Alles Gute zum Geburtstag und prost!

Two of my friends whose birthday's I love to celebrate
BIRTHDAYS are so much fun to celebrate, especially when you're celebrating for someone else. My friend Margot just celebrated her Geburtstag and I made her a Chocolate Coffee Whiskey Spice Birthday Cake with Mascarpone Icing

Margot makes a BIG deal out of saying "DON'T make a deal about my birthday." Well my Austrian friend, I simply cannot say mir Wurst (it's all doesn't matter) about your birthday because birthdays should be celebrated BIG...they are not all sausage but rather chocolate spiked with a little alcohol!

If you're a Sex and the City fan you might do what I do and relate all things in life to an SATC episode (like most people do with Seinfeld). I was recently remembering the episode when Carrie had to pay for her own birthday cake because nobody showed up to her party and then walking home alone she drops the cake in an NYC construction site...awful! Friends should always make their friend's birthdays better than they expect it will be. How do you make it special? Easy, you remember it!

Make your friend's birthday a happy one and say, Alles Gute zum Geburtstag und prost!

Put the kettle on

TEA has a soothing, relaxing quality that has always set me right. I first started drinking tea when I was in the seventh grade. My parents took a trip to England and when they returned my mom served us tea just like they had experienced in Great Britain…on a tray with sugar, milk and toast. I was hooked. I still prefer my tea the British way, with milk and sugar.

When I wake up in the morning, I’m anticipating my first sip. Making tea is a happy ritual. Listening to the water hiss, selecting my tea, the delicate aroma when the hot water touches the tea, the heat of the cup in my hand…everything about tea is comforting. Taking the time to prepare tea in the morning allows me to slowly wrap my head around the day.

My favorite accompaniment with tea is sourdough bread toasted with strawberry jam and the Dallas Morning News. 
Tea always tastes better loose

Tea has a cultural individuality. No two teas are exactly alike and each has its own trademark flavor…like wine, tea has a terroir (where the roots of a plant nestle into the ground and the tea takes on the sense of the place).

I like to start the day with Tazo Awake tea. It’s bold, black and smells heavenly! Later, I switch to Twinings chai to spice up the mid-morning. Then in the afternoon I enjoy a peppermint tisane to calm down the day and smooth away the rough edges.
Wouldn't you love to drink tea from this Italian Hybrid Collection?
It is contentment times two to share a cuppa with a friend. Some of the very best conversations take place with tea. Sharing a cup of tea with a friend is the perfect recipe for a lasting friendship. If tea cups could talk they’d spill all kinds of warm secrets. 

My daughter likes to drink tea with me. It’s a delight to share tea with her. I like to prepare for her a chamomile tea with honey.  Making tea for someone you love and sharing sips together is high up on my list of best moments. 

When I sip my tea, I feel warm and cozy inside. I’m content and everything is right. Tea makes the world a better place.

Put the kettle on, it’s always a good time for a cuppa.

If you are cold, tea will warm you;
If you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are exhausted, it will calm you.
~William Gladstone 

Happy Birthday to my Grandmother!!

 Happy birthday to my Grandmother!!
Fervent Bridge Master, Frequent cocktail maker and Faithful Irish Catholic

If there were a trophy for having the most fun in life, my grandmother, Patricia Ann Shaughnessy Stricklin would win! She was like a magnet...people loved to be in her company and she was always the life of the party.
My grandmother (who liked to be called Pat, I called her Mema) simply had what it took to be très chic and glamorous without even thinking about it. Even after five children she managed to keep her girlish figure and ALWAYS wore red lipstick. She had many friends…some were life-long like the girls above that she shared most of her school days with.  

Pat was the baby of eight siblings, the mother of five children, grandmother of ten grandchildren AND great-grandmother of three!

As a young girl, one of her favorite subjects was French. She went to a Catholic boarding school in New Orleans for a short time and St Matthews in Monroe. She also studied French at the University of Louisiana in Monroe.

She was a Gold Life Master Bridge player (not many points away from Diamond Life Master Bridge player). She also played scrabble, backgammon and poker. She was quick and witty on top of that.

I remember her taking me to the fancy casino boats in Shreveport to gamble and being so impressed at how she made friends with the whole blackjack table...calling people by their first names, having the table in stitches, and teaching them how the game should be played…the fun way!

My grandmother had a “sweep the kitchen” attitude with cooking. If you’ve got it, use it! She taught me how to add things to my pasta for flavor and now I can’t put steak in my spaghetti without thinking of her! If she were to order a pizza, she’d really say “sweep the kitchen!”

She was of the generation of cocktails at five and her favorite drink was W.L. Weller bourbon with Tab. My mom remembers my grandmother cooking when she was a child. Mom says, “She’d have a cocktail and cigarette in one hand, a novel in the other and be cooking at the same time.” Being full of energy and quick to move from one thing to the next, that was just the kind of thing she could do.

My grandmother would have celebrated her eighty-first birthday today. She passed away last week. She will be missed every day. I love you Mema!
Four generations together

Her favorite Madonna song: 

Take a bow, the night is over
This masquerade is getting older
Lights are low, the curtains down
There’s no one here…
Say goodbye