Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Quickie Valentine's Day Post

I hope you've all had a sexy Valentine's Day. If nobody brought you chocolates, I hope you went out and got some to treat yourself because you deserve it.

If you're sad that it's almost over, remember that out here in my neck of the woods, it's always Valentine's Day. Because life's too short not to embrace love and sensuality every day of the year.

Art by Milo Manara



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Friday, February 9, 2018

5 Out of the Box Ideas for Valentine's Day

Sometimes the same ol' same ol' gets boring, even on days like February 14. We all like novelty, so mixing things up can actually be great for a relationship. So if you're looking for something different to do this Valentine's Day instead of the traditional going out to dinner thing, here are five fun ideas. (And you can also do these things if you're single without feeling awkward!)

1) Take a painting class.

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Places like Painting with a Twist have step-by-step classes for adults, and the best thing about it is you don't have to even really know how to paint in order to create these paintings. The classes are led by enthusiastic, encouraging people with great personalities who keep the process fun and stress free. At the end, you have a painting associated with a happy memory to put up in your home, or you can give it away as a great gift to a loved one. Bonus: you can bring some V-Day wine and chocolates to enjoy as you paint!

2) Try cooking a new recipe.

How many times have you thought "I want to try that recipe sometime" but you never get around to it? Why not give a new recipe a try on Valentine's Day? If you're single, this would be a great opportunity to provide dinner for a family member who might be lonely on that day, or also other single friends. If you're coupled, cooking together can be a fun new way to bond that requires teamwork and a shared reward at the end.

3) Deliver baked goods to loved ones.

This one's similar to cooking a new recipe if your'e cooking the baked goods. On the other hand, going out and supporting a local bakery and then delivering the goodies to your loved ones benefits a multitude of people. This can be rewarding for singles and also a sweet activity to do with your significant other.

4) Go bowling.

Getting out of the house and away from packed restaurants on Valentine's Day can be a breath of fresh air. You don't have to dress up (unless you want to!), and you get to move your body and play a game. It's a great alternative to just sitting all evening and stuffing your face.

5) Go on a road trip to somewhere local you've never been.

If the weather's nice on Valentine's Day, it can be both romantic for couples or simply exciting for singles to take off and visit a new-to-you town within driving distance. We're all adventurers at heart, and visiting a new town and experiencing a meal, shopping, and/or sight-seeing is a greatly fulfilling way to spend the day. And who knows? You might discover one of your new favorite local getaways this way.

What about you? Do you have any ideas for Valentine's Day that are out of the box that you've tried or want to try? Please feel free to share in the comments!

And have a Happy Valentine's Day!


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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Why New Year's Eve Is One of My Favorite Days of the Year

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Christmas is winding down, and we are quickly approaching one of my favorite days of the year: New Year's Eve. As someone who is constantly analyzing herself and always trying to find ways to grow and be a better person, New Year's Eve is almost a sacred time for me. It's a time when I look back on the year, the highlights, the hard lessons, my relationships, my hobbies, my habits, my career, etc. And as I reflect, I pinpoint what plans, behaviors, and ways of thinking worked for me and what didn't. Being a goal-oriented person, I also really enjoy coming up with goals for the new year and writing them down on notebook paper.

I usually stay at home, although this year I'm toying with the idea of going out for a change. I'm also kind of quirky in that I feel like the movies and shows I watch on NYE, as well as the music I listen to and the books I read, have some sort of magical significance. Even the snacks I eat and the drinks I drink are carefully thought out. I often make home-made cheese-dip and then of course there's the obligatory champagne. I send my loved ones emails or texts, and many times they'll reply since they're staying up to ring in the new year as well, and I'll feel love and connection with them. I tend to remember all these details years later, and they remind me what frame of mind I was in at the time.

Even though this day is in essence, just another day of the year, it still feels sort of mystical to me - like the closing of another life chapter, and the spark of a fresh beginning filled with possibilities.

Although I haven't yet compiled my personal goal list for 2018, I'm starting to think about it because NYE is less than a week away. I of course have the typical weight-loss/better-health goals like most people do. I have some new writing goals, too. But one new thing that I'd like to apply to my daily life going into 2018 is to Appreciate More Than Complain.

It seems like whatever I focus on out of those two, I get more of. When I get into a bad habit of criticizing things, life somehow comes up with more things for me to criticize! It could be simply because I'm focused in that negative sort of way and because of that, I'm seeing more things that need complained about. But when I appreciate more, I all of a sudden start seeing more and more things in life to appreciate. I've gotten a good head start doing this the latter half of 2017, but I want it to really get into it as a daily way of life in 2018. I've noticed my days are just better days if I think in terms of appreciating rather than criticizing. I'm wondering if other people have had the same experience.

What about you? Do you have any new goals for the new year? Also, do you have any personal New Year's Eve traditions? Feel free to share in the comments!

And as always, I appreciate you for reading!



Monday, December 18, 2017

Godless: Diversity Done Right

It seems like books, TV, and movies these days are trying to promote more diversity in their stories, which is a very good thing. Unfortunately, many times the inclusion of diverse characters goes over like a led balloon because they are shallow and undeveloped. They come across more as "tokens" than as human beings we can relate to.

There is one new show, however, that I just watched, and it is doing diversity right. It doesn't tout itself as a diverse show, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it so diverse. It's a Western series on Netflix called Godless.

Now, obviously being a Western, one can imagine there will probably be Native Americans, and there are. And a couple of those characters are awesome. There are also African American characters that are a less typical of what you'd normally see in a lot of Westerns, which was cool. But what I found particularly surprising in a good way was the lesbian and bisexual characters.

These Les/Bi characters are not the main characters, but they are part of a very strong supporting cast. And their sexuality is done in such a way that they don't feel like tokens at all. It's truly part of who they are as people, not something that Hollywood sloppily painted on them for the sake of diversity. They aren't just thrown in there for titillating sex scenes either. These characters are strong, fascinating three-dimensional women. 

Another way Hollywood tries to do diversity these days is to make someone's sexuality ambiguous. Is she or isn't she? Is he or isn't he? Are they or are they not? Well, in Godless, it's sincere, and it's obvious, not subtle at all. You don't have to guess. These characters are who they are; it's clear, and they also totally own it and live it.

So if you don't mind some rated-R level Western violence, and you're looking for a diverse show, check out Godless on Netflix. It's a limited series, so it only has one season. I thought it was a really great story overall - and it has a satisfying ending! (My beef with Hollywood and their modern unsatisfying endings is something I'll save for another post!)

Have you found any shows or movies or books that have well-developed diverse characters and not just stereotypical token diverse characters? If so, share in the comments!


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Best Book Read in 2017

It's December (already!?), and one of the things I like to do at the end of the year is assess which book was the best book I read during the year.

I read every genre there is, and I also read both new books and old books, so always a fun surprise to look back and see which one out of the eclectic pile grabbed me the most. This year, I hands-down have to say it was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

Penguin published this novel in 2014, but the book saw a surge in popularity when HBO did a mini-series based on the story. I haven't seen the show yet, but I do know that it won several 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards. 

Have you ever noticed how a lot of the movies and shows that win awards are based on really good books? It's almost not fair to have a competition where a show based on book can go up against a show with an original script. Shows that are based on books already have excellent storylines, and judging from the popularity of a book, I'm sure that producers can guess the show/movie will also do well with audiences. Make it easy for everyone to succeed.

All that aside, this is a really good book. It's compulsively readable. It twists and turns and has some surprises. I recommend it to readers who enjoy fast-paced modern contemporary fiction that's both a mystery/thriller and deals with real-life issues.

This story touts itself as a mystery, but it's also portrait of domestic abuse, which normally I wouldn't be too jazzed to read about; however, the novel does such a good job at going into its characters' minds that I found myself both engrossed in the story and also feeling like I was taking a crash course in psychology.

What was the best book you read in 2017? Feel free to share in the comments!


Thursday, November 23, 2017


I've been trying to adopt a spirit of gratitude in my daily life every day, but on this special Thanksgiving Day, I thought I'd write a post listing some of the things I am thankful for today.

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- I'm thankful for the love of my friends.

- I'm thankful for the love of my family.

- I'm thankful for the home I live in.

- I'm thankful for the car I drive.

- I'm thankful I have access to so many wonderful museums and restaurants and shops.

- I'm thankful I have beautiful clothes to wear.

- I'm thankful for the lessons I have learned this year.

- I'm thankful for my readers, both those who have followed me for a while, and those who are new.

- I'm thankful for my dog, that he's made it to 10 years old, and hopefully will make it 10 more.

- I'm thankful for my health.

- I'm thankful for those times when I didn't feel so good because they taught me how to be happy despite any circumstance.

- I'm thankful for personal growth.

- I'm thankful for movies and shows and memes that make me laugh.

- I'm thankful for all the new art and music and books I continue to discover.

- I'm thankful to be alive on this new and beautiful day.

- I'm thankful you're here, reading this post! And I send you a virtual hug.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Saturday, November 18, 2017

We Have Two 'Roads' Giveaway Winners!

For those who entered my giveaway contest for a signed paperback of Roads and Revelations, the contest is now closed. Out of the 845 people who entered, two lucky winners have been chosen at random. (Goodreads should have notified them.) I will be signing the books and shipping them off next week!

If you didn't win, you can still get an ebook and/or paperback copy at an affordable price. In fact, if you're on Kindle Unlimited you can read it for free. --> Amazon Link <--

Again, thank you so much to everyone who entered, and also to those who helped promote this successful giveaway!