Have Better Cards

The secret to winning at poker and at anything in life is to have better cards. Since, I’ve been left to my own devises unexpectedly to support my children and myself without warning, I think a great deal about things like increasing my market share, and making my adventure clothing company Ocean SF attractive to investors, while leveraging my assets, and managing my resources.  

The truth is the best way to win at any card game is to have better cards than the other players, this is of course a metaphor for what I am trying to do, and to me it means that I must have a better product than my competitors, and I’ve worked hard to make sure that I do, our technical mid layer jacket, is by far the best on the market.

My mother used to warn me to play my cards right. At the time, I didn’t really understand this, but now I do. 

Here are some tips for life and card games:

  • Come prepared 
  • Stay calm
  • Games are about taking risks, don’t take too many risks, but if you play too conservatively you will lose 
  • Other players can bluff, but the person with the better hand always wins

Love and blessings.

Whittier College 

Sydney & Paris, Whittier College

I am blessed to have my best friend in Newport Beach, so I was able to drop my daughter at college and then come back the next day when it was not so hot. 

We made friends over the summer with another student, Mckenna and her mother Debra, so we met for lunch and walked the beautiful campus together on Monday.

I peered into the bookstore, so many interesting books to read, topics like: social justice, politics, biology and philosophy. Many of them I’ve read, but I can see my daughter perched somewhere on this beautiful tranquil campus obsorbing the knowledge of the ages. 

Whittier is one of those rare places, where the architecture of the future has been perfectly melded with the past. Every nook and cranny is beautiful with graceful arches, red tile roofs, winding paths with white flowers along the logical shaded walkways. The trees are the work of a century of talented arborists, and the new buildings are deeply embedded in the landscape as if they were always planned to be built there, made of flat sandstone and thick green glass. Stunning. 

My daughter, calm and lovely, wearing a pink linen top, with her hair pulled back in a simple knot like a ballerina, sits on a park bench beside me, as if she were always meant to be there as well. 

I know there will come a moment when I have to say goodbye to her, and I’m not sure how I will feel. 

In the end, I hug her and tell her how much I love her, and then I drive away. 

After the year she’s had, there is no way that this is not a happy occasion. I think of all the ways this story could be different. I don’t know if I could lose my father, and be sitting where she is, only a year later. 

She told me she looked forward to the calm of college, and meeting new people, and having time to read. Few people go to college to be calm, but if that’s what she is looking for, then I think she’s found it.

Love and blessings. 

Performing Arts Center
Dorms for upperclassmen
Student lounges and cafeterias
Faculty housing
New Friends

College Dropoff & The New Normal 

Of course it took eleven hours to get there. The temperature was rising as we sat still on the scorching freeway, the car thermostat reading 116 degrees. 

Cars were scattered along the road. Break downs and accidents both. We stopped for dinner. My daughter was eerily agreeable to everything as she has been now for weeks. Every time she put her arms around me and thanked me for anything, I would think, this is going to be really hard. Very hard. 

After months of gathering items for her dorm room, we left arguably the most important things; her sheets, pillows and down comforter behind. My dear friend, Sandy drove them down to us the next day. Thank goodness for friends. 

By 11 p.m. we were passing hills that were burning. It was surprising that we could just drive by while they blazed. I thought, well, this is fitting.

We spent the weekend in Newport Beach with friends. We had done this so many times before it didn’t feel unusual. We made breakfast, walked the island, had friends for lunch, and went to the beach. Fun. 

On Sunday we moved her in.  It was 110 degrees outside and 120 inside.  

After, I headed back to Newport for a birthday party. Normal. The new normal. 

Winding Down

The days are winding down until my daughter leaves for college. I know she’s ready, so I don’t have the normal anxiety of letting go, because I know she will be fine. Still, there is this shadow around her leaving. 

Its difficult to not think of this as an ending to the journey we have been on together. I think about the day she came into the world, and now in a few days, I will be walking away from her, leaving her behind. This seems like an impossibility no matter how much I have prepared for it. 

There have been too many endings this summer, and I see this as true because my sixteen year old has been very close these last days. She is on my heels as I walk around the house, she peers into the rooms I am sitting in as I work. I ask her what she needs, and she tells me nothing, and walks away.

We’ve always thought of our beautiful two story traditional home as our fifth family member.  We are each attached to it and it’s light filled rooms, and the many memories we’ve shared together here.  Soon, it will be just two of us, but I am hoping that the space that is left behind will be filled with something new.

The possibilities are endless of course: a foreign exchange student, a foster child, or maybe more friends and visitors. My life during this past chapter has been lived beyond this house; I’ve spent my time out in the world, or on boats, or in Tahoe. 

I’m now looking forward to being home again, and my life opening up once more, and seeing simply what life will bring to me without my having to look for it. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Cooking

Image

When I started cooking my little ones where tiny, my husband and I were hungry and often tired.  All I wanted to do was make something to feed our souls at the end of a long day.  I found the little ones would eat a little pasta, a few olives, some chicken and red peppers.  I discovered I could open a bottle of wine and make a green salad and we were all happy.  Frozen pizza and nuggets were often on the menu, but I learned to move toward the fresh ingredients.  With every step I gained confidence.  I have a tiny kitchen.  I didn’t have gourmet grocery stores near, but I grew my own basil and tomatoes and I began to experiment.  It was worth it then, and remains so today.  I hope my cookbook Real Food for Real People, will inspire other people to do the same.  Blessings and love to all.

Real Food for Real People

Book Cover 101713
Sydney Chaney Thomas –
Real Food For Real People
Coming to Amazon March 2014 (photo by Christina Shook)

Several years ago, I found the time in tiny intervals to write a little cookbook.  I self published it and give it to friends.  A few months later, I was invited to present it at the State of California Food Conference, where it was very well received.  I was encouraged to expand it and get it published, but life intervened and I let it go.  Over the summer of 2013 it kept whispering to me, “Sydney, you need to finish the cookbook”.  Now finally, it’s done, or as done as any creative endeavor can ever be, and will be available on Amazon (Kindle) in the Spring of 2014.  It truly has been a labor of love.  My dearest wish and greatest hope is that it will help other people.

I’m proud of the fact that my food is very simple to execute and as a result of that I had a number of different titles that conveyed that, but my editor (Neo Garaby) recommended that I not call the book,  Easy Food for Lazy Moms, or the even more controversial, Easy Meals for Drunk Moms, but all joking aside, the book is created for people who may be distracted and/or drinking a little wine while cooking.

In these pages you will find not just my recipes, but other topics that I hold most dear.

Blessings to the kind souls who have encouraged me every step of the way.   I love you all.