Sep 052017

Cicada Necklace

My kids are both back in school – one in college, the other in high school. This time of year always feels like a fresh start that is ripe with the potential of things to come. I bet there are a lot of people, like me, who get a burst of energy and creativity when school starts. Exciting, new projects…here I come! I have had a loooong, difficult end to the summer. My beloved Golden Retriever, Cooper, has had health issues. He’s on the mend now, but I’ve spent a lot of time at home – caring for him and trying to keep him quiet so that he can recover – over the last two months. Seeing his goofy, excited, happy personality return is a fresh start in its own way.

I’m getting ready to begin a juicy, new writing project. But over the holiday weekend a different creative outlet was the focus of my attention. Making jewelry. Once upon a time, when I designed beadwork patterns, I never made jewelry just for the fun of it. While I have some pretty and very interesting jewelry from that time, I was always focused on producing patterns that I could sell to beadwork magazines. I didn’t play with my beads for a long time when I switched to writing fiction. Now, I’m getting back to working with my gigantic stash of beads. Most importantly (to me) I’m making jewelry just for myself. Simply for me to wear and enjoy. What used to be a job, now is creative play. And I couldn’t be happier – especially with the necklaces I made over the Labor Day weekend. They all contain symbols that coincide with how I live my life now. I’ll be doing a three part blog series to highlight them all.

The pendant on the necklace in this post is a cicada. It isn’t a coincidence that over the last few summers I have found cicada exoskeletons on the trees in my backyard. “Hello? This is the Universe calling. Here’s a sign. Pay attention, please.”

Over and over I found the shells that a cicada left behind on its way to becoming bigger and bolder. The insects spend, depending on the variety, anywhere from 1 to 17 years of their lives underground before emerging. Then they come out of the dirt and transform.

For most of my life my motto was: Don’t rock the boat. I was quiet. Constantly trying to be “nice”. I hated conflict, so I would bite my tongue to avoid it. People could say or do anything…and I would just put up with it to avoid an uncomfortable argument or confrontation. I let other people shovel their issues onto me until I was buried and could barely move through my own life.

A few years ago, I took a look at how I was living and realized that I had become a human doormat that was covered in everybody else’s dirt and crap. Not okay!!

Since then I have broken through the muck, shed my confining beliefs, and I am not afraid to stand up for myself. I don’t tolerate bad behavior. In a social situation, I will move away from people who don’t resonate with me. I no longer feel the need to please everyone or be liked by all. I won’t spend my time and energy on drama that someone else manufactured to draw attention to themselves (that’s a HUGE thing for me). Plus, I’ve realized that I am nowhere near as introverted as I thought I was. I still like being alone, but I am also perfectly capable of talking to strangers and really enjoying the experience. I’ve faced the fact that saying that I’m an introvert has been more of an excuse for avoiding situations and people who make me uncomfortable.

I have changed in a way that is very similar to how a cicada lives its life – moving from being in the dark, confining dirt to making some noise. So that is why I made a necklace with a huge, kind of creepy, bug pendant. I love the cicada for all that it means to me and the woman who I have become.


Dec 172015


Since my new book is Fudge Brownies & Murder, I figured brownies would be the perfect thing to giveaway to celebrate the release. And these aren’t just any kind of brownies. No, they’re made in a miniature cast iron skillet that you can use over and over to make ooey, gooey brownies for two (or one). Use the Rafflecopter below to enter for your chance to win. I’ll choose a winner after Christmas. Good luck!

U.S. entrants only, please.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mar 042015

I love ebooks, but there’s nothing like getting paperback copies of your brand new book baby!

Yeehaw! #1!!

Oooh…Amazon didn’t put those nifty little banners on the “Also Bought” books when Pies & Peril was released in July.

Editing Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes so I could turn it in to my publisher on February 28.

Jul 272014


Congratulations to Jacquie, who won the contest for the autographed copy of Pies & Peril plus the handmade necklace.

Stay tuned, I promise I will do more giveaways soon!

 July 27, 2014  Posted by  Cooper, Updates Tags:  1 Response »
May 052014

A new month always holds a bit of excitement. A new beginning. A new page on the calendar. With the way my April went, I am very glad to see we’re already to Cinco de Mayo.

I had dental problems throughout most of April. I was only able to awkwardly chew food on the right side of my mouth for three weeks. Lots of soft food found its way into my diet. Yes, I could’ve added more variety, but since it was so difficult I didn’t really feel like eating much. It certainly wasn’t pleasurable. And I didn’t feel like blogging about food when I could barely eat it.

On top of that Cooper, my Golden Retriever, was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. He went on medication and the change was remarkable as he went from couch potato to happy and energetic again. Unfortunately he also showed signs of the medication dosage being too high, so we’ve been working at dialing it back down. A bit of a bumpy road, but he’ll feel so much better once we find the sweet spot dosage.

So I’m happy that it’s a new month. That my tooth is fixed and that Cooper is on the mend. Here’s to hoping that May will be a very good month.

 May 5, 2014  Posted by  Cooper, General, Updates Tags:  6 Responses »
Jan 302014

It has been the winter of broken records. Snowfall totals, lowest temperatures and wind chills. I suspect the schools here may be heading for a record number of snow days in a school year, too. Although most of the days have been declared “inclement weather” days as it’s been dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills keeping schools closed. My kids had an unplanned 5 day weekend thanks to bad roads from snow on Friday and then the super frigid polar vortex wind chills along with severely drifted roads on Monday and Tuesday.

Even though I have been able to get out of the house with my 4-wheel drive pickup, there have been many days that I just didn’t want to leave. So I’ve been cooking from pantry and freezer items. I really need to make a big grocery shopping trip because my shelves are getting pretty bare after all of the bad weather this winter.

On Monday I thawed some sausage and decided that breakfast sounded good for dinner, as in waffles and sausage. I love trying different waffle recipes and I hit Pinterest to keep my mind off the snow blowing around outside. I found a recipe that produced a thick batter. Many of the recipes I’ve tried in the past have a thin, liquid batter and I wanted to see what the difference in viscosity would produce in the finished waffles. I made a few tweaks to the recipe to reduce the fat a bit (the original called for a whole stick of butter for only 5 or 6 waffles) and add some nice caramel-y flavor with the brown instead of white sugar. My kids loved them. Nice and dense, but in a good – not potential hockey puck, way. A really nice way to end a blustery day.

What are some of your favorite meals to cook from your pantry stash?

Hearty Waffles For Cold Days
Serves: 5-6
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1¾ cups milk
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Beat together eggs, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Add milk and melted butter. Mix well.
  3. Whisk in the baking powder and salt. Add the flour a bit at a time, whisking well after each addition, until batter is smooth and lumps are gone.
  4. Cook according to your waffle maker's directions. The dough is thick and doesn't spread a lot. I poured the batter in a ring around the center then filled in the center to make sure the batter spread almost to the edges of my Belgian waffle maker.


This post is part of Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads


 January 30, 2014  Posted by  Cooper, Food, Recipe Tags: ,  24 Responses »
Jan 072014

I had hoped that at this point in the month I would be posting a well thought-out post written in peace and quiet. Unfortunately Winter Storm Ion and the Polar Vortex has decided to extend my kids’ Christmas Vacation another two days. That is after the vacation began one day early thanks to an ice storm.

The kids are bored. I’m distracted. There’s a -28 degree F wind chill . . . yeah. Here are some pictures.

My boys playing in the snow before it got dangerously cold.

I’ve got it!


Snow storms make me tired. Wake me up when it’s over.

Stay safe and warm, everybody!

 January 7, 2014  Posted by  Cooper, General, Updates Tags: ,  4 Responses »
Sep 032013

This is how most dogs search for minnows and other underwater treasures.

This is how Cooper does it.

I always call Cooper my writing companion. Now I’m taking life cues from him. Sometimes you need to take a different approach.

Summer brought about the usual sporadic blogging and social media contact that I’ve come to expect from the season. I’m a mom and a writer, but the scale tips heavily toward the mom side when the kids are home 24/7, as it should. I didn’t write a lot of new material, but I read many books on writing with subjects ranging from how to plot a novel to handling negative reviews. As often happens, all of the new knowledge bits collided and mingled to form something different and exciting.

Today was the first day of school for my kids. My outlook is shiny and new too, just like the school year. I’m going to take Cooper’s lead and do things differently. How can you know what works best if you don’t try new things? Have you decided to try anything new recently?

 September 3, 2013  Posted by  Cooper, General, Writing Life Tags: ,  8 Responses »
Feb 082013

Winter storm Nemo hit Michigan last night. We woke up to about 8-inches of snow – enough to close schools and make travel tricky. The local weather forecasters said tonight that the storm is producing 2 to 3 times more snow at this point as it’s heading east. For those of you in Nemo’s path now – stay safe and warm!

Not everybody likes snowy weather, but I have one furry member in my household that loves it. Here are a few photos to prove that point.

How is the weather where you are?

Hanging Out On The Front Porch

Searching For Buried Treasure

Doing An Impression Of A Powdered Sugar Doughnut

My Boys In Their Snow Drift Recliner
 February 8, 2013  Posted by  Cooper, General Tags: ,  14 Responses »