Author Archives: Jo McLaughlin

Jo McLaughlin

About Jo McLaughlin

Head Dilettante a/k/a Dabbler

Dipstitch Podcast

Hello Dilettante Life followers, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything.  Time to get back in the saddle soon.  I miss my blog.

However, the reason I’ve been absent for so long is I have found a new passion I wanted to tell you about…

I have a new podcast!  It’s called Dipstitch,  a 15-30 minute episode of “sisterly conversation” brought to you each week.  What is sisterly conversation?  Well, my sister Susan and I talk about food, family, faith, dogs, knitting, jobs, holidays, parenthood and EVERYTHING in between.  I know you might be thinking, “this is a chic podcast” but it’s not. Most topics are very relatable and entertaining.  We have some laughs along the way and even have a guest every so often to join in the fun.

Won’t you have a listen?  Our audience is fantastic and makes the podcast worthwhile.  But, we’re looking to grow our fan base by inviting you to listen.  Dipstitch is available on a number of podcast platforms, but the easiest one to use is

To become a loyal listener, go to and in the search box type Dipstitch.  Our podcast page will come up and have a green “Follow Podcast” button on the right side of the screen.  Click on it, and you’ll get an email when a new episode is uploaded.  It’s that simple.  And, if you scroll down, you’ll see Recent Episodes with a link next to it, to “View All”.   One stop shopping.

Thank you so much for being a loyal follower of Dilettante Life.  I hope you will enjoy Dipstitch as much, and become a follower there as well.

Warm Regards,








Shelter in Place

I recommend that you get rescued.  That is, when looking for a dog, let them rescue you.  Sure, there are boutique and purebred dogs that need homes, no doubt.  But, no one abandoned them.  Shelter dogs are waiting for days, weeks, or months for the right person to save.  And if you’re in the market, there is plenty of supply for your demand.

We adopted McDermott (McD) from a shelter over two years ago after the loss of my “once in a lifetime dog” Scout.  I have to admit that I was too quick to get a new dog.  It just didn’t feel right being home without the jingling of dog tags, and a 60 lb. hound sitting in my lap.  I scoured the internet trying to fill a void, an ache, a loss that couldn’t be relieved.  But, I pushed forward looking and imagining what this new dog would be like.

He was a terror.  McD was putting on a hard sell when we met him.  Playing with the other dogs, and running over to lick us; how could we not fall in love?  I held back tears when asked if he was the right dog, because I couldn’t get Scout out of my mind.  That should have been a red flag.   I should have put the brakes on right there and then.  But I didn’t.

After bruises, bite marks, chewed up socks, torn pillows, ripped sweatshirts, mangled baseball hats, and half-eaten flip flops – we did fall in love.  McD has now matured enough so that his destruction has waned.  We did try training, but I was untrainable, so that failed.  However, now he has reached a maturity level, where there are less and less “surprises” when we get home.  We made a solid commitment to rescue this dog, and we weathered the storm.

Time and tolerance has made this adoption work.  I  love McD almost as much as I loved Scout. He needed a home, and we gave him one, where he could get into lots of trouble.  We had thoughts along the way of giving him back because of his unruly behavior.  But, it was up to us to teach him how to be a good dog.  Failure was not an option.

So, adopt a shelter dog.  Shelters are busting at the seams with amazing dogs, who just need
your love and patience.  They need you to teach them what it’s like to be in a loving home.  A place where they can get into a little trouble and not be sent away.  You may be pushed to your limit, but just dig deeper finding the strength to look forward to a new day.  I know I did, and it’s paid off.

I love McD to pieces, and he fits comfortably in my lap.



Like a Fresh Bloom

I wanted the picture to be a promise.

A symbol of love that smells like a fresh bloom.  Time fades in the background.
A place that didn’t really matter anyway.

It sits on my desk and whispers stories I’ve never heard.  Was she ever that young?  Those hands didn’t belong to her, aged, wrinkled and riddled with veins and spots at the end.

The picture ties me to her other life.  A life without me. Eyes that look hopeful but cautious, not fully knowing anything.  Soon to be a bride, then a mother, my grandmother.

Promise me we’ll see each other again.


Join Dilettante Life

Dilettante Life  is now a writer’s community. A space where contributors can add their stories and share with others. Please join our blog and have fun being part of a group of passionate writers.

To join, fill out the registration form. You will receive an email with a link back to the site. But, oops, it may not bring you back to the right page. That is a glitch we’re working out. However, you are still registered after you click on that email link. So, go to the My Account link at the top of the page, and enter your username and password. Now you’re ready to start writing.

When your profile comes up, click on Dashboard tab, and you will see at the top left of the screen (in black) a “+ New” sign. If you click on it, you will go to the posting screen. Happy writing.  You will also see a Profile and Log Out tab. There you can add/change your profile picture,

All story entries will be reviewed and approved by the administrator, so after you finish your story, click on the Send for Review button. It’s that easy.

We look forward to building a fantastic site with lots of interesting stories to share.

Thank you for being a Dilettante.



I was in a Saturday morning rush and had to go to the ATM machine. Of course, there were two cars ahead of me, so I daydreamed a little, while trying to be patient.  Grabbing my card from my wallet, I mumbled what I had to get done, and tried the Vulcan mind meld to hurry up the other cars.

Finally!  My turn was here and I had to be quick.  Now, I go to the ATM
a lot, so I know the button routines by heart, or at least I thought I did.
Pulling close to the machine, I inserted my card and held my finger
over the touchpad to be at the ready.  The first screen asks if you
want instructions in English or Spanish.  Well, my finger was over
the wrong button, and I hit Spanish by accident.

Holy Shit.  Do I have to start over, and waste time?…or was it time
to learn Spanish?  My fingers have muscle memory and usually
know what comes next.  But, I was so thrown off by the mysterious
text on the buttons that I drew a blank.  I had to decipher what
my options were.  I know the word Si, so that was a start.

I had to trace my steps to figure out what screen I was on
until I could make out the withdrawal button, upper left
side.  Bingo!  I hit the right one.  A screen with numbers
popped up.  I was doing good, I know how to read numbers.
I plugged in $30 and hit enter (or whatever the word is in
Spanish), and my mission was complete.

For a minute, I was half expecting Pesos to come out of the machine.
Luckily that wasn’t the case.  I drove away feeling really stupid, but
glad I got my money and didn’t start a new transaction after my
error.  I would have lost 2 minutes of valuable time that I didn’t
have.  Or, suck it up, like I did, and pretend to be Spanish speaking.

Either way, I got my money.

qué tengas un buen día


I deleted someone’s video card by accident the other day.  I felt horrible; actually drenched with guilt.  How could I have done that?… I questioned.  Someone’s work just gone without explanation.  How will I explain this to them?  I was trying to be efficient, I downloaded the clips I needed and just wiped the card clean.  I was concerned.  Did I do this on purpose?  Was it just unexplained human error?

Maybe I was wiped.  Tired.  Overworked. Wiped out like the video card.  Can a person’s brain be too full?  Am I doing too much?   Are we so bogged down, that we can only see what is right in front of us?  I felt like at the moment, my work was more important; at least subconsciously.   I had a mission, a checklist of things I had to get done.  And, I got it done.  Good for me.  But, there are others to think about.  And I didn’t think…at least not for more than a moment.

Job, kids, spouses, etc. keep us on our toes.  Juggle or fail.  Avoid getting wiped out, or the rest of the dominos fall.  Well, I caused someone else’s dominos to fall.  And, for that I am sorry.  I don’t know to what extent I effected them, but their work was gone and I was the reason.

I was forgiven, when I confessed my error.  But, I know it was just because I’ve been wiped out.  I couldn’t honestly explain that to her without being achingly vulnerable.  I matter-of-factly stated what happened and waited for a response.  I hated myself for being so detached, when inside I felt horrible.  She accepted the situation and moved forward.

I’m trying to make it rain in my personal life, my professional life and everything in between.  There’s no room for error, especially when the error effects others.  I have to avoid being wiped.  Being tired or complacent reeks of failure, a situation I have to avoid.  Keeping others in mind is as important as the breath that I take, and I have to remember that.

I have learned from my mistakes.


The Octapus and the Squid – Repost

Foodie Saturday Field Trip (FSF): Wegmans

Jamie and I decided to reduce our cabin fever by taking
a ride to Wegman’s yesterday.

Colin grills an octopus

Colin’s grilled octopusa ride to Wegmans in Northboroyesterday.  It was a foodie Disneyland!

It had everything the heart desires,
where dishes come true.  We loved
the amazing selection of seafood
and meats.  And, don’t get me
started on cheese, which my son
once said, is,”like heroin for
women”. I may need to go to rehab.

I had eaten a couple of Eggo waffles before take-off and was
somewhat satisfied. I’ve learned the hard way,

For the "He Man"

For the “He Man”

not to go shopping on an
empty stomach. But, this
wasn’t shopping, it was
a food fantasy. If I
hadn’t eaten, it would
have been pure gluttony.
This crossed my mind at
the checkout, as I
realized if I was hungry,
the bill could have the
potential to challenge
the national debt.

Jamie ponders sushi

Jamie ponders pate

Our first ride was at the sushi
counter. The color of the
sashimi was so bright, it was
like twinkling lights, without
the twinkle. The only time I’ve
seen sushi that fresh was when
a store most likely bathed it
in sulfa. This was the real
deal. There was a silent
stand-off between getting the
tuna or salmon, which ended
in compromise.

We were ready to tear ourselves away from the sushi station when
a little girl, maybe 9 yrs old, said to her mother, “look Mommy, a
squid.” I turned and gave Jamie a gourmet-smirk, and
cued eye rolling.  There in the case sat a fresh octopus, clearly
marked in black magic marker lettering (on a piece of wood
for authentic presentation) OCTOPUS.  Don’t get me wrong,
I love children. I especially love children that can read.  But my
youngest son wasn’t much older than her when I brought an
octopus home for dinner. He was like a little Shackleton, braving the
tentacles and figuring out how to not only cook it, but survive the
experience.  He cooked it, ate it and loved it.  I chickened out.
The dog ate the head.

Artisan Delights

Someone should dust off the merchandise

The alluring light emitted from the
hundreds of cases was almost too
much to handle. It was like the
opposite of a magnetic force field.
We spent some time examining the
different kinds of pate. Jamie is
going to make a Beef Wellington,
and a pate lined crust is critical.
Each pate looked like the other,
but I felt the need to look like I
was discriminating. They didn’t have
what he was looking for, and we

both found ourselves looking at the section below pate, to the
caviar. He asked me if I wanted caviar, and again, I felt an air
of snobbiness come over me. “Not really” I said. I thought
that if you were going to buy caviar, shouldn’t it come from
Moscow, Paris or New York? The packages looked fancy enough,
but I pictured myself in a cashmere cape, strolling into a little
shop in Paris taking samples, and politely ordering a generous
quantity for a dinner party with a few of my classy French friends.
We slowly backed away from the pate, and let the crowd lull us
to our next target.

How convenient

Salmon on the go

There is so much to write about the experience, but I encourage anyone
who is feeling frozen and hold-up in their house to go and check it out.
You don’t have to be on a pate mission, or looking for anything you
can’t pronounce. Just have fun, pick up dinner, and most importantly