Who in this room

Who in this room

I went straight to the bookstore after I got the “I’m sorry it’s cancer” phone call; surely amongst all the wisdom coded into letters and words, pressed to paper, and bound to books, would be some little snippet that would tell me how to move forward.


Since that day I’ve read a lot of books about living with cancer, but when Katherine Malmo placed the slender, uncorrected galley of “Who in This Room” in my hands, I knew I was in possession of something different.

Katherine’s book did not tell me how to move forward. But it was the first I’ve read that really connected with me on how it feels to have cancer.

That’s not to say the book is touchy-feely, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. One of my favorite quotes from the book shows her trepidation at joining a cancer support group: “You are afraid someone will try to hold your hand or leap from behind the ficus to hug you.” That pretty much sums up the way I felt the first time I walked into a support group meeting with the Young Survival Coalition.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve had this book for well over a month, and I’ve been struggling with how to write this review.  I want to tell you that reading this book is like going through the process of diagnosis, treatment, grieving, and moving on – but then who would want to read a book described like that?

And I do want you to read this book. I want my friends to read it. I want my family to read it. Because even though this is Kate’s story, it is my story, too. And the story of all my friends who have looked cancer in the eye, and stared down death… even if only for a little while.

This is not a sad book. This is not a book that is just about cancer, although that obviously drives the story line. This is a story about getting up every day and living. And this is a book that ends at the start of her brand new life.

The launch party is on Sunday, October 2, 2pm, at Elliott Bay Books.

Katherine also writes the blog Hysterical Mommy Network.

You can learn more about my cancer story here:

my cancer story | Judy Schwartz Haley


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Book Review: A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano

Book Review: A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano

BlogHer LogoFlannery O’Connor was not kind to the characters she created for her stories; they were deeply flawed, and in need of redemption. Ann Napolitano does not spare Flannery of those characteristics in her own novel, A Good Hard Look.

It takes a certain level of confidence to fictionalize the last months of a famous American novelist’s life. Napolitano handles the challenge with grace; O’Connor could be walking around in one of her own stories. But does she get the one thing she really needs, that all her characters needed? Does she get a little grace, and forgiveness?

Read the rest of my book review at BlogHer.com

Book Review: Writer Mama: how to raise a writing career alongside your kids

Book Review: Writer Mama: how to raise a writing career alongside your kids

Have you ever thought about making a living as a writer?  That thought has been a constant companion of mine for the past 25 years.  Yes, 25 years, and it was just about exactly one year ago that I actually started doing something about it.writer mama by Christina Katz

Now with a little one on the way, I wondered if that dream would need to be postponed yet again.  I really shouldn’t be so quick to sacrifice my dreams yet again to cater to the needs of everyone else around me.  One of the things I most want to provide for my daughter is a good example.  I want my daughter to grow up looking up to a mother who is loving and kind and attentive, yes, but also self-actualized, intellectually stimulated, self-sufficient, engaging, happy, and living up to her potential.  I want to provide this example to my daughter because I wish these traits for her (in addition to the fact that I’m worth it, dammit).

Writer Mama, by Christina Katz, talks about how to get a writing career off the ground while you have small children in tow: start small while babies absorb so much of your attention and grow your business as your children gain greater degrees of independence and self-sufficiency.

Topics covered in the book include (among many others):

  • how to manage writing time around caring for children
  • how to deal with the “clips catch-22,” or how to get published if you’ve never been published
  • the business of writing: queries, article submissions, contracts, negotiations
  • managing your home and while managing your writing business
  • how to conduct interviews
  • editing and polishing your work

One of the hardest things to deal with for many who work from home, not just moms, is the fact that others tend to disrespect the time of the home worker.   When people pack up their briefcase and head off to the office, that work time is respected and to some extent, even sacred.  Those working from home seldom get the same respect unless they are very clear about setting their boundaries with others in advance.

Because of People Who Don’t Get It, if you are not good at setting boundaries with adults and children, you’re going to need to start practicing.  I suggest you start sooner rather than later. If you wait until you have a deadline looming to try to convince family members that your work matters and that you deserve support in gettting it done, you will be sorry (and probably late with your work too).

I’m really appreciating this book.  It is well organized so specific topical information is easy to find.  I suspect I will be consulting it regularly over the coming months and years.

FTC Disclosure: affiliate links were used in this post.

Sonrisa Modern Mex, Seattle

Sonrisa Modern Mex, Seattle

UPDATE: unfortunately, Sonrisa Modern Mex has closed.

Sonrisa Modern Mex is a relatively new addition to the University Village. The outdoor dining area is complimented by a sitting area with oversized chairs and an outdoor fireplace. We found the flickering of the interior fireplaces rather inviting as we were walking along outside in the cold. Inside the restaurant, we were immediately taken in by the lighting throughout the restaurant, and the tiling on the bar. The place looks lovely. The service was wonderful as well.Sonrisa Modern Mex

The food – the food aspires to mediocre. The Guacamole was wonderful, full of huge chunks of avacado and served with plantain chips along with the usual corn chips. The plantains were a nice addition to the chips, but they weren’t really anything special and I certainly wouldn’t want a whole order of them alone. The corn chips were fresh, but much to greasy.

guacamole | CoffeeJitters.Net

Aaron ordered the Baked Chile Relleno (Roasted poblano pepper stuffed with ancho rubbed chicken, apricots, golden raisins, pepper jack cheese, cilantro and onions. With salsa verde and red enchilada sauce and achiote rice). It was underdone,the cheese hadn’t even begun to melt and the chile was still tough. But the flavors were nice so it wasn’t too bad.

chile relleno | CoffeeJitters.Net

I had the Picante Primavera (Penne pasta sauteed with roasted shallots, roasted garlic, zucchini, asparagus and spicy salsa fresca. Finished with grated cotija cheese). This struck me as intriguing so I just had to try it. Each of the ingredients was wonderful on its own. The garlic was mellow the asparagus had a wonderful flavor and texture. But I found myself picking though the dish for specific items, a bite of asparagus, a bite of zucchini, several bites of garlic; each one delicious yet together they just didn’t work.Sonrisa Modern Mex - Menu

The desert menu was interesting; a couple items included habanero peppers in the description. I wasn’t feeling that brave, so we opted for the flan trio. The flan trio is described as being a chocolate, vanilla and berry brulee. What arrived was a dish with six compartments. Three ramekins each with a custard, one berry, one vanilla (the only brulee), and one chocolate. The remaining three compartments had whipped cream, one strawberry flavored with a strawberry on top, a tiny speck of plain vanilla, and chocolate flavored whipped cream with chocolate chips. I must admit, this is precisely what the menu said. But whipped cream with chocolate chips didn’t work for me. None of the whipped creams were very good or even interesting. The creme brulee was good. The strawberry “brulee” was bland and over sweet and the chocolate “brulee” (neither of these two had been touched with a flame) was terribly thick, like fudge. I’m not one to leave dessert on my plate, especially where there is chocolate involved, but I couldn’t eat this. I didn’t even bother to ask for a box to take it home.

So would I recommend this place? That’s an interesting question. Certainly not for dinner. However the bar is nice, the service is great, they have an extensive inventory of tequila and a talented bar tender. The guacamole is great. The happy hour menu boasts $5 appetizers, $4 house margaritas, and $3 draft beers. I say, if you want to meet friends for margaritas at happy hour, this might be just the spot.

Sonrisa Modern Mex
2614 NE 46th Street
University Village
Seattle, WA 98105



Sonrisa Modern Mex on Urbanspoon

Eastlake Bar & Grill, Seattle

turkey club

This morning we took a walk down Eastlake Avenue and stopped for lunch at Eastlake Bar and Grill. I’ve been wanting to check out this place for quite a while.

The deck sprawls around the exterior of the building, taking advantage of every inch of view; there is a rooftop lounge as well. We were the only souls willing to brave the weather to enjoy the deck, but I have no regrets. The service was spot on even though we were far from the less adventurous patrons opting to eat indoors.

Aaron selected the chicken club sandwich, I stole a bite and it was wonderful. My prime rib french dip retained a bit of pink in the meat, which was very juicy. It was topped with provalone and a horsradish sauce that could have used a little more bite, but very flavorful nonetheless. The ciabatta bread used for both sandwiches was light and flavorful, and the french fries were just out of the fat.

I’m looking forward to returning to check out the dinner service.

french dip
Eastlake Bar and Grill
2947 Eastlake Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102

(206) 957-7777

Eastlake Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon