July 4, 2016


I recently visited Maine - more on that in a future post - and fell in love with the charming patriotism displayed almost everywhere I went. I just had to have this vintage looking bunting and I knew exactly where it would go. I think it looks awesome. Not sure if it will stay up until after Labor Day or come down in a couple of weeks ... must research protocol on that.

My Audible progress - not a bad one in the bunch:

The Children Act by Ian McEwan – I didn't know what this was about when I started (I make a point of not reading too much after I select so I start off as unbiased as possible), but it had been on my list for close to two years. It was definitely worth the wait ... how a British judge considers a family court case while also considering her own marriage. Very thought provoking and real - sometimes we should deliberate and sometimes we should act.

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens – a college student from a highly dysfunctional family has to find an elderly person to fulfill a writing assignment. He gets a lot more than he bargained for! A little tough towards the finish as the author piles on a lot of events for dramatic effect, but it all works in the end. It was fun to hear some local references as the story takes place in the arctic.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows – I am sort of on a roll with WWII era books and this was a light change of pace for that genre. Love that the story is told only through letters/telegrams to and from the main character. Who wants to go to Guernsey with me ?!

10% Happier by Dan Harris – I am deeply intrigued by meditation and this was a great first person account of how a quasi-celebrity turned from atheist to "Jewbu" after a lifetime of self doubt and a professional crisis.

The Widow by Fiona Barton – a bit drawn out but an interesting story that keeps you guessing

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – LOVE!!! Another WWII novel told from a female perspective - deeply layered story of love, loss, hope and the depths of the human spirit. I cried multiple times and the ending is fantastic

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – a wickedly fun whodunit set in Australia about the little lies we tell ourselves to survive. This is being made into an HBO  show with Alexander Skarsgård (Tarzan, True Blood) for later this year. Yes please!!!

Next up are:

The House at Riverton (aka The Shifting Fog)
Code Name Verity
Among the Ten Thousand Things
Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch
The Ocean at the End of the Lane

April 26, 2016

Dear Diary

I figure no one reads this unless they’ve rolled the dice following a search for “Christmas Music”, “Olympics” or “Royals”. So this is pretty much my personal diary at this point. I figure it’s less annoying than Facebook status updates.

It’s getting mighty green here in the arctic thanks to all the April showers. Green makes me happy. I get itchy to plant every year about this time but there’s that voice in the back of my head cautioning me about the potential for freeze in these here parts. The voice sounds like a weather anchor by the way. I’m simplifying from last year – no growing flowers from seed (I did this once successfully 20 years ago and it’s time to pull the plug – better late than never). I spent waaaay too much time at the garden center pondering what flowers go well with pansies, fit my small planters and will have some longevity. That’s done and I also planted one bin of herbs (rosemary, basil and thyme) with room for a small tomato plant. The big projects are now the mailbox (aka twilight zone) and reconfiguring the front garden which was planted as a shade perennial garden years ago when we had a beautiful 20+ foot shade tree that has since gone the way of Merle Haggard. Needless to say the area gets a lot more sun now and the plants are having an identity crisis.

Speaking of projects, I am turning inward as well. Not me personally (though I am researching religions), rather inside the house. I had a contractor look at the downstairs bathroom (kids’) and am anxious to see the options he comes up with in another week or so. The pink floor tile, dingy tub/shower and Hollywood lights need to go the way of Merle Haggard. I also need a new wall oven/microwave, cooktop and countertop in the kitchen. I really want to paint the cabinets but everyone tells me not to. Though that sort of makes me want to do it even more. I have so much free time now that I’m not in grad school that I’m thinking of resurrecting scrapbooking or significantly decluttering the house. Any bets on if either is accomplished?

I continue to be thrilled with Audible. Since the first of the year I’ve “read”:

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin – campy, fictional account of Truman Capote and his “swans” (aka Babe Paley, Slim Keith, Gloria Guinness)

The Traitor' s Wife by Alison Pataki – fictional account of Benedict Arnold’s wife told from a servant’s point of view; I will read anything Alison writes

The Book of Joan by Melissa Rivers - meh

The Sexy Years by Suzanne Somers – there is something about her that just draws me in - love her voice so she should read other books if looking for work; bioidentical hormones is controversial and this is a bit promotional

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende – LOVE!!! Great story, stupendous writing, wonderful character development. Read / listen now!

Is Everyone Hanging Out with Me by Mindy Kaling – light and quirky as I expected, a good break from heavy stuff

The Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter – dark and gritty; another “Gone Girl” type; dying to know if that is the author’s real last name;)

Next up are:

The Children Act
The Life We Bury
The Widow
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
10% Happier

Finally, why am I always on the cutting edge of a consumer beauty/fashion trend?! The struggle is real. Last year I was on the hunt for the ultimate contour palette (aka highlight and conceal, or HAC). I went to the drug store and figured my biggest dilemma would be slim choices for fair skin. Alas, nothing. Not even the department store beauty counters. I ended up buying one from a beauty bloggerthat I’ve been happy with, but I’m ready to experiment a bit and there are suddenly hundreds of choices everywhere. My current obsession is the handle clutch. It is elusive to anyone not shopping high-end designer (read $1000+ price tag). I am in marketing people – call me because when I think something is going to be a trend and hot seller, it is and we should hop on it tout suite for the little people like me. We will ignore my prediction on the salad mist – that was an outlier.

April 21, 2016

Purple Reign

Today is a momentous day for two reasons:

  1. It's QEII's 90th birthday - bonus tiara link here
  2. RIP hometown icon Prince 

March 30, 2016

International Flavor

I recently returned from my first week long trip in over five years. It was heaven! My friend Mrs M and I stayed with my MIL who rents a code in Puerto Vallarta every year for a couple of months. The weather was absolutely perfect, the scenery was breathtaking, the food was delicious (PV is a foodie's delight) and the shopping (from trinkets to extravagance) was super. The condo was spacious - Mrs M and I shared a large double bed corner room with floor to ceiling sliding doors on two side for wonderful night breezes and we each had our own bathroom for privacy (we used the third bedroom for storage/dressing - so decadent!). The condo grounds were beautifully manicured with infinity lounge areas, swimming pools, hot tub (though at 80+ degrees why?) and a restaurant for table or poolside service. It was like an all-inclusive for access without the wristbands.

Dinner at Grand Venetian (hotel district - a few miles north of downtown PV)

Breakfast with a view
Shopping at Andrea’s jewelry shop
Thrifty ice cream
Dinner at Barcelona Tapas *everything was good, but the Paella was amazing and the view was as good as the food!

Beach walk
Downtown Boardwalk El Malecon – Los Arcos, Our Lady of Guadalupe funeral
Shopping (jewelry)
Dinner at Gabby’s *tamarindo con chile margarita; old time Mexican movies on the adjacent building wall after sunset!

Sayulita by cab - laid back surfing community north of PV by about an hour, beautiful driveLunch at Mary’s *Sayulita taco was worth the trip alone!
Shopping (glass)
Dinner at El Palomar de los Gonzalez - former home with amazing outdoor spaces including waterfall

Lounging poolside
Shopping (purses/jewelry)
Lunch at Oscar’s by the river 
Dinner at PiPi’s

90 min. massage - the BEST I've ever had ... and for only $36! Wish we could have gone every day!
Pina Coladas and guacamole poolside
Dinner at No Way Jose Flan was best I've ever tasted

Downtown market (like a State Fair, Craft Fair and Farmer's Market all in one!)
Shopping & Starbucks at Marina
Dinner at Grand Venetian

To continue my international mood I made Irish Soda Bread, Irish Potato Pie, Irish Stew, and my first corned beef and cabbage the week of St. Patrick's Day. I can hardly wait for Cinco de Mayo!

February 25, 2016

This much

Chunky is employing a new tactic in peruasion. How much do you love me? I heard it last night at the drive-thru when denied his request for ice cream in addition to the overly-processed-but-oh-so-quick-in-a-pinch meal he ordered. I had just spent 90 minutes at the Dr with hubby which was supposed to be an in and out appt so in no mood to do any cooking whatsoever. I heard it at the phone store when the salesperson asked if *he* wanted additional accessories for his new phone. She who pays decides. I hear it constantly when he wants me to make his beloved mac & cheese, because clearly I make it with love which makes it so much better. Barf!

I put forth the following considerations to substantiate my love:
  • He was just under 10 lbs at birth - pushing a watermelon through a cheerio in 10 minutes is indisputable proof of love
  • I read to him constantly, painstakinly selecting books that would stimulate and let him know he was loved and wanted
  • He walked at 10 months - I quit trying to keep up with him and just did my best to keep him out of harms way which was no easy feat
  • I endured daily reports of errant behavior for 6 months from the the montessori he attended before we came to mutual agreement that it wasn't the best environment for him, which then meant my figuring out what was the best environment (God bless home daycares)
  • He was diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction at two and prescribed weekly occupational therapy visits for an entire year - which I took him to faithfully every Friday morning, working extra the other four days to compensate; it also involved an abundance of paperwork that would deter anyone from parenting
  • I poured over every available schooling option to determine what would be best for him in the long run even if it meant driving great distances and higher out-of-pocket cost; in the end our local parochial school was deemed the best option and was most convenient for everyone
  • I spent every parent-teacher conference asking teachers to focus on the positive; there wasn't anything new to tell me in the behavior/focus department that I didn't already know and experience firsthand on a daily basis since he was one year old Ah, the joy of parenting a spirited child
  • He was diagnosed with ADD at eleven - scores more paperwork and coordinating with teachers, as well as agreeing to be observed and evaluated for parenting issues; semiannual Dr visits for med evaluation and picking up meds monthly because it cannot be mailed or dispensed for more than a 30 day supply
  • I routinely endure being picked up into the air from behind for bear hugs without notice or provocation This may or may not be a hazard to my bladder - see 10 lb reference above
Love cannot be measured objectively and parenting is not for sissies. I've decided though that next time he asks how much I love him I will simply reply "to the moon and back".

February 23, 2016

Golden State of Mind

I am checking things off my packing list for an upcoming vacation so thought I'd better post about my last one before I get too ahead of myself. I am very fortunate to travel as much as I have this past year - the logistics for filling in my care duties at home aren't too troublesome thanks to great kids and I know people in fabulous places who extend invites. I have three planned getaways this year - Coronado, California; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Kennebunkport, Maine.

Following is my itinerary for three sun and fun filled days in Southern California:

Day One
Point Loma - ocean side
Lunch at Mr A's - view of city and airplanes landing (http://www.asrestaurant.com/)
Beach walk
Dinner at home
Mexican Train game

Day Two
Meditation Gardens in Encinitas

La Jolla seals

Delicious lunch at La Valencia on balcony with spectacular view (http://www.lavalencia.com/)

       This seems like a lovely hotel - I love the architecture and it's celebrating it's 90th year
Beach walk

Imperial Beach pier at sunset

Day Three
Beach walk
Lunch at Miguel's - best Mexican shrimp cocktail ever!
Orange Ave window shopping
SS Monte Carlo shipwreck (only visible every few years at lowtide)

The Nerd at Lamb's Theatre (http://www.lambsplayers.org/)
Dinner & dancing at home