Mother Nature, can we talk?

IMG_0223It’s March 27th, and it still feels like winter in Amsterdam. Wind. Rain. Biting cold. Take all that and multiply it by ten when you’re on a bike. I know these are completely normal temperatures for this time of year, but still. Could we maybe get a little taste of spring?

I know, I know, when we moved to Atlanta all those years ago, the Dutchman and I swore we would never complain about the heat. That first summer, we were those crazy new neighbors who soaked up the sun in the dead of August. I’m pretty sure we lived outside for months. It took us that long to thaw out our frozen bones.

But the heat eventually got to us, just like the cold and wet does here, and it chased us inside. Before long, we were like everyone else in Atlanta, complaining about the heat, the humidity, the blazing hot sun. And when spring came, instead of throwing open the doors and running outside, we complained about the pollen.

So here I am, back where my promise all started, in the Netherlands, freezing and wishing for spring. Like everybody else on this sodden piece of land, I study the weather report like a religion and run outside when the skies stop dumping. I huddle on terraces under heaters and behind wind screens, my face pointed to the sun. I don’t care that it’s still freezing; I’m thrilled to just be outside, even if only for a few minutes.

And when Spring finally gets here, I promise to enjoy every single second. And this time, I promise it will last.

My Tuesday Dad

In a couple of months, my dad will have been gone for five years.

The sting of his passing still strikes fresh, on those days I selfishly wish he could be here, when I want to pick his brain about life, get his opinions and advice. Have him on my team.

But also, same as the very morning we lost him, I am thankful for his release.

My dad was kind-hearted and he talked with his hands and there were certain deficiencies with some of his abilities. He dealt for so long with severe health conditions.

The same can be said of this man I see at my workplace every Tuesday morning. Oh, there are enough prominent differences that I see his individuality, but there’s also a little of my dad in there somewhere. The heart, the hands, the conditions.

Some mornings, when he says, “Hi, young lady,” in the same tone my dad would have, I reply quickly and rush off, before he can notice my watery eyes. Other mornings, we talk about the weather or about his family, and I am grateful for those occasional times I can pull away from my introversion for chit-chatting.

No exchange is profound. There is never a strong undercurrent of my dad himself. It’s just that the similarities bring me some small comfort, a glimpse of who my dad was—and still is in my heart—and that makes me happy.

On Tuesdays.

A Goodbye Gift

Spring At LastSince the 2011 inception of the Women Unplugged blog, I’ve met so many amazing people on this site, and learned so much from my fellow Women Unplugged bloggers. And now I’m sad to tell you that this will be my last regular post on the site.

THE END (for me) made me remember THE BEGINNING, so I went back through the archives and pulled out a few of my very favorite posts. These are posts that gave me a glimpse into the lives—and hearts— of the amazing women I’ve been fortunate to share this time with. I hope you enjoy their words as much as I did (for the first or second time, depending on how long you’ve been here with us).

It’s Not Selfish To Do What You Love by Andrea Wenger

Overcoming Obstacles To Get My Game On by Tracy Solheim

Batter Up by Christy Hayes

AAA – Animals Against Anxiety by Patricia Yager Delagrange

Where I’m From by Sharla Lovelace

Scene of the Day by Janna Donn

My First Book Signing by Dianne Venetta

Trusting the Process by Kimberly S Bell

Wishing you all much good health, happiness, and the joy of reading!

No More Shopping!

I’m going on vacation! I’m exhausted from packing, exhausted from the lead up, and all I can think about is sleeping on the plane and eventually seeing the sun. We’ve had a rainy stretch these last few days and I’m over it.9398206391_06effde0cf

As I packed my suitcase, filling it with the sundry of new purchases I’d made for the trip, I realized how many clothes I have that I never wear. I work from home and I like to be comfortable. For me, that means workout wear and tennis shoes most days (and not particularly nice workout wear). So why did I go out and buy more new clothes I’ll barely wear?

Good question.

The good news is that I’m a bargain shopper so nothing was terribly expensive. The bad news is it’s time to clean out my closet and give some clothes to charity.

The moral of this post is more a reminder to myself: instead of buying new clothes I probably don’t need, I should shop in my closet for all the hardly worn treasures I once thought I couldn’t live without.

Happy Spring!

photo credit: Heavy bag via photopin (license)

A Sweet Treat for Spring

My latest work in progress takes place in a Bed and Breakfast in coastal North Carolina.  Some days, I feel like I’m writing a cookbook, there are so many references to food.  If you follow me on Pinterest, I’ll be creating a board with all the recipes once the first draft is complete.  For now, I wanted to share a recipe for a great spring treat–just in time for Easter.

strawberry brownie heartsLast month, a good friend of mine hosted a fundraiser for TurningPoint, a Breast Cancer rehabilitation center here in Georgia.  Everything about the party was pink–including the foods.  These strawberry brownies were a huge hit!  They’re perfect cut into hearts for Valentine’s Day, for bridal or baby showers or for a little girl’s birthday party. (The boys will love them, too.)

Strawberry Browniesstrawberry brownies

Adapted from: Family Savvy
Serves: 14-16

Ingredients

Brownies:
• 1 box strawberry cake mix (any brand will do as long as it doesn’t have pudding in the mix
• 
2 large eggs
• 
1/3 cup oil
Glaze:
• 
1 cup powdered sugar
• ½ -2 TB milk (it depends on how thick you want your glaze)
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line 9×13 baking pan with parchment (and spray with Pam. Make sure you get the sides).
3. Mix strawberry cake mix, eggs, and oil with hand mixer until well combined, about two minutes.
4. Pour batter into pan. Note: batter will be tacky, similar to taffy. Be sure to spread it evenly so brownies bake evenly.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until just set; be careful not to overcook.
6. Allow brownies to cool for 10 minutes; lift carefully from pan using ends of parchment to lift.
7. Mix powdered sugar and water until smooth.
8. Pour glaze over brownies, spreading to edges with pastry brush so that glaze will drip down sides.
9. Allow brownies to cool and glaze to set before cutting into squares.

cover-for-BTBWhile you’re enjoying these great eats, check out the first book in my Second Chances series, BACK TO BEFORE.  You’ll get a first look at the Tide Me Over Inn and it’s famous cupcakes.  Happy Spring!

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