I Struck Chocolate Gold!

Oh my word! You know all those ideas people seem to get? The ones that make them hang their heads in shame and decide to keep their mouths shut and not tell a soul what they did? 

This wasn’t one of those ideas! 

Since deciding keto just wasn’t going to work for me and going back to the Trim Healthy Mama plan, I’ve been a lot happier. It’s a much easier diet to follow, and I love many of the foods I get to eat. And I just plain and simply feel better without added sugars and high glycemic stuff in my body.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss the things I’ve loved my whole life. And with that in mind tonight, I decided I was going to experiment. Because I had a craving for one of those old favorites.

Recalling how nicely the granular Swerve (affiliate link, click here to learn more) caramelized with pecans for a lovely chaffle one day, I thought … it’s got to work for this too!

And it did!!!! Take a look at this!

And this!

This chocolate is staying on the ice cream. It’s not sliding off. And it’s not melted chocolate bars or chips either. It actually turned into something similar to the dipping topping at ice cream parlors. And it was soooooo good, even Aria loved it!

Tomorrow, I’m going to make it again – and this time get exact measurements and times. I’m also going to see how something similar might work for a more traditional style no-bake cookie. 

This is how I made it (more or less)…

About 1/2 cup of granular Swerve
1 tablespoon granular Pyure
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons soft butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
a couple pinches of pink sea salt
1/s teaspoon vanilla

Mix the sweeteners and cocoa in small pan until blended. Add salt, butter, and cream and mix well. Over medium low heat, bring to soft boil and simmer 20-30 seconds, stirring pretty much constantly for the entire time. Remove from heat (seriously, take it OFF the burner) and stir in vanilla. Serve over low carb ice cream. Yum!

Editing to add that leftovers turn out like the kind of fudge you cook, so if you have any left, I’d put it in a small buttered dish.

I will say that if this is anything like the sugar-laden stuff I used to make, how it turns out can be different each time. Sometimes, it came out like a hot chocolate syrup. Other times it turned into a kind of soft, stretchy caramel-kind of thing the second it hit the ice cream. And then it could turn out kind of like hot fudge. Any way it turned out though was great!

Since I’ve only made the low carb version this one time, I don’t know if it’ll turn out different every time or not. The one thing I do know is there’s NO simmering this stuff for a minute or two. And there’s definitely NO letting it simmer without stirring it. More than the 20 or 30 seconds, and no stirring, will likely end up with a burned product that will wind up in the trash.

Oops. I totally forgot. Keep checking my Amazon page through October 1oth because I’m having an end of summer sale. Numerous books will either be free – or at reduced prices!

Anyway, I wanted to share this for any Trim Healthy Mamas or low carbers out there. This is good stuff!

Photo credit (chocolate swirl): Pixabay

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Everyone has them. Some are very visible. Some can only be found with things like x-rays or CT scans. Some though,  remain hidden no matter how hard you might look for them. Even a full body MRI scan wouldn’t be able to find them.

After this year, I have some very visible scars. Well, visible if I were to actually show them to people, but I don’t. Not because I’m ashamed of them – because I’m not. But for those scars, I wouldn’t be here today, so I’m totally okay with them. And maybe, on the one year anniversary of the last surgery, I’ll post a photo of my stomach. Maybe not. I’ll have to see. 

I’m sure most of you have physical scars too. And we all have the invisible ones, to one degree or another. Some aren’t so bad. Others might have made us wish for a physical injury because it would have been less painful.

I think those scars are the worst of all because they tend to change our lives forever. And not in a good way either. Chris Parker (A Harry Situation), and Jon Rambo (Her Best Friend Jon) were both heroes with scars, as are the heroes in the two books I’m working on.

In the fourth book in the Royal Sweethearts series, Quinn MacMahon suffers a devastating injury that could change his life forever. Those scars are a mixture of both physical and emotional. In the other book, Wesley Cooper’s are of the emotional variety. In both cases, these men are – let’s say lacking in ‘perfect’ hero qualities when their stories begin. Especially Wesley. But to say more would be giving away too much.

I will say that as I finish the final few scenes in one story, and begin the final edits in the other, I’m very pleased with the way both men turned out. From wondering if each was right for ‘the job,’ to making me swoon by the end, I couldn’t be happier with them.

I’ll start giving some snippets of scenes out when I can see the end in sight. Or at least see it more clearly than I do at the moment. But it’s not too far away now. And I hope, when you finally have a chance to meet these particular heroes, that you grow to love them as much as I do. 

As I was searching for a song to represent my guys, I couldn’t find one a perfect one. But a favorite by Matchbox Twenty comes close enough (and it’s Rob Thomas, people. Rob Thomas.). It also hit me that, surprisingly, Wesley is a Nicholas Sparks fan. A little unusual, I think. Then I realized that the reason he likes that author is because the stories remind him that there are no happily-ever-afters in life. Not in his anyway. Quinn is a bit like that too.

Amazing what my characters reveal to me over time. Things they knew all along. It just takes me a while to figure it out sometimes. 🙂


Photo credit: Pixabay

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This is a Test

I could say, “of the emergency broadcast system,” but I won’t. This is actually a test to see if I can start dictating things like this blog post, newsletters, and Facebook posts. So, just a quick warning, this post could be riddled with typos. And I have no plans to correct any of them, just because I want to see how it goes. And I thought I’d let all of you see how it goes too.

So far, I have to say that with the writing I am extremely impressed with the accuracy of this program. What program might that be, you ask. Why that would be called Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and if you click the link, you should know it’s an affiliate link – which means that if you click it and buy it, I could earn a small commission. It also means, that it won’t change the price for you at all.

The only time Dragon isn’t working quite as well as I would like, is if I first dictate into a voice recorder, and then play it back by the microphone on my headset. Still it’s just so much more accurate than it was when I was using a cheap microphone. Not that this is a top-of-the-line microphone headset, but it is better quality than what I was using last year. And the year before, actually.

That’s and of paragraph probably why I gave up on dictating stories, because it took so long to fix all the typos and errors, and to figure out what I actually tried to say, because translating from speech to text without Dragon was on nightmare.

I’m trying to not read through this to see what I said, and how it turned out, because if I do, my natural inclination would be to fix it all. If there’s anything to be fixed. And a quick skim, I have to say it looks pretty good to me.

And this is exactly why I’m doing this. This is why wanted do all the social media with dictation. I figure if I get used to speaking everything, it will be so much easier to dictate the stories. Right now I’m not doing too bad, but it’s kind of like putting me in front of an audience of a few hundred and expecting me to give a speech.

Trust me it wouldn’t go over well. I’m not comfortable in front of people, I never was. Taking drama and junior high to try and combat my shyness didn’t help at all. I am not as bad as I used to be by a long shot, but dictating is taking a lot of getting use to, and feels an awful lot like it did when I get up on stage at school.

Aria doesn’t have a problem like that. If I forget to close the door and she sees me dictating, I have to be really quick with pause button, because she’ll come up and start speaking into the mic with her nose almost against mine. I hope she always has that degree of confidence, but it does make dictating story is kind of interesting if I don’t hit that button and time.

So a quick update on the diet. I’m back on Trim Healthy Mama. Keto was great and a lot of ways. Within four days, I had cut my meals to twice a day, and had absolutely no problem fasting sixteen to seventeen hours a day. However as you all know by now, it’s been a rough year. A lot of you also know that I’ve struggled with thyroid -related fatigue for a long time. And the fatigue started coming back, even though it never completely gotten rid of it in the first place. That’s not all though, there were other issues that I wasn’t prepared to deal with right now. Possibly not ever.

