She had to ask

Standing at street’s edge; waiting for the light.

A dynamic, vibrant, bustling world class city.

Next to us a young woman stands, waiting.

Poised, stylish, together, confident in her own skin kind of way.

An unlit cigarette in hand.

The signature scarf worn in that effortless and elegant way;

the way of Parisian women.

We catch a moment’s contact of eyes

and then return to our impersonal, stoic forward stares.


I sense movement to my left and turn.

She leans in, so subtly in her graceful way.

Parlez vous Francais?

She had not pegged us as tourists.

There was the chance.

She had to ask.



But my eyes said more.


Merci beaucoup.



A-ha. I Am Not Crazy.

I will be the first to admit that I often march to the beat of a drum only I hear. I can sometimes tend to find my own (ahem, albeit sometimes the hard) way to do things or get things done and sometimes find myself feeling like the little dog with its head tilted sideways and one ear up and the other down as I watch many around me. Huh?  Oh well.

But…in  a recent post, I wrote that:

I will admit that anticipation is probably one of my favorite things. I save gift cards for far too long because I savor what is to come much more than what has already happened. I love to plan trips almost as much as take them because it is as exciting to me to consider the possibilities as it is to actually be there.

And not too long before that one…I wrote a post about realizing that I could live with less and find that I have so much more and in that post I wrote:

…that I often was consumed by the next purchase, desperate in my attempt to acquire, to fill so as to avoid the void;  and that now I shop with intention for what is truly needed and appreciated. Time spent in good company far outweighs things, ten to one. So does saving for a rainy day. Or a sunny trip.

And then…last week, while scrolling through my Facebook feed I saw this…


It’s been over a decade since American psychologists Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich concluded that doing things makes people happier than having things. “To Do or to Have? That Is the Question” was the title of the study they published in 2003 (PDF), and it’s been cited hundreds of times since.

All of the studies indicated that anticipation of an experience is more exciting and pleasant than the anticipation of a material purchase—regardless of the price of the purchase. In the case of crowds queuing up to make purchases, those in line for an experience (such as a play or admission to a theme park) generally are in better moods and on better behavior than those in line to buy material goods. In a press release, Gilovich said one reason the research is important to society is that it “suggests that overall well-being can be advanced by providing an infrastructure that affords experiences—such as parks, trails, beaches—as much as it does material consumption.”

Source:  The Positive Benefits of Anticipation

Ah. I am not crazy (well, ok, maybe a little!)

Isn’t it so great when science backs us up?!  🙂 It’s like a nice little pat on the back from the Universe – ‘yep, keep moving along, you’re doing ok! (but I’m going to keep an eye on you anyway!)”.  

Hmmm….I am already anticipating my next adventure!  What do you think?


Double Dog Dare

Summer is officially over, and tomorrow commences a new season. But, before summer packs its tank tops, shortens our days and flip flops out the door to let fall rush in, I bring you one last bastion of summer.  A follow through on a dare from my friend Paula at Stuff I Tell My Sister.  It was a double dog dare that we turned into a double triple – three of us, three times.

If you are like the 17 yr old I asked to take our pictures in Round One of this dare, a teen who ever so subtly rolled her eyes when I asked her to snap the shots, as if to imply that ‘duh, old lady, yes, of course I know‘, then you will know what planking is. But if not, she did indulge me and snapped away while we adjusted knee caps, ribs and other ‘parts’ on the uneven surfaces of gorgeous, but oh so unforgiving, granite boulders so that I could make good on this dare and bring you proof of having carried out the planking promise I made to Paula.


First up was a test run with the junior member of our planking team – (there are different ideas of proper form in planking, and we opted with the one you see here) –  and you will see a slight faltering in his form – hands and feet should not be touching the surface, but his face is correctly nose to the grindstone, so he gets points for that.  He did move on to the first round of the finals and served as mentor to our other planking amateur.


Judges rank of the plank:  so so. Those hands should not be waving, we need to see some superman action here.

And, you know what they say, the family who planks together,
stays together. :).

Family wins ROUND ONE

The planking mama and kiddo, surveying the land for our next opportunity to strike a pose.


You can see we each competed in our own category:
kiddo’s involved a bit more of a handicap with that granite ledge.
My older, ahem, wiser body couldn’t wouldn’t quite ‘adapt’ to those contours.

Kiddo wins ROUND TWO


The Final Round went to extremes, planking on the edge of the earth.

My planking partner has some training sessions he missed, and so…
Planking Mama wins the FINAL ROUND.

Paula and I will be representing blogland in the upcoming international planking championships and we are recruiting members of the team. Applications are now being accepted.


Are We There Yet?

Road Trip – Last Stop: Are We There Yet?

