Cyndi Lauper: Still Unusual, Still Totally Fabulous!!

Cyndi Lauper is currently on her She’s So Unusual thirtieth anniversary tour.

She turned sixty last week and has accomplished mountains in the last thirty years, having won countless awards…Grammy (with 14 nominations), Emmy,  and most recently a Tony. What an unbelievable successful career! Cyndi is the first female artist to have four top ten singles on a debut album (Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Time After Time, She Bop, and All Through the Night). 

More than just a rock star…she’s a mother, wife, author of Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir, Broadway composer and philanthropist.

I really always thought Cyndi Lauper was Irish with her red hair and fiery personality. She grew up in a big Catholic Sicilian family in Queens. She had her aunts, cousins, mother and siblings in many of her videos.

I imagine her as kindred spirit. At her Dallas concert the crowd was screaming, “I love you Cyndi” and she’d say, “I love you too but don’t confuse my work with who I am, because you’ll be disappointed.” I get that but it’s easy to see she’s a good person…it radiates from the inside.

My mom used to call me her Cyndi Lauper kid because I would want to dress colorfully and uniquely. I loved the eighties bright colors/bold patterns. Now my mom says I dress my daughter like Cyndi. It’s true, I do! Her style is youthful, spunky and artistic. Fashion makes a huge impression and Cyndi’s fashion statements have always made a happy impression on me.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun is an anthem to every girl (I imagine she had her Sicilian grandmother, her many Aunts and Mother in mind too). It’s a strong anthem that resonates with EVERY girl.

Reading Cyndi’s memoir, you can almost hear her Queen’s accent. She’s honest and upfront about her struggles. She’s very spiritual, growing up an Italian Catholic. She says in her book that Mary and Jesus are “her secret friends who you can call on in times of trouble.” She mentions several times in her book that she has visions and dreams of Jesus and watchful angels always above her.

She didn’t do so well in school. She was better at being a “student of life” with her biggest lesson, “As you treat others, at one point in your life, whether it’s now or later, you’re going to get it back."

She compares wanting to sing to the movie “The Red Shoes (I LOVE that movie). In the movie, red-headed ballerina, Vickie is asked by her ballet master, “Why do you want to dance” Vickie responds, “Why do you want to live?” That’s how Cyndi feels about singing. She’s lost her voice several times and was determined to get it back...she still sounds amazing!

Wednesday night in Dallas, Cyndi told stories in-between songs. It was very intimate…she brought the audience in with her storytelling. Cyndi performs for the audience, taking us in, going to each corner, stepping into the crowd…there’s no barrier and she’s totally captivating.

I kept thinking about how my parents AND my children would have enjoyed her show. She reaches every generation. My Dad would have loved to hear Cyndi talk about Ellie Greenwich who wrote “Be My Baby” and “Leader of the Pack” and how it was Ellie who knew just what to do after listening to Girls Just Want to have Fun and chanted Girls/ They want/ want to have fun. She also told Cyndi to make her Queen's accent prominent…it’s who she is.

I am of the Goonie generation. I AM a Goonie! My children are Goonies now too. Whenever they hear me play Cyndi and Good Enough comes on they shout, “GOONIES!”

The 80’s music is nostalgic to me like the 60’s music is to my parents. Cyndi’s songs from thirty years ago are still relevant today.

She says, “I have always believed that music is like cooking- you take a little bit of spice from this cabinet and that cabinet and you mix it all together and see what you get.”

Cyndi has been a dedicated advocate for the gay community with her work for the True Colors Foundation  and Kinky Boots musical (a true story about the power of acceptance). She recognized the rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 during her performance at the Dallas House of Blues.

Saying, “For those of you from California, hey, congratulations! You’re married again! Now we just gotta fix the 37 other states.” Then said with seriousness, “Now, just because you can get married don’t just run out and get married… You’ll be just as miserable as the rest of us.” See it here.

Cyndi’s She’s So Unusual album doesn’t have the True Colors song on it but it had a very special significance celebrating human rights (especially last Wednesday). It was suiting that she ended the show with True Colors (without the band, just Cyndi and her dulcimer), the audience was elated. 

Thank you Cyndi! The girls had fun!! xx 
Money Changes Everything
Girls Just Want to Have Fun
When You Were Mine
Time After Time
She Bop
All Through the Night
I'll Kiss You
He's so Unusual
Yeah Yeah
Sex is in the Heel
Change of Heart
True Colors

Summer is happiness...woo hoo!

My son says "Woo hoo" after every jump!
Woo hoo for summertime! People are happy and everything has this warm buttery haze. It’s so inviting to cleanse in summer's haze, breathe in the slower pace and take more pictures (all the best pictures are buttery). The most beautiful pictures are made in the summer…especially at the beach.

My first thought of a beach vacation is finding books to fulfill my summer reading contentment. I spent several summer sleepovers at my friend, Jessica’s house. I remember one morning, Jessica tossed a book at me (because I was an early riser and she was not) and told me to read it and then she went back to sleep! The book was Gone with the Wind and yes, I read it!

I love finding a book that makes you WANT to be an early riser in the summer just so you can finish it before the kids wake up, Eleanor and Park is earlier riser material. You’ll especially enjoy it if you loved the eighties. Set in 1986 with references to all things eighties: U2, XTC, The Smiths, Cabbage Patch Kids, Swatch, Miami Vice, Esprit, trouble dolls... It made me wish for my yellow walkman and an endless supply of batteries. The eighties references made me nostalgic for a time when you finished your homework and then did whatever you wanted. If you were Eleanor and Park you would read comics, listen to Joy Division and hold hands. It’s a love story of two awkward kids that you find yourself routing for like you did for Napoleon Dynamite.  

I started reading Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park on Saturday, I did not want to put this love story down...I finished it the next day. One of my favorite lines was when Park’s English teacher asks him why Romeo and Juliet has survived 400 years. Park responded, “Because people want to remember what it’s like to be young? And in love?” I'm in love with this book.

Reading Eleanor and Park I was inspired to create a new playlist with some of the new wave bands of the eighties I loved (and still love). My playlist included: Cocteau Twins, Joy Division, Cowboy Junkies, Blondie and then Camera Obscura (it’s not from the eighties). The indie pop band from Glasgow, Scottland just came out with their fifth album this month called Desire Lines. It just seems to fit nicely with that alternative eighties genre. Camera Obscura’s melodies sound timeless and I feel as if I’ve known their music as long as my favorite eighties music. Listen to a song from their new album Do it again and you'll see what I mean. 

Remember being a teenager when you’d have time to paint your nails every neon color to match your Swatch watch? Bright white is so right! It’s fresh, clean and rad for summer! I’m all about the eighties!
The best use of the patio in the summer is for drinking cocktails while thumbing through glossy magazines. When I’m not drinking my favorite Prosecco cocktails, Aperol Spritz or Kir Royal I like to have a beer with my favorite husband. Not just any beer, but a refreshing Radler (a mixure of beer and lemon soda in a 50:50 ratio). Radler means cyclist in German and was invented on a hot summer in June 1922 when a innkeeper Franz Xaver Kugler found his Biergarten full of cyclists all drinking mass quantities of beer. When supplies were running low, Kugler stretched what he had by mixing the remaining beer with lemon soda saying it was a special drink for cyclists to safely ride the trail home. 

I'm stretching like Kugler did with his beer...Stretching my summer and making it last by reading, listening, wearing and drinking what makes me happy. Summer should make you want to shout, woo hoo!

Ten Things I've Learned From My Dad

1. ALWAYS give great effortThis has become my Dad's signature phrase and I love hearing him say it. It always inspires me to try harder no matter what I'm doing.  

2. HOW to appreciate and tell the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees. My Dad grew up in Midland, Texas (were there are no "real" trees). When he went to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he grew to have a love for trees and learn all about them. He likes to get up early in the morning to water his trees. 

3. WHEN in doubt, get up early. My Dad used to help me study early in the morning. It's a habit that has stuck. I think most people do their best thinking early in the morning when things are fresh and your brain has rested. How about you? 

4. HOW to show respect. If my Dad was ever in the company of a police officer,veteran or anybody in the service, I would hear him be so respectful, "Yes Sir Officer." He's always taught me the importance of showing respect and how it earns you respect. 

5. FOLLOW through. My Dad was a coach for everything my brother and sister and I played. "Follow through" works for every sport and then some. Just thing about where you want the ball to go or where YOU want to go and...follow through!

6. THE importance of patience, optimism and holding your tongue. So many times, silence is golden. Keep a good attitude. Things will work out best when you have conversations face to face.   

7. APPRECIATE the simple things in life. A bowl of ice cream is sometimes what it's all about.  

8. FAMILY comes first.
My Mom and Dad have always put family first. They still do and they're the best role-models for what good parenting is.  

9. NOT to say "no problem" or "of(t)en." My Dad's pet-peeves have become my own. When someone says "no problem" in response to your "thank you" it is not addressing the thank you. A simple "your welcome" is much more appropriate. Shhh! Remember...the "t" in often is silent. 

10. THE most important thing that I've learned from my Dad is to SMILE. You'll feel better! Just let the corner of your mouth move upward ever so slightly and you have a start on it that won't stop!

