Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Fun

I had links for you on Wednesday. I have videos for you today. When you have a few minutes check out my faves from the week:

1. This has gone viral big time. I saw it Wednesday morning when the views were still under 100K. My favorite Super Bowl video. Budweiser wins again this year with the #BestBuds ad. The romance writer in me hopes the horse trainer gets the girl in the next one!

2. This is another Super Bowl ad. You won't be misty-eyed or have your heart sigh with this one, but you may get a chuckle. This Chevy ad makes me think of the Bar V5 dude ranch in my novella Home For Christmas! Enjoy!

3. This one features Derrick Coleman, a football player for the Seattle Seahawks, who is playing in the Super Bowl. He's deaf and paid a visit to two fans in New Jersey. Such a class act! You can also watch the KOMO news clip here.

4. This video is a PSA for wine lovers, a helpful hint on what to do if you are without a wine opener. I have no idea if this works, but I'm curious enough to try it. Though not with an expensive bottle!

5. The final video brought tears to my eyes. It's a Guinness about two sisters who have competed for the US in the winter Olympics. So worth a watch. The problem is YouTube was pulling it due to some Olympic rules about ads from non-sponsors. I can't embed it, but here's the link to the AdWeek article where I watched it. I hope they can keep the video live somehow.

Have a great Friday and weekend!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sweet Romance Reads Links

I wanted to share two links with you from the Sweet Romance Reads author group that I belong to. The first is a link to Donna Fasano's post today feature 10 Romantic Quotes, a perfect way to get in the Valentine mood, or in my case, get ready to write this morning. Here's a sampler:
"Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze." ~Elinor Glyn (THIS is what I try to capture in my romance novels.)
The part in parenthesis is Donna, but I agree. That is what romance authors try to capture in their work!

Another link I wanted to share is from a blog I wrote on Monday for Sweet Romance Reads. It's about our Sweet Team. And here's a snippet from that one:
Do you enjoy reading sweet romance novels? If so, you may be interested in joining our Sweet Team.

The Sweet Team is a group of readers who are given sweet romance novels in exchange for honest reviews. 
If the Sweet Team is something you think you'll be interested in, check it out! We'd love to have you!

I'll be spending my morning working on my new Special Edition manuscript. I still don't have a title for it so am hoping one comes to me soon. Right now, I'm calling it Bailey's Book, after my heroine Bailey Cole. Do you have anything going on today?

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Good Weekend

I'm so happy it's Monday! I normally am not a big fan of the day, but I am today. We are all healthy! We had a great weekend. My To Do list has gotten huge after the flu went through the house, but now that we're feeling better,  I started checking things off!

On Saturday, hubby and Rose were in Seattle for her soccer game then afterwards they went sightseeing around town before driving home. She got Space Needle earrings and a special 12th man Seattle Seahawks shirt. A great belated birthday celebration for her with her dad, who she really misses when he's not home.

Finn had his final soccer game in the Founder's Cup tournament, then Mackenna and I made a run to IKEA to buy one of these. Check out the link and see all the cool things you can do with them in a variety of rooms in your house or apartment.

Yeah, I probably sound like an ad, but when I saw that article above I knew I had to have one. Of course, I ended up purchasing two RÅSKOG carts, a blue one for Mackenna's room and a gray one for me. I haven't had time to put them together yet, but that's on my list of things to do. I'll be sure to post pics once we figure out how we're going to use them!

Last night we finally had Rose's birthday dinner at her favorite place The Old Spaghetti Factory. Perfect timing for a celebration since I also sent off the line edits for my first Special Edition, The Nanny's Billionaire. Rose and Mackenna both spent the night elsewhere so Finn and I watched a movie together—Pacific Rim. A good choice because I found the inspiration for my new Special Edition hero while watching. I happened to be working on the proposal at the same time. Needless to say perfect timing!

So how was your weekend?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Texts From My Cat

Spirit doesn't text, but still gets her point across!
I'm not sure of copyright rules for this so I'm just going to paste the link and tell you to read it. Click here to go to Sad and Useless where they've posted the Texts From My Cat article.  Enjoy!

Mittens, the texting cat, has quite the feline sense of humor. Even if you don't have a cat, you might even laugh. This crazy cat lady laughed hard!

