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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pedaling Off


I hope you'll excuse me while I pedal off for a bit. Nothing wrong--I just need a little time to myself, is all.

I hope you enjoy these chilly evenings and blustery days. I plan to do some forest hiking, lots of reading and indulging in maybe one or two more hot toddies than is absolutely necessary to ward off the cool-ish nights. But then, who's to say exactly how many hot toddies is too many?

Anyhow, I just need a break. Be back soon. Until then, I wish you peace. Lots and lots of it.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Just Another Day

Oh, yeah, I'm back home. The lunacy continues here in the middle of nowhere.

A moment from yesterday morning? Sure, I'll share that with you.

Hold on tight to your coffee mugs, friends. And, don't say I didn't warn you.

It snowed here. And was still snowing yesterday morning while I was in the hot tub, which is in its own little building. Private. Peaceful. All good.

Yesterday when I went to the hot tub I grabbed a pair of jeans and sweatshirt off the pile of folded laundry as I passed. Divine intervention, I think. Anyhow, I had more than just my short blue robe with me when I headed out.

Good thing, that.

So there I am. Drinking coffee. Watching steam rise off the water. Plotting the day's chapters in my mind.

The roar of an engine breaks into my peaceful time. I hear noise. The doorbell on the house rings. Me? I hunker down in the water and hold my breath. Then, heavy footsteps on the deck. A knock on the door.

Crap.

"Yes?"

"Fed Ex, ma'am. Package for you."

"Uh, could you just leave it by the door? Thanks."

"I need a signature, ma'am."

Double crap.

Climbing from the water, dripping everywhere, I manage, "Ah, sure. Just...one....minute, okay?"

"Take your time, ma'am." I hear the laughter in his voice.

Of course, I'm glad I've got real clothes and tug the sweatshirt over my head. I jump into the jeans, wiggling my wet body into the dry denim. Not easy, take my word for it. Finally the jeans are up all the way.

Backwards.

Oh yes, I did. I put those jeans on backwards.

So I did what anyone would do. I pulled that sweatshirt down as far as I could, attempted a calm demeanor and opened the door. Signed the slip. Thanked the guy. Took the package.

But I know he saw my pants were on backwards. He totally saw it.

Yeah, I need another MHB. Bad.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

MHB

Mental health break.

More commonly known as R&R. That's right, I needed a little rest and relaxation.
A change of scenery. A few days away.

So that's what I did. I packed a small bag and checked into a hotel. Just me, myself and I. Oh, and the book. Authors never really are alone, are we? There's always the wip and its cast of characters to accompany us.

How was my MHB? Oh, it was amazing! I didn't go anywhere extraordinary. Didn't go sightseeing. Didn't take a helicopter ride.

No, I spent my time much more meaningfully. And oh, so relaxing.

Visiting with dear friends, who completely took it in stride when I jumped at the chance to crash their dinner. Thank you, Gary and Kelley! I love you both!

Strolling without a destination in mind and poking around in shops. Getting a haircut. Going to Mass. Watching football. All low-key. All good.

And the book. I've got to tell you, writing in a hotel room without phones, Fed Ex men, doorbells and the rest of it was heavenly. I just wrote without considering anything but the story, and of course the writing was effortless.

Yesterday, back in the land of real life with its interruptions and annoyances, I regretted leaving sanctuary of that hotel room so quickly. Writing with doorbells, phones, Fed Ex men, laundry buzzers and zealous neighbors can be frustrating. I managed, but honestly I considered packing my bag and running off again!

So that's what I've been up to. What about you? What's new in your world this snowy Thursday morning? Hmm?

Friday, December 02, 2011

Zombie Fare

Totally on the run this morning. I have a date with a zombie! Yes, the book is keeping me occupied and I'm actually having fun writing this story.

Big question of the week? What to feed the hunky zombie. I won't divulge, but let's just say all the "suggestions" cracked me up. This book is absolutely keeping my mind occupied. Mission accomplished.

What about you? What's on your to-do list for this chilly Friday?

Wishing you a peaceful, zombie-free day.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Nailed

Picture it. One woman. Two men. A search.

That's right. A look-everywhere, are-you-sure-this-isn't-it?, tip-to-toe search. A rescue mission, of sorts, as she hopes to retrieve box of nails. High hopes, because windy conditions tore loose a trim edge on barn which now needs--you guess it--a few nails to resecure trim piece.

So...

"Here you go, sweetie. And I didn't even use any of them for my project."

Glance at box in hand. "Thanks, but these aren't my nails."

Puzzled. "You sure?"

Handing back box. "Uh huh. These are coated trim nails. Not mine. Actually more expensive than the ones I gave you."

"What did you give me?"

"Four penny nails."

"Huh?"

"A box of four penny nails. That's what I gave you."

"Come inside. Let's look."

View boxes of screws, nails and assorted fasteners set out on top of pool table.

"What does a four penny nail look like? Is it this?"

Hands over a box.

A head shake. "Nope. They're galvanized screws."

"Okay. But what does this four cent nail look like?"

Shifting boxes, an answer. "Not four cent--four penny. And they're just one-and-a-half-inch commons."

Blank stare. Second man joins search party.

"Hey, did you see a box of nails?"

Second man sweeps hand over table. "Yeah. Lots."

Woman is more likely to find box of diamonds than box of nails in this Abbot and Costello mission.

"No problem. I'll just borrow a couple of nails, fix the trim and pick up another box when I hit Home Depot." She peruses a huge bin of random fasteners.

"Take what you need, sweetie. What will work?"

She spies a nail that will do. "Just a half-dozen roofers. They'll work."

A blank stare. From both men. "Roofers?" As if they're singing in church, perfectly synchronized and pitched.

Reaching in, she pulls out six nails. Opening her hand, displaying them on her palm, "Roofers. Fat head. Short. Long enough to tack the trim in place."

As she leaves, she hears man number one say to man number two, "Now, what is it I lost? So I can replace them for her?"

"Nickels. I think the nickel nails, she said. Yeah, that's it. Go get a box of nickels."

Welcome to my world.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Way Out

Recently I chatted with a dear friend who is deep into the NaNo experience. She's going to make the word count this year. Congrats, you-know-who! I'm so proud of you.

But we weren't talking about NaNo or word counts. The topic of conversation was one that anyone who's written a book knows intimately...

That's right. We were talking about the dreaded dragging middle. She's stuck in the middle, hating the experience and looking for some way out.

Me? I'm no help. I call it as I see it. No gilding the writing lily from me, sorry.

My advice...keep the butt in the chair. Deal with the draggy bits. Make them exciting, even if you hate them. Annoying characters? Give them a face lift, a keyboard makeover. Pull 'em back into line. Remember, you're the boss of this expedition. You drive the bus--tell those suckers sitting behind you to shape up...or else!

The only way to get to the Valhalla of writing words, "The End", is by going straight through the middle. There's just one way out if you expect that fabulous idea, cast of oh-so intriguing characters and fat file to actually become a decent book. Keep your butt in the chair. Keep writing. No shortcuts.

And, you don't have to like every moment of the process. I think some people think that writing a book is a lark. It's not. It's hard work.

But, if you keep at it, those two beautiful words are the last you'll write before pressing the save button. You know the words. Me, too. Currently I'm dragging a boatload of zombies through a jungle, working my way toward The End.

After reading this post, you'll probably never approach me for writing advice, will you?

Oh, boy. So, what's going on with you?

Wishing you a peaceful day!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Swimming with Zombies

The truth of it is that we never really know what sort of curve ball life's going to throw our way, do we? We can prepare, plan and prognosticate until you-know-where freezes over but it's pretty much a waste of energy. Plans are shattered. Preparations disposable. Prognostications fly like leaves in a stiff breeze.

