Seasoned Pretzels from Karla’s Kitchen

With Super Bowl LIII coming up, I thought it would be a good time to post this recipe for an easy, yet addictive, crunchy snack. A crowd pleaser for sure!

I typically don’t enjoy pretzels because, and I don’t think this is a shocker, I find them dry and bland. However, when my sister Karla began serving her seasoned pretzels, I could not control myself. No sooner would I say done, then my hand would be right back in the bowl. When my Ally said she loved them too, I knew we were on to something. There’s not a lot of foods Ally loves.

Karla’s seasoned pretzels provide just the right amount of tang and crunch and to make them is soooo easy. When I first saw the simple recipe, I thought there was a step missing. Seeing that so much liquid was to be poured over the pretzels, I imagined I’d have to dry them out to achieve the dry, pretzel texture I was accustomed to.

Interestingly, the pretzels fully absorb the oil. When the pretzels have completed their overnight marinating process, you wake up to tasty, seasoned pretzels that are ready to serve.

Without further ado, I give you…

Karla’s Seasoned Pretzels

  • 40 ounce pretzels (I used 2, 16 ounce bags and it was fine)
  • 1 bottle Orville Redenbacher popcorn oil
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dry salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon dry dill
  • 1 tablespoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.

Empty pretzels into a 2-gallon sealable plastic bag.  In a bowl, mix all other ingredients and pour liquid over pretzels. Seal bag securely and mix well.  Flip bag every 15 minutes for an hour to distribute liquid.  Let sit overnight and your seasoned pretzels are good to go and go and go!

I hope you enjoy! GO PATS and thank you Karla for sharing your yummy recipe.

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REPOST: More Than a Headshot, Personal Brand Photography by Emily O’Brien

Emily is in full gear with her 2019 Personal Brand Photography Sessions – Get in touch with her now to learn how YOUR photos can best tell YOUR story!!!

Oscar and Beth on blu couch
My boy and my computer companion.


By now you may know the name Emily O’Brien as one of my favorite photographers. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Emily for many years and, more than a colleague, she is a friend whose talent never ceases to amaze me.

I’ve featured Emily’s photography in many of my posts. Our Instagram Field Trip to Giardini Di Sole was one of my favorites. As was our day at the Junior League of Boston Designer Show House.  When the time came for new headshots for Musing Mediterranean, I looked no further than Emily. The same is true for my Julia’s senior portraits, but I’ll save that post for another day.

Emily knows me well and puts me completely at ease. I mentioned wanting to take photos at home and Emily suggested we go a step beyond traditional headshots. She told me about Personal Brand Photography.

What Is Personal Brand Photography?

Emily has created this option for business people of all types who want strong images that give your brand a personality. They show people who you are as a business and what it’s like to work with you. Personal brand sessions start with a consultation to get to know your brand story. Sessions usually include headshots, lifestyle images to capture you in action, as well as details that cater to your specific business. Because the session is so customized to suit your brand, the types of images will vary from one business to another.

My Personal Brand Session

Personal Brand Photography was perfect for my purposes as I already had the idea of taking shots around my house using some of my favorite artwork as the backdrop. The more we talked about how this would work, the more I realized it was ideal. Personal Brand Photography gave me the flexibility to explore what I do as a freelance writer working from home, while revealing what inspires me creatively.

Let The Fun Begin!

Enter good friend and fashion stylist, Lysa Gibbs-Pelletier. Lysa helped style my clothing with the artwork and scenes we were shooting. Here’s a behind the scenes shot of the three of us getting silly over a mouth-watering plate of cupcakes as shared on Emily’s Instagram.

Follow Emily on Instagram

The Photos

At this point I’ll let the images speak for themselves. Here are some of my favorites shots. I can’t tell you what a great experience this was. It’s rare that the camera is turned on me, but it felt special to bring the focus on what I do and expressing that in photos was an interesting opportunity. It was reflective process that would not have been the same without Emily’s expertise.

headshot from personal brand photography session
This map was the perfect background for my travel book photo.
The more I read, the better I write.
Writing and my wall of pottery.
Color inspires me.


When I was asked to send in author photos for the book, I had a tough time choosing. Emily had captured my essence in a way I didn’t think possible.

If you are a business person looking for photos, Emily O’Brien’s Personal Brand Photography is a wonderful way to shine the spotlight on you and what you do.

Here’s What You Can Do With Your Images

  • Social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In. Social media posts that include an image receive 120-180% more visibility and engagement. Maximize your investment by creating a library of images to post new content.
  • Scattered throughout your website pages: Blogs, home page, about me, landing pages, sales pages, contact, etc.
  • Marketing pieces: Business cards, brochures, mailers, or other printed marketing materials.
  • Press releases, speaking engagements, email signature, anywhere you have the opportunity to show people what it would be like to work with you.

Contact Emily O’Brien Photography for more information on your Personal Brand Photography session.


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Red Notice by Bill Browder – Book Club

Red Notice by Bill Browder
Red Notice by Bill Browder book club meeting at The Wine Lab

My latest book club read took me by surprise, in a good way. I never would have imagined liking a Russian finance and murder thriller. Yet Red Notice by Bill Browder turned out to be a very interesting story. Even when the author delved too deeply into financial, legal and illegal nitty gritty, it was still a page turner.

Red Notice by Bill Browder

Synopsis (an excerpt from Goodreads)

A real-life political thriller about an American financier in the Wild East of Russia, the murder of his principled young tax attorney, and his dangerous mission to expose the Kremlin’s corruption.

Bill Browder’s journey started on the South Side of Chicago and moved through Stanford Business School to the dog-eat-dog world of hedge fund investing in the 1990s. It continued in Moscow, where Browder made his fortune heading the largest investment fund in Russia after the Soviet Union’s collapse. But when he exposed the corrupt oligarchs who were robbing the companies in which he was investing, Vladimir Putin turned on him and, in 2005, had him expelled from Russia.

In 2007, a group of law enforcement officers raided Browder’s offices in Moscow and stole $230 million of taxes that his fund’s companies had paid to the Russian government. Browder’s attorney Sergei Magnitsky investigated the incident and uncovered a sprawling criminal enterprise. A month after Sergei testified against the officials involved, he was arrested and thrown into pre-trial detention, where he was tortured for a year. On November 16, 2009, he was led to an isolation chamber, handcuffed to a bedrail, and beaten to death by eight guards in full riot gear…


The reason this book worked for me is because Browder’s manner of writing was straightforward. While some of the more business heavy content went over my head, I found myself very wrapped up in Browder’s voice and personal account of this crazy situation.

His early experiences as a young financier right through to his ongoing mission as a human rights activist were gripping. It was hard, at times, to believe that this was a true story being told by the protagonist himself. The corruption in Russia, as detailed by Browder, is unfathomable.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were times I thought Browder was a narcissistic workaholic. His family must have suffered such frustration at his hyper focus on anything but them. Not to mention the dangers Browder brought upon himself and his family coming up against an angered Putin.

Red Notice was however compelling, enlightening and scarily current as Browder and his continued efforts were featured in my local newspaper less than two months ago.

The book not only held my interest, but I passed it off to Tony and he read it in record time.

Despite my initial reservations, I would definitely say this was a book worth reading.

Side Note 1

Red Notice is not the only unexpected thing I’ve found myself into recently. Stranger Things is now on my watch list and I can’t stop!  Science fiction-horror? Definitely not my usual thing. But hey, maybe my taste in entertainment is finally evolving!

Side Note 2

In addition to reading Red Notice, I began my first audio book. I never read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie two book clubs ago, so decided I’d give it a try on audio. Not sure I’m the best person for audio books or that this book was a good one to start with, but I’m willing to see how it goes until the end.

Next Up

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Everyone is raving about this book. It is so popular, I am #260 on the library hold list!

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Hello 2019! I’m Ready For You.

2019 resolution-keep track of phone

A new year and my first blog post in three weeks. I’m not going to lie – I really enjoyed the break. The truth is, I have a weird love-hate relationship with technology and social media.  Suffice to say, there are times when I can only sing their praises – GPS and the cool Facetime filters I recently discovered with my sister and niece, ♥ Love! And then there’s the random Facebook rant when I can’t quite figure out what has happened to society. And please don’t get me started on Twitter. Good God! What is the President of the United States doing? That’s rhetorical!!! Please don’t answer – I can’t handle it.

So, in 2019 I’m redefining my relationship with technology and social media. I’m not 100% sure what that means quite yet, but I plan to introduce some kind of healthy change in that area. If technology can change as quickly and as much as it does, then I think the way I handle it should change too. More on that at a future time.

Have you made any changes in your technology or social media habits? I’d be interested to know how people have made peace with the ever-changing landscape of communication and information sharing.

What About Resolutions in 2019?

While my plan for online activity is not yet clear, I have decided to start off 2019 with a resolution or two that aren’t quite so dramatic. The first of which is easy –  stay the course. As far as my day to day goes, I feel like I’m in a good groove with my writing, the book, wifing, parenting and dog mommying. So, I’m going to stick with all of that.

Additionally, and this one is super basic, I’m going to keep track of my phone and keys. More so my phone. My whole family has a running joke, “Mom never knows where her phone is.” It’s true, for some reason I find it very difficult to keep track of, especially when I leave the house. I knew I had a problem when I left it at my sister’s, 45 minutes away, and I didn’t bother to retrieve it for three days.

Tony gave me some simple, yet solid, advice recently that I’m doing my very best to follow. He said he never leaves the house, or anywhere for that matter, without going through a mental checklist of:

  • Phone
  • Keys
  • Wallet

I’m trying very hard to get into this habit. It’s doesn’t solve the problem of losing my phone inside my house on the daily, but it has been helpful getting me out the door without having to run back in. Full disclosure, the struggle is real! Yesterday I got into my car without my car keys. Ugh! Always something.

Here’s to a healthy, happy and peaceful 2019! Good luck in making any resolutions you may have made a reality.


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Just In at Make It Yours! Boutique … Musing Mediterranean

Musing Mediterranean is on shelves at a fabulous clothing store in Middleton called Make It Yours! Boutique.


I’ve recently come to know owner Sarah Garule through the North Andover Women’s Club. Sarah was one of several store owners who outfitted the models at the Women’s Club’s Holiday Glam Fashion Show in early November. She and her team are fantastic!

Make It Yours! Boutique has a great mix of fashions from everyday wear to evening out options. Shoes and accessories are also available and, lucky for me, a great selection of gift items. Candles, pottery, jewelry and now Musing Mediterranean are all in store at this stylish women’s boutique. They are perfect gifts for the holidays.

Make It Yours! Boutique is conveniently located right up Route 114 at 240b South Main St. in Middleton. You know, in the same plaza as Dairy Queen (I know that a little better than I should) 😉! Check it out and pick up a signed copy of Musing Mediterranean while you are there.

A Sneak Peek

Display at Make It Yours! Boutique
Some beautiful holiday options!


Front display at Make It Yours! Boutique
I’m obsessed with the booties, bottom right. They look so comfy!


Happy Shopping!





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