My Instant Pot Didn’t Explode

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the Christmas story finished. More on that in my next post. I’m also not as much on the THM eating plan as I want to be either. Okay, so I’m not really on it at all. Yet. More on that in the next post too.

So much for updates. 🙂

I really had intended to do better about posting more often but the holidays – well, enough said about that. Then, there was switching everything from my nearly full computer to a newly refurbished one. And the chore of replacing my storm door. I’d say my daughter helped me with that job but it was actually the other way around. She loves doing the whole handy-woman thing as much as I do and it was cold enough, well, I didn’t argue when she wanted to remove the old frame and install the new. Mostly, I just pitched in as needed.

The other excuse for waiting so long is that I wanted to make this post about cooking my first spaghetti squash in my new Instant Pot (affiliate link) … but I was kind of nervous about using it. I don’t know why because I’ve used both stove top and electric pressure cookers many times without incident. But there was something about this small appliance that brought to mind news reports and fire trucks so I kept postponing it. Now though, I guess it’s time.

Off to the kitchen I go.


By the way, read to the end to find out about a promo I’m involved with for free books – AND a chance to win a $50.00 gift card!!!

So far, so good.

And the countdown begins.

Instant Pots really don’t explode.


Be back later. Once it’s done, and cooled enough to handle, I’m going to try and make a hash brown patty or two from a recipe I found on the Oh Sweet Mercy website. I also want to try and make some baked spaghetti or a spaghetti-like lasagna with what’s left, but I’ll do that in a day or so.

Quick check in.

Initial test run???


So now it’s about half an hour later and I’m going to consider the spaghetti squash the initial, and successful, test run. It was falling apart and is currently cooling in the oven. In a bit, I’ll see if I can make a passable hash brown.

Please, please, please taste at least a little like real hash browns. Or even a little like pasta…

Not exactly impressive, are they?

The flavor, while nothing like potatoes or pasta, was better than I expected. Especially the side with the cooked (nearly burned) crumbled bacon. The tiny one without bacon – that was a hair on the burned side (but not too bad) – but – would have been better with the bacon. Still, it wasn’t half bad.

But neither turned out crispy. Not even a little bit. Because, even though the woman at the Oh Sweet Mercy website suggested cooking it without poking holes in it for venting, I chickened out and added some. A couple made some pretty big cracks in the squash so I’m guessing that was the main cause for the soggy mess.

How do I know that? When I squeezed the water out of it, it just all mushed together. There were no strands left.

Next time, no holes. In the meantime, I’ll try baking the strands at a low temperature for a while to try and dry them out. Maybe the next batch of ‘hash browns’ will be better.

Now, about that promo…

There are 24 books of varying heat levels, all free, so now is a good time to add to your library. My book, A Prince on the Run, is included. Just click on the link below to check them out. And don’t forget to enter the drawing for the gift card!

Mystery by Candlelight book promo

Editing to add that 5 of the 24 books are excerpts (they are labeled ‘preview or sample’ above the covers). The rest are complete books.

Photo credit (praying girl): Pixabay



Posted in affiliate link(s), free books, Trim Healthy Mama (THM) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Merry Early Christmas – and a Recipe


Well, I’ve managed to find pretty much every excuse on the face of the earth to avoid making a batch of Trim Healthy Mama approved bread or rolls. Not because I don’t want to be 100% … okay, 85% on plan, it’s just that even though some gluten free breads were much better than others, none were like ‘real’ bread. And a keto/low carb/low calorie bread? Yeah…

Still, I decided to dive in tonight and give it a try. First, I broke out my brand spanking new digital food scale, similar to this kitchen scale (affiliate link) to whip up a batch of Nili’s Baking Blend (recipe about 2 minutes and 15 seconds in). And then I decided to try this roll recipe…


Mixing up all of the dry ingredients

All finished.

Ready for the oven…

In all honesty, given the ‘aroma’ of the raw dough, I’m not holding out a lot of hope for the finished product. In fact, I’m imagining an eggy textured, nasty tasting glob of ‘uck.’ Yes, uck. If Aria doesn’t like something, it’s ucky. And the dough smells ucky!

I’ll be back when they’re finished baking…

And a little over an hour later, the verdict is in.

