tea talk

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

July 4th has come and gone, and that always leaves me feeling a bit melancholy.  I think of that holiday as the halfway point of summer…maybe not for everyone, but for my two oldest it really is.  My middle daughter starts school on August 15th, with my oldest returning to college a few days later.  My youngest is the last to start school again, soooo maybe she hasn’t hit the halfway mark of summer yet!

I start to think…”Have we created fun summer memories?”

And that leads to the question I asked my friends for this month’s tea talk…

“Name three things on your summer bucket list.”

Given the way I’ve been feeling, I really liked #3 on my friend, Julie’s, list.  So keep reading for some ideas on ways to make those summer memories…


 

  • Name:  Meredith
  • Age:  40
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  former licensed nursing home administrator…now a household engineer
  • Number of Children:  four
  1.  We always like to go to Ann Arbor and go canoeing on the Argo Livery.  It’s so much fun and you can also rent a tube and float down the river.
  2. All the festivals:  Old West End, Crosby Gardens, Greek Fest, German American
  3. Bike to the Bay…haven’t done this one yet but I want to some year.

  • Name:  Caroline
  • Age:  45
  • City:  San Antonio, Texas
  • Occupation:  mom
  • Number of Children:  one
  1.  Eat at least one meal outside everyday.
  2. Go to the drive in.
  3. Not get swimmers ear.

  • Name:  Jill
  • Age: 47
  • City:  Cincinnati,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  teacher
  • Number of Children:  two
  1.  One thing was to get away this summer…we did not take a trip last year with all the graduation/ college preparation/ work going on.  So, that was one thing (which we accomplished by planning the trip for the minute school was finished).  Even though our trip was simple, we all had a great time together.
  2. Another is to organize and re-fresh the house.  I’d like to set up a workout area and paint the finished lower level a different color.  I’d also like to re-do my office space.
  3. Finally, I want to enjoy time with my girls and my husband.  It seems that time goes by so quickly, and we are very busy (as all families are) running everywhere all the time.  I’d like to find a way to connect with everyone in my little family by establishing routines where we are spending quality time together…sitting in front of the TV together doesn’t count.  I’m finding that all of us are on our phones a lot, too…checking social media and playing games.  It’s not just the kids…I’m on there, too!  We need to find other things to do…maybe game nights or evening walks?

  • Name:  Julie
  • Age:  49
  • City: Sylvania,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  stay at home mom
  • Number of Children:  three
  1.  Clean out my garage.
  2. Help my child firm up her college list as she approaches senior year.
  3. Continue laughing and creating memories while the nest is full.

  • Name:  Lauri
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mother, coach, and retired attorney
  • Number of Children:  two
  1.  a bucket of mussels
  2. a bucket of cold ice with Tavel wine
  3. a bucket of hydrangeas

  • Name:  Tammy
  • Age:  49
  • City:  Pauline, South Carolina
  • Occupation:  homemaker
  • Number of Children:  2 daughters, 1 heavenly daughter
  1.  Turn 50 gracefully and celebrate!
  2. Spend more time with my mother.
  3. Make a real bucket list!!

  • Name:  Wendy
  • Age:  47
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  financial advisor
  • Number of Children:  two
  1.  I only read 1-2 novels a year.  I hope to finish The Widow of Wall Street this summer.
  2. I’m planning to enjoy some “down time” with family and friends at Catawba Island Club.
  3. I’m getting my son ready to leave for college (NYU)!

  • Name:  Kathy
  • Age:  61
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  development officer
  • Number of Children:  one
  1.  Family European trip…visit London, visit family in Chester, United Kingdom, visit friends in Brussels, Belgium and Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  2. Trip to Santa Fe, NM and Taos Pueblo.
  3. Play more golf with my friends and girlfriends.

I always enjoy reading the variety of answers from my friends!

Whatever it is that you have on your summer bucket list, I hope you are able to find time to accomplish it and make a few memories along the way!

tea talk

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

We are now well into the month of June…and if you’re like me, it took those first few weeks to get settled into our summer routine.  You know the one…dashing to morning swim practice, followed by tennis lessons, art camp, and golf clinics.  And THAT was just the first week of summer!

Now that I have that schedule worked out, it’s time to think a bit about relaxing and enjoying a new book for summer…

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

So I asked my friends…

“What is a good book for summer reading?”

  • Name:  Christy
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Toledo,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mom, wife, and corporate executive
  • Number of Children:  two

My book choices are And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer (historical fiction) and How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims.


  • Name:  Wendy
  • Age:  47
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  financial advisor
  • Number of Children:  two

I highly recommend a novel called Early Decision:  Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford.  This is a terrific book for parents of junior high and high school students as it follows several high school students through the college admissions process as they work on their essays and applications with a private counselor.  This fictional novel is based on the author’s 15 years of experience as a college counselor and is much more entertaining than it sounds!


  • Name:  Meredith
  • Age:  40
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  former licensed nursing home administrator…now a household engineer
  • Number of Children:  four

For a self-help, inspiring book, I would say Carry On Warrior…The Power of Embracing your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton.  Also love her Love Warrior book.

For a funny, easy read, I would say What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.


  • Name:  Tammy
  • Age:  49
  • City:  Pauline, South Carolina
  • Occupation:  homemaker
  • Number of Children:  2 daughters, 1 heavenly daughter

My favorites are On Folly Beach by Karen White and Saving Cicadas by Nicole A. Seitz.


  • Name:  Julie
  • Age:  48
  • City: Sylvania,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  stay at home mom
  • Number of Children:  three

I always recommend this as a great book, even though I read it six years ago…Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.


  • Name:  Jill
  • Age: 47
  • City:  Cincinnati,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  teacher
  • Number of Children:  two

I recommend anything by Elin Hildebrandt!


  • Name:  Lauri
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mother, coach, and retired attorney
  • Number of Children:  two
My summer reading books are a little more boring than your typical summer breezy books, so I can’t wait to see other peoples ideas. Here are the books I have started while getting into summer…
Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck – an amazing book that my sister handed to me and said “read it.’  I’m 61 pages in and she’s right.
Raising a Healthy Happy Eater – a Stage by Stage Guide to Setting Your Child in the Path to Adventurous Eating by Fernando and Potock
Running on Ritalin by Lawrence Diller, The Purpose of Boys by Michael Gurian and Real Boys by William Pollack
Bleak House by Charles Dickens – my husband’s favorite book
The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace is about the world’s most expensive bottle of wine, which is probably the closest to a breezy summer read that I’ll get.

Wow!  So many great ideas for summer reading…I’m not sure I’ll have time to read all the ones that interest me.  We’ll just have to extend summer a few more months!

tea talk

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

It’s time for May’s tea talk, so grab a cup of tea or coffee and get comfortable!  We are discussing a timely topic this month…

“What is the best Mother’s Day gift you’ve ever given or received?”

  • Name:  Tammy
  • Age:  49
  • City:  Pauline, South Carolina
  • Occupation:  homemaker
  • Number of Children:  2 daughters, 1 heavenly daughter

Last year for Mother’s Day, my husband Mark, purchased and planted all of the herb pots on our patio for me while I was away for the day.  He did a wonderful job and the herbs lasted all summer so I was constantly reminded of his gesture.


  • Name:  Jill
  • Age: 47
  • City:  Cincinnati,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  teacher
  • Number of Children:  two

My oldest daughter was big into theater productions in high school.  At Christmas, I was looking for local plays/ musicals and thought I’d get tickets to a show for her as a gift.  I stumbled onto Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s website, and they were advertising the upcoming season’s productions.  “Erma” caught my eye, as I grew up reading Erma Bombeck, and my mom loved her!  So, I was able to get four tickets (mom, myself, and my two girls) for the 2:00 pm show on Mother’s Day.  I haven’t told my mom yet, but I’m hoping she is excited about it when she finds out.  This is a gift that includes all of us, is from the heart, and hopefully everyone will enjoy the show and the time spent together.


  • Name:  Caroline
  • Age:  45
  • City:  San Antonio, Texas
  • Occupation:  mom
  • Number of Children:  one

After trying to conceive for over three years, it was on a cold, rainy, and windy Mother’s Day (May 11, 2003) in Chicago, that I found out that at long last I was pregnant!!!  And after suffering from secondary infertility and never being able to carry a child again, it really did turn out to be the VERY, VERY BEST Mother’s Day gift ever.


  • Name:  Julie
  • Age:  49
  • City: Sylvania,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  stay at home mom
  • Number of Children:  three

My favorite gift was a handmade gift from one of my children when they were in second grade.  First, he/ she wrapped three sharpened pencils with floral tape and accented the pencils with colorful artificial flowers.  Then he/ she wrapped a soup can in shelf paper.  Finally, he/ she wrote a portrait poem about me and glued it to the can.  The pencil flowers were placed inside the can with brown tissue paper acting as the dirt to make a beautiful Mother’s Day gift to cherish forever.


  • Name:  Christy
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Toledo,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mom, wife, and corporate executive
  • Number of Children:  two

The best Mother’s Day gift I ever received was the birth of my first child.  My oldest daughter was born on Mother’s Day in 2003.


  • Name:  Lauri
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mother, coach, and retired attorney
  • Number of Children:  two

This is what I made for my mom one year, and she loved it!  I saw it at a craft store and thought…hey I can do that.  It was actually a lot harder than I thought, but it was a lot of fun.  I didn’t really think about the name of the book until afterwards, so I would recommend that there be more thought than an afterthought.


  • Name:  Wendy
  • Age:  47
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  financial advisor
  • Number of Children:  two

There’s a vase in my office my son made in art class and a card in my den my daughter made at school.  I smile every time I look at them.


I loved reading my friends’ responses…it seems that gifts from the heart are truly the most meaningful!  In fact, my favorite Mother’s Day gifts are these poems that my two oldest daughters each wrote in the fourth grade.  My youngest has the same fourth grade teacher as her older sisters, and I’m HOPING to receive a third “How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways” poem this year!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!

tea talk

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

It’s time for April’s tea talk…so grab a cup of coffee or (if you’re like me) some tea and join us as we discuss the question for this month!

“What is your go-to hostess gift when attending a party or dinner hosted by a friend?”

  • Name:  Christy
  • Age:  49
  • City:  Nashville,  Tennessee
  • Occupation:  stay at home mom
  • Number of Children: two

I like Archipelago boxed candles in Pomegranate Citrus, Mango Tangerine, or Verbena Basil.

I also love anything from Williams Sonoma.  Their kitchen towels, logo towels, and little holiday towels are fun.  I love their Essential Oils Kitchen Essentials with dish soap. hand soap or lotion, and countertop spray.  The olive oil and balsamic vinegar sets are wonderful!


  • Name:  Wendy
  • Age:  47
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  financial advisor
  • Number of Children:  two

If I find something monogrammed that’s appropriate for a hostess gift, I buy it and set it aside until I can use it.  Some examples are soap, cheese boards, notecards, and coasters.  Otherwise, I’ll pick up something seasonal from Williams Sonoma…a pumpkin bread mix, hot chocolate, etc.


  • Name:  Jill
  • Age: 47
  • City:  Cincinnati,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  teacher
  • Number of Children:  two

My go-to a lot of times is a Yankee candle in a “generic” scent, like Vanilla Cupcake, or a seasonal scent for that time of year.


  • Name:  Tammy
  • Age:  49
  • City:  Pauline, South Carolina
  • Occupation:  homemaker
  • Number of Children:  2 daughters, 1 heavenly daughter

I try to personalize my hostess gifts as much as possible…whether it be “themed” along with the party I’m attending or something I definitely know the hostess appreciates and enjoys.  My favorite idea when attending a dinner party is to provide a breakfast bread, coffee, and a couple of mini-bottles of Baileys or OJ/champagne for the hosts’ morning after breakfast.


  • Name:  Christy
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Toledo,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mom, wife, and corporate executive
  • Number of Children:  two

I like utility or consumable items.  My current favorites are:

  1. Corkcicle, which is frozen and used to cork and chill wine
  2. Mrs. Meyers linen spray, dish soap, counter spray, etc.  My two favorites are lavender and geranium
  3. Philosophy Amazing Grace body wash
  4. Godiva chocolates

  • Name:  Lauri
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mother, coach, and retired attorney
  • Number of Children:  two

A great bottle of wine that the host will love.  As a level 1 Sommelier, I sometimes bring something I think the host may not have tried before, but really like.


  • Name:  Kathy
  • Age:  61
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  development officer
  • Number of Children:  one

I have several go-to hostess gifts when attending a party or dinner hosted by a friend.  A nice bottle of their favorite wine or pretty cocktail napkins (depending on the host).  But if it’s a special friend, I usually take a jar of American Spoon preserves, jelly or spoon fruit.  That way it’s a gift the entire family can enjoy.


  • Name:  Julie
  • Age:  48
  • City: Sylvania,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  stay at home mom
  • Number of Children:  three

Wine is probably my easiest pick up.  I also enjoy perusing Hallmark or TK Lane (a local boutique) for a fun gift, often seasonal.


  • Name:  Meredith
  • Age:  40
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  former licensed nursing home administrator…now a household engineer
  • Number of Children:  four

I would have to say Paula Brown sells a pistachio dish for about $20 and then I get a bag of pistachios.  It’s kind of my go-to gift for men or women or for a couple.  It is also great for cherries.  There is a separate bottom dish for the shells or pits.


As always, my friends shared some great ideas!  I will definitely remember these suggestions the next time I need a hostess gift!!!

tea talk

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

Good morning, everyone!  I’m so excited to share with you that I’m starting a new monthly series today!

I’m calling it “tea talk.”  Do you remember back in the day when moms would get together for coffee after their kids left for school in the morning?  They would discuss all subjects…parenting ideas, the latest beauty product, women’s issues, share new recipes, etc.  That just doesn’t happen much anymore!  More women work than before….and because of technology, we moms stay connected through social media.

