Archive | September, 2014

Sandbox Adventure List 30: The Batcave and Peanut Allergies

29 Sep

Dude … I can’t even.

The fact that I had enough energy to venture off to a Sandbox List Adventure Saturday morning amazes me.

This volunteering business is exhausting, so much so that I didn’t have the energy to log on to write or read anything after Taco Tuesday last week.

Volunteering … I get it … Get involved in your kids lives and be a part of the educational experience. It only happens once right?


Yeah … But going to seven stores in two hours, I think I deserve a medal or a chocolate trophy. Could it even be possible to go to seven stores in two hours?


It is.

And who or what do I blame for this journey?

Peanut allergies.

Dude I get that some kids can smell a peanut within a five-mile radius and that Epipen needs to come out. But here’s the thing … there are no kids with peanut allergies at my daughter’s school but they still use sunflower seed butter for snack time.

Are you aware that none of the major groceries stores within a 10-block of the school carry this sunflower butter?

No. No they don’t.

So after my trips to IKEA, Costco, Smart & Final Wholesale, VONS, Ralph’s, and Target for various errands I finally made it to Trader Joe’s Grocery Store.

I bought five jars.

There’s no point in going through that again. I might not make it to the weekend if I have to go through another shopping marathon. I’m one of the few females on Earth that hates shopping. It’s just not for me and I find it amusing that I was volunteered for this task.

But I survived and made it to weekend.

I made it just in time to visit the secret headquarters of the caped crusader … The Batcave.

And my son was thankful.


This adventure was inspired by the original 1960s  television series ... something we watch every Saturday courtesy of TV Land.

This adventure was inspired by the original 1960s television series … something we watch every Saturday courtesy of TV Land.


When I realized that the hiking trail to the Batcave was in Southern California, you know the Guats had to make a trip. My son has always been a fan.

When I realized that the hiking trail to the Batcave was in Southern California, you know the Guats had to make a trip. My son has always been a fan.


The beginning.

So the hike to the Batcave began.


We made it to the top and my son decided to get into Superhero mode, with his mask. His sister joined in by turning into the Flash. We headed in to explore.

We made it to the top and my son decided to get into Superhero mode, with his mask. His sister joined in by turning into the Flash. We headed in to explore.


We made it! High fives all around ... but then a look of concern on his face. Where's the Batcomputer? Dude.

We made it! High fives all around … but then there was a look of concern on his face. Where’s the Batcomputer? Dude. He so wanted to see it, but I had to explain that superheroes put that away because not all visitors are awesome like us … some steal stuff. So despite not being able to play with the Batcomputer it was still a good adventure for the kids.



It Made The List

22 Sep

I’ve always been in love with it. Some people take it too far and it becomes an uncontrollable obsession and I get that, but for me it’s always been love.

I love food especially the good kind. And it so happens that my relationship with it went up a notch thanks to The Sopranos.

I dove into the cookbook this weekend in an effort to get out of an emotional funk. The beach worked its magic as usual but once I got home there was something still lingering there, and seeing how dinner was just around the corner I thought I’d comfort my soul. My taste buds were thanking me too.

A savory and hearty mix of tomato, ditalini, cannellini beans and  Pecorino Romano cheese was making me appreciate all my senses. Especially the kind that can taste and smell flavorful. And the thing is it was a simple recipe, just a couple of ingredients but the combination was amazingly delicious.  So much so that the dish has made my list. My comfort food list. Do you have one?


For someone who grew up in a dysfunctional family, for someone who’s a writer, for someone who’s a mother of two, for someone who’s ever been married, for someone who’s in the George Costanza phase of life, for someone who’s ever had a bad day …

Pasta e Fagioli.





That’s got to be on your comfort food list.

Have you had it?

If not, I strongly encourage you to either get it or make it.  The Sopranos Family Cookbook happened to have a great recipe. I love the library and appreciate all the culinary literature they have on hand. I wasn’t much for cookbooks prior to me 12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge. I only read fiction or nonfiction. But I realize I’m a fan. The thing with cookbooks is that they too open you up to new discoveries, Comfort Food Lists discoveries, which can eventually lead to Bucket List Adventures. And I’m all for that.


My Dad and The Last Pickle

19 Sep

It had been at least twenty-five years since we’d been there, maybe more.

I was driving back from a meeting near the heart of the city and knew it was close by. I didn’t have to go that way. I could have taken the shortcut and made my way back to the freeway, avoiding traffic.

But I made a left turn instead.

And there it was … the yellow letters against a green backdrop. Not block letters, but smooth cursive writing.


Langer's Delicatessen.

Langer’s Delicatessen.


Every other week.

We’d sit in the third booth on the left.

Sun was always shining. Didn’t seem to be cloudy whenever we were there, always bright, always busy.

An older waitress with dark rimmed glasses and red lipstick would greet my Dad and call him honey before taking our order. She’d call everybody honey. We’d start off with a lemonade for myself, cup of coffee for Dad. Black, two sugars.

We’d browse through the menu, but already knew what we wanted. I’d get the chicken noodle soup and club sandwich. Dad would get the pastrami with cold slaw and the pickle. He liked pickles, it was the highlight of his lunch combination, to enjoy a pickle with pastrami. Pickles were an awesome part of lunch. We’d sit and talk about life. Elementary and early middle school life seemed complicated and dramatic back then. A Days of Our Lives kind of saga.

I thought life was difficult.

Dad would do the Dad thing.

He listened.

He saw me. He heard me. And what I had to say was important back then, even when it wasn’t.

This was before the teen years of course when ridiculous battles over tone of voice began.

We’d sit in our booth and talk. Sometimes laugh, sometimes people watch, sometimes just enjoy each other’s company in silence or between pickle crunches.

I missed having lunches. Didn’t realize how important they’d be to me.

I sat there at the stop light thinking.

I miss my friend. I miss someone eating pastrami across the way from me and listening.

I miss someone offering their last pickle just to see me smile.

I was tempted to park the car and go inside, just to get a feel for things. Maybe sit in the third booth, on the left. Order a chicken noodle soup and club sandwich. But I knew it wouldn’t be the same. I couldn’t manage to go in, a heavy sadness hit me at the stop light and I wished so much that my Dad was still here so that we could talk.

I made a right turn and headed to the freeway. Perhaps I’d return with my son and daughter and we could have lunch. I’d order the pastrami this time and probably give them my last pickle.


For When You Can’t Get Over Hump Day …

17 Sep


When Your Molly Ringwald Story Becomes a Diane Lane Adventure …

15 Sep

At first you’re in love.

You got that Corinthians passage memorized and you go in with hope and faith.

You go in thinking you’ve met you’re Jake Ryan.

But then you realize this is not Sixteen Candles and your girlish idea of romance is just that … an idea.

Although … sometimes it pans out and runs the course. You celebrate 50 years, but not just 50 years, 50 good years. Nicholas Sparks romance novel good years.

Other times love gets you to the seven-year itch mark and you find yourself being Diane Lane in any of the Diane Lane-I’m-gonna-dig-myself-out-of-this-disasterous-break-up movies.



But what ends up happening is that you try your best not to be like the lead in Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

This is what’s happened to three of my friends in the last two months.

They say half of marriages end in divorce, my side of the block is up to 75%.

I feel pretty bad about that as none of them did anything to deserve the situation they currently find themselves in, and I couldn’t find the words to express how bad I felt about the situation. All I could do was listen and do my best to make them laugh with whatever personal disaster was happening to me at the moment.

And then I came across a fellow blogger that hadn’t posted in months.

I was happy to see her on my reader until I realized what happened.

They say it’s rare when people get hit by lightning. Extremely low percentage. Even more rare when you get struck twice. But it happens.

And unfortunately for her it happened this way.

However she’s handled it with such strength that it blew me away. What’s even crazier is that she managed to find humor in a completely unfunny situation.



So in an effort to champion my friends back to a better state I sent the posts to them. I was hoping it would give them strength and laughter when they needed it most. And then I realized that there could be others out there living the same quiet moments of sadness who haven’t discovered this blogger. So I thought I would post links Mikalee Byerman’s blog.

Me 2.0 … If necessity is the mother of invention, then divorce is the mother of re-invention…

Here is her story.

The Brick(ginning)

The Brick Part 2

Even if you’re not going through relationship issues, it’s a good blog, full of comedy and heart.

So if you know someone at the end of their Molly Ringwald romance, help them get through their Diane Lane Adventure.

Step one?

Encourage them to visit Byerman’s blog and read her story.

It will get you out of any funk.



The Ones That Shook Me, Pushed Me, Slapped Me, Passionately Embrased Me, Scared the Crap Out of Me and Changed Me

12 Sep

A blogging buddy of mine, Jackie Cangro, recently posted a list of books that influenced her the most, and just as she did with her what-makes-me-happy list she manged to totally inspire me to create one of my own. In my 39 years of eating chocolate these are the books that made the most impact in my life.

It wasn’t just because of the story, it was the characters. They were both flawed and heroic. I wanted to meet them. They inspired me in some way, they changed my perspective. I think any book that changes you in some way is a great book. Some of these are complex, intense sagas, some are simple stories, a few are fiction, while others are based on people’s lives. Fact or fiction they share their truths, sufferings, A-ha moments, life lessons, and successful outcomes.

They’re written with such magic that they’ve left an imprint in my life. These stories left a profound impact and changed the course of my direction, whether I was a teenager in high school, a 20-something learning about myself, or a 30-something badass still learning about myself. There are a lot of books out there I haven’t read yet so many fall on my to-do list. But for now, this is my Shook Me-Pushed Me-Slapped Me-Thelma and Louise Awakened Me- Passionately Embraced Me-Scared The Crap Out of Me-and Changed Me List.

What are some of yours?









The Alchemist–Paulo Coelho



Daughter of Fortune–Isabel Allende



The Catcher in The Rye–J.D. Salinger



Pudd’nhead Wilson–Mark Twain



Life of Pi–Yann Martel



Invisible Man–Ralph Ellison



Native Son–Richard Wright



The Notebook–Nicholas Sparks



The Count of Monte Cristo–Alexandre Dumas


One Hundred Years of Solitude–Gabriel Garcia Marrquez



Eat, Pray, Love–Elizabeth Gilbert



Tuesdays With Morrie–Mitch Albom



The Last Lecture–Randy Pausch



In Cuba I was a German Shephard (The Short Story)–Ana Menendez


Success Comes in Threes

10 Sep

Normally it’s “Photo Challenge Wednesday,” but this week I’m happy to be part of the awesome blog tour supporting the launch of my buddy’s third book.

Yeah … that’s right.

I said third.

Pretty badass isn’t?



Confessions Cover(1)

Her third book



T.B. Markinson is coming out with her third novel and I’m happy to contribute anything I can to her success as an author. Recently she wrote a post about success and how she defined it, and I found it to be pretty inspiring. It helped redefine my perspective a little, as I tend to be hard on myself when defining success. As writers our path is a little different when it comes to declaring “I made it!” It’s not like a teacher, doctor, accountant, or lawyer. It happens in layers, and in moments. Sometimes they are spectacular fireworks, other times in quiet whispers.

But it happens for each of us in our own way.

And it’s happening for her with the release of her third novel.

To celebrate its release, the book is on sale for $0.99 until September 16th.


That’s less than the price of an actual coffee.

And it’s definitely worth your while.

Here’s a little sneak peek.



Kat rose and sat next to me, so Harold’s date could sit next to him. D-Day was just a few minutes away. I sucked in a long breath. God I hoped Amber would show.

Five minutes ticked by. Kat did her best to keep the conversation going, but after ten minutes, I glanced over my shoulder at the worried look on Samantha’s face. Was it possible Amber wouldn’t show?

Beads of perspiration appeared on Harold’s brow. Poor guy. I tried to think of something to say to ease his suffering, but drew blanks. Even Kat looked concerned and wasn’t her chatty self. Harold fiddled with the wrapped book, accidently tearing the corner off.

“Um, are you Harold?” a timid voice came from directly behind me.

Harold glanced up, but didn’t speak.

Kat bounced out of her chair, “Are you Amber?”

“Yeah. I’m so sorry I’m late. Got held up at work.” She continued to stand behind me.

Harold was gaping at her, his eyes bugged. I didn’t want to turn and make the girl feel even more awkward. If I were her, I would be running for the exit.

“Oh, no apologies needed. You’re here, and that’s all that matters.” Kat led Amber to the seat next to the bug-eyed Gaiman fan.

I nudged Harold’s foot under the table, pleading for him to stop gawking. He either ignored me completely or didn’t understand my meaning.

“Let me get the ball rolling. Amber, this is Harold.” Kat motioned to Harold, who finally smiled bashfully and took his eyes off Amber. At least he wasn’t ogling her like she was a science project gone awry. “And this is my girlfriend, Cori.”

I shook Amber’s hand across the table. “Very nice to meet you.”

Harold still said nothing.

“Where do you work, Amber?” asked Kat.

“I’m a paralegal at a law firm.” Amber fidgeted with the purse on her lap and looked miserable.

One minute in, and already I wanted pull the ripcord.

“Harold and Cori work at Beantown Café together. That’s how we all know each other.” Kat was grasping at straws.

“Oh, that’s nice.” Amber didn’t sound impressed.

“I also teach at Adams University. British lit,” I added, and then kicked myself. She wasn’t my date to impress and I made Harold look even more like a loser. Dammit, Cori, you and your ego.

“Really?” Finally, her face had some expression: excitement. “I love to read.”

Her statement kindled an ounce of life in Harold’s body language. He nodded and peeked at her from the corner of his eyes. Then he stared at the water again. Baby steps, Harold, baby steps.

“Who’s your favorite author?” I held my breath after my query. Please say Neil Gaiman. Please, please.

