Archive for Community

Living the Sweet Life: I’m Hygee Hip and Trending, Are you? June 2017


Well there’s always something trending. No “fake news” there! It’s not surprising to hear that this or that is the new “it.” What is surprising is the idea that something so simple and so automatic could be re-labeled and re-branded and tossed to us as an actual new thing and that some of us will actually buy into it. Yes, you know who you are!
Hygee pronounced ‘hoo-gah’ is the latest trend coming out of Denmark. The country boasts proudly to be the happiest place in the world. The concept of “Hygee is the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming.” Which oddly enough actually sounds like my home. The types of activities that go along with this mindset are also real familiar too. Like the people who are actively “practicing” this trend are said to light candles, check, yep I do that. They are said to drink tea and sit with their cats and watch t.v. with little to no remorse with themselves for having taken a break. Check, do that too! They are said to sleep in and drink wine and restrain from electronics while eating, and enjoying others company. Checkity check. I do all that already. So what is “new” about hygee? Why is it getting all this hype?
I’ll tell you why I think it’s suddenly the new “thing.” We as a society have become too informed. Each day we are without wanting given more and more information and we are on overload. The “idea” of having a safe space i.e. a home where no one can bombard us with annoying crap is quite appealing. The old ways of communicating face to face, and really listening and holding someone’s hand and watching a sunset are days to live for and when they come to cherish. A hygee lifestyle is about going back about 100 years and shutting out on purpose the world. It is about placing in our homes things that we cherish that remind us of trips we have taken and memories we have made. Our homes should always reflect who we are and be filled with things that make us cozy. But NOTHING about this is NEW!
At my house there’s a few cats that will at any moment requested cheerily climb in to your lap. There’s art in every room that either the children or I have created. The chairs are worn and torn and look like they came out of an old house and the kitchen smells like whatever I am cooking. When my friends come they usually ask what’s for lunch and then promptly take a nap! It used to surprise me that I would find them so comfortable in what they call “the country” i.e. my house that they would fall asleep! I suspected though that my house had it’s own hygee vibe. I just called it comfortable and home. With the pool dripping into the water, and the birds singing and the cat’s purring…what in the world would make anyone want to leave? Perhaps like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that you too are living a hygee lifestyle and that you are hip and trending too!
Take Care of YOU!

Alisa Murray’s Living the Sweet Life : The Daily Dose

Living the Sweet Life: August 2016 Coming Home….

IMG_9180Many of you are packing up your teenagers and heading to the universities this month. This will be their new home as they embark on their adventures and begin a new chapter both for their lives but for those off us as parents. I remember such an occasion on a crisp fall day in August in 1987 when I left home for the first time and moved into the all girls dorm at St. Mary’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Daddy’s hugs and what he called my “Big Crocodile Tears” were a part of that day too and at the same time I was excited …I was all grown up….and I was scared to death! My last year of high school would be finished there as would my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts. My grandparents were very worried that if I got exposed to a different religion that I would convert over to it. And as funny as that sounds….those Baptists are very particular about how they view other religions. St. Mary’s is an Episcopal all girls school that is relatively exclusive being that it’s private and still today as it was in 1987… the only existing Episcopal all girls boarding school still left in this country. It was converted during the civil war into a hospital for the soldiers and we would find confederate money in her walls during several construction sites during my three years attending.

I loved St. Mary’s and with most things that I love I fall deeply into them. The heart of St.Mary’s was chapel which we attended twice a day and then a Vespers service Wednesday evenings and on Sunday’s if you were not away visiting family. It was at St. Mary’s that I learned Latin, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and became the leading art student in the entire school. SCAD courted me as a result of my art and eventually I went there to continue my studies in Painting, Art History and Interior Design. It was also where I became as my grandparents feared…an Episcopalian.

I have always been very active in the church attending choir and all youth activities. I quickly became a Vestry member before graduating high school and by my sophomore year in college I was made Senior Warden. I remember the very first night after all the parents had gone and we were attending our first service and going over what it means to be a St. Mary’s girl. I remember accidentally saying the “Holy Ghost” and my new roommate glanced over at me and gave me the “look.” I also distinctly remember waiting for something terrible to happen, like for me to spontaneously combust when they passed the Blood and Body of Christ I discovered it was not grape juice but actual wine that they we’re serving!

Many years have passed since I graduated from St. Mary’s and many churches along the way Brian and I attended in both Savannah and in Houston. None were what I felt at St. Mary’s until we found St. Catherine’s. And even St. Catherine’s magic didn’t happen until Father Mike became the priest. We went and we left and we went and we left and then Father Mike came and we go as much as my shooting schedule will allow us to. So after having raised my babies in an Episcopal church I had never actually left the title of my Baptist faith and converted over officially to that of being an Episcopalian. James Edward and I attended the classes and as he discovered the nuances of the faith I felt a sense of peace at having finally found and finished what I had meant to so many years before. It was like coming home.

On a warm yummy day last month James Edward and I became officially Episcopalians. During Bishop’s sermon he mentioned something that I think will stick with Jamesy hopefully for as long as he lives. It’s a message of understanding our place here while on earth is of the walking dead. We are all here doing hopefully what God’s plan and purpose is for our lives but we are not fully living. It is when we live in heaven and are a part of the larger Body of Christ that we are risen and are fully alive. Love is the only thing we must do and Love is most imperative in our lost world full of so much hate and discord.
Thanks be to GOD!

