Dragons, Dandelions, Dry Wine & Dark Chocolate

DThis sounds like the beginning of a great adventure. Day four in the A to Z Blogging Challenge brings us the letter D. At first all I could find were Dandelion Greens. (Yes, I’m making a face) If you like them, well… that’s good and you should keep eating those bitter green stems. I hear they’re good with eggs. (My mother taught me not to gag.) I would rather spend time talking about dragons, dry wine and dark chocolate.

I had seen dragon fruit in the store but it looks so exotic I had no idea what to do with it, so I waked right past. With the challenge I wanted to take pictures of it and  I went to on-line videos on-line.  What did I find? It is one incredible fruit that is easier to use than it looks. It also has a very mild flavor (between a kiwi and melon).

Before we get the knife and dig in, lets look at everything this gorgeous fruit can do for you.

 

  • Dragon fruit is rich in vitamin C and fibers that help provide an overall healthy body. Dragon fruit boosts immune system and promotes healing of wounds and cuts.
  •  Because of the richness in fibers, Dragon fruit aids in the digestion of food. We have learned how important this is to a healthy body and weight loss. Studies also suggest that Dragon fruit promotes the growth of pro-biotics.
  • Dragon fruit can help lower blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes. Studies also suggest that the the glucose found in Dragon fruit aids in controlling the blood sugar level for diabetes patients.
  • Dragon fruit prevent formation of cancer causing free radicals.
  • Dragon fruit helps to control cholesterol level. Dragon fruit is also rich in flavonoids that are known to have favorable effects against cardio related disease.
  • Dragon fruit improves eye sight.
  • Dragon fruit improves memory.

Wow! So why have I waited do long to try it?Dragon fruit how to use it

With the mighty dragon flying into my kitchen you would think I’d be done with the Dd, but there is more! I am loving my smoothies, but enjoying a meal is still important. Remember I’m in this for the long haul so I need to be able to sustain this dry wine & dark chocoletenew lifestyle.

This evening when I got home the sun was just starting to set and the breeze was cool, so we grabbed a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon along with some dark chocolate, strawberries and raspberries. Now set back and relax. Yes, wine (the dry kind has the most health benefits.) It does have to be a dry. Here’s a list:

Dry Reds
Pinot noir: 0.68g carbs per ounce
Cabernet franc: 0.71g
Merlot: 0.74g
Cabernet sauvignon: 0.75g
Shiraz/syrah: 0.76g
Zinfandel: 0.84g

Dry Whites
Pinot blanc: 0.57g carbs per ounce
Sauvignon blanc: 0.6g
Pinot grigio: 0.6g

In the Mediterranean diet, wine has also long been considered one of the key health-promoting components.Some population-based studies point to a relationship between wine intake and improvements in insulin sensitivity. When your body is more efficient at using carbs, you will have better health and easier fat loss.

It’s not about red or white, it has more to do with dry or sweet. Dry wines have a lower sugar count. Sorry to say for many of the fruity wine lovers that dry wines generally have less than 1 gram (g) of carbohydrates (sugars) per ounce while the carb content of sweet wines can be upwards of 1.5 to 2g per ounce. Yes, it seems the dry wine is the good guy.

Healthy living in not about starvation and denial – it’s about finding balance and moderation. Pour a glass of your favorite wine, and munch on some berries with the dark chocolate. The mix of flavors on your taste buds is divine.

So when it comes to Dds what did I miss? Any favorite treats or places that just make life better?

 

 

Layered smoothie. Top: coconut, cucumbers, green grapes, avocado, fresh lemon juice and unsweetened almond milk, Bottom: Frozen strawberries, blueberries, half of a shredded beet, triple zero yogurt, chia and unsweetened almond/coconut milk

Coconut, Carrots and Chia

C for the A to Z Blogging Challenge.
C for the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Good Monday morning to you! It is April 4 and the third day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and we have the letter C. Today I’m exploring some classics and some new-to-me foods.

 

Coconut comes in the dry form or the fresh brown shell. I’ve never been able to eat the crispy white flakes that come in a bag. If you want to stop me from eating a cookie or cake, sprinkle some of that…stuff on it and (shudder) I won’t touch it. Now the fresh coconut is a whole other story. Don’t let the hard shell stop you from buying one of these babies at the store. They are easy to open and use.

