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February 2010

My writing process

At the moment I'm working on my third book (Sidenote: I can hardly believe that I've actually written two books let alone a major publisher paid me to do it!) and I know many people often wonder what the 'writing process' is like.

Sure, no one really cares what MY writing process is... but it is so simple that I can't not share it: procrastination. I've been putting off writing stuff for a couple weeks now, which isn't good since my deadline is fast approaching.

Luckily, this weekend has been set aside to focus on getting some verbiage on the page. My goal is three chapters done by Monday. Can I do it?

Who knows!

But I do know that once I get on a writing roll I can words to paper pretty quickly (and usually in the right order, which is a neat trick).

Canada, Tom Brokaw style

I've got to admit that I enjoy the taped segments, like this one explaining Canada to Americans, that NBC puts together for the Olympics a little more than the Olympics themselves (but I am rooting for the USA. I mean, I'm not a god damn pinko bastard or anything).

[via The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century who is a real live Canadian! Who knew they had the Internet in Canada?).]

The brave new world of adult furniture

I recently celebrated my 33rd birthday with my usual gathering of friends and well-wishers (and made sure that party goers damn well drank all my beer) when I realized something: I'm too old to buy cheap furniture.

Sure, Ikea has served me well but darn it, I deserve more! And it doesn't hurt that I can actually afford some pricier pieces of furniture now (hey, don't hate me because I am mildly successful!).

Now, shopping for furniture as a single person is easy: just buy whatever the heck you like. For whatever reason I've always had a fond place in my heart for Stickley furniture, their Mission collection to be specific (Nerd Alert: My Adobe loving friends will be happy to see that the Stickley Web site runs on ColdFusion). Now, say what you will about Mission style furniture but one thing is certain: it ain't everyone's cup of tea.

Since I'm no longer single I can't just go out and buy furniture willy nilly. Nope, I have to consult with Marisa, which is fair I suppose. As luck would have it, we had been in the market for a new bookcase for awhile. Sadly, when I showed Marisa Stickley's catalogs she wasn't feeling it. It probably doesn't help that it is nearly impossible to find prices for new Stickley furniture on the Internet (always a sign that something is more expensive than you think).

I managed to find Sheffield Furniture in Malvern. They have a showroom full of Stickley stuff, in addition to a bunch of other furniture makers. Since it is only about a 40 minute drive from our house Marisa and I piled into the station wagon to check it out.

We wandered about the massive showroom for awhile checking out the furniture and nothing was doing it for us... but we hadn't made it to the Stickley section yet!

Venturing upstairs we entered a wonder land of wood and leather. As soon as Marisa saw the Stickley pieces she turned to me and said, "We should get one of each." Success!

One of the designers (that's what they call their salespeople) told us that we should keep an eye on their Web site since they have Stickley sales fairly often. We left furniture-less but with a plan in mind.

The weekend before last I noticed that Sheffield was having a 45% off sale on all Stickley stuff, so we made our way to Malvern and bought the bookcase you see to the right.

burlyworker.jpgSince this was the first piece of 'adult furniture' I've ever bought I wasn't prepared for what the salesperson said next, "OK, well we should have that in our warehouse in about 3 months." I was all like, "Huh?" She then kindly explained to me that the good people at Stickley (who I imagine all look like the burly fellow to the left) will start making the bookcase for us as soon as they get this order.

Think about that for a moment: the bookcase we bought didn't exist yet. Right now some craftsperson in New York is working on our bookcase. That's pretty darned cool.

We went home happily knowing that in 3 months we would be the proud owners of our very first Stickley piece.

roycroftchafeA few days later what should come in the mail but a notice for one of Sheffield's Stickley Truck sales. Basically, Stickley trucks in a few loads of furniture to one of Sheffield's warehouses and they slash the prices (OMG! A sale!).

Since I'm avoiding working on my book (don't tell my editor) I was up for a little jaunt to the warehouse just to browse... and I'm sure you can tell where this is going.

We had this crappy old cart near our kitchen which held a variety of bowls and such. I've never liked it, and Marisa wanted to replace it so we were on the lookout for something to replace it with. That's when we saw the Roycroft Chafing Dish Cabinet sitting there, just waiting for us to buy it. I don't know what a chafing dish is, but I liked this little cabinet so we bought it for 50% off (another bargain!).

The best part of the warehouse sale is that you get to take whatever you bought home with you right then and there. We loaded it into the station wagon and off we went with our prize.

And that's the story of how our second Stickley purchase has become the first Stickley object in our house! Now I'm plotting a plan to replace all the furniture in our apartment with Stickley stuff (but don't tell Marisa!).

Oh, and here is a picture of the new cabinet actually in our apartment:

Our new cabinet

Balloon boy

Balloons"Helpful" is not a word that many people would use to describe me. I generally try and stay out of the way when some sort of physical labor is required (I have soft man hands after all).

Marisa, being the nice woman that she is, offered to throw Angie a baby shower. What does this mean to me? It means, of course, that I have "volunteered" to help with some of the logistics. OK, so I didn't volunteer at all... and I wasn't all that helpful but I did have to run a couple of errands that day of the shower.

Errand number one (and the subject of this blog post): go to our local Hallmark store and purchase some balloons. This is the sort of task that I do not excel at. I require, in these situations, very clear instructions: number of balloons, required colors, and so on. Marisa armed me with one of the paper napkins that she bought for the shower and said, "Tell the person at the store that you want balloons that match this napkin."

Marisa didn't pin the napkin to my sleeve, but I could tell she wanted to.

I took myself over to the Hallmark store, waited for the nice lady to have a free moment, and pounced. I pulled the paper napkin out of my pocket and said, "I need 12 balloons that match this napkin."

She looked at me for a moment and replied, "A woman sent you here."

Fork You: Wines, PA Style

I'm not a big drinker (well, I supposed technically I'm a big drinker since I'm a large man... but I don't drink much so I guess I'm a big occasional drinker) but when the opportunity was presented to tour the Berks County Wine Trail (for free) we couldn't turn it down. Check out this episode of Fork You to find out about the wine the drank, the kitty we met, and meet some lovely PA winemakers. The wine that we drank was good, but I was really struck by the people making the wine. Each winery we visited was a family affair (even Clover Hill, by far the largest operation we stopped at, is a family business). It really inspired me to not give up on making a living doing what I love (of course since I pretty much make a living writing one could argue that I'm living the dream!). Anyway I had fun, and if you're in PA and into wine you really should check out the wineries that are in our backyard.

Buy a cookbook, help Haiti (and get some recipes from Marisa)


As you all know, my lovely wife Marisa is far more talented than I. She's a better writer, a better photographer, and a better cook (check out her food blog called Food In Jars).

Anyway, she contributed a few recipes for a cookbook called 'Blog Aid - Recipes for Haiti.' As you might expect all the proceeds from the book will go to Haiti relief, and goodness knows the fine people of Haiti can use all the help they can get.

Buy a couple of copies, I hear they make great gifts!