Archive for the 'getting the life you want' Category

Where I’ve been…

So I’ve had several questions about where I’ve been and why I’ve been so quiet the last few months. Don’t worry…everything is fine! Just a lot going on.

Almost two years ago, when I saw the surge in authors self-publishing and became intrigued with the possibilities myself, I realized there was going to be a huge need for editing and publishing services to help these books compete with the “big six” traditionally published works. I’d been working with developing authors for years, teaching classes, giving workshops, judging contests, etc. I had a solid graduate-level education, and I had the benefit of working with some wonderful editors at great New York publishing houses. So I enrolled in the Specialized Certificate in Copyediting program at the University of California, San Diego. I graduated at the end of August. The last few weeks were challenging. The final exam (a long non-fiction piece to copyedit) took many hours. Throw in a national writers’ conference at which I was a guest speaker, a hurricane deployment, and the need to tune up my search and rescue dog for FEMA recertification, and it was nearly a recipe for disaster. But I am happy to say I aced the exam and received my degree a few weeks later (and my dog has passed the first of his two recertification tests).

Wow, was I happy and relieved! I thought it was time to breathe easy.

Um…NOT!

I had done a few editing jobs and built a sketchy website. Word got out, and business picked up speed. In fact, it became a freight train. I am so grateful that so many authors have entrusted me with their creative children. I am doing my best to do every one of them justice. I am now booked out several months into the future and still receiving requests. Wow. Thank you.

For anyone who is interested, here is my sketchy website for the copyediting business. And I will be speaking on editing and self-editing at the Dallas Area Romance Authors meeting on Saturday, October 27. Click the linkie for more info on that.

So I’m busier than ever copyediting, writing, working search and rescue dogs, and taking care of all the critters at home. But lovin’ life!

Remember:

Dogs Days of Summer on the Farm

We’ve definitely hit the dog days of summer here on the farm, with temperatures over 100 degrees every day. And to celebrate, there’s a new dog in residence. Meet Amber, my new foster! Sorry about the bad red phone pic. Don’t know why it does that when I take pics inside.

 Amber is a five-month-old yellow lab pup. She was about to be euthanized at a local shelter because she had a minor URI (upper respiratory infection). Nothing serious at all…and yet it almost cost her life. Luckily for her, the great team at Humane Society of Flower Mound wouldn’t let that happen! Her rescue was truly a team effort as I couldn’t make it down to Fort Worth that day, and her time was up. But a call for volunteers was put out, and we quickly had people ready to pick her up in Ft. Worth, take her straight to the vet in Flower Mound (an hour away). Wait for to have her little cough checked out by the vet and get a few antibiotics onboard, meet with the (also voluteered to come in) HSFM team to get her all checked in and entered into our database, microchipped, vaccinated, treated for fleas, etc., then drive her to Denton (30 minutes away) where I picked her up. She is doing great, and I’m sure she’ll be available for adoption soon (just as soon as we clear up that little cough). She is very sweet, a little timid but coming out of her shell quickly. She loves other dogs, is unphased by cats. She’s going to make someone a great pet!

With the dog situation all taken care of, I had time to take a little ride on the yella horse this morning before it got too hot. He is doing terrific, becoming a really solid riding horse. Afterward I gave him a bath and fitted him with his new UV protective mask. Paladin has two blue eyes, one of them with no dark pigment around it at all, which makes him susceptible to horrible sunburn in the summer, and even cancer in the long run if not protected. This one is called a bug eye mask. The portion of the eyes is semi-formed to puff out so it won’t irritate his eyes.

 Of course as soon as I turned him outside, he rolled, undoing the bath work and mashing in the supposed molded bug eyes.

I’m now taking bets how long it will be before he rips the whole thing off and stomps it in the dirt!

On tap for the rest of the day, writing, writing, writing, and a little reading. I’m copyediting for a woman out east who has written a wonderful memoir. Guess I haven’t mentioned that last year I enrolled in the Copyediting Certificate Program at University of California – San Diego. It’s an 18-month course, and I’m in my last semester. I graduate in August! I’ve already started taking on some freelance editing clients. Look for the debut of my new website spelling it all out in the next few weeks.

Have a great day, all.

News from the Farm

I have a peep!

Do you see it? He/she looks so much like Mom that he/she is tough to pick out. Yes, I don’t know if it’s a he or a she. It’s nearly impossible to tell with chickens until they’re several weeks old. Fingers crossed for a hen, though!

Meanwhile another of my hens has gone broody, and the two silly broody blue girls seem to have worked out a joint custody agreement. They share the little nestbox 24 hours a day and snatch unhatched eggs from each other.

I’m a little worried about mommas and baby with the heat wave expected this week. High temperatures could get to as much as 105 a couple of days. The mommas aren’t getting up from their nest to drink or eat very much, and the baby is going to need water soon, too.

It’ll be a tough few days for the horses, too. I’m glad I’ll be home all week to check on their water (obsessively) and hose them off if they seem too hot. I’ve replaced the fans that weren’t working in the barn and I can always bring them in during the worst part of the day if needed. The barn is well insulated. Generally it’s much cooler in there than out in the sun.

Good news on the foster dog front! I’ve been taking care of a big black lab named Blaze. I took him in from a local shelter that had a fire (hence the name) and needed to move some dogs out quickly. He is really a lovable big lug. He fit in nicely with my pack and was just easy to have around, so I wasn’t all that anxious to see him go. Wouldn’t you know, he got adopted at his first adopt-a-pet? He went to a great home with a really nice lady, though, and some canine brothers and sister to play with, so I know it’s a good thing. But I was sad when I got home and realized he’d been here such a short time that I hadn’t even taken a picture of him.

I’ll take a short break to dote on my dogs, but eventually a set of sad eyes and needy face will call to me and I’ll do it all over again. Why, when their are so many hundreds of thousands of homeless animals out there that saving one at a time can’t possibly make a dent? The answer is found in my favorite quote.

Saving one dog won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one dog.  –Author unknown

Have a good life, Blaze buddy!

Life with dogs…and cats, horses, donkeys, and chickens!

The best thing about living on a farm is that it’s never boring. There’s always something to to–usually a long list of things.

The night before last, my search and rescue dog, Boogie, had an allergic reaction to something (I think). In the middle of the night he started scratching and biting at himself frantically. All. Night. Long. Neither of us got any sleep. In the morning, I checked him over with a flea comb, but found none. Gave him a bath just in case, but he’s on Advantage II and has never had a problem with fleas. I haven’t changed his food and to the best of my knowledge he hasn’t gotten into anything. I have no idea what caused it, but it got so bad that he chewed a small bald spot on his tail and both of his ears swelled and got hematomas. I checked his ears–no infection, no mites. Cleaned them just in case. Finally I went out and got some Benadryl for him. Within an hour he was no longer scratching. Now he’s in bed sleeping off the drugs.

As I went to feed my German shepherd dog last night, I realized I had run out of the special enzymes that must be put on her food (she has a serious condition called EPI, long story). Never fear…I keep a stash in a little baggie in the kitchen just for emergencies. I reordered the enzymes for her. That stash should last until the new package arrived. So if you’re ever in my house and find a baggie of white powder in my kitchen cabinet…it’s not what you think it is.

Down in the barn, one of my hens has gone broody. That means she’s actually sitting on a clutch of eggs to make them hatch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ignored her for a few days. That was a bad idea. Because when I finally picked her up, I found 16 eggs under her! Hmmm. I’d thought a baby chick or two would be cute. 16? Not so much. Oh well, out here in the boonies there’s always people that’ll take chicks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll notice I’ve taken a pen and marked the ones she’s sitting on. Now I have to lift her up twice every day and make sure she hasn’t stolen any more! You’ll also notice that most of those eggs are not hers…as evidence by the different sizes and colors.

Meanwhile out in the pasture, my miniature donkey, Mo, has gotten fat as a full tick on all this spring grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve cut him off from the feed to keep him from exploding. Unfortunately, he shares the pasture with two mares. He has now perfected the technique of walking under their feeders, hunching his back, and knocking the feeders off the fence. He then runs off the paint mare and eats all her food. He might only be 28″ tall, but there’s a reason I call him “Mighty Mo.”

Ah, life with animals…

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Healthy Eating Idea #3

It’s no secret that I’ve packed on a few pounds these last few years, a victim of middle age and the butt-in-chair lifestyle of a writer. Thankfully, I’ve recently been shedding them back off with some careful eating. I’ve dropped 22 lbs. and I’m still rolling strong!

One of my strategies for losing weight is to take every opportunity to trim a few extra calories off of my favorite meals (instead of giving up those favorites). I like tacos. I mean, who doesn’t? But those corn taco shells add a lot of extra calories for not much nutritional value. So as I was thinking up way to have tacos without breaking the weight bank and a way to use up some romaine lettuce in the fridge without having to eat another salad, a light bulb popped on (in my mind, not the fridge. That one was already on as I stood there contemplating while all the cold air escaped).

Taco boats. Yep, I was going to make taco boats.

I’m still a vegetarian, so I opted for a portabello mushroom sauteed in taco seasoning filling, and kept the toppings light–some salsa, a slice of avocado, a few black olives, a small crumble of queso fresco; however, this idea will work fine with whatever you like to use as a main taco filling. But I saved over 100 calories by forgoing the corn taco shell in favor of a romaine lettuce boat. I was going to put lettuce on the taco anyway, so why not use it as the containment vessel?

Here’s what I did: I sliced a stem of romaine lettuce in half lengthwise. Then by hand I peeled out the innermost leaves (putting them back in the bag for use in a salad another time). The remaining lettuce was a perfect little boat. I put my portabello filling in, layered on my toppings, and it was done! 

It turned out so great that I devoured it. I did some quick calorie calculations and determined that with my vegetarian filling (I’ve since also done this with a taco-seasoned black bean mix and a Spanish rice mix) I could have TWO taco boats for less calories than I would ingest with just one taco in a shell.

So give it a try. It’s a perfect summer dish: cool, crisp and pretty.

How do you go about trimming a few extra calories from your diet to achieve your weight goals? Or to maintain your weight for those lucky enough to be in a healthy range?

And hey, don’t forget my psychological suspense/thriller/horror short story (plus a bonus inspirational short story) is now available on Amazon for just 99 cents. Jump to the book page by clicking on the cover below.

Healthy Eating Tip #2 – Power Breakfast

I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater. I’ve tried on and off to correct that, as I  know eating breakfast is important. But the thought of sugary, bad carb laden pancakes or waffles to start off my day turns my stomach (and would likely pack on the pounds). I don’t eat meat, so bacon and sausage are out. I can tolerate one of the those fiber and protein breakfast bars sometimes, but really, they get boring after a while. Besides that, they’re processed, and I also am trying to reduce or eliminate preservatives and artifical flavorings and crud like that from my diet.

Recently I stumbled on a healthy breakfast that I adore. It meets all of my criteria:

  • portion controlled
  • good balance of protein, good carbs, and fat
  • inexpensive
  • easy to make
  • packed in vitamins and minerals

Recently I posted a recipe for making mini-lasagna servings. They’re made in ramekins–little oven safe dishes. I got a lot of good feedback on that recipe. At least one person I know went out and bought a set of ramekins so she could make it. Well…one added advantage of today’s power breakfast recipe is that we all get even more use out of those ramekins!

So here it is…my power breakfast special!

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup frozen vegetables, any kind (I like to mix broccoli and spinach)
  • 1-2 organic, free range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • dash of salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, or whatever seasonings you like!
  • 1 tablespoon cheese

Instructions:

1) Preheat broiler to low setting.

1) Defrost the vegetables in a small microwave-safe bowl (about 1 minute on high). Dump on paper towel and tamp to remove excess moisture. Put vegetable mixure in ramekin (I use my medium ramekins, which are 7 oz.).

2) In a separate  bowl, crack open the two eggs, add the teaspoon (or less) of water, and whatever spices you like in eggs (try some red pepper flakes if you like spicy food). Whisk until egg yolks and whites are blended. Pour into ramekin over vegetable mixture.

3) Microwave on high until egg is cooked and set (about 90 seconds).

4) Remove from microwave. Sprinkle cheese on top (I like to use Mexican Queso Fresco, but any good melting/browning cheese will work). Put ramekin on baking sheet and set under broiler until cheese melts and gets crispy brown around the edges. This only takes a minute or two, so watch it carefully. Enjoy!

If you’d prefer, you can sure just do all the cooking and cheese melting in the microwave, but it’s worth the extra effort to put it under the broiler to get those crispy brown edges and bubbles on the cheese.

I love this savory breakfast. Even in only a 7 oz. ramekin it’s very filling. It has a nice balance of protein, good carbs, and fat. It’s automatically portion controlled. It’s also cheap and easy to make, so it’s healthy on your budget and your schedule as well!

FYI…I always, always keep bags of different types of frozen vegetables in the freezer. Fresh is great, and feel free to substitute if you have them, but frozen vegetables offer about the same nutritional value for much less money, and they don’t have all the added sodium of canned vegetables. they’re great for quick meals like this one. But that’s a Healthy Eating Tip post for another day.

Healthy Eating Tip #1 – Lasagna

Who doesn’t love lasagna? It’s classic comfort food. The problem is, it can pack in the calories, fat, and sodium. The biggest problem with lasagna, in my opinion, is not the ingredients–those can be improved–but the portion. We fill that big ‘ole casserole dish to the brim with pasta-y, tomatoey, cheesey goodness. And when we serve it, we get the spatula down in there and cut out a walloping half-plate serving.

I’ve heard many a fitness/diet/healthy eating guru say that eating right doesn’t have to be about giving up all the foods you love, but in controlling how much of them you eat. But that’s so hard to do with the golden bubbling brown 13 X 9 casserole dish just begging you to take more…

While watching the Food Network the other day, I saw this tip for creating an amazing, cute-as-could-be, portion-controlled serving of lasagna:

Make individual servings of lasagna in little oven-safe ramekins!

Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?

Tried it today, and the results were ah-maze-ing!

How delicious does this look? And pretty enough to serve at a dinner party.

I don’t think I even need to give a recipe–just use your favorite spaghetti sauce, whether from a jar or homemade (but do try to get a lower sodium version if store bought), your favorite lasagna noodles, cooked like normal (you’ll need only 1 or 2 noodles PER SERVING depending on the size of your noodles, more info below), your favorite lasagna filling (I used frozen spinach mixed with ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese).

Spray the sides and bottom of the oven-safe ramekins with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon just enough of your spaghetti sauce in to coat the bottom of the ramekin. Lay one cooked lasagna noodle across the ramekin and push down into the sauce. One is all you’ll need if you’re using very wide noodles.

If your noodles are narrower (or if you want to cut your wide noodles in half) make a cross in the ramekin. I like the cross method better because then all sides of the ramekin have noodle “walls.”

Spoon in about a tablespoon (or less) of the cheese mixture. Top with another dollop of spaghetti sauce, then fold over the ends of one noodle. Make another layer of filling and sauce, fold over the ends of the other noodle to cover. If your noodles are too long, just snip the ends off with clean kitchen scissors. Put another small spoon of cheese filling on, then another small dollop of spaghetti sauce, then a layer of grated parmesan cheese. I add a little mozzarella to mine for that top layer so it will melt and bubble and brown better.

Cook in oven on 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Adjust cooking time as needed for your size ramekin and thickness of cheese layers.

I like to serve it in the ramekin, but one friend did comment that it was a little harder to eat that way because the ramekin slid around the plate, and it was too hot to hold still with bare hands. On the Food Network, the chef was able to run a butter knife around the edge of the ramekin to make sure nothing was stuck and then slip it out onto a plate right-side up. Hers held together and made a perfect round little lasagna on the plate. I’ve tried that and mine always seem to fall apart. But oh well–it still tastes great, so serve however you like. I guarantee people will eat it.

One more thing…if you like veggie lasagna with eggplant, a circle of eggplant fits perfectly into most ramekins. Just grill or roast your eggplant to soften it, then add a slice to one or two of your layers.

Oh and one more, one more thing. Pyrex makes some cool little glass dishes about the size of a ramekin that have lids and are freezer safe. These individual servings freeze perfectly! Just follow all the steps except baking. When you’re building your layers, make sure not to overfill so that you can get the lid on. Then pop them in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat, thaw on defrost in the microwave and then put in the oven. Do not go straight from freezer to a hot oven!


Available Now!

western romance novel boxed set

7 men as tough as the West. 7 women ready to Cowboy Up

Available Now!

Psychological Suspense short story with a bonus inspirational short story included

Coming Soon from Vickie Taylor

Fantasy Romance Novella

What am I reading today?

GOOD OLE BOYS - Denise Barker - Just started, but I'm intrigued so far!

Last five books read:

TEXAS GOTHIC - Rosemary Clement-Moore - Awesome! Great fun and spooktastic at the same time!

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN - Ransom Riggs - Really creative idea. Enjoyed it very much!

BOOTSCOOTIN' BLAHNIKS - D.D. Scott - Very enjoyable, fun book!

THE GOOD DAUGHTER - Diana Layne - Awesome! Get it now!

GOT YOUR NUMBER - Stephanie Bond - Fun little mystery!

What’s on my TBR List?

GOOD OLE BOYS - Denise Barker

Reader’s Guide to E-publishing

Find your next e-book here!

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