Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 2014 Books

Oh, the holidays and a bit of time-off! Which means ample time for my guilty pleasure of reading "mind candy" - in this case, of the steampunk genre - to wind down and defrag from the stresses of life.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

An Orchid Year

I've never grown orchids. While gorgeous, and enjoyable in bouquets, they have always seemed a fussy flower to me. 

According to the press release, the 2014 color of the year is,  "An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.” (Read full release here)

And yet in all of 2014 I never warmed to "Radiant Orchid". Perhaps it's my climate - in places like Florida, orchids easily grow in trees. I'd expected to like this Pantone choice more - after all one of my favorite flavors comes from an orchid (vanilla) and I do love my food! Plus, it's an old flower "family" and quite diverse. (Old flower lines always offer unexpected options.) But yet, NO. Radiant Orchid was a no from the get-go for me. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 2014 Books

This month started with a plane trip, so I finished The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman on that plane.

Next up - a guilty pleasure read to help recoup from the prior month's stresses: Undead and Unwary by MaryJanice Davidson.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Left-overs (Part 2)

Pumpkin Plus

It's pie time! I made a pumpkin pie a few weeks ago for a family event. I exactly followed the recipe on the back of the Libby's can*. And the recipe for "pie insides" made just a bit too much pie for the single pie crust the recipe said was called for. 

Well, gosh! What to do with that left-over 1/2 a cup of "pie insides"? I do hate waste, so I covered extra and put it in the refrigerator until I had more thoughts on the matter (and until after we enjoyed the family event.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Small Changes

The word "change" makes people think: make-over, sweeping changes, new lives. But that's not true. Change that lasts and becomes part of your world, every day, is incremental. Lasting change starts small and builds. Less sugar. 10 minutes more of exercise. More vegetables. Add a color to your wardrobe. Sit down to dinner together 1x a week rather than eat in front of the TV.  (And conversely, not being kind to your spouse, not picking up the clutter of the day before, eating dessert every day or sleeping through "gym time" creep up on you, too.)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Left-overs (Part 1)

Bottom of the refrigerator stew. That's what my mother called taking all the left-over "bits" for the week and making something delicious.

Today I made my own version. It turned out delicious! (Let's be honest, sometimes it's better than others. Today was a really good day - so good the human male asked if I'll make it again soon please.) 

The recipe started with left-over vegetable broth and pasta. And a packet of soup mix purchased 3 months ago for a different recipe, and languishing in my cupboard. Then there was that can of kidney beans I accidentally purchased; the jalapenos left-over from a recipe last week, and the yellow pepper getting a bit wrinkly at the bottom of the fridge....

Friday, October 31, 2014

October 2014 Books

What I didn't read
It was a Mercedes kind of month

Mercedes Lackey that is! Blood Red and the House of the Four Winds were both on the book list. Plus Jesus Calling and 5 Minutes on Mondays made it back into the rotation - neither complete of course, as both are meant to be read in pieces. On the way to New Orleans, I started The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman and made it to about page 132 before business travel took over. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fall Garden

Every gardener plants hope. More so in a new space.
These late tomato blooms astound me

This year (and last fall)  at Bunny Haven Manor East, I planted salvia, hosta, canna, lemon balm, spiderwort, bee balm and more to add pizzazz to the roses and lilacs that were already there. 

Plus a small garden - peppers, tomatoes, basil, oregano, cucumbers, squash and chives - went in the corner of the yard. Some plants grew better than others. (The lemon balm - as anyone who knows mints knows - took off! The cucumbers and tomatoes were also very prolific). A garden is always a work in progress. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Unbacon Green Beans

Sometimes the male human says "I want vegetables with dinner". I'm really never sure how to answer that since, as a vegetarian, I pretty much only cook vegetables! It seems to mean he'd like a single side of something - broccoli or green beans - rather than the more common mix of veggies I make (red peppers, mushroom and garlic go with almost anything!) on a regular basis.

Often when you have green beans at a restaurant, the green beans achieve flavor via bacon. And that's out. So, over the years, I've created another option, the "un-bacon green beans". They have been well received - and even requested - whenever I serve them. They are easy to make (everyone who knows me knows the "5 ingredients rule"!) and have a nice, rich, almost smoky flavor.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 2014 Books

I love months that start with a holiday! I'll pick up books for the long weekend and get at least one finished before it ends. (In this case, it was Side Jobs by Jim Butcher.)

