Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Just a quick stop in to say hi and let you know things at Casa Leone are still humming along. Busy, but humming.

It has been wicked hot here all weekend, with more hazy, hot and humid forecast for today. I'm putting in the garden so I've been doing a lot of huffing, puffing and glowing. See, I kept things pretty sedate...glowing sounds so much nicer than sweating my tail off, doesn't it?

The sun hasn't begun to beat down on the yard yet so I'm heading out to plant, mulch and, you guessed it, glow.

What about you? What's on your Tuesday agenda?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Clean Up

Remember how I said we've had strong thunderstorms? Well, they brought wind when they barreled through. Real strong wind.

Wind strong enough to cause destruction. Not Joplin-type issues, thank God, but enough to warrant cleaning up the mess. So far the biggest leftover from three days of storms is a toppled tree. It's broken right off. I'm thankful it fell away from the barn instead of on it. Also, one of the barns has a length of fascia torn off so I'll have to get up and put that back. The tree? I'm not chainsawing a tree just now so it'll have to wait. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Yes, life on the farm is interesting. Snakes, mice, wind... It's always something! But you know what? There's no time to be bored, which has its own benefits.

Today I'll be working on the veggie garden. So far I've got three dozen tomatoes planted. Today I'm putting in the eggplants and hopefully the peppers. That is, if I beat out the impending rainstorm!

So, have a peaceful Sunday. Me? I'm going to be eyeball deep in chores. I'm grateful for the busy work.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Have been dodging high winds, thunderstorms and torrential rain here so my internet access has been spotty. Thousands in this county are without power and as I write this I hear the distant rumble of thunder.

So, moving quickly here...

I hope you have a super Saturday.

I'm going to peek in at The Lark Journals. Would love to see you there!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Tail

God bless Bill. He checks on me daily, brings cake when I'm sad, dinner when he sees I'm not bothering to cook and just really enriches my life. He and Vito were like brothers, and I'm grateful for his presence in our lives.

And, he's not afraid of anything.

Not long ago I greeted him at the back door. We barely exchanged hellos before I pulled him inside and pointed to the coat closet. Then, my finger dropped lower, to the spot where the edge of the door almost meets the tiled floor.

Something peeked out from beneath the door.

Bill didn't catch on right away. His brow furrowed, then he asked, "What is it?"

"A tail."

Then, he got it. Chuckling, he shooed me into the kitchen while he removed the tail's owner from the mousetrap.

Mice. A fact of country living, but something that doesn't much thrill me.

Bill? He's not afraid of anything. Thank God!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Adios, Oprah

The last day of Oprah? Oh, how can it be?

I don't know about you, but I've watched Oprah for years. Not every day, but whenever we were in the kitchen at the time the show aired. The talk show queen has been the background for many meal prep hours at Villa Leone.

I'll miss her. An adjustment, not hearing her while I chop veggies or stir sauce. They're a lot of adjustments here now. I'll add Oprah to the list.

What about you? Will you miss Oprah coming into your home on a daily basis?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Farm Life

Yesterday I was held hostage by a rather long, orange-striped snake. I kid you not. I went to take the garbage out, and when I walked back up the driveway to inside a snake was right near the door. Blocking it, in fact.

Not a big snake fan.

I went next door, got a brave man but by the time we got home the snake had gone. Far away, I hope.

Bill asked, "Why didn't you just call me to come over when it was here? I would've gotten it and taken it away."

I pointed to the door, the stoop and us.

"The snake was between me and the phone!"

He laughed so hard. I didn't care. I was just glad the snake was gone.

Hopefully, it's in the next county by now!

How was your day?

Monday, May 23, 2011


So, the weekend...

Lots of gardening. Updates and photos will be shared soon.

Yesterday, baking Friendship Bread. My dear friend Penny brought this little container of starter about eleven days ago. I've stirred, watched and added ingredients.

Finally, I had to use it.

Looks pretty small, doesn't it?

Looks can be deceiving!

That little blue-topped container separated into four batches. Three, for friends.

One for me, to continue the baking adventure...

I measured and added. Stirred...

An hour later, two loaves of yummy goodness.

Interested in baking your own loaf of Amish Friendship Bread? This link will give you all the details.

I tell you, I love a loaf of good bread!

Considering coffee and tea options now. More news on that front in the next few days.

Hope your Monday is a peaceful one!

Friday, May 20, 2011

All Wet!

Greetings on this overcast Friday. The good news is it isn't raining. Now. The not-so-good news is it's really overcast and the forecast is for--you guessed it--rain.

I tell you, this weather is not doing great things for my mood.

Anyhow, I hope you have a wonderful day. I'm over at the Lark Journals if you'd care to pop by!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No Spark

I've become a Jill-of-all-trades. Really, I have.

I spent yesterday afternoon squatting beside a brush mower, wielding ratchets, wrenches and pliers like a pro. Well, like a semi-pro, anyway.

A semi-pro with greasy jeans and a book on small engine repairs laying open on an upturned compound bucket. Yeah, it was all glitz and glamour here at Villa Leone.

Honestly? Watching my husband work on the farm machinery was interesting and I was great at handing him the tools as he needed them but actually doing it all by myself is a completely different matter. This whole mechanic gig is harder than it looked.

One of the big enigmas that revealed itself yesterday? I have no idea how he managed to get his big fingers into some of the tight spaces. I changed the gas line on the brush mower and even though my fingers are much smaller than his I had a tough time squeezing my fingertips into the spot to attach the new hose. I persevered, though, and finally got the job done. I will admit that there were a few choice words Italian, mostly, but the translations were less than angelic.

I got the machine reassembled and, shockingly, didn't have any "spare" parts left over! A big deal, that. I was sure I'd have an "extra" screw or filter when I least wanted it. But no, everything that came out went back in.

Today I'm off to buy spark plugs. The machine won't start and from what I can gather, I have no spark.

I'm not surprised.

What about you? What's on your agenda for today?

And--dare I ask?--how's your spark?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I'll admit it. I'm having concentration issues. I'm told it's perfectly normal given the circumstances, this difficulty focusing. I imagine it will pass. Eventually.

Until then, I've got a growing pile of books on the family room coffee table. I should've taken a picture, just so you'd see how ridiculous it is. Don't get me wrong; it's not like the pile towers or anything. I'd say there are four or five--okay, maybe a half-dozen--books that have been opened, with a chapter or two read, then discarded. Why? They just didn't hold my attention. Now, I know it's not the fault of any of the books. At another time I'd dive into any of them. But now, I lose the thread of the story if it doesn't come at me hard, grab me and hold me tight.

The only book I can remember finishing during these last weeks was The Lost Valentine. Or was it The Last Valentine? That's it--it was The Last Valentine.

See what I mean? Concentration issues.

Anyhow, I couldn't put that one down. Loved it. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest picking up a copy. It is good. The Hallmark movie is out on DVD, also. I haven't seen it anywhere yet, but when I do I'm going to pick that up. I think I could watch it again and again. I love Betty White, and the story is good, besides.

So...what are you reading? I'm up for suggestions!

Hope you have a peaceful day. Here, it's rainy and drab, the perfect day for reading by the fire. I know, it's supposed to be spring but it feels more fall-ish. Maybe I'll grab The Last Valentine and read it again. At least I know I'll get escape into a good read...

Monday, May 16, 2011


I keep forgetting to mention that I've finally updated my website. It's still a work in progress but it's coming along.

The annoying bit? When I uploaded the new pages, the stat counter dropped 25,000 visitors. Rats! It's a small thing but it annoyed me.

Anyhow, if you get a chance please take a peek. Find me here. Thanks!

This and That

I won't tell you what it's doing outside. I refuse to say the r-word. Nope, I won't do it.

Since I'll be trapped inside most of the day I plan to clean the house. Every nook and cranny. All dust bunnies will be relocated. By this evening, furniture polish will scent the air and the pile of folded laundry that's put down roots on the bedroom sofa will be unrooted.

Just watched the Endeavor take off. What a thrill!

I hope you have a great day!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Happy, Happy

Our friend Jude sent this from Australia a while back. I stuck it into the bathroom chest and forgot about it. Imagine my delight when I found it this morning.

