Travel – 10.5 lb Backpack

imageIf you are taking a trip around the world, can you travel with only a 10.5 lb backpack? Tynan can and in his Blog “The 2016 Gear Post,” he shares how he does it.

I still don’t know exactly who he is; however, I have learned that he loves to travel around the world, he likes cruises, enjoys tea, has published some books, bought an Island with some friends, is trying to date, and has gotten his backpack for world travel down to 10.5 lbs. YES, he has done it.

Another interesting fact, for the past seven years to simply his life, he has gotten his clothing down to one t-shirt, one dress shirt, one pair of pants, two pair of underwear, one pair of shorts and a few pairs of socks. Now that is simplifying life.

In addition to sharing a clothing review, he shares a technology review on some interesting products I had not heard about, i.e. computer, phone, chargers, etc. Sounds like companies give him products to use and then he reviews them.

If you look at his post and see the photo of everything in his backpack it is hard to believe it is only 10.5 lbs. He’s got some good quality stuff there. I like his ideas.

Well, I agree with Tynan, the lighter the better. It’s easier on the back and shoulders and now with carry on space getting smaller on planes and checked in bags at 50 lbs and often the checked baggage gets lost, life is a lot easier if you just have it ALL in your backpack. However, I am not sure that I can get to 10.5 lbs yet, but as Rick Steve, TV travel host states in many of his books and shows, “If you need something you can always buy it at your destination.”

So, who is up for the 2016 Challenge of traveling on a 10-14 day trip, somewhere in the world, with a 10.5 lb backpack and sharing if it worked.

You will have to be rugged! Tynan says he brings his clothes in the shower, so he can clean them and ladies there will be no extra room for fancy shoes, hair spray, fashion accessories, etc. Time to be a tomboy!

I can already see my Italian mother with her accent saying, “What has happened to you, why are you dressed like that? Where is your scarf, earrings and lipstick? Go home and change…” THAT was a famous line of hers, “Go home and change.”

Mom – It’s 2016!

Thank you, 60 Minutes!


Sarah Porter founded Miss Porter’s School.

I learned at a young age how the universe can change the course of our life in an instant.

For me, 60 Minutes changed my life. One minute I was attending High School in Indiana and the next minute I was at Miss Porter’s School (boarding school) in Connecticut.

Years ago, my parents were watching 60 Minutes when a segment on girl’s boarding schools came on. My father called to me to come watch the show. When it was over, he asked if I would like to go to boarding school. My answer was an excited, “YES.”

My parents did not attend College. They really valued education. They were self taught devouring books and watching all sorts of educational shows. Opera and classical music were big in our house. They wanted to offer their children the education they did not receive.

Attending Miss Porter’s School changed my life. Our claim to fame was that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis graduated from MPS, but more than that, the school instilled in us the powerful feeling that “girls” are here “to make a difference” in the world “no matter what we do!”

Last week the Universe was at work AGAIN. I am new to Seattle and trying to make friends. You can imagine my surprise when I saw an email from an Ancient of MPS asking if fellow Washington Ancients would be interested in getting together.

Wow – what a pleasant surprise! Suddenly, we were exchanging emails, hoping we weren’t the most Ancient in the group, i.e. Class of ’67, ’04, ’85, ’72, etc. It was fun!

So, all I can say is “believe” in change, “believe” in miracles, keep your eyes and ears open and be ready to take advantage of special “unexpected” opportunities that come to you. They say, “LUCK is when OPPORTUNITY meets PREPARATION!” Which means we create our own luck in life.

For me, I say, “Thank you, 60 Minutes” for opening the doors for me to study out East.

Nerds Unite!


Visit The Nerdy Book Club at

Whenever I think of the word “nerd,” I smile. While I was not a computer nerd I did feel like I was a book nerd.

When I was young, to be called a “nerd” was equivalent to being called an “outcast.” If you weren’t popular and partying with the cheerleaders/football players you were boring. For sure, I fell into the boring category.

Whose fault was that?  My Mom’s!  Yep, it was her doing. When we were young my mother was constantly reading. My Mom would pack us into the car and off to the library we went.

In the beginning we resisted going! The typical, “NOT THE LIBRARY AGAIN,” we would say. I think when she was homesick for Italy, books were her escape and also her way of learning English better.

As children (there were four of us), we would whine about listening to her stories, but in her cute Italian accent she would say, “It is MY DUTY as you mother to teach you!”

Arghhh… “Duty, who gave her this duty,” we thought!

She was smart in making us FEEL she HAD to do it (laughing).

She wouldn’t pay attention, instead she would say, “You will like this, tonight I am reading you from “Greek Mythology.””

She liked “Alexander the Great,” “Marco Polo,” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” it was always something adventurous.

I remember when lightning would strike over Lake Michigan and we were afraid, she would say, “Zeus must be very angry tonight, he is throwing thunderbolts down from the sky.”


Of course, she would have us captivated with her story telling, her Italian accent added charm. Like it or not, we were hooked!

When she would close the chapter, we would beg her to keep reading.

She would say, “And these are the children who didn’t want to listen in the first place. NO, no more until tomorrow.”  That was her revenge on us!

In Middle School I didn’t want to get off the bus, because she had me reading “The Egyptian” and “The Roman.”  I had to finish the Chapter.

So, it was with great excitement that I came across The Nerdy Book Club Blog site. What a clever name – I love it!

If you are a teacher or you need a gift for a child, visit their website. They just reviewed the BEST books of 2015 in different categories/age ranges.

It’s wonderful!

So, when I say, “NERDS UNITE!,” it’s with GREAT PRIDE that I say this!

A New Year – 2016


The Start of the Race. Photo from

We are “officially” into 2016 and that means reviewing our “bucket list” and breaking it down into four quarters.

Why four quarters?  Well, if you think about it, life is like a relay race. In a relay race there are four runners. Similarly, in a year there are four quarters/chances to bring home the Gold and accomplish great things.

Last year, when I decided to make the big move to Seattle I used the four quarter strategy to set my plans in motion. Was it easy?  NO, but every time fear would set in, I would tell myself, “Stick with the plan!!”

My father owned his own business, so we saw him go through the ups and downs of the economy, etc. He taught his four kids that we were the only ones who could “make things happen.” His favorite phrase was “no one serves you anything on a silver platter.”

This year I have new goals. What are they you are wondering?  Well, I can’t reveal them. It’s like wishing on a lucky star, you have to keep the wish to yourself and wait for it to come true.

Goals are like that. If you share your goals with others they usually “laugh” and say, “Where did you come up with that idea?  It will never happen, are you crazy?”

So this time, I got smart! When I decided to move to Seattle, I didn’t tell anyone, I just focused on making it happen. Oh, I wanted to tell people, because I wanted them to be happy for me, but I could not “risk” the negative comments.

I have learned that most people fear change, but their biggest fear is what family and friends will think. They need that approval. The key to success is to “not” need outside approval. Instead, follow your passion, follow your dreams, and with determination let your gut instincts lead you to success.

The worst thing that will happen is you fall down and have a to get back up. Just like riding a bike, you KNOW you will do it, you just don’t know how many times you will have to fall before you finally ride like a pro.

So, here’s to coming up with a FOUR QUARTER plan for 2016!

Be determined, keep reviewing and adjusting it, and when a bit of doubt sets in, REMEMBER to tell yourself, “It CAN be done!  STICK WITH THE PLAN.”

I’ll see YOU at the Finish Line on December 31, 2016!

And remember…   GO FOR THE GOLD!

Notre Dame University’s NEW Organ 2016


Notre Dame University’s Admin Building – view of the Golden Dome.

Next year Notre Dame University (ND), South Bend, IN will have a NEW organ in their church the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

My friend Dave, who went to ND, has been keeping me up to date on the news. See his Blog: Life In A Word where he gives details on the new organ.

