The Surprising Taste of Change (and NYC)

Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 in Life | 33 comments

Did you know that if you rub essential peppermint oil on the soft middle of the bottom of your foot that you will eventually taste that peppermint in your mouth?
This was news to me. I heard this random tidbit in yoga class, and while I haven’t tried it yet, I keep thinking about that unexpected, surprising minty sensation (and also wondered if they make chocolate peanut butter essential oils).

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Surprising cereal and marshmallow coated cones at Emack & Bolio’s, New York City

2014 was a big year of change here at my house. Everything seemed to challenge my role in Life As I Knew It. My kids moved out, my mom got sick (thankfully she is better). Most of the change, like my kids moving out, I expected, even planned for, imagined. I knew there would be sadness, excitement, new freedoms and the like. But what I didn’t expect was to find myself constantly questioning my purpose the moment my kids left.

 

my kids

 Together at 2nd Ave Deli in NYC. 

For so many years, my family has been my priority. Everything else I did was “just work”.

It's only a play 2_opt

  Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, NYC

Sure that work was important, necessary, enjoyable, etc., but never assigned the significance of what I did for my family.

So this new questioning, it’s a strange taste, and it’s got me feeling pretty damn insecure.

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 A misty Central Park, NYC

In many ways I feel like a teenager again. New independence, lots of insecurity, and even more indecision, but then there’s also an excitement that I can fill and assign priority to these wide open spaces however I see fit.

And sometimes that unexpected result is something sweet. I had no idea that the research I would do on art and doodling for my character Grace Callahan in my young adult book, The Art of Chasing Normal, would lead to my own drawing finding a way into a really awesome art book.

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 North Light has tons of really fun and inspirational art books. Click the link to check it out!

10% Off at North Light Shop. Use coupon code NLCOUPON10 during checkout.

With change, though, there’s a lot of heart work to do. I’m figuring it out, and I know there will be more strange and unexpected minty sensations along the way.

But for me, it helps to believe, that even when we feel vulnerable and stripped to the bone, there’s still something strong and fierce (in the best possible way) inside of  us.

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 American Museum of Natural History, New York City

Wishing you the best for 2015!

HAPPY NEW YEAR,

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xo

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Stuff That’s Keeping Me Merry and Bright

Posted by on Dec 12, 2014 in Life | 32 comments

Brr.

It’s not officially winter yet, but it’s been cold.

So I’m offering you some merry and bright stuff.

You know, for lifting smiles and warming hearts.

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 Sweater weather.

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Cookie accessories!

I’ve been cozying up to the warm oven baking.

Did you know there’s a difference between dutch process cocoa and regular baking cocoa?

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I think it was Ina Garten who said, Once you go dutch, you never go back (but don’t quote me on that).

I tried dutch cocoa for the first time this week in a batch of Double Chocolate crack(le) cookies. SO much chocolate goodness. I’d show you a pic, but they’re ALL gone.

But these cookies are still hanging around. For laughs.

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A native from The Island of Misfit Gingerbread People

So the autumn leaves are gone, but there’s still plenty of color to be found in Winter.

pomegranate seeds

sunset richmond virginia

Sunset in Richmond, Virginia (but it’s not exclusive to my town)

And I’m still feeling grateful for the opportunity to help out at a local pop up street store last weekend.

street store RVA

Tons of gratitude.

And after that I got to sit down and read with one of my nephews.

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I loved shark books as a kid too.

But wait there’s more!

I’m going to be an aunt again. :)

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My little sister is having a baby girl soon-ish. 

Merry and bright indeed.

 

What’s got you feeling merry and bright?

Happy weekend!

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A Cornucopia of Doodles and A Trio of Pies

Posted by on Nov 26, 2014 in Life | 26 comments

 

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A cornucopia of doodles

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a trio of pies: aka the Pie-fecta

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and some turkey humor.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

With love and tons of gratitude,

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A View From My Heart: Sunrise and Snow Cones

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in Life | 40 comments

 

 

On a trip to Virginia Beach last December, I got up early and watched the sun rise.

sunrise virginia beach

I still think about how cool it was to sit on the dark beach and watch the sun peek above the horizon.

So when the hub and I went to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach last weekend

back bay national wildlife refuge

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

I realized I had the opportunity to see the sunrise at the beach again.

So I set my alarm, but when I woke up there was no yellow streaked sky. No fiery sun.

Just a whole lot of clouds.

And I was puzzled.

Sure I’ve seen lots of overcast days, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me that there could be clouds blocking the horizon at sunrise.

I don’t know why. Maybe because it was so spectacular last December, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

But there it was, a hazy, muted sky.

It was just different. And for a moment, kind of empty without the sun all up in my face.

And as I stood there I started to identify with that bit of emptiness, that difference.

Some days it’s really strange  to realize that in one year both of my kids left for school (the con of having 2 kids fifteen months apart), but then it’s not so strange, because while it’s oh so bittersweet to move on from that really great part of my life,

there’s still so much life as usual,

the work and the fun

and I’m learning a new routine, a new focus

and climbing mountains with my husband

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 My view from Humpback Rock in the Blue Ridge mountains

And finding my heart can be in more than one place

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Fossil Beach at York River State Park 

And planning visits to see our kids in NYC and Colonial Williamsburg

family hike

And getting to see things from their point of view

And tasting new and surprising things

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Snow cone + soft serve = Sno To G0 (in Williamsburg, VA)

(and realizing that in some situations you can eat the yellow snow.)

But most of all, I’m seeing that a different sunrise, can still be a pretty awesome view.

hazy sunrise virginia beach

A hazy, beautiful Virginia Beach morning

What view are you enjoying?

Happy Friday!

 

 

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Abandoned, but Maybe They’ll Leave the Light on for You

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in Photography | 44 comments

You know how some people need to sky dive or bungee jump to get their adrenaline going?

 

 

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Not me.

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 All it takes to get me running scared, is an old, abandoned motel (during daylight).

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Haunted? Maybe.

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 Just tires. But my mind added chainsaws.

 

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 Definitely no air conditioning (some find  that scary)

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 It was super quiet here.

And something made me start running back to the car. Fast.

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 Probably just my imagination.

But I’m not opening the door to find out.

 

What scares you? Would you stay the night in a haunted motel?

Enjoy your stay!

Happy Halloween/Weekend!

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Some (More) Reasons I Love New York

Posted by on Oct 17, 2014 in Travel | 38 comments

 

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I love New York.

Maybe it’s because I was born in New Jersey and lived my pre-K years with a view of the Manhattan skyline.

manhattan nyc ferry view

Or maybe it’s just because NYC is awesome.

There’s always something new to see–and taste!

For me last weekend, that was at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (East Village)

big gay ice cream nyc_opt

Order the Salty Pimp (don’t be shy)

Chocolate dipped soft serve injected with salted caramel (even the cone–which can be gluten free if you need!)

It’s SO good.

And zero guilt, because in NYC you can just walk it off

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Which we did in Central Park!

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And the High Line 

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And at High Rock Park, Staten Island (just a ferry ride away)

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And lots of walking on the streets! 

Luckily a good coffee boost is easy to find in NYC.

My latest fave is the cappuccino at 12 Corners (Lower East Side)

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Coffee that shimmers!

I loved this cappuccino so much I went back for another the next morning. :)

(Bonus gluten free tip: Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery has the best coffee cake.)

But by far my most FAVORITE reason to visit New York now?

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It’s where my daughter lives. :)

Where have you been hanging out lately? Any cool treats or sights to share? 

Happy Weekend!

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The State Fair: Things That Make You Go WHEE!

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in Life | 32 comments

 

swings state fair VA_opt

 

Ferris wheel state fair_opt

 

flower Ferris wheel_opt

 No WHEE! here. Mum’s the word. 

 

jump state fair_optmodel horse state fair_opt

 Could not believe how close this um, real live*, horse let me get. WHEE!

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No need to shell out big bucks on a trip to Europe–you can find it all here. WHEE!

Plus Twinx.

Twinkie + Twix + Bacon = ?????  Eat at own risk: WHEE?

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 I’m pretty sure we used to do this in gym class.**

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 WHEE! 

What’s your favorite thing at the fair? Would you try a Twinx?

 

Happy first day of October!

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*Not real. But a model horse, for sure.

** Okay so I was thinking about Dodge Ball. Far scarier.

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Creative Seeds: The Stuff That Makes Me Curious

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Inspiration | 42 comments

office space inspiration

 This is my office. The clean side. 

 Thank you to my friend Karen McFarland for tagging me in her post about Inspiring Spaces!

So, I write in my office. My office has books, pictures, quotes, and so many writing utensils you might believe I’m preparing for some kind of apocalypse. Well, the kind of apocalypse where one is not SO preoccupied with survival that they may like to sit and write, or doodle, for a bit. (Perhaps, a creative apocalypse?)

Oh and there’s some ladybug stuff in my office. Because ladybugs inspire me too.

But then there’s the creative inspiration outside of the office.

The stuff that makes me curious.

creative seed grows tree quote

A tree grows in Vermont.

 

And maybe plants a creative seed.

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Centuries old Tulip Poplar log on Saunders-Monticello Trail in Charlottesville, VA

 

I love the kind of curiosity that leads to the funny

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That’s dear hub checking out the poop on the Sawmill Run portion of the Appalachian Trail

 

I told him it was poop (aka wild animal scat) but he didn’t believe me. :)

 But I understand wanting to take a closer look at nature.

bee yellow flower_opt

An Appalachian Trail bee

 

praying mantis on porch

A praying mantis on my porch

 

Oh and I got a curious kick out of the kids at the park who were fascinated by my hub The Fisherman

fishing curiosity_opt

They had A LOT of questions about fishing.

 

Oh and there was some brain sprouting at my son’s school.

It was Family Weekend and I attended a geology class and while I’m sure that the subject is fascinating I couldn’t get over how note taking has changed in twenty years.

college classroom_opt

There were more electronics than paper and pen. Trees will be happy, but how will people survive the creative apocalypse?

 

Family. I find a lot of inspiration with my family.

mom son and fro yo

And sometimes in a little Fro Yo. Why not?

 

What’s inspiring your work this week?

Happy Monday!

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Spambots Ate My Blog or The Art of Second Chances

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Books | 36 comments

If you’re reading this, then the Spambot war I’ve been engaged in is over.

Phew.

My site was down most of last week. It popped back up for a few minutes here and there only to be swallowed again by these guys

spambot attack doodle_opt

 

 Note: This is not an actual spambot for they don’t show there faces. They like to lurk behind Burberry ads and gibberish disguised as flattery.

 

 

They were ruthless. They got thru Askimet and dumped so many comments HostGator had to shut me down. Finally, thanks to my tech guy (aka my hub), I got my site back.

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 His other super power: Fish Whisperer ;)

 

Yay! Because I’ve got stuff to tell you all.

I finished my big Photoshop project–the one that required me to take classes–and pull my hair out.

Here’s what I’ve been up to–the cover of my new book:

The Art of Second Chances 3D_opt

 

 

 A visitor from Zac’s past shows up, sending Grace and Zac’s spring break—and their relationship—into uncharted territory.

 

The ebook is available now. You can check out all the details here.

The paperback is almost ready to go live. I got a bit sidetracked with choosing between matte or glossy–and again there was more learning to be done with the fancy Photoshop.

But I did it. It wasn’t easy and I still have lots to learn, but I’m pretty happy with how far I got.  And that I tried. There was lots of mistakes and trying again–which fits nicely with one of the themes in this new book. So there’s that too. :)

 Plus, the companion book, The Art of Chasing Normal, is a Kindle Unlimited book!

So what have you been up to? I’d love to hear! But first…

a teensy, tiny bit of bad news. Unfortunately commenting here now requires a little math. Sorry, I know this is a lot to ask, especially on a Monday. Hopefully I will find a better Captcha setup (I’m open to suggestions).

So because I miss your comments and hope you will tell me what’s been going on with you, I offer you some very pretty cake.

Dessert cake Shyndigz_opt

 Gives new meaning to fruit cake.

Or maybe you’d like a little zen.

Me too. My new favorite thing is this class

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Yoga at the botanical garden. :)

 

What’s happening in your world? I’d love to know!

HAPPY MONDAY!

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Historic Weekends, an Empty Nest (and Overripe Bananas)

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Life | 45 comments

college of william and mary _opt

Last weekend was historic.

silly selfies Coleen Patrick_opt

 

We celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary (w/ silly selfies, because that’s how we roll)…

on the very same day that we took our youngest child to college.

*sigh*

Thomas Jefferson statue Williamsburg_opt

But seriously, we couldn’t be more proud.

He’s studying at Thomas Jefferson’s alma mater.

(Although, apparently, it’s cooler to mention alumnus, Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show)

This part wasn’t easy though. 

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We knew it wouldn’t be, having done the goodbye thing with our daughter only 364 days before.

*sigh*

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This pic sums up the strange mix of emptiness and freedom

I think we all felt (not that anyone is a horse in this scenario).

But the whole leaving my youngest at college didn’t really hit me until the middle of the weekend,

at 3am to be exact,

I sat up in bed, in the middle of a the dark hotel room

startled from a dream where I was in a room with doors

running around trying to lock them.

Unsettling.

(Before you think my dreams are visionary, let me add that there was also a gecko in an envelope in there somewhere.)

The next day, after one more round of parent orientation, we stopped at a park

and rented a jon boat.

Hub fished.

I read.

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We drifted for a couple of hours.

Wrapped up in beginnings and endings

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we let our emotions untangle a bit. 

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And then we headed home. Just the two of us.

*sigh*

But home comforted

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and reminded us there’s so much more ahead

(and that the bananas on the kitchen counter were going to keep on ripening no matter what)

homemade banana bread care packages

Which was perfect for baking some banana bread for care packages. :)

 

What’s your favorite thing to put in a care package (or to receive)? Anything historic happening in your neck of the woods?

Happy Friday!

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