Missing the pups


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We are on the road again and I miss the kids of course, but I also miss Jack and Lulu, my lap feels so empty. Before Lulu, my lap felt empty without Jack, but now that Lulu has maneuvered herself as part and parcel of the lap brigade, my legs feel doubly naked without my canine blanket.

These two love each other very much, when they are wet from the rain outside, they lick each other “dry” lol and they love sharing whichever couch they choose to hog, but of course laying on Maman is the best, however if my iPad is in the way, they still find ways to have some part of their body touch mine.

The way they surround me while we lounge, reminds me of the times when my son and daughter would be happy sitting on other side of me as we watched t.v while I read my book; they both poke fun at me because I watch t.v with my iPad attached to my lap at all times, but I think that they have forgotten that prior to the iPad or the Chromebook, my nose was constantly buried in a book. 

The written word has always been my weakness, I identify with the character that Burgess Meredith played in the haunting episode of The Twilight Zone where he was locked in a bank vault, the world blows up, he emerged unscathed, is overwhelmed by the thought of peace and quiet, finally able to devour books at his leisure and Boom he trips, falls and breaks his glasses. Absolute Horror.

We’ll be home soon, looking forward to the squeals and the jumping for joy at our return, don’t worry, the children don’t do that, the joy is only exhibited by the dogs. lol

Rejected and dejected


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Dear Laurie Nichols, 
Thank you very much for submitting “The Chic Bootlegger” to Dzanc Books. We have read and reviewed your submission, and unfortunately have decided that it’s not right for us at this time. This is not intended as an overall judgment of your work, but a specific judgment in regard to how it would fit here at Dzanc. We wish you the best of luck in placing your manuscript. 
Also, my apologies for the slow response time on your submission. Thanks again for sending your ms to us, and I hope you’ll consider us for future works. 

Michelle Dotter 

Dzanc Books

This is the second manuscript that they have declined, at least they don’t send form letters and they try hard not to be too harsh or judgemental, but the sting still hurts. I think of all of my friends and fellow writers who are very talented and write constantly, who are also striving to have their work appreciated and heard, I get this letter and I wonder “who am I to think that I am special or different, maybe my story isn’t all that special, maybe my voice is just that, a voice, to be appreciated by friends and family, but not distinct enough to stand out or imaginative or creative enough to merit being transmitted throughout the published world.”

So it is once again back to the drawing board, not just in the garden, but on my manuscript, cutting away all of the superfluous wordage and getting to the heart and meat of the story.

My family has been so supportive, my children have been especially sweet, so have the dogs and my husband, he has given me many a hug, as he always does.


Back to the drawing board


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As you can see, there is a huge difference between the health of my annuals out in front from those in back, I don’t know why, I set them up the same way with the same amount of love and care; argh! frustrating but not insurmountable. The entire flat of annuals were all suffering from being root bound, I tried to pry the roots apart, flash forward to all of the rain we have had, they seem to have been almost drowned; meanwhile my annuals in the back, perhaps being set next to the house, benefitted from some protection, who knows. Gardening does have  its share of misses, alongside the hits, but all I can say, Thank Goodness for those hits. lol 

I am going to start over because I don’t think that these babies will come back from the brink, poor things. :(

In other garden news, things are looking pretty good elsewhere in the backyard.


Today was a day for cooking


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We had a cloudy day with rain off and on, the perfect day to spend one’s time in the kitchen, I looked in on my vegetable garden and 4 days away isn’t enough to see any difference in growth, I shouldn’t be surprised, what was I thinking, getting all excited, I am like a child waiting for Christmas. lol

One of my favorite cookbooks is the Bistro Cookbook by Patricia Wells, the vegetable dish I made today comes from the book, it’s called a Tian de Legumes or a vegetable terrine, with the cool day we had today, it was safe to turn on the oven to 350, I didn’t have to worry about making the kitchen hot, it only got up to 70 degrees here in Blandford. The ingredients are as you see in the picture; onions, tomatoes, leeks and zuchinni, all sliced into thin rounds and layered, each with a sprinkling of salt, pepper, thyme and drizzled with olive oil. I smashed a few cloves of garlic and alternated them in between the layers, I also tore up a few slices of swiss cheese and put them on the bottom layers and crumbled goat cheese on the top layers. This terrine is something that you can make your own, the original recipe didn’t call for leeks, it called for eggplant, my husband picked the leeks up at the store so in they went; the same with the cheeses, that was my husband’s idea, cheese makes everything good.

Our son adores veal, my father used to make it both at home and at his restaurant, so when I make it, I do as my father did, pound the veal as thin as possible, lightly dust them with seasoned flour and saute them in olive oil and butter. Once sauteed, I made the sauce, which by sauce means deglazing the pan with chicken stock, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, squeezing a half of a lemon and turning up the heat so that the liquid reduces a bit and then I added a tablespoon of butter.

My husband had asked our daughter to make a bunch of Jasmine rice in the rice cooker and after spooning the lemon butter sauce over the veal, I ladled the rest of the sauce over the rice.

I wasn’t alone in the kitchen as I was cooking, I had very interested company alongside my feet.

They are pooped right now, they are lounging next to their Papa. 

I enjoyed dinner, the dogs didn’t get any so maybe that’s why they are laying there looking a little dejected or are they really that tired? I’m not sure.

Looking forward to getting home


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I am looking forward to getting home because I am curious to see how my little plants are doing, as you can see from the two pictures at the top, I have flowers and a couple of baby peppers growing, so I am a little excited to see how much bigger they have gotten in the 4 days that I have been gone.

Who knows, I may see some other “fruit” bearing flowers such as zuchinni blossoms, cucumber flowers, tomato flowers and eggplant flowers. As you can see I am not very good at waiting, I want to see a harvest tomorrow, not in 45 days.

I definitely need to spend a few days digging in the dirt, it makes me more zen and less impatient.

Exploring Chelsea Piers, New York City


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We visited the Chelsea Piers today, my husband for golfing purposes and I, to paint images in my head for my characters worldview arriving from the Old World via luxury cruise liner in 1925, as you can see the area nowadays is very lovely and family friendly, both for children and canine.

My husband found what he was looking for as did I, the facilities have beautiful full blown photo montages of the Pier’s history with very educational images of the era between the 1910’s and the 1920’s. It helps me put myself in a New York state for mind from an era long ago, because the reality of New York today is quite jarring when put next to New York of yesteryear. It oftens interferes with my stream of consciousness that enables me to put thought to “paper”.

I have been repeating myself often these past few months each time we walk around New York, too many people, too many cars, too much, just too much. I felt the same two years ago when my daughter and I were traveling through the South of France, I couldn’t help but feel claustaphobic, too many people and too many homes on top of each other, too much.

I think that maybe I have been living in Blandford for too long, it has rendered me ill-equipped to deal constructively with crowded spaces, I need room to breathe and think.

Another visual tour of the Big Apple


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My mother and I decided to meet at 60 East 42nd Street, right across the street from Grand Central. I was twenty minutes early, so I took the opportunity to take pictures of the beautiful historic Grand Central terminal with the magnificent Chrysler Building in the background. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the Pershing Square Cafe,  the building originally had  housed a tourist information burea which had been there forever, I remember giving the tourist bureau a passing glance each time I passed by, but I had never set foot in it. I don’t know when it was transformed into a cafe, but I am sure there have been thousands of satisfied diners since its transformation because if you look at the sign, it does say that it is the busiest and best place for breakfast in all of New York City.

We weren’t interested in breakfast, we were interested in lunch and specifically thin crust pizza if I am going to be precise; I had done my research and I told my mother that we needed to walk downtown towards 32nd Street and Lexington Avenue to an Italian restaurant called Vezzo’s. My research paid off because we ate the best thin crust pizza that either of us had tasted in a long, long time. We ordered two personal pizzas, one with mushrooms and one plain, we split them evenly down the middle and there was nothing left on either of our plates. The crust was so thin and crispy, the sauce was beautifully seasoned and there was the perfect amount of cheese and enough mushrooms, the portion was just enough, neither too much nor too little. I have to write a little blurb on their website asking them to open a Vezzo’s in Astoria, Queens, that pizza is a keeper! I have to perfect my pizza dough even more to figure out how to get it that thin, because when it is that thin, it gets crispy on its own.

After lunch we walked down to Union Square and then back up to the Flatiron district with a spin around 6th Avenue, within the vicinity of the early twenties is the home of three gorgeous buildings that I have always admired.


All in all we almost walked the 10,000 steps recommended by health experts, we were short by a couple of hundred steps, I might have gotten them in later because I left my mother at the subway station at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue and I walked back to where we are staying, 29th Street and 8th Avenue. 

We did luck out today for our little walkabout, the weather was infinitely more pleasant than yesterday, a civilized 82 as opposed to a sweaty 90 plus of yesterday. 

My feet are a little bit unhappy right now. They’ll get over it.

Maison Kaiser: a soupcon of France in New York City


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My husband and I had a delicious late lunch at Maison Kaiser, an evergrowing in popularity French patisserie in Manhattan, when we lived here in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Maison Kaiser did not exist, nowadays you can easily find one no matter where you are in the city.

This one was located at 21st and Broadway, right down the street from the Flat Iron building, we sat outside and while we waited for our food, we spent our moments together in silence doing the run of the mill New York thing, people watching. They come in all shapes, sizes, ages, nationalities, walks of life, a real cornucopia of humanity. It is one of my favorite pastimes, here and everywhere, people are always interesting.

My husband started his lunch with rillettes of duck, served with cornichons and French bread; rillettes of canard or rillettes of anything is simply a meat or fish that has been roasted or poached and then shredded and mixed with butter and salt and pepper, it is rich and decadent and so, so good! 

I started with something so basic and classic to French cuisine that it has been eons since I have seen it on a menu, poached leeks in a vinaigrette, I realize that it doesn’t sound like much to rave about, but trust me, the flavors are very reminiscent of asparagus with vinaigrette or hearts of palm with vinaigrette. My leeks were exactly what I had imagined and when I offered a bite to my husband, he was very surprised at how delicious it was, he wasn’t so sure when I had ordered it.

Our main courses were delightful as well, he had a cocotte of salmon and spring vegetables and it came in a baby dutch oven of the French variety, a mini Le Creuset, the presentation was adorable.

What I had placed in front of me was something similar to what I had ordered back in France in 2012, in Avignon when I was traveling with our daughter, it is called a tartine, basically an open-faced sandwich, mine was fava bean themed, the bread had a fava bean tapenade spread on it, with fava beans sauteed in olive oil and sea salt, sliced radishes, thin spears of asparagus and snippets of arugula, it was a festival of spring flavors laid out on wonderful French bread.

We got dessert to go and as you can see from the picture, they are little bits of scrumptious, I am saving them for later this evening.

It is crazy hot and muggy in New York today, we are under threat of severe thunderstorms and walking around reminds me of when my cousin and our friends came last year for their photography club outing. It is that hot outside and it is soupy, tomorrow hopefully will be cooler.

The last of my peonies


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Sadly I have to bid farewell to my blooming peonies, these are the last of them in the pitcher up above, all of the rest have faded to rest and store up their nutrients for next year’s blooms. I can’t complain, I have three gorgeous sets of peonies, each a bit different from the other and they get bigger and fuller each year.

Today is a beautiful, breezy day in Blandford, hot but pleasant due to our strong mountain breeze. I think that the rest of the week will be a wet one for the Northeast, we’ll be in New York for most of it. When I was young, I remember being none too happy whenever it rained, but as I have gotten older and became impassioned with gardening, rain has become my friend. I also don’t have to reel out the two water hoses, drag them back and forth and then have to reel them back in, not a question of it being too hard, more a question of feeling a little bit lazy. 

Water has always been a precious resource, but we have been treating it as a commodity and I think that has been a big mistake for us as a society. I am so grateful to live in an area that rarely gets to be in a drought situation and similarly rarely gets flooded. I know how lucky we are in the Northeast, despite having lived through  several devastating hurricanes and ice storms, on average we do much better than millions of others throughout the world on an annual basis.

Compassion, gratitude, humility and optimism are characteristics that I actively try to nurture in myself every day, I think that it helps with life in general being aware of these traits and trying to apply them to your own experiences. I think that it puts a lot of things in a more manageable perspective.

Happy Father’s Day everyone!




My husband has been busy in the kitchen this Father’s Day, actually he has always been as busy in the kitchen as I over the years, he loves to cook and he does it very well. He knows how easily I tire so this morning he made his own Father’s Day feast while I was sleeping.

They should have a Husband’s Day holiday as well, I suppose that our wedding anniversary covers that territory, I have to remember to give him an extra something for this year’s 25th.

Happy Father’s Day to my husband, the father of our two wonderful children.




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