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

So here’s the idea behind my new monthly series…I’ve asked a group of my friends to answer a question every month and I will share the answers with my readers.  I soooo wish that they could all come to my house for coffee and share their advice and ideas in person, but that isn’t always possible.  So let’s just pretend that it happened that way (instead of via email), and we are sitting around chatting over coffee…or in my case, tea (I’m not a coffee drinker).

This month’s question is…

“What are your three favorite health and/or beauty items?”

  • Name:  Kathy
  • Age:  61
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  development officer
  • Number of Children:  one
  1.   Mary Kay Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover
  2.   Evian natural mineral water facial spray
  3.   My purple Fitbit (goal 10,000 steps a day)

  • Name:  Christy
  • Age:  49
  • City:  Nashville,  Tennessee
  • Occupation:  stay at home mom
  • Number of Children: two
  1.   Retin-a to exfoliate and rejuvenate my face
  2.   Amlactin lotion for my hands and body
  3.   Lemon, lime, or orange slices to make me drink more water

  • Name:  Wendy
  • Age:  47
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  financial advisor
  • Number of Children:  two
  1.   Sleep
  2.   Clinique Sparkle Skin Body exfoliating cream
  3.   Final Net hairspray…I buy it by the case for my fine, thin hair

  • Name:  Jill
  • Age: 47
  • City:  Cincinnati,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  teacher
  • Number of Children:  two
  1.   Sun Bum sunscreen…it’s the best.  Smells good and does a great job!  We love and use their whole line of products, which are generally available at Ulta or online.  I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2013.  Our lifestyle quickly changed after that.  We are very serious about our exposure now.
  2.   Clinique High Impact Lip Color, in Go Fig.  It’s neutral enough to go with everything.
  3.   Revlon’s Cherries in the Snow nail polish.  It’s a hot pink that I have used for years.  Great coverage and stands up to wear!

Honorable Mentions…(for staying sun-smart)

  •  Coolibar long-sleeve T-shirts…they are lightweight.  I wear them year-round, and I love them!
  • Big Brimmed San Diego Womens Hat
  • Nike Big Brim Womens Visor

  • Name:  Lauri
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mother, coach, and retired attorney
  • Number of Children:  two
  1.   EVER Luminous Cleansing Balm and Quattro Peptide Face & Serum and Peel Pads (never in my life has my skin looked better)
  2.   Farmhouse Fresh Sweet Cream Body Milk Lotion (but avoid using in mosquito weather for it attracts)
  3.   Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotic (real science behind this product)

  • Name:  Julie
  • Age:  48
  • City: Sylvania,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  stay at home mom
  • Number of Children:  three

I love the Boscia line of facial products, which are preservative-free, no artificial fragrances or colors, gluten-free, and alcohol-free.  My three favorites are…

  1.   Purifying Cleansing Gel
  2.   Eye Treatment (an eye cream)
  3.   Beauty Oil (hydrates my face leaving it soft)

  • Name:  Christy
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Toledo,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mom, wife, and corporate executive
  • Number of Children:  two
  1.   Purity Face Was by Philosophy
  2.   Better than Sex Mascara by Too Faced
  3.   Detox Dry Shampoo by Dry Bar

  • Name:  Tammy
  • Age:  49
  • City:  Pauline, South Carolina
  • Occupation:  homemaker
  • Number of Children:  2 daughters, 1 heavenly daughter
  1.   it Cosmetics Confidence in a Compact (LOVE the feel and light coverage of this foundation…anti-aging and SPF 50 all in one)
  2.   Biore Baking Soda Cleansing Scrub (gentle exfoliation leaves my skin feeling SOOO smooth and soft)
  3.   Nature’s Way Umcka Cold Care (This has been a staple in my house for a few years now…I truly believe it works! Take a daily dose for warding off a cold or use at first signs of symptoms to shorten the duration and lessen the severity of infection.)

Honorable Mentions…

  • Nars Blush (the shade is “orgasm”…I didn’t name it, just love it!)
  • Rodan and Fields Redefine Line…I have never used anything consistently for this long, 4+ years now.  I don’t sell it, but I’m a huge fan!

  • Name:  Meredith
  • Age:  40
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  former licensed nursing home administrator…now a household engineer
  • Number of Children:  four
  1.   Ever skincare line…love it all but especially the Revive intensive eye life cream
  2.   DoTERRA essential oils…I love all the oils for health and beauty.  My top three are peppermint, lemon, and lavender.
  3.   Iodine…apply on inner wrist when feeling a sore throat coming on.  Salt absorbs into the blood stream and gets rid of soreness.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to try some of these products, as well as the tips for staying healthy and looking beautiful!

Thank you to my friends for sharing their advice…I hope you enjoyed the first of these monthly “tea talks!”