Monday, May 20, 2024

Mug Shot Monday: Another Broken Egg

 



I went on a little road trip recently, and added to my mug collection. The mug shown here is NOT the one I bought (that's a very pretty, inspirational orange color) but rather the one I was served my coffee in at breakfast. However the glaze is very similar to one of two dish sets I received as wedding presents many, many years ago. I was really rather fond of it even if most of the dishes didn't make it much past our first anniversary. 

As I mentioned, I did buy one of these mugs because they're such a comfortable fit for my hand. I fell in love with the shape. And I love the glaze choices. There's also a chicken on it. I love chickens!

It's not particularly big--and I do love my big mugs, too!--but I've been using it every day since I got it home. Which, considering that I bought three other mugs, is causing a twinge of guilt. 

Btw, I really love breakfasts, too. And I haven't found all that many (what I consider) GREAT breakfast restaurants since leaving Northern California. Another Broken Egg Cafe, is definitely up there! IOW, it's more than just pretty mugs. lol!  


Monday, May 13, 2024

Mug Shot Monday: Jade's Mug

 



I bet you thought that, it being the day after Mother's Day, I'd post a mug that belonged to my mother. But nope! I've gone the other way. Here's a mug that belongs to my daughter-in-law. She's a mother, after all, so why not?  Also she's British and loves tea so there's another reason. 

This mug is fabulous. It's part of a set of dishes--their only set, because they're as minimalist when it comes to things like that as I am...well, NOT minimalist. Like, not at all. I admire the aesthetic. I admire the fuck out of it. But I couldn't maintain that lifestyle if my life depended on it. 

Anyway, their current house style is very Modern Gothic Chic, and I'm a huge fan.



Monday, May 6, 2024

Mug Shot Monday: Port Aransas Mug








 This is the mug I picked up last September (at least I think it was September) in Port Aransas--which was my first beach vacation in I don't know how long. It was lovely and Mustang Island has the most laid back, islandy vibes of anyplace I've ever been in the United States. Well, less Hawaii, of course. But, honestly, most of Hawaii feels more American than Port Aransas. Go figure. 

I enjoyed it a lot even if I will never understand people who tell me that a trip to the Gulf of Mexico is just like a trip to the ocean.  Bruh. Tell me you've never seen waves without telling me you've never seen waves. 

I mean...yes, if you fall overboard in the Gulf of Mexico I'm sure your experience will not be substantially different than if you were to find yourself similarly situated in an actual ocean. Well...you might conceivably find yourself in warmer water, but that probably won't help all that much. But from the point of view of someone seated on the shore, there are pretty noticeable differences.  Other than in hurricanes, I suppose. 

Whatever. I'm a big fan of water--oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, swimming pools, splash pads, garden fountains...they all have their places. I'm a pisces, what can I say? Right now I'm living as far from the coast as I have ever been. The saving grace has been the abundance of rivers and swimming holes. There are lots of supposed lakes, but really, those are just places where the rivers have been widened a bit. It seems impossible, but I believe I read somewhere that there's only ONE non-man-made lake in all of Texas. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know. 

The rivers themselves are absolutely beautiful, however. 

Anyway, let's get back to talking about this mug. I love the aqua-turquoise-teal-whatever you call it color of the glaze. In a previous life, ie when I was living in Costa Mesa/Newport Beach I painted my dining room table that color with Magenta Chairs. It's also the color I chose for my mother's urn. That, of course, is ENTIRELY unrelated except that I thought she'd like the color, too.  

I also like the contrast between the glossiness of the top part and the sand-textured unglazed bottom portion. In fact it's become sort of a theme for the majority of my Texas-themed mugs. (case in point, my Salt Lick BBQ mug). And in coming weeks, I'll showcase some of the other mugs as well. But for now, I'll leave you with this excerpt (from A Sight to Dream Of) showing Marsha setting the table for her dinner with Sam. I think this mug would fit her vibe as well.



“Hey, who’s the extra place for?” Jesse wanted to know

Marsha looked up from the salad she was fixing to find both boys regarding her curiously. She had set the round kitchen table for four tonight, her mind so preoccupied with other thoughts, she’d hardly noticed what she was doing. 

She stared at it now, in bemusement, as though she were seeing it through her sons’ eyes. 

A runner made of a cheerful Guatemalan striped fabric, mostly fuchsia, yellow and turquoise was laid across the center, and her wrought iron moon and star candlestick holders, a birthday present from Celeste which usually stood on her altar, were set on either side of a vase of sunflowers.  

