Monday Morning Orange Juice, June 3, 2019


“Everybody in the world is seeking happiness—and there is one sure way to find it. That is by controlling your thoughts. Happiness doesn't depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions.”

― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

So easy to get caught in the negative energy out there, as I did this weekend. Can't be happy if you're angry. I have to remind myself to breathe, be grateful, and ask "how can it get any better than this?"

Have an even better week than last!

#mondaymotivation #positivevibes #quotes #breathe

Monday Morning Orange Juice, May 13, 2019

wildiris_02asw (2).jpg

“It’s important to be interested in everything. You have your life – experience it to the fullest. You’re eventually going to lose it anyway. I am a very restless personality. If I take time off, I’m likely to do something like build a resort. I can’t help myself. That’s why I try to make businesses out of all of the things that I enjoy: food, wine, films. My company, FFC Brands, sells my taste. I want to set a precedent for my children. They won’t hear me say on my deathbed that I wish I had lived my life differently. I am one big yes.”

Francis Ford Coppola

This quote, from an interview in Fast Company magazine, had a profound influence on me and resonates to this day.

Have an awesome week!

#mondaymotivation #positivevibes #dowhatyoulove #quotes

Monday Morning Orange Juice, April 29, 2019


"Let go of what has passed. Let go of what may come. Let go of what is happening now. Don't try to figure anything out. Don't try to make anything happen. Relax, right now, and rest."


A meditation this week for me, as we finish the final preparations for our City Love fundraiser. Just breathe... #mondaymotivation #positivevibes #quotes

Monday Morning Orange Juice, April 15, 2019


"You’ve got to stay patient, stay in the moment, and keep grinding. You never know what can happen.”

Tiger Woods, Winner 2019 Masters

His calm, determination, and focus paid off. Something to keep in mind for a productive week.
#masters #determination #tigerwoods #mondaymotivation

Monday Morning Orange Juice, April 1, 2019


"A hundred thousand welcomes; I could weep, and I could laugh; I am light and heavy. Welcome. " William Shakespeare

Welcome, April, welcome, Spring --welcome longer days, flowers, warming temperatures.

And welcome, Olive, to this bold new life outside of your puppy mill cage and its horrors. Welcome to soft beds, toys, walks, and kind people who already love you.

Have a great week and month!

In an Urban Garden


September is here, and, though temps were in the 90s Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, they dropped steadily into the 50s on Saturday. On a recent warm afternoon I took a few photos of the Hamilton Street Victory Garden (the oldest community garden in the city of Rochester) before the inevitable effects of the season take hold. A program supported by the South Wedge Planning Committee, this and its sister garden on Cypress Street provided free plots for 55 families this summer. 


A Farm on a Midsummer Night

Crostini with herbed fontina and cherry tomatoes, served in the herb garden

I had the good fortune to be invited to a special dinner Saturday evening, a midsummer night’s dream of a tasting.  Held at Hurd Orchards in a vintage barn, the event showcased 21 original recipes using their abundance of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The atmosphere was enchanting with both sides of the barn opening to setting-sun views of orchards and gardens, candles in glass jars hanging from the beams, and opulent flower arrangements on every dinner table, serving table, and any available space. With gratitude, it was magical.

The hosts pouring celebratory Champagne for a gathering of friends
Amazing home-made graham cracker with honeyed goat cheese and berries.
From one of the three centerpieces on our table

Meditando l'italia (Pondering Italy)


Over Memorial Day weekend, I was tasting and Instagramming a different wine each day (except Saturday, when I had to work during drinking hours.) I’d planned to taste a rose on Monday, the holiday, to really usher summer in. However, while I was downstairs, looking at bottles and pondering how I’d managed to accumulate so much wine, an Italian label caught my eye. I went upstairs ready to get the rose from the frig, when the word (and title) “ITALY” jumped off a bookshelf at me.

I took the book from the shelf and went back downstairs for the Italian Sangiovese. Time to step away from the tasks at hand and open my mind to possibilities again. I’ve been entranced by Italy for a long time.

From where does this come? My own family ties are in the United Kingdom with 19th century Native American links.  


Maybe the Italian culture is what lures me. There is a warmth about close families, grandma making pasta, traditions. The (admittedly stereotypical) food is “comfort” food: spaghetti and meatballs, cheese, pizza, bread, and cookies. There is the Old World wine still made today with ancient grapes on ground that monks tended centuries ago—“Salute” (to your health)—and the home made red in jugs in the basement from Nonno’s backyard vines. Lately, more Italian wineries and contacts are following me on Instagram because of my food and wine posts.

And the language…swoon-worthy words like Montepulciano, Sole de Sardegna, Campania, cara bella, Toscana, Barolo, grazie mille roll seductively around the mouth and off the tongue.

This weekend, Italy kept appearing again. I was able to get reservations at a special Italian five-course dinner at a local restaurant Friday night. On Saturday, as I worked at home, PBS ran a pledge drive promo, “Visions of Italy,” an entire program of helicopter views of the countryside and coastline, and on Sunday, I turned on “International House Hunters” to find a Canadian family buying a vacation/retirement home on Lake Como. Coincidences, I’m sure. These things probably pop up on my radar because, as I mentioned, Italy always piques my interest.  


I’ve been fortunate to have friends and family introduce me to their Italian customs and foods, but at different crossroads in my life I’ve considered an extended stay—or a move—to Italy so that I can really experience the culture and learn more about this ancient country. I’m considering this again, and maybe recent people I’ve met, wines I’ve seen, new followers on Instagram, and special dinners are really part of a plan put in motion a long time ago, this time not only keeping Italy on my mind, but pushing me to pursue this path. 




I feel like I’ve had a productive weekend. Over the past three months—at least—I have been disappointed in myself on Sunday nights for not having completed a myriad of tasks. I would have checked off some of the items on my lengthy, ongoing list, but I wouldn’t COMPLETE the list.

Granted, I work at the store and/or writing articles at least two weekends a month, and the weather hasn’t been conducive to some of my wanna-do tasks like walking in the park or shooting photos.  If there is snow falling, and temps are in the teens, I’ll get my fresh air taking the dog out and leave icy roads and paths to those who have warmer blood than I. From Thanksgiving until the end of January I was also fighting off the flu and felt foggy and sleepy when I had a chance to rest. At any rate, this Capricorn seemed to have no extra energy to actually work on the tasks at hand.

Which brings me to this weekend. Maybe it’s the days getting longer, maybe I’ve finally cleared the flu hurdle, or maybe it was the full moon eclipse a couple of weeks ago, but I feel like things are moving forward in a lot of areas of my life. I’ve been gradually picking up speed and direction, and am making that leap from planning to doing.

Friday I got several things accomplished before getting to the office. One batch of snow hit Friday afternoon, and I shoveled the drive when I got home. Saturday I had a hair appointment, picked up a few groceries, and had the car washed. At home, I went through articles and emails I’d saved to my phone to read later while Hulu played “Tiny House Hunters.”  I watched all of these inspiring people paring down their possessions to “the things that really mattered”—and would fit into 192 square feet.

This is something on which I’ve been working for awhile, since the spring after my parents died, really. I came to Rochester with what I thought were mostly essentials to find that I don’t need all of the stuff still up in the garage. In addition, this house, funky and lovely as it is, is far more house than necessary. After Christmas I put holiday decorations in “to go” boxes in the mudroom and went through a storage closet, bathroom closet, and coat closet to thin those out.

Today I started on my bedroom closet. There were two bins and a suitcase containing seasonal and miscellaneous clothes. Memories of past lives and boyfriends went through my head as I dug through the jumble of fabrics. And socks. I already have a drawer full of socks, but here, remarkably, were more. I started four piles: garbage, general giveaway, teen shelter, and keep. At the end of this session, I put the "keep" pile into the suitcase—only because I didn’t have enough hangers. Shoe boxes went in the one bin to tidy the closet, and everything else went out to the mudroom.

Since I was on a roll, I decided to check out bins of kitchen ware in the basement, two small and one extra large. I went through these when I moved in and got rid of some things, but, now settled, I knew there was more waiting. Sure enough, I ousted the remaining cookie sheets (the one I use is enough,) several lidded casserole dishes (my crock pot and Dutch oven serve my purposes,) and the muffin pans, both regular and mini. Truly, I rarely bake, and any cupcake mission is best left to the professionals at any one of the 1,000 bakeries here in Rochester. Almost everything in these bins joined the clothes out on the porch, and only one small (18 gallon) bin went back downstairs to consider later.

So here I am tonight with a little sense of accomplishment, though there will be several more go-arounds with closets and bins before I get to tiny house level. But this is do-able. 

What are the essentials in my life? What is most important to me? When WAS the last time I actually used this or that? Which wine glasses will be the keepers, and how many of them? (lol)

All of this clearing is shaping up to stock a mega-garage sale this spring. In the meantime, what should I do with these?