Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy and Healthy

I would like to wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy 2010 and if God forbid you are faced with something difficult, may you find the strength to adapt, heal and move forward.
All the best,

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Slap Shot - Newman, Ontkean, Hanson Brothers

Slap Shot is one of my all time favorites movies and as a sports movie, it is fantastic and hilarious. Paul Newman and cast delivered phenomenal performances. The following segment makes me laugh like hell every time. "Dave's a mess."


At some point I will do a list of my fave sports films with clips, for now. Enjoy!


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sometimes It's Good to Cry

Flaming June by Frederic Lord Leighton

Holiday music rules most houses until after the New Year usually. While there are many fabulous holiday songs praising togetherness, Jesus, driedels and more, I have been revisiting many a song that has brought a tear to my eye or a full out bawl. In honor of those who are talented in a realm that I am not, here are some songs that have moved many and few, took us through heartache and pain and at the end of it all, gave us something that elicits an emotion with the first note. Romance has never been easy.

Pavarotti - Nessun Dorma - One of the best arias. The longing in this performance kills me every time. Here is the translation.

Judi Dench - Send in the Clowns - Sondheim was a genius.

"Johanna" from Sweeney Todd - Beautiful.

Janis Ian - Seventeen - A national anthem for many high school girls, whether they know it or not.

Sarah McLachlan - Angel - This needs no explanation, but yeah, I've been there.

Tracy Chapman - For you - Just wow.

Enya - Only Time - So very pretty.

Loreena McKennitt - The Mummer's Dance - Talk about getting transported. Ethereal.

Sinead O'Connor - Jackie - Very sad, sad song.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thoughts about storytelling

I know it is almost Christmas and I admit I am not feeling it this year. Not really sure why. I feel like, while I had a very good year, 2010 will be much better. Of course, my feelings could just be hopeful or maybe I do have a sixth sense that I will finally flourish, I have no idea. Mostly I want to feel as if I have contributed during this life of mine somehow. We are all very fortunate to know the people we know, the people we no longer know and the people we still have to meet. Like it or not, people we hate or no longer speak to have helped make us the people we are along with those that have loved us and cheered for us. All the people that have flowed in and out of my life are responsible for the woman I now am. The best and worst traits of my family and friends have touched me and have imprinted themselves on me. I will always be grateful for this because without it, I am not sure if I would have had the courage to take on the monumental life change in choosing to be a story teller.

Going along with that, author Chimamanda Adichie gave a wonderful lecture about story telling and it is very powerful. She talks about the danger of a single story. Take people of my heritage for example. Italians. We have been completely regaled to two things in the world of movies and TV. You are either a mobster or a Guido. None of my family members fell under these titles, so I was always confused as to why that was all people thought I might be. I want to change that. I want to write about characters who just happen to have Italian heritage or Haitian heritage or Cajun heritage. Heritage is important, but it is not the only thing that should define us. We should be proud of who we are and where our ancestors came from, but we also have to make people understand we are not the stereotype shoved down our throats through the media.

Have a Merry Christmas/Happy Holiday with your loved ones and enjoy your traditions and pass them on. Out there somewhere someone wants to know about it.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow and Writing and Men

We have had a delightful foot of snow where we are. Delightful I say because our town was quick in clearing the roads and a neighbor plowed our driveway. Such a refreshing change from where we had originally lived. People who would only shovel up to their property line and wouldn't even speak to you if they saw you outside.
The snow has also made our dog, Isadora, giddy with power as she wheels around and eats snow. I will have to get a picture up of her to show what a true snow puppy she is.

As my quest in writing continues I admit I need a serious refresher course in proper use of punctuation. I also think I could benefit from learning more about "Description" as well. I get caught with that sometimes, unable to express what my character is really feeling of doing. Sure dialogue is the best for that, but certain scenes that do not call for dialogue need to be able to transport the reader with a damn good description. I am hoping to save up my pennies and one day take this course, either in NYC or online, through Gotham Writer's Workshop for a mere $395.00

Level 1 Fiction Writing Workshop - 10 weeks

On a much less serious note, I always have a mental picture for the characters I create. Sometimes I see them drawn as graphic novel characters like in Sandman, Love & Rockets, Spawn, etc. Then I will mish mash that with visuals in my head and even a real person, usually a model/actor/musician type. Recently I discovered someone who physically embodies the whole of one, actually two, male characters I created. How often do you envision a character and then BAM! a full fleshed out version appears? Not often. That being said, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Carter Oosterhouse's parents for unknowingly making a writer's vision real. And yes, I am including a picture below. His eye color is wrong for one of my guys, but I can work around that.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cashback - the movie

Recently watched this little gem on a whim and it was a great drama/comedy/romance. There is nudity, based on the fact that the lead character is an artist and it is used with how he sees the body. There are also discussions about the first time they recognized the female form and of course that is funny as well. Watch the trailer, see if it interests you.



Sunday, December 13, 2009

Superb Quote

Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” –Mark Twain

I will do a proper post tomorrow because now I am about to finishing painting the office. Then we will put up shelves and I can set up my books and writing and sewing space. Amen!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New discoveries

This is what I look like as I sit and type my blog....just kidding. Only I wish I wasn't.

Things are good here at the homestead. A dear friend let me pick through her bolts of fabric so I can once again, make curtains. Oh yeah, we chose nice pretty fabrics for living room and dining room, but the art room and office? Fun patterns you will hopefully all enjoy once you see them.

Here are recent goodies I would like to share

Natasha Wozniak - an artisan jeweler who does superb work.

Lucky Scent - I have been fortunate to receive some sample vials from a friend who orders from here. Some of the most unique perfumes I have ever smelled. You can order samples for $3 and $4. A steal.

Rustic Cabbage Soup - DELICIOUS!! - Did the President say that? What about those vaccines? They cut through all the crap and give you unbiased reporting. Wonderful.

American Duchess, 18th Century Fashion - Yes please.

I am late to the party on this one, but 1001 Rules for my Unborn Son is a fabulous blog AND book.

Mahar Drygoods - Whimsical toys to encourage imagination in children or adults.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Stephanie Plum no more

A few months ago I had the pleasure of discovering the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. The first one had me howling with laughter, so when I finished it, I was ready for more as I loved the concept behind it. I devoured the next one and the next one, slowly becoming annoyed by the ineptitude of the main character, but hung in there. I just finished reading "Eleven on Top" and that's it. I'm done. While I am a huge fan of fun, light reading, I am having a hard time sticking with a series where the main character, Stephanie, is not progressing one iota. For the love of God, how does she not know how to hold a gun by now? Her instincts have not improved at all and every ending is "deus ex machina". Just when it seems she may die or get maimed, WOOSH! here comes Ranger or Morelli. That is a whole other story line. A crooked love triangle between Stephanie and two attractive men, Ranger and Morelli. If I was one of these guys I would have had a kick to the curb session by now. Listen, I am not trying to imply all books should be on par with Pulitzer Prize winners, but there has to be some point where as you are filling in the formula you go, "Hmph, let's throw a surprise in here, show she understands how to use the stun gun now or let's not have her get thwarted the exact same way by an FTA again." So my dear Stephanie, it has been fun, but alas, I have moved on and will be digging into Raymond Carver's short stories compiled in "Where I'm Calling From" and "Love Stories for the Time Being" by Genie D. Chipps which are stories by 26 master writers.
If anyone has suggestions for some light, entertaining reading, please let me know. Thanks!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

So this is what money looks like

Doing research for my writing has brought me to some interesting places. I am currently looking at LA venues for a wedding that takes place in my story. Let me share what I have come across. Honestly, I would love to just throw a party in one of these places

Private Estate Wedding Locations

The Payne Mansion - I know it's in San Fran, but I couldn't resist

Marvimon House

Lobo Castle

Rancho Sol Del Pacifico


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holidays and Home

I hope everybody had a wonderful holiday! We were fortunate enough to visit a few friends in NJ and PA for the holidays.

We were also very fortunate in locating a pair of wing back chairs and an ottoman on Craig's List for $50! At some point the chair will need to be reupholstered since the fabric is very faded, but the chairs are HUGE and sturdy. I have always loved wing backs so this is the deal of the century. In the meantime we will seek out slipcovers for them and that will suffice until we can afford the reupholstering as it is about $400-500 a chair not including fabric!!
Here is the ottoman:

Here is one of the wing backs:

I've also begun painting the hideous knotty pine room. Currently I am in the middle of adding the first coat of white paint that has a slight tint of blue to it. The picture I have is just when it was primed.
We like the look of the antiquish white. Not perfectly done with some wood showing through so that is what we will stick with. As I look around the room as I type, the white makes such a difference. It makes the room look so much bigger and inviting since it our office and where I write the majority of the time.

My writing is moving along. I have given myself a deadline for the book in progress "Retrospect", but I may regret that. I have revamped the whole plot line. You would think I would be aggravated by this, but I'm not. I look at it as a learning experience because I am reworking and researching. I actually find myself relieved today when I changed the location of the story and established a better rapport between the characters. When I had begun painting the room last night, I started to think about what bogged the story down and I came up with a solution. Funny how when you need to sort things out, a different task, no matter how mundane, can bring a new view to your though process.

Anyway, time to get back to painting, the ceiling is left and that is always a fun challenge for me. Until next time...


Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Been busy doing house stuff, will post pictures on it soon. In the meantime, here are some songs I cannot get enough of!

Losing My Religion - Tori Amos - best cover song I've heard in a long time
Only Time - Enya - just lovely
Saturdays - Chevelle - this song has been getting my creative juices going
Naked - Assemblage 23 - dance groove
Not What You See - Kutless - Rockin' tune
The Mummers Dance - Loreena McKennitt - ethereal, haunting
For You - Tracy Chapman - have always loved the simplicity and emotions in this song.



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Romance Anyone?

What is it about Romance movies and novels that make us swoon? Is it the alluring, dark stranger? The clandestine meetings and glances when it is forbidden? The Handsome prince we want to whisk us off our feet? The beautiful woman who is so desperate for love she would move half way across the world for her desire? Is it the unrequited aching that we all relate to? Or is it just that we want to be taken back to some of these wonderful emotions we have had and can relate to? Probably a little bit of everything.
I have never been one to be all swoony. It seemed sort of silly to think there was a Prince Charming out there, though I was hopeful. Then when I was in high school, Sixteen Candles and the rest of the films like it showed me I was not the only one who thought I was too awkward, nerdy, silly and lovesick. For that, I would like to thank John Hughes, RIP, for reaching in and understanding some of us teenagers. As I got older, the Gothic soul in me preferred the "You will pine away and never win" vibe for a bit, but that got tired and I started to enjoy the troubled stories like "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest" instead. No romance for me, I had real intense emotions to deal with, no sulking over a missed kiss.

Then I saw "A Room with A View".
It fed my Anglophilia and I wanted to be Lucy Honeychurch with my own George Emerson. Hence this began my love for Romance Films and stories.

Joy, pain, sorrow, anguish, laughter, hate, tears and passion, are all-encompassing in a richly told romance. We all feel Heathcliff's desire for Cathy and hate and pity him when he turns into a monster. I'm sure most of us probably swooned when Rhett tells Scarlett "You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how." Then there is"An Affair to Remember" which needs no explanation, just a tissue. When Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood is told by Edward Ferrars that he is not married and she breaks down, we all cry in relief with her.
Perhaps it is these reactions we know we will have when the pivotal moment happens that keeps us coming back for more. The kiss, the struggle and tension, the reveal and the inevitable happy ever after that follows making it worth our while to sit and watch "The Notebook" or "From Here to Eternity" or "Bridget Jones's Diary" or "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall". No matter how happy we are in our relationships, we enjoy the tear jerker now and then. Rooting for love to conquer all...Now THAT is entertainment.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tis the season has arrived.

Hello, hello!

