Friday Food. October.

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My husband put together a fabulous heavy-on-the-vegetables dish, and we had many extra vegetables, so I played around with what was left, and what wasn’t going to last much longer and this is what I came up with for one of our holiday dinners last month.

Stir Fry Vegetables.
(c)2021

I heated up a wok with olive oil until hot. I would have preferred the carrots to be a bit thinner and longer, but with my daughter cutting them, she did them her way. They still tasted good. I threw in the rest of the snap peas, and then what was left of the grape tomatoes. I sprinkled in some lemon pepper and some chopped scallions to finish it off. 10/10 would make again.


Dinner included roast beef with gravy, potato slices roasted in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and basil, the above vegetables, and sliced challah bread.

Holiday Dinner.
(c)2021

Our Lady of the Rosary

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Today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary. It is commemorated each year on October 7th and many churches have special rosary events. Many of these happen all through the year but they have a special significance during October and May.

I personally find great comfort in praying the rosary. I participate in a weekly recitation every Monday with my Cursillo group and I’ve been part of a Living Rosary at my church for a few years now. They’re starting it again post-pandemic this month.

Since today is Thursday, the mysteries of the Holy Rosary recited are the LUMINOUS MYSTERIES.

1. The Baptism of the Lord

2. The Wedding at Cana

3. Proclamation of the Kingdom

4. The Transfiguration

5. Institution of the Eucharist

Visit How to Pray the Rosary on the Vatican’s website for prayers and directions if you’re not familiar with praying the rosary.

Pictures below cut.

Continue reading

World Mental Health Day

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Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality.

Links to WHO’s World Mental Health Day.
(c)2021

This is one of those suggestions that is completely take what you need, leave what you don’t. Some things will work for you, some won’t. That’s okay. Each of these don’t always work for me every time, but they’re still good to look at when the need arises. Search through the tag for some ideas: Mental Health Monday

I’m going to have a very challenging week coming up, and I know I’m not the only one. A person I was very close to and loved dearly passed away suddenly. These are some of the tools I will be using in the coming says. I hope they can help you as well.

  • Sitting quietly in minimal light
  • Holding and working a worry stone or praying my rosary
  • Journaling
  • Arting – doodling, word art, art journaling
  • Tea and sweet smelling candles – they don’t always help but they don’t hurt
  • Cozying up with a blanket

Have a peaceful day and a peaceful week.

Until we see each other again.

Writing Resources

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We all have those things, those tools that keep us on task or inspire us or help us in the mundane, every day editing and revision process. And of course, there’s the writing.

As I was writing the Back to School Resource Guide last week, I realized that many of those same items can be used as resources for our writing process.

Currently, my first go-to is a Thesaurus. I use the online one in the previous link. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it has all the words.

Next is a new addition to anyone’s resource list: Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. I also have his Day-by-Day Calendar which gives you hints and copyediting advice all through the year that you didn’t know you needed until you read it. Both are excellent resources. He is coming out with a children’s version and a second edition is on the way.

My go-to online dictionary is Merriam-Webster, partly because of their longevity and willingness to modernize, but also their sense of humor. Follow them on Twitter.

Need to know what day someone was born on in 1873? Sunrise or sunset? Time and Date is for you.

Need a quotation? BrainyQuote.

When is National Crepe Day? Well, National Crepe Suzette Day is May 6th! Today, in fact is National Noodle Day! How do I know this? National Day Archives.

Need help jump starting your novel? Nanowrimo is for you! It runs November 1st through November 30th and gives you the resources and motivation to write 50,000 words in thirty days.

The only magazine I subscribe to is The Writer. I’ve been getting it for at least two decades, although I have more recently switched to digital only. Saves trees and space in my house.

Drawing Interior Scenes. Even as a young writer, I always drew the apartments where my characters lived. I found it a useful way to assist in the descriptive prose. This manga artist takes it to a whole new level: Manga artist [Haru Amake] shares a genius-level trick to take the headache out of drawing interior scenes

Chromebook Shortcuts

Two of my very favorite organizing tools are Evernote and Business Calendar 2. My links go to the Amazon store since I use my Kindle more than anything else, but both are available in the Google Store and if you have i-products you can check the Apple Store. Both come in a free and a paid version.