So I will still be low-carb, just not keto low-carb. I’m going to be one of those people who shares photos of food. Until fall arrives, or the weather cools down a little bit, that foods can be served on paper plates. I have no furnace, it’s baseboard heating, which means no central air. And for some reason, whoever refurbished this house, put in a weird window so there’s no air conditioning in the kitchen. That means when it’s hot out, I try to avoid dirtying as many dishes as possible.

The reason I’m showing tonight at supper, is because I have been reading that cauliflower makes a good mashed potato substitute. Which I kinda knew but it wasn’t that great. Though what I’ve seen, made a huge difference tonight.

There is a need to drain the cauliflower really well. And I mean to press the moisture out with paper towels or a lint-free hand towel. It needs to be pretty dry. Then it needs to be beat really well with butter and heavy cream. I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t taste 100% like mashed potatoes, but it’s really close. And with the little gravy on it it’s hard to tell the difference.

So that’s all there is tonight as far as updates, except for the picture which I’ll share below. And except for speaking the corrections when Dragon used the wrong word, and there weren’t that many, I’ve been pretty pleased with how this dictating of a blog post turned out.

I know I said I wasn’t going to fix typos, but what I’m talking about aren’t really considered typos. It’s more of a misunderstanding. And I need to train Dragon to understand what I’m saying. For instance when I said dictating above, Dragon first heard me say Dick Tate. So I told Dragon to fix it.

And now I’m going to say good night, post the picture and try to finish dictating a scene I started last night. Until next time, take care. 

Yes, it tasted as good as it looks.

Photo credit (boy and microphone): Pixabay

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A Cancer Survivor

Normally, it’s a miracle if I make two posts in a month, but here I am, working on my second post of the day. For some reason though, I just feel like I need to do this one too.

Some people would call me a cancer survivor, as the title suggests. It sounds funny because I don’t feel like a cancer survivor. Why? Because almost as soon as it was found, it was gone. At least as far as the colon goes. The stuff on the skin took a little longer to get rid of – because those in power decided skin cancer surgery was elective and with the virus thing going on, I had to wait from February 4th until May 19th. Thank God I didn’t need chemo or radiation for either one of them

Back on topic though…

Why am I doing a second blog post today? Because I’ve been spending a lot of time educating myself about how to avoid getting cancer again. Granted, there’s a 90% five-year survival rate … but the farther away I get from the surgeries, and the better I feel, the bigger that 10% looks.

Yup. My odds of surviving the next five years are very good – but I want them to be better. 

My sister and I learned, through massive amounts of research when our dad was dying, that cancer cells thrive on glucose. That likely explained the fact that a cupboard at his place up north was filled with boxes of Little Debbie cakes. And why one of my aunts kept making him cream puffs with chocolate syrup. He craved carbs and sweets because his cancer cells needed them to grow.

If you’ve got half an hour, the video below explains it all very nicely. It’s what I plan to do for the rest of what I plan to be a long, healthy life. That, and intermittent fasting – but that’s a story for another day.

There’s no guarantee I’ll never get cancer again – but if I take away its main fuel source, the odds are much better that I won’t.

That’s why I’m sharing this video. I imagine most people who see this post aren’t going to be interested in going keto, and even more would say no to fasting twelve to sixteen hours a day. But maybe there are people like me, only they don’t know what to do to increase their odds for a long life.

I do – and there’s a lot more to be found on it than this one half hour video. This is just a place to start.

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If Wishes Were Horses…

…beggars would ride.

I don’t know why that old saying came to mind when thinking about a title for this post. Maybe because I wish I’d remembered to follow through with my plans to post a couple of times a week? Or because I wish I hadn’t put it out there until the habit was established?

No matter what I wished, I didn’t hit my new blogging goal. So from here on out, I will try to keep my goals to myself and shoot for the moon. If I get there – yay! If not, I’ll just keep trying until I do.

Today, I’m just going to do a quick update.

Because I still tend to tire a little more easily than I’d like, I’ve decided to give dictating another try. Why? Because if I can get comfortable doing it, I can talk a lot faster than I can type. And because I started something a year or so ago for a bedtime thing. Sometimes, I just read storybooks. Other times, I tell Princess Aria stories – starring Ms. Aria herself, with her supporting cast: Queen Grandma, Princess Mama, and Prince C.J. Depending on her mood, we have guest stars (like Gecko, Catboy, and Owlette – of PJ Masks fame).

We’ve gone swimming near a waterfall with mermaids. We’ve picnicked with Winnie the Pooh and his cohorts. Last night, our cat Max had to rescue Princess Aria after a magic rope pulled her to the top of a tree.

The cutest thing about all of this is that Aria asks me to ‘read’ her those stories. I really should encourage her to ask me to tell her a story, but she doesn’t see any difference between me reading an actual book, or making a story up for her.

Anyway, I figure if I can make stuff like that up out of the blue, I should be able to apply it to my writing. And it’s been working fairly well. Except Word (my writing program) seems to dislike a baby in one of the books I’m working on. It translated me saying ‘how light’ the baby was to him being homely. And then when the father asked if the hero was going to drop the baby (because he was scared to hold him), Word translated it to, “How are you going to drop the baby?” It’s good for some laughs, that’s for sure! 🙂

Moving on…

Cutting carbs and sugar out of my diet isn’t especially easy at first. So far, I”ve been easing in to keto by doing a bit of a combination of that and Trim Healthy Mama. Why? Because I started getting headaches from keto flu and didn’t want to take anything for it.

Sometimes, I’m pushing the limits though, like with the fish and chips I had a week or so ago. I was going to have salad for my side dish. I really was. But the kids were having fries and … well, I caved and had a handful of those. Technically, since I fried them in coconut oil too, I consider it kind of okay.

But the fish? Oh my word! It was wonderful! I used unflavored whey protein with some spices. You can see it in this group of photos (of the things I’ve eaten that are low carb). Yum!!!

Okay. I’ve rambled long enough. I need to run a quick errand – I need more eggs and salad fixings – and then I need to get to work. I’m trying to finish those same two books that are so close to being done … and I’m really hoping to have them done by-

Oops. I’ll keep that as a surprise. And if I meet the deadline, we’ll all be surprised. Including me. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Change My Mindset, Change My Life

I don’t know if I mentioned it in another post or not, but I’ve decided I’m going to try to get back to blogging at least twice a week. Maybe three times, but I’m not going to hold my breath for that third one. Not right now anyway.

Starting next week, I’ll tentatively try for Mondays and Thursdays. One of them will be about writing, romance, or anything along those lines.

The second one will be on pretty much any subject, along with updates on my get and stay healthy goals. It’s going to be my way of helping me to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Because being told I had skin cancer on February fourth, then having a cancerous mass removed from my colon exactly two weeks later (February eighteenth) was quite the wake call. Living with a colostomy bag for four months and six days was too, as was the original surgery, followed by a second in May, and a third in June.

I’m done with that kind of stuff. And I’m going to do everything I in my power to make sure that there will never be a repeat. And I can best do that with diet and nutrition. And I can best do that by changing my mindset. Instead of thinking a yummy burger from Culver’s, or jelly donut with lots of frosting is a treat, I need to start realizing that those are just two of many things that harm my health. They’re not treats!

I’ve spent the past several days doing some research, watching countless videos, and doing a lot of reading. And much as I love the Trim Healthy Mama diet, for now, I think keto will be the best way to go. Specifically, Dr. Eric Berg’s healthy keto diet. I really like that there’s adequate protein, but even more, I love that he encourages at least seven cups of salad, or four cups of non-starchy veggies – or a combination of both – each day.

It’s going to be interesting for the next few weeks because, for some reason, after a colostomy ‘take down,’ the reversal to get rid of the bag, fiber is supposed to be limited and worked up to gradually. As in no more than fifteen grams a day (total, not net) in the beginning. It seems a little counterintuitive, but I’ll follow the surgeon’s instructions. Now that I’m three weeks out though, I’m probably going to bump that up to twenty grams or so. And it’ll work. I’ll just stick with iceberg lettuce for salads, and measure other vegetables carefully.

But I’m excited. I can do the treadmill for short periods of time a few times a day too. And my regular doctor is putting in an order for either occupational or physical therapy so I can one, strengthen my battered abdominal muscles, and two, get some strength back. That means, this time next year, my health is going to be much better. I might even be able to run circles around Aria for a change.

If you have any health goals – diet, exercise, something else (or a combination) – feel free to share your progress in the comments section of these blog posts. 🙂

And finally… I’ve decided to add this to the short list of songs that inspire me to make the most of my life. They all mean so much more in 2020 than they did before…

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Plotting Problem Solved – and “Yacht Rock”

I have been so stuck on a problem with the first book in my new series that, no matter how hard I’ve tried to fix it and keep moving forward, it hasn’t worked. Until a week ago. What happened then? Well, it was actually quite simple. I realized that all I needed to do was cut two scenes. (cut … gulp … two scenes???!!!)

That was a relief! Not really. Honestly? Getting rid of even a single scene isn’t the easiest thing in the world for a writer to do. After all, we pour blood, sweat, and tears into all scenes – whether they wind up being necessary or not. So, I tried to figure out how to make them work – several times – before realizing no matter what I did, I’d still have the same problems I’d been struggling with for… Well, I’m not going to own up to how long, but it was too long.

Yes, it was hard to do, but things are moving along nicely now that they’re gone. So nicely, in fact, that I spent probably five minutes grinning like an idiot a while ago because a new scene (a new scene!!!) was so cute.

As long as I don’t do anything stupid to set my recovery back, I can totally see this book being finished by the end of July. And then I’ll finish plotting Weko 2. And, hopefully finish the fourth book in the Royal Sweethearts series. A fourth book, you may ask? Yup. Quinn MacMahon is getting his own story, and it’s almost done too. 🙂

By the way, you can get digital copies of A Prince on the Run free on Amazon.com. (psst – The Daddy Pact is free too!).

Now, about that yacht rock thing? Never heard of it? Neither had I, until a week or so ago. A fan of The Holderness Family videos, I not only enjoyed the video below, I realized that yacht rock would set the exact mood I need to write the Weko Harbor series. I’ll share a link to my playlist one day soon.

Until next time, take care and stay safe.

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Missed 9th Anniversary – and a Quick Update

I’ve missed my blogging anniversary more than once. Maybe even several times, but usually not by more than a day or few. This time, it was by almost a month! Of course, we all know I had other things on my mind in June too. I tried to pretend I was just getting everything set up for a productive recovery, and that I was excited to have the surgery, get it over, and get back to normal. 

Honestly though? The freak out I mentioned in my last post, Just Bought a Suitcase, was pretty much a month-long thing. In fact, until two days before the surgery, I was on the fence about canceling it entirely. 

But I didn’t. And now, ten days post-op, while I’m not feeling great, I am feeling pretty good. I’m also looking forward to blogging more often. And definitely getting back to writing. Everything in me wants to be writing. But I’ll settle for moments like I enjoyed a little bit ago, when a sweet picture caught my eye. Before I even really realized it, I’d grabbed a pen and started writing because a future hero in the new series suddenly came into focus. Until that moment, he’d been nothing more than a name – and a vague face. Someone I’d bring to life at some point in the future. But now, he’s more real – and ahead of schedule!

Hopefully, this means I’ll be doing a little more each day. Because if I’m doing a little more writing each day, I’ll be feeling a little better every day. Right?

Okay. I’m starting to zone out. Technically, I kind of was before I even started. So I’ll cut us all a break and not ramble. 🙂

Until next time, I’ll leave you with a short video about a beach in Michigan. And I’ll continue to share videos as I write the series. I know there are those who think only the east, west, and Gulf coasts have the only ‘real’ beaches in the USA – but Michigan has some awesome beaches too!

You can read about one of them in A Prince on the Run, always free now (digital copies only).

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Just Bought a Suitcase

My fifteen day hospital stay in February was both unplanned and unexpected, meaning I was totally unprepared for it. Last month’s surgery – which went well (sorry, I forgot to post an update) was outpatient and I was home by late afternoon. This one though…

For the colostomy reversal surgery and – thank you, God! – finally getting rid of the surgical tube, I guess I’ll be there between four days and a week and a half or so. It just depends on how things go. But at least I can be prepared, whether I get out on day four or twelve.

I know I said I bought a suitcase but first, I bought the cutest pink duffel bag. As the list of stuff I want to take got longer and longer, I realized the bag might be a little heavier than I can handle right now. Too much bending or lifting irritates the side where the tube is. So now I have a suitcase on wheels – with a popup handle.

Why so much? Technically, if the stay is closer to a week and a half, it’s really not that much stuff. A laptop desk thingy, plus a notebook and pens, and my Kindle and keyboard so I can do some writing, plotting, or outlining. If I’m ‘with it’ enough to think. If not, I have a lot of books in my Kindle. That means I need a charging cord, and an extension cord so I can actually plug it in. Then there’s grooming stuff, hand sanitizer, soft tissues, and lip balm.

And, whether they like it or not, I’m taking some collagen powder to add to my coffee (when it’s okay to have it), stevia (so I don’t have to have anything with sugar), sea salt, and a small bottle of ghee. Y’all know what hospital food is like, so I want to be able to add a little flavor. 

Now I just need for all of this to be over. For the first time in four months, I had a kind of freak out, ‘God-help-me-I’m-too-scared-to-do-this’ day yesterday. All day. Fortunately, that’s past and I’m glad.

It has caused me to feel a bit melancholy tonight, and a couple of songs are really resonating with me. The past few years have been wonderful. They’ve also been weird, and stressful, and corny as it sounds, it felt like I’d lost my way. Less than six months into 2020 – I believe I’ve finally found it again. I also feel like I’ve been given a second chance – and I don’t want to waste it.

Any prayers that I come through this with flying colors will be much appreciated. I’m determined to get back on track by the time I’ve ‘recovered’ in mid-August. That means I’m determined to start writing a few books a year again. And I’m excited to get started! 

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Hello, Summer!

It’s been a fairly chilly spring in my neck of the woods and, if you know me at all, you know I’ve been loving it. It’s warming up in a hurry though and tomorrow, the a/c’s will be getting their first workout of the season.

For a change, maybe the first time ever, I’m going to try to embrace my least favorite season. For those who just fainted, I apologize if you wound up with any bumps or bruises when you hit the floor, but it’s true.

Gratitude makes a big difference in how people view life. At least for me, it does. After the past few months, I find I’m viewing most everything with a grateful heart, and I’m ready to live the rest of my life with enthusiasm and joy. Even if it means I have to choose to enjoy summer. 🙂

I’m also determined to resurrect my love for writing – and doing whatever it takes to start meeting goals. Being back on my thyroid medicine, along with being very diligent about my supplement schedule (and getting more diligent about my diet), is making a huge difference in lifting the brain fog that’s plagued me the past few years.

And I’m excited about what the rest of the year is looking like for my writing goals. Yeah, there will be a bit of a ‘hiccough’ next month when I have the reversal surgery, but I plan to come home to at least one finished book (yes, I have a few that are nearly done) so all I’ll need to do during my recovery is edit and polish. And plot out more books.

Amazing the attitude change you go through when you realize how precious and how fragile life can be. I feel like God has given me a second chance – probably more like a millionth chance, but this one got my attention more than the others. I don’t want to waste another minute.

Time to make more of my dreams come true! And I’m grateful to all of you who are hanging around for the ride. 🙂

Photo credit: Pixabay

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