After draining the water, place the coconut in the oven at 350 for about 12 minutes. Then wrap it in a bag smash it with a hammer or throw it hard against a concrete floor. The harder the better.
After draining the water, place the coconut in the oven at 350 for about 12 minutes. Then wrap it in a bag smash it with a hammer or throw it hard against a concrete floor. The harder the better.

Using a Philips screw-driver with a hammer or a wine bottle opener make holes in the three “eyes” of the coconut. Use a cup or bowl and drain out all the water. Some have mistakenly called this liquid coconut milk – but that is a different product that is make with the coconut flesh. Once all the water is out place the coconut in the per-heated oven (350) for 10 to 12 minutes. This helps pop the flesh right off the shell after you smash it. Smashing it can be fun. Either hit it with a hammer a bunch of times or throw it down hard against a concrete floor. It should break easily into several pieces. It will be good for about a week in your refrigerator.

The water doesn’t have the same nutritional value as the fruit, but it is a great way to add flavor to anything from a smoothie to rice. The Coconut itself contains a healthy portion of potassium that may help reduce stroke risk according to some research. It is high in fat and amino acids, which is good for muscle formation. If you’re losing weight you want to take care not to lose muscle. When you add it to your smoothie or sprinkle it over a salad the small amount of fat makes the nutrients of the other fruits and veggies more bio-available.

Carrots are a “mom” veggie. One of the vegetables she told you to eat along with broccoli and spinach. Well, once again she was right. They are nutritional rock stars and now you can find them in reds, purples and yellow along with the tried and true orange.

Carrots roasted with zucchini in a little Olive oil and garlic and herb mix from Mrs. Dash
Carrots roasted with zucchini in a little Olive oil and garlic and herb mix from Mrs. Dash

Even though they taste sweet, carrots are low in sugar and have almost no fat. So they get a high score when you need something to chew on but don’t want a great deal of calories.

Slice them up and they can sweeten your smoothie.

Coconut/Carrot Smoothie: Perfect for a warm summer day.

  • One carrotcarrots cocount orange beets banana
  • Fresh coconut
  • orange beet (if you can’t stand the beet add pineapple or mango.  If your goal is to bring down blood sugar level be careful of the pineapple)
  • One medium banana
  • One tb of organic Chia
  • Cup of unsweetened Almond/coconut milk
  • 2 Tb of Oikos Triple Zero Greek yogurt (Vanilla)
  • 1/2 of a fresh squeezed lemon.
  • I toss it in my Ninja for 35 seconds and I might even put it in the freezer for 30 min to get a really ice cold treat.

 

Something that is very new to me is chia seed. I had heard of chia tea, but didn’t really know what it was other than a new trending “health” kick. I have learned that despite their tiny size, this gift from mother nature packs an incredible amount of good-for-you nutrition. With just two tablespoons it will deliver 11 grams of fiber, four grams of protein, five grams of plant based omega-3 fatty acid and just about 20% of your daily calcium needs. So throw them into you smoothie or mix them with your oatmeal and yogurt.cashews organic cocoa chia gronola That little crunch will add up to a lot of nutrient.

At my H.E.B I have found organic cocoa chia granola. For a snack on my drive home I’ll mix it with cashews or almonds. Maybe a little dried fruit. (again if you have blood sugar concerns be careful of dried fruit)

I have also discovered Mamma Chia granola mixes. They come in a variety of flavors. Two of my favorites are Vanilla Almond Clusters and Cinnamon Pecan Clusters. (noticed how I slipped in other C names? hehe).

cucumber

This is the green layer for the smoothie on top of the post. I did add chia to the one in the picture, this one has flax seed. Top: Cucumbers, Green grapes, avocado, spinach, kiwi, fresh lemon, you could also add a bit of fresh coconut. I added unsweetened almond milk and blended for 30 to 40 seconds.

The bottom layer (purple): Frozen strawberries, blueberries, shredded beets (to taste or take them out), chia, Triple Zero Oikos Greek Yogurt and unsweetened almond milk.

There are so many C foods – do you have a favorite I left off or a smoothie using any of these foods. I’m always looking for a new smoothie to try.  Have a great week.

 

Banana, Berries & Bacon…oh, I mean Beets

B in the A to Z Blogging Challange. Bananas, Berries & Beets....or Bacon
B in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Bananas, Berries & Beets….or Bacon

Welcome to day two of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. Today we are exploring healthy foods in the B column. The reason I put bacon in the title was not to tease you, but to bring out the point that living healthy is not about denial. It’s about making daily choices that benefit your body and mind. you can still enjoy the things that you love. Moderation is good.

I’m in this for the long haul so I want to able to maintain not destroy. I still cook real bacon to a crunchy crisp and eat a slice with my eggs every once in a while and I’ll add the bacon dripping to my potato salad…we don’t eat it that often so might as well make it right.

As I eat better and fill my body with rich foods of the earth I found I don’t really crave sweets or fatty foods as much. That might just be me. Check in with me next year and we’ll see how I’m doing.

Now back to the food of the day: Bananas, Berries & Beets.

Bananas are a happy fruit - your brain likes them.
Bananas are a happy fruit – your brain likes them. (and your gut and your bones)

You can’t go wrong with Bananas. They’re one of the most consumed fruit on the planet. They provide potassium and fiber and help the body absorb calcium, so they are perfect with that skim milk or almond milk smoothie. They also add a creamy texture, like the avocado.

They’re also a feel good fruit. Banana’s increase the level of dopamine, serotonin & nor-epinephrine…you know, the stuff that makes your brain happy. Yes, bananas can ward off depression. So instead of the gallon of ice cream eat a banana. At least cut one or two up and add to the ice cream. (and it will absorb the calcium)

If you’re looking for something with high benefits, but low calories pick up some berries! Blueberries are my favorite. They help maintain healthy levels of blood sugar even lowering it,(perfect fruit if your diabetic or just trying to lose weight)  protects vision and improves memory. It is another brain food that helps keep your cognitive skills sharp. Along with all that, they provide vitamins C and K and manganese. The compounds that give them their beautiful vibrant color is linked with helping  inflammation and building up your immune system. Blackberries also have much of these healthy characteristics and are high in fiber. (we love our fiber, but *side note* remember you need to drink plenty of water to help the body processes easier.)

The thing that gives blueberries and beets their color is the thing that will help you be healthier.
The thing that gives blueberries and beets their color is the thing that will help you be healthier.

BEETS!!! Beets? Yuck. Yes!! Beets are awesome in so many ways.

The betalain that gives the deep, rich red color of the beet is an antioxidant that could help ward off cancer and other diseases. It pretty much has a whole alphabet of vitamins, along with potassium boosting your immune system. The greens of the beets are good too. They carry a whopping 44 milligrams of calcium, so pair it with a banana (in a smoothie) and your bones will thank you.

With all that, we’re still not done with the beet. It has compounds that can lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. It helps your hard working muscles and joint relax. (anti-inflammatory) Yes, beets are worth the time. So find a way to eat them. They are jammed full of hard to get nutrients. If you don’t like smoothies, try roasting your beets or cut them very thin and add them to your salad with some bacon & walnuts.

Blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, triple zero Greek yogurt, Flax seeds and unsweetened almond/coconut milk thrown into my Ninja for 35

 

To get this rich color you can’t add green to this smoothie.

  • 1/2 Peeled and sliced beet
  • 1 cup  frozen organic organic blueberries
  • 1 cup  frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 organic banana
  • 1 Tb flax seed
  • 1 cup Oikos Triple Zero Nonfat Greek Yogurt (Vanilla)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond/coconut milk

 

 

For the smoothie abovebeets-blueberries-blackberries-bananas-spinach

  • 1 cup of organic spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 organic banana
  • 1 cup of organic blueberries
  • 1 hand full of organic blackberries
  • 1/2 beet peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tb  Oikos Triple Zero Nonfat Greek Yogurt (Vanilla)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

 

 

 

 

For a note on color:

*Warning* When you mix colors opposite on the color they neutralize each other – you know, green & red, purple & yellow, orange & blue turn into browns, greys, & swamp water green. All those colors that look  vibrant next to each other turn dirt colors when the blades mangle them together. That is way you see so many of my smoothies before the blend. 🙂

So do you have a favorite healthy B food I left out? Broccoli, beans, Brussels sprouts…

 

 

Avocados, Almonds & Apples…Yum

A in A to Z blogging challenge
A in A to Z blogging challenge

Welcome to April 1st and the first day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I’m going to spend the month sharing what I have learned about eating for a healthier body which enables the mind to work at a higher efficiency and gives your spirit peace. LOL That’s what they tell me anyway. The bottom line? If I want to stay active in  my own life I have to get in better shape. The numbers don’t lie.

