Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday December 30, 2010

Every morning before I start my day, I have a blog roll I go through and read.  One of those blogs is called Mommy Wants Vodka.  The other day she posted about her autistic son and how hard it is on her heart.  Today she posted about giving a voice to things most people don't talk about.  She ended her post today with - Pull your skeletons out of your closets and let them dance the motherfucking tango.

So I will.

Some of you  - the long time readers of my books and my blogs - know that in another life I was an abused wife. My first husband, the father of my daughter, physically and verbally abused me for four years before I finally had the courage to escape.  Many of you - those who have never suffered through this kind of thing - probably think, what courage?  What was your problem, were you stupid, why not shag it on out of there the first time he hit you?  Those of you who have been there will know, it is never that simple.

I can't remember the actual first time it happened, though several incidents stick out in my mind.  Trying to rationalize with yourself how someone who supposedly loves you, someone you love, can treat you this way.  They apologize, cry tears, and swear on the bible - no, on a STACK of bibles, it will never, ever happen again.  At first, you believe them.  Then as it happens again and again and again, the apologies become accusations.  It's YOUR fault, he shouts.  If you weren't so stupid, so ugly, such a crappy ass wife.  And after awhile, you began to believe the words, you begin to cringe if he looks at you with that hard, cold look in his eyes.  After awhile, it's safer to keep quiet, keep your head down, to try to become invisible. 

But even that is not enough.  And when you find yourself hiding under the kitchen table while he strolls around the kitchen with a loaded shotgun, threatening to put it up inside your vagina and blow you away, or you're hiding in a locked bathroom with your infant daughter because he's wrecking everything in the house and you have to protect her, what little embers of love and hope wither and die and you know you have to get out.  If not for your sake, but for hers.

There are a lot of you out there, I know.  I see it on the news everyday.  Yesterday a rookie police officer in Arlington lost her life because she was there when the man came back to kill his girlfriend.  He shot her, killing her, killed the girlfriend, before turning the gun on himself.  Luckily the eleven year old child was spared, but now she has no mommie. 

I will tell you what I know, though I know this too will fall on deaf ears until you reach that certain point.  He won't change, no matter how much you love him.  You'll never be good enough, pretty enough, capable enough, to make him stop.  Because the problem IS NOT WITH YOU.  It's with him. 

Get out, seek help, run.  Do it quietly, without fanfare, like I did.  You cannot confront these kind of people, because they view you as their possession, not a person.  If you threaten to leave, they might kill you.  After all, they think you're better off dead than away from them.  Believe me, I know.

After I left my ex, I had to keep running.  He stalked me for years.  I lost jobs because of him and to this day I have numerous tape recordings of threatening messages on my answering machine.  Eventually, I remarried, a good man, a kind man, and my ex went away. 

I was lucky.  Yes, I still bear the scars internally.  Yes, even after all these years I still tear up as I think about those horrible, awful times.  And when I hear about the other nameless, faceless women still living this kind of private hell, my heart cracks even more.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wednesday December 29, 2010

I'm very sore this morning.  I had an awesome, and extremely strenuous workout last night.  Whew.  But it was amazing - afterwards I felt for the first time that rush of endorphines everyone has always talked about.  Usually, after exercising, I only feel tired.  Not "high" like so many people claim.  Until last night.  Then, finally I got it.

Aside from that - and no, I wasn't whining - I'm thrilled my new trainer is so knowledgable and determined to help me lose calories and build muscle tone - aside from that, my newest Harlequin Nocturne is on the shelves.  Yes, it's another Pack book! 

Check out the cover.  Hands down, the sexiest one yet.  I want to be her.   Seriously. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday Yet Again - 12-27-2010

It's all over - the celebrations, the family, the food.  The presents are all opened and the poor Christmas tree looks bare once more.  I always feel a little bit sad this time of the year - the week between Christmas and New Years.  Worse, I over-indulge in both food and drink and the scale certainly shows it the Monday after.

So it's back to routine for me.  Up at five, work, gym, then home.  It's cold here and I wish the pounds would just melt off, but you and I both know they won't.  This is the last week of 2010 and next year is going to be a benchmark year for me.  I'll be working out, getting stronger and more fit and ... drum roll ... skinnier.  (Fingers crossed).  I really love my gym and my personal trainer and I have high hopes.  As long as I watch the food.  Sigh.

