My October Garden

My October Garden

The last three months, the hubby has been doing something a little different in our garden. I’ve wanted a raised bed garden for years, mainly because I knew I wouldn’t always be able to get down on my knees to plant. But also because our soil is almost pure clay, and difficult to get anything to grow lush and green and strong without overwatering. And in this time of drought in California, bigger water bills are NOT on the menu.

a 4'x8'x16" dirt coffin

a 4’x8’x16″ dirt coffin

Above is the newest “dirt coffin” as the hubby likes to call it. This is #3. The soil is a mix of our own dirt (that had been amended in other planting beds), soil for raised beds, steer manure, and vermiculite.  Since it gets so hot where we are, and our back yard gets the setting sun, he decided we should situate the planters near the shade of the oleander (above photo, to the right). This bed gets the most sunshine. Beyond the bed, that black thing is our composter.  All our green food waste and our coffee grinds go into the composter.

Dirt Coffin #1, 4' x 8' x 16". This has all veggies planted in it.

Dirt Coffin #1, 4′ x 8′ x 16″. This has all veggies planted in it.

You can see the squash on the left – yeah, that didn’t work out too well, so we had to pull them out recently. The squash needed more light – they weren’t setting fruit, but they grew lush and big after being puny in the regular back yard. Hubby also built netting cages, to keep the birds and the grasshoppers from eating the tender lettuces.  The left side of this planter faces north; all of the climbers should have been planted along that left side. Live and learn! We have several types of lettuce, spinach, bush beans, pole beans (at the back), and sugar snap peas growing in this bed.

Malabar Red Spinach

We also have Malabar Red (or Asian) Spinach – yes, that’s spinach! It’s thicker, and has a completely different taste. Works great in salads, grows fast, and has pretty pink flowers.

Dirt Coffin No. 2 is our herb bed.

basil and tarragonHere, we have a row of basil (that almost died before we transplanted it – we weren’t sure it would make it); in front of it, you can see the thyme. Behind it to the right, the first two squares are Mexican tarragon (which I LOVE!!!), the other two are Thai Basil. Behind them, the two middle squares at the far right is anise, and the two on either side is fennel.

2 types of parsley

Here, you can see curled parsley in front and Italian parsley behind. Marigolds tend to keep bugs away, so each bed has marigolds planted.

parsley a month later

Here’s the parsley a month later – it’s gotten so big!

basil a month later

And look at the basil, also a month later! (In the background, the anise has been eaten. Sad face.)

Basil for pesto, 10-18-14

This is the basil I picked last night in order to make pesto. 2.5 cups, put into 4 oz jars and stashed in the freezer. When I went outside this afternoon, the basil looks like I haven’t touched it. So I’m guessing more pesto will be made. If you’re local, you just might end up with a jar!

So what my hubby and I learned, is that where you plant, as well as what type of soil you plant in, is very important. We’re finally finding the right home for everything. Vegetables and herbs need the soil loose enough, so the roots can grow deep enough and the plants tall enough. If all we get is our fresh herbs and salad greens from these beds, we’ll both be very happy.

dirt coffin #3, planted

And here’s number 3, planted. The back row has broccoli (it’s supposed to get to 3′ high); the row in front of the broccoli has onions and garlic; the row in front of that has 2 kinds of kale and collard greens; the very front has spinach from seed and more collards, as well as the marigolds. You can see planter 2 in the background, beyond the hammock. Planter #4 has just been installed this weekend, where the blue water barrel sits. In front of the barrel is a “winter” tomato plant. (We’ve found the best, most exotic things to plant at a family-owned nursery not far from where I work. Really must get back there!)

Planter #4 will have potatoes in it, and not sure what else. Maybe cauliflower, and beets, when they come into the stores. Still keeping my eyes open.

So, this is where my hubby’s energies go when he’s not learning lines or songs or working in the tv/film industry. I dabble here…and I love it.

Happy Monday, my friends. May this transition time from one season to the next be good for you.

)O(

 

New Release – Christmas Star!

New Release – Christmas Star!

It’s here, it’s here! As the day moves along and more platforms go “live”, I’ll share here. WOO! Happy Book Birthday to me!

TheChristmasStar_temp

About the book:

After a whirlwind courtship, the Christmas season finds plain-Jane-with-a-secret Elle Houston engaged to one of the brightest stars in the Hollywood firmament–and falling for the personal chef at her ritzy, pre-wedding resort.

Excerpt:
December 19th, eveningElle Houston drew her feet up onto the couch and nervously watched her fiancé—her fiancé—finish packing in the hotel suite he called home. “Are you sure you want to get married?”Taylor Collins, Grade A movie star, stopped adding shirts to his suitcase, tipped his head to one side and smiled, that lopsided grin that caused female hearts to flutter worldwide. “Are you getting cold feet?”“No. Of course not.” She’d never thought she’d get a proposal, ever. Not saying yes to the guy who was People’s Sexiest Man Alive? She’d have to be brain-dead. “I’ve got the guy all the girls want, the guy paparazzi clamor over.” She nibbled her top lip, considering. “I guess I’m still just a bit stunned that you proposed.”

Happy Dancing here!!!

Find it at All Romance eBooksAmazon, Smashwords

Update: For a few hours on Saturday morning, I made a list! #72 – not bad!!!

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.18.34 AM

It didn’t last long, but it sure made my day.

 )O(

 

 

Wine, No Matter the Weather

Wine, No Matter the Weather

There is snow on the mountains in Aspen, Colorado – and here in my neck of southern California, the temps are expected to hit in the triple digits (because the weather people prefer to say “triple digits” than “the hundreds”). So what to drink?

Here are two wines that are eminently drinkable, no matter the temperature outside.

Fat Cat MerlotFat Cat Merlot, 2012 Napa, California  Alcohol 12.5% by Volume; $6.99 on sale at Vons. 95 POINTS | GOLD MEDAL California State Fair Wine Competition 2012

On the Label: “At Fat Cat Cellers, we’re into wines that hit all the right notes, right now. Take our mellow Merlot. The deep ruby red color is prelude to a rich cherry and berry melody, accompanied by mild tannins and oak that close on a palate-pleasing, silky smooth chord. It’s a ballad in a glass. A-dee-dot, a-dew-dot, a skittley-dot-mer-lot. You dig?”

My Take: The color is good in the glass, and the taste works when the temps drop outside. The low alcohol content, however, also make it a good summer night, burgers on the barbecue-type wine as well. Or just sipping while you watch the bats come out at dusk, or while counting snowflakes as they hit the deck.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ and at this price, it’s easy to share with friends for an end-of-summer barbecue or a damn-winter’s-here-early party around the fire.

Beringer Simply Sophisticated Chardonnay  California, 2013   Alcohol 13% by beringerVolume; regularly $6.99 at Vons, on sale for $4.99

On the Label: “This carefully crafted wine has subtle aromas of peach, apricot and golden delicious apples. It is balanced, juicy and layered with ripe flavors. If you enjoy our Chardonnay, make sure to try our Pinot Grigio. Serve chilled. Please visit us at beringer.com.

My Take: This is Beringer’s low cost alternative to their Founder’s Reserve selection, which runs $10 to $15 more per bottle. Frankly, this is an excellent Chardonnay for the price and the Beringer name brings a certain comfort when buying an inexpensive wine. You know you’re going to enjoy the product. This wine would work wonderfully with the chowders and soups that come along with winter, and works just as well when grilling fish on the barbecue. (I have barbecue on the brain. Does it show?)

My Rating ~ Drinkable ~ And a good value, to boot. I’ve also tried their Pinot Grigio, and enjoy it just as much.

So whatever type of weather is out there, there’s a wine for that! May your October be one of peace, prosperity, and pumpkins.

Oh – and two weeks from today, CHRISTMAS STAR releases, my new holiday short story from Boroughs Publishing Group! Yeah, I’m a tad excited…*bouncety*

)O(

My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!”

Thanks so much for stopping by. Now that it’s autumn, the blog is getting up to speed again. If you like what you read, please go on and click on that “subscribe” button, up there on the right hand side. I’d love to get to know you, too, so let me know if you have a favorite wine that I should try!

Cover Reveal, Christmas Star

Cover Reveal, Christmas Star

bpg-badge

Here it is! My first story with Boroughs Publishing Group. Yes, I’m excited, can’t you tell? *bouncety bounce*

CHRISTMAS STAR comes out on October 17, 2014. Chris Keeslar and I have been working to make it perfect for you.  This one is a Lunchbox Romance, which means you’ll be able to read it over lunch (think short story). It’s also the first in the StarTide series! Plus – 99 cents. Such a deal!

Here’s the logo for StarTide…

StarTide card

Isn’t this the niftiest thing, ever? And here’s the quick blurb, and the cover!

Christmas Star

After a whirlwind courtship, makeup artist Elle finds herself engaged to one of the brightest, busiest movie stars in the Hollywood firmament. So why does Chef Luc have her dreaming about white picket fences, and having his babies?

TheChristmasStar_temp

Isn’t it pretty?!!

Sorry I’ve been missing here this past month. Lots has happened, a lot I’m not ready to discuss and a lot that I really CAN’T discuss, and a lot of writing has been going on, too. So there’s that. Oh, and fitness. #healthywriter is my new thing. Not getting any younger, you know? Gotta stay healthy.

Anywho…Book 1 in the StarTide series, GUARDED STAR, will be out February 5th. In April, SHINING STAR will come out, and in June, RISING STAR will make its debut.  There are more novels planned in this contemporary romance series, set around Hollywood and the StarTide Talent Agency. Shenanigans abound, so stay tuned for more information!

)O(

So Many Publishing Options…

So Many Publishing Options…

writing at coffee shop

As many other (much more famous) people have said, this is a wonderful time to be an author. There are so many options open to us. We can self publish, we can publish with a digital-first publisher (of which there are many), or we can aim for a big New York publishing house (of which there are few).

There is no right way to publish.

Each person’s journey is just that; THEIR journey. Nora Roberts’ publishing journey is vastly different than mine (sigh), which is vastly different than, let’s say, my friend Kendall Grey’s journey. The thing is, no one way is “better” than another way.

If you want that contract with New York City, go for it. GO FOR IT. If in your heart of hearts you don’t want to be your own publisher, for God’s sake, don’t be. Write the best damned book you possibly can, and find someone else who will love your work enough to publish it. Then write another book.

If that is your dream, don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong, or that the contract you’re so proud of signing sucks. In fact, be very careful who you share your contract with; make sure they are knowledgable about author contracts, can help you make a decision, and more than anything, make sure YOU know what you want out of a contract.

Be realistic, too. If yours is a first contract with a publishing company, and you have no track record at all, you’re not going to get the moon when you ask for it. I’m not saying don’t ask; just don’t be surprised if they come back with a simple “no,” and know what you’ll do when that happens.

Another thing. Just because you might have signed a contract with a publishing house that someone you know is also signed with, DOES NOT MEAN you have to share your contract details with them. (You shouldn’t ask about their contract, either.) And definitely don’t talk about your contract in specific across a lunch table with a bunch of other people listening in. Your contract is YOUR contract, and nobody else’s business. You don’t owe it to ANYONE to share details.

Contrari-wise, if a good friend is considering a contract and asks you what to be careful about, feel free to share your views. In person, and in private (which can happen in a corner of a ballroom full of people, believe it or not).

I guess this is my ranty way of saying, know what you want out of your career, and go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong. Whether you self publish, go with a small publisher, or hold that dream of an agent and a six figure deal with a New York publisher, that’s your decision and your journey. You may change your mind down the line, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

Know what you want, and go for it.

Don’t explain, and don’t apologize, for following your heart. Big, squishy hugs to you as you continue on the journey.

)O(

I’ve got an Author Page on Facebook now…it’s not very pretty to look at, but check it out and give me a “like” if you would!