Original White Lasagna 

Original White Lasagna

I created many original recipes when my kids were young. My younger daughter disliked tomato sauce, so I made this gorgeous baked pasta dish with fresh whipping cream. Below is my recipe. 

White Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 package dried no boil Lasagna 

15 oz.  whole milk ricotta cheese 

2 cage free eggs

1 pint organic heavy whipping cream

8 oz. mozzarella balls

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Fresh basil leaves

Fresh grated Parmesan 

Salt and pepper 

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Whip eggs with ricotta by hand or with mixer.
  • Layer ingredients starting with cream on the bottom and ending with layer of cheese on top.
  • Cook until brown on top.
  • Allow to cool before cutting.
  • Sprinkle with Parmigiana cheese.

Sydney’s White Lasagna

Love and blessings to all.

Gift of Time


There is something to be said for down time. It’s not often a person is handed the gift of time. I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning eating ice cream, red vines, and peanut butter cups while watching Pirates of the Caribbean with my daughter.

I’m typically productivity minded. The only time I relax is with friends at dinner, or at the Yacht Club, or on boats. It’s difficult to multitask on a boat. When I’m home, I time phone calls with chores. I have a set schedule. I feel I have no time to waste. Somewhere along the way, I learned not to relax. 

These last days, while caring for my daughter, I’ve trimmed my roses, weeded my flower beds, cleaned out cabinets, finished my taxes, and reorganized my coffee cups, and cooked and cooked. 

But for hours and hours, I’ve spent time with my daughter. I’ve also spent a good deal of time with Jeff, Dan and Chris, my neighbors and late husband’s golf foursome, who have been a constant in our lives. 

Last night, Jeff brought us dinner, and Chris stopped by, earlier Dan was here with donuts, and his daughter. 

I love my neighborhood, and the kind and supportive people who live around us. Guardian angels all. 

Love and blessings. 

Surgery & The Northern California Fires

I knew there was a problem when I went to bed on Sunday night. I saw the report on my iPad that there was a small fire in Napa. The wind was howling outside, and I could hear my beautiful Birch trees hitting my house and windows.

The wind was also tapping the blinds against the windows down the hall. Even though, it was a warm night, I walked around the house closing all the windows. 

I remembered, my market umbrella was up, and I went outside to close it. Later, as the winds picked up further, I went back into the darkness and pulled the entire umbrella out of the table and left it on the patio.

By morning, smoke was in the air, and my pool was full of branches. However, I had other things to worry about because my daughter was having knee surgery the next day. 

I called the surgeon and asked if I could pick up the prescriptions that day, so I wouldn’t have to leave my daughter after the surgery. Without her Dad around, and no reliable family to help, I have to plan ahead. 

In the morning, I ran all the errands, and got gas, and went home to get everything I could done before the next day. 

My wooded acre of land was a mess, but the winds were still dropping branches and I had other things that took precedence. My business partner was in LA with our Sales Director in meetings for Ocean SF, and I was either on the phone with them, or texting them and our pattern maker, who had been evacuated from her home in Irvine. 

In the end, our neighbor Dan, had made a list of everything Siena needed, and showed up the next day with her favorite foods and drinks. During surgery he waited with her at the hospital, while I went to the pharmacy, and picked up her perscriptions. 

Meanwhile, around me Northern California is literally burning down. Beautiful Calistoga a place of tremendous beauty and tranquility, has been reduced to ash and rubble. 

This has been the theme of the last year or so, and I have become a master at focusing with military precision on one thing no matter what else is going on around me.  It’s possible, I inherited this quality from my father, a decorated war veteran, but it’s something I wish I didn’t need. 

My daughter has been slow to recover, she’s not bounced back as expected.  She has been in a great deal of pain, so much so that I’ve been on the phone with her surgical nurse off and on for days. We’ve had to try several strategies to help her, and maybe today will be the day she turns the corner.

I lie next to her at night, and let her squeeze my hand. While she sleeps, I secretly check the Internet for the status of the fires. I close my eyes and pray for recovery of my daughter, the fire victims, the brave emergency response teams, and myself. 

The second surgery to repair her ACL is planned for November. Initially, the date was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but I moved it. On Thanksgiving, God willing, we will be sitting in our cabin in Truckee watching the snow fall.

Love and blessings to all. 

The Shifting Winds

After a stressful day of knee surgery and a rocky recovery, I went to bed early with my daughter and patient. 

After the Napa fire had shifted late yesterday afternoon, the smoke cleared, but this morning the smoke was back and thicker than ever before. Everything smells of smoke now. 

In the early morning I went outside to skim the 20 pounds or more of redwood branches out of my pool from the high winds the day before. The sky is grey, but the sun filtered through the dark smoke turned orange. 

I filled in a few cracks in my skimmer, ran my pump, and added some shock and clarifier to return the pool to clarity after clearing out all the debris. This literally took hours, but it’s calming to be in rythym with the water, the net and the redwood needles and branches. It takes  patience and skill to retrieve the small particles from the bottom of the pool with a brush and a net.

Then, I worked on my taxes. In between, I ran up and down the stairs, caring for my daughter, talked on the phone with an old friend in New York, and made homemade chicken noodle soup. 

The sky is still thick with smoke, but I feel like my own personal skies have cleared. It’s easier to get things done now. 

After months of grief where I had to force myself to get the mundane done, things come easily now, even the things I dislike doing the most are quickly completed. 

I feel like the winds of change have shifted, and the dark cloud that has hung over me for so long has lifted. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Hiding My Light

When my kids were small, it was in fashion to parent in a way that brought out the brilliance in every child while honoring their unique talents. For me, growing up the opposite was true. I hid my brilliance, my light, my authenticity, or whatever you wish to call it.

My relatives didn’t sit in their rooms reading Chekhov or Dostoyevsky for fun. My relatives were boisterous and charismatic. They could tell jokes, and they didn’t want to work for Lobbists and change the world. 

As a kid, I felt it was important to fit in and not draw too much attention to myself.  There was a definite “we” in my family, a party line, and a host of secrets to go along with it. 

When I graduated from college, my mother told me that she was surprised that I had graduated. When I asked her why, she said she didn’t think I was smart enough. I can’t blame her, as I skipped most of my high school classes to hide out painting in the art room, or to read novels in the library.

My mother encouraged me to get an M.R.S. degree and was astonished when I abruptly broke up with my long term college boyfriend a few months shy of college graduation. 

I didn’t get married until my mother started calling my cat her grand-cat.  But once I did marry and have children, I quit my lucrative career, and hid my intellect again. Looking back, I can’t believe I did this. The only thing I can attribute it to is that I fell in love with my family.  

Now that I am on my own again, I love staying up all night reading philosophy, or learning anything new. I love working and starting companies and nonprofits that can change the world. 

My children are so much like me that this truly is the new normal. I encourage each of them to shine as brightly as they can.  There are no secrets. The children tell everyone my embarrassing stories, and they take countless photos of me, eating, or sleeping, or driving, and post them on Snapchat. 

I don’t care. 

I am as much as I possibly can be, my truest, brightest, most authentic self.

Love and blessings. 

Be Like Water

“The river will take whatever goes with it.”

I thought to myself this morning, after a nightmare, and before my daughter’s knee surgery to repair her miniscus and ACL injuries from a recent soccer collision.  

“Be determined,” I tell myself in light of this. 

Then, “be still, let God, be strong, wise, and calm.”

As a last resort, “be like water that doesn’t resist, but accepts what comes and continues on.”  

Predictably, this does the trick. 

I keep thinking at some point all of this will get easier. It does not.

The night before, I read everything there was to read on knee surgery. My sailing friend warned me of the pain she felt when she had a similar surgery done, but it wasn’t mentioned in my pre-op interviews. It was glossed over to say the very least. I’m sure she’s not surprised. How to warn a person of this?

The fires turned our beautiful Moraga neighborhood a dreary grey. Walnut Creek, looked much the same. The surgery proved more complicated than at first appeared, both her interior and exterior miniscus was severely damaged, putting the hope of the simultaneous ACL surgery, and recovery, out of the question. 

As usual we had much support, our neighbor, Dan, was with us for the entire day. Other friends arrived after, at the hospital, and then more at home. Siena’s sweet, and sunny nature attracts so many people, love and support. 

I’m not going to lie, it was pure hell to see her in pain and crying. They had to give her three additional doses of morphine, and a second nerve block, before the pain was under control, and she stopped crying. 

Of course, I was crying too. She couldn’t see me because I was cradling her head in the hospital bed as she screamed. I kept thinking it felt similar to having a baby; the pain, but also the relief that it was over, and she was going to be alright. 

Later, she watched movies with a group of friends in her room. Our home is full of flowers, candy, balloons, and cards. My lovely daughter is asleep now.

The smoke from the Napa fire has mostly cleared, and all is well. I’m sitting peacefully with my dog, as everyone sleeps. 

Grateful.

Love and blessings to all. 

Suddenly It All Changes

Claremont Hotel, Berkeley, California

I’ve been praying for peace and tranquility for so long that it is a reflex. I do it in the car at the red lights, while brushing my teeth, or even just rushing down the stairs on my way out the door in the morning.

On Friday, Paris came home for the weekend. I picked her up from the airport and when she got in the car, I said, “tell me everything.”

A few days before, I could feel a definite shift. The light was brighter and all of the edges had sharpened as if coming into focus. The colors had softened to blue, white and yellow.

The clouds hung gently over the San Francisco Bay as I exited the Caldecott Tunnel. I could see the view of Treasure Island and San Francisco magically laid out before me. I was on my way to meet my business partner for martinis and oysters at the Clairemont Hotel to celebrate our progress with Ocean SF.

We sat outside in the warm sunshine and looked toward to city. The sky was a perfect cerulean blue, and everything had a freshness like I had never seen before. Andrew, wore a blue and white striped shirt and I could see the reflection of myself in his mirrored sunglasses. It was one of those rare moments in life where you feel perfectly content as if everything lay in front of you, and nothing behind.

I have become an observer in my own life over the past year. I like to watch how things unfold. Truthfully, I am not always calm while doing this, and people close to me have witnessed some of the moments when I am out of sorts with my circumstances, but it’s a practice to allow change and not resist it.

When we got home from the airport, Paris sat on the kitchen counter and talked as I made dinner. She is someone who is excited about ideas and exudes passion as she speaks. She is a whirl of philosophies, personalities, topics and opinions. As I watched her face, I could see she is maturing. Her eyes are a deeper blue, and her smile is a smile beneath a smile, that of a young woman, and no longer of a girl.

Change can be excruciatingly slow. Then, one day you are there.

In my 20’s I was stunned and amazed to be sitting on a train in England wearing a herringbone coat traveling toward my first economics class at the University of London. It took ten months to apply, and work toward that goal, but I eventually arrived, and the long rain soaked days at Oregon State University became just a memory.

When Paris was home, we had a dozen people for dinner. We sat in our formal dining room among friends and candle light, everyone was laughing.  It felt as if it had always been this way.

Love and blessings to all.

Being Excellent Where You Are

Occasionally, I will tell my kids how much I disliked being a stay at home mother.  And this really upsets them, but what would appear to be a luxury to one person, can be torture to another.

Often, my friends who worked full time will tell me they did what I did, and also worked. However, they did not. I will not go into how I turned myself inside out being the Junior Highschool recycling garbage monitor, teaching literature to sixth graders, or ironing our pillow cases with the lavender water I made from the lavender I grew in my garden, and so on. Because those things are unimportant, but what I did do that was important, was to listen to the hopes and dreams of the generation of children that surrounded me during those years. 

When my daughter was being bullied, I would go to school and have lunch with her in the cafeteria. No one noticed because I was there so often people thought I worked there.  I did everything from tutoring to weeding the school garden. I even played my violin for my daughter’s classes, most people don’t even know that I play the violin.

I taught embroidery to both girls fifth grade class. We embroidered covered wagons on canvas, during the pioneer history module, but mostly I talked with them while teaching them to sew with a needle and thread. The first year, I met a little boy named Albert, and he would sit on my lap the entire hour I was there. He was one of my favorites.

Working at a paid job has a predictable pace, and most projects a beginning, a middle, and an end. And you can take a break at lunchtime, and eventually go home at night. Motherhood for working and nonworking mothers alike is another matter all together. 

Nothing in my life, before or since, took more from me as a person, or was as physically and emotionally demanding as being a stay at home mother. 

My house was as clean as a whistle, not some days, but everyday. I often hosted after school pool parties for twenty-five. I made my own play dough and my own pasta from scratch with Italian flour that I bought at a special grocery store in Napa. So, clearly I brought much of this on myself. 

Now, I rarely make my bed, and cooking means I grill chicken, and toss it into a salad at 8 p.m. And, I get a second chance to return full time to the work I love. 

After the way things turned out, I’m happy I took the time to create a warm, peaceful, and beautiful environment for my family and many friends. 

Those days now feel like a dream. It’s as if I was an entirely different person then, however, being excellent at what I did helped to create many happy memories that laid a solid foundation for my children. 

After their father died, I told them often that the past predicts the future. And, although it might be hard to believe, they would one day be happy again. 

And so it goes.

Love and blessings to all. 

Fear Is The Killer of Love

Fear is the killer of love. I’ve known this for a long time, although staying open to love without fear feels like playing the goalie in a game of ice hockey without any protective gear.

The same is true in business. I’ve been working very hard to bring Ocean SF to fruition. I’ve invested my time, money and heart. Along the way, I’ve tapped some of the best players from my past and have put together a remarkable team.  

We are making some beautiful things, not just for our product line, but from an environmental and socially responsible standpoint, we truly are building something very unique, and creating value not simply in what we produce and sell, but in driving our vision for environmentally conscious businesses in general. 

Our sustainable mission and love for the ocean is part of  everything we do and represent. It is the reason why we do what we do. 

Now that we are long past the point of no return, I am aware of my fear of letting go and allowing the changes that are necessary for a business to thrive and grow. 

A direction must be chosen and committed to, and faith and trust in the unknown is no longer simply an ideal, but a necessity. 

Yesterday, I had back to back meetings, I am hiring people to lay the financial future of the company, as we get in position to take money from investors. Andrew and I can no longer alone, do all of the work required, in every aspect of the business. 

To grow the business we need help, and this means trusting other people, committing to a course and executing regardless of our reservations. We understand that we can endlessly weigh the consequences of each decision, but ultimately we must decide, and each decision at this point, has enormous potential to influence our success and future.

During my morning meeting, as I was listening to my financial adviser talk about venture capital, I was nervously tipping the legs of my chair. My mother always warned me that one day, I would break the chair, but it’s a bad habit of mine, that I’ve not been able to break. Predictably, the chair gave way, and I literally fell onto the floor.  This is not something I’ll soon forget. 

I was unharmed, but afterward, I spent time contemplating the significance of this event. 

In the end, I decided to be fearless. I’ll stay calm, make wise choices, trust myself, and other people. I will remain open to change and be willing to take the risks inherent in moving toward my goals and dreams. This is of course, an evolution of sorts, to find my courage and consistently and confidently act on it. 

Sometimes, our fear is what hurts us the most.  

Lesson learned. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Ojai & Lemon Groves

My Meyer Lemon Tree, Moraga, California
When I was younger, I spent a good deal of time in the Ojai Valley, just outside of Santa Barbara, California. My college boyfriend was from there, and I dreamed of living, one day among the lemon groves. 

My lemon grove dreams were shattered when my then boyfriend cheated on me while I was representing Switzerland at Model United Nations in Sacramento. It’s no accident that this was the country I would represent. I abhor conflict of any kind, I’m protective of myself, and I’ve been known to be unforgiving. So, after the cheating incident, the college boyfriend and I were done for good.

I spent a few vacations in Santa Barbara with my late husband and children when they were very small, and later we spent a week at the beautiful Ojai Valley Resort & Spa one Spring Break.

During these visits, the idea that I could someday retire to a place like this, where I would have a lemon grove, a white farm house, and a clothes line was born. 

As I go through the stresses of my daily life, I think about this farm house, and the simple life I will one day have. 

When I wake up in the middle of the night and the list of things that I have to do the next day to chase my current dreams, and secure venture capital for Ocean SF, consumes me with anxiety, I am comforted in knowing that whatever happens between now, and my days in the lemon grove, really don’t matter.  

Someday, I will be there, or somewhere like that, and all of this will feel like a dream.

Until then, I will never give up and I will never back down. I will continue to live in the present, outside my comfort zone, not knowing exactly what will happen next, but knowing it will all be good.

Love and blessings.