Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Holiday Vacation Week....

I wish the whole week could be as peaceful as the first few hours of Sunday morning were. Kids still blissfully asleep. Dogs napping after an early morning snack. Sun rising, Coffee freshly brewed... No mess, No fuss, No noise...

As the 2011 holiday season draws to a close and 2012 fast approaches, here's wishing everyone finds a few peaceful moments this week.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Magic.

On the drive to the bus stop this morning, my 16-year-old smiles and lets out a sigh., obviously looking for my attention.

"What's up, honey?"

"You know, Mom... I don't believe in Santa anymore," he starts, giving me that sideways glance that all teens seem to perfect.

"Ye-e-e-ah..." I have no idea where he's going with this.

"Well..." There's a long pause as he looks out the window, away from me, before he turns back in my direction. "It just seems to me, that even if there's no Santa Claus, and even if there isn't any snow this week, there's still an awful lot of magic in the air at Christmas time."

I smile. "You're right," I tell him. "There really is."

And that was that. He turned up the volume on the car radio and we listened to Bing Crosby singing about a white Christmas for the rest of the ride. I have no idea where that thought process came from, but I was still smiling on the drive home. Because there is magic in the air at Christmas, and I'm glad he can feel it, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Party Time

My mom held her holiday party last Sunday in her new home. Well, they've been there almost a year now, but this is her first Christmas there. As she hasn't been feeling all that energetic lately, she asked us all to pitch in. Of course we all said yes. She picked a date, sent invitations, counted the rsvps, and then got the news from her doctor that he was scheduling her surgery for that Monday.

"But," she said, "He told me I can do anything I want until midnight." So the party went on as planned.

My culinary school sister came down from Vermont to make appetizers and my daughter helped in the kitchen and later served them on silver trays. She also offered coffee and tea as she's in LOVE with my mom's new Keurig.

My sons both dressed up to greet guests and take coats at the door. I set up the bar and played bartender all night. My youngest sister floated around helping out and chatting with the neighbors. The guests all had a wonderful time, and so did my parents.

 And Monday morning, she went to the hospital for surgery. Which went well. And she's doing fine. Yesterday when I was visiting her, I ran into one of the party guests who volunteers at the hospital.

"We were talking about how absolutely wonderful your mom's party was," Tricia told me, "And how none of us can have holiday parties this year, because now we can't compete with that!"

I told her to go visit my mom, and let her know.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Signs of Winter

You know it's really and truly Winter when the Fall sports finally have their Awards Night... okay, maybe this only works with parents of high school athletes, but it was great to finally put a big punctuation mark at the end of the Soccer Season.

My son joined the rest of the Varsity team on stage as their proud coach handed out letters and awards to everyone who played on the Varsity team, whether they had enough game time or not. He said the team performed as a Team and everyone deserved to be honored. Five of the starters were nominated to the All-League team, and one to the All-State team. They had a great season, ending as League champions with an overall record of 17-4, losing in the State Division 1 Semi-Finals to BC High. Not bad for a little team from Cape Cod.

Now we're on to Basketball, with the first game of the season scheduled for next week, and the second game slated for the day before Christmas break.

Definitely Winter.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A poem for Saturday...

The following acrostic poem was written by my daughter for her 6th grade Health class. I'm not sure if she got the point of the lesson, but it made me laugh...

Everyone deserves respect.
Stop bullying.
People deserve what you deserve.
Easy way to make friends: Respect them.
Caring, or pretending to anyway.
Treat other like you want to be treated.

What are you laughing about this weekend?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Girl Scouts Hit the Airwaves...

My Cadette Troop is learning about Media this year, and as part of the journey, we scheduled a visit to our local cable television station - Channel 18 in Harwich. Station Director Jill Mason welcomed them to her control room, and explained how some of the dials and gadgets work, and how some of the "magic" happens... and then...
 ...she took them into her Studio, to show them where most of the local access shows are taped, including "Community Journal."

The girls had fun seeing themselves on the live feed in front of the green screen as the director scrolled through a few background photos. They loved sitting behind the Anchor Desk. My daughter kept pitching her voice into cheesy news-mode and saying, "This is Chet Youbetcha..." (the news anchor from Fairly Oddparents, for those of you without kids...)

Then.... she asked if the girls would like to tape a REAL segment to air on this week's Community Journal.