What was I thinking? She hadn’t even noticed all the work she’d put into her efforts to impress Sam. She’d actually gone to the trouble of finding four matching plates, and she’d dug up matching silverware, as well. All the while insisting to herself that she was indifferent. Obviously, she didn’t know herself as well as she thought she did.  

“A friend of mine is joining us for dinner,” she said, trying for that tone of finality that had served her so well when the boys were younger.

But either she was out of practice, or the boys were too grown up to fall for it anymore. “Oh, yeah? Who?” Frank pressed, crunching on one of the carrots she’d planned to grate into the salad. Oh well, she guessed the salad had enough color already.

Marsha sighed. “No one you guys know. Someone I met over the weekend. Actually, he’s going to be renting the cabin for a few weeks.”  

“He?” Jesse asked, and she could feel their interest spike. “You have a friend who’s a he now?” He gazed at her as if she’d suddenly announced an interest in…sky diving, or alligator wrestling. But no, Marsha decided reluctantly, he’d probably find either of those ideas less incongruous.  

“And what do you mean, he’s staying at the cabin? How come? Where does he usually live?” Frank was far too young to sound so old. Marsha glanced at him uneasily. He sounded like his father. Or maybe even her father. Now there was a chilling thought.

“He lives in New York,” she said as she turned away from the salad, to check on the rice. She’d planned a very simple meal, nothing elaborate. Red beans and rice, grilled vegetables, the salad, and some tortillas which she’d put in the oven to warm.

At least I didn’t go overboard with cooking. Certainly, this wasn’t the kind of dinner that would give anyone the wrong idea. Then she remembered the homemade Sangria chilling in the refrigerator. That might have been a bit over the top, but it had seemed like a good idea at the time.

“So, does this mean...you’re dating a tourist?” Jesse sounded incredulous. Which was just about the response she figured she could count on getting from anyone who saw them together, or even heard about it, later.  

Sam had been way off-track this afternoon. She had not been embarrassed; but she knew, far better than he ever could, the kinds of conclusions to which everyone who knew her would jump. She knew the eager speculation she would see gleaming in her friends’ eyes. Knew how those same eyes would darken with sympathetic outrage when it ended. She knew it all. She’d seen it all. She just wasn’t sure she was ready to go through it all again.

“Let’s get this straight. I am not dating anyone. Okay?” It really shouldn’t be too hard for them to fathom this. After all, she hadn’t been out on even one single date since she and their father had divorced.  

Which meant she hadn’t enjoyed one single romantic interlude in their entire lives.  Jeez.

The thought was so amazingly depressing, she was surprised when her wrist veins didn’t just pop open by themselves. But it still didn’t alter the fact that she was not dating Sam. He was just someone she enjoyed spending time with. That’s all. “I told you,” she said, very firmly. “He’s a friend.”

A friend. She wasn’t sure herself, how or when it had happened, but somewhere along the way, a line had been crossed.   

She’d noticed the change during lunch. He was warmer than before, more relaxed somehow, and much less wary of her. And he kept gazing at her with a gentle amusement in his glance that would have spelled real trouble for her, if he’d still been radiating the same level of desire as he had the night before.  

But along with the other changes, she’d been chagrined to discover that the sensual awareness she’d grown accustomed to feeling around him had altered, as well. She didn’t think it had diminished, exactly. Or maybe she just didn’t want to admit that it had. She preferred to believe that he had simply locked those feelings away somewhere deep inside him. Someplace she couldn’t sense them at all. 

They’d stayed talking at the diner for far too long after they’d finished their lunch.  Much longer than he’d planned—something she realized only when he was dropping her back off at the shop.  

“When do you finish up here?” he asked, with a worried look at his watch. He had computer equipment to pick up and drop off. And on top of that, he now had to stop by the station and see Nick, as well. He’d never be able to do everything he had to, and still be back before she closed.

“Look, don’t worry about how long it’s going to take you,” she told him. “I don’t live all that far from here. I’ll walk home. That way you can just bring the van back there whenever you’re done.”

He shot her an odd look. Hooded, dark, almost predatory, but it was gone again so quickly, she couldn’t be sure she hadn’t just imagined it.  

“Are you sure? I’d hate to put you to any trouble.”

“It’s no trouble,” she assured him, writing the address down on a piece of scrap paper. She could walk home through the greenbelt, as the intricate network of parks and footpaths that threaded its way through Oberon was called. She got a vivid mental image of herself doing just that, in the warm September twilight. In her vision, she was carrying a couple of grocery sacks, and tingling with a pleasant sense of anticipation. Of course, she thought, as the idea unfolded in her mind. She could stop, on the way, at the produce stand in the next block after work and pick up some fresh vegetables to grill for dinner. 

