Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

Friday Funday- Last Man Standing

In family, Life Essays on January 31, 2014 at 7:33 am

It was the early nineties, I had three rowdy little boys, and a husband who carved pumpkins with a power saw, fixed a broken mixer by plugging a beater into his electric drill, and could blast an entire neighborhood with his giant stereo speakers. And, Tim Allen was starring in a sitcom that was the story of my life…..as  it was happening. Home Improvement. I had the husband who insisted that everything should have ‘more power’, and the boys, well, let’s just say they kept me on my toes.  The only thing missing was a wise neighbor, like Wilson, to keep Hunky Hubby on track. The show began airing one month before I gave birth to our youngest son, and ran until a year before the oldest son graduated from high school….and I could have written weekly episodes for that show the entire time it ran….heck, I could still be writing episodes.304833_1182216909_med

Anyway, when Hunky Hubby and I realized that Tim Allen had a new sitcom, Last Man Standing, we were instant fans. I immediately went to the internet to find out how to get tickets to watch a taping. Wednesday was our day.

Hunky Hubby made sure the car was gassed up the night before so that we could hit the road the minute he got home from work. I packed a picnic meal of special sandwiches, strawberries and rice crackers to eat while we waited in line, and when Paul got home from work we headed to the CBS Studios where this ABC television show was being taped….I know, but that’s the way things work in Hollywood, well, actually in Studio City.

Now, even though you’ve got tickets to see a show taped, you are not guaranteed that you will get in to see the show. You want to get there plenty early.  As you arrive for check-in, you are given a number. First they take the VIP’s in and seat them, then they take small groups of people in the order you arrived. This is why I pack the picnic dinner and we arrive at least an hour, but up to two hours ahead.

Once inside the studio there is a ‘warm-up guy’. A stand-up comedian whose job it is to get the audience excited and keep them entertained during the taping. Some of the warm up guys are amazing, others….well, at least Hunky Hubby is always willing to entertain.14122_1355443460499_450499_n

That’s right, Hunky Hubby took his juggling balls with him and was invited into the spotlight to juggle for the audience. Okay, he’s pretty talented, but what grown man walks around in public with his balls in a bag…..just waiting for an opportunity to put on a public display. Woops…..did that sound wrong?

A sitcom taping…in my vast experience takes anywhere from  three hours for a short one, to…., well, a taping of Hot In Cleveland that we went to see took about five hours. As tired as we were when we left the studio that night, we were so glad we went. The stars were funny, Valorie Bertinelli engaged with the audience and was not only incredibly beautiful, but very charming, and Betty White, well, what can you say about Betty white.

But back to Wednesday night. The cast of Last Man Standing is so professional. They knew their lines, the taping moved right along, and Hunky Hubby received an autographed picture of Tim Allen for playing with his balls in public. I’m so sorry, that sounds wrong too….but that’s what happened.

If you haven’t gone to a sitcom taping, you really should go at least once. If you take a juggler with you (or if you’re the juggler) you could come home with a cool prize….who knows. What did you do for fun this week? Tell me please, I could use some inspiration.

Tari’s Special Sandwiches

(No, these are not like the Special Sandwiches on How I Met Your Mother!)

4-6 servings

1 loaf of Jalapeno Cheese Focaccia bread,  ½ pound thinly sliced deli roast beef,  ½ pound thinly sliced deli black forest ham,  ½ pound sliced Havarti cheese, 1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced,  2 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced and drained on a paper towel, Fresh basil leaves, Special Mayonnaise

Special Mayonnaise Ingredients-½ cup mayonnaise, 3 strips roasted red peppers, 1 tsp minced garlic,  2-3 fresh basil leaves, Freshly ground black pepper

Put all ingredients for special mayonnaise in a food processer or blender and pulse until slightly chunky, but well blended.

Split the focaccia bread horizontally. Spread each half with special mayonnaise. Layer the meats on the bottom half of the bread, folding them in half to ‘fluff’ them up, arrange the cheese on top of the meat. Top with thinly sliced tomatoes, avocados and finally the fresh basil leaves. Put the top bread on the sandwich and cut into 4-6 pieces depending on the size of the focaccia bread. Take to a sitcom for dinner.


Words on Wednesday- Getting Back into Characte

In Uncategorized, writing on January 29, 2014 at 6:55 am

There are two kinds of writers, as my writer friends already know, plotters and pantsers. Plotters of course plot their story out. They know what’s going to happen before they begin writing. Pantsers….well, they do everything by the seat of their pants. Now there are many variations on these two styles of writing, but those are the root styles and most writers lean toward one category or the other.

beachWhen I write magazine or newspaper articles, I’m an outliner, the nonfiction equivalent of a plotter. I know what my main points will be, and I work within a solid structure. I’ve always said that the structure actually gives me the freedom to be creative with my writing.

