Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

OK, I know I'm a day early but we all know I will spend tomorrow in a blissful food coma, LOL. This year my dad is working until 2pm. I wanted to host but Nancy's house cannot handle the entire Mann family and their significant others. There will be 15 of us this year. I can't remember the last time I was home for Thanksgiving. We decided to do a potluck and have dinner ready when dad got home. We as in Kim and I decided and told everyone what they would be doing, LOL.

roasted brussel sprouts with garlic and pistachios
cucumber salad
gravy (my dad will probably end up making this, LOL)
stove top (my family love it)
cranberry sauce
whipped pumpkin pie (making this tonight, wish me luck)
3 bottle martinellis sparkling cider

veggie tray
clam dip
spinach dip
onion dip
2 bottles martinellis sparkling cider

green bean casserole
mashed potatoes
2 bottles martinellis sparkling cider

frying turkey

pumpkin pie
dutch apple pie
cool whip
ice cream

5 bottles martinelli sparkling cider
case of water

Kim and I love martinelli's so we wanted to make sure there was enough, LOL. This will the first time I've had fried turkey and I am quite excited. I'm actually bringing another turkey so we can all have leftovers. We do love the leftovers and Adam says with frying a turkey it takes about 3 minutes a pound.

Su sent me her Thanksiving menu and I thought I would share that with you. Her and her hubby are staying home for Turkey day but just because there are 2 of them doesn't mean they should skimp.

Butternut squash maple soup

Fried turkey with giblet gravy
Cranberry-citrus sauce

Mustard greens
Buttered carrots
Green bean casserole
Roasted brussels sprouts
Grilled asparagus
Mashed potatoes
Cornbread dressing

Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Pie

She is my hero! I'd love to hear your Thanksgiving menus. What is a must for you. For me it's all about the gravy. I need it to drown my mashed potatoes and turkey in. I've actually been to Thanksgiving dinners where they don't do gravy. Those were sad times. Now I always ask so I can bring some if they don't have it, LOL.

Lin, is actually visiting. She had to take vacation so I invited her to come experience an American Thanksgiving. Lucky her, she will be able to experience 2 of them! After I leave my dad's we're heading to Nancy's parents house. They are also having a full house. Nancy made her green jello for the holiday. You'll have to ask her what all goes in it, one of the ingredients is horseradish. Yup, you read that right, LOL.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Su-hura here again, hijacking Leiha’s blog. I had the pleasure of attending the Readers ‘n’ Ritas conference and the Buns & Roses tea last month. Both were absolutely amazing! Romance readers are some of the friendliest people EVER. I was a tad worried about going because I didn’t really know anybody there. I knew a few of the authors, but I didn’t want to make a pest of myself by following them around everywhere. I’m enough of a pest from a distance. I needn’t have worried. The readers and authors were absolutely wonderful!

Readers ‘n’ Ritas

My weekend started early. I had to be on the road by 5am to get to Dallas in time for Reader ‘n’ Ritas registration. I didn’t drink any caffeine that morning because I didn’t want to have to pull over to pee. Not a great decision. I think I was hallucinating while I was driving. I thought I saw Santa driving a big rig. I’m still trying to figure out why he honked at me. Maybe it’s because I was having trouble deciding which lane to drive in so I just straddled the line. My bad.

Once I got to the hotel, I swung by the conference registration desk to pick up my goodie bag and badge. They weren’t quite ready yet, but there was delicious Seattle’s Best coffee ready and waiting for us. I sat and chit chatted with some other convention goers who lived in the area. We talked and guzzled coffee until registration was ready for us early birds.

Lucky for us, we got to look through the goodie bags to see which ones had the books we wanted. After grabbing our treasures, we had some time to kill before the morning sessions started. I had the pleasure of meeting Lauren Willig while drinking my third cup of coffee on an empty stomach. We had a lively discussion about our romance likes and dislikes. I have to say, I only remembered bits and pieces of our conversation because my brain was buzzing from all the caffeine.

I eventually stopped shaking enough to gird my loins and work my way toward the workshop rooms. The first workshop session I attended was “Covers Tell the Story.” I had no idea there were so many steps in designing and choosing a cover. Next, I attended “Books and Their Movies.” This was quite a lively workshop. Everyone had different preferences – should you see the movie first or read the book first? Some loved the movies but hated the books; some loved the books but hated the movies.

After the sessions were over, I decided I needed a break and more coffee. While refilling my cup, I ran into the uber-fabulous Dianna Love in the reception area. We found a quiet corner and chewed the fat. We talked hubbies, books, traveling, work, etc. I missed my third workshop session of the morning, but it was worth it to get to chat with Dianna.

We caught up with Sherrilyn after a while, and I got a chance to visit with the amazing author Goddess. She was wearing a lovely lightweight coat/duster that looked like something Goth royalty would wear. Very chic. We talked about her crazy schedule, KCon, “Phantom of the Night”, and FOOD! She was telling me about her dinner the night before, and I almost drooled on her coat. Unfortunately, we had to cut our conversation short because other adoring fans were waiting to speak with Sherrilyn.

After a while, it was time for lunch. Yeah!! I was lucky enough to be seated with Dianna who regaled us with stories of her wild exploits, and Jodi Thomas who won me over completely when she said she’d come and watch me compete with my idiot Golden child. I also met some very sweet dog-loving gals from Oklahoma. Our lunch entrĂ©e was mediocre, but dessert was freakin’ awesome. It was a triple layer dark chocolate cake.

After lunch, I finally got to check into my room. It was lovely and clean. Too bad I didn’t have time to play with the Sleep Number bed. After freshening up a bit, I was off to my afternoon workshops. I went to “Do You Miss the Euphemisms?” So funny!! I had no idea there were so many euphemisms for winky and vajayjay. My favorite “less offensive synonym” for cock was Wyatt Earp. Please allow me to use it in a sentence for you:

As Colt crushed Sierra to his hard body, he heard his little filly sigh breathily, “Your Wyatt Earp’s more than OK in my corral.”

I rushed back to my room after the session to fix my hair a bit and make some phone calls. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring hairspray. For a gal raised in Texas, this is an absolute catastrophe. I was in Dallas for goodness sake, home of the big hair. I had to get some hairspray.

There was no gift and sundries shop in the hotel so I had to walk a mile to the closest 7-Eleven to pick up hairspray and cigs. By the time I got back, I only got to sit in on the last bit of the Koffee Klatch session. However, I did make it in time for the book swap. I wound up getting fifteen books. Not a bad haul.

It was now time for margaritas!! Yeeee ha!!! The margaritas were definitely flowing, because by the time I made it to the booze, there was only one pitcher of margaritas left. It was only twenty percent full. Since there were no glasses handy, I just found a straw, stuck it in the pitcher, and sucked away! Sure I got some weird looks, but nothing was going to come between me and the tequila. They eventually brought out another pitcher.

The margarita chat was a riot. Turns out Rosemary Clement-Moore was going to be in Austin on the following Wednesday, so I promised her I’d swing by her signing. She is such a sweetheart. Dakota Cassidy entertained us with funny stories about her alcoholic editor who likes to participate in orgies. Candace Havens shared some of her celebrity tales with us. I asked her about my Navy SEAL husband, Christian Butler-Owen (cross between Christian Bale, Gerard Butler, and Clive Owen). She said they were all very sweet gentlemen, and that Christian is very intense. Swoon!!

After happy hour, I decided to get dressed up for dinner. Seemed like no one else was getting spruced up for the event, but I brought a cute top, so by golly I was going to wear it. I even fixed my hair and make-up. I felt refreshed by the time I made it down for dinner and was definitely ready for some chow.

During dinner, we had little slips of paper we were supposed to write funny stories or things we learned about books/authors/readers during the conference. I couldn’t come up with a damn thing. My mind went blank. Not enough tequila to lube up my brain.

After dessert, Candace read the entries for the funniest stories that people turned in during dinner. There were plenty of laughs and raunchy stories. The funniest moment was when she read aloud, “Dakota Cassidy is really a man.” You could hear a collective gasp echoing through the room. Then she said, “Oh, Dakota turned that one in,” and everyone started laughing.

After dinner was over, I went upstairs to freshen up again and get ready for post dinner drinks. I always come prepared, of course, and had mini-bottles of flavored vodka in my room. I snagged a couple, then went downstairs to order my mixers. Dianna and I sat at the bar and chatted with some conference attendees and organizers for a few hours. She had to head for bed around ten or so. I hung around and talked to some gals from the San Antonio area who were aspiring writers.

I was exhausted by midnight, and was ready for bed. After a quick shower, I was ready to play with my Sleep Number bed. I had so much fun jacking around with the controls. Turns out I am a 40. I like my mattress soft! I slept right in the middle of my king sized bed and felt like a princess. Too bad the bed didn’t vibrate too!

