handcarved scary people

The hand-carved old man and woman (above) were familiar pieces in my childhood kitchen, and after my mother passed away, I “inherited” them.  My siblings were only too happy to let me have them.  They referred to them as “scary people.”

When I started this blog in July 2009, I wrote a piece about their history, and now they sit atop my stove.

Another gift from my past was a painting my mother created of the farmhouse where she grew up.  My grandmother still lived there for many years, all through my childhood, so it came to represent a part of my life, too. The painting now rests in my bedroom, and when my gaze falls upon it, I think about how The Past Informs the Present.




One Sunday, while I was trying to create a blog header and a post, my granddaughter Fiona, twelve at the time, leaned over my shoulder and watched.  She used to do that when I was writing my novel Chasing Stardust, too.  As if she were awestruck…

After I had settled upon a blog header that day, I wrote this Sunday Morning Potpourri post.


I have enjoyed traipsing down memory lane tonight….and recalling not only childhood moments, but my early blogging years.

What do you like to remember?  Do you have favorite childhood memories?  Early blogging memories?





upstairs bedroom-retreat

For the past few weeks, I have been purging like crazy, and my garage is full of see-through bins with the leftovers from my hoarding collecting.

My previous home, where I lived in the foothills for thirteen years, had much more space to display everything.  I had a guesthouse, too.  And while I told myself that there was enough room for everything, I knew that I had gone overboard.  But I loved it.  In the photo above, this upstairs bedroom was where I took refuge at nights and on the weekends.  I was still involved in my stressful social work career, and I needed to retreat.

I surrounded myself with everything I would need to feel comfortable and cozy.  I had a microwave, a mini-fridge, and a coffee pot.  And that wicker bed tray that I somehow lost along the way.  Where did it go?

In my efforts to downsize, I think I gave it away.

Here is another bedroom where I retreated…later on, and after I was the only one left in my house, with only the guesthouse inhabited with family members.  I didn’t need to hide quite so much.



Friant Ireland Room 2

I had a doll collection sprawling over every available shelf, in addition to the Boyd’s bears I started collecting in the Year 2000.  Back then, I started with one…a cute one I found in a little shop that would soon become my “second home.”  From there, the collection expanded.

And next to my old desktop computer, where I created my first five novels, I settled my little friends in around me, to serve as my muses.  (You can’t even see the computer in this photo!  It is to the left).


friant desk area - resized

Here is a close-up:



desk area resized - close up


Can we say “cluttered?”  BTW, the name of the store where I found most of my stuff was Country Clutter.  A couple of years later, it would morph into Apricot Lane.  It has now gone out of business, at least in the mall where I shop…and that is probably a good thing.

I started downsizing stuff, and accumulating a lot of these friends in my bins when I moved into my condo seven years ago.  With this much smaller space, I had to leave many things in garage storage in order to survive.

But my recent purging has led to a much less cluttered space, while still offering the feeling of my “friends” around me.




And below, notice how much tidier my desk space is now.  Well, better, but probably more STUFF than most people have…LOL.





Do you look back at your various homes and how you decorated them over the years?  Do you discover that you have made significant changes?  Or maybe you are comfortable with as little change as possible.

I love having the photos to help me remember my journey.




Noah, my youngest grandchild, is here for a sleepover.  Later, we’re meeting some out of town family for lunch.

Meanwhile, he has taken up residence on the living room sofa, watching TV, and I am settled in to my cozy office sofa (above).  Not a bad way to curl up and read.

Meanwhile, here is Noah enjoying his Saturday.





He did not want to show his face when I brought out the camera.  Do kids ever want their photos taken?  Yes, when they are snapping shots (selfies) for Facebook, I guess.

Anyway, I am enjoying the cozy morning, drinking coffee and reading, and planning ahead for the lunch we will enjoy at The Elephant Bar in my neighborhood.




The book I started reading this morning is an ARC from Amazon Vine:  The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah.  It sweeps across time, from the 1930s, during WWII, to the present, when an aging woman contemplates her life.




It has been a while since I curled up with an epic novel, and nobody does it better than Hannah, IMO.

I have a nice little stack of books to read in the upcoming weeks, and in addition to my review books, I am eager to break the spine on Winter Street, by Elin Hilderbrand.  Visiting Nantucket during the Christmas holidays sounds like a treat.




I got my copy from Barnes & Noble…again, in my neighborhood.  I love my neighborhood, with its proximity to wonderful shops and restaurants.  It makes living in my tiny 1980s condo almost worth it…LOL.




Enjoy a cozy weekend! 

What do your next few days look like?  Ready to decorate for Christmas?  Special reading plans?




Welcome to our regular feature, Saturday Snapshot, our opportunity to showcase photos we or friends and family have captured.  The event is now hosted by West Metro Mommy.

Today’s photos will showcase family moments….


Here is Fiona, my 17-year-old granddaughter, who loves clearing out her closet and finding things to wear that she had forgotten about:



november - fiona clearing the closet


Here is a shot of some very cuddly children:  Fiona’s nephew and nieces, Maddix, Lilly, and Bella:



november Maddix, Lilly, & Bella


And here is another set of offspring:  two of Fiona’s nephews and a niece, Lexi, Logan, and Lane:



lane with lexi and logan


Now let’s head to Berlin, where my eldest son, Craig, the photographer, is impersonating someone familiar to us, who also happens to love donuts: (Dunkin Berliner is one of Craig’s blogs).



Dunkin Berliner blogger


Now let’s take a look back several years, when Craig was visiting some of our family in LA.  Some of you may recall photos of the Three A’s over the years:  Alec, Aubrey, and Aaron.

Here they are, disguised as monkeys, tumbling over Craig.  He calls this photo “A Barrel of Monkeys.”



Craig & A Barrel of Monkeys


And while we’re looking back, here is a photo I found while clearing out an old trunk; it is my daughter Heather, at age fourteen.  I love this one!



heather at age fourteen



That’s my Saturday, with the spotlight shining on the present and the past.  What are you sharing today?





Welcome to our regular feature, Saturday Snapshot, our opportunity to showcase photos we or friends and family have captured.  The event is now hosted by West Metro Mommy.

This week, I am sharing some snapshots taken in my daughter’s home, where I celebrated a birthday dinner with her and two of my grandchildren.

Here is the dining room, with the table that once lived in my space.





The living room, with a view of the dining room:




Here is a glimpse of the hallway:





Here is another view of the living room, with the wine cabinet, and a glimpse of the kitchen:




Here is the cook caught up in dinner preparations:





And here is the sunroom, a space I would love to have; Fiona and Noah are enjoying hanging out:





And here is an after-dinner moment, with Heather on the drum:





Heather’s bedroom is spacious, and here is one side of it; she painted one wall a rusty hue, but this picture is pretty dark:





She is still in the beginning stages of decorating and making it her home.  It was such fun to see her excitement as she hosted our dinner. 





I am reading Until You’re Mine this morning and my heart is pounding as I imagine how the whole story will unfold.

MC Claudia Morgan-Brown is a social worker, which immediately helped me connect with her.  As a mother of two small step-sons (twins) and a wife of a Naval Officer who travels much of the time, her life is just as she wants it…except for a few missing pieces.  She wishes her husband were home more, for example.

When the “perfect” Nanny comes through their door, the red flags were immediately soaring for me.

We read the story in several perspectives…so we can see through numerous “eyes,” including those of a police detective investigating some bizarre murders.


It is a day for reading and movies.  I did a little housework, too, as I guiltily ignore some of the finer details of it throughout the week so that I can read and blog!

Today I rearranged some things in my office….returning the little clock to the wall by my desk.  For a while, it resided in my bedroom, but I don’t need it there.  I already have a digital clock on the chest of drawers.



I found that little clock in one of the Crafters’ stores I used to visit.  Places I no longer frequent; I have more than enough STUFF!  LOL

After my little bit of dusting, etc., I went to my e-mails, where bargain e-books seemingly beckon, and found this one:


My Mother Was Nuts, by Penny Marshall.





Most people know Penny Marshall as the director of Big and A League of Their Own. What they don’t know is her trailblazing career was a happy accident. In this funny and intimate memoir, Penny takes us from the stage of The Jackie Gleason Show in 1955 to Hollywood’s star-studded sets, offering up some hilarious detours along the way.

My Mother Was Nuts is an intimate backstage pass to Penny’s personal life, her breakout role on The Odd Couple, her exploits with Cindy Williams and John Belushi, and her travels across Europe with Art Garfunkel on the back of a motorcycle. We see Penny get married. And divorced. And married again (the second time to Rob Reiner). We meet a young Carrie Fisher, whose close friendship with Penny has spanned decades. And we see Penny at work with Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert De Niro, and Whitney Houston.

Throughout it all, from her childhood spent tap dancing in the Bronx, to her rise as the star of Laverne & Shirley, Penny lived by simple rules: “try hard, help your friends, don’t get too crazy, and have fun.” With humor and heart, My Mother Was Nuts reveals there’s no one else quite like Penny Marshall.


I love reading about how people’s lives (especially the lives of celebrities and writers) take them to unexpected places.

What happily engages you on this summer weekend?







For the past couple of days, there has been a lot of pounding, sawing, and boisterous laughter…as the workers tore apart the old, falling down fence in my patio and reconstructed this one.

They still have to paint it…next week.

Meanwhile, they had to remove my “accidental tree,” shown below.  I had grown fond of it!  Sigh.




Once it is painted, things should look more cheerful—except for the absence of the “tree.”

