Category Archives: Uncategorized

Home Office Habits

When you work at home, no one knows you’re eating chocolate and butterscotch chips.

“On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” That’s the caption of the famous New Yorker cartoon in which two dogs are sitting in front of a computer. Similarly, I would say, “If you work at home, no one knows you’re still wearing your pajamas.” You can present whatever image you want to the world and nobody know the difference because there are no witnesses. I work at home, I know.

But now, my husband is going to work from home, too.

I was about 99 percent comfortable with that concept until I read Ben Huberman’s “Witness” challenge today and I’m starting to worry. My spouse usually comes home from his downtown office and asks about my day. I whistle, wipe my brow and say, “Wow, really busy.” I stagger through the kitchen, lean on the counter and say, “You just wouldn’t believe it.” I embellish about what interesting people I talked to, writing projects in the works, and the burden of deadlines, then quickly change the conversation.

In my own defense, I must say, I don’t spend the day in pajamas. I spring out of bed, get dressed and eat breakfast. Then, bidding my husband “Have a great day!” I sprint upstairs to my office, a converted guest room that I call “world headquarters.” My assistant, Mr. Macduff, follows me. That’s my dog, Duffy. Half in jest, I’m creating a facade like the false fronts on the buildings in frontier towns, made to make them look bigger and fancier than they were.

I do my best work in the morning so I really do stick with it until at least noon. But studies have shown that we all have a limited reservoir of self-discipline–seriously, it’s not just me. My reservoir usually runs out after lunch. That’s when I daydream, flip through magazines I’d like to write for or succumb to the siren call of a sale at Macy’s.

But now someone else will be here to see that I’m not working like a dog all day.  He’ll witness all the weird things I do, learn that I listen to strange New Age music, find me rummaging through the pantry cupboard for a few chocolate chips to eat. He’ll see me snoring on the couch, catching the occasional view of “Ellen” and he’ll be standing there when I try to sneak in with the bags from Macy’s. I’m so busted.

Yet, when I think about it, the situation works both ways when two people work at home. What will I witness? This is a man who I think will happily work in his undies. He’s inclined to talk to his computer and gripes at length while searching for affordable airline reservations. (So much swearing, so little time.) Worse yet, he’ll probably beat me to the leftovers I planned to eat for lunch. Clearly, boundaries must be drawn.

So, friends, readers and fellow bloggers, I implore you to send your advice on how to maintain a happy home (office). Write them in the comments box next to this post. Please respond quickly before my cover is completely blown.


Books and Travel in Steamboat Springs Colorado

I’m heading for Steamboat for a little skiing and a lot of talk about books.  If you’re in CO, come join us.!


Off the Beaten Path Bookstore

Thursday, March 24th – 6 pm –  in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

68 9th Street, 970-879-6830, steamboat

Join Off the Beaten Path in welcoming Terri Peterson Smith, author of Off the Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways. Smith will take us on a tour of America’s most fascinating literary destinations and will provide inspiration and suggestions to plan your own literary getaway.

Trio of Spoons at Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis

A trio of souvenir spoons, each a gift from a guest at Spoon and Stable restaurant in Minneapolis.

Chef Gavin Kaysen has a reputation, not only for his cuisine and his award-winning new restaurant Spoon and Stable in his hometown, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s also known for his collection of spoons—and how he obtains them. His collection was the inspiration for the the name of the new restaurant (along with the fact that it’s located in a former horse stable built in 1904), which was a 2015 James Beard Award finalist for Best New Restaurant.

He scours second-hand shops for spoons, others he has received as gifts from friends and from other restaurants because of his spoon-loving reputation. Others he has, well, pocketed. Sterling to to wrought iron, for Kaysen, it’s not just a collection of spoons, it’s “a collection of memories.”

The lure of spoons began for Kaysen when he was a 21-year-old pastry chef in Lausanne, Switzerland, learning to make the perfect quenelle of ice cream. On his days off, he used beef fat to practice making the elegant oval scoops. When he finally mastered the technique he kept the spoon he was using as a memento.

Kaysen continued that habit of spoon pilfering. For him, they offer a tangible memory of an experience whether is was a great meal, outstanding service or a beautiful dining space.

Knowing his penchant for spoons, guests in his restaurant now bring in spoons from their own collections to give Kaysen and they tell him the tales behind them. “I love their family stories,” he says.