There is one last over-indulgence coming.  I always make prime rib for New Years Day.  Black-eyed peas too (a southern thing).  But after that, I'm good to go until Valentines Day.  And as long as 90% of my eating is healthy, I'll be okay.

I hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday filled with love and joy and peace.  Looking forward to a New Year. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday December 21, 2010

It's almost here!  Christmas, that is!  I love this time of the year, thrive in the hectic mania of busy-work, all leading up to the big day.  Cleaning - check (splurging and hiring someone this year!), cooking - yet to be done.  Ironing table cloth and setting table for the big dinner on Christmas Eve - I'll do that Thursday.  My husband will be picking up the Honeybaked Ham and I'll make scalloped potatoes, pea salad, and bread pudding.  Other family are bringing more side dishes. 

Some stuff is done.  All the presents are wrapped and under the tree.

I've loaded up my IPod with Christmas music.  So far I haven't done much baking - though I did bake a cake last night and frosted it this morning.  I have to take it to work for the receptionist's birthday. 

Next, I'm going to wash the Boxer.  Before work.  Changing back OUT of all my work clothes and giving him a bath.  In just a few minutes.  The small dogs go to the groomer on Thursday, but big ole stinky dog Mac doesn't.  So it's into the bath for him. 

After that, I'll dry us both off and I'll go to work and he'll run crazy Boxer zoomies all around the house. 


Here is poor Mac in the middle of his bath. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday December 16, 2010

The holiday is nearly upon us.

My poor Boxer Mac did NOT appreciate me putting these reindeer antlers on his head.  But he did sit still long enough for me to take his picture.

I'm ok with Christmas being next week.  And, even though I haven't felt as Christmassy as I have in years past, I'm feelin' it.  Definitely feelin' it.  I have Christmas music on my Ipod.  The house is decorated.  Almost everythng is wrapped.  Sure, I haven't started baking anything other than my low-fat banana nut bread, but I'm not going to do much baking this year due to the watching my weight issue.

I *am* however, going to make the bread pudding mentioned in my previous post.  For Christmas dinner, to go along with the Red Velvet cake I ordered from Nothing But Bundt Cakes.  Google them.  If you haven't tried one of their cakes, you are missing out!!

Also, as a sort of Christmas present to myself, I signed up for more Personal Training sessions last night.  My new trainer is really good and the gym offered me a really sweet deal.  So I'll be working out with Rick for another 63 sessions (roughly until August).  After that, I really will have to stop.  I mean, I intended to stop this time - I can't pay this kind of money forever, you know?  But I wasn't done (ie; haven't lost all the weight I want to nor gotten as fit as I want to be), so when they offered this deal, I took it. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday December 14, 2010

It's holiday time again and, as usual, my life is hectic.  Luckily, I am not under deadline for a book, so I don't have that to worry about.  I'm trying like crazy to read one of my good friend's complete books (sorry Steph!) and being unable to find time to do a quick read.  My bad, though I am reading at lunch time and in every spare moment. 

This past weekend my hubby and I spent five (yes, five!) hours at the mall.  Afterwards, we went to BJ's Brew House and had a beer, then came home and let the dogs out and fed them.  Then we grabbed a bite to eat and headed BACK out!  We're fools for punishment, I tell you.  We went to Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowes.  But we did finish. 

On Sunday, we wrapped.  And I did housework and laundry and he raked leaves, which I helped bag.  Between all that and the crazy, intense workouts my personal trainer has me doing, I've lost three pounds!  At Christmastime!  I know, right?

Now there is food shopping to do, and a liquor store to visit for the necessary cognac to make the bread pudding.  There is this famous local restaurant that has the best bread pudding I've ever tasted and I found their recipe on line.  Here it is, for any other bread pudding aficionados.  And let me tell you folks - this is to die for.

