Sunday, December 2, 2012

I Love This!

Two of my most favorite things, in case you didn't know, are Diet Coke and Chocolate. Both of which my friend Melanie McAllister gave me for my birthday. Today she gave me this adorable sign which she made for me. I think she totally has my number. While others may "Return With Honor," how would anyone know it was me if I didn't have a Diet Coke in one hand, and some chocolate in ther other???

Thank you Melanie! This will have a place of honor in my house ... you can be sure of that!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Before and After

Phase Two of fixing up the house is finished! And I, for one, am totally happy with the results. We took a ton o' pictures and I'm only going to show a couple here to spare you, but the difference looks pretty dramatic.

Here you go!



And the crowning touch .....

A Red Front Door!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Face Behind the Story

As we enter the holiday season, I thought it would be fun to share a couple of pictures. Last year I released my Christmas novel The Christmas to Remember. It is based on stories from the life of my paternal grandfather from when he lived in Denmark.

His birth name was Nils Peder Jacobsen (I called him Jens Pederson in the book), and his mother was Jacobina. He was the oldest of several children, unlike my novel where he was the youngest. He did have one sister who was named Ove, but I do not know much about the real Ove. He also had some brothers and another sister named Mary.

When he was very young he had to go to work to help his family. Jacobina worked hard and had many jobs -- cleaning homes, taking in laundry, etc. -- until she became a seamstress which as a good job and helped to lighten her load. There was no father in the family which I'm sure made Neal feel as if he needed to help out.

His family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and when he was a 11 he left Denmark forever to come to America. His name was changed to Neal Jacobsen and he went to live with a couple named Hillyard who had a farm in northern Utah. He never saw Denmark or his mother again. It wasn't until he became a soldier in World War I that he added the name Hillyard to his.

This picture to the right is the photo taken of Neal when he arrived in America at Ellis Island. His recollections of coming to the United States, his train ride across the country to his new home in Utah, and his experiences learning to speak English and how to live on a farm are poignant and filled with spiritual lessons that continue to guide me.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to continue to write his story, it's so interesting to me. I think he was a very brave young boy, and a brave man. He never really had a childhood to my mind, at least not like the kind of childhood I had. He went to work when he was 8, and worked until his retirement. And even then he was always a body in motion. I don't remember him being a couch potato ever!

The photo on the left is of Neal's mother, Jacobina Jacobsen (Stina Pederson in my novel) and the woman I heard my grandfather refer to as "my little moder." In my mind she is a tiny, hard working, loving mother. Neal told the story of when he gave his mother the money from his first pay and how she cried to get it. Yet, as much as they needed every penny they got, she instructed him to make sure he paid his tithing and give thanks to the Lord for their blessings. As a child of 8 my grandfather told of how tall and imposing the bishop looked to him, yet he collected himself and paid his tithing. My mother has said that she learned of the law of tithing from him when she married my father. "Always pay the Lord first, and He will take care of you," he taught her.

He was not the only child Jacobina sent to America with members of the church. His younger sister Mary also came, though they were sent several months apart. Mary and her husband lived down the street from my grandparents, and we often would run down the lane to visit with her and have some of her wonderful cookies that she would have on hand when we would visit from California. As an adult, I think Neal and Mary lived so close because of their experience of being sent as small children away from their mother and family. I believe they needed to be near each other.

If you have read my book you may find these photos interesting to see. If not, you may want to pick up a copy and read more. Either way, Neal Jacobsen Hillyard is a man I deeply love and admire. Maybe his story will touch you as well.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pizza and Pumpkins

Halloween Eve, and tonight we ate pizza and carved pumpkins into Jack O'Lanterns. It was a fun evening. We played spooky music to accompany the carving, and had fun figuring out the best designs for our pumpkins. Fun!

Here are some pictures of our Pizza and Pumpkin night!

 Stan and AJ get the night started and make the first cuts in their pumpkins

 While Stan puts the finishing touches on his pumpkin,
Kevin and Kate get down to business with theirs!

