Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Writer’s Mission!

I recently read an article regarding writers having mission statements, and I thought, “I’m a writer and I don’t have one.” A mission statement represents the core principles of a company. The last company I worked for, FINRA’s mission statement is, “FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation of the securities industry.” This is McDonald’s mission statement: “McDonald's vision is to be the world's best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile." Not every company succeeds in living up to their mission, but it is a good foundation and reminder for what they need to strive for…what they set out to do in the first place.  

Why don’t writers have a mission statement? I mean, we state everything, right? We state our opinions and feelings…so where and when do we state our mission? (I'm sure there are a few out there that have one.)

As writers, we need to have a story/idea, write what we know, know our audience, and revise, revise, revise into beautiful works of art. Yet without a mission, without a vision of what we expect of ourselves and our writing, I think it makes keeping ‘butt-in-chair’ and sharing ourselves with the world a bit more difficult. If we each had our own mission, it would help us achieve our principles and expectations when our expressive ink dries up, or when we question if we’re cut out for writing. Our mission statements will remind us of the reason we each decided to become writers.  

I took some time to think about what I want my mission statement to read. Over time, our focus and achievements will alter our mission statements, but for now, this is my mission: 

“Denise’s vision is to let the ordinary and flawed be loved and have purpose; give the boring a fresh look; and open people’s eyes to the power and beauty of words. While she develops her writing, she hopes to bring a positive change to at least a few lives along the way.”  

How about you? Do you have a mission statement for your life?  

Mission and reminders,

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Taste Test

This week I decided to start on a healthier path. Over the past few years, I’ve put on so much weight, an oompa loompa would feel thin around me…and with age, my hips widened to make my ass as wide as a landing strip. So I decided to give up sweets for Lent. Giving up sweets in Europe is TOUGH, especially since I started craving sweets when I quit smoking. This is only a part of living healthy. Now I know what some of you old time readers are saying to yourself. You’re saying, “We’ve heard this before, Denise. You pledged the same healthy way of life the last time in Germany and many other times.” Well I can assure you that this isn’t just blog babble—I’m not farting from the wrong end. I'm in it for the long haul...and I'm trying to convert my Love from eating sauces, beef and sausages to seasonings and fresh vegetables and fruits.

I started this on Wednesday, and I already feel a difference in my body and digestive system. I’ve been doing my Zumba (I TOTALLY love), eating healthier meals and walking daily. Zumba and walks have only been baby steps that I plan to increase each week. I’d like to be two sizes smaller by summer. Who thinks I can do it?! *Looks around and doesn’t see any hands raised* *glares back at all of you* I'll show you.

I put my culinary skills to work today. We had a nice healthy breakfast, a light lunch and then I worked on my Pork Roast with Orange Glaze (Impromptu). Here’s what my taste test was all about:

I set the oven to 176 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) while I prepped the pork roast.

- Mixed olive oil and fresh chopped garlic and basted the pork with it and then I added salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary.
- Cut 4 large slices of an orange and placed it on top of the pork, covered with aluminum foil and put it in the oven for one hour.

Orange Glaze

- Squeezed the rest of the orange into a bowl
- Added 3-1/2 tablespoons of chili chutney
- ½ tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
- grated a square of fresh ginger
- minced one garlic clove

After the hour, I put the orange glaze on top of the pork, turned the oven up to 180 degrees Celsius, and put back in the oven for 30 minutes. I took out and added more glaze, took the aluminum foil off and cooked for another 30 minutes.

It was beautiful…but NO PICTURE! I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of it, so I posted an old picture of a pancake my Love ordered that had meat, broccoli, spinach and a cheese sauce on it. Psstt…so not healthy.

Served with my Pork Roast with Orange Glaze, we each had ½ of a sweet potato and I made white asparagus sprinkled with lemon pepper. SCRUMPCHEWOUS!

Whatcha got cookin’?

Health and Some Arm Pulling,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Breakfast in Canterbury, Lunch by the Sea and Dinner with the Queen

Since I arrived in Germany and will be here for a month, I’m sure most of my posts will be about our travels. I arrived in Amsterdam on Friday and on Saturday we took off on our extended weekend excursion. It’s Fat Tuesday in the States and this past weekend started Carnivale in Europe.

We drove 4-1/2 hours to Calais, France to take the ferry to Dover. Here are a few pictures where we waited to drive the car onto the ferry, and then of the White Cliffs of Dover.

On Sunday morning, we woke early to experience Canterbury before everyone else go there. The center of Canterbury is unique because it was built within the old castle. This is part of the castle.
Here are some pictures I took as we strolled down the quiet streets.

This sign was on one of the historic buildings. I thought it was funny.
When we were walking around by the waterway, a man told us he just saw a fox, so we stayed there until the fox came out. I think he enjoyed being on display. Mmmm….breakfast.

Here are more pictures of our walk along the waterway.

This is a picture of the original entrance into the castle. They had a picture of what it looked like with the drawbridge. Then I took a picture from the other side of the English telephone booths.
It took me a while to get it, but here’s a picture of a poetry (poet tree). There are pieces of paper with poetry written on it that hung from the tree. Clever.
And here’s where we enjoyed a tour of the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Before leaving Canterbury, we stopped into their grocery store to check out what they had, and I couldn’t believe I found some Scottish Haggis. For those of you who don’t know what Haggis is, it’s made out of sheep’s liver, heart and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal and spices. As tradition has it, it normally is put in the animal’s stomach and simmered for 3 hours.

After our Canterbury fun, we stopped at a little town called Herne Bay, but moved onto another coastal town called Whitstable. I loved this place. It was so cute. Here are a few pictures of our ventures in Whitstable. 

We had lunch at the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company and the oysters were huge and yummy. I ate them too fast to take a picture but here's what it looks like from the inside of the place.

Now it's mid-afternoon and my Love asked if I wanted to head to London. Me being the adventurer, said “sounds good.” We drove to London and walked around, listened to live music and finished there with dinner. Here are a few pictures of our time there.

By this time we were tired, so we headed back to the hotel room for a good night sleep.

Now I’m sick and hope to be better soon.

How are you celebrating Fat Tuesday?

Adventures and Experience,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Greatest Love Of All

By now we’ve all heard about the tragic death of Whitney Houston. Dead at 48. She was 5 years older than me; the first celebrity death in a long time that I really am sad about. Not that I didn’t feel for the other families, but Whitney was the cool of the cool in the 80’s. Her explosive voice and beauty was captivating, yet I can’t recall her flaunting or using her sex appeal in a demeaning or obnoxious way like some celebrities do.

There are younger generations that have no idea who Whitney Houston is, and probably can’t understand what the fuss is all about. Well the fuss is that she was a pop icon. A model with far more beauty than the waifs out there now with their skeleton faces…and a singing voice that drew you in, lightly squeezed your heart and left you releasing the breath you had been holding in.

I remember wanting hair like Whitney; big, thick, curly hair that just exploded on top of my head. And when it came to her singing, it stopped me in my tracks. Many singers tend to scream the high, loud notes, but not Whitney. She had full control of her vocals, and what came out of her mouth, seemed effortless. Of course, I’m speaking about her in the days before her destructive behavior damaged her voice.

It was the summer after high school (1986) that I lived in Virginia for the summer to work at Busch Gardens. Halfway through the summer, I started working at a place in the theme park called “Sing-a-Song”. People would come in, pick a song they wanted to sing, and we recorded them singing their favorite tune(s). Those of us working there wished we had earplugs for many of the so-called “people who thought they could sing”. Do you know what the number one song most people picked to sing? You guessed it! “The Greatest Love of All”. How many people do you know can belt out that song?

It’s the last four lines of the lyrics that I find sad.

“And if by chance, that special place
That you've been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love”

I believe Whitney’s decline all stems from her marriage to Bobby Brown. It’s a perfect example that even though you love someone, if they don’t bring out the positive in you or lift you up, let them go and run like hell. Whitney was too good for him, and as I can recall, many people were surprised she picked him as a partner. But she did, and that decision lead her down a dark road. She didn’t find strength in love—only destruction.

Whitney might not have found the strength in love in her marriage, but I hope she found it now. Rest In Peace, Whitney. You will remain a pop icon for those of us who danced to your songs and cried from the beauty of your voice.

Legends and casualties,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

It’s funny how quickly life takes a spin and puts you in another direction. This week I’ve been planning things month-by-month as to where and what I’ll be doing. In a way I’m a displaced person, currently living in my mother’s condominium while cleaning it up, boxing things I want of my mom’s, and getting it ready for sale. Staying at my mother’s place has been tough, so I booked a flight to Germany for next week where I’ll be staying for a month.

I will fly out on Thursday and arrive on Friday in Amsterdam and be in three countries in one day; United States, Holland and Germany. My Love will pick me up and we’ll stay at our flat for the night and then on Saturday head to the United Kingdom. We’ll drive (okay, he’ll drive) from Germany to the French Coast (3 countries; Germany, Belgium and France). From there, we will take a ferry across to Dover, U.K. and then drive to Canterbury where we will stay until Monday. We will be in 4 countries within a matter of 6 hours. I am looking forward to getting away and relaxing.

While I’m out there, we will be looking into other flats because the plan is (for now) that I will be moving out to Germany for a year or two, returning for holidays and summer vacation. The flat we have is all right, but we figured it would be nice to have a little more room or a balcony. If we can’t find anything cheap, then we’ll just make do with the flat we have now. Here are pictures I posted before of our flat.

It’s a learning experience living in another country. We didn’t have much out there—we actually lived like college students—but we had the essentials. This way of life was great because we focused on each other, things to do and cheap travel. When I returned to the States last year, I realized how much STUFF I had that wasn’t really needed. But I appreciate the way of life in the U.S. and in Germany.

When I lived in Germany, I made some videos of the places we went to. Here are a few of those videos.

A Glimpse of Germany


Many Faces of Spain

 For The Love of Italy

What are your plans for the next month?

Planning and Wandering,

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sally Sang Shel's Name!

My nose is red, my nose is dry
At first I thought, it caught a fly
I sneezed real hard to get it out
Out popped a green, scaly trout

I watched it as it flopped around
Squish and splash, the only sound
Until it found the large fish bowl
Flipped in the air, and into the hole

My nose is fine, my nose doesn’t hurt
I wiped it across my pink flower shirt
And filled the fish bowl, using a glass
Sat waiting for it to turn into a bass

I’ve recently purchased, Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein. It’s a poetry book for children and these poems have a wonderful rhythmic rhyme combined with silly humor. It’s such a great way to get children to appreciate rhyme and help with words. He also put drawings with his poems. After reading a bit about this poet, I found out that he passed away in 1999 and has published many children’s books. This makes me feel totally out of the loop because I have never heard about him, but I appreciate his works...even if he's no longer around.

Below are a few of his silly, wonderful poems. I was laughing so hard when I read them.


Dog, how could you do this to me?
Eat the tomato out of my B.L.T.
I’m mad and hungry as I can be.
I just might make a B.L.D.


Said the pelican to the elephant,
“I think we should marry, I do.
‘Cause there’s no name that rhymes with me
And no one else rhymes with you.”

Said the elephant to the pelican
“There’s sense to what you’ve said,
For rhyming’s as good a reason as any
For any two to wed.”

And so the elephant wed the pelican,
And they dined upon lemons and limes,
And now they have a baby pelicant
And everybody rhymes.

Prose, nose and toes,