I felt Kat squeeze my leg in anticipation, digging all five nails deep into my thigh.

“J.K. Rowling.”



Cori Tisdale was on top of the world. A basketball star at Harvard and a promising author with a lucrative book deal.

A few years later, Cori’s life is falling apart. Her beautiful girlfriend, Kat Finn, has a shopping addiction. To make ends meet, Cori takes a part-time job at a coffee shop.

Just when Cori thinks her life can’t get any worse, an old crush appears out of the blue. Cori’s friendship with Samantha Clarke pushes Cori further into a dangerous abyss when Sam reveals two secrets to Cori and asks her not to tell a soul, including Kat.

Will this be the end of Cori’s and Kat’s relationship?


About the Author:

B. Markinson is a 40-year old American writer, living in England, who pledged she would publish before she was 35. Better late than never. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling around the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in England, or taking the dog for a walk. Not necessarily in that order. T. B. has published A Woman Lost, Marionette, and Confessions From A Coffee Shop.


Purchase Links:

Amazon (US):

Amazon (UK):


Mailing List:

Sign up to TB’s New Release Mailing List here. Your email will never be shared and you will only be contacted when a new book is out.


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The Final Ride … I’m All In Favor For Revenge

8 Sep



I can’t even tell you …

I can’t even.

Am I ready?

Am I ready!


I’ve been ready since the end of last season.

I’ve been living in shock.

I’ve been wallowing in heartbreak.

The death of my poor Tara, and not just any death, but a violent one at the hands of crazy Gemma.

The death of happily ever after for Jax and Tara.

The death of the truth behind his father’s murder.

The death of a future for his sons, Abel and Thomas.

The birth of more lies.

But hopefully it’s also the birth of revenge.

I’m waiting.

I’ve been waiting.


I know people say you should always take the higher ground, but being that it’s the final season, I’m all in favor of revenge.

Revenge is a good thing, especially when your mom is Gemma … she deserves to go down.

Kurt, are you listening?


You keep killing people who don’t need to die.

First Donna

Then Piney.

Then Opie.

Then Tara.


I damn near lost it with Opie.

And my heart broke with Tara.


You need to rectify the situation.

It’s Gemma’s time.

And I’ll be watching … closely.

The Final Ride starts Tuesday.


I’ll be watching.

Nobody better call me.







The Real Kind of Tired Hits Fridays

5 Sep

I was beginning to see a pattern happening every Friday night, but it wasn’t deliberate.

It was exhaustion.


For some reason Friday night has been the end of me.

I clock out.

I’m done.

My body is weary, not tired … weary.






Completely falls into a let’s lie down on the couch and exhale for five minutes … the kind of five minutes that turns into a two-hour veg out session, followed by a crash-out session that last until the crack of dawn.

I blame it on parenthood and the lack of staff around here … you know personal chef, dishwasher, chauffeur, babysitter, cleaning lady, gardener, and masseuse. I have none of that, and I’m sure plenty of you out there also get by on what I have, but come Friday don’t you just wanna crash?

Doesn’t your body say, c’mon now … c’mon now. That’s enough. You take one more step and you’ll be sorry.

And then you do, and you are.


It’s hit me this month and I’ve had no reserve to get me by, I’m on echale!

And so my Friday night wild outings to the Regal Beagle have ceased to exist, and my dedicated musings on my blog have been absent. But I’m back on the wagon tonight, trying my best to get my writing juices flowing after getting a punch-me-in-my-stomach-thanks-for-trying-there-were-so-many-noteworthy-applicant-stories-this-year-so-it-was-hard-making-a-decision-but-we’re-just-not-that-into-you letter.


I got one this week and Ben & Jerry’s became a little richer as I emptied out the freezer section of my local VONS Supermarket. And even though I was still exhausted tonight, still on empty, and wallowing in cookie-dough ice cream I managed to break my Friday writing drought and get something on the page.

So for those of you who follow me regularly I apologize for my Friday absences, I wasn’t off enjoying spectacular three-day weekends, just making the butt print on my couch a little bit more permanent due to fatigue and exhaustion. Not the fake celebrity/actress/singers I’m tired because I’m on tour with my entourage tired. The real kind of tired. The working class, struggling to pay my bills existence, parent of two who hasn’t been on an actual vacation in seven years kind of exhaustion. That kind of tired. Getting one of those it’s-not-you-it’s-me letters didn’t help the cause either.

But it’s all good tonight, I’ve found a pocket of energy and I’m riding that through this post and a little fiction writing later, in the hopes of finally getting the congrats-we-totally-like-you-you’re-in letter.

Yes! Yes! Yes to the hippopotamus!




Hearing Loss … Now I Know It’s Not Because of Old Age

3 Sep