At least that's what it says on the cake I just picked up for my annual "surprise" birthday party for myself. That's my new motto and I like it! Even though the big day isn't until tomorrow the celebrating and the shenanigans have started already. As you can see by the book pictured below. This arrived in the mail yesterday courtesy of my old high school pal Donna. We have been passing this book back and forth on birthdays for years, and it always comes with a cheeky note written inside. (Yeah, yeah, I know I'm getting older but guess who's right behind me and will be getting this back in a few short months!) The notes in side the book (and the years) are collecting and it is becoming quite the treasure. Hate to say it Donna Jean, but in a couple more landmark birthdays you might not get it back cuz I think I'm going to be passing it on to my daughter to send back and forth to her girlfriend. Let the tradition continue!
I've already been collecting more than funny facial exercise books this month. My game girls had an early party for me and loaded me up with lots of cool presents. It was a shame I had the wrong date on the calendar and missed it! They kept taking pictures with their phones and sending them to me. Everyone had a wonderful time in my absence. Oh, well. My only consolation is that this slight boo-boo had nothing to do with me getting old and forgetful. It just had to do with me being an airhead. Wait a minute. I don't like that explanation of the mix-up any better. I'm just busy. There. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it! I did get the presents and cake the next day from my buddy Jill. She even sang happy birthday to me, fed me, and played a game of Hands and Buns with me. Now, that's true friendship! And I still have tomorrow to look forward to. Meanwhile, today I went to the make-up counter at Macy's and splurged on eye shadow and liner and lipstick. My goodness, do I look hot. So, I look hot, I feel hot. I sure don't feel old. You know, you're only as old as you act. A very wise woman said that. Who was it? Oh, yeah It was me! So all you girls with birthdays coming up, get out there and celebrate. Don't depend on others to pamper you. Do it for yourself. Celebrate the fact that you're alive. It's a gift.
It seems like everywhere I look right now I see tips for guys on how to "get it right" on Valentine's Day. (Believe me, I'm all for that but if Gerhardt blows it, I know where to find the chocolates for 50 % off on the 15th.) What's with all the helpful hints on how to make us women happy? Is this because guys are clueless? Maybe. Or does it say something about our culture these days? Where are the TV segments and radio ads telling us how to give Mr. Wonderful a great day? Are they missing because it's pretty obvious what will make him happy? Maybe. Still, it seems odd to me that while we have lots of advice for the men we don't talk much about how to be great wives and girlfriends. I just heard a radio ad for a seminar for men on how to love their wives. Where are the seminars for women on how to love their men? Are they in scarce supply because it's not all that hard to make a man happy? Maybe. Or maybe it's that these days we'd rather focus on us. Is that a good thing? Not that I'm objecting to all this attention, but . . . maybe not.
Our couples foodie group got together last weekend to celebrate Valentine's Day early, and after dinner we played the game I told you about in my Super You newsletter. When we got to the card that had us complete the sentence "The thing to remember about men is..." all three women in some form or other mentioned the male ego and a guy's need for respect. We all got it, but these last few days I've found myself wondering if we really "get it". I'm not so sure.
Aretha Franklin isn't the only one who wants R-E-S-P-E-C-T. This tops the must-have list for most guys but where the heck do they find it these days? Men in sitcoms and movies are often idiots and their women treat them more like children than adults. And this isn't just happening on the screen, baby. I see women getting after their husbands for all kinds of things on a regular basis. Some guys can't seem to do anything right. And, what can I say? I've been known to go into Mommy mode with my man, too. I've pooh-poohed suggestions or sneered at purchases he's made for his man cave. (HIS being the operative word here.) And I guess I shouldn't have dissed the shirt he found on sale yesterday, but seriously, that thing is ugly. No wonder it was on sale! If Beau Brummel was right and clothes make the man we are in serious trouble. Okay, as you can see, I have room for improvement. Anybody else guilty of this kind of behavior? Come on now, be honest.
I don't like to be put down, nagged, or treated like an idiot (even when I'm acting like one). So what makes me think my man welcomes it?
One of the most important things to a man is respect. If he can't get it from the woman who loves him where's he going to get it?
Sooo, what am I giving my man for the big day (besides the obvious)? His favorite meal . . . and a little respect.
