Evening in the Country...

Evening in the Country...
...a gorgeous view of the WV mountains I get to enjoy everyday. Also the place Bri proposed earlier this year! [Not taken on that day.]

Saturday, November 27, 2010

searching for the perfect reading spot

     It isn't always easy finding just the right spot to plop down and open a book.  Sometimes we have to rework a place we've used for quite a long while.  Rather that is adding a blanket during the winter, or a pillow in the evenings, a little adjustment can make all the difference. 

     For me, right now, it is a comfy quilt and a spot in front of our furnace vent.  Every now and again I get a burst of hot air that I can capture under my quilt.  All the while taking in Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis or Jerry Oppenheimer's Front Row.

     Many people that know me well know that I spend many of my workday lunches at the library.  It is a place I have known since I was a child and each time I am there it brings a sense of tranquility to my soul.  The smell of the stairwell, the second floor nooks to review books, the oversize section on the balcony, areas I like to hide as if I have stepped back to my childhood.

     I actually wish that I had taken the time to go to the library today (but I do have plenty to read already).  I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving break and taking some time to relax and reminisce. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stephen King "On Writing"

     Until On Writing, I have never read a Stephen King book.  I know it is nearly impossible to believe, maybe not to some, but I have gone more than twenty-five and a half years reading hundreds upon hundreds of books, not one has been Mr. King's. 

     Now - I am addicted.  He is a fabulous writer.  His imagination is wild and On Writing showcases how his stories materialize onto paper.  He is honest, direct, and above all, he is extremely smart.  After I closed this book for the last time, I came to the conclusion, and I am being bold here, that Stephen King is the epitome of all writers, past, present, and beyond. 

     I love how King enjoys writing about his three children and his wife.  He holds Tabitha, his wife, to a high degree and sees her, and only her, as his audience.  He loves being married and he loves being a father.  His gratitude for them is loving and makes you appreciate his work even more. 

Here are a few of my fav snippets (it isn't easy to keep it short, it may need a second post):

  • "Fiction writers, present company included, don’t understand very much abotu what they do - not why it works when it’s good, not why it doesn’t when it’s bad.  I figured the shorter the book, the less the bullshit."
  • "...my attempt to show how one writer was formed.  Not how one writer was made; I don’t believe writers can be made, either by circumstances or by self-will...The equipment comes with the original package."
  • "...good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun.  Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up."
  • "It’s worked.  Our marriage has outlasted all of the world’s leaders except for Castro, and if we keep talking, arguing, making love, and dancing to the Ramones, it’ll probably keep working."
  • "And whenever I see a first novel dedicated to a wife (or husband), I smile and think, There’s someone who knows.  Writing is a lonely job.  Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference.  They don’t have to make speeches.  Just believing is usually enough."
  • "Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful.  If you hesitate and cogitate, you will come up with another word - but it probably won’t be as good as your first one, or as close to what you really mean."
  • "...sometimes even a monster is no monster.  Sometimes it’s beautiful and we fall in love with all that story, more than any film or TV program could ever hope to provide.  Even after a thousand pages we don’t want to leave the world the writer has made for us, or the make-believe people who live there.  You wouldn’t leave after two thousand pages, if there were two thousand."
  • "In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time.  We are encouraging our minds to unlock form the the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives."
  • "You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot.  The most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself."
  • "Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative one.  The water is free. So drink.
        Drink and be filled up."
     The last quote was a realization for me.  I have been waiting to create some sort of television-inspired magic for years.  All this time it's right at my fingertips, leading up to my brain, where you walk up, down, and all around a million stairs until you reach imagination.  No, Figment is not there, but lots of other things are hanging around.  Ones screaming to be released. 

     That is right now, and later.  Tomorrow I will arrive at the library for one of King's earlier novels, maybe the one about gunslinger, or something from that collection.  Or I could finish one of the other thirty books I already have from the library...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


     This is a time of year everyone loves.  There isn't one reason not to love the rich foods and family conversations.  Reviewing the year and enjoying those we often do not see.  That is, if your family isn't complicated.  Mine happens to be.  I usually try to find a way out of Thanksgiving considering Christmas is just around the corner.  It did not work!  This year is especially busy with my family at 2 pm, my husband's family at 7 pm, then Saturday another gathering in Monroe county, which is a bit further than Greenbrier county, but just as luscious with landscapes.

     Fortunately, we have a wonderful excuse: Socrates.  He must not be left alone for a very long time, it is never good for a dog to be in his cage for extended periods. 

     This year there are many reasons to give thanks:  new baby in the family, another pregnancy, our newlywed status, A is in town, extra days off work (lots of time to read)! 

     Of course, there are those that enjoy the early morning of Black Friday.  Not me.  I like staying in bed until real late, avoiding holiday shoppers, and staying away from crowds.  Especially when the air is tense and people can be crabby from hunger and disappointment.  Screw that!  I will get my rest and finish a book (or two).

My favorite memories from this year.

Spending time at the camp (it is were Bri proposed!).

Greenbrier River

The camp
Marrying my best friend:

He is so lovely as he sleeps

Our bands
Then there is always one wonderful little girl we never get enough of!  This is one of my favorite pictures from my bridal shower.  Mom spent most of her time taking photos of people eating - not appealing at all.

The best thing (besides getting married). Brian's birthday cake.  His face said it all.

Pizza cookie cake!
It has been a fabulous year!

Honeymoon at Atlantis

     Once we left The Greenbrier, we went home to exchange our luggage, do some laundry, and visit our lovely boy, Socrates.  We left after a few hours to catch a plane to Orlando, where we stayed one quick night.  We had to wake up the next morning to catch a flight to Nassau, Bahamas, for our stay at Atlantis!

From the beach our first night

At the front entrance

Inside the main lobby

Large ball of marble floating
     We had such a lovely time walking around and taking in all the details of this resort.  They were really able to capture everything a lost island would have.  Most importantly, The Dig.  This was our second time visiting Atlantis, but we had free reign since we were guests rather than passing through during a cruise stop.  The first time we seen The Dig was in 2008 during February on a Carnival cruise.  What we did not know until our honeymoon was that The Dig goes all the way around an aquarium and leads into a gift shop and restaurant.  It was a special surprise one evening we spent marveling the scenery.

Looks like a lost city to me

Lion fish, one of our favs

An old deep-sea diving uniform - a bit scary looking actually

One room had several walkways, with four corners, each corner had one of these helmets and a seat.  Well I couldn't let a moment pass without trying one one!  I'll admit:  I did nearly fall!
An oddity of sorts you can find at Atlantis
     Waking up in the morning on an island is breathtaking.  The sun illuminates the sky and the wind blows heartily, you hear seagulls and waves crashing.  You are at peace with yourself and your new husband -  at least I was!

From our balcony
     One of our favorite things were the water slides, there are dozens, bareback and tubing, for everyone of all ages.  Yet, my favorite time was the quiet nights walking and exploring.

An interesting palm

No swimming at night - but very tempting

Moon lights your way to the sea
     We were able to try out the casino too.  Not much luck other than a few dollars on the slots.  The scenery was unavoidable.

Domed ceiling

Nautical ceiling

Shipped ceiling
    One of our favorite restaurants at the resort is the Mesa Grill, by Bobby Flay, and it has the best margaritas EVER!  The secret: pure lime juice, freshly squeezed.  The walk is long if you stay where we did, the opposite side.  Nothing was going to stop us from using our complimentary coupon for two margaritas at the Mesa!

One long corridor heading to Mesa

The entrance

Our exit

A gorgeous pond
     Unfortunately, after only four days we had to head back to Orlando.  This is one more place we will visit again and again...and again.

Sunrise goodbye

Monday, November 22, 2010

Work Day Evenings

     Since our engagement and marriage, I have had several folks comment on how marriage is awful.  A sanctuary they want no part of.  Well, that is all fine and dandy for you.  But I love it.  Absolutely love it.  I get to come home every day (as before we were married) to the man I love and the dog I adore.  I can relax, chat, make and enjoy dinner, play, read, write, watch TV, laugh, cuddle...the list goes on.  Being married is wonderful and it is meaningful.

     I have told people from day one that I am one lucky girl.  My husband is absolutely wonderful and we are a splendid match.  This is our first Thanksgiving as a married couple and it will be exciting!  This will also be our first Christmas together as husband and wife.  Actually, we're trying no to start decorating right this minute.

     Blessed be to all.  Enjoy your life and live it passionately.  When things go wrong, remember they only get better. 

The Karl Lagerfeld Diet

     Karl Lagerfeld is an insightful, multi-talented character.  I say character because I have never seen a celebrity quite like him.  I recently completed his book from 2002 The Karl Lagerfeld Diet.  It is a memoir of sorts from his days of dieting with Dr. Jean-Claude Houdret's help.

He lost 92 pounds, that is something to recollect.  

Dr. Jean-Claude Houdret invented the Spoonlight program. It helped to transform Karl into the slim man that he maintains today. 

     He has faith in himself, he knows he can do anything he wants.  Many people put down his viewpoints on dieting, but they are direct and it got him where he is today.  Here is a photo of Mr. Lagerfeld before his diet:

Hard to believe, I know

     There is a significant difference, to say the least.  Here a few of my fav snippets from his book:

"If you attach no importance to weight problems, if not being able to wear new, trendy small-sized clothes does not cause you any regret, this book is not for you." - KL

"Above all you must be convinced of your ability to succeed.  There is no hurry.  You have no deadline for a new life!" - KL

"At first your closest friends (or loves) should not even know that you have decided to make yourself over.  You will have plenty of time to discuss it later but, to begin with, it must be a secret pact with yourself." - KL

"There comes a moment in life when the idea of youth and beauty has to give way to style and elegance." - KL

"Start your diet during a period of optimism and happiness.  You will have to detach yourself form your physical being for a period of time and you will need to regard your social environment as unimportant." - KL

"One fine morning I woke up and decided that I was no longer happy with my physique.  I had gotten along fine with being overweight and had no health problems, but I suddenly wanted to dress differently, to wear clothes designed by Hedi Slimae, who used to work for Saint Laurent and now creates the Dior Homme collections." - KL

"I would never have thought it possible to achieve this result without feeling the least bit tired.  Today, however, I work better than ever and I am never tired.  I have seven undisturbed hours of sleep a night - without using sleeping pills." - KL

"It was myself I was no longer satisfied with.  I was starting to say to myself, “You work in fashion and fashion means change.  If you don’t like your image, you only have to change it.  It’s not a matter of going back to what you used to be.”  So it was for totally superficial reasons that I got started on this diet." - KL

"It doesn’t bother me that I am getting old and wrinkled.  I don’t want to be young and cute, but there is a certain attitude that I like, which my father still had at the age of ninety.  That’s not to say I won't change my mind, but if that does happen, it will mean that the spirit has commanded the flesh to go there." - KL

"I started my treatment in the same way you approach religion, with faith and determination but without any qualms."  - KL

I did not include any from Dr. Jean-Claude Houdret.  He was very informative on health issues and why this program will work.  He also hits notes about plastic surgery and how it is not the answer.

     This is a good read, fresh compared to most diet books, but most will not take him serious considering Lagerfeld's view is very fashionable, and America's disdain for France.  I have to say that I enjoy and commend Lagerfeld on his way of life.  If that makes me the least bit superficial, which is does, then so be it.  Or maybe, that is just confidence taking over for a brief moment.

Sunday Potato Soup

     It was a beautiful day, a day to sit back, relax, and read until my eyes hurt.  It was also a day to make a lovely breakfast.  Well, it is actually lunch in our house!  We had lovely fried potatoes, bacon, homemade biscuits, and scrumptious gravy.  For dinner (or lunch, depending on your viewpoint) I made a fast and yummy potato soup.  

Romanian Potato Soup (Not mine...but similar visually)

     Nothing can quite compare to a spicy soup on a lazy day.  Spicy only because my hand shakes too much cayenne from its container.  Thanksgiving is only a few days away and keeping meals light is a must.  Preparation is key.  As is fasting after the meal!  

     I decided to chop up two medium potatoes.  I grabbed one large carrot and peeled it.  Once peeled, I peeled thin discs from the carrot and set it aside.  Crunching approximately eight good-sized cloves of garlic and cutting those up roughly before tossing it in one can of simmering chicken broth (99% fat-free, no MSG, low sodium).

     Tossing everything in the pot, along with two more cans of chicken broth and the water I kept the potatoes in.  Everything may now boil for a long while.  Bri wanted noodles, so I found a bit of Wacky Mac.

     I should let you know I would have added celery and onions but I haven't gone to the store yet (I know, what am I waiting for?  It is Thanksgiving in a few days!), so everything we had available went into the pot.

     My next step was adding parsley, cayenne, thyme, basil, rosemary, Himalayan salt, and freshly ground pepper. Did I mention I added loads of parsley?  Because that is exactly what I do when I make soup.  Once the pot was ready, I added the colorful Wacky Mac and a half of a can of chicken broth.  My last step includes the second half of the chicken broth.  I toss in a package of country gravy mix, whip it around and toss it in the soup.  It needed a second pack but it maintained a nice thickness that went well with the soup.

     You know the soup is good when your husband goes back for seconds.  Then I save the rest for lunch this week.  It is amazing that the price of lunch has gone from $4 each day - five years ago - to approximately $6 per day, in my personal experience.  Therefore, I need to buy less lunch and eat more leftovers.  Really, I'm the winner in this situation.

Maybe Frog Soup next Sunday?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Honeymoon

I just realized that with all the excitement of receiving our GORGEOUS wedding photos, I have forgotten about the honeymoon.  This wondrous event began once we left Campelot and arrived at The Greenbrier!  A historic place that has seen many celebrities and presidents.  This place is something from a fairy tale.  As if you're Cinderella visiting a castle, not your Prince's castle, but one of equal standards.  Honestly, we could have spent our entire two weeks there and still never have left.  Ever.  That must show how much we adore our home state.

The design and decor are impeccable.  The staff unbelievingly friendly. 

We stayed mesmerized, start to finish. 

The Greenbrier is located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.  It is very well hidden amongst our Appalachian mountains.  One of the greatest aspects of the resort is the bunker.  We were able to take a tour with the most gracious of guides and learned more than we could have imagined.  If you get a chance, go! 

The sulphur spring
Hebe, the goddess of youth

Beautiful and clean

Impeccable gardening

Taking a walk at night

I wish we would have taken more photos of the interior of The Greenbrier.  Do a quick search on Google Images and take a look.  You will fall in love with the way it transports you to another era.  It is designed after the original decorator, Dorothy Draper, by Carleton Varney.  His taste is exquisite, as is his talent.

This is one place we will visit again, and again.