Dinner. The lamplight gleaming in his eyes. The pleasant clink of china and silverware. The animated murmur of voices.

Her fingers fumbled as she removed the car key from her key ring. She trusted him, she reminded herself, as she handed the key over to him. And it was just a car. 

“Just don’t drive, too fast, okay?” She laid one palm against the side of the van, adding just a little more power to the shell of protective white light that was already there. “I don’t think it’s used to maneuvering as quickly as you are.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he answered, very politely, his mouth quirking into a small smile. “Anything else I should know about it?”  

“No, I don’t think so.” She paused. “So…when you get back, would you like to stay and have dinner with us?”

“Us?”

“My sons and me.”

“Oh, right. Right.” He nodded, letting out a deep breath and blinking, once or twice. And then he smiled at her. “Yes, that sounds wonderful. Thank you.” It was a nice smile. Pleasant. Warm. Friendly.  

She hurried inside then, reluctant to watch him even get into the driver’s seat. She stomped down hard on the images that tried to form in her mind. Images of long, supple fingers making delicate adjustments to the mirrors; sliding caressingly over the steering wheel; cupping the ball of the stick shift in the palm of his hand, with a firm, sure grip.  

She kept herself very busy all afternoon, not thinking about the van. She compiled a grocery list of things to pick up for dinner. She decided what merchandise to discount for Saturday’s sidewalk sale. She picked out a new Enya CD. I can play it this evening.  She went over her inventory of beeswax candles and chose a pair of lemon-yellow tapers to fit in her candlestick holders. They’ll look perfect on my table. Then she sampled some of Lucy’s new amber scented massage oil; selected a few sticks of ginger-flower incense to use tonight, as well; and finally decided she couldn’t live any longer without a pair of aquamarine, peridot and blue topaz earrings she’d had her eye on for over a month.

Shopping was a good form of therapy, and less expensive than most. But when she considered the state of her bank account, and her rapidly shrinking profit margin, she was thankful that the afternoon had not dragged itself out any longer than that.

“So, when is this friend supposed to get here?” Frank asked.

“Any minute now,” Marsha answered casually, listening to the rapidly approaching hum of a familiar engine. “Why don’t you get the door?”



 A Sight To Dream Of

Oberon Book 2.0


Sam Sterling is a man with problems.  Including a partner who is trying to kill him, and a nosy reporter, who's just turned up dead! It's going to take a miracle to save him.  Or, better yet, an angel.

 Marsha Quinn is used to being called a witch.  After all, her abilities as a psychic make a lot of people uncomfortable.  But no one has ever called her an angel before! 

 

Falling in love was not a possibility she'd ever envisioned, until Sam the skeptic arrives in Oberon, and teaches her to see past the scars she carries, and the lies he's told her, to the love that lies within their hearts and minds.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

How About Those Bears?


 So let's talk about bears. By now, you're no doubt aware that all across the interwebs (do they still even call it that?) men are losing their minds over the idea that some women (most, probably) would rather encounter a bear in the woods than a man.

I've found this whole thing very interesting. Not just because I happen to be a woman who's actually had several unexpected, up close and personal, bear encounters while camping* but also because twenty-one years ago, when my book A Sight to Dream Of was released, it included this passage: 


She watched as he took off his helmet and climbed off his bike. Watched as he walked to within several feet of her and stopped, his hands jammed into the pockets of his jacket, just as they’d been the last time she’d seen him.  

“Hello, Marsha,” he said, his voice as warm as she remembered it.

“What are you doing here, Sam?” Her own voice sounded as hollow as she felt.

He looked away, shrugging a little as he answered. “I thought you’d maybe be out here tonight. And...I guess I was worried. What with that bear around, and all.”

Fury all but stole her breath away. Lies. More lies. Always lies! “Oh, right. The bear. How could I have forgotten? Thanks all the same, but given the choice, I think I’d rather take my chances with a bear than with you!”


So...I think that probably answers the question of where I might stand on the subject, don't you? And, yes, Marsha was over-reacting and being somewhat unfair. It's not that she felt physically unsafe with Sam. But from the standpoint of her emotional health, a bear still seemed the better choice at that moment.

Which brings up an important pointEven though Marsha was referring to a specific man (ie Sam) rather than a hypothetical man, the man in question did not get insulted. He didn't question her reasoning or try and convince her that she was wrong, or tell her that she clearly didn't understand bears. He understood that he had messed up and didn't expect her to sacrifice her own well being in an effort to shore up his fragile ego.

Actual men, on the other hand, have been furious at the perceived insult--which only proves the women's point and makes it  even more obvious to everyone watching exactly why so many women have picked the bear. 

