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A R C H I V E D...S U N D A Y...M O N T H L Y S 

Issue #9, Jul.  2024

It was so good to hear from you after receiving my first issue last month. Thank you for giving me the thumbs up on this new endeavor.


A couple of you asked if this photo was taken from my new home. Yes, it's my back patio and one of my favorite places to be. In fact, I was sitting at that very table one summer day when I got the idea to reinvent my old column.


A full moon rising this past October.

I've had many landscaping challenges. Turns out that the shrubs I like don't do well in high elevations. I'm an evergreen fan. Although I understand nature's reason for deciduous plants and trees, bare branches depress me a bit.


The fact that my backyard is mostly pavement presented another problem. But I came up with an Einstein-ian solution that I'll write about in the future.

The patio looks much different in winter months.

The photo at left below was taken last year before I added a hedge of arborvitae and changed the hardscape. (No snow yet this winter.)

R E A D E R...D E S I G N...Q U E S T I O N


A reader took me up on my offer to answer a design question. She finds herself in a situation I bet we've all been in one time or another - surrounded by clutter, feeling overwhelmed, unorganized, and hoping Bewitched's Samantha would twitch her nose and make it all go away. This reader also recently retired and transferred some of her office contents to her home as well. In her heart (I can say this because I know her), she appreciates beauty, quality, and an organized approach to each day.


When all things have a place, and are in their place, (hello Ben Franklin), life is easier, lighter, and less complicated. My answer to this is a bit of a cop out as I'm just going to link four of my archived columns from The Napa Valley Register. They address this issue from both how-to and emotional points of view. (Links are at the bottom of this newsletter.)

Some people in my reader's situation just need a how-to guide. In addition to my columns, there are books, online articles, and real-live human beings, including professional organizers (look for a N.A.P.O. member) that can help.


Often times, before any major design project, I had my clients go through a declutter process. The fact that I set a completion date helped motivate them. Set an end-date for yourself if your mind works that way.


What if you live with a clutter bug who doesn't "see" the problem? Clearly, it's not a problem for that person. If so, my "When Couple's Clash" column might help.


Bottom line ... as with many problems, one must decide whether or not to solve it.


T W O... D O C S.. &.. A.. P O D


I'd like to share two documentaries and a podcast that I've recently seen. The first is very special to me as I have been a 1940s movie fan since I was a pre-teen. (My parents thought this a little weird.) Before drastically reducing my library of Hollywood bios a couple of years ago, my shelves graced books about stars of the day from Merle Oberon and Tyrone Power to Susan Hayward, Barbara Stanwyck, Gale Sondergaard, William Holden, Dana Andrews and Clifton Webb. I donated them all but one.


Let me give you a few hints to see if you can guess whose I kept. If you're an old movie buff, this phrase is a dead giveaway, "I am Tondelayo." No? Here are more clues: She was also an inventor of a secret communications system, a radio frequency expert, a missile-guided torpedo patent holder, aka Delilah, Bombshell, and the "most glamorous woman in the world." She was the first actor-turned producer and the inspiration for the image of Snow White, i.e., Hedy Lamarr. The documentary, "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story" is on Netflix. Her invention is the basis for secure WiFi, bluetooth, cell phone, GPS, and military technology.

You don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy my next recommendation. In fact, the last 20 minutes may have you reaching for Kleenix. "Yogi Berra: It Ain't Over til it's Over" - also on Netflix.


More times than not, I opt for (free) YouTube TV over traditional or cable networks. There are so many podcasts that cover current events as well as educational and entertaining ones.


I sometimes tune into the PDB Podcast - and sometimes not. The host is Patrick Bet-David, a 45 year-old Iranian-born American entrepreneur. After fleeing the 1978-79 Iranian Revolution, he and his family landed in a German refugee camp. Eighteen months later, they emigrated to California. Patrick served in the U.S. Air Force, attended Harvard Business School, started several businesses, and after ups, downs, risk-taking, perservance, and good thinking, is now worth $150 million. I initially had a hard time listening to his entire podcasts because he speaks fast and sometimes takes circuitous routes to make his points. But I've stuck with him because his information is compelling - and I've gotten used to his style. The PBD Podcast typically includes three co-hosts (two are so-so but Tom, the fellow business guy, is worth a listen.)


Patrick recently interviewed Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi. Who? Remember the Shah of Iran? The one deposed during the Revolution and replaced by the Aiatola Khomeni? The Crown Prince is the Shah's son. This 3-hour interview went by quickly. So interesting. There is some glimmer of hope that the former jewel of the Persian Empire may one day democratize given the goals of its current population. Fingers crossed. On YouTube TV, search for "PBD podcast Prince."


M A K I N G...N E W...F R I E N D S

W I T H...B I S C O T T I


I moved to my new home just seven weeks before Christmas Day, 2021. I hit the jackpot by landing on my street (bought my house sight-unseen!)


Within hours, a neighbor came to my door with greetings and his phone number, "Call if you need anything."


I met two more the following day. More phone numbers. Within the week, I was welcomed by five more neighbors including an Italian couple from Brooklyn who are a "hoot" (first time I think I've ever used that word) and an energetic, fun woman named "Peaches" who is also in my line-dancing class (another first - yeehaw! - although we dance to several music genres. Years of pom-pomming came flooding back.)

I should mention that I had a few friends from Napa and Marin who were already living in this 55+ community and nearby. And now, to have made so many new ones just doors away, is an unexpected blessing. We've since enjoyed many morning coffees, happy hours and dinner parties. My original four-foot, round patio table was soon replaced by an eight-foot rectangular one. (West Elm's "Portside" in "Driftwood.")  


Where am I? About 3 hours northeast of Napa at the California-Nevada border (on the NV side) in a community called "Somersett." Thirty miles from North Lake Tahoe and a shorter drive to now multi-million-dollar homes in Truckee. Wow, has it changed! Somersett's official address is Reno but since it's a good 20-minute drive to get to the happenings in Reno proper, I consider myself living somewhere in the boondocks. Somersett is the umbrella name for two combined communities. I'm in the neighborhood called "Sierra Canyon." Each has a golf course, club house, pool, gym, tennis/pickle ball courts and umpteen classes and activities. Besides line-dancing, I've joined writing, watercolor painting, and drum exercises. Next year, I'm adding billiard lessons to my weekly calendar.

Since I arrived in time to enjoy the holiday season, I wanted to spread neighborly merriment with homemade biscotti - a recipe I inherited from my mother who inherited it from hers.


There was only one problem. I'm not a baker. I prefer savories to sweets. And, biscotti-making was intimidating. But, I was determined to honor these beloved and much-missed ladies by continuing their tradition. I also thought I could hide any flaws with festive cellophane bags and red ribbons. Turns out, they were easier than expected. I hope you give them a try.

3 C all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

10 T butter

1 1/4 C sugar

2 eggs

1/2 C nuts

1/2 C white chocolate chips

1/2 C raisins, dried cranberries or


3 T liquor

1 T vanilla

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.


In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt.


In a large bowl, beat softened butter (*) for 30 seconds. Slowly mix in sugar. Then eggs, vanilla and liquor.


Gradually beat in flour. It will be dense. Take a bite to make sure you can taste the liquor. (Wink - it's important.)


Fold in nuts, fruit and chocolate chips with a spatula. It will have a dough-like texture. Turn out on a lightly-floured surface. Divide into 3 parts and form 3 loaves about 10" long x 3" wide x 1/2" deep. Place on cookie sheet.


Put in refridgerator for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 20-30 mins. (depends on your oven and elevation. Should be golden brown and slightly firm - but not completely crunchy-stiff yet.)


Turn oven off and let biscotti cool 45 mins. Cut loaves on the diagonal, 1/2" wide and lay each cookie on its side on the sheet. Turn oven back on but this time to 325 degrees. Bake 7 mins. Turn each cookie on its other side and bake 5 mins.


To make chocolate biscotti, add 2/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder at the same time you add the flour. And, add 2 more T of butter. You might have to add 1 T of water if too dry.


Can be stored in the freezer for 3 months.

(*) NOTES: Soften butter beforehand. The liquor is key to flavorful success. I use Disaronno amaretto or brandy. My preferred fruit and nuts are dried cranberries and pistachio.




I wish you all








and look forward to writing again

in the new year.

During this Christmas and Hanukkah season, a time of reflection, celebration, overeating, and spending time with loved ones, I also want to take a moment to think of those who are suffering.

This little girl touched my heart. I bet anything that her short-sleeve white blouse is part of a school uniform, just like the one I, myself, wore at St. Apollinaris (we NEVER abbreviated it to "St. A's") and Siena High School. Her prayers seem so earnest during New York City's St. Patrick Cathedral's Mass as Father Mike Schmitz declared, "We have hearts that are a mess." 

Published October 13, 2023 in the Catholic Telegraph (founded in 1831!) This photo landed in my Instagram feed and I felt the need to copy it. Photo: Jeffrey Bruno 


To read archived columns about decluttering and organizing, click on the purple button below. It will bring you to the columns (aka "blog".) Then click on the magnifying glass (green arrow) and type in: "Less is More", "The Art of Storage", "When Couple's Styles Clash", and "Hygge". (Do separate searches.)


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