Monday, December 28, 2015

Korean BBQ Pulled Jackfruit


Last week was a crazy, busy week for me. I had to work Christmas Eve as it was my normal day to work, and then I had to work an extra 8 hours on Christmas Day as it was one of my two holidays a year to work. My husband also had to work so we decided it would be best if we waited to celebrate the holiday until the following weekend. Considering that I'm avoiding using my credit cards as well, this gives me time to pick up all the little things for the kids (I already purchased their big-ticket items) to round out their gifts. On top of that, the magazine I write for has given me a bigger column to write the last few months and my latest editorial was also due last week. Needless to say, last week couldn't wrap up fast enough.

Saturday night was my only day off, and I really really needed to go to the grocery store. As a vegan, I usually have to go to a couple of different ones to get the various items I need, but I've really been wanting to try BBQ jackfruit. I've looked for it but haven't found it, so I figured I'd try my luck at the big Asian market I've been meaning to go to for so long. Honestly, I don't know why I haven't made it there sooner. I loved that place! I came home with all kinds of great goodies, including the jackfruit. So then, Saturday night I made BBQ pulled jackfruit sandwiches (Korean-style) with homemade slaw and a side of dill pickle chips (yum yum). Here's how I did it., it's easy!



Korean BBQ Pulled Jackfruit

2 cans of jackfruit, drained and patted dry
2 T paprika
1 T granulated garlic and granulated onion
2 T soy sauce
1 T sugar
oil for frying
Korean BBQ sauce

1. Put the jackfruit in a bowl. Add the dry spices and soy sauce. Mix well.
2. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. I used about 4 tablespoons of coconut oil.
3. Lightly fry the jackfruit pieces on each side.
4. Add one cup of the bbq sauce.
5. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes.
6. Take the jackfruit off the heat and dump back into the mixing bowl. 
7. Shred using two forks and add back to the frying pan.
8. Add another 1/2 c - 1 c bbq sauce and simmer over medium heat until cooked through.
9. Put on a bun and top with slaw and extra bbq sauce if desired.



Easy Slaw Recipe

1 c cabbage, sliced very thin
1 c shredded carrots
2 heaping tablespoons vegan mayo
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T sugar
1 t poppy seeds

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the mayo, vinegar, sugar, and poppy seeds.
2. Add the cabbage and carrots and toss to coat.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Winter Wonderland


Where I live, it's been at least five years since we've had a proper winter. What I mean by that is that we have had pretty mild weather, for the most part, and barely any snow. A few weeks back I made a post about the morning we started to get some snow. Well you know what? That snow was melted and gone before I even left for work that day.

This morning, our daughter woke us up with an excited, "Look outside!" as she opened the bedroom shades and thus unleashed a brightness that can only come from snowfall. Sure enough, outside I was greeted with the view you see in the picture. We finally, truly, have snow! This is exciting because Christmas never seems like Christmas without snow, and, as I'm a Swede, today is our Christmas.

We aren't celebrating until next weekend as we have to work all through this one. We'll make it extra special for the kids, and sometimes celebrating Christmas a different week from everyone else seems less hectic. 

I've been really busy the past week and so haven't spent much time writing or keeping up with my social media stuff. I'm glad that I finally have some breathing room from all of my busy work, and can spend some time today focusing on the thing I love to do most. I'm in the mood for a good breakfast too, so I'm going to whip up some vegan waffles and sausages while drinking a nice, hot cup of coffee.

Have a fantastic day, and Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, God Yul, and Happy Holidays!

-H.A.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ipsy's December Glam Bag

Oh my gosh you guys, I've been so busy the past several days that I haven't done much of anything regarding my author stuff. Between working and getting out for some birthday shindigs a few times, I just haven't had time. So, today I'm finally getting myself back into the swing of things, and I have a new(er) computer! 

As many of you already know, I started a subscription to Ipsy a few months ago, getting my first glam bag in October. The October and the November bags arrived right on the 14th of the month, so when my December bag didn't arrive on the 14th I was a bit bummed. Not deterred though, I patiently waited for the mailman to show up the next day. And the next. And the next. Finally, when it hadn't arrived on Thursday I got worried and emailed the company. They emailed me right away and sent me a link to track my package, which I did, and it finally arrived on Friday. I was relieved that the house the next street over didn't get my glam bag!



