Category Archives: Life

Sunday Reads – Gathering of the Storms

Gathering of the Storms Volumes I & II

iTunes  |  Nook  |  Amazon

After the Breaking, many flocked from their devastated homelands to the new province of Draema to begin anew. The people who called themselves Gaian chose to walk a different path. Now, love and danger bring them together again.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Click the book cover to preview Vol 1

As Blademaster and First Heir to Draema and its Seven Colonies, Rhia Greysomne wants nothing more than to live her life as she always has-on her own terms. But when she learns that her father, the High Counsel, has summoned a childhood friend from across the border to protect her against an unknown threat, she is more than a bit put out. And worse, a case of mistaken identity finds them facing each other with blades drawn.

Who cares that he’s the one man who sets her blood on fire? So what if he’s the fabled Wind Storm, Protector of the Realm of Gaia? As far as she’s concerned, RuArk Miwatani is the spoiled boy she used to chase with her wooden practice blade after he’d yanked her braids as a child.

RuArk of Clan Miwatani is well aware Rhia doesn’t want his concern, his presence, and least of all, his protection. Sizzling attraction wars with pride and deadly circumstances. Will it bring them together…or drive her away?

Whatever the cost, RuArk is determined to keep his word to Rhia’s father, and the Ancestors who’ve shown him that she is indeed, his. But can he convince her that he has much more to offer than his sword?

There is one truth: Once passion is awakened, it is as potent and lethal as any storm.

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Connected Books:
Gathering of the Storms 1 - Wind And Fire  

The Best Hiking in Hawaii

One of the best things about living in Hawaii is all of the wonderful hidden gems there are to discover, no matter what your interest is.  All across the islands, there is something for everyone.

Looking at Maui from Big Island

Today, we’re going to look at hiking spots in Maui.  If you love nature and breathtaking surroundings, this one is for you.

Ohe‘o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) and Pipiwai Trail

This popular 3.6-mile hiking trail is like something out of an enchanted fairytale. Start at Ohe‘o Gulch, where multiple pools and waterfalls flow, pass a soaring banyan tree, then meander through the rainforest, towering bamboo, ginger fields, and smaller falls, until you find the jaw-dropping, neck-craning 400ft Waimoku Falls. End your storybook hike with a dip in Ohe‘o Gulch… and take turns posing for all the glorious waterfall photos your heart desires.

 

Twin Falls

Sure, this waterfall hike may swell with tourists, but for a good reason. Located near mile marker No. 2 along the Road to Hana, it’s the first trail on the path with waterfalls and a pool. The path is open to the public, well-maintained, and easily accessible — and it’s a super-quick stop for those looking for some instant gratification. The rocks can be slippery, though, so pack covered shoes. After a dip under a pair of waterfalls, hit up the Twin Falls Farm Stand on your way back to the car, and replenish with fresh fruit, fresh-squeezed sugarcane juice, or coconut water straight from the source.

 

Sliding Sands Trail and Halamau‘u Trail

Not for the faint of heart, this extreme 12-mile trail traverses the Haleakala summit, where the air is cooler and thinner, with ever-changing weather. Be prepared for fog and rain, with no shade cover. The hike starts at the Haleakala Visitor Center at 9,740ft and descends to the crater floor. Due to the challenging and strenuous terrain, the trail is quiet, desolate, and empty, but rewards with hauntingly beautiful views of multi-colored sand dunes, craggy cliffs, silverswords, and cinder mounds. Apollo astronauts have trained on this barren field to mimic lunar landings, so take the opportunity to feel a little bit like you’re at space camp. Shorter trips are also an option, but adventurous and advanced trailblazers should attempt this daylong journey, at least once — just be sure to plan well for multiple climates and shifting elements.

 

Waihee Ridge Trail

This moderate, five-mile West Maui hike will lead you nearly 2,600ft above sea level and compensate your efforts with panoramic views of Waihee Valley, Makamaka‘ole Falls, Haleakala, the West Maui Mountains, and the ocean. The trail will take you along a series of switchbacks, transitioning between green forests and sunny ridgelines until you reach Lani-ili summit, where you’ll be greeted with panoramic vistas or a sky full of clouds. For your best chance of clear views, lace up your hiking shoes in the morning — before the mist blocks the horizon. But come fog or shine, the lush views are worth the aerobic exercise.

 

Kapalua Coastal Trail

Stretched between prime coastline and expensive resorts, this easy coastline pathway is more of a nature walk than a hike-hike (you know, in the wilderness), if we’re being totally honest. But the spectacular scenery is worth the short outdoor adventure: start at Kapalua Beach and follow the path to Namalu Bay and Oneloa Bay until you arrive at D.T. Fleming Beach, then get an eyeful of rock cliffs, tide pools, and sea turtles along some of the island’s prettiest beaches. Don’t forget to pause at a grassy, man-made labyrinth, as well as Dragon’s Teeth, a natural rocky formation that was shaped when hot lava pushing towards the ocean was hardened by wind and waves to create jagged-looking “teeth,” that point towards the sky.

 

Lahaina Pali Trail

This 5.5-mile one-way trail from Maalaea to Ukumehame is dry and rugged and zigzaging at about 1,500ft, making the rocky path a bit slow and strenuous. The old horse-and-foot trail was hand-built in 1800s, with rock walls and stone shelters still visible along the way. The path will lead you near the Kaheawa Wind Farm and repay your quad and hamstring workout with views of neighboring Lanai and Kahoolawe, and views of breaching whales during the winter months. Unless you’re planning on doing the full round-trip voyage, hiking this trail may take some planning and a couple of cars. Pro tip: don’t forget the sunscreen.

 

Nakalele Blowhole

Tucked along Honoapiilani Highway along mile marker 38.5 is a short coastal walk leading to a pair of natural wonders. The first, known as the Nakalele Blowhole, connects to an underwater ocean cave, and during high tide, the swell spouts a jet of water high into the air. The second is just next to it: a lava rock wall with a heart-shaped hole punched through by the sea, which will only remain a heart-shaped hole as long as the ocean decides it will — so see it before it’s gone. The trail is short, but you’ll need to scale a rocky cliff-side for the best views. Definitely follow the advice of the hand-painted signs along the trail and stick to walking on dry rocks. Getting too close to the blowhole can be dangerous, as Mother Nature can sometimes be unpredictably strong and violent.

This list is courtesy of Summer Nakaishi of Thrillist.com.

Sunday Reading – Juicy

Twilight Teahouse #1

Amazon  |  Nook  |  iBooks

The first in a new series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, T.J. Michaels

Solie Shaw is a brilliant self-made woman. After managing a corporation by day, at night, all she wants is to not be in charge. The last man she’d gifted her submissive heart to smashed it to smithereens and then did the mambo on top of the pieces. Now, along comes the chance to get exactly what she needs from a Dominant she trusts, heart and soul.

All Solie has to do…is choose.

Twilight Teahouse. Come choose something decadent from our menu…


Warning: This novella contains elements of culinary kink, second chance love and experiments with big thuddy paddle hands.

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Connected books:

lucious200x400  Succulent200x300

In a sharing mood…

My favorite George Michael songs as a small tribute to a wonderful musician. I remember when Wham! came out with their first songs here in the U.S. I was in high school and didn’t miss a Friday night skating to this music. As a musician myself, it always hits home when we lose someone like George…or Prince, or David Bowie. *sigh* This has been an extraordinarily tough year.

UPDATE: Just learned that the links to the videos are not displaying correctly. Working on it…

UPDATE: All fixed!

Freedom ’90

Father Figure

I Knew You Were Waiting

Careless Whispers

Come on 2017

I don’t usually share too much of my personal, day-to-day information online. Today I’m going to make an exception. Why? Because I think it’s important to remember that we’re all human, we all have ups and downs and we all have great and awful times.

My life isn’t much different than yours. I love reading. I love my family. I’m a total geek who loves food and playing with the grandbabies.

I’m also SO happy that 2016 is almost over!

I lost my job earlier this year. It was a horrible and completely unexpected situation. It was the first time in almost 20 years that I didn’t have a day job to fall back on and we almost lost everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. I was totally stressed and while I love writing, it doesn’t pay the bills, so a day job is important for my, and my family’s sanity.

I did a lot of talking to myself this year:

  • “Yo, T.J., don’t flip your wig woman. Things will work out!”
  • “Hey you, uh, I mean me, keep a positive outlook. The money will come. You will pay your mortgage. Everyone will eat and the lights will stay on, damn it!”
  • “Don’t worry about your family. They will leave the house and return again safely.”
  • “Have faith in humanity! Not everyone is shortsighted and full of hate.”
  • “Not all of your favorite musicians and actors are dying this year! Relax!”

And it went on and on. Needless to say, this year has sucked in so many ways that I’m seriously counting down the days to next year. Oh, and I’m not even going to get into the nutball politics this year. I’m glad to say that I didn’t think I’d be motivated to write a single thing, but that’s changing and the plot bunnies are hopping around like crazy *YAY!*

Also to celebrate the landing of a new day job, we are going to feast like there is no tomorrow. This is part of the plan. Ever had it? If so, share your favorite recipe for…PORCHETTA! Click the picture to hop to the recipe.

Oh, and 2017, hurry up already.

 

I just had to share!

cheesecake-bars-with-wine-gelee-4-600x900

I’m not a big drinker but I do enjoy a glass of wine every now and then. And with the holidays coming up, we are always looking for a way to put a bit of a different spin on the usual culprits…such as red wine.

I saw this recipe a few days ago and I can’t get it out of my head. So I figured I’d share the love and drive you just as nuts as I am right now at wanting to try this delicious looking dessert. I would say I’m sorry…but I wouldn’t mean it! So let’s enjoy it together, shall we?

Cheesecake Bars with Wine Gelée

yield: 16 squares

prep time: 25 min
cook time: 25 min
total time: 7 hours (including chilling)

INGREDIENTS:

For crust:

  • 8 full sheets (140gr) graham cracker
  • 4 tablespoons (55gr) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For cheesecake filling:

  • 12oz (340gr) cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup (60gr) plain Greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (300gr) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For wine topping:

  • 1 envelope (8gr) unflavored gelatin
  • ¾ cup (180ml) red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 4 teaspoons sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 8×8 square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving two sides hanging over the edges.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into fine crumbs. (If you don’t have a food processor, place the graham crackers in a ziplock bag and roll a rolling pin over the graham crackers.) Add sugar and melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened with butter. Transfer the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Evenly spread it, lightly pressing into the pan. Bake for 10 minutes and cool on wire rack.
  3. In a large mixing bowl with whisk attachment, beat cream cheese, Greek yogurt and condensed milk until creamy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the egg, flour, vanilla extract and salt. Continue to whisk until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  5. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust. Bake it until the filling is set but not browned, for about 25 minutes. Cool the cheesecake to room temperature (about 2 hours), then refrigerate for at least 2 hours to chill.
  6. To make the wine gelée, sprinkle the gelatin over ½ cup of wine and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, stir in the sugar in the hot water. Add the sugar water into the wine with gelatin. At this point, the mixture will be a little cloudy. Mix well until gelatin is completely melted. (If needed, microwave for 30 seconds to warm the mixture up. The mixture should become clear.) Add the remaining ¼ cup of wine and cool the mixture to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Gently pour the wine mixture using a back of the spoon over the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, until the wine topping is set completely.
  8. Cut into 16 squares (or even smaller, if desired), before serving.

    Recipe is courtesy of Sweet & Savory by Shinee
    There were so many ads on the original post, I could barely get to the recipe. So rather than taking you through that madness, I posted the details here. To see the original ad, uh I mean post, visit http://www.sweetandsavorybyshinee.com/cheesecake-bars-with-wine-gelee/

30 Day No Bullshit Challenge

…is coming!

I see all these challenges, like the 30 Day Plank Challenge, 30 Day Squat Challenge, 30 Day Journal Challenge. 30 Day Whatever-The-Heck Challenge. How about a 30 Day No Bullshit Challenge? Well, it’s coming people.

NoBS

A Certified Master Life Coach is going to take us through 30 days of true life-changing challenges to our own status quos. Want to kick dysfunction? Want to better your personal relationships? It doesn’t matter what kind, whether it’s friendship, marriage, family or whatever. She’s prepping…then we’re coming for you.

Stay tuned – start date will be announced soon. ‪#‎30DayNoBS‬

Our coach’s name is Tamara Mays-Sheeley. Her area of expertise is polishing women into the gems that we are. If you want personalized instruction, you can enroll in her classes directly.

If you’re in the Savannah, GA area in August, drop into the Authors After Dark reader convention where we’ll both be signing!

Links:
Info on Authors After Dark
Info on The Polished Gem Academy
Link to Tamara’s book on Amazon

 

A Different Kind of Yum!

Okay, I’ll be completely honest here — when I first heard of this recipe my first reaction was “EWWWW!” But after reading what’s in it, it sounds absolutely delish and perfect for a holiday picnic or outing.

If you make this, let me know how it turns out!

Layered Cornbread Salad (courtesy of The Food Network)

FNM_050113-Layered-Cornbread-Salad-Recipe_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeTotal Time: 20 min
Prep: 20 min
Yield:6 servings
Level:Easy

Ingredients
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 scallions, minced
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 cups crumbled cornbread
2 15 -ounce cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese

Directions
Toss the tomatoes, bell pepper, cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the sour cream, mayonnaise, scallions, lime juice, chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
Assemble the salad: Sprinkle half of the cornbread in a glass bowl or trifle dish. Top with half each of the black-eyed peas, corn and the tomato-pepper mixture, then half each of the sour cream mixture and cheese. Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients, ending with cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Photograph by Con Poulos

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/cornbread-salad-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Seafood Cravings

The other day I tweeted about a certain need I had. And it was a need that hit me hard. I mean, I was almost shaking with anticipation at the thought of getting this particular thing.

I’m talking about…LOBSTER!

Yes, it’s true that I’m having a forty-year affair with seafood, and lobster is one of my favorites. There are only two things that beat out a good steamed lobster, drenched in real butter — sashimi and king crab.

So what does this have to do with books? From one foodie to another, not a darn thing! However, my Twilight Teahouse series does have an amazing sushi chef named Landon. You can read his story in Luscious, Twilight Teahouse Book Two.

Here’s the book cover, followed by an easy recipe that my fellow lobster-lovers will enjoy!

LuciousIngredients
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 stalk finely chopped celery
1 finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
3 lobster tails cooked (about 1 pound lobster meat), chopped
Lemon slices & dry rub, for garnish
Lobster SaladDirections
1) Combine mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper, celery, shallot, tarragon and chives in a bowl.
2) Add lobster meat to mayonnaise sauce and combine.
3) Rub the rim of 4 martini glasses with a lemon. Dip the rim in some dry rub. Divide the lobster salad between the 4 glasses. Garnish with dry rub and lemon slices.

Recipe courtesy of The Neelys and The Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/lobster-salad-cocktail-recipe.html?oc=linkback