Spring Cleaning and Buried Treasure

Book WormAND THE WINNER IS: Diana Orgain (Comment #22)

With rain deterring me from my normal sunny spring diversions, I decided to engage in an annual event my mother instituted when we were kids: spring cleaning. Spring in Illinois is almost as cold and dreary as the winter months, as opposed to California, where the sun normally lures you away from domestic duties.

This year I had no excuse. Plenty of rainy day opportunities to sift through boxes, scrutinize cabinets, and peer under beds looking for rambunctious dust bunnies (or in my case, dust elephants.) It’s amazing the treasures you can find hidden in your closet.

One such treasure was a wedge-shaped piece of bright yellow foam with an indentation for a head. How could I forget that I own one of the infamous cheese hats worn by Green Bay Packer fans whose brain cells have evidently been impaired from spending far too much time in subzero weather. Question One: Why would anyone send me a cheese hat? Question two: Why have I kept it for the past 12 years?

Then there’s the bird bath I found in a corner of the garage, a lovely piece featuring three yellow cats holding up the bath, their Cheshire cat grins mocking my incredibly bad taste. Since I bought this oddity myself, I have no excuse other than to blame it on too many margaritas. Surely alcohol must have been involved in that purchase.

I discovered never-worn clothes, their price tags screaming sizes I couldn’t possibly fit into again. Time to share the wealth with Goodwill and hope their new owners will enjoy them.

By the time my day was done, I had accumulated four car loads of goodies to donate. I had also walked down memory lane and discovered a few precious mementos: the mint julep glass from the 1972 Kentucky Derby, the Santa mug my aunt hand painted, the child size rocking chair my daughter rocked in during her toddler years, and the homemade heart crafted by my son in preschool inscribed to “Mom.”

Spring cleaning not only provided a treasure trove for others, but it provided me with the opportunity to savor some of the most cherished moments of my life.

So, what interesting items have you discovered in the back of your closet during spring cleaning? Any dead bodies? Ex-husbands? Dead exes?

Submit a comment by April 15 (that date has such a familiar ring), and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win your choice of a $25 Macy’s gift card (so you can buy more stuff to replace what you gave away), or a slightly-used Cheese Head hat!

How to (Really) Woo a Woman

Some years a woman will approach Valentine’s Day with a smile and anticipation. Other years she averts her eyes from the overwhelming displays of red and pink heart-shaped items that abound. Some years she may choose to TOTALLY avoid any retail establishment during the month of February.

Not me–I’m in it for the chocolate! When I walk by those garish displays, my heart always beats faster and I begin to salivate. Seriously! Pavlov would have a field day with me. And I know I’m not alone.

Did you know that more chocolate is sold on Valentine’s Day than any other day of the year? As far as I’m concerned, that’s reason enough for a holiday. My friends refer to me as a chocoholic, and it’s a status I wear proudly. Between the anti-oxidants and endorphin lift, I see no reason why chocolate isn’t its own required food group. In fact, it’s practically medicinal. Why else would my HDL be 120?

I’m also a chocolate purist. That means don’t mess with my chocolate. No nuts, no fruit. If you must smother something with chocolate I can tolerate a raisin or two, but as far as I’m concerned, this bean was meant to be savored in its true form. (As for those new bacon-flavored chocolate bars, I won’t even lower myself to discuss them. Pork and beans should meet in a pot, not in a candy.)

Men frequently wonder what to give the special woman in their lives for Valentine’s Day. Flowers are lovely, but their beauty and fragrance are short-lived. Diamonds are forever, but they are also expensive. Lacy lingerie? Honestly, who’s that gift really for?

So what’s the best way to woo me? I may as well admit it–I’m easy. Thrust a box of gooey chocolates in my direction, and I’m yours. Every day, as I savor a piece of joy from the box you personally chose for me, I’ll also savor your love.

On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t refuse a chocolate-covered diamond.

So gals and guys, I would love to have you share your best or worst Valentine’s gift or experience. (And if the best one wasn’t from or with your spouse or the worst one was, I promise not to tell.)

Since February is heart awareness month, I will donate $1.00 to the American Heart Association for every commenter on this blog. Comment by February 15th, and you’ll also be entered to win a $25 Godiva gift card.

Remember, dark chocolate is a heart-happy food.


Book WormAND THE WINNER IS: Cynthia Farrell (Comment #23)

10. I will never use the words “I should have or I could have” again. Yes, I should have bought Apple stock last year instead of apples. But I didn’t. So be it.

9. I will not spend $100 in order to save $50. No matter how great a shopping deal I can find, it is just not good arithmetic.

8. I will exercise every day. My exercise program will not consist of short jogs to and from my emergency stash of Kit Kat bars.

7. I will dance naked in the rain. (I’m just checking to see if you’re still with me.)

6. I will write every day. My grocery list will not be included in my word count.

5. I will clean out my garage. (Hmmm, I think that’s a repeat from my list in 2007, 2008 and 2009.)

4. I will not give my children unwelcome advice. (My kids are probably ROFL at this one.)

3. I will encourage my friends to take yoga classes. It’s wonderful for the body and the soul, AND I’ll actually start taking them myself.

