Saturday, March 31, 2012

I carry your heart

I took some pictures this morning . . . this typical spring morning. And by that I mean that it finally feels like spring SHOULD feel. It’s a chilly, damp day here in Maryland, but I’m not letting the chill get me down. I’m not, because the earth is turning green, and the leaves on the trees are bursting forth.

One thing I’d like to note is that this post marks the first time that I’ve shared images taken on the camera’s full manual mode. When I first began blogging back in 2007, and for several years after, I primarily used the auto dial. I have no shame in admitting this fact because you can get some awesome images  using the auto dial. But I always wanted to learn more. So eventually, I went to P mode (Priority), then crept up to the A mode (Aperture), and now I’m proud to say that I took a big gulp and advanced to M.

My friend, Reena, gave me the final nudge.


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The violets are blooming and they’re all over the yard. And I’m totally crushing on the dreamy manor house bokeh here. It was exactly what I was trying to achieve as I laid on the ground and adjusted my aperture dial.


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Another shot from where I was laying.

I carry a mat with me when I plan on shooting from the ground. It keeps my jeans and my jacket clean.


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The azaleas are about to burst forth.


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I found these two hiding at the back of the bush.



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"The March wind roars
Like a lion in the sky,
And makes us shiver
As he passes by.
When winds are soft,
And the days are warm and clear,
Just like a gentle lamb,
Then spring is here."
-  Author Unknown


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I have a thing for border collie bokeh.



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All of today’s images were processed using Florabella’s Tea Time, from the Luxe II Collection. It’s a dreamy, soft action that I felt was just right for the mood.

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“Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on. `I do,' Alice hastily replied; `at least - at least I mean what I say - that's the same thing, you know.'”
- Lewis Carroll

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Here is the deepest secret no one knows.

Here is the root of the root . . . and the bud of the bud . . . and the sky of the sky of a tree called life . . . which grows higher than the soul can hope . . . or mind can hide. It is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart.

I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.

- e.e. cummings



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I hope you have a beautiful weekend, my friends. And I thank you for stopping by my small corner of the universe here.

Cheers ~

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Review: Whole Latte Life

I was recently asked to write a review for a Publishing Tour for author Joanne DeMaio and her book, Whole Latte Life. It was touted as “Fresh brewed women’s fiction, to share with mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends . . .” and when it arrived, the first thing that hit me was the deliciously rendered cover.


From the jacket description:

Would you leave everything behind to know who you are?

Sara Beth Riley never dreamt she'd walk straight out of her life. Actually she'd never dreamt a lot of things that had happened this year ... From being kidnapped by her own best friend, to throwing her wedding rings into the Hudson River, to calling an old love in France, to getting inked with said best friend, painting the passionate constellation of these choices into permanence. But mostly, she could never have dreamt what started it all. How could it be that her mother's unexpected death, and the grief which lingered painfully long, turned her into the woman she was finally meant to become?

Sara Beth's escape begins a summer of change - of herself, of marriage, of the lives of those around her. In a story that moves from Manhattan to the sea to a quaint New England town, Whole Latte Life looks at friends we never forget, at decisions we linger with, at our attempts to live the lives we love.

Sara Beth and Rachel have been best friends since childhood, and the book opens with the two of them celebrating their 40th birthdays in New York City. They’d been planning the getaway for months and have a beautiful hotel room reserved and an itinerary packed with fun and laughter when suddenly, one of them disappears. It happens at a perfectly charming restaurant, when a maitre d’ hands Rachel a note. Her best friend, Sara Beth, had left the table to use the bathroom and Rachel had just begun to worry. How could someone do that to their best friend, I wondered?

Sara Beth, a mother of three, is bogged down with a marriage that has lost its lustre, an unplanned child, the dream of an antique business that’s been put on the back burner, but what she’s struggling with most of all is the recent death of her mother.