Houston Award Winning Columnist | Alisa Murray| Living the Sweet Life | Bugs for Lunch? May 2016

MAY 2016
Living the Sweet Life : Ants and Grasshoppers for lunch anyone?

For the longest time when I think of a picnic I have that iconic image of a red checkered blanket and at some point a trail of ants trying to invade and haul off any crumbs that they can. Never in my wildest dreams did that vision include making ants be the main entree! What are you talking about you ask? These days in the world of food consumption, one can choose to eat a sandwich and others can just go eat a bug, making your picnics a whole other experience! Yes, folks you read it right…bugs! Bugs you say? What?? It turns out that around the world insects such as ants, locusts, mealworms and grasshoppers are consumed by about 2 billion people.

This both disgusted me and intrigued me. When I was a child one of the fondest memories was spending time in the mountains with my Granny and Big Daddy. We would plan for a day outside and Granny would make a bunch of sandwiches and lemonade. Big Daddy always had a large watermelon and we would set off on a big adventure. Sometimes we would go to a
picnic table in the Blue Ridge Parkway and other times we would go for a jeep ride up into the mountains themselves and spread out a blanket with the trees as ou canopy and while listening to crickets and birds and most often a mountain stream, we would have our lunch. Never in a million years would I have thought to just reach down and grab an innocent little ant and start chomping away. Sounds kinda sorta well actually YUCK!

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the Unites Nations sees consumption of insects as essential to food security. Due to our ever expanding world coupled with mortality rates dropping slightly due to better health and health care advances or food production must increase by 70 percent to feed 2050’s projected 9 billion people. And Insects, a viable source of life sustaining protein; despite your cringing, are sustainable and less expensive to produce than cattle and pork. Even more crazy, since I’ve been feeding mealworms to James Edward’s bearded dragon and not to us at our dinner table, was to learn that mealworms have as much unsaturated omega-3 fat as fish do and a pound of locusts contain more iron than a pound of beef!

I think that for at least during my lifetime I’ll be sticking to dill pickles, ham and swiss sandwiches and berries! It’s not that I don’t want to be hip and all…at this point I think I am just too old to change. They say that the crickets taste like cashews and sweet corn and the ants, well those are really advanced in the foodie world! Who knew? Those little guys come in flavors such as honey and bacon. I think I’d rather have the real thing though. I could perhaps see having a cricket breakfast bar if I live long enough to see my great grandchildren and don’t really know what’s going on around me anymore! At that point I wouldn’t really care and I guess that’d be alright!

Take Care of YOU! shutterstock_324406838

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Living the Sweetlife : A Beautiful Responsibility

 I really like wearing a cape (figuratively speaking of course!) and given the opportunity to be a super hero at anytime in my life has, and I am sure will continue to be, ideal. Now, my time has come! Many already know that as the children have grown in my family client base they have attached the name “Auntie A” to refer to me. It is a name of endearment and through it I have a furthered sense of belonging to a great extended family. I rather love that a small child would name me and want to share their thoughts and greater still as a teen actually listen. This has been a long journey in the making.
I can argue because I am old enough now to win the argument that although children need us to rear them at all ages it is imperative that they have an adult that they confide in during the teen years. These special years are the most difficult to navigate because of puberty and now with what I call the “Social Situation” just plain scary. Teaching them what to do and to not do is an enormous task and a beautiful responsibility.
I try, to be hip and not seem like an old foddy doddy. That is probably why I know a lot about what all my children are doing and questions they have usually get asked openly on a multitude of subjects. Even so I am not stupid enough to think for a minute they are not doing what children do which is test limits and try things on for size. Parenting is different at every age and stage but being trusted and confided in takes time. Through my talks with teens, I came to realize that many do not understand the importance of manners and the future impact of their social behaviors. It might surprise you that most teens do not know how to balance a check book, or understand that all their texts will come back to haunt them. Deep down each of them  are looking for solid advice, just not from their parents, that they can make sense of their world and tough decisions.
Recently I did a little research to see if I could at all find a place that teens could go to learn about what to do and not do and ask questions about stuff. I found a bunch of etiquette about businesses. I, of course also found all the old stuff about setting a table but what to do when you are being bullied? What to do when someone is pressuring you to do something you do not want to do? Those subjects were next to impossible to find advice and solid facts in an interesting and relatable way. With our lives increasingly influenced by the “social situation” it is surprising that this  not taught in our schools. And all at once, I caught a glimpse of my cape.
Over the past several months even years I have been transforming into the superhero that I have always know I could be…should be. With the encouragement of my daughter and agent I have developed a show called “Auntie A Says.” It airs on my Youtube channel by the same name and I have developed a weekly episode with a years worth of content for our youth. I am excited to tell you right from wrong in a world that has all but forgotten basic etiquette. I feel like I have transformed fully into the name given to me by our children. Mostly, I hope that I will be able to influence  vasts more through social media to make their world a better place.
Take Care of YOU!