2020… Am I right?

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Ooph!

Life has been crazy lately, hasn’t it?

But I guess that goes without saying these days.

I haven’t blogged in a long time. I can’t even blame 2020 for that but to say I’ve been busy would be both a cop out and an understatement. I can only say I’ll try to do better.

In addition to all the mom stuff we moms do on the regular, I’ve been distracted by other things. Work. Life. Other stuff.

Though I obviously haven’t been blogging, I have been writing. A lot actually.

I rewrote one of my novels… again. Only this time, I like hardcore rewrote it—as in completely shredded the you-know-what out of it until it was completely unrecognizable and then I put it back together. Like one of those 1000-piece puzzles so many of us attempted to tackle this year, I felt accomplished and proud when I finally finished it. But like a puzzle, now I don’t know what to do with it or myself. I’m not sure whether I should frame it, start another puzzle right away, or take it apart all over again.

Perhaps it’s time to dust off the querying cobwebs and get going.

I signed with an amazing agent what now seems like a millennium ago. Then, we broke up a few centuries later. It doesn’t matter who broke up with whom at this point, as people often say who have had their hearts crushed a time or two. I reached out to her again recently. Maybe we’ll get back together or maybe we won’t. We’ll see. Either way, I’m not sure I’m ready to start dating other people.

My dad died last year.

That was rough. Way worse than the agent thing. Still not ready to talk about it.

Oh, and COVID. WTF? I lost a good friend this year to it. She was 44 when she got it and 45 when she was removed from the ventilator. In case you’re wondering, she had no preexisting conditions or at least none anyone was aware of. So many people have lost people this year. Over a dozen of my close friends have lost parents. Not all to COVID but it seems we have all lost something or someone to it. But we’re also gaining things. It’s not always easy to see those things but if we squint hard enough, they’re there.

It’s probably strange to admit this but I’ve enjoyed my time in quarantine. In some ways, self-distancing comes naturally to me. Spending more time with my family, especially my daughter, has been nothing short of a blessing.

We’ve decided to homeschool her this year. She’s always kind of wanted to be homeschooled so needless to say she’s beyond excited. I am too. So far, it’s going well.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have Polycystic Kidney Disease. I’ve never let it slow me down, but like so many of you who have preexisting conditions it’s given me something extra to think about in the midst of this whole COVID sitch. My mom has it, too.

We all have so much on our hearts and minds these days.

I hope you’re happy and healthy.

I’ll blog again soon.

This year.

Promise.

Women Who Write in Film chose me!

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My screenplay Pro M.O.H. (Professional Maid of Honor) came in 2nd Place in the Women Who Write in Film International Screenwriting Competition!!

I’m so honored! And I’m excited to see where this might possibly lead me next!

Monster Pudding Cups for Halloween

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I love to make special treats for my daughter to take to school, especially at holiday time. Here’s a quick and easy treat for Halloween! Not only are these fun and easy to make, but they’re cheap so you can make enough for the whole class!

Ingredients:

Vanilla Pudding (follow instructions on package)

Green or Purple Food Coloring (just a few drops until you get the color you want)

Clear plastic cups, spoons and a magic marker (for drawing faces)

Any spooky topping and/or decorations you wish (I used candy worms, chocolate cream cookie crumbles and colorful plastic spider rings. The kids loved them!)

Monster Pudding 1

Monster Pudding 2

Monster Pudding 3

Red Candied Apples

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Every year I make caramel apples and I promise they’re coming too, but I decided to give red candied carnival apples a shot.

They turned out pretty good but I’m sure practice will make perfect!

If you make these, please be really careful while working with the sugar. If you don’t have enough leftover at the end to dip that last apple, resist the urge to use a spoon to drizzle the goo onto that final apple or risk burning yourself. Trust me. It’s not fun!

