Monday, September 30, 2013

Pictures from 2013 ACFW Conference in Indianapolis

Earlier this month I went to the 2013 ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. Not only did I enjoy seeing my beautiful agent Tamela Hancock Murray and the agency CEO Steve Laube, I had the pleasure of hanging out with my writer pal Cherie Burbach who lives across the country from me. And I got to see a bunch of my other buddies! I wish I had taken more pictures, but at least I managed to take a few. Here they are:

With my literary agent Tamela Hancock Murray

With my pal Cherie Burbach

With longtime conference buddy Lena Nelson Dooley

With friend and Bloomfield neighbor Martha Rogers

With friend and fellow "Bad Hair" devo author Kristin Billerbeck

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tickled Pink - Coming Soon!

The release date of Tickled Pink has been pushed back to October. I'm excited that Priscilla, Laura, Trudy, Tim, and Celeste will discover even more about their classmates and themselves as they head to Piney Point, Mississippi, for their 20th high school reunion.

Here's a blurb:

Priscilla Slater shows up at her 20-year reunion as a national celebrity. Her hair salon dynasty has skyrocketed, and to top it off, she has her own line of hair products. She has become a huge success with the “Ms. Prissy Big Hair” line that lets women with the thinnest of locks get the coveted “big hair” look so popular in the South. Her classmates have finally come to terms with adulthood, but they’re handling it with the grace of a Southern woman wearing white after Labor Day. It’s just downright awkward! Asserting the maturity that her classmates have often lacked, Priscilla holds her head high. But she can’t ignore everything. When she catches her mother in the arms of her former high school principal, Priscilla can’t get out of town fast enough. Eager to get back to her more comfortable life, Priscilla runs head-on into an ultimatum: Tim tells her they’re not getting any younger—as if she has to be reminded.

Click on any of the following links to order Tickled Pink:
Barnes and Noble
Books a Million

I loved writing this series and getting to know the characters as they matured over the years. When people ask which character I most relate to, I can honestly say a little bit of all of them. I would love to hear from readers, so please email me at

Monday, September 23, 2013


Since we can't always get exactly what we want or need, I believe in being creative and using things you can find around the house to solve little daily problems. Who says each item can only be used for whatever it was designed?

Here are some ways you can repurpose items:

Old Doors – Turn an old door into a coffee table. Sand it down, paint or stain it, and add spindles or other wooden structure for legs.
Old door repurposed as a coffee table
Photo courtesy of Jusben/

Old Wooden Ladder – Turn it to a vertical position, hang it on the wall, and use it as a bookshelf or knickknack rack.

Chipped Coffee Cups and Glasses – Don't toss a cup or glass into the trash just because it has a small chip. Use it to display cut flowers. If you turn it around so the chip is facing the wall, no one has to know it isn't perfect.

Dish Rack – Use your old dish rack to store your file folders upright.

Squirt Bottles – After you finish using the last of the ketchup, wash out the bottle and use it for something else you can squirt, like pancake batter.

Cork Board – Add some push pins or decorative thumbtacks and use it as a jewelry display. You'll be able to keep your necklaces from tangling, and they'll be lined up, making it easier to find the perfect piece for each outfit.

Old Rake – Another idea for displaying your accessories is to cut off the handle of a rake, hang the tine section on your wall, and use it for your necklaces or scarves.

Old Socks – Turn any sock into a puppet by adding felt eyes, nose, and ears. You can also fill them with lint from the dryer and turn them into stuffed animals or holiday decorations. 
Turn an old white sock into
a holiday decoration.
Photo courtesy of LadyHeart/

Paper Coffee Filters – Use them to separate your dishes or nonstick cookware.

Egg Cartons – You can use empty egg cartons for a variety of things around the house. When your child wants to paint, dribble a little bit into each section to prevent the colors from running together. You can use them for beading or anything else with small pieces.