A commentary on the day, I think. Really, how could a day that begins with showering amidst Happy Soap bubbles be anything less than peaceful?

I hope you have a lovely Sunday.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Building Project

Two weeks ago I made sketches. They still sit on my desk, these quick pencil drawings I made when contemplating a building project. I hoped I'd be able to toss them but things have taken a turn so who knows?

Let's back up. Two weeks ago:

This was the view. See the puddle in the grass? The ground squished with every step.

The meandering creek across the street? It roared.

The pond was topped off.

My rain boots stood ready.

Then, sunshine.



Things bloomed.

Gorgeous things.

These, from the Spring Garden my sweet man planted for me.

Thanks, Vito!
Everything beautiful, even the dandelions and tulips.

But, before I could get used to warm breezes and sunny skies...

Yesterday? Rain.

Today? Rain.

Tomorrow?Rain and thunderstorms.

The rest of the week? You guessed it. Rain.

Contemplating digging out those plans for the little building project.

It worked for Noah, didn't it?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Grease Monkey

I can hardly believe it's Thursday again. It feels like this week just began and here we are, heading toward the weekend. Yikes!

My to-do list for this week is dwindling, thank goodness. I've been busting my bu--well, I've been working hard around the property and it's beginning to show my efforts. Gardens are tilled, grass is mowed and flowerbeds are somewhat tamed. Grapes are pruned and I've begun working on the blueberry garden. And I can't forget the mountain of mulch that arrived yesterday. Problem with that is that it's got to be hauled and spread.

Oy vey.

Anyhow, I'm getting some assistance today with tuning up some of the yard machinery so I've got to dash. My morning will be spent learning about engines, air filters and spark plugs. Oh boy! It's incredible that my husband knew all this stuff, kept everything running smoothly and never letting on that inside his beautiful mind lived an auto mechanic's smarts. Seriously, I'm impressed. I'm breaking my chops trying to learn all this stuff, and he just acted like it was all no big deal. The guy was amazing, truly awesome.

So...moving forward. Me? Farm mechanic today. You? What's up your sleeve?

I hope you have a peaceful Thursday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Friends, Fallon and Farming

I bet I'm the only one on the street who's awake and watching Jimmy Fallon. Betcha.

You know, Jimmy Fallon is pretty funny. I didn't expect to crack a smile but he's had me chuckling. I don't want to get into a habit but I don't mind keeping company with him tonight.

Friends. I gotta tell you, I think I'd lose my mind without my friends. They're the best, sticking by me as I navigate this chapter in my life. It's not all a late night gigglefest, believe me. I am so grateful for the kindness and compassion of a very special group--thanks for holding me up. You know who you are.

And farming? In a few short hours I'm going to have a huge truckload of mulch somewhere in the yard. Somewhere? That's all I can say because I still haven't decided where I'm going to ask the guy to dump his load.

Oh, that doesn't sound good, does it?

I'd best go to bed and try to get some sleep. I think I'm on friend overload. Or maybe I'm Fallon toast. No, it might be that I've got Farm Brain. That's a real thing, isn't it? Farm Brain. Yes, I think it might be real. No, I know it's real. Definitely...

Hope your Wednesday is peaceful. What're you up to?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Onions, Dirt and Hand Cream

Yes, that's right. A view into my Tuesday. Onions. Dirt. Hand cream.

Got the onion patch turned over yesterday. So today, planting onions and potatoes. In the dirt. Which means, of course that despite my gloves I'm going to need a boatload of hand cream by tonight.

I love gardening. Hate gardening hands.

What are you up to today? Whatever it is, I hope you have a peaceful day!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Monday Musings

The day is beginning on a high note. Melinda at Night Owl Romance gave Last Chance 4 1/2 stars!

Part of her review:

"This is the first title I’ve read by Sarita Leone and won’t be the last. Here is an author who brings the storyline to life with characters that capture your attention. Laura is just like any widow but she misses the things only a man can bring to a woman. Now Chance is definitely a man who knows what he wants yet when it comes to Laura he is all tongue-tied. These two were great yet funny in their denials and attraction coming together. Last Chance is a story that will capture every reader’s attention and have them rooting for Chance to get his woman. I loved it."

Wouldn't that just make your day? Thanks, Melinda!

On a different note, I'm just heartsick over the news from along the Mississippi River. I cannot imagine how those families must feel watching all that water coming their way. I've got everyone down there along the banks of that huge river in my thoughts and prayers. Enough with the natural disasters, already! Where's the sunshine, warm breezes and flowers?

So, what have you got planned for this day? Me? I'm going to try to take in the blouse I made this weekend. It's a size smaller than I usually wear, and I've already taken it in about two inches but it's still huge. I look silly in it, although it's pretty and will be useful once I get it sized correctly. Wish me needs a lot of adjusting!

I hope you have a peaceful day. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Yesterday Continued

My three things? Would've had them covered had I not added a dozen other items to my to-do list. Ahh!

So, only half done with yesterday's list. Today? More writing, sewing and gardening.

My mom is a bit under the weather so we'll celebrate the day later in the week. I hate it that she's feeling unwell but love it that she's on the mend. And, whatever the day and however she feels, my mom is still the greatest mom ever.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Wishing everyone a peaceful Sunday.

Now if you'll pardon me, I've got a list to work on...

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Three Things

Today I've got three things on my mind, three items I'd like to accomplish on this beautiful Saturday. Let me share...

Words. I plan to park my tush in a chair and work on my new story. I don't plan to rise from said chair until I've got 2,000 new words on the work. Wish me luck. This is going to be a challenge but I figure I'd better stop pussyfooting around and just get down to it.

Cosmos. Every year we plant cosmos in a special garden by Vito's workshop. I've got the cosmos growing in the greenhouse. Today I plan to add some topsoil and fertilizer to the garden, dig it in and then spread new mulch. That way, it'll be ready for the flowers when the weather warms.

A new blouse. I've got some pretty fabric and a hankering for a new blouse. So I'll be spending some time with my sewing machine this afternoon.

All good, but in addition I've got some laundry, dusting and vacuuming to squeeze into the day. I'd better get moving! Before I head out, what have you got on your agenda for today? Whatever you do, I hope you have a peaceful day!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Hello, Friday!

Whew! We made it to Friday, didn't we? This week that feels like a huge accomplishment.

Today I'm at The Lark Journals. Won't you stop in and say hello?

Hope you have an enjoyable day!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Bunny at Midnight

Oh, insomnia, how friendly we've become. AHH!

For the second night in a row, I've slept for under three hours. The first night I watched infomercials by firelight. Last night, I had no patience for that so I headed for the kitchen.

I didn't want to begin anything huge, but I needed to do something.

Yesterday I picked up a chocolate bunny at the grocery store. It was a steal I couldn't resist. I eyed it, wondering what I could do with it.

I love dried cranberries, and I'd bought them also. So...cranberries and bunny?

Cranberry Bunny Clusters

1 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
8 ounces chocolate, chopped. Bunnies melt just fine!

Combine the almonds and cranberries.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over slightly simmering water. Stir frequently.

When chocolate is melted, add the cranberries and nuts.

Spoon out heaping clusters of the mixture onto the waxed paper. Put the baking sheet into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Store and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

I should've taken a picture. Now, there's not enough left to make a decent photo, sorry!

Today I plan to get to work in the blueberry garden, weeding and mulching. I figure I could use the exercise after eating fruit and bunny in the wee hours.

What about you? Any plans?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


Yes, that's the way it feels, like I'm working. At just under 9,000 words, my new story is nearly at the halfway mark. Let me tell you, this writing isn't coming easily. I've been out of the writing saddle for way too long for it to feel comfortable straight off.

And there's another issue. A big one. It's what's holding me up, I think.

You see, when I wrote before I had the world's best beta reader. I had the privilege of discussing, daily, what I'd written as well as what I planned to write. Talking a story out makes it easier to write, for me, anyhow. Now, there's no one to talk with, no one to bounce ideas off of and that is really, really hard.

Still, I'm not giving up. I refuse to let this stymie me. I'll figure out how to go around the obstacle because I know I'll feel so much better when the writing is sailing along.

