Thursday, December 24, 2009
When people ask me what "Childproofed" is about, I'll admit that I stumble. It's not that it's a difficult question to answer, it's just that most of the time the people who ask me are the ones I realize probably
won't "get it." For example, just this weekend I was visiting with family when my younger cousin turned to me and said, "So tell me about your book. What's it about?"
"Uhh. Umm. Well."
See what I mean?
It's not that I don't think him capable of understanding. It's just that most people who truly understand motherhood and its joys and sorrows already know what the book is about by simply reading the title: Childproofed.
To a mother, that word says it all.
I had the idea for writing a novel about motherhood after an unfortunate incident involving myself and a doorjamb. While rushing to attend to my screaming infant in the middle of the night I bashed my head against the door, giving myself one heck of a shiner. Adding to my embarrassment was the fact that I had just a few months prior started a new job, so I was still "the new girl" around the workplace. In an effort to keep the rumors from flying, I penned an email explaining my shiner and sent it to everyone on the faculty. The response was overwhelming. People began stopping me in the halls, coming by my classroom, and emailing me back saying my email was hilarious and that I should consider writing. Writing had always been a hobby of mine, but had been forgotten since I'd had children. I took their advice and started a blog where I recorded the daily activities of my three young boys; however, I quickly found that I lacked the time necessary to keep it up. Still, I was full of stories, funny little quips and snatches of life that all mothers have experienced. I kept them stored away in my head until one day I looked at my husband and said "I'm going to write a book about being a mom."
There was one thing I knew before I ever started my book - that it wasn't going to be one of those happy, glowing books. I wanted it gritty, exhausting - in other words, real. If there was one thing I was bitter about concerning motherhood it was that no one ever warned me about its ugly side. I wanted other mothers to have something to read and identify with that showed the truth about parenting multiple children. Things like sometimes you don't like your children, and that's okay.
Sometimes your kids interrupt you during sex, and that's okay too. Sometimes you resent your children for what they did to your body, and guess what, that's okay too. Because at the end of the day, they are your children, and when it's all said and done the good outweighs the bad by an overwhelming margin.
So, what did I tell my cousin? I'm sure you're wondering. After hemming and hawing for a moment I said, "Well, it's really a kind of coming of age story. Only instead of coming of age, the main character is kind of coming into her own. She's rediscovering who she is now that she's a mother of two kids, and the book is about her journey in finding herself again."
He just looked at me.
He didn't get it.
That's okay. I bet you will.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Obviously the question that I posed to horse owners crosses into all animal owners. But it was such a great experience and it has further opened my eyes to the power of emotion, and how strongly our animals feel them and express them. If you've had a similiar experience with any of your animals, please share.
I have a question for you...Has anyone ever used an equine communicator? I have actually had a gal "talk," with our pony Monty, and it was a pretty amazing "discussion."
Monty came into our family about a year and a half ago. He was fabulous. For seven months Monty was fabulous. My daughter took lessons from a wonderful teacher who is a dear friend, but who is also a school teacher, so when she had to go back to her day job, she let us know that she had to back off of lessons and working with Monty. She was still able to do a couple of days a week, but I knew that with Monty being a new guy with us and with my daughter being small (although she'd been riding for a few years) she would need that extra attention. There was another trainer where we were at and I had watched him with some of the kids and thought he was pretty good with them, so I approached him.
Long story short, the pony didn't like this guy. It wasn't long after they started working together that Monty had his first bout of colic, then Monty began to colic about every 3 weeks. Then he started doing things like bolting with his kid, and acting like a nervous wreck inside his stall. I started scratching my head wondering what the hell had happened to our fabulous pony?!?
My gut began talking to me, and my gut was saying that there's something really wrong here. Monty colicked again, and at that point my vet looked at me and said, "Get him out of here. Change everything about his program, or you might lose him."
There is so much more to the story, but it would be about ten pages long, so this is the short version:
I called up Terri who we'd gotten Monty from (she'd told me that if there was ever any issue to bring him back and we'd figure it out.) I told her the problem and within twenty-four hours we had Monty and my other horse, Krissy, at her place.
Monty and Krissy have now been at Terri's for 9 months and guess what? Not one colic, no silly pony shenanigans to really pique the fear factor for the kid or me.
So back to the equine communicator. This gal came to "talk" to the horses not long after we got up to Terri's. She had no prior knowledge of Monty and the issues. We told her we were concerned that Monty had had a tendency to get fast with his kid.
She wrapped her arms around the pony and after a few minutes looked at us and asked, "Who else rides him besides the little girl and Terri?" We said that I did and occasionally another working student (a young woman.) The communicator said, "No. The man, who is the man?" She looked right at me and a shiver went down my spine. "You know who I'm talking about," she said. I nodded. "Yeah well, the pony doesn't like him and is afraid of him, and he has reasons to be." Then she wrapped her arms back around Monty and asked all of us (my vet included) to send him light and love, and let him know how much he's loved. All of a sudden this lady begins sobbing. I mean, totally sobbing. We were all looking at each other... She apologized and explained that this happens about once a month with a horse. She told us that he had just let go of a ton of grief. That Monty never understood that he was anything more than a commodity. He never understood that he could be or was loved.
