Sunday, January 20, 2013

Watermelon Delight

watermelon apple juice
One of the simple pleasures of life is a cold glass of freshly made juice. In an age of affordable and readily available technology, this is no longer a luxury, but something that anyone can make. My husband, Christopher,  made me a pitcher of this simple, but amazing juice, which I call Watermelon Delight.
It is so simple, yet so refreshing and tasty! You juice the fruit of one medium watermelon with the fruit of 6 Granny Smith Apples. The result is a naturally sweet yet tangy, absolutely DELIGHTFUL combination. Muddled in a glass with some ice and couple of mint leaves, this juice makes an excellent mixer too!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Iced Chai Cinnamon Tea

Sometimes, even in the midst of a New York winter, one craves something cold and refreshing. My new favorite is Iced Chai Cinnamon Tea! I use my Teavana Infusion Pitcher, but a regular pitcher can be utilized if you have a coffee filter and a twist tie!


1) Chai teabags or loose leaf tea
2) 1 cinnamon stick
3) warm water
4) Agave nectar or honey for sweetener


1) Put tea in the a) infusion basket in pitcher or b) in a coffee filter, cinched closed with a twist tie
2) Pour warm water over the tea in pitcher
3) Add cinnamon stick to tea
4) Refrigerate overnight
5) Serve, and sweeten in glass if desired

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Writer's Challenge: January 2013

Today, I am issuing the first Writer's Challenge of the Year. Each month, I am going to post a different topic/inspiration/idea with a set of guidelines, and ANYONE who fancies can participate by submitting their "answer" to my challenge! Writers, get your pens in hand, and get ready to work out those brains!

Dear Abby: I Wrote a Short Story...

...based off of one of your letters! Dear Abby letters range from mundane to ridiculous, but regardless the content, are chock full of inspiration for Creative Writing Exercises. So, using a Dear Abby letter as inspiration (the web is loaded with years worth of these babies), write a story (from 1-5 pages in length), and see how creative you can be!
Submit your stories to, along with a link to the article you used as reference, by January 31st . The stories will be posted in mid-February! Anyone who participates will go into a raffle to win a mystery prize :) The winner and the prize will also be revealed on the same day.
So, happy writing, everyone, I hope to get plenty of participants!
~ Bjean

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Featured Story: Mrs. Fitzpatrick's Grand Adventure

This is the story of one spunky lady, a nursing home at night, and a simple dream that just won't quit!


Mrs. Fitzpatrick's Grand Adventure

The creaking of her old bones had become quite the distraction, Mrs. Fitzpatrick decided, and wondered if she could successfully sneak down the hall and past the nurse on duty without getting caught. The odds were stacked against her. Peering out at the corridor from behind her horn-rimmed glasses, in the shelter of her doorway, Mrs. Fitzpatrick planned her escape.

                “Harold? Is that you?” squeaked a voice from the shadows. “Come in, Harold. Mother isn’t home tonight.” It was Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s roommate, Alice. Poor Alice often suffered nighttime delusions, but tonight there was no time to comfort her, no time at all. If Mrs. Fitzpatrick wanted to see the snow tonight, she would have to ignore Alice’s pleas.

                “Shush, now, Alice!” Mrs. Fitzpatrick whispered, “You don’t want Mother to hear you, do you dear?” The hallway was empty; Gold Haven Nursing Home was always a ghost town during the middle of the overnight shift. From two in the morning to about three-thirty, the few aides that were on duty generally didn’t stray far from the break room, where there was a color television, a microwave, and a coffee pot. Mrs. Fitzpatrick knew this because she had followed Marguerite, a daytime aide, to the break room last Sunday morning. Marguerite had been lazy about answering Alice’s call bell, and it had been up to Mrs. Fitzpatrick to give her a piece of her mind. It certainly wasn’t Alice’s fault that her water  had been too warm, and if Gold Haven had the sense to give residents access to the ice machine, they would have no need to keep bugging Marguerite for such trivial things anyway.

                “Down the hall, take a right. Down that hall, take a left. Get past the nurse’s station, and take another left. Then, open the door, and see the snow.” Mrs. Fitzpatrick muttered to herself. She was more than prepared for the snow. She had on the all-weather parka her daughter had brought her the last time she had visited, and pink fuzzy gloves that matched stuffed into her pocket, just in case. Alice’s knit cap was pulled firmly over her ears. Mrs. Fitzpatrick had lost her own hat a while back, on the day that the dogs had come around to visit. Although she couldn’t prove it, she was certain that the German Shepard had pinched it. The hat had been on her armchair prior to the Shepard’s visit, but was gone when the Basset Hound had come around. Frankie! That was the Basset Hound’s name. Mrs. Fitzpatrick smiled. Her mind was still as sharp as ever, she could still remember everyone’s name, even a dog who had visited only once.

                Her first few steps down the hall were tentative, light, and halting. She was still nervous that her bones and joints were creaking so loudly that the whole Unit would be roused from their slumber. She passed Viola Murphy’s room, 36 B. Mrs. Fitzpatrick and Alice lived in 36 A, Viola Murphy was their immediate neighbor, and she had very acute hearing. Every time that Alice turned up the television, Viola Murphy would have a conniption fit, and Mrs. Fitzpatrick would have to trundle over to 36 B to calm her down. She never seemed to understand that sometimes poor Alice’s hearing wasn’t what it had used to be.

                After successfully passing 36 B without waking up Viola Murphy, Mrs. Fitzpatrick began to feel more confident, and decided she could afford to walk a little more quickly. Glancing about to make sure that no one saw her, she made it to the end of the hallway in no time at all. She needed to take a right. This corridor was a bit longer than the last, and she decided to take a rest before she turned the corner, but just a short one.

 Mrs. Fitzpatrick leaned against the wall, papered with a peach colored floral design. She knew that this whole Unit was papered with that same color, and the other Units were lavender, baby blue, and sage colored, but with the same, boring floral print. Marguerite once told her that they did this so that no one would feel confused or get lost, and that Mrs. Fitzpatrick only had to remember that she lived on the peach colored Unit. As if she would ever forget where she lived, the very idea of it was laughable. Then again, Mrs. Fitzpatrick reasoned, the color-coded Units comforted Alice, who never dared to wander past the peach papered hallways. She was not nearly as daring as Mrs. Fitzpatrick was.

The next hallway was still clear, and Mrs. Fitzpatrick made her right turn. She marveled at what great time she was making, and believed that she would get outside in plenty of time to see the first snowfall of the year. The television had announced it, the first snowfall. Alice seemed disinterested, mumbling about how snow spelled trouble for women of their age, only runny noses and broken hips could come of it, but Mrs. Fitzpatrick had sat up straight and taken notice. By three o clock in the morning, the weatherman had said, the snow would come. Mrs. Fitzpatrick was not content to look out the tiny window of their room, which looked out over a grubby courtyard, and watch the snow from there. She wanted to feel it, see it blanket the lawn of Gold Haven, maybe catch a snowflake or two on her tongue. After all, at eighty-eight years old, this snowfall may well be her very last.

She was a little over halfway down the hallway when a door creaked open, the door to Room 22 B. Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s heart skipped a beat, and she felt rather out of sorts until she saw that it wasn’t an aide or the duty nurse, but the resident who lived in that Room, Alfred Hickey, a balding septuagenarian who shuffled along with the assistance of a walker with tennis balls stuck on its feet. He was clad in a maroon bathrobe, and looked just as surprised to see Mrs. Fitzpatrick as she was to see him.

“What are you doing out of bed, Alfred?” she demanded, “You gave me quite a start!”

Alfred stared right back at her “I didn’t think I’d run into anyone else this time of night. Who are you going to visit? Ralph Goldstein in 20 A? He fancies you.”

“No. I’m not.” Mrs. Fitzpatrick looked shocked, “Why would you suggest such a thing? I may be old, but I am still a lady.”

“Oh, don’t be offended.” Alfred waved a wrinkled hand at her. “You old ladies are so uptight sometimes. Is it because old Ralphie is a Jew?”

“Of course not.” Mrs. Fitzpatrick told him. “I’m not sneaking into anyone’s room. I have my morals.”

“This is a new age.” Alfred winked, “A little fun will keep you young. I’m sure glad that my Mabel doesn’t get this uptight when I visit at night. You ought to live a little, you really should.” With that, he shuffled off in the direction that Mrs. Fitzpatrick had come from, leaving her free to move forward.

This next left was where things got tricky. Part way down that hallway, was the little enclave that housed the nurses’ station, the lair of the duty nurse, the only person who could foil Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s well-laid plan. Past the nurses’ station was a short corridor that led to an emergency exit door and freedom. Mrs. Fitzpatrick crept up slowly until she could peer around the hallway into the enclave. She took off her glasses and gave them a good rub-down with a fuzzy glove from her pocket. She needed to make sure she could see every detail if she wanted her plan to work.

The nurse on duty sat in a wheeled desk chair, her back turned to where Mrs. Fitzpatrick was waiting. She held the phone against her ear with her shoulder, eating a bagel as she chatted. Mrs. Fitzpatrick was relieved to see that it was Yolanda on duty, she could spend hours on the phone with her sister at night, and would never notice one wily resident make her way outside.

“Yeah.” Yolanda said, mouth half full of bagel and cream cheese, “It is real slow tonight, girl. Let me tell you it is boring!”

Mrs. Fitzpatrick began the final stretch, eyes on that last left turn up ahead. She took comfort in Yolanda’s loud yammering about the weather and her boyfriend and how much she hated her job. It covered the creak of her old bones, and before she knew it, she was around the last bend, the emergency exit right in front of her. The red exit sign shone like a beacon of hope, and as she approached it, Mrs. Fitzpatrick felt a happy glow settle over her body, and bracing for the cold, she pushed it open, and stepped out into the snow.

The snowflakes fell so slowly, so gracefully, like tiny dancers in a great ballet. Mrs. Fitzpatrick laughed, and clapped her hands. She didn’t need her gloves, she decided, she wanted to feel the snow, taste the cold, and rejoice in it. “I wish you could see this, Alice.” She whispered, thinking of her roommate, alone in 36 A. Out here, there were no color-coded hallways, no call bells, no aides and nurses. There was only a flat expanse of lawn, blanketed in the purest white, and a black sky that went on forever. Mrs. Fitzpatrick took in a deep breath, and exhaled, delighting in warm cloud it made in the frosty air. She smiled, closed her eyes, and felt perfectly happy.

“What are you doing out here?”

Mrs. Fitzpatrick broke out of her reverie. A man she had never seen before was standing in front of her, cigarette in hand. “You know, young man, you shouldn’t smoke.” She told him, “Francis Crane from 33 A died that way. He was in a lot of pain, right up to the end. I’m glad that I never smoked.”

“You should be inside, in bed.” The young man told her, extinguishing his cigarette and raising his radio to call for help. “How did you get out here? What is your name? I’ll walk you back to your Unit.”

A look of panic crossed Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s face. She had been found out. Noticing the young man’s shiny black boots, flashlight, and ball cap emblazoned with the word “Security” in bright yellow letters, she panicked. She had nowhere else to go but back. Suddenly, the door behind them burst open, and Yolanda stepped out, a worried look on her face.

“There you are, Alice.” She said. “I thought it might be you. Come on; let’s go back to your room.”

Mrs. Fitzpatrick took one last look at the delicately falling snow, and smiled, realizing she had seen what she had come to see, and if they were going to put her back in bed, she could at least be satisfied with the crisp memory of winter’s first snowfall.

Copyright 2012, Billijean E. Martiello

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


Gochujang Pork Chops and Vegetables

One of the quintessential flavors of the Korean culinary world is gochujang, or fermented red chili pepper paste. It is an indescribable flavor, used in many dishes, from kimchee to barbequed meats. I bought a big tub of it at the Korean grocer in Latham, NY, and intend to put it to good use. That is why, last night, I made Gochujang Pork Chops on a bed of Wilted Baby Spinach, smothered with Sautéed Cremini Mushrooms, Yellow Bell Pepper, and Onions.

1) Slather Thin-Cut Pork Chops with Gochujang

2) Select your vegetables (I used Cremini Mushrooms, Yellow Bell Pepper, Sweet Onion, and Baby Spinach)

3) Chop them up, except the spinach


5) Cook the Chops on Medium Heat in a Drizzle of Olive Oil

6) Sautee the Vegetables, Season to Taste. I used Garlic and Parsley, with some Fresh Crack Pepper

7) Wilt the Baby Spinach (I did mine over the Sautéed Veggies)

8) Serve


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lamb Dinner for Weeknight Dining

Hello readers! Those of you who know me know that I love to eat good food, no matter if it is Saturday night when I have plenty of time, or Wednesday night, when things are a little more rushed. See, I don’t believe that a shortage of time means that I can’t have delicious food. Sure, that complicated Paella is a breathtakingly delicious option, but may not be suitable for say, a typical Tuesday after a long day of work and chores. However, meals like this easy Lamb Chop served with Sautéed Zucchini over Garlic-Butter Radiatori make for  a very simple, and very toothsome, option. It takes less than half and hour to make, and you don’t even need an exact recipe!

