21 Pearls Of Wisdom For My Daughter On Her 21st Birthday

Anna Marie…age 1!!!

Today is a very special day in our family…it’s our daughter, Anna’s, birthday! So today’s post is a departure – no food, no recipes – just a little something especially for Anna!  I knew I wanted to write a special blog post to honor her on her 21st, but it took me several days to decide how I wanted to approach it.  I thought about writing about all the reasons I love her, but I thought she might find that a little too personal.  And besides – she knows we love her because she’s brilliant, beautiful, independent, courageous, kind, confident, funny, driven, organized, generous, a hard worker, determined, a fantastic friend, a wonderful blogger (check her out at Five Foot & Fabulous), the world’s most amazing example to her niece, passionate about the state of our country, and just the most awesome person I’ve ever known in my whole life!  So…no need to mention all those things! 😉

Anna…age 21!

Anyway, I decided that maybe what would actually be fun is to share a few Pearls of Wisdom and Words of Advice with her as she makes the officially-official transition into adulthood!  So here we go, Anna!  Some of these I’m sure you already know as we’ve seen you live a life of which we could not be more proud.  And some of these you probably won’t appreciate until you get even older.  And a few of these are Pearls passed down from other members of the family – little gems that I’ve found myself recalling and putting into use at certain times during my life!

  1. Be kind!  Even something as small as letting someone cut ahead of you in the check-out line at the grocery store can make a difference in that person’s life!  Being kind is free, but pays huge dividends!
  2. Laugh…as often as possible!  Laugh at yourself especially – you’ll find it’s what helps get you through even the toughest of times!
  3. Read as much as time allows!  Read fiction and non-fiction alike.  Both can help us escape, and both can teach us so much!
  4. Never stop learning!  Attend Grad School if you want, sign up for community college courses for fun, learn a new hobby or a different language, read those books we talked about in #3…just never stop learning!
  5. Pray!  I don’t mean you have to go to church, or follow a certain religious protocol.  Whether you pray to the God we learned about in church, or the Source, or the Universe itself – prayerfully give thanks for your blessings, and humbly ask for help when you need it!
  6. Be thankful!  Your life is one of privilege, and for that you must always be thankful. 
  7. Get plenty of sleep!  This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s so important!  
  8. Eat Healthy Food!!!!  Your body will thank you for this, especially as you get older.  When you’re young, it’s much easier to get away with eating junk and fast food – but trust me when I say – it’s not worth it in the long run!
  9. Make exercise a priority.  Right now you do a lot of walking on campus, but once you finish school there’ll be less physical activity and movement in your days.  Be sure to find time to walk or work out at least a few days per week.
  10. Learn to cook at least one fantastic meal.  You’ll be grateful for this skill someday when you’re looking to impress a future husband, in-laws, or bosses.  
  11. Dazzle ’em with your brilliance, or buffalo ’em with bullshit!  This one is thanks to Gran – it’s something she told me when I was about your age, and it’s come in handy many times.  I’ve done my fair share of dazzling, but honestly I’ve probably employed the other tactic much more frequently!  Turns out – people can’t really tell the difference anyway! 😉
  12. Work hard and pursue your passions!  People appreciate hard workers – and if a future boss doesn’t appreciate your hard work, maybe you need to move on and make that person a former boss!  And don’t be afraid to switch career goals…if your passions change, follow your heart!
  13. Remember your roots.  This place, and this family (warts and all), fashioned the person you are today!
  14. Invest as much as is allowed in your retirement account or 401K.  It might seem like a waste of money now, but the next 40 years are going to fly by, and when you get to be in your 60’s you’ll be so incredibly glad you saved that money!
  15. Travel!  You’ve had a chance to do some of this, but I really encourage you to do as much as possible.  The world is an amazing place and I’d love for you to experience as much of it as you possibly can – besides I like living vicariously through you! 😘
  16. You’re a long time old, and a short time young, so enjoy your youth while you’ve got it!  Lester told me this one…he was a very wise man!  
  17. Never settle!  Marry the man you don’t want to live without, take the job that makes the days fly by, do what makes your heart soar!
  18. Always be on time – or better yet – always be 5 minutes early. 
  19. Don’t get so busy planning and dreaming of the future that you forget to live today!
  20. Be the friend you want to have.
  21. Call your mom…call me often, call me many times per day even!  In fact, even if you think you’ve called me enough, call again!

