Mercury Glass For A Touch of Sparkle

Mercury glass
These beautiful candlestick holders are on my mantle. They stay there all year, and at Christmas, I add crystals and twinkle lights. They are one of my favorites.

Mantle

I’ve always found that mixing elements of old with elements of new adds that personal touch to a home. Making your place feel like it’s yours gives it that warm and welcoming feeling. Whether you’re mixing old photographs with new photographs or old furniture with new furniture, the blending of elements is what makes your home uniquely yours. Mercury glass, also known as silvered glass, is one of those elements that can be incorporated into your decor: it just makes everything a little prettier, and stores like Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs, Home Decorators, and Pier One all sell products featuring Mercury glass.

The candlesticks pictured above decorate the mantle in my home. I bought them at Home Goods. I love the elegance they add to my dining room (our fireplace is in the dining room), and when the candles are glowing, they become a focal point.

The first products made of Mercury glass came from England, and in 1855, America saw its first pieces of it.

Featured here are some photographs of Mercury glass, plus some ideas for decorating with it.

Enjoy!

Mercury Votive from Wayfair.com
Mercury Votive from http://www.wayfair.com
Madison Etched Mer Bottles homedecorators
Madison Etched Mercury Bottles. http://www.homedecorators.com
Regina Andrew Mercury Pendant from candelabra.com
Regina Andrew Mercury Pendant from http://www.candelabra.com
Beautiful Mercury glass display by Ballard Designs. www.ballarddesigns.com
Beautiful Mercury glass display by Ballard Designs. http://www.ballarddesigns.com
Lovely table setting by bellaflowersinc@wordpress.com
Lovely table setting by http://www.bellaflowersinc@wordpress.com
Romantic wedding setting by weddingromantique.com
Romantic wedding setting by http://www.weddingsromantique.com

The Fortune Teller—Flash Fiction

Image:
Palm Reading: A Little Guide to Life’s Secrets by Dennis Fairchild
What is Flash Fiction? It’s telling a short story in a limited amount of words. Some call Flash Fiction a story in 300 words, 500 words, or under 1,000 words. There are varying degrees of word counts for this type of writing, and some Flash Fiction definitions include a word count of 1,500 words. In today’s case, I’ve told a little story in 646 words. Usually with Flash Fiction, there is a clear beginning, a middle, and a wrap up. I wrote this story a couple of years ago, and polished it up a bit. Sharing it again because it’s one of my favorites!

THE FORTUNE TELLER

“That boy loves you,” the old woman next door calls to me as she sees Nick peel away in his black BMW. She is sitting on her stoop in the 98 degree weather, her dyed red hair in old-fashioned rollers, her socks gathered at her heels in her slip-ons. The look on her face indicates that she wants me to engage in further conversation. We have been friendly since we’ve lived next to each other in the row homes of Baltimore, but have never had a long, in-depth conversation.

“He may, but he’s leaving,” I say.

“Probably for the best,” she replies.

I’ve lived beside this odd-looking woman for almost a year, and she pretty much keeps to herself. She knows nothing of my personal life. Her name’s Mable, and I’ve heard others on the block refer to her as “the palm reader,” though she has no official business. I don’t believe in fortune tellers and have never engaged in any sort of it.

“Come here,” she says. “I’ll show you.”

For curiosity’s sake, I walk down the steps from where I am, and climb the four steps to meet her on her stoop. I’m tempted to see what she knows, trying not to let the tears fall in front of her. Her appearance alone warrants concern; there seems to be a twitch in her eye, and she’s wearing more mascara than a runway model. It looks uneven and gloppy. Her coral-colored lipstick goes beyond the outlines of her lips. It is difficult to take her seriously.

She stretches out her hand and asks for my palm. I extend my hand and turn my palm over for her to see.

PalmreadingShe examines it. “There is a lot of passion here,” she says, pointing to the line that runs from my wrist up across my palm in a curve ending at the base of my fingertips. “There’s a great deal of love for that boy.”

I nod.

“However, you will not see him again after today,” she says.

I feel a lump build in my throat.

She continues to look at my hand. “You have a good career, but you’re not quite sure if you want to stay in it. You’re thinking of uprooting yourself and moving someplace far away.”

I get a little chill up my spine. I’ve had this particular thought on and off for the past month, and I’ve told no one. Not even Nick. Not my own parents, or my best friend, Ava.

She focuses on one particular line on my hand, tracing it with her fingertip for what feels like hours, studying it with concerned eyes. She looks puzzled.

“Interesting,” she says.

“What?” I ask, now confused.

“You will travel. You will go where you’ve considered going, and you will be happy.”

“Without Nick,” I say, more as a statement than a question.

“Yes,” she says. “There will be passion again, but only if you go.”

Nick and I have been together for a year. However, I can’t be with him long term, nor should we ever have been together. Nick is unhappily married. He lives apart from his wife, but they are not formally divorced. Nor are there any plans for them to be so. The passion with which Mable speaks is true; it currently exists, but it is a sick, twisted, unhealthy passion, and it has become the ruin of me.

Three weeks ago, I was offered an opportunity to work for my friend’s father’s business in Rome. I’ve always wanted to go abroad, and have seriously contemplated accepting it.

I scoff at the idea of leaving for a moment, and then I stop. She sees my face, and gives me a crooked, quirky smile.

Mable is offbeat, eccentric, ridiculously dressed, and the oddest person I’ve ever talked to, but something tells me to listen. Something makes me take her seriously.

 

Finding Inspiration on a Monday Morning

Mondays. We all dread them. It means the weekend is over, and it’s time to get back to work.

You can look at it this way if your choose, or you can look at it another way.

Instead, remind yourself of what a great weekend you had, and set goals to reach this week. Feeling accomplished and checking things off your list is a way to feel better about Mondays and the week ahead. Set goals this week, whether they are work-related, personal, or task-related. I know I have a few things to accomplish this week—and they must get done pronto—so I’m planning out the week in advance.

The way to take away the Monday blues is to beat it. Here are some quotes to help you get through this week…some are just to make you laugh.

MondayAwesome

Coffee Monday

Monday

Monday Fresh Start

Positive Monday

Watermelon Sunday

Watermelon
Watermelon: A refreshing…vegetable??? Yup. Photo credit: Stephanie Verni

* * *

I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to get enough watermelon this summer. While I’ve always liked watermelon, this year’s crops have been so tasty sweet that I’ve been buying watermelon every time I go to the grocery store. What I love about it most is that it’s a sweet, healthy treat that also helps to quench your thirst when it’s hot and humid.

Whether you slice it up and serve it with the rind on it or cut it up into cute little squares, watermelon adds color to your table and invites friends to come sit and enjoy.

PorchParties AmazonIn the book my dear friend Amy gave me entitled “Porch Parties,” there’s a fantastic drink recipe I’ll share with you that you can make with watermelons. Also, I’ve provided a link to Food & Wine (click here) for more delicious recipes to help quench your thirst this summer.

My former student, Courtney Hastings, is the Mar-Del Watermelon Queen. She essentially is the PR spokesperson for the Mar-Del Watermelon Association. You will see her out and about at various festivals and events in our region. She can tell you anything you need or want to know about watermelons.

My former student, Courtney Hastings, The Watermelon Queen for Mar-Del. Courtney graduated in May from Stevenson University with a degree in Business Communication. Don't let that tiara and sash fool you...she is a savvy PR pro.
My former student, Courtney Hastings, The Watermelon Queen for Mar-Del. Courtney graduated in May from Stevenson University with a degree in Business Communication. Don’t let that tiara and sash fool you…she is a savvy PR pro. Photo credit: Stephanie Verni

In case you wanted to know a few more fun facts about watermelon, I’ve gathered some of the most interesting below:

  • Watermelon does, indeed, quench your thirst. It can also quench inflammation that contributes to conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and arthritis.
  • There are over 1,200 varieties of watermelon grown worldwide.
  • Watermelon doesn’t contain any fat or cholesterol, is high in fiber and vitamins A & C, and is a wonderful source of potassium.
  • Pink watermelon is also a source of the potent carotenoid antioxidant, lycopene, a powerful antioxident that fights off icky stuff in your body.
  • Believe it or not, watermelon is a vegetable, not a fruit! It is related to cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins.
  • Every single part of a watermelon is edible, including the seeds and the rind.

And now, the recipe for Watermelon Cooler!

Watermelon Cooler from PORCH PARTIES (this drink is featured on the cover of the book!)

4 cups 2-inch cubes watermelon

1 cup Vodka, chilled

2 tablespoons honey (see note)

Garnish: Small Watermelon Wedges with Rind (optional)

Freeze the watermelon chunks in a zip-lock bag until just frozen, about 1 hour. Remove from the freezer and add to blender. Pour in the Vodka and honey. Process until blended and pour into frosted cocktail or jelly glasses. Garnish as desired.

*Note: Use standard honey (like Clover) instead of a dark or other strongly flavored version. Otherwise, it will change the drink’s flavor in a disappointing way.

Hope you enjoy your Watermelon Sunday!

6 Ways to Wear Makeup That Doesn’t Age You

Makeup
That’s me above. I swear by foundation. I wear it every single day … I also love SJP’s dewy look. I get it by using Boots Highlights. Another tip I learned from a makeup artist years ago is to fill in your eyebrows with a light pencil…nothing heavy. She said, and I quote her directly, “Your eyebrows accentuate your eyes. Think of them as the frame to your eyes.” I have never forgotten this wonderful tip.

* * *

You can probably tell if you scroll through my past posts over that last few years that I’m kind of dreading turning 50 next month (I just lied…I am absolutely dreading turning 50 next month. Yikes.). I’m not quite sure how I got here, but alas, it is about to happen. You can control some things, but you can’t control aging. So, without turning to Botox or plastic surgery, I have to resort to other tactics that will help me feel beautiful and fresh (and young), and they pretty much revolve around using makeup to my advantage.

I’ve heard people say that makeup ages you. This is not true.

Badly applied makeup ages you.

If you know some tricks and how to execute them properly, you’ll feel better about yourself. Take the time to make an appointment with a makeup artist and have her show you some techniques for your particular skin type, coloring, and texture. In the meantime, here are some tips I stand by with my makeup routine.

Sarah Jessica Parker's skin is enviable. It glows and looks so healthy.
Sarah Jessica Parker and I are the same age; her skin is enviable. It glows and looks so healthy. Plus, her stylists and makeup artists know exactly how to highlight those gorgeous cheekbones and piercing blue eyes.
1. Don’t believe that makeup ages you

As we age, our skin changes. Sun spots and other aging processes take place. Often women say, “I don’t wear makeup,” and yet, I think it’s not that they don’t want to wear makeup, but they haven’t learned how to do it properly—or easily. My makeup routine in the morning takes all of about 4 minutes from start to finish. It’s fast and easy. I’ve got it down to a science. And it doesn’t age me, but rather smooths things out and leaves me feeling pretty good about myself.

2. Find fabulous foundation

Wearing foundation that suits your skin type and coloring helps even out your skin and give it a glow. Plus, foundation has SPF in it. How great is that to have SPF 15 in your foundation and not have to worry about being in the sun? You are already protected. Big bonus. I wear foundation 365 days a year to protect my skin as much as possible. But, if you’re someone who feels coated by wearing foundation, here is the best tip I know: wet a makeup sponge and then dab the foundation on it. BootsHighlightsApply it with a wet sponge and it dilutes the foundation a bit. It will leave you feeling fresher. Also, there are lines of foundation that are less heavy, so choose one that suits you. To get Sarah Jessica Parker’s dewy look, use a highlight cream such as the one pictured here by Boots (I get it at Target), and strategically dab and rub it into spots on your face that naturally glow, such as your mid forehead, your inner cheekbones, and chin.

white highlighter3. Brighten your eyes

A white highlighter pencil should be one of your best friends. It opens up the eyes and makes them look brighter. You want to put it on the eye in the very inside corners of the lower lid and slightly up on the upper inside lid. See the image of the eye to see exactly where the white pencil should go.

4. Bat those eyes

Again, in order to accent the eyes—which are most people’s best feature—you will want to play them up a little with mascara. This does not mean you have to load the mascara on. In fact, too much heavy eye makeup can age you, while just the right amount will help people focus on the windows to your soul.