Since my last stop along my Road Trip to visit Mimi  and the Karma Truck last week in Northern Virginia, and a pass through my own old stomping grounds (I could even see my old house on Google maps street view!), I have headed north and east and set my GBS for New Hampshire, so I can kick it up with Pam at the Mercantile Muse.  I have to ask, did you guess that the first potato planted in the US was planted in New Hampshire? I bet you thought I was headed all the way back to Idaho! Since I’ve been back on the road,  I’ve logged my last 500 miles…nice how it just rounded off so smoothly and caps off my coast-to-coast adventure.  And, it’s only fitting that Pam is my last stop, because as the saying goes, the first shall be last.

“Are We There Yet”via Bates Mercantile Co. on Etsy

Pam was one of  the very very  first people I connected with when I started my own Etsy shop and this blog – she was warm, welcoming, friendly and so easy to connect with. It was apparent right away that she’s not just kind, but full of life, and energy and is definitely the hostess with the mostess; hosting fabulous parties online and off. Pam is gracious whether in party mode or not, always finding a way to make you feel welcome and shine a light on other creatives; she does this with her own creative touch and a refined eye for the unique, special find you just might miss and then wonder how you did once she puts it out on the party table.

In case anyone just jumped in the car, my summer bloggin’ road trip is all about celebrating the connections we find and make through our blogs. The way this virtual visit works is  – I asked Pam some  questions I’d want to ask here if we really got to meet in person.

So, I have made it all the way to New Hampshire, and drive up to Pam’s house, aka The Bates Estate, and settle in for a nice long visit. I’ve got to get out and stretch my legs! 

Since this is a bloggin’ road trip, we have to talk about blogging, of course. Tell me about when you got started in blogging – What was it that got you started?  Did you think about it for a long time, or did you just wake up one day and think, “I’m going to start a blog”?  //  Oh this crazy blogosphere……who knew where it would all lead me when I began. I blame it all on Etsy. I opened an Etsy shop in December of 2010 and kept reading that having a blog helped drive traffic to your shop. So in June of 2011 I finally bit the bullet and started Mercantile Muse.  //  I had the same auspicious start; and I was just about a year behind you. I opened my Etsy shop in November 2011 and this blog in December 2011 – it was nice having you a few steps ahead of me; it’s like knowing a sophomore when you are a freshman! 

How long have you been blogging now, and what would you say has surprised you the most about it?  // So even though I kind of answered that question, I’ll answer it another way ….I’ve been blogging for a year and 2 months. That time flew by.  The thing that has surprised me the most about blogging is all of the fabulous, fantastic, extremely talented women it’s connected me to. That’s not to say that there are men who are bloggin’, but I think the gals really have made their mark on the blogging world and will continue to do so. Women have a LOT to say about everything from crafts to surviving illness, to matters of the heart. I love that blogging has given women a forum where they can express themselves anyway they want.  So cool.

Everything has it’s challenges, are there things about being a blogger that just make you say, ugh?  Things you put off or just like less than the rest of it?  // Trying to fit it into the day. I post most days, so I feel bad if I don’t get a post up. Only because I feel like I’ve let myself down. // I am always impressed how you fit in a post just about every day, I can’t seem to manage that! And each day, you give such a personable, warm welcome to your readers.

What topic/topics do you enjoy blogging about the most?  // That’s just too tough to answer. I really don’t know because Mercantile Muse is all about the great things in our (mine and husband Garrett’s life). And that covers a lot of ground.   // You do cover a lot of territory, which is always fun, but at the heart of it, you always seem to celebrate and muse on the joys you find in every day life.

I just rolled in – what are we going to do today?   //  I hope you had a good night’s sleep before you got here because girl, we have a lot to do. FIRST things FIRST West Coast Bonnie…………we’re driving 10 minutes, stepping on the sand at North Beach in my hometown of Hampton, New Hampshire and then we’re sticking our toes in the Atlantic. // No arguments from me on that!  I haven’t seen the ocean since I left California and I am so ready to get out and stretch my legs. YOU are driving to the beach though…I’m the passenger today!

Retro Beach via Bates Mercantile Co. on Etsy

Then, when  we’re done walking, we’re heading just a wee bit south along Rt 1A/Ocean Blvd to the main beach.  One side is sand until your eye can see. There’s a lovely new stage where they host free entertainment for tourists.  The other side is the beach strip with stores and the old Hampton Beach Casino building where we’re going to have a little skeeball competition.

Then we’ll top it off with a nice lunch at the Sea Ketch which has 4 stories of decks, all with beautiful views of the beach. When we’re done, we’ll take a lovely ride up the coast (all 19 miles of it) through North Hampton and Rye and it’s big, beautiful waterfront homes. The second one on this page is my favorite, (but there are others that are real MANSIONS) and then we’ll heat on to Portsmouth. Ready for more decks?  // I’m ready for whatever you have planned for us today; you are the queen of parties and I know to trust whatever you have in store for me!

500 miles is a trek, I would love to put my feet up and grab a drink with you…where are we going?  // Well, you know already of my love for Margaritas, so we’re going to sit on Poco Diablo’s deck over the harbor and enjoy one. On the rocks, with salt please.  I’ll sip on that while we enjoy the view of the harbor, the boats coming and going and of course, the Porsmouth tugboats. // Ok, you get no argument from me on that; I say, yes please, to the margarita on the rocks with salt. This CA girl speaks Margarita, fluently.  Can we just order a pitcher? 😉


What question(s) do you have for me while we relax?  //  How’d you become such a good mom? I LOVED your story about your son and his ‘technology ban’ and all the good stuff that came of  it. So cool. //  Pam, that’s an awesome question, and an awesome compliment. I have to attribute so much to my own mom, who was small but mighty. She showed me, and taught me through example,  the art of balancing unconditional love, tough love and understanding the importance of really knowing your kid.  She was tough when she made a decision [ahem, dating age, curfews, boyfriends, etc.] but was so nurturing and I always knew she was on my side, no matter what. I am confident that she was in my heart when Ben and I worked out the case of the technology and truth misstep and got things back on track. 

If you were a superhero, who would you be? I of course am known ‘round these parts as PowerWasher Woman….give me a power washer and I’ll take a chunk out of grime.  // So funny, and another great question. Raising a boy, superheros are definitely part of my life!  We’ve got action figures of all kinds around the house. Which reminds me, our SuperFur Kid made a snack out of our Wonder Woman action figure and I need to replace her! While I am not quite Wonder Woman, I can safely say I am a MacGyver Girl – I always love a challenge to figure ‘stuff’ out and coming up with surprising solutions. 

So,  I’m pretty hungry after a day of driving and I’ve had my fill of fast food and truck stop food. I  would loooove something home cooked; what would you fix for us to eat? // I hope you like seafood.  Because you drove so far to get here, we thought we’d put on a real New England lobster bake for you with all the fixin’s – lobster, steamers, potatoes, butter and sugar corn which is unreal right now, Aunt Polly’s potato salad, Watermelon George. Hope you’ve got room. // Your parties always look like so much fun, I will make room! 

Before I get back on the road, I’m going to need a good cuppa cuppa to keep me awake for the next part of my drive….where would you take me for my java fix?   // Blue Moon Evolution, my friend’s place. I’m not usually a coffee person. I’m a strong tea in the morning girl.  However, when I go to the moon, I get a cuppa because it’s just plain good.  It’s organic too. // What a little slice of heaven, the moon is. I’ve eaten my way through their menu, just looking at it, and I’ll take one of each one the beverage menu. You’re driving today, right? 

Tell me one surprising thing I would find out when meeting you for the first time?  // Hhhhhmmm, that’s a tough one too since I put most of it out there on the Muse.  Let’s see, I have crooked fingers. The middle fingers on both of my hands ‘swoop’ towards each other at the top.  You might not notice it but it’s a family thing from my Gram. Earthshattering revelations, I know.  Oh, don’t tell my parents but I can swear like a sailor. Only in the right company of course.  (Sorry Mom and Dad if you’re reading this)

It’s been an awesome stop – I want to take a souvenir home to remember my visit with you  – what should I put in my trunk to take home?  // Well that’s easy. Didn’t I mention we’d be beachcombing while we walked at North Beach?  You’ve got a mason jar filled with shells, rocks, sand and sea glass.  // I love that idea, and what a great reminder of my last stop on this excellent adventure!

I’m heading out of the driveway – you toss me a CD  of your favorite tunes to listen to as I roll on down the highway – what is it and what’s your favorite song on it? //Oh it’s definitely Gar’s 40th Birthday CD because you’ll be able to drive and drive and drive. It might be 7 years old, but it still gets us movin’.  You are going to LOVE The Saw Doctor’s HayWrap just as much as we do, but be ready to pull over so you can dance.


Is there anything else you want to say, I’m heading out, gotta hit the road again! // I’m so glad you made it all the way to the East Coast safely.  As my parents say ‘straight home, no parking’.  Call me when you get home so I know you made it ok.  // You got it, my mom always waited for my phone call too, so I really appreciate that. I might have to make a few stops on the way home though, it’s a long way from NH to CA!

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m Pam, an all around creative type married to Garrett, my own transplanted Dubliner. I met him while I was going to college in the Bronx.  I muse about all of the good things in our life including people, food, design, the handmade movement, crafts, vintage, places and yes, even business.  I’ve had my own advertising, pr and marketing firm- Speakeasy- for 18 + years. I opened a shop on etsy called Bates Mercantile Co. in 2010 so that I could explore my creative side even more.  That’s how Mercantile Muse came about.  I am so happy to be connecting with people all over the world, including the {PaperKeeper} herself, Bonnie.