Chef Point Café Bread Pudding

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 (1-pound, 6-ounce) loaf Texas toast bread, divided
1 (15-ounce) loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups milk
2 cups sugar
4 Eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cognac Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375°.
Generously spray a deep 13x9-inch baking dish with baking spray.
Layer half of Texas toast slices in bottom of prepared pan. Top with cubed French bread.
In a large bowl, whisk together cream, half-and-half, milk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Divide mixture in half. Pour half of cream mixture over bread. Lightly press bread with hands, making sure French bread is soaked. Place remaining Texas toast slices on French bread cubes. Gradually pour remaining cream mixture on Texas toast layer. Press with hands, making sure to soak bread completely.
Spray tops of bread cubes heavily with baking spray. Cover the bread with plastic wrap, then cover with aluminum foil.
Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour water on baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour.Remove from oven, and allow to set in refrigerator for 2 hours.
Reheat in a 300° oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until warm.

Cut, and serve topped with Cognac Sauce.

Cognac Sauce
Makes about 13/4 cups

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups water, divided
2 tablespoons cognac

Combine butter, sugar, and 11/2 cups water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil.
Boil until reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add cognac and remaining 1/2 cup water.
Whisk mixture, and return to a boil. Remove from heat and gradually cool down by whisking.

Famous bread pudding featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and in Paul Deen magazine.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thursday December 9, 2010. More Galveston

 As promised, here are more Galveston pictures.  The costumes were fabulous.
They even had Steampunk people.

After Dickens on the Strand, we went back to the house to eat gumbo.  Later, we went to Moody Garden's Festival of Lights.  There were so many beautiful and creative lights - I've only included a few here.

All in all, it was a great trip.  We got to visit with family, eat a lot of good food, and celebrate Christmas early.  You can't beat that.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We went to Galveston over the weekend.  This will be the first of a series of posts, as I took a ton of pictures.  My sister in law lives on the island and after Hurrican Ike came through, she had six feet of water standing in her house.  Since then, her home has been completely remodeled and it's like new (and beautiful)!  It was great seeing her (it's been awhile) and the rest of my husband's family.

While there, we went to Dickens on the Strand.  This is sort of like a Victorian fair, with parades and booths and costumes.  We also went to Moody Gardens Fesitval of Lights. 

One thing the Hurricane with its awful storm surge did to Galveston was kill all the trees.  Galveston losts most of its oak trees.  The palms seemed to have weathered the salt water better, but the oaks died.  Many artists made sculptures from the stumps.  We drove around and looked at some of these.

Below are some of the pics from Dickens on the Strand.

Me and Father Christmas

Some of the many in period costume

A favorite of mine  - Bagpipers in Kilts! 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

12-2-10 `Tis The Season

Wow, time sometimes just seems to fly.  And it gets worse the older I get.  Anyway, it's December already and time to start thinking about Christmas.  Ok, so I've got the tree up.

And the decorations are up - inside and out.

And I've even done some shopping for gifts (on-line, of course).

But I'm not feeling it yet.  Normally, I'm one of those annoying people who walk around humming Christmas carols and feeling festive for the entire month of December.  Not so, this year.  Mostly, I feel preoccupied and tired.  Not sure why. 

I'm hoping Dickens on the Strand might help, or maybe tackling Christmas shopping at the mall.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - The Feast Remembered

You know, last night as I warmed up on the elliptical in preparation for working out, my personal trainer asked me about my Thanksgiving dinner.  I'd warned him that on T-day I didn't plan to diet and he'd laughed and said he didn't expect me to. 

So yes, I pigged out and yes, I gained weight.  Now I will probably have to spend the next month re-losing the pounds I put on.  Because, as you know, Christmas will roll around with another big family dinner and a few other get-togethers, so I'll be eating well again. 

Was it worth it?  Definitely.  I'd do it again.  My only regret is that I didn't have leftovers since it was at my mom's. 

The feast.

Part of the family, about to enjoy the feast

And lastly, my nephew and a random turkey decoration.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday November 29, 2010

So it's Monday.  Back to the real world.  Sigh.  The turkey is eaten, the family all visited with.  In my house, all the Christmas decorations are up (inside and out).  We celebrated our wedding anniversary with a lobster dinner and bought ourselves a flatscreen TV for the bedroom.

In the midst of all this crazy busy-ness, my daughter and I did Painting with a Twist.  It's the coolest thing.  You sign up for a painting you like, pay a fee, and show up on the designated day with your own bottle of wine.  They furnish the canvas, the paint, and the instruction.

What's really neat is that everyone's painting turns out completely different, even though we're all painting the same thing with step by step instruction.

This was three hours long.  Every time they ring a bell, you have to take a sip of wine.  It would be very easy to get tipsy, though since we had to drive, we didn't. 

I was quite please with the end result.  I had a lot of fun and relaxed for the first time in days.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving! 11-24-10

The big day is almost here - one of my favorite holidays.  And as a double bonus, this year for the first time in four years, I'm not hosting it at my house!  Nope, my mother is having the big meal and all I have to bring are two dishes - sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  It's so nice not to have to stress about feeding 12 people, but I confess I miss it a little bit too.

I have so much to be thankful for this year - my health, my career as a romance writer (my 31st book will be out in January 2012!), my family, my home, my lake place, my dogs.  I love me some dogs.

Most of all though - I'm thankful for my husband Lonnie.  He's my rock, the love of my life, the port in my every storm.  He's my best friend too.

So, as you sit around the table surrounded (hopefully) by your family and friends with a feast in front of you, take a few minutes to reflect on how blessed you are.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Back - Monday November 22, 2010

It's Monday, I'm tired, but I'm back.  Home.  From Vegas.  And - it's a short week, so hopefully time will fly and before I know it I'll be staring at a plate full of turkey and dressing. 

There are a lot of street performers in Vegas and this year, many of them have taken to wearing costumes.  I saw this guy.

I also saw Elvis (naturally), Marilyn Monroe, Beavis and Butthead, and a few others.

We had a lot of fun, did a LOT of walking.  We had margaritas and burgers at Margaritaville.

Watched the A&M game at a sports pub (great fun, lots of Nebraska fans yelling "Go big N" and only a small table of Aggies - I totally enjoyed cheering for A&M. 

We ate a few good meals - nothing fancy this time.  We also gambled some, though I'm proud to annouce I came home $100 richer than when I left.  However my husband didn't fare so well. 

All in all, it was a nice weekend away.  My daughter sent me these pictures of my Mitchell (the Schnauzer) and her Tucker (the orange cat)

Isn't that cute?  Tucker is fearless (her other cats hide from our dogs)  and Mitchell is usually so scared of her cats that he hides. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vegas, Baby! 10-19-10

All right.  Today we leave for our long anticipated trip to the bright lights of Las Vegas! 

I love Las Vegas - for a couple of days.  We used to go every year, sometimes twice in one year.  It's been two years since we went last, due to the economy.  But this year I didn't go to RWA Nationals or the NINC Conference, so I had travel money saved up.

We're packed and ready to go.  I've got housesitters/dogsitters coming.   This time we are staying at the Monte Carlo - a first for us.  We've stayed at NewYork, New York, the MGM Grand, the Venetian (my fav!), the Mirage, and the Luxor.  Some of those more than once!

I had a lovely rejuvinating weekend last weekend, recharging my creative batteries.  I got the idea for my next proposal (it's a Nocturne!), and even started the first chapter.  Now, hubby and I are ready to go play!

 See ya Monday!

(Sorry about the blurry pics!  They were all I could find from my last trip in 2008)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday November 17, 2010

More pictures from the retreat.  These will all be group shots and if you're on Facebook, they are posted to my page.

Me and Angi Morgan, who writes for Harlequin Intrigue

Me and Regina Richards, my roomie.

 A bunch of us at dinner the first night.

Breakfast in the breakfast barn on Saturday morning.

Again, dinner the first night.

Dinner the second night at the fabulous Storybook Cafe

 More dinner at the Storybook Cafe

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010 Back from Retreat

I had a very nice writing retreat this weekend.  I was able to figure out the next Nocturne, work up a rough synopsis, plus write nearly 2000 words on the actual book. 

I stayed in an converted railroad car.

It was very rustic, very beautiful, and I loved it there.    My room mate and I made a 'no speaking ' rule for designated writing times, which totally worked for me.  At one point Saturday I took a walk around the place and visited the animals.  There were all kinds - horses, goats, a pig, a sheep, a calf, a turkey, rabbit, pigeon, and geese.  There were rolling hills and trees and walking paths.  I could have stayed there longer.

In the woods, I discovered a chapel.  It must be a popular place for weddings - it's called Chapel in the Woods.

The morning I left, it was 32 degrees.  I walked outside in the foggy morning and startled a buck and two does in the meadow.  Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera ready.

I did get a shot of this guy though.  He's one bird that doesn't have to worry about Thanksgiving.