I will admit that I remained angry with Sara Beth for what she put her best friend through, but if she hadn’t “walked away from her life” at that particular point in time, Rachel would have never met Michael, the NYPD mounted policeman who befriends her and who is struggling with his own demons. Michael eventually becomes a major character in Rachel’s life. Rachel has also suffered a great loss, as the birthday weekend also marks the two year anniversary of her husband’s death.

Sara Beth is only gone for a few days, but her actions create a rift between the two women that threatens to destroy their friendship. It’s not until some time later, after they’ve gone their separate ways, and Rachel ends up ‘kidnapping’ Sara Beth, taking her to the cottage that Michael had rented for the summer, that they begin to mend their fractured friendship.

Sara Beth turns and studies her friend’s face. What she sees in its space, light and color are answers to questions she never voiced: How long did Rachel wait in the restaurant that day? A long, panicked time. And did she sleep those nights, worrying? She worried a hell of a lot more than slept. And did Rachel look for her in the city? She looked in every special place their friendship has ever taken them, hoping hoping hoping Sara would return to her in some way, even by revisiting a memory. All those answers are there, human expression in the architecture of her eyes.

The author deftly weaves a novel about love and friendship, loss and hope, loyalty and betrayal, and “crystal days that shine forever”.

WholeLatteJoanneDeMaio1Joanne DeMaio is an author of contemporary women's fiction, blending family, coffee and friendship on the page. In addition to her novel Whole Latte Life, her music essays have appeared in literary journals. Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut, where the coffee is always brewing, either in her country kitchen, or a favorite coffee shop, and the talk is ever flowing over a fresh cup of java. For more information, visit her website at

To read more about the book, visit And check out the author’s ‘webisodes’, something I thought were very cool ~

Whole Latte Life is available in paperback and Kindle e-book.To purchase, visit To read reviews from this Publishing Tour, please visit: Purple Gallinule, Beautiful Mustang, and Savvy Verse & Wit.

Respectfully submitted,

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Scenes from the Italian Market, Phila.

I spent the weekend with a couple of blogging friends, and we all met in Philadelphia on Saturday morning. We didn’t have a real plan for the day, other than the fact that we wanted to take lots of photographs. I picked up Daryl and Reena at the train station, then drove to the Italian Market and parked right on 9th Street and walked to Nina’s Trattoria for lunch. You can see it on the lower right of the photo below. I was starving because I’d forgotten to eat breakfast before setting off from Maryland.

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I recognized Frank Rizzo right away. When he was on the police force, he used to patrol the Italian Market area. This mural was refurbished in 2010 which is why it looks so good today.

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I love the murals. This one is so colorful.

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I just loved walking around this place.

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Getting ready for Palm Sunday this coming weekend.

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One thing that upset me was the fact that my niece, Emily, and her husband Joe were in the Italian Market at the very same time that I was. And I didn’t hear their text come through on my phone until later that afternoon when I happened to check.

I am so sorry, Em ~ I would have loved to see you and Joe!

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Lunch at Nina’s Trattoria was a wonderful mushroom and goat cheese quiche served with farm greens. Excellent food and great coffee.

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Coolness abounds.

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A little side street.

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This telephone pole covered with colorful advertisements caught my eye.

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Tomorrow I’ll share the rest of our journey. Hope you don’t mind coming for the ride.

Until then, my friends . . .

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wherever we may roam

I’ve just returned from a wonderful weekend visiting with friends I met while blogging. On Saturday morning, I met my friends, Daryl and Reena at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Our plan was to spend the day hanging out in Philly and then going back to Reena’s place, a short drive away, to spend the night.

I took a lot of photos to share with you, but since I’m tired from having just returned home, I’m simply sharing a few shots taken on my camera phone. I’ll post photos from the big-girl camera soon.

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Driving down Walnut Street in Philadelphia, past Rittenhouse Square.

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Taken while sitting at the traffic light on Walnut & 17th. Green light!

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The angel statue at 30th Street Station.

