Sunday, December 30, 2012

Featured Short Story: The Camp

This story was inspired by the reports of death camps in North Korea and other areas of the world. Children are born, and raised in these Camps, and grow up knowing nothing of life beyond their barbed wire barrier. While this story is not set in any particular place, it is written for the downtrodden children of the world, past, present, and future.


The Camp

The girl whose name meant love often walked the perimeter of the Fence, as she was small and no one paid her much mind. The Fence was twice as high as any of the Buildings, and it was topped with glittering barbed wire. From time to time, a cricket or a frog would hop through the tiny holes in the Fence and enter the Camp, but mostly only the wind travelled through.  It was at the edge of the world. At the edge of the world, Grandmother always said, one could not expect many visitors.
It took the time from one whistle to another to make the trip around the Camp, and it would be quicker if she did not dawdle. Today, there were no crickets to catch, and it was not the season for frogs, the air was too dry, and dirt blew in on the wind. Even so, there was little reason for her to hurry. She was not expected to line up at each whistle with Grandmother and the other women who lived in the Camp. She was still too young to be of any use. The Guards hardly noticed her, except at mealtime to give her a bowl, or at the time of year the Doctor visited. But that was just before the frost came, still a long time off, and evening mealtime wouldn’t be until the sun had nearly set. On a dry day, with the sun hanging high in the sky, there would be no use for a little girl in the Camp.
The girl scuffed her feet along the dirt path that was worn around the inside of the Fence. The dusty soil puffed up between her toes in little clouds, and her feet were as brown as the Buildings. This time of year, everything was brown, and nearly everything was dead. The Buildings were all the same, a bit taller than the tallest Guard, and very long. They were laid out along the Fence, about three yards away from it. Tufts of dry, brown grass, short and scrubby, grew between them. Each Building had four large windows along its length. The windows only faced inside, towards the center of the Camp, and as the girl walked the perimeter, she felt very much alone, which is how she preferred to be when Grandmother was working.
Every morning, before the sun rose, the first whistle would blow, and her Grandmother would take her outside the Building they lived in, and they would stand, straight and proud, alongside the other women who lived in the same Building. Then, the Guards would come and take a look at them, and Grandmother said it was important to be respectful and clean, and stand very still, and look straight forward. This was how you showed your respect, she said. People with respect weren’t hassled. People with respect got their morning mealtime and a new gown when their old one wore out. People with respect would go the Heaven one day, and never have to see the Camp again.
After the morning mealtime was over, and everyone had eaten their allotted food, her Grandmother and the other older women would line up and march together to the longest Building along the Fence, to sew gowns, and the older girls and younger women would march in a separate line to the garden, also in the center of the Camp. When she was a bit older, she would join them in the garden, but for now, she was left on her own each day, and could do what she chose, as long as she didn’t bother the Guards or the women that worked. She was the youngest girl in the Camp, and preferred to spend her days alone.
The girl stood at the Fence, and pressed her face against it, feeling the cool metal of the links press into her skin. She looked outward, to the end of the world, where the grass grew tall and the sky went onward, forever.
“What is Heaven like?” she had asked her grandmother, after the evening mealtime the day before, like she always did.
“Heaven is like the land outside of the Fence.” Her grandmother told her, “Wide open, going on forever and ever, as far as the eye can see. The grass grows green and tall, and fruit grows on trees, and water runs in silver springs.”
“What is fruit?” she always asked next, looking at her Grandmother’s weathered face with eager, smiling eyes.
“Fruit is sweet and good, it makes you feel more alive just to take one bite of it.” Her Grandmother always answered, and sometimes her eyes would water and a tear would run down the creases of her face.
“We will eat fruit like we eat food at mealtime?”
“Yes. But we will eat it anytime that we want to in Heaven, mealtime or not.” It always seemed strange for the girl to think about eating whenever she wanted to, and try as she might, she could never understand what the fruit would be like. It was quite different, she knew, from the grey, clotted food she always ate at the Camp. It was like magic, something that you couldn’t see, but was with you anyway. Like love.
“And we will drink the silver water?” she prodded her Grandmother, who was starting to doze off.
Her Grandmother nodded. “Yes, shiny, silver water. Shiny like the badges the Guards wear, shiny like the reflection of the sunlight on the roofs of the Buildings.”
“How do you know about this, Grandmother?” the girl asked. She knew how, but it always made her Grandmother smile to tell her, and so she always asked.
“Because I have been there, my love. I was there, long before you were born, long before this Camp was built. That was a time where everyone lived on the outside, free like the wind and the birds and the sky.” Another tear streaked a path across the old woman’s face, and her granddaughter touched it. It stuck to the end of her finger and sparkled, like the silver springs in Heaven.
“Long ago,” she had echoed, “Long before this Camp was built.” It was such a strange concept, thinking of a time before the Camp. She had always lived here, and her mother had lived here before she went to Heaven. Where would people sleep, she wondered, if they had no Building to go to? Where would people work, if there was no garden to plant, or no gowns to sew? Without work, she knew, there could be no food. The Guards always said that, and everyone knew that it was true. Then, she remembered the fruit. They wouldn’t need food. They could pick the fruit and eat that instead.
“I love you, Grandmother.” She had said then, seeing that she was tired, and should be left to sleep. Work always made her tired, and one day, when the girl was old enough, she would be able to work, and would be very tired too. This was a good thing, she knew, because the more tired you got, the closer you were to leaving.
“I love you, too.” Her Grandmother told her. She cuddled her granddaughter to her body on their cot. That was love, the girl knew. Love was what kept them warm at night under the blanket, and love was what kept them together. Even when her Grandmother went off to Heaven one day, love would keep them connected until they could be together again. Love was magic, something you couldn’t see, but was with you anyway.
That morning, when she woke up, her Grandmother was already out of the cot. She was not in the Building either, and the girl had lined up without her, among the other women, standing proud and tall and still. She didn’t have to ask where she was, asking was not respectful. There was only one place that her Grandmother could be, if she was not there, lined up with the others when the first whistle blew.
The little girl pressed her face harder against the Fence, and ground her feet into the dirt. She looked out past the Fence, and tried to picture Heaven. How far away was it? How many whistles would blow before she reached it, if she tried to walk there? She couldn’t walk there, she knew. That wouldn’t be respectful, and then she would never be able to find Heaven, and would never see her Grandmother again. The Fence went underground as deep as it was high, and the very top was magic, and would burn anyone who tried to touch it.
The girl whose name meant love looked upward, tilting her head back as far as she could, looking at the very top of the Fence. It shone silver in the sunlight. She squinted, and her eyes began to water from the brightness. She touched a tear, and held it out, on the tip of her finger. “I love you, Grandmother,” She whispered. There was no sound, and the winds came, slow and dry, and her teardrop was blown away. The little girl smiled. That was love, she knew, that was magic, and one day, if she worked hard enough, she would be able to go to Heaven, too.

Copyright 2012, Billijean E. Martiello

Theft of this Work will be Prosecuted to the Fullest Extent of the Law

2013 Overhaul

The New Year is approaching, and there are changes to be made in all of our lives, including here at Pink Forsythia. Namely, the blog is going to become more organized, and I intend on having articles published more frequently. I cannot forget what this blog is ultimately about: Personal creativity! I hope to reflect this is 2013. I hope you all look forward to the second year of Pink Forsythia, and in my opinion, the best year thus far!

Teavana Obsession

So, everyone seems to have New Year's resolutions. The calendar change seems to be the perfect opportunity to turn over a new leaf, whether it be a way to improve yourself, do something you always wanted to try, go somewhere new, or generally change your life. One of my resolutions is to try to eat more naturally, by increasing the quality of the foods I cook with, and not buying anything with preservatives and chemicals. 2013 is going to be a year for healthy, delicious, natural food, and trying new recipes!
On that note, I have given up soft drinks and pre-prepped beverages. However, one cannot live on water alone. Therefore, I have taken up drinking more tea. Hot or cold, a good quality, natural cup of tea has so many health benefits. If you don't load it up with white sugar, it has no calories, plus, is full of antioxidants. Of course, different teas have different benefits, but all in all, it is a healthy, and delicious choice.
On Friday, I went to Teavana, and bought a Tea Infusion Pitcher for iced tea. I have a tea kettle and a slew of teapots, so hot tea is accessible to me, but now, with this nifty pitcher, I can drink cold tea too. It has a mesh infuser in the top. You can put any blend of loose tea into it, and it has room to expand and steep in the water. I just tried a blend of Mango Chai Tea, and it is AMAZING cold!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes


Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes are a favorite memory of mine…hearkening back to the long-lost days of elementary school, when my mother would make them to bring to my class for my birthday. I had an August birthday, and so my mother would always arrange things with my teachers so that I could bring cupcakes in during the last week of school. In celebration of summertime, the Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes were always a delightful surprise!


Enough Cake Batter for 12 cupcakes (your favorite brand or from scratch!)

12 flat bottomed sugar Ice Cream Cones




1) Mix batter

2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

3) Set sugar cones in cupcake pan

4) Divide Batter Evenly between cones

5) Bake 20-25 minutes

6) Cool

7) Ice the tops to look like ice cream

8) Apply sprinkles

9) Enjoy!


The cupcake pan keeps the cones from wobbling while they bake!


I overfilled my cones a tad, there was a little overflow. To remedy this, fill the cones only to the first line.



I kept mine standing up in a foil lined pie pan until party time!



What a scrumptious little cone!



They are even tastier than they look ^_^


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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Cookies

     A few weeks ago, I was at a friend’s house, and partook in some scrumptious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. She was kind enough to send me the link to the recipe she used, and tonight, I baked some based on that recipe, with a few tweaks. I don’t seem to be able to use a recipe without changing it, but the cooking came out super delicious! I even used fresh eggs laid by my mom’s chickens. The cookies are soft, delicately flavored, and very tasty…
     I’d love for you all to be able to bake these amazing morsels too! So, here is my tweaked Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Cookie Recipe!
1 1/2 c. pumpkin
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c oil (canola/sunflower/vegetable…choose your favorite!)
2 eggs
3 c. flour
1 tbs. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
3.4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. milk
2 tbs. vanilla
2 c. chocolate chips
All the yummy ingredients
Step One: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the pumpkin, sugar, oil, and eggs!
Step Two: In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Step Three: In a dish, dissolve the baking soda and milk.
Step Four: Add the baking soda/milk mixture to the pumpkin mixture, blend well.
Step Five: Add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Blend really well, until all the lumps are out, and everything is the same consistency.
Step Six: Add the vanilla, stir well. Then, add the chocolate chips, gently combine.
Step Seven: Drop Cookies on either a greased tray, or use parchment paper on a cookie tray, which is my choice!
Step Eight: Bake at 350 degrees, for twelve minutes, or until golden on top. However, realize that the cookies will still be soft, do not over-bake them.
Step Nine: Cool, and enjoy!
Aren’t they just lovely? Well, as good as they look, they smell a thousand times better when they are baking. Try the recipe, I dare you!
Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Artist Spotlight: The Rambling Scholar

   Riddle me this, what do a Navy sailor, a bookworm, and a jewelry designer all have in common? A whole lot! Especially since they are all hats worn by my friend and fellow artist/writer/creator, Marjorie-Ann Lacharite.
    This month, I decided to finally start my Artist Spotlight articles, and began with the creative Marjorie-Ann Lacharite, who runs a wonderful Etsy Shop under the name “Rambling Scholar”. I came up with the idea of interviewing different people who have interesting hobbies or passions not only in order to diversify Pink Forsythia but also to introduce some of these wonderful and talented people to the world! Since I met Marjorie during my days in the US Navy, and she currently lives on the other side of the country, we conducted our interview via email.  
Rambling Scholar

Billijean: So, what sort of art are you involved in creating?
Marjorie: Originally, I began making bookthongs, which are bookmarks consisting of a ribbon or cord with two beaded ends. Now I’ve expanded the craft into jewelry and bookthongs alike, mostly in the steampunk style.
Billijean: How did you get into it?
Marjorie: While in training for the Navy, I wanted a hobby where I could use my hands and “shut off” my mind for a little while. Being an avid reader, I was always looking for new and creative bookmarks, so logically I began making them. Without access to classes or a teacher, I had to self-teach everything from the ground up. After my confidence grew in the art of bookthongs, it was an easy transition to use the skills I learned to begin making jewelry too. Making bookmarks and jewelry is a wonderful way to relax after a long day of work, and eventually I got so into it that I stopped making things just for myself and focused on creating for a larger audience. Yet it wasn’t until my first craft show that I was hooked, and now I spend most of my free time in my spare bedroom creating whatever comes to mind.
Billijean: What inspires you artistically?
 Marjorie: I grew up with two musicians for parents who raised me on a healthy dose of the Arts. As such, not only did it leave me naturally scatterbrained and disorganized, but it made me appreciate the way art and emotions are so tightly bound. Creating my designs is an artform as well, and I will use it as an outlet for my own emotions at the time, be they positive or negative. I will also listen to music as I work, often using a lyric or feeling from any particular song in the design itself. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge, some of Owl City, and half of Sting’s albums hidden within my work. I want my jewelry and bookmarks to tell a story and evoke an emotion, even if the original inspiration can’t be seen.
Billijean: Are there any books, music, etc. (basically any cultural or artistic pieces) that have helped to define you and your personality?
Marjorie: Books. Books absolutely have shaped me just as much as music has. Nothing beats the feeling of losing yourself in a well-written story. I’ve always been partial to fantasy and science fiction, and have recently discovered the urban fantasy and steampunk sub-genres. The latter has gone a long way into shaping my outlook and especially how I design my jewelry and bookmarks. I love the feeling of potential that steampunk can give; the alternate view of what-if that Jules Verne and his contemporaries started that still has relevance today. I love the idea of a steam-powered future that maintains the elegance of the past but keeps all the possibilities of the future. Reading has allowed me see the “what if” in everything around me. To envision a new path or way of doing things, or even simply to try something new with my art that I haven’t before. That has probably shaped me and my life more than any other singular influence outside of my family.
Billijean: Do you have any particular artistic idol or sorts (whether it be a writer, painter, musician...anything!)?
Marjorie: I have to jump on the Neil Gaiman bandwagon on this one. My first introduction to him was a movie called Stardust that I simply loved, and I wouldn’t revisit him for quite some time later until I discovered his books. The man can write like few other modern writers can, with wit and heart that bring the characters to life. I love the way he incorporates fantasy elements so seamlessly into the real world that you never question it. The fantasy isn’t some omnipotent background “guide” or force, it’s an active and tangible component. He’ll put in easter eggs of mythological trivia or clues that are a delight when you get the inside joke, or just an added goodie if you don’t understand the reference. He’s accessible at all levels, but still challenges you and leaves you feeling like you’ve completed a journey by the time you put the story down.
Billijean: Why do you create? what drives you?
Marjorie: I create for the same reason that any other artist creates, I believe. Making art, be it through books, dance, music, or paint, is offering part of yourself to others. It exposes a part of you that is both frightening and thrilling, and absolutely addictive. When I begin a piece, I never go in with a set plan in mind. There may be a technique I want to attempt, or a general idea of what I want to end up with, but it isn’t until I start putting it all together that I even realize what I have. The art speaks for itself, and the more of myself that I put into it, the more I hope it can reach and touch others. Art is telling a story, and whatever that story might be, there’s always part of the artist in it. Some signature that tells you who created it. That is something that will always last, and may be the best form of immortality we have. I can touch others with my art, and when they appreciate and want to share in it with me, there’s no greater feeling in the world.
Billijean: Are there any websites you would like me to promote for you?
Marjorie:I can be found locally at craft shows in Hawaii, and while everyone is welcome to fly over here for some mai tais on the beach, an easier way of finding me and my art is through my website: Each piece in my shop is handmade using local materials, and no two are alike. My favorite pieces are the ones commissioned by others, so feel free to let me know if you want anything altered, or if you would like something created from scratch.
  Here is a picture I took off of her Etsy shop, showing just some of the beautiful items that she keeps for sale there! I can attest firsthand to the lovely quality of her work, I bought quite a few pieces to give as gifts last Holiday season :)
rambling scholar
I would like to thank Marjorie-Ann Lacharite, for taking the time to sit for this interview! It means a lot to me, and so : THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU! Also, I would like to thank my awesome group of READERS! I would appreciate it if you would browse The Rambling Scholar at:

Feel free to leave a comment below, it would mean a lot to everyone involved in this interview! Thanks again, and keep reading Pink Forsythia!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy November 1st!

Good Morning, and Happy November! To some of us, November means the beginning of the Thanksgiving season, the end of colorful leaves and the start of frost. To others, it may mean worrying about the election for the first few days, and then either seething or celebrating for the rest of the month. But this year, for me, and for other writers across the globe, November 1st marks the beginning of a challenge, National Novel Writing Month, in which participants have exactly one month to write a 50,000 word novel, and win bragging rights.
Now, at first I relegated NaNoWriMo to be an event for those who actually have spare time, aka, not me. Why, I asked myself, would I want to spend a month of my time writing a novel when I am currently attending two separate institutions of higher learning, barely see my husband as it is because we are both so busy, am trying to get my driver's licence (pitifully, at 23), and have other various commitments that come along with independent adult life? Well, I guess because I thought the pressure might actually help me finish a novel already.
I have been "writing novels" since I could read. I finished one once, about animals that lived in upstate New York in a fortress on an island in the middle of an abandoned blue-stone quarry, although the computer I typed it on (a big, unreliable grey box of a PC), crashed, and at 12, I didn't yet realize the importance of backing up my work (on a floppy, no less), until after that incident.Since then, I have been floundering to finish one, and at the end of this month, I may just do that.
This morning, I wrote nearly 5,000 words, because today, I had some time. If I can find other, random chunks of time, I may be able to slay this beast. So, her is to me, working, attending school, writing my blog, managing my relationship, not cancelling too often on my beloved family and friends, and WRITING, WRITING, WRITING, furiously, chasing that 50,000 word goal!
Thanks for reading, all!
PS. This is the link to my NaNoWriMo page...keep me encouraged if you see my word count fall!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

To Plan a Wedding...Flowers!