Meanwhile, I am eager to take coffee out there in the morning, with a book.  Here’s what I’m reading today: a Nora Roberts book, Second Nature, published in 1991, now brought out in Kindle.  No worries.  I had not yet read it in the original format, so it’s new to me.  The interesting details in the story that remind us that we are not in the contemporary age:  smoking indoors; the ease of boarding planes; and the absence of cell phones.




Yes, it’s a romance, and while I prefer Nora’s romantic suspense novels, this one captured my interest because the MC is a writer.

For Celebrity magazine reporter Lee Radcliffe, tracking down the world famous, notoriously private, horror story writer Hunter Brown had become a personal quest.

Her carefully planned ambush finally paid off at a small writer’s conference in Flagstaff. Arizona. But when the master of the supernatural turned out to be a darkeyed master of seduction. Lee knew that it would take more than just good interviewing skills to bet her an exclusive. Digging into private lives was her business, but now Hunter Brown had turned the tables. With one smoldering kiss he had exacted his price.


Later, I’m going to lunch with a friend at a favorite restaurant in a nearby village:


victoria rose cottage


The interior reminds me of visiting an old Victorian home.  Here they serve normal lunches, but also High Tea.

I think I’m in for a treat.

What does your day look like?  What book(s) are you reading?



It has been a rainy week in these parts, which meant that I watched a lot of TV (DVR) and Netflix…and did some reading, too

But whenever I needed to stretch and move around, I did a little Vignette Rearranging.  No heavy furniture, just little collectibles.  Like the ones on my dining room cupboards and shelves.

I did a switcheroo of stuff from one shelf to another.  The bottom shelf below now has a bicycle-riding Coca Cola bear, and stuff from the top shelf ended up on the bottom…(Mary Engelbreit houses).




And in my corner cupboard, I swapped out some figurines from still another cupboard.  Coca Cola Firehouse is now on the bottom shelf in front of the books…and next to some mugs (instead of in the jelly cupboard on the left).



Earlier, after watching a show on Netflix for a few hours, I had lunch at Marie Callender’s…loved the Shepherd’s Pie, which came with Caesar’s Salad (and pie).




I’m reading Cambridge, by Susanna Kaysen.




It reads like a memoir, and the main character has the same name as the author….but it is listed as fiction.  Interesting.  I’m about halfway through, and the narrator is still in her childhood.  I hope she progresses to adulthood at some point….


What are you enjoying this weekend?  I know some of you have had major power outages (Yes, you, Patty!), and I hope all is well now.





Welcome to Saturday Potpourri!  Today is another great day of family moments, beginning with time spent with Fiona.  After dinner last night, we watched movies…and today we will take in a film at the neighborhood cinema:  American Hustle.


Looking forward to some fun and girl talk….

Fiona as a redhead

Eager to launch a great weekend!  But first…more coffee!  What are you up to in this last weekend of the year?





Over the years, I have edited my various collections.  Mostly I’ve just rearranged them, or maybe added or removed a shelf, a chair, etc.

But yesterday I decided to take things a step further and remove a few items.  By removal, I mean storing them in bins in the garage.  As a first step toward actually letting go of some of them.  Ouch!  Did I just say that?

For now, I’m calling it EDITING.

In the photo above, you’ll notice the hat/handbag stand in the corner.  It has been in the living room for awhile.

Hats & Handbags in New Location

Hats & Handbags in New Location

And the various dolls have been rearranged.  But here’s what I did yesterday:

bedroom photos

I used to have dolls on the nightstand, taking up room.  Now you can see Sparky and another book, plus my coffee and water.  And my ubiquitous mug that holds pens, etc.  I left the Ireland vignette on the desk.

Here’s the BEFORE PHOTO below:

Ireland Vignette & Photos in my Ireland Room

Ireland Vignette & Photos in my Ireland Room


4-6 bedroom changes 3

These shelves at the foot of my bed once held dolls on every top.  Now you can see dolls on only one shelf.  Progress?  And in case you’re thinking the Red Hat Sculpture on the shelf at your left is a doll…think again.


Atop the bookshelf and the small chest of drawers were various items…clutter.  Between them, on the floor, there once was a Boyds’ wagon full of bears, with dolls sitting around it.  Now gone!


Finally….on this shelf, there once were about four red hat dolls (in addition to the remaining bears) that prevented me from even seeing the book titles!  And there was another red hat bear atop the books on the floor.

Only two hippie dolls now sit next to the lamp on the table at the right.

Okay…it’s not a BIG CHANGE, but enough to fill several bins in the garage.  What next?  Well, I didn’t take photos, but I also removed a few extra dolls from my office…and from the dining room.  I’ve been searching online for consignment shops in the area.  I haven’t actually called or gone yet…but I’m thinking.

What does all of this mean?  Am I acknowledging a HOARDER tendency?  Or just tired of dusting?

What do you think?  And I’m pretty sure my daughter won’t even think anything looks different…lol


Have a Cup of Joe and Read!

Have a Cup of Joe and Read!