Warning: Photos May Cause Dizziness

I like to play with photo prompts on Instagram

and this week one of those prompts was upside down.

Upside down birds Fountain Lake

 Birds at Fountain Lake here in Richmond.

So I flipped this photo

and something about the birds flying into the bottom corner made my brain buzz

(and maybe made me feel a tad dizzy.)

Richmond pipeline walk upside down

Pipeline walk in downtown Richmond. 

As much as I get a certain routine comfort in knowing I can plant myself on the couch in front of the TV at night,

eat the same salad,

make the same gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough (oh the burden),

or walk the same pipeline,

crackling synapses can be pretty cool.

Virginia Beach pier upside down

Virginia Beach Pier

And oh how I crackled (and snapped and popped) at the feedback I got from the story I’m working on now.

Let’s just say I had to remove a couple of “pier legs”.

But the structure is way better.

Thanks to a new perspective.

Pickett's Charge Gettysburg upside down

Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg National Military Park

dandelion wishes upside down

Wishing you a Happy Tuesday! 

And Happy National Odometer Day (thinking about this holiday oughta keep your brain fires stoked).

 

What’s got your brain firing and crackling? 

xo

The Joy of Discovery (Chocolate Included)

I love how even the tiniest of discoveries can uplift

tiny turtle close up

Tiny turtle power. 

We discovered this little guy on the Greensprings trail in Williamsburg, VA.

And just last weekend I left the house and saw this:

cherry blossom tree

The cherry blossom trees are blooming!

It seemed like they bloomed overnight.

(Much like my kids.)

river scream

We also found Edvard Munch’s Scream in the James River. Can you see it?

Oh and he’s in this doodle too.

bird doodle sketch

Just kidding.

Here’s some chocolate.

chocolate filled strawberry

Did you know that you can put the chocolate on the inside of the strawberry?!

Oh the freedom,right?

dictionary doodle

Hey, look at me doodling on the definition of writing. 😉

Although,

I have to say I could’ve done without this discovery when I walked in the door at work last week:

dummy at work

Dummy at work.

Note: Mannequins are not a typical sight in a library office.

Hey, after this surprise, who needs coffee?

But back to a slightly lower level of adrenaline,

I got the proofs of the illustrated covers that I designed for my Chasing Normal series

illustrated covers chasing normal series

and I discovered I’m pretty excited with the way they’re turning out!

 

What have you discovered lately?

 

Happy Monday!!

xo

Miles of (Mostly) Irish Smiles

 

Today at the library where I work, a patron read my name tag and then asked if I’d been brought in for St. Patrick’s day.

Yup.

All Coleens must pass a rigorous mascot training. It’s not enough to have the Gaelic name or the Irish heritage.

There’s tons of other factors. Other (mostly) Irish things about me that are maybe not so obvious.

St Patrick's day cupcake

 I eat St. Patty’s Day themed treats.

(Although, I also do the same for most other holidays.)

Shamrock doodle

I doodle Shamrocks.

silly mule

I make friends with mules.

Now, I don’t think Hamilton (of Meadow Farm) is actually Irish, but he’s silly and stubborn. And silly and stubborn are traits that are very dominant in my Irish family.

So… let’s call Hamilton mostly Irish.

col ronnie then and now

I married this guy. He’s not Irish either, but we met on St. Patrick’s day 25 years ago.

So again, mostly Irish (especially when you factor in that he’s also stubborn and silly).

So many factors. It’s not easy being green.

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? What is Irish (or mostly Irish) in your life?

Wishing you miles of smiles!

xo

Winter Fun: A Truffle and a Snow Day

Honestly, I hesitated over the word fun in my blog title. Like lots of people (who aren’t kids) I’m kind of done with winter.

But we’ve got another snow day here in central Virginia.

And just as nature teased us with some thaw.

The great thaw melting RVA

I decided not to wear my boots this day. Soaked my sneakers and socks. I was just a tad too optimistic.

But I have been finding some fun (I am, a kid at heart, I suppose).

Winter birch tree watercolor

A winter scene by Cold Fingers (aka me)

 

frozen fountain

A walk at the mall. The frozen fountain was kind of awesome.

 

 beach reading_opt

Finding a sunny spot to read.

I wish. This was me reading at the beach in 2013. #ThrowbackThursday

(I like to keep my fiction skills simmering.)

 

Cookie truffle

 This cookie truffle has nothing to do with winter. I just like how it turned out.

And it’s kind of snowball-ish.

 

hot cocoa

No caption necessary.

 

Snow Day Sledding

 Me sledding last week.

In my own backyard.

What happens when a writer and an engineer are home for a snow day?

Check out the video!

 

 

What’s your favorite thing to do on a snow day? And if it’s summer where you are, tell me something warm. 🙂

Happy Thursday!

The Surprising Taste of Change (and NYC)

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).

 Emack Bolio's ice cream cones_opt

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.

central park rainy day_opt

 

 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.

In the key of doodle north light books_opt

 North Light has tons of really fun and inspirational art books. Check it out!

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.

T Rex AMNH NYC_opt

 American Museum of Natural History, New York City

Wishing you the best for 2015!

HAPPY NEW YEAR,

A View From My Heart: Sunrise and Snow Cones

 

 

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

humpback rock view_opt

 My view from Humpback Rock in the Blue Ridge mountains

And finding my heart can be in more than one place

fossil beach york river state park_opt

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

sno to go snowcones_opt

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!

 

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

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

 

 

abandoned motel rt 1_opt

Not me.

abandoned motel roadside_opt

 

 

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

abandoned motel old_opt

Haunted? Maybe.

abandoned motel tires_opt

 

 Just tires. But my mind added chainsaws.

 

abandoned motel air conditioner_opt

 

 Definitely no air conditioning (some find  that scary)

 abandoned motel _opt

 

 It was super quiet here.

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

 abandoned motel door_opt

 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!

Some (More) Reasons I Love New York

 

i love new york mural nyc_opt

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

central park nyc_opt

Which we did in Central Park!

high line sunset nyc_opt

And the High Line 

high rock park staten island nyc_opt

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

love nyc_opt

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)

cappuccino nyc_opt

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?

family nyc_opt

It’s where my daughter lives. 🙂

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

Happy Weekend!

The State Fair: Things That Make You Go WHEE!

 

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!

 State fair foods_opt

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?

BMX bike acrobatics_opt

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

wind puppet_opt

 WHEE! 

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

 

Happy first day of October!

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

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