Nutrition on a plate
We have had such a fun summer so far! Lots of time with family and friends. Lots of eating but balanced by plenty of exercise. And, speaking of eating, note the healthful goodies on the plate. My son, Mr. Fitness, but my ancient juicer to good use. This red combo includes strawberries, apples, raspberries and a red pepper. Man, that was tasty!
Daisies, wild sweet peas and ... other things.
And check out pretty wild flowers my daughter and I collected on our way back down the road from the beach! Good mother-daughter time and something pretty as well. Win-win-win.
Gerhardt, on the hunt.
Of course, after the Fourth and all the family left it was just Gerhardt and me, getting ready to celebrate our anniversary. Before we went out to dinner we exchanged gifts. I gave him "kisses" which he had to search for, and he sent me on a hunt, following clues both inside our unit and all over the condo building to find my present. And what a lovely present it was, just what I like. I've reached the point where I don't want clutter. I'm only collecting small things that don't take up much space... like jewelry. (So needless to say, I was very happy with my necklace and earrings.) Anyway, if you've got an anniversary coming up and are wanting to do something a little fun and outside the ordinary, I highly recommend a treasure hunt!
I've just gotta say, I don't think there's any place more fun than Ocean Shores, WA. It's better than Disneyland or Vegas!
Now, I know that's quite an outlandish thing to say, but here's why I think that.
Granted, Ocean Shores doesn't have a Harry Potter ride or a Haunted Castle and even though it's on the ocean, no pirates. But you won't have to pay the proverbial arm and leg to enjoy yourself. And the adventures are a little more, well, real. (No offense Mickey.) In this place you can ride horses along the beach, drive go-carts, putt-putt golf and or play in the arcade. You'll also find some wonderful little restaurants and, for those of you who want to gamble, a casino nearby. Oh, yes, and tennis courts (I've found a great group of people there to play with). There's also a golf course. (I splurged and am taking some lessons. Why is it so hard to hit that stupid little ball?!)
Best of all, though, it offers the wonders of nature. The beach gives you a quiet walk, a place for a bonfire or a chance to fly your kite. In addition, we're making some wonderful friends down there. I truly hated to come home.
Of course, it wasn't all fun and games while Gerhardt and I were at the beach. I was busy writing every morning, working away on my next book, which is due - yikes! - next week.
But I like the balance of work and play. I still remember when I was a kid. We had a summer cabin. (My dad got the property for a song and his friends helped him build the place - best investment he ever made because our family and all our friends enjoyed it for years.) My girlfriends and I were always ready to go into play mode the minute the car pulled up in front of the funky little shack in the woods, but my dad would remind us, "Work first, then you can play. Let's get this car unloaded." We all pitched in and as we hauled groceries into the cabin he'd remind us that, "Many hands make light work." He was right. Still today I prefer to tackle big projects as a team. And I still believe in getting the work done first. Then you can play feeling good about all you've accomplished.
I accomplished a lot last week and I hope to accomplish a lot more this week so I can play over the Fourth!
I had a great time this week at BEA (Book Exp America) in New York City. This is a huge convention that gathers together everyone in the book world. We were all there: publishers, authors, librarians, and book sellers. It was humongous and amazing! My publisher, Harlequin, treated us all like rock stars. And let me tell you, I didn't sleep much. I hope to post some pictures (once I figure out how to get them out of my new cell phone - I'm such a Luddite!) In addition to meeting some wonderful new people I had a chance to catch up with old friends, including my writing pal Geri Krotow, who has a new book out with Harlequin Super Romance title NAVY RULES. Geri is one glam woman. She's lived all over the world, everywhere from Italy to Russia, and I'm delighted to have her guest blogging with me today. We'll be giving away a copy of her new book to some lucky person who leaves a comment. So, welcome Geri!
Thank you Sheila for having me visit you! I wish we could share a great cup of coffee in a Seattle coffee shop, but in lieu of that this is a wonderful meet-up.
Sheila and I first met way back in 2001 when my husband was stationed at Whidbey Island and I joined the Peninsula Area Romance Writer's group. Sheila and I are very blessed in that we have been able to know and learn from some of the best in the women's fiction market--hellooooo Susan Wiggs and Debbie Macomber, to name just two. The richness of the writing life in the Pacific Northwest has left its imprint on me, over a decade later.
As a Navy wife and mom I've traveled the country and the world. I've lived in Florida, Alabama, California, Washington and Tennessee. Italy, Belgium and Russia were international posts. My family has completed 13 moves in less than 26 years. Somehow, in the midst of all of this, I've managed to start writing, find Romance Writers of America, submit manuscript after manuscript, receive rejection after rejection, sell my first novel and most recently sign my first multi-book contract.
My point? That no matter how busy, how hectic your life, if you have a dream, GO FOR IT! I figured "I'll be 75 one day. Either I'll have gone after my dream of being a full-time novelist, or I won't."
I'm not saying it's as simplistic as it sounds. "Just write" or "Just work out" or "Just don't eat sugar" are great sentiments but can be the toughest to enact. I know I need a buddy. When I found my writing community via Romance Writers of America, I met wonderful writers like Sheila. Sheila is always positive whenever I've run into her over the years. I walk away from our conversations, no matter how brief, with a lighter step and the belief that I CAN do this, I AM doing it. I'm making my dream a reality. One day, one word at a time.
Sheila and I were once again reunited this week in New York City--can you say "glamorous?" Yet again, over a simple table in the Jacob Javits Convention Center we were able to talk about our writing, our life and a bit of our dreams. When I walked away (with blisters because I stupidly wore ballet flats that day instead of my FitFlops or Birkenstocks) I again resolved to keep going, keep writing. And my best resolution--Spend More Time with Sheila! I have an advanced copy of Sheila's October release and it's screaming at me from my tote bag. As soon as I'm back home from a workshop I'm giving this weekend, I'm diving into a great Sheila Roberts novel. And I can't wait!
Thanks Geri! I'll pay you later. Seriously, one of the things I admire about Geri is her hard work and discipline. She didn't just dream, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work. Summer's here, the days are longer. What are you doing to make your dreams come true?
June is here! And little Sheila is gearing up for fun and adventure. Off to Book Expo America next week, and I'm very excited about that. It will be my second time in New York and I'm looking forward to taking another bite of the Big Apple. The first bite didn't agree with me so hoping this time will be better! And how could it not, when I'm going to be around thousands of books, and as many booksellers and book lovers! And, speaking of book lovers, congrats to Stacy, who won a copy of Elsa Watson's DOG DAYS. My copy just came in the mail and I'm looking forward to reading it again. (Got to read this when it was a work in progress and laughed myself silly!) If you haven't picked up a copy I hope you'll do so.
Gerhardt, displaying our "bath towel for four".
Oh, the fun we had in Canada this weekend! Thanks to the Vancouver chapter of Romance Writers of America for allowing me to join you. I met so many nice women and had a great time.
Gerhardt, as always, was in charge of travel arrangements. This time around he didn't get a gold star rating though. Getting in touch with his inner Jack Benny, he opted for "cheap" rather than luxury ... or even semi-luxury. And while we didn't get bedbugs anywhere we stayed, we didn't exactly get the Ritz. Our first night was especially interesting. My other had half found a house that let out rooms. The house was lovely, and so was our little corner of it, but it was missing a couple of things we Americans have gotten used to having provided for us when we travel, like soap. And the towel, well as you can see in the picture, they were expecting much smaller guests. No, Gerhardt isn't doing the dance of the seven veils. He's displaying the towel that was left in the bathroom for us to share with the couple in the room next to us. Needless to say, we went out and found a mall and bought a towel.
One of the highlights of our weekend was taking a quick trip to Abbotsford, where ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS was filmed. We enjoyed meeting Theresa, who owns Quilting Essentials, one of the stores where the movie was shot. She and her daughter made us feel right at home and her quilt shop is a feast for the eyes. She shared all kinds of fun details about the filming of the movie. I guess quite a few people wandered into the fake yarn shop, hoping to purchase yarn. I hope if there's another movie in my future I'll get a chance to visit the set and see some of the fun firsthand.
And, as always, we found our Canadian neighbors to be friendly and fun. I love Canada! Somebody make me an honorary Canadian.
One and all, I'm so happy to have my friend Elsa Watson guest posting for Mother's Day. Not only is she a sweet person (and a new mother herself), she is a wonderful writer, and her new book DOG DAYS, which comes out this month, is one of the funniest books I ever read. My copy is on pre-order at Amazon and I can hardly wait to get it! I know you'll love it, too.
In fact, let me order a copy to be shipped to you, too. Leave a comment here on the blog page and we'll pick one lucky winner to receive a copy of Elsa's new book.
Sheila, thank you so much for having me! I’m honored to be here on Mother’s Day, especially since I know this is an important day for all of us who love your books. You have plenty of great mother-and-daughter pairs in your charming little ski town, including the fabulous, candy-making women of the Sterling family in Better Than Chocolate (coming this October.) My very favorites are the dueling—and loving—moms and daughters in Merry Ex-Mas (coming November 2013.)
No one is more important to a woman’s evolution than her mom. This Mother’s Day, I’d like to thank my mom for being such a passionate reader—and for passing her love of books on to me.
I can trace my childhood through the books Mom put in front of me, starting with The Little Red Hen, a family favorite about a determined hen with a do-it-yourself attitude. Mom had a knack for getting me started on series of books, then leaving the rest in my hands. She read Little House in the Big Woods aloud; I read the rest on my own. Mom gave me Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild; I read all the other Shoes books (over, and over, and over again.) She read the first Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book, Ruth Chew’s What the Witch Left, and Ramona the Pest, and I took over from there.
Not only was Mom a great reccommender of books—guiding me toward everything from Caddie Woodlawn to The Secret Garden—but she loved to talk about them. I remember discussions about Nancy Drew (“she’s a little prefect, isn’t she?” Mom once remarked) that led me to branch out and find my own girl-detective heroine, Trixie Belden. When I was struggling through The Red Badge of Courage, Mom read the book in an evening and the next day talked me through it until I figured out the theme. Later, in high school, it was Heart of Darkness and Wuthering Heights that we’d discuss until I’d found my way to a paper topic. But I don’t mean to imply that our talks were all academic. Rebecca, Gone with the Wind, and Jane Eyre were all books that I loved reading, but that really bloomed to life when I had the chance to talk them over, reveling in the delicious details with a fellow reader who thought they were just as marvelous as I did.
Today, Mom continues to put great books into my hands. Almost every time I see her, she has something new for me. Recently, when I was up for hours at a time feeding our newborn, Mom brought me a huge bag of books. “I don’t want anything sad,” I said. (It’s emotional stuff, having a new baby!) Mom understood and brought me Major Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, The Egg and I, and our old favorite, I Capture the Castle.
Mom’s own reading tastes are broad—as you’d expect from someone who’s interested in life in all its colorful variations. She’s read a little of everything, from science fiction and romance to Middlesex and Middlemarch. And recently, she finished reading the Twilight series—in Spanish, of all the wild things. I guess I don’t need to say that my mom makes me proud.
This Mother’s Day, I hope Mom and I will have time to wander through a bookstore, talking about the books we’ve read and the ones we want to read. And, later in the day, if Mom has passed me a book or two, I’ll go home feeling lucky, knowing that we’ll have something riveting to talk about the next time we meet.
Elsa Watson is the author of Dog Days, in which Zoe (a dog) and Jessica (a person) are struck by lightning and switch bodies, leaving Jessica trapped in a dog’s body—and giving Zoe thumbs and the chance to speak. (Coming May 22.) Find Elsa online at www.elsawatson.net.