I know it's early but I'm making a resolution. You know, the kind that comes with the beginning of a new year. But...earlier.

No planning for me. Not now. Not for a while.

Instead, I'm taking it as it comes. Just going with the flow, dealing with whatever life sends my way. Actually, that's exactly what I've been doing for the past couple of years. The only thing is that at this point I'm hoping (not planning, mind you!) for some fun, happy stuff to find me. Yeah, it's time.

Thanksgiving? Tough. But I'm past it now, feeling good and exploring new options. Options, you ask? That's right. Options.

Like, you know, zombies. Really, I'm writing something that keeps me smiling. And I've been plotting the story while I've been floating in the hot tub.

So, swimming with the zombies here.

What about you? What's going on in your backyard?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Brr!

Oh my, chilly doesn't begin to describe this upstate New York morning! It's downright cold here! But we had the most gorgeous weekend, with blue skies and almost balmy breezes, so there's no complaining coming from this chair.

The answer to a brisk morning? Around here, it's a nice cup of cappuccino, so I'm off to brew a cup. Or two.

Then, I'm going to park my behind in my chair and get to work. Oh yes, I'm working on a new book. I'd begun something sweet, sexy and fun...and by chapter 3 I wanted more. Much more. So I closed that file, and intend to return to sweet and sexy at a later date. Now, though, I'm lost in something entirely new to me. Really. So new that it's a challenge, which is precisely what I need right now. I need something to stretch my creative mind, something that isn't a walk in the park to write.

Oh, boy, I've given myself the perfect diversion for what may be a rocky stretch. These are the first holidays I'll spend without my sweet husband, so I know I might have a tough time but I'm trying to keep my chin up, stay busy and look toward the future. I'm not forgetting to allow myself time to cherish the beautiful moments from my past. He was so good, and we were blissfully happy, so there are lots and lots of wonderful memories...

So, writing today. A challenging story. Filled with intrigue, sexual tension and way-out-of-the-box characters. One big question? Will they get a happily-ever-after? Honestly, I don't know yet. What I do know is this: Whatever happens, she's strong enough to survive it, and that's all that matters at this point. The rest will take care of itself. I think. I hope. We'll see.

First, though, cappuccino.

What about you? What's on your to-do list this chilly Monday morning?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cranberries. And Chocolate.

I love dried cranberries. And chocolate. And nuts.

Last night, I had all three. Just not together. Until I got busy in the kitchen. Ooh, I love this recipe!

Chocolate Cranberry Clusters

1 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Combine the almonds and cranberries.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over slightly simmering water. Stir frequently.

When chocolate is melted, add the cranberries and nuts.

Spoon out heaping clusters of the mixture onto the waxed paper. Put the baking sheet into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Store and serve at room temperature. That is, if they last long enough to store. Or serve.

I wish you a candy-filled, peaceful day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In The Mail

I received the loveliest note yesterday from someone who recently read The Christmas Bargain. It was such a pleasant surprise to find such kind words in my mailbox! I can't tell you how much one little note lifted my spirits. It always feels so good to hear someone's read and enjoyed something I've written.

And this book has a particularly close spot in my heart. I wrote it during a very special time. It released when we truly needed something good to happen to us. It's just one book that really means a great deal to me, so knowing it's brought pleasure to someone else makes me smile.

So, that's my good news for the day. What about you? What's going on with you today?

Wishing you a peaceful day!


Iris Newgate’s grandfather left behind many things when he died, not the least of which is a condition in his will that states unless Iris finds someone to marry by Christmas day, she will be forced to take as her husband the most dastardly rake in London.

Lord James Whitman is well aware of what others say about him. He has heard his name whispered behind closed doors and learned of his character being maligned without cause. But after his unearned reputation causes Iris to decline his marriage proposal, he is determined to show her the truth and win her love!

Without her grandfather’s guidance, Iris must decide whether to trust the London gossips or the tune of her own heart. Could she possibly love a man who is as horrid as some say he is? Or should she trust her instincts and what the duke tells her to be true?

All Iris knows for sure is that Christmas day grows closer with each passing minute!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Snowdance

Snowdance features an amazing woman named Elinor. She's got many talents--one of her strongest is her cooking ability. Thought I'd share her recipe for cornbread. I hope you enjoy it!

Elinor's Fast Cornbread

4 T. butter
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425°.

Use butter to grease cast iron skillet. Place in warmed oven, wait until butter melts, then swirl around in skillet until all sides are evenly coated. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. I use an old Fiestaware bowl, a yellow one, but you can use any kind of bowl you've got on hand. Then, add the egg and milk and stir until the batter is well, you know. Like batter.

If there's a little butter left in the skillet, pour that into the batter and mix it in. Then, pour the batter into the skillet. Pop the skillet into the hot oven and bake the whole shebang for, I don't know...maybe a half hour or so. You'll know when the cornbread is done. It'll be golden brown on the top and a little bit crusty on the bottom.

Serve it with dinner, or for a snack. It's good hot from the oven and cooled the next morning for breakfast. But if you really want to have leftovers for breakfast the next day, you'd best double the recipe. Yes, I'd say make two if you really want to eat your fill.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Step Forward

You may have noticed I've been doing a lot of cooking and baking recently. I've been sharing recipes, hoping you might find some of them useful.

It took me a while to get back into the kitchen but now that I'm starting to find my way among the pots and pans, it feels really good. Vito and I cooked together every day and we spent so many wonderful hours in our kitchen. Months ago I couldn't stand the idea of being in the space without him but I'm slowly getting back to finding peace mixing, baking and cooking. I think he'd want me to feel good in the kitchen again. Who am I kidding? I know he'd like it.

Figuring out how to cook in smaller quantities is still a challenge. I try to cut back but consistently make way more than I can eat on my own. So, the freezer is full. And the neighbors are getting fat! No, not really, but they are tasting some of the extras. So far, no one's complaining so that's good. Eventually I'll learn how to cook less, but for now it's just okay to be wielding my spatula again.

Baby steps, right?

I hope you have a peaceful day. Any plans for this blustery day?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Neighborhood Cake

How to ward off an overly quiet afternoon? Toss together a quick cake, wrap it still warm from the oven and stroll down the street to visit with a neighbor. Yes, an impromptu tea-and-cake visit. It works.

This is one of my favorite, easy recipes. It whips together in a flash, is yummy with whatever berries you've got on hand and is pretty much irresistible so whoever you decide to share it with will probably welcome you.

I hope you enjoy it! Wishing you a peaceful, cake-filled day.

Crumb Cake

2 1/4 cups flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
1 egg
½ cup milk
2 T. melted butter
2 t. vanilla
1 cup sliced strawberries
8 T. butter
½ cup brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, granulated sugar and baking powder. Add egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Pour batter into a greased and floured cake pan.

Arrange strawberries on top of batter.

Combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle crumb mixture over berries. Place cake pan in a pre-heated 325-degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Orange?

I love soup. It just warms every little chilly spot, doesn't it?

I love butternut squash, apples and carrots. And, if you throw all that plus one or two more ingredients into a pot and let it simmer for a while, it becomes a yummy, warming soup.

I know, I know...it's orange. But hey, what can you expect from carrots and butternut squash? Orange? Yes. Scrumptious? Definitely!




One of my favorite parts of making this soup is that it makes enough to put two jars into the freezer. The next time I get a hankering for orange butternut squash soup I'll be able to skip the peeling and chopping. Just pop it into the microwave and presto--soup!


Hope you have a peaceful day.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Romantic Lizards?

I've written myself into a corner. I hate when that happens! What's holding me captive?

A lizard.

Or two, to be precise.

