How to survive frigid temperature while making colorful ice balls!


By Elle

colored ice ballsDespite having lived my entire life in Northeast Ohio, I’ve never been a snow bunny, preferring to cozy up inside with a mug of steaming tea than go sledding or build a snowman on wintry days.  Now that I’ve reached mid-life though, I’m more tolerant of cold temps. During winters of late, I can’t ride in the car with a coat on, I keep the thermostat in the bedroom set at a brisk 62, and I often dream of sleeping on a slab of ice.

That said, the temps this coming week will put even my tolerance to the test. Luckily I just bought a new down coat from Lands’ End (still on sale!) that is rated for -40° to -9° Fahrenheit. I can comfortably wear it outdoors, but the moment I step inside I’m ripping it off like it’s going to consume me alive — because it will.

Lands' End Women's Stretch Long Down Coat

Here’s what I love most about this coat:

  • snug knit cuffs that keep the wind at bay
  • adjustable hood that really works
  • faux fur lining that helps give it the warmest rating
  • removable faux fur on the hood (important for washing the coat)

Because I’m on the petite side, the coat falls to a little below my mid-thigh.

I’ve long been a fan of down outerwear, owning several down coats. I swear by them. Most down coats are rated warm, warmer and warmest, so you can buy the right coat for the right conditions and the right activities, such as making colorful ice balls for the yard!

During the first polar vortex a few years ago, Arkady and my granddaughter Brenna, then about 8, made ice balls using balloons and food coloring. They made about 10 balls and scattered them around the front yard. The temps were frigid for about a week, so the balls naturally lasted that long. Here’s a quick tutorial, the only difference being that Arkady peeled the balloons off the ice balls after they were frozen solid.

colored ice balls

More recently, my 5-year-old granddaughter, Rosie, hunted for magic fairy ice gems (aka colored ice balls) hidden in the woods at the Holden Arboretum. During the hunt, which was part of her Winter Nature Experience class, the kids filled tin buckets with the fairy ice gems, created with the help of magic dust from the trolls who live in the forest.

colored ice balls

There is something magical about spying brightly colored globes scattered across a monochromatic landscape, whether the globes are created in your kitchen or by a team of fairies and trolls.

colored ice balls

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What’s the best beauty advice you received from your mom?


By Elle

Dear readers, I think this will be our last post for 2018. Between having the flu, which grabbed me by the shirt, threw me up against the wall and held me there for two weeks, and preparing for the winter holidays, I’m frankly exhausted.

So for the last post of the year, I was thinking it would be fun to share the best beauty advice you ever received from your mom (or other influential person in your life).

The advice I’ll share relates to external beauty, but obviously beauty emanates from within as well. In fact, one of my favorite quotes about beauty is from my beauty idol, the incomparable Audrey Hepburn:

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”  ― Audrey Hepburn

So the best beauty advice I ever received from my mom is this: When I was about 16 or so, I recall my mom catching me furiously rubbing my eyes, a practice that sometimes just feels so good. Rubbing your eyes relieves tension and feels invigorating. It’s like a mini facial massage. I remember her telling me, though, that I should avoid rubbing my eyes, and especially the tender skin beneath my eyes, because it will contribute to wrinkles later.

Even though I was an unruly, sassy teenager, I took her advice to heart. Hell, I didn’t want wrinkles. So I adopted a new technique, which I still use today: I use my ring fingers (which apply the least pressure) to clean my eyes and the area beneath them, and routinely use olive oil or vitamin E oil on my face to keep my skin moisturized.  Been doing this now for about 40 years, with acceptable results, so thanks Mom.

I’m not sure how my daughters would answer this question, but I do recall often telling them that their body is a temple and they should treat it with great respect. I tried to teach them the difference between good food and bad, the importance of sleep and avoiding those things, such as smoking and drugs, that poison the body.  “Worship your temple,” I’d say. “It’s the only one you have.”

So what’s the best beauty advice you ever received? Please share the wisdom that was handed down to you. We’re eager to hear and learn something new!

PS: Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday and happy, healthy New Year.

Best gift idea for Valentine’s Day. Ever.


By Elle

How over-the-moon would you be if your partner/spouse presented you with a journal that contained a year’s worth of reasons why he/she loves you?

This idea emerged several years ago during one of the communication courses that I teach. A course participant told the group that he created a journal for his wife, essentially titled 365 Reasons Why I Love You. Every day he would pen an entry, describing to his wife why he loves her.

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What is the best way to capture your life memories?


By Elle

Is a life captured in photos more memorable and well-lived than one fully experienced and recorded in memory?

I suppose one could convincingly argue that memories fade, but photos, especially digital ones, can last forever. That’s certainly true. One could also argue that looking through stacks of photos from yesteryear can rekindle long-forgotten memories and emotions. I relish looking through my volumes of old photos, laughing at how adorable my late dad looked wearing Mickey Mouse ears at my younger daughter’s first birthday party, and how grateful I am to have a photo of my beloved when we dated “the first time around” more than 20 years ago. (We’re both incredulous that we didn’t take more photos back then.) Continue reading

People are not property


Shopping_Cart-592b_web_largeBy Abby and Elle

There seems to be no shortage of charities designed to help people — mostly women — around the world achieve economic independence, and there are several whose goal is to help women escape or avoid sex slavery. No one could argue with that, especially people like us — aka moms of daughters.

Sudara is one of those companies, and they produce a beautiful line of clothing, called PUNJAMMIES, made by women in India, a country with one of the highest incidences of sex trafficking in the world.
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