Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cheesy Potatoes

Cheesy Potatoes
This is my go-to potluck dish. It gets rave reviews and there are never any leftovers. Here is the recipe.

1 bag frozen diced hash brown potatoes
1 small onion, chopped fine
4 tablespoons butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Spread potatoes in a greased casserole dish. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan; stir over low heat until everything is melted together. Pour evenly over potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until top is golden brown.

Simple and delicious!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Thing A Day

Crazy Cluster Black Beaded Earrings
My sweet sister-in-law SeDonna came over on Friday to bead with me. Except as is often the case when we get together, hours flew by with no beading accomplished. In our defense, we both have busy lives and we don't get to see each other very often. So we had a lot of catching up to do!

But we also have hefty stashes of supplies and patterns, along with huge appetites for buying and trying new ideas. So we came up with a challenge for each other. We agreed to make "a thing a day" for the next thirty days using materials and ideas we already have whenever possible. We are up to Day 4 already; pictured above is my "thing" for today. These earrings were tons of much fun to make and they are even more fun to wear. Now I want to make them in lots of different colors and combinations, so I have an excuse to buy more seed beads. Just twenty-six more days to wait!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Eye on the Prize

Jane Porter, Pam Asberry, Tanya Michaels
I didn't think Saturday would ever get here. But it finally did, and I got a dose of much needed inspiration and camaraderie at this month's Georgia Romance Writers meeting.

First, we hard author Jane Porter speak. She shared Ten Keys to Success and Survival: What Every Romance Author Should Know. It was the perfect balance of inspiration and humor. A couple of points really jumped out at me. She asked, "In terms of writing, what does success mean to you and how would it make your life feel?" I used to think success meant being a New York Times Bestselling author; upon reflection, I don't think that has anything whatsoever to do with it and I need to ponder this question further. She also mentioned that at the beginning of every new year, she sets a craft goal, a career goal, and a personal goal. I know it's already the middle of February, but I have determined it isn't too late to do just that for 2013. I'm still trying to nail down exactly what my three goals will be.

Then it was time for the book signing. I love book signings. There is nothing better than buying a shiny new novel to add to my collection, meeting the author who wrote it, and requesting an autograph with an inscription. And is it too much to hope that some of her literary magic will rub off on me? 

First, I asked Jane and Tanya Michaels to sign their recent co-release, My Cowboy Valentine.

After that, I nabbed a copy of Dorie Graham's latest, Espresso in the Morning.

Pam Asberry and Dorie Graham.

I dream that one day there will be a book with my name on the cover and that there will be fans lined up waiting for me to sign their copies. That sounds like success as a writer to me!
Yes, I know I have a lot of hard work ahead. But I believe that if I keep plugging away and    
keep my eye on the prize, I will eventually get where I want to be. Thanks to Jane, Tanya and Dorie for your encouragement and support!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Finding the Good

Life is ten percent what happens to us and ninety percent how we react to it.
~ Dennis P. Kimbro

It's been one of those delirious, gut-wrenching, roller coaster kind of weeks.

  1. I finished the scheduling for my district's upcoming piano festival and emailed it to the chairperson.
  2. I am having my bathroom remodeled.
  3. With the painter's help, I worked out the color scheme for repainting my entire home.
  4. I woke up Tuesday morning with the opening scene for the novel version of my short story.
  5. Yesterday was Valentine's Day.
  1. The contractor ran into several problems and the bathroom remodel, which was supposed to take two days, is ongoing.
  2. My debit card was stolen and fraudulent charges were placed against it.
  3. I had to take Rock Star to the emergency room Wednesday night.
  4. With all the chaos, I failed to get started on the novel.
  5. Yesterday was Valentine's Day.
# # #

The work I am trying to accomplish must be very important because the forces working against me have been hurricane strength the past few days. But instead of freaking out and running from the storm, I have decided instead to square my shoulders and stay on my chosen path, head against the wind. Yes, there have been moments when I have screamed and yelled and stomped my feet and asked myself why. But what a waste of time. Better to just let the crazy flow through and keep moving. And look for the good in the bad.

The Wonderfulness in the Challenges
  1. The bathroom remodel will be finished before the end of business today. And it's going to be beautiful.
  2. My checking account has a temporary credit for the fraudulent charges and it doesn't look like I'm going to be liable for any of them.
  3. Rock Star is going to be fine.
  4. This morning, I reviewed the first 25 pages of my NaNoWriMo project and got them ready to submit for GRW's March Gin Ellis Workshop.
  5. The Valentine's Day chocolate is on sale today.
It seems that the more I am able to make peace with what I have and the situations that are beyond my control, the more negative energy I free up to use towards the creative projects that I truly believe are the pathways to my dreams. Maybe that's what all those manifesting gurus mean when they tell us to focus on what we want instead of what we don't want. I may not be able to control what life throws at me, but there is one thing I can control. And that's myself.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

All you need is love.
~ John Lennon

I'm blogging over at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales today. Click HERE to read the post. In the meantime, I wish you a Valentine's Day filled with all the love and joy your heart can hold. And then some!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

THE COMFORT OF LIES by Randy Susan Meyers

I stayed up until one o'clock this morning finishing The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers. It's that kind of book.

Five years ago, Tia fell into obsessive love with a man she could never have. Married, and the father of two boys, Nathan was unavailable in every way. When she became pregnant, he disappeared, and she gave up her baby for adoption.

Five years ago, Caroline, a dedicated pathologist, reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. She prayed her misgivings would disappear; instead, she’s questioning whether she’s cut out for the role of wife and mother.

Five years ago, Juliette considered her life ideal: she had a solid marriage, two beautiful young sons, and a thriving business. Then she discovered Nathan’s affair. He promised he’d never stray again, and she trusted him.

But when Juliette intercepts a letter to her husband from Tia that contains pictures of a child with a deep resemblance to her husband, her world crumbles once more. How could Nathan deny his daughter? And if he’s kept this a secret from her, what else is he hiding? Desperate for the truth, Juliette goes in search of the little girl. And before long, the three women and Nathan are on a collision course with consequences that none of them could have predicted.

Riveting and arresting, The Comfort of Lies explores the collateral damage of infidelity and the dark, private struggles many of us experience but rarely reveal.

With compassion and sensitivity, Randy Susan Meyers weaves this complex tale of three women, the men they love, and the little girl that binds them all together. Tia, Caroline and Juliette are as different as three people can be, yet each is realistic, sympathetic and relatable. This book explores the subjects  of marriage, infidelity, parenthood, and adoption and does it in a way that never becomes maudlin or heavy-handed. This is some of the most beautiful, honest and insightful fiction writing I have seen in a long time.

Five enthusiastic stars to this wonderful book! Very highly recommended!

NOTE: I received a copy of this book for FREE from the publisher, Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., in exchange for a written review. There was no expectation that this review be either positive or negative, and I was not given any financial compensation to read the book or write the review. This information is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 [...] Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Homemade Foaming Antibacterial Soap

While scouring the internet for soap recipes recently, I stumbled upon this one for handmade foaming antibacterial soap. I decided to give it a try. Here are my supplies: distilled water, castile soap, thieves oil, and foaming soap pumps.
The pink pump is for me; the red one is for my brother. The bottoms are suction cups. Whee!
Here's the recipe:
3/4 cup distilled water
1/4 cup castile soap
5 drops thieves oil

Dump everything into the soap pump, swish, and voila! Foaming antibacterial soap!

For more on the antibacterial properties of thieves oil, click HERE. A combination of cloves, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary, it smells wonderful! I think a combination of lavender castile soap and lavender essential oil would be great, too. And next December, I might try peppermint soap and peppermint oil. Regardless of the fragrance, I am delighted with this economical, chemical-free handmade foaming antibacterial soap. Let me know if you give it a try!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Welcome to my stop on the Just Breathe World Tour; I am delighted to be a part of it! Keep reading to find out how you can win some fabulous prizes, including a Kindle HD!

Kendall Grey has done it again. With the release of Just Breathe, she has brought her paranormal trilogy to its exhilarating conclusion. Here is the back cover blurb:

He made a deal with the devil to save the woman he loves...

After a terrible accident rocks the foundation of their relationship, Australian Sentinel Gavin Cassidy and whale biologist Zoe Morgan call it quits. Gavin can't forgive himself for shattering her trust, and being with the sexy rock star is killing Zoe. Literally.

But love--and duty--are powerful motivators, and alliances are forged in the most unlikely places. With the key to salvation locked inside the mind of an unconscious child, Gavin must find another way to snuff out the Fyre Elementals before millions of humans die, or make good on his deal with the devil and lose the one he loves. Again.

I can't say enough good things about this series. From the very beginning of Inhale, I was completely sucked into this meticulously crafted paranormal world; the cliffhanger at the end of Exhale left me waiting impatiently for the rest of the story. But when I finished the last page of Just Breathe, I wasn't ready to say goodbye.

These books have it all: well-drawn, believable characters and plots and subplots with twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. But the love stories woven throughout the pages are what give the series its real heart: the love Zoe has for the whales; the love between parent and child; the love between friends--and, of course, the passionate, abiding love between Zoe and Gavin.

Five stars! Highly recommended!

Click HERE for my review of Inhale; click HERE for my review of Exhale.

And the icing on the cake? Kendall Grey donates all profits from the sale of her series to programs that educate people about whales and the problems they face.

In addition to the trilogy, Kendall created four short stories, or ephemera, which tie into the series in unique and compelling ways. In the vlog below, Kendall describes her inspiration for my personal favorite, Letting Go.

WARNING: These books contains graphic language, sex, and violence. NOT SUITABLE FOR READERS UNDER THE AGE OF 18.

Signed postcards of all three books and all four ephemera shorts.

Click HERE to enter Kendall's drawing for a Kindle HD.

Click HERE for a chance to win a CRN care package.

Or simply leave a comment below for a chance to win an e-book copy of any single title in the series, including the ephemeras.

Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cutting and Pasting

My Vision Board
Saturday night my two of my BFF's and I donned our tiaras and our pajamas, shared a delicious meal and a couple of bottles of wine, and finished the vision boards we started last weekend. If you have never made a vision board before, I highly recommend it. Click HERE for some pointers.

Mine turned out to be very eclectic. I'm not sure what it all means but I have no doubt it will become clear over time. Incidentally, I am working on a separate board pertaining to my writing. I will post a picture of that one when it is finished.

* * * 

While I was decluttering in my piano studio one day last week, I found a large three-ring binder that I put together almost ten years ago. It is crammed full of words and pictures cut from magazines, quotes from various sources, and articles on topics such as journaling, reading and writing. I am looking forward to digging into it soon, reconnecting with the younger Pam who put it together, culling the truths that still seem relevant to me and leaving the rest behind. Last night, though, I pulled out Raw Art Journaling, a book my wise and thoughtful mother gave me for Christmas, and read the first chapter. Like author Quinn McDonald, I have a hard time drawing a straight line with a ruler, but I have made up my mind I'm not going to let that stop me from keeping a raw art journal of my own. For my eyes only, it will be a safe place for me to make meaning--and art--from the words, images and thoughts that have resonated so strongly with my being for such a long time. Excited, I ran downstairs and dug out a barely-used drawing pad from the large box of art supplies that has lain neglected since our home schooling days. At some point, I might even muster the courage to experiment with the charcoals, pastels, colored pencils and watercolor paints that fill that same box. 

Oh, it won't always be fun. But a lot of things worth doing aren't always fun--or easy. And I am hoping that these experiences will help me to tap more deeply into the creative side of myself and that the benefits will spill over into my music, writing, and jewelry making. What do you think?