Yes, I know. Lizards aren't generally considered romantic elements but hey, this pair is already in the story so they've got to stay. I don't have the heart to write them out. Remember, it's romance, not murder mystery.

So, the little buggers will remain. I just have to figure out a way for them to release me. Being held hostage by a duo of lizards doesn't make my day.

What's new with you? Anything interesting?

And, do you know how to get rid of two pesky lizards? Any ideas on that one?

No? Me, either. Until we meet again, have a peaceful journey!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Reading?

I've spent many quiet hours lately, cuddled in a soft quilt before a roaring fire. It feels good to relax after the busy summer. And, I'm loving falling into some fabulous stories.

Last night I finished a great book. I'd read it before, found it on the bookshelf and (after giving it a dusting!) fell into it all over again. Hmm? The book? Oh, right! Sorry!

Sunshine and Shadow is one of the Benni Harper mysteries written by Earlene Fowler. I love the way this author writes. Her characters are amazing, coming to life so realistically I feel as if I know them all. Gabe, Benni's hunky man, is smart, caring and hot, besides. Dove, her grandmother, is persnickety enough that I love her. She cracks me up, which is a very good thing. And Benni? I just always think she's doing what a lot of us do--juggle many things without stopping to worry whether she'll drop any of the balls she's got in the air. This book is particularly fun because it goes back and forth between different times in Benni's life. I liked that aspect the first time I read this book. I liked it again this time.

It's good to know my taste in reading hasn't changed much. And enough has happened since I first read this book that I forgot a lot of the story so it was like reading it for the first time. Today I'll peruse the bookshelves again, and see if I can't find something interesting to dive into.

What about you? What are you reading?

I wish you a peaceful day!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Mouthwatering

A few years ago I published a little cookbook called Tea Time. Every now and then, I pull out my copy and turn to one of my favorite recipes. It's fast, easy and oh-so yummy!

Thought I'd share it with you so your house might smell as heavenly as this one does! Enjoy!

And, have a peaceful day.

Chocolate Loaf

½ cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups flour
3 T. cocoa
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
½ cup sour cream
½ cup chopped nuts, optional
½ cup chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two loaf pans.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs.

Combine dry ingredients.
Add to butter mixture.
Add vanilla, sour cream, nuts
and chocolate morsels.

Pour batter into pans.
Bake for 60 minutes.
~

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Take the Cheesecake. Leave the Lizards.

Cheesecake.

Lizards.

Aloe vera.

Nothing in common? Surely you jest!

Yes, I'm writing. It's a fun romance filled with silly moments. Lots of heart. Some twists. Turns. Sunburns.

All good.

If you'll excuse me, I've got characters waiting. I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful day--one without lizards, sunburn or aloe vera. But, some cheesecake wouldn't hurt, would it?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

No, No NaNo

November is National Novel Writing Month. I participated in this month-long book writing challenge more than once. Last year, of course, I didn't even know it was November. I skipped the challenge.

I'm skipping it this year, too. I just can't bring myself to jump into the fun. Not now. Maybe next year, but this year my heart's just not in it. I'm writing, but at my own pace and in my own time.

So I'll hope the other participants have fun, achieve their goals and find themselves happy and satisfied by month's end. There are forums available to peruse and excerpts to read, so if you have a minute--or two or three!--why not go check out the action?

Do you have any plans for this month? Whatever you've got up your sleeve, I hope it's enjoyable and brings you peace.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

And Again

So shoot me. I'm still on a soup kick!

Hope you have a peaceful day. And give the soup a try--it's really good!

Veggie Soup

1 large onion
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 cups vegetable broth
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup cut green beans
2 cups chopped spinach
1 chopped carrot
1 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 tablespoon dill
1 cup corn kernels
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon black pepper
Parmesan cheese, if desired for sprinkling at serving

In a large stock pot, bring broth, onion and potatoes to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except for Parmesan cheese, and cook, uncovered for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired, at serving.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Yum!

Still loving the soup here...

Black Bean Soup

A great thing to make on a cold day. I love to eat this with tortilla chips warmed in the oven. Spice it up if you like things extra-hot. Or, use a light hand with the spices if you desire a milder taste.

Black Bean Soup

One pound dried black beans
6 cups water
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 green bell pepper
1 red or orange bell pepper
1 onion
8 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ cup orange juice
16-ounce can plum tomatoes
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup cooked rice

Soak beans in cold water overnight.

Drain beans, rinse, and discard any stones. Place beans in a large stockpot with 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours. When beans are easily pierced with a fork, proceed to next step.

Chop peppers, onion, and garlic. Saute vegetables in skillet with olive oil until vegetables are tender.

Combine vegetables and beans in stockpot. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Just before serving, add rice and heat through.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kitchen Smells

Fall is such a great time for yummy kitchen smells and baking, don't you think?

Gingersnaps have always been one of my favorite cookies. They remind me of my childhood.

Gingersnaps

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup dark molasses
3 cups sifted flour
1/4 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cloves
1 t. ginger
1 t. cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and molasses and beat well.

Sift together remaining ingredients, then combine with the butter mixture. Chill at least 30 minutes.

Form dough into small balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar and place on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Reading?

What's on your reading list this week? Anything interesting?

I just finished a fabulous book. I have to tell you, I enjoyed every bit of it but that's no surprise. It was written by one of my favorite authors. And, just so you know, she's one of my favorite people, too.

If you've never read any of Kathleen O'Connor's stories you're really missing out. She portrays believable characters in pretty ordinary circumstances so well they feel like people you might know. Sometimes, Kathy's characters show bits of the readers' personalities, too. They're just human, and rise from the pages.

The Way It Happen In Novels is a story of contradictions and an unlikely match. I was intrigued from the first page by Cheryl and Richard's story. I've got to admit, he got on my nerves a time or two but I think he was supposed to do that. In any event, I was enchanted by their romance, and cheered them on every step of the way.

Thanks, Kathy, for bringing love and laughter to these gray October days!

The Way It Happens In Novels is available here.

So, what're you reading? I'm ready to fall into something new.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Loving Coffee Again

On the widow's path, it's mostly just a matter of survival. I just try to make the best of each day, looking to find some peace and a feeling of productivity. I learned early on that small things make survival less daunting, because every tiny victory helps make the big picture less painful.

I've learned effective coping strategies. Some, pretty obvious. Others? Probably only helpful in my life and utterly useless to others.

One thing I finally did was to take the plunge and spend money I received for my birthday on a Keurig coffee machine. I'd been drinking awful instant coffee for months. Why? The thought of brewing a pot of coffee without my sweet man to share it with me just sent me over the edge. Really, I cried every time I tried to do it, so I gave up and drank crappy instant mud. For a while, it worked. Then, as I said, I took the plunge.

It's not an earth-shattering thing, but it's wonderful to enjoy a cup of coffee again. In a special mug made just for me by an amazing young woman. And, I'm trying new flavors, which is easy with the variety of K-Cups available.

So, my latest step forward on this journey. I didn't know what to talk about this morning until I looked down at my mug of hazelnut coffee and smiled.

What's making you smile today? I hope it's something good. And, I wish you a peaceful day. Walk gently. Smile often. And, when the chance to calm your heart shows up, take it. Even if that chance comes in a coffee cup!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Venturing

Venturing to the movies! I love movies but it's been a real long time since I actually went to the theater. I went a few afternoons ago with my mom and step-dad, and we had a peaceful afternoon.

I saw ads for Real Steel and knew instantly I wanted to see it. So, that's what we saw and we all agreed it was well worth the price of admission. I loved this movie--it's filled with everything that I enjoy in films. Adventure. Innovation. Heart. And strength. The good guys triumphed. The creep got what he deserved. When I walked out, I was grinning. All good.

What about you? What kind of films do you enjoy most?

I wish you a peaceful day. Filled with adventure. Innovation. Strength. And, most importantly, heart.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tons of Soup

I made this a few days ago. I cut the ingredient list in half, and there's still tons of soup. Thank goodness, it's so yummy! I love soup weather, don't you?


Roasted Squash Soup

1 acorn squash
1 butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes
2 large onions
6 garlic cloves
½ T. cinnamon
1 Tbsp onion powder
2 T. garlic powder
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 T. cumin
2 T. oregano
2 T. paprika
2 T. chili pepper
1 T. salt
1 T. black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup small pasta

Cut squashes in half and remove seeds. Cut sweet potatoes and onions in half. Put all the pieces in a roasting pan, flesh side up. Sprinkle with spice mixture and drizzle with olive oil. Turn flesh side down, placing garlic cloves under cavity of the squash. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until fork tender.

Cool, then scoop flesh into a pot. Add pumpkin and blend with an immersion mixer. Still blending, slowly add stock. Add heavy cream. Bring to a boil, then add pasta.

Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Falling

I love fall. Love, love, love watching the leaves turn from green to gorgeous. It's always a surprise, seeing just what shade of color shows up on each tree.

I can't say I have a "favorite" season--I like them all. But fall definitely makes me smile.

What about you? Enjoying the fall beauty?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Coloring Outside the Lines

Every day there's more color to the hills. I just love it!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Flying

It's a perfect fall day here! Blustery. Chilly. Leaves flying through the air. I love days like this.

My plan? To get a small fire burning in the wood stove so the house gets nice and cozy. Then, I'm heading outdoors. It's a great day for planting mums and bulbs. Buttoning up the barns and checking the greenhouse. Securing the stuff near the pond. I'll drive the mower over the leaves, crunching them up as soon as they hit the ground.

It doesn't take much to entertain me, does it?

Then, I'll pull together some more winter squash soup(yeah, I'm hooked on the stuff!), warm some apple cider and settle in to work on a new crafty project. What am I making? I can't say just yet(it's a surprise for someone who reads this blog)but it involves some pretty colors and long needles. And, when it's done it'll hopefully keep someone special toasty warm. Got it figured out? I thought so.

Well, what's on your schedule for this pretty fall day? Whatever you do, I hope you have a peaceful day!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Lark!

Today's my day on The Lark Journals. Won't you stop by and visit? I've got something sweet and loving to share with you.

Wishing you a peaceful Friday!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bubble, Bubble...

A little of this. Some of that. And how about those?

Yeah, it's a recipe. Last night's dinner, actually.

It was late. I was tired. And hungry.

I'd just brought in a big basket of stuff from the yard. Good stuff.

Acorn squash. Butternut squash. Apples. Carrots.

You get it, don't you? I peeled. Cubed. Dumped it all into a pot. Added some vegetable broth. Salt. Pepper. And--the kicker!--pumpkin pie spice.

Cooked it all until it was soft. Then, the food processor.

Oh. My. Goodness. Yummy doesn't begin to describe this soup. And there was enough to freeze two pint jars, so in the very near future I won't have to cook. Just defrost. Nuke. And eat!

So, now you know what I was doing at ten last night. What were you up to?

Wishing you a peaceful day!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Release Day!


Color me happy. Today the large print edition of my latest novel, A Christmas Bargain, releases! I wrote this book during a peaceful time in my life so it's got a special place in my heart.

Seeing it in large print, and knowing it will reach a bigger audience because it's more user-friendly to those with sight problems really makes me smile. It is really just a good thing, and I'm happy this morning.

It's available here. I can't help myself--I think I'll go and look at it again...

Wishing you a peaceful day!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Armchairs

Armchair traveling. That's what I've been doing lately. And you know what? It's pretty darn comfortable!

No worries I'll stay in the armchair forever, but for now I'm having a great time browsing travel deals. Researching faraway places. Exploring different cultures.

I know where I'd go if money weren't a concern. What about you? Any destination catch your attention?

Wishing you a peaceful day!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Just a Thought

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." ~Steve Jobs

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Full Heart

You know how some people fill your heart--without even trying? Just the thought of them brings a smile and really makes your heart swell? You've got people in your life who have that magical ability, don't you?

I'm blessed with many people who make my heart sing. Yesterday was Vito's sister Josie's birthday. I can't say "sister in law" because the woman is a sister in my heart. Full-on, no-doubt-about-it sister. Just thinking of her makes me smile, brings warmth to my heart and makes my world a happier place.

Happy Birthday, Jo. I love you.

What about you? Fast--name a person who makes you smile.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A Reminder

There's a chill in the air this morning. It reminds me that this isn't that far away.

Wow. That's all I can say. Just wow.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Monkey-ing Around

Now in my Etsy shop!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Magic

Oh, yeah. It's that time of year again. Pumpkin time--don't you just love them? I do. I really do.

In the spring I planted a few hills of pumpkins. Some winter squash. A couple of gourds. Then, I ignored that garden. No weeding. Watering only during the big heat wave. I didn't even search beneath the big leaves to see what grew.

Now, though, I see the magic. A few seeds. Some sun. Time. And...magic.

My plan? To put the pumpkins at the end of our driveway, with a small sign. An invitation to enjoy the magic.

Wishing you a peaceful day.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Between Land



Between books. A weird place to be, really. Missing the characters in my mind and heart who I've come to know and love. Really, it's kind of lonely around the place now.


So, I'm thinking about the next book. Just thinking at this point. It'll be different from the last book but there'll be a love story.


Only this time, no duck. That's right, I'm leaving the duck out of the next book. I mean, there can't be a duck in every book, right?


I don't think I'll begin writing until I get the pre-winter farm chores squared away. Then, with long stretches of cooler weather and all my chores done, I'll be able to concentrate on writing. I won't feel guilty for falling into a different world when this one screams for attention. But until then, I'm in the strange between-books place.


What about you? What's going on with you?


Wishing you a peaceful day!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mrs. Fix-It



I've got a date with a ceiling hole today so I'm going to dash. I hope you have a lovely Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Whole Lotta Eatin'

The end of summer chores are mind-boggling here on the farm.

Always something to do.

And, always something pretty to appreciate.

The grapes are amazing.

Truly incredible!

More on that another time.


Now, I'm showing you what's been filling the kitchen.

Imagine some mouthwatering aromas, okay?

Applesauce. Apple butter. Apple pie filling.

And some random pickles!



Applesauce.

When we bought the farm, we planted a small orchard.

It's finally bearing bushels of fruit.

Fabulous!

The tomatoes keep coming.

The last of the blueberries became jam.
Yum!


Wishing you a peaceful day. Me? I'm going to get some writing done. Look at the hole where the bathroom fan and light should be. Maybe I'll figure that out. Or, I could just take a walk through the forest. It's a blustery day, the perfect time for forest walking.


Who am I kidding? Any day is a good one for a walk in the forest.


See you tomorrow.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Breathe...

Good Monday morning, friends. I hope you had a pleasant weekend. Mine? Interesting, but I'm not going to share. I'm just going to say that today I'm going to breathe. Enjoy the warm fall day. Go for a walk. Write. Bake something just for fun. And breathe. Yeah, lots of that.


One flower. So pretty, isn't it?

Stretching toward the sky.

I love it.

Now, don't you just wish your bathroom ceiling could look like this?

Short story?
A leak.
Crying.
Then, angry.
Hacksaw.
Chair.
Hole.

Yes, that is a kitchen towel stapled to the ceiling.
You know, I never thought I'd say that.
Live and learn.
And breathe.


I hope you have a peaceful Monday. As I said, I've got lots of plans. I'm going to ignore the ceiling today. It'll be there tomorrow. Today, just breathing. Peace. Relaxation. No ceiling holes or leaks.


See you tomorrow!







Thursday, September 22, 2011

Checking In

Ah...so, it's Thursday already, isn't it? How did that happen?

First, thanks for all the kind emails. I didn't mean to worry anyone. Honestly, the days just got away from me. I'm fine. Just busy.

I've got a ton of farm stuff to square away before the cold weather hits in earnest. My to-do list is longer than my arm! I've been painting the deck, pulling out the veggie gardens and mowing. And mowing. And mowing!

And, the canning. Oy, the canning... Tomatoes and apples just won't quit. I'll be grateful come winter but now I'm just sick and tired of canning. Don't get me wrong--I'm grateful for the produce but I wish it would can itself.

Polishing the book up, tweaking it and making it ready to go out into the world. I really hope there's a way to read the pages from heaven. I really do.

So, that's it from here. Just muddling along, not really paying attention to the days but focusing instead on what's right in front of me. It is working but I'm sorry if I've worried anyone. I'm still here!

Wishing you a peaceful day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gorilla'd

Catching up around the farm after finishing one book but before falling into the next one is in full swing. I'm vacuuming--yay!--and doing a few odds and ends.

And today, just because I like you an awful lot, I'm going to share a tip. Really, a handy-woman's tip. Something I learned, something I think you might need to someday know, too.

See this? It's a product called Gorilla Glue. That's right. Gorilla Glue.

Now, if you're a petite woman like me, you might sometime need to repair something above your head. And, if you do, you'll hold the handy-dandy Gorilla Glue so the glue squirts out of the tip toward you because, hey, no one glues up, do they? Of course not. Glueing down, that's the ticket.

When you tackle this overhead glue repair project, you could possibly be wearing a favorite v-neck shirt. Green, maybe. Olive green, exactly. Perhaps.

So you're overhead glueing down toward your favorite olive green v-neck shirt, right? Do you see it? In your head, do you really see the whole thing?

Okay. Then, you can see how a blob of Gorilla Glue might splop (yes, that's a savvy glue word) down at you, into your shirt and onto your...ah, assets.

Let me spell it out for you.

If you're not careful with this Gorilla Glue stuff, you could glue your boob to the inside of your favorite shirt. And no, I'm not kidding.

Consider this one of those pay it forward things. And, be damn careful with that stupid glue, okay?

Have a peaceful day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sucking

I've assumed so many new hats here. It's just crazy. Some new jobs I'm getting down without too much trouble. Others? Oy...

Recently, the vacuum decided it wasn't going to operate correctly. So, I grabbed a screwdriver and took that sucker apart. Four times. Every time, I thought I had it fixed. Uh, no. Not quite. So, I took it apart the fifth time and thought for sure I'd figured it out.

I even told a dear friend, "It took me five times but I finally got it right! Yay!"

Yeah. Yippee.

Tried it out yesterday afternoon and it's true, the vacuum finally did suck. In fact, it sucked really well.

But it also spat.

That's right. There was sucking. And, there was spitting. Lots of it. Big, hairy, dusty spitting.

S&*%^t!!

Yes, I'm trying to keep the blog G-rated. In real life, I swore in four languages. Vividly. I'm pretty shocked none of you heard me, actually.

So, I took it apart for the sixth time. Yes. The sixth time.

You know how soldiers have to disassemble and reassemble their weapons against a stopwatch? I'm pretty sure I can do that with this vacuum.

The sixth time really was the charm. Now there's just sucking. No spitting. And, I'm happy.

My sweet man would've fixed the vacuum on the first try. I have no doubt whatsoever he could've done it in a snap. He could fix or build anything. Anything.

Thank God I hovered over his shoulder and can find my way around a toolbox. It took me much longer almost than my patience could stand, but I didn't give up. I admit, round number three almost saw the vacuum fly but...I restrained myself.

So pleased I've figured this out. And now that the book is done, I've got miles to put on that vacuum.

What's new in your world? Anything you'd care to share?

I wish you a peaceful day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Help Wanted

Ho finito.

I'm finished.

Yes, it's true. I'm finished. The book is done and I'm tickled. Woo hoo!

What a journey this book has been. I wondered whether I'd be able to do it without my sweet man sitting within sight while I put fingers to keyboard. I won't lie; it wasn't easy. But I did it. And, I'm so glad. I have no doubt I had him here every step of the way. He's just, as my old friend Ray recently said, taken a seat with a better view. I love that thought.

Thanks for all your kindness and support. You can't imagine how many times your faith in me has kept me moving forward. You're all amazing!

So, now I'll catch up on life. There's a stack of unopened mail. A pile of packages the FedEx and UPS guys have left. I've hauled them inside but they are in a heap near the back door. The house? Oh, Lordy, the dust bunnies are huge. They could start a sorority and take over the place! Definitely time to get cracking on catching up. And, everyone who's left messages on the answering machine? You're on my to-do list, so hang on, okay?

First, I need to ask for help. Not easy for me to do, but I need a hand. Or maybe two. More specifically, I need eyes. I'd like a set of eyes to give the first few chapters a read through, just to maybe catch anything I've missed. If you think you might be willing to do this, I'd sincerely appreciate the help. Just email me and I'll contact you with the details. Thank you!

Now, off to tackle the mail. And the dust bunnies. And, maybe, to make some cookies for a very special person.

What about you? What's on your to-do list?

Wishing you a peaceful Tuesday!

Monday, September 12, 2011

So Close

You know what I'm chasing down, don't you? I'm close, so very, very close that it's practically maddening.

But let's not discuss it. I'm so sick and tired of it that I totally don't want to talk about it. Vito always said that was the best "sign" and once I'd hit the I-can't-stand-this wall I was closing in on the elusive, best two writing words.

Anyhow, this afternoon I plan to do some mowing. No one talks about it, but after a huge round of water and flooding there are unsavory remnants of the storm. First, huge, thick grass. And--dare I say it?--snakes. That's right. Snakes. Big ones that come with the water flooding the land. BLECH!! So I'm hoping the thick grass is dry enough to mow it close, which I'm hoping will keep the snakes out of our yard. The houses near the creek really are having issues with them. Up here, not so much, but I'm not taking any chances.

What about you? What's on your agenda for this lovely Monday morning? Whatever you're doing, I hope you have a peaceful day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Remember

Forever in our hearts.

God Bless America.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Grateful


My gratitude list is long. Really, I'm blessed. Today? I'm very grateful for my rain boots. Really. In upstate New York they're a necessity. And I don't see that not being the trend for a while, so I'm glad these boots are so comfy.

Today, more cleanup. And squeezing in some hours for writing. Then, salvaging anything I can from the gardens--they're underwater so that makes harvesting a challenge. Hoping to get some sewing done, too.

Oh, yes. The to-do list is massive this Saturday. What about you? What's on your agenda?

Wishing you a peaceful day.

Friday, September 09, 2011

One Thousand

Yes, it's true. This is my one-thousandth blog post.


So much has happened in these past years. So many changes. I could sit here and cry over the sad days, but I'm not going to do that. It's much easier to remember the good days, and smile.


Of course, I'd love it if my wonderful husband could be sitting right here beside me as I type these words. You must know it's my greatest wish, to be with him. But I believe he's with me, and he knows what I'm doing. He somehow sees I'm still here. That I'm doing all we discussed. I'm keeping to the plans we made together. He knows these things--and so much more.


Recently an old friend reminded me that Vito hasn't left my side. He's just taken a seat with a better view. I love that!


Thank you all for making this journey with me. For sticking with me through the triumphs and sad days. For letting me know I'm not alone on this path. I am grateful.


It's with a full heart that I share this milestone with you, this one-thousandth post. I have no idea where the days to the next milestone post will take me. All I know is that today, from the farm and from my heart, I'm glad you're sharing this moment. And, from this chair and from another with a better view, we welcome you again to another day on the farm.


I wish you a peacful Friday.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Water Horror

Nerves are frayed here. Tensions run high.

I'm ready to smack someone. Really, my usually peaceful personality is being tested. Not by Mother Nature, although I'm not thrilled by the antics she's enjoying. No, I'm agitated by a comment someone made. The gist of it? "Why let that upset you. It's not your house. Not your relatives. Why do you care?"

Yeah, I'm seeing red. I'm not a door-slammer but I actually did that this morning. I pretty much slammed the door in someone's face. I couldn't deal with one more minute of the self-centered, who-cares-about-anyone-else-I'm-okay crap.

Thanks for letting me get that off my mind. I'm still annoyed but now at least I've told someone. Doesn't it feel better sometimes to share, even if it's just to vent? Thank you for listening!

Dru asked if the tornado hit here. Thankfully, it didn't, although the spot it hit on the Thruway is very close to the farm. I'm really glad that one missed us!

This is the scene here this morning. State of emergency in the county. No travel. Lots of power off. Lots of phones not working. And water everywhere. Bridges, homes, businesses...washed out. Roads crumbled by the water. Colleges and schools closed. Trees down everywhere. And, it's cool. That means homes where water has hit the furnace or load center, there's no heat. For most of us, it's not crucial. But there are lots of elderly residents who are freezing.

I heard of one 84-year-old widow who lost everything. She's got the clothes on her back. No family. Friends? Pretty much in the same boat or gone to their reward already. She's got no one. Nothing. All those years, and this?

My heart is breaking. It's no wonder I slammed a door. How can anyone just not get the magnitude of the loss? And even if it's not yours personally, it's ours. Yes, ours. The human race--we're all in this together, so the stories of loss and suffering belong to all of us. I feel it. And, I know I can't be the only one who does.

The meandering creek.


No longer meandering.


All night long, the crashing as trees, boulders, parts of buildings


and even dead animals washed through. Awful. Really, just awful.



It' s just a matter of time before those barns are gone.


Pieces have already washed away.


One has a beautiful slate roof.


It proudly proclaims the year it was built.


1887




Aren't you grateful this isn't your home? I know I am. But...
The suffering and loss this photo conveys belongs to all of us.
All of us.



I can't distance myself from the heartbreak what's going on around me is causing. I just can't.



No more photos. They're just too sad.



I hope that wherever you are, you're safe and dry.
I wish you a peaceful Thursday.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Them's Soggy Words!

It's raining; it's pouring.
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed and bumped his head,
And he couldn't get up in the morning.


I hate to be a weather reporter here, but it's a big story in Upstate New York. It's raining--hard--which is something this already flooded area definitely does not need.

Yesterday I looked at the creek across the street. It's calmed down some but isn't back into its banks yet. There's still water in yards, garages and even flowing straight through a family's barn. Straight through. As in it's made a river through their building.

Now, more rain. Heavy. And we're already very splishy and splashy here. Sheesh.

You know what I'll be doing today, don't you? That's right. It's all about the book here this week. Yesterday I did manage to can tomatoes and make some applesauce (mostly because I'd filled one sink with tomatoes and apples!) but otherwise I kept my behind in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard. Today, more of the same.

Maria asked if I have a deadline in my head for finishing. I always do. And this book is about two weeks ahead of schedule because I've been so determined to make it work. I've just been single-minded about finishing it. I know I've got to do this, for so many reasons.

Maybe it's the old get back on the horse thing, I don't know. I'm just sure that my getting through what's going on in my life includes my successfully completing this book. Actually, I usually work much more quickly. I've given myself permission to meander a bit on this, recognizing I'm grieving so the added pressure of the "normal" deadline shouldn't apply. This book is longer than any other I've written, too, so I've added a bit for that. Still, I hoped to be done by October 1st but plan to be writing "The End" by this time next week. Fingers crossed!

I hope I'm not boring the heck out of you with all this book talk. I don't mean to. It's front and center in my head now and, thankfully, pushes even the sound of heavy falling rain to the background.

What's new in your world? Whatever you're doing, I hope you're staying dry. Have a peaceful day!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Crazy Writing Week

Every writer has them, the crazy writing weeks where the end of the book is in sight and the huge motivating factor is finishing the book. That's right, all I can think about is finishing the book.

Finishing.

The.

Book.

So close, so very close...yet, thousands of words away. Scenes to write. Tangles to unsnarl. Arguements to solve. Love to make. Oh, yes, the end is close.

That's my week. What about you?

Monday, September 05, 2011

From the Farm



Just going to enjoy Labor Day quietly here on the farm. Some sewing. Probably canning tomatoes and applesauce. Making eggplant for dinner and the freezer. Working on the book. Staying out of the garden because it's raining here again.


All in all, a leisurely day. What about you? Any plans?

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Do You See...

what I see?

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Brr!

Just a short note this morning. It's early, but I'm already on the go. Here on the farm, it's going to be a very busy day. Harvesting. Canning. Eggplant parm for dinner, as well as a few servings for the freezer. Trimming and weeding in the vineyard. Housekeeping...oh, washing floors and chasing dust bunnies.

And the book. Working on the book. Our heroine has herself truly tangled--in more ways than one!--in the current chapter. Poor thing; her already upside-down life is about to get even more harried. Me? I'm loving giving her a healthy dose of aggravation right about now. Life has bumps, so she's busy bumping along.

First, to dig out a sweatshirt. Not for her. For me. Because you know what? There's a definite chill in the air this morning. Brr!

Wishing you a peaceful day.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday's This and That

What a week.

According to the local news there are still in excess of ten thousand homes without power. What a nightmare. I've seen crews from many states (thank you Illinois, Wisconsin and Florida--you guys are like a small electrical army!) and everyone's working hard to clean up.

The experience really is an attention-grabber, on so many levels. One of the barns leaked, big time, but there's no way I can wring my hands and moan over it. Other people lost their entire homes. Still others, their lives. What's a barn by comparison? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I've been busy cleaning up the grounds. The gardens were underwater but are beginning to dry out. Trees went down. Some siding from one of the buildings flew off but I've got it on the to-do fixit list. Windows are repaired already, so I'm making progress.

Yesterday? Oh. My. Goodness. Let's just say I won't buy canned tomatoes for a long, long, long time.

And amidst it all, I've managed to get a good amount of writing done. The book is probably two-thirds done, which really makes me feel good. It's been a great leap of faith for me to sit down and write this book. The sweet angel on my shoulder motivates me to finish. I know the end will be bittersweet. I'm still keeping it in sight, though.

What about you? How was your week? And do you have any plans for the long weekend?

Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you a peaceful day!

PS I'm over at The Lark Journals today. Sharing a secret and something beautiful!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Gifted

Yesterday I received a wonderful gift. It warmed my heart. Soothed my soul. Brought peace. Laughter. Contentment.

Hmm? What did I get? Something that is so important.

Friendship. That's right. I was blessed by the gift of friendship.

A friend spent the day with me. We took care of some business. She supported me during a trying experience. She listened. We laughed. We cried. We spent time together, and it was exactly what I needed. Her kindness, attention and compassion lifted me high.

I think we sometimes forget how precious the gift of friendship can be. We take our friends for granted, assume they somehow know what we think and how we feel. To a point, it's true that a dear friend knows the connection is always in place. But, it never hurts to bring the gift of friendship front and center.

I am grateful for this wonderful woman and the day we spent together. The sweetness of the afternoon will linger in my mind and heart for a long, long time.

And, did I tell you she fed me cake for lunch? Now that's a true friend!

