Did you hear? I’m stylish.

This morning, Charles Gulotta of Mostly Bright Ideas nominated me for the coveted Stylish Blogger Award. No one has ever called me stylish. [Stop snickering, Mom!] It’s understandable. I live in pajamas most days when I’m at home writing. If I have to leave the house, it’s jeans, boots, and a sweater. Not too exciting, I know. So, imagine my surprise when I got the news. I feel whole now. [sniff] Special. [wipes tear from eye] Stylish for the first time. [sob] In fact, I must change into pajamas that are more appropriate for this occasion.

[snip, snip, snip] There, I’ve cut the back out of my favorite sheep pjs. Backless outfits are always more appropriate for awards ceremonies, don’t you think?

 As Charles mentioned in his post, the award comes with four basic tasks to be completed:

  1. Present seven things about yourself
  2. Name about a half dozen bloggers you think deserve the award
  3. Contact those people
  4. Create a link back to the person who gave you the honor

Here’s seven things you might not know about me:

    1. I think PEZ taste better when eaten from the dispenser rather than from the wrapper.
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    2. I have an overly developed sense of smell—a blessing when the flame blows out on a stove but the gas is still pumping, a curse when I get stuck in a cramped train under the armpit of a tall, unwashed man with a passion for Ralph Lauren’s Polo. You all say ugh to that, right? But when your nose is like a bloodhound’s, you find yourself praying for a quick death.
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      The first inkling my parents had of my super-sensory condition was in the pig house at the Flushing Meadow Zoo when I started to cry, grabbed my nose, and ran for the door when I hadn’t even learned how to walk yet. I should mention that there had already been some trauma that day when they looked away for a second and I leaned over to pet a cute little goosey. The weight of my giant, toddler bobblehead toppled me head first into the pond. Afraid of water to this day and hating nasty smells. All true.

  1. I despise overly restrictive rules, regulations, practices, and laws that are just plain ridiculous or that don’t take into account individual circumstances. So there!
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  2. I love food. I love to eat it, think about it, talk about it, write about it, you name it. I never mind if someone asks me what I’m eating in a restaurant. Great relationships have been struck up with strangers over the back of a diner booth, stopping just short of the exchange of a fluffy, silver-dollar pancake for a bite of a skillet omelet.
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    Growing up half Italian, I quickly internalized the message “Food is love.” I have such great memories of meals with my extended Italian family. And past events are easily remembered in the context of what we were eating at the time.
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    “Don’t you remember when Zia Anamaria announced that her brother-in-law’s sister’s son’s wife left him to pursue her dream of working at the buffalo mozzarella factory in Gaeta, Italy?”
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    “Oh yeah, that was the day Uncle Tutti choked on the string from the braciole.”
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    Okay, some of that’s not true.
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  3. Nature at once soothes and energizes me and feeds my creativity. My Muse lives outdoors, sipping nectar from trumpet-shaped flowers. If I’m lucky, I catch her with a butterfly net and bring her indoors for a few hours while I work. I thank my grandmother for fostering my fascination with nature. And I am grateful to my parents for taking us on month-long camping trips across North America every summer. There’s no hotel that compares to a sleeping bag in a tent under the stars, in my opinion.
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  4.  I am an ENTP on Myers-Briggs, an 8 with a 7 wing on the Enneagram, and a Gemini. Take a look at those descriptions and you’ll know more about me than you ever wanted to.
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  5. I am a champion of the underdog. And come to think of it, Underdog was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid.

 I’d like to thank the Academy, um I mean Charles for nominating me. His blog is one of my new favorites. I read his moving post Zabaglione and felt like I’d known him forever. Parts of it were so familiar to me. Give it a read.

Before I list my six nominations, I want to say the list would have been longer but Charles already nominated Jessica Sieghart of Surely, You Jess! Similarly, Val of Absurd Old Bird was nominated earlier in the week. And Richard Lamb of Celluloid Zombie would have eaten my brains if I nominated him, busy as he is with a new job.

Drum roll please. My nominees for the Stylish Blogger Award are:

The Fordeville Diaries – Her tagline reads “On a mission to turn the ordinary into the memorable.” She succeeds with each post. Whether she’s fretting about the ugly wall sconces in her hallway or lamenting the loss of her fingerprints (I kid you not), she always gets a good chuckle out of me.

Girlboxing – This 50-something female boxer manages to inspire me exactly when I’m in need. If you want some motivation to get up offa that thing and get that body moving, but you’re not interested in a drill sergeant-like trainer screaming in your face, make a stop at Girlboxing’s place for some quiet but powerful inspiration.