When I write fiction……I’m a total pantser. For me the story happens in my head. The characters talk to me, and I grab a 10 cent blue BIC® pen and a spiral notebook and let them tell me the story. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the way I work.     waves

After putting my book aside for a year while I worked full time at the sewing store, I’m back to work editing and expanding the story. The editing part is going well, the expanding part …not.

The first draft of my story was done before I took the full time job….or so I thought. I had some excellent input, in fact amazing input, but I was told the romance book that I had written wasn’t a romance, it was women’s fiction with romantic elements. This means nearly doubling the original word count.

Adding words does not come naturally to me. After more than fifteen years writing non-fiction, where the mantra is ‘cut the fluff’, it’s hard to add words, in fact I often find myself cutting more than I add.  It was going okay before my one year foray into the ‘real job’ world, but a year later, I’m having difficulty getting in touch with my characters again.

DSCI0064 - CopyI’m going to try a few tricks that have worked in the past, writing a letter to Randi, my main character, and having her write back, or maybe I’ll start a diary for her.

You know, Randi is young, she’d probably have a facebook page, maybe I should start one for her. Or maybe now is the time to switch into plotting gear, and use what I’ve written as an outline?

What do you think? I could use a little help here!! Oh and if you’re wondering what the beach pictures are about, Randi lives by the beach in the South Bay. (That’s Los Angeles South Bay….we have one too!)

Just Me on Monday- Love Between the Sexes

In family, Life Essays on January 27, 2014 at 7:32 am

I have no problem sharing stories about my, shall we call it ‘blondness’. And although I generally believe that I’m reasonably intelligent, I see the humor in the fact that I can find my way around any mall even if I’ve never been there before, but get lost driving to my best friend’s house even though we’ve lived two miles apart for five years, and of course, I met Hunky Hubby because I was trying to find Ports ‘O Call, and ended up at Shoreline Village. Close, but not quite.

This story, is not however about my blonde short comings, it’s about my sweet Hunky Hubby, and I write it knowing full well that he will read it, because he lovingly reads every word I write, but he won’t be able to comment because although he can fix the fuel injectors on the car, remodel a kitchen and create an innovative money saving system for the city’s HVAC system that has the mayor calling to congratulate him on a job well done…..he can’t figure out how to comment on a blog. (He also can’t resist a challenge.)

Some of you may know that my handsome, brilliant husband, whom I frequently refer to as Hunky Hubby, is a little bit of a male chauvinist. I’m okay with this. In fact, I prefer it this way. Oh, he can tease me because I get lost everywhere I go, and I’m afraid to leave my three mile radius (hey this has increased from my previous two and a half mile radius and the center of the radius has moved). I don’t care, this just means that he drives me pretty much everywhere I go, because he’s worried about me. Yes, we know about GPS, but I can’t figure out how to use it, so although he’d be able to find me, he’d still have to come and rescue me, so he might as well drive. He can even tell me to ‘sit down, buckle up and just look pretty’, he’s driving, his rules.

This story though is about how my sexy, manly Hunky Hubby can sometimes put his foot in his mouth, and may not live it down.

As I’ve told you, over the summer we bought a little fixer upper, and we’ve been hard at work on it ever since. Clearly I’m not doing any major work, as I said, Hunky Hubby is a male chauvinist. He hides hammers, nails and even paintbrushes from me, because I shouldn’t worry my pretty little head about these things, I don’t know how to use them anyway, and he does. This is true, but sometimes I don’t like to wait, as my friend Beth can attest. Years ago she got tired of seeing my paper towel holder on the counter, went and got some tools and hung it up for me, this lead to me buying a hammer and nails of my own so that I could hang pictures. After all, if Beth could use a hammer, so could I! (Wrong.) I hung them, he didn’t like it, and he hid my hammer and nails. (I purchased hammers and nails several more times, all went missing.)

Anyway, we moved into the house in July, and there was no washer and dryer hook-up. None. Not anywhere. So Paul managed to get the washer hooked up, but the dryer would be more work and it got put on hold. He put up a clothes line in the backyard for me…..and guess what that big hunky man said to me. He said “Maybe you won’t even want a dryer. I kind of like the idea of you hanging laundry to dry while I’m at work, it’s so domestic.”


Yep, that’s right, that’s what he said. I stood there too stunned to say anything. I said nothing at all. I know, it’s hard to believe that I had nothing to say, but seriously, who would expect that? So for about two weeks I lugged heavy wet laundry from the garage to the clothesline, prayed for warm days, spent approximately twenty minutes hanging each load and another ten taking it down, not to mention the ironing time because everything ends up wrinkled, and the crunchy towels because, well, towels just don’t come out soft on the clothesline. Then one day, Paul is in the kitchen rearranging cabinets, and you know what? He’s using power tools. That’s right, he’s using a cordless screwdriver to remove screws, lower the cabinets, and move them to the height where they should have been installed originally. (You should have seen the way this house was remodeled by the flippers. Kitchen cabinets up so high that I couldn’t reach the bottom shelves.)


So I’m watching him with the power screwdriver and it hits me. “Honey,” I say in my sexiest kitten voice. “I think it would be so sexy and manly if you did this with hand tools…. you know, the old fashioned way.”

He stopped and looked at me. “Huh?’

“Yeah, in fact, I’d stand right here and watch if you removed all of those screws with a hand screwdriver, and remounted those cabinets one by one with hand tools.” I tried to use a breathy Marilyn Monroe voice.

“What is wrong with you? This work would take me twice as long, why create extra work for myself when I have good tools to make the job easier and faster?”

“That’s right isn’t it honey? Just like using a dryer to dry the clothes.”

It finally dawned on him what he had said to me, and he had the good grace to look a little sheepish.

The point is that I’ve been hanging laundry for the last six months, and finally I have a dryer hooked up. I can’t tell you how happy I am about that. I think he would have done it sooner, but I will admit that he’s worked non-stop just trying to rearrange the silly things that were done in this house….did I mention they put the dishwasher on the opposite end of the kitchen from the sink? And the exhuast hood so high over the stove that I’d have to hit it with a broom handle to turn it on?DSCN2706

So I love my hunky male chauvinist husband, and I think he’s learned an important lesson from this. Don’t touch a girl’s power tools unless you want to lose your own!!

And over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two myself. Such as, when a girl with a male chauvinist husband buys herself a hammer or screwdriver, she should be a pink set with lots of flowers on them so her husband doesn’t lock them in his own tool box where his friends may see them.

Now I’d love to hear your stories about love between the sexes. I know you have them!!


Friday Funday-Sew What Are Your Creative Outlets?

In Life Essays, sewing, Uncategorized on January 24, 2014 at 8:19 am

The main character in the novel I’m writing is a fashion designer, and yes, just like on Project Runway, she sews. So for the past two years I’ve been writing about someone who sews, while working in a sewing store teaching sewing and selling machines that are pretty amazing, and do things my grandmother probably never dreamed possible. And I have done… no sewing.

DSCI0091Now that my ‘real’ job is only one day a week, and I’m spending most of my time writing, I’ve indulged, admittedly with some guilt in a new toy of my own, and since I bought it, it would be wrong not to use it….right?

My sewing room isn’t set up yet, it will probably be a few weeks before I get the opportunity. Most of my tools and fabric are still in storage, and Hunky Hubby is still busy with more important things like finishing the kitchen! But, I’m planning my projects for the year, and I’m trying to learn the capabilities of my new sewing machine in the meantime. And believe me, there’s a lot to learn.11143_1197385549150_1663838805_486536_6553773_n

I am no seamstress, but I do love to sew, and I enjoy teaching sewing lessons. Some sewers are quilters, some are garment makers, some love craft sewing or home dec. I’m kind of a dabbler, I like to do all of it, but I’m not truly expert at any of it.

So this year I plan on making curtains for my new kitchen, and two of the bedrooms, possibly doing some sewing for my bathroom, and making a bookshelf quilt. My friends and family will probably all have to suffer with homemade presents this year and I have a sweet cousin who was recently married that I want to give a special, if belated wedding gift.

Saving sewing projects on Pinterest has practically become a hobby in itself, and I’m dying to try some of the clever sewing projects that I’ve saved!!

Between writing a book and getting settled in our home I probably won’t get everything done that I want to, but I’m going to try!

16836_1279514282317_1663838805_664134_4339287_nI’m sharing a few pictures of previous projects. Wish I had more, but for some reason I don’t remember to take pictures! I promise to take more pictures to share with all of you.

So my pretty, new sewing machine is just waiting to release it’s potential, and sew am I!! What are your creative outlets? Your passions? What do you squeeze time out for in your busy schedule? Hope you’ll share!!

Words on Wednesday- Before You Hit Send

In Uncategorized, writing on January 22, 2014 at 7:25 am


I’m writing today’s post at the risk of public editing. It’s okay, go ahead, I can take it.

Saturday, the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writer’s of America (Occ Rwa) hosted a workshop with Carina Press Editor, Angela James. Before You Hit Send is a seven hour intensive workshop on self-editing. That’s right, not only did I voluntarily spend seven hours listening to a lecture on punctuation, capitalization, adjectives, adverbs and dangling participles….but I paid for it. For the second time. (And yes, I do know this is a sentence fragment.)

The first class I took with Angela, was a three week online workshop on the same subject. It was so fantastic, that I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to attend her live workshop.

I came home energized and ready to confidently and mercilessly take my red pen to my manuscript.

I love her philosophy on grammar rules, her respect for writer’s and their work, and the fact that she not only gave me permission to do some reading, but she said it was a job requirement. (I love this job.)

