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.


DSC_4769 copy 2

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.


DSC_4776 copy 2

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.


DSC_4744 copy 2

The azaleas are about to burst forth.


DSC_4753 copy 2

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



DSC_4754 copy 2

"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


DSC_4756 copy 2

I have a thing for border collie bokeh.



DSC_4778 copy 2

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.

: : :

“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

: : :


DSC_4784 copy 2

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



DSC_4739 copy 2

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

Cheers ~

123 Signature[5]

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,

123 Signature[5]

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.

DSC_4355 copy 2

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.

DSC_4360 copy 2

I love the murals. This one is so colorful.

DSC_4354 copy 2

I just loved walking around this place.

DSC_4363 copy 2

DSC_4361 copy 2

DSC_4366 copy 2

Getting ready for Palm Sunday this coming weekend.

DSC_4368 copy 2

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!

DSC_4372 copy

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

DSC_4385 copy 2

Coolness abounds.

DSC_4388 copy 2

A little side street.

DSC_4382 copy 2

DSC_4391 copy 2

This telephone pole covered with colorful advertisements caught my eye.

: : :

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

Until then, my friends . . .

123 Signature[5]

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.

2012-03-24_15-22-26_570 copy 2

Driving down Walnut Street in Philadelphia, past Rittenhouse Square.

2012-03-24_15-20-34_128 copy 2

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

2012-03-24_10-18-37_17 copy 2

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

2012-03-24_18-50-10_342 copy 2

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

Camera 360

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.

Camera 360

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.

Camera 360

I love Bloody Mary’s on Sunday mornings.

: : :

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.

: : :

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.

Camera 360

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)

123 Signature[5]

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.


2012-03-20_07-07-50_771 copy 2

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


2012-03-20_07-08-41_548 copy 2

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

2012-03-20_07-09-08_130 copy 2

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 . . .

123 Signature[5]


(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.


DSC_4233 copy 2

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.


DSC_4215 copy 2

The grape hyacinths are up.

And we had plenty of sunshine this weekend.

: : :

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 . . .

123 Signature[5]

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.

DSC_4199 copy 2

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.

: : :

So how are things in your neck of the woods?

Hope your weekend is a fine one, my friends ~
123 Signature[5]

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.


DSC_4181 copy 2

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.


DSC_4177 Nelly Nero Bobby Dazzler copy 2

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.


DSC_4168 Nelly Nero Bobby Dazzler copy 2

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.


DSC_4171 Nelly Nero Bobby Dazzler copy 2

As is this photo.

: : :

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

Hope your week is filled with beauty ~

and thanks for coming by today.

123 Signature[5]

And speaking of new favorites ~

I love this song.



Monday, March 12, 2012

It’s good for you

The weather this weekend was glorious. Although quite a bit chilly with the breeze on Friday, each day seemed warmer after that. The buds on some of the trees are bursting with color.

DSC_3768 copy 2

I can smell the scent of the earth. And hear the spring peeps in the evening.

DSC_3782 copy 2

My husband tilled the garden on Saturday morning, which made the robins (and me) happy.

DSC_3793 copy 2

George was taken for a bath in the self-service stall at the pet wash where, for just over ten bucks, he can smell a hundred percent better and his coat will be soft and silky.

When we got home, he jumped out of the car and was so excited to be back to his peaceful domain that he promptly treed a squirrel.

And he kept him up there for over three hours.

I’m not kidding.

DSC_3759 copy 2

Here’s the little varmint. He fell asleep in the warmth of the sun.

DSC_3574 copy 2

Some of you asked what the metal stand thing was in one of my bird photos. This is our hillbilly yard where my husband has erected all sorts of enticing treats for the feathered friends that visit us here.

The picnic table is used to feed and water the birds. We never eat there. On the table, he’s added a branch because the birds like to perch on it before going down for their seed. The little stand is something we found in a basement in one of the homes we lived over the years. I have no idea of it’s original purpose.

DSC_3882 copy 2

But it’s very good at holding up one side of a branch.

DSC_3865 copy 2

And it makes an interesting backdrop.

I saw this ad on TV tonight while watching the news. My husband and I really liked it, so I found it to share with you.


Have a wonderful day, all ~

Thanks for stopping by my little corner here.

123 Signature[5]