A couple of my furbabies would likely sound like Mittens. I say this because of the way they communicate with me, especially Spirit. She lets me know what she wants, whether it's food, rubs or in the picture to the left, she wanted to see what Santa Paws filled her stocking with on Christmas Morning!

Hope you have a great Friday!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Frozen Censored

A comedian Jake Vale has taken Frozen and added censor bleeps to clips from the Disney film rated PG. The result is pretty funny. My thirteen year old watched this clip with me. He was laughing so hard. So let yourself be twelve or thirteen and really enjoy it! 

I'm feeling better. Yay! But still trying to take it easy so I don't end up with something icky like pneumonia. Hope you are healthy and warm (for those of you getting dumped on by snow!)

Friday, January 17, 2014


My turn.

I was diagnosed yesterday. All three kids went to school today so I'm going to spend the day in bed resting!

Hope you have a great day and weekend!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


For the first time since Friday, I am alone. All three kids went back to school today. Whether they make it through the entire day, remains to be seen, but they've been fever free for two days. Yesterday, they didn't need naps so I said a little prayer and sent them off.

Needless to say, things have been a little crazy around here. My priority was the kids. I managed to get a little writing done, but not near what I should so today will be catch-up day. 

The birthday on Monday turned out really well! We had a fun goodie bag hunt (11 bags full of items from the Dollar Tree hidden all over the downstairs by Rose's siblings), Subway for lunch and Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner.  Love that you can get take-out from almost everywhere now! We had chocolate cupcakes for dessert.

And before I get to work, I wanted to leave you with this performance by Jason Brown at this weekend's US National Figure Skating Championships. If you haven't seen this, it's worth a watch. Amazing!

Hope you enjoy your Wednesday. I plan to make the most of mine! 

Monday, January 13, 2014


Happy birthday, my beloved Rose! You are a special girl and I love watching you grow up. Just wish you'd slow down a little, but you'll always be my baby! 

Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake
My youngest turns eleven today. I wish I could say this was going to be her best day of 2014 so far, but I don't think that's going to be the case. There have already been tears of frustration and disappointment. She was diagnosed with the flu on Saturday after a very rough Friday night. Really sucks, doesn't it?

She's staying home from school today even though she's been begging me to let her go. I have no doubt the school would take one look at her glassy, sunken eyes and be calling me to pick her up (that is after they isolate her from every other child in the school!)

I'm hoping the Tamiflu helps her kick this sooner rather than later. On Friday, she gets to sit at the Birthday Table during lunch and I can bring her a special meal. Her request—a burger place called Top Burger!

But thanks to a friend on FB who sent me some ideas on Saturday, we'll be trying to make today fun even if she's stuck at home and sick. We'll be hiding eleven goodie bags full of Dollar Tree items around the house and she has to find them. We have leftover ice cream cake from our mini celebration last night (see pic above - hubby did the writing on the cake himself!), but we'll also get her fave cupcakes—chocolate ones from Safeway! She also has a special gift to open.

We were planning to go out to dinner both last night and tonight (her choice of places) but she's not supposed to be around people so I'll let her decide if she wants me to cook or pick something up. We'll eat out once she's feeling better and won't get anyone else sick!

As you can imagine, my weekend was all about having a sick kid. I hope you had fun!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Goodbye, Vera!

A friend of mine died. Vera was ninety-four and lived a full life. She passed in the home she loved, the way I'd imagined it happening, but there's still sadness and grief that I won't be able to spend more time with her and hear another one of her wonderful stories while sitting on her deck drinking tea.

If you've read my blog for a while, you might remember I spent time in Tacoma, Washington attending Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training courses at St. Patrick's in Tacoma, Washington. Vera was the woman who opened her home to me in 2006, 2007 and 2009. She provided me a place to stay, a home away from home and a friendship I'll cherish. We spent hours talking on her deck, enjoying the summer sun, and eating at various spots around town over the years. We would talk books. I gave her my larger print books. Those may have been her first Harlequins. That I can't remember. I do know we had so much fun together.

I was thinking back and remembered a blog I'd written back in August 2006:
I made it to Tacoma. Early, in fact, due to no traffic. The class was great. So great I didn't think today could get any better until I arrived at the house they'd arranged for me and another classmate to stay. It's 4 blocks from Commencement Bay in Tacoma with breathtaking views from every window. You can see planes and ships and trees and Mt. Rainier if you look East. Needless to say, it's absolutely gorgeous.

We took our host to dinner tonight to thank her for opening her home to us. As we were getting out of the car afterward, I heard cannon fire. One, two. We hurried out on the balcony. Sailing on the bay right in front of us was a pirate ship. It seemed so familiar to me. I immediately thought of the Isabella, the Spanish Galleon that I used in my book IN DEEP WATERS. All I needed was the sexy Ben Mendoza and it would have capped off a perfect day.

There was another ship that resembled a clipper ship. The two ships seemed to be having a battle. All of a sudden two more cannons were shot and smoke appeared. It was so very cool and I wished the kidlets could have been with me.

Our host pulled out the newspaper and showed me the ship on the front page. I read the caption and understood why the ship looked so familiar. It was the same ship used as the H.M.S. Interceptor in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.
Whenever I was with Vera, I never knew what might happen. We'd see pirate ships, bump into a person (usually a family member) she knew or end up in a situation that we'd talk and laugh about for years. One night we'd decided to eat dinner at a restaurant near Pt. Defiance Park, but misjudged the temperature when we took a table outside. We were huddled under blankets and shivering by the time dinner was over!

One Sunday afternoon when my family and I were on our way home from Seattle, we stopped by Vera's house for cake and tea. I wanted my family to meet her and vice versa. After we'd eaten, she brought out a LEGO chess set a visitor from Denmark had given her. She remembered that my son liked both chess and LEGOs. He was enthralled!

I  met Vera because the church happened to placed me there when they were making accommodation arrangements for our training classes. She invited me to stay there a few weeks letter when I went back for a weekend of training and the next two summers.  I can't thank St. Patrick's enough for introducing me to such a kind woman, someone I'll never forget.

RIP Vera. You will be missed, but I'm so glad you're finally with your beloved Lars.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Ingenious De-Cluttering - Crap Baskets

As part of my focus on diligence, my word for the year, I've realized I must take control of my household. It's a mess. The clutter is out of control. When this article from buzzfeed came across my Facebook newsfeed, I knew I could incorporate a few suggestions that would really help my clutter situation without being total time drains.

Five Crap Baskets
The first ingenious de-clutter idea I took from the article was crap baskets. These go on your stairs (or somewhere within easy reach.) Items left where they shouldn't go inside. You and your kids can then take your own crap basket and put the stuff inside back where it belongs. (I'm really hoping this will help with our puppy destroying things, such as stuffed animals, left out!)

Yesterday I made my own crap baskets! One for each two-legged member of the family.

I went to Michaels Craft Store and bought 5 baskets for $5 each. Michaels is having a 50% sale on all baskets right now so perfect timing. I love a sale.

I chose black and gray because the colors in our great room are gray (couch and two gray/white checked chairs), black (tables and pillows), red (chair, ottoman and pillows) and white (in the checked chairs). I wanted the baskets to coordinate.

Close-up of two of the baskets
I used the picture in the buzzfeed article as my inspiration for the name tags and purchased a piece of scrap book paper (69 cents) and a package of sticky labels ($3.99) that I used a 40% off coupon on. I had the white ribbon (bought on clearance a while ago) so total cost for my crap baskets was under $30.

It took me less than 30 minutes. The majority of my time was spent looking for the ribbon. Thankfully, the silver Sharpee marker was right where I thought it would be! An easy-peasy project if you know where everything is.

Now I need to make sure the family uses them and Cato, our 15 month old puppy doesn't eat them. I think they will go above the gate on the stairs.

I'm going to pick another ingenious idea to work on next. Just haven't decided what it will be!

Monday, January 06, 2014


While much of the country is literally frozen, you'd never know it here in the Pacific Northwest. The temperature is a little chilly but nothing like the midwest and east coast. But that's not why I titled this post Frozen. The reason is the movie I saw on Friday with my two youngests and another little girl.

I loved, loved, loved Frozen!

The songs stuck with me so much I bought the soundtrack and keep listening to it over and over again. Idina Menzel is amazing as Queen Elsa and her song LET IT GO is my new favorite. Here it is so you can take a listen:

Total awesomeness, don't you think?

I love the storyline. The characters are three-dimensional and have real conflicts. True love doesn't get the standard Disney princess treatment here, but I don't want to spoil the big moment for you! All I can say is go see it. We watched the film in a theater that seated 48 during a Friday noontime matinee. Every seat was full. I'm not surprised now. I'd see it again that's how much I enjoyed it.

Have you seen Frozen? What did you think?

Friday, January 03, 2014

One Word for 2014

Although reassessing and working to improve oneself can take place any time during the year, January seems to be the time most take stock and strive to make improvements. Several authors have posted about focusing on one word rather than a laundry list of resolutions and goals. At Mass on January 1st, our priest mentioned something similar, suggesting we each pick a virtue to work on the next 12 months. As he was going down the list of virtues, the one that resonated with me the most was diligence.

Diligence is a capital or contrary virtue, sometimes called heavenly virtues because they defeat the seven vices or sins. In the case of diligence, the opposite is sloth. I found this definition of Diligence on
Diligence is the virtue that tells us to fulfill our duties in life, even if they get to be tiresome. These duties include our work, our home, our country, our church, and our families.
As soon as I read that, I knew this was the virtue—my word—for 2014.  With my focus on diligence, I searched out some tools that might help me this year, in addition to prayer. Here's what I found and wanted to share with you.

52 Week Money Challenge - I love the idea of this. Not sure this truly counts as diligence, but it would help me with my financial stewardship come December time when it's time to shop for Christmas! How does the money challenge work? You save a set amount each of the 52 weeks of the year, starting with $1 the first week and increasing by $1 each week. By the end of the year, you've saved $1378. There are several forms out there. The one I'm using has check boxes. What can I say? I like check-boxes. Find a chart that works for you.

Pretty cool, right? I've got my jar, my chart printed out and my first dollar saved! The only thing I don't like about this challenge is there's no way I'll have enough extra money to set aside in December. The amounts for those four weeks are $49, $50, $51, $52. So I'm going to mix up my weeks a bit to spread the larger amounts through the earlier months of the year, rather than saving them for the end. That's where those handy dandy check boxes come in. I'll just check off the week I do. Who cares if they are in order? Happy savings!

Couch to 5K - When I'm not healthy nothing gets done. Things pretty much fall apart so for me to be diligent I need to take better care of myself.  Sleeping, eating and exercise are all necessary for better health so I need to make some changes to make sure I'm doing all I need to be doing for myself. I used an app like this to get ready for the Joggin' For Frogmen 5K in July. As soon as I ran the race and didn't have anything to follow, I stopped running. So I'm starting again to train for a 5K in March. I started Wednesday, January 1st. It's three times a week, doable for even my busy schedule. If you're not into apps, they have the entire program listed on the site I linked to. Happy running!

Writing Progress Spreadsheet - I've tried and failed keeping track of my overall word counts so many times it's sad. But 2014 is the year I'm going to make this work. I'm getting to the point in my career, writing for two publishers and wanting to do more, that I need to know where I am with projects and if I'm productive enough to get all the stories I have planned written without impacting my family in a negative way.

Enter the spreadsheet I found at author Jamie Raintree's blog. I'd forgotten about it until going through my excel spreadsheets last night after I'd achieved my word count goal yesterday. I used google to figure out where it had come from and requested the 2014 updated spreadsheet. It arrived last night, and I love it! Finding what works for you is key to making tools work for you. This spreadsheet suits me perfectly, but you might have better luck with another. Remember google is your friend! Happy writing!

Do you have a word or anything you're focusing on in 2014?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to 2014 and will be starting my new year off with some cooking using the book The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays. I purchased the book for myself on Cyber Monday from Amazon, but hadn't opened it until a couple days ago. Boy, did I get excited. I plan on trying recipes each holiday.

We celebrated New Year's Eve at our friends' house. When we arrived home at 1 am, I made a French toast casserole that we'll have for breakfast after we wake up. Later in the day, I'll be making her New Year's Day Menu, including Hoppin' John, Collard Greens and cornbread.

Cooking more is one of my New Year's resolutions. I'll post the rest shortly. I did post another on the Sweet Romance Reads' New Year's post. Along with a few other sweet romance authors!

Hope your first day of 2014 is wonderful! I'll be watching the Rose Bowl and cheering for Standford. Go Cardinal!