Perigee Moon and Spring, All in One Weekend!

How could you not notice the moon last night?!

Last night I was driving east at about 8 pm or so and noticed the moon. I don’t think anyone could miss it last night, truth to tell. The moon was huge. Actually, the moon was huge, full and bright. It was beautiful. When I got home I grabbed my Nikon D90 and headed back outside to take a few photos. It was really nippy by then. Okay, my teeth were chattering, but I got my photos.

It was a perigee moon, a rare lunar event that last occurred in March 1993. Did you see the moon last night? What did you think of it? Do you remember it being as large in March 1993? Ah. Me neither, so don’t feel bad. I have trouble remembering what I ate for dinner a few hours after I’ve eaten it, never mind what the moon looked like on a specific night almost 20 years ago.

"It was a dark and stormy night". . .uh, wrong! But it does look a little sinister in this shot, right?

Some folks were thinking/writing/talking about how perigee moons trigger natural disasters. Did a natural disaster happen near you? The only natural disaster I experienced was losing my footing on my front hill; I slipped and fell into the rose bush I was pruning. It hurt and all, but I don’t think that’s the sort of natural disaster some folks were thinking/writing/talking about.

My venerable beech tree makes this shot lovely, in my opinion.

I pulled this pot out of the unheated greenhouse. Survivors! I have survivors!

Today it’s another beautiful weather day here in Northern New Jersey, a bit chilly, but sunny. I’ve been out working in the garden again. Today I plants hostas (‘Patriot’) and astilbes (‘Key West’), spruced up the raised veggie beds, and pulled the strawberry pots out of the greenhouse; they overwinter there every year, and come spring, I pull them out, see what survived, and replant the empty holes. I have a ton of self-seeded forget-me-nots in a bed on the west side of the house so I plugged the empty holes with some of  them for now; it’ll make a very pretty spring vignette.

This pot will look terrific when the forget-me-nots bloom!

Whatcha doing today?

These pots are pretty old; it's a surprise every year to see what lived through the winter in the unheated greenhouse.



Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, garden cleanup, gardening, weather

Thanks to a Former Coworker and Still Friend

Today I met Lori, a former coworker and still friend, for lunch. We worked together for many years, me as a financial editor and she as tech support at a big-deal investment bank. Lori helped me out of many a PC jam, week in and week out. Time spent together created a friendship. We both left the big-deal investment bank many years ago, but we keep in touch. We are both writers, in addition to what else we are!

The last time Lori and I met for lunch she told me about The Write Group, an organization created by and for writers that meets in Northern New Jersey. She told me about the Saturday morning free write meet-ups and the weekly email newsletter. After that lunch I went home and signed up to receive the newsletter.

I love my Mac! My husband Mike surprised me with it. I kicked my PC to the curb and never looked back. The Best!

Today I thanked Lori for broadening my writing horizons. If Lori hadn’t told me about The Write Group I would not have had the opportunity to attend some of its Thursday night meetings like Social Media, Memoir Your Way to Freedom, and Legal Issues for Writers, to name three. I would not have learned about MEWS, an organization that was founded to bring together writers and editors in a Northern N.J. town. And then I wouldn’t have taken Pam Satran’s one-day novel writing class; I learned more in that one-day class than I have at any other writer’s gathering, ever.

During class I write long hand, which is NOT my preferred method.

And if I hadn’t attended these events and workshops I probably wouldn’t have signed up for the five-week free-write class I have been taking on Monday nights; it’s a challenge for someone like me, an editor, to sit and just write for 20 minutes without sneaking back and editing what I’ve just written. And it’s difficult for me to read what I’ve written out loud to my classmates. But I’m learning. I’m learning to let go of my old edit-as-I-go habit and I am conquering the fear that hits me every time I hear myself volunteering to read what I’ve just written in class.

I figure that if I can just write, as Pam Satran, the many writers I’ve met over the past year and my Monday night instructor and classmates say I should, then I will create something truly special.