Julie Compton – This blog reflects the multi-faceted qualities of its owner. Julie is a two-time published author, a devoted mom, a female biker, a Dave Matthews fanatic, and a former practicing lawyer. If her blog is a bit quiet these days, it’s because she’s at work on her third novel. (Shhhhh, writer at work.) I can’t wait for her to finish. Her first novel Tell No Lies is a legal thriller that has been compared to Turow’s Presumed Innocent. In her second novel Rescuing Olivia, also a thriller, “a Florida biker sets out on a search against time to find and save the woman he loves when she mysteriously disappears after a suspicious motorcycle accident.” What I love about Julie’s thrillers is that her characters are deeply developed and her themes really make you think.

Earthquakes and Rattlesnakes – Zahara blogs about life, food, and travel and posts some gorgeous photos of the scenery and wildlife in Northern California. The photo in her recent post “After the Rain” took my breath away.

Huffygirl’s Blog – Huffygirl’s light-hearted musings about wellness and life keep me coming back for more. Her recent posts and photos about winter birds and how to set up a bird buffet in your backyard were of special interest. I love birdies.

Working Tech Mom – Techy has managed to balance a demanding career in the technology industry and family life. Recently downsized, she is blogging about the experience in an honest and upbeat way. That’s what I admire about her so much. I have a feeling her future posts on the topic will become a popular reference guide for job-seekers. You can’t go wrong with Techy leading the way.

Review: Race to Nowhere

Last month, I visited the C. W. Post campus for a screening of “Race to Nowhere,” a documentary that answers the question “How are we doing?” with regard to our education system. Apparently, not so great.

The film interviews students, parents, educators, and other experts in the field. It examines the pressure on students who spend much of their valuable school time not exploring and questioning and learning but memorizing tons of information to pass standardized exams. It shows the extracurricular activities, clubs, and teams they join to make their college applications stand out from the pack. Most of all, it shows kids who are burning out and parents who have been brainwashed to believe this is the way it should be. One shocking tidbit was the high percentage of students entering their freshman year of college who have to take remedial English and Math classes because they haven’t mastered basic skills during their previous 12+ years of school.

“Race to Nowhere” was a powerful lead-in to a much needed discussion about where we’re headed in the current education system. The discussion that followed the screening on the Post campus was amazing and just one of many to come. Here’s the link to the website on which you can view the trailer and find future screenings in your area: http://www.racetonowhere.com/.  

The website also offers pages of links to the latest coverage of the film and movement. Here are a few to get you started:

The New York Times 

The Huffington Post

The Washington Post

Feel free to comment below about your experiences, thoughts, suggestions.

The Benefactor Receives 5 Stars and a Top Pick Rating by Night Owl Reviews

What a way to ring in the New Year! I was notified of this review minutes before heading out the door to celebrate. Needless to say, there were many beaming faces around the laptop tonight and two reasons to drink champagne.


Here’s what reviewer, Diana Coyle, had to say:

All I can say about this story is, “WOW!!!” This was a powerful story that grabbed me from the first page and had me on a roller coaster ride until the very last sentence. Ms. Dempsey packed this story with raw emotions and I just couldn’t help but feel terrible for Kate….I’m new to Ms. Dempsey and her writing, but I can tell you that I am her #1 fan now. I eagerly look forward to reading more from this author as soon as possible. Keep the stories coming, Ms. Dempsey!

Read the full review here.

I received my first review on Thanksgiving morning and this last one on New Year’s Eve. Some kind of holiday pattern, maybe? Whatever it takes! Let’s go Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. YEAH!!!!!

4-Book Rating for The Benefactor from Long and Short Reviews

What a great Thanksgiving gift! And definitely something to be thankful for.

I just got my first, official review from Long and Short Reviews. They gave The Benefactor a 4-book rating.

Click here to read the complete review. I’ve pasted in part of it below.

The “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” beginning of The Benefactor is deceptive. Suspense creeps in early when Kate Barrett’s “secret friend” sends a gift to her new apartment before she moves in and even before her name is listed at the new address.

As the plot takes twists and turns with layer after layer of Kate’s past life being peeled away, she feels off balance and must re-evaluate past events while moving along at warp speed in her new job at eTown Technology. Kate, bright, college-educated, and dedicated is on the fast track to success.

Michael Callaghan, owner of eTown Technology, watches Kate and encourages her to make the most of her talents. He rewards her with promotions and pay. He stays in the background with Frank Tarantino being the visible “boss” up to a point. However, Michael exerts pressure when Frank steps over the line with Kate. Michael’s past also had layers to it that he does not reveal. His anonymous philanthropic works take on new meaning as the layers of his past begin to peel away. The Benefactor, a story about a quest for redemption and about the power of forgiveness, lures the reader in.

The secondary characters help develop the complexities in the story and add some interesting insights into the various ways people cope with their circumstances—circumstances that cannot always be seen as just black or white, the shades of grey in between must be considered.

Margaret Reyes Dempsey’s unobtrusive writing style makes the story flow and propels the reader along with a mixture of bumps and smoothness along the way that keeps the reader’s interest fully engaged.

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