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2014 Reading Challenge



This year, I'm again pledging to read at least 52 fiction books, though shooting for 60.

I did exceed my 52 book goal from last year.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

It's writers group weekend...


Let the temptation begin!

I'll be spending the whole day with my writer friends, but that also means being tantalized by the delicious smells of the two restaurants we hang out at.

Wish me luck at resisting the really bad things...

Hope your weekend will be just as fun but without the temptations. :)

And happy birthday to my mother-in-law!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Running behind today, so this is a quick and easy post...


The evolution of my azalea bush. :)

 March 20th

 April 3rd

 April 10th

April 11th

According to a friend of mine, azaleas are hard to grow. My other one died and since the pair of them had been planted to flank my Chinese wisteria and I no longer had two...I moved this one to the pot and the corner of my patio. I seems to like it there, so I'm not messing with it.


Monday, April 14, 2014

I'm really tired of gaining and losing and gaining and losing the same FIVE pounds!


For the last several of months I've gained and lost the "same" few pounds. Ugh!

I reach a certain low weight and something triggers in my head that says, "Go ahead and splurge, look how good you've done." And so I do. And then along comes writers group day and I allow myself to go hog wild. Our group meets at a Tex-Mex restaurant and I pig out on chips and salsa and enjoy a delicious high-calorie meal of enchiladas with beans and rice or a juicy burger and steak fries.

And then I've gained back the weight...

But I've had it.  I'm bound and determined to lose those five pounds and a few more in order to finally finally drop below the gosh-darned 130lb. mark. Just once. I just want to see it on the scale's readout. I know I won't stay there for very long, but that's okay. I'll shift above and below it for a few weeks as my body adjusts to this new phase.

I've done good, and whenever I've been tempted to splurge on something, I remember the scale readout, I think about the progress I've made and about the hated poundage I don't want back and I say no.

I'm going to have to give up my new vice: flour tortillas. Or at least reduce the number of them I consume. But they are so darned tasty. Back to more proteins and more veggies. More celery and peanut butter, I guess. I really should get back to my salad lunches, but the prep work stops me in my tracks. I'll have to research my cost of buying all the lettuce and veggies fresh and raw versus the pre-made salads at the local grocery store. If the difference is negligible, then I may go for the pre-mades. Of course, once the kids are all out and our expenses decrease across the board, then maybe I'll splurge anyway.

I'm still walking every morning, though I'm maintaining a slower pace. The faster pace was making one of legs hurt in a way that wasn't right. Instead, I'm going to increase the grade of the incline to challenge my leg muscles more. I've already noticed some increased muscle mass, both in my calves and right above the back of the knee. Which might also account for the seeming lack of weight loss.

Now if I could just get rid of my belly, but I know it's going to be the hardest area to lose and tone.


And just for fun--the best SQUIRREL PICTURE EVER!



Friday, April 11, 2014

It's FRIDAY again...


Just gotta get through the day and then it'll be the WEEKEND again.

Sonshine will be having friends over Saturday for the next round of Dungeons & Dragons and I'm looking forward to putzing in the yard some more. My goal is to get the back lawn mown and weed whacked. I don't mind the mowing, but I have never been able to properly wield the weed whacker. I can whack if I really have too, although it's not pretty, and Sonshine's gotta earn his keep somehow, right?

I have the last of the brush pile on the side of the house to dispose of. Last night, I broke out the chain saw to cut the larger branches and limbs into truck-bed lengths. Tonight, I'm going to work on raking up all the leaves that have been smashed down and wedged into the grass and ground so that it can all go to the dump first thing in the morning.

Once all that's done, then I have to start digging up the bush and tree stumps along there. Not a fun or easy task. Thankfully they're not large, not are there very many of them. Not sure what my plan is but it'll probably involve a lot of water and the roto-tiller, though *not* at the same time--churn up the dirt and pull out what I can. Then soak the dirt until it's soup and pull out some more. What do you think?? Any other suggestions?

The goal of all that effort is so that I can put in the flower bed I've been dreaming of for years. I want to plant all bulb flowers, so I definitely have a few months to put in the work. Plus I'm borrowing a page from AWESOME REGINA's book and asking for labor for Mother's Day in lieu of gifts.

And while I'm catching my breath between bouts of manual labor, I'll be proof reading and fixing a friend's website.

What are your exciting plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's for dinner??


Almost every day, one or the other of my children (sometimes both) ask me what's for dinner. Anyone who works a nine-to-five job knows how hard it is to come home from work and then have to throw together a meal. Depending on the meal, it could be another hour or two before it's time to eat. Unfortunately for me, I'm ready to eat as soon as I walk in the door. Waiting another hour is not usually an option.

Several Sundays ago, maybe a month, I cooked up all my meats. Taco meat, BBQ pork, Fiesta Chicken, etc. I don't remember what I started with, but let me tell you, it was soooo nice to have everything almost ready. Because the meals were already mostly cooked and were things I really enjoyed eating, it wasn't a chore to put dinner together once I got home.

One of our new favorites--Fiesta Chicken--totally easy to prepare using a Crock-Pot! Toss everything in the crock, cook all day, shred the chicken, and serve.