First, write it down. Put all that wonderful stuff in your head onto paper or computer. All of it. Or as much as you have time to do in the time you have.

Second, edit it. But edit it at another time, a time far removed from the initial creative process. Assign a day or time to “just edit.”

<deep breath>

Now excuse me while I go practice what I just preached.

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Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Friends, Write Group, Writing

High School Softball Season: First Scrimmage Today!

It's that time again!

Today my daughter Tory’s high school softball season begins with the first of 7 scheduled scrimmages against local teams. Tory throws out her first pitch of what we hope is a long and successful season today at 4 p.m. I will drag a cooler full of cold water to the dugout a little early then climb into the stands to cheer for the team and Tory.

My girl is ready for the high school season to begin; Tory will be the starting varsity pitcher this year. The team graduated a number of key players last year so it could be a bit rocky around our home field until the newbies find their proper throwing and fielding arms, never mind pulling out their bats and hitting the ball. And I heard a number of the starting varsity players are injured.

This is what Tory swings.

That said, the young women have 7 scheduled scrimmages to get their game faces adjusted. And they are young, their second-year coach is young and spring is in the air. . .everything is possible.



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Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, softball

A Great Meal. A Great Struggle

Last night I made Suzanne Michaud’s recipe Braised Chicken with Lemon and Dill.  I met Suzanne in December when she was the chef/teacher at my girlfriend Gail’s home cooking class. I took plenty of great recipes away that night, and now I subscribe to Suzanne’s blog, Comfort Food Stories. This recipe, which arrived in my email box recently, can be found here. Click on the link to get the recipe and see what the finished dish looks like. Yum!

I browned the chicken in a combo of canola oil and butter.

Since my husband Mike is a picky eater, I replaced the dill with fresh chopped parsley for a milder taste. We love the dish, which is flavorful, tender and easy to make. And when Suzanne said it’s quick to make, she really meant it. I’m glad I took her advice and had everything prechopped and ready to be popped into the pan!

I had everything standing by to be popped into the skillet. Fast hands!

These are the sauteed beans for a yummy side dish!

Just a few drops of oil and saute away!

I'm hoping to be up and running soon!

Separately, some of you know that I am in the throes (yes, throes) of transferring my blog to a self-hosted format. Since I am not a programmer, or anything even close, my learning curve has been steep, but I am making progress! I have a domain name (adventuresofamiddleagemom, of course!) and a host; I am pointing unseen programming arrows in the right directions and figuring out how to import my old blog posts into my new site. Last night I wasn’t patient enough and  I ended up with only half of my old posts imported and now have to go back like three steps and start again. <sigh> Has anyone else done this successfully?

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed I can make the transition successfully. In the meantime, if I am not posting as often you know it’s because I’m mentally exhausted from trying to get all my acronyms straight and the unseen arrows pointed properly!


Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Blogs and Blogging, Comfort Food Kitchen, Cooking, Food, Let's Talk Recipes

Flower Design Competition Today!

Today was my garden club’s final in-house floral competition for the 2010-2011 club year. As an Intermediate II designer I signed up to create a “Traditional Vertical Design placed on a table on the stage 42″ from the floor; allotted space 24″ deep x 24″ wide.  Background and underlay optional.” Yes. Indeed I did.

As usual, I purchased flowers on Friday afternoon, clipped them and put them to “condition” in my cool basement then I went about the business of having a productive and fun weekend. Sunday afternoon arrived and I brought the flowers up from downstairs and stared at them. And stared at them. And stared at them some more. Not really convinced I know what a traditional vertical design is, I Googled it and studied the results, then I grabbed my trusty “Designing By Types” book that I purchased at our club’s December tea; it inspired my topiary design last month. This month, however, I didn’t see what I needed. That said, I did my best and submitted my design this morning, as required.

Here is my traditional vertical design. I value the constructive criticism I received.

Fast forward to this afternoon and I saw my design earned a blue ribbon. Wow! I really appreciated the judges’ constructive feedback. I received two positives: (1) strong vertical lines. (2) scale and proportion of material good. And I received two constructive criticisms that are well deserved: (1) Proportion of the container to design is too great. (2) needs more transitional material between vase and design. Okay. I can look at my design and see what the judges mean.

Other designs today were lovely. I was able to photograph a few before I had to leave. Take a look!

My friend Cynthia created this Advanced I masterpiece: "Creative Line Design placed on a round black pedestal 42" from the floor with a 14" square top."

Two “designers submitted the following based on these instructions: “Intermediates will do a Parallel Design, Handbook, p. 206, staged on a table 30″ from the floor, allotted space 24″ deep x 24″ wide.  Background and underlay optional.”


Our club president Karen did this blue ribbon design.

I can always pick out Fran's designs as they are rich in color, creative and just plain fun to view!

One design I missed photographing was the table centerpiece. My friend Celia designed it. Maybe you can picture it if I try to describe it: From a distance you saw baby birds’ mouths peeping out of a bird’s nest with spring flowers tucked in around. When you looked closely, you saw the “birds” were white calla lilies (with the stems clipped short and tucked in low and tight they looked like little open mouths), a coil of grapevine represented the nest and spring blooming flowers were tucked in along the edges of the “nest.” In all, it was whimsical and clever and very, very spring!

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Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, floral design, Flower Shows, Garden Club

Fernandes II Steakhouse: We’re Still Full!


Every table is filled in this huge, three-story restaurant every time we eat there. It attracts mostly large family groups that come for the festive atmosphere and tasty food. We typically call two weeks in advance to get a prime-time table reserved, and although it’s pricey, we definitely think Fernandes II is worth it when we want to celebrate an occasion; last night, we celebrated my son Max’s last night home before heading back to Big Ten College.

Waiters carve and serve BBQ meats tableside.

Fernandes is famous for its rodizio, a fixed price, all-you-can-eat meat fest; waiters carry huge skewers of different kinds of grilled meat and even bigger carving knives tableside and slice portions onto your plate; they just keep coming back with filet, pork, lamb, sausage, sirloin and more until you finally wave them off. My husband Mike and Max ate the meat fest meal last night. Mike looked like he was in a meat coma by the time he had tucked into his last sausage!

Take a look at the photos to see what the rest of us ordered and ate. And yes, some of us, who will remain nameless, ordered dessert too!

I ordered the spicy shrimp; check out my portion of rice in the bowl to the left of my plate!

My sister Cindy ordered a steak; those homemade potato chips are the bomb!

My daughter Tory ordered the garlic, mushroom, spice chicken. Tasty, tasty, tasty!

My brother-in-law Bid ordered steak and lobster tail. Tender and delish, nothing was left on his plate!

My niece Moriah ordered this steak; it comes on a bamboo plank with a lit stove underneath; she cooked her steak just the way she wanted it!

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Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Family, Fernandes II Steakhouse, Fine Dining, Food, New Jersey

Northern New Jersey: The Happy Gardener

7 bags of garden debris in 8 hours over two days. . .and I've just begun the cleanup.

This afternoon was a great time to get some more spring garden cleanup done. The sun was shining. A slight breeze was blowing. The birds were singing. All was right with my world. I spent four hours raking, pruning and “Preen”ing a few areas of my garden. I also replanted a couple of shrubs that somehow hopped out of the ground when I wasn’t looking and winter was doing its freeze/thaw cycle.

Do garden centers sell corn gluten where you live?Hey, do you use Preen? It’s a pre-emergent herbicide that prevents weed seeds from germinating. I would rather use corn gluten, which serves the same purpose and is an organic approach to boot, however, try finding corn gluten when you live about 20 minutes from New York City.

Tonight is a special night, my family of four is meeting my sister and her husband for dinner at Fernandes II, a Basque restaurant in Newark (that’s ‘New erk,’ as in Jersey, not ‘New ark’ as in Delaware). I think my niece will be there too with Baby Nathaniel. Good food! Good company! Good time!

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Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Baby Nathaniel, Family, Fine Dining, garden cleanup, New Jersey