Category Archives: Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff

Video: Unboxing the Tomy Smaller Home Bentwood Rocker

Tomy Smaller Home Rocker and Tiny Newspapers Test Shot
The Tomy Smaller Home & Garden Bentwood Rocker and my tiny newspapers. This was a test shot for what would become the cover of the Holiday 2021 chapbook. The scale between them’s slightly off, but I think I did okay for someone who really isn’t that crafty.

Remember all those tiny newspapers I was making? I finished them! I made 320 sets, which means 640 total (two per set). I really enjoyed listening to documentaries or watching TV with my family while I worked on them, and shocked myself when I got them all finished in just three weeks.

Anyway, the tiny newspapers will accompany this year’s holiday chapbook, which is my “Christmas Card” to friends and family (if you’re not on my postal mailing list and would like to be, please drop me a line through my Contact Page). This year’s story is “Nothing to See Here,” and is set in 1986 between the Challenger and Chernobyl disasters.

I’d had the Tomy Smaller Home & Garden (also known as Tomy Smaller Home after a lawsuit) dollhouse as a kid, and loved it to death (more on my current quest to replace the whole thing in future posts). All of the furniture was well made, and there were a couple of unique things about it: it was 1:16 size (most dollhouses are 1:12, and to give you a better mental snapshot, Barbie is 1:6); in addition, its design was “modern” (at the time, that meant extremely 1970s/early 1980s in its décor).

My favorite piece, for some reason, was the Bentwood Rocker. I really fantasized about owning a real one when I grew up (not anymore, peeps! I’m over it, just FYI). I needed to take a photograph for the cover of the chapbook, and I thought the rocker would be perfect, since a full-sized one features prominently in the story.

Nothing to See Here 2021 Chapbook front cover
The front cover of 2021’s holiday chapbook.

Since I’d bought the SH&G living room set that contained the rocker—but I’d scored it in brand new, unopened condition—I wasn’t about to crack into the kit to use the chair as a prop. I went on Ebay and instead bought a used one for ten bucks. It came in a Velveeta box—pretty appropriately ’70s!

Contemporary Velveeta box.
The Velveeta box containing the rocker…it’s almost $8 now? Good Lord! I remember when this crap was three bucks!!

The day it arrived was magical.

The unboxing — March 5, 2021. Oddly enough, I’m wearing a vintage 1986 necklace.

A fave coffee’s back!

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Island Coconut K-Cups

I live on coffee (and wine, too, but that’s not what I’m discussing today). I frequently will drink as many as five cups, even late into the night. It’s the fuel that keeps me writing.

That said, I have my personal favorites. Back in the 1980s, I was a huge fan of International Coffee’s Suisse Mocha. In the early 1990s, Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla was my jam.

ONE of my favorites these days is Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ Island Coconut, which starts appearing on store shelves in March and is sold through June (after that, I’ve found you’re out of luck). I usually get my K-Cups at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, but I’m sure if you hunt the shelves of other stores like Target, you’d probably find it.

Game on, people! Time for me to stock up!

If you love Island Coconut and can’t find it after June, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND H-E-B’s Houston Blend, which is a little more coconutty, but damn close. You can order some of that online here (and yes, they have K-Cups too): https://www.heb.com/product-detail/cafe-ole-by-h-e-b-houston-blend-medium-roast-ground-coffee/2337503

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates it, happy last day of Passover for those who celebrate that, and for fellow Pagans, happy Ostara two weeks late, although we seem to just celebrate every day, don’t we?

I wish you all, no matter what you’re doing, a spring-like day full of joy!

Bath & Body Works Easter 2021 Candle
Bath & Body Works’ Sweet Carrot Cake Candle, infused with the scent of sweet cream cheese frosting, fluffy carrot cake, and cinnamon spice. Yum! Good enough to eat!

Pfizer Shot #1 Accomplished!

Vaccine Clinic Sign

My husband Nathan and I got our first Pfizer shots today up at the Xfinity Center in Hartford (over an hour away). The process was smooth and easy! I’m really impressed with how well organized it was compared to how tough it was to get an appointment in the first place, and the cool guy that checked us in has the same birthday as my dad (2/17), which I took as a positive sign.

No side effects. I had some weird tingling in my arm, but I’ve had shots for lots of other things because I’ve worked at aquariums and have had more than my share of bouts with possible tetanus and exposure to strange animal diseases. So it wasn’t anything I hadn’t experienced before. 

Getting Shots at Hartford Xfinity Center

Our second shots are scheduled for Saturday, April 17. We plan to stay overnight the night before and make an adventure out of it, because hopefully a global pandemic will only come once in our lifetimes … 

When your friends have you figured out …

Haunted Mansion Daisy necklace

My friend Suzanne got me this necklace as a Christmas present. I love it … to death.

Recently my friend Suzanne sent me a present I wasn’t expecting. I was thrilled when I opened the gift and discovered a necklace featuring my favorite character in Disney’s Haunted Mansion’s Stretching Portraits—a young girl suspended on a rope over a hungry alligator.

WDW Haunted Mansion Stretching Room Portraits

The four portraits in the Stretching Room and Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

According to themeparktourist.com, this pretty girl in a precarious situation has a name: Daisy de la Cruz (you can read about everyone in the mansion here—this article is about Disneyland’s version, but in the Stretching Room, the WDW portraits are identical): https://www.themeparktourist.com/features/20120507/6634/characters-disneylands-haunted-mansion

So, why is she my favorite? I’ve always identified with her: like me, she was always optimistic, always hopeful, always waiting for something to go her way—without really understanding that she can hope all she wants, but fate has other plans for her, and mostly scary ones.

Suzanne got this at the Etsy store League of Shadows. Everything is handmade, and so their stock rotates and changes frequently. As I write this, they don’t have these necklaces, but they have lots of other cool stuff. If you’re looking for something unique for yourself or another, it’s worth putting them on your list of places to check out. They’re located here: https://www.leagueofshadows.org/

Happy St Patrick’s Day! I eat my corned beef with …

Corned Beef and Marmalade 2020

2020’s corned beef and marmalade.

… orange marmalade. Yes, you read that right. It’s the only way I’ll eat it. It probably comes from the fact that my Hungarian grandmother always served us meat and fish with fruit or some type of sweet jelly or sauce (lamb with mint, flounder with peaches, pork with applesauce, steak with raspberry jam). Don’t knock it ’til you try it! It’s actually pretty good.

Charles' Corned Beef Dinner 2020

Charles’ corned beef spread.

Every year, my housemate makes the complete corned beef dinner, but usually, all I eat is a plate of corned beef with marmalade (usually the lower sugar variety). I can’t wait for tonight! I look forward to this day every year! How do YOU eat your corned beef?

It’s been a banner week!

A well-deserved glass of wine

There are weeks when, as a writer, I don’t feel so accomplished. This morning, I had one of those moments … and then I did a tally of what I got done this week:

 

Gave feedback on a friend’s synopsis

Gave feedback on another friend’s short story

Gave feedback on Chapter 1 of yet another friend’s novel

Designed and mailed out the 34 Orchard Issue 3 announcement postcards

Created the back cover copy for Tidings (my husband did most of that—he used to market books, so …)

Watched Aliens and recorded the 10th anniversary episode of Dark Discussions (I can’t believe it’s been a decade!)

Completed edits on several of the stories for 34 Orchard

Finished several sets of tiny newspapers for my annual holiday chapbook mailing … I have to make 320 sets; I have only 114 to go!

 

I guess I really did deserve that bottle of wine and a nice early bed time last night!

Back to work!

A clever present!

I love presents. I love giving them (there are people who will tell you I do it too much), and I love getting them, too. While any present is magical no matter what it is, sometimes you get one that just stands out.

With COVID having shut down our day-job office except for a couple of us holding down the fort (yes, I’m one of them), our holiday celebrations weren’t happening. One of my co-workers, though, brought me a really interesting gift:

Roach clips and weed towel

“There’s weed in the food” towel accompanied by “roach clips.”

…get it? WEED and ROACH CLIPS? She’s only a little older than me. What cracked her up the most was that she had to explain to her twenty-something children what a roach clip was (I guess kids now are all into edibles. Just … I’m sorry, not as much fun). “Ah,” she said, “the good old days!” Heck—I remember when we wore them in our hair in the 1980s. I was 12. My parents weren’t happy.

Anyway, I love my roach clips, and I think this is just about one of the most creative presents I’ve ever gotten. My husband the exterminator? Not thrilled. Doesn’t enjoy opening up the cabinet and seeing them crawling on the chips … which means more for me, right?

Making tiny newspapers…

These tiny newspapers are made out of thumbnail photos and index cards.

I’ve long loved dollhouses, and a 1978 TOMY Smaller Home and Garden, which I had as a kid, figures prominently in a recent short story I just finished.

As the story’s really personal and takes place between the Challenger and Chernobyl disasters–a pretty intense, very sorrowful and terrifying time for any teenager, let alone one who’d just lost her mom–I’ve decided I’m not going to try to place this. It’ll be this year’s holiday chapbook instead.

Read the rest of this entry

When I don’t have to go anywhere …

… the snow is pretty! This is the view out my home office window.

Snow-laden tree branches

Since I don’t drive in the snow, and I’m not a fan of the cold, I think I’m going to enjoy this winter. While I still have to go to my day job five days a week, I have loads of days off available (no vacations planned) I can use as snow days. And there are NO plans to go anywhere on weekends.

I’m really looking forward to this.

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