Day 259-Motivational Monday-How to Be Grateful

Good morning everyone, how is everyone this beautiful Monday morning?

As the news continues to scare us with the prospect of war and more bleak possibilities going forward,I was struck by this motivational quote I found on Pinterest this morning.

What if indeed?!! This is why we need to pray every day, because what if we forgot someone or something in our daily prayer? I want to wake up to all my friends and family-don’t you?

If this doesn’t give you the motivation to be grateful for everything you have in your life, I don’t know what will!

Now I have to share a funny story with you because, well…I’m honest to a fault sometimes (which gets me laughed at a lot!)

Ever have one of those aha moments and then felt like a complete idiot when you realized how easy something was? That was me last night after discovering how to get my posts onto Pinterest was as easy as pinning it directly from the post itself!! What a revelation and a V8 moment that made me want to slap my own forehead! Doh! I could have been doing this all along, now here I am 259 days into my year long blogging project with just a few pins to show for it. Why is that important you might ask? Well, I could have been getting my blog out to more people for one thing, thereby increasing my exposure, and traffic.

See, I have a board for the blog on Pinterest, along with many other boards, and pinning for the others is easy. Yet every time I tried to figure out how to get my “important” posts onto my board, I would give up in frustration. Then last night, I came across a pin from Think Creative Collective about how to use Tailwind to schedule blog posts on Pinterest. I never got that far because I saw the one thing that made me go aha! I then quickly went straight to my blog and pinned the entire series I wrote,  Angels of Arvada, so they would all be in one, easy to find area. Now I know what I need to do, and it is so easy, it won’t take me long-so if you see my board on Pinterest suddenly getting full, you’ll know why!

The next thing I need to do is go read the rest of the post and see how to use Tailwind to schedule my pins so this doesn’t happen again. Then I’ll be able to answer your questions if you have any, I don’t know how many of you use Pinterest, but it’s a great marketing tool. It is also a great place to make a to-do list! I find all kinds of great ideas on Pinterest.

I hope I have sparked your imagination and given you some motivation to change something in your business, some inspiration to be grateful for the things we have and a reason to pray every day for those we love and hold dear and want to see tomorrow! Speaking of tomorrow, join me then for MET (My Essay Tuesday) and I’ll see you later from a very busy patio!

Day 256-Flash Fiction Friday-Angels of Arvada-Part 7-Addiction

Weeks went by and Amanda heard nothing more from Julian. Saddened and a bit depressed, she decided to immerse herself in work and getting Ethan more involved with extra curricular activities. He was old enough now to start playing some kind of sport, and seemed exited about the prospect of soccer or T-ball. Night time was her nemesis, however, and given too much time to think, she found herself drinking more and more.

It had started so innocently, a glass of wine a couple of nights a week which turned into a glass most nights and then she found herself really pouring it on come the weekends. Sometimes, she and Sandy would go into town and have margaritas at the local taqueria, Los Gordos. These became more frequent the more Sandy saw that Amanda was pining over Julian. She thought she was helping her feel better, she was really enabling her addiction.

Amanda never saw herself as addicted, rather that she had a mild “drinking problem” and knew it was getting worse. To combat this, she busied herself and Ethan, getting him started with soccer since that was his choice, and tried not to think about Julian and got on with living. Life has a way of throwing you curveballs, however, and she kept finding herself in social and non-social situations involving drinking. She would take Ethan to soccer practice and next thing you know, she had a drink in her hand with the other soccer moms who hung out behind the bleachers. At night, she curled up on the couch to read or watch tv once Ethan was in bed and never realized how many glasses she drank before finally turning in herself. She never considered she was avoiding something.

Guilt is a strong emotion. Amanda felt guilty for even thinking about another man, much less lusting after him. She felt guilty that she didn’t give her full attention to her work, nor to Ethan, even though she was trying to do her best. She needed help, yet refused to ask for it. She was losing it, and needed a change, a change of scenery maybe or some new friends at the very least. She reached out to Anthony’s parents, but Mrs Clark didn’t really know what to say, she’d been known to tip a few back herself.

