Monthly Archives: January 2014

The best laid plans…

In keeping with one of my goals for 2014 (being better organised), I wrote this month’s OTBF blog early this week so as to avoid the usual scramble the night before it’s due. I was pretty pleased with it, in no small measure I’m sure to the fact I gave myself plenty of time to write it. Well, that was on Monday night. Shortly afterward, I closed down the laptop for the day. The screen froze but I paid no mind, seeing as this particular laptop always had a tendency to do things in its own sweet time anyway.

Next morning I booted up and…nothing. Again, I wasn’t overly concerned as it wasn’t the first time I’d had to wait to get up and running. A couple of hours of trying and I finally got the message. It seemed my hard drive had crashed – not entirely sure what that means but a techie friend assured me that’s what had happened. After a slight tinge of panic, I reassured myself it wasn’t especially dire because I have a back up drive and all my photos are in a cloud somewhere and easily accessible from any computer. Only when I went to upload my blog post to OTBF did I realise that I hadn’t backed up since mid January! Okay, now major panic set in as I mentally ran through everything I’d worked on since then and which had now disappeared into cyber oblivion.

After having rested in a darkened room until I’d stopped hyperventilating, I began thinking more rationally (also helped by a large glass of wine and an even larger bar of chocolate). Almost all my writing-related work is backed up on a memory stick, so no worries there. All my photos were safely floating on a cyber cloud somewhere, and my email folder is accessible from any computer. Phew. Panic over…until I couldn’t find my OTBF blog post on the memory stick. It seemed that while basking in my new found ability to be better organised, I’d forgotten to back up all Monday’s work. Which got me wondering, maybe this being organised lark isn’t all it’s cracked up to be after all.

Ah well, so much for lamenting my fate, now to get to my blog post. This month’s focused on an article I’d read in a UK newspaper about seniors aging disgracefully. Apparently more and more over sixties are having affairs, gambling and smoking pot! Not sure I know any seniors in this particular category, but I love hearing about people of a certain age refusing to quiet down and act their age. While I wouldn’t advocate stretching the boundaries quite as far as the report suggests, it is good to know that a certain date on a calendar no longer carries the ‘pipe and slippers’ expectation it perhaps did for earlier generations of ‘oldies’. Here in the UK, the over sixties portion of society now has a huge voice (thanks to the baby-boomer years), and prepared to voice their opinions loud and clear when necessary. You only need hear a politician threatening to take away free bus passes and up goes the call to arms for a march on Parliament 🙂 Seniors rule! Yay!

I saw the following on Facebook this week and couldn’t resist posting it here. This feisty lady simply refused to be bullied or disrespected and brandished her own pretty powerful opinion on her aggressor.

What about you? Do you plan on aging disgracefully? If so, how?


image1One year – it’s been one year since I moved and with almost thirty years accumulation it was a challenge. This house is about the same size as the other, but they have used the square footage differently. As you might guess I like some things more and some less. If it had only been the house I wouldn’t have moved, but the other place has seven acres and Jack had a lot of it landscaped. We had equipment, three lawnmowers. Two of them are riding ones. Still, it was hard to keep it all up. Here I don’t even have a lawnmower. The HMO takes care of the front and the back is landscaped without grass.

The other house had sprinkler systems but they were old and had to manually be turned on. Here there is an automatic underground system.

One thing I did enjoy was watching the garden come to life. The lady that lived here and created the gardens must have had a green thumb as her things have thrived, not one plant has died so far. She especially loved lilies it seems as there were lilies blooming most of the year. One type would bloom and when they were about finished another one would take over.

So with everything moved, some new stuff, like a dining room table, and a lot of old stuff it is easy living. Iimagex2 have more free time than I have ever had so this year I may play a lot. One thing I do want is to put on a covered patio. The gas grill has natural gas to it so I want the patio to cover that and furniture so I can leave it out year round. I’ll probably need to have it either attached to the house or anchored to the ground, as the wind is strong especially in the back yard. So that is the planned project for this year. The picture is a before picture, I’ll post a finished when it’s done.

What about you? I know Kit has some ambitious plans at her place. It will be fun to watch this year unfold Over The Backyard Fence.

Mini-Chicken Pot Pies

Have you ever picked up one of the pot pies that Kentucky Fried Chicken sells? I don’t even want to know how many calories there are in one of those pies, but they taste SO good! So when I saw this easy-peasy recipe in a Campbells’ Soup magazine ad, I had to try it. It was as easy as it looks, and while it didn’t taste quite as good as the KFC edition, it was pretty tasty. This recipe is for chicken, but I’m also going to try it with beef chunks and gravy. I’m betting it will work both ways. Either way, this was great with a side salad.

Mini-Chicken Pot Pies


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken (I used Costco’s canned chicken)
  • 1 – 10 3/4 oz. Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1/2 of a 16 oz. package of frozen mixed vegetables, thawed (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
  • Flour
  • 1 package (12 oz.) refrigerated biscuits (10 biscuits)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10 muffin-pan cups with the cooking spray. Stir the chicken, soup, and vegetables in a medium bowl.

Sprinkle flour on your work surface. Roll or pat the biscuits to flatten slightly. Press the biscuits into the bottoms and up the sides of the muffin-pan cups. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture into each biscuit cup. Lightly press the chicken mixture down so it’s level. Top each with about 2 teaspoons cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown and the cheese is melted. Let the pot pies cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.



Motivation, Inspiration, ??

Grandma-Moses-9416251-1-402I try to not let age factor into what I do or don’t do. Well at least I do this when I want to do something. When I don’t it’s a great excuse. ☺ And, I have used, “If Grandma Moses can do it ….,” a lot through the years. And no I’m not that old. ☺ ☺ Anyway a few weeks ago I had a reason to look at Grandma Moses in more depth and thought I would share some of what I found.

Grandma Moses, Anna Mary Robertson was born Sept. 7, 1860 in a small town in upstate New York. She went to work at the age of twelve as a ‘hired girl’, a job she held until she married fifteen years later at the age of 27. I was surprised, as I would think that would have been old to marry in those days.

Life wasn’t easy. Anna Mary bought a cow with her savings and sold butter and later potato chips. The couple had ten children. Five survived infancy. Working hard the family prospered and eventually bought a farm.

In 1932 at the age 72 she began stitching what she called worsted pictures and giving them away to anyone who’d have them. When her arthritis made it hard for her to hold a needle she switched to painting the pictures and in this casual manner, the career of Grandma Moses began.

In the beginning she sold pictures for $2.00 and $3.00’s. A Grandma Moses quote; “If I hadn’t started painting, I would have raised chickens.”

It would take a lot of chickens to equal her success as a painter. In November 2006, her work Sugaring Off, painted in 1943, became her highest selling work at $1.2 million.

She passed away in 1961 at a 101. Her autobiography, My Life’s History, was published in 1952. I haven’t read it but I may look around to see if it’s still in print.

This lady should motivate me to get off my rear and get busy. There is a lot of life to live out there. Welll maybe after a nap. ☺

To Journal … or Not?

I think it was Jillian Chantal who mentioned she had a new journal to start the new year with. I bought one, too. In fact, cool-looking journals are a weakness of mine. I love the look of them. I love the blank pages, just waiting to be filled.

What I don’t like is taking time to consistently write in them. I can write stories about fictional characters easier than I can expound on the happenings in my own life. Why is that? I start out strong, listing relevant events for the day and how I feel about them. Eventually, this turns into a quick outline of the day and no emotions attached. And finally, I stop journaling altogether and it becomes what my friend calls a “brain book”, my to-do list for the day.

I think part of it is that sometimes, what happens in a day isn’t all good. And, while I’m good with the “good”, the “bad” and “ugly” are hard for me to write.

journalltSo I’ve had this shiny, new journal sitting on my desk for over a week and it’s still just blank pages. I keep staring at it and wondering what I should write. Which avenue of thought will be my inspiration, my hope at the end of the day.

Maybe that’s what I should do…just commit to writing about the best of my day. What made today good for me and the folks around me? What inspired me today to make tomorrow even better.

How about you? Do you journal? Daily or in a more random pattern?

Mock Trial Weekend

Hey – it’s Jillian but I changed my WordPress name to Author. Mysterious, huh? Hahaha

When I applied to law school, one of my goals in life was to first be a prosecutor and then eventually become a judge in the criminal law area. Life didn’t work out that way, first, because once I actually was in law school, I found that I didn’t want to prosecute but would rather be a criminal defense lawyer. I know that sounds odd but when I read some of these cases and found out about quite a lot of injustices, I decided that I could do more good helping individuals than being part of the prosecution- although the victim advocacy part of that appealed to me as well. Initially, I still wanted that judgeship.

