Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Words on Wednesday ..with Hallie Ephron

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of listening to Hallie Ephron give a talk on her new book, You'll Never Know Dear.
Hallie's latest.
Hallie spoke a little bit about her personal life. She grew up in Hollywood. You may be familiar with her sisters Nora and Delia Ephron, responsible for such gems as Heartburn, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Silkwood,  Sleepless in Seattle, Julie and Julia, When Harry Met Sally, You've got Mail, the list goes on and on. Her parents were collaborating writers, responsible for writing the screenplays for Carousel and Daddy Long legs, among others. Hallie also has the writing gene, and has been a finalist for the Edgar Award and four time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark award. Talented story teller, a dose of Hollywood glamour and after her talk, I can add engaging and funny!

Hallie's new book centers on a porcelain doll which may hold the key to a disappearance of a little girl years before. Hallie came up with the idea from Mary Alice, one of her friends, (and ideas for books almost never come from friends)  Mary Alice's mother,  Blanche was a very talented craftswoman who made porcelain dolls. Shelves in the bedrooms at Blanche's southern home were lined with dolls, whose eyes seemed to eerily follow your every move.  Under the beds were doll parts, various limbs and eyes. From this, the seeds of a "deliciously creepy" story were planted. 

Hallie went on to explain a little more about how she started writing novels in her 40's.
                                                                      Hallie's advice
1. Everyone has a story to tell.
2. Observe and develop a story from your environment.
3. Travel, Soak in the atmosphere.
4. Attention to detail counts. 
Beverly Hills Murder

Since, I was on the waiting list for her new book. I picked up this one to read.   Hallie used the tabloid murder of Johnny Stompanato, boyfriend of Lana Turner (Ephron's former neighbor) as inspiration for her book.  Her book is strictly a work of fiction, but her knowledge of screenwriting and movies is obvious.
In six words. Scandal, publicity, greed complicate celebrity murder.

Be prepared for some twists.
Favorite quote: "A really good story makes you care what's going to happen to the characters after the movie ends." I was definitely engaged with the characters, and was curious where they would all end up.

Hallie also wrote book reviews for the Boston Globe, so I was inspired to pick up this book of hers.
Food for thought?
I have read some books she recommended, and put some on my to read list. If you are interested in mysteries, pick up a Hallie Ephron novel. You will get a book that will keep you engaged, but you won't find any violence against women or children. That is a no go area for her. You can learn more about Hallie Ephron by visiting her website,

Happy Reading, happy writing!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Get Mail, Set Sail...T stands for Tall Ships

The tall ships are in Boston this weekend. They arrived Saturday, and it was foggy.  Luckily, we had been invited to a party on Sunday... on a chartered yacht.
I think I missed my calling..

Seas the day!
I's a birthday party!
Sunday proved to have fantastic weather, with quite a breeze to keep us comfortable.

Boston Harbor
Wind in our hair
This was the perfect occasion to pull out my Lilly Pulitzer you gotta regatta dress! And boy did we regatta! The crew circulated with all sorts of appetizers and I had  a spiked cranberry seltzer... Boston with a twist and a little kick. Here are some of the ships we saw on our voyage

Seen in Boston...

Fi and me
We cruised down as far as Hull and then it was back to City.
Boston skyline

Zakim Bridge

Docked and back on dry land, we will remember our birthday bash on the water for quite a while. Smooth sailing to you.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Flowers on Friday and a follow up

Friday flowers follows that transformation Thursday theme. I love this time of the year; to look out in my garden seeing new things coming to life, and some old mainstays lingering on. The pansies seem to be lasting a long time. Since I am a sentimentalist at heart, I can't bear to get rid of them while they are still flowering, even if a bit straggly. So cut back, they remain in their spot, with a few white petunias to offset them.
Side garden in transition
And of course, there is a rose bush in the flower bed.


The back garden is filled with roses. It seems every time I look another bud has bloomed.

 And talk about a climbing rose bush...
Over 10 feet in the air

through the lilac tree
reaching for the sun

up close and beautiful!
Nature...showing the heights we can reach if we have the support. As for me, getting loads of support here and keeping up with my contentment and transformation challenge. No unnecessary spending, plenty of exercise and little by little Fi's Christmas stocking will get done.
Counted cross stitch...
One stitch, one step at a time, a little everyday makes a big difference. Wishing you love and support to get to where you want to be.  Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