Then came the call she never expected and Amanda felt a ray of hope open up in her bleak existence. It was Julian! She didn’t want to appear too anxious or needy, so she tried to play it cool, once her heartbeat slowed a little. “Hey, what’s up?” Trying to sound nonchalant as she sat on the couch, gripping the cushion with her free hand to steady herself. Julian came back with “Oh, you sound busy, I can call back later if you like.” Amanda wasn’t about to let that happen but wanted to sound aloof, she replied “Nah, I’m just puttering around the cabin really, cleaning up before I take Ethan to soccer practice.” Julian chuckled and said “Well, I happen to be in town, maybe I could join you. I just so happen to have company, would it be ok if I brought her to watch Ethan practice?” Amanda thought, ‘Really, he wants to bring a date?’ then once she reconsidered she realized who he was talking about and said excitedly “Absolutely! She would really love to watch the kids I’m sure!” “Alrighty, then-when and where should we meet you?”

Amanda gave him directions to the soccer fields and hurried to get them ready. She felt a renewed sense of urgency and excitement and could not wait to get Ethan to practice. “Maybe this is just what I need” she thought to herself. Then, trying not to look like a typical soccer mom, she rushed around getting herself ready, freshening her makeup but not to the point of looking like a model or anything. Pulling on her best jeans and newest shirt, she donned her coat, grabbed Ethan and walked out the door to meet her date with destiny. Walking out on the porch, she was about to say something to Ethan when she felt what could only be described as a tug on her left arm. She had time to see the look of horror on her baby’s face, and then she never felt anything again. The bear carried her off and Ethan scrambled back inside and ran to call 911.

Fortunately, his mother taught him well, what with them living alone in the somewhat wilderness, and he knew this was an emergency and what he needed to do. As he waited with the operator on the phone until help arrived, he tried to be brave and not think about what he just saw. He knew his mom was probably gone, however, and panic started to set in. He answered the technician’s questions and she then realized he was all alone and sent CPS to the scene, along with the ambulance and police. Meanwhile, Julian got tired of waiting at the ball fields and could not get through on the phone to Amanda. He grabbed his daughter Lisa and together they headed for the cabin.

I sincerely appreciate all of you following along with this series and hope you have enjoyed it. If you would like to provide suggestions, alternate endings or chapter revisions, please let me know. I welcome all comments and feedback and may even compile the series into an ebook for publication. 

Day 249-Flash Fiction Friday-Angels of Arvada-Part 6-Girl Talk

Once Amanda and Ethan were safely back at the cabin with all of their newly purchased groceries and other provisions, Julian wished them a pleasant evening and took his leave. He had given her a lot of food for thought as well as the food they just bought, she was looking forward to some quite time later to think, reflect and maybe enjoy a glass of wine and some girl talk with her bestie, Sandy.

For now though, she and Ethan had dinner to fix, plus she wanted to make a perimeter check of the cabin to make sure nothing was broken or otherwise damaged in the avalanche, now that the melt was on. What she decided to do was put Ethan in charge of sandwich making while she went around the cabin, checking for holes and other possible problems. Luckily, unless there was an issue on the roof, everything looked ok. They would be alright for this evening anyway, she headed back in to make a fire and join Ethan for supper. They noshed on pb&j sandwiches and potato chips with a frosty root beer…comfort food, for sure.

After the dishes were cleared, Amanda read Ethan a bedtime story and tucked him in. He had been so exhausted after the busy day they had just experienced, he was out like a light before she even finished it. Now it was time to phone-a-friend and get that relaxation on with a glass of wine. She and Sandy had much to cuss and discuss. Back in the living room, she got her glass and cozied up by the fire in her spot on the couch. Just as she reached for the phone it rang! She looked at the caller ID and it was Sandy, “she must have ESP’ she thought as she answered it. “Hey girl” she said after  Sandy said hello. “Hello again, are you guys alright?” Amanda replied, “Yes, much better now that Julian rescued us and took us to get supplies!” “OMG, really? You had to be rescued? Who is this Julian?” Sandy peppered her with questions. Amanda related the whole story along with the feelings that Julian stirred in her. Sandy had to be the voice of reason and said, “Girl, be careful. You don’t know him from Adam, he could just be trying to get in those cute britches of yours.” “Oh, come on,” Amanda shot back, “Surely you know I can take care of myself by now!”