Buns & Roses Tea

I woke up refreshed and ready for more author action. I finally made it downstairs to breakfast around 10am. Lucky me!! Turns out, I made it in time for brunch with Sherrilyn, Dianna, Candace, some readers, and the Reyes (the organizers). What a treat!

We talked books, cowboys, family, celebrities, and just about anything else that popped into our heads over breakfast. After an hour or so, it was time for me to check out and get ready for the tea. I changed into a frilly margarita-green top, put on some boots, fluffed my hair, and was ready to rock.

Since I couldn’t decide whom to sit next to during the tea, I asked one of the organizers for her opinion. She said I should sit with Adele Ashworth because she doesn’t come out very often. Adele is one of Leiha’s favorite authors, so that clinched it for me. I would sit at Adele’s table come hell or high water.

This was one of the most colorful events I have ever been to. Many of the attendees dressed up in beautiful dresses and extravagant hats. There were even ladies there from the Red Hat Society. I felt underdressed in my silly top.

Once they opened the doors, I rushed to find Adele’s table. Her table was almost at the very front of the room. Awesome! I was the first one there. After a few minutes, more people showed up to sit at her table. We only had one seat open at our table by the time everyone arrived.

Adele was fabulous. She brought us copies of her book “Someone Irresistible” and some wonderful candles from Neiman Marcus. We talked about her books and her family for a while before opening ceremonies began. Candace emceed again, and it turns out the proceeds from the tea benefit the Richardson Adult Literacy Center. The RALC actually had a beneficiary of the center lined up to speak, but she went into labor so she couldn’t make it. Slacker!! Just kidding!!

Sherrilyn was the keynote speaker. She was amazing. She talked about her writer’s journey. She talked about her childhood and her family. She talked about many of the obstacles she had to overcome. She talked about how important her readers are to her and about how much she appreciates our support. She was so incredibly moving, I was in tears! Adele was right there with me. We were both worried our mascara was running.

After the tea was over, the authors had to high tail it to the back of the room for the book fair and signing. I wound up spending around eighty bucks on books. By the time I bought my books, some of the authors had already left their stations, so I didn’t get all of my new books signed. Drat! Sherrilyn and Dianna’s line was very, very long of course. Unfortunately, I had a lengthy drive home, so I couldn’t wait for them. Waahhhh!!!

Final Thoughts

This turned out to be a wonderful weekend. The authors and readers were just fantastic. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. It was much more intimate than RWA or RT. While I really enjoy attending those conferences, you don’t get as much face time with the authors as you do here. Of course, throwing in a few topless men couldn’t hurt. *EG* I definitely hope to attend next year.

Here’s a little something one of my gal pals sent me:


Women are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the very top. Most men don't want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they sometimes take the apples from the ground that aren't as good, but easy. The apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, they're amazing. They just have to wait for the right man to come along. The one who is smart and brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.

As for are like a fine wine. They begin as grapes, and it's up to women to stomp the @#$&% out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have dinner with.

Share this with all the good apples you know.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Barb's 60th birthday celebration!

A couple of weeks ago Nancy and I flew to San Francisco to help celebrate Barb's big day. We knew it just wouldn't have been the same without us, LOL. She also has been planning for awhile so we RSVP'd a year prior. Also joining the party were Su, Linda T, Linda W and Kandi! The party was in the Sonoma Valley and we had a hotel close to the venue. I would say there were about 50 or 60 of Barb's closest friend there. If you know Barb, you know she is well loved, deservedly so.

We had all come into town on Friday (well Linda T a little earlier to visit some other friends). Su came in first so of course I got a call from Barb and her while they were sucking down drinks at lunch, LOL. It was hard to understand Barb with that straw in her mouth! Nancy and I finally left to go join the party. I slept the entire flight and Nancy talked the entire flight. I don't know why people think I'm the loud one, LOL. Once the gals picked us up we went to join Linda W and Kandi for dinner. The food was decent, the service was awful but the company more then made up for it. After dinner we headed to Barb's where we were met by one of Barb's oldest friends Goose. I had heard her name for years and she just recently moved back to the area. I'm sure being descended upon by us was overwhelming but she held her own even when I was walking around making people feel my boobs and butt. Hey, there's a story behind that! Barb had some bust enhancing gel which she didn't know if it worked or not. She didn't have it for herself, her company used to sell it but they were discontinuing. I felt it was my duty to test out the product and let me tell you, I thought I had perky boobs, well the gel made me look like I had a boob job! It was awesome! My nipple was pointed up, it was cool! We tried it on Nancy but it didn't work as well so then we tried it on my butt. I could feel a little tightening and made everyone touch but they couldn't tell the difference so the boob cream doesn't lift butts (then again, I don't need much help in the butt department, LOL).