Prominently displayed is the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial, a bronze statue which honors Pennsylvania Railroad employees killed in World War II. It consists of a statue of the archangel Michael lifting the body of a dead soldier out of the flames of war, and was sculpted by Walker Hancock in 1950. On the four sides of the base of that sculpture are cast the 1,307 names of those employees in alphabetical order.   ~Wikipedia

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Dinner Saturday night was at a restaurant on the Main Line, in Bryn Mawr . We ate at Verdad, and met Reena’s husband there as well.  The food was fabulous and marks the first time I’ve ever been to a tapas restaurant.

Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or warm (such as chopitos, which are battered, fried baby squid). In select bars in Spain, tapas have evolved into an entire, and sometimes sophisticated, cuisine. In Spain, patrons of tapas can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal.The serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation because people are not so focused upon eating an entire meal that is set before them. ~Wikipedia

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Reena and Daryl looking serious while perusing the menu. The lighting was dark and everyone but me had an iPhone and they were taking great flash photos with their camera phones. It wasn’t until the waitress suggested an app for my Droid, which I downloaded in a matter of minutes, that I was able to get some good indoor shots. The app is Camera 360 and I’m liking it a lot.

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Sunday brunch at Bourbon Blue in Manayunk. Can I tell you a secret? This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever had Eggs Benedict. Shocking, isn’t it? These were served over crab cakes  and an english muffin with a side of Lyonnaise potatoes. I must admit that the crab cakes were quite good. I have discriminating taste when it comes to crab cakes, you know.

ps – still on the no wheat thing and did not eat the english muffins.

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I love Bloody Mary’s on Sunday mornings.

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Well, it’s getting late and I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I had a little drink about an hour ago and it went straight to my head . . .

That’s a good song. Good movie, too.

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Of course, a little trip can’t be complete without a gift for my favorite guy. No, not my husband . . . although I did look for something for him. But what I found was this.

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Can you spot him in the corner and see how happy he is? This little elephant squeaks, and George brought it on our walk this evening, squeaking the whole way. He kept dropping it on the trail in front of me as I walked so that I could throw it to him. All in all, a most pleasant way to come home.

Until tomorrow, my friends. I’ll have some more photos to share soon, but in the meantime, I’m sure my blogging friends will soon have something posted about our trip. You can visit them here:

Missing Moments (Reena)

Out and About in New York City (Daryl)

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I shall be telling this with a sigh

It’s quiet here on the hill, and this morning’s fog made it even more so. I haven’t much felt like writing lately, and I hope you’ll forgive me for that.

Maybe I’m having a bit of writer’s block, and when that has happened in the past, I’ve always resorted to using images to fill my space.

Problem is, you have to take pictures. And I haven’t even had the desire to do that.


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Sometimes things just get to me. And after a day of being cheerful, which I admit I sometimes pretend to be, I’m worn out by it all.

But I know I’m lucky to have all that I do.

I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. ~Agatha Christie


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I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~ Robert Frost

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Sometimes I think my life would make a great TV movie.  It even has the part where they say, "Stand by. We are experiencing temporary difficulties."  ~Robert Brault



Maybe I’ll watch Amelie tonight. That movie always cheers me ~


(fortunately, i have plans for the weekend. and they are fun.)

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

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(hell. maybe i should break down and have some cake)


* snort *

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I love weekends

A lot of things have happened this weekend, but the biggest one with the most impact is that our youngest son, Shaun, has moved back home for awhile. I don’t even want to talk about it because it’s personal. It’s good right now, but I’m guardedly optimistic, which is what I told a good friend tonight.

So things are different here in the manor house on the hill, but I’ll tell you one thing. We have one very excited dog. George loves our son, Shaun. And Miss Blackie is quite content, too. She gets to sleep in her favorite room in the house, a room that my son told me today that he believes may be haunted. But that he likes it anyway.

