On Aging – An Interview With My Father-In-Law


Bill Prior, my father in law, is 84 years old. He has had an impressive life, full of difficulties and achievements. The short story is that he started a water recycling company in the 70s (with a partner) that evolved into a very successful business with hundreds of employees. At age 70, he sold that company and started a new venture: a home recycling water company that will allow people to disconnect from the grid, and produce their own water. That is his dream and he is making it happen. He is a visionary.

Bill has an uncanny intuition for reading people. He understands the strengths and virtues of others and he always focuses on the big picture. Never gets frozen by small details. He is a good leader because people want to please him. He is also naïve, a soul that never stops seeing the glass half full. 84 years have not diminished his excitement for living, and in many ways, he is still a child.

Every time I feel discouraged about life, I think about him. When he was almost 40, his brother and dad fired him from his family company that helped feed his 5 children. He transformed these hard times into a giant success.  Bill is proof that it is never too late to be useful and start anew.

In my world, I will always remember our daily morning conversations with a cup of coffee up at the cottage. In spite of such a busy life, Bill has always been ready for a good talk, and his wonderful soul irradiates through those beautiful light blue eyes that he has. He is one of the reasons I fell in love with George. I thought, how bad can George be with a father like that. I was right.

jestcafe.com-on-agingI asked Bill the same questions about aging that I asked my dad in this post a couple of months ago. Here are Bill’s answers.

1) What have you liked the most about living so far?

I particularly enjoy unexpected changes as they unfold in my and others lives around me.  It is fun to see people finding themselves in roles they never expected to fill, and which are now consuming their lives, including of course Carol’s and my own lives.

2) What makes you happy right now?

A lot of things, but at the top of the list would be when I can help someone build a dream of his own.

3) How do you feel mentally? And, in comparison to when you were young?

The big change – the huge change – was when I had that stroke a year ago.  It is frustrating – it’s embarrassing – it is not comfortable.  I can go to a movie and not understand the plot.  Perhaps the loss of relevance bothers me most.  People are nice to me – very nice, but I know I don’t matter much.  It also takes me too much time to do things.

4) How do you feel physically? And, in comparison to when you were young?

Actually, comparing myself to my contemporaries, I’m doing pretty well.  I get tired.

jestcafe.com-on-aging-35) How do you see your future? What do you expect from it?

I expect to continue aging both physically and mentally.  But I see getting “old” as part of living – not something to be afraid of, but something to be accepted in a positive and perhaps happy way.

6) What are the most impressive changes that you have witnessed during your life?

Putting that in a slightly different way … Certainly my life has carried me through incredible swings, (changes), from tremendous upset and discouragement to amazing good fortune.  At one time my family largely disowned me and I didn’t feel welcome even at the cottage.

7) At what age did you start feeling old?

Outside of the huge change precipitated by that stroke a year ago, (which I already described) the evolution to “start feeling old” has been gradual and about as I was expecting.  Certainly it wasn’t terribly upsetting.

8) How is it to be old?  

Hopefully it is a more gentle but rewarding part of life.

jestcafe.com-on-aging-29) What is the hardest aspect of aging? What is the best aspect of aging?

These aspects are determined more by what a person does with his life than by his age.  I’ve known old, old people who remained happy and healthy to the end, and I’ve known much younger people who could stretch hatefulness to the grave. If life came with a guidebook it could help a lot of people.

10) How do you feel about death?  What do you feel now that you are closer to it?

It’s probably a good way to go.

11) What advice would you give your grandkids?

I’ll tell you later.

Just like my dad, he didn’t want to give an answer to the last question. I wonder why.

I love you, Bill

All pictures in this post were taken up at the cottage, his favorite place in the world. And this picture below are of him reading to my nephews, another couple of cute rascals.


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Welcome, 2016!


Here we go again. One more year behind us, another one to come.

December started as an excellent month. I love the Holidays, but then some hormones kicked in and they made me feel annoyed with the world. Is it me or everybody is super stressed around the Holidays? Finding parking (or a stranger’s smile) is nearly impossible.

I was feeling discouraged and irritated about life for no reason whatsoever. Does this ever happen to you? Luckily, my hormones stabilized by Christmas and I was able to enjoy my kids opening presents.

The first thing we did in December was picking up the Christmas tree:
jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-6This is not our Christmas tree. It would be more appropriate for a big mall and it wouldn’t fit in our house, but it looked so good against the sky that I took a shot.

Here is an attempt at taking overexposed pictures for a little change. jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-19jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-1 jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-34It was really fun and hard to find the perfect Christmas tree. We went to Home Depot where all the trees are tied up and piled one on top of the other. We saved a lot of money by going there, but my kids were loosing patience quickly.

Max decided he wanted to take a look from the ground:jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-5We looked at more than 20 trees.  I wanted it “this” tall or “that” wide. George opened and showcased tree after tree for me, until we found the one. jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-35We saw a lot of friends and went to a lot of places during December. This cutie was my super companion:
jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-3 We tried dragon fruit:jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-9We ate perfectly balanced meals:jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-8Followed by nutritious desserts:jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-7My kids practiced how to play peekaboo while I disappeared into my bedroom:jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-4And then Santa came, which was so, so exciting. This is the first Christmas that my kids really enjoy. Christmas day started with candy and ended with a bunch of nameless presents.It was heaven.  It took them 7 hours to open all the gifts, not because they had so many, but because every time they opened one, they needed 1 hour to play with it before moving on to the next one. jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-31jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-29-30jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-28Victor asked for a lot of magnets so we bought them a couple these and these. The towers he is building with these magnets are huge and amazing.This is a wonderful gift for children.

jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-27jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-26My sister-in-law got the kids this Koala Crate box filled with craft projects. Such a good idea.
jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-25 jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-12 jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-13 jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-11jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-10And we took the kids to Chill, at the Queen Mary. jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-2 jestcafe.com--chill1This “suasage” sign made me laugh.  jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-22The best part of Chill were the ice sculptures and those cute gnomes dressed in blue walking around:
jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-20jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016--14---16jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-21jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-17jestcafe.com-Welcome,2016-18The kids loved the sculptures and they were freezing by the end of it. It was cold in there! 9 degrees Fahrenheit. How cute are these little rascals with those huge jackets? Pretty cute, I must say. jestcafe.com- chill -15And then, for New Year, we had a fancy meal at home with friends. On the menu were: oysters, lobster, ceviche, fish, and plenty of sparkling wine. The best meal I have had in ages. At 10:30 our friends went to different parties, and we went to sleep. What is the point of waiting for midnight by ourselves? It is so difficult for us to find a babysitter on New Year’s eve. It kind of sucks. jestcafe.com-welcome,-2016-23---24

I always like to write down my goals for the next year. I like having specific long and short-term goals, but this year I feel like being more general. Here is what I want to do in 2016:

  1. Improve my photography – take classes, workshops and practice a lot.
  2. Keep writing this blog.
  3. Sign up for a book club.
  4. Do some major improvements on my house (living room, children’s bedroom, etc)
  5. Exercise. I used to exercise a lot but since Max was born, I haven’t. I don’t have time nor money to pay for the extra child care, and I am also lazy to wake up at 6am to do it. I hope to change that this year.
  6. Eat less sugar. As I grow older, I realize how food affects my mood more and more. I decided I should eat less junk food if I want to be happy. Maybe I could eat sugar only once a month? Not sure I can pull this one off, but I will try.
  7. Give Víctor and Max as many kisses as I can.
  8. Tell George I love him everyday.

Welcome, 2016!

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Baking Christmas Cookies With Your Children – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

jestcafe.com- christmas cookies7

I wanted to write a post about the idyllic process of baking Christmas cookies with children. I bought the ingredients and the materials we needed. I prepared the kitchen and the camera to take beautiful pictures, and then I called for the angels to come and help me.