Well, it was bound to happen. One of my characters has stepped center stage and taken over. Who is it? Jake, from this year's Christmas book, MERRY EX-MAS, which will be released in November.
Jake is a country singer. Jake wants to make it big. Jake wants his own music video.
So we gave it to him. Last night, thanks to Debra and the wonderful crew at the Tracyton Public House, Jake got his shot at fame. (Well, he had to share billing with me, his creator, but he was okay with that.)
This is such a fun, cheeky Christmas song and I can hardly wait for you all to hear it, and to see our music video.
Thanks to my friend and fellow songwriter Ed Kerr of Kerrtunes we had an amazingly professional production... that lasted much longer than I anticipated. (Why do I always forget how long it takes to do something like this?) Anyway, we had three cameras, tons of musicians, high tech equipment and decorations. And, thanks to Ted Brown music, even a Dobro. We also had Christmas cookies (actors need sustenance) and country dancers. Christmas in April!
And this was all on a nice, warm, spring-is-here, evening. I almost roasted in my winter clothes! Speaking of clothes - the mink I'm wearing is a fake mink so no minks were harmed in the filming of this music video. The only one who might have been harmed is poor Santa, who probably got a hernia from having to carry me around.
Here's a big, public thanks to all the wonderful people who came along for this ride, for our musicians and tech people, and all the friends who danced or sat in the same spot for a verrry long time. And to my darling Gerhardt, who, as usual, stole the scene he was in. I am so looking forward to seeing the finished product. And so smiling at the fun we had making this!
Here is it, the finished product. One of the best meals we've made so far!
Looking for some affordable fun? Have you considered forming a foodie group? We did this several years ago with two other couples and it has been great fun.
I'll tell you how it started. I was tired of cooking the same old same old and wanted to try some exotic new recipes. Somehow, cooking for company always motivates me, and hanging with friends makes me happy. Combining those two ideas, getting a couple of girlfriends (and, as it's turned out, guys) to come help me create in the kitchen seemed like a good idea. And it was! We meet roughly once a month, although sometimes this gets stretched to every couple of months depending on how busy everyone is. We pick a menu ahead of time - usually whoever is hosting gets to choose. Then we get together, make it and eat it. Yum! And we split the cost, so the evening is affordable for all. Here's a great way to improve your culinary talents and enjoy the company of good friends all at the same time.
In the pictures we're making Coq au vin. Since we've been together we've made everything from seafood lasagna to Salmon Wellington (a recipe concocted by my old water aerobics pal Donna Moore) to chocolate fondue. What might you come up with if you got together with your friends?
No, not the lottery. Those winners were in Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland. But I've got to say, I feel like a winner most every day. No, I don't have millions. But I have enough to eat three square meals a day... and then some. I live in a country where I can freely worship and speak my mind. I have a car but no car payments. I have a closet full of clothes, most of which I've purchased on sale. (Let's hear it for 50 percent off!) I live in a house, not a cardboard box. My house is on a small lake, not a small corner of a dump in a poverty stricken country. I get a paycheck, and I get paid for doing something I love: writing! I'm still healthy (well, mostly). I have a ton of fun with my family and my friends, and all on a budget. And, speaking of family, my children actually like to spend time with me. That's not worth millions. That's priceless. So, to the grand winners, congrats. I hope you do wonderful things with all that money. You can have it with my blessing. I'm already a winner. I am a very rich woman.
With two books coming out this fall and another to follow in May I have been writing up a storm. But, thanks to modern technology, there's no reason I have to write that storm at home. With Gerhardt getting a break from his college professor duties, we took off for the Washington coast. We had every imaginable kind of weather. A couple of sunny days for bike riding (I need to get a very, very, very padded seat!), a couple for going to our little ocean town's clubhouse for ping-pong, and a perfect day for staying inside to watch the movies we found at Redbox. The ocean is a great place to be during the off season. A beach walk is great in any weather, and those crashing waves make for some great pictures. So, when thinking in terms of vacation, little Sheila suggest off-season travel!