Last Year's Lunch Box – Your child might want a new lunch box every year, but that's not a good reason to toss the old one. Use it for other things, such as a carrying case for electronics accessories, place to store receipts or manuals, or a first aid kit. Don't forget to label it before putting it away.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

My husband and I both work out quite a bit, and we're not getting any younger, so we occasionally have aches and pains. Neither of us likes to take painkillers, so we try to take care of our health as naturally as possible. In addition to other things I've mentioned on this blog (hanging upside-down on an inversion table, using my Aurawave T.E.N.S. unit, various massagers, etc.) I use as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible in recipes. Here is one that Wally and I both enjoy.

Blend the following ingredients until the consistency is smooth:
  • 1/2 cup frozen organic blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets
  • 10 walnut halves
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
Makes enough for 1 very large smoothie or 2 small ones. It makes a delicious between-meal snack or dessert.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Spa Day at Home

For anyone who enjoys being pampered, a day at the spa is fun and relaxing. However, it's not always possible to do that. Whether it's money, time, or distance holding you back, there is an alternative. Try a spa day at home. With a few inexpensive products and some items you're likely to have around the house, you can give yourself a quick pick-me-up and be ready for whatever you have to deal with later.


I frequently do facials, but I like to vary them according to what my skin seems to need. Here are some things I do:
  • When my skin is dry – I mix 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1/2 avocado (eat the other half for internal health). I slather that over a clean face, place a chilled cucumber slice over each eye, and lie down for about 20 minutes. It's easy to rinse off, and you'll feel moisturized and refreshed afterward.
  • When my skin needs tightening – I separate the yolk from the white of an egg and discard the yolk. Then I smooth the remaining egg over my face (avoiding the under eye area) and lie down. It takes about 10-15 minutes for the egg to dry. After that happens, remain lying down for another 15-20 minutes before rinsing your face. Your skin should feel tighter for several days.
  • When my skin is rough or dull – I use my Neutrogena microdermabrasion gizmo that you can purchase at almost any drugstore. Afterward, I always moisturize with a cream that has extra nutrients.

Achy Feet

At the end of a long day—particularly one when I've done a lot of standing—I like to soak my feet in Epsom salts. I don't know why those little crystals work, but they do. I generally sleep much better that night.

Achy Back

Like most people who sit at their computers for hours on end, my back often feels tight or achy by mid-afternoon. I have discovered several things that help:
  • Fitness ball – Sit on an inflated but squishy fitness ball with your feet flat on the floor in front of you and do a gentle bounce for about 5 minutes. This helps strengthen your core. Here is an example of a more advanced way to do this: Ball Bounce Intermediate Warmup.
  • Inversion table – I like to hang upside-down on my TeeterHang-Ups inversion table once or twice a day. It helps realign my spine and relieves the pressure.
  • Vibration or Shiatsu massaging cushions – I lean my back against a cushion that vibrates for about 15-20 minutes most nights. That increases the circulation to the area and promotes healing. I've had one made by Homemedics in the past, but now I'm using one by Dr. Scholl's. They're inexpensive and can be found in most big-box stores and some drugstores.
  • T.E.N.S unit – I use the Aurawave T.E.N.S. unit that delivers electrical current to my muscles. These little gizmos are amazing and provide relief that lasts for hours and sometimes days.

Achy Body

If I ache all over, I pull out the bath salts and dump a bunch of it into a tub of very warm water. If you don't have bath salts, use your Epsom salts instead. Then climb in and lie back for a few minutes. You should feel the tension fade away. For an extra treat, sip cold beverage while you soak. After you get out and dry off, slather your body with your favorite moisturizer.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Where to Find Healthy Recipes

As my daughters went through various phases of liking or not liking foods, I spent quite a bit of time flipping through my 100+ cookbooks to find something new that they would eat. It was often a challenge since they had totally different preferences. For example, one of them wouldn't eat cheese and the other loved it. Fortunately, my husband will eat almost anything I put on the table, even if he doesn't care for it, but I can still tell when he isn't crazy about a food by whether or not he asks if there are seconds.
Photo courtesy of Max Straeten/

Through the years, I noticed that I used about a dozen of my cookbooks more than the rest, so I purged. And now that the Internet has so much information, I've discovered that it's even easier to go there first. I've discovered a few favorite places that have delicious, healthy recipes that are fairly simple to cook.