I mostly kept up with it, until weekend before last when I was at my writers conference and I didn't get home until mid-afternoon Sunday. I also didn't grocery shop, since I usually do that early on Sunday mornings, so last week we powered through with whatever was in the house which meant a lot of easy, high-carb meals like grilled cheese and quesadillas. Not good for my waistline.

This past Sunday, I got back on track and it's been so nice to come home and be able to put together a healthy, filling meal without too much time or effort at the end of the day.

Have you ever pre-prepared meals?

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Jen FitzGerald
Thanks for stopping by one of my little corners of the world wide web. So, a little about me...My husband and I have been married for twenty years and we have three adult children although our youngest is still in high school. We've lived in Texas for fifteen years and for the rest of the story, click here.
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Jen's Glossary of Terms

  • DH = my husband
  • my Brown Eyed Girl = my oldest daughter
  • DD = my Darling Daughter (the younger one)
  • Sonshine or Marching Band Boy = my son
  • NT = the North Texas chapter of RWA
  • RWA = Romance Writers of America

2014 Goals

  • lose weight--get down to 120ish pounds (that's 16 lbs.)
  • pay off the credit card with proofing money
  • create bulb bed/plant bulbs on the side of the house
  • work on back yard
  • bookshelves in living room
  • ramp up proofreading
  • publish three more Romance Writer's Guides books
  • get my son graduated
  • read up on how to make the body work like it's supposed to and help my hubby lose weight and get healthy
  • read 64 books, including 12 books on plotting

Books Read in 2014

  • Lost in Temptation by Lauren Royal
  • What Wendy Wants by Nikki Sex
  • Improper Proposals by Juliana Ross
  • Kira's Keeper by Jan Schliesman
  • Improper Arrangements by Juliana Ross
  • Improper Relations by Juliana Ross
  • How to Kick Your Fat in the Nuts by T.C. Hale
  • Stop!!! Manifesting Money by D/C Russ
  • A Lady in Defiance by Heather Blanton
  • Secret Obsession by Robin Perini
  • Rebooting Your Life: A 12-Day Program for Ending Stress, Realizing Your Goals, and Being More Productive by Gibbons
  • 30 Daily Weight Loss Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle by Joshua Wylie
  • Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer
  • Coconut Oil Recipes: Nature's Remedy for Health, Beauty, Weight Loss, Allergies & Detoxing by Scarlett Aphra

Books read in 2013

  • Incredibly Delicious Soup Recipes from the Mediterranean by Vasela Tabakova
  • Madam President by Jerry Beller (didn't finish)
  • Kick Menstrual Cramps in the Nuts by T.C. Hale
  • Blurred Lines by Janie Crouch
  • Love Me or Leave Me by Kristine Mason
  • Wish On a Star by Lauren Holly
  • Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer
  • Take a Chance, a Private Delights novel by Lavender Daye
  • Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
  • Protecting Their Child by Angi Morgan
  • Outlaw by Angus Donald (didn't finish)
  • The Warrior by Wanda Ann Thomas
  • Private Designs by Lavender Daye
  • Private Passions by Lavender Daye
  • Northern Lights by Nora Roberts
  • Pick Me by Kristine Mason
  • Kiss Me by Kristine Mason
  • Missing by Beverley Bateman
  • Bedded By Her Bodyguard by Kristi Avalon
  • Playing for Keeps by Jamie Denton
  • Dare You To by Katie McGarry
  • The Cradle Conspiracy by Robin Perini
  • Behind the Lies by Robin Perini
  • Ain't Misbehaving by Molly Cannon (audio book)
  • Undercover Texas by Robin Perini
  • In Her Sights by Robin Perini
  • Christmas Conspiracy by Robin Perini
  • Hunted by Beverley Bateman
  • Private Delights by Lavender Daye
  • Desired & Defended by Kristi Avalon
  • Cowboy in the Crossfire by Robin Perini
  • Finding Her Son by Robin Perini
  • Collision Force by C.A. Szarek
  • A Texas Baby by Linda Warren
  • Highland Moon Sifter by Clover Autrey
  • Trusting Her by Starla Kaye
  • Nurses in Vietnam: The Forgotten Veterans edited/compiled by Dan Freedman and Jacqueline Rhoads
  • Station Hospital Saigon: A Navy Nurse in Vietnam 1963-1964 by LCDR Bobbi Hovis, NC, USN (ret.)
  • Joyful Momma's Guide to Shopping & Cooking Frugally by Kimberly Eddy
  • Home Before Morning: The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam by Lynda Van Devanter
  • Whistling in the Dark by Tamara Allen
  • If it Ain't Love by Tamara Allen
  • The Only Gold by Tamara Allen
  • Downtime by Tamara Allen
  • Off Her Game by Suzan Butler
  • Bet on Love by Barbara Witek
  • The Hand of Vengeance by Mike Mendoza
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (audio book version) by J.K. Rowling
  • Offside by Juliana Stone
  • The Memory of You by Laurie Kellogg
  • Plotting: A Novelist's Workout Guide by Aaron Allston
  • Relentless by Cindy Stark
  • Don't Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde
  • 100 Ways to Save and Grow Your Money, Financial Fitness for Regular People by Peter Sorrells
  • Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer
  • I Want it Now: A Memoir of Life on the Set of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Julie Dawn Cole
  • From Dunes to Dior by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar
  • Aggie's Inheritance by Chautona Havig (didn't finish)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory