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Life Tips

1. Relationship Tip: Ask your significant other at 6:00 a.m. how they visualize porcupines making love. This will lead to an interesting conversation.

2. Mental health Tip: DON’T read a ton of news media links. DON’T read a lot of social media posts (I know, the irony). DO read a lot of fiction. I recommend romance, but it’s all good.

3. Anti-Wrinkle Tip: Sunscreen. That’s all you need.

4. Lip Tip: Coconut oil. Tastes good and makes that pucker so smooth.

5. When life hands you lemons Tip: Add another 11 to make a dozen. For water. For salads. For inexpensive hair rinse. They smell good. They clean windows and glass better than chemical cleaners. Also good with ice, Tequila, Vodka…any happy juice.

6. Social Media Tip: Let’s turn the phrase “haters gonna hate” (seriously overdone) to “bakers gonna bake.”

7. Baking Tips: Put a heat-proof bowl of water on the bottom of your oven when baking a cake, muffins, or bread, keeps the air inside moist.

8. Weekend Tip: Hang out with your loved ones, guaranteed they’ll make you forget to look at your phone.

9. Reduce Stress Tip: Have at least one day with no technology around you. No TV. No news. Laze around with music, books, your pet….whatever recharges your batteries.

10. WIN the Lottery Tip: People who have left a review of my books have won the lottery. Seriously. Try it. What have you got to lose? 😉

 

 

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Life Tips According to the Tao of Selena

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have read a string of tweets with the hashtag #TaoOfSelena also known as deep, philosophical thoughts (deep and philosophical is open to interpretation of course).

For those not familiar with my Twitter habits, I am pleased to share them with you here.

I hope The Tao of Selena changes your life—I know, that’s a bit dramatic, but as an Italian chick drama is a right of passage.

If my thoughts don’t change your life, my wish is that this blog post will grant you a smile or a chuckle. It’s why I love writing so much, in hopes that my musings will provide a few minutes of entertainment.

The Tao of Selena

Nothing brings a couple closer than having separate bathrooms.

Nothing in the world is impossible. Wait, flying on your own—that’s impossible. So do it with something that has wings like an; airplane, hand glider or a parachute.

A happy relationship is the union of two strong debaters.

When in doubt. Google.

Still in doubt? Check Snopes.

Treat me nice, I’ll treat you better. Treat my family, friends or me like crap—I know people.

Don’t ever argue with someone who has four siblings. They can go back and forth all day long. They’ve had experience.

Never get tired of teasing & making fun of each other. That’s what good relationships are made of.

Chocolate, music and cuddling are all cheaper than therapy and you don’t have to sit in a waiting room.

The grass is greener on the other side because it was watered, weeded & dog poop was picked up—all accomplished without complaint.

Winter really does have snow

Every woman needs that friend(s) who is the she in her nanigans.

Every man (even a bonified “Maverick”) needs a “Goose” wingman in their corner.

We’re not here for a long time. We’re here for an awesome time. So go awesomize the world.

When starting something new, and the challenges seem overwhelming, don’t place your faith in the “what-ifs”, pour all your faith in the “why not’s?” Remember all the challenges you’ve already conquered, and go forth and do it. Whatever “it” is for you.

 

 

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Creativity unleashes the child in the adult.

I recently returned from a week’s writing retreat with my critique partner, Nancy. This is something we’ve done for the past few years, and not only is it a week guaranteed to be filled with laughter, mischief, naps, swimming, walking, and great wining and dining, it is also a time to get deep into creativity mode without distractions.

The obligatory mani/pedi day was enjoyed before heading to the retreat.1A

 

We also took an afternoon to visit the local attractions such as The Collingwood Olive Oil Company. 

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This was nirvana for the foodie in me.

The Olive Oil Connoisseur who hosted our tasting was entertaining and had some great recommendations. We exchanged recipe ideas, and I walked out with three bottles of heavenly scented olive oil, balsamic vinegar, body lotion and lip balm.

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View from the resort’s balcony after a rainfall.

 

Whether your creative passion is writing, painting, music, cooking, daydreaming, sewing, knitting, olive oil tastings, wine tastings or coming up with new ways to play Boggle, it doesn’t matter, as long as when in the zone, you are enjoying it, and it fulfills a goal you’ve always wanted to accomplish.

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Three simple words that pack a powerful, exhilarating punch. Do it professionally, as a hobby, for family and friends only or just for yourself. The key here is to: Follow it. Do it. Enjoy it.

Enjoy a creativity retreat at home if it’s not possible to travel. Disconnect from the online world, from housework (dust bunnies are patient, they can wait to be tended to), make some meals ahead of time (that’s what slow cookers were invented for) stock up on supplies—chocolate, wine, tea, coffee, whatever your pleasure. Fish out the comfy clothes and enjoy a day, a few days or a week of creative endeavors.

 

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On our retreat we wrote most of the day, and at times, when we were on a roll, we would work late into the evening. We brainstormed plots, character traits, and talked about writing.

We also enjoyed other creative outlets when taking a break while listening to music, watching a movie, or catching up on a television program (Big Bang Theory back to back episodes were on), and still utilized this time to create.

Nancy enjoyed knitting (and she’s real good at it). When I knit, everything turns into a scarf, and I don’t have a clue how to follow a pattern.

I do love to color, and for my birthday my son gifted me an adult coloring book, and colored pencils.

One of my completed coloring projects. I'd love to get this on a T-shirt somehow. Something to think about.

One of my completed coloring projects. I’d love to get this on a T-shirt somehow.

 

Along with a wonderful imagination, and the passion to create, creative people tend to have self-doubt which interferes with motivation. Writers spend a lot of time in their own heads, and at times a nagging voice telling them it can be impossible to achieve what they are striving to accomplish. Hashing it out on paper, or with a friend or family member stifles the negativity. It will disappear as quickly as it appeared.

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Be the bad ass creator you were not motivated to be yesterday.

Go Kick a lot of creative butt.

I got this.

YOU got this!

 

 

 

I Shaved My Legs for THIS?

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Have you ever been on a date where there was too much back-story and the prologue so long that you didn’t think you’d last through the appetizer, let alone dinner, and you’re thinking,“I shaved my freakin’ legs for this?” 

Please welcome authors, Nancy LauzonRenee Wildes and Donna Alward as they join me in sharing a bad date experience. 

 

Selena’s experience:

Mine wasn’t really a planned date. It was foisted upon me by my brother (to this day, I still say in a dramatic way—”You sold me out for a ride in a fancy sports car?” (Yes, I milk my childhood mishaps).

I was fifteen at the time and I was at a big Italian wedding with my family. One of the guests was someone I knew from the neighborhood. Every community had one. You know the type, rich, popular, great hair…the Fonzie of the neighborhood. Except he never impressed me.

A. He was too full of himself and I was never one to follow a trend or the crowd…especially the group of girls who visibly drooled whenever he entered a room.

B. His family scared me. Especially his grandmother. More on that later.

1I’m pretty sure the only reason he wanted to ask me to dance was because I ignored him and didn’t salivate or swoon over him at this wedding.

Unknown to me, my brother made a backroom deal with this dude. My brother guaranteed Dude that I would dance with him if my brother got to drive his brand new sports car around the block. (16 year old’s with brand new sports car that daddy bought them, another reason not to like this guy). My brother to this day defends himself: “At least I didn’t sell you for a herd of goats.” (Like that even makes any sense or justifies his wanton greed to drive a sports car).

My brother then promised me he’d help convince my parents for me to go on a school trip, if I’d just dance with the Greek-Fonzie-Adonis for just one dance.

I thought, what the heck, one dance won’t kill me. No, it won’t kill me, but I just about killed HIM.

You see, Greek-Fonzie-Adonis was severely allergic to shellfish. I had just finished eating a shrimp cocktail.