I, along with his wife, attended Saint Mary’s College (sister school) across the street, so we know this church quite well. He was a Domer and we were SMC Chicks!

This is quite an undertaking by ND. The sound quality of the current Holtkamp organ had declined. Thanks to a very generous donation by Wayne and Diana Murdy a new organ was commissioned.


Photo of the Basilica of the Sacret Heart church at ND taken by Julie Delio located on

I am thrilled to say that the new organ is being built “right here” in the Seattle area by Paul Fritts and Company Organ Builders. They have extensive experience building intricate organs for the U.S. and Europe.

This new organ will be four stories high, so right now ND is renovating the church for the arrival of the new organ next summer.

The organ will make its debut Christmas 2016 at ND.

More good news… Paul Fritts & Company will be hosting an Open House Spring 2016 for us to see this amazing instrument. Six craftsman have been hard at work these past few years.

View the YouTube video, “Making the New Basilica Organ” to learn what goes into making this work of art.

I admit that when I was young, listening to an organ was like eating peas — I DIDN’T LIKE THEM!   As the years progressed my palet changed, I now eat peas and appreciate the sound of different organs.

AND at four stories high, there will be some incredble sounds coming out of this organ.

Stay tuned!

Christmas Memories of Marshall Field and Company

imageChristmas / Holiday traditions always seem to change every few years, because our family dynamics change. I was at Macy’s the other day and memories hit me when I saw Frango Mints. Suddenly, I was back in Chicago for Christmas. I felt like I was in a Hallmark movie!

When I was young, growing up in Indiana, we would take the South Shore Train from Indiana to Chicago to look at the Christmas decorations in the Marshall Field and Company department store windows on State Street.

Anyone from Chicago knows how special this was. We would trudge through the snow all bundled up, ears/nose and toes about to FALL OFF from the bitter cold, but that did not stop us. We were SO excited to see the window decorations, go up to the TOP floor to see all the children’s toys and hear the Christmas carolers singing. Marshall Field, for us, would be equivalent to going to Harrods in London — luxury shopping.

Here is a photo of the Marshall Field clock from Full Perspective Photos. Adam Dooley has taken some wonderful photos and kindly said I could share this one with you. Visit Full Perspective Photos website and read his article on “Meet Me Under the Clock!”

As you see, this beautiful clock is hard to miss, so it was often a meeting place for all of us. If you get lost, “stand under the clock.”

Of course, there are other memories. My mother brought us to see “The King and I” with Yul Brynner. A snow storm prevented people from attending the show, so we sat in the front. Wow — he was fantastic.

Rebecca V. Larkin has a wonderful video on YouTube called, “Marshall Field’s Incredible Impact on Chicago.” I didn’t realize Marshall Field (a brilliant business man) also created the “L” Train.

Chicago — I am thinking of you!

So, who knows, I might just receive a box of Frango mints this year! I admit, I might get a little choked up, memories do that to us.

By the way, I hear that Santa’s cut off for presents getting on his sleigh is around December 21st… there is still time (smile)!

Here’s to wonderful memories that come to us when we “least expect it.”

BE READY, smile and pull out your hanky when that memory hits you!

Christmas in the Pacific Northwest


Photo taken by Danny Schmalz on CP’s Facebook page

This is my first Christmas in Seattle and I am learning how they celebrate and honor this event in the Pacific Northwest. It makes me feel like a child again and reminds me of when I first moved to California. I had never been to Disney Land. Californians were in shock, because as children that’s where their parents took them on family vacations – it was tradition for them!

Setting up tradition with family and friends is wonderful. We look forward to the holidays knowing that we will do “special things” at that time of year that we do not do at any other time of year.  That is why it is SPECIAL.

So, I am in that mode of finding “new” holiday traditions to celebrate with family and friends here in Seattle.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from a friend telling me about the Canadian Pacific’s Holiday Train that goes through different cities in Canada and the U.S. raising money and collecting food for local food banks. This is fantastic!