Here’s the recipe I went with after a bit of trial and error:

Ingredients:
12 apples (I used MacIntosh because that’s what I had on hand but I’m sure Granny Smith or any other variety would work great too)
12 Popsicle sticks
4 cups white sugar
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
A few drops red food coloring (or you could use another color if you like or even a food coloring substitute like beet juice or seeded/juiced raspberries work great too and add a nice flavor)
Parchment paper or an aluminum foil-lined pan (not wax paper!)

Combine sugar and water and boil on high until the temperature reaches 300 degrees (F) on a candy thermometer. This takes a while of rapid boiling and frequent stirring. If you don’t have a candy thermometer (or a deep fry thermometer) available, every once in a while drop a little of the mixture into a cup of cold water. When the mixture forms a hard ball, then it’s done. Tip: The coating is supposed to be “like glass” or hard candy.

While you’re making the coating, prepare your apples. Wash them. If you’re using store bought apples, you’ll want to remove the waxy film. I use a solution of 2 parts water to one part vinegar to do so.

Once they’re clean, dry them off and insert the sticks.

Once mixture is ready, remove from heat and stir in the droplets of color. Then quickly (but carefully) dip the apples one at a time into the mixture, being sure to coat the whole apple. Then place it gently onto the parchment paper or aluminum foil lined pan (do not use wax paper because the heat will melt it onto the apples – yuck!).

Once all the apples are dipped, let them cool and enjoy!

Thinking of you, Dad, on Election Day

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My dad has Alzheimer’s so unfortunately he won’t be voting today.
That said; anyone who knows him knows he loved to talk politics and that he would have probably voted Republican even though he’d have made it clear that he thinks they’re all a bunch of assholes.
 
Over the years, he and I have had endless political discussions and debates, a few of them heated to say the least. But back in 2008, when I told him I was voting for Hillary Clinton in the primary and listed my top few reasons why, surprisingly he didn’t argue with me. He knew my mind was made up so he just listened and nodded.
 
I could tell he was proud of me then and I know he would be proud of me today as I take his granddaughter to the polls with me to vote for the candidate I truly believe in. Because that’s what it’s all about!
 
Even though my dad and I have disagreed on many things, he and I actually have a lot in common. Oddly enough, he always wanted me to go to a liberal college and perhaps not so odd he raised me to be a hardworking, open minded, passionate, critical thinker just like him.
 
Thanks, Dad. I’m forever grateful for everything you’ve taught me. I love you and I miss you and I’ll surely be thinking of you a lot today.
 
What I wouldn’t give to debate you one more time. xoxo

BFF

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I wrote this article way back when I was in high school (circa 1993-ish) about my then (and now) best friend, Diana Torralvo.

Even though it was written through the eyes of Teen Me, which, let’s face it, wasn’t all that different than Adult Me and it’s been over 2 decades, my feelings still hold true.

We’ve been through so much together–from the most beautiful life celebrations to our worst tragedies. We’ve been there for each other through thick and thin and some major highs and lows. You’ve survived being my roommate and my maid of honor. Hey, I survived those too! You always make me laugh (not always on purpose) and more often than not you make me see the brighter side of every situation. You give me hope when my supply is running low. I try to do the same for you. No matter where we are or what either of us is going through, we always know the other is just a phone call away.

Happy birthday, DiTo Mosquito. I love you. xoxoxoxox

Val's Little Flower HS Article about Diana

Pie

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Happy Pi day!

Valerie Zane

Last night, Jason took a wrong turn but it ended up so right.

Since he was already way out of his way, he decided to stop at a place he spotted called Lucky Boy Restaurant in Lawrence, New York and pick up dinner. We’d never been there before, but for whatever reason, he decided to check it out. It’s a small, out of the way, hole in the wall type place, the ones that are almost always good. Greek food, family owned. He made a few standard selections for us to split: salad, hummus, pita, dolmades (my fave!) and a stuffed eggplant dish that LUCKILY never made it into the bag.

Call it fate or kismet or simple good luck, but as he turned to leave, just before opening the door, he spotted the most beautiful, decadent, fresh, homemade coconut custard pie sitting all alone and uncut on the counter…

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