Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The French Room - A Magical Evening

Yesterday was a very special day.  25 years ago my husband and I got married.  We had planned to celebrate at the Eiffle Tower Restaurant at the top of the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, but as that trip was called off, we searched for something equally special here locally.  I finally narrowed it down to two places - The Mansion on Turtle Creek and The French Room in the Adolphus Hotel.  Both are in Dallas, but after reading reviews on both and seeing how Zagat rated The French Room as one of the two best restaurants in the world (yes, THE WORLD!), the choice was clear.  I made reservations at The French Room for 7 pm.

We arrived and the place was beautiful
Absolutely stunning!

I couldn't get enough of the surroundings!

Bar none, this is the best restaurant I have ever been to. Including Vegas or NYC or Quebec or anywhere.   The service was exceptional, the hotel and restaurant absolutely gorgeous, and the food - amazing!

For appetizers, my husband had the Hudson Valley Foie Gras and he could not get over how wonderful it was. Perfect, buttery, melts-in-your-mouth. I had the Lemon Butter Poached Maine Lobster and it was also delicious.   Here is the Foie Gras (duck or goose liver).

And here is my lobster

Almost too pretty to eat!

Entrees - he had Slow-Cooked Tenderloin of Veal and I had Nova Scotia Halibut. Again, both were fantastic. I would have to say that's the best Halibut I have ever had - and I've eaten it on the East and West coast. What also made the meal was the Wine Sommelier Richard. He gave us pairings for both our appetizer and our meal and he was not only dead on, but the wine was the perfect compliment.

Here is his veal.

And my halibut

In between the courses our waiter Carlos (wonderful man!) brought us the usual tiny bites to cleanse your palate. One was tiny bits of rabbit, mushroom, and a califlower puree. The other was a champagne and apple juice sorbet. Both were delicious.

Then it was time for the dessert. My husband had the caramel pumpkin brule and I had the Saffron-Poached pears. I do wish I'd listened to Carlos and tried the Chocolate Souffle, as I couldn't stop thinking about it. We had coffee with our dessert.

From the moment we arrived until the second we left, we were treated like royalty.

Out in the hotel lobby, there was a beautiful Christmas tree.  Another couple took our picture and then I took theirs.  Fair exchange!

I was a bit worried about going to such a fancy, five-star restaurant, but my fears were put at ease the instant we parked at the complimentary valet. Every single person we dealt with remembered our name (amazing!) and when we returned to the valet, without even being handed the ticket, they even remembered our vehicle!

Best.  Meal.  Ever.  Well worth the price and we both will always remember our 25th anniversary meal!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Sorry for the absence.  It's been a rough time for me and mine.  Getting ready for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, my husband kept saying he "didn't feel right".  Nothing specific, just that.  Plus he was short of breath.  Couldn't hardly walk three steps without gasping for air.  In addition, his blood pressure was super low and his heart rate super high. 

Now being a man, he refused to go to the ER.  I called his cardiologist and told them what was going on.  They'd started him on a new drug, a beta-blocker, about ten days before, so they told him to quit that, plus quit his other blood pressure medicine.  So he did.  By thanksgiving, his blood pressure was high instead of low, his heart rate still fast, and he still felt "not right."  We ate and watched football, while I tried not to worry.

Friday much of the same.  He sat around not feeling good, but said his chest wasn't hurting or anything.  Because the cardiologist's office hadn't seemed concerned, I tried not to be. 

When I got up at six am on Saturday to let the dogs out, he told me he was having crushing chest pain and had been since 2am.  He hadn't woken me then because "he didn't want to worry me."  I told him we were going to the ER and if he refused, I was calling 911.  He finally agreed, though he wanted to take a shower first.  I said no.

The hospital admitted him, but said his EKG markers did not indicate a heart attack.  They felt like he probably had some blockage.  They were scheduling him for a heart catheterization angiogram on Monday morning, which meant he'd have to stay in the hospital until then.

However, on Sunday morning my phone rang at 5:38 (scaring the bejeezus out of me) and he told me they were going to do the tests around 7am that morning.  Apparently someone else had an emergency in the night and the team was in place with the operating room ready, so it was a go.   

Great news!  So I jumped up, brushed my teeth and washed my face and got dressed.  I was out the door at 6:10 am and in Grapevine at the hospital by 6:30.  There's no traffic that early on a Sunday. 

We received an awesome report.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with his heart.  The doctor said no narrowing, no plaque build up, nothing.  They think it was either a reaction to the new beta blocker or else he had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot) in his lung.  They want him to have a CT Scan next week to check this.  They couldn't do that while he was there because of all the die they'd injected in him for the angiogram. 

So he got to come home Sunday.  We were both so exhausted, we went to be at 8pm and slept in until 8:30 am on Monday.  Then I had to catch up on laundry and groceries etc.  I'd managed to finish putting the tree up late Saturday night after I got home from the hospital, so I am done with decorating.  I'd done the rest of the stuff on Friday. 

And today is our 25th Anniversary!  We had planned a trip to Vegas and were supposed to fly out yesterday, but I cancelled all that and we're home.  We'll have a nice dinner out tonight to celebrate.

I'm very thankful, because Lonnie is my best friend and soul mate and I don't know what I would do if something happened to him.

And now today, I can get back to finishing that book.  The sooner I turn it in, the more I can focus on the upcoming holiday.  Oh, and I have a synopsis due on 12-15 too for my next Harlequin Romantic Suspense, so I'd better put my thinking cap on for that too.

What I have to say is this - Cherish your loved ones.  Don't take them for granted.  Give thanks and appreciate them every single day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful Tuesday

My friend Anna Adams wrote a great Thanksgiving post on her site Ann'a Blog   It made me feel nostalgic, remembering when I lived in the NE with all my cousins on my dad's side.  We'd go to my Aunt Maryanne's house and all get together, just like what Anna wrote about. 

Now, I'm in Texas.  I still have family (Aunt, Uncle, and two Cousins with their respective spouses and children) in Massachusetts.   And I have an Aunt and two cousins and their families down in Clearwater, Florida.  At Thanksgiving, on alternate years we have a full house here - my brothers and their significant others, my nephew, my daughter, my mom and her partner, and of course me and my husband. 

This year, our gathering will be quite smaller.  My first Thanksgiving with my father in 16 years.  But because it's an alternate year, my brother goes to his in-laws, along with my nephew.  My other brother has plans, and my Mom and her partner are having the meal with her partner's daughter and husband.  So it will just be four gathered around the table this year.

While I enjoy big gatherings, this year I will enjoy the smaller one too.  Less pressure, more relaxed.  I'm still cooking a bunch of food - that's what I do an what I enjoy.  We'll parcel up leftovers and send them with my daughter and my father, as well as keep some back for us to enjoy. 

I have a lot to be thankful for.  I'm very glad that both my husband and I have good health.  Sure, we've each had a few set backs along the way, but basically we're good.  I'm thankful for our 25th anniversary - we made it 25 years!!!  I'm thankful we are able to take a trip to celebrate that milestone.  I'm thankful he loves me still and that I love him. 

And my daughter.  I'm thankful and proud of her.  I enjoy hanging out with her and texting her and hearing about her adventures as a teacher.  Ad of course I love her very much.

I'm thankful that for the past year, my mom has managed to keep her Pancreatic cancer at bay.  So far, the Chemo has worked and it's still confined to her pancreas.  I'm glad we get to celebrate another Christmas with her and her partner.

Oh, and I can't forget the dogs.  Mitchell Thomas, Mac Macadoo, and Liberty Belle.  I adore my fur-children and love that I get to spend all day with them sleeping in my office while I work. 

So there you have it.  My list.  What's yours?  Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Musings

As I struggle through my line edits, I (like all writers who procrastinate) occasionally glance at Facebook.    On my feed are a lot of postings for urgent dogs, urgent cats, pets someone once wanted and now "no longer has time for."  Dogs that were first kicked out of the house and relegated to the backyard, where they were ignored.  Some of them were starved or got heartworms because the owner wouldn't pony up the money to give the dog one tiny pill a month. 

This saddens me, sickens me, makes me want to weep.

I just read about some dog in Miami who was left in the backyard and ignored for so long his collar became imbedded in his neck.  I see starving dogs, sick dogs, abused dogs.  These trusting, loving creatures... words fail me.

All of the animal shelters are full around here.  Begging for adoptions.  The rescue groups are begging for fosters.  Young dogs are being euthanized.  People are actually dumping old dogs that they've had as a pet for eight, ten years, because they were what - too old?  How would those people feel if society treated them like that?  Seriously.

I have three dogs of my own.  Beloved family members, all of them.  I also have a big heart, but a limited budget.  If I could, I'd foster.  I will, someday.  I'd like to save them all, but know I can't. 

The North Richland Hills Animal Shelter, the Watauga Animal Shelter, the Humane Society of North Richland Hills, Legacy Boxer Rescue, Austin Boxer Rescue - every day I see these posts.  I see these loving animals with their eyes full of hope. 

So please, if you're thinking about getting a pet for the holidays, think about a shelter dog or a rescue dog.  And remember, having a dog is a for-the-rest-of-their-life committment.  They have such short lives as it is.  They deserve to be loved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mid-Week Windup

So many thoughts going through my head.  I just read Tom Piccirilli's post on Brian Keene's page.  While I don't personally know him, he's another author who is a Facebook friend and was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.  I lost my brother in law Dennis to a brain tumor and I thought of sending my sister in law Lavenia (his wife) a link to this post, but I didn't.  I was afraid she might find it too painful.  At least if she sees it here, she has the option of reading it or not.

                   Tom's post

 I can relate to this man's words.  Especially the part where he asks not to lose his capacity for thought.  Breaks my heart. 

On Facebook, where I spend far too much time, many authors are doing a thirty days of grateful thing.  I didn't do it because by the time I saw it there were maybe 20 people already doing it and it would have seemed overkill.  But I am grateful.  So grateful.

Right now I'm super busy.  I have a book due 12-1.  I'm only at 60,000 words out of 80,000 needed.  That's about 100 pages short.  It's probably going to be a touch late.  I got line edits on my April 2013 book and then, a few days after that, I got AA's (the final page proofs) on my March 2013 book.  The publisher also needed Dear Reader Letter's and dedications.  Next week is Thanksgiving and while I don't have to clean (Thank God for the cleaning people!), I am cooking for my father for the first time since 1996.  Last year I had the entire family here; this year it's just us and my daughter and dad, but I still want it to be awesome. 

After the holiday, we usually put up our Christmas decor, which takes three days.  And then there's the anniversary and the trip to Vegas, all in the time before this book is due. 

So yeah, I'm a bit stressed.  Though oddly enough, since this is my full time job now, I'm getting work done.  Line edits, check.  AA's, working on.  Dear Reader and dedication, check.  I can only do what I can.  And so that's what I'm doing. 

And I'm damn thankful to be able to do it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Finally Fall

Once again, it's been awhile since I posted.  There's a reason, sort of.  I'm still sick.  This bronchitis is kicking my butt.  I have endured two entire weeks of it.  Finally on Friday the 9th, I called my doctor and he prescribed some stronger antibiotics.  So I'm taking them, still taking the Mucinex D, and hoping eventually I'll get back to normal.

We're a little more than a week out from Thanksgiving.   Finally, finally, finally, we had a cold snap.  When I got up this morning it was 34!  Our trees are finally starting to turn!  This is the Sweet Gum tree in front of my house.

And yes, I'm writing too.  Not exercising - can't breathe - and not eating out.  As a bonus, I've lost three pounds!

Anyway, that's all I have to report for now.  I'm still plugging away, and hoping to get well soon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Award Nominations!

Wow, what a day today was!  Not only was it election day - I voted, despite the stupid bronchitis that will not die - but I found out that Romantic Times Magazine has nominated two of my books for best of 2012.

First, my January Harlequin Nocturne THE WOLF WHISPERER was nominated for best Harlequin Nocturne of 2012.

And if that wasn't enough, my September Harlequin Romantic Suspense The Cop's Missing Child was nominated for best Harlequin Romantic Suspense of 2012

This is a very cool award in the romance writing world.  I have won it once before, in 2005 for SECRET OF THE WOLF, which won for best Silhouette Intimate Moments of 2005.  I look at that plaque whenever I'm having a bad writing day, and feel better instantly! 

Not sure when the winners will be announced.  The RT Convention, when they give out the awards, is in St. Louis, MO over my birthday.  That would be a heck of a present, wouldn't it?  (Fingers crossed!)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rolling With the Punches

And with the new time change (which I love, btw), Monday has rolled around again.  I adore getting up and it being semi-light outside rather than pitch dark.  My husband is the opposite - he hates it. 

I spent this entire weekend at home - still sick.  This morning I was determined to return to my normal life and tried to do my morning walk.  I had to stop because of the coughing doubling me over.  So, not well yet.  Still taking medicine and wishing for this crud to go away.

I did get some writing done on Saturday though.  I'm very happy with the story so far.  I just passed 50,000 words (out of 80,000 needed by December 1.)

And as I was looking over my stack of unread magazines (I'm so far behind), I realized that Thanksgiving is two weeks from this Thursday!  OMG!  I'm not ready. At all.  Last year we had a huge family get-together at my house.  My mom had just been diagnoed with terminal Pancreatic Cancer, so everyone came.  This year, my brother and his wife are spending the holiday with her family as they skipped them for two years in a row.  My mom and her partner are going to have Thanksgiving with her partner's daughter and husband, and this year for me it's going to be a very small get together.  Just me, my husband and daughter, and my widowed father.  This will be his first Thanksgiving alone and his first Thanksgiving with us since 1994 - Eighteen years!  I've already done a little bit of decorating, not all of it as I'm still feeling bad, but I need to get on the ball, don't I?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Roundup

It's Friday.  I can sum up this past week in one word.  Sick.  Yes, it got worse and worse, though honestly Tuesday and Wednesday were the absolute worst.  Today I finally broke down and made a doctor's appt for this afternoon.  I was hoping to beat this on my own.  But since it made me miss Halloween - one of my favorite holidays, and since even with the Mucinex D, I'm not getting better, it's time to get a Z-Pack or something.


I did finally get back to heavy duty writing yesterday.  I tried on the other days, but my head was buzzing and I ended up crawling into bed and giving up.  But yesterday, I got back on track because my book is due 12-1 after all.  And there's a major holiday in there plus a major anniversary and trip to Vegas.  So... I have to be very much a stickler about meeting my word goals.  And it looks like I'm going to need to start working on weekends, which I hate.  Ah well.

While at the conference, which focused mainly on the business side of writing, there was on craft class.  Donald Maas has a new book out, so he was talking about that.  It was very interesting because he had us think of the last scene we'd written before attending the conference.  Then he asked us to write down the viewpoint character's strongest emotion in that scene.  Then he said now write the second and third emotions. 

After we'd done that, he had us pick the second or third emotion, assign it a color and an animal, and write a scene with the character experiencing that emotion.  I did and was so happy!  Talk about deeper.  So now I'm going back and re-editing my story, which is now well over 200 pages, and it's going to be so much better. 

Also today someone posted a great review of my first Pack book, One Eye Open.  It was very nice to read it and made my day. It makes writing a lot easier when I read something like that.