Wednesday Wellness: Information at your Service

Happy Wellness Wednesday! I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays as I noted so many of my friends and creatives struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my journey towards Wellness, along the yellow brick road, acknowledging all things shiny along the way.

One of my first jobs was working at the bookstore at the mall. I loved to work the Information Desk. It was a really neat way to be helpful and also learn things along the way. Many times somebody would ask me a question and I didn’t even know that I knew the answer until they asked. This continued as I moved on to the bigger flagship bookstore. I would put books on hold for myself, but after a few days return them to the shelves, as it seemed just thinking about them helped me realize what I needed to about them. Information was everywhere. So many books, so much information. It was my job to help people, but they were helping me, too. They were helping me develop my intuition.

I’m only just realizing that my current job (of twenty years!) is kind of like that, too. People come to me for assistance, and I assist them. They might ask me for information. I might know the answer, or I might know whom to ask to get the answer. I am providing information, as well as learning information. Sometimes still, I am able to provide the answer, not even realizing that I had already known the answer until that very moment. A little glimmer of a whisper in the back of my mind comes forth. And I am humbled.

The Doctor is IN

I am NOT a doctor. But I can help you find a book.

My dear friend Noel was a kindred spirit, and we both used to improvise playing piano.  When people said they liked her piano playing, she’d say “Isn’t it great? It’s the Holy Spirit!” She had a way of playing a song that is commonly known as “faking it.” There are Fake Books published, and this means the basic notes of the melody are noted and lyrics, but no other music is provided, only the Guitar Chords. It is an outline for the recipe of the song, if you will. There are many ways of making chocolate chip cookies, but in the end, they are all chocolate chip cookies. I love to improvise as I play piano, in fact, I even ignore the written accompaniment, now. If you listen hard enough, you can play the tune. You can play notes, or you can play music. You can follow a recipe, or you can make a cookie.  Are you with me?

So often something reminds me of something else.  Many times, I find myself looking for something, when, in fact, I find something else which I had been looking for before. Whomp, there it is.

Call it The Secret, the Law of Attraction, remote preparation, seek and ye shall find.

I truly believe that having an open mind allows one to perceive truths one might not otherwise recognize.

Everything in your life thus far has prepared you for the next moment. It’s synchronicity.

This afternoon as I drove around during my lunch break, the 80s station played that song “Pure Energy” by a group called Information Society.  Upon entering a place of business, I heard their radio station playing “Meant to Be” by Bebe Rexha.

What I know for sure, is that I am not yet aware of all that I already know.

What do you know?

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Grateful for Green Beans (excerpt & recipe)

Happy Thanksgiving!  Are fresh green beans out of stock in your area? I had to go to two stores this morning, and I met a man who had been to three. So I am grateful for green beans! 

Read on for an excerpt from my book Dee’s Dishes and my recipe for Roman Beans.  I hope you and yours enjoy it as much as my family does!

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Beans #greenbeans #pinenuts #bacon #gratefulforgreenbeans #deesdishes #thanksgiving

Scandalous! Unpopular Opinion

You know that I am a grateful gal. There are so many blessings in my life.

My husband loves Thanksgiving. It’s his favorite holiday: food, family, football, four-day weekend, and he doesn’t have to go to church or exchange gifts.

I confess: Thanksgiving is NOT my favorite holiday, because of the food.

[Insert needle jumping off vinyl record here.] WHAT?

I realize this is an unpopular opinion, which is why I have kept it secret for 34 years. Alas, I simply cannot stand it any longer. THE TRUTH MUST BE SET FREE!

I like turkey. I like real cranberry sauce. I just think the traditional trimmings with all the fatty starchy carbohydrates, not to mention all the bland mushy similarly boring taste(s) and texture(s), are plain as baby food to me.

One year I was blessed to share Thanksgiving dinner four times within five days. Like I said, I am a grateful gal. Among countless blessings, I am very lucky to have opportunities to visit and dine with three superior hostesses (and not have to cook, myself.). You know, it was one set of parents, and the other, and then said parents’ favorite neighbors, and then the obligatory leftovers. Oh. My. God. Make it stop! (Don’t even get me started on the vat of cornflake cheese potato casserole that someone brought one year.) Break a successful stream of healthy eating habits for this? I just don’t think it’s worth it. I’d much prefer a filet mignon, medium rare in a merlot sauce, baked asparagus with Parmesan cheese, and bruschetta on toasted sourdough followed by a respectable amount of chocolate. And I’d be just as thankful, if not more.

Roman Beans

Adapted from the Good Housekeeping Cookbook.I made this once for Thanksgiving at the in-laws’ and now they ask for it every year. As we say in liturgical music school, if the people like it, it’s a “tradition,” right?

Ingredients:
2 lb. fresh green beans
4 oz. bacon cut crosswise into ½-inch strips
1 tablespoon. olive oil
½ teaspoon. salt
¼ cup pine nuts

Directions:
Toss the pine nuts in the skillet without any additional oil. Using a wooden spoon, toss until they are slightly toasted. Set aside.

In 12-inch skillet (at least 2 inches deep) or 5-quart saucepot over high heat, in one-inch boiling water, heat green beans to boiling.

Reduce heat to low; simmer 5-10 minutes until beans are tender-crisp; drain. Wipe skillet dry.

In same skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until golden, stirring frequently. With slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper towels to drain. OR, do this: cook the bacon in the microwave over paper towels. Allow one minute for each strip. The bacon is extra crispy this way, and not fatty. I think it adds a nice texture to the dish.

In same skillet over medium-high heat, in drippings and olive oil, cook green beans with salt, stirring frequently, until beans are lightly browned and tender.

Spoon green beans onto warm large platter; sprinkle with bacon and toasted pine nuts.

Book Tour: Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown (Guest Post)

Friends, Readers and Writers- welcome Aimee Brown, author of chicklit romcom Little Gray Dress has written us a delightful spot on her story’s location. Check out her post below!

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Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown Book Trailer

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How I chose Portland, Oregon for the setting in Little Gray Dress

Portland Oregon is a city near and dear to my heart. I grew up in a tiny town about an hour and a half south of Portland called Sweet Home, Oregon. (That’s right, it’s not just in Alabama.) As a kid I always loved going to the city for events, zoo trips and shopping. As an adult my husband took a job as an EMT for a Portland based company in 2005. We moved our family the 90+ miles north and settled in NW Portland.

A lot of the book takes place in the West Hills (the same one mentioned in Everclear’s ‘I Will Buy You a New Life’ song (video below)– he is from Portland!) & NW Portland as that was my side of town and I’d know it with my eyes closed. I also threw in other areas of PDX along with the fabulous downtown area and airport.

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I’ve spent a lot of time all over downtown doing everything from concerts at the Crystal Ballroom to the Saturday Market, Waterfront festivals (waterfront pictured below), even spending hours upon hours at Powell’s Books. Downtown Portland is unlike most cities I’ve been to. There is so much diversity in the people, shops and events, and it’s so busy in the downtown areas 24/7.
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I remember my first time in Oklahoma City and discovering that hardly anyone was downtown walking the streets checking things out. That was SO weird to me having moved from Portland!

Some of the hotels downtown PDX are simply breathtaking as well. I knew I needed to have Evan & Hannah’s wedding in one of them. I actually used Google for this part to see what hotel’s are popular for swanky weddings at this point in time and came up with the Hilton Executive Tower in downtown Portland. It sits right in the center of the city across the street from the Portland Town Center. I may make up the rich life but I’ve never lived it. I’ve not ever actually stayed there but you better believe I’d be up for a free night now that I’ve given them some free promo. 😊 I’m kidding… kind of. LOL

I absolutely couldn’t write about Portland without including the airport and it’s once infamous ugly carpet (pictured below). They’ve since changed the carpet to something a little more modern but still similar to the old and even though it’s not the legendary one from the 80’s (maybe before?) it’s still pretty popular on Instagram. pdx

I also included a beach town I’ve always loved visiting and that is Lincoln City, Oregon (pictured below). I’ll admit, I’ve mostly visited Lincoln City for it’s fabulous outlet mall but it’s really a fun beachy town with a lot to see and do. The hotel in the story, however, isn’t real. oregonbeach
I have a feeling because I know Portland well and grew up in Oregon that most of my books will be set there. It’s what I know and it’s a state that doesn’t get a lot of attention as settings in books. The Pacific Northwest is gorgeous, green, rainy and full of my family and friends. That alone makes using it as a setting near and dear to my heart.

I’ve no doubt I’ll throw in the random places I’ve lived over the last eight years like; Reno, Nevada (and the gorgeous nearby Lake Tahoe), Norman, Oklahoma (& surrounding cities) and Helena, Montana (& possibly some of its great National Parks.).

It’s been a lot of fun talking about places I’ve loved visiting over the years like Dallas, Texas & Tahoe. I’ve been moving around the country with my family, following my husbands job for just about eight years and I’ve had so many experiences that will likely make appearances in my future books. I’ve had such a great time going down memory lane from visiting the old Cowboy touristy town Virginia City (where Samuel Clemens was a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise Newspaper in 1863) dozens of times while living in Reno to the May 2013 EF-5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma (just a few miles from my own home in Norman) destroying a lot of my friends homes. While neither of these events is in Little Gray Dress, you never know where they might end up.

I’m excited to memoralize, honor and include so many of these places and memories in my books as a piece of me that can entertain you while you read.

Wellness Wednesday: What I’m Working On

Happy Midweek, Friends! I started writing about Wellness topics on Wednesdays because I noted that so many of my creative friends struggle with balance, as do I. Join me as I journey to wellness and balance and make mistakes along the way.

I am tardy for Wellness Wednesday this week, but I am okay with that.  Because I am working on Letting It Go.

Holiday Collage

Tis the Season

This is something I have been working on for some time, in many forms.  I lost some friendships over the past couple of years and that really made me realize a couple of things.  Sometimes I just need to let them go.  Even though they may have been wrong and I may have been right, it just doesn’t even matter anymore.  We didn’t need to be friends anymore and I didn’t need to even tell them so.  I let it go. (Ok so one still hasn’t returned my things.  I admit I am keeping a Messenger open in case that happens. Alas.  Maybe I should just let that one go, as well.)

I downsized from an SUV to a sedan, and I had to learn how to deal with trunk storage efficiency.  (still learning) Then my office was being remodeled and I had to work in a different city. I took advantage of the time to review my boxes and remove what was old and unnecessary.  I was able to shred a ton of old papers, have one box contents imaged digitally, and for another- I am going to transfer the cd files to the digital archive. Progress!

A donation truck comes round our neighborhood tomorrow.  I was saving some clothing items for a former co-worker’s son- but it’s been years since I’ve seen him.  So tomorrow, out they go.  Sing with me now (to the tune of Let it Snow): Let it go, let it go, let it go!

I am so blessed as I have some wonderful friends and family members who are such outstanding beams of joy- but perhaps it has made me have high expectations of others.  I’m learning to tone down my levels of expectations and realize that other people have their own stuff going on and sometimes they just can’t see their actions.  When my daughter’s friends parents (who only have one child) don’t even acknowledge my older child,  I admit that does make me kinda furious inside.  But likely they don’t know better,  they don’t have older children and so sometimes don’t even know how to talk to them. Other people may have their own blocks, or they’re too far invested in their perceptions that they aren’t likely to change.  Can I let them go?  Some people I can let go, as long as I don’t see them.  Right?  Bueller?

I admit I have high expectations of myself.   I wrote two books, one musical, and recorded an album.  Why aren’t I more successful? Why can’t I find time to sit down and write my next book?  Why don’t I have more savings? Why did I forget about that school thing? Why didn’t I see that email?  Why can’t I keep up blogging three times a week?

Why can’t I just love myself and let myself be?

I am pretty aware, and I do have a lot going on, but I also have a pretty good support system and many tools available to me. I can focus and start using them to my advantage.  You know how when you have the right mindset, things just come to you?  Like that year when I truly believed that I was lucky, and I kept winning everything.  I want to live there.  I’m working on it.

Lots of times I do one thing, or see another, and then I think: Is this my thing?  Maybe this could be my thing.

Like that time I wrote a book.  Maybe this could be my thing.

Or when I wrote that essay on how Harry Potter helps my family with Autism. Maybe this could be my thing.

Or when I started making collage journals.  Maybe this could be my thing.

Or when I started travel writing.  Maybe this could be my thing.

The thing is- they are all my thing. I am me, and I am comprised of all these things.

I just discovered a crafty planning community.  I love the integration of scrapbooking elements with planning.  Remember I like to Plan, to Have Fun.

Integration.  Maybe this is My Thing.

What’s Your Thing?

 

Blog Tour Continues: Dee’s post on RachelintheOC Today!

Hey Everybody!  The Book Tour for Dee’s Dishes continues!

I’m so honored to be featured on RachelintheOC’s blog today!

How Writing Takes Me Out of the Crazy is here!

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Have you checked out the other stops on this tour?

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Don’t forget to stop my virtual party on Facebook tomorrow!  Follow this link to RSVP: Dee’s Dishes release party

I really hope to see you there!

Peace,

Denise

Friday Friends: Booklover Betty Murray

Happy #FridayFriends! I have been spotlighting writers and bloggers on Fridays over the past year. This summer I decided to include readers. Please welcome Betty Murray, a #Humanwholovesbooks. 

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On Reading:

1. Right now, I am reading “The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen
It’s a story about a Vietnamese army captain who is a communist sleeper agent in the US after the escape from Saigon

2. Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by N Hogan (Kidnapped by RLS)
Historical fiction story of the lives of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny (1870s-1894) . A really interesting story, set in France, Scotland, Switzerland, California and, finally, in Samoa. As a child, I loved A Child’s Garden of Verses (I still have the 1945 edition, which I think belonged to my sister Pat)…

3. What do I look for in a book? Well, good, interesting writing, for one.
In The Sympathizer, the narrator describes his last night in Saigon, with 2 friends: “we sang with all our hearts, feeling only for the past and turning our gaze to the future, swimmers doing the backstroke toward a waterfall.”
I also love interesting settings – learning about new places and times..
Samoa is the 1890s! England before WW!…Europe.WW2…And, of course, characters that are real.

4. When I was in college, a friend gave me “The Prophet” by Gibran. I read it like my Bible. So many good authors I have read..Marilynn Robinson (Gilead, et al), Wallace Stegner, Annie Proulx, …Dickens, Tolstoy and Hugo. Wintertime is my time for reading old favorites: I just reread W&P (originally recommended to me many, many years ago by your father) and last year Les Miserables. I’ve gone on a Dickens splurge, and Austen…There is a reason why some books are called classics!
Is it time for another go-round with The Forsythe Saga?? My Aunt Alice read it 4x in her long life! I’ve only read it twice.

5. I would say about 2 a month.. maybe more. I used to keep diaries of books read.. but haven’t for a while, so my count is off. I have belonged to a Book Club for about 25 years – mostly teachers from Mills HS. I found that I was only reading mysteries and detective books, and wanted to challenge my brain. I have certainly read a lot of books that I would not have chosen on my own to read

6. For my younger self….??? Perhaps Jane Austen?

7. Disliked?? Can’t think of any…but I am finding that I will put aside any book with too much violence .

8. Book or movie….I prefer to read the book first

9. Favorite genre: Historical fiction

10. One thing!!! I suppose greater understanding/empathy of individuals, points of view and the world

11 Loved, then not…I Loved Ramona as a young girl. Helen H Jackson was an activist for the rights of Native Americans in the 19th C., and she wrote a romanticized, popular story, set in Southern California. I re-read it last year, and , while I enjoyed the story again, I wasn’t as passionate about it. On the other hand, I hated Mill on the Floss (Eliot) and Jude the Obscure (Hardy) when I read them in college…but loved them both on rereading some 30 years later. Went on to read most of Hardy (Tess, Madding Crowd)). Middlemarch and Under the Greenwood Tree are sitting in my Kindle, waiting for some long winter days!

12 In the past couple of years, I find I am reading a lot on Kindle. I can borrow ebooks and read them on Kindle…in bed, when the lights are out and Noel is sleeping! Lots of books written before 1920 or so are available on Kindle for very little. After reading about RLS, I bought his complete works for about $2..I did the same thing with Oscar Wilde, and A.C. Doyle
I do buy books – especially if I think Noel would enjoy reading them And I am a frequent visitor to the Library. I still read my favorite series/mysteries (Isabel Dalhousie, Maisie Dobbs) between more serious books. When I count my blessings, I usually include books and reading.