I have come across some interesting gift ideas via magazines and other places and wanted to pass them along in case you were looking for something new, fun and interesting.

Happy Tape - this stuff looks like fun to use.

Karmakraft - design your own fabric. I may have to do this as I bet it can get addicting.

Wrist Cuffs by Waterrose. I have knit wrist warmers and cuffs, but these are quite beautiful.

My wedding anniversary is on the Day of the Dead. Think I should buy one of these from Artisans A GoGo to honor it.

Over 20 months, a set of 25 colored pencils are delivered to the collectors door. Nice idea Social Designer!

Happy Owl Glassworks have some interesting and lovely nightlights and other glass goodies.

These paintings by Julie Beck are beautiful.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mad Chase indeed

Domestic Felicity is one of those blogs I enjoy because it gives me insights to a world that I am not really a part of, SAHM and deeply religious, but I am still welcome.
Anna's post today was spot on for me. It is called The Mad Chase After Degrees and there is a plethora of interesting commentary you must read.
As someone who has worked 15+ years as an administrative/executive/office assistant in different business realms, it is extremely disheartening to not even get an interview for over a year. My experience should override some college grad who has never been in the workforce, but at this point, who am I really competing with? Someone who is a laid off hedge fund exec? CFO? COO? CPA? Who knows anymore? Amusingly, companies actually list Bachelor Degree or higher now for Administrative Assistant positions, as well as second languages, and all for a crappy salary of $35,000 sometimes. Talk about being underpaid and over qualified for a job that requires organizational skills, critical thinking and knowing where the hottest places to eat are. You learn on the job when you are an assistant. It is where you learn how to read human nature, learn to anticipate your boss's every move and need and how to have a cool head under pressure. You will NOT learn that in a lecture hall.
What will happen when the economy finally picks up and these Assistants with varying degrees in Finance, Business, Psychology, etc walk away from the job. Will companies look for my type of experience again or will they want the piece of paper secretary? Do they even know? I shudder at the thought.


Friday, November 6, 2009

A Steady Rain

My husband, amused and aware of my love for Hugh Jackman, got us tickets for our anniversary to see the Broadway play, A Steady Rain. Hugs is starring in it along with Daniel Craig aka Bond, James Bond.
I must say I was thoroughly impressed with the acting chops of both men, but Daniel Craig blew me away. Why you ask? Well, I have only ever seen him as the steely 007. It was great too watch him in the flesh, so animated and intense, doing a Chicago accent and the chemistry between him and Jackman was fantastic.
The story is dark, riveting and depressing. Jackman plays a nasty cop who gets in a bad situation, Craig is his partner and best friend who always backs him up, but then find his own strength and self after Jackman's character gets out of control one too many times.
At the end of the show, the gentlemen spoke to the audience and thanked us for not having cell phones on, this got a laugh, and then proceeded to let us know that this evening they would be collecting donations for Broadway Cares. They are one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. Jackman and Craig were saying how normally they would auction the set, but since it was only 2 chairs, they would auction something else. The began to remove their shirts and the crowd got crazy. They began laughing and basically opened buds up for their shirts, that they'd autograph. Bidding began at $1000.00 Two women went back and forth and one women went up to $7000.00 Jackman asked the woman if she would match her competitor and she said yes. In under 5 minutes, these two men raised $14,000.00 for a worthy cause. They also had 20 posters signed by them at $300 a piece and you were also able to pay $1500 and met both men and get pictures and autographs. The interesting part about this was as you saw these two banter with each other and with us in the audience and you got the sense that this is how they normally are when they are done playing a role, which was incredibly refreshing.

The evening made me realize how much I enjoy going to the theater and and how much I wished we could afford to go more and go to charity events and auctions. To be a part of that would be lovely, alas, it is not to be right now. Maybe one day...


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Best Art Studios and more

Hope you all had a great weekend and got lots of candy.

I went on Etsy this weekend and came across a FABULOUS pair of artists and their blog, Best Art Studios. Their paintings are really amazing and I love, love, love that they also make jewelry out of their stuff as well.

These Short Series rings by ├ůsa Lockner are quite beautiful.

Need some fun fabric and interesting gifts for the holidays? Badskirt has some great stuff for you.

You can surprise some little lady and make this simple, yet lovely bandanna dress.

Mmmmm, pie in a jar .


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Civility and Etiquette are on their way out


Let's be serious though, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the internet in general have created an underbelly of people who need their mouths washed out with soap and then sent to the Emily Post school for social graces.
Intelligent debate seems to have fallen to the wayside on most matters.
Don't agree with an adoption article in the NY Times? Then comment in such a nasty personal way that you end up fighting with people whom you have never met and most likely never will.
Hate the health care reform bills? Make sure you throw out an -ism or two in your comments, regardless if you understand the inherent differences between Socialism, Communism, Libertarianism, etc.
YouTube has some of the most foul exchanges I have ever seen, especially under music videos. A friend recently told me he was watching a Turkish musician online and then when he scrolled down to the comments, there was a full blown potty mouth battle going on between two people, one from Turkey, the other Greece. Sure there is history there between the ethnic groups, but come on now, there is a time and a place for everything.
What has happened to us as people? Can't we voice and read opposing views without getting nasty? Have we truly lost our skills in engaging in constructive dialogue? What do we gain by insulting someones choices or opinions? If I am reading something that begins to irritate me, I click away. Why should I get all worked up over something that I have no control over? Sure, I like to stay informed, but I also like being able to edit myself if need be.
People seem to thoroughly enjoy being judgmental and insulting online. Most folks wouldn't say the majority of stuff they spew online, but the comfort of anonymity allows them to be incredibly vile.
Facebook brings on a whole new world of over sharing like nothing we've ever seen. I cannot believe the stuff people will post. We have lost our filters and it is downright ugly at times. Privacy seems to be a rare thing these days, BUT we all still control how much we allow out. Even some celebrities in this world are more under the radar than the average person on Facebook. Do you need to tell people how long you will be on vacation for? What school your kid goes to? How long its been since you had sex? Saw your spouse? Are bored with your marriage? Bored with kids? Cheating? Eating? On one hand I am happy to know what most of my friends are up to and on the other hand, I wish they would email me directly or keep me in the dark.
I admit I have thought of canceling my Facebook account, simply because I am tired of all the inane postings and rants. I also sick and tired of being invited to play Mafia Wars, answer a survey or get in a pillow fight. I don't care that my friends play online, but I do not have the time so I usually ignore the requests and trudge on.
Maybe it is time for all of us to take a sabbatical from email, Facebook, etc. Sit in the glow of the sun instead of the computer screen. Can any of us go one day without checking any of it? That would be one hell of a challenge for most of us as our computers are our life lines. We get info, read, take courses and just surf and play online. I'd like to think our withdrawal symptoms would not be so acute. We can function without any of it, we choose not to. Since this is the case, we need to have blogger/commenter etiquette courses immediately. We need to interact as if we were sitting next to one another on a bus, not holed up in the dark where no one can see or hear you. Choose what you post wisely, once you put it in writing it is there forever and it's not private, no matter how you specified your privacy settings.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Linkety, link, link

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and got to enjoy this sunny Sunday.
I also want to give a HUGE Congrats to Kristy at The Chocolate Peanut Butter Gallery on her engagement! Good news like that is always welcome and wonderful.

Let the Links begin!

Fiery Denim Rose Scarf - this is stunning and really screams Auntie Mame.

Currently enjoying Hobby Farms online.

Made Pasta with Butternut Squash and Pecans the other night. It was fantastic.

Pretty Little Things is a great vintage blog.

Eddie Ross, please come decorate my house.

Watched Pineapple Express, James Franco and cast were HILARIOUS.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Layer away!

It is icky out today. I don't mind this weather actually. I knit, drink tea, read, write and pretty much enjoy myself regardless of the grey skies. Of course, I do get chilly. To keep our heating costs low, we have a programmable thermostat so the heat comes on only at specific times. So this means I layer like a champ. I knit myself a shrug last year out of Lion Brand Homespun yarn. It came out lovely, but it is not a good look for a busty, short waisted lady like myself. It is a good thing to have though when one is chilly and is not looking to fund a small country for heat.
I bring this up because I read this article on how do we stay warm during the fall months, without turning on oil or gas yet. The comments are helpful and the link to the Re-nest site with ways to help cut costs is too. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

NJ, welcome to your Civics lesson

Property taxes has always been the bane of all NJ residents. It is all we bitch about. So much so, other states know our woes very well.
This piece of info nearly knocked me over: Basically, New Jersey is sliced into so many local fiefs - 21 counties, 566 municipalities, more than 600 school districts - that it's just about falling apart. WHAT THE HELL??? No wonder we have such high taxes! But being the brats we are, places like Clifton, Nutley, Chester, Voorhees, etc all have their own schools, police force, etc. If we combined public services, it could help defray costs. Hell, for all I know it could knock down taxes beautifully.
This article, called "State of Distress", in the NY Times is one hell of a civics course and insightful re: NJ's issues. Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Education is always key

I am one of those people who wishes they had been really studious and a National Honor Society student in high school. Had I been a smart, dedicated kid, I would have gone to an Ivy League school and would be ruling the world about now. Yale was always a fave, but George W Bush sort of tainted it for me...I am not sure why I have a sick, useless obsession with Ivy League schools, but I do. I have this irrational belief that Ivy's challenge you better than other institutions. Harvard or Cornell would not just teach me math, they would teach me to think about it in a more concrete fashion and show me some secret ways to do it that was forbidden in high school. My school fantasy life is rich eh?
Thanks to me being a shitty student, I did get to go to college, but it was not the Ivy League. Bradford College, which is now-defunct, was a lovely experience where I met wonderful people and got bitten by the fiction writing bug. Then I went on to Community College where I finally understood Algebra, that took long enough, and had wonderful art classes. Sadly, I still lack a degree. This goes to show what a procrastinator I am. That and a non-finisher with some stuff. There are times I consider going back to school and take part 2 of Algebra 1. Maybe even go all the way and get 4 yr degree like a BFA. Whoa. Then I remember I own a house and I have no money for school. This is mildly depressing, but not the end of the world.

Where I suffer most is I love to learn. I thrive in a class situation and I miss it. By not being able to afford an education at this point, I am happy that we live in a world that is intensely techie place. We can all sit back and take classes at places like Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, UNC, etc. You don't get credit for the classes you take, but for me, I get to do the Ivy's without the price tag. It is a gift. I admit, if I could get credit I would pay for it. It'd be worth it.

Here are sites I use. I do not have iTunes so I did not include them, but they have courses as well.


Academic Earth

If you are into Anatomy, UC Berkley has an AMAZING lecture series with Professor Marian Diamond. Trust me, she is stellar.


Friday, October 16, 2009

TGIF Thoughts

That photo is of Glacier National Park. Breathtaking isn't it? I have always wanted to go there, but for now, this photo will have to do. When I do get there, I have a feeling those mountains are going to look even more majestic. Amazing that the United States has such beautiful diversity in its land. This is also why I want to road trip one day. Our country has A LOT to see and what better way to do it then by traipsing across it in a vehicle? One day, one day...

Last night we had the pleasure of attending a friends wedding. They are already married but her hubby, who went to Fordham for his Masters in Theology, fell in love with the Catholic faith and intends to make it more user friendly, so they renewed vows in the Catholic Church. It was a lovely experience and a cocktail hour followed at the fabulous Park and Orchard. Their pierogi are hand down some of the best I have ever had.

I have the pleasure of meeting a friend for lunch today at a Diner. Comfort food at its finest right? At least I get to have say, chocolate chip pancakes, before I either get a shot or drugs for this wretched joint that is masquerading as my elbow. The evaluation is today and hopefully I will leave the office pain free. I feel like an arthritis patient today as the weather made my arm extremely stiff and sore. It sucks.

