May 30th, 2012

Today, we’re talking about the ‘G’ word!

Yep, setting Goals. With a capital ‘G’.

If you are like me, setting goals is not so hard, it’s accomplishing them that is tough.

I love setting goals. They are like writing lists to me and I’m a list maker. Going down my list and checking each item off is such a big thrill to me. I feel such satisfaction and accomplishment at the end of the day. It makes my life easy in so many ways.

But goals, not so much.

It seemed every time I set a goal, the Goal Trolls clap their hands in glee and with an atrocious maniacal laugh set about to thwart me in ways that make it impossible to complete them.

{{sigh}}

So how does one beat them at their own game?

Set. Your. Goals.

You heard me.

And it’s okay to start small. When you reach those tiny ones, you will be surprised how good it feels and will become excited to set others. Maybe the next one will be a bit bigger. And soon, those Trolls will find someone else to pick on.

To make it a little more exciting – Issue yourself a challenge. It doesn’t have to be an expensive challenge or even a monetary one. And it doesn’t have to include anyone else but YOU to do it.

Just fill in the blanks. If I accomplish (goal)________ by (time frame)_________ then I get (reward)________.

And no cheating. No accomplishment, no reward.

Back at ya next time!

~Sandy

May 20th, 2012

“You gotta keep your saw in the wood.”

~Paul R. Martin

So you wanna write a book?

You’ve got characters you’re in love with, a plot that rocks, and a theme to die for.

But what is missing here?

That elusive thing that everyone has, but not enough of.

Time!

In today’s fast paced, instant gratification world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed with ordinary day to day living. School, work, family, friends and a multitude of outside influences demand your time and energy making it difficult, if not impossible, to get any writing in.

Little by little, your characters stop demanding their stories be told and eventually drift away and become silent. The worlds you built become nonexistent and the plots you so labouiously crafted to torture your characters become a distant memory.

It becomes easier not to think about writing and harder to remember why you started in the first place. You lose the excitement of getting those first words down on a new story. You forget the adrenaline ‘high’ of getting into the ‘zone’ where the words come faster than you can type.

So you don’t even try any longer.

It becomes a ‘when this happens, I’ll start again’ which turns into a ‘maybe someday I’ll get back to it’ until you don’t even think about it much less talk about it any longer.

Your dream dies a slow, painful death. I know, I’ve been there.

For the next several posts, I’m going to address some things we can do to avoid this from happening.

It’s called Keeping Your Head in the Game.

For now, I want you to focus on one thing. What do you want to accomplish? Do you have something brand new or is there a WIP that has been sitting collecting cobwebs you’d love to get back to? Take a day or so to decide and we’ll meet up again this week to discuss a plan to get you back in the chair and in front of your computer/laptop/alphasmart/iPad/pen and paper.

Until then…

~Sandy

April 5th, 2012

I like a little banana pudding with my Cool Whip, LOL!

As promised, here’s a picture of the new recipe I tried for dessert.

It was good, but very different from my regular banana pudding and GW and I both agreed that we liked the regular recipe better. The carmelized bananas were delish, but a little too overwhelming.

Maybe over vanilla ice cream like Bananas Foster?

This weekend is a long weekend and looking forward to chillin’ out and just doing whatever we decide we are in the mood for. We entertained the thought of going to the Renaissance Festival, but it’s opening weekend and may be just a little too crowded for our taste. Have plenty of time and weekends to go yet.

Today turned out beautiful! Such a difference from Tuesdays severe weather North Texas endured. We were blessed not to have any in our little town, but the surrounding towns had enough that it was too close for comfort here.

I was busy working on the computer not even watching the weather going on behind me outside until I started seeing Tweets about DFW being under a severe attack of tornadic attivity. A few minutes after I turned around to face the window and saw the huge wall cloud in the sky, the phone rang and it was a recorded message from our city stating we were under a severe tornado warning and to take cover NOW! GW soon texted me to see if I was okay, but none of my texts back to him could go through. Until I thought of hard booting the iPhone which worked.

But besides the driving rain coming down in silver sheets accompanied by hail, we didn’t get anything else.

My thoughts and prayers to those whose homes were destroyed or damaged. Thanks to the good Lord above there were no fatalities in a situation where there was so many tornadoes in the area even the meteorologists couldn’t keep up.

Back to work…

Have a great Easter weekend!

~Sandy

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April 3rd, 2012

Have you ever bought brown sugar and once you get home, it’s not the soft, sweet, box of sugary goodness, but a solid, can’t even get it out of the box hard brick?

Well, sure you have. And so did I this week.

I found a super new recipe for carmelized banana pudding and thought I’d surprise GW with dessert. We normally avoid desserts for many reasons, some obvious, some not. Mostly to keep our youthful shapes from becoming not so youthful. Or not so shapely. But occasionally we (meaning me) decide that we’ve been good and deserve dessert.

But back to the story. While pulling the box of brown sugar out of the grocery sack, I dropped it and just barely missed my foot as it crashed to the kitchen tiles. I picked it up (after making sure kitchen floor not damaged, whew!) and wondered how I was going to use something that was so rock hard.

So I did what I always do when I have a question: I ‘googled’ it.

Here’s what was recommended:

Place one slice of bread in plastic bag with brown sugar...

…for a day or so. Um, no.

Try marshmallows in plastic bag with brown sugar...


…for day or so. Like, No!

Place a few drops of water in plastic bag with brown sugar...

…again, NO! Visions of mold flash through my mind.

…no damp towel either!

Seriously?

…Seriously?

Frustrated, I did what any exasperated, in a hurry, need it now cook would do.

The Behr Way

Of course, the pounding could be heard all the way from the back of the house where GW hollered, “Babe, what are you building in there?” If he only knew the trouble women go through for our desserts and our men, LOL!

And it worked! And after a trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I now have a new friend that keeps my brown sugar soft and crumbly and ready for use when I need it.

I call him Sugar Behr!

Will let you know how the Carmelized Banana Pudding comes out tonight!

~Sandy

Posted in Food, General | No Comments »
January 24th, 2012

I’m a sucker for books. I love my new Nook Tablet – and yes, I still have my old Nook and no you cannot have it, :-) ! But since I have my nook, I generally will buy them on the e-reader and not in print now.

So, one day I decided to make more room in the house (did I tell you I am totally hooked on organizing? I could be the poster person for how to organize your house. You really need to come check my closets, LOL!). So, I took a day and diligently and lovingly went through all my print books and categorized them into those into categories:

1. to be taken to Half Price books,
2. to be given away,
3. to be kept. You know the kinds: some written by super special friends of mine and several of my all time favorites. And, of course, the many, MANY reference books I have collected throughout the years. Those I put all in appropriate and labeled boxes and have stored safely away. Out of sight, but easy to get to. (the organizing thing again).

But, I discovered last year I don’t like journaling on the computer. I NEED something with me, at all times, that I can jot things down that I just know I will need at some point. Or thoughts that I want to remember and can refer back to. Or set some goals for the day/week and check them off. Or even some errands I need to do that day and want to plan my day.

Last year, I’d picked up a really neat hardback book at Barnes and Nobles that was perfect for me to carry around. The size was perfect, my special pen fit in the spiral binder (I have a special book so need a special pen, correct?) and it truly went almost everywhere I went. I actually filled it up during the year and when I went through it the other day, I was surprised at some of the things I’d written.

Some were profound, some were funny, some I’d forgotten about but needed. It also showed me where I was at the beginning of that year, and where I ended up at the end. And I realized I’d grown in some areas that I’d needed to and am pretty durn proud of. There were also some ideas on possible stories, some plotting ideas on the one I’m working on now. A few snippets of conversations I’d heard that would make good fodder in a story some time, and some of those really cute sayings that you think you’ll never forget, but always do.

Since I’m such a visual person, I thought I’d share a picture of it:

2011 Journal

So, I decided to do it again this year.

I gathered all the similiar books, I’d collected throughout this last year and put them all in a basket (that silly organizing thing!) and contemplated which was the one I wanted to use this year. It had to be the perfect one for the year as I’d have to live with it for the next 12 months.

Hmmm...lots of possiblities.....

They are all so pretty! How to decide???

But, eventually, I had to make the decision and the winner for the magical Journal of 2012 is…

Journal 2012

So, do you journal and, if so, what do you like to use?

~Sandy

January 17th, 2012

GW (from chair in family room): What are you doing, Babe?

Me (in the other room):Who, me?

GW: No, the people down the street!

Me: Huh?

GW: Of course you. What are you doing in there?

Me : Nothing.

GW: I can hear you doing something. Is that a tape measure I hear? It better not be a tape measure I hear.

Me: Um…of course not. Why would you think that?

GW: Because I know what a tape measure sounds like. What are you measuring?

Me: Nothiiiing. (Much). Why?

(I hear a long suffering sigh)

GW: Because every time you get the tape measure out, you get into trouble.

Me (as indignant as I can):I do not. I know how to measure. I’m just measuring the floor in the foyer.

GW: Why?

Me: So I know how big of an oriental rug we need to buy to replace the other one.

GW: We need another oriental rug?

Me: Yeeeessss. When we moved the one we had in the foyer to the other room, we now need another one to replace it.

Silence for a long moment

GW: I was wrong.

Me: (trying to hide my grin. I’m not right very often.) Oh, yeah? Why is that?

GW: Because whenever you get the tape measure out, it’s not you that gets into trouble. It’s ME!

~Sandy

October 11th, 2011

Over the summer, I bought one of my favorite plants, a beautiful flowering plant that loves the hot Texas sun called purslane and planted them in our front flowerbed. The way our house is arranged, we’re still learning which areas get sun for how long, and which areas need what kind of plants. I decided to plant only one to see how it does.

Found an area that gets sunlight most of the day. After digging through the hard dry Texas clay, (remember we had a million days of over 100 degree heat and no rain) I got that puppy in the ground and sat back to watch to see how it did.

The next day, it looked a little puny. I chalked it up to being in shock after being transplanted so I just watered it and talked to it nicely and made a note to check on it the next day.

Come day 2 and the flowers seemed to have fallen off and disappeared into the wind. Okaaay….let’s water it again and surely by tomorrow, it will have settled in, perked up and be blooming with new growth.

Not so. Day 3 – no flowers, no perking up, and the plant seemed to be a lot smaller than when I’d planted it. Weird!

Day 4? No frickin’ plant left in the ground! There was actually a small hole where the plant had been!

I happen to look across to the neighbor’s yard and among their bushes I detected some long ears and a twitching nose and, I swear it’s true, the rabbit was grinning at me!

We had seen rabbits quite often in our yard, but it never occured to me they’d eat my flowers. What was I thinking!

So, fast forward to last weekend. I also love pansies and like to plant them in the fall because some will last until spring even with snow and frost. One of the nurseries was having a sale on them, so off we go and loaded up on several plats of colorful flowers. We trek home and cleaned out the containers in front and planted some and was pretty proud of how they looked. Still having lots of plants left, I got all my gardening supplies together and started an assembly line all the way across the front flower beds.

Scoop away the mulch, dig through the now WET, heavy clay, throw a little potting soil in hole, add a bit of fertilizer, plant flower, fill in hole with more potting soil, respread the mulch.

Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat.

And GW helped. Since it was supposed to rain that night, he spread fertilizer in the yard and then watered the plants as I planted them. And then lay in the grass next to me until I’d say something like, ‘Babe, I need more potting soil in the bucket.’ or ‘Babe, what’s this gross white worm I just dug up?’ or ‘Babe, rabbits don’t eat pansies, do they?’

Of course they do. So GW gets up, goes to the garage and comes out and starts spraying something near the first flowers I planted. The wind had been gentle breeze, and being upwind was very comfortable while I labored over a hot flowerbed.

Until I smelled something that reminded me of a wet diaper, but stronger and stinkier.

‘Babe, what’s that smell???’

He remembered we’d bought a can of Rabbit Repellent. Smart man.

So far, the rabbits have left the pansies alone. Smart rabbits.

~Sandy

August 29th, 2011

…a game called ‘What If’.

Couple of weekends ago, we were fortunate enough to travel to the Texas Hill Country again. We were surprised when the same friends we traveled to Napa and to the Texas Hill Country asked us to go with them and help celbrate their anniversary. We always have such a good time around them and have decided we make aweome traveling companions.

This time we visited different farms, restaurants, and such that we didn’t visit the last time. We even toured a Distillery that made whiskey and got to taste the mash and the White Dog (warning: Do. Not. Smell. It. In fact, don’t taste it either, but definitely don’t smell it. Can you say goodby to any and all nose hairs?) Ouch!!

One winery we visited had a small graveyard on the premises with an old cyclone fence protecting the graves from outside intruders. The graves dated back to the 1800′s, some of the engraving faded to where you had to trace the letters with your fingers to make out the writing. Watching guard over the tombstones was a large stately tree, it’s branches tall and strong, and surprisingly in good condition considering the Texas draught.

Having permission from the owner, Tracie and I respectfully and quietly tiptoed into the sacred grounds and went from grave to grave reading what was written about the deceased.

The first one was for a baby. Nothing more was stated except the little girl’s name and that she was only two years old. So sad. Our imagination was peaked and we wonder what happened to her.

What if it was due to an accident? Or what if she caught a disease like cholera or influenza that struck through the area killing babies and adults alike? Or a disease like the measles that is so easily prevented nowadays with vaccinations?

Next to her lay who evidently was her father. The name was listed along with the date of death and then strangely and weirdly enough under that was ‘killed by’ and the killer’s name listed.

Wow!

What if they listed the killer’s name so all could remember who did the awful deed of killing another human being? Or what if the deceased was totally the scourge of all who’s bad and the person who killed him was listed for bragging rights?

Next to him was his wife and evidently the mother of the little girl in the grave. According to the date listed of her death, she lived another thirty years after the death of her daughter and husband.

Tracie and I continued to the remaining few graves and although the names were different from the first three, we couldn’t help but wonder if they were all related in some way.

What if the mother/wife remarried and the rest were her new family? Or what if she never got over their deaths and never remarried and the graves belonged to other members of her family. Again, so sad.

The most interesting grave of all was the one right in the middle of the graveyard. All the graves had headstones and small footstones exactly the same as this one did but with one exception: The top of the grave – the entire length of it – had a large cement slab over it.

This dude was definitely not rising from the earth any time in the next eternity or so!

What if he was buried with something that was so priceless they hoped to deter grave robbers?

What if he had a terrible disease (I think of diseases a lot, but only because of my medical backgound – just sayin’) and if dug up would cause a world disaster like in the movie Contagion.

What if it was a monster buried under that cement slab?

We finally left through the rusted gate, our imaginations running wild.

But so did GW’s and Paul’s. LOL! They thought they way we were rooting around the graveyard for so long we’d dug someone up!

See how easy and fun it can be to play ‘what if’?

Asking ‘what if’ has caused many a story to be weaved. I bet even Harry Potter started out by JK Rowling thinking ‘What if there was a little boy with glasses who lived under the stairs and was a wizard but nobody knew…’

Now you try it. ‘What if’….and you fill in the blanks. And let your imagination soar. You’ll be surprised where it can take you.

~Sandy

July 9th, 2011

To celebrate the July 4th weekend, GW and I took a long weekend to head south and visit some old friends I haven’t seen in quite awhile.

Saturday night started out by going to a honest to goodness real cowboy saloon. I wasn’t aware of exactly where we were going so had on my white jeans, black top and sandals. Kinda looked a little out of place on the dance floor among all the blue jeans and cowboy boots. Surprised to see the new (or new to me) trend of the girls now wearing short-shorts with their cowboy boots. Some looked pretty good and, of course, some couldn’t pull it off. But I believe that if it makes you happy and feel good about yourself, wear what you want.

We shared appetizers (the brisket nachos were my favorite. Thinking of trying those at home) with a few drinks and I stuck with my White Zin. I wish I could drink beer, but just don’t like the taste. A longneck brew just seems the appropriate drink for a place like that. You know, when in Rome and all that.

The dance floor started out being a little lonely, but it wasn’t long before the regulars were out there in full swing. Literally, almost. GW and I danced to one of my favorite slow songs and, let me tell you the man can dance. Of course, he proved he could hold his own on the dance floor at his daughter’s wedding. The photographer even included a short video of it in the video collage he put together.

Who knew?

Anyhoo, we discovered the darts area and all of us separated into teams and played a few games. This was the first time I’d played a real live game (although we’d put up a ‘real’ dart board in the garage over a year ago) and we all had a blast. I ‘doubled-in’ (don’t ask) once on a 17 and was feeling pretty happy about that although my team still lost.

After another white zin, it wasn’t long before the girls and I were on the dance floor line dancing and laughing ourselves silly. The guys just watched and laughed themselves silly at us. I promised GW I’d teach him how to line dance, but need to brush up on the old ones and learn some of the new ones.

Sunday night was spent at a barbeque eating ribs and chicken and grilled corn on the cob and an awesome salad. It was awesome just visiting and catching up.

Monday night was spent at another barbecue (different kind of ribs, different seasoned chickens, different type of grilled corn on the cob so everything was wonderful and, well, different). They had a pretty impressive firewords display at the end of the night.

It appears everyone had a great time getting to know GW. But I expected that.

Next day came the long ride home. Poor GW. He puts up with me either talking my head off or not saying a word, my head deep in a book or doing some tweeting or some such. But he never complains, he just smiles a lot and says he finds a lot of ‘humor’ in what I do.

Thank the good Lord he likes to laugh because I seem to do a lot for him to laugh about.

All in all, we had a great time and looking forward to our next trip. In the meantime, will be working on my dart game and my line dancing.

~Sandy

June 15th, 2011

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.”

~John Burroughs

Last summer, my stepdaughter became engaged. She is such a fabulous person and I love her dearly. When we got the invitation back in March for her shower, there was no way we were going to miss it so we booked our tickets and off to Chicago we went. The weather was cold and rainy, but it didn’t keep us from having a fantastic time. The shower was held at a wonderful restaurant with an upper floor that was made just for this kind of celebration.

I met GW’s mom and my stepdaughter’s mom and her side of the family. Everyone was super friendly and we had a great time visiting and eating and getting to know everyone. GW actually saw people he hadn’t seen in 20 years.

Soon, May rolled around and it was time for the wedding. My husband surprised me and flew us first class and from the moment we took off the to the second we landed, it was a blast. We arrived Thursday evening and spent the night with the kids and then Friday we drove the couple of hours to the Lodge where the wedding was to take place.

The Lodge and the Canyon was absolutely beautiful and a perfect setting for the nature loving bride and groom. We stayed in log cabins that were delightful and, since the place was quite a drive from the nearest town, we ate our meals at the Lodge restaurant where the employees were super friendly and the food was to die for!

Friday night after the rehearsal, we had a cookout and I got to visit with GW’s mom again and meet his two brothers. They were all funny to watch because they share the same sense of humor. Very funny men!

Saturday was wedding day! They were married in the canyon not far from a beautiful waterfall, and even with it being a little cold (okay a LOT cold to this Texas), you couldn’t ask for a more perfect setting for them. The bride was truly beautiful and radiant and I say that not because I am prejudiced or biased. She truly was. Elegant, relaxed, and I honestly believe she had as much fun as all the guests were having.

We partied with her mom’s family, my husband’s family, and the groom’s family with dozens of friends thrown in for good measure until the wee hours of the morning and all too soon it was Sunday morning and time to go. But first we had to have one more meal at the Lodge dining room.

Can you say best breakfast buffet ever? Yum! Everything from pastries to meats to all kinds of eggs to fruits to pancakes, waffles, and french toast to desserts. Yes, I said dessert. And that IS a whole different group from the pastries.

Trust me.

So, after stuffing ourselves silly, we headed back to the kids home. They soon caught up with us and we took them to the airport to head out for the honeymoon and then we went back to their house to rest and catch up on much needed sleep.

Monday, GW played tour guide (he lived there for over 20 yrs) and showed me his old stomping grounds. Places he worked, places he lived, played softball, played darts, and everything in between. I loved being able to see the places and things he has talked and told me stories about. My favorite was going to Woodstock, ILL where the movie Groundhog Day was filmed. I’ve always thought it cool and fascinating that while Bill Murray and Andie McDowell were filming a scene in front of the bowling alley, GW and his friends were actually inside the bowling alley playing darts and having a few beers. So, I guess you could say they were ‘extras’ in the movie. Silent, unseen extras, LOL! Once we got back to Texas, I made him sit through the movie again so I could compare the pictures I took with the places in the movie.

I am so easily entertained.

One of my mission while in the Chicago area was to try some of the foods that friends from the Chicago area say are much better up there and sucks in Texas. Mission accomplished. I ate an Italian Beef sandwich, a Gyro (pronounced ‘Euro’ up there), and an original Chicago Hot Dog. All were excellent! I totally forgot about the Chicago pizza! Oh, well, next trip!

Back at ya later…

~Sandy

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