Evernote lets you keep information organized in separate “books”. A few of mine are: Quotations, Writing Prompts, A Book of Days (to track holidays), and Travel Notes for on the go.

Business Calendar 2 is the best calendar app I have ever used, and I have used more than a few. I’ve been using it for about two weeks, and it took me a couple of days to see how beneficial this calendar app is to my life!

The free version lets me do everything I absolutely need to do with a calendar/organizer with a minimum of ads. There are a few advanced features that I would like, and I plan to eventually purchase the paid version. In addition to no ads, it will let me multi-pick for deleting agenda items at the end of the day. But realistically, that’s only for my preference. It is completely usable and useful with just the free download.

Is This the End of Writing in Cafés? by Emily Temple. Full Disclosure: I’m writing this right now in a cafe, so I think you know my answer to that question.

I leave you with some inspiring words from Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner, Lin-Manuel Miranda:

Then chase a moment, not a plot.

If a moment’s too big, chase a sentence.

You just need an inch to start. GO WRITE.

Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter, circa 2016 (when you can’t find the words)

Inspire. October.

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Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

St. Francis of Assisi

I was happy to find the above quotation in my collection for today since today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. He is well known for his love of animals; in fact, many churches do blessings of animals during this weekend of his feast including my own parish. He is the patron of animals, merchants, and ecology and is known to have set up the first live nativity scene around the year 1220.

I would recommend reading the English translation of Canticle of the Sun, which Francis composed and by the same token I’d highly recommend reading Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, Laudato Si as well as the book based on that encyclical, Our Common Home by my friend, Brother Mickey McGrath.

In devotion to our common home and its care as well as his concern for the poor, Pope Francis took that name as his Papal name in 2013. It is the first time a Pope has been called Francis, and truly speaks to the heart of our current pope and brings on much inspiration to do for others in many ways.


Labyrinth at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario Public Library.
(c)2021

The above photo is of my most recent labyrinth walk. Located behind the library in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Canada, it is placed in serene, pastoral setting, surrounded by grass, trees, and a farm in the distance. There was the opportunity to walk it, pray the walk, and then to sit just taking in the space around me. There was a vegetable garden, a gazebo, and a court for lawn bowling. If my family wasn’t waiting for me in the car, I could have stayed there at least an additonal hour. I may plan on them dropping me off for a bit longer the next time we’re in the area.

It was a very hot day, but once I settled onto the marble bench after my walk, I was able to feel the breeze, letting it cool me off while I contemplated the bucolic area. Despite sitting relatively still, I felt energized and inspired, and all I wanted to do was to sit and write for a bit. That is one of the reasons that I always carry pen and paper, although in this case, I left it in the car bringing only my mask and my phone camera.

When I first saw the shape of this labyrinth online about two years ago it seemed an unusual shape. Upon seeing it in person, I realized that the shape itself wasn’t unusual or the design, but the way the turns were so sharp with acute angles. For me, it created the feeling of looking inside a keyhole or walking through the inside of a keyhole like a miniature person, Elves and the Shoemaker style.

As I said in yesterday’s reflection, I like falling headfirst into the photos and letting myself be inspired as if I had returned to the original place of the photo.


What inspires you?


Library Gardens. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario Public Library.
(c)2021
I could have sat all day here, writing and looking out of the window.
(c)2021

A Writing Reflection

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A short rainstorm and now the sun is streaming through the windows of the new coffee shop I’ve brought my computer to. I don’t drink coffee, but I love coffee shops and this one is really perfect. It is the exact replica of what I would design if I were to open my own coffee shop, although perhaps not exact. It is very much themed in art: Botticelli, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe. I think I would theme mine with writing, but the walls, the delicate filigree on some chairs, the bright sofa under the window and the paper flower hanging lamp all exude ingenuity and initiates creativity; all creativity including my writing. It is very easy to get lost in thought and conceive of a vision that works.

This is my second time sitting here, at this same table. As I write this, I have a memoir workshop in about ninety minutes, and I’ve been here since 7:30. It’s now 8:44. My daughter “forced me” to drive her here to pick up an iced chai latte before school which is only up the road. Her incentive for me was that I could sit here and write or “whatever it is that I do” until the class, which is also up the road in a different direction. Her plan was that I sit here with my computer for almost three hours! What was she thinking?!

Well, her begging convinced me, although I’m not sure what the two folks behind the counter think of me nursing my drink until it’s time to pack up for class. I did buy (what I consider) an expensive breakfast – they have the most amazing crepes and worth every penny, although I’m not supposed to tell anyone about it. It’s being kept a secret so that it doesn’t attract the wrong crowd, by which she means people taking up space that are not her and her friends. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know about the place had she not needed a ride to and from.

I digress, though.

I’ve been trying to write this (in my head, at least) for the past two weeks. For the last nine years – I can’t believe it’s been that long! – I’ve attended a memoir workshop class twice a year – six weeks (although it started out at eight weeks) in the fall and then the spring. Two blissful hours of writing, reading what we’ve written, and learning new techniques, and getting writing tips. We come from all walks of life and it is equally entertaining and educational.

With the pandemic, the last three sessions were cancelled. It’s been difficult to keep up on some of my writing since the class is such an inspiration and motivator. We finally received the email from our teacher that we were on for this fall. I was so excited! I put the registration date on my calendar so I wouldn’t get shut out, and I began to prepare by buying a new notebook to write in for this semester. New, clean pages that will optimistically take me through several sessions.

Then the covid numbers began rising and kept rising. The library made the decision that they wouldn’t have people meeting inside the library building but they also didn’t want to cancel the session again.

They arranged with the next town over to use a pavilion in one of their parks to accomodate us. We’d be going until the middle of October, but we’re hardy upstaters, and half of us had been meeting in a different park for the last year through three seasons, and all the way into November. The pavilion had a roof to keep out the rain, and picnic tables and a dirt floor, and I did not care. We were meeting and connecting and writing.

On the first day, the library provided clipboards to lean on and the teacher brought a pile of cushions for the hard picnic table benches. I brought my own chair which I found more comfortable, but honestly, I may borrow one of the cushions next time.

The park was the perfect atmosphere for writing. A field of green grass, a cool breeze, an empty jungle gym, and a bridge we had to cross over a brook to get to the pavilion. It felt more like a retreat than a class. I took pictures – I always take pictures of places to share and to relive the moments. Sometimes falling headfirst into those photos and reliving those moments help to inspire a new series of writing prompts and ideas to plan for in the future. (I did the same at the coffee shop too. My family is a little tired of my Instagram life, photographing everything, getting the best angles, retakes – what can I say?)

There is also the added advantage that comes with fall. Fall is Back to School which is Back to Writing, and does sort of force me into the chair. I’ve got my writing (school) supplies, I’ve got some new prompts, some new plans for my website, some new angles for my book, and off I go. Out in the world, everything is a writing prompt. How could it not be, especially in fall. Leaves changing, pumpkins on porches, the smell of apples in the orchard, the countdown to Halloween and Thanksgiving and All Saints Day and Advent. And don’t forget the mums!

Everything is crammed into so little time, and we’re still postponing things because of covid.

Nanowrimo is just around the corner.

Election Day is in thirty days. No, it’s not an off year. There are no more off years.

Christmas shopping is short by one weekend.

What will the new year bring?

I just answered the question about my writing plans for winter, which was the first assignment from class. I’m not actually sure I answered the question as much as I skirted around it.

At the end of the WandaVision series on Disney + (spoilers), there was a meme based on Vision’s statement to Wanda: “What is grief but love persevering.” Online was a wave of substitutions for grief and love. The other day, because there is nothing I love more than a good meme, I thought:

What is writing but words persevering.

And I think that sums up writing for me. Taking a jumble of words and making them make sense. Form coherence. Form passion and inspire something, someone. The words keep persevering and the writing pushes on. And as I keep doing that – persevering, pushing on, plotting, and publishing – all that keeps me writing and titles me a writer.

