The Crowds are Raving about Shipbuilder

Yes, that title is misleading. I just wanted to get your attention. There are no “crowds” yet, but in the last few days, I’ve heard from three people about how much they liked the book. That’s three people who are not related to me, and don’t even know me.

As in, strangers. Ordinary people who saw my book, bought it or received it as a gift, and read it. Then let me know what they thought about it.

I appreciate that. Feedback is important, both as encouragement, and to let me know what people like. Or dislike. It’s useful when it comes to improving my writing.

Now I just need all those people to tell other people about the book. Maybe leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other places. Not every reader does that, and I’m very grateful to the ones who do.

But I really love hearing personally from a reader. The grin never quite goes away.


A Low-Cal Dessert

From the cooking blog, February 2010

 It’s a little weird, but it’s good
Chocolate Cottage Cheese

Look at it this way – it can’t hurt, can it?

I put 2 teaspoons of dark cocoa powder (the real stuff, not chocolate milk mix,)


1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar in 1/2 cup of lowfat cottage cheese. 

I know, I know. Sugar. Is. Bad.

I know. So use the smaller amount. If you’re like me, you like your chocolate dark and sort of bitter, anyway.

For fun, throw in some vanilla, or rum extract. Or heck, if it’s a fancy dessert, throw in rum. Or Kahlua or Amaretto. Just half a teaspoon or so.

I ran the numbers, and this dessert comes to:

128 calories
16 g. protein
2 g. fat
12 g. carbohydrates
2 g. fiber

I think that’s great for a dessert. And a real boost to your protein for the day, if you need that.

If you want to be really good, have just 1/4 cup in a fancy glass. You’ll halve the calories.


I was traveling all day yesterday, so didn’t get around to spreading the news about my interview for the Pagan Writers Samhain anthology. Thankfully, the internet is eternal, so you can still run over and read all about it. It’s here, at Niina’s blog, For the Love of Reading.

Please, read and leave a comment!


Pickled Vegetables

While I’m dealing with unwell relatives, let’s do another cooking post from my old cooking blog. This one is from July 31, 2010:

I’m not a big pickle eater. Loved them when I was a kid – the big, sour dills, and even then I preferred the crunchy kind.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found the taste too tart, and mostly I’ve avoided them. I’ve considered making them myself, and I did pickle some beets last year. I also made some marinated vegetables for a buffet – spicy ones to go with Mexican food.

Then, last week, I had someone’s homemade pickles, both sweet and sour. 

Oh, boy. What I’ve been missing. Like anything else, Industrial Food has ruined our pickles for us. The homemade variety are outstanding.

But I didn’t run out and buy a bunch of pickling cucumbers. No, if I can pickle cucumbers, I can pickle anything. And I’ve got vegetables to use up!

It bears saying that pickled foods are good for you. Pickles used to be served at the beginning of every dinner, as a way to prepare the digestive system for a meal. The bacteria in the vinegar are the kind that do good things for us.

And it’s ridiculously easy to make.  Follow along.

Step 1: Cut up your vegetables. I used carrots, Armenian cucumbers (didn’t have the pickling kind), red and yellow onions, and garlic. They’re all tossed together in a big bowl.

Step 2: Stuff the veggies into jars. Really cram them in there. You’ll still have lots of unused space.

Step 3: Here’s the rest of the ingredients. Simple, right? This is a Cooking Light recipe for pickling zucchini, but I figured it would be good for anything. It’s a not-too-sweet and spicy brine. I love the taste.

I’m afraid I can’t find the recipe online, but it was in the August issue for this year. For 4 cups of vegetables, boil 1 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp. mustard seeds, 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, and 3/4 tsp salt. Just bring it to a boil, then pour it into the jars. I had to quadruple the recipe for what I had.

The result: gorgeous, delicious, crunchy vegetables!

Health and Happiness

We are having an unusually difficult visit down south. There is no blame to cast for this – it comes down to Fate, in all its scattered whimsy. And believe me, we are not the ones who are suffering. That falls to my poor FIL, who is just Not Feeling Well.

Our first couple of days with him involved a trip to the doctor, then a few abortive rides to either urgent care or the ER. He kept changing his mind, unsure of what to do. When he finally did decide on the ER (on Saturday), they admitted him. He had great hopes that they would be able to “do something” to make him feel better, but alas, he continues to suffer, his agony increased by the lousy food they insist on giving him.

I wish I could make it go away. It’s awful seeing this usually upbeat, happy person knocked so low. I am further distressed for him, because today, his oldest grandson arrives with wife and little children in tow. My FIL should be happily playing patriarch and doting on giggling great-children. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he gets to do it before the week is out.

In the meantime, I’m putting together a colorful “care basket” to bring him – some fresh fruit, flowers and greenery. They may not let him eat the fruit, but hopefully it will add some cheer to his room. Then I’m off to spend the afternoon with my own daughter and grandson, before coming back to hang out with the other part of my family.

It’s all somewhat stressful, but it is not written that we will always have stress-free vacations, is it?

Shipbuilder Goodreads Giveaway Winners

My giveaway contest on Goodreads is over and we have two winners! They are:

Bill S. in Minnesota and Jillian K. in Florida. Congratulations, Bill and Jillian! I’ll have your signed books in the mail tomorrow.

And thank you to everyone for entering the contest. Over 400 people discovered The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder due to this giveaway, and many of them have added the book to their To-Read bookshelf. That’s exciting!



Sunrise, Sunset

Time is ever getting away from me. I’ve been just skimming the internets lately, barely keeping up. We are on another trip down south, which means I have even less time to devote to anything computerized.

Actually, it’s not time that’s the problem. It’s this annoying obligation known as “being a polite guest.” You know – where you have to remember that it’s not all about you, and hence, you stay off the computer and, y’know… talk to real, 3-D people who are in the room with you.

I submit that this is good for us, on very many levels.

Last night, I attended a birthday party for my next-to-youngest daughter. She is, as of Wednesday, 30 years old, and is one of the most beautiful and classiest women I know. All of my daughters are amazing. I think I’ve mentioned that once or twice.

She threw a well-attended bash, with a black-and-white theme (black to mourn being 30, and white to indicate the best years are ahead), with lots of balloons, food, and wine. I think everyone had a good time. Even 2-year-old Van had a good time, but he was smart about it. When the crowd got too big and too noisy, he retreated to an upstairs alcove where he could watch a cartoon in peace. Some of us took turns sitting up there with him, providing opportunity for quiet chats between two or three people.

That was nice. The whole party was marvelous. I helped cook up a batch of pan-seared sirloin and helped my son-in-law make a successful Bearnaise sauce. He gets most of the credit since he did all the stirring. I just tossed in the occasional cube of butter and offered encouragement.

From a mother’s perspective, let me say that it’s wonderful when a child reaches adulthood surrounded by a close and happy circle of friends, people who are of good character and honest compassion. It makes the task of “letting go” so much easier, knowing there are others watching over over your child. And knowing that your child is also doing some “watching over” of her own.

My, I’ve gotten a bit sodden, haven’t I? I guess that happens when kids have birthdays. For now, I must get back to the “real” people around here, and let you all get back to your lives. Have a good one!




I’m Interviewed Over at Decadent Decisions

Lynn Chantale is featuring authors whose works appear in the anthology, Pagan Writers Present Samhain. Her interview with me is up today at her blog, Decadent Decisions. With a name like that, you know you want to see what she’s up to!

The anthology is available at



Weekend Musings

As is usual for an autumn Sunday morn, we started the day with a short walk, then applied ourselves to pumpkin pancakes, bacon, and newspapers. That accomplished, we seem to have set out on chores. Rick is mowing the lawn(s), while grandson #2 tackles weeding and raking. Myself – I have cleaned bathrooms, started laundry, and made cookies.

I should also run the vacuum cleaner. I really should.

*Warning: the rest of this is about health issues that may only be fascinating to me. I’ll forgive you if you wander off.

In the meantime, my feet hurt. This is more than shoes wearing out or walking too far. Truth be told, my feet have been hurting for a long time. As in more than a year. Two years? I don’t know. It’s the kind of thing one tends to ignore at first, when the pain is sporadic, and only slightly noticeable when it does appear. It’s easy to not pay attention as it worsens. Until every step hurts, and burning, aching feet are even disturbing my dreams.

I have peripheral neuropathy. Nerve damage.

There are many causes of neuropathy, but none of them are an obvious culprit in my case. My level of B-12 has dropped precipitously in the last three years, but even so, it is still within the normal range. I’ve started taking a supplement. Previous injury is always a suspicion, as I suffered a ruptured disc several years ago – a problem that required surgery. While my back seems to have recovered nicely, I find myself left with nerve issues, such as the occasional bout of sciatica, or a leg that needs a moment to orient itself. I sort of suspect that my restless legs are a result of that, too.  Oh, and arthritis, of course.

Nerves are finicky things, and as near as I can tell, they don’t respond well to treatment. There is certainly no cure for neuropathy. The doctor has given me pills to reduce the pain, but so far, there has been no effect. I’m supposed to up the dosage each week until I reach an amount that helps. Tonight, I’m up to three pills.

I hate  throwing pills at a problem. I don’t want to be one of those old people taking twenty pills a day, most of them prescribed to counteract the side effects of the other pills. But I seem to be heading in that direction.

Happily, my blood pressure has been lower, although it has not quite reached normal levels. The systolic pressure is now only slightly high, but the diastolic is much higher than it should be. I suspect the answer is, as always, more exercise. Which has just become more complicated because of my darn feet. I want to hike for four hours several days a week. But I’m in agony after just half an hour. I’m afraid this will also put a damper on my plans for dancing lessons, Tai Chi, and cross-country skiing.

Okay, that last one was a joke. I’ve never been on skis in my life.

I hope the pills start to work though, because I seriously want those dance lessons.


Time Travel Journals Giveaway on Goodreads

Attention! Until November 20,  you can enter to win a free paperback copy (signed!) of The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder. The contest is over at Goodreads, here.

Two copies are up for grabs, to US addresses only (sorry, other countries. I’ll get to you, I promise!)

If you have a Goodreads account, don’t forget to add the book to your To-Read List.