This Father's Day also falls on my Mom's birthday. I'm making my Mom's favorite cake, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. My Mom used to love when her birthday would fall on Father's Day and she could celebrate with her Dad. Sharing is caring!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
  • 3 ¾ cake flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 fresh, ripe pineapple, sliced
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup fresh cherries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice pineapple into rings.
  3. Melt butter and add brown sugar. Cook until it bubbles then remove from heat. Arrange the pineapple slices and place a cherry in the center.
  4.  In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla and combine milk and rum. Add dry ingredients and milk mixture. Mix on low speed with a paddle attachment.
  6. Pour the batter evenly over the fruit and bake for 50 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a circular platter.
Happy Father's Day Dad and Happy Birthday Mom! 

In case you missed it, Ten Things I've Learned from my Mom.

Happy Birthday Honey!!

  Happy Birthday to my husband, Derek!!
cyclist, Alabama fan and father and more!

Derek is NOT a fan of The Steve Miller band (he likes XTC, Rush, Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Foo Fighters and more) but when I hear him rattle off all the places he's lived, I can't help think about this song:

I went from Phoenix, Arizona 
All the way to Tacoma 
Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A. 
Northern California where the girls are warm 
So I could be with my sweet baby, yeah 

Derek's song might go like this:
Sacramento California
All the way up to Oregon
Michigan, Penn, Tennessee
Then to Rhode Island where the locals ain't smiling
But it wasn't where my feet would stay

On to Missouri, on to Oklahoma
before I doubled back to CA
A stop in Tennessee but it couldn't stop me
From my days in Alabama, yeah!
I met my baby there, dang lucky me
And now we live in Texas and the rest is history
Took me a while, but I'm glad that I found her
Now I'm a proud papa indeed.

We got two rock'n'roll babies, we got two rock'n'roll babies, baby baby baby baby
Lyrics by The Peach Kings

When I first met Derek he'd play his guitar and serenade me with the Beatles song "Her Majesty" but change it to Miss Ashley. 

Miss Ashley's a pretty nice girl
But she doesn't have a lot to say
Miss Ashley's a pretty nice girl
But she changes from day to day
I wanna tell her that I love her a lot
But I gotta get a bellyfull of wine
Miss Ashley's a pretty nice girl
Someday I'm gonna make her mine
Oh, yeah, someday I'm gonna make her mine

Hook, line and sinker! I was his!

One of my favorite stories about Derek involves his love of fast cars (that he got from his Dad). When Derek was sixteen, he took his Dad's red convertible TR7 out and backed it up into another car. The damage was bad enough for Derek's Dad to chase Derek around their house while his mom and sister whipped their heads back and forth watching them run circles around the house.

Spending most of his childhood (nine years) in Rhode Island, he has a love for hockey but also mountain biking and horse riding (when he was younger)...he won a blue ribbon in a lead line class on his Aunt's horse, Okie Skip!

The past few years he's been serious about cycling and has been very the top ten of his age division in Texas. When he had the chance to talk to President George W. Bush, President Bush asked him, "Derek, do you hammer?" Yes, George! He hammers!

Derek is that funny dad that does tickle attacks and keeps the kids rolling. He also has plenty of those, "When I was little" stories that involve shoveling snow, his paper route and plenty of broken bones.

He can't stand to have attention but for one day of year I think it's suitable to have as much attention as "Her Majesty!" Happy Birthday D! xx

A Charmed Life

Charm bracelets are as inspiring to the wearer as Christmas ornaments are to the decorator. Each evoke memories and trigger emotions we yearn to feel again. Each charm tells a story: perhaps about a place you traveled, a goal you accomplished, an event you were a part of, or a person who gave it to you…

One of my favorite charms on my bracelet is a convertible car because it's a happy memory of my first car that I loved, a maroon Volkswagen Cabriolet. 

Charm bracelets are also instant conversation starters. You can learn so much about a woman by looking closely at her charm bracelet. I’ve even learned many things about my mom from her charm bracelet that I didn’t already know. She played the clarinet, was Maid of Cotton, won several talent shows and more.

Charm bracelets gained popularity in the forties when soldiers sent charms home to the women they loved so they would be remembered. It’s a popular American tradition to give a teenage girl a charm bracelet to celebrate special occasions. It’s the perfect gift and the receiver will most often be "charmed, I’m sure."

It’s so very special for mothers to pass their bracelets down to their daughters. My daughter likes to hear it jingling from her petite wrist and watch the charms dangle.

Teachers like to give charm bracelets to their friends who are retiring. My dear friend Phyllis is retiring this year after teaching twenty-six years. It is so sad to know she’s leaving, but it’s so enjoyable to see the charms each team is carefully selecting for her. 

Charm bracelets are très charmant. They mark life's milestones with style. They should continue to grow as they continue to reflect new memories and accomplishments. The idea is to add charms throughout your life. You can never have too many experiences or baubles. A charmed life should be appreciated by the eyes of all the beholders and the gift of a charm is always a charming way to show your appreciation for someone you care about. 

Here are a few places to get inspiration for charm bracelets: