Two Room Flat, by Jill Urbach

Two-Room Flat"Two Room Flat" is totally romantic, a little bit spicy, a little bit risque, yet a sweet, smut-free read. I thoroughly enjoyed Jill Urbach’s debut novel. Claire is a fun and funny character, and Adam is dreamy and exasperating all at once. The story progresses naturally and I found myself turning pages quickly, laughing one minute, holding my breath the next, shedding tears, then laughing all over again. Urbach’s deft hand at balancing tension and humor impressed me. Her pacing was impeccable.

If you are a Princess Diana fan you will doubly love this story because you will find kindred spirits in both the main character (Claire) and the author (Urbach). While the many famous London settings and historical details enhance “Two Room Flat,” they do not over-power it, so even if you aren’t a fan of England’s royal family chances are good you will still be charmed by this story.

UrbackJill Urbach is a woman of many talents. She is an novelist, an actress, a singer, a song writer, a girl scout leader, a gardener, and a third grade teacher — which all come after her her first passion — being an outstanding wife and mother. Jill lives on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest (you can read a bit about it in her novel).

Amazon book blurb:

Spicy fiction made novelist Claire Gissler a star, but she can’t pen a sentence to save her life since her husband’s accidental death two years ago. Now, deeply in debt, her only hope of reviving her crumbling career is to flee small town America for big city London. Trouble is, she can’t afford the move. That is, not until hand-some Adam Lambright — her husband’s best friend and the man she blames for his death — offers to let her stay in his flat… with him.

Adam Lambright used to know how to smile, how to have fun, how to love, but that was before watching his best friend die and his wife wither away from cancer. Now, ticked off at God, he’s vowed never to love again. That doesn’t mean he can’t help out his best friend’s widow. Besides, her life’s more of a mess than his own.

Seeing no other possible option, Claire moves to London. In that exciting city, she faces the challenges of rebuilding her career — and the attentions of her sexy English publicist. But, it’s her growing feelings for Adam that present the biggest challenge: learn to forgive or face heartbreak once again.

Jill’s book trailer for Two Room Flat shows off her many talents — and the talents of her family as well. Watch the credits carefully. You’ll find the names of both her daughters and her husband.

To learn more about Jill Urbach, be sure to visit her website, JillUrbach.com (radio and text interview spots, and video from assorted singing gigs, including a great duet with her handsome husband, Andy) and like her Facebook page.

Make Mine Mocha

As many of you now know, I am working at a very popular local coffee shop. We don’t have any retail chain stores here on the island, so ours isn’t a name you know, but we’re a Friday Harbor hotspot just the same. I love people, so for the most part serving customers is a blast. There’s a lot of humor and laughter shared over the counter.

However, there are always exceptions. Recently a very angry fellow came to the walk up window. I flashed a bright smile and said, “How may I help you?”

He shrieked, “What did you do with the ferry?!”

I responded (quite bewildered), “Excuse me?”  I am a barista in a coffee shop.  I wear a cute little green checkered apron with roses on it.  I make coffee and serve ice cream.  I obviously have no control over the ferry.

The man, red in the face with a little vein throbbing in his forehead, yelled, “A minute ago there was a ferry at the dock. Now it’s gone. I just went into the store for a minute.  What did you do with the ferry?!”

I so wanted to say, “What?!  Did it sink again?!”

I figured that response would get me strangled, so I gave the man a ferry schedule and told him when the next ship would dock.  I hope he figured out on his own that when one’s ship comes in, one should get on it post-haste!

What’s New With Amoeba & Quilly?

Well, Amoeba spent a week in Louisiana, came home for a few days and then flew off to Hawaii. He came home from Hawaii for a few hours — literally just long enough to get the clothes in his suitcase washed and repacked — and drove to Seattle where he is now.

I have been busy, too, but not jet setting. I have been right here at home gardening and cleaning the garage. I had to clean the garage because we bought a second car. Well, it is sort of a car …. It is street legal and we have it licensed and insured, but calling it a car is kind of ambitious. It is a little electric Ford TH!NK Neighbor.

Buggy

I call it a buggy and I love it. It only goes 25 mph, but that is plenty fast enough in town — and one can still get a speeding ticket in it on many of our local streets. (No, neither of us have done so nor do we plan to). I told Amoeba I would happily trade him cars. He can have the Malibu and I will have the buggy. He said no — then he got in the Malibu and went to Seattle!

Of course, going to Seattle in the buggy could be an ordeal since one would have to make at least 3 eight hour stops to recharge the battery along the way. And I am happy zip, zip, zipping around in the buggy.

A Picturesque Camping Trip

Once again we tripped off to Vancouver, B.C. with a group of students from UW’s Friday Harbor Labs.  This time it was the ZooBot class (a Zoological and Botanical survey of coastal sea life).

This is Megan.
Megan
Megan teaches the Zoo part of ZooBots.  I took this shot right after the class returned from the beach and caught Megan in the act of exchanging boots for shoes. Megan is just as fun and energetic as this photo implies.

This is the classroom.
Waves

This is the class.
class

Somethings to study.
sealife 2

Some more things to study.
sea life

Of course it wasn’t all work.
Kamp Kool Kids

When in camp we roasted hats.
roasted hats

Roasted socks.
roasted socks
Played games.
cards

Celebrated a birthday …
party
… with cake …
cupcakes

… and music …
music

… and dancing.
dancing

We also ate.
ate
Megan’s friend brought us a bucket full of fresh crab.  I am sure that somewhere in all the crunching and slurping we remembered to say thank you.

And of course I found time to take a few pics:

wildflower

Wildflower

dancing grass

Dancing Grass (growing from a rock)

more scenery

River Tree

seedy

Seed Head

fiddle fern

Fiddlehead Ferns

crab

crab

anemone

Sea Anemone

gull

Gull

berry soon

Berry Soon

grass

Grass

Botany Bay path

Botany Bay Path

Botany Bay steps

Botany Bay Steps

Botany Bay lower trail

Botany Bay Boardwalk

furry trees

Furry Trees

greens

New Growth

stellar jay

Stellar Jay

Friday Harbor Labs, UW

Come see where Amoeba works.  Dave Hays, a UW film making class student, interviewed Hillary, one of the TAs who works with Charley (Amoeba) and Megan in their “ZooBot” class which is an entire quarter (16 credits: Marine Zoology 5 credits; Marine Botany 5 credits; and a Research Apprenticeship in Intertidal Ecology and Physiology for 6 credits).   Hillary is currently working on her PhD focusing on the study of the interactions of marine organisms with their environment.

That might all sound intimidating, but the video below makes it easy to understand and gives you a glimpse of Amoeba’s working environment.

Innovative Designs

There is a building downtown that has known several incarnations in just the short time I have been visiting and living on this island (2007-2011).  For Amoeba, who has been here off and on since the late 1970s, the building has had four lives.  I have no memory of it as the Electric Company, but I do recall when it was Pazzo Vivo and Bella Luna and except for the name change, they were pretty much the same.    That’s no longer true!

I’ve written about this place before.  Now it is the Rumor Mill.  Now let me tell you a few things you don’t know ….

The first and most striking thing one notices about the Rumor Mill is that it is an indoor restaurant that becomes an outdoor restaurant with just the push of a button.  A good portion of the front wall is a gorgeous, glass, commercial garage door.  During daylight hours the restaurant is light and bright whether the doors are open or closed.

I love it when the doors are open!  One can enjoy the ambiance of sidewalk dining without the sidewalk or the street fumes. The garage door is a totally unexpected and charming innovation. It is also quite lovely.  One can get some pretty classy commercial garage doors these days.

If it ever stops raining I will photograph the Rumor Mill.  The One More Time Band will be playing there this Friday Night.  Since Amoeba is in the band, I am sure to be there, too.

Whale of a Good Time

Because Sunday was Easter, they celebrated her birthday Saturday afternoon.  He took She out for a drive.  They visited several of the most beautiful spots on the island. At one point they were on the north side above Lime Kiln Park. He took She there to look for whales (even though it is a bit early in the season).

She stood at the retaining wall taking in the vast expanse of blue water and blue sky before her. Even the Cascade Mountains were blue.

Blue. Blue. Blue. Blue. Blue.

She said, “I don’t see any whales — so you’re about to hear one!”

He said, “Don’t be silly. Of course you can’t see Wales. This isn’t even the right ocean!”

~*~

She had a very happy birthday, even if she did spend it with a smart-alec.

Amoeba’s Day

As you know, yesterday was Amoeba’s birthday.  As was his wish, we spent the morning in his lab cleaning and rearranging.  He’s had a couple pieces of equipment in there he doesn’t need for his research that could be better put to use by someone else, so we facilitated their removal.  We also broke down a bunch of boxes he’d been storing and I washed some glassware.

Then we went to the Hungry Clam for lunch.  Amoeba ordered the scallop basket with fries and I had a fish sandwich with clam chowder.  The scallop basket is Amoeba’s favorite  item on the lunch menu.  (For breakfast we both always order Eggs Benedict.  The Hungry Clam makes the best Eggs Benedict I have ever eaten!)  I had never before ordered the fish sandwich.  I usually get the fish basket.  I just wasn’t up for a gigantic mound of fries.   The fish sandwich was excellent.

After lunch Amoeba went back to his lab and I came home and tidied up the Avon half of my office.  I purchased booth space in a flea market this April 23rd, and I needed to audit my inventory.  I also took a shower and got ready to go out.  Amoeba came home, mowed the lawn, then got cleaned up as well.  We went to the Rumor Mill.

I haven’t quite decided if the Rumor Mill is a restaurant with a lively bar, or a lively bar with really great food.  Either way, I always enjoy good food and good music whenever we go there.  Of course Charley wasn’t playing.  I asked him how it felt to sit in the audience and listen to the music for a change.  He said it seemed weird, but that didn’t’ stop him from enjoying his dinner!

Amoeba ordered Pasta Puttanesca with Mussels.  I ordered Mushroom Gorgonzola Flat Iron steak.  We both thoroughly enjoyed our meals. We also had dessert.  When we arrived at the Rumor Mill, Amoeba let me out at the door, and then drove around the block to park.  I went in and got a table, and asked one of the waiters if I could order dessert now, but have it served after the meal.  I told him it was Amoeba’s birthday and I wanted the dessert to be a surprise.  He assured me he would let our waitress know.

Amoeba and I ordered our meal and ate it leisurely while listening to Kate Schuman & Friends.   Kate is a local singer/song writer and she and her band (group of friends) are quite enjoyable.  Kate’s music presentation was a “show” this time, but we also enjoy her when she leads sing-a-longs, which she has also done at the Rumor Mill.

ANYWAY, when it was time to pick up our plates the waitress confirmed that she’d put in my dessert order.  There was no cake on the menu.  My initial reaction was to order the yummy, gooey sounding brownie, but it is made with Kona coffee, which I would love but Amoeba not so much, and it was his birthday.  Another dessert featured coconut, also not one of Amoeba’s favorite things, but the third dessert was apple crisp and apple pie is one of Amoeba’s favorite things so  I ordered that.

This was no ordinary apple crisp.  It was made with perfectly spiced apples and walnuts, but it had a Phyllo pastry crust.  Light, flaky and yummy!  It was served with ice cream and whipped cream.  I ordered one dessert with two spoons and we shared it.  I didn’t want to share, but as I said, it was Amoeba’s birthday!

Don’t Call Search & Rescue

Yes, I know we went missing.  Our bad.  The problem started when my blog host went offline.  While it was down we left the island.  Amoeba had to see the doc about a mole on his lip.  The doc took the mole and left Amoeba with a really big bandage on his face.  That is why we couldn’t be found.

We are home now, but going to bed.  I have poked pain killers in Amoeba and he is kind of spacey. I need to get him to lay down before he falls down.

While you’re waiting for me to wake up and visit your blogs, Facebook did manage to upload the entire Watermelon Man video. This is the One More Time Band playing at The Rumor Mill in Friday Harbor, Washington. Amoeba is playing the trumpet solo with the plunger mute. You can also see this on Facebook.