To help with my little "addiction", the library seems to have stocked up on some of the new publications and seasonal favorites. In addition to the holiday weekend beckoning with afternoons in the outdoor porch swing with a cold drink, the end of summer  - and my tomatoes  - required a book on canning, right? (I have to start planning for next year's bounty!) 

  • Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan - which I will be buying as I'd checked it from the library - delightful!
  • Skin Game by Jim Butcher (+ the aforementioned Side Jobs) 
  • A Shiver of Light by Laurell K. Hamilton

Other post of potential interest:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Photoshoots and Real Life

I staged this one summer afternoon. Because it makes me happy - a spray of elegant flowers, a bit of hand cream, a collection of fragrances (my Tocca sampler, the Nest trial set and my standby favorite, Magazine Street) and the slightly hazy image edges.  I liked the result so much, I added it to an older post!

Something about the flow colors. The idea of bottles of scent (and possibility). The drape of the flowers. It simply speaks to me.

But it's not real. I said that up front. I staged this image. In real life, a flower out of water or not still in-ground will wither and die in very short order. Fragile natural perfumes stay truer in a controlled temperature. And my dining room table can be put to much better use with friends and family.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Taste of Something New

This is my space. Which means it changes with me. Some posts are about my life, some are my thoughts and others are my feelings.  (More on how/why this space started.)

So, we are beginning a new type of post based on a love I've already shared, FOOD! Starting now, the occasional recipe will appear - and to start off right, a double! I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

August 2014 Books

It seems like August should've been slow and lazy, with time for tea and books. It wasn't!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 2014 Books

Welcome to the world of summer reading. The watchword is fun! Take advantage of the gorgeous weather and sit outside for a bit. (Best done with no electronics.) There are even themes!
- Water
- Magic
- Madness

Sadly, on the last weekend of June, in anticipation of the 4th of July, my eyes may have been bigger than my time budget. (Re-new is my favorite button on the library webpage.) The books I actually got to - in terms of time - were:
- The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison  - next to last in the Hallows saga
- Five Minutes on Mondays by Alan Lurie - read Thursdays this month
- And I finally finished The Lost City of Z by David Grann
- A Little Night Magic by Lucy March
- Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell (the journey is a familiar road - but I always learn something new.)
- Mad Hungry Cravings by Lucinda Scala Quinn  - a little heavy on meat and dairy, but I love her no-nonsense approach to food.

This month's fascinating stuff?

Take-away - Share what you love and why. People will be mesmerized. 

Other posts of potential interest on reading and books:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Scent of Summer

I passed a pleasant few hours Sunday afternoon at Bunny Haven Manor East watching the lawn bunnies frolick and blue jays swoop through the yard. A contented part of the afternoon was spent lounging in the shade of an outdoor swing, reading. A cabbage white flew by. The cardinal pair tree-hopped around the yard. I spotted a flash of black and blue butterfly wings - likely a swallowtail - black or spicebush I couldn't tell at that distance and speed. Then I wandered over to the new garden for a spell where the tomatoes are flowering and fruiting - giving the air a distinctive scent I associate with summer.

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 2014 Books

Drum roll.... Announcing the June books!

  • Five Minutes on Mondays by Alan Lurie (which I read on Wednesdays this month)
  •  Almost finished the The Lost City of Z by David Grann  (still inspired by the unfinished  Amazon Lily handcream on my nightstand)
  • Night Broken by Patricia Briggs (let the summer fun reading commence!)
  • Fluent in Faith:  A Unitarian Universalist Embrace of Religious Language (part-way through this interesting read) 
  • Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts (boring - predictable)
  • River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz 
  • Mad About A Boy by Helen Fielding (which confirms I don't like the Bridget Jones "story")

Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 2014 Books

Quiet month on the reading front. I'm starting to feel a bit guilty that I don't read enough!

  • Five Minutes on Mondays by Alan Lurie (which I read on Thursdays this month)
  • Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (prep for kidlets and I loved it.)*
  • The Lost City of Z by David Grann  (possibly inspired by the Amazon Lily handcream on my nightstand)

Take-away - What are you reading? Should I be reading it?

*Related bonus fact - My favorite butterfly in the world is the Karner Blue. They eat lupine. It's a good reason to plant a bit of wild lupine if you live in the Northeast or Midwest.

Other posts of potential interest on reading and books:

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bleeding Hearts and Time

Something new came up in the garden at Bunny Haven Manor this spring. Something that didn't bloom last year. Bleeding Hearts. I remember when I planted them. Three plants. Summer 2012. I planted them in stony ground, and I cried the whole time because my heart was breaking. It was hard work. The area had been landscaped a few years before with stone and landscape fabric. The stone had to be moved and the fabric broken through - like so much of life I didn't have the right tools, but I managed.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 2014 Books

April is my favorite month - most years. It's the Spring and the forsythias, lilacs, hyacinths, and other blooming things bringing the beauty back after the long winter. And usually this is the time of year when new perfume and books show up.  What's not to like? As a special bonus,  this month includes World Book Night (coolest new find of the year) National Library Week, and National Poetry Month! I have fond memories of libraries and a wish to some day live in a converted library. Or at least having a stunningly beautiful library in my home
To live surrounded by books. I can imagine nothing more grand.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Flowers

The flowers bloom in quiet solitude. 

The garden has started to shine. I came to visit and nurture the flowers a bit. It seemed a good way to spend an unexpected day off. Tiny star flowers, peony shoots, tulip leaves, iris starts. So far it's an unusual year. The crocuses are spent. But yet the cherry blossoms are barely popping. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Honored 2

It may not have gone unnoticed that I've been a bit neglectful of this space. Life sometimes gets in the way and some times I get lured by a "better" offer, which is what happened when a friend was kind enough to not only showcase my words in his blog space, but even created a playlist to accompany the entry! I'm deeply honored he'd share his space with me.

Opening Excerpt:

This is not the movie, The Words; this is the lyrics that go with the sound. For me, that's where it starts. I'll lay awake with pieces of songs rolling through my head like thunder. Daily, while walking around in the world, my musical sense gets triggered at random times. Someone will say a phrase in conversation and the lyric with melody will run through my head. Much of the time, I actually walk around with a soundtrack playing in my head.

Read the rest at Echoes and Silences - a blog on music, sounds, and all things related.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

For the Love of Disney

A friend, Daniel, wrote this piece. To my knowledge, he loves two things most dearly - music and Disney. He writes often and eloquently on his own blog about music. I asked him to share in this space his love of Disney.

When I was a child, the word "Disney" represented something very different than it does today. In the 1970's, Disney had 2 theme parks, had television shows like "Wonderful World of Disney"  & Mickey Mouse Club, and its hit movies were "Freaky Friday" and "The Love Bug". Its animation was struggling, and Pixar wasn't even a glimmer in anyone's eye.

But for a little boy growing up in Southern California, Disney was mystical. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 2014 Books

This month in books....

Take-away - What did you read this month? What was meaningful for you?

Other posts of potential interest... The February List
Oola Book Review

Friday, February 28, 2014

February 2014 Books

I'm a book geek. I admit it. (My Twitter profile proves it.) And I read EVERYTHING. Blogs + on-line articles, magazines, newspapers (WSJ is a Sunday favorite), and books. Not as many books as I once did due to the proliferation of online information, but still, books. Books fill my home. I've often got at least one hard copy on me plus more at the ready in my iPhone's Kindle App.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I'm a big fan of saying Thank You!  (Preferably in writing).  So I would like to thank The Writing Whisperer for featuring my piece on blogging as a journal on her webspace! 

Thank you! Gracias! Merci! Grazie! Danke!

It's amazing, humbling and scary to see my words in a different space. Below is a small excerpt of the piece I wrote.

My mother’s family is loud. Large. Ethnic. Full of smart, opinionated women. And the club house sign says “Introverts not allowed.”

I took refuge in books.

I devoured them. Any kind. All kinds. And if books were not available, any written word would do. Perfume  bottles. Cereal boxes. I read everything. But I wasn’t a writer. Writers never wrote less than perfectly or scribbled out lines. Writers also always had a clear idea on where a story would go.

Journals seemed too lovely to be desecrated by my barely legible handwriting; then, paper and typewriter ribbons were resources not to be wasted; and finally computers lacked the personal feel of a journal. There was always a reason to keep my inner voice unheard, even by me.

To read the full piece, please click over to The Writing Whisperer's blog.