Whether you are a parent who needs to find delicious recipes for your picky toddler or someone who likes healthy food to taste good, you'll enjoy some of the recipes I've found on these sites:

  • Publix Aprons - The folks at Publix have expanded their Aprons offerings to the Internet, so when I'm pressed for time and don't have time to go to the store, I can find what I'm looking for on their site.
  • Mayo Clinic - You might be surprised to learn that the Mayo Clinic has a section on their website dedicated to helping people who have to follow specific diet programs, such as low-sodium, vegetarian, and low-sugar.
  • Eating Well - This site is full of recipes, articles, and videos - all related to healthy eating. It's easy to spend hours there, learning about nutrition.
  • Food Network - Yes, even the Food Network has a section dedicated to healthy eating. This is where you'll find recipes from your favorite celebrity chefs.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Enjoy Healthy Snacks!

Whether you are trying to drop a few pounds or maintain a healthy weight, you'll need to follow some basic principles. First, don't take in more calories than you expend. Second, you need to make every calorie count by eating healthy foods. And third, don't deny yourself too much, or your cravings might be too strong to fight.

Snacking is one way I keep from getting ravenous or having too many cravings. Here are a few healthy snacks that help keep me on track:

  • Fruit and nut trail mix - You can make this with dried fruits and your favorite nuts, or you can purchase it already made. Just check the ingredient list to make sure it doesn't have too much added sugar.
  • Fruit slices -  You can dip apples, pears, or oranges in peanut butter or vanilla flavored yogurt for extra flavor and nutrition.
  • Baked tortilla strips - Cut a tortilla into strips, bake until crisp, and dip in hummus. Yum!
  • Vegetable chips - Slice zucchini, summer squash, or beets into thin strips, spray them with olive oil or cooking spray, salt lightly, and bake until crisp. Dip in yogurt or hummus.
  • Vegetable and fruit smoothies - My favorite one is green.
  • Peanut butter and chocolate - Yes, you can enjoy one of your favorite flavor combinations if you do it sparingly. Spread 1 teaspoon of natural peanut butter on 2 squares of dark chocolate. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Making Life Easier

Once again, I have a list of solutions for everyday problems (or opportunities if you prefer to stay positive). Most of them have worked for me in the past, but there are no guarantees they'll work for you. At least try them, and if you discover something better, please let me know.

Easy solutions:

  • If you have a nick on dark-stained wood furniture and don't have any stain on hand to cover it, try a dab of dark brown shoe polish. 
  • Keep a blanket in your trunk in case you ever get stuck in the mud. It gives you the traction you'll need to get unstuck.
  • If you have bugs in your pantry, place a few sticks of spearmint gum on the shelves. Most critters don't care for the strong smell.
  • When washing a new pair of jeans for the first time, toss a handful of salt into the washer. It will help lock in the dye, and it will soften the fabric to make them even more comfortable.
  • Do you like your laundry soft, but you're out of fabric softener? Try tossing a couple of tennis balls into the dryer, and you might never purchase fabric softener again.
  • For scrambled eggs-to-go, whip them up as you normally would, pour them into muffin tins that have been sprayed with cooking spray, and bake in a 350-degree oven until they are firm. You may add cheese and veggies if you prefer. After they cool, you can store them in a zip-lock bag in your freezer for those mornings when you're too rushed to cook.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Conference Manners

This seems to be the month of conferences. I had to choose between the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis and the event in New York. This year, I'm attending the one for ACFW.

Most of the people I see at conferences know how to behave, but there are always a few exceptions. When you're in a crowded room with hundreds of other people, all there for the same reasons, it's essential to follow a few basic rules.

Here are some guidelines for conference behavior: