Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sick and Two Recipes

Winter is the great bringer of sickness as most of us know. On Sunday my son had a cough and a runny nose, by Monday he sounded like he was gargling all the time and talked like a long time smoker so he stayed home from school. Was not too bad as they had a delayed opening anyway. He rested on the couch, took it easy, shocking for a four year old, and he woke up much better yesterday. That meant he got to go to school today. While he as off I hunkered down to do work for the school as well as write. I then started to sneeze a bit and had a runny nose. Dread filled me, BIG DREAD I tell you, and as of right now I am in full blown cold mode. I am not  happy Miss Fifi. Never mind the nonstop blowing of my nose, what irks me most is I have missed my gym classes Monday, tonight and will miss it Friday because I am helping parent in my son's class that day. My endorphins are displeased, but I am hoping to rectify that by working out Saturday and Sunday. I am also hoping this cold blows over quickly with me as it did with my son.

Anyhoo, I am going to share some recent recipes I have made because they have been fantastic. Enjoy!

Black Bean and Chickpea Chili - Made this tonight. Had no corn, but used vegetable broth and added garlic and kale. I highly recommend these additions. I also did not puree it, but if you like, by all means, do.

Potato Soup with Shrimp Recipe - I have never made a Paula Deen recipe. Part of that has to do with the fact that she considers butter a food group, but this was outstanding. I used vegetable bouillon instead of chicken and frozen shrimp instead of fresh. I did not cook shrimp separately but threw them right in near the end. We also nixed the bacon since we are pescetarians so no meat here, as well as the dill. This comes out like a chowder and I swear I would have eaten the whole pot if I had the room in my stomach.

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies - I have posted these before, but I am going to bake them for my son's class.

Off to blow my nose. Have a lovely evening.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Snowy Hollow

This is from the day after the blizzard. Our bird bath in the back looks as if it is wearing a hat.

The sun had already begun to melt where we had shoveled. Our son was beyond giddy to be out in the snow.

I was cleaning out some drawers in a guest room and found this movie ticket for Sleepy Hollow. What is amusing about this is I have moved about 3 times and this has come with me. LOL I took a picture for posterity and threw it out. And yes, it was the perfect film to see after midnight. 



Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lots 'O Stuff

The blizzard has arrived.

What you cannot see is the wind blowing the snow everywhere and making it impossible to really see. So while the small amount of snow looks like nothing, the wind is the ominous partner here. Are we worried? Nope. It's winter. In New Jersey. This happens. For the Southern states it's a nightmare because they are not used to this so this scenario sucks for them. They are also getting way more snow than we are and I just checked the news, it is pretty bad in places like Kentucky, DC, Virginia and Maryland and our Eastern Seaboard. Aces.

My query letter was put to the side and I began to work out kinks in the novel. I am planning to get back to the query next week and clean it up as recommended. I did joke with a friend last night that I feel like I am writing the 20 year novel. I admit it gets discouraging sometimes, but I soldier on with the belief that I will get it ship shape and out sooner than I can imagine. Right now I imagine February. Any time in February. My only obstacle is getting the time, but it is on me to find that time. And that is that.

Thanks to our new obsession with eating real foods more, thank you high cholesterol and Michael Pollan, I have a few recipes to share. I know, it has been awhile.

Chickpea, Potato and Cabbage Curry from

Garlicky Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas from Minimalist Baker. This was outstanding and I made my own tahini too. Living large in this house! A note: I did not roast the garlic with chickpeas as I only had the chopped up jar stuff. It worked just fine.

I have not made this Spiced Almond Latte from Dishing Up The Dirt, but it would be perfect for a day like today.

I just finished binge watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Twilight Zone on Netflix. Now I am back to American Horror Story: Coven.

We are waiting on some books from the library. Sort of bummed they did not come in time for storm, but oh well.

Hope you are safe and sound. Enjoy your weekend.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

RIP Alan Rickman

WHAT THE EVER LOVING HELL???? Does God need all my favorite British men??? DAMMIT ALL. DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT.

Once again, my heartfelt apologies to all his loved ones and my God that man had a magnificent voice and was such a great actor.

More here at CNN

Now I REALLY need to see Truly, Madly, Deeply...


That's all I got.

Peace out,

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Good Dogs Indeed

As someone who lost both their parents in a six month span to the big C and worked with Hospice patients, I applaud any methods we can cultivate to detect cancer cells brewing their madness. What a world it would be if we could turn cancer into a manageable, chronic disease. Sure it may kill you eventually, but wouldn't it be nice to live another 20-30 years in good health because you caught it in Stage 0 or 1?  Okay, maybe not everyone agrees on that, but what we should agree on is the work that the In Situ Foundation has been doing for over a decade.
Dogs have long been known to be able to smell an epileptic fit, PTSD attack, asthma and various other incidents right before they happen. Seems they also have an excellent nose for detecting cancer. Here is another link to a dog named Stewie.

I found this note on one of the videos for the Australian Shepherd Katy as very interesting and promising.

This is one of InSitu's most fastidious cancer detection dogs, Katy. She always works like this... driven, non-distracted, serious and motivated-- all qualities of a great cancer detection dog. Katy has detected breast, lung, ovarian, brain, in situ ductal carcinoma, melanoma, bone, and almost all types of cancer. She was only trained on ovarian cancer, and was able to detect on all other types of cancer with no further training. This suggests that there is a common odor among different types of cancer. More data needs to be collected on this subject, but we have strong evidence that there is a common odor to different types of cancer.

Breakthrough stuff right there. Here's to hoping they get funding and approval when the time comes. We all know the FDA and whatnot can be a real pain in the ass with this type of shit. And don't get me started, that would take up waaaay too much space.\

The other awesome tidbit I left out is that most of these dogs came from Death Row. Yes, shelter dogs. We should thank those that rescued them and helped these animals find their true purpose.


Monday, January 11, 2016


Talk about a serious creative genius. I was lucky enough to see him perform twice. It was a privilege I have never forgotten. I feel for his family as the loss of a loved one, no matter the age or how prepared you may think you are because of long-term illness, is always difficult and heart breaking. Hopefully, over time, they find comfort in the memories they have of the person they knew and loved and the incredible music/arts legacy he leaves behind.

Head bowed,

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Have You Seen This Trailer?

We love a fair amount of Coen Brothers films in our house. Their casting is usually pretty spot on so when I saw the trailer for Hail, Caesar! I almost fell out of my seat at the theater. The fact that my gal Tilda is in it makes me even more excited to see this movie.

Was a rainy, yet sunny at times, 58 degrees today and it is going down to 28 tomorrow. Hello January!


Friday, January 8, 2016

The Query is In

And yours truly has some serious work ahead of her.

I expected it though. What I did not expect was to catch some issues with the book as well as I re-read the query. Example: referring to Giancarlo, my main Archangel, as The Commander of the Holy Army throughout the whole novel instead of ever really using his name. The position is one he assumed from his mentor Archangel Michael, the original Commander. While I thought that was clear, it seems that it has confused a beta reader or two as well as the editor of the query. Looks like I need to get in there and fix that issue ASAP.

If you have ever wondered what an edited query looks like you can check out the selections at Query Shark. Nobody gets out unscathed nor should we. We declare ourselves writers and as such we need to be better than we already think we are.  We also have rules we need to follow. Clearly I missed some. And since I am a thick-skinned bitch here is my initial query with the comments in capital letters from the editor.

The Creators of Good and Evil have become bored. Their most loyal subjects/inhabitants have begun to brace themselves at the signs of impending mischief [WHO IS COMMITTING THE MISCHIEF EXACTLY? THE CREATORS?]: a mixed species here, a fist fight between dead authors there. Just another day in the Holy Kingdom, but there are more dangerous undercurrents at play. [AFTER RE-READING THE QUERY, I AM NOT SURE HOW THIS FIRST PARAGRAPH ADDS MUCH. YOU NEED TO IMMEDIATELY ESTABLISH THE UNUSUAL SETTING, THEN GET AROUND TO THE MAIN PLOT & CONFLICT BETWEEN MICHAEL AND SAMAEL, BECAUSE IT FEELS SCANT AS OF NOW]
Long time adversaries, the Archangels Michael and Samael [COMMA] have been kept apart for centuries HERE IN THE AFTERLIFE, but their descendants are about to BREAK THEIR UNEASY TRUCE. The charismatic and righteous Commander of the Holy Army can no longer tolerate The Angel of Death’s constant meddling into his affairs. Receiving no assistance from Higher Powers, he confronts her, warning her of the consequences. [INTERESTING, BUT WHERE DO THEIR DESCENDANTS COME INTO PLAY? WHAT, SPECIFICALLY, ARE THESE "CONSEQUENCES" FOR SAMAEL?]

Unafraid, she dares him to destroy her and the chase begins. Caught up in their own feud, their actions lay groundwork that will unleash a Pandora's box of hidden secrets and hypocrisy among those closest to them [RE-DO THE WHOLE LAST SENTENCE, AND DON'T BE GENERAL/VAGUE. BE SPECIFIC, AND EXPLAIN WHAT YOU MEAN].

The mistakes became pretty obvious once I read his commentary and I am prepared to tackle them.
My big-ass humble thanks to Chuck Sambuchino for doing God's work. Writer's like me need to see their foul ways and improve their skills so paying a professional to have a gander at what I wrote has been key. This has honestly been one serious learning curve and as tough as it has been, I would never shy away from the criticism. There is no reason to turn down the challenge to be a better writer so it is on me to get my tush in gear and hit it out of the park. GAME ON BABY!

NOTE: While I do ramble in my blog, I swear my books are waaaaaaaay more coherent. Seriously.

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Your Body

Thanks to The Magic School Bus on Netflix our son is getting his science fill. He is also now obsessed with red blood cells and asks about them everyday. As someone who loves anatomy and diseases this makes me giddy. To feed this interest I went on YouTube and found some very interesting videos, created by MagicBox Animation, geared towards preschoolers. I highly recommend them if your child has any inklings to learning more about their body.

I also grabbed my Trail Guide to the Body book so we can check out the skeleton and muscles. 

While I know this interest in the body may not last, his interest in all things science is a good thing so we will continue to feed the beast as much as we can. :)


Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Ever have one of those days where you are just not sure what to eat? Especially after the holidays. A blanket of food has embraced us for months and now, it's gone. Abandoned, we are confused and uncertain as to what we do next. Do we continue to dance with decadent baked goods and heaps of sugar? Or shall we tango with take-out for every meal imaginable? Too many decisions that bring about a swarm of people suddenly declaring that it is time to "diet" and soon they are nibbling on celery and drinking hot water with lemon. Some even trot off to the gym with glee. In a few months that will all fall to the wayside as it does every year and people will surrender and moan when the truth is they should ease up on themselves. Seriously people, you have to choose to make a lifestyle change and not drive yourself into deprivation mode and end up binging on donuts or pasta or beer or whatever it is you have deemed as your nemesis. All these bullshit "diets" out there promising magic results when it was Michael Pollan who said it best long ago. "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

With that, I offer you a delicious meal that you and yours will love. If you are not a shrimp eater, I am sure you can substitute some other fish or meat that will suit. I used frozen shrimp even though the recipe calls for fresh.

Sweet Potato, Kale and Shrimp Skillet

Now, I am no authority on how to tell anyone what and how to eat. My vegetarian diet was a sucky one and is much improved now. I will say it is never easy to alter what you eat because let's face it, there is more than one delicious comfort food. A friend suggested "Moderation" and I was like, "HAVE YOU HAD A JOJO*???" He believes I am crazy and I embrace that.
Anyway, I gave the idea a shot and had three cookies on Christmas. Big whoop you say, but I am a person who would eat ten and then have a slice of cake. Oddly enough I have never had high triglycerides, but I digress. Moderation really does work. I used to think it was bullshit, but once your body is feeling better, you don't want to mess with the good vibe.

*Allow me to say I cannot have one JoJo. It is my kryptonite so as of now, I will never have one again. I have already played taps and condolences can be sent in the form of prayer or burning an effigy of a vanilla bean creme and chocolate cookie. Thank you.


Monday, January 4, 2016

And a Happy New Year

Welcome 2016. Lots of people are rooting for you so there is a lot of pressure on you. We understand it is tough, but I think you can do it. How about more humanity and less war? Tall order? I am sure, but a little goodwill in the world makes us all feel better so work on it best you can. Believe me when I say that most of us would appreciate that. Thanks.

Things have been busy at MissFifi's casa just like everywhere else. Allow me to bullet point for you all.

  • My query letter is being reviewed before being sent to out to various agents in the hopes that I can get my novel published. I feel excited, anxious, panicky and jazzed. Probably all the right emotions so hooray for me.
  • My hubby built this awesome coffee table from a project at Lowe's.

  • We hosted our son's 4th birthday and I have to give a serious shout out to Penguin Ice Cream for the delicious robot cake. We totally did not get a picture so sorry about that, but the crowd loved it, especially the adults. As for the penne vodka, eggplant rollatini, sausage and peppers and chicken parm, thank you Sergio's of Denville. Hands down it was the best rollatini I have ever had in my life. 
  • My hubby and I have altered our way of eating and while I miss having a sleeve of JoJo's, Trader Joe's version of Oreos. FYI - You will never eat an Oreo again after having one, trust me. I feel much better and the lack of massive amounts of sugar is the cause of that. On the flip-side....
  • I have been diagnosed with esophagitis, gastritis and a hiatal hernia. Happy New Year and welcome to being in your 40's. My daily cup of tea is no more, I had no alcohol on New Year's and a small amount yesterday. My son and I have been devouring oranges, but it seems citrus is a bad thing too. I have to watch spicy and I still do my best to avoid dairy. You can heal the inflammation by avoiding foods that can cause pain or damage. Mine is not the textbook stuff, of course not because my health history has proven I am always a freak in that world, so I just try and pay attention to my body even more closely than before. Does it suck? Yes, but it is far from the end of the world.
  • I finally bought slippers. This may not seem momentous to you, but it is and I am wearing my dearfoams now and typing at a giddy speed.
  • Currently I am reading "A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories" by Lucia Berlin. I had heard about her on NPR and she is somewhat under the radar to most folks and is considered a female Raymond Carver. I admit I tried to read Carver, I recall liking some of his work. As for Lucia, so far so good so I have high hopes here.
  • I have been sucked into watching "Nurse Jackie", "John Adams", "Doc Martin", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "American Horror Story Coven". When do I even watch these? In spurts. Usually when I am cooking. It really depends on my mood and I choose one and enjoy. Thank you Netflix and Amazon Prime. 
  • Saw The Danish Girl. LOVED IT SO MUCH. The actor who plays Hans, Matthias Schoenaerts, keep an eye on him. Pure charisma.

That's all folks!