T stands for Tea...with Susan Branch and Fi

Susan Branch....yay! she signed them for us!
Before we went to Ireland, Fi and I attended a Love of Literature luncheon hosted by South Shore Stars.  It is their annual fundraiser for RISE... Reading is so Exciting.  For me, this couldn't be more accurate. As my local librarian recently told my daughter, " I love your mom, she is open to anything." So true, but being a cautious person, my adventures are limited to between the pages of a book.   Still, I would say it's a great way to experience adventures, get a taste of other cultures,  gain a different perspective, be entertained while learning, and expand your world. If you haven't picked up on it, I am a life long lover of books.  And sometimes, I have had the chance to meet an amazing, interesting, kind, heartwarming author/artist.
Tea with Susan Branch.
I love Susan's style and whimsical illustrations, recipes and books, so I was excited to attend this tea.  Even though Susan said she is really not a public speaker, her warmth radiated through her talk. What you see on her blog is beautiful and thoughtful, and shows a special effort and attention to detail. Her writing is so engaging you feel you must read...just one more chapter.   Check out A Fine Romance, a charming journal about the English countryside filled with her illustrations. As Susan advises, "Fill your heart with beauty."
and add some tea and scones!
And if you ever have the chance to visit Susan, run don't walk. At the very least check out her blog, you will be both delighted and inspired.
Spread sunshine.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Gardening vs. win

Whew! The heat is on, with a fury....all of a sudden, it's gotten hot, hot, hot. In a week, it has gone from rainy and cold to hot and humid. Vacation and last week's weather have put the planting a little behind schedule but I am on it.  Hopefully, those tender roots will survive this heat and thrive.
...with a little help from the angels.
Have a good start on the front garden...and I have hung my summer basket on the door.
Summer color!
Roses are in bloom...

and the portulaca (or moss roses) have been planted.
But there is still alot to do.  All this gardening has left little time for mail creation, but some of my favorite magazines came. I will be browsing through them tonight while enjoying iced tea in the back garden.
Time to sit sit back and relax.
And of course, temptation came through the mail slot...

oh no, these must go...
As part of my contentment challenge with no unnecessary purchases for 90 days, these had to be recycled promptly...My Transformation Thursday remains intact, but it is not without its challenges. Remaining hopefully optimistic, I am a work in progress. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Flowers on Friday and a Followup

It's Friday, and the start of what looks to be a warm weekend.  There's a good chance that we will be heading to Cranes Beach, armed with sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat...that Irish skin really needs protecting.  As part of my garden transformation, I need to get some beauties in the ground today. Last weekend, we hit our local garden center....oh, the color! A feast for the eyes.

 What a selection of Hydrangeas...the blooms were just enormous.  I had seen similar sized ones last year when we visited the Columbia Road flower market in London with Onz and David, but had never seen them in the US.  Amazing, they are the size of dinner plates. All I can say is wow! and double wow! And then I am a sucker for roses...take a look at these beauties.

I lost  a rose bush last year, and am trying to decide which one to replace it with. A few more trips may be required before I make up my mind. In the meantime, I have some snapdragons and vincas to plant. Since I am working on a budget, as part of my contentment challenge, I need to be days of acting like a drunken sailor/fleur-aholic are over (for the time being, anyway).  In addition to my contentment challenge, I am incorporating a few more areas on Transformation Thursday.   Just one image to share now, but I am making progress.
Cross stitch for Fi
A little bit every day, and it will be done. Or as Susan Branch's bookmark says...

Now for me, it's off to the races...oops, I mean garden.  A happy, sun filled, fun filled weekend to all! And don't forget to look up at the sky tonight, it's a strawberry mini moon shining with Saturn.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Words on Wednesday...Irish style

The beautiful weather we enjoyed in Ireland enabled us to enjoy the scenery and spring flowers.  The hawthorn trees were especially spectacular.

Hawthorn blossoms
Seeing these reminded me of one of my favorite authors, Anne Doughty and her book The Hawthorns bloom in May.  Her historical novels trace the Hamilton family through several generations.  I put them in the books I treasure category.
Hawthorn Tree and view of the village
Up the hill, with a view of the valley flanked by a Hawthorn tree. I took this picture up by Horse Hill which is referenced in The Broken Fiddle by David Dunlop.   The Broken Fiddle is another piece of historical fiction that takes place in Tyrone and Donegal.  I really enjoyed this book both because of the story and because it takes place in the area around my home. The book is a sequel to  Oilean na Marbh, Island of the Dead, which I would rate even higher...a must read if you are interested in historical fiction.

For any Game of Thrones fans, part of it is filmed in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Here's a view of the water cascading down the rocks on the roadside.
Wish there was a place to pull over.
Next year, I hope to get to the Dark Hedges in Antrim, known as King's Road in Game of Thrones.  Hopefully, we will get the chance to stop and walk it, as well as take some photos.

Hope you have the chance to curl up with a good book! I am always looking for recommendations. Happy reading.