On My Mind: October 2019

Monday Author:  Susanne Skinner

On My Mind AutumnI’m a Massachusetts girl living in a Florida world, homesick for New England. Chilly nights and colorful leaves announce the arrival of fall but here the colors and smells elude me. Autumn in New England is my favorite season but Florida from October through March is simply called The Season as snowbirds return for the winter.

Earlier this month I enjoyed down time in South Carolina and the Low Country.  The beauty of the marshes, conversations with friends, and traditional low-country food offered breathing room and a break from all things media.

On My Mind October 2019

Being off the grid was a different kind of peace, but the Internet remains vigilant. It sees us. Everything I avoided is still here, but it’s important to remember we have an off switch.

So…walk with me a while and I’ll share what’s on my mind as we wind up this 2019 version of October.

What’s Up with That?

Nasty Woman GameI’ve declared my Facebook feed a no-politics zone. I threatened to do it, then—nothing. Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you want to remain friends. It is like ripping off a Band-Aid to unfollow political shade throwers and smack talkers but I felt good when I was done. I wish I had done it sooner. Also, when a post includes, “I bet none of my friends will share this,” rest assured I won’t.

Looking for some fun on a girl’s night in? Bring out the Nasty Woman Card Game and gather round the table! Test your street cred with your BFFs.  There’s a little nasty woman in all of us!

I stopped using plastic straws as part of my go green commitment. The problem with a paper straw (for me) is mouth feel—I don’t like it.  I’m in love with these inexpensive metal straws and always carry one in my purse. Cold beverages are even colder when sipped through one of these.

 In the Kitchen with Suze

My brother-in-law presented me with homemade fig preserves and I Immediately wondered what to bake. This Fig and Buttermilk Bundt Cake has the flavors of fall with a little je ne sais quoi from the jam. I was a bit short on the cup of jam so I added some orange and ginger marmalade for even more deliciousness. Don’t leave off the glaze; it’s worth it. Check the cake for doneness at one hour.

In the kitchen with Suze, woman cooking, pot on stoveEveryone grew up with the blue tin of Danish Butter Cookies, right? They appear like magic during the holidays, reminiscent of long-ago dinners with the grandparents. This homemade version is so easy, and makes the perfect amount to gift.

Repeating myself here, but use quality European butter because…butter cookies! The recipe is fine as written, but I amp up the flavor with vanilla infused sugar (worth the price of the vanilla bean) and 1/8 teaspoon of almond extract.

Paul’s Pumpkin Bars are a Hallowthanksmas staple at Casa Caron. Oft requested, never any leftovers, and they feed a crowd.  The ease and versatility of this recipe carries you through the last three holidays of the year.

Speaking of pumpkin, I passed an airport Starbucks announcing they had sold out of pumpkin spice latte! It’s easy to make your own and so much better!  The secret is some real pumpkin and strong coffee. I use a French press.

If you’re an Aldi fan like me, you watch for seasonal favorites. Grab a loaf of the Pumpkin Seed Bread and a box of Belgian Waffles (addicted!).  Don’t forget the peanut butter cups. Aldi’s version pushes the big R right out of the room.

Read ~ Watch ~ Listen


Susanne Skinner, Read-Watch-Listen, books, movies, musicThe Chemist, by Stephanie Meyer.  I picked this up from the read and return shelf at the library for airplane reading. She’s the same Stephanie Myer who wrote the Twilight Saga. I’m a fangirl, read all four books and love them. This one surprised me.

This plot veers away from vampires, wading into CIA black ops, chemical interrogation techniques and off-the-books government secrets.  It’s Burn Notice on steroids, with a nerdy heroine and terrorist plot twists. The book is over 500 pages and dragged a bit, but not enough to make me put it down.


Longmire. A binge-worthy Netflix series based on the Walt Longmire Mysteries by Craig Johnson. The main character is Wyoming Sherriff Walt Longmire, and Australian actor Robert Taylor brings him to life. He is both simple and complex, an uncompromising man with a strong moral code and fear of technology. The supporting cast is excellent.

One of the best parts of this series is the honest retelling of Indian-American history.  Lou Diamond Philips is remarkable in the role of Henry Standing Bear. He weaves the push/pull coexistence of American Justice and Cheyenne Tribal Law into each episode. It’s an old-fashioned western with great story lines and stunning scenery. The series, filmed in New Mexico, ran for six seasons.


The Highwomen is a country-girl super group dedicated to raising the profile of female singers in the country music genre. Men get more airplay and representation on the stage. These accomplished women, (Brandi Carlisle, Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby, and Amanda Shires) join their voices and songwriting talent, amplifying women in country music.

The ladies play musical homage to the legendary group The Highwaymen, (the late Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson) with Highwoman, their version of the 1985 song Highwayman, Legit talent.

Ease on Down the Road

Ease on Down the RoadThe Internet offers a daily reality check—especially for things beyond our control. As networks vie for Felicity Huffman’s post-prison interview and the specter of Impeachment darkens our doorway, remember kindness.

Humane is human with an ‘e’ on it, reminding us we make a difference when we choose to be kind.  It is the most underestimated superpower we possess.

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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