 She clipped a microphone on each girl and told them to look at the camera with the red light on top. She went back to the control room, leaving me with the camera and headphones to cue the "talent" ....
The girls had a blast. After 3 takes, they did a pretty good job. They thanked the community for making their November blanket drive for the animal shelter a big success, and plugged their craft sale this Friday during the upcoming holiday stroll. They smiled. They had fun.

The segment will officially air on this week's Community Journal, Thursday at 6pm and 8pm and repeated over the weekend. The station manager already uploaded their entire segment to YouTube, including the "bloopers" that will be edited out for the cable show. Listen to all the giggling after the screen fades to black...

Tons of fun for the girls - if you have a scout group, I would definitely recommend checking out your local cable station. A star may be born ;-)

What was the highlight of your week?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Do You Know What's In Your Food?

lllustration by Sebastian Francis-Burnell

In the Holiday Issue of CapeWomenOnline, I've written an article about food labeling - and the fact that the U.S. FDA doesn't require anyone to tell consumers if there are GE or GMO ingredients in our food.

While doing research, I was shocked to find that 70% of all processed foods already contain GMO ingredients. Did you know this? I had no idea, but after more research I guess it isn't surprising - but it is disturbing.

While there are many who want to ban GE and GMO foods (and there's a strong movement in Europe to do so) I think a good first step is just labeling the foods. Let consumers make their own choices. Maybe it won't make a difference to you... or maybe it will. Wouldn't it be nice to have the choice?

To read my article and follow the links to the Just Label It movement, go to http://www.capewomenonline.com/IntroPages/environment.html

Tell me.... What do you think about genetically modified foods?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Craft Time is Here!

The holidays are upon us - and time to break out the glitter and glue! One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is making crafts (no, really!) and one of my least favorite parts is cleaning up after the girls! Oh, but we had fun...

For 6 hours on Sunday, my living room was turned into Girl Scout Craft Central as the girls prepared items to sell at this Friday's annual Holiday Stroll. We're dedicating half of our table to things aimed at animal lovers, and the proceeds from those items will go to the Animal Shelter, along with all the blankets and towels we've been collecting all month.

The other part of the table will be filled with ornaments that we've crafted from shells and beads and crafty things... and lots and lots of glitter... did I mention all the glitter?
What craft projects do you have going on for the holidays?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Perfect for post-Thanksgiving reading: The Holiday Issue of CWO


Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! And hope that - like me - you're avoiding the "Black Friday" madness by staying home and hanging out with family and friends for this long holiday weekend.

If you find yourself needing a break from all that togetherness - which you must be if you're reading this - I've got the perfect solution:

The Holiday Issue of CapeWomenOnline magazine is online! Ready to warm your heart, make you think, and inspire you to new creative heights ;-)

...Or at least bring you back down from family-stress-mountain! If that's the place you find yourself, check out our new Department of Meditation columnist, Constance Wilkinson. Her frank tone and cheerful voice will have you breathing more easily in no time.

The Life Stories section is filled with holiday tales that will make you smile, as well as a few recipes - don't miss Gail Nickerson's authentic Glogg recipe, which really needs to be made this weekend to ferment in time to celebrate Christmas Eve in Swedish style!

Our Creative Women section introduces you to some wonderful Cape artists, including one group show that plans to use their exhibit to collect donations of care package items to send overseas to a platoon of New England Marines. In Community Action, check out the article that my Girl Scouts wrote to advertise their service project for the local animal shelter (I'm so proud of their efforts and told them if they wrote it, I'd make sure it got published. They did, and I did.)

If you've just spent Thanksgiving arguing about food with your conservative Uncle Frank, check out my article on Food Labeling in our Environment section. Did you know that 70% of all processed food products in the U.S. are made with genetically engineered ingredients? And they don't have to put any of that on the labels? Follow the link in the article to the Just Label It website and sign the petition to make the FDA require companies to tell us what's in our food.

Enough of me rambling - click on over to the magazine and see what's going on for the holidays on Cape Cod. And while you're there, sign up to receive our announcements - we only publish 5 times a year, so I promise we don't send many emails. No worries about a flooded inbox (like mine this Black Friday - is everyone getting all these email notices - I mean, how many times can the stores send out the same message with a different header?)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Making the Christmas Pudding...

Every fall, my extended family gets together to make the traditional Plum Puddings. The original (secret) recipe was carried over to America back at the turn of the last century, around 1901. This same recipe has been handed down through the generations to the oldest daughters. My mother and her cousin Vicki are now the oldest members of the family, the keepers of the pudding, so to speak.

This weekend, we gathered in Plymouth to make pudding. With a smaller than usual band of helpers, it was decided to make a smaller than usual batch - and then that too was whittled down to making only the mincemeat portion of the pudding... most of the time was spent drinking wine, shopping, playing games and catching up with each other. But some of the traditional rituals were still fulfilled...

My Aunt Kate manned the food processor, and told the stories of the first year they introduced their mothers to the idea of using a Cuisinart.

The job of grating the lemons still fell to the youngest helper, who wondered why she didn't get to use any modern technology. And complained that she didn't get to measure anything. "Wait until you're older," we all told her. "It's not your turn for that job."

As the oldest helper, my mom got to measure and add the alcohol, and there was the usual discussion of just what constitutes "One nice large drinking glass," as the recipe dictates.  With the addition of the alcohol, came the traditional stir-stir-stirring and wish making.

One of the nicest plum pudding traditions is the wishes you get with the whole process. One big one with the stirring, and another when you light it at Christmas. This year, I'm afraid the O'Sullivans only get the one stirring wish, so I hope they were good wishes.

When everyone had smiled and stirred, Aunt Kate packed the mincemeat into plastic containers for each of us to take home. The suet and crusty bread were divided for those who were going home to finish making their puddings, and the rest of us will use the mincemeat to make pies. Aunt Kate has a great method for making mincemeat tartlets, which I'm eager to try out. Perhaps this will be the year my kids will enjoy eating the "fruits" of their labor, and maybe all their wishes will come true.

I sure hope mine does.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Who says Saint Bernards Don't Like the Beach?

Puppy likes the beach. A lot.

People are always surprised when they see her cavorting in the waves. "Is that really a Saint Bernard?" they'll ask. "I didn't know they liked water," is the inevitable followup.

Puppy doesn't know anything different. This is her beach. This is her life.

This is what she knows and loves.

Yes, she reeeeeally likes the snow, too. I'm sure she wishes there were a lot more of the white stuff around to roll and play in. But the cold waves of November are almost as good.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In Which Puppy Chases Birds...

Early November along my beach, there are hundreds of migrating birds. It's like a birders' paradise. Or a bird dog's dream.

Sometimes, Puppy thinks she's a bird dog instead of a Saint Bernard.

This past weekend, there was a huge group of plovers gathering on the beach by the jetty, trying to stay out of the howling November winds. The inevitable group of seagulls was huddled nearby.

Puppy didn't like any of them on her beach.

But she found that the plovers don't scare so easily. They fly, and then regroup. So you have to keep chasing them.

After much chasing back and forth, Puppy enjoyed the brisk November water, smile on her face for a job well done. She got those birds off her beach. For a moment or two.

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Amazon Chart Rush for The Stringe Bridge!

Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell's debut, STRING BRIDGE, hit
the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrack,
Melody Hill: On the Other Side, written and performed by the author herself, for free!

All you have to do is
purchase the
book today (paperback, or eBook), November 11th, and
then email the receipt to:


She will
then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!

To purchase the paperback:

To purchase the eBook:

To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.

If you are
not familiar with String Bridge,
check out the book trailer:

Rave Reviews for String Bridge:

Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my
veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page,
yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of
heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as
with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.
~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and
musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge
is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the
difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout,
seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that
allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world
begins to unravel …
String Bridge is
a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a
hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion
and Sleep Before Evening

Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer
of great skill and depth.
She doesn't pull back from the difficult
scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds
barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop
character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel.
I look forward to reading her
next novel, and next and next.”
~ Karen Jones
Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

Please TWEET and/or FACEBOOK this post using #StringBridge!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Moongypsy Press Closes Its Doors

Moongypsy Press announced this week that they will be suspending operations until mid-January. At that time, they hope to either reopen as a boutique publisher (10 authors or less) or sell the business.

MP is the publisher of my second book, Perfect Strangers. The CEO has offered to return rights to the authors, which I have written and requested. But what do I do with them? I'm in a quandry and am not sure where to start, or whether to just keep going with the new manuscripts I'm working on.