The bag and it's contents!



This is an eyebrow tool. One end is a gel applicator brush and the other end is the bristle brush.



This is a 100% vegan lipstick made by Pacifica. The color of the box is the color of the lipstick.



This is an exfoliating cleanser by Befine. It's made with brown sugar, sweet almond, and oats. It smells great and I can't wait to use it. 



This is Clark's Botanicals Deep Moisture Mask for the face. It's regular-size costs $72 online so yay for me!



This is a sample-sized bottle of fingernail polish by Formula X. It's a gold color and I like it. 



So there you have it! December's Glam bag. Show me what you got in the comments!

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Station - An Update



So, my latest book "The Station" got a new review recently, and it joins the rank of other good reviews. 

"Great paranormal thriller. I loved the small town and forest setting, it made the “thriller” part more thrilling. I could place myself in those woods and feel my own heart race as the main character searched for the ghost in the dark forest. Scary."

It's good to see how much people are liking this book. I felt in my heart that I had really improved from the first, then to the second, and then to this, my third book. I've grown and improved as a writer and a storyteller, and it shows. If you haven't picked up your ebook copy yet, please get it here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017QICT6G . It's only $2.99 for purchase! Not too shabby for an awesome paranormal thriller.

I'm hard at work on my 4th book as well as a few short stories that I am looking to submitting to a magazine and an anthology. I will reveal the cover next month sometime along with a teaser for my 4th book, so stay tuned down the road!

Have a great weekend, and if you need some good reading on these chilly days....


-H.A.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tough Decisions





Recently, I talked about the importance of making good decisions (if you didn't read it, click here). As a mother, daughter, friend, and co-worker, among other things, I'm faced with making choices daily. I'd like to think that I've improved upon my decision-making skills over the years, but I'm only human. I know that while I make plenty of good decisions, I still crank out a few bad ones here and there.

I've had to make a lot of decisions this year, more than I feel I normally have, but I also understand that it's a result of growing older. The biggest thing I've had to deal with lately in the Decision Department is that while I know a decision I've made is the best possible one, it's still an incredibly tough decision. It's a dilemma that can truly just suck. Some decisions, no matter how wise, will fill us with dread, heartache, and sadness. I've spent more than my fair share of time shedding tears.

I guess it's natural, really, to deal with this dilemma. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm only human, and so is everyone else. Just because things are good for us doesn't mean it doesn't have a downside. Maybe it's the universal idea that for every positive there is a negative, and where there is light there is also dark. It seems that this would be so.

The upside is that the tough part of making good-for-us decisions only lasts a short time while the positive things that stem from it will be long-lasting. It's a comfort in a time of darkness to understand these two things. It helps us get through hard times while we weather the storm and wait for the end result.

I've seen several people lately, that I care deeply about, also struggle with the dread that comes with the beginning of a good decision. I remind them of the same things I remind myself often, and then lend my support. They, in turn, do the same for me. So, the next time you have to make a tough decision but don't want to follow through because of the initial sadness, anger, or various other emotions, just remember: The first step is always the hardest.

Have a great day friends.

-H.A.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Teriyaki Noodles with Fried Tofu


The other day, I was absolutely craving teriyaki. I don't know why I was craving teriyaki in particular, because I rarely ever have teriyaki, but I really wanted some. While I sat at work that evening, I formulated a plan to make some teriyaki noodles when I got home. I decided to add some veggies and some crispy tofu pieces...and, let me tell you, I was so not disappointed! Here's how I did it:



For the teriyaki sauce:

2 t. minced garlic
2 t. minced ginger
1 t. red pepper flakes
2 t. corn starch
1/4 c. brown sugar 
2 T. rice wine vinegar
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. water

Whisk the cornstarch and the water together and set aside. Put all the other ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble up slightly. Add the cornstarch-water mixture and whisk into the sauce. Once it begins to boil, turn it down to medium-low heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking


For the rest:

2 handfuls of angel hair pasta (or spaghetti noodles), broken in half
2 c. sliced mushrooms
1/2 pkg of tofu, pressed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T. cornstarch
2 medium carrots, grated
4 T. coconut oil (or any oil you like to fry with)


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain, cover, and set aside.
2. Put the pressed, cut tofu pieces in a bowl. Add the cornstarch and mix well to coat.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat until ripples start to form. Turn the heat down to medium-high and add the tofu pieces. Fry until golden (about 3-5 minutes) and then turn over on the other side and do the same.
4. Take the fried tofu bites out of the oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
5. Add the mushrooms and carrots to the oil and fry, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender.
6. Add the veggies and the tofu to the noodles. Cover with the teriyaki sauce and stir well to coat.


Notes:

This recipe is quite versatile and you could add whatever kind of veggies and protein that you prefer. I would recommend topping this with some sliced green onions and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Delicious!





Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cunningham Lake

Between uncooperative weather and working long graveyard shifts, I haven't been able to get outside as much lately as I would like. If you've learned anything about me by now, it would surely be that I adore being outside, surrounded by nature. Yesterday was a warm day for winter (around 60 degrees F), so when the kids got home from school I rushed them out to Cunningham Lake, just north of town, before the sun set.

We had a nice walk, found a trail out there we didn't know existed, and got some great photographs as the sun made it's way down the horizon. More importantly, I got to reset my batteries...something that nature provides me and that I feel is very important. It's nice to be able to step away from our daily hustle 'n bustle to just take in nature and breathe deeply.























This last photograph was taken in the same light as the last one, but I used my flash and it made the background black, giving it the appearance of being nighttime. I thought that was pretty cool.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like....


...Christmas! We (well mostly the kids) decorated the house for Christmas. I had to go to work so my teenager took charge of the decorating while delegating some of the work to my younger child. It's the one chore those two do that actually puts a smile on their faces. I couldn't help but be happy as well, because when my kids are happy I am happy.

I remember that child-like excitement for Christmas and how it felt like it would never arrive. As I got older (before I had kids) I never decorated and didn't really ever get into the 'spirit'. The holidays were more of a somber time for me. I think the holiday season can be stressful for adults--who are trying to make everything perfect--and as a result, it never seems to be as much fun for the grown folks.

Even after my children were born I can remember traveling to family gatherings that just ended with watching loved ones be stressed and sensitive. Combine this with being in close proximity to a larger number of people and you have hurt feelings and many upset people. It was for this reason that I started doing my own little family tradition. Instead of traveling to visit family, I choose to stay in my own home and make my own traditions.

As a result, I now love Christmas. It's the perfect time to spend time with my favorite people, my kids, while indulging them in some of their most wanted items. I cook yummy food, set out great snacks, and we watch movies like "A Christmas Story" while stuffing our faces and enjoying our gifts.

As we enter into another holiday season, remember what the holidays should really be about: spending time with the ones you love. Don't get stressed out trying to make everything perfect. Your kids, and others who love you, will be perfectly happy with your presence.

-H.A.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Friends



In life, there are few things more frustrating or rewarding as our relationships with other people. Whether it be with our parents, siblings, extended family, co-workers, children, or friends, our relationships with these people can have a big impact on our lives. Some relationships are more important than others, but without a doubt, friends rank up there as some of the most important.

Friends give us a life and a perspective outside of our family units. When we weathering storms on the home front, friends can be a lifeboat ready to take us to safety. Even if it's just for a short period of time, that safety can reground us, and help us significantly reevaluate, relax, and remove stress. In short, they're on our team and sometimes we need cheerleaders.

I know that all-too-often, I can get wrapped up in my work- and my family-life that I sequester myself for long periods. During these times I don't see my friends when I really need to. My life has been a bit of storm this year, for several reasons, and I should have sought the refuge of my friends more than I have.

As I've started to come out from the eye of the storm, I've realized that I really do need my friends, and to that end, I have started actively spending more time in their company. Last month I made a point of getting out more, and it did wonders for my mood and well-being.

 This last weekend was an absolutely fun and wonderful time hanging out with my friends. I can't believe I waited so long to do it. I got to really relax, remove myself from my sequestering, have some much-needed, long-awaited, conversations, and I got to gain some good perspectives from different viewpoints. I got to visit with some acquaintances and catch some live music as well.