 AJ shows of fhis finished Jack O'Lantern
He went with a traditional look, opting not to be scarey

 Stan with his pumpkin
He went with a more creative approach

 Kate went creative as well
Hers is a Hello Kitty Zombie, with brains coming out
of it's mouth and skull

Kevin's pumpkin has a Halo symbol on it
(I don't know ... don't ask me!)

And there you go! A fun time was had by all! Now we're ready for tomorrow night and the trick or treaters!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Phase 1 is Complete!

The first step in fixing our house up has been finished, and personally I love it. Xeriscaping has never been something I was all that fond of until I saw our water bills skyrocket trying to keep a lawn alive. Rather than rocks, I chose a more "natural" look with shredded bark. It smells so lovely, like being in the woods! And I like the looks of it. You can tell me what you think!

Now it's on to Phase 2!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Here We Go!

Things are starting to happen as we begin the process of getting ready to move. Stan started his new job on Monday, and we have been interviewing companies to get some of the work done on the house as well as having insurance adjusters making their way througout our home.

This afternoon AJ and I went out and got some moving supplies and not only did it barely fit into the Jeep, but it made a mountain in our garage!

We're trying to get the outside taken care of as the temps begin to drop. We have a landscaper xeriscaping our front yard, and we're replacing the roof as well. And we're also painting the exterior, I just need to decide what color to paint it. Help!

While that's being taken care of we're getting started packing and cleaning the inside and moving out as much furniture as possible before we tackle the inside, which we're painting as well, and replacing the kitching/dining room floor.

I tell you, I'm tired just thinking about it all!

On a fun note, Kevin became a blond today. His girlfriend Kate is in beauty school and colored his hair for him. He looks adorable! AJ keeps teasing him that now he's going to "have more fun." Maybe so...

Monday, October 1, 2012

39 Again?!!

Another year, and another birthday. This one was super nice. Stan made waffles in the morning for breakfast, AJ fixed sausage and we had some amazing apple cider that made the whole thing feel like fall. Kevin gave me a pumpkin candle and a "writer's mug."

As always, Stan addresses his envelopes in a fun way! Chocolates from my sweetheart along with a poem and a promise for a date of my choice. Love it! AJ gave me a pair of beautiful earrings too ....

Normally Stan barbecues hamburgers for my birthday dinner, but this year he had to work. So that evening Kevin took us, along with his girlfriend Kate, to Freddie's where we had hamburgers, drinks and fries. It was a blast! Phone calls from Beth and my folks, chocolate and a ton o' messages from friends, and it was the perfect birthday!

Growing older isn't so bad after all .....

 The Freddie's Burger ... Yummmmm!

 Fry Sauce!!!
Need we say more?

 AJ, who celebrates his own birthday on the 5th!

 Kate and Kevin

Ready for another year
and some amazing new adventures as we look forward
to leaving Colorado Springs and starting a new chapter
in Denver in 2013 ....

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Promotion Time!

I'm holding a special promotion for my book Lethal Prescription! It's so exciting to be able to offer this book for FREE from August 23 - August 27, 2012.

This book is the second in the Maeve and Kate Mysteries series. Here's a brief synopsis:

Best friends Maeve Haile and Kate Hanson are at it again! During a hospital stay Maeve meets Victoria Bennett, a young nurse who reveals her concern about something taking place in the hospital. When she turns up dead and it’s discovered her roommate is one of Kate’s clients, the pair set out to unearth what is going on in their small town of Elkhorn.

Nurses, doctors and patients in their hometown and the surrounding area are involved in a drug scam involving prescription drugs ... or are they? As the two women uncover clues they wind up with more questions then they have answers for. Why was Victoria killed, and who is threatening her roommate? A second murder, a threat on Maeve and Kate’s lives, and a frightening and intimidating street thug all add up to a mystery that have the friends racing to discover who’s behind it all before some else winds up dead!

Please pick up your copy, and when you've finished reading it, please post a review on Amazon. I'd appreciate it!


and UK

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Maeve Binchy (1940-2012)

We all have people in our lives who speak to us in one way or another, help us to reach for our goals and work to make our dreams come true. As a writer, there were two women who inspired me, and Maeve Binchy, who is one of them, died this past week. I am thinking of her and her work and how she has impacted me.

Ms. Binchy is an Irish writer. I was introduced to her back in the late 1980s when my best friend told me about her and gave me a copy of one of her books. “It make me think of us,” my friend told me. It was us. Binchy had so completely captured the feel, the reality of women and their friendships that I fell in love with her. She knows women, how they feel, how they relate, fight, support and love each other. My friend and I always kept each other up to date with her books. Once, when it was only available in the U.K. her husband bought us each a copy when he was there on business, and I remember thinking I was so lucky to have such a treasure!

Maeve Binchy wrote what she loved. She often said in interviews there were certain things she didn’t like to write about and so she didn’t. She wrote those things that she was familiar with, the people and lives she knew because she’d lived them herself. Full of humor, love and optimism, Maeve Binchy’s books make you feel as if these are not characters in books but real people. Men and women you might run into at the local cafe or store; who might be sitting next to you in church or the library. They’re real.

When I started writing my books I longed to tell women’s stories the same as she did. In my women’s fiction novel, In the Company of Women, I followed her example and wrote of a group of women, telling their stories by weaving them together and following their individual trails as well.

As a tribute to her, I named the main character in my cozy mystery series after her. And while the Maeve and Kate Mysteries are about solving crimes, at their heart they are about a friendship between two women that will survive anything.

There will be one more book from Maeve Binchy: A Week in Winter will come out this fall sometime. I cannot believe she is gone so soon, and there will be no more short stories on her website, no books to wait excitedly for. I will read again and revisit that marvelous country and people she loved to write about.

On her website where they posted news of her passing, they also posted this quote that I would like to share with you here. It’s pure Maeve Binchy ....

"The happiest moments of my life are connected with family and friends. There is a great comfort about being with people who knew you way back when. There is a mental shorthand, an easy-going feeling that life doesn't have to be explained or defined; we are all in more or less the same boat. To have a community around you in a changing and unstable world is invaluable and nothing can beat the feeling that there will always be people out for our good."

It feels like I've lost a friend. I will miss her.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Singin' in the Rain!

My favorite movie of all time is The Wizard of Oz. In 1999 they released it for one night to movie theaters for it's 60th Anniversary. Knowing how much I loved it Stan took our family to go see it. I was overwhelmed by the thrill of seeing it on the big screen and literally wept when Dorothy opened the door to step into Oz.

Stan found out they were doing the same thing with another favorite of mine, Singin' in the Rain which was being shown on the big screen for one night in honor of it's 60th Anniversary. Since Stan and Kevin both had to work, AJ and I went July 12th to see this wonderful musical on the big screen, and oh what a treat!

I'm always singing songs from this film to my family; "Good Mornin'," "All I Do is Dream of You," and of course the title song. To see the singing and the dancing on the big screen was simply breathtaking! The things you miss watching it on a television are countless. Those little details enrich the experience, and it was amazing to watch the precision of the dancing done by Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. They were perfect together!

Before the showing Robert Osbourne from TCM interviewed Debbie Reynolds (who was only 18 when she made this film) and also showed clips of interviews with O'Connor, Cyd Charisse and Kelly's widow. They talked about experiences that happened behind the scenes and how they felt about making the film.a

Interestingly enough, Singin' in the Rain was not a hit when it was released in 1952. Reynolds said it took about five years for it to catch on.

If you've never seen the film, it's a musical about the movie industry. Specifically about that time in the late 1920s when talking pictures were coming into being, and about the making of the first talking film for the fictious studio with it's biggest silent stars played by Gene Kelly and Jean Hagen. The problem is that Hagen's character has a heavy Bronx accent and can neither speak well nor sing. Kelly, with his best friend played by Donald O'Connor, and his love interest, played by Debbie Reynolds, decide to have Reynold dub Hagen's voice.  Well, you can imagine how that goes.

The movie is sweet and fairly simple. The music is happy and fun, the dancing is amazing, having been choreographed by Gene Kelly, and the colors are vibrant and beautiful.

And, as happened when I saw The Wizard of Oz, I found myself weeping at the thrill of seeing this classic film on the big screen at last. I'm hoping they do this with some more of the older films. While it's always terrific to be able to watch them when we want to in our own homes, there's something about seeing these films they way they were meant to be watched: on the big screen in full color with the rich sound surrounding you.

We were lucky enough to watch Singin' in the Rain with a theater full of film lovers who were as happy and excited to be there as we were. There was laughter, some singing along and quoting some of the best lines. And when the film ended, it did so to a rousing round of applause. What a fun experience.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kevin and I Buy a Car!

Kevin and I bought a car together! A first for me, that's for sure. It's helping build his credit and it's making life easier for us. With Kevin going to school at Pike's Peak and working, and then AJ going to UCCS we were stretched trying to figure out how to accomodate both of their schedules with only one car. It wasn't going to work. And with the price of gas I saw nothing but $$ flying away.

We decided to get a little car that Kevin could use since he will be doing most of the driving. We looked for a used car and wound up purchasing a 2003 Ford Taurus. It's a great little car and will be wonderful for him. Things will run much smoother this fall when the two boys are so busy!

Of course, I'll still be without a car most of the time, but I guess that'll just leave me more time for writing!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Waldo Canyon Fire

A fire started right near Colorado Springs on Saturday, June 23rd. It has been a devestating experience for us to watch the destruction and see as this fire grows exponentially each day. I'm sharing some photos for friends and family.

We are doing well. We are far enough away that we are not terribly affected by this. Ash and smoke are making things difficult for AJ and his asthma. Most of the toll is emotional to see what has happened to our beautiful area. We lost Flying W Ranch, which was heartbreaking, along with hundreds of homes.

The firefighters have been simply amazing! And the community has really been pulling together to support those who've been evacuated and those who are fighting this disaster. Here are some photos:

 Helicopters, C130 Tankers and hundreds of men and women on the ground.
It may take awhile, but they will get control!

 Even the Air Force Academy has been affected.

 Our beautiful mountains .... so sad!

 This fire is like none the fire fighters have ever seen.
One day going north, then south, then east.
It's a beast!

 The fire jumped containment lines and two ridges in about 20 minutes.
It was so frightening to watch!

 An aerial shot of the Flying W Ranch
One of our favorite places. Hopefully they'll rebuild

346 homes and 2 lives lost.
Overall, I think we're pretty blessed.

This map shows the growth of the fire.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One of Stan's Favorites

Stan had to work Father's Day, so we had his special dinner tonight. One of his favorite desserts is the Mixed Berry Pavlova. If you don't know, a Pavlova (named after the famed ballerina) is a large baked meringue. It is covered with homemade whipped cream, then topped with a mixture of fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries in a homemade raspberry sauce. It is to die for.

Since he requested it I made it for him. Actually, twice. The first one didn't turn out. The second one came out perfectly, but then the heat made it start to crack. As a result, I couldn't take it off the parchament on the cookie sheet; it was too fragile. But it looked pretty good, and tasted even better!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Father’s Day Poem
by Stan Mullis

To all the fathers near and far
You all know just who you are
You who gave and kept on giving
Working hard to earn a living

Putting food upon our table
Doing more when you were able
Willing to go that extra mile
Payment expected? Just a smile

All these things you do and more
Nobody’s even keeping score
What do we owe you for all you bring?
In one simple word -- Everything!

Friday, June 15, 2012