They’re fairly small. And when you ‘thump’ them to see if they’re done, which – apparently – doesn’t sound like a loaf of homemade glutenous bread, you might wonder if you could break windows or cause concussions with them.

Fortunately, they’re lighter than I first thought.

I made ten rolls (two is one serving) – and meant to take a single bite out of the first one so I could try and take a cool photo. Except I wound up eating the first one, which would be four sort of regular bites, or six dainty bites.

Are they better than I expected? Yup. Much better. At least fresh out of the oven. Do they have an eggy taste? Nope. Not at all. Texture? Slightly, but that could have been because the roll was still pretty warm and the butter made it a bit soggy. I added some sugar free grape jam to the second one and that was good too. In a while, I’ll go out and try a cold one. (*still good!)

One of the things I really like about this recipe is that the rolls don’t have a biscuit-y texture. I could make five larger rolls and use them for sandwich or hamburger buns – and they’d hold up instead of crumbling.

Next time, I’ll add a packet of rapid rise yeast. It likely won’t make them rise a bit more than they already do – and that isn’t much, but at least I’ll get the yeasty flavor that’s missing from this batch. Even without it though, they’re surprisingly good.

I don’t know what the nutritional counts are, but on the Trim Healthy Mama plan, one fifth of the recipe (in this case, two rolls), would be considered a Fuel Pull – low enough in both carbs and fat that you can enjoy them with any kind of meal, or just as a snack.

If you decide to try this – or any other Trim Healthy Mama-friendly baked goods, remember, they’re preservative free and should be stored in the refrigerator.

***Editing to add, about twelve hours later, I’m still impressed with these rolls. My kitchen is really chilly in the winter so I just left them on the plate, covered with plastic wrap – and in the oven to prevent a couple of curious cats from checking them out. Today, the texture is still good, so close to ‘real’ rolls that once I add a little yeast, it would be hard to tell the difference. Last night, the crust seemed a bit tough but now they’re just as soft and nice as can be. 

Honestly? I didn’t think it would be possible to come up with a low carb bread substitute I would like. But I am thrilled to say – I was wrong! 🙂


Merry Early Christmas!

I’m doing my very first newsletter swap with Jo Grafford. She’s got a new Christmas story out, Angel Cookie Christmas, and you can pick up your copy today by clicking on the book cover (also an affiliate link). Or read it free with your Kindle Unlimited subscription. 🙂

Willa Murray receives a gift of an angel cookie ornament with a note signed by Mrs. Claus. It bears a cryptic message about watching for an angel in disguise who will soon cross her path. With her job as a lead actress in jeopardy (since the theater owner’s niece wants the position for herself), she shrugs off the strange gift and heads home to Pinetop, Arizona for a long overdue visit with her folks.

One of the first people in town she encounters is the annoying and cocky blast from her past, Angel Castellano, who’s been bragging since age eight that he plans to marry her some day. He’s grown into a much taller and handsomer man than he had any right to. He’s also the owner and head chef of a dinner theater in desperate need of a new entertainment director for the upcoming Christmas pageant, a position he is quick to offer her. Plus he makes the world’s most amazing gingerbread cookies shaped liked angels, which he clearly is not despite his name — cookies that bear a startling resemblance to the ornament she was gifted before leaving the city.

For the first time in months, Willa begins to hope there might be something more for her to look forward to than life as a has-been actress in full-blown spinsterhood. Perhaps the elusive Mrs. Claus was right and Willa’s very own Angel has been hiding in plain sight all these years.

Posted in #romance, Books, Gluten-Free, Health, Trim Healthy Mama (THM) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stepping Out of the Author Box

It’s not often you’ll find me writing a post like this. In the same way I don’t like people shoving their beliefs down my throat- be politics, religion, whether the toilet paper goes over or under, or whatever – I make it my policy to return the favor. That’s why I’m giving fair warning here…

If you’ve ever read Enza or A Fine Mess, you know where I stand when it comes to ‘religion.’ So, because it’s what I believe, and because Christmas is right around the corner, I’m going to share one of the most beautiful videos I’ve ever watched.

If you find religion offensive, or you believe something else, please skip today’s post. If, on the other hand, you’re okay with this subject, you might want to grab a few tissues. You might just need them. I know I do – every time I watch it. Fair warning too, I will delete/not approve any hateful comments.