Tonight, I am going to see another friend who had a baby a few months back and doesn't get out much. We're going to make homemade pizzas with the kids, relax, and have a good talk over wine. It's overdue, and I'm looking forward to it.

I had a quick chat with a dear friend this morning who remarked that after our night out this weekend, that she was in a great mood the next day. I agreed that I certainly was too. It put a big smile on my face and lifted me back up all over again. Don't underestimate the importance of good friends. They are someone to walk with on a difficult path...you don't have to go alone.

Yours,

H.A.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Six Words



I've been seeing this around the internet frequently over the last few days, and it got me thinking. What would my six words be if I could go back in time and dispense wise words to my younger self? I think I would say something like, "Don't be hasty, you have time" or "Make important decisions with utmost care". Both choices imply that I put a definite emphasis on decision-making, and that is definitely the truth.

I always told myself, when my children were small, that I would feel like a success at parenting if I raised children who could make good decisions. Why? If you can make careful, well-thought-out decisions, you're going to do fine in life. In fact, you'll probably do more than fine, you'll do great. I know I won't have to worry so much when my children go out into their world on their own if I know they are good decision makers.

Decision-making can be one of our hardest skills to master, yet it's one of the most important. I know from experience. I wish I could go back in time and re-do a lot of the stupid decisions I made. It sure would have made my life easier and more fruitful. It also would have spared me from all the grief that comes from making poor decisions.

Many positive things naturally flow from making good decisions. Sitting on decisions about major purchases can stop ourselves from spending money we don't have, thereby saving us from financial problems in other areas. We find ourselves making more sound financial decisions after that and thinking more about our financial futures. If we protect ourselves in passionate moments, we can spare ourselves from unwanted pregnancies, or worse, STDs. Deciding not to take that hike out in a treacherous area without letting someone know where you're going or when you expect to be back can sometimes be the difference between life and death.

Those are just a couple of examples, but I think you know what I'm trying to convey. The importance of a good decision can be life-changing, enlightening, and lead to good habits. It's also a cornerstone to building a good future and keeping your whits about you when the going gets tough, or when times are lean. Although I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that, I have tried hard over the last several years to make better decisions. I don't always succeed, but when I do, I take pride in that. It's a journey, not a race.

Be well my friends.

-H.A.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Snowy Monday


Snow is finally here. I'm watching the big, soft flakes come down outside the window as I type this. I used to love the snow when I was younger. Even into my 30s I appreciated the Winter as a time when I could wear sweaters and jeans (two of my favorites) and curl up after work with slippers and a blanket. Somewhere in my mid-30s I started to grow weary of the cold and began to favor the temperate climate and beauty of Spring and Fall. 

The last several years, this year being no exception, Fall has lasted longer than usual making me a happy camper. I was dreading Winter and the snow, like I have for the last several years, but now that's it's here I'm filled with a sense of calm. Everything is awash in brilliant white, and it's almost as if nature is erasing the old to make way for the new (which is kind of what happens). 

Instead of my usual melancholy of not being able to get out and enjoy a good hike in nature for several months, I am admiring the beauty outside and thinking of all the great writing I can get done. There is a lot of inspiration to be had in the chill of the season. I'm also looking forward to herbal tea, puffy blankets, silly movies with my kids, and some good Winter reading as well.

Maybe this will not be the Winter of my discontent. 

-H.A.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Old Photos

Happy Sunday! I hope you've all 'recovered' nicely from the past several days of food & family. I had two good meals, one with my little family on Thursday, and the other with friends on Friday, both vegan. Yesterday, I was mostly lazy but managed to give the house a good cleaning and spent time with the kids. Today has been more relaxing as I have to go back to work tonight. 

Of course, in and amongst all of that, I kept up with my writer's duties. A writer's work is never done after all! I started on Chapter 3 of my new book, and I'm excited daily to see how well "The Station" is holding up in the book ranks. It's encouraging to feel validation for all of my hard work and dedication.

