Friday, December 26, 2014

Extreme Gingerbread Houses

These gingerbread houses get extreme. See a 67-foot house, replicas of Hogwarts Castle  and St. Basil's Cathedral, a gingerbread town, and more!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Your daily funny…because we all suck at something

What Every State in the U.S. is Worst at (from Yahoo!/Thrillist)

Michigan: Worst roads
8 Mile helped put Detroit back on the Hollywood map. Too bad every other mile in the state is as terrible as the Tigers in this year’s playoffs, since Michigan spends the least per capita on its roads and bridges, at $174 per person annually.

Harsh, but true. Find more tough love for the states here


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Work Break

Been packing our house up to make room for a big project. It got tedious, so I took a break and sketched this idea for front porch planters. The pine boughs and twigs should look good in color. 


Now, to put on a pot of slow-simmer spaghetti sauce, open some wine, and see what happens.



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Work on Thanksgiving?

Don't we already work on Thanksgiving? Cooking, eating, watching, or playing football then panicking about the fact 2015 is basically a month away? 

Let's not work any more than we already do. And let's give others a break. People deserve to spend the holiday with family, friends, pets—away from work. While I may want to get a jump-start on shopping, I don't really need to do it before the turkey is cold. 

Having busted my hump at retail jobs and event installs during the holidays (in past lives), I cherished the actual holidays because I knew I'd get at least one day off. A day to enjoy family time, celebrate, and catch my breath. It was how I survived. Along with tons of help from family, friends, and food/coffee/sweets, you get the idea. So, if we get the day off, it seems only fair everyone should. 

As Costco puts it, “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families.”

Well said. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Furious 7 - Official Trailer (HD)

We're a car family. We drive, work on, and dream a lot about cars. And it's no secret the adults around here enjoy the Fast and Furious movies. So, this is a big deal. 

Even more than the fact this is sure to be a car stunt lover's kind of flick, this is Paul Walker's final film. He passed away before they wrapped the movie, but was so close with the cast and crew, they mourned his death then vowed to finish it in the heart-pounding, out-of-this-world style fans have come to expect. RIP Paul Walker.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Speculation Begins on Amazon, S&S Deal

When Amazon and Simon & Schuster confirmed on Tuesday that they had reached new sales terms on the publisher's print and digital titles, scant details about the deal were revealed. Nonetheless, a raft of stories has appeared about the situation, with many in the press speculating on who benefits, and who loses, from the agreement. (Read more on Publisher's Weekly)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kobo Aura H2O, First Waterproof e-Reader

I can see the usefulness in this, if people want to read by the water, or in it. But will they actually do it enough to need this? 

Here's a link to the Yahoo! Tech review: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/hands-on-with-the-kobo-aura-h2o-the-worlds-first-100533789539.html

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Espresso Book Machines? Why, yes!

If you're in the Union Square (NYC), Paramus, NJ, or Willow Grove, PA, Barnes & Noble store soon, try this out! 

It's a print on demand system, and you can print a hard-to-find book, a public domain title, or self publish a book. I have to see this in person, sounds interesting! Wonder if it takes as long as an actual espresso, or longer? 

Read more on Publisher's Weekly here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/retailing/article/63863-b-n-testing-espresso-book-machines.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=5f69cd2758-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-5f69cd2758-304507901

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wednesday Wisdom

I've been in a motivational kind of mood lately. Maybe it's my way of working through life transitions, like the start of a new school year, and seasonal transitions—there are leaves on the ground here, folks!

In any case, here are some quotes to keep you looking upward and moving forward. Happy day!


Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering. ― Ida Scott Taylor

Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise. — Anonymous

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. — Pablo Picasso

If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough. — Mario Andretti


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Motivational Moments

If you're working to squeeze all you can out of the last few days of summer vacation, may this be a reminder. 

Enjoy the little things in life…for one day you may look back and realize they were big things. -R.Brault


Beach Kite - Photo by K. Gibson



Thursday, August 14, 2014

When writing gets real

This is what it's about. This is where I've been. This is when writing is real. Often, eerily, other people (characters) have to take over your brain, or some part of the process to make your story believable.

I discovered a post on Omnivoracious in which Karin Slaughter and Gillian Flynn have a conversation about books, characters, and process. The whole thing is great reading, but my favorite summation of the writing process is from Slaughter (seriously, what thriller writer wouldn't kill for that name?):


"Some of my best work comes from a flop sweat of realizing that what I’ve just spent two weeks knowing was going to be perfect and work brilliantly will never make it onto the final page. And I think going down these wrong roads teaches you about your characters, because at the end of the day, the story should always work in service to the characters."


