Friday, December 30, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
I'm working on a cranky old laptop that shuts down whenever it takes a notion to, so that's all for my blog today since ole laptop could close at any moment.
Have a Happy New Year's Eve!
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
I think people put too much pressure on themselves, in general. We all try to be perfect moms, perfect wives, perfect businesswomen... We want to have it all, do it all, and we want to do it all well. And though we all know we should give ourselves a little bit of slack, we still tend to feel guilty that we can't. Or don't.
Monday, December 26, 2011
I recently saw something that asked this question, and it got me to thinking… I could answer this in a lot of ways! I could be funny (my dancing Frosty the Snowman); I could be sentimental (my husband and children); I could be religious (Jesus is the Reason for the Season); I could be sexy (um, I can’t say that out loud); I could be sarcastic (except I don’t really know how to be); I could be picky (Do you mean of all time? That’s a long time to remember! What about just from the past year?). It all depends on how you want to answer the question.
I’m usually a sentimental kind of girl. I tend to go for the Ahhhh moments. My husband and children truly are gifts. I’ve been married for almost half my life, and I’m grateful God gave me such a wonderful husband so young. I’ve always called my children my “Little Miracles”, because I suffered from infertility and had 3 miscarriages while trying to have them. I’m very grateful they are a part of our lives, and healthy, and relatively happy.
I’m not really a sarcastic type of writer, but I am a sexy kind of writer. Unfortunately, I’m not willing to share those details. ;) And we try to keep religion and politics off the blog as much as possible. I do actually have a Frosty the Snowman who dances and sings. We bring him out each Christmas. I’ve also kept my very first Homey Claus gift (my husband’s family’s version of an anonymous amusing gift that makes fun of something about you or that you’ve done in the past year). “Homey Claus” gifted me with my husband’s childhood step stool that says “Step up to be tall, Step down to be small” – the joke is I’m 5 foot tall as an adult and the words still apply to me. We still have that stool and currently use it so I can kiss my son goodnight in his new bunkbed.
But with my horrible memory, I tend to go with something fairly recent. We don’t go over the top with gifts at Christmas, but my hubby is great with the surprises! This is my favorite kind of gift. One year he gave me an iPhone (which I didn’t even know I wanted and now am addicted to!). One year he gave me a wonderful oil heater for my office, which is freezing in the wintertime (but not anymore!). I have many of those great, “Oh Wow” memories thanks to him! And this year the Playfriends surprised me with a combination birthday/Christmas present: my Kindle! I never saw that one coming, but I love, love, love it!
So how about you? How would you answer that question? Did you get an extra special Christmas gift this year?
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
How is it that no matter my effort one of my kids still ends up with more presents than the other? I even have a frickin' list and somehow it still happens. What's funny is that it seems to change. Last year it was Baby Girl. This year it's Sweet Pea. Which means one more trip to an overcrowded shopping center.
And along those same lines, we visited Santa's Village last night with the girls. Baby Girl filled out a letter to Santa...which had only 1 item on it that her original list had. Most of the stuff I'd never even heard of. Luckily I need to pick up a few more things for her. Unfortunately, I have a feeling the thing she put as #1 is probably the hot item of the year and completely unavailable. *bangs head on desk*
Yesterday I found out that Bring It On - my Feb release - is being made into an audio book. I have to admit to a certain amount of giddiness at learning this. Someone's going to be reading my words aloud. I'm debating whether or not I'm going to listen to it. I've bought audio books before and part of me wants to hear them say my name as the author.
And the cover for my March release - Take It Down - is finally here. Yay! I have to say I love this cover.
Do you have any odds and ends you want to share? Are you ready for Christmas? Are you one of those people with all the presents wrapped and waiting under the tree?
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I know, I know. I'm not putting in enough effort with today's blog. It's something I saw on someone else's Facebook post. But I've watched it numerous times. I showed it to my two girlfriends who came over for dinner last Saturday night and we laughed til we cried.
So I'm sharing it with you. For me it brings back memories of not only my childhood Christmas pageants, but those of my children too. I've always said that the folks who do children's pageants and children's sermons are either the bravest people on earth or the dumbest. You never, ever know what kids will say or do. I can still remember the little poem I had to recite as part of a group:
We are little candles, spreading rays of light.
Telling all the world that Christ is born tonight.
I posted half that on Facebook and tagged my sister. Without missing a beat, she provided the other half. Amazing what you'll remember decades later, huh?
My older son was in the children's choir at church and on Christmas Eve they'd sing not only religious songs but secular ones too. To this day, thanks to him, when I sing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" I change the lyrics to "... then one froggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say...."
My ex-husband tells about the kid in one of his childhood Christmas pageants who took his shepherd's crook, clasped it in both hands and made machine-gun noises as he pointed it at the manger.
Anyway, I bring you one of the funniest Christmas pageant videos I've seen. And after you finish watching and dry your tears (and maybe your drawers too), tell us about your experience with Christmas pageants.
This little girl certainly gives new meaning to the phrase "Make a joyful noise." And note that the baby Jesus is a real baby who slept through the entire performance. Perhaps they swaddled his/her ears well.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
AC is 10, and she’s quite smart, so I know she’s been doubtful for several years. But AC is also a dreamer and an optimist who really wants to believe, so I knew she wouldn’t give up the idea without a fight. I mean, this is a child who grew up knowing that the answer to every question is only a Google search away. If she’d wanted confirmation – but didn’t want to directly ask – she’d have looked it up. She didn’t want to know.
We’ve loved doing Santa over the years – well, the Geek’s a little tired of Santa getting the credit – but we’ve created our own traditions and made some wonderful memories. But while I’ll miss doing Santa, what really makes me sad is that the loss of Santa marks the end of an era. The end of the age of innocence. Children get to believe in magic. They get to wonder at the world, and the world must be good if someone like Santa exists. Now that magic is muted for my child. The world is a little less wonderous and awesome now.
These tween years are awkward. She’s definitely not a child anymore, but she’s not nearly grown up either. And now that Santa is just a myth, she’s now on the adults’ team and she has the responsibility to not ruin the joy for other children. But she’s still a little girl who was sad to have her suspicions confirmed.
So Christmas will be different for us this year. Still joyful and magical, but not as magical as it used to be. My little girl is growing up. I’m glad. But I’m sad too.
But as we move into this new stage, we’ll make new memories and traditions. And hopefully, some new magic.
I hope you all have a joyful and magical holiday.
Monday, December 19, 2011
December is a very unusual month for our family – not only do we have Christmas and holiday hoopla, but my hubby’s birthday is Christmas Day. I try to make this a totally different celebration for him, because my birthday is important to me. I enjoy being treated especially nice by my family and given the day off from chores and housework. He should be able to feel the same way, and that’s hard to do when you’re running from one house to the other and helping prepare for a crowd to descend around here.
I’ve done this in different ways – picked a random day for us to celebrate, celebrate the day after Christmas when he’s off work, and one year I even threw him a surprise party in October. It was definitely a surprise!
This year, when I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said (after a bit of thought) that he really wanted for the two of us to go out alone. (Awwwwwww…..)
We don’t get to do this very often because of his crazy work schedule, overworked babysitters, and the biggest issue… What Do We Go Do?
Our town isn’t overflowing with romantic options, so we usually opt for dinner and/or a movie. We both love to go to the movies and getting to go together is a special treat. Luckily, we enjoy a lot of the same types of movies. I can just imagine us as an old retired couple going to the dollar theater every week as our “special” outing.
But sometimes you want to break out of the mould, and birthdays seem to be the perfect time for that. Only I don’t have enough money at Christmas for spas, trips, or BIG dates.
There has to be something in between, right? Any ideas? What’s you and your significant other’s favorite Go To dates? What’s the most fun or most romantic or most simple date you’ve been on? I’d love some ideas!
Friday, December 16, 2011
So... if I post "No crocodiles or rhinoceros-es-es. I only like hippopotamus-es-es. And hippopotamuses like me too!"
You post your answer - "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas"
Then you post the next carol lyric. "He led them down the streets of town right to the traffic cop."
The next person guesses "Frosty the Snowman" and we continue. Got it? Hopefully we can play trivia all day! Okay, here's the first song lyric...
"I did a dance on mommy's plants, climbed a tree and tore my pants, filled that sugar bowl with ants, somebody snitched on me!"
Let the games begin! One lucky player will win a Christmas anthology! (although, admittedly, I probably won't ship it until after Christmas.)
Thursday, December 15, 2011
The Marshalls series continues with sexy older brother and political hotshot Brady. The running of his father's campaign was going well until he got handcuffed to Aspyn Breedlove - a hippie activist with a mission. He's got no choice but to diffuse the scandal by bring Aspyn aboard the campaign. Of course, the closer the better when the sparks start to fly between the two of them. A great read, giftwrapped for the holiday!
Playground Monitor is reading Space in His Heart by Roxanne St. Claire.
This book’s prologue is set on July 8, 2011, the actual date of the last Space Shuttle launch. The book then hops back twelve years to the day when PR star Jessica Malone was tasked to improve NASA’s image because nobody cared about space anymore. Her plan? Make NASA sexy by taking hotter-than-the-surface-of-the-sun astronaut Deke Stockard and turning him into the space program’s poster boy. Deke isn’t thrilled at all even if he does find Jessica attractive. He’s focused on the next launch and a safety issue that could spell disaster, but he’s ordered to take part in the campaign.
SPACE IN HIS HEART is only available now as an e-book but will soon become available in book form. As a former Shuttle contract worker and huge fan of the space program, this book gets a definite thumbs up from me. It’s a fast-paced read that leaves you with a big smile on your face at the end.
Angel is reading Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton
Dante Renaldi comes home for what he thinks will be a family reunion, but finds himself facing the events of the worst night of his life. Now he has to track down a killer while trying to protect his own dark secrets. Detective Anna Pallino was once in love with Dante, until he saved her life then disappeared. Now she’s faced with the deaths of those closest to her. Can she trust him again? Or has he brought the danger home with him? I really love Jaci’s spitfire heroines and the darkness of her suspenses. Those who love those strong heroes and the women who reel them in will really enjoy this story!
Cassie's tips for the Perfect Christmas Fling!
1. 'Tis the season to be daring: Find the perfect Mr. Right Now (extra points for a bad-boy-turned-billionaire) and be brave about getting him—even if that means jumping straight into sexy Jace Ryan's car!
2. Enjoy the ride: Once you've chosen your man, get swept away by the moment! For once, Cassie's determined to stop worrying about the future, but she must remember one thing…
3. This fling is just for Christmas: Jace Ryan's a seasonal special. Do not start falling for him, Cassie, no matter how perfect the package or how much you've enjoyed unwrapping it.…
A great start to a new YA series, Crave was an easy, enjoyable read. Set against the backdrop of a normal high school experience, we soon learn that there's more to the inhabitants of this small town and the group of people - the Clann - that run it. Darnell pits two very different worlds against each other with Savannah Colbert and Tristan Coleman caught in the middle. I'm looking forward to the next installment of the series.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
PC Magazine defines autocorrect as "A feature that corrects misspellings and makes other grammatical changes on the fly." Those of you with smartphones know what it is. You type in "wil;" and it will autocorrect to "will."
But sometimes it fails. Like last Saturday night when I posted "And the Heisman doesn't go up anyone from Alabama."
I didn't pay attention to what posted until the next morning when a friend from church commented, "go UP? go up where? Maybe I don't want to know?"
Oh. My. Goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was supposed to be "go to anyone from Alabama." To. TO. TO
My only other big autocorrect failure was when I got my job and posted something to the effect that the job was good, but God was gooder. Autocorrect doesn't recognize "gooder" and corrected it to the word folder. God is folder. Huh?
At least I haven't had any of the massive fails documented on the hilarious website Damn You Auto Correct.
This website is not safe for work. Not only does it contain words that are often inappropriate, it's so stinking funny you'll end up laughing til you cry. And ya don't want your boss coming around asking why you are cackling like a hen laying an egg.
I just wonder if the person or persons who invented autocorrect are laughing as much. I mean, they've created a monster. According to one online source (and we all know how reliable THOSE are), autocorrect wasn't was developed by Microsoft to be used in word processing programs. And from there it has spread to smartphones.
I just wonder how Microsoft gets around the child labor laws because I'm convinced a fourteen-year-old boy in the throes of puberty came up with the autocorrect replacement vocabulary. I mean, how else would "congrats" become "bong rats?" How does an "destination" become "dusty jockitch?" "I'm selling the fridge to my roommate" became a drug deal when autocorrect substituted "drugs" for "fridge."
I ain't making this stuff up, folks. And I'm keeping it clean. Some of it would make a sailor blush.
And just to prove I am not lying, here's a photo of my own screen. In case my mother is reading, I'm still alive and kicking. No autopsy required.
Have you been autocorrected? What's your best (or worst depending on how you look at it)?
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
I’ve been trying to be ultra-careful with my time right now, because I’m working the day job and doing a hard push on writing and submitting. But recently, I got roped into something extra, and I’m not even sure how it all happened.
My daughter joined the band this year – her first year in middle school. I’m glad, because she’s taken a huge interest in it and the band has given her a nice friend-base to draw from. I’ve attended the Band Parent meetings and tried to stay informed.
Recently it was brought to the parents’ attention that the band was hosting their annual holiday dance and I thought, “Oh, I could coordinate that! But no! Too much time!” So I settled for an offer to decorate the cafeteria that night. The very overwhelmed Band Parent Association President gratefully accepted. Two weeks later I go into the band room to inspect the decorations they already had and was blindsided by the band director’s instructions on what needed to be done for the entire dance. Confused, I tried to pass along the info to the BPA President and… I’m way too nice for my own good.
Now I’m in charge of everything and the volunteers who volunteered to help aren’t, well, doing the volunteer tasks according to my schedule (which is really tight because I was left with only 2 weeks to pull this thing together!).
Needless to say, I’m stressed and irritated with myself for letting this go this far. But I’m justifying it with assurances that I will have done my duty and won’t have to contribute anything big for the major fundraiser next year. Seriously. I won’t.
Ever get dragged into something and not understand how it happened? I’m totally there! Pray for me as I do all the last minute organizing for a night of dancing for an entire middle school – and commiserate with your own “how did I get here from there?” stories!
Friday, December 09, 2011
I've struggled to find a good oatmeal cookie recipe. The one in my kitchen bible (AKA the red and white Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook) always came out hard and crumbly. I wanted soft, decadent oatmeal cookies. And I found them. I can't take credit for these... they're Paula Deen... but that means you know they're good.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (Optional - I left them out and it was fine, just added more raisins)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Brown Butter Icing, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease 1 or more cookie sheets. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar in a bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until mixture is light in color. Add buttermilk. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice; stir into creamed mixture. Fold in oatmeal, raisins, walnuts, and vanilla, blending well. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Drizzle with Brown Butter Icing.
Brown Butter Icing
1/2 cup butter
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons water
In a small saucepan heat the butter over medium heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in 3 cups sifted powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in enough water (3 to 4 tablespoons) to make an icing of drizzling consistency. Drizzle on warm cookies.
If you're thinking for even a moment that you might skip the brown butter icing - don't! It MAKES the cookie. Seriously. Got any Christmas favorites to share? I love picking up new recipes. If you don't have your recipes handy - what's your favorite Christmas treat?
Thursday, December 08, 2011
I saw an article recently about hotels that decorate for the holiday season* All the photographs looked so spectacular. They had me smiling and getting into the spirit of the season when nothing else has manged to do that so far this year.
I wanted to drop everything and schedule a cross country trip to visit them all. To immerse myself if beautiful decorations and twinkling lights. Unfortunately, that just isn't an option for me at the moment. However, I've bookmarked the article so that I can go back and visit when I need a quick shot of joy to counteract any mall trips marred by bah-humbug encounters.
We're lucky in that the Opryland Hotel in Nashville is fairly close by. When the girls were little we'd go every year. For the last couple we just couldn't seem to find an empty weekend so that we could make the trip up. I think I'm going to insist we make time this year...right after I figure out when we're going to cut down our Christmas Tree.
Have you ever visited someplace that filled you with Christmas spirit? Have you always wanted to visit but haven't had the chance? How do you combat the grinch mentality that can creep in this time of year?
*Click here t0 read article.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Not that sort of flashed, silly. I'm talking about a flash mob. Wikipedia defines a flash mob as "a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, artistic expression. Flash mobs are organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails.
The term, coined in 2003, is generally not applied to events and performances organized for the purposes of politics (such as protests), commercial advertisement, publicity stunts that involve public relation firms, or paid professionals."
Maybe you've seen videos of them online. Or maybe you've seen one up close and personal. I think it would be awesome to be sitting somewhere and suddenly have folks singing and/or dancing.
Travellers at the Denver airport were treated to this one two days before Thanksgiving. What a treat for the tired and weary.
This one was November of last year in a mall food court. I wouldn't call it pointless, though.
And in December 2009, a flash mob in a Portland mall took a decidedly different twist. Watch and see what happened.
Admit it. You sang along, didn't you? I did.
Have you ever seen a flash mob? Or been part of one?
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
If I were going to have a nickname on this blog, it would most likely be the Weirdo. I’m just a little odd—always have been, always will be. I was the kid who took the book outside during recess—and read it while I walked back into the building. I had a huge vocabulary—but I mispronounced all the words because I never heard words like ‘macabre’ said out loud. I just read them on paper.
That was bad enough, but what made it worse was a personal fashion sense that walked the line between ‘clueless’ and ‘God-awful.’ Some less-than-charitable classmates even called me ‘butch.’ I had a mullet. Yes. You read that correctly—a mullet, but not one of the trendy-at-the-times ones
with mall bangs and curls everywhere. Just a mullet with flat hair that stuck up funny. I was tall—one of the tallest girls in school, but I am not naturally graceful (read: I suck at sports). I didn’t wear skirts or dresses. Ever. Well, that’s not true—I wore one once for a presentation, and I swear, that’s the only thing people remembered. “Sarah wore a skirt today!” It was such a big deal that when I wore a skirt to my five-year reunion, people remembered. “Whoa—are you wearing a skirt?’
I was that kind of weirdo. Not organized enough to be Goth, not geeky enough to be a nerd, not coordinated enough to play sports. Just a girl with her nose in a book. I mean, come on—what kind of high-school freshman reads the unabridged (but translated) version of Les Miserables just to one-up her French teacher? Me, that’s who. (And you better believe I did that!)
And now look where it’s gotten me—I’M PUBLISHED! My very first book comes out today! A lifetime of being the odd duck has paid off—now I’m the PUBLISHED odd duck! It’s wonderful to have all the other misfits I hung out with tell me that they always knew I had a book in me. But I’m not going to lie—what’s even more gratifying is when some of those formerly
less-than-charitable classmates (you know, the ones who called me ‘bookworm’ and ‘butch’) tell me how cool it is that I’m a real-life author. That’s right—for the first time ever, I’m cool. How cool is that?
I’m giving away a signed copy of A Man of His Word (OUT TODAY!) to someone who answers the question: what’s the longest book you actually read? (Les Mis is actually only in my top 15!) I’m also giving away this custom-made Locket of Love on January 1, so be sure to comment early and often!
This post is brought to you as part of the A Man of His Word Blog Tour. U.S. residents only. For a complete tour schedule and rules, visit www.sarahmanderson.com. Comments on this blog will be entered to win a signed copy of A Man of His Word. All blog comments are added to the Jewelry Grand Prize list. Jewelry Grand Prize announced on January 1st, 2012 to one randomly drawn name on the list. Next tour stop is the Romance Novel News on December 8th.
A Man of His Word
A Man of His Word is available! Visit your favorite bookseller, at Amazon, or for the Nook.
Award-winning author Sarah M. Anderson may live east of the Mississippi River, but her heart
lies out west on the Great Plains. With a lifelong love of horses and two history teachers for parents, it wasn’t long before her characters found themselves out in South Dakota among the Lakota Sioux. She loves to put people from two different worlds into new situations and to see how their backgrounds and cultures take them someplace they never thought they’d go.
When not helping out at school or walking her rescue dog, Sarah spends her days having conversations with imaginary cowboys and American Indians, all of which is surprisingly well-tolerated by her wonderful husband and son.
Monday, December 05, 2011
Friday, December 02, 2011
I'm doing Free Book Friday a little early this month. Technically it's the Friday of the first full week of the month, but if you think I'm setting foot in a post office that late in December, you are sadly mistaken. And since the winner would probably want to read their Christmas book at Christmas time, I need to get it out ASAP.
This month we have a special treat. It's autographed by two of the authors in the anthology - Vicki Lewis Thompson and Rhonda Nelson!
with stories by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Rhonda Nelson and Jennifer LaBrecque
Who will you find under your Christmas tree?
Ranch hand Tucker Rankin isn't crazy about the holidays…until a wintry night before Christmas, when Lacey Evans shows him how much fun it is to be nestled all snug in her bed….
A wealthy New Yorker?
Stockbroker Jared Martin needs to get away, and Alaska's the perfect place to unwind. Especially once actress Theodora "Teddy" Monroe gets him to loosen his tie—and take it all off!
Or maybe even a man in uniform?
Thursday, December 01, 2011
And I LOVE it. I thought I understood the iPhone obsession, but I really didn't until I got one in my hands. It's the apps. There are just so dang many. For everything. I even found one for Black Friday that was a lifesaver because it had all the ad scans and the ability to make a list of things you wanted. Much more convenient than carrying around the paper ads.
But there are sooo many of them! I've been visiting the app store on a daily basis but I get overwhelmed with options. So I thought I'd ask y'all - what are your favorite apps? What could you not live without? Favorite paid? Favorite free? What apps am I missing?
P.S. Playground Monitor's winner from yesterday is Kelley Gregory! Email PM to arrange to get your prize.