In other ‘news,’ like everything else in my life, changes come hard. And with the holiday craziness – shopping, cooking, baking, etc… – I’m still working at getting back on the THM (Trim Healthy Mama) eating plan. Hopefully, in a couple of days, I’ll have a picture of the first loaf of bread I can eat with any meal – and still be on the diet. Even more hopefully, it will actually taste good. 🙂

Photo credit: Pixabay

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I Can’t Stop Watching It!

I know I said I was going to try and focus my blog on health but I did remind everyone that this is me and I can’t seem to stick to one subject entirely. So let’s just consider this a mental health kind of thing – and pretend that watching a movie (the same movie) four times in a week or ten days is normal. Okay? 😀

We could put it down to a series I’m in the middle of developing. A ‘spinoff’ of the Royal Sweethearts/Casteloria Royals (affiliate link) series. Maybe, if we can even suspend disbelief a little, we could call it ‘research.’

Or… I could just be honest and say, I love this movie!!!

If you love romance, and you have Netflix, I can’t recommend this movie enough. I love the prince. I love the co-worker. I knew how it was going to end before I clicked play the first time … and yet, even now, I can hardly wait until the end so I can watch it again.

So if you have about an hour and forty-five minutes, watch The Princess Switch. It shot to the top of my favorite holiday romance list the first time I saw it. And it’s still sitting there as I finish my fourth (maybe fifth?) viewing.

If you watch it, let me know in the comments below how much you enjoyed it. Because if you do watch it, you will enjoy it. I’m 99% sure of it! 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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Finding My Place

Between life in general and the constant changes in the writing world, I’ve been pretty burned out when it comes to blogging. For nearly seven and a half years, I’ve tried to find my ‘niche,’ the perfect subjects to write about here … and nothing has held my interest for any length of time.

A couple of days ago, I had an epiphany of sorts. One subject has consistently held my interest and that’s in the better health area. That I can totally get excited about. And since I plan to dedicate the next year or so to getting healthier, I’ve decided I’m going to share that journey here.

Yes, folks, I’ve come to a fork in the road…

With hypothyroidism, gluten/wheat issues, and two and a half years following an auto accident when walking and moving was so painful I didn’t do anymore than I had to, I’m in serious need of an overhaul – in the nutrition and fitness areas.

Between now and this coming spring, I’ll be taking monthly progress photos and then in April, I’ll share them all in a blog post. Why April? Because my birthday is on the 24th and it’s the date I’ve set to meet several goals (which I’ll share in another post).

That’s not all I’ll blog about. You know me. I can’t stick with one subject. Ever. So I’ll still be sharing progress reports on my writing, stuff about my family, and anything else that strikes my fancy. But for consistency, and to kind of back myself into a corner, my April 24th goals are going to be occupying most of my thoughts.

Following the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan (80+ percent of the time) will kill a few birds with one stone. No gluten, unless the sour dough bread I make agrees with me (PLEASE agree with me!). No sugar, which I believe is giving me pre-diabetes symptoms. And lower carbs, which make me crash about thirty minutes after eating them.

So win/win/win for me all the way around. I’m actually very excited about the changes I’m planning to make – and I look forward to feeling better. Much better.

When I was thinking about a song that would fit my change in attitude, this seemed perfect (other than the fact that I’m not a guy!). I’m not sure why because I’ve never seen the movie but here it is…

Okay. That’s it for now. ‘See’ you soon. 🙂

Photo credit: Pixabay

Posted in Gluten-Free, Health, Life, Trim Healthy Mama (THM) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye

Darn you, Jack…

You have been a pain in the neck since the day I brought you home. Your love of eating everything – from socks, to shoes, to whatever you could sneak out of the trash basket … and even part of the tractor tire that was supposed to amuse you, not feed you …. kept us on our toes every waking minute for more than ten years. And some of the minutes when we should have been sleeping too. 

Then there were the (expensive!) virtually indestructible chew toys you could reduce to bits and pieces within an hour of getting your huge puppy paws and teeth on them. 

