Monday, April 28, 2014

Return to Legend with Janet Eaves

There's a new Ladies of Legend book available at an ebook retailer near you, written by my friend Janet Eaves. Crosroads is the first of four novellas coming out this year, one written by each of the Legend authors. Jan Scarbrough's comes out next, then mine, then Maddie James's. We're calling these four stories Return to Legend. It's a return for the four authors, who haven't written new Legend stories in a while. And it's a return for readers who may have read Legend for the first time years ago, or maybe just discovered it when Love in a Small Town was on its way to bestseller status.

It's also a return to Legend for some of the characters. For instance, the heroine in Crossroads was originally mentioned as a teenager in Janet's very first Legend story, Claiming the Legend. Here is the blurb for Crossroads
There is no way anyone could have ever convinced Sharon Clark she’d one day return to Legend, Tennessee. 

With her mother playing the leading role of town slut when she was growing up, with the townspeople either pitying her or looking down their noses at her all her young life, with the child she’d carried and hidden from the town’s prying eyes and expected condemnation all those years ago, going back now is just not an option… 

But desperation has a way of changing everything…. 
Get yours now, by clicking the cover above.

Happy reading, and Welcome back to Legend, Tennessee, where romance lives next door.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Minimalism, as it relates to my jeans

In last week's reflection on our two years of minimalism, I mentioned that the closet is in bad shape, and that I have more clothes than I did when we moved here. For the most part, I have a lot of clothes because I have stayed near the same size most of my adult life.

Kind of.

A glaring exception is my jeans. I'm talking old-fashioned blue jeans that are 100% cotton. Dresses, skirts and shirts are more forgiving than jeans. Even my dress pants have a little bit of stretch. A friend warned me years ago not to get into the habit of wearing sweat pants to be comfortable, because sweats make it easier to ignore the truth.

And the truth is, my jeans don't fit. Boy, is this irritating! I've let it sneak up on me, and especially in the last two years I've done the wrong things. Eating more than exercising, mainly. I know better, but for some daggone reason, knowing better doesn't help me get shoehorned into my favorite jeans.

The stack on the right contains the two pairs I can currently zip.

The stack on the left contains the ones I want to be able to zip. The ones underneath the red marker are the next size smaller from where I  am now, and the jeans above the red marker are even smaller. When I moved here two years ago, I could wear the ones at the base of that big stack, but not the ones above. (Which is why they're so wrinkled. Been packed in a box for a while.)

Unrealistic goal? I don't think so. I'm fortunate to be healthy enough to exercise, and I'm smart enough to know some of the basics of why the added weight is here. I'm also desperate enough to join Curves® instead of doing this all by myself. I'm giving Curves® a month-long  trial, starting today. Besides wanting to fit into those jeans, I know I need to do strength training, and I won't do it on my own. Pretending that I would do it has gotten me into Stack 2, and even Stack 2 has been snug for the last couple of months.

One of the many things we don't have anymore is a bathroom scale, so I won't be weighing myself here. My gauge of results will be how many pairs of jeans get moved into Stack 2.

I'll post again about it eventually, but will try not to belabor the topic. As I move toward writing fulltime, I know it will be even more important to exercise.

(This picture is also for those of you who enjoy looking at my countertop. Both of you.)


Monday, April 14, 2014

Attila and Mags: Two years of Minimalism

Attila and I recently passed our second anniversary of living in the Jewel Box. I thought it might be interesting and instructive (to me at least) to reflect on how minimalism has worked for us.

Furniture. We put an old chair by the side of the road, bought a couch, and a year later, gave it away. Gave away an heirloom rocker, got it back, gave it away again. I still don't have the perfect writing chair.

This has worked out okay for both of us, though Attila liked to wipe all loose hair on the old chair, which is the biggest reason it landed by the side of the road. Picture above is him on the chair. He also liked to dash across the couch while chasing a toy, and I enjoyed flopping onto it  (the couch, not the toy) at the end of the day. But now that the floor is mostly bare, it's easier for me to clean, so Attila doesn't have to run the sweeper while I'm at work.

Kitchen. I still don't have a microwave, and am so happy without one. The toaster I gave away came back several months later, and I've enjoyed being able to make toast again. I made the decision to purchase dishes just prior to our first Christmas, so I could serve dinner to company on real dishes instead of paper or styrofoam. We moved here with four dinner plates, four salad plates, and four bowls. Now I have twelve of each, and sometimes I wish I hadn't bought the new ones. Cabinet space is very limited, which is why I'm this obsessive.

This has worked out okay for both of us, except, as an aside, Attila has learned how to open cabinet drawers. And he really doesn't like people, so I'm sure he'd prefer I not entertain, ever.
 Okay, this hasn't worked out well for Attila.       FYI--He has his own dishes.

Closet. I have too many clothes. I already had borderline too many, and somehow I now have more.

This has not worked out well. The closet is too full of clothes, and now that I have more to wear, it takes longer to get ready in the morning. I'm trying to figure out how to blame the cat.

Life. I write more often, and am becoming more comfortable with doing promo. In fits and starts, I exercise and eat healthier. I sleep better because I have fewer things to worry about. My free time feels more free. As someone said recently, my smile is back.

Believe me, Attila benefits when I sleep well and am in a better mood. But he doesn't understand why I want to write when I could be playing fetch with a toy mouse. 

I wouldn't wish on anybody the reason that brought us to minimalism. But we're here, and making the very best we can of what we have. And feeling grateful. (Me. Not the cat.)


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

From exhausted to blissful

What a week!

Last night, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. Then it occurred to me: This is just--Monday Night?!?As in, four more days of the day job. Of course it didn't help that I was there for ten hours.

This is mega busy season at the day job, and it will likely be pretty tiring for at least the next month.

So just when I was starting to eat healthier and exercise a bit more, I'm back to eating out even at lunch time. Cannot care enough to make a list and hit the grocery. Attila is lucky there's plenty of cat food in the fridge, and I'm lucky there are plenty of good restaurants within walking distance. Right. We are not suffering. And we are eating hummus on spinach tortillas part of the time, but not as often.

And yes, I keep the cat food in the fridge. That is a long but incredibly interesting story. (Or not.)

Tonight I'm less exhausted, and more exhilarated. It was a slightly less mentally challenging day, I managed to do something semi-techy, and (I think) have come up with an idea that will at least slightly increase our efficiency. (I work with a group that is very efficient, so an improvement would be kind of a big deal.)

PLUS. I'm getting travel plans lined up for the summer, have set up a pre-birthday lunch date with The Progeny, and am putting together a dinner with friends on Easter Sunday.

To top it all off, this evening I took down the styrofoam boards that kept us from freezing this winter. We can now see out of all of our windows again. Wow.

So I'm settled in to write a bit, Attila is chirping at the birds, and we're both feeling very fortunate. Again, the simple pleasures are so often the best ones, aren't they?


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

This one moment

On Monday, one of the ladies at work was celebrating the opening of baseball season, and brought in these cute cupcakes to share the love. Always glad to help someone celebrate, I enjoyed the yummy pastry.

Yesterday, another of the ladies had the whole building on high alert as she celebrated April Fools Day. I didn't take any pictures of that, but there were lots of fake mice, rats, spiders, snakes, a skunk, and even a fake man sitting in the women's restroom. Fortunately, some of the other ladies got together and bought an air horn to put on her chair. It was fun for all of us to play a joke on the jokester. Fortunately, she has gets as much enjoyment out of being fooled as fooling. (Or at least she tolerates it with grace.)

Halloween is always a big event there, with a majority of the people dressing in costume. (Don't tell anybody, but my suggestion for our office in 2014 is the Wicked Witch and six flying Sock Monkeys.)

Like most everybody, the people in my building all have lots of stress. There is work stress--unhappy customers, diminishing perks, and more and more difficulty making the take-home pay cover the expenses. Everyone has health issues in their family, or other family problems.

But what my co-workers have going for them (besides great skills at their jobs) is the camaraderie and willingness to enjoy the moment.

That's all any of us has for sure, anyway. This one moment. I'm fortunate to work among people who are able to make the most of it, no matter what.