Category Archives: life

Let’s Have Dessert First!


In the spirit of the season, we’re posting dessert first on the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop. But first, here’s a tidbit from Heather Miles!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the rafflecopter to win those fabulous prizes!

HEATHER MILES

 

Heather miles

My web address for my blog is: www.heathermiles.net/blog

Facebook: Heather Miles
Twitter: Heather Miles (@heathermmiles) | Twitter

Heat level 8

Kasey Blakely doesn’t know that her date is anything more than incredibly hot. It’s after things have moved past friendship, that she learns her new lover is also slated to be her partner in a corporate merger. He knew it all along withholding his identity to have her.

Self-assured, future CEO, Kasey Blakely stumbles into Joshua Crawford, leaving her breathless and momentarily senseless. Taken with her, he learns she’s more than just a beautiful woman, she’s slated to be his partner in a corporate merger. Never feeling as smitten or intrigued, he’ll do anything to have her, including, not revealing his last name. After a passionate exchange and the prospect he could lose her, does he come clean with his identity. Always confident, Kasey, struggles with her growing love for a man who has claimed her heart and changed her world, but should be forbidden. She’s all in…then all out. Despite the warnings not to mix business with pleasure, Kasey and Joshua risk it all. Committing to return to California with Joshua, Kasey’s world unravels. Were her fears right, or can they manage the MERGER of their hearts and their future partnership?

Find it on Amazon! 

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And now, for my posting on dessert…

Ah, dessert, elusive dessert. Dessert has always been the bane of my existence. Mostly because I love it so, so much. I love baked goods, but I never really made them. Let’s just say that I learned to cook at a young age as a survival skill,  but baking seemed beyond me (probably because, like Lemony Snicket, there was a series of unfortunate (baking) events. Though these incidents did fuel my love of firefighters. They’d all show up in their turnouts, and I would hide somewhere with a good view while someone explained about the rolls. Or the bread. Or the popcorn. Or how the back wall of the kitchen just happened to catch on fire. Twice. And I swear, by all that it good, that I wasn’t the one doing this. I have my own baking mishaps, but the fire department never came to those).

In any case, I was a box cake, buy it at the store, kind of girl.

And then I became allergic to eggs. My first baking episode post diagnosis looked like this:

My super awesome disaster

Yes, that is an actual picture of a real cake I sort of made. I keep it because it’s both funny AND sad, which always makes for a great story. Apparently, without eggs (and using a baking soda egg replacer), a box cake will turn into, at the slightest touch, chocolate dust. This was five years ago, for my son’s second birthday. And yes, I squished it together with a mixture of willpower, upper air strength, and frosting. It held together long enough to take this picture, sing Happy Birthday, and look at it sideways. And then, it was frosting-covered chocolate dust.

It was horrible (tasted OK, as I recall, but it wasn’t pretty. Boy child didn’t seem to care, but then, he’s boy child. He’s not picky, unless it’s green).

In any case, shortly thereafter, I discovered that I also have celiac disease, so welcome to a wheat-free lifestyle. At the time, I thought I’d never eat dessert again. It was depressing.

I discovered, after a while, and reading many, many blogs, that I can bake. It’s just a matter of being creative. And using pumpkin. I’m an expert on using pumpkin these days.

So,  here is my recipe (and yes, it’s pumpkin.). It’s an adapted version of one that I found in Sunset magazine. The original is a two layer cake, but it was too much, and everyone felt over-full and sugar comaed (yes, I just made up a word) afterward.

Gluten free praline pumpkin cake

1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 c butter

3 tbsp plus 3/4 c whipping cream

1 c chopped pecans (this I kept, because, well, pecans are fabulous)

2 flax eggs (to make a flax egg, combine 1 tbsp flax with 2 tbsp water. Normally, recipes call for three, but I find that with pumpkin recipes, it needs to be thicker, or you’ll never get it cooked through)

1 c granulated sugar (because this cake is so stinking sweet)

1/2 c vegetable oil

1 c canned pumpkin

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 c flour (I had a mixture of 1/2 c gluten free all purpose baking mix, and  1/2 c sorghum flour. The all purpose tends to be made with garbanzo bean flour, which in baked goods isn’t awesome unless you really overdo the sugar. Sorghum is sweet and delicious, but doesn’t rise very well without some complicated mixture involving arrowroot and tapioca and xanthan gum–all of which I have, and have made before, but it’s complicated, and I didn’t want to have to think too hard on Thanksgiving. So here you go)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or you can make your own with ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Which I did this year because I ran out on THANKSGIVING DAY, but I added ground cloves because I like cloves. If you don’t, just leave it out).

1/2 baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 c powdered sugar

So… Now that you have all the ingredients, here’s what you do with them:

Preheat over to 350 degrees

Butter one 9 inch cake pan and line with parchment.

Over low heat, mix the butter, 3 tbsp whipping cream and brown sugar together until melted and blended. Pour the mixture into the pan and sprinkle with most of the pecans (reserve some for the topping)

In a bowl, mix the flax eggs, granulated sugar and oil until well blended. Stir in pumpkin and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients (omit the powdered sugar; that’s for the frosting)

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet stuff (I’m being totally specific here… I harp on my students all day for using non-specific language, and here I go, doing the exact same thing). Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. At higher elevations, decrease the heat and extend the cooking time. It just works better. i’m not at a high elevation, but I cook as though I am because it just seems to work better for me. I think I live at that funky “in-between” elevation. Let it cool in the pan for a bit, then invert onto racks and remove pans and paper. Let cool completely.

For the frosting (topping), take your remaining whipping cream and the powdered sugar and mix until soft peaks form. Once the cake is completely cooled, then you can put the cream on top. Top that with the remaining pecans.

It is a pretty cake, and it tastes fantastic, even for people who are accustomed to wheat cakes with eggs (which are admittedly a whole lot easier to bake). This cake came out super moist, and sure, my cakes don’t rise like a normal cake, but it was delicious. This is very, very rich, though, so you only need a small piece to be satisfied. I’ll admit, I wondered if Husband’s blood sugar would ever be normal again.

I wish I’d taken a picture. But since I don’t Instagram my successes (only my dismal failures), I didn’t take one.

Happy eating!

 

 

 

 

Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Hop and Giveaway!


Hi Everybody!

Starting tomorrow, December 13, 2014, we will be having our 12 Days of Christmas blog hop and giveaway. There are some fabulous prizes (including a signed copy of The Marker from me, as well as a gift set of all four of my ebooks. If you’re really lucky, and I get my copies in time, I might even give away a signed copy of my best-selling book, Highland Deception. Because, honestly, I love the feel of paper books). There are a number of really fantastic writers among this group, so make sure to check it out. Enter often!

The rafflecopter for this is:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/153622a61/

I think it is, anyway. I’m technologically challenged at the moment, so if any of you find an error, please kindly let me know. I’ve been pulling my hair out these last few weeks, and it’s left me feeling a little bit like this:

the twins 305_pe

But hey, ’tis the Christmas season, and I promise to make everything into smiles and unicorns.

Who am I kidding? That’s not me at all. I’m not happy if I’m not a little bit stressed out.

So, in the spirit of the season, I say, Welcome! Check out the ridiculously fabulous line up of authors we have going over the next few days, and sign up to win prizes from… All of us!

Check out these prizes!

$10 Starbucks card from Cynthia Gail AND a Bark Less Wag More coffee mug and author swag from Rachel Lacey

$10 Amazon card from Jennifer Faye AND Author swag from Darcy Flynn

$10 Starbucks card from Jessica Jefferson AND Autographed PB copy of Marked by Jeanne Hardt

$5 Amazon card from Maureen Bonatch AND Bag of heart-shaped pasta from Abigail Sharpe

Bodycology Moroccan shower gel & lotion and author swag from Meda White

$5 Amazon card from Sophia Kimble AND Pair of hand-painted ceramic penguin holiday mugs from Ryan Jo Summers

Paris scented shower gel/lotion/mist set from Sloane B. Collins

$5 Amazon card and ecopy of Perfectly Honest from Linda O’Connor

PB copy of Sugarwater Ranch and keychain from Stephanie Berget

Complete ebook set of Aisle Bound series from Christi Barth

$5 Amazon card from Kim Hotzon AND ebook set and signed PB of The Marker from Meggan Connors

$25 Amazon card from Ann Lacey

$15 Amazon card and giant chocolate bar from Heather Miles

$10 B&N Card from Tracey Livesay

$10 Amazon card from Rebecca Neely

$10 Amazon card and curvy-love bracelets from Aidy Award

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WInner, winner, chicken dinner!

