Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Haunted" Book Giveaway

Happy October! I am a bit tardy in getting out the holiday decorations, and by holiday I mean Halloween. More fun than Thanksgiving (but similar colors), less buildup than Christmas, and slightly wicked, this is probably my favorite holiday. Plus you get to play dress up! Harry the cat above hangs in my house at Halloween and all the time because he makes me smile.

I'm giving away something from my dark, creaky closet (with spiders! and cobwebs! Like the Halloween-y imagery?)-- a trade paperback anthology I was featured in. I recently came across a few extra of these in my "books to keep for appearances" shelf and they are always a hit this time of year. "Haunted" is a 270 page anthology of 42 short, spooky Haunted stories by a lot of talented authors who have gone on to other things. One of my stories is in there too.

To enter to win, plug your info into this Rafflecopter widget. The winner will be chosen on October 20th and I'll ship the book to the winner straightaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all who enter, and now, back to marathon-watching Twin Peaks, Halloweentown, and drinking ridiculous amounts of Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Christmas Cookbook-- A Yummy, Clutter-Free Gift

Hey, I know, it's insane to start thinking about the holidays. But I'm a mom. So I gotta get that stuff on layaway now! Just kidding. I used to do that, but we've really tried to eliminate much of the "Stuff" with a capital "S" that takes over our house, encroaching, each holiday, like a candy-colored lava floe.

Except Legos, of course. Those are exempt.

So the publisher Books To GO Now was kind enough to ask me to write a recipe for their upcoming Christmas Cookbook, and of course, I said yes! I shared my recipe for making fresh Ricotta that I've shared elsewhere on this blog, with some special additions that make it superlative.

Here's the cover. I think the Books to Go Now artists do great things with their covers.

The free dates are coming up! I'll blog here so you can download to your heart's content. Cookbooks are a virtually clutter-free gift that you can really use, so please stay tuned and I'll hook you up with a free one!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I'm excited to announce the Fall Sampler from Books To Go Now Will feature one of my books!

Jump into Fall: Sampler from Books To Go Now

Right now, it's $.99, but soon I'll be able to announce a Free promotion! Look for first chapters from 20 different Book To Go Now authors. It includes "romance, sweets, paranormal, women's fiction and more."

This one is so fun! What a great way to find new authors to dive into this chilly Autumn and read in a cozy room with a roaring fire like this one, mug of coffee in hand.

(photo credit: pinterest)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"Playing Through It" with Self-Advocacy

Yesterday morning was not a good one. It was one of those days I rarely write about. It was one of those ugly times I almost let depression and self pity win and sit on the couch in pain. Unfortunately, I get more of those lately. It was a weepy morning, as those mornings are prone to be. Something about being in the kind of pain I live with on the daily makes it hard not to have a weepy day when my disease really gets its claws in and makes every corner of my body hurt, especially the joints, which feel like they're about to separate from my body. It makes me feel so defeated. (And whiny, but it is usually my particular coping technique to be stoic instead. Neither are my best attribute).

I am lucky that most of my days are low-level pain, manageable, "normal." I know that with my brain injury and genetic disease I am not the most disabled, the one with the worst story, or the queen of pain. It's true that I have my "pity party" moments just like everyone else. I loathe feeling "weak", although that's not a productive term. There is a lot of anger too. I'm angry at the unfairness of my situation sometimes. Acknowledging that the feeling is okay, and not turning it into a place of feeling sorry for myself, is the trick.

What I'm more interested in is how you play though it. That idea gets a bad rap. I'm not advocating staying silent when you're in pain, but more that it's helpful to figure out how to live anyway, in whatever way that works for you. Obviously it's situational. You could say it's a metaphor for my whole life. Playing through it by constantly finding new coping techniques is just something I do in order to make my life work. Trying to keep going eats up most of my time. Again, I think this theme is common to anyone with medical (or otherwise) challenges.

But how? Creating mechanisms for dealing with these things is a practical step towards self-advocacy.

I get a lot of inspiration from others. Those days when all I can do in reality is read, since T.V. is hard for me to "track," when I'm sick due to the high fevers, I think about and read about inspiring individuals I know, from The Militant Baker to Sonia Renee Taylor to Jen McLellan to Liora K, and Louise Green, to people of the past like Helen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt. I think about inspiring people in my life who have overcome great obstacles.

I search the internet, when I'm able, for people like Robert Wannamaker.
(credit: Bodybuilding.com)

Now that is inspiring, no? That man's story is amazing. Talk about playing through it. I like to make lists of big things I can do when the current flare of my disease passes, too. Hope is a powerful motivator.

Enforced downtime is a good time to think about big issues, like how and why I take care of myself. When it's the hardest, I try to remember this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh:

"Smile, breathe, and go slowly."

Focusing on breathing helps get through the worst moments of pain for me. It's funny, that is very like being in labor, which I suppose in a sense is a very apt way to put it: "labor"-ing through the moments of disease. Hey, it worked when I was actually in labor three times!

(credit: Quotenation.com)

The best way to get through these difficult days is to remember that like all of life's moments, the beautiful, glorious ones or the most wretched ones, this too shall pass. It's something so oft repeated that it's a platitude, right? But true.

Sometimes, I'm able to knit when I'm stuck in bed or on the couch. I'm actually a terrible knitter, but an enthusiastic one. I'd like to say I actually finished that Joey Ramone and Joan Jell doll set I was making last year, but umm, no.
(source: vikingsfan.org. I did not even get close to finishing them.)

Let's just say I make a lot of scarves. The tactile sensation of running my hands through the wool is a good substitute for the physical contact I usually get, since often it hurts too much when I'm sick to even hug my children.

Finding small moments of comfort among the hard ones is sometimes the best I can do. That to me is the best measure of self-advocacy: finding things that make your soul feel full in the best times, and in the awful, trying ones. "Playing though it" can get me to a measure of grace.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer Recipes to Remember

I promised readers of my weekly newspaper column some recipes inspired by my recent trip to Disneyland. There never seems to be enough column space, so I directed readers here instead, where I have almost unlimited space and I can link to pictures, too.

The #1 recipe that my family requested was a do-it-yourself version of the superlative cake pops shaped like Mickey Mouse's head. I found such resources on the internet from others who have gone before me on this quest.

(Image credit:Disney Food blog)

Never having had a cake pop before, as I'm gluten-free, I had to take the kiddos' word for its amazingness. I found several recipes for the cake pops, but here the simplified recipe is, in a nutshell:

1 batch chocolate regular or gluten-free cake, prepared and crumbled
1 batch chocolate frosting (bought or home made)
Regular size marshmallows
Almond bark- your choice, white or dark

Place the crumbled cake into a large bowl. Warm the frosting slightly for ease of use and combine enough frosting with the crumbs to make a cookie-dough like consistency, but slightly thicker. Press into a 13 x 9 pan and smooth out. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter and place on wax paper. Cut a marshmallow in half and secure to the circle with toothpicks, then dip in melted Almond Bark and place on the wax paper, then top with sprinkles. If desired you can add a popsicle stick or candy stick to use as a handle.

The second treat we adored is the Dole Whip.

(image credit: wikepedia)

This pineapple soft-serve float in pineapple juice is out-of-this-world.

Here are several sites that have copycat recipes:



And this one, the easiest of all:



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Being Bullied as an Adult- Brittany Herself prompt day 10

Today's writing prompt from the list on Brittany Herself is, "Have you ever been bullied as an adult?"

At the Body Love Conference last year, I spoke to a woman after my talk, and the conversation was one that stuck with me. My talks are about Self-Advocacy and learning to speak to what you really desire in life, so it was natural for her to share how she felt. The woman talked about how no one around her would support her efforts as a photographer.

She said that people, people in her family, actively ridiculed her. "You'll never become anything," she was told, because she was fat. And this was as an adult woman. She had tears in her eyes and the moment was obviously difficult for her to talk about. At lunch, at the moments between the breakout sessions, we heard the same kinds of things talked about. How so many, many women are bullied all the time for all sorts of reasons, but especially size.

I have the kind of personality that is easy to bully. I'm the one that is always the butt of the joke, because I'm good-natured and laugh at myself easily. I take responsibility for that. When I don't speak up saying that makes me uncomfortable, I am giving tacit permission for it to happen, and at the point I want it to stop I need to say that. Does saying "stop" happen? Yes, but I also have the kind of personality that doesn't like conflict- ha. So it's a process of getting strong enough to say "please stop" more often. Otherwise, the small jibes (about my not-so-stellar math skills, say, or my lack of direction-finding skills) are cemented into my brain each time they're joked about. Then they become more true.

One of the most funny times I was bullied came at a fourth of July parade. I know, "funny" and "bullied" aren't usually paired up, but sometimes you just have to laugh. (Incidentally, not a bad way to retaliate at anyone who is bullying you!)

I'm with my family at the 4th of July parade in Creswell, a town near where I live. To set the scene, it looks a lot like the parade above: a lot of bunting, kids eager to get the candy that's being thrown, marching bands, classic cars, etc. I was hugely pregnant. I was about 2 1/2 weeks away from giving birth to my second son. Naturally, I was wearing a green silky tank top and skirt, since it was about 100 degrees. It was cute, if I say so myself. So there I was, as comfy as it was possible for me to be at that moment, enjoying the parade with my family. I should mention that I don't often shave my armpits.

Apparently. I raised my arm to shade my eyes or something, since as I walked across a driveway with my group, some guy yells out,


At first I had no idea what he was talking about. It took me a second. Then I got a little red. Then I thought, forget that guy. What does he care if I don't shave? It is easy to ridicule those who do that to you, but that's not my way. I may have thought a lot of expletives, and also sarcastic things like "Sorry for disturbing your delicate redneck sensibilities," but I just smiled.

I should have waved.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Reads Blog Hop

I'm so happy to have the lazy summer reading days be here! I say "lazy," but summer is just as busy for me, albeit in different directions. The point is I plow through the stack of books on my nightstand and Nook because, I don't know, the later light makes me stay awake past my usual 10 p.m. curfew (toddler waking up at 5 a.m. makes that bedtime necessary during the school year but she sleeps in in summer, thank the gods.)

This fabulous blog hop features prizes at each stop as well as the grand prize. For my prize, I'll give away an insulated drink cup that is perfect for all those summer beverages to sip on while you read up on your summer reading list! I gave one away on my last Hop and people loved it! Good for any beverage of your choice...

And I'll share my favorite new summer beverage if you'd like to use your new tumbler for it. I would credit the recipe for this but I'm not sure where I found it! My summer reading list is as eclectic as my taste. I'm reading the fantastic book The Dueling Neurosurgeons, by Sam Kean, and Rez Life, by David Truer. Also Looking froward to the conclusion of Nora Roberts' latest series. Here's the recipe:

Adult Creamsicle

1 shot of whipped cream vodka
1 can Hanson's Orange Natural Soda

Instructions: Simple. Pour in the alcohol then the soda over ice and enjoy! For a non-alcoholic version replace the vodka with vanilla syrup (Torani's is a good one.)Or... sub out root beer or cream soda for an amazing adult float, maybe with a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream. Use a cookie scoop for the perfect size scoop.

Taking time to relax is something I have to almost make myself do, and summer is a good time to do it. Relaxing is one of the things on my Self-Care list in my new workbook about how to become your own best advocate and cheerleaders, The Self-Advocacy Toolbox: Advocate, Educate and Illuminate your life.

If you're in the mood for more light fiction, I write books about women overcoming difficulties, young adult fiction, and horror (If you need a good chill up your spine!)My latest novel, Brambleberry Farm, follows a woman who's a chef at an organic farm-to-table restaurant and has scads of great recipes like the one above. You can find them all here on my Amazon Author Page.

Here's the grand prize entry:

And, here's the entry for my prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, hop to some other blogs for great prizes and fun reads!