As my career progressed, I was told by a number of people that I should definitely apply for a judgeship and I seriously thought about it a few times but I also found that I really didn’t want to let go of being a player in the courtroom. Judges do an awful lot of sitting and listening. They aren’t litigators and have to watch lawyers maybe getting it wrong and doing more harm than good for their clients. As time went on, I became more and more sure that being a state court criminal law judge wasn’t really for me. My practice eventually moved away from criminal defense and into other areas.

This past weekend, I was asked to be a judge for a regional (Ala, Fla, Ga, & Miss) mock trial competition at the local university. It was a great experience and I loved seeing the students present their case and argue the facts before me as the trier of fact. It was hard not to say anything when they didn’t quite get things right and boy, when they put the defendant on the stand, that really almost made me crazy (right against self-incrimination, anyone?) but I maintained my demeanor and didn’t go into orbit. LOL – I did get a chance at the end to critique them orally as well as making written comments as we went along that they will get to read later. I like to think I helped them some in gaining confidence in what they are doing.

What did I learn from this experience? One was that we have a sharp group of young people ready to head to law school and make a difference in the world but the most important thing I learned about myself is that I made the right decision in not going for that state court criminal judgeship as I really am, at heart, a litigator. I love the courtroom and I love to try cases. Being the trier of fact is way more restrictive than I liked and it was super hard not to open my mouth. LOL

What did you do this weekend?

Vinnie Pie? Yes, Please! by Valerie J. Patterson

We walked into the joint and my eyes darted left, my gaze fastening on the man behind the counter, Plexiglas separating him from the patrons.  High above his head, a pizza dough spins several times before coming down and landing deftly on his fingers.  High into the air it rose again, spinning before landing once more on his hands.  Flour seasoned his dark hair gray.  His eyeglasses are speckled with flour as well.  The dough is spread out onto a large silver pan and is soon covered with rich tomato sauce perfectly seasoned with a blend of Italian spices.  Coarsely chopped cheese covers the sauce before the talented hands toss massive chunks of spicy Italian sausage, thick, mouthwatering slices of pepperoni, and various other toppings onto the pie.  A blast of heated air escapes the massive oven as the door is opened and the pie is swept inside.

My dad corrals my sisters and me to a table, but our gazes remain with Vincent, our favorite pizza maker.  We wait.  Not always silently, either.  But, we wait.  Finally, the waitress delivers a massive pizza pie—so large it makes other places’ larges look like mediums—and sometimes smalls.  Dad hefts a slice onto my plate and I attack it with a knife and fork because it’s way too big and too hot for my little hands.  Juices from the pepperoni rolls down my chin, but I don’t care.  The taste explosion taking place inside my mouth has my undivided attention.  Life doesn’t get any better than this.

And that’s how it was when I was a kid.  My dad would take us to Vincent’s Pizza Park and we would have—by far—the most fabulous pizza to be eaten on the face of the earth.  My dad used to quip that his daughters teethed on Vincent’s pizza crust.  Then he used to brag that his three daughters could put away more of a Vinnie pie than any three boys could.

Vincent’s was my father’s absolute favorite pizza parlor.  The place itself was nothing spectacular.  The walls were lined with Frank Sinatra memorabilia—including his prison record.  The tables were non-descript Formica with run-of-the-mill dining chairs.  The place was always packed, but the main attraction—outside of the fabulous pizza—was the parlor’s owner and resident pie maker, Vincent.  He always amazed me with his ability to toss dough, shape it on the catch, and toss it again.  He was an artist of the pizza-making type.

My family gathered at Vincent’s on the one-year anniversary of my dad’s death.  My sisters and I were there to remember the man who’d help to shape us into the women we’d become.  We were there to celebrate the man who’d first introduced us to a Vinnie pie.  And we were there to eat pizza in his honor.

Whenever possible, I try to go back to Vincent’s for a large half pepperoni/half sausage pizza and a soda.  The drive is a little longer as I now live 160 miles round trip away from Vincent’s, but it’s always worth the trip and the traffic!

Vincent’s is touted from Pittsburgh to Timbuktu as being the premier place for pizza.  People travel far greater distances than I to get a taste of home.  If you’re ever in Pittsburgh and have a hankering for pizza, travel to Vincent’s.  You won’t be disappointed.

These two photographs were taken at my last visit in December.  You might want to get a paper towel out to catch the drool before you look at them!  The pizza was as good as I remembered, and so worth the wait and the travel.

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Until next time, may there be pizza-flavored memories in your life!