5. Blush it properly

Applying blush to the right spots will help accentuate your features, but you must apply it in the right space. Typically, starting slightly below the cheekbones and moving upward is the most flattering way to wear it. YOU DON’T NEED A LOT OF IT. Adding just a little pink or light red will make your face glow. Overdoing it will just make your face look ridiculous. Choose a color that suits your skin tone. Again, a makeup artist is your best bet to get your colors right.

If you’ve got two minutes, check out this video by Maybelline that shows you how to apply blush naturally.

Click on the photo to visit aroundmakeup.com to learn more about getting these gorgeous kissable lips!
Click on the photo to visit aroundmakeup.com to learn more about getting these gorgeous kissable lips!
6. Create kissable lips

There’s so much you can do with lips—you can keep them natural or play them up with color. As with blush, colors should be chosen carefully. What looks good on your friend may not be the right shade for you. The key to looking more youthful is to wear it so that it looks natural, yet polished.

10 Words of Wisdom to Defeat the Negativity Monster in Relationships and at Work

nonegativethoughtsNobody likes to hang around with negative people all the time. Let’s face it—when you’re in the throes of feeling blue, that last thing you should do is allow negative influences into you life. People who never have a kind word to say or wallow in gossip can be detrimental to your well-being. At some point in our lives, we’ve all brushed up against destructive and toxic relationships. When you feel yourself going down a path that leads to more negativity, you are responsible for your own happiness, and must make adjustments in your life, whether that means altering friendships, dealing with family in a different way, or ending relationships that make you feel less than stellar.

Trust me—life it too short to feel less than stellar.

If your job is causing you to feel down in the dumps, you have a few options. Try adjusting your thinking and creating new paths for success at work. Perhaps you could inquire about a switch of department or seek out new opportunities for growth. Sometimes just a change of position and atmosphere can help raise your spirits. Or, if there are no other choices left at your current place of employment, you could look for a new job, perhaps try that dream job you never got around to trying or look for ways to connect with a company you’ve heard good things about.

You spend a lot of time at work, so it’s important that you like what you do.

I’ve collected some ofmy favorite quotes about the subject for you to mull over. Let me know what you think, and drop me a note as to how you beat negativity.

Actor Tom Hiddleston who said,
It was actor Tom Hiddleston who said, “Haters never win. I just think that’s true about life, because negative energy always costs in the end.”
  1. Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results. — Willie Nelson
  2. Positive anything is better than negative nothing. — Elbert Hubbard
  3. Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change. — Gretchen Rubin
  4. It’s easy to get negative because you get beat down. You go through a few disappointments and it’s easy to stay in that negative frame of mind. Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is a whole cliché, but your attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life. — Joel Osteen
  5. Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation. — Michael Jordan
  6. Haters never win. I just think that’s true about life, because negative energy always costs in the end. — Tom Hiddleston
  7. The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking. — Robert H Schuller
  8. The difference between winning and losing is most often…not quitting. — Walt Disney
  9. Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice. — Steven Covey
  10. You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream. — C.S. Lewis

#Annapolis with #nofilter

CapitalToday’s blog post is a photo essay of the afternoon spent with my daughter in Annapolis. Even in this near 100 degree weather, the photos—all taken with my iPhone and with no filter—represent this city well…one of my favorite places on the planet. Annapolis is so near and dear to my heart, and my first novel entitled Beneath the Mimosa Tree, pays homage to my hometown. Many readers of the novel have told me that they felt as if Annapolis was another character in the novel, which is quite flattering, I have to say. My goal was to make you fall it love with it on the written page as much as if you got the chance to visit it yourself.

I hope you enjoy strolling the streets of Annapolis in this photo essay as much as I enjoyed my day with my daughter that included lunch, ice cream, shopping, and snapping some photos.

The locals call it Naptown, but I’ll always refer to it as my home.

TheLuckyKnot

Shopping4Alex&Ani

MarylandStuff

Shopping3

Shoppping2

ThePinkCrab

Shopping1

Circle

Harbor

AnnapolisHarbor

Sign&Flowers

StormBros

AnnapolisSummerGardenTheatre

sign

HatsintheBelfry

Kokopelli

MainStreet

The Swing Era & Today’s Fashion

1940s style and its influence today. Photo credit: frangantica.com
1940s original style and its influence today. Photo credit: fragantica.com
1940s style inspires today's fashion.
1940s style inspires today’s fashion.

Many people are fascinated with the mid 1930s up until the late 1940s called “the swing era.” That tumultuous period of time—with World War I behind us and World War II looming and then beginning—marks a time of worry, uncertainty, and confusion. However, the fashion of the era continues to be emulated, even as we look to today’s trends. The 1940s is my favorite period of time where fashion is concerned (and I happen to also love the swing era of music and that Big Band Sound). I adore the look of hats, gloves, and fitted clothing that boast confidence and class.

00020big
The lines of the 1940s represented in today’s fashion on the catwalk.

Streamlined cuts of clothing, longer length skirts, and perfect silhouettes were the mark of women’s fashion in the 1940s. Men’s suits were tailored and fitted. Clothing was muted, and women often punched up drab colors with bright red lipstick, pausing to curl their hair. When the war ended, Christian Dior altered the existing trend a bit by nipping in the waist of skirts and adding yards of fabric to make skirts fuller. Dior allowed the clothes to show off a woman’s body—curves and all.

1940s fashion.
1940s fashion.

In today’s business fashion, you can still look to the 1940s to garner ideas about how to wear clothing, particularly clothes that are suitable for an office setting. Even though some companies are becoming more lenient about women’s fashion in the workplace, there is nothing more polished than a woman in a smart outfit that suits her body or a man in a well-designed and fitted suit.

What era of fashion is your favorite? What cues do you take away from that era of fashion?

men-street-style-retro-looks-7

“It’s All In the Bag” — Items for Your Pool or Beach Bag

BeachBag

Scout bag. Check.

Suntan lotion. Check.

Face lotion. Check.

Flip Flops. Check.

Bathing Suit. Check.

Towel. Check.

Sunglasses. Check.

Bike. Check.

We all have our pool and beach bags, and what we keep inside them is still important as we hit the midway point of summer. Summer is not over—there are many more weeks of it ahead of us, and it’s as important to take care of and protect our hair, skin, and eyes now as we did when we first started getting a little sun on our bodies.Water&book

One of my favorite purchases has been my Scout bag. I love that it’s water resistant and has ample room to carry all the aforementioned items in it. The pool I belong to is about two blocks away, and I often ride my bike there (hence the basket). Wearing sunblock (I prefer 50 or more on the body) that is waterproof is important if you like to get in the water a lot. Sunglasses are a necessity to both protect your eyes and help you from not squinting all day long.

Water is imperative for our bodies, especially when we can easily become dehydrated by the hot sun and humidity. Be sure to keep drinking to help keep you healthy.

Other items not pictured include lip balm with SPF, your cell phone (though, really, it’s summer…try not to pay as much attention to that thing as you normally do), and a hat to protect your hair, especially if your hair is color-treated.

Lastly, no bag is complete without a good book in it. That’s what summertime is all about: rejuvenation, relaxation, and reading a good book.

What else do you keep inside your bag besides those I’ve mentioned?

BikewithFlowers

Endorsements for Baseball Girl

Thank you Banner

Today, I’d like to thank Dr. Charles Steinberg of the Boston Red Sox and Jack Magnus of Readers Favorite for their kind commentary about Baseball Girl. Dr. Steinberg endorsed the book, which you can see showcased on the new cover, and Jack Magnus gave it a 5-Star Review.

As for sales of this independent novel, they are steady, and I’m pleased with its progress without having executed a full-blown marketing campaign. Word of mouth seems to be helping it along, so if you’ve enjoyed reading it, please consider recommending it to someone or writing a review for it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I can tell you only that it was a labor of love. Having spent 13 years working for the Baltimore Orioles, I decided that I wanted to write a fictional story grounded in love and loss that was only made possible by my experiences working in the front office of a professional baseball team. While the story is fictionalized, many of the situations and feelings that the main character experiences and shares are similar to those I experienced myself. Working in baseball was magical for me–I met all of my best friends during my time at the club, and I even met my spouse working in baseball.

While Francesca certainly has to overcome the loss of her father, she also has other interpersonal relationships to navigate. It was fun to write, and I hope you enjoy the novel as much as I enjoyed crafting each of the characters, writing the introductory quotes to each chapter, and imagining what Bay City must look like (though many readers have already told me they know it’s Baltimore)!

Thanks for your support!

BaseballGirlFinalCoverRevisedCSRF

Choosing the Perfect Briefcase

My Coach briefcase...still looking good after all these years.
My Coach briefcase…still looking good after all these years.
Finding the perfect briefcase is like finding the perfect purse: it takes time, patience, and a good eye. If you’re anything like me, choosing the right bag is never easy; we all have different needs based upon our line of work. Whether it’s a briefcase or a bag, all the right design components must come together just how you like them in order for you to make that purchase. Briefcases are typically a needed (and not so inexpensive) accessory, so choosing one that suits you is important.

Briefcases are both a cost and lifestyle investment. When you purchase something that is going to be a daily part of your work life, you want it to be efficient, sturdy, and well-crafted. Designers make beautiful briefcases, but when it comes to functionality, you are the one who needs to make the right choice based upon your occupation, work load, and stylistic choices. Make sure the briefcase doesn’t just look pretty, but also serves to keep you organized and offers enough room so that you can utilize it in the best way possible. You don’t want to purchase one that is too small, nor do you want to pick one that’s too large and cumbersome to carry from place to place and meeting to meeting.

My particular choice was made many years ago when my teaching load increased. I wanted a leather bag that serves two primary functions: (1) that it allows me to carry all the papers I have to grade and assignments I have to hand out, and (2) that it is roomy enough to fit at least one textbook. Based on these two parameters, I chose the Coach bag above. As an added bonus, I can often carry two texts in my briefcase. Additionally, the leather wears well, and after many years of full service, it’s still in great shape.

I’ve pulled together different ranges and varieties of briefcases as inspiration for you and organized them from the most expensive to the least expensive.

Go find that perfect one that suits you, and let me know what you pick.

Coach Bleeker Slim Brief | $498
Coach Bleeker Slim Brief | $498 | Coach.com
Robe di Fiorenze Designer briefcase | $458
Robe di Fiorenze Designer briefcase | $458 | Forzieri.com
Lodis Audrey Brera Leather Briefcase | $318 | Nordstrom
Lodis Audrey Brera Leather Briefcase | $318 | Nordstrom
Michael Kors Windsor double dip briefcase | $268 | Zappos.com
Michael Kors Windsor double dip briefcase | $268 | Zappos.com
Twist Briefcase | $148 |Handbags.com
Twist Briefcase | $148 | Handbags.com
Leather Briefcase with removable laptop sleeve | $96 | Target.com
Leather Briefcase with removable laptop sleeve | $96 | Target.com

The Switch to Plain Greek Yogurt

IMG_2167Over the past two weeks I have made a change to my diet: I have switched from flavored yogurts laden with fruit and sugar to plain Greek yogurt. Why? I am trying to lower my sugar intake…just for the good of my health.

According to an article by Fitness Magazine (fitnessmagazine.com), there are many primary benefits tied to eating yogurt and weight loss. Some of the reasons are as follows (you can click here for the full article on their website for more details):

  • Yogurt can give you flat abs.
  • Most brands of yogurt contain good-for-you bacteria.
  • Yogurt is loaded with vitamins.
  • A cup of yogurt a day can help you recover quicker after a workout.
  • Yogurt may help prevent high blood pressure.
  • A daily serving of yogurt helps keep colds away.
  • Yogurt can help your smile.
  • Yogurt is a high-protein food.

Initially, as someone who has a pretty fierce sweet tooth, I was dreading the switch to a much plainer tasting yogurt. However, doctoring it up a bit with fresh fruits, raisins, and a sprinkling of pumpkin flax granola has certainly helped me get used to the taste without much wincing.

If you’re someone who likes yogurt and who wants to make little steps toward better health, give this one a try. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

IMG_2135