And the way you’d nearly wrench my arm out of the socket because you were excited about something in the yard, and since you preferred running, you tended to ‘walk me’ instead of the other way around.

I’m remembering so many things tonight. Like how you considered everyone in seeing distance a trespasser and would bark your head off at them until we brought you back inside. It didn’t matter that they were in their yard across the road, if you could see them, they were invading your territory.

I’m not even going to get started on your dislike of rain and any water that wasn’t in your dish. Or how the kids would have to drag and push you to go outside when it was wet. Or how they would have to do the same thing when it was bath time.

The roofers, the meter reader, the teenage girl riding her bike past our property … were all terrified of you. They didn’t know you just wanted to play. That you looked at everyone like a new friend. That the only thing they had to fear from you was a good face licking. Even the vet. I guess you didn’t know you were supposed to be afraid of them. Nope. You greeted everyone who worked there like a long lost buddy.

You loved everybody.

My mind is all over the place right now, bouncing from one memory to another. I didn’t have any trouble writing about Shadow, Jasper, Sam, and Sophie. Yeah, they each took a piece of my heart with them when they died but you… You took the biggest piece with you today, Jack. 

Three more weeks, to the day, and we’d have celebrated your eleventh birthday. In human years, you were almost seventy-seven. I suppose that’s a nice age, but it wasn’t old enough. Not nearly old enough.

Yeah. You were a pain sometimes. But I’m going to miss you forever.

Posted in Family, Life, Love | Tagged | 2 Comments

Choose Your Hard

Once in a great while, something life changing happens. It could be something you see. Maybe something you experience. Or simply something you hear. But when it does, it stops you in your tracks. It makes you think. And it reminds you that life is short. That we only have a few decades to chase our dreams. 

For me, it was something I heard a week or so ago. And it resonated so deep inside of me it was all I could think about – for days. Even now, I can’t get it out of my head.

Choose your hard.

What does that mean? Simply put – this or that.

The first thing that slammed into my head when I figured it out was ‘What’s harder?” Not writing because (insert various excuses here), or just writing anyway? Life is always going to happen. Too much of one thing, too little of another. Stress, irritations, distractions. They’re always going to be there. Every. Single. Day. And I can either keep letting those things rule my life – or I can find every moment I can to just keep telling my stories.

The next thought that followed was, “What’s harder?” Doing it (insert whatever ‘it’ is here) no matter what – or living with regrets for the rest of my life?”

Choose your hard…

Yeah. That statement – and those thoughts – seem to be on a loop now. I hear them off and on all day, every day.

So I’m making changes. Some, I’ve already started. Some will take a little time. Some will take longer than that. But now that I’ve remembered I have hopes and dreams, it’s time to figure out how to make them happen.

Life changing? You betcha! I wrote it down and fastened it to the top part of my desk. Right in front of my face. I highlighted it so it stands out like a neon sign. 

Choose your hard.

When I first started to write this post, I was going to title it, “I suck.” Then I realized that while I did suck – in a major way the past couple of years – I’m not going to anymore. I’ve chosen my hard.

If it resonates with you like it did with me, maybe it’ll change your life like it’s changing mine. Maybe you’ll start to feel the excitement and hope that welled up in me – and hasn’t diminished – well up inside you too.

It’s a good feeling.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Laugh Until Your Face Hurts

Sometimes things are just ‘smile’ funny. Some are worth a short giggle or two. But then there are the things that you just know are going to have you laughing yourself to sleep every now and again for the rest of your life. The kind of things that when they first occur, make you laugh so hard your ribs ache. And your throat, eyes, and face too. Because whatever it was just happened to be that funny.

Or at least it seemed so at the time.

Like the night my sister swore she knew how bad my brakes were. What can I say? I was a really stupid twenty year old. Not only for allowing the pads to completely wear away but for allowing her talk me into letting her drive while we ran an errand for our dad.

As she was going up and over the raised sidewalk at the store, barely missing the doors and an elderly couple (thank you, God, that she didn’t hit them!), I heard her panicked voice say, “Kristy! Kristy! The brakes! The brakes!” And she sounded just like Tattoo from Fantasy Island.

When something scares me – and strikes me funny at the same time – I’ve been known to laugh uncontrollably. That was one of those times. I laughed while we were apologizing to the manager for crumpling his trash can. And I laughed while we sat at KFC for an hour because we were both too scared to get out on the road in the car again. (Yes, I got my brakes replaced after that. Nearly hitting that couple was enough to convince me it was long overdo.)

Yesterday, my daughter, Aria, and I spent some time visiting my mother. Aria loves her ‘Gigi’ (short for Great Grandma – or GG) and she loves to check everything out at her apartment. During this particular visit, she seemed bent on yanking a pretty doily out from under a candy dish. When the three of us almost simultaneously told her no, she finally walked away from the coffee table.

I suggested she fix the doily, which she tried to do. Hey, she’s three. Wrinkles don’t really register. But something registered after Mom teased her and said now she wouldn’t have to “paddle her butt.” I’m guessing it was the word ‘butt.’ (Don’t worry, no one has ever paddled Aria, especially not my mom)

About two seconds later, Aria walked behind her and – without any warning at all – lifted the back of her dress up. The look of stunned surprise on Mom’s face was priceless. I swear I never knew she could move that fast but she managed to keep the hemline down to a non-embarrassing level.

I laughed so hard my entire face hurt. My eyes hurt. My throat hurt. My ribs hurt. And Mom pointed out that my my face was looking pretty red. Well, yeah. I expect it was. I don’t think it’s possible to laugh like that and not turn red.

I’m sure the same thing happened just now while typing this because I’ve been laughing like a loon since the moment I started telling you about near mooning. 

And you know what? It felt good. Yesterday. Just now. And the probably dozen times in between. 

Everyone needs to laugh like that sometimes. Or often.

Photo Credit: Pixabay



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Gluten-Free … Again

Those of you who have been following me for a while might remember that I actually adjusted nicely to living a wheat-free/gluten-free life. It took some time but it finally happened.

And then I got glutened – just before my Aria’s baby shower. I’d thought all supplements from one company were gluten-free. Wrong! 

Prior to that, if it happened, I’d just deal with feeling bad, wait until it passed, and try to be more careful in the future.

Not that time though. I’d just recently read about a product called Gluten Cutter (affiliate link, see HERE for full disclosure).

Yes, folks, I bought the Gluten Cutter and things went downhill with my diet – in a hurry. I went from being totally gluten-free to what I call my three and a half year gluten tantrum. I loved every morsel of forbidden food that passed through my lips.

What I didn’t love was how bad I felt. Maybe if I’d continued taking the Gluten Cutter, it wouldn’t have been so bad but the exhaustion just got worse with each passing day, month, and year. Some of that overwhelming fatigue is because I made a decision to treat my hypothyroidism with natural supplements – but I’d been doing that before I started eating gluten again and functioned pretty close to normal. Or at least normal for me. 😀

I’ve been promising the first book in my new Weko Harbor series for quite a while now. Well over a year. And I just haven’t been able to get it finished. Last year was mostly a bust, just a couple of short stories and three novellas. Why? Because it’s really hard to write when you’re so tired you can barely keep your eyes open.

Fast forward to last month. I guess I finally had enough. Maybe I grew up a little more. Whatever the reason, I decided it was time. I don’t want to keep going through my life mostly looking forward to the next nap or bedtime.

And I’ve got so many stories stuck in my head that I need to get written! 

Then there’s Aria. I want to be able to keep up with that little pint-sized Tasmanian whirlwind. So the wheat and gluten are out. And over the next month or so, I’m going to get the sugar back out again. Yeah, I’ve fallen off the THM (Trim Healthy Mama) wagon again. But I decided to focus on the gluten first, then the sugar, and then work my way back onto the diet. 

There are only so many dietary changes I can make at one time, lol. Anyway, wish me luck. Pray. Send good vibes my way. Whatever you do – because it’s looking like Weko 1 might be hitting the virtual shelves in the next month or so. For real this time. If you get a chance, swing by my Facebook page (click HERE) to read an excerpt from the story.

This song seems appropriate just now. 

Photo credit: Pixabay

Posted in Gluten-Free, Health, New Book, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Just Because…

…sometimes, a girl just needs a little more motivation than normal. And holiday weekends seem more suited to napping than accomplishing the things on my to-do list. Like reading through Weko 1 one more time.

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