

 

Love Leaf Lore

 

Note: Many thanks to Michelle for sharing photos with me for this post of her plants and of herself with Richard and her daughter Kaitlyn.

 

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Sophie Kisses

Sophie Kisses

Despite the sorrow that is lingering over me like gossamer since last Tuesday evening when my family and I said our final good-bye to Sonic, our beloved male German Shepherd, I am finding moments of joy. While I have temporarily abandoned healthy eating habits and have actively avoided the scale during the quarantine, I have maintained my walking streak. Walking has helped me stay sane, catch up on Levar Burton Reads, and develop a tan. Along with the tan, I also have very distinct tan lines. I look like I am still wearing my socks when bare-footed and that makes me smile.

Purple RainVisiting friends also makes me smile. I had seen a recipe on Facebook during the week for an adult beverage called Purple Rain and tagged my BFF Shelly. We live down the street from each other, but we have not seen each other in weeks. She texted me Saturday morning and invited my hubby and me over for Purple Rains while practicing proper social distancing protocol. Barry, Andrew, and I drove over to her house after dinner and had a delightful time with her family. And, the Purple Rain concoction was rather tasty thanks to her hubby’s bartending skills. I consumed two.

Andrew and JadeAndrew and I decided to adopt a Senior from St. Thomas Aquinas High School. We chose Jade, who happens to be Andrew’s friend, former art classmate, and fellow traveler to Ireland. I was extremely excited to gather items she enjoys to make a basket for her. On Sunday, Andrew and I set out on quite an adventure to drop off her basket of goodies. A twenty-five minute drive turned into an hour when my car’s GPS took us down a long winding gravel road with nothing but wooded areas on either side of the road. Needless to say, when the kind lady on the GPS informed us that we had reached our destination on the left and there were woods and no house, we knew we were lost. After going down another wrong road, meeting a very loud dog (that would not move, so I had to drive back down the road backwards before finding a safe place to turn around) and its deaf owner, and a brief phone conversation with Jade’s father, we finally made it to her home and delivered her gift. Andrew caught up with Jade while I visited with her parents. Thankfully, we made it home without any other detours. Seeing the smile on Jade’s face and her appreciation was a huge happiness boost for me.

Peace CardYesterday, I received a card in the mail from a friend who I love dearly, but I have not seen in person in many years. Helen and I have been friends since high school. She now lives in Colorado; thankfully, we keep up with each other through Facebook. It was a pleasant and joyful surprise to receive her card full of peace and love. The message on the front of the card and her personal message to me inside the card were a perfect way to set the tone for this week. And, when this COVID-19 pandemic decides to subside, and we can safely travel, I want to start making plans to visit Helen. It has been too long since I’ve seen her in person.

I was hoping the “stay at home” order would be lifted this Friday. Unfortunately, the order has been extended until May 15th; however, restrictions on certain activities appear more relaxed than when the order was originally implemented. It is confusing to me, dear reader, so I will continue doing what I’ve been doing the last five weeks to stay healthy and safe. In the meantime, I’ll find joy in unexpected ways and continue working on my tan. Happiness!

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” ~ Lao Tzu

 

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Yesterday was Groundhog’s Day, and Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow which means an early spring. Woo-Hoo! While I have no right to complain about winter in Louisiana compared to the hellish winter weather that citizens in the Midwest and Northeast are experiencing, I am not fond of cold weather. For me, anything below 50 degrees feels frigid, especially during early morning carpool duty. And, I am definitely not fond of it coupled with shorter days of daylight. I am steadily counting down the days until Daylight Saving Time begins again. In five weeks, I will no longer suffer from the wintry blues. I will be like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. Dramatic, perhaps. Be that it may, extra daylight in the evening will positively boost both my mood and energy level.

Today, I should be watching the Super Bowl amongst family and friends. That was my plan before the Saints were stripped of the opportunity to play in it two weeks ago. I do not want to relive the ugliness of the no-call that ultimately cost them their victory; however, I want to acknowledge that as a member of the Who Dat nation, I am boycotting anything to do with it. Along with everyone else who feels cheated, I am spending my day participating in more pleasant activities. Even changing the litter in Puar’s litterbox is more exciting than watching the Patriots beat the Rams. Yawn!

In Other News:

Andrew was invited to attend an evening at Southeastern to meet SLU’s President Dr. John Crain, tour the new housing complex, and obtain more information about the university. Unfortunately, Andrew cannot attend. He will be competing at BETA State in Baton Rouge. Fortunately, I will attend in his place. This will be a terrific opportunity for me to learn more about registering Andrew for housing on campus next year.

For 2019, I challenged myself to read 50 books. Last month, I read three books. My self-improvement book for the month was Year of Yes Paddingtonby Shonda Rhimes, which I loved. I’m a huge fan of children’s literature, so I always read a couple of books per month in that category. I read Paddington: Here and Now by Michael Bond. I adore Paddington Bear and his adventures. When Andrew visited London last year, he brought me back a Paddington Bear figurine which I keep on my bookcase. I completed the Magisterium series by reading The Golden Tower by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. All excellent book choices. You can follow me on Goodreads to keep up with the books that I am currently reading, as well as the ones that I have read in the past.

We are officially in the second month of the new year, the month of Love. This year, I bought Valentine’s cards to send to the people I love. Therefore, I will be spending my spare time this week addressing envelopes and expressing my sentiments of love and appreciation. Are you planning anything special for this month, dear reader? How about today? Are you planning to watch the Super Bowl or did you also boycott? Happiness!

“Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.” ~ Kin Hubbard

 

 

 

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District Donuts #1

District Donuts

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who take on the role of mom. I have been blessed and privileged with being the mother of my two sons and the Godmother of my niece Emma. Yesterday, Andrew and I went to the movies to see The Jungle Book (excellent film). He seemed disappointed that he did not have a tangible gift for me. I told him the gift was his time with me. I told both of my children that I did not want any gifts. I just wanted to be able to spend some time with them. I LOVE them tremendously!

District Donuts #2

Sliders

Today, my husband and I took a road trip to Magazine Street in New Orleans. We visited District Donuts. The donuts are HUGE! I ordered a cheeseburger slider and a Rose and Champagne Donut (creme filled with sugared covered rose petals on top). My hubby ordered a pork slider and a donut called the Elvis (glazed donut with maple frosting, bananas, and bacon). Afterwards, we visited my mother and his mother bringing them both a donut and roses. We plan on taking our mothers out for lunch somewhere special later this month.

District Donut #3

Elvis

This evening I will have dinner with my boys. My husband is grilling chicken and stuffed mushrooms. What a perfect way to end my Mother’s Day!

Remembering ALL mothers still with us and those watching over us from heaven. Your love is with us always. Wishing all of you, dear readers, a pleasant week ahead. Happiness!

“Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we’ve ever met.” ~ Marguerite Duras

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     Hola, my friends! Yesterday, I decided to learn how to make “easy” chicken enchiladas for my family’s dinner. Since I do NOT cook very often, this was going to be a feat of magnificent proportions. Clarification is necessary before I continue with my tale. I am NOT a terrible cook, I just choose NOT to cook. As a child, I spent little time in the kitchen with my mother. I never had a strong desire to learn how to cook. Before marrying Barry, I did forewarn him I would not be cooking on a regular basis. He enjoys cooking, so it has worked out quite nicely. Besides, when I do cook, Barry tends to offer some tidbit of criticism instead of just saying “thanks.” I admit, I take it personally. It irks me. Therefore, he is in charge of the spatula.

     Currently,  I am reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. As part of my happiness project, I want to learn new things. Learning new things helps you to grow. And, growth makes you happy.  Tuesday evening I read her section on marriage. One of her resolutions was “give proofs of love.” My inner lightbulb began glowing with what I thought was a brilliant idea. I could increase my happiness in two ways by completing ONE task. Efficient, right! By making enchiladas, I learn something new, and I give proof of love toward Barry. He had the evening off from kitchen duty.

     The recipe was easy, and did not require many ingredients. The chicken was boiled earlier in the day and shredded. The meal was put together in about 15 minutes, and baked for another 20 minutes. Barry arrived home a few minutes after the chicken enchiladas were removed from the oven. He didn’t say it; however, I think he was impressed. He enjoyed it. He did say he would have added more cheese on top…only because he likes lots of cheese. I smirked knowing he had to add a tidbit, but amazingly, I did not take it personally (trying to practice my Four Agreements). I was happy. I accomplished my task with satisfaction. Now, I confess my meal was not enjoyed by all in the family. Andrew ( aka picky eater) told me the enchiladas were not horrible, but they weren’t great either. He ate half of one, which surpassed my expectations.

     For those of you out there interested in recipes, I’ve included the link below. My tale is done, and I’m going to eat some leftover chicken enchiladas for lunch. Adiós!

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/easy-chicken-enchiladas-121713.aspx

 

“Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study.  Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.”  ~Henry L. Doherty

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