Now that I’m hyper focused on what makes my body work better, I’m going to share some thing I have found in my journey of self-discovery. This is not medical advice and everyone has different needs depending on where you are at in life. It’s just my observations and experiences. (My lawyers made me say that).

My goal is to lose weight in order to get my numbers back on track. For me the discovery of smoothies was LIFE CHANGING. I’m a picky eater and it seemed all the “healthy foods” were ones I didn’t enjoy. But when you throw those babies in a Ninja and swirl them all together – lets just say I’m getting my full servings of vegetables and fruit everyday. Which means I’m not hungry. I feel great, I really do.  No magic pill or drink, just good old mother nature, unprocessed, raw and beaten into submission.

So for the first day of April we will start with three of the superstars: Almonds, Apples & Avacad0s.

Avocados & Almonds
A in A to Z blogging challenge

Rumors about almonds are true, they are hiding a great deal of fat in that little teardrop nut. But it’s monounsaturated fat. Moderation is the word with this treat. Research has shown they can help maintain good cholesterol levels and slow your cognitive decline as you age. (Brain food). They keep your gut happy and build a strong immune system. They are full of protein and fiber, which will help you feel full longer.

Avocados also struggle against the fat rumors, but boy do these guys deliver. They contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and because of its make-up they are easily absorbed by the body instead of flushed straight out. A serving is a half to one third and you don’t need or want more than that in a day. They are great for a bright green smoothie and add a nice creamy texture. I hear they are also good for the heart and may reduce heart disease risk.

Apples are full of fiber and helps lover cholesterol levels
A in A to Z blogging challenge

The good old classic Apple. These girls are high in fiber which lead to a healthy gut and are great for regulating digestion. They also help lower cholesterol levels. They just help you feel fuller therefore reducing the over all calories you eat. The sweetness is a good mix to cut the bitterness if kale and some other greens.

Do you have a favorite healthy A food that I ignored?

  • On the top of the page is the smoothie I made with 1/2 avocados,
  •  Handful of almonds
  • 1 sliced red apple
  • 1  cup of frozen berries
  • 1 cup of kale (without the stems)
  • Pour a cup of unsweetened almond milk (use this if your cutting back on sugar)

I threw it all into my Ninja, blended for 35 seconds and WHAM! I have a smoothie that does all sorts of good things for  my body. Enjoy!

If you have a good smoothie combo share! See you tomorrow with the B foods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have Joined the A to Z Blog Challange

Starting in April, I will share my new obsession with you. I will explore the wonderful world of food, God given food that grows from the earth and nourishes our bodies. All the colors and textures create their own unique art work.

We’ll talk about everything from avocados to ugli fruit. Any excuse to take pictures. LOL

Why has this become an obsession? In the middle of February I made a commitment to myself that I would live a healthier life. Sitting in front of the computer and sitting in the car has taken a toll on my body and as I approach 50 I realized I had to make some changes. Some things happen to us beyond our control, but I can control what I put in my body and how I use the body God gave me.

11149268_10153198041191740_364585605645514242_n
Noah inspired me with his no excuses motto – really how can I argue with him?

Last season of Dancing with the Stars, I fell in love with Noah Galloway. (the inspirational kind of love) I wanted that kind of determination in my life.

I knew I had it. It took will power to finish my master’s degree at forty.  To find ways to inspire students, To write a 60k word novel. To work until I got my story published. To keep writing in order to get more writing contracts. It wasn’t easy with a language disability (dysgraphia). With hard work and focus I accomplished my dreams and reached my goals.

 

Unfortunately at the expense of my health. I now need that drive and focus in order to reach my health goals. In doing so I have discovered the world of smoothies and the wonderful fruits and veggies that can go in them. Arranging the colors and selecting the flavors to combine have fired the creative side of my brain.

Do you have a favorite food that nourishes you, heart, mind and body?

As the sun sets on March I hope you walk along with me through my April journey.

Sunrise at the end of my road. Yes I live in the country. And love it.
Sunrise at the end of my road.

 

V- Venomous Words. Top 8 Bible Verses

 As a writer, words are powerful. They create a world that didn’t exists before I put it on paper. Words have the power to give life to  towns, cities and people  that seem so real you want to sit at the coffee shop and have a chat. Yes, words can build worlds.

V for Venomous Words
V for Venomous Words

 We have all heard the rhythm: Sticks and Stones will break your bones, but words can never hurt you. Ha! I think we can all agree that is a lie.

I bet if I asked you to tel me a time that someone  tossed a negative word your way. It has created a scar on your heart. Maybe it’s scabbed over now, but I think everyone has those words that hang around, words that hurt.

I believe the spoken word has power. It can build someone up or tear them down. A carelessly spoken word can worm it’s way into the recipient’s brain and make a home there for years.

Being the voice that  justifies fears and doubts. Silencing that voice can be difficult.

In education, research has taught us that for every one negative comment the human brain hears it takes three (some reports say four) positive remarks to balance the bad one.

Not overpower or wash away…just balance it.

As teachers we were challenged to make a paper bracelet  and mark every negative comment that came out of our mouth. WOW! Even the most positive of teachers where shocked to find out  much they focused on the bad.

Our words have power!

Do you use your power for good or bad? Do you use your power without thought?

I like doing word searches in the Bible – So I looked up Venomous Words.  More verses than I bothered to count came up. Yes, the Bible has a lot to say about words we use. Here are my top 8 verses (I have one in twice- different versions):

gentle word 1

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV

river tongue

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

Matthew 12:36 ESV (Ouch – this one is scary)

river-rocks-1

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

Matthew 15:18 ESV

gentle words

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Colossians 3:8 ESV

We like to focus on the obscene and find fault with it easily enough. But what about the other, anger…slander I think are more socially acceptable. We have to watch all of our words.

river-rock-10

Do you have a favorite saying or verse about the importance of words?

 

Fall foliage on the Frio River

T for Texas Seasons. Yes, there is more than one.

Texas Seasons
T Texas Seasons

There’s a rumor about Texas that we only have one season.

Some say we have two seasons..hot and hotter than hell.

I’m here to tell you it’s not true, not for the Hill Country anyway.  We have football season

Fall is for Football
Fall is for Friday night light! Football in Texas.
Fall is Football Fun! Bridger Navarro is #78
Fall is Friday Night Lights., Football Fun! Bridger Navarro is #78

Then we have baseball season…

Enjoy a cool night during baseball season
Enjoy a cool night during baseball season. Watching my cousin play in Round Rock Texas with Mr. D&H

And the favorite in the Navarro household…Basketball season!

Basketball means Spurs!
Basketball means Spurs!

What? You weren’t talking about sport seasons? Well, than we do have hunting season….

Hunting lease across for Garner State Park
Hunting lease across for Garner State Park

Oh, you mean the seasons of weather? We do have more than HOT…let’s look at the evidence.

One of my Favorite seasons is fall or as some might call it autumn. A great deal of our trees and plants stay green but we do have some beautiful reds and yellows along the river.

Fall foliage on the Frio River
Fall foliage on the Frio River
Fall foliage on the Frio River
Fall foliage on the Frio River

Our winters are pretty mild. Ice is our worst enemy, but it never last past noon! LOL We have been known to get a few flurries of snow. Now remember, I’m central Texas, in the southern tip of the Hill Country. So West Texas and North Texas they have their own set of weather patterns. The hills must break up all that cold stuff that blows down from Canada. Poor Dallas. We do get all grey and cold looking but if it last more than a week we think something has gone wrong.

Winter in the Hill Country
Winter in the Hill Country

winter-5

Real Snow! It never sticks around though. Leakey Texas
Real Snow! It never sticks around though. Leakey Texas
The only snow we get most of the time in the Texas Hill is the fake kind.
For winter the only snow we get most of the time in the Texas Hill is the fake kind.

Aww..Springtime. Everyone loves spring , right? And it would not be a post about Texas If I didn’t include the Texas State Flower.

Texas Bluebonnets in front of the ranch next to our house.
Texas Bluebonnets in front of the ranch next to our house.
Texas Bluebonnets - Watch out, snakes like to live here.
Texas Bluebonnets – Watch out, snakes like to live in the Bluebonnets, Storm Navarro
Texas Bluebonnets in front of the ranch next to our house. Photo by Shawn Streib Gray
Texas Bluebonnets in front of the ranch next to our house. Photo by Shawn Streib Gray
Spring time and the babies arrive in my back yard.
Spring time and the babies arrive in my back yard.