So there you have it, Darlin’…21 Pearls of Wisdom for your 21st Birthday!  Given time I’m sure I could come up with many more…but I’ll quit for now!  You’re welcome!  😜  And while I didn’t include it on the list, what I want you to remember most is how much you are loved.  It’s been the greatest privilege of our lives to be your parents.  We’re incredibly proud of you, of the life you’ve cultivated, of the generous heart you share with your family and friends, and we cannot wait to see where your life takes you!  


Mom xoxoxoxo 

Through the years…..💗



Honey & Citrus Sour Mix

Honey & Citrus Sour Mix | cookeatbehealthy.com

Today is all about celebrating!  Partly because it’s Friday, and we all know that’s reason enough, but also because it’s my birthday!  Today I turn the ripe old young(ish) age of 55.  I remember when I thought 55 was old.  When I was 16 I thought that if I managed to live to the age of 55 then I would have lived a good long life.  Funny how my perspective has changed!  Now, I still feel young at heart, and by embracing the Cook Eat Be Healthy Lifestyle I’m hopeful that my body will cooperate and give me several more years!  

When it comes to Cook Eat Be Healthy and alcohol I generally avoid it.  Not that I don’t enjoy an occasional drink – trust me – I do!  But most generally I prefer to avoid the sugar and calories that are inherently present in alcohol.  I don’t like beer.  I’ve tried to like wine but it’s all just bitter tasting to me and leaves me with a headache.  I do, however, enjoy a good, smooth, perfectly aged whiskey like the one I get from Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery right here in Iowa!  There’s just something about this whiskey that makes it extra special, not the least of which would be the fact that it’s produced right here in I-OH-WAY!  😉

Honey & Citrus Sour Mix | cookeatbehealthy.com Honey & Citrus Sour Mix | cookeatbehealthy.com Honey & Citrus Sour Mix | cookeatbehealthy.com

Back in the olden days (now I sound like my kids when they were little) and I’d drink whiskey it was mixed with diet soda.  Now that it’s been years since I’ve last had any pop, and since I intend to never drink it again, I needed a new way to enjoy my whiskey!  I do cook with it occasionally and that’s always results in a super delicious meal like my Triple ‘B’ Burgers.  But when I want to enjoy a celebratory cocktail on my birthday I wanted to mix my whiskey with something that I could feel at least a little bit better about!

So the end result was a recipe for Citrus & Honey Sour Mix!  I love lemons and limes.  Their tart bright citrusy flavor makes me happy.  But mixing straight up lemon and lime juice with whiskey….wow…..that’d make you pucker up!  😜  When I bought sour mix from the store I was disappointed by the flavor.  It wasn’t really all that sour – mostly it was just sickly sweet – probably due to high fructose corn syrup that was used to sweeten it.  YUK!  Once again using the Cook Eat Be Healthy rule of any occasional treat being a part of the plan if it’s homemade, I knew I could make my own sour mix and thereby enjoy a Whiskey Sour birthday cocktail!  

It was a simple process of juicing several lemons and limes and combining the juice with a honey and water simple syrup to make a Honey & Citrus Sour Mix that not only tasted deliciously sour, but also wouldn’t bust my live-it!  

Honey & Citrus Sour Mix
Yields 4
A healthier version of sour mix perfect for mixing cocktails such as Whiskey Sours!
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
314 calories
88 g
0 g
1 g
2 g
0 g
373 g
28 g
74 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 314
Calories from Fat 5
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 28mg
Total Carbohydrates 88g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 74g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 2 cups fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice
  2. 1 cup honey
  3. 1 cup water
  1. Heat water to a boil in medium saucepan.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in honey until it completely dissolves.
  3. Set aside while juicing the citrus fruit.
  4. Squeeze as many lemons and limes, in any combination to yield 2 cups of juice.
  5. Strain pulp from juice.
  6. Stir juice into honey water until well mixed.
  7. Pour into jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
  1. For this batch I squeezed 7 lemons and 5 limes.
  2. To mix a whiskey sour, I use 2 parts sour mix to 1 part whiskey, but you can mix it to whatever strength you prefer!
Cook Eat Be Healthy http://cookeatbehealthy.com/
So today raise a glass and celebrate the fact that it’s Friday!  And if you want to drink one for me since it’s my birthday- go ahead – the more we celebrate life and each other, the happier we’ll all be!  🍹