This is not the English class we took in high school, or even the class you took to fulfill your ‘generals’ in college. Before You Hit Send isn’t about strictly applying rules to every sentence you write.

This workshop is about learning how to intelligently and confidently, make the words you love come to life. How to use grammar to give your story the magic you always knew could be there.

Needless to say, I’m an Angela James fan, and will sign up for her next workshop.

And thank you Occ Rwa for bringing Angela back to Orange County!!

So, go ahead, let me have it. Tell me about my misplaced commas, overuse of exclamation points, and of course, my favorite…run on sentences.

I’m ready, bring it on…….

Just Me on Monday-Motherhood

In Life Essays, Uncategorized on January 20, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Here’s the thing, being a mother, changes who you are forever. You don’t even realize it while it’s happening. You know when they’re born that your life has been restricted but you really don’t care because you are so awed by that beautiful little bundle that’s in your arms. You raise them, make them the center of your universe, love them with all of your heart, and then they leave the nest, whether by choice or with a nudge from dad and mom. Part of you (at least part of me) is ready to see them go, to watch what they become and even to find out what I can become in this new phase of my life. Part of you (again me) doesn’t want to let go, wants a little more time to watch out for them, guide them and if at all possible protect them…..and all of me wants them to stay nearby to come home for dinner once or twice a week, to share their lives with me….well, maybe not everything, but to let me be a part of their lives.      157

You realize that for you there is more than just a DNA connection, they are a part of you, but THEY realize, whether consciously or not, that it’s time for them to become separate people, and no matter how close you are your relationship has to change.

And it does. Sometimes you talk to them every day, or even several times in a day. They call you to find out how much they should be spending on chicken breasts, and for the recipe for their favorite cookies. (Do you give them the recipe? Maybe they’ll come home for cookies.) They call you to find out why they put white socks and underwear in the washer and took out red….uh, it was the red sweatshirt you threw in with them. They call you to find out what to do about a parking ticket they forgot to pay. AAAHHHHH, PAY THE TICKET!!

And then you don’t hear from them for days…or even weeks, and you want to call them, but you don’t want to be clingy. Sometimes you feel your eyes well up when you accidentally set the dinner table for five, and there are only four of you, then three, then just the two of you….and you wish all of your previous little boys were at the table again.

So you pick up the phone and call……your own mother…. because maybe you haven’t been calling her enough.

Our oldest son is thirty-one years old. It’s hard for me to even say that because, of course, it isn’t true. (It’s true.) For most of the last five years he’s been in Maryland, the opposite side of the country, and a couple of weeks ago he came back home. I told myself I wouldn’t cry when I saw him. I lied, I broke down and sobbed. Actually, just writing this is making me cry. I can touch his curls again, I can hug him, I can see his beautiful smile. But of course, he isn’t unpacking his things at our house, he’s staying long enough to find a place of his own and get his girlfriend out here to be with him. He’s working full time hanging with his brothers and other friends. He was so sweet this weekend, “Mom,” he said “Would you like to plan a day for just the two of us.”

Yes, yes I would, those days are too few.

So, I’ll get him to myself even if only for a day.

DSCI0252Meanwhile, our youngest son moved out over the holidays. Not an easy transition, but he’s twenty-two, and we are very proud of him. He’s just a few miles away, for now, but I know he wants to travel, live other places and experience life.

Middle son is still at home, but we rarely see him, his career, takes up most of his time and attention, but I know he’ll be moving out soon too. He also plans on traveling, and it looks like with his career he probably will.

They all have so much to do, to see, to become.

And isn’t that what I want for all of them. I want them all to experience life, see what they can, have relationships with more than a few women before they find ‘the one’, so they know what they want, so they never feel like they ‘just settled’ or wonder what else could have been. Of course then in my plan they all plant their roots right here near me…. at least not too far away.

I know that none of these choices are mine, so while my heart still aches to feel their small hands in mine, answer their questions, keep them safe, I know that it’s time to let go of their hands, let them look for their own answers and be strong young men. After all, that was the point of the last thirty years.

I don’t know how to cook for two, it’s been years of cooking for a small army, and at this point, although they’re not always at the dinner table, they grab a bite when they come in, or take food ‘to go’. My still Hunky Hubby and I often find ourselves sitting at the dinner table alone. It’s not so bad, we can talk without food flying, conversations about video games, and arguments over who took too long in the shower leaving his brother with only cold water. Sometimes we even light candles and have a glass of wine.

So being a mother changes who you are forever, I will always be the mother of three handsome, talented, intelligent boys, and whether they know it or not, I will always kiss them good night before I go to bed and wish for all of their dreams to come true, no matter how far away those dreams may take them.

How has being a parent changed your life forever? What are your dreams for your children? Have you called your mother today? I have to go call mine.