Matilda Butler

CAN DO Woman Recipe – Blonde Chick Bar Cookies

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CAN DO Woman Recipe – Blonde Chick Bar Cookies

What’s with CAN DO Woman Recipe – Blonde Chick Bar Cookies?

Let me begin by saying I’m not a blonde and have never thought of myself as a “chick.” But when a recipe produces a lovely light-colored bar cookie that is made with chick (wait-for-it) peas, I thought the title for this CAN DO Woman Recipe would be just perfect.

CAN DO Woman Recipe with CAN DO Attitude

My passion for making desserts (lots of desserts) started a few years ago. We used to try to celebrate each person’s birthday as close to the actual date as possible. We now celebrate family birthdays twice a year. Even for a small family, it got to be too much to get everyone together for every birthday — even just the Oregon family.

So along the way, we decided to celebrate birthdays that occur between January 1 and June 30 all on one day and then celebrate the July through December birthdays later in the year. No one got featured and no one got ignored.

But Which Dessert to Make?

With multiple birthdays being celebrate on one day, how would I choose what dessert to make?

Everyone had her or his favorite — apple pie for one, flourless chocolate cake for another, thumbprint cookies for a third, fresh strawberry cupcakes for a fourth, and the list goes on.

Then I got an idea. An idea that only a slightly crazy CAN DO Woman would get.

A Dessert for Each Person (Shareable, of course)

Surreptitiously, I found out the favorite dessert for each person. I intended to learn the favorite cookie, but then things almost got out of hand as nobody knew why I was asking. Hence a list that included cakes and pies and cookies.

But that was just fine. I really did want each person to feel special with individual attention and not just my own favorite dessert.

Six Desserts. REALLY!

That meant I now prepare six desserts for each of these events. And once that became the pattern, I found it hard to resist having multiple desserts for all kinds of get togethers. Even today, as we anticipate the visit from Arizona family, I’m trying to restrict myself to three desserts — Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cake (the favorite of our Arizona son who soon has a birthday), Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes (the favorite of our only granddaughter but a dessert that is now a favorite of several family members), and Blonde Chicks Bar Cookies. I am holding back on several more only because I am running out of time and still need to finish cleaning the house.

CAN DO Woman Recipe – Blonde Chick Bar Cookies

CAN DO Woman Recipe for Blonde Chicks Bar CookiesI created the Blonde Chick Bar Cookies for a family get together a few months ago. I wasn’t sure if anyone would like them. But when someone asked, “Is it all right if I eat the last one?” I know I had a winner.


If you make the recipe, please let me know if you like them.


Sure. You can use any nut butter you like or any seed butter if you are avoiding nuts. I like the combination of almond butter plus almond flour plus almond oil. But you can make substitutions. Peanut butter is a stronger flavor and will take over the bar cookie. But that can be good too.

Almond oil? This is just a small conceit. Any mild flavored oil will work. You only use 1 tablespoon, after all. But when I open a new container of almond butter, there is always a lot of almond oil on top. Rather than mixing it in, I often pour off most of it into a small jar. That’s what I use in this recipe.

As you know from some of my previous recipes, I continue to be influenced by my mother. In this case, I can almost hear her say, “Waste not. Want not.”

Interested in Other Recipes?

CAN DO Woman Recipe - Blonde Chick Bar Cookies

Yummy bar cookies. Easy to make. Vegan and gluten free
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time22 mins
Total Time32 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bar Cookie Recipe, Almonds, Easy to make, Vegan, Gluten Free
Servings: 12


  • 1 can chickpeas
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp almond oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ¼ tsp soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds Dry roasted preferred


  • Add chickpeas, almond butter, almond oil, maple syrup, vanilla to food processor and blend until smooth
  • Add almond flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and blend.
  • Pour into lightly oiled 8 inch square pan.
  • Add dry roasted, unsalted, almond slivers in a pattern over the top.
  • Bake for about 22 minutes until dry and slightly "cracked" on the top.
  • Remove from oven, cool, cut into 12 or 16 pieces.
Matilda ButlerCAN DO Woman Recipe – Blonde Chick Bar Cookies

Friendship Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

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Friendship Comes in All Shapes and Sizes: What This Means for Your CAN DO Life

Friendship and Social CapitalWelcome to the third week of our 12 month CAN DO Woman Program. Each week we discuss an aspect of the Seven Life Capitals that will help you move forward to become the woman you want to be. Each week also includes just one action step. We want to help you bring change in your life without feeling overwhelmed. This week, we’ll find examples of friendship that comes in all shapes and sizes.

If case you missed the previous weeks programs and their action steps:


This week we’re continuing to discuss the value of Social Capital—what we typically call friendships. Friendships serve different purposes. Let’s look first at comments from two women about how important friends have been in their lives. Then we’ll look at a broken friendship. 

Discontinuities in our lives are often hard to handle. You get fired from a job. You move to a new city. Even positive discontinuities, big changes, may be hard to absorb. You get married. You have a child. Etc. Discontinuities, both good ones and bad ones, can provide valuable insights and opportunities for change. For example, no one would say that COVID had a positive side to it. So even though we would never have thought about it in a positive way, we can still find insights from our one-plus years of a pandemic that turned our world upside down.

After a year of isolation from family and friends, you may notice that some friends have slipped out of your usual interaction pattern. Stop and think about this. Do you realize that there are some people you don’t feel the need to reach out to even now when you could? Interaction patterns such as weekly or monthly get togethers weren’t possible during the pandemic. And some friendships may be in the dust bin.

This is the perfect time to review your friendships and see which ones don’t need to be resumed. Maybe some friends were not truly supportive of you. But it was difficult to break the pattern of seeing them if you regularly interacted with them.

And, at the same time, consider friendships that have become “cracked” or simply “unused.” Maybe you want to repair or renew or those friendships.

Let’s look at three stories of friendships.

Friendship InspirationHow Women Manage Their Friendships —Their Social Capital

Almost every woman I have interviewed or coached over the years voluntarily mentions the importance of friends and friendships in their lives. Marian Rosen’s comment illustrates the support that friendships provide her.

Friendship Comes in all Shapes and Sizes: Marian Rosen’s Story

“My friendships with women have been enormously important and supportive. For example, when I had breast cancer my women friends rallied around and saw to it that I never went to a doctor’s appointment alone. The night I was in the hospital for surgery, two of my friends replanted my tiny garden. They were still digging and putting in new annuals and perennials at midnight. It was a surprise for me when I came home the next day. That was great. It was such a loving way to support me.”

Friendship Comes in all Shapes and Sizes: Sarah Reingold’s Story

In a similar vein, Sarah Reingold points to the fulfilling role that friendships have played in her life.

“When I graduated from high school, I thought I would have a life companion. Instead I have lifelong friends. I am so fulfilled by the number and the depth of these friendships.”

Friendship Comes in all Shapes and Sizes: Renee’s Story is Different

Marian and Sarah’s stories showcase some of the kinds of friendships we all want to have. When I hear the world friend or listen to someone talk about their friends, I always imagine smiles and sunshine and laughter and hugs. But there is another side to friendship. Renee Howard Cassese published her story of an end to a friendship in the anthology Tales of Our Lives: Reflection Pond.  She gave me permission to share with you a few paragraphs from it.

In Burying Sara Teasdale Renee writes:

“Several days after my friendship with Joan disintegrated, due entirely to my own immoral and erratic behavior, I came home from work and found a brown paper bag on my front stoop. I had no doubt Joan had left the bag and I was both frightened and curious to see what was inside. I carried the bag into the kitchen, made a mug of chamomile tea, sat down at the table, and peeked into the dark interior.

“I found a few of the gifts I had given her over the years of our friendship including an out-of-print and rare edition of a collection of Sara Teasdale’s poems. Joan is a poet, as I am, and she adores Teasdale’s verses. I can recall how her eyes glinted when she read those poems out loud. Her musical voice lent each verse a quality of magic.

“I’d spent weeks searching for that book to give her as a birthday present, finally tracking it down in a tiny rare-books store. I paid dearly for it but far less than I got back seeing the delight and surprise in her warm brown eyes and the curve of her smile that framed her perfectly straight white teeth. The hug she’d given me was one of many soul caressing gestures between two close friends.

Renee Faces the End of a Friendship

“I held the book in my hands, forced myself to open it to the title page and read the inscription I’d written so many months before. I stroked the blue ink as if it were a magic lamp that could resurrect our friendship. As my tears fell on the page the words blurred into lost memories. I kept the book for a few weeks, periodically thumbing through it and reading the poems as I recalled the details and events of our time together. But I had to move on.

“Joan and I loved going to the beach and spent many delightful and relaxing summer days swimming in the ocean, walking on the dunes, and napping on sheets beneath the scalding sun. That’s why I chose the beach as the place I would bury that collection of poetry, along with a braid of happy, sad and regretful memories.”

CAN DO Woman Friendship Lesson

Friendships Comes in All Shapes and SizesMarian, Sarah, and Renee’s stories describe different kinds of friendships and different points in the relationships. You can probably think of other types of friendships—such as ones that remain dormant for years or even decades and when renewed seem as if only a week has gone by. In next week’s blog, we’ll see what behavioral scientists say about categories of friendships, what they mean in our lives, and how they benefit us.

But for now, let’s see how we can use the stories of these three women to pry our way into our own set of friendships. (Examining friendships isn’t always easy but doing so can help to move us forward.)


Last week, your one action involved finding a friendship that had been neglected and reviving it.

Let’s pick up the other side of that coin. Today, or during this week, take just one action to decide if there is a friendship you will not continue. Yes, last week’s action was much more fun than this one. That’s why we put the actions in this order. Restarting or nurturing a friendship is a desirable action. Recognizing a “bad” friendship (one that harms you or simply does not support your goals or drains you) is a necessary action.

But Before We Get to this Week’s Action…

…Consider Marie Kondo, Her Approach to Tidying, and Our Look at Friendships

Think of this week’s action step as a variation on a Marie Kondo exercise. In her method that she calls KonMari, Kondo focuses on tidying all the possessions in our life. But KonMari isn’t about throwing things away (although that is the end result, of course). Instead, Kondo focuses on having you look at each item and deciding if it brings you joy. If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, express your gratitude for it and for the way it helped your life. Then let it go.

Marie Kondo also brings up a related concept that still focuses on gratitude. If you decide to let go of something you never used, you can express your gratitude for it because it taught you that it (and other objects like it) have no purpose or need in your life. You don’t need to buy that type of object again.

Why does Marie Kondo focus on Tidying?

Kondo focuses on tidying NOT because she thinks it is good to have a tidy living space just for the sake of good organization. She contends “the question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

Similarly, we can apply a variation of KonMari to “friends” instead of “things.”. If a friend brings you joy, definitely continue the friendship. If the friend does not, express your gratitude for the friend (to yourself), but be willing to let it go. There is at least as much to be learned from friendships that didn’t work as those that do.


When we determine who we want in our lives, we are determining the type of person we want to be.




  1. Get out your list (physical or mental) of friends — however you define friendship. (This builds on last week’s action challenge.)
  2. Each person who brings you joy and happiness when you think of her is someone who belongs in your life. Express your gratitude for that person and the relationship. It is good to continue to invest in the relationship.
  3. Each person who does not bring a feeling of joy should no longer be a relationship you invest in. As you begin to loosen the bonds of that friendship, you can still be grateful for it. That particular friendship has taught you much.
  4. It is likely that no one has a set of perfect friendships where all of them should be maintained. You might. And in this case, be incredibly grateful. And, for you, discovering what a good set of friends you have will be this week’s action step. But if you find it is time to let go of a friendship or multiple friendships that, in Marie Kondo’s words, clutter your life, your action step is to determine one friend you will not continue or renew during the coming post-pandemic period of re-engagement. You need friends who are positive, supportive, encouraging of you as a CAN DO Woman — the woman you want to become — the woman you can imagine you will be.
  5. Write down the name of that person, be grateful for her, and mentally let the relationship go. This may not be easy to do. But it will open you to new friendships or simply give you more space to grow.
  6. If you are using a journal (or computer file) to document your progress on becoming a CAN DO Woman, make notes on this Week 3 ACTION.


That’s it. That is all you need to do this week. Just one step: Evaluate your friendships and determine if someone holds you back from becoming the woman you want to be — someone who uses your time in ways that takes you away from becoming a stronger, more empowered, and truly courageous woman. 


As we say each week, taking simple actions will not change you overnight. But you are now started along the path to having the life you want. You will have taken another action. 

Inspiration for a CAN DO Woman

CAN DO Woman - Wendy the Welder Ornaments

Meet Wendy the Welder, Rosie the Riveter’s Cousin

Looking for an inspiring woman as your touchstone as you work on your path to becoming the woman you want to be? Consider Wendy the Welder, a World War II cousin to Rosie the Riveter. Click Here to learn more.





Matilda ButlerFriendship Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

CAN DO Woman Recipe – Easy Peasy Crispy Potatoes

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CAN DO Woman Recipe – Easy Peasy Crispy Potatoes

CAN DO Woman Crispy potato recipeCAN DO Woman and Her Easy Peasy Crispy Potatoes

Yummy potatoes that are already salted (no need for a shaker on the table), crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The steps are easy. If you can:

  • Peel a potato (or use Yukons without peeling)
  • Boil water
  • Find your salt supply
  • Have a little margarine in your refrigerator and a little olive oil in your cabinet
  • Locate a spoon for stirring
  • Have a baking sheet
  • Turn on an oven to 450

THEN you can easily make this easy peasy crispy potato recipe.

Pandemic Cooking Aftermath

As CAN DO Women, we figured out the concept of “pantry cooking” fairly early in the Covid-19 pandemic. Who wanted to go to the grocery store more often than necessary? Now I find myself looking back on those recipes I enjoyed so much that I want to repeat them frequently. Why this recipe?

CAN DO Woman Seeks Crispy Potatoes

CAN DO Woman Crispy PotatoesI know. That header sounds like a Personals Ad. And in a way, it is almost true. Over the years, I’ve tried various ways to serve potatoes. My mother loved to make baked potatoes. She’d scrub and dry them, then oil the skins with a little olive oil. I always thought that olive oil was completely unnecessary until I tried the difference. Trust me. If you don’t use olive oil on your potato skins (especially if you like to eat the skins), you are in for a treat when you do.

My mother also made potato soup frequently. This was a great winter evening dinner. One of these days, I share her recipe. It is simple but if you don’t already have your favorite, then you’ll enjoy her recipe (modified by me, of course, since mine is vegan gluten free).

But I’ve had a longstanding hankering for crispy potatoes and that isn’t always easy to achieve. Sometimes a recipe is great the first time. I remember one that called for combining oil with pureed onions. It worked once but after that the result was soft not crisp.

So today’s recipe is one that works and works and works. If you want a potato on your plate that is crispy, give this a try.


I’m from Oklahoma and not all of my words and expressions are grammatically correct. So when I was told that I could/should use “crisp” instead of “crispy”, I acknowledged the error of my ways. I could agree that the “y” was unncessary. Of course, I went on using crispy, taking pleasure in the knowledge that crisp was shorter and would have done just as well. Crispy, it turns out, has been around since the 14th century. But that didn’t help my argument for its use.

It was a doughnut company that rescued me. If a company can get by with misspelling both crispy and cream (Krispy Kreme), I could certainly use crispy with abandon as I have done in this CAN DO Woman recipe.

A CAN DO Woman

Throughout history there have always been CAN DO Women. We owe much to them. If you would like to learn more about just a few of these women, we invite you to our Etsy store showcasing WE CAN Do It Women.

Finally, Here’s the Easy Peasy Crispy Potato Recipe

CAN DO Woman Crispy potato recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

CAN DO Recipe - Easy Peasy Crispy Potatoes

Easy and quick side dish with potatoes that are soft in the middle and crisp on the outside. We share our secret way to make them as salty as you like.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time36 mins
Total Time51 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Crispy Potatoes
Servings: 2


  • 1 Large Russet potato
  • 1 Tbsp Margarine I use Earth Balance
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp Salt
  • 6 cups Boiling water


  • Clean and peel potato
  • Potato into pieces (about ¾ inch)
  • Salt to boiling water
  • Potato pieces for 6 minutes
  • Potato pieces
  • Margarine and oil to potato in hot pan
  • Potato pieces until coated with margarine and oil
  • Potatoes on baking pan
  • In 450° oven for 15 minutes, turn pieces over, return to oven for 12-15 more minutes until crisp on both sides.


Matilda ButlerCAN DO Woman Recipe – Easy Peasy Crispy Potatoes

A CAN DO Woman Needs Social Capital – Friendships


A CAN DO Woman Needs Social Capital – Friendships

A CAN DO Woman Builds Social Capital through Her Friendships

CAN DO Women FriendsWelcome back. Today we’ll discuss how a CAN DO Woman builds her social capital through friendships.

Last week was Week 1 of our 12 Month CAN DO Woman Program with discussion of the various types of friendships — using the concept of social capital. And we provided you with your first action to take in becoming the woman you want to be. Next week, we share the  three different types of friendships and how each enriches your life.

Scroll Down to This Week’s Program If You Have Already Finished Action 1

Self Friendship

Perhaps unexpectedly, last week we focused on being your own best friend. We self-talk all the time and often that talk brings us down — makes us think less of ourselves. It sounds brutal to say this, but sometimes we bully ourselves with statements like:

  • “Why am I so dumb?”
  • “I should have known better than to believe him.”
  • “Everyone I know is successful and I barely get by.”
  • “I’m applying for a new job but I’m sure I won’t get it.”
  • “I’m never organized.”

Self Friendship Action from Last Week

Did you take the action we suggested last week? We hope so. Your challenge was to write 5 statements affirming what you like about yourself. If you didn’t write the list, we suggest you take 10 minutes, right now, and accomplish that action. We modeled the action on statements you might say about a good friend:

  • “You are always so positive.”
  • “You work really hard.”
  • “You keep up friendships even when you are super busy.”
  • “You are always learning new things.”
  • “You are open to new experiences and that makes you fun to be with.”


Now go ahead and write positive statements about yourself.

  • “I’m …”
  • “I work hard …”
  • “I can…”


Still uncertain? OK. We want this to work for you and if you feel uncomfortable writing 5 positive sentences about yourself, write just 2.

Why? Friendship is the basis of Social Capital, one of the capitals that helps us have a fulfilling life. Being your own friend is one way to be a better friend to others. Friendships keep us centered, encourage us, support our needs and our goals.

Taking one small action each week, the basis of this CAN DO Woman Program, starts right now (or last week, if you have already created your list).

CAN DO Woman Needs Social Capital — On to This Week’s Program

Diane Boxwood’s Story of Friendships–Eventually Having Social Capital

I promised last week to share the story of Diane Boxwood. Like most of us, her unhappiness developed slowly as her self-confidence went lower and lower. Her story took place over a period of 20 years. Even the length of time covered in her story helps us see that both the good in our lives and the bad don’t usually happen overnight.

When I interviewed Diane, she had come out of a long period of just “getting by”, without understanding why. She had accepted that she would be depressed and unhappy. She didn’t think she deserved happiness and joy. Here’s what she said:

Diane Boxwood Tells Her Story

“My future husband was in the Army when we met. We hit it off right away and corresponded for about five years, but rarely saw each other during that time. Then, in one of his letters, he suggested I come and visit him in Idaho for a vacation.

“I went and we had a great time. So great a time that he proposed to me and we married soon afterwards. A few years later, I had a son. I was busy with family life, but by the time our son was six, I knew my marriage was unraveling. I did a number of things to save our marriage—everything I could think of—but nothing seemed to make it better. Counseling didn’t help. He wouldn’t go, but I did. I tried being more attentive to his needs, but he didn’t seem to care.

“My husband didn’t find me attractive and so wanted no physical contact. He didn’t even seen to like my company and that meant I spent a lot of time alone. Needless to say, I was unhappy but didn’t know what to do about it. I kept remembering how I had thought we were so in love. He was always a good father and he was kind, although distant, to me. The circumstances didn’t seem to merit a divorce. Maybe I wouldn’t ever be attractive to someone. And so my descent into unhappiness made its slow but unwavering way.

20 Years Pass and a Sense of a CAN DO Woman Has Disappeared

“Twenty years later, we were having our carpet replaced, and I went down to the basement to get out of the workers’ hair. My husband had his study as well as a television down there. I was watching TV when I happened to put my hand down in the cushion and felt a magazine. I pulled it out and saw it was a magazine for gay males.

“I couldn’t believe it. I could not believe that he was gay. But I didn’t say anything. What could I say?

“About a month later, I was in the basement again when the phone rang. I answered it and sat down at his computer desk to talk. I happened to look over at his printer and saw pages in the tray. It looked like a conversation so I read it. Oh, my god. He had been on the Internet with other gay men.

“I was absolutely devastated. I remember thinking, “How could he marry me knowing he was gay?” I realized that was why we hadn’t had sex all these years. It didn’t have anything to do with my physical attractiveness.

“I thought for years and years—and this is why my self-esteem went down to nothing—that he wasn’t attracted to me. I always tended to internalize everything.

He Was Out of Town..

My husband was out of town when I found the Internet conversation message. I put a note on the kitchen table saying I knew he was gay, I’d flown home, and we’d talk after I got back.

“When I returned, he told me he went berserk and considered suicide when he read my note. I said, “I had no idea that you cared how I felt. I thought you’d be glad to get rid of me.”

His Explanation

“He explained that by getting married and having a child, he felt he was solving a problem because in the ‘60s you didn’t come out. In fact, his family only learned he was gay when we divorced. He was just living a lie. He gave me a month to get used to the fact that he was leaving.

He told me I Would Have to Make Friends

“He knew I shouldn’t stay in the house by myself and not have any friendship outlets. He told me to get some friends. I’d spent all those many years with just my family as my only friends. After he left, I felt like I’d been put on a desert island all by myself. I cried and cried and cried. I had asked him to stay but he refused. I said, “You can continue your lifestyle. I just don’t want to know about it.” Now I see that it wouldn’t have worked but at the time he was my security blanket.

At First I Was Angry

“After he left, I was very angry, but then I forgave him because what else are you going to do? He is a very kind man and a good father. Everybody tells me I’m so wonderful and asks, “How can you forgive him?” I say, “He didn’t ask to be born that way. He wasn’t bad to me.” I’ve since learned that there are thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, of us out there who had husbands that kept their homosexuality a secret. I had no idea.

Friendship Circle

“Now I’ve developed a wonderful friendship circle and I have a very satisfying social life. I have great friends and go out almost every weekend with someone. They support me and my goals. They don’t put me down and when I feel down they support me.

“I didn’t think that I could ever be happy.

“But I am.”


  • What can be learned from Diane’s story?
  • How does it help us examine our own lives.
  • How do friendships help us on a path to being a CAN DO Woman?

The time Diane’s story took place might seem to be quite different. And fortunately, not as many people feel the social need to hide their sexual orientation now. But the lesson is still there. Unhappiness, of any kind, can cause one to avoid friendships and  become isolated.

The isolation might be caused by unhappiness with one’s professional or personal life. It could be caused by low self esteem. It might be caused by personality type. But if you do not have at least a couple of close friends, you are cheating your own life. You are making it harder to be a CAN DO Woman. The rewards of friendship are many and include both physical health benefits and mental health benefits. 


You get the point about the value of friendships. Clearly the pandemic has altered your interactions with others. If not, consider yourself extremely lucky because most of us have found it difficult to maintain the same ties we had before the pandemic.

Fortunately, you now can take the opportunity to decide which friendships really matter to you and which ones don’t add to your life.

During this coming week, take just one action to renew a friendship that you value.

ACTION: Here’s this week’s action challenge for becoming the CAN DO Woman you want to be.

  1. Think about friends that you’ve lost track of OR simply have not been in touch with for the past year.
  2. Make a list of 3 such friends.
  3. Next to each name write what you value about that friend. Is she supportive of you? Does she bring laughter to your life? Does she introduce you to new ideas? Do you find her trustworthy? Is she compassionate? Do you value her honesty?
  4. Friendships are two way streets. Also write what you contribute to the friendships. In what ways do you think the 3 friends value you?
  5. Make contact with one of these friends this week. REACH OUT TODAY. Based on what you wrote next to the names, choose the one you realize you have missed the most and is the most supportive of your goals.
  6. What kind of contact? You could call the person, send her a text or email, or arrange to get together for a meal or a walk. What really matters is that you build back the friendship, making it even stronger.
  7. If you are starting a journal (or computer file) about your progress on becoming a CAN DO Woman, make notes on this Week 2 ACTION.

CAN DO Woman Action…It’s Easy

That’s it. That is all you need to do this week. Just reach out to one friend you haven’t been in close contact with over the past year. You will have taken the second step in being a better friend by understanding what you value in a friend and what you contribute to the friend. Your action helps you keep or renew the friendship. 

Becoming a CAN DO Woman…

Taking such simple actions will not change you overnight. But you are now started along the path to a more empowered life. You will have taken action. You will be reconnected or better connected to a friend. You will be starting to think about the woman you want to be …the kind of friend you want to be. And you will have taken this second step in understanding and building Social Capital, one of the seven life capitals that leads to you being a CAN DO Woman.

Inspiration from Eleanor Roosevelt

CAN DO Woman – Eleanor Roosevelt


Many people will walk in and out of your life but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt 

COMING NEXT WEEK —Month 1: Week 3

Next week, we’ll share several stories of how friendships can open new paths for you…it isn’t as obvious as it seems. We hope you’ll join us then.

Oh by the way…

Did you see our Can Do Woman recipe earlier this week? If not, here’s the link.

And be sure to look for next week’s Can Do Woman recipe.

Matilda ButlerA CAN DO Woman Needs Social Capital – Friendships

CAN DO Woman Cooking – BBQ Patty, Vegan Gluten Free


CAN DO Woman Recipe — Vegan, Gluten Free BBQ Patty

Why am I sharing this CAN DO Woman Recipe for a vegan, gluten-free BBQ patty?

I know that we are in the early days of our CAN DO WOMAN Program to help you become the woman you want to be. So why post a recipe (the first of many)? Creativity is one element in our lives that helps us flourish. You don’t need to be a poet, novelist, painter, or musician to satisfy the need to feel creative. Cooking often provides both sustenance and creativity — a dynamic duo.

So we invite you to both our CAN DO WOMAN Program and our CAN DO WOMAN Recipes. We intend to have one blog for the program as well as the recipes each week. We hope you’ll join us often.

Vegan gluten free patties is an unlikely dish to be enjoyed given my childhood. When I was young, my mother often made beef patties. The Great Depression always echoed in her head, saying “Save, save, save.” So she went for the least expensive cuts of meat. And she was a locovore long before it became popular, purchasing only local, in-season fruits and vegetables. (Note: These were always the least expensive produce such as corn on the cob when she could buy them at 10 ears for $1.00.)

A Meat Filled Childhood

In my childhood in Oklahoma, we featured meat. Lots of meat. I loved rare steaks on those special occasions when we ate in restaurants. Generically, I remember that we just called the restaurants “steak houses.” Pork chops were a favorite at home, pan fried in a well worn cast iron skillet. My mother often served beef tongue, a much-loved dish from her childhood that continued to be cheap to buy and easy to prepare in the kitchen.

Mother frequently purchased inexpensive chuck roasts and ground that tough beef in her hand-cranked meat grinder with a wood handle. Each time she wanted to use the grinder, she attached it to her under-counter, pull-out cutting board. She often let me stand on a low stool to watch her turn the crank. When I was older, I got to grind the meat. It’s been years since I’ve seen either a grinder like that or a pull out cutting board.

Years Pass…and Then a Vegan and Gluten Free

And with such a meat-oriented childhood, it might be hard to imagine that along the way I became a vegan and eventually a gluten free vegan. Many treasured recipe cards given me by my mother resided, unused, in a small tin card box. Eventually, I became more creative in my cooking and found interesting ways to convert some of her dishes to ones I could enjoy and share with friends. Many of these recipes have now been requested by both family and friends.

So What About (UN) Meat Patties for a CAN DO Woman?

Mother’s ground beef was never turned into hamburger patties, at least not that I can remember. Instead, she patted the meat into super thick patties — always elongated rather than round. Then she’d take out the cast iron skillet, put it over high heat, and add lots of table salt. And when I say lots, I really mean LOTS — two or three tablespoons. Once the skillet and salt were hot, she put the meat patties in. I can still hear them sizzling in the pan. I no longer recall how long she cooked them, but I know they were always rare back in those days — so probably about 5 minutes per side.

Fully a Gluten Free Vegan

Over the years, I’ve made lots of recipes for bean patties. Most of them have their charms. None taste like beef (thank goodness). I like the distinctive flavors, knowing I’m getting plenty of protein from these patties.

And today’s recipe? I love the mix of flavors and textures. And, of course, the BBQ will always remind me of my childhood.

Be a CAN DO Woman and Give the Recipe a Try

Each week, we blog about becoming the CAN DO Woman you want to be. We have much to do in order to achieve our goals. And along the way, it is important to nourish our bodies as well as our minds and souls.

And as we learned through our pandemic months (and months), pantry food gets its own gold stars. Nothing special is required. I always have cans of garbanzo beans and packages of rice crumbs (discovered at Trader Joe’s) in the pantry plus onions, carrots, and celery in the refrigerator.

CAN DO Cooking with Rosie the Riveter

CAN DO Woman Vegan Gluten Free BBQ Patties

CAN DO Woman Cooking

Kendra and I put together a cookbook with recipes popular during WW2. We’ve worked with so many women over the years, and decided to reach out to discover stories and recipes from their families. Many of the recipes reflect the food rationing and restrictions that women managed during those years.

If You Try…

… this BBQ vegan gluten free patties, be sure to leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you.


CAN DO Woman Vegan Gluten Free BBQ Patties
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

BBQ (UN) Meat Patties - Vegan Gluten Free

Every CAN DO Woman wants delicious and easy recipes. If you are vegan and gluten free, or if you want an easy recipe for your Meatless Mondays, this is a simple, flavorful BBQ patty that belongs in your collection. It reminds me of my mother's meat patties from my childhood when I didn't even know what a vegan was.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Author: Matilda Butler


  • cup onion
  • cup carrots, grated
  • cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
  • cup rice crumbs
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed, ground
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • cup catsup
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 tbsp green Tabasco

BBQ Topping

  • cup catsup
  • cup BBQ sauce, bottled
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce


  • Saute onions, carrots, celery for 5 minutes
  • Drain garbanzo beans, add to shallow bowl, mash.
  • Add vegetables and all other ingredients to mashed garbanzos
  • Make 8-10 patties, oval shape


  • Heat oven to 375°
  • Cook patties for 30 minutes
  • Remove pan from oven, add BBQ Topping to each patty, return pan to oven for an additional 15 minutes.
Matilda ButlerCAN DO Woman Cooking – BBQ Patty, Vegan Gluten Free

Become a CAN DO Woman, Starting Now

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Become A CAN DO Woman. Are you ready?

Rosie the Riveter Mask

Let go of a pandemic life

Yesterday, for the first time since late March 2020, I went on a long walk without wearing a mask. Yes, I felt a little naked. I’m fully vaccinated, but continued to wear a mask for several more weeks. It felt safe.

But feeling safe isn’t always the way to move forward in your life. It won’t always help you become the woman you want to be.

The pandemic, of course, has changed all of our lives in ways much more significantly than just wearing a mask. The world around us is different and many of us have been thinking about how our goals and priorities have changed over the past year and what we want to keep and what we want to change based on that period.

•••••••••••••••••CAN DO Woman Program: Month 1, Week 1: Getting Started (Restarted) with Friendships (Scroll down to get started)•••••••••••••••••

Some of you may have lost friends or family to COVID-19. Others may have lost jobs or even your businesses. You may have found yourself living in isolation. If you’ve been lucky enough to keep your job and have family around, you still may have had to figure out working from home, using Zoom (I keep misplacing my webcam), serving as the teacher for your child or children, cooking from the pantry, etc.

Where does all of this leave us? How do we move forward without forgetting important lessons we’ve learned? How can we take what we’ve learned to help us become CAN DO women?

In other words, let’s come out of this stressful period with an eye to the future, a personal future that is better than the past.

It’s Time to Start Our CAN DO Program

Today, we are beginning a new program on RosieCentral that is meant to help you and provide guidance as you create the post-pandemic woman you want to become.

Kendra and I have spent the past 15 years (it’s hard to believe it has been that long) interviewing, coaching, and helping women reflect on, write about, and change their lives based on self-discovery, understanding, and inspiration. In the next 52 weeks, we’re going to share some of the insights and secrets we’ve learned from these ordinary, yet extraordinary women. We will provide you with information, stories, exercises, and prompts to assist you in working toward a life that better suits you—the life you want.


Based on thousands of hours talking with women and thousands more hours analyzing what they have told us or written for us, we saw an interesting pattern emerge. Specifically, we have defined seven aspects to a fulfilling life—a CAN DO life that lets you be the kind of woman you want to be. To emphasize their mutual equivalence and complementary roles, we call them the Seven Life Capitals:

  • Social Capital;
  • Emotional Capital;
  • Physical Capital;
  • Cognitive Capital;
  • Spiritual Capital;
  • Financial Capital;
  • Temporal Capital.

These capitals, these facets of our lives, are not equally important or valuable to us throughout our lives. If we were to think of these in the same way that we consider an investment portfolio, it is immediately obvious that their value will change over time. While not everyone will want to invest in or spend these capitals in the same proportion, they are the key elements.

[NOTE: We have written about the Seven Life Capitals in our award-winning collective memoir: Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story.]

CAN DO Woman Program: Month 1, Week 1: Getting Started (Restarted) with Friendships

Let’s get started on our CAN DO Woman Program.

As we move into our post-pandemic lives, Kendra and I are going to help you look at one significant aspect of your life each month. For this first month, the focus is on SOCIAL CAPITAL. Specifically, we’ll help you know more about and how to effectively have friendships in you life. After all, most of us have missed friends as we have had to “shelter in place.” lock down, stay at home, and self-quarantine. So we thought this would be the best place to start.

In this first week, we’re going to consider a friendship you may have never thought about. This is the friendship with yourself.       

Yes, before we move on to other aspects of friendships, we want you to focus on YOU as your own best friend.

The Value of Working on Your Friendship with Yourself

The one person we are with the most? The one person who influences us more than anyone else? Yes, you got it. You are with yourself more than any other person. And you don’t have a quiet relationship. There is a great deal of chatter going on in your head. You are mentoring yourself all the time. But you may not be a good friend or mentor.

  • What should I wear?
  • How do I look?
  • When will I be rewarded for all the hard work I’m doing for my company?
  • Why doesn’t “xxx” like me better?
  • What do I want to do this weekend?

Well, you get the point. It is particularly easy to become negative in your thinking:

  • I am not smart enough.
  • No one finds me attractive.
  • I don’t deserve that promotion.
  • My friends are all more successful than I am.
  • I have no control over my life.

POINT 1: You DO have control over what you tell yourself.

There are many things that we have no control over. We need to accept that. But we DO have control over what we tell ourselves. We can be a supportive friend or we can be a bully. Many women are wonderful friends and supportive of other women. Most women would not tear down a friend or tell her she is stupid. And yet many of those same women will be a bully to themselves.

During this first week of our CAN DO Woman program, we want you to begin realizing that you have control over what you tell yourself. To help you get started, think about what it means to be a good friend, You can make a list of how you treat your best friends. You can make your own list, but many people mention:


  • Always honest. That may mean steering her to a different conclusion, but I would not lie to her.
  • Kind in the comments I make. Cruelty or insensitivity have no place in the friendship.
  • Ready to listen — carefully listen to what has happened to her — good and bad.
  • Gracious and willing to help.
  • Supportive in ways to build her sense of confidence.


You get the point. You need to treat yourself the same way that you would treat a good friend. During this coming week, take just one action to become a better friend to yourself.

ACTION: Take 1 challenge for yourself this week.

1. Sit down.

2. Close your eyes.

3. Imagine you are sitting with a good friend.

4. She isn’t feeling very good about herself and you tell her 5 things that you like about her.

5. Now, tell yourself 5 things you like about YOU.

6. Start a computer document or a notebook and write down the 5 things you like about yourself.

That’s it. That is all you need to do. You will have taken the first step in being a better friend — a supportive friend — to yourself.

Just taking one action will not change your life. But it will get you started. You will have taken an action. You will be starting to think about the woman you want to be and you will have taken a first step. All change needs to come from within.


CAN DO Woman Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt is a CAN DO Woman

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

[Want to have an Eleanor Roosevelt cloth ornament to keep as an inspirational reminder of the CAN DO Woman you are becoming? Click here to learn more.]

COMING NEXT WEEK —Month 1: Week 2

Next week, we’ll share the story of Diane Boxwood and how isolation let her fall into the trap of self-hatred and depression. Her way out was unexpected. So be sure to join us then.

Find your next step to becoming a CAN DO Woman.

Matilda ButlerBecome a CAN DO Woman, Starting Now

Happy Birthday Kendra – CAN DO Woman

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Happy Birthday Kendra — You’re a CAN DO Woman

Happy birthday Kendra, you’re a CAN DO Woman. I’ve helped Kendra celebrate many of her birthdays. Sometimes we’re together but usually we are on the opposite coasts. Over the years, I’ve had fun photos and graphics to use in blog posts wishing her a great next 12 months. This year, I decided to look back at some of the previous celebrations.

As you probably know, Kendra Bonnett and I have worked together since the late 1970s when we were both at the Women’s Educational Equity Communication Network, a national information program to help women find and utilize educational resources. The program finally ended, we didn’t. We continued our friendship over the years and have now been business partners since 2006.

Happy CAN DO Birthday

Every year, I wish Kendra a public happy birthday on our blog. In past years, we blogged on our website: This year, I’m sending out a great big birthday wish on this our new site: But wherever or whenever I make my wish, I am always thinking about what an amazing person Kendra is.

Not surprisingly, Kendra is a role model for our new inspiring seven month program — blogs about becoming a CAN DO Woman in this post-pandemic time of our lives. Whether Kendra is writing blogs, working with museums, filling orders, crafting our handmade dolls, or creating graphics for our product line of CAN DO Women such as:

Kendra is always on top. She is proactive, thoughtful, adventuresome, and downright gifted. Did I happen to mention that I’m in awe of her?

You can see why “thanks” seems like a weak way for me to acknowledge her birthday.

So, just for the fun of it, I decided to look back at some of the photos and graphics I’ve used to celebrate her June birthdays. Sometimes, it was photos of cakes. Kendra adores watermelon and her mother used to make a cake that looked just like a watermelon. Yesterday, in the middle of a heat wave, she told me she had juiced an entire watermelon and had it on standby in the refrigerator — ready to keep her cool.

But all kinds of cakes are appropriate. Who doesn’t like a cake? One year I thought she’d like this cake with the single rose and an icing birthday tag plus her name.


And then there was the year I made her a 4-layer cake. That was when I was on the West coast and she was on the East coast. But I did send her photos! The funny part was that the cake was so tall, it wouldn’t fit on any of my plates except the oversized 12 inch ones.







A CAN DO Woman, 10 years ago

Today, I’m especially remembering a birthday trip we took a decade ago. It was filled with all the things we like to do — visit museums, find great ethnic restaurants, see plays, walk gardens. We went to the Hancock Shaker Village on one of the days and Kendra was allowed to pick up a small duck. It reminded her of one of her childhood stories. It’s such a sweet photo that I still have it 10 years later.

Technology was great in 2011. I had a little video camera, Flip Video, (see in lower left of Kendra duck photo) at the time. What a hoot to see it so many years later. I probably still have it in some dusty drawer. .

Reach Out to Your CAN DO Friend…

This may not be her birthday month, but all this talk of a CAN DO Woman may remind you of her. Reach out to her with an email, a phone call, an old-fashioned card, or even arrange a zoom call. Be sure you let her know how much you appreciate her and her friendship.

Happy Birthday, Kendra. Here’s to a Great Year for You!

Matilda ButlerHappy Birthday Kendra – CAN DO Woman

Become a CAN DO Woman: One Step At a Time

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Are You Ready to Begin Your Post-Pandemic Life?

Join Us to Find Inspiration 

and Practical Steps to 

Become a More Effective, Empowered CAN DO Woman

One Week at a Time


Stay tuned. On July 7, RosieCentral begins our new weekly blog-based program designed to help you become the CAN DO woman you have always imagined.

There are many websites that provide lists to help you. And you’ll find some great ideas there. We urge you to continue to look at various sources of inspiration for your life.

Change Takes More Than Lists

But just reading through “how to be successful” or “how to be fulfilled” or “how to get ahead at work” or “how to be loved” doesn’t really move you much closer to those goals. Why? It’s so easy to read and forget.

And we should know. We’ve tried them ourselves. But when I look at myself as the woman “before” the lists and the woman “after”, they are fairly close to duplicates.

We CAN DO Women

You CAN BE a CAN DO Woman

You Decide Who You Want to Be

We want more for you than that. We want you to see change in your life.

So, we’ve designed a different path. Our intent is to provide one area to focus on each month and one specific action to take each week that will help you move closer to becoming the person you want to be.

And who is this person you want to be? We can’t possibly choose what is important to you or how you want to progress. We don’t know where you are in your life right now. And we have no idea where you have been.

So who is this CAN DO woman? It’s the person you get to define based on the exercises, tips, and inspiration we provide.  There is no fixed or pre-determined outcome.

Why Are We Starting Our CAN DO Woman Program Now?

Are you ready to begin your post-pandemic life?

Want to move forward into a new normal—a life that you create? Maybe your pre-pandemic life was “okay.” But perhaps you’re not ready to just resume all the old behaviors and habits. Maybe you were already dissatisfied with your life before the lockdown and would like to find a way to welcome meaningful change into your life.

Either way, NOW IS THE TIME TO BEGIN TAKING STEPS that will let you have the life you want—that will let you become the woman you want to be.

Yes, now is the time to become a more effective, empowered CAN DO Woman.


What do we know that can help you?

Kendra and I have spent the last 20 years interviewing, coaching, and helping women write about and change their lives based on self-discovery, understanding, and inspiration. In the next 52 weeks, we’re going to share some of the secrets we’ve learned. We will provide you with information, exercises, and prompts to assist you in working toward a life that better suits you and your dreams.

What we are not.

As I mentioned, there are many lists on the internet to help you change your life. We’ve tried a large number of these ourselves. Each one initially seems brilliant and full of good advice. But in the end they are just lists that are easily forgotten. Really, who could possibly remember to do five new things each day!

That’s why we hope you’ll join us each week

For the next 12 months, we’ll explore a different area of your life. Each week will focus on one aspect of that month’s topic and give you a challenge to take. We’ll share stories of ordinary and extraordinary women, inspirational quotes, research, and more. Each week’s blog will provide you with a single challenge that will assist you in building and improving your CAN DO life as well as a quick practical takeaway.

What we’ll cover

And what will we cover? The areas we will focus on—the Seven Life Capitals—grew out of our research and writing that began in 2005. We conducted interviews with more than 100 women. Each interview was about two hours long and allowed the women to address both the specifics about their lives as well as the expectations and experiences during the phases of their lives.

By the end of the interviews, we heard comments like:

“Now I get it. I see what I did. I keep repeating the same thing over and over thinking it would end better. I’m not going to do that again.”

“I can see how accepting the challenge to return to school in my 40s made all the difference in my life. Now challenges are an opportunity rather than a negative.”

“Friendships have always been hard for me. Now I understand that not having them has affected my life in negative ways and by changing I may be able to have positive results. Or, at least, I’ll have one or two people to turn to for help and support.”

And the comments go on.


Once we analyzed the thousands of pages from our interviews, we found patterns in the responses and saw that they could be characterized as Seven Life Capitals. These are:

Social Capital

Emotional Capital

Physical Capital

Cognitive Capital

Spiritual Capital

Financial Capital

Temporal Capital

Over the coming months, we will help you understand and build your own life capitals that will let you open doors to the future you. We can’t open the doors. We can only give you perspectives and tools so you can open and walk through those doors.


Have you seen the movie Enola Holmes? If not, I recommend it. The movie is currently available on Netflix and I watched it for a second time this week. Here’s a link to the trailer. Enola is the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes and Eudoria Holmes is her mother. Millie Bobby Brown plays Enola and Helen Bonham Carter plays Eudoria.

Enola’s mother leaves on her 16th birthday. While looking for her mother, Enola finds valuable lessons for her future. Near the end of the movie, she understands what her mother meant when she taught her:

“You have to make some noise if you want to be heard.”

And then Enola summarizes her new perspective:

To be a Holmes, you must find your own path. My freedom, my future, my purpose. I am a detective. I’m a decipherer. And I am a finder of lost souls. 

My life is my own. And the future is up to us.

Enola’s Words Are Relevant…

In our journey together, we’ll explore who we are, where we’ve been, how to build our own life lessons, and where we’re going. And we agree with Enola — The future is up to us.


For the two remaining blogs on June, we thought we’d have a little fun sharing some thoughts on accepting challenges and using them in positive ways.


Susan Ahn Cuddy’s Words are Also Relevant. 

Here’s what she has to say.

Start Thinking About Your Life…Today

Next week, we’ll talk about the value of discontinuities. The pandemic has been a major disrupter in all our lives. We’ll start to explore how you can take advantage of this discontinuity to go on a journey to becoming the CAN DO WOMAN you want to be.

In the meantime, begin to reflect on what went right in the past year and what went wrong! You might want to make a few notes to yourself as this is one way to look back at the path you have been on.

And, as we know from the life of Susan Ahn Cuddy, challenges are there to be met.


  1. Start reflecting on the past year. Write 1 thing that was bad or hard.
  2. Now smile. Think about something good that happened during the pandemic. Write that 1 thing.

This is a little like thinking about the trip you will take. You don’t have reservations yet. You certainly haven’t packed your bag. But you are considering your destination.

See you next week.

Matilda ButlerBecome a CAN DO Woman: One Step At a Time

Tiny Tip #1 for a Can Do Woman

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What is a Tiny Tip for you — a Can Do Woman? And why do you care?

Tiny Tip #1. What is Tiny Tip #1 for you, a Can Do Woman? Welcome to the beginning of a series of short blog posts designed to get you to focus on just one small point — a point to help you in your Can Do life. Some of these Tiny Tips will be quotes to inspire you. Others will be a new perspective for you to consider.

In our full program for the Can Do Woman that launches in July, we will always end with a step for you to take as you become a well-rounded Can Do woman. Each step, although meant to be easy to take, requires ACTION on your part. 

New thoughts on being a Can Do Woman

Think about being a Can Do Woman!

But not our Tiny Tips for a Can Do Woman.

Just read through the blog article, let your mind wrap around the thought, and then you are through. Whew! Easy. Becoming, being, and growing as a Can Do woman takes determination, persistence, and action. Fortunately, you can consider our Tiny Tips as Thought Candy. 

The idea for Tiny Tips for Can Do Women came to me while reading the program notes for a chamber music concert I attended back in the pre-pandemic days. 

A Look Again at a Chamber Music Concert’s Program

In examining that carefully saved concert program, I realized my blog articles tend to be long and require action. And while Kendra and I will continue with our longer articles, there are many times when all of us are burdened in our lives and we just want a “little something.” That little something might provide inspiration or a new way to think of our lives. After all, we don’t necessarily have a lot of extra time.

Interested in Can Do Women Gifts? Check Out Our Etsy Can Do Store.

Case in point:

I invite you to consider the words in the program notes I’ve come to treasure since there may still be months before I’m back in a concert hall.

“Both Mozart and Beethoven capitalized on the demand for piano music to which other instruments could play along, often doubling the piano melodies. Both composers called their work in this genre “Sonata for Piano and Violin,” emphasizing the primacy of the piano part.”

When I read those two sentences in the concert program notes, I thought about how I could turn that idea into a blog post. I thought I might write about how we can use this idea from Mozart and Beethoven in our lives — along with specific steps we might take.

Then I realized that I could just give you a Tiny Tip — something you could file away in your mind and let it come back to you at the right moment. So here it is:

CAN DO WOMAN Tiny Tip #1:

  • Stop for a couple of minutes. Think about what is important in your life right now. Just about one aspect of your life.
  • Give it a DESCRIPTIVE PHRASE. Don’t put a bunch of extraneous words in your mental description. Be sure that the most important part is stated first. That is vital to focus.

After all, Mozart and Beethoven put the word “piano” before the word “violin” because it was the more important one and let the person purchasing the music know that these are pieces that emphasize the piano. And if you play the oboe? Don’t get this music because it is only for the piano and violin.

Relevance to you? It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the small details of life and the nitty-gritty of focusing on what you are doing. As a result you don’t take enough time to determine what is really important. To determine what you want to accomplish.

EXAMPLE OF NOT ENOUGH FOCUS:  ‘I am focused on wonderful music that is lyrical with a dramatic beginning and an upbeat ending for two instruments—piano and violin.”

Neither you nor others will understand your priorities.

EXAMPLE OF A BETTER FOCUS: Teaching my daughter to play the piano.

Too deep into a music analogy?  Okay, try this:

EXAMPLE OF NOT ENOUGH FOCUS: It is important for me to develop better relationships with family, friends, church members, and co-workers by going out to lunch or having them over for dinner while introducing them to new foods as I expand my cooking capabilities.

EXAMPLE OF A BETTER FOCUS: Invite one friend to dinner this week.

Don’t get lost in details that don’t really matter. Put what is most important UP FRONT.

Conclusion of Tiny Tip #1. DO FOCUS. 

