Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Get-Away Actually Gotten

We almost didn’t go.

After planning on our trip to Washington D.C. for months – a special little getaway for the two of us – all it took was once look at the weather report and Kirk was second guessing our plans. He had traveled extensively these last few months for work, so the idea of a ‘getaway’ held somewhat less appeal for him than for, say, a socially starved, dungeon-dwelling, deadline-fighting writer who hadn’t left the house for more than four days in as many weeks. You know – just for example.

With the weather channel promising glorious near-summer weather and the cost of gas over $4 a gallon for our premium-demanding car, the trip seemed less and less like a good idea the closer it got. The thing is, whenever the weather gets nice, it becomes harder and harder to shoe-horn us out of our own backyard. It’s wonderful—a dream come true, really—to live on a lake, but in the six years we have been here, I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve ‘gone away’ with just the two of us.

We’ve made all kinds of plans to go to the beach, or Wilmington, or Asheville – even places like the Gulf of Mexico and Vegas. But inevitably, we can’t justify the cost when we have the lake in our backyard, and we always end up staying home. Errands beckon, groceries need procuring, and before we know it, the weekend gets away from us. Again and again these days pass, and soon, we are without any special experiences or memories to mark the rapid march of time.

Well darn it, I wanted to do something special with my hubby. So, to my delight, Kirk agreed to follow through and Friday found us packing up the car and waving goodbye to the pooches. Our adventure had begun!

It was such a small thing, wandering the streets of an unfamiliar city, pointing out trinkets in store windows and yummy-looking restaurants, taking in the monuments and landmarks that pepper the city, and exchanging glances at the odd things people-watching readily revealed. No grand plans, just a couple strolling arm-in-arm, taking in the sites. We paused at storefronts, wandered the crowded halls of museums, and sat across from each other at tiny tables tucked in intimate restaurants. At night was paused to take in the twinkling lights and fresh air, listening to the hum of the city around us. Throughout the weekend we marveled at ancient artifacts, braved the unfamiliar world or mass transit, and wound our way through the cherry blossom forests, all the while showered with a million fluttering, blushing petals.

For the first time in months, the camera made an appearance, clicking softly with each captured moment. Posing before royal jewels, and flaming sunsets, and soaring tributes, we paused to record the silky threads of experiences memories are woven from.

There were far more people around us than we knew what to do with, and it did end up raining on Saturday, but the moments shared in each others company, with no work, or writing, or dogs, or TV between us, made the whole trip worthwhile a thousand times over.

We had thought the trip frivolous and unnecessary, but in fact it was the most meaningful thing we had done in ages. Yes, it took a bit of a bite out of the bank account, but you know what? Being reminded of how much I adore simply being with my husband was absolutely priceless. :)

Tell me about your favorite get-away! How often do you manage to sneak away? Where do you want to go next?

In honor of our decadent eating experience this weekend, here is the link for the insanely delicious brownies we indulged in at Dean and Deluca. Tell me this doesn’t make your mouth water! Click Here

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Website and Giveaway!

Babysitter. Pizza maker. Day care worker. Youth leader. Lifeguard. Biochem lab worker. Lifeguard part 2. Paleoclimatology lab worker. Resident Advisor. Dry cleaner clerk. Geographic Information Systems Analyst. Real Estate agent. House cleaner. Environmental Technician. Environmental Specialist. Jewelry store salesperson.

Writer. :)

What a glorious thing to be able to label ourselves with the title most dreamed for. To wish, and hope, and work, work, work toward that which we want most. Today, as I reveal my beautiful new website (thanks Andy, my under-paid but much appreciated brother!), I can’t help but think of all choices that led me to where I am today, on the cusp of debuting my very first novel, surrounded by supportive friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers. What a dream job!

A year ago this week, I was waiting with baited breath for the Golden Heart finalist announcements, wondering if my life was about to change. Boy was it ever! This year has been one of the very best in existence, and I am forever grateful and thankful to all those who offered help, support and well-wishes.

In thanks and appreciation for all of you lovely people who have come to join me as I debut the new website, I’m thrilled to offer up a special treat: One lucky commenter will win an Advanced Reader Copy of my debut novel, MORE THAN A STRANGER! Win it way before you can buy it, as the book will release officially June 5th :) Simply leave a comment between now and Wednesday night. The winner will be chosen at random and announced at 9pm EST on March 21 here in the comments section. Good luck!

S0 tell me: what would be your dream job?

PS - Have a look around at the new digs! Excerpts from both MORE THAN A STRANGER and A TASTE FOR SCANDAL can be found by clicking the "Books" link on the menu to the left. Enjoy!

If you don't see the comments section below, click on the post title (New Website and Giveaway) and scroll down. Will have this fixed shortly!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Spring in my Step

This weekend, I was made blissfully happy by the exact thing that seemed to wreak havoc and unimaginable strife on hordes of people across the country. I speak of the wonderfulness that is Daylight Savings Time.

I can already hear the groaning. Twitter was packed with harried souls, all complaining of their precious lost hour, and the difficulty in adjusting their inner clock. Dinner is too early. . . not the least bit tired at bedtime. . . super tired in the morning—there seemed to be complaints aplenty clogging every stream.

Now, granted, I am on a different schedule than most, staying up really late and waking when I’m good and ready. But still, even when I had the 8 to 5 job, I LOVED daylight savings time. For me, it is catapulting me not just one hour into the future, but straight into spring in one fell swoop. In the space of one day, I feel as though fresh, new life is on its way, with summer not far behind.

Who wouldn’t love that? More time to do things outdoors after work? Sign me up! Every year at Daylight Savings Time I feel as though I’m emerging from my cocoon, blinking into the brightness of day and filling my lungs with the fresh scent of promise.

With the changing of the clock, I can finally shake loose the hibernation of winter, the hours on the couch lit by the artificial light of lifeless bulbs or the flickering light of TV and computer screens, and the inherent slowness that seems to drape my movements all winter. The brisk spring air calls to me, the sunshine beckons mightily, and I can’t help but heed the call.

With the change, flowers seem to come from nowhere, not yet fully formed but perfectly filled with potential. The grass begins to green, and the distant hum of pontoons hitting the water flavors the air. The door to the back porch finds itself open more often than not, and the lure of the grill beckons once more.

For the first time in months, I feel like a kid again, eager to explore, to laugh, to spread my airs and spin in the sun-warmed air. Bring on the light! Bring on the side into spring and summer.

Now, go forth and wallow in the goodness, and forget the small price we must pay for the one way ticket to spring. Your inner clocks will adjust, I promise!

Are you with me? Or do you hate DLS like so many others? Am I the only one who loves this time of year?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Joy Is...

Joy is…

Feeling the sunshine on my face

Watching the puppies frolic in the water

Being swallowed up in my husband’s arms

Talking to friends

Watching Downton Abbey

Splurging on the Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake

Cleaning the house til it shines

Taking a walk with my hubby and three pups

Sitting on the back porch, watching the geese land

Making a proper dinner


Seriously, it has been utter bliss rediscovering all the joys of everyday living. As much as it sucks to go through super strenuous or stressful times, it really does give us a chance to reflect on all the simple joys of everyday life. It's those humble things that we take for granted that make up all the small, special moments of our lives, don't you think?

So tell me, what are your simple joys? What are the things you look forward to after a particularly difficult time? Give me ideas for what to do after that next deadline comes a-callings!

For today’s recipe, I modified a recipe I stumbled across online. It is simple, joyful food at its best :) Enjoy!

Super Easy Vegetable Soup

64 oz vegetable broth (I used Swanson)

1 red pepper

1 zucchini

2 large carrots

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1/2 head or cabbage

2 cups cauliflower

2 cups broccoli

1/2 onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Chop everything coarsely, combine in large stock pan and cover with broth. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Enjoy!