Saturday Barb had breakfast for us, bagels and cream cheese with fresh fruit! She even went and got coffee for those who drink it. We needed to be ready by noon, we had to re-pack for our overnight trip which is always stressful. I hate leaving clothes behind, I may need them! We were all ready on time and Linda T joined us and off we went to lunch. I can't remember the name of the pace but it was really cute and we sat outside and the weather was glorious and I was sad that I no longer live in California, LOL. The food was wonderful! Well except the pumpkin soup which a bunch of the girls got. The sandwiches were huge! I got a cobb salad. I do love me some cobb salad.

After lunch it was time to head to the hotel. It was a little over an hour to get there. I chose to nap. Are you surprised? As soon as we got checked in Barb, Su and Nancy were off to the bar to have drinks with some friends. Linda and I popped in to say hi but chose to start getting ready. Well Nancy did help bring our bags up so when we were going back down she was pushing me in the luggage rack down the hallway and then we switched. For some reason Linda didn't want to be pushed in the luggage rack, LOL.

The party started at 6, we were a little late. We'll blame it on the birthday girl, LOL. We all had our own table and I like to call our table the booby table. As you can see, cleavage galore, apparently most of the other party goers didn't get the memo, LOL. Here's a pic with the birthday girl and her posse. Barb can't resist herself and who can blame her?So a little over a month ago Barb called me about something she wanted to do during her party but I couldn't tell anyone. My response was, "not even Nancy?!?!" Not even Nancy. I agreed because you know I'm totally curious. Barb loved the movies Mama Mia and Priscilla Queen of the Desert and she wanted a Mama Mia moment at her party. Now who does Barb know who is willing to break into song? That would be moi LOL. She had already talked to Goose and her niece Erica. They were the only other ones in on it. The plan came together.

So at the end of dinner after people told Barb stories which was fun. I would have talked more during that time but I knew my time was coming, LOL. Her niece gave her herself as a birthday present. She will be moving in in the fall and told her at the party and said happy birthday. I wanted Nancy to get on the mic and say she was moving in but she wouldn't, LOL. Wuss! So Barb stands up to give her speech and my heart starts pounding. I was so nervous. I was hoping Barb would talk for hours. I thought, is this what a heart attack feels like? Will I even be able to talk, let alone sing? I don't know. Barb only knows the first verse of her song so I am supposed to interrupt immediately but you so know I waited til the last possible second to torture her, LOL. I know, I'm a good friend.

So finally I jump up and stop her. I tell her Barb, I can't believe you're singing! You said you were going to take singing lessons but it's obvious you hadn't. Su says she knew something was up when I wouldn't make eye contact and then sealed it when I was so mean. I had told Barb I was going to dis her. I honestly can't remember what else I said. All I know is, you could hear a pin drop, LOL. People were horrified. Well, they were horrified that Barb sang, then here I am interrupting her and then I grab the mic and start singing the first few lines of Dancing Queen.

You can dance, you can jive,
having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene,
dig in the dancing queen

At this point the music kicks in with the next part of the song. Goose and Erica were supposed to start singing at that point, they did not, LOL. But Goose started dancing and Erica started giving everyone boas and exactly what Barb wanted to happen happened. Practically everyone got up to dance and this begins the dancing part of the evening. I walked around the room singing the rest of the song and getting people to sing into the mic. Nancy was so shocked, both her and Linda thought I was trying to hog the spotlight making the night about me. What would ever give them that idea? Hmph!

I went to the hotel and changed so I would have to worry about keeping the sisters in all night. I also grabbed everyone's flip flops so we could dance up a storm. Barb was promised an asian sammich so she got one. Su was showing off her splits so I showed off mine. Notice how far away I was from the ground, LOL. Hey, at least I protected you all from the site of her crotch!

As you can imagine there was much mayhem on the dance floor. The DJ was awesome and played whatever song we requested. Which is why we did the time warp! So fun! Of course this being Barb's party there were shots (the pic I wanted to use I haven't seen). I only had a couple, Nancy and Su I'm not so sure, LOL. Barb was also serenaded. Maybe some spanking on the dance floor, not naming names, LOL. It was a fabulous party and everyone had a great time, most especially the wonderful birthday girl!