Inspire. September.

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My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.  

Maya Angelou

New Writing Space for the next six weeks. (c)2021

Vacation’s over. School’s begun. The Jewish Holidays have come and gone without nary a new goal or resolution in sight. First therapy session of the new season is in the books. And what do I have to show for it?

It’s not nothing, but I honestly don’t know.

The monthly greeting: How are you doing always feels like a trick question. If I’m fine, am I fine? If I’m okay, why am I here in the first place? Will I actually say what’s really on my mind?

*shrug*

I don’t know. Somehow, I muddle through another session, sometimes wondering why I still come. I’m not suicidal. My anxiety is under control. It is more than the familiarity and routine of it. Part of it, I know, is that having it on my calendar gives me something positive to look forward to. If I have moments of struggle or lows, I see the appointment on the calendar and it gets me through; I know it will be okay until the next time. It gives me something to strive for. Could I get through the month without this one hour? Maybe. But why risk it?

It’s a safe place. We all need them. Big, small, in public or private, look around for yours.

The fall is the beginning of my year. Will it remain so when my kids are entirely finished with school? That day is sadly growing closer, and I both dread it (for me) and relish it (for them). I also have so many ideas. So much to write about. Places I’ve traveled that I want to share about, both as reflections and travel advisories, advice, and photos. I have ideas for new series, new columns, new book ideas. I have ideas to expand my Facebook page for those of you on FB. I even have a list of prayers to write.

My six week memoir class has begun again. The library is sponsoring it, and even though they won’t let us in the library (a change since we registered), they have found us a pavilion in a local park that really gives off a super creative writing vibe. We’re gathering with some people who we haven’t seen in two years. We’re missing a long time friend who died last year (not Covid related). Hopefully, it remains warm enough for the six weeks we’ll be outside, but cool enough to keep the mosquitoes dormant. For those of us who’ve been meeting in the park for the last year, this weather is a piece of cake. The library provided clipboards and the teacher brought cushions for the picnic tables. I brought my own chair but I may swipe one of those cushions next week.

Our ongoing park-meeting group has a new inside place to meet – the local fire house!

I’m hoping all of these writing groups with assignments will inspire me for the rest of the fall and into the new year to come.

Friday Food. September.

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One of the easiest and delicious foods to make is Ambrosia Salad. It is always fresh tasting and perfect for summer and fall. I made it recently for Rosh Hashanah dessert and I’m planning on it again this week. You’ll find the ingredients below the photos.

Ambrosia. (c)2021
Ambrosia. (c)2021

Cool Whip and Sour Cream, folded together.

Can of crushed pineaapple

Can of mandarin oranges

Maraschino cherries, halved

Coconut flakes

Mini marshmallows

The beauty of this type of recipe is there is no recipe. Put in what feels right until it’s the consistency you want. When I make it again I will add two cans of mandarin oranges, but for the rest I used about 8 ounces of sour cream, half a container of Cool Whip, half a small bag of coconut flakes, and half a bag of mini marshmallows. If any of that is too much for your sweet tooth, add less. Too much, add more.

Set in the fridge for a couple of hours. Serve in a dessert bowl.

Back to School Resources

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I saved the following quotation from Stephen King for a future writing post, but I think it’s also quite appropriate for Back to School as well.

The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.

Stephen King

The very first resource I would recommend is Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style . I have the e-book on my Kindle and it is worth every penny whichever way you choose to purchase it. I’m waiting with bated breath for the next edition from Benjamin Dreyer. I have gotten through this year by daily tearing off the pages of his Day-to-Day Calendar.

Hat tip to Mr. Dreyer himself for most of these recommendations. The first two are my own.

Is today a holiday? It could be National Cheeseburger Day. Find out here: National Day Archives

What’s another word for…? Synonyms would be the bane of my existence without this site: Thesaurus

When was the sunrise on September 15, 1938? Was that a Saturday? Find out here: Time and Date

Mr. Dreyer’s Go-To Dictionary: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary

M-W Online

@MerriamWebster on Twitter

The Free Dictionary (online)