That time I didn’t win Mom of the Year

Sometime you just have to laugh.

Ever have one of those brain cramp/senior moments? You know what I’m talking about, right? Now think about those in terms of Mom moments. Here’s one for youIMG_9869—It was kind of a silly sad incident, but it’s also provided a lot of laughter over the years.

One morning in all the rush to get everyone to work or school on time, I breezed into the kitchen to help manage the chaos. Every day we packed a lunch for my son, who happened to be the World’s Pickiest Eater. This kid ate peanut butter and jelly, or honey, every day of his life for YEARS. Even when we went out to eat, which was often, we’d pack a sandwich and take a little bag with us.

Anyway, on this particular morning, I saw the day’s sandwich sitting on the counter, so I grabbed a plastic bag, shoved the sandwich inside and completed the lunch bag with a juice box and whatever else went in that day. Done. Move along. Chop, chop.

Well, later that day…my son opens the bag at lunchtime only to discover his “sandwich” is actually two slices of bread. No peanut butter. No jelly or honey. You can imagine his surprise! Yum!

In my defense, it looked like a sandwich! This little incident, while trivial, has become an example of my (not too many) failures in the Mom department. He survived. And I can handle being laughed at a little. We’re not perfect. Things happen. And it’s little shared memories like this that bond us and keep us real. 🙂

Is there a little incident that kept you from winning Mom Of The Year? Happy MD

Enjoy the day!

Darlene

Petals, posies and blooms, oh my!

Happy May Day! It’s been a gorgeous (but slightly cool) spring. The flowering trees have been stunning, and the perennials are bursting with color. And all I can say is Yay, Spring! It’s such a relief when the cold is behind us and we can get outside again. My husband and I took our first walk of the season the other day. It’s fun to get out see people and peek at everyone else’s yards. There’s something about the warmer temps and sunny skies that just makes me feel better! Hope you are enjoying the blossoming of spring. Here are a few snapshots that capture the color and mood!

Might be a great day for a book and a glass of iced tea on the patio!

Darlene

A Little Shot; A Very Big Deal!

A year ago today the Covid-19 crisis cut short my spring break trip to see my sister in Dallas. I’m so happy to report that I marked the anniversary of that date by getting my first Covid vaccine!

While inklings of disaster were just beginning this time last year, I stuck to my plan and drove from Kansas City to DSC_1045Dallas. Spent a beautiful day at the Dallas Arboretum, where there was plenty of room to spread out and avoid others. But the next day, we attempted to do some shopping, and everything felt weird. So, after only two days, I packed my bags, turned around, and drove nine hours back home.

By then, the Big 12 basketball tournament and the NCAA tournament—the big dance—had been cancelled. For a KU grad and Jayhawk basketball fan, this was huge. News reports were bad, and things were not looking good.

It was a terrible year. The pandemic messed up milestone birthday celebrations for me, my mom, and my daughter. No book signings or author events. Restaurants shutting down. People out of work. Vacations cancelled. Holidays without family. People dying without loved ones at their side. One of my brothers died in 2020. No family was present, and we were unable to have a memorial service.

It’s heartbreaking that so many people were lost. I’m so grateful for the scientists and medical professionals who worked tirelessly to save lives and bring us an effective vaccine.

It’s such a relief to see light at the end of the tunnel. I was a little apprehensive to get the shot today. I’ve been known to pass out during a blood draw. Turned out it was just a little prick. No big deal. But, actually, it’s a very big IMG_9475deal. It’s a shot of hope. I feel as if I’m getting my life back. Five more weeks—and I’m counting down the days.

All of a sudden my blank calendar is filling up! So far, yesterday and today I’ve made several long overdue appointments— hair cut and color (Yikes! It’s been a full year!), teeth cleaning, and a mammogram. Most exciting of all, I booked flights for an author/reader event in Connecticut in July. That just happens to coincide with a bridal shower for my daughter. Her engagement was the one bright spot in this tedious, awful year. We now have so much to look forward to. Let the fun begin!

Happy spring to all. Hopeful that you, too, are seeing light in the days ahead.

Darlene

Catching the Color of Fall

For years, my husband and I have gone to the Pikes Peak region of Colorado for summer vacations. It’s a great place to escape hot, humid summers filled with mosquitoes and hazy days.

This year, with a little more time on our hands, we decided to make a trip out to see the aspens turn. I’m not a cold weather person, so this was only marginally appealing to me. But the forecast looked pretty good, so off we went. I’m so glad we did!

Yes, we had cool nights and had to run the heater in our little cabin, but the days were warm and sunny. We had beautiful, crisp blue skies and hardly saw even a wisp of a cloud in five days! The pop of orange and gold against a bright blue sky was stunning!

That said, I hope the region gets the rain it needs and can shut down the  wildfires that have taken a toll this year. Our area was a little dry and dusty, but the colors were spectacular, and we were able to walk, hike and dine outside every day. Enjoy a peek at the change of seasons in “Colorful Colorado!”

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Hope you are having a lovely fall and can take time to enjoy it. I know it’s unfortunately allergy season for some. Maybe you can curl up inside with a book and still enjoy a view!

Stay safe, friends! And happy reading to all!

Darlene

Coronavirus and the Next Meal

Greetings, friends! Hope you all are safe and well during this crazy, difficult time.

Here at my house in the days of Covid-19, it’s all about the next meal. I feel like I no sooner finish the cleanup from one and I’m to thinking about the next! What is it? When is it? What’s needed? How long to cook? How much prep? Is it thawed? Do we have all the ingredients? Is there anything in the fridge about to go bad? Didn’t we just make that?

And the biggest question: are we capable of doing this? I am not a cook. Before social distancing and the coronavirus occurred, my husband and I ate out almost every night. Exceptions were made for nasty weather or scheduling conflicts, but we are regulars at a lot of local eateries. And eating out accounted for a good chunk of our social life as well. I miss it so much!

What a difference a month can make. My 37-year-old crock pot and slightly newer dishwasher are getting a workout like never before. Both my kitchen freezer/fridge and the spare in the garage are at max capacity. That never happens unless we’re having a party! Sadly, that is not the case.

I’ve become a fan of meals that can cover two days, at least a dinner and next day’s lunch. Crock-pot turkey breasts are great. Easy tacos and soups. Lots of fresh veggies!

We’ve tried carryout a few times because we really want our favorite restaurants to make it through this difficult time. Unfortunately, it’s been kind of hit-and-miss and not all foods are ideal for take-out. For now, thanks to grocery stores and delivery peeps, we’re managing to feed ourselves. Though the repertoire is limited, we’re making it work!

How’s the cooking/eating going at your house?

Darlene

Let’s talk cookies (the sugar kind)!

Hey, friends, who’s looking for something fun to do on a shut-in Friday afternoon? Tomorrow I’m taking a little break from writing to host a group chat about making cookies! Specifically – making sugar cookies. If you’ve known me long or follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen a number of cookie posts. At 2 p.m. (central time) tomorrow, join me on my author page, and we can share tips and tricks on making and frosting these sweet treats! #socialdistancing
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I’m not a baking professional by any means, but I’ve been doing this a few years and people often ask me questions about my recipe, the process and my frosting techniques. Thought it might be a fun thing to do while we’re all hanging out at home! 🙂

Hope to “see” you there!

Darlene

A little spring cheer!

Well, March Madness didn’t happen, and neither did a spring break trip. For me, this time of year is normally heavy in the sports department. Often, we’re in California watching tennis at Indian Wells. At the same time, we’re frantically searching for a place  to watch the basketball games, KU Jayhawks in particular. We’re checking our brackets, enthusiastically circling our wins and sadly crossing through the teams that didn’t make it. Not this year. We’re doing our part to social distance, stay home, and get through the coronavirus crisis.

But, before everything went crazy, I did have the opportunity to make a quick dash to Dallas and enjoy a little splash of spring. The flowers are already blooming there! I can always count on a nice day and flowers to bring some cheer. Here’s a peek at some of the sights at the Dallas Arboretum. Enjoy!

Wishing you all a safe and healthy spring.

Darlene

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In Review: a Decade of New Direction

Wow! What a decade!

As I pondered a New Year’s post last night, it occurred to me that my entire career as a fiction writer has happened in this decade. My first novel, Unexpected Legacy, hit the market in January 2013. For me, the decade began in flux as I left a 21-year corporate position that, over the years, included a combination of writing and art direction.

It took a while, but I finally decided to try my hand at fiction and put on paper a few story ideas that had been bouncing around in my head for several years. I spent the first couple of years of the 2010s learning the craft of fiction writing, working with other aspiring authors, attending writing groups and conferences, and attempting to understand the publishing industry, which for the entire decade has been in a state of change. Have to say, it’s been a challenge to bull’s eye a moving target!

IMG_6646Happily, I’m ending the decade with seven published books, an essay in an anthology, a new romance in the queue with The Wild Rose Press publishing house, and works in progress that include a women’s fiction story, a general romance, and a Christmas romance.

Though the decade has had its challenging moments, I learned a lot about marketing and social media, and I met some fabulous people! Here’s a shout out to all the industry professionals, especially librarians and bookstore staff, who value and help promote local authors and reader events. Another shout out to the authors, both struggling and on the bestseller lists, who take time to make connections with other authors, to lend a hand (or a Facebook share) to help others succeed.

In 2020, I’m hoping to become a hybrid author – with books published both through the independent route and also the traditional track. I hope for time – time to write all the words and finish works in progress. And I hope for new opportunities and meaningful connections.

On a personal level, it was also a momentous decade. Both kids graduated from college – one also earning an advanced degree. Both are employed in their chosen fields and pretty much paying their own way in the world. They’re happy and healthy, and I feel I can take a mother’s proud bow for a job well done! 🙂

I’m imagining the next ten years will be some of the most exciting years yet – bringing perhaps weddings and grandchildren and more completed and published books! Goals, as usual, include spending quality time with family and friends, a little traveling, and reading more books.

Wishing all my friends, fans and followers peace, good health, and the happiest of new years!

Darlene

What are your hopes or goals as we head into the 2020s?

Fabulous Fall in the Finger Lakes

The good thing is we had nice weather and were able to be outside enjoying the vineyards, orchards and state parks. But the books I loaded on my Kindle? The contest entries I need to read and judge? Those works-in-progress waiting on my computer? Nah. Didn’t write or read a word!

Fall in central New York was just too pretty!

After checking the weather forecast almost every hour for a few days before we left (yes, it changed by the hour!), we expected some rain and chilly temps. Lucky for us, it… changed!

My husband and daughter and I visited a lot of great places where I could’ve spent all day on a bench with a book. What could be better than a book and a pretty perch on a sunny day with the sound of a waterfall in the background? Had I been alone, that most definitely would’ve happened. Instead, we hopped from one beautiful venue to another for four days. We walked leaf-carpeted paths, hiked alongside stunning waterfalls, and sampled the local cider and wines. And couldn’t stop taking pictures! The colors were amazing.

Hope you enjoy these select few.

 

Happy Fall to all!

Darlene

Presents from Across the Pond!

I didn’t go to London for Wimbledon last week with my husband and my son, but I got some good stuff, anyway.

Remember those souvenir T-shirts that said, “My parents went to wherever and all I got was this T-shirt?” Yeah, my souvenirs are way better than that. I got all three of the items I suggested before they left! 🙂

The English like their tea, right? Me, too! I would’ve fit right in. And I probably wouldn’t have had to carry around my own tea bags or ask if the tea was freshly brewed at all the restaurants like I do in the U.S. of A.

I was happy to learn that in London, the hotels actually cater to tea-drinkers. Instead of a coffee pot for coffee drinkers – and pretty much nothing for those of us who don’t appreciate coffee-flavored tea from water that’s been run through the coffee maker – there was tea service in the rooms!

Too bad I wasn’t there to see that, but it makes me smile, anyway. Can’t wait to try this new-to-me brand. Mango and Earl Grey – mmmmm.

And then there’s the chocolate. They did well. Or, I did well. A chocolate library?! Ha! Two of my favorite things combined. Extra brownie points to the hubs who carried these hefty chocolate bars in his bag through two airport terminals due to flight issues. This little “library” weighs a ton!

Next? A very British silk scarf from a museum there. The lightly printed architectural drawings with bold royal blue and gold border look . . . well, royal!

They had a great time being tourists and taking in the amazing tennis at Wimbledon. While I enjoy watching tennis, I’m not a big fan of lines or “queuing up” as they call it. So I declined. I’m happy they had a fabulous father/son experience. And I appreciate they took the time to think of me while they were at it!

If you’re vacationing this summer, happy travels!

What’s your all-time best souvenir?

Darlene