     When I first met my husband, Christopher, we soon discovered that we shared a lot in common, such as our love of the color green, reading The Hobbit, and writing poetry. Also, we shared a favorite flower: the beautiful Sunflower. Since we met, he has given me bouquet after bouquet of lovely sunflowers, and it has never crossed my mind that the sunflower shouldn't be the one that we choose for our wedding.
      When we eloped in the August of 2009, I purposely chose a simple location: the Justice of the Peace. Also, I purposely refused to have a bouquet, a fancy dress, a first dance, music, personalized vows, professional photos, etcetera. I always told people that it WASN'T our wedding, simply a marriage ceremony. I wanted to save my wedding for a time when we had the extra money, the ability to be together for more than a weekend, and when we lived in a location that allowed both sides of our family to attend. Now, I am having a blast planning the details with my husband, mother, sisters, and friends, and I am ready to have the wedding of our dreams, for a realistic cost that won't break the bank or put us in debt!
     Now, more about the flowers! The sunflower is native to North America, and is not only beautiful and decorative, but is highly USEFUL as well, providing us with yummy seeds and healthy oil. The myth that a sunflower follows the sun with it's "face" is untrue, stemming from the fact that sunflowers in a field all face the same way. Actually, the truth is that they all face EAST as they grow, which is very interesting. There are many varieties of sunflowers, all of them cheerful and lovely to behold.
    I know that I want the wedding ceremony to take place in a natural setting, somewhere out-of-doors in the fresh air, that we won't have to decorate or alter. The idea is to find somewhere beautiful, natural, peaceful, and happy, a place where we can feel a part of the world around us, and each other.We never liked the idea of an indoor ceremony, because, to us, no ornate ceiling could be as beautiful as the open sky, be it clear or clouded, and no windows and walls could be as breathtaking as trees and fields and the glory of nature. Using an outdoor ceremony, the need to decorate with masses of flowers and ribbons would be obliterated, and the only flowers that I would need for this chapter of the wedding would be in bouquets, for my bridal party and myself.
This Photo is Inspiring!
        My only debate for the bridal bouquets is whether to bind together a grouping of smaller sunflowers for the ladies to carry, or if they should carry one larger flower. I have seen both ideas online, and both are very attractive options! I am leaning toward one, giant, beautiful sunflower for each member of the bridal party, and then making my bouquet out of many smaller ones, cascading together. I love the idea of only using sunflowers, keeping the color palate simple, yet stunning, and really letting the beauty of one flower that means a lot to us both, shine through.
       I was pleased to find websites that would allow me to order bulk sunflowers, leaving me enough to craft arrangements for the reception from. Ideally, the reception will only have 25 to 30 guests, and only a couple of tables. We really only want our closest family and friends, there is no point in pretending for a day that everyone we know, who can't care enough to be there for us in our daily lives, should be there for us on the most important day of our lives, I wouldn't be comfortable with that. Plus, by limiting the guest list, we can really go all out, and have an elegant, lavish event for the people who love us! Quality, I think is more important than quantity.
        A smaller reception will allow me to really deck the place out with sunflowers, and one-hundred stems will go a lonnnng, lonnnnng way! I plan on using GROUPINGS of vases on each table, of different shapes and sizes, with a group of sunflowers in each one.
kind of like this, but with more vases
   Keeping the flowers simple will allow me to be able to DO MY OWN ARRANGEMENTS and I will be able to BUY BULK FLOWERS, therefore, saving me quite a lot of money in the long run. Average wedding flower costs are nearly $700.00, and that is NOT counting the reception flowers. Crazy, right? I can't imagine investing almost a grand in decorations that will be dead in a few days anyway. Doing the flowers my way will run about $200.00, for the ceremony, reception, delivery charges, AND incidentals like vases and ribbons and floral binding tape. I am feeling good about this!
So, opinions?
What is your favorite flower?
What do you think of my bouquet and centerpiece ideas?
I'd love you feedback, dear readers!
Please keep reading as I plan Billijean and Christopher's Dream Wedding 2013! This is the second article about the planning process ^_^
Also, if you haven't yet, "like" Pink Forsythia's Facebook page at : 
Thanks for reading!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

To Plan a Wedding…

On August 1st, 2009, I eloped to Las Vegas with the love of my life, and we began our “happily ever after”. After a few years of dating, Christopher and I joined the US Navy, together, and decided it would be silly to let the military drag us to separate corners of the earth, where we would be, undoubtedly, very unhappy, and so, in order to stay together, we decided to get married.
However, each of us was still in our A-School training at the time, myself studying Korean at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, and Christopher studying medicine at the US Navy Corps School in Great Lakes, IL. We only had weekends off at a time, so we decided to meet in the middle, at a place where, in one afternoon, it was possible to procure a marriage license AND get married, LAS VEGAS!
We booked a gorgeous suite in the glamorous Venetian Hotel, in my opinion, the best hotel in the city. We had 36 hours together, and we made the most of all of it.
Outside of the Venetian
We look so young!!! I was 19, and he was 20 ^_^
We stayed our two nights at the Venetian Hotel, VERY classy
Christopher at the Fountain
Faux-Venice has GONDOLAS
Me, So Excited to be in Vegas
Venetian Interior
Lovebirds <3
We Married at the Justice of the Peace
Right After
A Beautiful Fountain
A Pretty Place
Our Venetian View
Leaving Vegas

I agreed to elope with my husband not only because I love him completely and wouldn’t want to be separated for longer than we had to be, but also because he promised me that later, we could have our wedding.
That is why now, I am beginning plans for the wedding that we never had, to be held on our 4th anniversary, August 1st, 2013. Later is better than never, and I am glad we eloped when we did, our Romance has the best of both worlds!
Later articles will highlight the “wedding planning” process…My goal is a small, intimate wedding for only the people that matter the most to us, with a beautiful, poetic out-door ceremony and an elegant reception…Also, fantastic photos are what I am most excited for! I am going to be injecting our personalities into the planning, and this may well be the most important thing that I ever plan.
I hope you keep reading Pink Forsythia, and like the Facebook page, at ^_^
Thanks for Reading!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Postcrossing: A Phenomenal Experience

Hello, readers! I have been wanting to talk to you all about my latest and greatest hobby for some time, Postcrossing. I was introduced to it this past summer, by a few friends from college, and now, I am hooked! Quite the phenomenon, Postcrossing has been sweeping the globe since its start in the July of 2005. Now, there are hundreds of thousands of participants, and it just keeps on growing.
You might ask, “What exactly IS Postcrossing, anyway?” Well, I will tell you…
BUT, before I do, answer a few simple questions:
1) Do you like to receive mail? I mean REAL mail, not junk mail or bills…REAL, unadulterated, PERSON TO PERSON mail?
2) Are you interested in travel, other cultures, or other people?
If you answered yes to both questions, POSTCROSSING could be your new favorite hobby and obsession!
Postcrossing, as I said, was established in 2005, and is based on the website Postcrossers, as people who utilize Postcrossing are called, make free and easy accounts on the website. From there, the program is basically a postcard swap. You request an address, and send a card. For every card you send, you get one back from a random Postcrosser around the globe!
According to the website,
The goal of this project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world, for free. Well, almost free! The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you will receive at least one back from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world.
Why? Because, like the author, there are lots of people who like to receive real mail.
The element of surprise of receiving postcards from different places in the world (many of which you probably have never heard of) can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises - and who wouldn't like that?
I have found Postcrossing to be easy to do, affordable, and ultimately, extremely rewarding. Not only have I received dozens of great cards from around the world, complete with interesting messages and fantastic stamps, but I find myself getting excited about picking up postcards to send, and I love going to the Post Office to buy the cool stamps that come out!
The Basic Steps to Postcrossing according to the website:
  1. request an address from the website
  2. mail the postcard to the address
  3. wait to receive a postcard
  4. register the received postcard in the system
The first step is to request to send a postcard. The website will display (and send you an e-mail) with the address of another member and a Postcard ID (e.g.: US-786). You then mail a postcard to that member. The member receives the postcard and registers it using the Postcard ID that is on the postcard. At this point, you are eligible to receive a postcard from another user. You are now in line for the next person that requests to send a postcard. Where the postcard comes from is a surprise! You can have up to 5 postcards traveling at any single time. Every time one of the postcards you send is registered, you can request another address. The number of postcards allowed to travel at any single time goes up the more postcards you send!
I love getting cards from interesting people of all ages and backgrounds, and I have been sent everything from poetry and doodles to journal entries and recipes. I also love when a card I get is registered online, and the thank-you notes they include with the registration are the best part of sending them! Who wouldn’t be like a five year old on Christmas to open the mailbox and see new postcards sitting there? Getting the mail is now one of the highlights of my everyday routine ^_^
I even made a schnazzy binder for my cards, with plastic protectors, so I can see the front and back of each one…It would be a shame to cover up the pretty pictures OR the handwritten messages, so my binder is the best thing for postcard organization.
To view my user profile, and get an idea of what your could look like, follow this link:
My sisters and mom are now Postcrossers too, and they love it as much as I do! The thing to remember is, you have to SEND postcards to RECEIVE postcards, it can take a week or two for you to get your first one in the mail, but once they start coming, you will be glad that you signed up!
Once again, thanks for reading, and HAPPY POSTCROSSING!
P.S. Current Postcrossers feel free to comment! What do you love best about Postcrossing???

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Friday Night Cocktail Party!


cocktail party!

    I have been perusing my cookbooks, and have come up with a few ideas for appetizers and cocktails, that when paired together, would make for as great Friday night cocktail party! You know, those things that adults in TV-Land host every few episodes, with cute dresses and shoes, martini glasses, and men with combed-back hair? The cocktail parties of the good-old days that have been slowly replaced with gatherings of beer-pong players and take-out...Much to my chagrin. So, instead of ordering the keg and downloading some pirated music and dancing gangnam style while everyone funnels beer and cold pizza, maybe some of us could try doing our hair, mixing a few drinks, and serving some appetizers while reconnecting with our friends. (Hey, you can still gangnam-it-up if you want while sipping a Cosmo, I am not judging!) But, seriously, a trip down to the good old days when you could party classy and still enjoy yourself, that is a little something 2012 could use.

Three Appetizers:

1) Tapenade with Crostini (serves 12, feel free to multiply quantities to suit your party!)

For the Crostini:


  • 24 slices of crusty Italian OR French Bread, cut about 1/2 inch thick

  • Melted Butter


  1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F

  2. Place bread on baking sheets

  3. Brush with butter

  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden

  5. Top with Tapenade, serve immediately

For the Tapenade:


  • 1/2 cup green olives with pimentos
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (remove pits)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsps balsamic vinegar
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup seeded tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs sliced green onion


  1. Combine olives, oil, mustard, vinegar, and garlic in a blender.

  2. Process until almost smooth

  3. Stir in tomato and green onion

  4. Spread on crostini

  5. Serve immediately

2) Apple and Brie Quesadillas (serves 8)


  • 2 thinly sliced Granny Smith Apples

  • olive oil

  • 8 8-inch tortillas

  • 16 oz brie cheese, sliced, rind removed

  • 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard

  • 2 tbs maple syrup

  • 4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled


  1. Preheat pan to medium-high
  2. Toss apples with 4 tsp olive oil, cook until tender (3-4 mins)
  3. Separate apples and cheese into 8 servings
  4. Cover half of each tortilla with one serving of apples and cheese, fold the other half over to make quesadilla
  5. Heat 2 tps of olive oil in a large skillet (nonstick), and cook over medium heat
  6. Cook quesadillas about 2 mins on each side, until melty and golden
  7. Combine mustard and syrup in a bowl
  8. Drizzle quesadillas with syrup, sprinkle with bacon

Note: For a vegetarian version, cut out mustard-maple syrup and bacon, replace with a warm drizzle of caramel sauce!

3) Charred Pineapple Rings (serves six-eight...make two or three for a larger crowd!)


  • 1 large pineapple
  • olive oil


1) Cut pineapple into rings

2) Brush each ring on both sides lightly with olive oil

3) Heat a ridged grill pan to medium high on the stovetop

4) Grill, turning once, until each side is lightly charred, about three mins per side

Three Cocktails:

1) Florida Skies (makes 1)


  • ice cubes, cracked

  • 1 measure white rum

  • 1/4 measure lime juice

  • 1/2 measure pineapple juice

  • soda water (to top up)

  • thinly sliced cucumber


  1. Put cracked ice in a tall glass

  2. Put rum and juices in a shaker, shake lightly

  3. Strain into glass

  4. Top up with soda water

  5. Garnish with cucumber slices

2) Purple Haze (1 Drink)


  • Ice

  • 1 measure vodka

  • 1 dash Cointreau

  • 1 dash lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)

  • 1 dash raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord


  1. In a shaker, combine vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice. Briefly shake

  2. Strain into shot glass

  3. Slowly add a dash of Chambord, it should settle prettily to the bottom

3) Loving Cup (serves 12)


  • 8 sugar cubes

  • 2 lemons

  • 1/2 bottle sweet sherry

  • 1/4 bottle brandy

  • 1 bottle sparkling dry white wine


  1. Rub sugar cubes over lemons, to absorb zest's oils

  2. Peel lemons, remove pith

  3. Slice lemons thinly, set aside

  4. Put sherry, brandy, sugar cubes and lemon zest in a pitcher until sugar dissolves

  5. Cover and chill, 30 mins

  6. When ready to serve, add wine to the pitcher, and float the lemon slices on top

I hope this inspires someone to host a cocktail party! Also, feel free to comment with your favorite appetizer or cocktail recipes! Enjoy :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

What Makes My Kitchen…MINE ^_^


   Since I have been out on my own, I have gathered a number of objects that have really spoken to me. I believe that your space should represent your personality…and your kitchen is no exception! So, today, I am celebrating a few of my favorite kitchen things, the things that make my kitchen, well… MY KITCHEN. I know I haven’t had as much time to personalize my space as some of you, being relatively young to most people who have their own homes, but I have enjoyed every moment of it! I have had homes in Monterey, California, Pearl City, Hawaii, and now Saugerties, New York. My things reflect these places, and as I travel and live in other places, my kitchen is sure to evolve to reflect the changes :)

1) Bunny Salt and Pepper Shakers

Not my first pair, nor my last, but most definitely my favorite, these bunny salt and pepper shakers were obtained at a boutique in Tannersville, New York. The salt shaker is female, and pepper male, and they look at each other as if they are in love. The pastel colors and the fact that they are rabbits (I am currently the proud bunny-mummy to Poppy (2 years) and Sophie (3 months), and had a bunny Bruce, who passed away a year ago this past July 4th) are why I loved them when I saw them, and the fact that my husband, Christopher, bought them for me the second I turned my back makes me love them even more!


2) Floral Piggy Bank

I love this Piggy Bank for a few reasons. Firstly, it is a PIG, and if you keep reading this article, you will see that along with owls and hares, I LOVE PIGS. Secondly, growing up, my mom had a piggy bank in her kitchen, a big fat pig we named Daisy, for the flowers on her flank. She was a ceramic piggy bank procured at a yard sale, and whenever anyone had pocket change, they would feed it to Daisy. She went through a couple of paint jobs, but always has the same cute eyelashes and curling smile! So, I knew I also needed a kitchen pig, and when I found this one, I knew she was the one for me. The third reason why I picked this specific pig is the pastel floral print. Even since I saw the Greek Mythology segment from Disney’s Fantasia when I was a child, I have been in love with bright pastel colors. 


