Some of you wonder why I speak fondly of my ex, or why one should push past all the resentment, and try to find forgiveness in their hearts when a marriage does not work out. This is my reason. No matter how much success either of us achieve individually in our lifetimes, Tatjana Rhodes will always be our greatest production

Julie Anne & Tatjana Rhodes in Saint Paul de Vence

Julie Anne & Tatjana Rhodes in Saint Paul de Vence

…. not that her parents can take full credit for the amazing person she is today – sometimes I think she was just born kind, thoughtful, and wise. People assume her life has been a charmed one, when in reality she’s had many very difficult obstacles to overcome, and I’m so proud of the beautiful, talented woman she has become.

My greatest production

Tatjana Rhodes at her father's 50th birthday party this weekend

When she was born, my Auntie Vera said “good, you have a daughter, now you’ll get what you deserve!” While Vera always loved me, the comment was not meant kindly. I was every mothers worst nightmare for a daughter, and Tatjana has never once given me any of the grief I gave my own mother. I dreamt of having her since I was two years old, and I’ve been grateful for her every day of my life since she was born, but especially so today, as I learn she’s tearing herself away from her lovely boyfriend (I know how hard that can be) long enough to visit me for a few weeks. I love you, Tatjana Lee Orchid, and I can’t WAIT to see you!

Penne with Broccoli, Broccolini, and Vegan Italian Sausage

Hot Italian Vegan sausage & Broccolini Penne

Tatjana always did like a little pasta with her Parmesan. Her favorite was my Penne & Zucchini Arrabbiata when she was little, but lately its been this penne with spicy Italian vegan sausage recipe. A fresh batch will be awaiting your arrival madame! Join here for more fabulous family and client approved recipes.



2 cups uncooked penne
1 pound hot Italian pork, turkey, chicken, or vegan sausage
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound broccolini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
salt and pepper to taste


1). Cook penne according to package directions.

2). Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of live oil, sauté sausage in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking up into little bits with the edge of a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Drain on a plate covered in paper towel and tent with foil to keep warm.

3). In the same pan the sausage was cooked in, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, and red peppers, stirring for 30 seconds, add broccolini and cook, covered for 3-4 minutes until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.

4). Pour broccolini over penne, add cooked sausage, 1/2 cup parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well, and serve immediately.


Roasted cherry tomatoes over fresh Buffala mozzarella drizzled with Pesto sauce to start, and balsamic strawberry sundae for dessert.

PS. What are YOU grateful for this past week? I want to hear, so please click “comment” below and share – gratitude can be contagious, and such a great way to start the week!
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  • June 10, 2012
    3:32 pm

    I love the beautiful photos. I had hoped to see an updated photo. It is such a blessing, as I well know myself, to be graced with children who are beautiful inside!

    I am feeling the same gratitude as you. No matter how hard things get in life, health, or my marriage, I look at the gifts that are my two children and cannot help but feel gratitude. My mom tried the same curse on me about hoping I have children just like me. She was half joking. I do…but luckily, they have most of my positive traits. 😉 My daughter walks in the room and brings sunshine with her smile; my son is always ready to hug and lend a hand.

    I had the best compliment this week while visiting my folks, Jewels. While my mom told me while she babysat them Tuesday, my son went on and on about what a great mommy I am, how much he loves me, how much I take care of himand his sister, help at his school, etc. I.Was.Floored. My cup runneth over.

    I hope you have an amazing, blessed visit with your daughter!!!

    • June 10, 2012
      6:21 pm

      I can feel your pride and joy, Simone! That is SO lovely I want to hug him!

      • June 10, 2012
        10:40 pm

        Right? It was so awesome to get that feedback and it made MY mom cry with pride and joy. Awesome.