The new story? Honestly, I'm happy with the way it's turning out. I love the characters, am amused by their situation and plan to throw all kinds of roadblocks in their path to happiness. Yes, I"m going to torture them a bit before I let them find their happily ever after.

I just wish I didn't feel so alone on this journey. I never have felt like I was going solo while writing. This is new and uncomfortable but, as I said, I'm not giving up. Just going to put my head down, dig my heels in and keep trying to put one good sentence after another.

Thanks for listening. I'll keep you posted on the story as it unfolds. You can bet I'll let you know when it's done!

So, what's up with you? Anything you'd like to share?

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Turtle Tuesday

I've got to say, I love daffodils. Yesterday I walked through the property and gathered a huge bouquet. They were the first things I saw when I came downstairs this morning. What a cheery way to begin the day!

No's another rainy morning here in upstate New York. I almost expect to see gray skies and stormy clouds when I open the blinds now.

Mother Nature, send out the sun!

My plans for the day? Writing (I've been slacking, choosing instead to weed) and baking. It seems like the perfect sort of day for another crusty loaf of beer bread. Love the way the house smells when bread's in the oven, and it doesn't get any easier than the four-ingredient beer bread!

What about you? Got anything special on your to-do list?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Grease Monkey

I hope you all had a peaceful weekend. It'd be great if you got some respite from the rain, that is, if you live in one of the soggy areas. Here at Casa Leone, it was a wonderfully quiet weekend, filled with special moments and smiles.

First, Mass. Yesterday was my guy's birthday so I had Mass said in his memory. Family and friends filled the pews and we all were comforted by the service. Afterward, breakfast, where we spoke lovingly about the great man who touched our lives.

Then, after some more quiet celebration for a life well lived, we moved on to other pressing issues.

Lawn tractors. My mother, stepfather and I jumped out of our church clothes and into grubby duds, headed out to the barn and got the lawn tractors ready for a new season. Cleaned, tires inflated, oil changes and some adjusting brought both vehicles up to speed--literally! We had a productive, happy afternoon. Birds sang, the sky was soft blue and gentle clouds drifted by. We felt peaceful, hopeful and content. It was very, very good. No one minded grease beneath fingernails!

So, with the weather forecast showing rain every day this week beginning this afternoon, I'm going to grab a cup of chai and head for the tractor. I figure I'll at least get the lawn closest to the house cut before the raindrops begin to fall.

Forgive me if I don't visit my blogging friends this morning. Mother Nature seems to mean business this spring so when she's not raining, I'd best be mowing!

I hope you have a serene Monday. Any plans you'd care to share?

Sunday, May 01, 2011


Last summer we weren't here. You know that. What you don't know is that we have the most amazing friends. Not once did we need to worry about our lawn. Not once. It was meticulously cared for, looked beautiful all year long and everyone involved refused to take credit for their hard work, choosing instead to say it was one of the other people who did the bulk it.

All blessings. We were so very grateful for their love, support and caring. We never concerned ourselves one bit with what was going on here. We knew everything was being well tended.

One thing was very well tended. Meticulously trimmed, to say the least! And, lest you think otherwise, I've got to tell you I'm smiling as I write this. Why? Because one tiny little rosebush was trimmed to within an inch of its life. Planted near a row of pines, it was definitely not large enough to attract attention--especially for someone who didn't know of its existence and who was riding a tractor when it, ah, met the diminuitive rosebush.

You got it. The bush was mowed all summer long.

I'm laughing now. Really. When I first discovered the sawed-off bush a couple of weeks ago, I shed a tear. I remember planting it with Vito and was just sad that it had met an untimely end.

But I'm not crying over the rose anymore. Know why? I'll show you. Take a peek at the photos below. Do you see what I see? That's right, the rosebush is growing. It's not dying, it's living! I am thrilled by its determination, tickled by the saga of its near-miss and eager to see more of the gorgeous orange-and-pink blooms I know it will make.

Hope. It just makes my day. It's what keeps me putting one foot in front of the other.

I'll keep you posted on the progress this rugged rose makes.

Anything new in your world? Please, tell. And have a peaceful day!