Friday, November 07, 2008

So much for relaxing!

I’m taking over Leiha’s blog today to share with you folks one of the most horrific experiences of my life – Thai Massage. Some of you may already know this about me, but for those of you who don’t, I’m a huge germaphobe. Think “Monk” and “Mr. Clean” adopt an Asian baby. That would be me. I spend more money on wet wipes than I do on jewelry. I wipe down all the non-porous surface areas of my seat and the seat in front of me when I fly. Get the picture? I know, I know, I’m a huge freak show.

My Thai Massage Experience

As I walk into the massage room, I see a thin mattress on the floor and slowly realize that I will be getting my massage on the floor (where all the stinky toe-jam germs live) instead of on a massage table. Perhaps I should have suspected things weren’t going to go well at this point. However, I’m trying to be brave and keep telling myself, “It’s okay, I’m not going to freak out. I can handle this.”

But then, I see my practitioner slipping out of his leather loafers. You know, the ones he’s been wearing all day long. My germ radar is starting to get a bit twitchy. I try to convince myself that he needs to take his shoes off so that he doesn’t get the mattress on the floor dirty. Nothing to get excited about.

The actual massage part starts out fine. The practitioner begins by working on my shoulders and upper arms. He’s a bit on the crunchy side, and he’s got a tiny bit of b.o., but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I live in the South after all, and b.o. is a constant during the summer months. So far so good. I’m even starting to relax a bit.

And that’s when it happens. The practitioner pulls both my arms behind me, then puts both his hot, sweaty feet on my lower back. I am moments away from a full on panic attack. I can feel his toes digging into my spine. Just when I think it can’t get any worse, he walks his feet up my back, and I can feel him stepping on my clean hair and neck. Ewwwww!!

The whole time, I’m chanting in my head, “Don’t freak out, don’t freak out, don’t freak out.” I actually have to suppress a shudder. By now, I’m just trying to breath normally because I’d been holding my breath for the last several minutes. I’m also pretending that the body I’m in is just on loan. My real body is safely tucked away in a decontamination room somewhere at NASA.

After a few excruciating minutes, he lets go of my arms and begins working on my legs and feet. It feels great. He’s loosening up my hips, knees and ankles, and I’m loving it. I’m just so relieved that he’s not using his feet on me anymore that I don’t care what he does to me. Unfortunately, he makes another germaphobe faux pas.

After finishing up with my feet, the practitioner comes around behind me and begins to massage my scalp with the same fingers that were between my toes just moments before. Did he wash his hands? No. Did he use a wet wipe before digging his fingers into my scalp? No. Great, now I have toe-jam hair.

At least I have some protection. I grew up in Texas, which means I need hairspray like I need air. It’s a very humid day, so I have my hair sprayed down on my head like a helmet. Hopefully the alcohol from my heavy duty hairspray will kill some of the cooties on his fingers. Yuck!

Are y’all ready for the worst part? So I’m lying on my back trying to remain calm when the practitioner moves to my left side and sits. He begins to pull steadily on my left arm. It actually feels pretty good. I can feel my shoulder loosening up a bit. I suddenly hear the practitioner shifting around, and the next thing you know, I feel his sweaty foot in my armpit. How many other armpits have his feet been in today?

I immediately begin to create an alternate personality for myself. I simply cannot deal with the fact that I can feel his dirty toes on my pristine boob as he starts exerting pressure on my pit. Yup, I’m losing it. As he moves to my right side, I feel like I’m in the scene in “Misery” where Kathy Bates is breaking James Caan’s ankles. “Almost done, just one more.” Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!

I can’t remember anything after the armpit incident. My alternate personality must have taken over at some point. All I know is that I have an overwhelming urge to go home and shower like crazy. As I get into my car, I can smell some funk. I think the practitioner’s feet must have been sweatier than I thought. I’m more grossed out than ever and have to work hard to keep from hurling.

Thus ends my first Thai massage experience. Believe it or not, I would definitely get another Thai massage again. However, I will come bearing my own socks for the practitioner to wear as well as some Purell and wet wipes for him to use during my massage. Fool me once…


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama is right!

It's time for change! So voila, I chopped off all of my hair! Too bad I forgot how much work short hair takes LOL. I'm ready to grow it out! Next profile pic I'll try to find a background my hair doesn't blend into, LOL.