I have still been going through old pictures on my computer once in awhile to see if there's anything I want to get rid of, keep, or maybe even print off. I came across some old hiking photos from 2011, which is only about a year after I decided to get back into hiking after a long, long dry spell from my youth when my dad would take me out on weekend, fall afternoons. This particular day, we also spent a gorgeous, early fall afternoon up in the Loess Hills (which is incidentally one of my dad's and mine's old hiking haunts from way back in the day). It was nice to stroll down memory lane and I've chosen a few of my favorite photos from that day.



A nice shot from inside the forest. You can see the forest at it's in-between stage of summer and fall as the leaves are both green and brown. Some remain on the trees while others have already descended to the ground.


This panaramic view of the Loess Hills showcases the nice scenery we have here in the Midwest.




 A view from along the ridge line of the hills. The pines will stay green while the grasses turn from various shades of green to various shades of brown and gold.



A gorgeous view as we came down from the hills and into the forest of the valley. A man-made lake borders the forest near the parking area, and you could see the sun shining off it like a mirror from the canopied darkness of the forest interior.



Thanks for taking a brief walk down memory lane with me! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!  -H.A.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks



Well, it's that time of year again when we sit together around a table enjoying a huge feast while giving thanks. This feast can take on many forms whether it's done at your home, some else's home, or at a restaurant. It can be traditional, modern, or something completely different. It can be an excuse to get all the people you care about together, or an excuse to have your little family to yourself. It might go smoothly, it might go badly, or it might be somewhere in-between. It might be done for tradition, to honor the first Americans, or because you want to show that you can, indeed, make a large meal without burning down the house.

We're talking about Thanksgiving, of course, and there are many different ways, kinds, and reasons to celebrate. Traditionally, Thanksgiving was a way of giving thanks for the year's Harvest and for the bounty of the year in general. A big feast would be made using the fruits of everyone's labor as a way of indulging in what otherwise would have been just another year of being thankful that there would be enough food to tide everyone over for the Winter and into the Spring.

Plenty of people do try in earnest to be thankful in today's world during this time of the year, even if we don't have to rely on a good Harvest to survive the harsh winters. Now, we live in our comfy homes and run to the store when we need to restock our supplies. We are truly a lucky bunch, and there is still much to be thankful for.

It's been a simultaneously great and rough year for me. For all the good that came my way, there was still plenty of strife, much of which I documented right here on my website. As the year winds down and we head into the last month of the year, I look back in reflection as I so often do many times throughout the year. Through it all, I am very thankful.

I am thankful that I know who I am and what I want from my life. I'm thankful for finally being able to make peace with the bad and move forward. I'm thankful that I have a good job and can still do what I love in my free time. I'm thankful that I've made steps in the right direction as far as my health is concerned, and that I'm healthier now than I have been in a very long time. I'm thankful that I can finally see the future I envision just off in the distance. I'm thankful that I followed my dreams and that my latest book is doing well. Finally, and most importantly, I'm thankful for the people in my life who give it so much meaning. 

That last one can't be stressed enough. The family and friends I have cannot be beat, and I'm grateful for their presence every day. I'm most thankful in the whole world though for my children and their love. All the times in my life I wanted to give up, run away, or hide have been numerous, but the love for my children has given me the strength to always pull myself up from the bottom of the pit and discover the light again. 

Lastly, I am very thankful that I have a roof over my head, food to eat, and a quality of life that eludes so many of my peers the world over. It's easy to forget how fortunate we are sometimes when we perceive only the things in our life that cause us grief. Perception then, is one of the biggest enlighteners and barriers to being thankful, and, in turn, happy. Happiness in life can often be found the littlest of things.

I hope on this holiday that you find a reason to be thankful, no matter how rough things might be. If your life seems great, then be in the moment, and if things seems dark, remember that sometimes it's our perception of things that makes all the difference.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends: I am thankful for you and your support. Keep on being you.

-H.A. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday's Musings


Happy Tuesday! It's my first day of my work week, but it will go quickly. Thanksgiving will be here Thursday, and it will be the first time I've made a full vegan Thanksgiving (a Vegansgiving)! I've found recipes for some of the old favorites that are vegan, and I'm hoping my non-vegan kids will still enjoy the meal. The day after Thanksgiving I'm going to a friend's house for another vegan Thanksgiving meal, and I'm pretty excited about that one as well. 

As you all know, I live in the Midwest which has always been famous for it's wildly fluctuating weather. I took the kids out hiking the previous weekend thinking it might one of the last nice days before the winter snow hit. Well, even though the temperature has dropped, we never did get the snow that hit North and West of here. Yesterday, the temperature hovered just under 60 and, since it was my day off, I took the kids out for a nature walk.




I love this shot. The best thing about having kids is having them run at you excitedly in greeting. My daughter is always excited to see me, and the feeling is quite mutual. The teen, not so much. He still loves me though. :)




This time of the year, the sun begins to set after 5 p.m. and as we were finishing our walk, the moon was out, close, and nearly full.




The creek on our walk was scattered with brown leaves but some green ones as well. It was a gorgeous contrast.




Fields of wild grasses are a cross between white and brown. They will retire to the earth before Spring comes.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Observations at Work


Hello there. This is me at work. Shocker I know, as I'm sure you've probably assumed that I make a lavish penny off my writing skills which allows me to stay home and write all day. Oh, how I wish! ;) No, I work a real job. I work a semi-graveyard shift for 10-hour shifts, four days out of the week, in a call center, and it's a good job. I dig it, I dig the people who work there, the benefits are great, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a company that treats their employees better.

This shift definitely has advantages and disadvantages. It's not quite a busy late at night so it gives me time here and there to work out plot lines in my head for books; I love the solitary drive home in the wee morning hours; the people I work with at night are interesting; and the house is quiet when I get home. The drawbacks are never seeming to get enough sleep; not being around in the evening with my kids; and wishing I had more time to get things done.

The people I get to interact with are an interesting bunch, and it makes my job enjoyable. However, whomever has programmed Adele's "Hello" to play every hour through the music system needs to be stopped. lol

What's your job like?

Have a fantastic day!  -H.A.




Sunday, November 22, 2015

Progress Report


Good afternoon, and Happy Sunday! For most of you, Sunday is the last day of the weekend before Monday arrives, bringing the new week with it. For me, it's a day back to work after a two-day off stretch that is followed by another day off. There are advantages to working 4-10 hour shifts! 

Anyway, I worked overtime on Friday, so yesterday was my only real day off and I tried to be as unproductive as possible. I find myself keeping busy every day (it's the life of an Indie author) and sometimes I just need to say, "Okay, today's a real, complete day off." It was needed, even if I kinda feel guilty for not accomplishing anything. lol

"The Station" is still doing fairly well on Amazon. It's gotten three reviews already, and it's pretty encouraging:

"...when the scary stuff got going, it did not let up! H.A. Larson really knows how to spin a skillful, suspenseful tail! The story was deliciously spooky, and how all the characters’ encounters with ghostly entities finally came together was well done! I had my suspicions early on about who the, shall I say, bad guys could be, but I hoped I was wrong. Alas, I wasn’t.

Overall, though, I thought the story was well done! It was a great paranormal thriller, and the author does a great job presenting the material in such a way as to send a wonderful thrill up the readers’ spines!"


It's exciting for me, as an author, to see my work slowly but surely getting recognition for being good pieces of fiction. I know how much I've grown, learned, and improved from "Cold" to "The Melody" to, now, "The Station". 

As I mentioned briefly before, I've already begun working on my fourth book. I am already pumped for it as I have a really, really good vibe from it already. 

Have a great Sunday my friends, and grab a copy of one or all of my books (only $2.99 each!). It's the perfect kind of day for curling up with a good book.

-H.A.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Long for a Place...


-The shores of the Atlantic on the Burren in Ireland-


I have some serious wanderlust. When I was about 10 years old, I happened across a travel brochure for guided tour-vacations to Europe, and ever since then, I've wanted nothing more than to travel to Europe. I finally realized that dream last year when I made a fateful trip to Ireland. It was everything I'd ever dreamed it would be, and I came back home with a new perspective on life. More than that, it filled me with a stronger drive to work harder, be healthier, do more...be better.

It also instilled in me a burning desire to see more of the world than what I have seen. Earlier this year I wrote down an actual bucket list, and at least half of it are trips I'd like to take. After starting that list, I also decided that if nothing else, when my youngest child moves out, I will fill up a backpack and travel around the world. Will I be too old? Of course not. Is there ever really an expiration on your dreams?

Where would you like to travel? 




Monday, November 16, 2015

A Day in the Life...



I'm sitting here on this blessedly quiet Monday morning enjoying the solitude of an empty house. I have a nice, hot cup of coffee sitting here next to me, and Faun is playing in the background. Combine that with an overcast sky and a touch of remaining Fall on the landscape outside, and I'm feeling pretty creative. 

"The Station" is doing fairly well, relatively speaking, and that really puts a smile on my face. It's a tough life being an indie author, and building your readership takes time and effort. It's only $2.99 so make sure and get a copy for yourself, I'm pretty sure you're going to love it! 

Today, then, I am gathering up all my notes that I made during the time I was writing "The Station". It's been a bit of a walk down memory lane as I peruse my words and see where I started and where I was heading. It's a glimpse into a writer's mind to see the progression of their stories through their notes, and I can almost look at mine as if they belonged to someone else.

I'm filing away my notes because I've started a new page. Yes, that means what it sounds like: I've started a new book. Usually I wait a few weeks after writing a book to start a new one, but I felt the new story playing out and had to put it down. I won't mention any more about it right now as I don't want to take anything away from "The Station". I am solid in my conviction of how good it is and don't want anything to detract from it.

I have other writing work to do as well. The magazine I write for sent me an urgent email late last week. They changed up the topic of my editorial and doubled the length, so I have my work cut out for me as I wade through that. I also have an editing job to do, and I'm starting a new peer review group. 

A writer's job is never done, not really. 

Have a great day, a great week, and may you be happy.

-H.A.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Walk Through the Woods

Happy Sunday! I have to get ready to go to work soon, but I wanted to share some pictures from yesterday's hike. You all know how much I enjoy my hikes in the forest. There's nothing quite as calming, relaxing, therapeutic, or inspiring as being in the woods. It's always been a place for me to recharge my batteries, hit the reset button, and get my creative juices flowing (if you've read any of books, you know exactly what I'm talking about).

Earlier in the week, snow hit the western side of the state, and it had cooled off considerably. I was sure our Indian Summer was over, but then Saturday came bearing nice weather. The kids and I went out to one of our favorite places, Schramm State Recreation Area, and took our traditional hike there. We didn't need jackets, and I took one of the side paths I had always avoided before. 











I'm happy that we got to take in some of the last vestiges of Fall before Winter heralds it's arrival by taking away the color. It's gorgeous here again today, and if I didn't have to work, I'd be getting ready to get out there. Maybe tomorrow....


Have a great Sunday, and get outside today if you can! 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ipsy's November Glam Bag



So, November's Glam Bag by Ipsy arrived this week! As you might remember, I started the impossibly easy $10/month (no taxes-free shipping) subscription to Ipsy. For that you get a small, usually-cool, makeup bag with a handful of samples of beauty products. It's easy, it's fun, and I love it! This is my second, and I'm sure I'll update you every month when my new ones arrive...at least until I get tired of sharing them.  lol  Anyway, the bag this month was a cool, colorful, celestial-themed bag.



Here are the contents.




First up, a Luxie eyeshadow pan, No. 290. It's a plum-type color, and it reminds me that I should really peruse Ebay for a palette to put my loose pots in.



Next is Jelly Pong Pong's Liquid Gossamer face luminizer. It's a shimmery kind-of copper color and would be great to lightly contour my face or just add a bit of warmth under my makeup.




This is a mini version of Smashbox's Full Exposure mascara. I can't wait to try this one out!




This is called a skin booster and is made by LeeAnni. The directions indicate to tap some on your face gently after toner but before moisturizer for an "extra boost". *shrug* I'll try it out and see what happens!




Last, but not least, is treStique's mini-matte lip crayon in Chile Red. I cannot wait to wear this! I'll wait until I go out some night, it's not a color I'd wear to work. ;)


So there you have it, my custom-tailored Ipsy Glam Bag for November.

-H.A.