Doors in Morocco

Doors inspire my imagination. Who lives inside?  What’s their life like?

Poet Carl Sandburg* said “Shadows and ghosts go through doors.”  None are more mysterious or elaborate than the doors in Morocco.   Here are a few.

Morocco Doors
Morocco Doors

An open door says, “Come in.”
A shut door says, “Who are you?”
Shadows and ghosts go through shut doors.
If a door is shut and you want it shut,
why open it?
If a door is open and you want it open,
why shut it?
Doors forget but only doors know what it is
doors forget.

–Carl Sandburg

This post is in response to the weekly photo challenge:  Doors

Kayaking Over Minnehaha Falls: Longfellow Would Have Loved This

You know you’re in Minnesota when you find yourself at the intersection of Hiawatha Avenue and Minnehaha Parkway.  Overlooking the Mississippi River, Minnehaha Park is one  of Minneapolis’s oldest and most popular parks.  Minnehaha Falls, the park’s centerpiece, became a tourist destination after the publication of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem “The Song of Hiawatha” in 1855.

Longfellow never visited the falls in person and there’s not much fact in the poem; the real Hiawatha lived in New England. Nonetheless,

A statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha ala the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, sits adjacent to Minnehaha Creek.
A statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha ala the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, sits adjacent to Minnehaha Creek.

“Hiawatha” became America’s most widely read poem of the nineteenth century, spreading the fame of Minnehaha Falls and the uppermost regions of the Mississippi and the “shores of Gitche Gumee by the shining Big Sea waters.”

The falls are on Minnehaha Creek which flows from Lake Minnetonka west of Minneapolis, through the city and on into the Mississippi River.   By late summer they are often reduced to a trickle. In fact, one year (almost 50 years to the day) President Lyndon Johnson was scheduled to view the falls on a visit to Minneapolis, but they were almost bone dry.  In order to create something worth seeing, the city had to open many fire hydrants, upstream and out of sight, to feed water to the creek.”

That’s not the case this year.  June brought the all-time largest rainfall in Minnesota, which created new bodies of water and raised the level of the Great Lakes.  That meant little Minnehaha Falls became a raging torrent and it lured professional kayaker Hunt Jennings to give it a go.  Over the falls he went to the surprise of many bystanders–and he emerged in one piece.

I don’t suggest kayaking over the falls, but if you visit the park, a safer bet would be to try out Sea Salt Eatery for fish tacos and other goodies amidst the beauty of the park.


Off The Beaten Page Wins an Ippy Award

BeatenPage_12 4Woohoo! Off The Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways has received a 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award.  Off The Beaten Page received a silver medal in the travel category, one of  78 National Category medals known as “Ippys,” chosen from about 4,000 entries.

Inspired by “field trips” with the author’s own book club, Off The Unknown-2Beaten Page offers a literary look at fifteen U.S. destinations as seen through the works of famous writers. The book takes readers on a lively tour of some of the most fascinating places in the U.S., combining a love of literature and a quest for a good time with friends. Off The Beaten Page helps readers not only extend the experience of a great book but also to gain a greater understanding of the people and culture in the places they travel.

Featured destinations include Newport Rhode Island, New York City, Boston, Charleston, Miami Beach, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, Memphis, New Orleans, Boulder Colorado, Austin Texas, Santa Fe New Mexico, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

For more about the book,  see my web site.

The 2014 IPPY Awards medal ceremony will be held on May 28th in New York, on the eve of the BookExpo America convention.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Monuments — The Eiffel Tower Transformed

The Eiffel Tower, with the Waterlogue app.
The Eiffel Tower, with the Waterlogue app.

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous monuments in the world, which means it has

The original photo
The original photo

been photographed at every possible angle and every time of day since construction began in 1887. But I’m not so interested in telling you about the Eiffel Tower as I am in letting you know about an an app that that I’ve had great fun playing with, Waterlogue, which turns photos into some pretty cool watercolor painting-like images. It works on any Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod touch that is running iOS version 7 or great. You download a photo, and apply one of Waterlogue’s filters. And, Voila!

As a result, my photo, which is just like those that millions of other tourists have taken, now looks a little different. Give it a try.  There are some serious crafty possibilities.