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Purple is the new black

Editor's note: In my professional capacity, I am the Director of Communications at Harcum College, whose brand color is purple. This essay first appeared in the College e-newsletter:

At age 20, I purchased my first evening dress on a waitress’s salary. I plucked it off the discount rack at Boscov’s for a benefit show at the old Rajah Theatre. I might have paid $30 bucks for it. The two-piece ensemble was a royal shade of purple (much like Harcum’s signature purple) with a sparkling bolero jacket, which I thought would help me stand out on stage.

Sadly, my delight at nabbing a bargain gown was short-lived. I'd been blinded by the price tag. The dress was neither the right color for the gig nor an appropriate style for someone barely 20-years-old. In retrospect, I must have looked like a mother-of-the-bride who mistakenly wandered onto the Rajah stage en route to a wedding, compared to the other female singers looking svelte in basic black.

For decades after that show, as much as I admired purple in nature—purple pansies, purple martens, and purple sunsets— I avoided wearing any purple whatsoever: plum, violet, mulberry, orchid, mauve, and lavender. No matter the shade, all shades of purple were off limits.

Since I’d never made my peace with purple, naturally the universe would intervene, forcing me to face my purple avoidance issues when I applied for a job at Harcum College in 2013. On the first day of interviews, I was greeted by dozens of purple tulips waving in the spring breeze outside Melville Hall. “I love purple,” I told the interviewers, trying desperately to convince myself that purple and I had kissed and made up, while clutching a folder from Human Resources stuffed with profusely purple publications.

Cue the tumbleweeds and the tinwhistle. Were I to be offered this job, the color purple and I were in for a showdown in Melville Hall.

A few weeks into the job, I realized I simply had to embrace my inner purple. I mean, I must have loved purple at some point. Why else would I have chosen a boldly purple dress for a fundraising show many years ago?

Seeing many College personnel decked out in purple at my first New Student Orientation further amplified my deficit situation regarding purple garb. The only purple on me was the Harcum lanyard around my neck. So, I set about to correct that, with a little help from my Bon Ton charge card. First I bought a purple sleeveless tee. Then a sequin-studded purple smock. And a purple corduroy jacket followed by another purple shell, this one flecked with metallic silver.

Now, life is one big purple extravaganza. While there is only one official shade of Harcum brand purple, it’s been fun adding to my growing personal collection of purple paraphernalia, including a pair of purple polyester trousers, which Danyele Dove noticed last Friday. “You havepurple pants,” she said knowingly, like someone who has considered bumping up the purple quotient in her wardrobe, too.

I resisted the urge to say she’d be seeing more purple pants and jackets and maybe even a purple gown for the Centennial gala. Now that I’m a Harcum College employee, purple is hip. It’s down. It's up. It's definitely the new black.


A darling new ensemble for a book character! 

Okay, cutest blog post ever in support of one of my novels.

Kathy at My Nook Books & More wanted to do "something fun" for her post on the Grace Unexpected blog tour. So she joined forces with Jen at Books and Other Happy Ever Afters and came up with a Book Look--a fashion ensemble--for my title character in Grace Unexpected.

Too adorable, right?

From earrings to dress to shoes to jewelry to handbag, Grace is all put together for another day's work at Soap Rock University.

Please defibrillate me. I am succumbing to an attack of adorability.

Grace and I thank you, Kathy and Jen, for your grace and ingenuity!


I have met the devil, and he's bite-sized!

I've met the devil, and he has me in the bag, so to speak.

No, my name isn't Rosemary, and I am not having Satan's baby. Truth be told, I stopped ovulating eight years ago.

Rather, when I say I have "met the devil," I mean that I have encountered a sensational snack pretzel from Snyder's of Hanover. Bite-sized hard pretzels seasoned with a savory honey-mustard rub that inexplicably find their way out of the foil bag and into my mouth, whether I am hungry or not.

I am not exaggerating when I say that Snyder's Honey Mustard & Onion Pretzel Pieces are absolutely irresistible--and, therefore, surely must be the snack food of the underworld.

If you are a sucker for sweet and salty and crunchy, all erupting on your tongue in one luscious mouthful, I guarantee you will adore this snack, too. You simply will not be able to pass it by if you know it waits in your humble cupboard, just waiting to be savored.

I want to smack my husband for tossing them in the shopping cart because I can't help but fill up a little snack bowl with them, even if I have eaten responsibly all day and squeezed in a fitness walk at lunch in a vain attempt to shape up for summer.

I have tried other flavors from Snyder's such as their Buffalo-flavored pieces. Meh. Though I love hot wings, no single flavor tempts me more than Honey Mustard & Onion. Truly, inconceivable, since I don't even really like mustard. Only when it is well disguised in food--really, really well.

I am going to forbid Bill from picking these pretzels up at the grocery store because they are too scrumptious to be ignored. 

But for now, I'm trying to decide whether I should slowly nibble on them or gobble them up.

Apparently, gobbling them up is winning.




My 'Gracie' tours cyberspace for Chick Lit month!

I had so much fun working with Ashley LaMar and Closed the Cover Book Tours with Who Killed 'Tom Jones'? that I requested to work with her again to put Grace Unexpected on tour since May is Chick Lit month.

Grace Unexpected is my second novel and deserves all the love she can get. So do stop by and visit all the wonderful book bloggers who are welcoming Grace and Company onto their websites. 

Where to find my Gracie and her funny friends:


Enter the Rafflecopter drawing below to can win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or one of several ebooks!

Grace Unexpected by Gale Martin on Closed the Cover

Tour Schedule

May 19, 2014
Closed the Cover - Kick-off Post and Giveaway
Tome Tender - Book Review
Plain Talk Book Marketing - Guest Post and Book Promo

May 20, 2014
What is That Book About - Author Interview

May 21, 2014
M's Bookshelf - Author Interview

May 23, 2014
All R Media - Book Review

May 28, 2014
My Nook Books & More - Book Promo and Excerpt

May 29, 2014
Closed the Cover - Book Review

May 30, 2014
Broc's Bookcase - Book Review & Author Interview
What Is That Book About - Excerpt

June 2, 2014
EBook Escapes - Guest Post and Excerpt

a Rafflecopter giveaway


3-step summer planters--easy and pretty!

last year's pansy planterI love planting annuals in pots and baskets. Geraniums, pansies, marigolds, verbenum, petunias--you name it. If we ever go away, it is easier for our neighbors to keep our flowers watered if we just put all the pots under the deck for them. Also, they are safer from the multitude of nibbling bunnies in planters of a certain height.

A few years ago, one of my favorite garden centers in Lancaster County, Stauffers of Kissel Hill (I never met a garden center I didn't like), offered a simple 3-step formula for planting flowers in pots: thriller, filler, spiller.

In other words, make sure you have all three in your planters for maximum effect--something for show, something for fullness, something to spill out over the pot or basket.

We've had an unusually cold spring in the Northeast. Apart from pansies, I hadn't put out any bedding flowers yet. One of our neighbors, a classic overachiever, put out all her bedding flowers already and had to wrap bed sheets around them to protect from the cold and wind earlier this week.

Finally, I got a good deal of weeding done yesterday. I told myself that if I got three whole beds weeded, I'd treat myself to a trip to another local garden center close by called Farmstead Flowers and buy a few bedding flowers to revive a few of last year's sorry-old planters.


FILL me!

I began shopping at one place which used to be called Burkholder’s Greenhouse, a family-owned and operated business was originally started as a hobby that I'd pass by on my way to and from work. In 2005 the business was handed over to the second generation, who completely rebuilt it, and renamed "Farmstead Flowers". And it is a spectacular operation now. I can't get over the variety and quality of plants and planters and fountains. You can drop a boatload of cash at Farmstead, believe it. But I like to spread my dollars around to other family-owned garden centers, too.

Farmstead Flowers

  Now, the variety of bedding flowers at Farmstead is nearly limitless this time of year. It is sometimes overwhelming. Despite the sea of flowers one encounters there, most of those flowers are gone within three weeks, so if you are a latenik in getting your flowers out, as I sometimes am, you could pay with a limited selection or worse--be forced to buy your flowers at KMart.(Yes, I've done that and it wasn't pretty.)


Farmstead has so many colors of verbena to choose from that my head begins to spin sometimes just taking it all in.

On the drive over, I considered what color theme I wanted this year. I thought I would stick with reds, yellows, blues, and a hint of pink (at least this week.)

When all was said and done, I picked Calliope Dark Red Geraniums for the thriller--the showiest part of the planter:

Thrillers--Geraniums. These flowers had a deep red color and a velvety texture, like a rose

For the filler part, or the flowers to provide shape and fullness to the arrangement, I chose this flower, which was called Bidy Gonzalez 2011:

Fillers': Gonzalez bidens. This annual is typically used for pots, patio, and baskets.

For the spillers, I chose Estrealla Voodoo Star Verbena and Silver Stream Lobularia, which also have filler qualities. You can also add a trailing vine like sweet potato or something in the ivy family. Depending on the planter's height, you can almost not have too many spillers. If you choose a vinca (the pink flower pictured below), besides color they add such pretty foliage--abundant shiny deep green leaves.

Spillers" verbena and lobularia. Verbena comes in so many lovely colors and blooms forever. I am a verbena NUT!

Time to get to work. I assembled the planters in the garage since storm clouds were brewing. Just as I finished the plants, the rain showers started, so I photographed them this morning for the blog.



Though I have lots more work to do outside--weeding, pruning, trimming--just seeing pretty planters around, harbingers of a summer sure to come--I feel happier and motivated to keep working! 

What do think? Ever try the thriller, filler, spiller method to filling pots and baskets?

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