My Shetland Nana, Johanna  Margaret Woodham, had arthritis, and  so it was difficult for her to blend the butter into the flour mix. She  recruited my help when I was tall  enough to reach her kitchen counter  standing on a stool.  


I spent many hours and days  with Nana, especially during holidays,  as my mother was a single mum, and  worked long hours in our Grocery  Store, in Christchurch, New Zealand,  in the 1950’s. Making shortbread for  friends and family has remained a  tradition for me, until this day.  After graduating from the Christchurch School of Nursing as  an RN, I left New Zealand for my  OE (Overseas Experience - Kiwi  term for Walkabout). Following one year nursing in Australia as a post-op  Cardiac Surgical Nurse, I donned a  backpack, with a one-way ticket to  London. I spent one year, traveling  through 15 countries, mostly in SE  Asia, on a budget of $5 per day  (including accommodation). Those  were the days! 

Arriving in London with £65  (US$100) to my name, I  immediately found work as an RN.  Nursing in London was exciting. I was  fortunate to be the private nurse to the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire (Deborah Mitford), and for an English Countess in her Scottish castle, among others.

After several years in London,  I flew to Dubai, to take a position  as private nurse to Sheik Rashid bin  Saeed al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai,  and the father of the current Ruler. I  spent 9 months with Rashid, caring for him in his palace.  I returned to London filled with  wonderful experiences of the Gulf –  camel races, private jets to Pakistan,  nursing Rashid in a glorious royal tent in the desert  as his entourage drilled for water. 

In 1986 I moved to Bethesda,  Maryland, and worked for a Cardiology practice in Chevy Chase. My shortbread, would disappear at  lightning speed from the lunch  room. My colleagues encouraged me  to sell my shortbread, so I found a  small kitchen to rent in Virginia, and  “Nana’s Shortbread” was born. I sold  to several local stores, and The  Washington Post featured my small company in their Food Section. During this time I launched a product called the Kiwi Kozy - a small microwavable pillow filled with grains.  

These were also featured in The Washington Post’s Style Section. To  this day I have sold and given  thousands of Kozys. 

Finding myself pregnant with my  second child, I decided to stay at home  to raise my children – and put my  company to rest – at least until my  children reached College.  2009 was a time of reinvention.  I divorced, my son and daughter left  for college, the passing of my mother,  and a move to a new home. During  this emotionally challenging time, I  found the practice of Yoga and was  enthralled how it fed my soul and  brought a much needed balance to  my life. So much so, that I became  certified as a Yoga Instructor, which  felt like a symbiotic shift for a retired  nurse and mother. 

Nana’s Shortbread was still on  the back burner, until summer of  2013. The time seemed right to  revamp my packaging, re-name my  small company and explore  opportunities in local stores. Nana’s  Shortbread became “3 Nanas,” to  include my Nana, my Mother and  myself. 

As I walk around Bradley Food  & Chevy Chase Supermarket, filling  the shelves and sampling my  shortbread, wearing my mother’s  apron as I do, I am taken back full  circle, to days as a small girl, in my  mother’s corner Grocery Store. That  organic feeling of women, mothers,  grandmothers, baking, teaching – and  this simple biscuit – loved, shared, and enjoyed, brought half way around  the world via Shetland and New Zea land. 

Over the years, I have coined a phrase: “The Shortbread Effect.”  Whenever you give Nana’s Shortbread  – you are remembered. Shortbread  woos its recipients into a dizzy state of  gratitude. There is nothing quite like  it on the market!

Back to blog