Author Archives: Kitty

About Kitty

A Midwestern girl who keeps getting transplanted into bigger pots, I love to share what I'm learning on the journey. I may share bits of writing, information on a writing career, talk about what I'm reading, or try to explain how both running and chocolate have added happiness to my life. Welcome!

Read the First Chapter of LOVE AT THE FLUFF AND FOLD

Love at the Fluff and Fold by Kitty BucholtzIt’s finally time! My new book is out on pre-order! YAY! 😀

Love at the Fluff and Fold is ready to purchase, and you can read the first chapter right here. I’m so excited about this story, definitely my best book yet! I hope you enjoy reading this sneak peek!

Chapter One

Wilfred Larson buttoned his shirt and glanced up at his doctor. “So? What’s the verdict, Dill?”

Dr. Bob Dillon, Dill to his friends, wrote a few notes on Willie’s chart and said, “Clean bill of health. As always. Should have plenty of fishing in your future.”

“Wanna take the boat out tonight?” If there was one activity Willie loved most, it was fishing. Trout, bass, walleye, smelt – he loved them all. He and Dill had been fishing together since they were just out of diapers. He had the photo evidence to prove it.

“Let me ask the boss and I’ll text you.”

Willie nodded. He and Dill were quite proud of their texting skills these days. Not many of their retired friends had gotten on board with that particular method of communication, but Willie found that his nieces all stayed in touch more frequently if he texted them rather than called or emailed. No one wrote letters anymore since his wife, Velma, died.

Dill laid the chart down and leaned back against the counter in the small examination room at Loon Lake Hospital. “How’s Cassie these days? I haven’t seen her much.”

Willie slid off the exam table and tucked his shirt into his trousers. “She’s busy with her final papers and exams. Graduation’s coming up in a month or so and she wants to have perfect scores. You know how she is.”

Dill ran a hand through his snowy white hair. “Oh, yeah. Beth’s the same.”

Willie’s youngest niece, Cassie, had been driving back and forth to Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, about forty miles away, often carpooling with Dill’s granddaughter, Beth.

“How’s Cassie doing with, uh, you know.” Dill waved his hand vaguely through the air.

Willie shook his head. “Single and determined to stay that way, I guess. I wouldn’t say that Fletcher fella broke her heart as much as he humiliated her. Makin’ like you’re gonna ask a woman to marry you, and then high-tailing it outta town soon as the grass gets greener…that’s no kind of man for my Cassie.”

“If this were the Wild West, we could chase after him with shotguns.”

“If we’re chasing after folks with shotguns, seems like we shoulda started with Danny. But that ship’s sailed and I haven’t been able to turn it around for anything.”

Danny Kessler was like a son to Willie, just like Cassie was like a daughter. The two kids had grown up together in Loon Lake, had been all but joined at the hip since kindergarten. He’d thought for sure they’d wind up together. But just about the time the two of them had started noticing that their best friend was a little more interesting, a new girl had sailed into town and ruined everything. Danny had fallen hard for Bright Shiny, the not-so-secret nickname his friend Jax had given Lily.

“He still downstate doing construction?”

Willie nodded. “He’s been working his way up in that big construction company near Lansing. Getting promoted, doing more than they ask, getting noticed.” He didn’t try to keep the pride out of his voice. He’d been the one to give Danny his first hammer.

“Maybe you should drop a hint that Cassie’s available.”

Willie snorted. “Oh, he knows. He pretends he doesn’t care, but he’s been asking about her more since I mentioned it a few months ago. But if I can’t get the boy to come up and visit for anything but holidays, I don’t see how I can get them together again. Too bad I’m not dying,” he said as an afterthought. “That would put a fire under his behind for a visit.”

Dill chuckled. “Yeah, well, we’re all dying, aren’t we?”

“Sooner or later,” Willie agreed. Sooner or later…hmm. “You know,” he said slowly, his brow furrowing in thought, “it wouldn’t be a lie. You just said it yourself.”

Dill took a step toward the door and held up his hands as if warding off Willie’s words. He was used to Willie’s crazy ideas after sixty-odd years of friendship, but he didn’t like to hear them at first. “Hold on, where you going with this?”

Willie feigned an innocent expression. “I’m just repeating what my doctor told me. I’m dying. The kids should know so they can help me make my final plans. I’ll need both of them to help get my affairs in order. Right?”