Now maybe this sounds crazy to you, but this is what I can tell you happened afterward:
Up to this point Monty was never affectionate. He did his job, but he never seemed happy. He didn't seem to care if his kid was there or not. He just did what he was supposed to do and that was that. The communicator told us to talk to him as much as we could, and tell him how much he is loved and that he is now a part of a family and will always be a part of our family, because he had a fear that we weren't going to keep him. I did this with him for a week straight, and the most amazing thing happened after about a week. I was in the barn with him by myself and I took him off the cross-ties and removed his halter to put the bridle on. All of a sudden, Monty just placed his head right in my chest and stomach. He just stayed like this with me for at least a minute or longer. Then he very gently (not pushy at all) rubbed his face on me... It was like when a cat rubs on you, not when my silly mare pushes me all over the place. I scratched him between his ears and told him how special he is. And I swear he sighed. It was like this moment of true understanding for him. As if he was telling me, "I get it. I'm part of the family." Since that day, as soon as he sees his kid or me, he jogs on over, lets out a little nicker, paws on the ground until we make it over to him, and it's obvious he feels like he is loved.
Both Monty and his kid are thriving together. He has been off his ulcer meds for two months now. He's fat and happy (maybe a little too fat), and he's settled.
Now I don't know your feelings on people who communicate with animals but I have to say that I am a total believer. I really believe that the lady who came and talked to Monty helped him and us a great deal, and I am really grateful for that.
Call me crazy or tell me if you've ever had anyone "talk" to or with your horses/animals.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I have some cool news. This is not a gimmick, your name won't go onto any list, it's just me wanting to get books into the hands of readers.
For the rest of this month if you order a copy of Happy Hour off of Amazon, you will receive two FREE books of your choice of my current releases. I will happily personalize and sign them however you would like me to. If you've never read a wine mystery or Michaela Bancroft mystery, or if you've been interested in getting a copy of my children's book but haven't done so, now would be a good time to try one. If you've already read my books maybe there is someone on your gift giving list who is a reader. Books do make a perfect gift.
To check out my newsletters that will give you some more information, here are the links: http://bit.ly/6VkNOd and http://bit.ly/6JgSt6
To order Happy Hour off of amazon http://bit.ly/8lLJmq
Once you order your copy, email DVinePress@gmail.com and state that you have ordered your copy, and then which two books you would like to have and how you would like them signed. Please be sure to include your address. You can find a list of my books on my website at http://www.michelescott.com/ where you can read excerpts, watch book trailers and learn more about them. You can also check out the reviews of Happy hour on amazon. They are excellent and I'm really pleased at how many people are enjoying this book.
Have a great day.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Please welcome our guest today, Angela McKeller! Jessica met cook Angela online and they've been pals ever since. Angela contributed recipes to the fourth Gourmet Girl book, Fed Up, and is all all-around delight. She's got her hands in a bit of everything these days, and her latest venture is this delightful and charming cookbook. Please check out her links to learn more about this talented woman!
Passion on a Plate: EASY and Affordable Gourmet is a perfect gift and very unique compared to other cookbooks currently available. Perfect for the aspiring gourmet or any foodie that just loves to cook! College students, newlyweds,parents, grandparents - anyone looking for something fun yet practical.
Passion on a Plate: EASY and Affordable Gourmet simplifies "kooking" in the kitchen by showcasing plate presentation in full color photographs, full meals grouped together by category (appetizers, breakfast, chicken, pork, beef, dessert) and explaining techniques in a way that any seasoned foodie would appreciate and even the novice "kook" would be able to master. Inspiring people to strengthen their relationships by getting in the kitchen, this makes the perfect gift for both couples and singles looking to impress that special someone. A fun retro, feel; fun quotes; kooky anecdotes and a bright, cheery red cover serve to get even those most apprehensive about the kitchen excited sharing a home-cooked meal with
those they love.
Reviews are available on amazon.com and another review has been written about it here: http://sweeps4bloggers.com/?p=54
Available on Amazon for just 22.97 plus shipping (orders over $25 ship for free on Amazon) and comes by Dec 7 if you order within the next 15 hours! Click here to order!
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"Life is like a kitchen...there are ENDLESS possibilities!"
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Emilio Espinoza traced the scars across the undersides of his wrists, now white with time, but still visible. Not like the ones that remained on his heart.
Moving to the ornate wooden armoire, he picked up a framed photograph of his brother Antonio and his lovely young wife Lydia. He stared at his brother’s face, his eyes becoming slits of hatred. He closed them, and threw the picture across the room, smashing the frame against the wall, his hands balling into fists as his vision clouded with tears. Glass shattered into small splinters across the adobe-tiled floor. Pulling the photograph from between the shards of glass, filled with rage and despair, Emilio ripped it into pieces.
Antonio was the reason the scars upon his heart never faded. What a fool his brother was! Antonio had no idea of his brother’s true feelings toward him and Emilio planned to keep it that way—for now. But when he struck, Antonio would know. He would feel nothing but pain, the kind Emilio felt everyday of his life.
Emilio’s plans were long term. They had to be. He knew the desired effect might not come to fruition for years, perhaps even a decade. But he had plans and they had been brewing for nearly five years, since he was merely a boy of fifteen. He had been patient for this long. He would be patient for as long as it took.
He remembered that day five years ago so very clearly.
Emilio came home early from school, ditching because he hadn’t studied for a test. He did not want Antonio to find out that he’d left school early, so he crept quietly up the outside back steps to the guesthouse, which was several yards away from the main quarters, a place where he knew he could hide out until the appropriate time.
He smelled the candles first. He smiled, knowing he was about to get a show from his Don Juan of a brother and some beautiful young thing. Antonio was known to bring women to the guesthouse and light a few rose scented candles, put on some soft music, and then, having set the mood, complete his conquest.
Emilio crawled along the balcony of the small villa, carefully rising up to peek into the window. The music playing--soft, low, romantic--the woman’s back toward him. Antonio held her close, stroking her long black hair, whispering something in her ear.
That hair, the lithe body. A shiver of delight slithered through Emilio as he watched in awe.
Antonio placed his hands on the woman’s shoulders and easily slipped off her dress, letting it fall to the ground. Emilio closed his eyes, ashamed to be watching. But curiosity and raging hormones opened them. The woman stood completely naked. Antonio swooped her up and carried her to the bed and laid her down on the red sateen comforter.
Emilio felt the first painful tug on his heart when he saw her face as Antonio put his hands on either side of it and kissed her. Emilio blinked his eyes, shook his head and looked again. Antonio pulled back, reached over to the nightstand by the bed and poured her a glass of wine. It was then, as Emilio watched her drink the velvet liquid that he saw, understood and learned of betrayal of the worst kind. There, drinking wine, falling under his brother’s seductive spell, lay Marianna. His Marianna. The girl of fourteen who was destined to be is wife, his lover. Emilio loved this girl and she’d sworn her devotion to him. They had been nothing but lies.
His body, which had shivered with delight watching the show, now shook with rage. The sweat trickling from his brow ran down his face and into his mouth tasting salty and bitter. He made himself turn back to the window and watch.
After he watched the two people he’d loved more than life do the worst imaginable to him, he ran into the cacao fields and vomited, ached and cried. His clothing wet from sweat created from his anger and the intense humidity sweeping across the overgrown fields. Finally, he stopped, and falling to his knees he threw back his head. “Marianna!” He bellowed her name over and over again in such agony that it silenced the birds across the valley set in between two mountain ranges.
How could she have done this? His Marianna? How could Antonio have done this? Emilio had loved Marianna since they were seven-years-old. Even as a child, he’d known that God had placed her here on this earth for him, only him. Seeing them together, watching as they grew into young adults together, Antonio knew this, and still, he had stolen her from him, betraying them both.
Brokenhearted and filled with vengeance, Emilio waited for her to leave the villa. He stalked her path until she reached the edge of the fields where he grabbed her from behind, covered her mouth with a hand stronger than even he realized. Knocking her to the ground, he wrapped his hands around her tiny neck and strangled her to death as she struggled, watching him with knowing and terrified eyes. Then, snatching her up, he carried her to the river where he weighted her body with large rocks and tossed her into the rushing waters. She was never been found.
Emilio had sobbed, distraught, filled with remorse, anger, and fear. His brother, unaware that Marianna lay at the bottom of the river, consoled him saying they’d find the lost girl and urged him to move on with his life. No. Emilio wanted no life at all. He was beyond caring for anything life could offer him. A few days after killing his love, filled with irrevocable guilt, desperation, and hatred, he slit his wrists.
Antonio found him lying in a pool of blood by the river, and frantically sent for the doctor, begging him to save his brother. Emilio lost a great deal of blood, but with time and care, was healed. When he was well enough and out of danger, Antonio screamed at him, “You are a fool! There is not a woman in this world whose life is worthy of taking your own.”
Now, many years later, he understood why he had watched the entire seduction take place. He now knew why he had not bolted away at the first glance of her beautiful face, and why he bore the pain of seeing her in his brother’s embrace. He had to completely fill his heart with his hatred of Antonio, fill it with the rage of betrayal. He’d succeeded, and he’d learned to hide that hatred. Emilio was as smart and conniving as his older brother. After all, it was his older brother who had taught him how to be evil.
As he looked out the large, paned window that faced the main house, Emilio vowed to seek revenge. He lived in that same dreaded guesthouse, the place where he’d watched his reality being pulled out from under him. But he didn’t mind. Living there meant he could never forget. And living there meant he had a good view of Antonio and Lydia’s bedroom, where he watched Lydia every morning as she took her coffee out onto the balcony. She dressed in sheer negligees, unaware of his watching eyes. She was gorgeous, truly magnificent. And she was part of Emilio’s plan.
The mountaintop fortress, surrounded by lush green jungle, palm trees, and armed guards, had been constructed to take in the Pacific Ocean views on the north end of Guadalajara. The only way to reach the villa was by a ponga, which took about forty minutes from the city’s harbor, or by one small dirt road that took hours and was an excruciating trip. It was the kind of place that caused outsiders passing by on pongas to look up at with awe and wonder at those who resided inside. It was only a vacation home.
The morning passed quietly and was uncharacteristically brisk as Javier Rodriguez sat out back on the veranda overlooking the steel-gray sea below him, where waves crashed hard against the ragged edges of rocks etched into the mountain side by time. Looking a little to the north, he spotted fishermen heading out off the white sand beach in search of the evening’s meal. The calming scent of orange blossoms and the richness of the jungle’s soil combined with the ocean breezes and would normally have eased Javier’s troubled mind. Despite the lack of humidity this part of the world was known for, beads of perspiration trickled down Javier’s back. He was drinking his second cup of coffee when Antonio, his long-time friend from Colombia, joined him in the idyllic setting. Antonio’s dark eyes were alert, his black hair slicked back, and he was dressed immaculately in a white silk shirt and khakis. He sat down at the wicker-backed chair next to Javier, a slight smile easing across his genteel face.
“Ah, good morning, Antonio. I take it you slept well?” Javier set his mug down on the breakfast table.
“Of course. I always sleep well when I visit your home. The sounds of the ocean lull a man to sleep. Everything is comfortable here, and your servants are always so charming and friendly.” Antonio raised his eyebrows, his smile widening. He rubbed his fingers together and then, with slightly longer nails than most men, began easing his nails back and forth underneath one another.
“I apologize that I could not greet you last night when you arrived. Cynthia and I were busy with my father.”
“No need to apologize. I settled in quite nicely. How is your father?”
“He isn’t well. Cynthia has been spending a great deal of time caring for him. He doesn’t have long. If you’d like to see him while you’re here, he’s in the west wing of the house. I can take you there later.”
“If he’s up to it. It troubles me to hear that his health is failing. He was very good to me after my parents passed. I wouldn’t want to disturb him.”
“No. He would be happy to see you, Antonio. He loves you like a son. You remind him of when your father and he ran things. His memories are the only thing that I believe keep him alive.”
Antonio sighed and nodded. “Those days are past. The old generation is nearly gone. When your father dies it will be only you and me to rule over our growing empire. And I’m here to tell you, in order to see it grow as we hope, we must rule with ferocity and wield an iron fist!” Antonio slammed his own fist against the glass table. He laughed raising his head up and staring into his friend’s eyes.
“You’re a vicious man, Antonio,” Javier replied teasingly, although he meant every word. Antonio was a ruthless man, had been since childhood when they’d grown up together in Colombia. After secondary school, Javier had gone to the university in Mexico City and then made the decision to move to Guadalajara and pursue politics. He and Antonio had remained friends through those years and recently had begun collaborating in business together. Javier’s fear of his compadre matched his love and respect for him.
“Yes and no. I prefer, my friend, to think of myself as a realist. My father is dead and yours is dying. You’re the ruler here in Jalisco, and I believe it is very clear to all that I am the patrón. With good planning, you could go on to become the president of Mexico. The PRI is going through a crisis. Diaz Ordaz cannot even control the people,” Antonio said, referring to the current president. “Together, my friend, we’ll go far. But we need to be very clear on that. For our survival, it is vital for us to always work together and never against each other. Don’t you agree?” Antonio lit a cigar between his manicured fingers and exhaled puffs of the acrid smoke into the morning air.
“Absolutely.” There was no choice but to agree with his old friend. Even though Javier was the governor of the state of Jalisco, and the idea of becoming president interested him, it was Antonio Espinoza who ruled much of South America. Of course, he was not considered an official ruler, but in effect, he was clearly seen as the ruler, especially to those that it mattered to.
Antonio was the head of one of the wealthiest and largest coffee plantation families in Colombia. He’d taken over the empire at a young age, following the death of both his mother and father in a boating accident. Antonio had expanded that empire by also dabbling in illegal businesses, in which Javier took an active role.
“Our families have known each other for a long time.” Antonio leaned back in the chair, stretching out his legs.
“Of course, since our great-grandfathers.”
Antonio arched his neck back, gazing up at the volatile skies. “That’s why we have always remained like brothers and our business together is so successful. And now we have opportunities like never before.” He smiled again. “I see something ahead of us that will make us far more wealthy and powerful than either of us ever imagined. You see, my friend,” Antonio started, leaning in closer to Javier, lowering his voice, “there is a new wave approaching. The Italian mafia has ruled in the United States and Europe now for a long time. What they do not know is that there is competition on the horizon. And that is you and me.”
Javier shook his head. “Come on, Cabrón. Do you really think the Italian mafia will allow us into their world?”
Antonio shrugged. “It doesn’t matter if they welcome us with open arms. I don’t think they’ll be pleased to have any kind of competition. We don’t need them.”
“Aren’t you afraid of death? They are ruthless men. The world knows this.”
“I fear nothing, my dear friend. If I did, I would’ve been dead long ago. Besides, what we deal in does not hold interest for the Italians. And by the time they do discover us and what we have to offer, they’ll want to do business with us because they’ll have to if they want to get involved. For now though, I have no intention on dealing with the Italians. I want to get ahead of the game. However, we must move quietly lest we provoke their interest and they learn of the amount of money there is to be made. Go about this the right way, and they’ll leave us alone. For now.”
Javier wasn’t so sure. He’d heard a great many stories about the mafioso, and regardless of what Antonio said, he knew that they did have an interest in the drug trade. But he would continue to do as he always did and follow Antonio’s lead, hoping it would all turn out as fruitful as his friend guaranteed him.
He tossed back his drink, heat rising to his face, and he thought twice before pouring another. Dulling his senses was not what he wanted to do. No. Feeling every sensation, every nerve come alive as he touched her beautiful skin was his desire. Feeling was what he loved about being with Marta.
In an attempt to deny his need for her, Antonio stretched out on the downy sheets-- white, satin. Cynthia hadn’t missed a thing when putting a luxurious vacation home together for Javier. Even the guesthouse had the best that money could buy.
A faint tap on the door catapulted Antonio out of bed. He stopped himself. He had to regain his composure; never let her know exactly how much she meant to him. He straightened his black silk pajamas, casually turned the knob, and pulled the door open.
There she stood. So lovely. The jasmine scented perfume that he’d given her on a previous visit enveloped his senses. It was indeed heavenly, a seductive intoxication. He shuddered inside as his hungry eyes absorbed the vision before him. She was indeed beautiful, clad in a flowing, light pink dress that only emphasized her essential purity. He could barely control himself, wanting to take the dinner tray from her and toss it aside and devour her instead. “Come in,” he said, not liking the unmistakable anxiety in his voice. What kind of spell did this woman have over him?
She stepped over the threshold, moving to the coffee table where she set down his dinner and a bottle of wine. Antonio stood behind her and touched his lips ever so softly to the nape of her neck. It was useless continuing to try and control his passion. It was useless for her as well. She turned, her dark eyes hungry for him, she embraced him. Their bodies merged as he took her face in his hands and pressed his lips to hers.
“I’ve missed you, Antonio,” she whispered, her voice like dew on morning leaves, soft, gentle, sweet.
“I’ve missed you, too.”
“When can we be together? How much longer do we have to wait? And why do I have to wait? I do not understand this, Antonio. I know I am only a servant, but we’re in love. You’ve said so a hundred times, and you’ve promised me that we would be together.”
“It is far more difficult than you can understand,” Antonio replied, not ready to delve into the politics of their relationship. He had one desire here.
“I’m not a stupid woman, Antonio. I may be young, and therefore not wise in the ways of the world, as you’ve enjoyed reminding me.” She smiled coyly. “But I am far from ignorant, and I am very confused at the length of time it has taken for us to be together. I need you.” She pouted, her full lips making her completely irresistible.
He held her by her shoulders. “Soon, my sweet. All that I have will soon be yours.” He sealed this lie with a long, deep kiss, and all her doubts seemed to disappear as she smiled, her face relaxing, and trust for him filling her eyes. His heart beat hard against his chest, not only filled with passion, but with guilt and panic, as well. How could he continue this?
Marta accepted both his lies and his desire and let her dress fall to the floor, exposing her delicate figure. Antonio swooped her up into his arms and positioned her on the bed. Their touching became feverish, quickly establishing a bond of intimacy.
Like a panther that had captured his prey, Antonio’s passion was so intense that Marta could do nothing except surrender to his overwhelming sensuality. Starting with her mouth, he reacquainted himself with every inch of her. His tongue trailed past her neck, finding her breasts waiting. Quickly reacting to his touch, her nipples grew hard and she arched her back, aching for more. As his mouth devoured her breasts, Antonio’s hand worked its way with slow expertise between Marta’s thighs. She moaned when his fingers found her moist skin, and she dug her nails into his shoulders as he worked his hand against her. Then, when her arousal became overwhelming, Antonio heard the change in her breathing that signaled she needed more. He could tell by her trembling how much she needed the weight of his body pressed against hers, the feeling of him moving inside her, and the immeasurable pleasure he would bring to her. His firm masculinity replaced his fingers as he went on to sate both their erotic appetites. Later, when their desires were fully quenched, they clung together in the tangled sheets.
“I love you, Antonio Espinoza. I promise to always love you.”
Antonio didn’t have the heart to reply, knowing that any promises he had already made were futile.
Monday, December 7, 2009
For some reason I have a lot of online pals about to give birth (yay!) so I have a very important piece of advice: Don't let the dad-to-be bring anything into the labor and delivery room. No mp3 players, cell phones, Blackberries, gadgets of any kind. Nothing. Especially a good book. My husband decided to pick up Harry Potter the day I was induced and I will never think about this goddamn series without cringing a bit. Now, I supposed I didn't mind so much that he was lost in this book while I was having minor pain and, truthfully, just watching Days of Our Lives. But when the doctor decided to break my water, causing me to regrettably understand the term "blinding pain," it would have been nice not to feel that I was dragging him away from something more interesting than his wife's agony, and forcing me to grunt, "Get. Over. Here." He's lucky I didn't run off with the anesthesiologist who gave me the best f'ing epidural anyone has ever had, because the moment the pain hinted at easing up, Bill was back to Harry Potter.
The insanely wonderful vice principal at my son's school is on a mission to get kids reading, so she has promised to KISS A PIG when the kids reach the set goal of reading for however many thousands of minutes she's planned out. ("That's how much I want kids reading!" she says.) Granted it's a small pig that is another teacher's pet, but still.... So my eight-year-old son has to read for a measly fifteen per night as part of his daily homework. Big deal, right? And with the incentive of watching his VP kiss a pig...I mean, come on! Nick is a very good reader and this should be no big deal, but what I'm met with every night is a myriad of complaints about how he hates reading, it's boring, has the timer gone off yet...?
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I like to invent new soups, and last night I made a soup that scored big points with the family. It's super easy and tasty. Give it a try! Just make sure you have some crusty bread to soak it all up.
And please share your soup recipes here. I'm actually in need of a good clam chowder (or seafood chowder) and a lobster bisque.
I have no name for this one, so let's see...Okay, how's this? "Chicken, Leek, and Potato Soup (with a few other things thrown in there, too.)
Salt and pepper two boneless chicken breasts and brown in olive oil in a large pot. Don't worry about cutting them up. They will break apart as the soup simmers.
I used 1.5 box(s) of chicken broth, 1 cup of white wine, 1/2 cup of cream (if you want to cut out any fat, omit the cream--but cream is oh so yummy and it isn't that much).
Sautee in butter, 3 diced celery sticks, 3 sliced leeks, 1 small yellow onion, and either throw in a half a bag of those baby carrots, or chop up about a cup. (I'm not big on measuring!) Sautee for about ten minutes. Toss into the soup, along with about 8-10 small yellow/gold potatoes (quartered).
Add chopped fresh herbs or dried: 1 tsp sage, parsley, and thyme (hmmm...am singing now)
1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp rosemary (last two not in a song as far as I know. Correct me I am wrong).
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped (Garlic is good for the heart, you know)
Stir, bring to a boil, and then simmer on low for about two hours until the chicken is so tender it breaks apart.
Trust me--this is one soup that is a keeper. If you want wine with it, serve with Chardonnay.
Share your soups with us!
Monday, November 30, 2009
A big welcome to our guest today, romance author Jerrica Knight-Catania! Jerrica is an absolute doll and we are so happy to have her with us today, which just happens to be her birthday! Happy Birthday, Jerrica! After obtaining a degree in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, and years of pursuing a career on the stage, Jerrica left the "glamorous" life of an actress in favor of writing romance. She continues to reside in the New York City area with her husband, cat and ever-expanding belly, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the newest addition to their family. In the meantime, she continues to work on the fourth installment of the Wetherby Brothers' Novels.
In the last few years, my husband and I have really gotten into the spirit of giving. We've been so blessed in so many ways in our own lives, it just felt right to start paying it forward. With so many in need, especially nowadays, we love to think of new ways to give back. Last year we came upon a wonderful organization called Wish Upon a Hero. This organization is a place where those in need can post what it is they are in need of. Needs vary from "Please send Christmas cards to my kids" to "I need a donor for a liver transplant." And in return, those who have a desire to give back can go on, find people they are able to help, and do just that. Last year, Eric and I picked out several families who weren't going to have any Christmas at all, then we gathered games, toys and clothes for them, and shipped them off. As much as I would love to do that again this year, I find that I'm not in a position to do so. Right now, I'm 35 weeks pregnant, and I'm just not as mobile as I would like to be. Not to mention, any energy I do have is going into preparations for our new little bundle. So instead of hunting and gathering, I decided to go another route. I've written a short story called Christmas Warms the Harts, and I've made it available for a small price on my website. 50% of the net profits will go to benefit the Wish Upon a Hero Foundation so that they may continue to do the amazing work they do all over the country.
Giveaway: If you purchase the short story Christmas Warms the Harts, you will automatically be eligible to win a free, signed copy of my debut release, A Gentleman Never Tells. **Please make sure you note at Paypal Checkout that you would like to be entered for the chance to win!
Links for purchase are on the main page of www.jerricasplace.com and the contest will run through December 9th!
A Gentleman Never Tells
Benjamin Wetherby, Earl of Glastonbury and heir to the Marquessate of Eastleigh, has just received an urgent letter from home. His father is dying and he must return to England at once. Benjamin is a man bound by honor and duty, to both his country and his family. So, despite his reservations, he leaves his life in New York City behind so he may find a wife and assume his role as the Marquess of Eastleigh.
Miss Phoebe Blake is finally out of mourning for her father, and just in time. She and her mother could be days away from being carted off to debtors' prison, so Phoebe returns to society with the intent and determination to secure a rich husband.
Sparks fly when Benjamin and Phoebe meet, and it appears they have both found just what they are looking for. But will a dark secret keep them from finding their happily ever after?
Christmas Warms the Harts - A short story
Catherine Wetherby Hart, Duchess of Weston, is convinced Christmas will be ruined if the famous Hart Christmas Ball isn't perfect. But two special guests might just make it the best Christmas ever.
Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jerrica-Knight-Catania/117398793629
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Made Giada's stuffing and it was excellent! I give it five stars. Make it for Christmas. The family loved it, or at least that's the impression they gave since there wasn't any left over.
It was a pleasant Thanksgiving. My sons drove out together and didn't kill each other, or even punch one another. They might have even said a few words between themselves, although they were likely not completely positive. My father was his sweet self and actually did not take even one nap during the day. My dad has been taking cat naps since I was a little girl (probably why he's been able to work twelve + days all of his life). My mother had a few aches and pains this year due to a recent leg injury but still refused to give up all the control to me (although I did my best to prepare the dinner at home and transport it as my goal was for her to actually have her put her feet up this year--never, ever gonna happen I now realize--can anyone relate here?). My husband did his job of carving the big bird (and a fine job he does at this), and he also did a good job watching football with my dad, uncle, sons, and our friend Joe. Joe's wife Gillian is one of my closest friends. She's really like a sister to me and we had a lot of fun in the kitchen together and a nice visit. My uncle who I love dearly tends to believe EVERYTHING he reads off the Internet. He actually told Gillian that the original rock the pilgrims landed on was not Plymouth Rock. Gillian is a fifth grade school teacher. I stirred green beans.= during this conversation.
The food was delicious--(the stuffing of course), green beans with Meyer lemon peel, pine nuts, shallots, sun-dried tomatoes and bacon (everything tastes good with bacon in it) Blackberry Jell-O tasty treat (secret recipe), spinach salad, mashed and sweet potatoes, and cornbread with sharp cheddar and jalapeno (my cute husband makes these and they are yummy), and the turkey (brined in sea salt and juices). Mhhmm--I want more.
My lovely aunt washed and cleaned up after everyone, and wouldn't accept a lot of help from the rest of us. And my little girl, well she does what little girls do best--play, be silly, and have fun.
There is a point (albeit small) to this story. I promise.
We wound up staying the night (as always on a holiday) and over breakfast the following morning I had a very nice talk with my dad. I am blessed to be close with both of my parents. They are hugely supportive of my family and me. They are generous, kind and loving. My dad is one of my confidantes and mentors. He and my mother built a business from a small back room in the house I grew up in. I talk to my dad about my career a lot because I know he understands and has been there.
As Jessica mentioned in a post the other day that the publishing business right now is (hmmmm, I believe her words were pukeworthy) is not so easy. Not like it ever is, but these days not being under a contract for a writer who has made her living at it for the past few years is frightening. As you may have guessed I am no longer under a contract. Cat is out of the bag. After A Toast to Murder, there will be no more Nikki Sands (unless the fans revolt, and I'm praying for that, but...) and there may be another Michaela Bancroft mystery as the horse lovers do want more, but it won't come out from my original publisher. I am pursuing a few things these days including some YA and middle grade kids' avenues. I have a commercial adult fiction (El Patron) coming out that I will be posting chapters on in the next few days. I have a gazillion ideas for more books, and no matter what the publishing climate, or if I don't wind up with a contract again, I will keep writing. But I have to admit that it is difficult, scary, and at times depressing. The Writing Dream has been one that I have had since I was a little girl and I still have it. It's in my soul and it is my passion (besides being a mom and my horses).
I explained all of these feelings and thoughts to my dad yesterday morning, and I while talking with him, I remembered why he is my mentor and confidante. He said to me that the reason for the success of their business (and even during these difficult times when their company feels the hardships my dad perserveres http://www.americashorsedaily.com/professionals-choice/) is due to faith, hard work, and tenacity. He told me that giving up is never an option. He's right. Although I know in my heart that 'not' writing is never an option because I will always write, my dad reminded me that 'not' pursuing my dream of building a career as a writer is also in the non-option clause. It's my dream to be a career novelist, to see my name on the bestseller lists, to make people smile, cry, laugh, think, FEEL. It's my dream to entertain readers and it is my dream to connect with those readers. These days I'm not feeling as if I have been doing that. Maybe I am wrong--paranoia is a writer's disease.
This Thanksgiving I was grateful for a lot of things, but I think today I am most grateful for my Dad who reminds me that dreams are important and good. Dreams make us tick and keep our passions alive.
It's funny as I had no clue where I was going to go with this entry. My initial plan was to touch on some of this and then ask readers what they would like to read. But it turned out how it did--reminding me, yet again, that it's okay for me to continue on full speed ahead.
How about you? Tell JP and me your dreams, your T-Day events, thoughts, insights. Anyone out there with a confidante, mentor--someone who has helped you and made you grateful for your dreams?
Have a great Sunday.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
There is the baby stage, when parents think they will never get another wink of sleep. And they won't, because once inducted into this society of parenthood there will almost most definitely never ever be another waking or even sleeping moment when you're not aware of your responsibility. You'll wake with a start when your kid whispers your name. "What? Are you okay?" When they are three-years-old and the temper tantrum is so extreme that you have to wonder if Satan didn't crawl into bed with you on that baby making night, and you decide that you will most definitely make your child stay in time out no matter what. And then after thirty minutes of screaming and kicking you give them the freaking M&M that they wanted and they shut-up. Immediately.
How about when they're ten, and the teacher tells you that your child thinks outside the box. They are "special" but not "spacial." True story. When the teacher told me that my kid thought outside the box, I was like, "I know. It's so awesome! Yeah. Right?" Ummm.... No. Apparently thinking outside the box is not a good thing, but being "spacial" is. Can someone please tell me, what the f... is "spacial"? Five years later and I am still wondering. As far as I am concerned, my kids are all special and those who are spacial can go off and become professional spacialists or whatever the hell they are destined to do.
I'll skip over the teen years since I have evidently erased all memory of those dreadful days. I can't remember a thing. But I have determined that parenting an almost nineteen-year-old is sooooo hard. No longer can I do a time out, or threaten, or take away TV, etc. I can do the old, "You have to pay rent if you don't do what I expect," deal. That does work, but it's incredibly weird to shift gears from parent to landlord. Hate it.
So there is this real strange thing that happens from 18-19 for young adults living at home. First is, Mom realizes that Mom can no longer be just Mom, unless she wants to be totally taken advantage of. Second is that there is a privacy factor and what Mom can cross and can't cross is.... Oh God, it's just this mixture of feelings of sadness, acceptance, confusion, and a general bundle of mother feelings that can really screw with you if you don't have something to ground you. Thank God I have my horses and a little kid still. As a mom of an almost ninteen-year-old, I feel like it's reasonable to expect his room and bathroom to stay clean, that he mow the lawn, take out trash, do his own laundry, and possibly a few small chores that may come his way. Oh, and could he please call me when he is not coming home? So far it all seems to be running smoothly and I can't complain since the kid works 20-30 hour weeks at Costco and is going to college. Good kid.
The hard part for me is when I call my child after I know he's been off of work or school for over an hour to ask when he'll be home, and to let him know there is a plate of dinner waiting, and he replies, "I'm with a friend." Grrrr......!!!! I wasn't born yesterday. I've called a few times in the recent past and gotten, "I'm at Paul's," or "I'm with dad," or I'm with Grace, "(who I know is a real friend). But when I get the vague, "I'm with a friend," it takes everything inside of me not to ask, "What friend?" "Who? "Where?" What are you doing?" Please tell me that you listened when we discussed safe sex. I am too young to be your friend's child's grandmother.
Watching your child transition from childhood to adulthood brings so many new boudaries and expectations and we have to adjust to that. And it's not easy. It's not special. Or spacial even. It's so flipping hard that I now understand what people really meant when they would tell me to savor the baby years, and that those are the easy years. And in retrospect, hey were easy. Little people have little problems, like wetting the bed, or sucking their thumb, or hating mustard. Big kids? Sigh. You have to deal with your child's first heartbreak (trust me, it hurts ten time worse than your own first heart break), paranoia about drinking, smoking, being stupid and above all, whether he is he doing any of that while driving. I don't care how fantastic and seemingly perfect your kid is; it is still on your mind. You can have a 4.7 GPA kid who gets pregnant while drinking some kind of fruity drink or doing ecstasy. No matter how great a parent you might be, our kids are under some serious pressures. Your word might not be the last.
So, if you are a parent, savor every moment they are around. Breathe them in like the blessing they are. Trust that God has a plan for them and for you. Just be thankful to be their parent whether they are nine seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, years old.
I am now going to bed and praying that my almost nineteen-year-old will be home in less than nineteen minutes he promised.
Bless You and Yours,
Monday, November 23, 2009
By the way, this cooking light thing I do at home is just between us here.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
My eight-year-old son brought up the dreaded question last night. I’ve explained this phenomenon before, but unfortunately kids need different forms of information as they age. I gave him the short run-down (again) but my narrative was followed by the inevitable slew of questions.
Kid: What if you had another baby?
Me: I'm not.
Kid: But what if you did?
Me: The world would implode... I mean, don't worry about it. I'm not.
Kid: But so where do you get babies?
Me: Costco. Or in your case, Target. Target has everything, right?
Kid (glaring at me): Mom!
Me: Remember your book? From Mommies and Daddies.
Kid: But how?
Me: Well, people have to have sex.
Kid: What???? Oh my God!
Me (nodding): Yes. It’s true.
I then gave him a unnecessarily lengthy description of IVF in the vain hope that his interest in science would distract him from further interrogation.
Kid: So which one did you do to have me? Sex or the other one?
Me: I did not have IVF.
Kid (look of hysteria and disbelief crossing his face): Did YOU have SEX?
Me (clearing my throat): Um… yes.
Kid (thinking for a moment): Just that one time?
Me (pondering various four-letter words, then pausing way too long): That’s private.
Kid: Oh my god!
Friday, November 20, 2009
So by request, here are my thoughts on today’s pressing issues:
Twitter: There is no way to discuss Twitter without sounding vulgar. “I tweeted/twatted/twittered….” Any way you put it makes it sound like you’re busy getting yourself off. Which maybe you are, but I don’t want to know about it. And if I did want to know about it, I’d certainly want more than 140 characters of detail. Go the Carrie Prejean route. Live a little. The bigger problem I have is that Twitter confuses me because I can’t keep track of anyone, so I write stupid things like: “Twitter likes to warn me that I’m having unprotected Tweets, but the f’ing condom won’t fit over the Mac. Even the lubed one." But it gets me re-Tweeted more than, “Um… I have a new book out. Please buy it so I can afford to go on the Rick Springfield Cruise next year.” (BTW, it turns out that being "retweeted" is a lot less pleasurable than it sounds.) Facebook is more organized and logical. This is why I have overpowering bouts of compulsively Facebooking important information about Bedazzlers and how many Coolattas I’ve had that day. Of course “Facebooking” sounds equally as pornographic as all the “Twit/Twat” variations, but at least it involves the face and not… Well, let’s move on.
Dancing With the Stars: I gave up watching this show because I have a nauseating vestibular reaction to neon orange spray tans. Also, if I want to watch people get injured I’ll just watch a hockey game. Or idiots on Youtube. Or student drivers.
Levi Johnston: There is no measure to the joy I get over Sarah Palin’s daughter’s baby daddy whoring himself out on Playgirl. He must love the ex-VP candidate as much as I do. Levi is a hot, craptastic mess and I can’t get enough. He’s so dumb, it’s adorable. I want a play-by-play of the Playgirl photo shoot. I want to comb out his armpit hair. I want to move the hockey stick out of the way so I can see all that Alaska has to offer. I love that he has a handler named Tank who appears to have even fewer brain cells than Lusty Levi himself. But most of all, I adore the boy for (in his own inarticulate way) telling Sarah Palin to screw off. Hugs, little guy! Or big guy? Unfortunately, by all accounts, we won’t get to see visual evidence either way… But that’s what the imagination is for.
Heidi Klum’s desire to lose 20 pounds: Offensive and obnoxious. Take off the angel wings and you’ll drop the weight. On one hand I resent that someone as vilely goddess-like as she is would say something stupid about wanting to lose weight. On the other hand, I can safely say that I do not look up to her as a role model so I couldn’t care less if she barfs into the toilet five times a day.
Wonder Woman outfit changes from Season 1 to Season 2: First of all, I can’t say anything about this show without pointing out that my adored Rick Springfield graced the show with his acting chops. Click here for delightful clips of hottie rock God frolicking.
Now, here’s the failure with the costume from the first season: Lynda has huge knockers. God love her, they’re big. But the excessive gold splayed across her chest is just too obvious. And frankly icky looking. It just seems that she was constantly announcing, “My breasts and I will battle you and take your lassoed body into our invisible airplane!” And who the hell gave the poor woman silver wristbands when the rest of her accessories were gold? Clearly not a gay man. And the starred shorts were more Spanx-looking than Wonder Woman deserved. By the second season they figured out that the subtle winged effect was more attractive cleavege-wise, that metals should not be mixed (gold matches gold), and that if you’re gonna have short shorts, they might as well not look like granny panties. And the cape is simply heaven.
I’d love to stay and chat more, but there’s a Levi photo shoot I have to research. And videos of Rick Springfield behaving inappropriately on Californication that I need to attend to. And let's hope my well-behaved mother doesn't find this post. Not that she'd know who Levi is, but still...