Now, back to work so I may bring you an actual book of my own. Check back for updates and reveals!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Don't blink…you might miss summer

I’m confused. Is summer over already?

I read an article last week about ways to spend the second half of summer vacation, and now I’m seeing status updates and posts about kiddos who are already back at their desks.

The saying ‘if you blink, you’ll miss it’ must be true. It was mid-June, I blinked. Then it was July, I blinked again. Now, it’s August and I’m afraid to close my eyes.

We haven’t completed too many resolutions from our summer checklist (see below), but we have done a lot of the important ones, like playing and unwinding as a family. We even played and splashed in the rain, it was awesome!

While I would have liked to check off many more items, the list doesn’t gauge the success of our summer, we do. And it’s been a good one.

We’ve played in the water, visited with family, biked, walked, picnicked and went to museums. We even watched local wildlife feast on our garden goodies (current count: four tomato plants, numerous hosta plants, and dozens of berries).

So, as I sit in my fluffy socks and wait for the heat to kick on (we live north of all things warm, and our house got pretty chilly last night, so don’t judge me), I’m stuck thinking summer is ready to snatch our Sunny Gs and umbrella drinks before closing up her cabana for the year. Brr.

Before she does, I plan to make the most of whatever the days and the weather bring. After all, long summer days are best enjoyed relaxing and recharging with family and friends. Checking off resolutions is just a bonus. 

How do you plan to spend the final days/weeks of the summer season?

2014 Random Summer Resolutions

1.     Play
2.     Unwind
3.     Be silly—good, clean knock, knock jokes can get the ball rolling
4.     Hit the beach
5.     Go on a picnic
6.     Ride bikes
7.     Visit the zoo
8.     Go on family walks
9.     Paddleboat/canoeing
10.   Have a special date night dinner and concert
11.   Have a special family dinner out to celebrate summer
12.   Play in the rain and splash in the puddles
13.   Hug more
14.   Kiss more
15.   Unplug more
16.   Let the kids stay up later a few nights
17.   Sleep in late a few days
18.   Have breakfast in our jammies a few times
19.   Swim
20.   Golf
21.   Read 10 books—about a book a week until school starts. This is a big task since I’m also publishing a book soon
22.   Finish and publish the book mentioned in item above
23.   Play tag with the kids
24.   Sit outside one sunny day without mowing, weeding or yard work
25.   Run through the sprinklers
26.   Make homemade ice cream with the kids
27.   Grow fruits and veggies—we’ll have to get new tomatoes, the deer ate the ones we planted
28.   Take a real family vacation
29.   Pick colors and paint a couple rooms in serious need of ‘refreshing’
30.   Can something—jam, tomatoes, just to try it
31.   Take a class—maybe a class on how to can things
32.   Make a grown-up appetizer for dinner one night, even if my husband and I are the only ones who eat it
33.   Make a list of people to call, and call them
34.   Send handwritten letters to 5 people I know
35.   Go to a movie
36.   Camping
37.   Bonfire
38.   Try a new food
39.   Try a new drink
40.   Make snow cones
41.   Learn to flip pizza dough
42.   Make something
43.   Have more game nights
44.   Go on a nature hike
45.   See fireworks
46.   Take a drive in the country
47.   Go to a ballgame
48.   Listen to more music
49.   Frisbee
50.   Tennis
51.   Go to an arcade
52.   Drive at a track day event
53.   Plan a dream kitchen
54.   Teach the kids something fun
55.   Learn something fun
56.   Roast marshmallows
57.   Barbecue
58.   Have a party
59.   Light some sparklers (being careful not to burn holes in the tablecloth, like last time)
60.   Watch the fireflies when the sparklers go out
61.   Enjoy a starry night
62.   Find a constellation
63.   Relax and unwind
64.   Try a new slow cooker recipe. Found this post on how to make almost any recipe work in a slow cooker
65.   Water balloon toss
66.   Sing
67.   Dance
68.   Train ride
69.   Write a story for my kids
70.   Play hopscotch
71.   Sleepover
72.   All night movie fest
73.   Binge watch a new TV show
74.   Sleep outside
75.   Practice my Finn McMissile voice (right now it sounds a lot like Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, seriously)
76.   Play euchre
77.   Create a family friendly outdoor obstacle course
78.   Early morning run/jog/walk
79.   Spin around until we get dizzy
80.   Head north
81.   Head south
82.   Head nowhere in particular
83.   Have a relaxing day at home
84.   Spa visit
85.   Be brave enough to find out what’s been growing in our compost bin the past five years
86.   Learn a card trick, maybe share it with the kids
87.   Clear out closets and donate stuff we don’t use
88.   Visit family and friends
89.   Show more love
90.   Practice patience
91.   Be goofy
92.   Watch a movie from our childhood with our kids
93.   Sketch a tree house or a garden
94.   Cider mill late summer
95.   Take photos, print and send some to the grandparents
96.   Watch a sunrise
97.   Watch a sunset
98.   Snuggle
99.   Smile
100. Relax



Monday, July 7, 2014

You Say Pasta, I Say Frittata

One of my passions is food. When I get heavy into writing and editing (where I am now), food is an essential energy source, and an occasional distraction. But, I do enjoy preparing dishes, and sharing them with friends and family. Whether making a recipe written decades ago by my great grandmother, or testing a new one, there is often a bit of excitement that hovers around the kitchen.

Cooking can be intense, or soothing for me—depends a lot on the day, the recipe, and how famished the crew waiting to be fed is. While I’ve tried a number of recipes, I have to say this is the first I can recall ever making a Pasta Frittata. Usually, the pasta in our house is made into a main course one night, and the cold leftovers consumed the next day or so by our hungry kids. Okay, my husband and I sometimes eat them cold, too.

Anyway, when I got this recipe I really wanted to try it out. The frittata looked nice with a golden, crispy crust, and the family loved that it had pasta, so they enjoyed trying the Broccoli Rabe and Parmesan version. I’d make it again, and maybe try the Sausage and Hot Peppers version from Cook’s Illustrated. Either way, it’s a nice change to handfuls of cold spaghetti.

Here’s the sample recipe I tested. To get the final version, you can buy the magazine or check it out online. It’s a fairly straightforward dish, and cooked on the stovetop, so it’s worth a try. Enjoy!

Pasta Frittata with Broccoli Rabe
Serves 6 to 8 
To ensure the proper texture, it’s important to use angel hair pasta with this recipe. We like to serve the frittata warm or at room temperature, with a side salad.
8 large eggs
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
6 ounces angel hair, broken in half


1. Whisk eggs, olive oil, Parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper together in large bowl until egg is even yellow color; set aside.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add broccoli rabe, 1 tablespoon water, and ¼ teaspoon salt and toss to evenly coat. Cover skillet and cook until broccoli rabe is bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in vinegar. Transfer broccoli rabe to bowl with egg mixture and wipe out skillet.
3. Bring remaining 3 cups water, pasta, remaining 7 teaspoons vegetable oil, and 3/4 teaspoon salt to boil in now empty skillet over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, water has evaporated, and pasta starts to sizzle in oil, 9 to 12 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook pasta, shaking pan occasionally (do not stir), until bottom crisps and turns golden, 5 to 7 minutes. 
4. Using spatula, push some pasta up sides of skillet so that entire pan surface is covered in pasta. Pour egg mixture over pasta. Using tongs, lift up loose strands of pasta to allow egg to flow towards pan, being careful not to pull up crispy bottom crust. Cover skillet and continue to cook over medium heat until bottom crust turns golden brown and top of frittata is just set (egg below very top will still be raw), 6 to 8 minutes. Following the flip instructions, slide frittata onto large plate. Invert frittata onto second large plate and slide it browned-side up back into skillet. Tuck edges of frittata into skillet with rubber spatula. Continue to cook second side of frittata until light brown, 3 to 5 minutes longer. 
5. Remove pan from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Invert frittata onto cutting board, cut into wedges and serve.

HOW TO FLIP 

1. SLIDE After browning first side, loosen with rubber spatula and slide onto large plate.

2. FLIP Place second plate face-down over frittata; invert browned-site up on second plate.


3. SLIDE Slide frittata back into pan, browned side-up, and tuck edges into pan with rubber spatula.


Friday, June 20, 2014

100 Assorted Summer Resolutions



School’s out for the summer! We love this time of year, especially since it comes after a seriously long, cold, snowfall-record-breaking winter. 

It’s a great time to relax, and soak up the sun in our shorts and flip-flops, but I know myself. If I don’t write at least a few goals down, the entire summer will pass by and all I’ll have to show for it will be a farmer’s tan and regrets for all the things we didn’t do. So, why let the opportunity for nature hikes and museum strolls slip away when I can make a list and refer to it whenever the phrase ‘I’m bored’ is uttered?

I’ve seen some stuff circulating online about summer lists, so I consulted my 2013 resolutions, as well as my 2014 work-life balance notes to compile my own list of activities. Just as ice cream comes in a variety of flavors, this list contains an assortment of resolutions.

And it’s not just about the kids, either—parents get bored too! I’ve included ideas for family fun, lazy summer days, and date nights too. Go ahead and take a peek, you might find something to do when your family gets bored this summer. Repeats are okay because it's summer. If you like, share your ideas in the comments section. There are a couple months of activities for us to fill, after all. Fun ideas are appreciated.

2014 Random Summer Resolutions

1.     Play
2.     Unwind
3.     Be silly—good, clean knock, knock jokes can get the ball rolling
4.     Hit the beach
5.     Go on a picnic
6.     Ride bikes
7.     Visit the zoo
8.     Go on family walks
9.     Paddleboat/canoeing
10.   Have a special date night dinner and concert
11.   Have a special family dinner out to celebrate summer
12.   Play in the rain and splash in the puddles
13.   Hug more
14.   Kiss more
15.   Unplug more
16.   Let the kids stay up later a few nights
17.   Sleep in late a few days
18.   Have breakfast in our jammies a few times
19.   Swim
20.   Golf
21.   Read 10 books—about a book a week until school starts. This is a big task since I’m also publishing a book soon
22.   Finish and publish the book mentioned in item above
23.   Play tag with the kids
24.   Sit outside one sunny day without mowing, weeding or yard work
25.   Run through the sprinklers
26.   Make homemade ice cream with the kids
27.   Grow fruits and veggies—we’ll have to get new tomatoes, the deer ate the ones we planted
28.   Take a real family vacation
29.   Pick colors and paint a couple rooms in serious need of ‘refreshing’
30.   Can something—jam, tomatoes, just to try it
31.   Take a class—maybe a class on how to can things
32.   Make a grown-up appetizer for dinner one night, even if my husband and I are the only ones who eat it
33.   Make a list of people to call, and call them
34.   Send handwritten letters to 5 people I know
35.   Go to a movie
36.   Camping
37.   Bonfire
38.   Try a new food
39.   Try a new drink
40.   Make snow cones
41.   Learn to flip pizza dough
42.   Make something
43.   Have more game nights
44.   Go on a nature hike
45.   See fireworks
46.   Take a drive in the country
47.   Go to a ballgame
48.   Listen to more music
49.   Frisbee
50.   Tennis
51.   Go to an arcade
52.   Drive at a track day event
53.   Plan a dream kitchen
54.   Teach the kids something fun
55.   Learn something fun
56.   Roast marshmallows
57.   Barbecue
58.   Have a party
59.   Light some sparklers (being careful not to burn holes in the tablecloth, like last time)
60.   Watch the fireflies when the sparklers go out
61.   Enjoy a starry night
62.   Find a constellation
63.   Relax and unwind
64.   Try a new slow cooker recipe. Found this post on how to make almost any recipe work in a slow cooker
65.   Water balloon toss
66.   Sing
67.   Dance
68.   Train ride
69.   Write a story for my kids
70.   Play hopscotch
71.   Sleepover
72.   All night movie fest
73.   Binge watch a new TV show
74.   Sleep outside
75.   Practice my Finn McMissile voice (right now it sounds a lot like Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, seriously)
76.   Play euchre
77.   Create a family friendly outdoor obstacle course
78.   Early morning run/jog/walk
79.   Spin around until we get dizzy
80.   Head north
81.   Head south
82.   Head nowhere in particular
83.   Have a relaxing day at home
84.   Spa visit
85.   Be brave enough to find out what’s been growing in our compost bin the past five years
86.   Learn a card trick, maybe share it with the kids
87.   Clear out closets and donate stuff we don’t use
88.   Visit family and friends
89.   Show more love
90.   Practice patience
91.   Be goofy
92.   Watch a movie from our childhood with our kids
93.   Sketch a tree house or a garden
94.   Cider mill late summer
95.   Take photos, print and send some to the grandparents
96.   Watch a sunrise
97.   Watch a sunset
98.   Snuggle
99.   Smile
100. Relax


What’s on your list?


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