How sweet is that? Check out all of those gifts! Woot!

Have a great Holiday Season!

Romance Writer’s Weekly: Ch-ch-changes!


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This week’s questions are from Ronnie Allen! Let’s get to it.

1.  When do you decide that you’ve done enough editing and changes would now be making it different, not better? So it’s the time to submit.

That’s a good question. I’m never certain it’s “done enough.” The only time I don’t feel the need to tinker with a project is after it’s been published, and even then, I find errors and things I should change. It’s one of the reasons why I have a problem with reading my stuff after it’s done. I can always think of something I could have done better, or done differently.

I guess what that means is that I’m a terrible person to ask this question of. I tinker until the darn thing is published, and then I generally wish I had tinkered a little bit more.

2. When and how do you accept change advice by rejection letters and critique partners?

It depends on the advice. When a publisher gives me advice–especially when they’re rejecting me–I generally take it unless it would change the overall tone of the story. After all, they’re saying they don’t want it, but they took the time to give me advice on what could be done to make it better. That sort of advice always deserves a second look. The only time I disregarded this advice was when I wrote an urban fantasy, and the publisher asked me to re-write the entire thing as a YA, focused around a single scene in the story (that didn’t even have the main characters in it, since they were both adults). That’s not asking for rewrites or giving me advice about how to make THIS story better; that’s asking me to write and submit something completely different. I ignored that advice, though I’ll admit, the story she wanted would make a nice, gritty NA.

As for changes suggested by critique partners? Well, it depends on the changes. Most of the time, I listen to what people tell me. If it would change the entire storyline, well, no, I won’t change that. But if it’s a change to make it flow more logically, then sure, I’ll look at reworking chapters or scenes or sentences to make it work. I think it’s important to listen to what everyone says with an open heart, but to remember that the work is yours. Take the advice that is useful, and disregard the rest. At the same time, I think it’s important to remember not to view your words as so precious you refuse to part with them or make changes. No one’s work is so good that they couldn’t use and editor, and no one’s story is so perfect it can’t use improvement.

3. When you’re not writing, how do you spend your day or do you create your day around your writing?

Gads, that’s a hard question. Work days generally look something like this:

6:00am: Wake up. Check Facebook. Try to think of something witty to say, something engaging and interesting and awesome. Usually fail. I might settle for silly.

6:30: Get out of bed and into the shower.

7:00: I’m READY! Oh wait, my hair’s still wet.

7:15: Ah, hell. That’s good enough. It looks the same regardless of the effort I put into it anyway.

7:30: Do dishes, throw something into the crock pot for dinner, make lunches, feed kids.

8:15: Leave for work. Hopefully, the homework was done and checked the night before, otherwise I’m checking it in my office at work. And none of us like that.

8:30-4:30: Work. If I’m lucky, and ate lunch sitting at my computer, I got it all done. If I’m unlucky, I’ll be writing IEPs at midnight. Again.

5:00: Arrive at outside client’s house or a kid activity. It depends on the day.

6:15-6:30. Home. Throw down backpacks and eat. Unless it’s Cub Scout night, in which case the boy and the hubs grab it to go, and head out the door. Or, the kids might have swimming after we see the outside client, in which case we go there instead, and get home around 7:00.

7:00: Check homework.

7:15: Tell the boy he has to do it over, because it’s super messy.

7:45: Tell him he can type it, because it’s just getting worse.

8:00: Everyone to bed. Husband and I chop the vegetables for the next day, if we’re on top of things. Afterwards, I’ll break out the laptop. Get distracted by the piles of laundry. Maybe start a load.

9:00: Girl child complains she can’t sleep.

9:10: I put in headphones and start to write.

9:45: Oh, look, the siren call of Facebook!

10:00: Just this one tweet, and then I’ll get to it.

10:15-12:00: I’m writing! If it’s going well, I might go until 2:00am. Which, by the way, is insane. Don’t do that.

Non-work days often look this:

6:00 Wake up. OH MY GOD, I’M SO TIRED! Oh wait, it’s Saturday. **Snore**

6:30: Boy child walks in, wearing (if I’m lucky) pajamas and a Darth Vader mask. “Mom, can I watch a show?”

My real child, in his real Vader mask
My real child, in his real Vader mask

Me: “Bananas are on the counter. Don’t forget to do your flamenco dancing. And beware the octopus.”

Boy child, breathing heavily: “Right on, my son.  I’ll watch  Star Wars. Oh, and Mom?”

Me: “I need to give the unicorn a bath.”

Boy Child, in his best Vader voice: “Uh huh. I am your father.”

Because I am asleep, I can’t explain the physical impossibility of this, but whatever. His father, who is awake during this whole exchange, thinks it’s hysterical, and won’t ruin the moment with things like logic.

7:00: Wake up again. Why am I singing The March of the Sith? Go back to sleep.

7:15: Children walk in: “Mom, we’re hungry. Can we eat chocolate for breakfast?”

Me: “The dog barks at midnight. Are you wearing underwear?”

Girl Child: “Chewey, that means yes. You are wearing underwear, aren’t you?”

Boy Child: “Mostly.”

Girl Child: “Good enough. Come on, let’s go  before she wakes up.”

Me: “Wha?” **Snore**

8:00: I get up for real this time. Am miffed because all of my chocolate is missing, and Chewey looks like Poirot, with his giant chocolate mustache. I make breakfast anyway. I make pumpkin pancakes. Unfortunately, everyone wants eggs and toast.

8:30: Do dishes, and contemplate doing more chores.

I usually get the opportunity to write until about 11:00, when I have to take the Girl Child to Girl Scouts. But then I get to sit in the library at the university and write for two solid hours. It’s lovely.

2:30-6:00 Is family time.

6:30: Daddy time and a movie. I write while hanging on the couch with the children.

8:30-????: We all head upstairs to bed. I put in headphones and write until I fall asleep at the computer. The two pages of eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee will have to be rewritten, but hey, it works for now.

That’s it for me! (I say “that’s it!” like I wrote some short little ditty instead of the multi-page manifesto that is actually vaguely embarrassing. Or would be, if I had any sense of shame left)

Since you’ve had enough of me, why not head over and see what Josie Malone has to say?

 

 

Romance Weekly: Recipe Time


So here was our recipe challenge: one meal, start to finish, in 15 minutes. Those of you who follow my blog routinely know I have celiac disease, which is really more fun than one person can possibly stand, and therefore can’t eat gluten. This, combined with my food allergies, generally makes quick cooking harder than it has to be. Which is probably a good thing, since husband is diabetic–so the big batch of spaghetti is out the window (not that I haven’t done it, but I have to have another plan for Hubs and me).

In any case, there are a few things that I can do quickly. Most of my meals are all about ease, but 30 minutes is generally how long it takes.

So what to do for a complete meal, including dessert, in 15 minutes? I have two options.

First meal:

Margherita pizza
Salad
Homemade fudge (we call it ghetto fudge in my house–I’ve even made it in the trailer, and it’s a huge hit. I honestly have no idea why)

MARGHERITA PIZZA

Ingredients:

Instant pizza crust (because I’m also allergic to eggs, I have to make my own, which totally ruins the 15 minute thing, but I generally have a home made crust in the fridge for weeknights). Pillsbury makes some good crusts, and even makes a gluten free crusts (but, alas, not egg free).
Jarred spaghetti sauce (I use Classico, but you can use whatever you want)
Pre-sliced buffalo mozzarella
Fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Take the pizza crust out of the packaging** and place the pizza crust on a pizza pan or cookie sheet. Use whatever’s clean.***
Use as much of the spaghetti sauce as you feel is necessary. I like sauce, so I use a lot, but if you don’t…then don’t. Reserve the remaining sauce for dipping.
Put as much or as little of the pre-sliced buffalo mozzarella on the pizza as you want, and fill in the gaps between slices with basil. If I’m in a rush, I don’t even bother to tear the leaves; I just set them down whole.
Bake in the oven for 12-18 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown

** Taking the items out of the containers probably sounds obvious, but you never know. I knew someone who once cooked an entire turkey without unwrapping it… it was messy. And a health hazard. And gross. But the fire department came, along with cute firefighters, so there is that. That part was fun, because I got all the benefits of having cute firefighters, but it wasn’t me who did it, so I didn’t have the embarrassment, either.

*** If you want a crisper crust, bake for 7-9 minutes before you put any toppings on it.

While the pizza is cooking, make the fudge (this is so easy, it’s embarrassing).

FUDGE

Ingredients

One package of semi sweet chocolate chips
One can sweetened condensed milk

In a large, microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and the condensed milk. Put in the microwave for two minutes. Stir the mixture, put in the microwave for another two minutes. This usually achieves desired smoothness for me. If it doesn’t for you, stir again and put it in for another minute.

When it comes out of the microwave, be sure to smooth the chocolate down.

Since we’re in a time pinch, you’re then going to put this in a FREEZER safe bowl (generally, Pyrex does just fine between the two venues, but you know your cookware best), and throw it in the freezer to set until it’s time to eat. If you want to be all fancy and have single (large) servings of fudge, you can put the melted concoction into a muffin tin that you’ve sprayed with PAM, and put that in the freezer. The kids do like having their individual servings of fudge in their lunches the next day, and I can lord it over them if they argue or get in trouble… “NO FUDGE FOR YOU!”

SALAD

Ah, the salad, the easiest of all.

Ingredients:

One bag salad

Package of tomatoes

Put these ingredients into a bowl and combine. If you have any leftover mozzarella cheese, you can throw that in, too.

By this time, the pizza is done, so you just let it cool for a couple of minutes, slice it up, and you’re done. While you’re eating, the fudge is setting, and it’s totally done and set by the time you’re ready for dessert!

So that’s meal number one. Because husband is diabetic, we don’t actually get pizza all that often. So, more often than not, a simple meal for us will look like this:

Big salad

Fudge for the kids/Sugar free chocolate for the hubs.

Ingredients:

Baby greens

berries of your choice (I like strawberries and blueberries). Hull and slice the strawberries, pick out the bad blueberries and throw them on the salad.

Cheese of your choice (personally, i prefer gorgonzola or goat cheese with fruit, but it’s totally up to you). Because crumbles may contain gluten, I just get a large piece and crumble it myself.

Pre-cooked sliced chicken (from the deli counter) or canned chicken (I keep several cans on hand for things like chicken salad sandwiches, big salad, and chili (or tortilla soup). It just makes life easier, and really, no one in my house knows the difference)

Blue cheese vinaigrette (I can’t recall the brand right now, but it’s delightful).

Then I combine it all together, and we’re ready to go!

So there you have it. Two different option for dinner. I hope you like them!

M

Why not check out what Sarah Hegger is having for dinner!

A Totally True and Completely Accurate Story


Sorry for the last post, where I was a grumpy gus. I’m over myself now.

So, to spare you from my maudlin-ness (I’m pretty certain this is NOT a word, but that’s okay. I’m alright making up words), I will now tell you a totally true and completely accurate story about my children.

Actually people, what’s really sad is that I am not making any of this up.

Back several years ago, we took our kids to get baptized at the Lutheran Church we were attending. At the time, Monkey was having these monster fits–she’d scream her head off like a crazy person for hours. Hours. And no, that’s not poetic license. I start shaking and rocking just remembering it.

So anyway, there we are, sitting in church, waiting to go up to the baptismal font. it was summer time, and the sky was dark with a rather freakish summer storm, and it was so stinking hot outside that you could see the heat rising off the asphalt just outside the door. Monkey was throwing a fit about something; I don’t even remember what. There she was, in her white, eyelet lace dress, throwing herself on the floor and shrieking like a banshee. No, really. I was surprised that the windows didn’t shatter.

Suddenly, there was a loud crack. The power went off. The air conditioner died. Monkey abruptly stopped wailing to look around. And no, she wasn’t upset. A couple of old ladies screamed, by my two-year-old? She was totally fine with it, like, “Oh, what was that?”

I turned to M. “Did the church just get struck by lightning?”

M said, “I don’t know, but she stopped screaming,” as if that was the important thing. Because I was thinking, Of course. Why wouldn’t lightning strike the church now? Of course.

Chewey took that moment to begin wailing in my arms. M was the one who had been wrangling the slippery eel that was Monkey. Seriously, who knew a little kid could be so slippery? When Monk was little, it was like wrangling an octopus, all arms and legs and no bones, and I swear she had more than four limbs. In fact, I’m pretty certain she looked a bit like this:

images

 

M and I exchanged a look. You know, the parent look. The one that says, “I’m so sorry we’re in this together, but hey, we’re in this together!”

Then he said, “My mother always said my child would be the antichrist. Hi five.”

We high-fived, because if you can’t laugh at it, it will break you. (And in this case, “it” can mean anything. Mother-in-law issues? Yup, “it” can be that. Trouble with a boss? Yes, “it” can be that, too. Unexpected STDs… Uh, no. Sorry, you’re on your own there)

“If this is a sign, one of them will spontaneously combust.” I looked down at my shirt, and my flailing son, who was so upset that he dribbled snot all down the front of my blouse. “I like this shirt. Putting out flames will ruin it, if Chewey doesn’t do it first.”

M laughed, like he always does when I think I’m being funny.

I am happy to report that the rest of the baptism went without incident. Sure, Monkey asked for cake through the whole thing (hey, she was two, and we bribe when we have to), but that worked out. She got her cake without throwing another fit. And Chewey finally stopped screaming when the lady holding him accidentally clocked him on the head walking through a door, so there is that.

So the next time you look at your little bundles of joy, just remember, it could be worse. Lightning could strike the church.

Update


So, I haven’t really blogged about me in a really, really long time.

I’ve blogged a little about vacations, and a lot about other people’s books, but nothing from my own perspective in what feels like ages.

Maybe I don’t have much to say. I’m really busy in my not-on-line life, with work and school and kids and just stuff. But no one wants to hear about the stresses of my day job (or the fact that I’ve written almost 50,000 words in the last month, 10,000 in the last week–including a 2,321 word lesson plan–but not a one of them was fiction). Everyone’s got stress. I don’t need to vent that badly.

But all the work has left me a little… empty. The words will come back when I have time to think about them, when I can live in my head a little more and a little less out of text books. Right now, my creativity is spent on lesson plans and planning thematic units for the entire next year. They’re good units, too. I’m excited to do them, but honestly… Over 2300 words? That’s nuts for one lesson plan.

I suppose no one can ever accuse me of under planning.

In any case, one of the great things about being a writer is that the stories never go away. They  just sometimes take a break while real life takes precedence. Once I’m done with my classes, I can devote more time to my characters. To Ash and Mina, who I really would like to finish this summer, after almost two years of off and on writing. To Ethan and Cat, who have an entire story plotted out that just needs to be written down. To Gabriel and  Asa, who, for some reason, desperately wants to be called Freya, even though I keep trying to convince her that that won’t work, given then whole… I don’t know… English maiden thing.

So, because my life seems like a giant To Do list these days, I thought I’d give you updates in list fashion.

1. What I’m listening to: When I’m writing Ethan and Cat, I really like to listen to this crazy playlist I put together that includes lots of U2 (I suppose we could call it vintage, though I am loath to call anything that was released during my lifetime–something I bought on cassette tape when it was first released–vintage. And if you ask “What’s a cassette tape?” I will throw you some serious virtual stink eye). Oh, and One Republic, Counting Stars. Totally seems weird that that song reminds me of my hero, but it does.

When I’m contemplating Gabriel and Asa/Freya, I’m listening to Wardruna, which is a little crazy, but whatever. It sort of sums things up right now, and since I think that my characters are somewhat darker than Ethan and Cat are turning out to be, it kind of fits.

2. What I’m reading right now: I’m finishing up The Earl’s Enticement by Collette Cameron, and I’ve already started The Bride Gift by Sarah Hegger. That’s when I’m not reading about SIOP features and ELL stuff.

3. What I should be reading: I should be reading my text books and I need to do some more research on early Scottish history. I’m pretty familiar with the period right around Lindesfarne (I spent some time in York, and there’s that whole English/History/German major thing I did in college. And yes, I had three majors. And two minors (Poly Sci and Education). Wait, didn’t everyone? Luckily, I did actually get a graduate degree in something I can use!)

5. What I’m doing right now: Apparently, I’m digressing.

6. What I need to do: Work on my own topic maintenance, rather than my students’!

7. What I’ve been watching on those rare occasions that I get to watch TV: I spent several evenings enraptured by Vikings. Had myself a little Vikings marathon, in fact. I have a thing for Rollo. I think I’ve forgiven him for Season I. Now that I’ve watched all of Seasons I and II, I’m not watching much of anything. Which is probably a good thing. I’ve gone back to reading my text books.

8. What I’ve been doing in my free time: Camping. I got bitten on the rear end by a beetle of some sort last weekend, which hurt like bananas. The screaming (only after I discovered the bug… inside my pants) probably didn’t do wonders for my street cred, though.

9.  What I’m working on: Lesson plans. Oh, God, so many lesson plans. And these last few papers for my last class. I can do this. It’s a lot of work… Not necessarily hard, just a lot. And it’s late in the year, too, so my life is already crazy with meetings. Those three hours a week in class–and the additional 3-5 working on projects–starts to feel like a lot when I spent most of Memorial Day writing IEPs.

10. What I’m hoping for: That I don’t have a nervous breakdown in the next two weeks. Because once we’re out of this little stretch… It’s summer time! And I’ll have seven weeks off!

So that’s it for me. I hope you have a good weekend. And if you get the chance, go ahead and check out my book, Highland DeceptionIf you feel so inclined, leave me a review! Because I should could use them. Seriously.

 

Vacation


I’ve already posted some of the pictures from my recent trip to the desert, but now that I’m back to civilization, I thought I’d post a few more (having cell service and wifi does help with that).

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This is from one of my dawn romps with the dogs. And we got up that early because there is something decidedly unsexy about a 90 pound German Shepherd panting in your ear at 5:15 in the morning.

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This photo was taken at dusk. There’s nothing spectacular about it, but I thought it was neat. So there you are.

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This picture is of our campground. Pretty cool, huh?

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And I discovered I really like arches…

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And petroglyphs (photo courtesy of my young son).

Deserted


This week, the family and I visited the desert. Surprisingly, both kids seem to love this place. The cacti are in bloom, bright magenta against dull green, and desert paintbrush blossoms along the road, fiery red against the landscape. The terra cotta-colored sandstone melts into white, as if it’s been dipped in paint.

It’s lovely. And warm. But not too hot (yet).

The desert in spring is the place to be.

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A Story About Two Kids, Two Dogs, and a Trip to the Vet.


So the other day, we had to take the dogs to the vet. Little Vanilla Bean needed her 14 week shots, and big dog Frank needed to get his mouth looked at.

Now, we had had it checked no more than a week before, so we sort of knew what was coming. I knew he’d need surgery, and that he’d have to be sedated to be x-rayed. I explained the whole process of sedation to Chewey–that they’d give the dog some medicine that would make him go to sleep for a little while so that he wouldn’t feel anything while they operated on him.

Going to the vet with two dogs–one a puppy who hasn’t had any leash training, and the other one who LOVES people but is not as fond of other dogs (and is huge, to boot)–and two kids who will not stop talking for more than five seconds was, well, a comedy of errors. Just getting out of the car was a kick in the pants.

When we got there, I gave Miss Vanilla Bean to Monkey, hoping she could control the little dog. But Vanilla Bean was not happy with being leashed, and Monkey kept shouting, “No! NO! NO! NO!” in a voice that sounded like something between a foghorn and a siren, and was probably six times as annoying.

“Monk, pick her up.”

“I don’t know how to pick up a dog!” she complains.

This is my child who is in a gifted class, but she can’t pick up a dog and has somehow forgotten how to peel a banana, but more on that later.

Vanilla had almost squirmed all the way out of her collar by the time I just decided to pick her up myself.

Then I had to get Frank out of the back of the car. Bear in mind, we are at a vet that shares a parking lot with a freaking 7-11. There are cars going in and out like crazy, and a little yappy dog was tormenting my 100 pound German Shepherd from the sidewalk.

Frank started yodeling. I’m not kidding. Yodeling. (I’m not the only one who thought it was like yodeling. The vet tech must have tried for five minutes to get him to do it for the vet. It. Was. THAT. Awesome.)

I swore, in that moment, I would never attempt this alone again. Texted M from the parking lot with Please tell me you’re on your way here. I’m a hot mess.

Eventually, I managed to wrangle Vanilla and Frank into the building.  Both kids were chatting like there was nothing unusual about what’s going on, I had  a twenty pound puppy squirming in my arms, and Frank started turning circles and yodeling. Give the dog some lederhosen and an accordion, stat!

While I tried to check in, Frank, who couldn’t seem to stop turning in circles because he was on a no-pull leader (which turns him around the minute he starts pulling too hard), started knocking everything off the shelves with his butt. Swept the table clear of brochures. Then banged into a bookcase filled with samples of God-only-knows-what, but there were boxes strewn all over the floor.

It was that awesome.

Monk started to pick up whatever it was, but somehow managed to wrangle herself under Frank’s feet. They both fell down in the middle of the waiting room.

By the time we sat down at a bench, Frank had calmed down to the point where I guess he felt yodeling was unnecessary, and I was sweating like it’s July. In Brazil. After I’d just wrestled a bear. And maybe a jaguar. Yeah, a jaguar.

But we were hanging. Until we got called back to a room, that is.

Frank started yodeling again. The vet tech looked at me and said, “Wow. Listen to that.”

“Yeah.” I tried–I really did–to not sound too annoyed, because Lord, who knew my dog yodeled? Who knew it was THAT annoying?

Oh, right, did.

In any case, we got back to a room. When the vet came in, the children started asking questions and talking to the vet like they had never seen another living soul in their lives.

“Vanilla’s a lover,” Chewey said. “She’s my lover.”

Must. Resist. Face/palm.

Monkey, who was now not-really-in control of Vanilla, piped up with, “She can’t be your lover, because then you’d be married! And then you’d have puppies instead of kids!” 

“No I wouldn’t!”

“Yes you would! They’d be dog/human hybrids!” Maniacal laughter followed. (She is in the gifted class, after all. Even if she doesn’t know how to peel a banana.)

“Nu uh!”

“Yuh huh!”

Oh, sweet mother of God.

I gave both kids the stink-eye, which they both pointedly ignored.

When the vet knelt to look in Frank’s mouth, Chewey piped up with, “My mom says you’re going to put him to sleep. Are you going to put him to sleep?”

The vet gasps and looks completely horrified. “No! Of course not! Why would you say that?”

I don’t even remember what Chewey said while I tried to explain our earlier conversation about sedation.

At some point, Vanilla wrapped herself around the vet’s legs. Or, at least, wrapped her leash around the vet’s legs. Suddenly, Monk started in with her, “NO!NO!NO!NO!” foghorn/siren thing, and yanked on the leash.

The vet froze, and I took the leash from Monk and unwrapped the vet.

Is it hot in here, or is it just me? 

I’m not sure I’ve ever needed a nap so badly in my whole life.

I’m happy to report that everyone is fine. Vanilla had her shots, Frank had his surgery and seems to be doing well, even though every once in a while, he looks at M like, “Hey. Got the munchies over here.  Can I get some Jack in the Box?”

Good times, people. Good times.

 

 

 

A New Day


Last weekend, my very old, quite senile Jack Russell terrier died.

We’d expected it for some time. After all, when we went camping last summer, the dog passed out more than once trying to poo. When we took her to the vet, he could only shrug and say, “Well, she’s almost 17.”

While we didn’t expect it this way, she went out the way she lived…as a bad dog.

In any case, we still have Big Dog Frank. He’s enough to fill a room.

But…but…Frank was lonely. And the house was a little empty. And… I wanted a second dog before Frank became a crotchety old man. He’ll be eight in April, so he’s getting close.

Perhaps I should have resisted, but I didn’t.

So, without further ado, meet my furry addition: Vanilla Bean AKA Nilla.

(Also, Frank and Bean was unintentionally funny)

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