Has this happened to any of you? Any advice will be most appreciated as I absorb this news...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Have You Heard About The String Bridge?

Last April, I participated in the A to Z blogfest, and met so many new wonderful bloggers - one of whom was Jessica Bell at the Alliterative Allomorph. Jessica lives in Greece - I love Greece, having done some island hopping there during one crazy October break during college. But her story is more complicated than just living on the other side of the world from me.

Here's part of her bio:

Jessica Bell is a literary women's fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter who grew up in Melbourne, Australia, to two gothic rock musicians who had successful independent careers during the '80s and early '90s. She spent much of her childhood traveling between Australia and Europe, experiencing two entirely different worlds yet feeling equally at home in each environment. She currently lives in Athens, Greece and works as a freelance writer/editor for English Language Teaching publishers worldwide, such as HarperCollins, Pearson Education and Macmillan Education. In September 2012 Jessica will be hosting the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca, home of Odysseus.

(Gothic rock musicians as parents? How cool, right? And all that traveling as a kid? I would have loved that! And a Homeric writer's retreat? I wanna go!)

When she announced that her first novel was being published this November and asked for help promoting the release, I signed right up - along with about 100 other bloggers!

You've probably seen reviews and interviews posted last week all around the blogosphere. Like over at UNEDITED where Jen Daiker always does an amazing blogging job and has posted a review today. Or over at THE CHARACTER DEPOT where J.L. Campbell has a great interview with Jessica. There's probably a complete list of the stops on Jessica's blog tour somewhere, but if you check out her blog she gives you links each day to where she'll be appearing and who's posted new reviews. (so... scroll backwards in time to see who's already posted... so many great bloggers helping Jessica get the word out about this book!)

This week there's more of those reviews and interviews, as well as a special event called an Amazon Chart Rush. It's going to happen on Friday - and I'll have all the details posted then!

In addition to String Bridge, Jessica has published a book of poetry called Twisted Velvet Chains. A full list of poems and short stories published in various anthologies and literary magazines can be found under Published Works & Awards, on her website at http://www.jessicacbell.com/

In the meantime, you can check out all Jessica's sites and details - - including the stuff about that writing retreat in Greece! - - at the following spots:

Jessica's links:
String Bridge Website: http://www.stringbridge.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11502954-string-bridge
String Bridge Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv-hRMA0kqQ
String Bridge Merchandise: http://www.cafepress.com/janicephelps/8155170
website: http://www.jessicacbell.com/
blog: http://thealliterativeallomorph.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/author.jessica.bell
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MsBessieBell
retreat & workshop site: http://hwrw.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 4, 2011

Looking for something to read?

The official release date is finally here for my friend Penny Watson's latest holiday romp - SWEET MAGIK is the second in her series about the Klaus brothers. Who knew Santa had sweet, sexy sons? Or that they had abs to die for?

The book is available in paperback and ebook from the publisher - Wild Rose Press - and on Amazon.com. Visit Penny's website at http://www.pennywatsonbooks.com/ for all the links and more info about her books! Yea, Penny !!!

My Goodreads review reads:

Sweet Magik is a fun, fast-paced romp through New York City and the North Pole, as Santa's youngest son finds romance with a woman who isn't at all what she seems, and more than a little danger courtesy of one seriously disgruntled elf.

While this is a stand-alone book and I loved the descriptions of things at the North Pole, I think the first book in the series (Sweet Inspiration) explained Santa's magical world a little more fully. If you haven't already met Santa's five sexy sons in her first book, I would totally recommend reading both this holiday season.

One Klaus is never enough ;-)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloweeeeen!

Happy Pumpkin-Carving-Trick-Or-Treating-Stay-Warm-Out-There Halloweeen!

We had the wind and rain but none of the snow, so Halloween (and school) are going on as previously scheduled. I know a lot of people around the state have no school today because of power outages and downed wires - and some towns have even - Horrors! - Postponed Halloween!

Not here. We'll be out collecting our loot - even the 15 1/2 year old who starts driver's ed classes this week wants to go out trick-or-treating after soccer practice... maybe I'll dress up too. What are you going to be for Halloween? And are you headed out or staying home?

Whatever you do, have fun!