Yes, how's that for a strange blog title! And it gets even stranger. I had a great time with my dermatologist this week. How's that for an odd statement? Let me clarify. I had an odd little dot on my arm. Actually, these days I'm getting a lot of odd little dots on my arm. Not enough protection during those years teaching tennis under a summer sun. But this one worried me. And then I found a mole - and everyone knows moles can become cancerous. And then there was that odd rough patch on my forehead. Let me tell you, we writers are creative. We can jump from "a dot" to "death" in under twenty seconds. Not that I expect to live forever, but I'm hoping when it's time to leave the stage I get to go as painlessly and pleasantly as possible. (Yes, don't we all!) So, visions of something icky started dancing in my head like demented sugar plums and I decided it was time to go to the doc. As it was everything was normal or weirdly hereditary. And that mole? Well, some people call them barnacles but my doctor calls them wisdom spots. Don't you love it? I came home and told Gerhardt I'm so smart it's coming out my skin. And the moral of this story? Well, perhaps it's that worry accomplishes nothing. Better to act and know what you're facing. Meet the concerns of life head on and deal with them, whether they be health related, financial, or relational. And pray. That's Doctor Sheila's prescription. And, if you have health related questions or conc, may I suggest one more thing? Don't go poking around the medical sites on the web. A web page can't run the tests you need but it can certainly alarm you. How do I know this? I bet you can guess!
Yes, I know in the original song the guy left his heart in San Francisco, but I'm thinking maybe he hadn't been to San Diego yet. (No offense Frisco!) This last weekend I had the opportunity of hanging out at the American Library Association's mid-winter conference and Gerhardt and I had a chance to explore the city a little. We barely scratched the surface and I hated to leave... especially since I returned to snow. (I've got nothing against the lovely white stuff as long as it stays where it belongs: in the mountains and off the road!) San Diego was downright balmy and it was great to be able to stroll around the Gas Lamp district with no winter coats. Part of that strolling involved shops and restaurants. Okay, most of that strolling involved shops and restaurants.
These ladies rock!
One of my favorite shops was Carolyn's Designer Resale, where a girl can find every designer purse known to womankind and some fabulous clothes. Oh, those gals are nice! And they didn't laugh at me when I realized, even at a bargain, I couldn't quite afford that Coach purse that kept calling, "Buy me, Sheila!" I resisted, but it was hard. And they tried hard to find me a bargain I could take home. I left empty-handed, but like the Terminator said, "I'll be back!"
I'll take one of each... and a bottle of Tums.
Remember the scene from "The Family Man" when our hero wandered into the men's department at the mall and stood poised on the verge of purchasing a designer suit? His wife consoled him with the promise of a funnel cake. Well, since I couldn't swing the designer purse I consoled myself with cake, also - a cupcake from Heavenly Cupcakes. And the one I chose (vanilla-caramel) was, indeed heavenly. It was hard to make a selection though. So many choices, so little calories to spare!
A message that I should spend money?
So, in spite of strong temptation in the shop windows, I managed to limit my spending to fine dining. San Diego is restaurant city, let me tell you, and offers a range of dining experiences from "We have to sell a child to pay for this" to "I'm going to die in this hole in the wall with a smile on my face." We pretty opted for the small authentic holes in the wall and burned out our taste buds on Mexican food.
So, do I have you yearning for a trip to San Diego yet? I'm sure ready to go back and thinking some California book signing parties might be in order in sunny CA later this fall when my next Christmas book comes out. (Yes, I am becoming the queen of Christmas!) So, a big thanks to St. Martin's Press for letting my hang out at their booth and give away books. And a big thanks to all those librarians for making sure that anyone in America can have access to the wealth of knowledge and adventure that can be found in books.
How fun to meet so many wonderful librarians!
Happy New Year one and all! Don't you love that moment when we do the big countdown to the new year? Gerhardt and I were on the Washington coast for New Year's Eve, whooping it up with old friends Eric and Bernadette. It was way too cold to venture out to the beach to watch fireworks so we tuned in at the last minute to see them on TV from the comfort of their cozy beach home living room. I loved watching the fireworks go off at the Space Needle Seattle, the city where I was born and raised. Got a bonus thrown in afterward - the TV station shot to different cities around the country and the world to give us glimpses of other celebrations. We saw New York, of course, but also London, Sydney (which was amazing), and Paris. We even got a shot of people in China, using a giant gong to mark the march of time into a new year. Interesting, isn't it? No matter where you go, people love to celebrate the approach of a new year. It's exciting to think of the possible adventure and blessing that lies ahead. That fresh, untrammeled year is a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over, to put behind us the mistakes of the past and move forward to become better people.
And that's where those pesky new year's resolutions come in. There is something about that seeing that clean slate, that new, unspent year, that makes us want to do better and be better. And so we take stock (always a good thing) and make all kinds of promises to ourselves. Often we start out with a bang, jumping into a new diet, running off to the gym, starting that great American novel. The problem with those big bangs is they can take so much energy we wind up pooping out with a fizzle. The chocolate calls us, the gym is too much work. And the novel? Well, who knew it would take so much of our time?! In spite of those problems I'm still a fan of new year's resolutions and new beginnings. I do think we have to find a way to maintain them though, so here are some suggestions that might help us all.
1. Make it realistic
Getting your first book published and then optioned by a big Hollywood producer might not be a realistic goal for 2011. Finishing your first book and finding an agent? That's more realistic. Cutting out everything you love and eating nothing but vegetables and vitamins? Very noble. But maybe start with stopping your evening snacking.
2. Break it down into doable steps
If you're wanting to write that great American novel, let's start by planning to spend January coming up with an idea and an outline. Then maybe plan to designate a couple of evenings or some mornings a week as your writing time for the next few months. Plan to write a certain amount of pages every week, say ten or twenty. That doesn't sound like much but it will add up. It's doable. How about getting more exercise? Boy, there's one we all vow to do. And there's one vow a lot of us break. Our local Rotary Club holds a giant auction-garage sale every summer. There is always an entire corner of the middle-school's parking lot filled with workout equipment, probably much of it purchased in January. (Proof that the best laid plans of mice and men and would-be fitness freaks often go astray.) Go easy on yourself and plan a workout routine you know you'll maintain. Maybe start by signing up for a water aerobics class or planning to walk one day a week with your neighbor. One day a week - that's doable for most of us. Both these strategies lead us to suggestion number three...
3. Find a way to glue your resolution to your life
Just thinking, "Boy, am I going to change" won't necessarily alter you. Most of us, when forming new habits, need some training wheels to keep us moving down the road. Paying for something often motivates us to follow through. ("I paid for those darned aerobics classes - I'm going to get my money's worth.") Paying doesn't always do it though. Otherwise, there would be no work-out equipment at the annual Rotary event. Many people buy gym memberships in January which they're not using come June. When it comes to making improvements we often need to bring in reinforcements. Find someone to hold you accountable. Get a walking buddy. Join an exercise class with a friend (and carpool to it together). If you're trying to lose weight, find someone to attend Weight Watchers with you. This will help you stay on track. At least I've found this to be true in my own life. When Me is in charge of little Sheila's behavior, well, good old Me lets little Sheila get away with a lot. Another way we glue that resolution to our every day life is to make sure our environment isn't sabotaging us. Remember what Dr. Phil says: create a fail-proof environment. If you want to lose weight, keeping Ding Dongs in the cupboard is a bad idea. Same goes for all that Christmas candy you got on sale December 26th. I know, I know. It was I'm sale. I'm just sayin'.
4. Be patient with yourself
We all fall off the wagon once in awhile. Some of us several times in a while. (Ask me how I know this!) Don't beat yourself up. Instead, haul yourself back up on that wagon and keep on truckin'. Failing doesn't make you a failure. Quitting makes you a failure. (Unless you're trying to quit smoking. - in that case I hope you become a quitter!)
5. Celebrate every success
Congratulate yourself when you get a pile of pages done on that great American novel. Crow about it. Go out to lunch and celebrate when you finish the book. Take a picture of that lovely pile of pages. Buy a bottle of champagne. If you lose twenty pounds reward yourself with a couple of new items of clothing. (Heck, if you lose twenty pounds you'll need new clothes - your old ones will be falling off. And won't that be a great problem to have!) Those little celebrations when we master a step that takes us closer to our goal are our positive reinforcement. They make us feel good. And when we feel good, well, we want to keep doing what makes us feel good. That makes for a great cycle of success.
I don't know about you but I've already made some resolutions for the new year - one of them being to eat better. Which means it's probably time for the Hershey's kisses I got on sale to go in the freezer. At least there they won't be sitting right under my nose. (Yes, like many of you, I got candy on sale after Christmas!) Of course, I have some other resolutions floating around at the back of my head. I want to be more generous, I want to be an encouragement to my family and friends, I want to do a better job of living out my faith on a daily basis. Those are all lofty goals but obviously, I'm going to have to break them down into real, everyday life actions - with some specific goals and behaviors. But, hey, it's January 1 and I have high hopes. I hope you do, too.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Tis the season to be busy. Wait! That's not how the song goes. But it sure would work as the theme song for my life. When it comes right down to it, though, that's how I like to live. It's been a busy and fun couple of months with a movie to celebrate, a new book (THE SNOW GLOBE) to talk about, and great friends and family to enjoy. This weekend we had back to back parties - my definition of a perfect weekend! In between the parties I had a signing at my local Costco, so thought it would be fun to take some cookies to the hard-working people who keep that place humming. I decided to try making Martha Stewart's snow globe cookies. This was the second time around - the first was, well, let's just say not good. I couldn't find the requisite ginger bread boys and had to try and paint a scene on my snow globe using frosting gel... which never sets up. Ick! But this month I was able to find the cute little gingerbread icing decorations (at my Michael's store, in with the cake decorating supplies - they're made by Wilton). And, the template provided on Martha's site (Google "Snow Globe Cookies" and you'll find it!) was actually pretty big so the first time I made these I put in a lot of work and wound up with very few cookies to show for it. This time I printed out the template and then made it smaller by about an eighth of an inch all the way around and I got a lot more cookies out of the deal. (the site says to transfer the template to cardboard - I used tin foil. It somehow felt more sanitary.) As you can see by the picture, they didn't turn out half bad. No, as perfect as the ones Martha's cookie expert created because I didn't take time to outline before frosting. That meant I didn't stay within the lines when coloring with my frosting. But they still looked cute. I even had enough left over to add to the cookie plate for my dinner party, so that was a nice bonus. Now this week it will be serious cookie baking time. I've held off for most of the month because those melt-in-your-mouth goodies just melt right onto my hips and I figured the longer I kept temptation out of the house the better it would be. But now my son is home and is not going to let me off the hook on making such goodies as fudge melt-aways. So I'll be making those along with my infamous Andes mint cookies, my special brownies with the mint frosting (you can find the recipe for those in ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS) and, of course, cut-out sugar cookies (got to have those frosted green Christmas trees). Oh, man, I can feel the fat cells multiplying even as talk. But, tis the season! Tis also the season to reflect on how blessed we are, and that is my goal for this Christmas when I sit by the tree with my family. With each present I open I'm going to think about the bigger things I've been gifted with: health, family, friends, a great church, a great husband, a warm house, hope for the future. Those are the presents that count. Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas filled with the lasting presents of hope, joy,
We had a fabulous red carpet party to celebrate the Lifetime Movie Network premier of ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS. It was great fun seeing one of my books turned into a movie, and getting to share that experience with friends and family. Wish I could have rented a theater and invited twice as many people! As you can see, guests showed up in their bling. We had everything from vintage furs and pearls to boas. (In looking at the pictures though I think I'm going to stick to basic black from now on. My fabulous designer blouse may be fabulous but it makes me look like a fat, pink toadstool. I think I should have had my stylist buddy Gayle Rich help me. In fact, I know I should have had Gayle help me. What was I thinking trying to fly solo for such a big even?!) Since Bob Humbug is a stickler for making us remove our shoes we decided to have a "hottest feet" contest. Jan won with her black lace foxy socks. Annette, our favorite diva on a dime was definitely in the running with her hot pedi but she had to leave early and lost out. What can I say? Must be present to win. :) Let me tell you, I sure felt like a winner getting to celebrate with friends and family. It was a wonderful, memorable day. Thanks to all who came!
Toasting with Jan and soon to be published Sherril (Uh, where's your glass, Flower? Did Bob Humbug steal it?)
As you can see, a great time was had by all.
Cake & champagne, oh yes!
Well, last night we watched the premier of ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS. How fun to see the characters from my book come to life! We did some serious celebrating with champagne and cake and fancy appetizers provided by our friends Tom & Kathy and Rick & Theresia. (And that on top of the pizza we had and the Peppermint Fizz drinks I made - get the Tums!) Gerhardt devoured two-thirds of the cake single-handed. What a guy. What a pig! This Saturday we'll be hosting our gala chick flick party. Did you enter the contest and tell us what you would wear?
Someone is eating all the cake!
As many of you know, my novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS has been made into a movie and is going to be showing on the Lifetime Movie Network this December 5th (8 p.m. Eastern) Needless to say, we're excited about this, especially my husband (known as Gerhardt the Gardener thanks to the UTube video we did about LOVE IN BLOOM). Poor Gerhardt. I haven't broken it to him yet that Bob Humbug, the character based on him has undergone a name change and is now Stephen. Well, don't worry Gerhardt. We'll still know it's you! Gerhardt and all the girls as well as my family will be watching the movie on the 5th. Then on December 11th we're going to have a big chick flick "red carpet" party. We're all planning to come dressed in our bling and will be doing red carpet interviews. Providing we don't get snowed out of course. Here in the Pacific Northwest we all tend to freak out at the sign of the first snow flake - especially! - so I'm hoping the white stuff stays away. Until after Christmas would be really nice. Of course, it's more than welcome in the mountains... where it belongs. So, how about you? Are you going to be watching ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS? And if you were at my red carpet party what would you wear? Hop on over to the contest page and tell us all. We'll pick a winner at random (in other words, we'll do like we did with THE SNOW GLOBE contest and pick a name out of a hat.... or maybe in this case a Christmas stocking!). Some lucky person will win a nice holiday reading package consisting of books by my friends Susan Wiggs, Margaret Mallery, and me. So be sure and check it out.