Willie waited and was soon rewarded. Dill grinned and dropped his hands to his hips. His friend couldn’t resist the cockamamie plans they cooked up together.

“It just might work,” Dill said.

“We can make our plans tonight on the lake. Bring a notebook.”

Dill waggled his phone in the air. “We can use the notes app on our phones, remember?”

“Right, right,” Willie agreed. The two men were determined to be the most tech-savvy senior citizens in Loon Lake. Willie walked to the door and slapped Dill on the shoulder. “This’ll be fun. I’ve always liked Christmas weddings.”

* * *

Cassie walked as fast as she could to the administration building at Northwestern Michigan College. She needed to pick up her cap and gown before the office closed. Two more weeks and she’d be free of school. Finally.

She enjoyed taking classes, but she’d been working on her associate’s degree in hospitality management, and then her bachelor’s degree in business administration for seven long years. Thank goodness NMC had the University Center. She could get her bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University without having to move away from home. She’d thanked God for that innumerable times over the years.

While most of her classmates were locals, hardly anyone lived as far away from Traverse City as she did. And none of them planned on living in a town the size of little Loon Lake after graduation. She didn’t care what other people thought, though. She loved her hometown and planned to stay there. It had character.

And characters. Life was never dull, even on days she wanted it to be.

She turned in her paperwork a few minutes before five o’clock, breathed a sigh of relief, and headed for her car. During the forty-five minute drive back to Loon Lake, she thought of all the things she could do this summer since she wasn’t taking classes. She could relax. Go to the beach more. Go fishing with Uncle Willie more. Hang out with Tabitha and her kids more. Maybe she’d even get a dog.

On impulse, she pulled into Sonny’s Restaurant a mile from home to see what kind of pie they had today. The fruit pies were made with canned or frozen fruit this early in the year, but they had a banana cream, Uncle Willie’s favorite, and a chocolate silk, her Achilles heel.

Pulling into her parking space at the Loon Lake Fluff and Fold, she gathered her backpack, her purse, and the bag with the two pieces of pie, and headed upstairs to the apartment she’d shared with Uncle Willie since her mom died when she was fifteen.

Now that she was graduating, she’d need to decide the rest of her future. Like maybe getting her own place to live. Her uncle had been adamant about not taking out student loans, which was why it had taken forever to get her degrees. Earning the money to pay cash made college a part-time pursuit. But now she would start this next phase of her life debt-free. The pie was too small a thank-you for everything Uncle Willie had done for her, but he knew how much she loved and appreciated him. She really was blessed.

Which was something she needed to remind herself of now and then. Her mom was dead, she hadn’t seen her dad in years, her almost-fiancé had dumped her, her once-best-friend wouldn’t talk to her, and she was twenty-five years old still living at home. But that was the empty quarter of a very full glass.

Very full.

Upstairs, she dropped her bags in her room, found a place for the pie in the fridge, set out some ground beef to thaw, and wandered across the street to see if her uncle was in The Laughing Loon.

Uncle Willie was quite the businessman, and he’d taught her at least as much as she’d learned in college. He owned three businesses on this corner of Loon Lake – the Loon Lake Fluff and Fold, The Laughing Loon convenience store and gas station, and the Idle-Awhile Cabins. He’d sold the Cup and Cone Ice Cream Parlor before her mom died to help pay for Cassie’s and her sisters’ college tuition.

Since then, he’d worked with the Alexanders, local goat farmers, to sell small containers of goat’s milk ice cream and goat’s milk cheese at The Laughing Loon. It was a big hit with tourists and locals alike, and Uncle Willie got to continue feeding his ice cream habit.

A bell tinkled overhead as she walked into the store. She waved to a few customers she knew and stepped behind the counter to bag groceries while Uncle Willie rang up the items.

“Hello, darlin’,” he said with a smile in her direction. He pulled things out of the hand basket in front of him. “Oh, Nancy, I see you’re trying the new coconut passion fruit ice cream from Crooked Creek. This is a good one. Just came in yesterday.”

“You’ve tried it? I just love passion fruit.” Nancy Franklin was the history teacher at Loon Lake High, one of Cassie’s former teachers. She traveled every summer and brought back pictures and videos to show the kids what the rest of the world looked like. Cassie had loved that class. None of her college teachers had made learning as fun as wacky Mrs. Franklin.

