Eclecticism in the 19th-Century Environment - The Morse Museum

The Story

After two heady weeks with friends in Winter Park, it was time for us to leave,  New York for me, and North Carolina for my husband. Our flights were in the afternoon. On a hot and humid day, we headed downtown where we walked Park Avenue as long as the heat allowed, then popped into the Morse Museum.

Although I enjoy stained glass art, it is a Tiffany museum, architecture is a love of mine. I wanted to see the Frank Lloyd Wright items on display. The cool air provided much-needed relief, but my husband still did not feel well. He sat down in the chair the museum founder used when he visited it turns out. I continued to browse, concerned, but distracted by the designs of a hero. 

The Tossing of Things for Today 

My clothing closet is clear of other people's stuff. No doubt I could let more go. Too many items to count left the space. On day five of this exercise, I think the best solution would be to move to a larger home. Or run away. 



These are Days


The Story

10,000 Maniacs wrote the best description of our first two weeks in Florida last year:

These are days

These are days you'll remember
Never before and never since
I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
And as you feel it
You'll know it's true 
That you are blessed and lucky
It's true that you 
Are touched by something 
That will grow in you, in you

These are days you'll remember 
When May is rushing over you with desire
To be part of the miracles you see in every hour
You'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky
It's true that you 
Are touched by something 
That will grow and bloom in you

These are days

These are…

I'm listening to Natalie Merchant now right here. Smile.

The Tossing of Things for Today 

Too much to count left my clothes closet yesterday.  It was the dumping ground for anything boxed. Right now between my propensity to use passive verbs in my writing and the smug advice of Marie Kondo, you know where I could toss everything. Thankfully, YouTube continues to play Natalie Merchant, song after song, in the background right now, my happy pill of choice.


California - A Long Way from Home


Technically, we are New Yorkers, but our hearts are in Winter Park, Florida. Most of the Rome, New York "old" people lived half of the year in Florida so maybe it became familiar from our beginnings. Although Florida is not the home of our youth, it is where our son spent his elementary school years. We had immediate and captive friends from his school, swim team and band. Parents had to be there and we were happily occupied with friends every minute outside work hours attending football games, concerts, swim meets and normal school activities. In addition, we became close to our next door neighbors who had no children our son's age but were fun.
The old world charm of Winter Park with its brick streets and enormous oak trees cannot eclipse the importance of friendships when you move often for work. We had many.
The Story (continued)
After a long day of travel, California to Phoenix to Florida, as soon as we picked up the rental car at the Orlando Airport, we headed for Winter Park , two excited kids before Christmas. At 9 p.m., we sat outside  310 Park and ordered two glasses of wine and calamari. Old times, when we were free on a kids' sleepover night not in our house, revisited.  We soaked in the familiar sights from our sidewalk vantage point and people watched our WP people. 
It's the first day of the trip, the plan is working out.
The Tossing of Things for Today 
One hundred forty-five items gone from bins holding vintage linens and crafting items. I sorted through and kept as much, became weary of the process and lost count. My numbers may not be accurate. The freed cubic space, however, is approximately 2 x 3 x 8. Well done. I cannot believe there are 23 more days to go on this task. Keeping my eyes on the prize.

Background Music and Editing Help

We interrupt this story... 
The perfect plan for my lengthy trip goes poof, too bad it's such an excellent letter "P" post and today is "B". The vacation account will continue, but fundamentally I needed help with the actual writing for the A to Z Challenge. Although everyone assures me I will get better at translating my thoughts to paper, my analytic mind suggests "how is that achievable without critique?".  I scanned for online apps since I'm lacking humans with sufficient spare time to assist on both blog posts daily.
I chose ProWrite Aid. It's a trial version to see if it fits my need for a coach and proofreader.  
Soundrown seemed like a good solution, but I prefer "relaxing background music" which occupies the silence and doesn't interrupt my production. 
Do you use any writing tools?
The Tossing of Things for Today 
14 items gone for me and 9 for my husband. It's disappointing after the preceding day's results, but sufficient for a Sunday with distractions.

Adapting to a Smaller Space

Map based on Southwest Airlines Original

We do not fit into our little house. Adapting means change and this transformation from larger spaces is difficult for me. Considering I spent plenty of time clearing out stuff here and writing about it two years ago, how did the need to downsize more happen?

I have been putting off being serious about this task for almost a year. It's my April commitment, it just so happens the community yard sale is the 29th, to rid us of unnecessary belongings day by day. There is a background narrative which I hope I can stretch for the duration of the A to Z Challenge.

The Story

My husband and I were on an extended east coast tour, he for work, both of us to see friends and me visiting family I hadn't seen in too long. During the past five years, we moved from Vermont to the Bay Area and then received a work transfer to southern California. We rented a dream home on a golf course for a year then moved back to reality, this time into our own ((tiny)) home.

With three residence changes in such a short period, it was difficult to schedule travel back east to see my 85-year-old mother. In May 2016 the opportunity arose. The trip included two weeks in Florida, followed by two weeks for me in New York and my husband in North Carolina. Then we both returned to the Orlando area for a week.

Our son lives in a casita on our California property making it easy for him to move into the house and take care of all, including the dog while we are away. For this journey, the company covered the cost of hotels for five weeks and although my husband must work during the day, we can see our Florida friends in the evening. Also, I have the 14 days to catch up with family in New York.

Pretty perfect plan!

(continued on next post)

The Tossing of Things for Today

Two large dresser drawers are empty and six more organized. Forty-seven items are in the trash or ready for donating.

2017 A to Z Blogging Challenge

Procrastination should be my theme. I dawdled signing up for the A-Z challenge.  I couldn’t choose a topic because I have two projects to complete, both provide material for blogging.

One project is to discard anything extra in our home. I did this when we first bought the small house.  I even declared myself a minimalist to the world.  Although a small moving truck of items left, too much found a new spot in our bungalow. And, so I try to purge again with accountability to a daily post.

The second project is to complete my starter ancestor story. I began “Emily”, a precursor to a biography, with the hope that practice would breathe life into my words. The result is awkward prose so disappointing that I put it off until magically I become a writer.

No hocus pocus will get me to the finish line for either project.  There will be nothing applicable to write until I do the necessary work.

If you see a post examining a “why”, I have procrastinated again!


Crisis on the Homefront


We have been in California for about six years now, three up north, three in SoCal. It was as recent as our move from Vermont, that we disposed of our 20-year-old TVs.  You know, the big old bulky ones.  We still had our first television, and a couple more we bought within five years of that one. 

Imagine our joy at a new "flat" television! We eventually bought two. One stopped working this weekend, just as Mercy Street and Victoria were due to air in about 8 hours.  I watch often on my iPad or computer, but for the boy who grew up watching a bigger screen from the couch, this was a full-on disruption of the household. 

Happily, a new one is installed after a touch and go sitch in which I was able to figure out the Roku by adding a MAC address for it, but torching access for all other devices. A home without a TV is relatively calm compared to a home without internet access. 

All's well now. As the financial gatekeeper, I'm even somewhat happy with the price. Although, when did TVs become disposable? 

Why does the purchase of a package of hot dogs require three new condiments?


This is our refrigerator, but not our food. In ours, the larger area outlined can hold food. Actually, since the meat/cheese drawer and produce drawers are always full of meat, cheese and produce, the smaller oval shows exactly how much refrigerator space is available to the cook. Two little shelves are not enough to make much ahead of time, or store leftovers.

The rest of the space is designated condiment area for smoked sausage, hot dogs or other glorious (I guess) pre-cooked tube meats that go on a roll and require a slathering of something from the 10 shelves in our refrigerator. I bet you are thinking this household eats said items at least once a week. Nope. I cannot even remember when we last did. It probably was a hot dog from Costco during the Christmas liquor shop when hunger overcame logic. 

Today my inventory journey includes the refrigerator, and it certainly isn't what the Lowe's people dream about in this picture. It is more like five mustards, several hot sauces, several Asian delights that go on American meats these days for the Millenials, and a few pickles, olives and sauces I recognize. 

It would be easy to say, nothing new comes IN unless something goes OUT. Enforcing that? Impossible. They are both much bigger than me. One hopes there are many expired sell by dates in there.  

On that note, my Flipboard today had this article about expiration dates on food:

   "You’re about to see a big change to the sell-by dates on food"


Taking Inventory - Food

Handy Meal Planner with Tear Off Grocery List

I'm not sure if the cure for boredom is a boring task, but that's what is being done on the home front. 

The goal is to know what we have and by that, I mean all categories.  It took me three weeks to gather all the financial information to a one-page spreadsheet. The process included calling all those pesky accounts to either downgrade or cancel to see where we could get a better deal for us not them. I believe AT&T has a rather large dossier on me by now. We spoke too many times. 

That done, I started taking inventory of the food in the house. I figure this is the second area we could have potential waste. 

After researching pre-filled pantry, refrigerator and freezer lists, I gathered together all on my own spreadsheet. Three pages of food items to notate with quantities. By the time I got to the inside freezer, I was just making my own list. Here are a couple of blank ones if you are interested in a similar exercise.

Printable Blank Pantry/Freezer Inventory Sheet

Organize Your Pantry

Although I thought for sure I was using up what I had "in stock", maybe not so much. A quick calculation of ingredients turns out to be about 45 days of food on hand. This surprises me even though I've been mindful regarding meal planning. 

I purchased the notepad shown at the top of my post. For $10, you can find this on Amazon (link when you click on pic). I have been using it for three weeks now and my grocery list is more focused. It looks more like a scratch pad when filled out by me because things change with schedules and leftovers, but it's only one sheet for the week and you start with a fresh one on Monday!

Okay, off to figure out what to use up in next week's plan. This is boring stuff, but I will say it feels so good once a household category is under control. 


Valentine's Day Menu at the Loreto Home

Bourbon Glazed Salmon Recipe with Asparagus

I really think it is going to be this simple. Salmon and asparagus. I have everything I need to make the meal.  For dessert, I am considering a family favorite, Brownie Pudding:

Brownie Pudding


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add milk, oil, and vanilla
  3. Stir until smooth
  4. Stir in the nuts
  5. Pour into ungreased 8 x 8 pan

For the top:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water


  1. Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa
  2. Gradually stir in 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  3. Pour over batter in pan
  4. Bake 350 F oven for 30 minutes or until cake tests done
  5. Serve warm or cream makes it good
  6. Makes 8 servings

Tip:  Surprising best sellers right now on eBay: sunglasses!  Christian Dior