For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, watch this video :

My favorite FANTASIA segment…where I learned to love BRIGHT PASTEL colors

And so, when I found the adorable floral piggy bank at the Target in Sand City, California, I KNEW I had to have it! And so, Daisy II has been collecting change on my various kitchen counters ever since!

3) Guy in the Stocks Jar

One of my latest kitchen additions, and perhaps one of the quirkiest, my “Van Rossem’s Toebaek” tobacco jar is one of my favorite cooking spoon jars! I got it at a yard sale somewhere between Saugerties, NY and Cooperstown, NY on the way home from a week-long Cooperstown vacation with my husband.

cute kitchen 3

front view


back view

I Googled the words on the back of the jar recently, and apparently a whole bunch of them were made in the 1930’s as tobacco humidors. There are many available on online auction sites, but none are available quite as cheaply as I obtained mine! I fell for this jar because of the quirky picture of the villager in the stocks…enjoying his tobacco!

4) Samurai Lion Seppuku Jar

When I first saw this jar, at a Goodwill in Honolulu, HI, I just thought it was a cute lion I could put my spoons in. On closer observation, this lion is a samurai (he has the hairstyle in the back!) committing Seppuku, a Japanese suicide ritual. Seppuku means “stomach-cutting”, and that is exactly what my little lion is doing! You can see the hilt of his sword sticking out of his stomach. This is a very interesting piece, and according to the bottom of the jar, was made in Okinawa.



5) Crowley, the Crown-Tailed Betta


I bought Crowley to be a pet and a decoration when Christopher and I moved into our Saugerties, NY apartment this past February. His underside is bright red, and the rest of him blue, green and purple. An exceptionally easy-to-care-for pet, and an exceptional beauty, this little guy is my cooking-buddy.

6) The Green Lady and the Forest Painting


I fell in love with this ceramic relief of the green lady (Google green man/green lady from Celtic mythology, or read this Wikipedia page if you need to brush up As a lover of everything IRISH, I immediately fell in love with the smiling face sticking out from the flowers and leaves. Christopher and I bought her while passing through Cherry Valley, New York, at a Celtic shop there. Everything there was amazing, but the Green Lady was my favorite. Hand-made by the owner of the shop, she hung there for twenty years before I came along!  The forest painting next to it is an acrylic on plastic painting, made by Christopher’s father, Joseph Martiello. He gave it to us when he came to visit, and when I saw how well the greens in it went with both my kitchen and the Green Lady, I decided to hang it beside her!


7) Piggy Kitchen Gadgets

Above my stove is my collection on Piggy Kitchen Gadgets. I have been slowly collecting the set since 2009, when my mum sent me the whisk and the rubber spatula. The spoons, tongs, and finally, egg-timer followed, and I completed the set in early 2012. There may be more out there, and if there are, I will find them!


This collection is made by Joie, and is called the Piggy Wiggy kitchen set, in case anyone wants them too!


8) Owl Teapot/Cup for One

This was a Christmas present in 2011 from my sister, and I love it! It is a teapot for one, sitting on top of a mug. The set also includes a teabag holder, which I forgot to photograph. I really love owls, and I love tea, so this was a perfect gift for me!


9) Vintage Mickey and Minnie Cookie Jars

Perched atop my refrigerator are these adorable, vintage Mickey and Minnie cookie jars, from the 1940s. My husband found them in mint condition at an antique store in Saugerties, and bought them for me this past Valentine’s Day. Whimsical and romantic, I feel lucky to have them ^_^


10) Magnets from Places We’ve Been

My husband started collecting magnets from places the two of us have been, including Las Vegas, Hawaii, and San Francisco, to name a few. While the collection isn’t enormous yet, there is plenty of room for growth, and we look forward to adding to it. I love the personal touch it gives the kitchen, and now, when we travel, we look for unique magnets to add to our collection.


11) Precious Piggy Calendar

Yes, I do LOVE pigs, especially in my kitchen! That is why, this past December, when I saw the 2012 Precious Piggy Calendar by David McEnery in Barnes and Noble, I had to have it. Each month features a new pig, in an adorable black and white photo that has one spot of color. As you can see, September features an adorable piglet in a basket with a bright yellow sunflower. There is a 2013 edition, here:

I must get the new one before the new year!


12) Wooden Wizard

My husband, Christopher, found this wooden wizard/cloaked wanderer statue at a yard sale in Monterey, California. I immediately likened it to a Lord of the Rings sort of decoration, and have loved it ever since! Presiding over my knives, this wizard is sort of like the guy from the Led Zeppelin Album, or could have been an interpretation of Gandalf. Either way, the geek in me loves having him around!



Feel free to share with us what makes your kitchen, well…YOUR KITCHEN, in the comment box, or via Facebook! Like Pink Forsythia on Facebook at .