What's new in your world? Thanks for spending a few minutes with me today. I'm wishing you a peaceful day!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Aftermath


There are lots of places that escaped the wrath of Irene. Unfortunately, large parts of upstate New York weren't that lucky. There's a lot of damage here. Thousands without power. Lots of water in homes. Creeks and rivers out of their banks. The aftermath of water damage to be cleared as water begins to recede.

Whole towns flooded. Bridges out. Homes gone.

And the worst? Lives lost. This morning's local news tells a story of yet another man washed away in the floodwater. So sad.

Here on the farm, things are pretty okay. Lots of cleanup. Trees down. Shingles off a roof or two. Branches everywhere. The gardens? Underwater. Water in the basement and raining in a barn. But I can deal with all of it. Small potatoes by comparison to some of our neighbors. I am grateful it wasn't worse.

Lots of people still without power. There are power crews from out of state here to help, but they're having trouble getting to the affected areas. Bridges and roads need to be in place for those big trucks to get around, but they're gone in so many areas. I saw a caravan of electric trucks from Illinois pass the farm yesterday. They're looking for back roads that are still passable. I didn't see them come back, so I'm praying they found a way to help the ravaged areas.

Just a few photos of Irene's mess. Nothing too graphic. You can see that on the news, and it's really too disturbing to post much here.

Will be here and there for the next few days. Trying to do all I can to help neighbors. Thanks for understanding!




My boots are getting a workout.


I've rescued a bunch of these from the lawn and driveway.
They were swept out of the pond in the flooding.
He looks lost, doesn't he?

This is usually a lazy, babbling brook.
In a few hours, it took out buildings and changed lives forever.


We're used to seeing a picturesque creek, not this raging torrent.

The wall of water took out anything in its way.

Around here, we're happy to be alive.

Not too thrilled with Mother Nature at the moment, though.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Come On, Irene!

Good Sunday morning, friends. Just popping in while there's still power here on the farm.

Irene's finally found us, and already she's making a forceful first impression. And this is just the beginning. Torrential rain and increasing wind have me up way before sunrise. The hammering on the roof isn't conducive to peaceful sleeping!

So, I've spent the past three days battening down the hatches. Now, I'll just ride it out and hope for the best. We're forecast to probably lose power so if I'm missing for a bit that's the reason.

I've got plans to read. Write. Watch the rain. And, if the power holds up, I'll watch the Weather Channel. Or not. I can't imagine what they might tell me that I won't be able to see with my own eyes!

And, just to add interest to this wild weather week, another small earthquake shook Albany county yesterday morning. Nearby, but I didn't feel a thing.

What do you think the weather in Tuscany is? Just wondering...

I hope you have a peaceful day. See you soon!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Lowdown

Good morning! I'm over at The Lark Journals today. Won't you come visit?

Wishing you a peaceful Friday.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Have a Plan


Oh boy. First the ground shook. Now? Irene.

Mother Nature? Uh, having fun yet?

Today I'll pick up a couple of things to make sure the farm is prepared. I'm preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. I can't cover all bases but I can take care of some things.

So, that's how my day will go. You?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Godzilla Stomp

So, I did have a Godzilla-free day. But, the earth felt a little of the Godzilla-two step not once, but twice, here in upstate New York. That's right, the earth shook...and then, later in the day, it shook again.

Yesterday morning, around 6:30, I was sitting right here when the house trembled. The computer screen swayed. The television remote sort of skittered across the desk.

My reaction?

Huh. Now, isn't that interesting?

That's right. There was an earthquake, measuring 2.2 to be exact, about 35 miles east of here. I felt it, but just carried on.

Unflappable, I guess. I'm sitting here shaking my head, almost embarrassed to admit I took it so in stride.

Later in the day I was outside picking apples. Yes, life here at Villa Leone is lively. So...picking apples. We planted a row of apple trees behind one of the barns. They're heavy with fruit, and the apples are oh-so sweet, so I spent a good part of yesterday making applesauce.

I was minding my own business, picking fruit from the first tree in the row, when the ground beneath my feet just sort of started to shudder. Really weird feeling. I realized the branches around me were swaying, and an apple dropped near my feet.

I looked down the row at the other trees. Branches? All swaying. Very freaky to watch.

My reaction?

Huh. So this is wild. I wonder how many more apples I can fit into this big bowl before I'll have to go inside and dump it into the sink?

Desensitized, much? Overload, anyone?

Godzilla stomping? You think?

Today? More applesauce. More canning tomatoes. More book writing. And, hopefully, no more ground shaking!

Wishing you a peaceful day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In the Soup


Morning is breaking. I've been awake for hours. It's going to be one of those days, when I scramble all day long, trying to rub the sleep from my head while keeping every ball in the air. It happens. I'll probably sleep tonight. But today? It's going to be interesting.

But...the sunrise is gorgeous. All red, pink, lavender and white. I'd take a picture but don't want to miss a moment. So, imagine the beauty...

Just before sunset last night I raided the gardens. It was a mini-raid, since there's such abundance out there and I'm only one woman with two hands who got tired after three trips inside. I picked zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, yellow squash, potatoes, green beans, peas, basil, blueberries and apples. Most of it is still waiting for me in the kitchen.

Yikes!

Today I'll pick some more. On the to-do list? Applesauce. Pesto. Soup. That's my day.

And the book. Always, the book. Which, by the way, is moving right along. Chapter 20--all about resisting temptation. Or not. But I'm two-thirds done with the first draft and I'm just over-the-moon tickled.

But...

You know what's next, don't you?

That's right. It's the dreaded synopsis. Looming ahead of me, waiting like Godzilla hiding around a corner. Ready to smack me down when I dance to the point of needing a synopsis.

Stinking Godzilla.

Wishing you a peaceful, Godzilla-free day.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekend Update


I hope you had a nice weekend. I hope it was peaceful. Relaxing. Heartwarming. Productive.

If it was, you had a weekend similar to the one I had. What did I do?

Well, I took most of Saturday off from the book. One of my college sorority sisters arrived early that morning. The day was beautiful, all blue sky and warm breezes, so we took a nice ride. Just talking, catching up, laughing. We went for lunch. Lingered. Talked some more. We ran errands. Bought flowers. Visited someone special. We had a lovely day. We walked the farm when we got home, stopping in the vineyard, orchards and by the pond. We admired flowers in the meadow, picked apples and just enjoyed the day. She'd brought home-baked cookies (I felt so special!) so before she headed home we had coffee and cookies for dinner. Yes, you can do that--have cookies for dinner. It's okay!

Later on, I worked on the book for a bit.

Yesterday? I canned tomatoes. Did laundry and other household chores. I dealt with an entire sinkful of peppers.

Mostly, I worked on the book. It's coming along nicely. I'm not making it easy for this couple to find their happily ever after. They've got lots of wacky stuff to deal with before they find their truth, that they need to be together more than they need anything--or anyone--else. I sent the first chapter to a new set of eyes. Major trepidation there. But her reaction? "Get moving and finish the book!" So, all good book-wise.

Today, more writing. I've got a deadline for this one, a timeline in my head, due mainly to circumstances that will be soon upon me. Just some stuff I'll need to deal with, obligations that can't be changed. It's not all bad because it's pushing me right along.

What about you? How was your weekend?

I wish you a peaceful day!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Snippet


Did you notice? Just one snippet. Just one. But, it's a big one.

Oh, I've been working my butt off on the new book. Yes, I really have. I'm having fun but I've got sore fingers, aching wrists and a backache that just won't quit. For my trouble, I've got nearly 43,000 words. Not all great, of course, since it's the first draft, but I've got a solid story coming together.

Good news, no?

So, here's the snippet.

I'm taking the day off from writing.

I know, I know! I never do that but I need a writing break. I've got plans for this gorgeous day. I know they'll be fun. And, hopefully by tomorrow my fingers won't be so sore.

Wishing you a peaceful Saturday.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Midnight on the Farm

"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power . They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief... and unspeakable love." -- Washington Irving

A good friend sent that quote yesterday. I love it.

Today I'm at The Lark Journals. I'm going to gab about what kept me company in the wee hours this morning. Interested? Why not stop by and say hello? I'd love to see you there!

Wishing you a peaceful Friday.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Day at the Farm

Yesterday was one of the best days I've had in a long time. I laughed. I felt almost like the "old" me. I looked ahead. I dealt with some of the past.

No, I didn't go for a spa day, although I could use the pampering. And I didn't escape to a tropical destination where colorful drinks are served with tiny paper umbrellas. Fancy? Not one bit of my day could even loosely termed fancy--or schmancy, for that matter.

So, what made yesterday so great?

Love. People. Hard work.

And, I'd never forget this part, "Good, clean living."

There's a lot to do here on the farm. Sometimes, I find myself a bit on overload, with a spinning head and too many things to do with not nearly enough time to do them. I've had a to-do list regarding some outdoor projects all summer long. Yesterday, the calvary arrived and wiped that list off my mind!

We emptied out the building where wood pellets are stored. Now, I can have pellets delivered. We straightened up the greenhouse. It's ready for spring planting now. We cleaned the garage, putting the yard equipment in proper places in the barns and making room for vehicles to go back inside. Now they'll be where they should be come winter, and I won't look out the window and think I've somehow dropped the ball.

Plus, I won't have to clear snow off the truck. Last year I smashed myself with ice doing just that. I'd rather not break my nose again if I can help it! So, the truck in the garage is a very good thing.

It souds like a huge amount of work, doesn't it? It was, but it went so well and so quickly I was just amazed. Many hands really do make for lighter work.

I am beyond words grateful. I woke this morning, looked out and saw some of what we accomplished. I smiled, my heart warm and my shoulders lighter for having shared some of my burdens. It's wonderful that we ripped through my to-do list. It's even better that the love and friendship truly lifted me up.

I am healing, thanks in large measure to those who love me enough to support me. I will never be the same woman I was, but I will be okay. I know that as surely as I know my own name.

And, since we tore up the chores, we had time to sit in the shade. Eat. Share stories, reminiscing about the past and looking to the future. We laughed. As I said, a great day.

How did your Wednesday go?

Today? I'm back to the book. I love it that whenever I tell someone a bit about what's going on in the story, they laugh. It makes me believe I'm on the right track with this funny romance. I certainly hope I am...fingers crossed!

Wishing you a peaceful day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Wednesday Creep

Some weeks it feels like Wednesday creeps up on me. I don't know how it happened. It was Sunday, now it's Wednesday. Holy moly!

Things have been so busy here that I guess the hours fly by without my realizing it's happening. Good in a way. On the other hand, I think I might need to stop and smell some flowers. Starting today, I'm going to make a conscious effort to take a little time and do...nothing. I'm not sure I can do it without going nuts, but I'm going to give it a shot. Wish me luck.

Maria asked if the meadow is hay. Yes, that's exactly what grows there. When we bought the farm, we knew we had no need for the hay in the field. A local farmer, however, has a great need. So, my sweet man spoke with the farmer and offered it to him, free of charge. It is a good situation for everyone. Small farmers need all the help they can get. We're supporting them, even in a small way. And, the meadow is cut three times each year, making it nice for long walks whenever we feel like strolling. So, I love to see the tractors on the farm. It's good to know we're making something that's contributing to the local economy. And in turn, to the food supply. All good.

Today? Carving time to work on the book. And I've got a sinkful of tomatoes, a half-bushel of peppers, potatoes and onions that need to be dug and blueberries waiting to turned into jam.

Oh, yeah. I'm so on top of taking time to smell the flowers.

Maybe tomorrow. I'll put it on the list.

Anyhow, what's on your Wednesday schedule?

Wishing you a peaceful day!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tractoring


Day number two on the seriously wet and rainy regime. Yesterday? Buckets of rain, all day long. Today? Forecast similar.

No complaints here. I'm working hard on the book. Just starting Chapter 15. Eating a lot of peanut M&Ms.


Just a few days ago, things were bright and sunny here on the farm.


The meadow was mowed.
I love those straight lines!


I've got to say, I get a kick out of tractors.



It's interesting to watch the rolled hay come out the back of this contraption.

I wasn't standing in the right spot to see it, but trust me, rolls were made!

Today, back to writing. What about you? What's keeping you busy?


Wishing you a peaceful day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cake and Steam



Good Monday morning. How was your weekend? I hope it went well.


Here, I was busy. No surprise, that. Saturday I spent working in the yard, canning tomatoes and making blueberry jam. Oh, and I did laundry and housecleaning. Funny how a day zips by when you're in go-go-go mode.


Yesterday? Much more laid back. Dreary, threatening to rain all day long, Mother Nature didn't have to push me to say inside. I chatted on the phone with several friends (really, thank God for friends who know when to listen. They also seem to have an uncanny way of knowing just when I need them most, and ring right then!) which was relaxing.


Then, I spent the rest of the day working on the new book. Yes, it's all very exciting, hitting the midway mark in the book. I'm having fun with this book, just letting myself introduce ridiculous events as well as bringing on some steam. Thanks to an insistent Boston doctor, this book will sizzle somewhat. Hey, she insisted! Anyhow, it's keeping me busy and that's all good.


So. The good. No bad. But the ugly? I'm not sure about that one yet. I've become addictied to Entenmann's New York Style Crumb Cake. So...the ugly just might be my thighs if I don't get a grip.


Thighs, schmighs! I'm sticking with the cake!


Life is too short to skip the cake. And this one? It's sooo good!


Wishing you a peaceful day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lark Friday

I'm over at The Lark Journals today.


Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Farm Happenings


Summer is a busy time here at the farm. The days seem so short, mostly because I'm trying to fit in weeding, mowing, harvesting, canning, freezing, housekeeping and, last but not least, writing. Yes, my days have been jam-packed but I like it that way. Not an awful lot of spare time to think, which is a good way to get through the days.

As usual, I'm hitting the floor running today so I thought I'd share a couple of photos. That way you can see what kept me busy just a few days ago.

First, though, I've got to show you one of my favorite things. Do you see that lovely bracelet hanging on the vase holding a lily my sweet man planted for me about three years ago? (Yes, I know it's a long, convoluted question but, honestly, everything is important so I squashed it all in!) Anyhow, I've been wearing that bracelet in remembrance of those who suffer from the monster leukemia. I love the bracelet. It is comfortable, warms my heart and gives me hope that someday no one will suffer from the disease.

Strides are being made. Yesterday's news featured the fabulous news that three cases of CLL, the most common type of leukemia, are being treated successfully in a new manner. Three cases may not seem huge to someone who's never dealt with the disease. Believe me, every case is important and every life saved matters. This news gives hope that treatments are evolving, lives will be saved and maybe, someday, the monster leukemia won't claim any more beautiful people.

Anyhow, that bracelet? I love it and wear it everyday. I park it when I'm going to do something messy, which is why it's hanging on the lily.

Now, to the messy...



Blackberries, raspberries and blueberries just keep coming here.

Honestly, I can't pick the blueberries quickly enough!

Raspberry Jam

Mangoes.
They didn't grow here on the farm.
Wouldn't it be amazing if we could grow tropical fruits here?
Hmm...

Mangoes getting hot and sticky.


Now, mango jam!


So many cucumbers!


Washed and dried.


I love dill pickles!


So, what's been going on in your neck of the woods? Anything you'd care to share?


Wishing you a peaceful day!