We danced.

He went in for a kiss.

I told him he’d lose an arm, leg or whatever necessary part he loved, if he tried to kiss me.

He didn’t believe me. He planted a big one on me.

First his tongue swelled.

Then he gasped and fell to the floor.

His mother came running over with an Epi pen.

His grandmother pointed at me, gave me the “Evil Eye,” said a string of things, while shaking her bony fingers at me in Greek and then in broken English told me she put a spell on me for trying to kill her oh-so-sweet grandson.

And the band played on. . .

I shaved my legs for this? by Nancy Lauzon

My worst date happened back in college. I had a crush on some guy who was a friend of my roommate’s boyfriend. He was very quiet, so I couldn’t tell if we had anything in common or not, but he was so good-looking I didn’t care. We went on a double date to a local amusement park. Things were going pretty well, until half-way through the evening, my date disappeared.

1That’s right, he disappeared. I can’t remember the exact details. Maybe I went to the restroom or maybe he left to get cotton candy. All I know is, he vanished into thin air. My roommate and her boyfriend looked everywhere, but he was nowhere to be found. Needless to say, it was quite a blow to my ego. To say I was embarrassed would be putting it mildly.

I was almost hoping he’d been struck dead by a runaway roller coaster car, but alas, that was not the case. He never explained himself or apologized to me. His official excuse — sent via my roommate’s boyfriend — was he’d suddenly forgotten he had to be somewhere, and couldn’t find me to explain. R-iiight.

I shaved my legs for this? by Renee Wildes

1I grew up a tomboy and I’m still not a girlie-girl, but even I have my limits. I agreed to go camping with…Grizzly Adams, I swear to God. I was thinking tent and Dinty Moore and s’mores. But noooo…

It rained, the tent blew down and we had to do laundry in a RIVER. With leeches. Seriously, THAT’S what the salt was for??? Eww. Stupid me thinking it was for Margaritas! He wanted to show me this cool cave. Really cool – until a bat pooed on my head. Tried drying the darn clothes on a tree branch – I fell out of the tree. Everything smelled like mud and smoke and…trout guts. I can’t eat anything with the eyes still looking at me, people. I was starving when I got home! I took a two-hour bubble bath and pigged out on fried chicken and Haagen Dasz.

I shaved my legs for this? by Donna Alward

When I was fourteen I experienced the sweetest, most romantic moment a fourteen-year-old girl could hope for. I was sledding with friends over the Christmas break and the whole week I’d had a thing for my friend’s cousin. He was 16. We were at the top of the hill, lying in the snow looking up at the stars, and a shooting star went zooming across the sky. And then he kissed me.

You’re all sighing right now, right? And you’re thinking, Hey, Donna, this is supposed to be a BAD DATE story. What the heck?

Fast forward about 4 years.

I’m going to university an hour or so from where this guy lives, and he calls me up, asks if I want to go out. Now bear in mind after a few months of cute letters back and forth, our brief romance kind of died off. But…good memories, right? So I say sure. It’s just a movie after all. And I’m curious.

1He picks me up in his old pickup, which isn’t that big of a deal. None of us are driving anything new, we’re struggling students. Except he’s not alone. He’s brought a friend along. ON A DATE. And while I did my hair and dressed cute and all that stuff, he had on an old paid of jeans and a T-shirt and a ball cap. And not the cute kind of ball cap either, more the “I got this for free from the local garage” kind of ball cap, complete with nylon mesh. I’m already thinking this isn’t the most promising start.

The movie we go to see? The most romantic movie of all time, of course! TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. The three of us. Then we went to a Chinese place for something to eat…let’s just say sitting there with two 20-year old guys being, well, GUYS…. (need I say more?)

To be honest, I was really disappointed. I have some very good memories of times spent in their neck of the woods and it was like he was a whole other person. Then again, maybe I was too. But I never understood why he asked me on a date and then…that was his idea of a date?

I don’t remember if he kissed me goodnight or not, or if he even tried. But I do remember being relieved when he was gone, and sad to have that teenage bubble of sweet memories popped by a pin of reality.

What is your bad date story?

 

 

Growing Up Italian

It’s re-run season in TV land and blogging land. Re-posting this post for all the new followers (thank you for hooking up with me here, I appreciate each and every one of you who support this blog—may all your pizza be delicious and your meatballs melt in your mouth, and the luck of Italian be with you always. 🙂 )

1. The word calm is not in the Italian dictionary.

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2. Thanksgiving dinner included; antipasto platter, lasagna, meatballs. Turkey was a side.

3. I don’t want to be that girl, but roasted peppers, Nutella, pesto, deep fried zucchini was a staple for us way before it was trendy.

4. You learned how to make pasta before entering Kindergarten, and you didn’t practice with play dough.

5. When your friends came to your place to play, they were asked no fewer than five times if they were hungry.

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6.  We had gardens—not flower gardens. Huge gardens with rows and rows of tomatoes, along with peppers, basil, squash and zucchini.

7. We knew that the word “Latte” is an Italian’s way of saying, “You paid way too much for that coffee.”

8. It is drilled into your mind at a very young age how to make pizza, but if you have absolutely no choice then you know how to order pizza properly, asking for 75% less cheese than your non-Italian friends would order.

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9. You have multiple family members named Maria, Angela, Joe, Tony and at least two Uncle Mario’s.

10. You know how to properly pronounce “gnocchi,” “bruschetta,” and “tagliatelle,” which means you’re the spokesperson when out to dinner with your non-Italian friends and family.

11. Salad was always eaten AFTER the main course. (I still do this.)

12. Chamomile tea cures everything.

13. Every Sunday afternoon lunch time with extended family started at 1:00 and ended at 6:00, and there was enough food for everyone to have a second helping and take food home for their week’s lunches.

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14. Your Saints day is even more celebrated than your birthday. (Except for me, I don’t have a Saint’s day, but then again I was born in Canada, and that seems to be a loophole according to my siblings, which brings me to number 15).

15. If you were the first generation Canadian, your siblings convinced you that you were adopted.

16. Shocked when you heard someone’s last name did not end in a vowel.

17. Surprised to discover that wine was sold in stores. Wasn’t everyone’s basement a winery?

18. NO VOLUME CONTROL WHEN THE FAMILY GETS TOGETHER.

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19. You know a lot of people who came from the same village as your parents or grandparents, they’re not blood related, but call them Aunt, Uncle anyway.

20. Thought everyone got pinched on the cheeks and had money stuffed in their pockets by their relatives.

21. You couldn’t date a boy without getting approval from your mother, father, brothers, sister, a nanna and nonno if they are in the picture, and a few uncles and aunts, by that time, you didn’t have to worry about dating. Ever again.

22. You have at least one irrational fear or phobia that can be attributed to your mother, which of course you pass on to your own children when the time is right.

23. You know that it doesn’t matter what happens; loss of job, divorce, headache, flu, clumsiness….it’s all because you did not eat properly that day and of course, you didn’t listen to your parents.

24. No matter what city you are in, you need to go and visit their Little Italy.

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25.  You did the dishes for Nonna or a Zia (Aunt) and got $50.00.

 

All this and more, but you love every minute of it, and look forward to sharing these traditions with the next generation. 

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ITALIAN RECIPES:

 

FINAL-BUNDLE-cover

 

I’ve included many Italian recipes in my book: WISHES, STITCHES & DISHES: Bundle of Family Fun, available on AMAZON.

Plus, you get a children’s book and a comedy short story along with OVER 100 recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets to a great relationship — Lots of f*****g

I bet you think you know what the F***** is all about, don’t you?

I bet your mind headed south (a place mine goes most days) thinking that’s what the secret to a great relationship is—lots and lots of f*****g.

Well, you’ll just have to read on to find out what this f*****g is all about   1
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Please note: The following secrets which I believe lead to a happy relationship are my opinion only, and are not based on any scientific research, because I’m not scientifically inclined.

 

My Top 25

(In no particular order)

1. Flirt with each other and never stop dating. Replicate the things that got you together in the first place. For example: sitting on the couch and neck up a storm, holding hands at the movies…you know like you did when you first started dating.

2. A bad memory.

3. Fight fair. Duke it out in a reasonable way, and if you can add some humor during the sparring, all the better. Bursting out laughing during a disagreement leads to joint laughter which leads to some good old fashioned make-up lovin’. Mainly, let each other know what you’re pissed off about, get over it, and move on.

4. It is said that couples should not go to bed mad at each other. I say, go ahead and go to bed mad. However, you both have to get naked, sit on the bed, facing each other and hold hands. Nobody is going to go to sleep mad. Guaranteed.

5. Those important three little words: “Let’s go out.

16. Like each other. Yes, love is important, but so is liking the person you spend most of your time with. This is the thing that got you together in the first place. When you were friends, and enjoyed being together. It will be the strong friendship that will get you through the times when you annoy the begeebers out of each other.

7. Separate closets.

8. Separate bathrooms.

9. Pick your battles. Guys: put the seat down. Gals: If he puts toilet paper roll over the top, or under—it doesn’t matter. The fact that he replaces it is cause for celebration.

110. And now for the “F” word. FUNNING of course. Have fun and lots of it. Tons of ways to bring back the euphoria of all that fun you had when you were dating—splashing each other in puddles, walking in the rain, texting each other naughty messages (just don’t punch in the wrong number, it’s one of those awkward moments, not that happened to me or anything 🙂 ), crank up the music and dance around the house together, have a pillow fight. Whatever you choose to do, have fun doing it.

11. Read a romance book together.

12. Cook together.

13. Patience. Not only with each other, but with yourself.

14. If one of you is a morning person and the other isn’t, then do not have breakfast together.

15. Togetherness is great, I’m a huge advocate, but I also think it’s conducive to one’s sanity to have separate interests, and passions that are just yours. You can then bring something new to the discussion to chat about.

16. Be polite to each other. Thank you. You’re welcome. Please. All those words our mamma’s taught us when we learned how to talk.

117. Always have a supply of sticky notes on hand, and leave each other some notes—in the car, briefcase, pillow, laptop case….use your imagination. Leave, thinking of you notes. Just wanted to say hi. Be naughty. Be nice. Be funny. Anything goes.

18. Sometimes silence really is golden. You don’t have to express every thought to each other.

19. Be each other’s star in your fantasies.

20. Hire someone to paint the house. Unless one of you really enjoys doing it, and wants to do it.

21. Don’t put pressure on each other for a perfect birthday gift, Christmas gift, Valentine’s gift….give each other something special when you want to do it, and not because you feel you have to do it.

22. Talk about what you admire about each other. This is especially helpful if one of you is ticked off at the other. Mentally checking off the things you really like and love. Repeating that helps eliminate the ticked-offness.

123. Compliment each other. You do it for others, then do it for each other, because you need to treat each other even more kindly than you treat others.

24. Take care of YOU first. Think about it. When on an airplane, you’re advised to put on your oxygen mask first in case of emergency, so you are able to take care of your loved ones. Same with life. Take care of YOU first. It will make it a lot easier to take care of the ones you love.

25. Engage in fun, nonsensical pillow talk.

Embrace all the choices life has to offer. Love is a choice. Happiness for yourself and for each other is a choice. Maintaining a sense of humor is a choice. Choosing to overlook the imperfections, and knowing that your choice to be the best you can be for yourself, will automatically spill into your relationship, and will help make life a whole lot easier.

 

There’s no such thing as a perfect person, or relationship, so scrap that whole notion, because it doesn’t exist.

Love. Live. Laugh.

Every love story is beautiful. Make yours, your absolute favorite.

 

 

An Erotic Prank.

Besides writing, I also offer critiquing and editing services.

I received an email from a new writer, asking if I’d be willing to critique and edit her novella.

To protect this author’s identity, I’ll refer to the author as Felicia Gallant. Anyone who used to tune into Another World will recognize that name–she was my favorite character. Wouldn’t we all love to write in silk PJ’s, a feather boa, and Mr. Rock Hard Abs holding a flower, and a lampshade? 🙂

 

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Okay, back to aspiring author Felicia who contacted me.

In her request for editing services, Felicia attached her project.

An erotica novella.

 

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I emailed Felicia back to let her know that I don’t write erotica nor have I read much of it, and asked if she still wanted to go ahead and hire me?

She wrote back, saying that wasn’t a problem as she still wanted me to give her suggestions on how to strengthen her story, and to point out any technical issues.

I accepted, because I could still critique any genre based on a story’s goal, motivation, conflict, characterization, plot, and mechanics.

In her communication with me, Felicia always addressed me as Mistress Robins, and her emails read like someone who spoke in broken English.

Felicia then emailed to let me know she wanted to send me payment via snail mail. In cash.

I highly recommended she not send cash through the mail, and directed her to Pay-Pal.

She said she didn’t trust sending funds through the Internet.

I then suggested she send a check.

She said she didn’t have a checking account, and could only pay me in cash.

Although I found this odd, I reiterated that sending cash through the mail wasn’t safe, but she insisted, so I gave her my P.O. Box number.

As I started to read her novella, I realized the content was beyond what I had expected.

This was a hard-core erotica tale, more suited for male readers than females, in my opinion.

I have a close friend (for the sake of my friend’s anonymity, I’ll call her Natasha) who reads a lot of erotica stories written by male authors for men.

I emailed Felicia and asked for her permission to allow me to forward her novella to a close friend of mine to get a second opinion.

I waited a week for a response from Felicia, but she never responded. I took her silence to mean it wasn’t okay for me to get a second opinion, so I didn’t share her work, and kept on with my editing and critiquing.

I finished the edit and sent it back to Felicia with my suggestions. I explained it was a challenge for me to fully grasp the plot, and the characters behavior in the story. I also highly recommended she get a second opinion on my suggestions, and sent her a few links that I thought could help her with publishing her novella, and encouraged her to keep writing, and wished her well with her publishing journey.

A week later, I received a package in the mail at home. It was a CD collection wrapped as a gift with a card attached that said, Thank you for the wonderful critique and encouragement. Here’s a gift to express my gratitude.” Signed Natasha (my friend).

I was confused. Why was my friend thanking me?

I hadn’t critiqued anything for Natasha in a long time.

So I called Natasha to tell her I received her gift and to ask her why she was thanking me in the first place.

Natasha couldn’t stop laughing and then imitated a broken English accent: “Thank you, Mistress Robins.

After a few seconds, it all clicked together.

The author, Felicia, was really my friend Natasha in disguise.

 

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My friend explained it was the reason she purposely wrote in broken English, and why she couldn’t use Pay-Pal or send a check because then I’d know it was her.

She wanted me to critique this novella, without me knowing it came from her, and because the novella was a lot more hard-core than she knew I read, she shied away from giving me a heads up about the project.

I think I put a rib out-of-place that day, laughing so much with her on the phone. She did say it was an awesome critique even though she knew it was a challenge for me to understand some of the actions, dialog, and plot points.

Natasha said she cracked up when she read the email to Felicia about asking a “good friend for a second opinion,” because she knew if she would have said yes, I’d be calling her to discuss the project, and she knew she couldn’t keep a straight face or stop herself from laughing.

I still laugh when I think about that day.

I’ve had a lot of pranks pulled on me by friends and family, it’s not hard, as I tend to be gullible (sometimes), but I must say, this was epic.

 

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