Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Good Heart

Sometimes, on mornings when the 16-year-old is particularly surly, I need to remind myself that deep down he's a good boy.
Here's a little reminder, to myself, and other parents who may be gritting their teeth as they live with teenagers. 
Anyone who cuddles and kisses a cat must have a good heart.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- A Walk in the Park


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I love British chic lit and I think Jill Mansell does it better than almost anyone. So for my birthday week, I picked up A Walk in the Park by Mansell. What an escapist retreat for me.
Here's the first paragraph:

"OK. We can see it from here." Lara Carson pulled up at the side of the road, buzzed down the window, and pointed to the valley below. "Se the L-shaped house with the white gates and the green car outside? That's the one."
 Home sweet home. Or maybe not. Eighteen years had passed since she last set foot over the threshold. Who knew what it was like inside now?

 Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's my teaser from page 10:
After school, numb with terror, she had stood in the pharmacy, gazing at the pregnancy testing kits and discovering she couldn't afford to buy one. 
I can't wait to see what you all are reading.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dreaming of France - Red Umbrella in Jardin du Luxembourg


Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again.
Sometimes the people we visit France with shape the trip.
In 1998, we took the kids and spent a lot of time in playgrounds and zoos. I love this shot of the kids along the path of Jardin du Luxembourg.

I'm looking forward to traveling to France with everyone else today.

Awash in Chocolate

Do you think it's possible to have too much chocolate?
I know. That question sounds ridiculous even as I say it, but the chocolate lying around my house gives evidence to the contrary.
My husband bought me chocolates for Valentine's Day and I still have a few left.
Then last week, for no reason except that he's romantic and fabulous, he brought home a small box of chocolates when he walked past the chocolate shop on his way home. 
For my birthday yesterday, he traveled to the Godiva shop to pick up some more delicious chocolates.
 And, of course, what sort of birthday cake would I want? Chocolate!
This chocolate bombe, as it's called, comes from Pistacia Vera in German Village Columbus. It is filled with chocolate mousse and the chocolate outside has a definite French chocolate taste to it. 
Having too much chocolate is quite a dilemma. There are only two ways to fix it -- eat it or share it.
I wish you were all close enough to share... but since you aren't...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Snapshot

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
"Did you see what your hooligan friends did out front?"my husband asked.
"Oh, no," I said. And I went to see.
They decorated my front yard with huge bras and white cotton panties along with signs celebrating my birthday.
I guess there's no getting around the fact that I'm 50. 


What are you all featuring today?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Goals

As most of you know, I've been slogging along doing okay selling my novel, The Summer of France, although I'm nowhere near a movie deal or quitting my day job (yet!).
This month I decided to set a goal of selling 28 books, equivalent to one book per day. That seemed like a manageable goal.
This is an alternate cover that I did not use
I had my Kindle giveaway the weekend after Valentine's Day and 870 people downloaded my book, including more than 150 in the UK and 6 in Germany!
My number of sales were increasing slightly. I had 14 sales on Feb. 20, so I hoped I could still sell 14 more for the month to make my goal.
Today, on Feb. 22, I checked my sales and I have 22 total sales for the month. So for today anyway, I have met my goal of selling one book per day.
That makes me happy.
For people with bestsellers, this probably seems silly, but I'm thinking momentum. Who knows what could happen?
And I just checked on Amazon, my book is #59 under Travel/Europe/France. That puts me in the top 100!
Thanks for all of your support. (If you haven't read it yet, it's available on Kindle for only $3.99 or in paperback for $14 at Amazon).
I'm going to start thinking about my goals for next month.
Onward!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Cascade of Cards

I have a birthday -- a milestone birthday -- coming up this week. And all month my running friends (mostly Pam) have been deluging me with birthday cards.
And some not-birthday cards. As the cards started to arrive in the mail, I felt guilty. I mean, was Pam buying the cards, plus shelling out for the postage? Even at the dollar store, that would get expensive.
Some of the cards weren't about birthdays, like this one that shows a horse biting the back of a boy's head.
Or this one with the bulldog watching the goldfish.
Inside each card, no matter if the message was about the loss of a pet or getting well, my upcoming birthday was mentioned.
Today a card arrived that congratulated me on the birth of my baby, and Pam wrote "Sorry I'm late." Only 16 years too late since my youngest is 16! But, as you can imagine, it made me laugh.
The card below seemed very appropriate for my arrival smack dab in the middle of middle age, with an adorable toddler who looks better with the pudgy thighs than I do.

After Pam confessed she was behind the cards, along with Stephanie, she admitted that, getting ready to move, she discovered a closet full of cards she had bought through the years intending to send to friends and loved ones. That's why the cards had a variety of sentiments rather than just birthday cards. Pam helped me feel less guilty about all the money she might have spent on cards just to make me smile.
Thanks, friends for the birthday wishes and all the birthday cards that have kept my mailbox full every day of my birthday month.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- The Midwife's Tale

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
This book is getting a lot of buzz so I picked it up -- The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas. But what I didn't know is that it's labeled "A Mystery." I don't usually read mysteries, but maybe I only mean mysteries with traditional detectives or other sleuths. I also rarely read books by men. Is that sexist of me? I'm still going to try it.
Here's the intro set in June 1644, York, England:
On the night I delivered Mercy Harris of a bastard child, the King's soldiers burned the city's suburbs and fell back within its walls to await the rebel assault.


Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's my teaser from page 56:
"My lady, it was..." She groped for words. "I thought I saw the man from that night, the soldier," she whispered. "In the Shambles, peering at me from an alley."

What do you think? Would you keep reading? 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dreaming of France -- People Watching


Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again.
People in France look so different from people in the United States.
While sitting in a cafe along Rue Mouffetarde, I took a few shots.
I was focusing on people wearing scarves, but as you can see, I also captured a man carrying a baguette along the street, a paper wrapped around it.

This woman does not look like she is getting what she wants out of the day as she and her man do some shopping, but her scarf is a complicated affair guaranteed to keep her neck warm.
 
Men frequently wear scarves in France, but not so much in the U.S., although it's becoming more common. I think some men still consider it too effeminate.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday Snapshot -- Swim

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Today is an exciting day in my house because of a big district swim meet yesterday and we found out my son is moving on to States.

It's also an exciting day because my novel The Summer of France is free on Kindle Saturday and Sunday. I'd really appreciate if you'd download it free. If you don't have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle reader to your computer then download my book. Thanks. Plus, I bet you'd like the book if you'd give it a chance! Here's the link: The Summer of France.
Now here are some photos from yesterday.
Tucker gets his head shaved every year before the meet.

But first the barber makes sure he looks really silly.


Here they are on the podium one of the three times that they placed in the top four.


I love this group huddle after they dropped 6 seconds from one of their relays.

I can't to see what you all are posting.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Fantasy Relinquished -- Reprised

Yes, I'm recycling my posts. Here's a post I wrote on Valentine's Day in 2011. It's still true.

In honor of St. Valentine, this seems like the perfect day to give up one of my long-held romantic fantasies.
I will now give up my dream of someday marrying a Frenchman and moving to France.
I know, I know what you're thinking...why give up on your fantasy when you're in the prime of your life? Well, my 20-year (now 23-year) marriage looks like it may take, after all.
And, although Earl has said he's willing to make concessions if he can move to France too, maybe as a gardener or cabana boy, I think I should simply put this dream to rest.
Why, you may ask, did I not act on this dream before I married a boy from Ohio?
Well, after my stint in France, I wasn't actually intent on living there. I came home and made plans to go to grad school. I dated the New Zealander. I studied in Washington, DC and visited the French embassy only once. I fought for an internship in United Arab Emirates. The world was my oyster and I could have nestled anywhere. I did not, at that time, have my heart set on France.
Now I've visited France nine times and when I come home, I long for the lifestyle of France -- not just the food.
So, I have informed my daughter that if she wants to live abroad, the easiest way is to fall in love with a man who lives in that country.
I'll find some other path, and take my husband along with me.
I wouldn't enjoy it without him anyway.
Photo from http://www.timoelliott.com/personal/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/heart.jpg

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for Catholics and some other Christian denominations.

Our priest at Ohio State University joked that college students have made this their holy day of obligation. They all show up for Ash Wednesday and piously wear their ashes on their foreheads throughout the day. Good for them that they're not ashamed to have that black smear on their heads -- to proudly proclaim their religion.
On Facebook this morning, I noticed that a lot of people were declaring their Lenten sacrifices. As I read through the list, I couldn't help but wonder if Lent was a diet plan instead of a period of prayer and sacrifice.
A lot of people chose to give up pop or desserts or chocolate. Truthfully, is that going to bring people closer to their religion?
When the kids were younger, we used to give up things, like television. It wasn't a big sacrifice since we had the television in the basement and didn't watch that much of it.
Then we decided rather than giving something up, we would add something. We worked in the food pantry more regularly or tried to help other people more.
At around age 10, Tucker decided to do a good deed every day. Whenever we went some place, he would run ahead of us, hold the door open then proclaim his good deed done for that day.
I was thinking about Lent as I came home from my morning run. I could give up something, but that would probably make me grumpy.
I could commit to not missing mass during Lent, but I'll probably break that promise today because I don't see an Ash Wednesday service working into my schedule.
The thing I really need to do is reach out to the needy. The only volunteer work I do are those things that affect my kids. I've taught religious education throughout the years. I'm on the swim team parent board and I time at swim meets. I'm working on costumes for the school musical.
 But I need to choose something that's outside my family and give some time to remember the true spirit of Jesus the man. I'm not setting a minimum number of hours. I'll do my best and try to remember that Lent isn't a time to work on my body, it's a time to work on my soul.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

First Paragraph, Teaser Tuesday -- Going Underground

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I've gotten really addicted to reading on my Kindle. I love standing in line and being able to pull out my phone to pass the time. I downloaded this book to my Kindle. I thought I had read this author's book awhile ago, but it was a book by the same name with a different author. So now, I really have the book Going Underground by Suzie Tullett. And she is a blogging friend and on my Yahoo writers group.
Here's the intro:
"There's a distinct musical theme to this funeral, isn't there?" whispered Tracey to Jonathan and as she took another look around at the other guests, she was beginning to wonder what she'd gotten herself into.
Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's my teaser from 34 (14%):
A scooter horn beeped outside, signalling its rider's growing impatience and with no time to write anything else, he simply put down the words: "Sorry. Will explain everything when I get back" Then, as he hoped against all hope that that would be enough of an explanation until he did, indeed, return home, he put the note inside an envelope and gently kissed it, before placing it in the centre of the table.
I hope this is a fun ride, like it promises.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dreaming of France -- French Music


Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again.
On a warm afternoon this week, Grace and I were walking to our small downtown to visit the chocolate shop.
"This would be perfect if we only had French music," she said.
So I pulled out my iPhone and pressed the Pandora app. I set it to "Under Paris Skies Radio" and we listened to French songs for the rest of the walk.
Pandora is an online radio station and when you choose an artist or song that you like, it chooses other songs that are similar.
Whenever I'm missing France, I listen to "Under Paris Skies Radio." Here's a sample for you from Pearl Django


Saturday, February 09, 2013

Saturday Snapshot -- Tulips

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
Outdoors the temperature has dropped again, but inside, we have some lovely pink tulips blooming.

Grace received a vase of tulips for her birthday and they lasted nearly two weeks. I don't think my outdoor tulips last nearly that long. It's nice to have color in the house.



I hope you have something beautiful to look at today too.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Innovative Thinking

I've always thought of inventors as people who create things, but I'm starting to understand how ideas can change concepts of things that aren't tangible -- held in our hands.
Two recent innovations that wowed me, I heard about on NPR -- where else?
One new idea is the coffee shop where customers pay for their time rather than their coffee or tea. What a great idea for people who go and hang out forever.
According to the story on NPR, they pay for the minutes that they are sitting in the coffee shop, maybe using the internet, maybe using electricity. The coffee and tea, along with cookies, are free. The Clockface Cafe in Moscow, Russia was started by a 28-year-old entrepreneur who figured people weren't that interested in the coffee but in a place to gather with others and get work done. It costs a little less than $4 for the first hour and about half that for each hour afterward. 
The only thing that worries me is whether I'd be able to get my specialty coffee. Maybe they have a barista who will make me a mocha and I get a free hour of table time since I pay big bucks for my mocha. I think this idea could work and could solve problems for small shops who don't know how to get hanger-ons to vacate tables.  
Another idea which really bowled me over was a new way to pay for college. With two kids in college and another one racing there quickly, this story on NPR really caught my attention. Some students at UC Riverside proposed that students not pay tuition up front. Instead, they attend college for free and once they graduate, they pay the college 5 percent of their income for 20 years to cover the cost of that free college.
I love this idea. I don't see any drawbacks. It might get a little complicated if people drop out or transfer colleges, but since my kids' college tuition was over $90,000 this year, I'm thinking it might be a workable alternative.
Repaying the college only 5 percent is not enough to discourage people from getting good jobs. They won't feel like they're working to see their paychecks disappear in college costs.
I'd love to see both of these ideas incorporated in my life.
How bout you?
Do you have any ideas that would make life better?

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

First Chapter, Tuesday Teaser --

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I'm excited to start this one, even though some of the Goodreads reviews have not gushed over it -- The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle. Of  course, I've never gotten over his book A Year in Provence. Here's the intro:
Shock has a chilling effect, particularly when it takes the form of an unexpected meeting with a man from whom you have recently stolen three million dollars' worth of wine. Sam Levitt shivered and pulled his terrycloth robe closer around his body, still damp from an early morning dip in the Chateau Marmont pool.
Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's my teaser from chapter two:
"Elena," he said, "are you wearing anything under that dress?"  
"Not a lot," she said. "A couple drops of Chanel."
What do you think?

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Dreaming of France -- Pont du Gard


Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again.
This week I'm sharing with you some photos from our 2002 bicycle trip in Provence.
We rented bikes and they were fabulously sleek. The company delivered them to our hotel in Avignon. We had planned a 40-mile bike ride to Nimes and along the route, we'd see the famous Roman Aqueduct Pont du Gard.
From this angle, it just looks like some magnificent Roman engineering. We got to actually ride our bikes across it.
 
Look at this picture of me and the bikes. We are so small compared to the aqueduct.
The only problem that day, was we didn't pack food to eat during the bike ride. We were still in an American frame of mind and assumed we would stop for whaatever we needed to eat -- you know, at a French 7/11.
Well, those don't appear too often in France. So we rode without food and I got grumpy. 
Here I am, in desparate need of chocolate. We never rode without chocolate again.
We still consider this our best couple vacation ever.  
 

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Saturday Snapshot -- My Kids (Adults?)

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
I got to enjoy having all three of my kids home during a long Christmas break so here are a few shots of them.
Tucker and Emma went to Winter Formal at her high school. She is a senior and Tucker is a junior.
Can you see the cut outs on her shoulders? Va va voom!  Boys clothes for formal aren't nearly as exciting. Tucker revised his black pants, black shirt and this time a blue tie.
 
Spencer flew back to school on Monday after a six-month break. I got this shot of him holding baby Regan.
It isn't often that a 19-year-old boy will agree to hold a baby, but he had finished eating so he got a baby in his lap. He thinks she is hilarious. Don't they both look happy?
 
 And last weekend was Grace's 21st birthday.
One of her gifts was an owl mug. Her sorority, Chi O, has an owl  as the mascot, so she loves all things owl. I love having her home during this respite.


Catching Up

Woohoo! I've just finished a few intense days, returning from France and all that entails, two grocery store trips, four loads of laund...