Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Art of Setting Attainable Resolutions

Ahh, New Years. A time for reflection. A time for looking forward. A time for unearthing the elliptical from beneath a pile of laundry and dusting off the old sneakers.

No, really. If I skip a word or two, it’s only because I am cranking away at level five, multi-tasking like a pro. Okay, not really. But that’s what I should be doing after the last two weeks. Cookies and cakes and Japanese steak house, oh my! Ham, and turkey, and white bread, and casseroles, and the most sinful candy pecan topped sweet potato mini pies. And chocolate – lots and lots­ of chocolate.

Well, the indulgence is over, and just like every other person in the world, I am setting my New Year’s resolutions. And you know what? I am fully prepared for this to be one of the best, most exciting years of my life. As a matter of fact, I have it all worked out. *cracking knuckles*

Starting tonight, I will get back into my regular workout routine. While sweating away at yoga, I’ll finally work out a brilliant twist of plot for my latest book. Inspired, I will dedicate myself to retooling my manuscript into a work of genius, thus catching the eye of my top pick agent. Said agent will declare me to be the next Nora Roberts, and publishers will line up to buy the book, resulting in a heated and quickly escalating bidding war. The winning publisher will have invested so much in the purchase or said book, they will give it top promotional priority.

Thanks to all the yoga and cardio, I’ll look fabulously fit and healthy as I hit the booksigning circuit where, having heard the buzz on the amazing debut author Erin Kelly, people will line up for the privilege to meet me. With the runaway success of the book, it will be translated into twenty different languages and distributed around the world. Now, in preparation for my European tour, I’ll hire a private tutor and finally learn a second language. Italian, of course, so I can be familiar with the language when I buy my second home on the Amalfie Coast.

On the English leg of the tour, Colin Firth will track me down, desperate to play my hero in the screen adaptation of my novel (written by my fabulously talented screen-writer sister). I’ll graciously accept, of course. We’ll soon discover that he and his Italian wife have a villa a mere hop, skip, and a jump away from my husband’s and my new second home, and we’ll make plans to rendezvous when next we are in town together. Preferably when it’s harvest time for the olive grove on our property, so we can all enjoy fresh-pressed olive oil and warm Focaccia bread on the terrace.

The villa will prove the perfect retreat for writing, and I’ll bang out a few more novels before heading back to the States. In awe of my accomplishments, the RWA will bump the lovely Nora Roberts in favor of me for the next conference Key Note speech. Nora, of course, will understand; she’s already read all my books, and is a huge fan. After my magnificent and inspiring speech (and the subsequent five minute standing ovation), I’ll gracefully make my exit. On the way out, Julia Quinn will stop me to ask what is the delightful smelling shampoo I use.

Whew! Now, that all sounds pretty reasonable, don’t you think? ;) Guess I better go pull my yoga clothes out of the bottom of my drawer so I can set it all in motion. All over-the-top daydreams aside, I do have a few resolutions this year. Solid, steady work on my writing, refocusing on health (both healthy eating and exercise), spending more time with my wonderful family, and remodeling the house without killing my husband. We’ll see about that last one… ;)

So tell me, what are your resolutions this year?

In honor of dreaming big, today’s recipe is Focaccia Bread! This lovely recipe is slightly modified from the one found here.

1/2 cup water

1 tsp white sugar

1 Tbsp active dry yeast

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried or 1 Tbsp fresh oregano

1 tsp dried or 1 Tbsp fresh thyme

1/2 tsp dried or 1 Tbsp fresh basil

1 pinch ground black pepper

1/2 cup water

1 Tbsp Canola oil

2 Tbsp olive oil

kosher salt to taste (about 1/2 to 1 tsp) to sprinkle on top

chopped fresh rosemary to taste

1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup mozzarella

Heat water to 110 degrees (warm, not hot). Stir in sugar and yeast, set aside for five to ten minutes until foamy.

In a large bowl, stir together the salt, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper. Mix in the oil and yeast mixture. Stir in flour until combined.

When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (5 to 8 minutes). Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Brush top with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and fresh chopped rosemary. Place in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Halfway through baking (at about 7 or 8 minutes), sprinkle Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses over top. When golden brown, remove from oven. Serve warm.


  1. Sounds like a plan. I'll start looking for real estate agents on the Amalfie coast.

  2. I think your plan sound very reasonable. And once I locate the perfect Chateaux in the south of France we should be able to visit rather often.

  3. I think I'm just going to use your resolutions and call them my own. LOL.

  4. Ah, how I love a good story! LOL I'm glad I'm not the only one who fantasizes, er, I mean, makes resolutions like that. :)

    And hey, save me a room somewhere in that Italian villa. I'm writing a list of what I hope you're gonna bake while I'm there. LOL

  5. Hahaha!!! Sign me up for the adaptation and also for the villa next door to yours:) Is it strange I don't find this far fetched at all?? :)

  6. Well, then, now that my internet is working properly, let me hurry up and get some responses in!
    Kirk, how did I know you would take a shine to this particular post, lol! Best start up with those Italian CDs again :)

    Jane, count me in for visits! With a Eurorail pass, we should be able to jaunt back and forth whenever it suits our fancy!

  7. Glad to know you are on board, Catherine! But if Jane has France and I have Italy, clearly you need to purchase your second home in the British Isles somewhere, lol!

    Too funny, Donna :) I promise to stock enough ingrediants at my villa to satisfy your every sweet tooth whim!

  8. No one ever had to tell us to dream bigger, now did they Kara? :D Just be sure to have a horse on your villa property who can wear a fancy fringe head gear to remind you of your wedding day when we picked wildflowers near the neighbor's property ...

  9. I think I am going to love you already. I love reading and baking and they ARE the best things in life! Sounds like your resolutions are pretty achievable if you ask me ;)

  10. Welcome, BookGeek! Glad to know you agree that I haven't over extended myself on this year's resolutions, lol.

    Thanks for dropping by - It sounds like you and I shall get along rather famously :)

  11. I resolve for my sister to come help me with my new floors!

  12. Don't you just wish, Andy! I expect those floors to be fully installed when I come in March ;)

  13. HA! You know Julia will be chasing you down. Don't forget to pack our black hats, gloves and other spy paraphernalia for when we stalk, ahem, I mean try to meet other authors.

    Sorry, it took me so long to read and comment.