Then it is back to the grind with my story writing. There has been considerable progress made with "Retrospect". I now know how it will end and how I am getting to the end. Now to make it all coherent and exciting to the reader, that is the true difficult task. There is also a new short story in the works that will get submitted to another literary magazines contest. I would like to do Romance Writers of America's huge contest, but I will not be ready in time nor have the $100 entry fee. That is okay, there is next time and I will be ready for that one in particular then.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Look at my view...

The Brier Patch that was. Yes, on Friday the arborists, from Advanced Tree Care, came and made our land happy. Removing diseased and dying trees, rhododendrons and stumps. I am thinking that my compost pile would be best in this area above. Fix that falling fence and put it right in front. Behind the fence is where I will be weeding today and spraying more Poison Ivy killer o nthat nice fuzzy snake crawling up the tree in the back. It had been severed and I sprayed on Friday, but it was raining so I figure I will go and give it another spritz.

Without the Yews and Rhodies, our house looks bare, but they told us to let the ground rest and plan for what we are going to do. I need to get fence estimates since the plan is to turn the whole front yard into garden space. Yeah, that is right, I have lost my mind and have decided to become a Master Gardener without any training. I have a vision and will be paying someone to help me realize it, I am no fool, so this process should be fun and interesting.

Here is where our pine tree was. We are just going to put grass there and leave it open to be able to haul mulch to the backyard and whatnot.

And here is a full on view of the backyard. All the remaining trees in the yard and a few on the perimeter, including my beloved lilac, were pruned and cleaned up. The side of the house was wiped out too. We also need to have them come back, perhaps when we begin front yard and have them chop the hedges down to a reasonable height and then have them grow into a much better form. When I say we now have a clean slate, we have a clean slate.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sita, elbow and food

Sita Sings the Blues is absolutely fabulous and if you love art, jazz and a good story, you MUST watch it. I would like to thank Mark for telling me about it and PBS for showing it. I am a tad obsessed with the shadow puppets and their banter, it works beautifully in the story.

My gardening elbow is still bad, I also worked on a massage client this week so that did not help, but I go to the doctor on the 16th to get it taken care of. Celebrex, cortisone, physical therapy, who knows what will be prescribed, I just want it to heal and be healthy.

We went to Lambertville this past weekend to walk around and relax. We stopped to grab a snack at this little joint called Baker's Treat which donates 100% of their profits to programs for women in early recovery from alcohol and substance abuse. In addition, women in recovery are given employment at Baker's Treat, where they are trained in baking, cooking, retail sales and office skills.

That is all for now. Cheers!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Damn boo boo

My tennis elbow aka lateral epicondylitis has not gone away so I shall be paying a visit to my orthopedist and either get Celebrex or a cortisone shot. I am not excited about having to do either, but the cortisone did assist with my wrist. I do massage my muscles around the elbow area to help release the tension and it does work. I am also doing the ibuprofen regimen to see if that works. That being said, I will be staying off the computer for a few days and doing my best to take it easy for the weekend to help healing begin.

Until we meet again,

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cahokia Mounds

Never even heard of Cahokia and its earthen mounds(Proof US History classes need some revamping) This looks like some place pretty interesting to visit. Apparently it is one of 8 cultural UNESCO sites in the US, how cool.
I just read about Cahokia which was occupied until about 600 years ago while reading "Against the Grain." Check the book out and info on Cahokia.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Day out for a friend's birthday

My friend Nancy was born September 27. So instead of buying her something boring and no fun, I arranged for her to come down to my house so I could take her out and about for the day. My only requirements for her were to wear sensible shoes and bring a camera.

First stop was CocoLuxe Fine Pastries in Peapack. Luckily it was beautiful out so we sipped coffee and ate pastries outside. Then we trotted over to Liberty Park down the street and Nancy took pictures of the swans. There was also a beautiful old Catholic Church, St Brigid, and I took a picture of her in front of that.

Second stop was Natirar. A beautiful park that has a stunning 33,000 square foot home overlooking the land. There is a stream you can walk along and look at the pretty little waterfalls. Richard Branson has leased it to open The Club at Natirar.

Third stop was the Leonard J Buck Garden. Absolutely beautiful and the suggested donation is a mere $3.00. I had no singles on me, just change so I put that in the donation box. Next time, when I bring the hubby, I am going to put in more money. It was such a beautiful, calm place. Nancy and I both love to garden, she is a mentor, and to see how they laid stuff out and sit on benches to take in the view was heavenly.

Fourth stop KC's Coffee place in Chester for some Southern Pecan coffee and a snack.

Final stop was The Streets of Chester.

All in all a good time was had by all and we look forward to doing that again.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Banned Book Week Baby!

C'mon now, read To Kill A Mockingbird because it is brilliant and apparently will piss someone off.

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

September 26−October 3, 2009

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Here is the Classics list, enjoy it and go buy some!



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Be back soon!

The in-laws are back in town for a few more days, so it is fun and hectic.

Electrician comes back tomorrow for final walk through with the inspector and Saturday we are part of a HUGE Multi Family garage sale at a friends house. If you need stuff, ANYTHING,
come on by! Here is the ad:

Goodness ME - you should see what we've found in our closets!!!!

Several families are gathering in one location for an ENORMOUS garage sale....lots of treasures to be had.

GREAT deals....many items in the original packaging....we want to sell EVERYTHING so we have no leftovers at the end of the weekend!!!!

Art Supplies
Hand-Made Greeting Cards
Picnic Set

8-3P on Saturday SEPTEMBER 26
9-12 on Sunday SEPTEMBER 27
205 East Valley Brook - Long Valley

Just off of Rt 24 near the border of Chester/Long Valley

Look for the Yellow Barns


Monday, September 21, 2009

Bye Weekend, Hello Monday

The weekend was a good one.

Painting prevailed. We painted the floor of the porch white. Just to take away the dinginess and the den/art room is a stunning tropical green known as Bermuda Grass. That took 2 coats and today I will be painting the trim, white.

Saw "The Informant" and loved it. Matt Damon never disappoints.

Went to Morristown with friends to attend Church of the Redeemer and it was wonderful. Good choir, packed church and fiery, relevant sermon. The reverend basically spoke of how we go to Church, learn the lesson and forget it when we walk out the door. The readings were Proverbs. One was how "women are more precious than jewels" and the other was how Jesus said "children will enter the Kingdom of Heaven first". She was "cranky", as she put it, because the least were to be first and they are still not. Women and children still suffer and are still not valued in society as they ought to be. I wish they posted her sermon because it was powerful, not politicized, abuse to neglect to charity was covered and it was meant to stir you into action. Now THAT is Church.

My week beings with me having to mop, finish painting trim, laundry, baking, add the final touches to the short story and starting knitting projects.

Welcome to Monday!


Friday, September 18, 2009


I have been toying with the idea for months and months about getting back into a church community. We have been fortunate that some of our friends are active in the Episcopal Church so we have participated there a few times. It is similar to Catholicism, which I was raised as, except it is more open minded and liberal. This of course makes being an Episcopalian much more appealing. The only fault I have found in some of the churches is that they have awful music and choirs. I know, I know, you all think I am crazy, but it is true. When I was a kid in Catholic school, the nuns voices were superb and we, the whole congregation, would belt it out. I am well aware that lack of attendance and growth is be part of the issue. A lot of these churches do not have young members like the mega churches do, hence there is a small talent pool. Certainly wealthier churches have better resources to cultivate excellent music programs and even do more outreach.
Community is what I am ultimately looking for. A place to be welcome, share similar ideas, have discussions and enjoy. I would maybe even like to get involved in some community service programs.
If I do end up finding someplace lovely, I will make sure to post it here. In the meantime, if you have suggestions, I am always open to it.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thank you Southern Living Magazine!

Southern Living Magazine always seems to have some darn good recipes. I have made this Praline-Apple Bread twice and it is amazing! I highly recommend you give it a go.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Garden Planning continues

Thanks to a friend I am currently reading Mrs. Greenthumbs Plows Ahead. Now, because of that book, I have begun to rethink how to landscape the front of the house, the sides and even the back. I never wanted a fence, but now I am considering a low wooden one. Not to be "private" per se, but to set up a sort of oasis. A courtyard, a place to sit and revel in the flowers and greenery. I like her idea of setting up garden "rooms" as the English Cottage gardens do.

Who wouldn't want to walk to the side of a house and come upon this?
How lovely this would be by the road as opposed to just lawn.
Ahhh fences AND trellises for everyone!
What a wonderful spot this seems to be for reflection and a glass of wine.

What at first seemed it might be easy, gets more exciting and more intensive. Pictures will follow as we begin to transform our little piece of paradise. I am no fool, I know this can take years, but how lovely it will be!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Read, read, read

I have discussed how much I love to read on this blog before. I have always loved how a writer can give you the tools to form the scenes and see the characters as you like. Interesting for me is that the more I have been reading, the more vivid my imagination is becoming. I do wonder if it is the quality of the material or just that I am getting older so I am using more life experiences, not sure. I feel like this also helps me in my writing, though a dear friend who is proofreading a short story of mine right now may not agree and be cursing me!

I've currently gotten sucked into the Stephanie Plum series and I LOVE IT! By the third page of the first book I was laughing so hard that I knew I had a winner. I now worship at the altar known as Janet Evanovich and am proud.

Prodigal Summer is also on my nightstand and at first I was like, "eh, not into it", but then something in Barbara Kingsolver's voice sucked me in and I cannot put it down. It involves 3 different stories intertwined while living in Appalachia which I am absolutely fascinated by, and the balance of nature, predator and prey. To be honest, I would prefer to be reading it right now instead of posting and gearing up to work on my "book" Retrospect.

I do have a running list of things I want to read but, if anyone has a recommendation, by all means pass it on!

My arm is doing better, the elbow is still a bit swollen and sore, but I should be 100% by next week. I hope.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Weird NJ

I set off an a drive earlier today, headed out to Godlewsky Farms as I was unable to make it to the farmer's market this weekend. I went online, read the directions, did my own mapping and of course, passed the street I needed. So I proceeded out a bit further into Warren County than I needed, but I came across a street with the oddest name that I nearly slammed on my brakes.

Shades of Death Road.

Only in NJ my friends, only in NJ.

I did find the farm, which was HUGE and had stunning black earth everywhere. They also had rows and rows od gorgeous mums. I got a wonderful bounty at the farm. For $10.00 I got 6 ears of corn, 2 bunches of purple Kale, 2 yellow squash and a quart of tomatoes. Take that conventional gross produce suppliers that call themselves grocery stores!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Overdoing it

This past Friday, my hubby and I did a bunch of yard work. I have been a little obsessed with pruning the very overgrown hedges. I used our hand pruner and then got out the large tree pruner. I puled vines, we cut down tons of weeds that wrapped around the hedges, all good stuff. My arm was very sore when I was done and I realized I had proceeded to give myself lateral epicondylitis aka tennis elbow.
It is better now, thanks to ibuprofen, my hubby doing cooking and taking dog out and my ace bandage. I am still a little sore, but I need to not get so overzealous when it comes to doing some of the yard work. This statement will make my husband very happy :)
Then yesterday we went to a civil union ceremony of good friends of ours, had a terrific time, eating, dancing and drinking a little too much. Today I was hungover, but did not get sick thank goodness.

So Cheers! to a good weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Link a Dink A Doo


I promise a more in depth, personal like post over the weekend, but for now, here are some interesting links to check out.

A Lady living like it is the 1940's.

Questions about Quakers? Check out Quaker Anne.

Oilcloth looks like so much fun!

The Spirit Animal collection of jewelry from K Brunini are amazing!

Wal-Mart is pretty much a gritty, depressing store to me. Apparently there are some like minded, amused people out there. People Of Walmart is genius.

We are interested in eventually incorporating a rain barrel into our yard.

Lauren McAdams has some very interesting sculpture pieces that I covet.


