Monday, November 28, 2011


So overnight we're supposed to switch from fall/Thanksgiving mode to full-on Christmas? I've never been able to do this. In fact, I recently experienced my own personal letdown, or should I say breakdown, after playing hostess to friends and family this past Turkey Day. (Just ask my boyfriend!) I decided I'm going to ease into Christmas this year — Take more hikes, spend more time with friends, enjoy the world around me. Because if I don't stop and look around once in a while, I could miss it. (Thanks, Ferris!)

Speaking of ...

"Even in a perfect world, where everything was equal, I'd still own the film rights and be working on the sequel." Cheesy 80s video version here.

Nice article on expectation vs. reality in romantic relationships.

Man this was eye-opening. The middle school years are crucial!

Cool series on people dramatically changing their lives.

Why guys are PCs and girls are Macs, and other dad-to-daughter observations.

Another great cookie recipe. Anything containing Nutella has got to be good.

Regarding Christmas lights, my sentiments exactly!

The Christmas season in Cambria officially begins Thursday!

Have a fulfilling week!

*Molly Nugent photo

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thank-you week

This week I'm preparing to have my boyfriend's friends and family over for turkey day. The kids will be with their dad this year, but I've persuaded them to join us here for dessert. The Martha Stewart in me is having herself a regular field day, gathering recipes, table-setting ideas, etc. What am I thankful for? So much, really. I've decided to write thank you notes to the handful of teachers who've made a difference in my kids' lives. These select individuals have gone out of their comfort zones to inspire them in ways I never could. I need to let them know this ... ASAP!

Here are my "likes" this week, all of which I'm utterly thankful for:

Doing an easier-than-traditional turkey this year. Most of the work can be done the night before and I can be a guest at my own party!

This video's a masterpiece.

Really into this show right now. Stands the test of time.

We cannot not make these.

Remember this show? Takes me straight back to my nine-year-old youth!

Really nice views of clouds.

Wishing you a blessed week with family and friends. xo

*Photo by the marvelous Melissa Mathieson

Sunday, November 20, 2011

this blog sucks

There, I said it. There's a mean girl inside my head who thoroughly embraces this belief. I'm usually able to keep her quiet and not think about her so much, but last night she was ranting and raving and making very convincing arguments.

"You really need to face the fact that you are a crappy writer," she says. "Not only that, but you insist on exposing your crappy writing and pathetic thoughts to the world at large. How embarrassing!" Plus:

- The fact that you want to share your every pathetic thought on Facebook just proves how lonely you are.
- You just used the word pathetic twice (well, now three times). See? Crappy writer.
- You will never lose 10 pounds if you keep consuming mass quantities of Chardonnay and Butterfinger ice cream.
- He's just not that into you.
- Why can't you take time to clean the bottom of the oven so whenever the oven reaches more than 400 degrees it won't set off the fire alarm?
- They're just trying to be nice - They don't really want to come over for Thanksgiving.
- You've never been good with money.
- Why can't you get through one book? Oh, I know, because you're wasting too much time on the computer and watching "The Wonder Years" reruns. Loser.
- They don't pay you what you're worth because ... yeah, you guessed it.

I counter with: "But I'm a good mom." She has no reply to that. Because her only purpose is to tear me down, not anyone else. Ha! That's where I have her. Since I raised them, they are me, or at least pretty strong reflections. And in my eyes, absolutely perfect in every way. With this thought as my armor, I am feeling quite proud of myself. That mean girl just crawled back into her hole.

I really need to slap her around a bit. Show her who's boss. Gonna work on it this week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

the ethel merman disco album and other bad ideas

I would love to have been in the meeting of record company execs who decided this was the next big thing. Really, disco? Surely more than one career was ruined by this dreadful decision!

Not that I blame them. I've certainly made my share of Ethel Merman Disco blunders in my life. Like posting that scene from "The King of Queens" on Facebook. Does anyone but me covet an encore viewing of Kevin James' "Man Breast Theater"?  And those klunky red leather tennies I bought ten years ago (had to have 'em!) - what in God's name was I thinking? Let's not forget my once awesome CD collection. Looking back at past purchases proves I once had the worst taste in music of anyone on the planet. Case in point: Terence Trent D'Arby's breakout CD featuring the single "Wishing Well." Still available in my collection if anyone wants to borrow it. All of the above, great ideas at the time but in hindsight really need to be filed in the "what was I thinking?" bin.

It gets worse. I've been guilty of making similar errors in judgement in my romantic relationships. Humor walks a fine line between out and out hilarious and cuts-like-a-knife. In one case in particular I chose an incredibly funny guy who, as it turned out, specialized in the latter. And I've always admired the outdoorsy type who appreciates nature as I do, but whenever I set my sights on this kind of guy, it seemed his love of animals, forest, ocean, and pretty much anything other than me took precedence. Doh!

All bad? Nah. I look back at each calamity and ask myself: "Horrible? Yes!" "Would I ever go back? No chance." But I had good - and quite reasonable - reasons for embracing them at the time. Not only that, but each choice pretty much speaks to the core of who I am. By denouncing any of them I'd be declaring those portions of my life invalid, and I'm not gonna do that. There will always be love in my heart for Kevin James, dammit, and I'm not ashamed to admit it!