2. I will remember to use the coupons accumulating in my junk drawer before their expiration date. (I might even clean the junk drawer!)

1. I will strive to be a better person, to appreciate the many joys in life, and to share them with my family and the wonderful friends who are such a significant part of my life.

Let me know what your # 1 resolution is for 2011. If you comment by midnight January 8th, you could win a little piece of paradise – a gift basket composed of Kona coffee, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, and whatever cool things I discover when I visit the big island in a few days. It’s the perfect place to hibernate and finally finish DYING FOR A DANCE!



With holiday festivities in full swing, visions of sugarplums should be dancing in our heads. Unfortunately at this time of year we’re rocking out to the flu bug blues. The sweet scents of cinnamon, peppermint and pine commingle with the not so sweet aroma of Vicks Vapor Rub.

Newspaper columns abound with helpful medical advice. Steer clear from people who cough, sneeze or just look weird. Wash your hands. And don’t eat food that’s been out on public display.

What? After hours spent trolling through Costco for bargains, I can’t partake of those mini quiches that smell so delicious? That’s the best part of shopping. What about those delightful chocolate truffles? Chocolate is full of antioxidants. Doesn’t that automatically make them germproof?

How about my neighborhood holiday potluck? If Mr. Smith from down the block, appears with red-rimmed eyes, does that mean I have to beat him to the punchbowl before he gives the gift that just keeps on giving — the flu? Should I add more rum to the eggnog? If alcohol can destroy your liver, can it also destroy flu germs?

I’ve already decided that noshing on cashews is a no-no, but what about my favorite guacamole dip? Ms. Manners has informed us that double dipping is just not done. But did you see that big bowl of Tostitos? I could swear Mr. Smith’s pinky grazed the top of my tortilla chip.

Rather than allow the holidays to make me even more neurotic than usual, I’ve decided to go with the flow. I will hug but not shake. I will savor but not slobber. And I will stock up on my favorite holiday brew. A gallon of chicken soup.  With a chaser of chocolate chips.  It’s time to rock around the Christmas tree.

I’d love to know about your holiday traditions or favorite holiday pick-me-ups. Leave a comment by midnight PST Monday, December 20, and you could win a copy of KILLER RECIPES, a compilation of recipes from your favorite mystery authors.

Formerly Hot (or Not)

A new book hot off the press discusses the woes of a forty-year-old mother who has just discovered that she is “formerly hot.” I would love to sympathize with the author however the only time I’ve ever considered myself “hot” was when a hot flash terrorized my body for a few brief minutes.

When I was young I wanted to be cool, but my “pointy blue glasses” and orthopedic saddle shoes designed to correct my young bunions proclaimed that I was a total dork. So I’m not even formerly “cool.” As for “currently cool,” even though my bunions are no longer housed in two tone leather but instead are allowed to roam free in straw mules, they are now about as large as a third world country so it appears that I am still the Duchess of Dork.

The girls’ guide to golfers

Having grown up in corporate America, I was forced to put in my time on the golf course. After taking home a trophy for highest score, it was obvious I wasn’t slated to be a female Tiger Woods. No matter how adorable I looked in my pastel golf attire, it didn’t detract from the fact I couldn’t hit the ball more than fifty yards.

Going topless

The skies are a cloudless cobalt blue, the sun is blasting overhead, and temps are over seventy. At long last, spring has arrived in Sacramento. What better way to celebrate than removing my top.

Since I was raised in the Midwest, not the Riviera, my version of topless is taking my classic roadster out for a spin. My convertible is a classic because it’s old. Kind of like her owner. She’s also a pain in the a..

No comments please. My Jag was purchased over the internet, sight unseen, from a used car dealer in Phoenix. It was purchased for one reason only. It’s powder blue and it matches my eyes.

The iPhone and the new author

Having dropped my cell phone so many times the top and bottom halves were connected by a thread, I decided it was time to venture to the ATT store for whatever free phone they were offering. Whether it was my clueless expression or my fashionable accessorizing, the slick-haired, slick-tongued extremely young salesman (who looked more like a sales boy) pounced and immediately steered me to the iPhone section.

Shaking my head, I say, “I’m a soon to be published mystery author. All I need is a basic phone. No bells and whistles.”
“But don’t you want to read email on the go?” he replies. “I can tell you’re going to be a highly successful author. You need to keep up with your fan mail.”

Who needs Cupid?

Has Cupid wandered into your life recently? Or are you one of the many single men and women who will not be rushing into the Hallmark store at six p.m. on February 14th?

The greeting card industry, florists, and purveyors of fine chocolate taunt us year after year with the not so subtle suggestion that we can only be happy if we are one half of a couple.

Is it possible to enjoy life as a single woman or a single man? To that question all I can respond is…

Hell yes!