Thursday, September 4, 2008

BREAKING NEWS on the Unlikely Lavender Queen

For those of you who read my review of Jeannie Ralston's book The Unlikely Lavender Queen (, and are curious about what she has been up to since, here is the latest news:


How often can you get and give at the same time?
Through a new book released by Doubleday Publishing, readers can get inspiration for their own lives and give inspiration to others.
A percentage of each copy of The Unlikely Lavender Queen: A Memoir of Unexpected Blossoming sold through author Jeannie Ralston’s website will be donated to an organization that helps change lives—with a different cause chosen every month.
Ralston will implement what she calls The Seed Campaign on her website through the Amazon Affiliate program. For every book sold Amazon will return 4 to 8 percent (percentage increases with sales volume) to The Seed Campaign fund. Ralston hopes to raise $60,000 for various causes in the coming year.
“My book is about making the most of the twist and turns life takes,” says Ralston. “When I realized that the Amazon account was collecting money, I saw it was a great opportunity to reinforce the message of the book—by actually helping other people make the most of their lives.”
The Unlikely Lavender Queen follows Ralston as she reluctantly goes from a journalist in Manhattan to a lavender farmer in rural Texas. Eventually, Ralston turns the lavender farm into a thriving business and her small town into the Lavender Capital of Texas. She comes to embrace the change as the most rewarding adventure of her life, demonstrating how to “bloom where you’re planted.”
Good Morning America has recommended The Unlikely Lavender Queen as a great read, as have publications as diverse as the Dallas Morning News and Fortune Small Business magazine.
For the month of September, Ralston’s Seed Campaign funds will go to St. Anthony’s Alliance, a U.S. based non-profit that started and continues to oversee a project to help a pueblo in rural Mexico to become self-sufficient growing lavender as a cash crop. Ralston, who now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, has volunteered as an adviser to the lavender project for more than two years and feels especially close to the effort since lavender is being grown not just for its scent and beauty but also as a real lifeline for a whole community.
“I’ve seen a lot of stories talking about these poor pueblos barely getting by because all the men have gone to the States to work,” she says. “I love this lavender project because it’s actually offering a solution to the problem. Women are making beautiful soaps, sachets, lavender wands and pillows, and the hope is that one day the men won’t need to leave for jobs in the States and families can stay together.”
In October, Ralston will be donating to the John Dau Sudan Foundation. John Dau is a Lost Boy of Sudan and the subject of the film, God Grew Tired of Us. Ralston will speak at a benefit for the foundation in New York in late October.
Ralston hopes that other authors will use the Amazon Affiliate program (or similar programs on Barnes and Nobles on-line or Powell’s on-line) to give back to causes that dovetail with the subject or themes of their books. “Our words can have great power—even beyond what’s on the printed page,” she says.
For more information on The Unlikely Lavender Queen and The Seed Campaign, visit HYPERLINK ""


Be it ever so humble, yada, yada, yada. San Diego is simply divine. Spending time with precious daughter is perfectly delightful. Saying goodbye to her afterwards, when you only see her about three times a year, just sucks.

Here is what we did while there: walkwalkwalk eateateat shop walkeatwalkeatwalkeat shop eateateat walkwalkwalk eateat collapse.

We stayed at a great hotel this time - the US Grant. It's a beautifully refurbished historic building, right on Broadway amidst a plethora of restaurants, in walking distance to the embarcadero and ferry, and best of all, John got the room for half-price on or some such site.

If you were to ask Alexis, John and I each what the best part of the vacation was, you would get very different answers. For Lex, I'm sure, it was just seeing our precious faces (right hon?), and maybe she didn't mind too much having to go out to movies and nice restaurants frequently, since she is eking by on a pauper's salary in one of the most expensive cities in the country. That soft heart still gets her in trouble though. At every restaurant we went to, she'd load up all the leftovers, thinking how much they would help stretch her food budget in days ahead, but somehow the sack would always end up in the hands of some homeless person, before the evening was over with.

For John, the highlight was frequent trips to Best Buy. It didn't seem to bother him at all that our daughter, who is an Interior Designer, has virtually no furniture or decor in her apartment (she just finally moved out on her own, after sharing with four other roommates for the last two years - woo hoo!). No, what drove him insane was that all her electronics were the same lame pieces she'd had since high school. He desperately wanted to buy her a nice flat screen TV, but she refused since, like me, she hardly ever watches the one she has. She finally caved in though, and let him buy some speakers one day, and a printer/scanner another, because we just couldn't take his pitiful face and heavy sighs any longer.

Now, I'm sure this will shock you, but my favorite day was Sunday, when we happened to stumble upon a fantastic farmers' market up in La Jolla. Or at least, it was wonderful once I got past the embarrassment of totally boogering up the pronunciation of said town (how was I to know it's pronounced La HOYA - I took French, not Spanish!) I tell you what, wandering the aisles of a huge outdoor market overlooking the ocean, when it's a breezy mid-70s out, instead of my usual upper 90s, is a delight beyond compare. Best of all, while there I discovered a copy of edible San Diego (only its second issue), by the same publishers as the edible Austin magazine I love so much. A quick thumb through led to the discovery, just in the nick of (lunch) time, that there was a new restaurant in La Jolla that is obsessed with using the highest quality ingredients from sustainable sources. It's called Whisknladle, and what a delight it was. They specialize in gourmet comfort food, with the firm belief that what goes into the pot, is what you get out of it. Not only do they source everything from local organic farms and ranches, they also use an old world approach in their kitchen, baking, churning, smoking, aging, curing and pickling everything in-house. We ordered from a limited brunch menu, and can't wait to return and try the full dinner menu.

So, as you can see, we all had a great vacation, but saying goodbye, first to Lex, then to John, is a bit tough. Thank goodness it's September, and we will soon be on that downhill slide towards the holidays, when we can all be together once again.