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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 139: Measure Up!

It's a long story, but this evening I ended up with an hour and a half to spend with ONE Early Intermediate level piano student. We worked at the piano for about forty-five minutes and spent the rest of her lesson playing games. My favorite was Measure Up!, in which players win by creating full bars using time signatures, note values and rests. Piano teachers, are you looking for a fun way to work on time signatures in your studios? Try Measure Up! You won't be sorry!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 138: Spanish Hour

In a comment on my post about Duolingo, one of my followers said a friend of his was using a different website with great success. I was having a hard time retaining information acquired in Duolingo, so today I decided to give Spanish Hour a try. I LOVED it. Today's lesson was on definite and indefinite articles; it made total sense to me, and I feel like I really mastered the material from today's lesson and am ready to move on to tomorrow's. Thanks, Eric, for the recommendation!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 137: Pappadeaux

Tonight I went out with a guy I met on Plenty of Fish; he took me to dinner at a nearby Cajun seafood restaurant called Pappadeaux. I finally settled on the Atlantic Salmon Yvette, char grilled salmon with shrimp, crawfish, mushrooms and spinach in a Monterey jack cheese sauce, served with a side of dirty rice. It was amazing. Which is more than I can say for my date. Better luck next time. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to having my leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Day 136: Girl Scout Cookie Party

Every year my friend Jennifer hosts a cookie party for family and friends who order Girl Scout cookies from her daughter. There is a potluck dinner followed by unlimited Girl Scout cookies for every one.

I finally made it last night. Thanks, Jennifer. For EVERYTHING.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 135: Margaret Mitchell House/Pittypat's Porch

Today two of my girlfriends and I hit a couple of Atlanta landmarks.

First, we visited the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum.

I learned so much I didn't know about Margaret Mitchell's life and her experience writing Gone With the Wind. What an inspiring story. I am more determined than ever to write a book I feel proud of.

Then we had dinner at Pittypat's Porch. I tried Pittypat's Pitch, a combination of vodka, passion juice and herbs

the fried green tomatoes,

and the special of the day, a delectable combination of rainbow trout and blackened shrimp, grits with gouda cheese, fried okra, and julienne vegetables.

In addition, there was an all-you-can-eat salad bar buffet; sides of collard greens and black-eyed peas; and a bread basket overflowing with cornbread, biscuits and chocolate chip muffins. Everything was perfect.

On the way out, I engaged in a bit of harmless flirting

and my friends and I had our picture taken on a sofa straight from the set of the movie Gone With the Wind.

And to think I almost begged off on this field trip so I could stay home and catch up housework and laundry. Instead, I made precious memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Thank you, Denise and Jennifer!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 134: I walked the neighborhood

I am preparing for the Zooma Atlanta Half Marathon in April, and on today's training schedule was my first 5-mile run. I live in a sprawling maze of a subdivision, and I wondered how far winding my way up and down every street and around every cul-de-sac would take me; it turned out to be almost exactly five miles. And yes, there were hills, as evidenced in the picture I took near the entrance to the neighborhood. Running five miles wasn't easy, but I did it. Now I am looking forward to my "easy two miles" tomorrow.

Day 133: Atlanta Bread Company

Today I met a friend for lunch at the Atlanta Bread Company and tried the 1/2 sandwich and salad combo. I went with the Italian Vegetarian Panini sandwich and a Greek salad. Both were delicious. I took a picture but somehow it isn't on my camera so I must have done something wrong. Anyway, I highly recommend this delightful combo!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 132: I downloaded a virus

In an effort to help a piano student find some sheet music she wanted, I downloaded an executable file from the internet. Unfortunately, it wasn't sheet music; it was a program that wiped my desktop PC clean of all its contents. Or maybe not; after hearing my story, one of my computer savvy friends says it is malware that only makes it look as though all my programs have disappeared and recommended a fix. I sure hope it works, because just like I knew better than to download that file onto my PC, I know to back up often, and I don't. Thank goodness for my Mac laptop, which I need to back up RIGHT NOW.

Do not - I repeat, do NOT - try this yourself.

Day 131: Ruffino's Lumina Pinot Grigio

Celebrating my submission into Georgia Romance Writers Virginia Ellis critique workshop Monday night, I opened a bottle of Ruffino's Lumina Pinot Grigio. One sale for less than ten dollars at my local Kroger, it was described by one reviewer as having "both substance and finality. The flavor profile consists of notable pear and citrus hints with an effervescent minerality that bubbles below the intial palate impression." Well said. A great find. The perfect celebration wine.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 130: Pixel of Ink

Today I checked out Pixel of Ink, a website that lists free and bargain Kindle books. You can visit the website or subscribe to the newsletter and have a daily list delivered to your email box. Great stuff!

Day 129: New Mandolin Teacher

Mandolinist George Norman recently opened a music studio in Decatur, Georgia, and on Saturday I finally managed to have a lesson with him. We reviewed scales, keys and chords, and I got some much-needed feedback on technique and how to practice. Now I am more determined than ever to become a master of this fascinating instrument. George is featured in a solo near the beginning of this YouTube video. Isn't he terrific?

Day 128: Lin's Bistro

On Friday, I had lunch at a restaurant I had never visited before, Lin's Bistro in Dacula, Georgia. A fan of spicy things, I went for the Spicy Special Garlic Sauce with Shrimp. It was delicious. I hope to visit again soon!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 127: Bead Design Studio Magazine

I don't know my half-and-half container wound up empty and still in the refrigerator, but today I was forced to drink my coffee black. Mornings are hard enough without cream in one's coffee, right? So this evening while I was at the grocery store restocking, I wandered down the periodical aisle and a new publication, Bead Design Studio, caught my eye. As I flipped through the pages, the words, "Buford, GA" jumped out at me on pages 44-45; I scanned the article and learned that Woman Creative Art and Jewelry Design Center, a fabulous-sounding museum, studio, classroom and consignment shop for bead aficionados, is located just minutes from my house. Naturally, I snapped that magazine up and brought it home with me. Tonight, a magazine; one day soon, a field trip. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a new jewelry idea I want to try.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 126: InstaPoem

I am a big fan of Danielle LaPorte. Her blog post today (click HERE) was filled with treasures, like InstaPoem (click HERE). All you have to do is answer a few simple questions with single word answers and you are rewarded with a beautiful, personalized poem. Mine appears below. I have always been afraid of poetry, but now I am actually looking forward to writing more. Give InstaPoem a try and let me know what you think!

I used to worry I was lost
I used to believe life was cruel
I used to wish I was strong
Then one day
I looked out my window
and saw a sky
a blue
perfect sky.
I nearly choked
on the epiphany
we arrive inside
an envelope
of bones
there is nothing to be done
about this
so fill it with patience
let it brim 
with tranquility.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 125: Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes

Today one of my students gifted me with a couple of homemade chocolate avocado cupcakes. The combination might sound strange but I assure you it was delicious. Naturally, I am going to attempt to duplicate them in my own kitchen; click HERE for the recipe I plan to use, although I may omit the glaze as my cupcakes were not frosted and were quite delicious.

Do you have any unusual recipes to recommend?

Day 124: The Quiet Place

Do you have a hard time breaking away from all the social networks and finding a moment or two to relax deeply? If so, click HERE and follow the directions. You might be surprised what you will discover!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day 123: Deborah Montgomery Racing


While this blog was on hiatus, I missed the opportunity to share with you that I started running in January and some of the new things that I have tried so far associated with that, including the RunKeeper app for my iPhone and my new Brooks running shoes. I also ran in Lakeview Academy's New Year's Resolution 5K on a cold January afternoon; it was hard, but I felt proud of my accomplishment.

I ran another 5K today at Tribble Mill Park in Lawrenceville, Georgia, sponsored by Deborah Montgomery Racing. We started shortly after sunrise; the temperature was a chilly 18 degrees, not accounting for wind chill. But it was a beautiful course meandering through the woods and even though my time was nothing to brag about I am pleased to say that I ran more than I walked and made it to the end. My enthusiasm was dampened a little bit by the event organizer's complaint about the participants' confusion at her poorly marked "out and back" at the finish; her comment, "You can really tell who listens to the directions and who doesn't" was particularly inappropriate. Also, although we were awarded a medal for achieving our goal, our tech shirt was generic and did not identify the name of the event. So I will avoid races sponsored by this organization in the future, but am already looking forward to another 5K in March and hoping for warm sun and blue skies!

Day 122: 45-Point NFMC Gold Cup

Isn't it a beauty?
Yesterday my piano students participated in Central Gwinnett chapter's National Federation of Music Clubs Federated Festival. Along with a couple hundred other young musicians, they took turns playing two memorized solos in front of a judge for written criticism and a rating. Months of preparation goes into the event and it is a real growth experience for the students. Not only must they work hard to learn the music, they must also learn to manage the performance anxiety that often occurs on festival day. It is heartbreaking when deserving students crumble under the pressure; similarly, it is frustrating when those who have procrastinated somehow manage to fool the judges and receive high ratings they did not truly merit. I am glad I can be there to help pick up the pieces for the unlucky few, to assure them that I am satisfied with their rating, high or low, because I know they did their best, and one's best is always enough.

Fortunately, though, most of the time results match preparation, and the majority of my students earn the highest rating possible, a "Superior," which earns them 5 points towards a trophy. These points accumulate over the years; when they reach 15, students receive a their first gold cup, and have the potential to earn gradually larger trophies at the 30, 45, 60, and 75-point levels. Yesterday I was proud to pick up a 45-point cup for my student Tim V., the first ever for Asberry School of Music. That trophy represents many long hours of diligent practice--literally years of hard work. Way to go, Tim!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 121: BUNCO!

I just got home from girls' night out, this time playing Bunco with my pal Jennifer and a group of her friends. I enjoy playing cards and board games although I'm not really very good at either; strategic thinking isn't my strong suit. Fortunately, Bunco requires only the ability to throw three dice. That I can do with style and finesse.

Lucky for me, I am also a gifted eater, because before the games began there was dinner--salad and spinach stuffed shells and bread--and drinks and snacks with suggestive names.

Pink Panty Pulldowns.
Pink lemonade, Sprite and vodka.
Porn Corn.
Popcorn, melted white chocolate, and M&M's.
Use your imagination.
I had a lot of fun. I even scored a Bunco and got to wear the "Bunco Babe" for a while.

It was a proud moment.
Have you ever played Bunco? What are your favorite party games?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 120: Duolingo

Luis von Ahn, the founder of reCAPTCHA, has come up with a way to coordinate millions of people to translate the internet while learning a foreign language for free, and it's called Duolingo. Watch the short video above to find out more about it. Having the ability to speak Spanish conversationally is one of the items on my bucket list, so I applied to be a beta user of the program as soon as I heard about it. Well, today I got the email saying I had been accepted; I immediately signed into the website and just completed Basics 1. Soy una mujer. Yo bebo vino. See how much I have learned already?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day 119: Starbucks Skinny Mocha

When I woke up this morning, I was unable to get online. My fifteen year old was home sick from school so naturally I went to him for assistance. He said everything looked fine on our end and suggested I call our internet provider. Well, I did; I was told that there was a general outage in our area and that service wouldn't be restored until sometime tomorrow morning. But I needed to get online TODAY. So I went to my local Starbucks, joined their wireless network, and sipped a tall Skinny Mocha while checking my email, catching up with my friends on Facebook, and updating my Etsy store. The perfect combination of chocolate and espresso, this new menu item was sweet and  delicious--and at only 110 calories, it didn't undo all the good I did on the elliptical machine at the gym. Recommended!

Day 118: A Note from the Universe

How would you like to get a personalized note from the Universe every day? All you have to do is go click HERE and sign up. I got my first message today. This is what it said.

When you focus upon anything at all, Pam , it's like a call goes out to every corner of the Universe, summoning ideas, strength, courage, insight, resources, and whatever else is needed to complete the laser beam of your concentration. If it's an answer you need, it will be forthcoming. If it's a choice you have to make, your options are calculated and recalculated under each scenario. If circumstances need to be arranged then every soul on the planet is consulted. And if it's help you need... we're already there. 

When you focus upon anything at all. 

Not bad, huh? 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Day 117: Nbed 2gether Torrontes

I was feeling pretty good about 2012 until today. After 52 years on this planet, it still catches me off-guard how quickly everything can turn upside down. Now my kids are sick, the dog has an ear infection, I had the toughest teaching day in recent history, another student resigned without giving proper notice, I received an unexpected medical bill, I am up 1.2 pounds since last week despite depriving myself of junk food and desserts and exercising regularly, my knees are throbbing from said exercise, and my ex, who was recently fired from his job, is threatening to take me to court to reduce child support.

It's all too much.

So when I went to the grocery store to buy thermometer and some over-the-counter cold remedies for the boys, I picked up a bottle of wine from Argentina for myself. On sale at Kroger for $5/bottle (retail price $9.99), this white wine is a delightful blend of tropical fruit, honey and melon.

I am feeling better already.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day 116: Intergalactic Bead Show/Farfalle with Feta Tomato Sauce

This morning I put on my sparkly new Chuck Taylors

and headed to the Conference Center at the Gwinnett Civic Center Complex

for the Intergalactic Bead and Jewelry Show,

which claims to be one of the largest bead shows on the east coast. I think that might actually be the case.

I met some incredibly talented, immensely delightful people, like Susan Barnes of Fire Goddess and Elizabeth Girod of Fire & Fibers, and I came home with goodies.

Then I tried a new recipe for dinner, a quick an easy pasta dish.


6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (I used tomato and basil flavor)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Fresh ground black pepper
1 14-ounce can Italian style stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 12-ounce package farfalle pasta, cooked al dente according to package directions and drained

Mix first seven ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well. Add pasta and toss until combined.

I capped off the evening with the DVD 50/50. Inspired by the true story of a 27 year old who learns he has cancer and struggles to deal with the disease, this movie is in turns poignant and hilarious. Highly recommended! I enjoyed it so much I forgot all about that big sporting event that took place tonight.

How did you spend Super Bowl Sunday?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day 115: Fun with the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales

I post once a month at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales, the joint effort of an immensely talented and super hard working group of romance writers. Today, a handful of us took some time out to play. And I got to try a lot of new things in the process.

First, I met my critique partner Lindy at Starbucks in Buckhead, where I tried their new Bacon and Gouda Artisan Breakfast Sandwich and a cup of their new Blonde Roast Coffee.

We spent a couple of hours catching up on our respective lives and brainstorming ideas for our current writing projects. Then we went to the nearby Rusty Nail Pub where we met our blog sisters for lunch.

Brenda, Tammy and Marilyn 
Lindy and Sandy
Tammy and Yours Truly
I had never visited The Rusty Nail before and it was a pleasant surprise. The atmosphere was rustic and casual, the kind of place a girl might run into a cowboy after dark; and our server, Debbie, was sweet and gracious. I treated myself to a Florida Chicken Sandwich, a delectable grilled chicken breast smothered in wing sauce and topped with melted blue cheese, served on grilled Texas toast.

Oh, yeah. I ate every bite.
After we stuffed ourselves, we made our way to the Regal Hollywood Stadium 24 Theater for the 2:45 showing of One for the Money, the film version of the Janet Evanovich book by the same name. The movie didn't fare well with the critics, but I found it to be sweet and satisfying and true to the book--well, so far, at least; I am only about halfway through.

It was a wonderful day, filled with inspiration, friendship, food and fun. Thanks to everyone who shared it with me!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 114: Natalie's Kawai

I met my friend Natalie through Gwinnett County Music Teachers Association. I'll admit it: I'm old enough to be her (teen-aged) mother. But besides the fact that we both teach piano, we have many interests in common. We both enjoy scrapbooking and crafting; like me, she also played the clarinet in high school. Last year she invited me to perform with her at her spring piano recital; I provided the orchestral accompaniment for her Grieg piano concerto and played a two-piano piece with her, as well. She is an amazing young woman; I genuinely enjoy her company and am grateful for her friendship.

This year, she offered to accompany me in the Mozart piano concerto I have dreamed of performing since I was in college. In addition, we are playing some Bach duets on the clarinet and accompanying each other on the first two movements of a Saint-Saens clarinet sonata. We always have great fun together. Anyway, we got together for a rehearsal this morning and I had the good fortune to play her brand-new Kawai grand piano. What a treat! I hope that one day I will have a grand piano in my own studio. In the meantime, I will play Natalie's every chance I get.

Thanks, Natalie! :-)