Back to the Merman blunder of 30 years ago ...  The album really doesn't seem that bad in a kitschy, "I Love the 80s" sort of way. Still getting lots of hits on youtube ... That says something, right?

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Autumn, to me, serves as a visual reminder that while many pieces of my life are completed and no longer needed, in their place, new growth is indeed taking place. Flourishing, actually - in glorious, autumn-hued technicolor.  I am adapting to changes in my role as a mother, renewing old friendships, and gaining confidence in my ability to survive financially in this town of starving artists and wealthy retirees. I am stronger and better for having endured the elements year after year. And all it takes is a short hike on a crisp fall morning to provide assurance that the cycle will continue.

Stuff to enjoy:

Alaskan school project proves Handel's Hallelujah Chorus is most accurately interpreted by children!

Proposal production: How could she say no?

Fascinating pollination!  Enlightening discussion and some of the most stunning video photography you'll ever see.

Autumn in a cookie.

A morality chemical in the brain? This TED Talk explains so much.

Nick Lowe's own rendition of a song he wrote for Johnny Cash. Chills.

Move over pumpkin pie. Yay for spiked Thanksgiving shakes!

The secret to a happy life can be found in this video.

Go forth and make it a happy, fulfilling, autumn-hued week! Hugs.

Photo by Melissa Mathieson

Thursday, November 10, 2011

find a way

Album cover from my childhood youth. The rectangular box is a mirror.  So simple,
yet as adults we tend to forget this truth about ourselves. Mr. Rogers was a wise man!

All of us,  young and old, worry about our futures and whether or not we are capable enough to succeed in them. At age two most of us truly believe in our own wonderfulness, that it will go on forever. But as we grow older, the "I can do anything" train of thought is replaced with "I don't know if I can," and the ever-popular, "I probably can't."

Truth is, you have passion inside you the world needs to know about. You can write a story/sing a song/build a tower/paint a picture better than anyone else you know. Your two-year-old self would totally look in the Mr. Rogers mirror and tell you this.

If you have dreams/goals/aspirations that at this moment seem entirely unattainable, I tell you this: Find a way. And do it when you're young. Here's how:

1) 86 all limiting beliefs. Untruths such as, "I could if I were as smart as ..." have no room in the achieving your goals scenario. Channel the toddler within you and truly believe you CAN. There is no room for self negativity in your plan.

2) Bug your parents. You might be thinking, "They don't have the means to ... (send me to college, help with travel expenses ... fill in the blank) so why ask?" But believe me, 9 out of 10 parents would happily do whatever they could to help their children realize their aspirations. (I know this because I am an actual parent.) We just need to know what they are.

3) Educate yourself. Being the best you you can be takes work. Become an expert at whatever interests you and a master at maneuvering vehicles (scholarships, networks, etc.) that will take you exactly where your aspirations lie.

4) Rely on the kindness of others. You may think people don't really care. Guess what? They do. Think of your teachers, family members, friends, friends of friends - the majority of them would love to have played even a small part in your success. But they cannot know you'd like their help unless you come right out and ask them.

5) Pull the plug and/or drastically reduce all unproductive distractions. And by distractions I mean Facebook.

6) Stay grounded in your faith/inner belief system. Whatever decisions you make in life this comes first. Oh, so important.

7) Start on your aspiration list. Right now. Open up a word program and start typing. Begin with a list of goals, then record just how you will go about attaining them. Keep the document on your desktop for easy access and go back to it frequently to modify, recording all encouraging thoughts and ideas that enter your brain. It might take years, but one day you will go back to it and find there is nothing left to edit. Then you will have created the perfect life plan for yourself!

8) Say nice things when you look in the mirror. This is the toughest item on the list. But if you can master it, all good things will naturally come your way. Promise.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

monday is a warm croissant

Happy Monday! You are hereby challenged to treat yourself to something completely decadent to start off your week. Diet be damned, I'm stopping at the bakery on my way into work!

Thought for the week: Be kind
Lately I've found myself providing a shoulder for some dear ones in my life who've experienced tremendous adversities in their marriages. I can relate. Not that anything I say to them will make a difference, but I know how important it is to just vent in times of crisis. Call me the ventee. In each of their situations, this quote seemed appropriate:

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” 
 Henry James

Rave reviews:
Journalism at its best pulls at the heartstrings. Andy Rooney's essay on D-Day does just that. He'll be missed!
Justin Townes Earle serves up country just the way I like it: Old school and heavy on the twang.
Brilliant article about romantic comedies. Ordered Mindy Kaling's (The Office) book after reading this.
A tip that affected (not effected) how I handled a grammar dilemma at the mag last week.
Rather late to jump on the Beck train. Kind of obsessed with him these days.
Hurray for Patton Oswalt! This movie looks awesome.
Animal cookies for the holidays! We're so making these.
This quick-drying nail polish has changed my life!
Don't you just love Tuesday night TV? Shoot, that was 1974. It's impossible to get your Anson Williams fix in this day and age!

Photo of my kids by yours truly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quote for today ... and all tomorrows

"I must learn to love the fool in me--the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool." -- Theodore I. Rubin, MD

Photo by Melissa Mathieson