Saturday, October 31, 2015

"The Station" Trailer!

Ok folks, here it is! The trailer for my upcoming release, "The Station". Out next weekend!



Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Station is Finished!



Yes! I have great news (if you haven't already guessed from the title) and I'm very excited! I have finished my third book "The Station", well, except for that pesky editing job, but you know!

I will spend the rest of the week during my downtime, and then again this weekend, wrapping up the editing process and getting a trailer made for it. I will send it off to a few people to review for me, and then I anticipate a release date of one week from Saturday. Don't worry, I will keep you posted.

Cheers!

H.A.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Latest


The last several days have a busy blur! My son had a birthday and I let him play hooky on Friday in order for us to do some birthday shopping. Later that evening I finally tracked down a cheap replacement washing machine for my old one, and had to round up a truck, a dolly, and some manpower to retrieve it. Saturday I spent all day doing the tons of laundry that had accumulated, deep cleaning the house (which is best accomplished when you can wash everything), and working on my latest book "The Station." 

Sunday I was exhausted from all my hard work, and was yet again dealing with a weird yo-yo of emotions that was very deja vu from last month. I figured out that something more was going on than simply nostalgia or a set of doldrums, and so I did some research. I determined, from a list of symptoms, that what I am dealing with on a monthly basis are hormonal changes related to perimenopause. It's the period before your period ends for good. It comes with a variety of symptoms, and I'm glad I was able to determine that I'm not crazy and that my internal thermostat isn't "broken". I started taking an herbal mood enhancer and I'm starting to notice a difference. 

Finally, I went on a writing blitz and am nearly finished with "The Station". One more chapter and I'm done! I'm pretty excited, and I will be sure to let you know right away when I've completed it. This book has been my most challenging, and my best work yet. I feel that I've really grown as an author, and I'm hoping it shows. Now I have to wrap it up, edit it, make a trailer, and get some preliminary reviews! Wish me luck!

It's been a crazy ride these past few months, but I can finally see the light! Have a fantastic day.

-H.A.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Motherhood



As of yesterday, I've officially been a mother for 16 years, more if you count the 10 months before that when I was pregnant. It's definitely a bittersweet moment. In some ways it feels like I've been a mom for a lifetime, but in other ways it feels like it hasn't been all that long. As the years soldier on, I find that the former becomes more true.

I've mentioned this in another post, but I had no intentions of being a mom when I discovered that I was "accidentally" pregnant in the early part of 1999. Back when I was 15, I had many 'female problems' and was told by the family doctor that I'd probably never be able to have children, and if I did, I would probably have to go through fertility treatments. Seeing that I was only 15 years old at the time, kids were the LAST thing on my mind, so it wasn't really a concern.

As the years waned on, and knowing that I wouldn't be able to have children, I had big ideas in my head of all the cool things I'd be able to do with my life sans children. I was going to get my PhD in Religious Studies, teach college, live in a big city, travel the world, and wine it up with my girlfriends.  I partied, did what I wanted, and dated at leisure.

When I was 26 I began a relationship with an older gentleman (okay, he was like 41, but that felt "older" at the time...now I know better) and after a semi-serious discussion on our first date, I realized that he wasn't going to infect me with any weird diseases, and since I couldn't have children, went ahead and forewent the usual precautions.

After a few months, I was getting ready to move to another state to continue my studies, and I broke up with the older gentleman. A few months later and a few states away, I found out I was pregnant. I was numb with shock and scared shitless. What the hell was I going to do? I didn't want a baby. I considered abortion, but decided against it. I called a lawyer's number I found in the newspaper about adoption, and after about 20 minutes of listening to him rattle off all the terms, I ended the call with a bad taste in my mouth. 

I thought about it for a few weeks and came to the conclusion that maybe this was my one shot to have a child, I mean, the doctor did tell me I'd never be able to have children, so I decided to just go for it. As my baby boy grew inside of me, I began to bond with him, and all those years of thinking I never wanted to be a mom started to melt away. Now, that's not to say that everything was smooth sailing. Money of course, has never been tighter, I haven't had a decent night's sleep in years, and I had to put my dreams of being a PhD and jet-setting the world aside.

I also have to admit that it took me about three years to really warm up to being a mother, and I don't feel like I truly became a good mom until I had my daughter. It wasn't for lack of trying, I just think that a large part of the reason I never wanted to have children was that I was still very child-like myself. I'm a late bloomer compared to many of my peers, and I didn't figure out who I was until I was 40. The road then hasn't been a perfect one, but I as I look back on the last 16 years, I wouldn't change a thing.

I also look back and realize that I'm a much different person than I was in my 20s. I'm more confident and sure of myself, I know who I am, and I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I no longer want to be that Religious Studies professor, and I'm still in my early 40s so there's plenty of time yet for me to accomplish great things.

My son is now a tall, handsome, smart, kind, funny, and all-around great kid. I feel lucky that I managed to do all right by him, and am eternally proud of how awesome he is. The love I have for that kid (and my daughter too) is one of the most powerful, greatest, and closet things to the divine that I will ever feel, and every time he hugs me and says, "I love you mom," my heart melts.





Monday, October 19, 2015

Autumn Hikes & Storytelling

 Hello friends and fans! How has your past week been? I've been busy working at my job, spending time with the kiddos, and working on my book "The Station". I'm happy to report that I'm nearly finished writing the book, but then I will have the arduous task of editing. Sounds easier than it actually is, as I'm a good editor, but there's always something about editing your own work that ensures you miss things! Anyway, you'll be hearing more about that soon enough.

Ever since my down mood (which was figured out to be, and subsequently blamed on, my aging hormones) I've been taking solitary Monday hikes in my favorite forested areas around the Metro. My kids have been home for intersession, so I took them with me today. It kind of messed up my Monday mojo, but it was still very pleasant. It was an unusally warm day, in the 80s!, and we went out to Neale Woods. 




The old mower-tractor barn. Neale Woods is owned by Fontanelle, and they've let Neale Woods go while they shovel most of the funds into Fontanelle Forest. It's very sad, and upsets me, as this place is absolutely serene and gorgeous. I hope they remedy that soon.


 

This old wooden viewing deck looks across the forest, the river, and over into the Loess Hills over in Iowa. It's a beautiful view and a nice place to sit, but like everything else at Neale Woods these days, it's fallen into disrepair.







The old sun dial actually keeps good track of time, but, of course, if it's cloudy or Daylight Savings time, it's off a bit.  ;)







The cool thing about the entrance into Neale Woods is how you can see a glimpse of the Omaha skyline off in the distance. I love how the trees made a little frame around First National tower and the Woodmen building.







It was a gorgeous, Autumn sunset this evening. 




We scavenged fallen wood to bring home for a bonfire, but I got too busy cooking supper that the rest of the evening got away from me. I'm definitely saving the wood for Friday night. Hopefully, it will be pleasant enough.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mesh Protectors and Ipsy's Glam Bag

Today we have the cool beauty post I was talking about the other day. The reason it was forthcoming was because I had to wait to receive my first Ipsy Glam Bag! It happened to come later that day, so here it is! I have something else to talk about before we get to the Glam Bag though, so let's get started. 




First up, I had purchases some mesh makeup brush protectors on Amazon recently. I had heard good things about them, and I was getting tired of my makeup brushes fanning out after washing. I washed my brushes the other night and then put the mesh protectors on afterwards. After they dried, I took off the mesh protectors, and wa-lah! my makeup brushes didn't fan out! Yay. I definitely recommend these! They are so inexpensive on Amazon and I cut mine in half as I don't need to cover the entire brush, just the top half...where the actual brush is.




Secondly, and this one is even more exciting, was that I received my first Ipsy Glam Bag in the mail yesterday! I excite! I had only heard about Ipsy recently, and when I found out that they send you a glam bag every month with a handful of samples specifically tailored to you, all for $10 even, I was on board! You just go to their website  and click on the "Get Started" button. This process creates your beauty profile, based on skin, eye, & hair color, preferences, and a host of other questions (Like 11 or 12, and they're all in picture form. You just click on pictures.) and based on that profile, they will send you sample products based on that! After I received mine, I checked the hashtag on Instagram and there were so many different combination! This subscription is so cool, so if you're interested, hit up their website!



The contents of my first Glam Bag. It's was like Xmas up in here you guys!



Sample one (for me) was this body scrub by balancedguru called Scrubme Nice and Gritty. Can't wait to try that out on my day off.



This is a roll-on perfume--something I noticed that pretty much all the glam bags had--so I wore it to work yesterday. It's a wonderful scent called pure vanilla (I'm pretty sure it's from Sephora's Lavanila line) that wasn't overpowering and stuck with me throughout my 10 hour shift! Impressive.



This is a nail polish by R.B. Shimmer called My Life's Porpoise. Get it? Play on words. Porpoises are gray in color.  Heh.


This is a long-lasting matte liquid lipstick by Meet Matt(e) Hughes. The color is called Committed and I also wore it to work yesterday. It lasted for hours! Impressive as well.


Last, but not least, I received a set of tweezers (I also saw several of these in other bags) by Emite Make Up. I used it to pluck some wayward hairs--as is my custom--from my eyebrows before I put on my makeup yesterday. They worked well.


Soooo, overall, I love it! So far so good, and for an even $10/month, you can't really go wrong.  

I'll post next month's after it comes.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Empties: Hit or Miss

It's been awhile since I've done a beauty post, and I have some empties, so it's a good time to go over if they were hit or miss. Additionally, I have a really cool beauty post coming up soon, so keep an eye out for that!





First up, shampoo & conditioner. I used the conditioner up first so I got rid of the bottle, but I absolutely loved the Advanced Hair Series by Dove. This set was the youthful Vitality for aging hair, and it was perfect. As someone who intends on letting their hair go grey, and who currently has quite a bit of grey hair, I needed a shampoo & conditioner that would work well for it. This stuff not only smelled good, but made my hair soft and smooth. The other set was Herbal Essence's naked 0%. It has no parabens or color in it, and it was also a great buy. It also made my hair soft and smooth, and it smelled awesome. The scent is white grapefruit and mint extract, and man, that grapefruit smells wonderful. I got both of these at the drug store, so they're easy enough to find. Final verdict: HIT!




Next up, the White Rain Boutique Collection that I snagged at the Dollar Tree during a $5 haul (you can find that post under my lifestyle and beauty tab up top). Not that I was expecting wonders out of these products, but there was a reason they ended up on the shelves of a dollar store. The first one was their facial cleanser and makeup remover. This stuff did not work well at all. It was a runny soap and didn't really suds up nor clean well at all. The second one was their daily foot and heel cream. Nothing special there either as it didn't do crap for my feet. I didn't even finish it because it was just a watery, lotion that dries up quickly. Last, the gentle facial scrub. Ick! This one was the worst. It was an opaque version of the watery facial cleanser & makeup remover with some large chunks of goo that I assume were the "scrub" part of the cleanser. Another item I didn't finish. They will all hit the trash. I still have a couple other of these products, but we'll save those for another day. Final verdict: MISS!




Last up, two of Piper's body sprays and alba's Hawaiian oil-free moisturizer. I love body sprays more than I love perfume, and these two (Love Spark and Moroccan Dream) were average. The scent lasted awhile, but not forever, but definitely better than your cheap variety. I would definitely recommend one of the more popular brands (Body Fantasy is my fave) first, but these are fine. The scents were great! Last, the alba moisturizer. I tend to have a t-zone face, and I don't always need an oily moisturizer so I had picked this up awhile back (along with their pineapple enzyme wipes--another post for another day) and I love it. It was a good quality moisturizer and recommend it for those with oily skin or a t-zone like me as it worked well on dry spots too.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Spicy Lemongrass & Ginger Tofu




As always, I have plenty of tofu and tempeh on hand as they freeze well and can be cooked in a multitude of ways. I was at the grocery store recently--where oddly enough, I didn't purchase more tofu--and in the vegetable aisle they had tubes of things like chile paste, lemongrass paste, and ginger paste, to name a few. I have seen these tubes many times, but hadn't thought much about getting any before. Now that I'm a vegan though, I stared at the lemongrass & ginger pastes long and hard, imagining them marinating some tofu pieces, and so I bought them. If you'd like to make this delectable recipe, grab those and a bottle of sweet & sour dipping sauce. Here we go!



Spicy Lemongrass & Ginger Tofu


Ingredients:

Soy sauce, Tamari, or Bragg's Aminos
1 block of tofu, drained (not pressed)
2/3 c. sweet & sour dipping sauce
3 T. lemongrass paste
3 T. ginger paste
2 t. red pepper flakes
oil, for frying
4 c. of vegetables of choice, steamed and set aside
1 c. rice
2 c. water



Instructions:

1. Mix 1/4 c. soy sauce with 1 tablespoon each of the lemongrass and ginger paste in a large bowl.

2. Cut the drained tofu into desired shapes and add to the soy sauce mixture. Toss to coat well all pieces.

3. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat until ripples start to form. Add half of the tofu pieces. Brown each side, approx 3-5 minutes, making sure to keep an eye on them so they don't burn.

4. Transfer cooked tofu pieces to a paper towel-lined plate and cook the other half of the tofu. 

5. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then add the rice. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook 10-15 minutes or until tender.

6. In a large bowl (I used the same one I marinated the tofu in) mix the dipping sauce, a few tablespoons of soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and the other two tablespoons each of lemongrass & ginger paste.

7. Add the cooked tofu and steamed vegetables to the sauce and toss well, making sure everything is coated well.

8. Serve over rice.

9. Enjoy!



Saturday, October 10, 2015

Happy Saturday!



Get out there and enjoy this beautiful Fall day!

Yours, 

H.A.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fall is Here!


It's Fall! Yay! Yes, I really do get that excited for Fall. It's my favorite time of the year. The weather is perfect (not too hot, not too cold), the scenery is filled with warm colors, the pumpkin patches open, bonfires & warm apple cider (sometimes spiked) are a must, the mosquitoes finally leave us in peace, and hiking out in nature couldn't be any better. 

There's nothing quite like a cool, Fall morning to get out into the woods, plains, hills, rivers, etc. There really isn't. I could meander through the forest and ridges of the Loess Hills for hours. The ups and downs through the hills and valleys ensures a veritable, ever-changing feast for the eyes. 

The other morning, after everyone else went to work or school for the day, I took off by myself out to Hitchcock Nature Center--one of my favorite places--to hike, clear my mind, take in the sights, and do some photography. It was a wonderful, few, peaceful hours to myself and I enjoyed every second. The landscape is now in the process of shifting from Summer to Fall, and it was gorgeous. Incidentally, I took all these shots with my Samsung camera phone. It does take good pictures, and it was fun to see how well I could do.  

























Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My books have gotten a facelift!

I've been thinking lately that I was never quite satisfied with my book covers for "Cold" and "The Melody". Sure, I liked them enough, but they were just not quite right. I've finally mastered--it's about time too--how to install the cool fonts that I find and download on occasion. Like many other things I've learned on my journey of being an Indie Author, sometimes good old perseverance wins out. 

Something else I've learned on my journey is that people really do judge a book by it's cover. With that in mind, I was in the mood to give mine a facelift. Here are the results, and I have to say, I'm quite pleased with myself...especially for "The Melody"! What do you think? Yay or nay? Leave me a comment below!

If you'd like to follow me on any social media site I'd sure love to have you, just follow the links listed on the sidebar to the right. You can also find the links on the sidebar for my books if you'd like to pick up a copy today: only $2.99 each!

Have a fantastic day!  

H.A.














I decided to update "The Station" too as it will be coming out soon, and I never was fully pleased with the old covers I had done either. This one, seems perfect!  Again, let me know what you think.





Monday, October 5, 2015

A Sunday Walk to Clear the Head

After the somber mood I was suffering from yesterday (and after having a good chat with my dad) I decided to head out into nature. I mentioned in yesterday's post how I planned on immersing myself into some things that I really enjoy in an attempt to lift my mood, so I indulged in two of them: hiking out in nature and amateur photography. The little adventure proved to beneficial to my mood, and so today I'm going to expand upon that. Anyway, here are some of the pictures from my hike. Enjoy!












Sunday, October 4, 2015

Looking Down from the Top




Today, I'm in one of those moods. Actually, it's been more like a week. As I mentioned in this post earlier in the week, I've had some nostalgia going on. Luckily though, I've moved past it for the most part, but now I'm dealing with another emotion. One that stems from my tendency to over-think things and tends to threaten my happiness as a result. Even my dreams have been bringing me down. In short, I'm in a funk.

Ever since I had the good fortune of securing my latest job, I've been feeling on top of the world, and why shouldn't I? I have a great job that I like, I have two wonderful kids that I love spending time with, I'm in the best physical shape that I've been in in many years, my writing career has been moving upwards since I began, and I have been checking things off my bucket list. Why then, am I feeling so down in the dumps?

I equate my current mood to standing on top of a mountain. I've been hiking it all day and I've just reached this summit. This feat leaves me feeling happy, jubilant, and exhilarated. Then--with a smile still fresh on my face--I look down, and suddenly everything changes. Just like that. In a literal blink of an eye I've gone from being on top of the world to feeling down in the pits. What happened? Looking down isn't that daunting, and besides, why does it detract from all the positive emotions I've been experiencing?

I know that I'm somehow sabotaging myself, but I don't know why. More importantly, why do I put myself through this? I know that a lot of it stems from the years that I spent with a person who has a mental disorder that completely disrupted my life. Their happiness was rare and fleeting, and it really took a lot from me over the years. Their negativity impacted my life with such magnitude that I suffered from PTSD for awhile last year.

While I know this accounts for a lot of the negative breaks in an otherwise positive life, I also know, deep down inside, something else lurks. Something inside of me wants to give up, wants to be overly-sensitive about things I shouldn't, feels like a failure, and tries to prevent me from moving forward. Am I scared of my future? How do I deal with what I'm feeling?

I think I'm going to employ a few tactics to help me deal with my funk and better recognize it when it rears it's ugly head so I can rid myself of it sooner. I've heard that finding three things to be thankful for everyday can really do wonders for positive mental energy. I'm going to start keeping a journal of this and see how it goes. Do any of you do this?

Also, I'm going to spend the next couple of days immersing myself in things that make me happy and avoid things that I know can bring me down. My hope is that by reminding myself of the good things, it will help balance out the bad. Do any of you do this either?

Additionally, I'm going to throw myself into my craft. It always brings me peace when I work on a project, and, of course, I share my world with you: my dear reader. As always, I appreciate your presence and would love your input. Email or comment me here.

Yours,

H.A.