Pam – I left a little something for you, it’s out by the pool, your favorite spot!
I want to say thank you, for the warm welcome, the great conversation, and showing me around your neck of the woods.
Thank you so much for hosting my last stop on my road trip and showing me such great hospitality!


I’m a little sad, this is normally where I give you a hint of where my next stop will be…but this is the end of this road, the last stop, for now, for this traveller.

But don’t be surprised if I get my GBS and my trusty Triumph revved up again sometime soon; I can’t sit still for very long, and I have so many more places to explore.


Thank you so much for riding along and following this epic adventure,

and until next time, safe travels of all kinds…

…wheels, heart, mind and soul.

Below and Above

We took off for a family adventure last weekend; it was a birthday present for that guy I call husband. He’s impossible to shop for:  he is not the gadget guy equivalent of my gadget girl, clothes are ho-hum in his opinion and there is no fancy finery he pines for. What he does like are cool experiences shared with his family. In years past it has been things like kayaking, scavenger hunts, hiking,  private plane rides, and last year I had promised him a zip line adventure. Then, I got stuck in the sky, well, the airport actually, in Denver on the way home from a conference, and we missed the whole day.

We made up for that this year and headed south + east of our zip code and made our way to the Mother Lode country. Theres gold in them thar hills. If only…

We started out with a journey to the center of the earth. Ok, just 165 feet  below the surface. 262 stairs down…262 stairs up.


See, we got about 10 stairs down [see that first set of stairs in the image below],  and my kiddo decided something. He. Did. Not. Want. To. Go. Down.  His decision was firm, there was nothing wishy washy about it. But we had about 30 people behind us on a stairway maybe 2 feet across. We had to keep going, but we hear this,

“You can’t make me do it”

Well, sort of. He had to get to the bottom of the wooden staircase before we could pull away from the rest of the group.

We tried to allay his fears, but there would be no discussion.  So, birthday boy took the plunge to the depths of the earth while the kiddo and I remained on the landing.  We watched two guys rappel down through that ‘tube/chute’  – they floated down on ropes all 165′ down to the bottom.  All I could think, ‘you can’t make me do it!”

Do you know the difference between a stalagtite and a stalagmite?

I do. Now!

So, once back up in the light of day, above the earth’s crusty exterior, my kiddo is smiling again.  We had a little chat about fears, facing them and courage.  We were getting ready to take a little ride. A 1500 foot long ride, many feet above the ground. A zip line ride.  The harness doesn’t accommodate fear very well…

Sometimes, two heads are just better than one.  That’s when we ride tandem. He is old enough and weighs enough to ride solo, but based on the cave experience, we figured together is better.

We got geared up…

…and made our approach to the launch tower.  I have to admit, I was nervous as we went higher and higher and then when I caught a glimpse of the cables stretching out in front of us for what felt like forever, my belly did some flip flops and I began to question my sanity.

And I wondered about my kiddo.

He was riding tandem with his dad and I was getting set up to launch next to them.

[Launch = jump off a perfectly stable and perfectly fine platform…]

Together, they took the leap…

 …and they did great and make the perfect landing.  My fears about my son being afraid were unecessary! Whew!

 I shot a video as I screamed woo-hoo-ed my way down the cable on our first ride.  I will spare you that. You’re welcome.

We all loved it and couldn’t wait to ride again, so kiddo and I went tandem

and this guy flew like Superman!

The best moment was when I hear the kid strapped to my lap exclaim,

“This is awesome!”

as we went screaming through the air

Then it was on to the 38′ climbing tower. This time, it was my turn for fear to get the best of me. I was about to reach the top and ring that elusive bell when I just  wouldn’t couldn’t  go any higher. I was [enthusiastically] expressing my fear and trepidation about going any higher while the kiddo was at the bottom encouraging me and cheering me on.

The irony of the situation was not lost on me…here we were again having a ‘little chat’ about facing your fears…

So, I gave it what I had, and my brain said go, but my arms wimped out and my fear of falling prevailed. Yes, belay was on, but there is something unnatural about letting yourself fall…

The kid made it to the top though and rang that bell. Later, I was very proud of him when he said that was his favorite moment of the day. I was proud that despite the thrill and the instant fun of the zip line ride, for him, his best moment was an accomplishment only he could take credit for.

I regret not trying again to make it to the top and push a little harder, dig a little deeper, but it’s more important to me that my son had that moment of success and victory!

Apparently, Superman is also part Spiderman. Yes, he rang the bell too. 2 out of 3. Sigh…

On the way, home cruising through the charming old time towns;  we could just imagine them in their hey day, before time marched on.

But for us, I’d say, hands down, that our day was no less than…

It was indeed a very good day, and while I tease my husband, a day below and above the earth is much more fun than a new shirt. But, he got that too 🙂