They talked until late in the night, the next thing Amanda knew, three glasses were gone and it was past two in the morning. The last thing she remembered saying to Sandy was that she hoped she and Julian had another date soon, she really wanted to get to know him and meet his daughter. Sandy had warned her about the dangers of getting too close too fast, but Amanda had said she wouldn’t do anything rash, she just wanted some male companionship and a friend for Ethan to hang out with. “Besides, I owe him.” Sandy was shocked by this and said “You owe him what? A roll in the hay for doing his job?” “No, silly” Amanda replied, giggling, “Just a drink maybe and some company for dinner some night…and maybe a kiss on the cheek.” “Yeah, right-ha!” Amanda could just envision Sandy rolling her eyes through the phone line.

Amanda went on to tell her about Julian’s foster daughter and all of her issues, soon Sandy was as intrigued as Amanda. She mentioned there might be a trip to Mexico in her future if she played her cards right, they both hung up giggling and Amanda stumbled to her bedroom, slipped into bed and started dreaming about him as soon as her head hit the pillow.

Day 242-Flash Fiction Friday-Angels of Armada Part 5-Coffee


Amanda returns ten minutes later, excited to leave the cabin with her son for the first time in months. Julian stands up from his place by the fire and asks if she is ready to go. “Yes” Amanda replies and he says, “Follow me.” After checking with his men that the door is open and the coast is clear, they all proceed to his truck, parked on the side of the cabin closest to the window.

Amanda has her list in hand and looks down at Ethan as they walk to the truck. He is staring in amazement at the sparkly snow covering everything as far as he can see. He is excited to be out as well and now asks his mom if they can go to McDonald’s while they are in town getting groceries and other provisions. She looks to Julian who nods in agreement, “Sounds like a plan young man, maybe your mom and I can have that coffee sooner than later.” Amanda smiles and mouths thank you above Ethan’s head.

It takes them an hour just to get there, even though the roads are somewhat plowed, they are still treacherous. Piling out of the truck, wrapped in coats, scarves and sweater hats, the group trudges into McDonald’s for a fast food treat and hot beverages. Ethan gets pancakes and hot chocolate and the adults pick at eggs and bacon while drinking cup after cup of coffee. They have so much to talk about and seem to be totally at ease with each other.

“So you mentioned earlier that you have a daughter” Amanda asks Julian, simultaneously picking at an english muffin. “She’s not really my daughter, I’m her foster Dad,” Julian replied. “Oh, that’s so wonderful Julian. You must have a huge heart to do something like that. How old is she?” Blushing, Julian answered, “She is five, and she has a disability. She came to me after a friend shared the news that her parents were killed in Matamoros, and since I was in the system to be a foster parent, they picked me. I’ve been caring for her ever since. The problem is, Mexico has very limited resources for healthcare of this nature, so when I’m here I work to earn as much as possible, network with other people in the know and take what I’ve earned and learned back to Mexico.”

Amanda has been rapt, listening to his story, food forgotten on the plate as she sips her coffee and stares at this man, trying to understand how hard his life must be. “You are truly an angel sir. I already knew that because of your generosity in dealing with us, but now you tell me this unbelievable story. Your heart is huge indeed! What is her issue, if you don’t mind me asking?” Julian stares back at Amanda and before he replies he gives her a seductive little wink. “I’m no angel ma’am, I have my own story. Like how I was born here but ended up in Mexico, but we can talk about that some other time. No, I don’t mind you asking…She has ASD, autism spectrum disorder-she has trouble with social, emotional and communication skills, sort of like Asperger’s.” All this time, Ethan has been quietly eating and listening to Julian and now he looks up and asks, “Can she play with other kids ok?” Julian winks at him and answers, “Kind of, she has her own special way of playing and needs someone very patient to show her how to be nice and play fair.” Ethan considers his answer, nods his head and goes back to eating his pancakes.

Meanwhile, Amanda has been secretly wishing she could give this man a medal, but settles for a hug and stands up to deliver one. “You are amazing Mr Julian, and I would love to hear more, but we really need to get to the store and get back home so you can get back to your work, or wherever you’re going next.” Julian is surprised by the sudden hug and responds that he isn’t in a big hurry but her request is his command. “And you don’t have to call me Mr., I will call you Amanda if you’ll just call me Julian. Amanda nods in agreement and together they all head back to the truck for the next destination in their journey, some big everything-you-need-in-one-place store.

 

 

Day 241-A Respite and A Recipe Fail!

Sorry folks, I just can’t bring myself to do the ole Throwback Thursday post when I have such a funny story to tell. Well, not funny really unless you like to look at what can go wrong with a recipe. So, I’m taking a respite from the usual and now I present you with how a cupcake can go so horribly wrong.

First thing off the bat, my computer was doing a slow download, so I decided to make some yummy sounding cupcakes for breakfast out of my new Crave recipe book I got for free from Shana Ekedal.  They are called:

Chocolate Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

(And here’s the recipe)

Cupcakes: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar • 1⁄2 cup maple syrup • 4 tbsp. coconut oil • 2 tsp. vanilla extract • 1 cup almond our • 1/3 cup cacao powder • 3⁄4 tsp. baking soda • 3⁄4 tsp. baking powder • 1⁄4 tsp. salt

Vanilla Frosting: • 3⁄4 cup coconut butter • 2 cups xylitol • 1 tbsp. vanilla bean extract

Directions:: 1. Preheat oven to 350°F 2. Line cupcake tine with cupcake liners. 3. Add almond milk and ACV to a medium size bowl and set aside for 3-4 minutes. 4. In a separate bowl, combined the maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla extract; add to the almond milk mixture. 5. Sift together our, cacao, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium size bowl. 6. Pour wet ingredients into the our mixture, mix well and pour evenly into liners 7. Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. 8. Meanwhile, make frosting by blending xylitol in a blender and turn it into a powder. Pour it into a food processor and add coconut butter and vanilla extract, processing until smooth. 9. Once cupcakes have baked and cooled. Apply icing and enjoy!

Well…I followed the recipe and here are all my ingredients to prove I was ready!

Everything you need for the cupcakes

Only once I pulled mine out of the oven, this is how they looked! 😔

Fallen angels

So…After eating a few of the crispy edges, this is what I did. I had made the “frosting” which turned out super delicious, so I simply put as much of a cooled fallen angel into my bowl as I could and spooned some frosting on it. It was so yummy!!

Not pretty, but delectable just the same!

I wonder if I can save them by melting them down and adding a little coconut flour and rebaking them. Or, if I should start all over and use less maple syrup, although it looked to me like the oil was too much. I’ll tweak it later and let you know how it turned out. 🙂

I’m going to check with her and make sure she doesn’t mind me sharing this with you all, it was free for me though so I don’t see why she would. If you click the link with her name in it, you can get your own copy of the cookbook, it’s free! Then you can make them and show off your results. And then you can tell me where mine went off the rails, lol!

I used quality ingredients, but maybe I measured something wrong or the fact that I didn’t sift the dry ingredients was my mistake. Anyway, I’m no quitter…I’ll be trying these again-if for no other reason than the excuse to eat more frosting on something!! It’s so yummy!

Join me tomorrow for the next installment in the Angels of Arvada series (as yet untitled) (not to mention, unwritten 😉) and until then, I’ll be staying warm and dry on the patio!