Past Traditions, Future Prospects

My girls all festive with their hats.

My girls all festive with their hats.

A new year has begun and 2014 holds even more promise and potential than the year that has passed. I embrace it, welcome it and charge into it with fresh determination! I will never forget the lessons and fond memories of my past though, they make me what I am today.

Growing up, my family would all gather around the wok on New Year’s Eve to make tempura. I don’t remember if we did it every year but it seems like we did. I don’t know why or how it started but it was a great way to get all of us together and participating in the same activity. We cooked vegetables including mushrooms, cauliflower and onions and for meat, chicken and shrimp. I always enjoyed sticking the food on the long fondue forks and placing them in the oil where they’d bubble away as they cooked. I imagine that doesn’t all sound like the healthiest thing, but it we only did it that one time during the year and it was special for me.

I decided that this year I would finally start that tradition again. I didn’t even own a wok so I remedied that and got a set of fondue forks exactly like the ones my family used. I bought a whole bunch of vegetables and some shrimp and found a recipe for tempura batter that sounded easy enough. The girls had no idea what tempura was and they still need to expand their culinary tastes but they humored their mother.

I cut up the vegetables, thawed some shrimp and only then realized how much effort my parents had put into this family tradition. I got my wok at just the right temperature and set to work. The girls came over to watch the food bubble and stuck a few pieces in but after that, they went back to playing in the other room. That’s okay; all that mattered is that I started the family tradition back up.

The girls weren't real sure at first but they liked watching the bubbles

The girls weren’t real sure at first but they liked watching the bubbles

Veggies and shrimp bubbling away!

Veggies and shrimp bubbling away!

As with all family traditions though, I think sometimes they benefit from some improvements and adaptations for each new generation. For example, now that I have my very own, shiny wok, I’ll be able to cook up all sorts of new stir-fry dishes, starting very soon thanks to all the vegetables still in my fridge! So perhaps the tradition of the Corbin New Year’s Tempura will transform into the Corbin New Year’s Stir-Fry. Not forgetting the past traditions, just realizing the future prospects and evolving into a new way to honor what has come before.

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My Boston Story E-book Launches Tomorrow!

View of Boston skyline from Long Wharf. I used this photo as part of my cover.

View of Boston skyline from Long Wharf. I used this photo as part of my cover.

I’ve been working late hours at my computer all week getting my Boston story formatted for Nook and Kindle. It’s been a fun process but more time-consuming than I expected. The only way to learn is by doing though so I’m glad I’m finally doing!

It’s quite lovely that both Nook and Kindle allow fast and easy changes to a story once it’s been uploaded. I’ve re-uploaded and modified my Nook version more times than I can count because every time I preview it I see some little thing that could be improved. I don’t promise that my Boston story e-book will be the greatest work of literary non-fiction ever written or that the visual appeal of it will knock your socks off, but I do promise that it will be 100% me.

This story is the first in an ongoing series detailing my adventures in the beautiful state of Massachusetts. I visit there at least twice a year and will be increasing those visits until I finally at long last live there. Every time I drive into that New England state I feel like I’m coming home again and I can almost hear it saying “Oh boy, here’s that crazy New Yorker again! Wonder where she’ll get lost this time!”

Two of the hardest parts of the whole e-book were writing my author biography and the synopsis of the story. Once they were complete I ran them by my best girlfriends and they said the biography described me perfectly. They should know since they’ve been my friends through thick and thin. I still think the synopsis is a bit wordy so I might be editing that more before I’m completely satisfied.

My e-book officially launches tomorrow on Father’s Day and I know that no matter what happens, my father’s spirit is very proud of me. Sharing this story is both frightening and exciting to me because it is my own personal experience, but it’s definitely at tale that must be told!

Here’s my author biography, enjoy!

Born with a boisterous and adventurous spirit, JulieAnn didn’t fully explore her potential until she set out on her first solo road trip to Boston in November of 2011. Her life was forever changed by that first Massachusetts adventure and her eyes were opened to a fresh future of possibilities.

When she’s not busy being a single mother, homeowner, writer, painter, pack leader-in-training, hopeful gardener and baker extraordinaire, JulieAnn enjoys sleeping–because balancing all that is exhausting! Fantasy manuscripts, scribbled in cursive pencil upon the pages of college-ruled spiral notebooks were JulieAnn’s first venture into the world of writing. In recent years she’s found her own personal voice and shares her daily adventures with others via her blogs, one of which she transformed into her first e-book.

For fun, JulieAnn enjoys playing with her daughters, walking her pup Jazzmin’s paws off, grilling with excessively high flames, singing odd bits of random show tunes and getting lost driving around the Northeast United States. You’ll often find her where you least expect, doing something so uniquely quirky you’ll roll your eyes.

Frozen Moments, Flooding Memories

ice needles stream flood

It appears that it’s going to be one of those Springs where Mother Nature has intensely fluctuating mood swings. Warm one day, cold the next. Rain, snow, sun, wind and the other day, a mini ice storm. It’s hard to know how to dress and what coat to grab when even the weather apps I use can’t seem to keep up from moment to moment. The forecasters keep optimistically forecasting warm sun and when it doesn’t come I wonder if they fear for their lives.

This random and erratic spring weather coalesced into something rather inspiring to me during the thankfully short-lived ice storm. As I was driving home I passed by several streams that were overflowing from all the rain. These same streams were surrounded by bare-branched trees that were coated with frozen droplets or rain. All the buds on the trees looked frozen in time while the water continued to flow rapidly past them and it created a stunning contrast in my mind.

I have experienced moments that feel frozen in time. Some of these moments are amazingly wonderful and others are heartbreakingly painful. When those moments were

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