Step One: Pan-cook lamb chops that have been seasoned with olive oil, cracked peppercorn, and Chinese Five Spice.

Step Two: Sautee strips of fresh zucchini with some garlic and parsley.


Step Three: Prepare some pasta, toss lightly with garlic butter.
Step Four: Plate and Serve!


The end result is quite delicious! (And easy!) See, wasn’t that a better option than another can of raviolis or a frozen burrito?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A World of Opportunity

Why do we wait for that special date to roll around on the calender to take our lives into our own hands and attempt to shape them into better ones? Maybe the purity of a new start is symbolized by the date 01-01. Well, more diaries, blogs, and gym memberships are stared on January first than any other date, so maybe there is something to it. Keeping up with these things, however, once February rolls around, is a whole different matter entirely.
And yet, when we fail miserably, as we often do, at our feeble, well-meaning attempts to eat healthier, study harder, or whatever it is that we feel is lacking from our lives, another 01-01 always lies around the run of the calender, beckoning us to try, try again.
This year, I am trying to get my life more organized. I am trying to maximize my creative potential. I want to cook healthier food, have more time with friends, and write a novel. I am trying to paint once a week, learn the guitar, and not forget to post blog articles. Yes, I have a lot I want to accomplish. Will I get to do all of these amazing things? Maybe. We shall see. After all, the year has only just begun.
However, my friends, I will tell you one thing. 2013 is off to a great start. The new bed risers under our bed have substantially increased my organizational potential in this cozy one bedroom apartment. I have grown the nerve to talk to my landlady about the Brussels Griffon puppy I want to adopt, and plan on confronting her about it next week. My healthy-living is off to a "fruitful" start, due to my new juicer and a trip to Adam's. Oh, and I woke up today with a smile on my face, which I find increases productivity.
All in all, I have a lot to be proud of. I have kept my New Year's resolutions, if only for a day. Some people never get that far. And I have decided to take it day-by-day in 2013. The year-at-a-time is only good for buying a has a bad track record for anything else. So, when I wake up tomorrow, I plan on putting my feet on the floor, drinking a cup of freshly-made grapefruit juice, and embracing my future, one day at a time.

Korean-Style Fajitas and Garlicky Green Beans

Happy New Year 2013, to my dear readers! As you may know, in light of the new year, I have been making plans to revitalize my blog, and up the health factor in my life, and in honor of those resolutions, I am posting, today, the first recipe I have created for 2013: Today's Lunch! Craving something fresh and balanced, I made some Korean-style fajitas, and on the side, had garlicky green beans. I made two servings, one for me, and one for my husband, Christopher, but it should be easy enough to expand the recipe for however many servings you need. (I think you will find this to be a balanced meal, with three vegetables, one protein, and one starch.)
For Fajitas
Eight strips of fajita-cut steak Half a yellow bell pepper Six leaves of romaine lettuce Two medium flour tortillas 1/2 tsp. gochujang (Korean chili paste) Dash of light soy sauce Drizzle of olive oil
For Garlicky Green Beans
Two servings of fresh green beans One clove of garlic Drizzle of olive oil
1) Take the steak strips, and thoroughly coat them in the Korean chili paste and soy sauce. Let them sit in a bowl while you prep your vegetables.
2) Slice the bell pepper into strips, set aside.
3) Remove ends from green beans, set aside.
4) Finely chop garlic clove, set aside.
5) Add a drizzle of olive oil to two small frying pans.
6) Allow oil to heat over medium, add garlic to one, this will be your green bean pan.
7) After garlic lightly browns, add the green beans to the fry pan.
8) Add the steak and yellow bell pepper strips to the other fry pan.
9) Cook beans until fork tender, and steak until to your preferred level of doneness.
10) Drain extra liquid from steak.
11) Lay lettuce on tortillas (3 leaves on each).
12) Divide the Steak and peppers among the two tortillas.
13) Serve green beans on side.
14) Roll fajitas and enjoy!