Hope you will come to like this new series. Expect the rest of the series to be even shorter now that I’ve explained the concept. Can Do Women Who Inspire UsHere’s to better focus on what’s important in your life and to the lives of CAN DO Women.

Matilda ButlerTiny Tip #1 for a Can Do Woman

Susan Ahn Cuddy, Honoring a Can-Do Woman

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Susan Ahn Cuddy. Who is she and why do you care?

Susan Ahn Cuddy is a strong, empowered Korean American who was the first Asian American woman in the Navy. We’re honoring her during May, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

¶¶ Be sure to check out how you can find and apply lessons from Susan Ahn Cuddy’s life to your own. Lessons are at the end of this blog.¶¶

Susan was born in 1915 in Los Angeles and died there 100 years later in 2015. During those 100 years, she achieved many firsts even though her ethnicity and gender meant roadblocks for her.

Let’s look back at Susan Ahn Cuddy’s inspiring life

Imagine this:

Susan stood on the dock, waiving until the ship became just a dot on the horizon. That ship was taking her father from Los Angeles Port to China.

“Come on Susan, Philip, Philson, Soorah. We must get back home. You’ll see your father again soon,” said their mother.

That was 1926 when Susan Ahn was 11 years old. She and her siblings did see their father, but only for brief periods of time for the rest of his life.

Twenty-four years earlier, in 1902, Susan’s parents, Dosan Ahn Changho and Helen Lee, were the first married Korean couple to immigrate to the US.

Part Susan’s Story, Part Her Parents’ Story

And although this is Susan’s story, her parents’ strong ties to Korea had a major influence on her life. In fact, Dosan boarded that ship to join the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, the Korean government in exile in Shanghai, China. He served briefly as its sixth President in mid-1926. At that time (and since 1910), Korea was a colony of the Empire of Japan. Dosan was an activist working for Korean independence.

Dosan was arrested, tortured, and imprisoned multiple times. His activism eventually led to his death in a Japanese hospital in Seoul. That was in 1938, three years before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the US entered WW2.

Susan and her siblings had often heard their father say, “Do your best to be good American citizens but never forget your Korean heritage.” So you can imagine how the 1941 attack impacted Susan—Japan had colonized Korea, killed her father, and now attacked America, her homeland.

What made her such a strong and inspiring women

Susan Ahn Cuddy

If you have faced prejudice in your life, make Susan Ahn Cuddy your touchstone.

Early in World War II, the Navy opened enrollment in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Susan applied for Navy Officer Candidate School, hoping to be part of the fight against Japan. OCS rejected her application because she was too “oriental.” That didn’t stop her. She reapplied and was allowed to enlist, becoming the first Asian-American woman in the Navy. 

Susan’s performance as an enlisted WAVES brought her to the attention of Navy officers who recommended she be admitted to OCS where she was once again successful. After officer training, she went to Atlanta where she served as the first female gunnery officer training Naval fighter pilots how to shoot down enemy aircraft.

¶¶ Scroll down for recipe celebrating Asian food.¶¶

Prejudice Continued but Susan Persisted

She often met resistance both as a female and an Asian. She recalled one of many incidents:

“A white male pilot I was training disobeyed my orders. I said, ‘Down here, you will shoot when I tell you to shoot.’”

After rising to the rank of lieutenant, she worked in the Office of Naval Intelligence where she faced more prejudice. Her supervisor did not trust her with classified materials. Eventually, working hard, she became a code-breaker.

Her experience as a code-breaker gave her the credentials to join the National Security Agency (NSA) after WW2. And during the Cold War, she oversaw 300 agents in NSA’s Russia section.

Susan Ahn CuddyFacing prejudice made her aware of prejudice against others

Susan faced and overcame prejudice against Asian-Americans and women. This may explain why she identified with Blacks in the segregated South. She often used “colored” bathrooms and drinking fountains to show support for those who had no choice. 

Honors for a life well lived

In 2003, the State Assembly of California of District 28 named Cuddy the Woman of the Year in honor of her commitment to public service.

On October 5, 2006 she received the American Courage Award from the Asian American Justice Center in Washington D.C.

She continued to be active at both Navy and Korean American events throughout her life. Numerous government bodies and nonprofits honored her in her later years.

If you’d like to learn more are Susan Ahn Cuddy’s inspiring life, click here for a brief video.

ABOUT THE ASIAN SALAD DRESSING RECIPE BELOW: One evening I raved to my friend, Diana Yoshikawa Paul, about her salad dressing. She replied, “It’s so simple. Here’s how you make it.” Below I’m sharing her recipe with you. It’s a delicious dressing as written. But you can to adapt it and make it your own. Consider adding a bit of minced fresh ginger or a tablespoon of room temperature peanut butter. It is lovely over cabbage slaw as well as lettuce. Enjoy.

Asian Salad Dressing
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Asian Salad Dressing

Simple salad dressing recipe
Prep Time5 mins
Resting Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: Asian Salad Dressing, Tangy Dressing, Miso Dressing
Servings: 4


  • 1 tbsp mild miso
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup vinegar rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil


  • ADD miso to bowl and stir until smooth
  • MIX IN orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil to miso. Stir after each addition.
  • REST Let dressing rest for 15 minutes so the flavors can mingle.
  • NOTE This is a tangy dressing. If you like a sweeter dressing, you can cut back from ¼ cup of vinegar to 2 tablespoons. Or, if you use the stated amounts and find it too tangy, add a tablespoon of maple syrup or agave.


Using the Lessons from Susan’s Life

Susan Ahn Cuddy was a Can-Do Woman. The two prompts below will get you thinking about your own life. Specifically the prompts focus on the influences from your mother.

  • What is one thing your mother taught you that has held you back from pursuing your life dreams? You might have overcome the advice or lessons, but they stopped you for a while.

Susan Ahn Cuddy faced incredible prejudice and excelled anyway. But she also faced prejudice from her mother. Susan married an Irish American, a fellow Navy intelligence officer. Her mother refused to talk to her for five years because she did not marry a Korean. Eventually, Susan and her husband, Francis Cuddy, moved back to Los Angeles. She wanted to be near her family and overcome their prejudice.

My mother taught me to never let a man think I was smarter than he was. She always emphasized the importance of featuring the man. Fortunately, I put aside that advice because I saw I would never be able to pursue a career if I always remained in the shadow.

Now, you think about, or write about, what you were taught that might even now be holding you back from being the best Can-Do Woman possible. Or think of advice you have overcome.

  • What is one thing your mother (or father) taught you that helped you move forward in your life?

Susan Ahn Cuddy was raised with the words, “Do your best to be a good American citizen, but never forget your Korean heritage.” This advice helped her think beyond herself and to understand that she was part of two cultures — words that made her strong in the face of prejudice.

My mother eventually came around to understand how important my work was to me and that I would always pursue it seriously. She started saying (with some pride), “I know you are going to burn the candle at both ends, but try to not burn it in the middle too.” Even now I laugh when I remember that.

Now, you think about some way that your mother gave you advice that has helped you pursue your dreams.

¶¶ Would you like a touchstone to remind you of overcoming prejudice and pursuing excellence? You might like our Susan Ahn Cuddy ornament.

(Also available as keychain, backpack charm, or sachet. Just ask us.)


Matilda ButlerSusan Ahn Cuddy, Honoring a Can-Do Woman