“He thinks it’s his job to try all the ice cream before he sells it,” Cassie said, grinning at her uncle.

“It’s good business to make sure you’re selling quality products,” Uncle Willie insisted. “Kids these days.” He shook his head at Mrs. Franklin, who laughed with him.

Cassie helped him with two more customers, then gave him a hug hello in the lull.

“How was school today?”

“Good. Organizational Management is still kicking my butt. I’ll be glad when I never have to think about that again. Everything else is good.”

“I can’t tell you how proud I am. Graduating with honors. Your mother would be thrilled, but not surprised.”

Cassie leaned in and kissed his cheek. “Thanks, Uncle Willie. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“Well, that’s true,” he said, making Cassie giggle. “Kevin will be here in a few minutes, then we can go have supper together. Pick out a movie. You don’t mind staying in with an old man, do you?”

Cassie rolled her eyes. “Old Mrs. G is old. You’re just…”

Her uncle raised his eyebrows.

“Old-fashioned?” Cassie asked.

Uncle Willie grunted. But his eyes twinkled in fun.

Looking through the DVD rentals, Cassie picked an oldie-but-goodie that they both loved, RED, a spy comedy with Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. She checked it out behind the counter, told her uncle she’d meet him at home, and left to make dinner.

Before heading upstairs, she walked through the laundromat to make sure nothing needed attention. She’d been working for her uncle since she was ten, along with her once-best-friend, Danny Kessler, and she’d learned that providing good service in a clean and friendly atmosphere was key to bringing customers back time and again. She tended to check things anytime she passed to make sure their customers were getting what they deserved.

As it turned out, one of the washers was half full of dirty water. A handwritten note from CW Emerson, the town dog catcher and an EMT, explained “I swear I didn’t do anything to break it.”

Cassie laughed. This was the third time in six months that CW had a problem with a machine. She pulled out her phone and called Edge, Jax Edgerly’s older brother — no one called him Leroy. The leather-clad biker was a mechanical wizard who could fix anything with a motor. He promised to stop by the next day.

Sitting on the couch later, watching the movie with her uncle and eating her yummy pie, she thought about her very full glass of life. She still had plenty of friends from high school, and she’d become better friends with some, like Edge, now that they were adults. She and Tabitha had grown even closer as Danny drifted away. Even CW wasn’t the turd he was as a high school football quarterback. Of course, that new teacher, Lena Hart, had brought out CW’s best qualities lately.

Six months ago, Cassie thought she’d found a man who brought out her best qualities, a man she might fall in love with, maybe marry. But he hadn’t understood that when she said Loon Lake was her home, for now and always, she’d meant she wasn’t leaving. He’d taken a job in Grand Rapids in January and she hadn’t heard from him since.

Not exactly true love.

But that didn’t mean she couldn’t be happy. Like right this minute. She glanced at her uncle out of the corner of her eye. He’d been a major influence as long as she could remember. When her parents were fighting, he and Aunt Velma brought her and her sisters down to The Cup and Cone, made them laugh, and fed them ice cream.

When Danny’s dad drank too much and lost his temper, Uncle Willie and Aunt Velma kissed his bruises and fed him ice cream.

When both of their dads left their families within a year of each other, Uncle Willie and Aunt Velma smothered them in love and gave them stability. And ice cream.

From the time they were ten, Cassie and Danny had swept the Fluff and Fold’s floors, emptied the lint traps, run across to The Laughing Loon to buy quarters for customers, and counted out the money they earned together, imagining all the things they’d do when they got older.

Uncle Willie taught them both how to run a business, how to treat customers, how to level a two-by-four, and how to catch and clean and cook many a fish.

Cassie smiled at the TV. She may not have a husband and kids and a big life in the big city like her two older sisters, but she was genuinely happy.

When the movie ended, Uncle Willie turned to her and laid his hand on her arm. “I need to tell you something.”

Cassie felt a tiny frisson of alarm. His voice and expression were more serious than she’d seen in a long time. “Sure,” she said, trying to infuse the word with a calm that was quickly waning.

“I went to see Dill today for my annual checkup.”

Cassie felt a tremor in her stomach. Please, nothing bad. She’d lost too many people she loved.

“And?” she prompted when he didn’t say anything.

“Well…” He dropped his gaze as if he couldn’t tell her whatever it was if he were looking in her eyes. “I’m…I might be dying, honey. So there are some things we need to do.”

Cassie felt herself gasp, her hands suddenly covering her mouth. No, not this. Not yet.

Her uncle finally raised his gaze to hers, looking determined. “I need you and Danny to help me get my affairs in order. Can you do that? Will you work together and do what needs to be done? For me?”

“Of course!” Cassie threw her arms around his neck, trying to hide her tears from him. “Whatever you need. Anything at all. I promise.”

Uncle Willie held her tight for a moment, then pushed her away. “I called Danny earlier today. He’ll be here in the morning. Then I’ll explain what I know to both of you. Okay?”

Cassie nodded. She had a hundred questions, and she wanted to press Willie with questions now, not wait. But he rose from the couch and moved toward his room.

“I’m tired. I’m going to bed. I’ll see you in the morning, darlin’, okay?”

Cassie nodded again, not trusting her voice to work properly. He didn’t look well, couldn’t meet her eyes. Just how bad was it?

Lord, please don’t take him yet. I’m not ready.

* * *

Danny Kessler tried not to think as he shoved clothes in a suitcase. What did he need? How long would he be gone? He threw in T-shirts and jeans, a couple rougher pieces in case Uncle Willie needed some work done on one of the buildings, a couple nice shirts and khaki pants just in case of…

He shut down that line of thinking. He wasn’t going to die this week. They wouldn’t be planning a funeral. They just wouldn’t. But if he went to church with Cassie and Uncle Willie, he didn’t want to wear torn jeans and a T-shirt. He wasn’t in high school anymore.

He packed his computer bag with his laptop, a Wi-Fi device, his backup hard drive, and shoved his Kindle and a couple paperbacks into the space that was left.

What else?

He wanted to call Cassie. He desperately wanted to call Cassie. But Uncle Willie had said not to because he hadn’t told her yet.

His poor girl. She’d be all alone in the world. Well, she had her sisters, but she’d be all alone in Loon Lake. Who would look out for her?

Once again, a pain sliced through his gut. He used to be her hero, her knight, her best friend. He used to be the one who looked out for her, brought her wildflowers, shared her favorite pizza on the hood of his car while they watched the stars move across the sky.

And then he’d ruined everything.

Which was why coming home was so painful. The people he loved most were in Loon Lake. The ones he hadn’t hurt whispered behind his back. They must. That’s what small town folk do. And then there were the people who were just disgusted and disappointed in him, like his mother and his ex-wife’s family. Going home was simply not an option for him.

But if Uncle Willie needed him, he’d face the dragons for as long as necessary. When the crisis was over, of course, he’d flee back to Lansing where he’d tried to make a life for himself.

He looked around his one-bedroom apartment, trying to think of what else he might need. He threw in a load of laundry, putting everything he wanted to take in one load, hearing Cassie’s voice, as he always did, about separating whites and darks. Then he washed all his dishes, dumped a quart of milk down the sink, and pulled out his Igloo cooler to take the other perishables with him in the morning.

Working with his hands eased his mind. For a whole forty minutes, he didn’t have to think about what he would hear when Uncle Willie told him and Cassie what was wrong with his health — he wouldn’t say over the phone. When Danny was done, nothing else he could think of to do, he sat on the couch and let his mind wander.

Cancer? It was probably cancer. That’s what everyone died of nowadays. Would it be slow or fast? Would he suffer? Danny squeezed his eyes shut and tried to think of something else.

Maybe it was his heart. That would be better, right? Less pain? But death would come suddenly. Maybe he shouldn’t wait until tomorrow morning to drive up. If he left now, he could be there by midnight.

Danny pulled out his phone and texted Jax Edgerly, his best friend. Can I sleep on your couch tomorrow night? Don’t know for how long. A week or two?

A minute later, Jax replied. Sure. What’s up?

I’ll explain tomorrow. Thanks, brother.

He leaned his head back against the couch. God, please don’t let him die. Not yet. I’m not ready.

His phone rang, startling him. He felt his heart stumble in his chest when he saw the name on the screen. Sunshine. It was Cassie.

He should’ve changed the name in his phone’s address book. She hadn’t called him in two years, but the effect of seeing her nickname hadn’t dimmed. His chest squeezed just the same. Uncle Willie must’ve told her his news.

He held his phone tight, immobile with regrets. He’d messed up, then messed up again. Trying to minimize future damage, he’d said something stupid to hurt her so she wouldn’t contact him again. Unfortunately, it had worked. Three strikes.

But he couldn’t leave her hanging, alone, not when she must be hurting. He slid his thumb over the screen to answer.

“Hey,” he said, hearing the catch in his voice and hoping she hadn’t.

“Oh, Danny.” She cried into the phone without speaking for a minute. He squeezed the bridge of his nose and felt tears slipping out. Whether they were for her or for Willie, he wasn’t sure.

Finally, she spoke. “What are we going to do?”

He shook his head. He used to pride himself on having all the answers to her questions. But he’d been lost and without answers himself lately. Today in particular. “I’ll be there in the morning. We’ll figure it out.”

She didn’t say anything and he imagined she was trying to stop crying. “I wish you were here now,” she whispered.

Danny leaned forward over his knees, squeezing his eyes shut, trying to keep everything inside. He didn’t say anything. He wanted her, needed her, felt desperate to find comfort in her arms. But he was bad news, a disappointment, a screwup. She deserved far more.

“Will you be here for breakfast? I’ll make pancakes. I’ll go to the store and get some strawberries and Redi-Whip.”

His favorite. He felt a tug on his lips that would’ve been a smile if things weren’t so grim. “Maybe,” he finally said.

The silence grew, but it was the peaceful silence they used to share. There was a measure of comfort in the quiet.

Finally, she said, “Be safe, don’t drive too fast. I’ll have breakfast ready at eight, or whenever you get here. Be careful, Danny.”

“I will,” he managed.

Then she was gone.

How would he sleep now? He’d pushed her out of his head as best he could, tried to at least lock that door in his heart. He’d never be rid of her, but now he’d have to share her space, breath the air she breathed, feel the sunshine of her presence.

It just might kill him…if Uncle Willie didn’t die first.

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My Public Display of Dieting – July 2017

gelato burger

A gelato burger from Carrello’s – we cut ours in half and shared it

RESULTS: Gained 1 pound for a total loss of 21 pounds

I’ve put off this post until the very last day of July hoping that I will change what I’m doing and see some progress. I’m sad, disappointed, and frustrated to say that I haven’t changed any bad habits at all.

In fact, a Facebook Memory post from one year ago today said that I’d lost 28 pounds! But now I’m down to 21 – having gained 7 pounds in the last few months. Why?

Combination of things – an innocent bit of fun celebrating my birthday, followed by John staying home the last few months to write his next book, followed by a vacation to Michigan where we ate and drank every favorite and missed food, followed by us getting more and more down as we wait to find out when and where the next job will be.

I’m actually not that concerned about my birthday celebration, our anniversary celebration, or our vacation to Michigan and its accompanying overeating and drinking.

It’s the fact that I have no willpower to eat less when John is home cooking every day. I don’t have willpower to eat less when John eats a bigger serving. I don’t have willpower to eat less when I’m feeling down about our life situation. (Not knowing when you’re moving or where to is getting old.)

I don’t know (in fact, never knew) why in late December 2015 I decided I was done being overweight and out of shape and decided to do my 50 pounds in 50 weeks challenge. But I wish I could find that switch and flip it again!

I’ve been saying I want to be my fittest by the time I’m 50 – that’s about 34 weeks away. I could still lose 30 pounds in 34 weeks and win the prize! But what do I need to do inside my head to make that happen?

I’m usually pretty motivated and doing fairly well in the early parts of the day. It’s from about 3pm to bedtime that I’m going into the red calorie-wise and sugar-wise. I know it’s emotional eating. I guess I just have to dig deep inside and ask myself what I need to do to change my heart and mind. (Being by myself all day most days when John was at work all day, I did MUCH better – but because I hate to cook. John loves to cook, and I love to eat what he makes.)

It’s decision time.

What’s most important to me? The comfort of the moment? Or a long-term goal that will improve my health, peace, and happiness?

The same questions can sort of be applied to exercise. I’ve done almost none since the last race five months ago. Granted, I’ve been catching up on work that was put off during our hard times of the last few years. I’ve really been in the groove, putting out two titles already this year, with a third one coming out in August. Exciting!

But my back hurts more than ever. (I hurt it exercising about a year ago, and I haven’t done much to help it.) This is no small matter when you consider that a friend of mine had major back surgery last year and was told, if I’m repeating it correctly, that it was from sitting at a computer all day for years and not doing any stretching or strengthening. Even the weather can’t keep me from doing that because those are indoor activities.

And yet, I’ve barely done anything. (Though I am typing this post standing at my standing desk!)

Why am I writing all this here in a very public place? To shame myself into acting? Shame isn’t a huge motivator for me, actually. Shame would lead me to just stop posting about it. 😀

I’m posting because I need to confront myself and my decision-making process. I want to succeed.

I’m posting because some of you may have gone through – or are now going through – a similar soul-search, asking yourself “Why?”

I’m posting because hiding is not a positive action. We need positive actions to improve our health – physical, emotional, spiritual, the whole health of the whole person.

And if we keep working together, we can succeed together! 😀

Don’t stop trying! We can find a way to do this!

EXCITING NOTE: After I posted this, I went back through the blog here and found that I was still down 28 pounds in February when I ran the Round the Bays race here in Wellington. So I’d kept off those 28 pounds for 7 months! The weight gain started when John stayed home and cooked every day and my exercise decreased dramatically. Okay, that is information I can work with!!

Look at your calendar or think back to when things were going well. What’s changed? What can you do to get back into circumstances more conducive to better health? What circumstances can you change?

If I can make some changes and some progress in August, I’ll post more often and tell you what’s working for me…just in case it gives you ideas for you!

My Public Display of Dieting – June 2017

Kitty and John at Hobbiton, New Zealand

John and I in front of a Hobbit hole in Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand

RESULTS: Gained 4 pounds for a total loss of 22 pounds

I missed checking in last month because…well, I was going to say because I was busy, which I was. But honestly, I kept waiting for good news to post and it didn’t happen. Mostly because I didn’t really try – hahaha!

First we had my birthday celebration in March, then we ate some yummy things at Easter, then it was our anniversary and our anniversary trip in early May, then our two-week trip back home. So LOTS of extra eating and enjoying it and not trying to watch my calories much at all.

Chocolate Stout Pie slice

Grand Traverse Pie Company’s Chocolate Stout Pie – only in June

That being said, I DID write down everything I ate in the My Fitness Pal app. (I’ve entered what I’ve eaten every day for a year and a half now!) And I often had a protein shake for breakfast to start the day well…and so I could have Grand Traverse Pie Company pie for lunch every day. LOL!

Also, by the time we got to the last few meals of vacation (all the plane food from nearly 24 hours of flying), we were completely ready to go on a diet. On the first day home, our grocery shopping including about six different fresh vegetables! LOL!

So…here I am, overweight but FINALLY ready to hit the Restart button! YAY!

The scale said I weighed 177 pounds yesterday, or about 80 kilograms. To lose 50 pounds from my original high weight last January (2016), I wanted to hit 148 pounds, or 67 kilos. From today, that’s a weight loss goal of 29 pounds.

Okay, the line is marked in the sand now. 🙂 Time to dig in and work on getting to be my fittest and healthiest by my 50th birthday! That’s 9 1/2 months away.

I can do it!

How about you? How are your goals coming along? Do you need to hit the Restart button? You can do it! 😀

My Public Display of Dieting – April 2017

Kitty and Frosty about to go for a trail ride

Kitty and Frosty about to go for a trail ride

RESULTS: Gained 2 pounds for a total loss of 26 pounds

Well…um…yeahhhh….hahaha! 😀

All I can say is – my birthday was last month! And for ten days,  John treated me to so many awesome things from horseback riding to meals at little cafes to big Whittaker’s dark chocolate bars. And I loved every single thing! Haha!!

In fact, that’s why I didn’t post anything last month – I didn’t want to weigh myself. 😀  But the Monday after my birthday I put away all the sweets and cut back on my snacks and took advantage of a free week at the gym. I just finished my last day there today, and I’m going to be able to do a lot of that stuff here at home.

So now I have 11 months before my 50th birthday – 11 months to lose another 25 pounds, gain many pounds of muscle, and train better so I can run my fastest half marathon ever before my next birthday. Woohoo!!

I will say one thing – I was eating pretty healthy, a lot more veggies, for a few weeks before my birthday, and then I got busy/lazy and didn’t cook myself anything because I was racing to meet deadlines. I could REALLY tell the difference in how I felt! Now John is home and cooking for both of us and I already feel better having eaten two vegetables today. 😉

Between more vegetables and tougher and more frequent exercise, I’m looking forward to feeling better than ever. And it won’t hurt my self-esteem at all to see myself looking better than ever before, too!

Have you hit the Restart button lately on nutrition and exercise? How’s it going?

Back at the End of the Month!

Hiya friends!

I’m moving my hosting over to another company so I can start to make some improvements. I don’t want to screw up the process with my random posting to my blog, so I’m going to wait until the dust clears before I post again.  🙂

I hope to get these improvements done soon and show you a better-looking website – and, more importantly, make it a better experience for you! I’ll talk to you more later! 😀

My Public Display of Dieting – February 2017

RESULTS: Lost 3 pounds for a total loss of 28 pounds

John and I at the Finish Line - Round the Bays races, Wellington, New Zealand, 19 February 2017

John and I at the Finish Line – Round the Bays races, Wellington, New Zealand, 19 February 2017

I can’t say I’ve accomplished much in the weight loss and greater-strength-and-health arena during the last two months. I’ve accomplished a lot of other things! Hahaha! But I’m still kind of hovering in the same area I’ve been in for a few months. But there are a few things coming up that I think will help.

  • I’ve got a little breathing room before my next deadline so I hope that I’ll stop skipping workouts
  • My body aches after that last race, so I hope I get serious about doing my yoga or pilates stretches a few days a week at home
  • John and I decided to give up sweets for Lent this year, so I’ll be ingesting very little sugar (mostly from fruit and juice) over the next 6 1/2 weeks
  • My friend Kathleen gifted me with a learn-to-cook-healthy course called Foodist
  • Only 12 1/2 months until I turn 50! That’s been my goal for a few years – to be my healthiest and fittest ever by the time I turn 50

I will say that the morning after I ran the Round the Bays 10K race, the scale showed me down to 166 – the least I’ve weighed in ten or eleven years! But then it popped back up to the 169-171 area where I’ve continued to hover. Still, it gives me hope that over the next four weeks (i.e., before my birthday), I can lose 4-5 pounds and keep them off and restart the downward journey to 148 pounds/67 kilograms. That was my goal in January 2016 – lose 50 pounds in 50 weeks, going from 198 to 148. I’m still working toward it!

So how are your health goals coming along? Are you seeing patterns? Rather than focus on what’s happening today, check to see if over the last week or the last month you’re getting healthier or less healthy or staying steady. And remember – you and I can hit the Restart Button anytime!! Keep going!! 😀

Super Romance Book Sale Thru Feb 20

Valentine's Super Book Sale

Check out the Valentine’s Super Sale & Giveaway!

66 Romance Authors are offering 95 books…

Most of them are on sale for a limited time. It’s just our way of thanking our loyal readers.

Even better, we’ve pooled our funds to offer an awesome giveaway! Enter to win a Kindle and Amazon Gift Cards just for subscribing to our newsletters or following us on social media.

Here’s the link to the Valentine’s Super Sale & Giveaway!

I hope you find lots of great books to read – and good luck in the giveaway! 🙂

NEW RELEASE: My Bullheaded Superhero Valentine

It’s finally out! Wooohoooo!!!!

My Bullheaded Superhero Valentine book cover

After two years and a lot of ups and downs, I finally finished and published my idea behind, “What would happen if Bull could ever get Hayley to go out on a real date with him?”

Yay! And now you have a couple weeks to enjoy this side story novella in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series for only 99c. On March 1, it will go back to the regular price of $2.99.

My Bullheaded Superhero Valentine is available at all major retailers including Amazon (all territories), iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Get yours today!

Book Marks: Chasing Symmetry – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

Chasing Symmetry book coverChasing Symmetry by Tempeste Blake

Goodreads Summary

Someone had been trying for the perfect shade of red . . .
When art professor Bianca James tries to save a dying woman, the grudge-holding chief of police is all too quick to catapult her to the top of the suspect list. As if that isn’t enough, her ex-boyfriend’s younger brother, Finn Tierny, is assigned to the case, and she’s faced with a trilogy of dilemmas: go head to head with the chief, stop a cold-blooded killer on her own, or trust another Tierny.

Finn’s return to Riley’s Peak is bittersweet. He’s flooded with memories, both good and bad, as he battles doubts about being a cop, a cantankerous father, a jealous brother, and a drug dealer with a rap-sheet longer than the list of addicts he’s been supplying. 
Threats escalate, the suspect list grows, and it becomes clear—the murderer’s resolve to kill Bianca is almost as strong as Finn’s desire to keep her alive.

Almost.

My Thoughts

I love murder mysteries! When I was contacted about reading this book, I was beyond excited!  And then when I received it in the mail along with a note and special little “gift” from the author, I was ecstatic!  I wanted to dive right in…but, sadly, my TBR list was ridiculously long so I had to wait a while.

So, the time came that I could get into this book and I wasn’t disappointed!  I am usually pretty good at figuring out ‘who done it’ but not this time.  I was wrong!  Very wrong.  This book is full of surprises and keeps you guessing the whole time.

Now, I could have done without the ‘romance’ things in this book.  And, honestly, the choice words were a bit much for my liking.  Those were the only reasons that I chose to give Chasing Symmetry 4 stars instead of 5.

I will definitely be recommending this book to fellow mystery lovers!  Chasing Symmetry will be a book that I keep for my collection!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Carrie Kurtz

 

Carrie Kurtz is a full-time mom and wife who can’t help but make time to explore new worlds in between carpooling and laundry loads. She’s trying to encourage a similar obsession with reading in her two children, and she’s grateful her husband supports her habit. She can be found at Carrie K’s Book Reviews.

2017 Goals – Publish More Books, Start a Podcast

Figure with a check listBecause I knew that I hadn’t accomplished most of my 2016 goals, I made a point of writing down my Goals Master List for 2017 before the end of December. Then I went through it looking for the 7 to 10 major goals that I really wanted to accomplish in all the various areas of my life this year.

I thought perhaps it would inspire you to do the same if I shared with you my goals. Here they are:

  1. Publish the first three books in the Strays of Loon Lake romantic comedy series
  2. Publish “My Bullheaded Superhero Valentine” by February 14
  3. Outline Burden of Magic, the working title for the supernatural thriller that I’ve been working on and thinking about since grad school in 2011
  4. Create a business system for writing, marketing, finances, etc.
  5. Finish creating the video-based self-publishing class that I started, and update the time management class I teach
  6.  Begin my new podcast in late spring (I’m so excited about this!)
  7. Read one or more nonfiction books on business or writing, and one or more novels every month
  8. Lose 25 to 30 pounds to get to 145 by December 1
  9. Run one half marathon at my fastest time ever by December 31
  10. Create a habit of 60 minutes of Bible study and prayer daily, Monday through Friday

And then I have my extra goals, the ones I’ll do if I have time while making sure my primary goals get accomplished first. They include finishing every class and course I have ever signed up for! Haha! And to also finish writing and publish Rent-a-Wife, book 2 after Little Miss Lovesick in the Traverse City in Love series.

As you can see, some of these goals will have many smaller parts to them. And a few of these are smaller parts of bigger goals. For instance, for several years I have said that I want to be my fittest, strongest, fastest ever by the time I hit 50. I turn 49 in two months! So I only have 14 months to sign up for and run a half marathon, and make it my fastest one ever. And I’ll need to be my fittest ever in order to reach that goal, which includes losing those last 25 to 30 pounds.

This year, I tried to balance my work and personal goals so that I don’t ignore one part of my life in favor of another. There are a lot of factors that may change the likelihood of me accomplishing any or all of these goals, of course, just like for any of us. But I’m excited to have a list that looks challenging as well as doable.

Smiley face with thumb upWhat about you? Do you have 2 or 3 or 5 or 10 goals that you’d like to accomplish this year? Have you written them down yet? And have you written down the steps you’ll need to take in order to accomplish those goals? I hope that by sharing my list I’m encouraging you to work on making this year your best year ever!

Good luck! I know you can do it!