Just to be clear, I'm talking about the men who have said things like, "Oh, you say you were stalked by a man for two years? Well, so what? You're still here, aren't you? You obviously survived. If you'd been stalked by a bear you'd have been dead within two minutes."

Or, "So, you're telling me you were attacked by men on three different occasions during the course of your childhood alone, but never once by a bear? That's actually pretty good odds, don't you think? I mean, considering how many more men you've been around all your life than bears..."

Or, "Why can't you understand this? You would never survive a bear attack. You can't outrun it, you can't outfight it. You would at least have a chance of fighting off a man."

And then there was the man who, when the women said things like, "at least a bear wouldn't hit me in the face with a brick if I said no to being attacked; at least a bear wouldn't lock me in a basement and torture me for weeks before killing me; at least if I told people I was attacked by a bear they'd believe me," have gotten furious and responded with stuff like, "Don't talk to me about your mere weeks of torture. Don't project your paranoid phobias onto me! My mother tortured me for YEARS, that doesn't mean I HATE ALL WOMEN!"

Dude, really? Are you sure about that? Because it kind of sounds like maybe you do.

But I think my favorite is still the guy who said something to the effect of, "With most normal men, if you were alone in the woods with them, the worst that would happen would be that they might hit on you."

Yeah, bro; that's the problem. You think that's acceptable behavior. We keep trying to tell you that it's not. Is that really the best men can do? Is harassment the most we can hope to receive from an encounter with a man--at a time when we're already feeling vulnerable and wishing we'd encountered a bear instead?

That, right there, is why women choose the bear.

Let me see if I can make this any more clear. Of course we know that the bear could kill us. But (and I guess this needs to be said?) so could you. In fact, anyone's odds of being killed by a man--any day of the week, anywhere in the world--is exponentially much, much greater than their chances of being killed by a bear.   

Which means YOU should probably choose the bear, as well!




* Most of my bear encounters occurred while I was camping in Yosemite and (disclaimer) all of them involved black bears. One week we had bears in our campsite every night that we were there. Not just in the park, not just in the valley, not just in the campground, in. Our. Campsite. And we were in tents so, not exactly protected. Some of these bears broke into cars elsewhere in the campground looking for food. Not our car, because we always took the safety guidelines seriously, especially when we were camping with kids.

The most memorable incident occurred on the fourth of fifth night of our stay. I had just cleaned up after dinner and was putting everything away in the (oh, the irony!)  bear-safe locker that the park had provided. When I was done, I turned around to discover that there was a bear sticking his nose in a cup of hot chocolate. A cup that happened to be in the hands of the child standing right next to me. 

It's shocking how quietly bears move, especially considering how massive they are. Even the small ones. This was not the biggest bear I'd seen that week, but it was definitely full grown.

Anyway, I very carefully took hold of the child's arm and pulled him slowly around behind me. Later said child would tell his mother how brave I'd been. Not true. The prospect of having to face my friend and explain that I'd let her child get eaten by a bear was much more terrifying than facing down a non-aggressive bear.

But to continue...the bear looked at me (disappointed: where'd the hot chocolate go?). I looked at the bear and the next thing I know my dog is barreling out of our tent, barking furiously...all the way up until the moment when she came face to face with the bear, at which point she STFU and slowly backed away (oops. so sorry. my bad). 

The bear looked at the dog then back at me. I continued to stare at the bear because...well, what else was there to do? After a moment, apparently concluding that he was not going to be offered a cup of cocoa after all, the bear turned and padded silently away.  

And we all went on with our evening. 


Monday, April 29, 2024

Mug Shot Monday: Bennington Potters Mug






I know I've mentioned in at least one of my earlier posts how much my mother (from whom I inherited my love of dishware) loved blue. This was one of her mugs, probably from the 60s. 

When I was a child my family used to spend vacations in Wilmington Vermont at the Adams Family Farm which is (sadly) no longer operational. We also spent a lot of time in nearby Bennington, home of Bennington Potters, makers of the mug in question. 

They still make these mugs. The closest current glaze they offer is the green elements. This one is more of a dark, robin's egg blue. 

Most nights, we would go for a walk after dinner and pick wildflowers. I still have a scrapbook from one of our earliest trips with flowers pressed between the pages. 

The flowers in the background picture are in Texas. I took the picture a short distance from my house. The flowers this year are amazing. 




Here's a link to Such Fleeting Pleasures, the Oberon/A Taste of Honey prequel in which Dan reminisces about spending time as a child at his family's nursery. 





Such Fleeting Pleasures

An Oberon Prequel Novella

Download Linkhttps://dl.bookfunnel.com/5xxljdbblb

Love wasn't always strawberries and cream for Lucy and Dan Cavanaugh...or was it? In this Oberon prequel, we travel back in time to see how it all began. 

Most of the material in this prequel novella (set some eighteen years before the series begins) also appears as flashback scenes in A Taste of Honey, which will re-release next month.

A rivals to lovers, workplace romance.






Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/61xbi1LMskkfXaYLhIV0Cr

Monday, April 22, 2024

Mug Shot Monday: She Is This/Starbuck Collab Mug


 

So here's the thing. Did I really need to buy another new mug this morning? No I did not. I've been posting mugs every week for the past six months and have still only scratched the surface of my collection. Did I (even more specifically) really need to purchase another too-small, ceramic travel mug that's breakable, leakable, and not exactly insulated--you know, all the things I've been complaining about when it comes to my Sift mug? Oh, hell no. We know damn well I didn't. 

BUT...I've been seeing this mug for several weeks now. Every time I got my lavender oatmilk latte fix it's been there. Calling to me. Saying, "Pick me! Buy me! Take me home! You know you want to!"

I was at Target last week and there was only one left. When I went this morning, I told myself if it was still there, I was giving into temptation. Today was the day.  

Its vibrant colors are so bright and cheerful. The artist/designer (Shae Anthony, owner/founder of This Is She) had this to say about it:  “I want you to see that color grab you that you immediately feel happy.”  To which I can only say: Mission. Freaking. Accomplished.

We've had gray, gray, gray overcast weather all week. And I like foggy days, so that's not usually an issue for me, but it's muggy and indecisive--like the weather's thinking: "Feeling cloudy today. Might rain later. IDK." And I am OVER it. 

(Especially since those gray skies also came with a tornado warning, which--nope, nope, nope. Whole lotta nope. Don't come at me with that sorta shit. I don't have a basement to take shelter in. I have a closet under the stairs that's filled with boxes--that are largely filled with MUGS, btw, so I am fucked if it comes to that. Seriously. Give me earthquakes ANY day.) 

This is precisely the kind of weather (less the tornado watches--'cause Jersey weather doesn't do that to you either) that caused me to move to Southern California in the first place.  You rarely see this sort of weather in and around Los Angeles and then it's only in winter (and it's NOT muggy) and you find yourself humming California Dreamin' and feeling smug AF because even if the leaves are brown (they're actually not, btw) and the sky is gray you are safe and warm.

But I digress...

I love this mug. The designer attributes the color combination to the fact that she's "a ‘90s baby, and my style gravitates toward those kinds of colors and patterns." I am NOT a '90s baby, myself (in point of fact, I actually HAD a '90s baby). But those neon shades were also used extensively in the early '60s so I gravitate to them as well. 

In fact they're bringing up VIVID memories of my childhood. My dad had a dress factory (formal wear) and used to bring home scraps of neon-colored chiffon for me to play with. 

Actually...that's probably not why he brought them home, come to think of it, but that's what happened. 



Monday, April 15, 2024

Mug Shot Monday: Red Barn Bakery





 So I've been working a little on a new series that will be debuting next year, and took a little drive out to Lockhart for those quaint, small-town Texas vibes. On the way, we stopped at the Red Barn Bakery in Martindale for pie and coffee. 

If the mugs were for sale, I for sure would have bought one. Sadly, however, I had to be content with a picture. But I have a pretty good idea what the official Heartwood mugs will look like now. 


New Series Announcement

Now Available for Pre-Order!

Texas Heat will be your go-to for bingeable small town romance with spice. Let's turn up the heat and get to spreading those pages.





Texas Heat

Links




Heartwood Playlist (a work-in-progress)


Fall For You: Texas Heat 
 Heartwood, Texas: Book One ​ 


Welcome to Heartwood! ​ Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, the small town of Heartwood is a charming and welcoming place where you'll instantly feel at home. ​ 

Tessa Barnes couldn’t wait to leave Heartwood in her rearview mirror—even if it meant breaking two hearts in the process. Now, with her career on hiatus and her great-aunt in need of help as she recovers from concussion, Tess finds herself right back where she started, older but not much wiser, and about to make all the same mistakes all over again. 

 Cooper Donahue doesn’t believe in looking back. As the chef/manager of his family’s new farm-to-table restaurant, he’s got his hands full. With a goal of turning his legacy into a must-see, Hill Country destination, his focus is on the future. The past? He’d rather that stayed buried. The last thing he needs (or wants) is to dig up those old feelings or fall back in love with his ex—especially when she’s already got one foot out the door. Again.