Have you seen the train?  It’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Click here to see a video on their website that shows the train and talks about their food bank program, live music, and more. Notice the Canadian and American flags in front of the train!

I hope you share the video of the Canadian Pacific’s Holiday Train with others. It spreads good cheer and will encourage people to donate to food banks this year.


Amazon gift idea:  Train puzzle

When I was young my father would put a small heavy metal train around the Christmas tree. We LOVED this as children, especially when he added the purple drops to the engine, so that the train would smoke and blow it’s horn as it went around the tracks.

This Canadian Pacific Hoiday Train brings back special memories to me on a larger scale, the video shows the train going through the mountains – it’s spectacular!

If you are still scouting out Christmas presents and like puzzles, here is a great gift idea from Amazon.

Here is to the start of a wonderful holiday season!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Original Bean Bag Frog

This Fall I decided I wanted to do something special for the children who are suffering illnesses at the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

I wrote to them asking if they needed donations. I could make these beanie bag frogs for them. This is a project my cousin got me into when I would visit her for Thanksigiving when I was a child. We had great fun cutting out patterns, sewing the frogs and choosing different buttons for eyes, putting bird seed in as stuffing and then playing with them.

The volunteer at the hospital wrote back that they would love to have the frogs, but they needed to be modified. No button eyes, my heart sank, because buttons could be a choking hazard — the eyes had to be flat.  Hum.. flat eyes, I could not imagine this.  In addition, no bean bag stuffing, I had to use white stuffing.


Modified Frog Donation

Well, I still wanted to do the frog, but felt the fun of using funny button eyes and bean bag stuffing was being taken out of the project.

STILL – I got to work. You can see my modified frog. With some help from experienced sewers I came up with the felt embroidered eyes idea. Not perfect, but cute and funny looking, like a “superman” frog.

These funny looking frogs reminded me of the movie, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” when Rudolph goes to the Island of “misfit toys!”


I worked really hard last week, so I could deliver my frogs in time for Thanksgiving. When I dropped off my frogs last weekend it was extremely nice. They were very appreciative and said the frogs could be used in the play room.

I was AWARDED this green sticker!  Funny how a sticker can make even an adult feel PROUD, but that is exactly what it did!

It’s the holidays and I encourage everyone to find that special charity where they can make a donation to help others!

I promise you, your heart will grow so big!




Made in America — Maker’s Row

Photo courtesty of Maker's Row.

Photo courtesty of Maker’s Row.

Are you an apparel or home and design entrepreneur? Do you have ideas and now you need to create prototypes, find manufacturers, learn about packaging and more, but you don’t know where to go?

You’re in LUCK!  Maker’s Row has all the answers and contacts you need in one website, so you can create your prodcut “right here” in the U.S.

Maker’s Row was founded by Matthew Burnett (Detroit, MI) and Tanya Menendez (Oakland, CA) to bring manufacturing back to America; they launched in November 2012.

Interesting TV shows like “Project Runway” and “Shark Tank” have shown us that there is a lot of innovation and creativity here in the U.S., but what was lacking was “how” to reach the “right resources” to produce the product.

Burnett and Menendez picked up on this need to link entrepreneurs together with manufacturers and ran with it.

They created an online database/service where you pay by the month. This gives you access to their Project Planning Software, full search of 4,000 manufacturers, ability to message factories, factory matchmaking, dedicated sourcing support, encouragement to create your brand profile to share with others and a list of special events.

Courtersy Maker's Row website.

Courtersy Maker’s Row website.

It gets better.  They have just come out with “The Academy,” where they offer great educational online courses to help you bring your product to market.

Take a look at the factory profile videos they have online. Wonderful to read the owner’s stories and see their factory floors in process.

Their website idea is a combination of The Tech Shop (innovation) LinkedIn (monthly service fee) and Yelp (post reviews).

I am excited about Maker’s Row new manufacturing service.

Made in America — It has become a whole lot easier!

Thanks Maker’s Row!