Within 10 seconds of mixing the ingredients, I knew this whole thing was going to be a nightmare. Baking with a 2 and 4 years old is NOT fun, people. They do not obey instructions, the lick everything around them, and they think that distributing flour around the kitchen is more fun than mixing it with eggs and sugar.

I don’t want to sound like a Grinch, but we all know the only reason why young children help baking cookies is to consume as much cookie dough as possible as soon as the adult in charge turns their back on them.

Here are the cookie cutters I bought at Sur la Table. They are pretty cute, but they need to be covered with flour for the dough not to get stuck on them.

jestcafe.com- christmas cookies1 jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies15Here are the beautiful pictures of my children trying to help:jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies12jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies25jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies22jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies21Here are the pictures of my children with their shoes on the table, right next to the cookie dough that we will consume in a matter of hours:jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies18jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies17jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies23jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies26jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies19 jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies14jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies13Here are the behind the scenes photos of my children putting their hands and mouth on the cookie ingredients whenever possible:
jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies20jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies8jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies9jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies6If they were not so darn cute, I would have been upset by now.
jestcafe.com-christmas-cookies28jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies11 Here are some pictures of my children and their gingerbread houses. This is what you call insane sugar crazy mode. My kids have become sugar zombies.jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies2 jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies3 jestcafe.com-xmas-cookies4 jestcafe.com- christmas cookies 5

In the last couple of weeks we have baked a lot of cookies, so I tried a lot of recipes. If you are crazy enough to want to do butter cookies with your children, this is the recipe I liked the best. It is from allrecipes.com.


  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


 15 m / Cook 
10 m / Ready In
 1 h 40 m

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least one hour. Chill cookie sheets.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Press dough out onto ungreased, chilled cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly golden at the edges. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

For the icing I used this recipe, but I added more milk than what they recommend. I like softer icing because it is easier to apply to the cookies.


  • 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract


  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
  2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.


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Mrs. George Prior

jestcafe.com-benedict-cumberbatchWhat is your opinion on  being addressed by your husband’s name in letters or invitations? I understand that it is a tradition here in the US to do so and that people mean well, but, what if you didn’t change your last name? What if your name is completely different than your husband’s name? What is the right thing to do? Read more

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Why I Am Pissed at Martha Stewart

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Martha Stewart posted the following on her Instagram account.

Her post promised to regram a table setting that she considered worthy of her Instagram account. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to have one of your pictures regrammed on Martha Stewart’s Instagram account? It means having your work exposed to millions (or 796 thousand) people that actually care, having the queen of the DIY world give you recognition, AND feeling really proud of your accomplishment!  So, after I read this post, I had a meltdown of excitement and then decided to try and win the darn thing. I mean, why not? There is nothing to lose aside from hours of life and effort. So, on Thursday morning, I asked my friends for help  and, 2 hours and 200 shots later, I posted this.


Not bad, don’t you think? I hoped I had a decent chance at winning this thing. Well, a week has gone by and I am pissed at Martha Stewart because, not only she did not choose mine, but she didn’t choose anyone’s!!!!! Zero-None-Nil-Nada.  Can you believe it? Are you even allowed to promote a competition and then flagrantly forget about it? What upsets me the most is the amount of hours I lost working on this picture. I wouldn’t have minded if I had lost, obviously, but I do mind that nobody even bothered to look at the pictures that so many of us posted. It upsets me that I spent 2 hours of my Thanksgiving day trying to get the perfect shot, and it upsets me that I recruited my two friends for nothing. So, there you go. I am pissed at Martha Stewart.

Also, instead of posting a picture of somebody else’s table, she posted a picture of her own table setting, which made me even more upset because the darn thing looks a million times better than mine. Cuek!jestcafe.com-martha stewart2

Am I over-reacting or is this a real reason to be upset? Well, I am sure Martha won’t care, because I will be back in love with her by tomorrow morning.

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