  • June 10, 2012
    3:51 pm

    Please pass me the Kleenex…….that was beautiful.
    My own parents divorced when I was a toddler and it also was very ugly according to my mother. Although I have never been very close to my father as I grew up, we did however speak every now and then. He was far to interested in his dance, art and tv career than have me over for the weekend. One thing I do know is that I have inherited his artistic side.
    My poor mother has seen me give her grief as a teenager too but as I grew older I soon began to realise.
    Being fortunate enough to have two healthy, gorgeous children is what I am grateful for. God knows, I have friends who struggle to have one of their own.
    A loving, nurturing mother who struggled as a single mum but still managed to keep me happy, safe, warm and very much loved is another thing I am grateful for.

    • June 10, 2012
      6:24 pm

      Your mom sounds amazing, and I know you’ll always make your two feel the same way (although I hope they get to keep their daddy there too).

  • June 11, 2012
    10:58 am

    Oh Jewels, what a lovely post!! Tatjana is beyond beautiful. Just like her mum.

    A couple of years ago David got in touch with his biological father (he’d never even MET him. After being together for a year, he took off). Merrill was all David knew from the time David was 2 years old.

    When David’s biological father extended an invitation to me and the rest of my family to join him at his home to get reacquainted, I had a million and one different nasty responses lined up, but for David’s sake I bit my tongue, accepted the invitation, and was surprised at how we all got along like mature adults.

    Better late than never, I suppose.

    I agree – our children are our greatest creations.

    I’m so happy for you that she’s coming in to see you! You must be super excited!

  • June 11, 2012
    12:37 pm

    What a wonderful post! I’m grateful for this blog post, which made me feel extra grateful for my mother. She is the Auntie Mame “life is a banquet” lampshade-wearer of our family and makes living fun (and she cooks!). I’m grateful for my relatively new husband, who found me 26 years after we first met in high school. You never know what good things are waiting around the corner. I’m grateful for that.

  • June 12, 2012
    9:16 am

    So true to words! My mom told me “You wait, you’ll have a daughter just like you and maybe worse.” My mother loves me but her words weren’t meant to soothe either, lol. My first born, 19 yr. old Kelli was every parents dream. I can’t recall a time that I had to discipline her more than the corner. Emily, my 17 yr. old, was my “challenge” and wow did her step-dad & I struggle beyond any parents dream Bio. dad not really in the picture), down to having to put her in a 6 month children’s “center” for behavior problems. Heart wrenching and would never wish on another parent in a million years (the center was great though and gave us the help we needed). Now my daughter is headed for Job Corps and is going into the dentistry field. My daughter who so many people wondered why I didn’t give up on her way back. I’m so proud of the young lady she is turning into. All of my 5 daughters and 2 sons (I gave my oldest up for adoption in ’91). Children are amazing gifts from God:) And to the father’s that help in every way they can aside from being just dad. What doesn’t break you makes you stronger.

  • June 12, 2012
    9:18 am

    P.S. Did Tatjana start dating her childhood boy friend, Sam?

  • June 12, 2012
    7:00 pm

    Having only seen pictures of Tatjana, it’s always struck me how grounded she looks. It’s fabulous parenting in addition to the person she just IS.

    I have my days where I feel like I’m going insane with two girls who are only 16 months apart but so completely opposite. My mom or husband will call and ask how it’s going and there are days I’ll reply “I’d like a quart of gin and some earplugs” but more often than not, there will be a look or a moment that makes it all worthwhile. Yesterday it was painting, singing songs and Ava singing the last lines of one of her bedtime songs “there is nothing to fear, mommy is near.. when you wake in the morning, mommy will be here”. Meanwhile Holly is singing Alice Cooper LOL

  • June 13, 2012
    10:31 am

    Have to say, Tatjana is gorgeous in both snaps! The grown up young lady is tres chic and I’m sure everyone was sending admiring looks her way at the festivities. So wonderful that she is heading to visit you for a few weeks. Won’t be long now until she’s with you soaking up some hugs from Mama Bear. Hugs to you both and Daisy, of course!

  • June 14, 2012
    2:57 pm

    what a lovely article, I will really miss her but I know she misses you more! Hope to see you soon