I was dumbfounded. Haunted? Yes, he told me. Once he was falling asleep while visiting, and suddenly it got very cold in the room. Weird cold, he told me. He felt like he wasn’t alone, but he wasn’t afraid, and it was like that for about five minutes. I have never felt these things here. And yes, Adrienne, and Peg, and Colleen, if you’re all reading this, it was the guest room that you always stay in when you come.

All I feel is joy in this house. And if there’s a ghost, I think it’s a good one.


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I took a drive to Chesapeake City today and snapped this photo of the bridge I traveled over for ten years when we lived ‘below the canal’ on the horse farm. The bridge is very high and traverses the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal (the C&D Canal), a shipping lane for cargo ships. The waterway is a shortcut from the Delaware River to the head of the Chesapeake Bay.


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The grape hyacinths are up.

And we had plenty of sunshine this weekend.

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Tonight I’m watching this:

Frozen Planet

It airs Sundays at 8 PM on the Discovery Chanel and is a seven-part documentary. Better get going because it’s starting soon.

Hope your week is off to a good start. Thanks for stopping by, my friends . . .

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Random thoughts with links

1. I love George Clooney, and even more so after today.

2. Tonight I’m going to put on my pajama pants and a soft sweater, and then I’m pouring a glass of wine and watching My Week with Marilyn. The movie came in the mail today from Netflix.

3. There’s a cool new site that I’d like to introduce you to called GardenStalking. Created by a long-time blogging pal, whose DessertStalking site draws 10,000 weekly visitors, it’s a place to share anything related to gardening. Bloggers can submit a small photo, along with a headline and caption that will link back to your blog. All of the submissions are monitored, and if selected, are posted on the site (unlike Pinterest which monitors nothing and stealing is rampant). It’s easy to register if you’re interested in joining. And even if you’re not, it’s a great place to visit for garden ideas and eye candy.

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4. And speaking of eye candy, my little geranium bloom is looking more beautiful every day. This is what it looked like ten days ago.

5. I bought this little top and wore it to work one day this week with a spring sweater. Then the Duplo machine began acting up and while removing one of the masters from the drum, I got black ink on my brand new top. Fortunately, I didn’t pay the price seen on the link. (I got it for a steal in a private sale). And even more fortunately, I got the ink out before it set. Well, all but one tiny little spot, but I can live with that.

6. Tomorrow is going to be spent doing some badly needed cleaning. I actually am looking forward to using my new vacuum again.

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So how are things in your neck of the woods?

Hope your weekend is a fine one, my friends ~
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New favorite

Today was glorious! Parents were coming into the school office all day long and telling us they hoped we could get outside soon.

Some of the classes were held outside.

Windows were open.

Gentle breezes were blowing.

And most people were downright happy.


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So I thought I would take some photos of the happy faces of the pansies I bought last weekend.

I wasn’t thrilled with many of the pictures but I’m fine with the ones I’m sharing with you today.


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On another note, the dinner I made tonight was a complete disgrace and showed just how little I care about getting a proper meal on the table by 6 PM.

I’d be happy just eating a sandwich.

If I were still eating wheat, that is.

The losing weight thing on the no wheat way of life is S L O W going. But I’m not discouraged. I love having none of the night time cravings that I used to get. That’s the best.


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My husband has Survivor on. I’ve only been half-watching this season but have decided that I absolutely loathe one of the players. I’ve felt this way about him from the first time I saw him in action. His name is Colton Cumbie and he’s a manipulative little liar.

Ok. Breathe . . .

. . . it’s only a TV show . . . it’s only a TV show.

Speaking of which, I missed The Walking Dead the other night. But there’s a marathon happening on Sunday leading up to the season finale.

I didn’t miss Smash, though. That’s my new favorite.


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As is this photo.

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It sounds like I watch too much TV, doesn’t it?!!

Hope your week is filled with beauty ~

and thanks for coming by today.

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And speaking of new favorites ~

I love this song.