Monday, August 31, 2009

We Are A Nation of Guilt

Just now on the Today show, they were discussing all sorts of coffee drinks and energy drinks and how many calories they have and what their food/sweet equivalent are. Then I thought, why do we continuously make food the enemy? There is no food culture in this country except for larger portions and diet foods. This is ridiculous. I am not going to make someone feel bad for ordering a latte or for drinking a Red Bull. I don't eat meat, but I certainly don't threaten those who do.
Why is it the nation as a whole is very comfortable telling you what you should and should not eat diet wise? We have only gotten fatter not healthier with all this advice. How about a show where we say "Hey, you want that Big Mac, okay, go exercise for an hour every day and then go for it." I knew someone who was very healthy and he had a "junk day". A day where he ate pizza and corn chips and ice cream, without guilt. He believed if you deprived yourself it made it worse so pick one day a week where you fall of the wagon, obviously not gorging yourself until you puke, but if you want the ice cream, have it. I think this is better than saying never to eat it.
Diet Foods? Please, the sodium content in those alone are insane. Eat the real thing people. Make it yourself, go to a Farmers Market, keep the ingredients to a minimum. If you find you have to have Dunkin Donuts, get it and don;t bitch about it.
As far as calorie counting, I never got that either. I am not going to sit there when I am eating out wondering, "Gee, does this salmon in herb sauce have 600 calories?" Who cares? Everyone I know who counts calories is still overweight. Apparently that doesn't work either.
I think we all need to find what works for us, but in the end, self deprivation and lack of getting outside and moving around is what continues our horrible cycle of weight issues. In the meantime, stoip feeing guilty about eating, it should be a pleasure. Unsure of how to enjoy it? Look to the European nations of France, Italy and Spain. Leisure and good ingredients is what makes their food culture enjoyable. Have friends over, take 3 hours to have a meal and taste your food. You'll be surprised how un-guilty you will feel.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Someone else gets me

Rhonda Jean at Down To Earth posted an answer to a question a reader asked about "How to live like her?" As I read her post I realized she says everything I have wanted to say, but couldn't express it. Sort of sad for someone who wants to write, but I think a lot of it has to do with judgment. I am somewhat worried my friends will find me mad and chide me for not continuing looking for a paying job. I do in a sense, I am writing to submit to contests, massaging clients when I can and still trying to get Lia Sophia off the ground, though I think that one is going to crash and burn.
My reality has changed over the time I have been job hunting. We have become home owners and I have been writing much more. The idea of working in an office no longer appeals to me, but I do miss the camaraderie, but I get that on Jezebel and Facebook.

Here is what she wrote that struck a chord with me:
"There was a part of me that wanted to create so I knew knitting, sewing and writing would be part of my future. I wanted to give up work and be free to build a little homestead in my backyard where the sun ripened fruit and vegetables, rain collected from our roof filled rain tanks and where chickens and bees reminded me everyday that I was part of a natural world, not a corporate one."

Granted we have no chickens or bees, but the idea is there. Please read her full post as it is wonderfully well done and speaks volumes about where I want to go in life.


Monday, August 24, 2009


A fantastic weekend was had because it consisted of hanging out with various friends, all different and all lovely. Here is how it went.

FRIDAY: The hubby helped a friend move from Bergen County to Morris County.
I proceeded to meet up with our friends from PA who so graciously let me stay at their farm. They were coming for the weekend to stay at a good friend's house up the road. That night our neighbors knocked on our door at 11pm and we went to their house to play bocce, darts and drink wine.

SATURDAY: A friend came down to our house and the three of us ventured off to Princeton. We were invited to dinner at the house of a lovely couple we met at the Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down. The dinner was vegan and superb. Quite possibly the best lasagna I have ever had. They were gracious hosts and it was a wonderful time for all.

SUNDAY: I went to a dear friends baby shower. It was hot as hell, but it had a tea party theme and it was just charming and fun.

Today I went to the Hackettstown Farmer's Market on Main Street. I headed right to Godlewsky Farms stand again where I bought 2 beautiful bunches of Kale at $1.50 a piece, one head of purple cabbage for $1.50 and over a quart of tomatoes for a mere $2.00. Then I got eggs, from Mini Mac Farms for a mere $3.50.

I feel fortunate to know such interesting people and call them friends. Add to that I live in an area where I can meet and speak to who grows my food, it is all good.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees!

We had an Arborist come out to give us an estimate on what we want done in regards to tree maintenance and brier patch clearing. I must go to Lowe's and get Holly Tone and Preen for those that are going to stay with us. Let me take you all on a pictorial tour of how our land will be transformed when we hire him in the next month or so.

We tried to save this pine, but the giant vines and blasted ground ivy strangled her, so she must perish.

One of 2 cherry trees that are also being cut down. They are both dead, most likely due to lack of love and care.

The peach tree in front is being saved. I have weeded around it and laid down landscape paper. The brier patch to its right is getting completely cleaned out, Sorry bunny!, and the lilac tree behind peach tree is going to be pruned and weeded.

Yeah, this one is fun. This is a Black Gum tree covered and strangled by Poison Ivy. The vine is going to be removed and then I he recommended I use Round Up Poison Ivy. Considering how much I hate Monsanto, this pains me and I must find an alternative.

A plum tree. It will be weeded and mulched and pruned.

Pear tree that needs serious pruning and of course, mulching and weeding.

One of 2 Dogwoods we have that will live a happy life in our yard.

The crappy box woods and all its stumps and buddies are going. I think I am going to keep the azalea and make her happy that all the other crap will be gone. Not sure about the thorny bush on the end, maybe keep that one too.

Yew bushes next to house that are going bye-bye.

My tuckered out garden buddy!


Friday, August 14, 2009


I am a huge fan and usually have a few going at a time. I thought I would share what is on my current house list. Now and then I stray from just home stuff, but it is still a good thing to have.

Research more on raised beds for the garden
Call Brinks for consultation re: security system
Slip cover at Target for 80" couch
Rubber feet for marble pastry board (I only need 3 but I they sell them in a pack of 4 or less)
Check out IKEA's Lazy Susan inserts and Liatorp for living room.
fungicidal paint for where trees were cut
Zoetrope deadline is October 1
Call arborist to help remove, save, clean up back yard.
Sand side table(s), clean up, for bedrooms

There will most certainly be more added, but for now, that is what I have going. I'll let you know if I get any of it accomplished this weekend!


Monday, August 10, 2009

Day of the Triffids or Day-o?

These charming plants live in our yard. It is actually next to a pear tree and in the area of where our cutting garden will be. In July, my friend Nancy came over and we tore out one of these was brown, dead, rotting. It had a root system that blew me away.
I weeded this weekend and decided to go back over there and clean out what had been left behind. This is I pulled out with a hoe, a shovel and my hands.

Massive, thick and unruly they are. I still have more to clear, but this is what the area looks like now.

After doing some research online, I think this may be a Yucca plant. There are two more in the yard. Actually, there's just one. I pulled one out the that was not faring well on another slope. An explanation as to why anyone would think to plant tropical foliage at random throughout the yard would be helpful. There is no rhyme or reason to their placement, it is as bad as the fruit trees, but that is another post. I am waiting to hear from our extension office, they owe me a reply, for help in figuring out what to do with certain trees and pruning and gardening.

In the meantime, here is one of the rhododendrons I am trying to make fatter and healthier. She is the less robust of the two.

We also have toads in out yard which makes me very happy, though I scared the hell out of one yesterday when i grabbed it thinking it was a rock. I decided to place him in a dark area that he would enjoy. Under the yucca plant.


Thursday, August 6, 2009


This week has been filled with much to do.

Apparently we will be doing stuff on the house until the Second Coming of Christ. We have our lists of what we want to tackle individually as well as separately. We need to decide on paint colors for the living room, dining room and den. It has been decided that the den will one day morph into a mudroom/laundry room and have half the staircase moved to help utilize space better. We can paint it any insane color we want as it will change again one day. My brother is most likely cringing. He wants us to paint everything white and use accessories to bring in color. God bless his little soul.

I am still trying to set up my Lia Sophia Starter show. My poor Unit Manager...I may be the
first person who can't get a starter party set up. I am shooting for August 20th now. fingers crossed!

The October 1st deadline for the writing contest looms in my head. I still need to rework one of my current stories or start a whole new one. I am hoping to submit 2 or 3 stories, but I will let the muse take me where she wants. Luckily, I was able to work on my ever-in-process novel "Retrospect" yesterday. I love that story. I love my main character, Ryan. I will miss him when I am done with this, but that is the beauty of it all. You create life and then you let it go.

Here are links to books I currently have in rotation:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
The Brethren by Beverly Lewis
The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
Rogue Warrior by Richard Marcinko

What I love most is that they are so vastly different from each other.

Keep smiling and get out of the house and office my dears!

Miss Fifi

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Farm Sanctuary

(Happy, sleeping pigs)

Had a fabulous weekend networking, bonding and learning effective activism at the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen. Big, shout out and thanks to Miss Filomena who took me there!
They held a fantastic Hoe Down Saturday night and fed us superbly prepared vegan food all weekend.
It is easy for me to respect people who are compassionate and passionate for animals rights. Farm animals are a particular contingency that has no voice, no respect and seen only as a cheap commodity most of the time. I am not a vegan, but this weekend helped me see that I am getting closer to that healthy way of life.
Please check out these speakers that were fun, well spoken, fun and most important, educated in their beliefs and for their cause.

Child and family advocate, Amy Hatkoff is also a parenting educator, author and filmmaker spoke about her new book, "The Inner World of Farm Animals".

Chef Alexandra Jamieson gave a cooking demo and is also available for consults to help guide you on your path to healthier living.

Freeman Wicklund was one of the best, motivational-type speakers I have ever seen. He inspired the crowd with tips on how to be an activist that encourages, inspires and uplifts others. He is truly a treasure to the advocacy of animals.

Gene Baur co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary and his staff spoke to all of us as well. They deserve mad props for having the gumption to take on the beastly industry of agriculture. To make the lives of farm animals happier and safer. For promoting a plant based diet and for being the people they are. I am looking forward to next years Hoe Down and for getting more involved in the cause.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Planning, well trying to

I feel like my life is in various stages.
Then again, who's life isn't?
Here are some of the projects I have rolling around:

Which story(ies) ideas to submit to the upcoming Zoetrope contest.
Layout of our yard, where the gardens will go, which plants to use, etc.
Working the Lia Sophia sales position to help put money away for house and to bankroll my ability to stay home and write.

These projects are started and they do not require an actual deadline. Well, the writing contest does, but my novel does not. These are all things that need to be nurtured and not rushed.


My impatience would usually be at an end, so this is actually good for me. The gardens will take about three years to get just right, maybe longer. Writing is writing, you can't just bang out a book a month. Oh I wish you could, but the more I work at writing, the better I am getting, thank God. It may not show in my blog at all times, but my dialogue and descriptions of gestures have greatly improved. The Lia Sophia gig, well, we shall see what happens with that, but if it works, cash in the pocket for sure. All these avenues need careful planning and failure is most certainly going to happen along then way with success. Normally I would shrink away in horror, but now?

I am giddy with power and ready for the challenges ahead. BRING IT ON!!


Monday, July 27, 2009

The Library

You all know my love of libraries, so let me have this moment to rhapsodize about our local library here in Long Valley.

I walked in to get a library card today and the librarian proceeded to tell me all the wonderful things they offer.

There is a network of over 20 other libraries in Morris County that allow me to walk in and use my library card. How superb!
I can log in to our local library web site and Place a Hold on a book/DVD/CD, etc and then choose a date to pick it up.
They offer classes and talks on everything from cooking to arthritis lectures by a doctor, along with an awesome selection of magazines as well.

I am going to go and enjoy my books I pulled out today and relish the next time I get to visit my well appointed and friendly staffed library.