And then we have one of our most famous seasons and our longest…Summer. In Texas summer is best if you are on are by water.

Summer on the Frio River
Texas Summer is best on the water. Summer on the Frio River
Texas Summer is best on the wate
Texas Summer is best on the water. Canyon Lake
Texas Summer is best on the water
Texas Summer is best on the water. Port Aransas.
Texas Summer is best on the water. Port Aransas
Texas Summer is best on the water. Port Aransas

So what is your favorite season?

Early morning view from my studio at Navarro High School

Sunrise, Sunset over Texas

Story inspiration in every Sunrise & Sunset
Story inspiration in every Sunrise & Sunset

I truly feel blessed to live in the Texas Hill Country. Just the act of driving to work and heading home at the end of the day can be spectacular.

Early evening over Boerne Texas Main Street. during Dickens On Main
Early evening over Boerne Texas Main Street. during Dickens On Main
Sunset over the Texas Hill Country
Sunset over the Texas Hill Country
Castroville Texas, the reflection of the sunset over the football game.
Castroville Texas, the reflection of the sunset over the football game.
Early morning back road in Boerne Texas taken by Brandi Quinn
Early morning back road in Boerne Texas taken by Brandi Quinn

The colors and lighting just makes me think how wonderful it is to be part of such a grand plan.

Sunrise on HWY 474 in Boerne
Sunrise on HWY 474 in Boerne

20150415_071208

Sunrise at the end of my road. Yes I live in the country. And love it.
Sunrise at the end of my road. Yes I live in the country. And love it.
Early morning view from my studio at Navarro High School
Early morning view from my studio at Navarro High School. Can you tell what city I work in?
Sunset Port Aransas
Sunset Port Aransas

On Vacation one of my favorite activities is watching the sunrise and set. I got this from my father. He loved the rise and fall of the sun. When I see it, it helps me feel connected to him even though he has watching from the other side for almost 19 years now. Some of my best memories are sitting on a balcony or porch and just enjoying God’s work.

On a balcony - early morning at Port Aransas. One of my favorite places to write
One a balcony – early morning at Port Aransas. On of my favorite places to write

Most of these pictures where taken with my Galaxy 3.

I actually love to write while on vacation.

Do you have a favorite time of day? If you’re a writer do you write on vacation or take a break from the computer?

A Recipe for Romance Authors of Love Inspired

A Recipe for Romance: Mexican Hot Chocolate

Recipes for Romance
Recipes for Romance

A fabulous group of authors invited me to add a short romance story and  recipe to their collection: A Recipe for Romance. I was honored. First thought? What would make a perfect recipe to write a sweet romantic story around. Well, it had to have chocolate. So I went with Mexican Hot Chocolate!

Yes, I drink hot chocolate year round.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

  • 4 CUPS of MILK
  • 4-6 Pieces of chocolate baking bar
  • 1/4 Cup Cornmeal
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1-2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • ¾ tsp Vanilla

Combine milk, sugar, chocolate baking bars and cinnamon sticks in pan over low heat until chocolate pieces melt completely. In a separate container, mix cornmeal and water and dissolve any lumps. Add cornmeal mixture to milk. Stir or whisk over very low heat for about 10-15 minutes. You will notice the milk will begin to thicken. Add pure vanilla extract after removing from heat. The more cornmeal thickens the milk, if you prefer it thicker add more cornmeal. Whisk it before serving to get a frothy topping. Grab a book and share a story while wrapped up in fuzzy socks, comfy blankets and a mug of the best hot chocolate ever.

A Recipe for Romance Authors of Love Inspired
A Recipe for Romance Authors of Love Inspired
West Texas A&M Writing Academy with Alex Sokoloff.

Q for The Quiet Corner Every Writer needs

A Quiet Corner of Her Own

Q -Quiet Cornor to Write
Q -Quiet Corner to Write

In one of my literature classes in college I read A Room of Ones Own, by Virginia Woolf. I loved that short book, somehow it called to me, even before I thought I could be a professional writer. Before my brain could fathom making money as a writer. I mean come on those people were truly gifted, talented and mysterious and I bet they could spell. A shudder goes up my spine, they never failed a high school test because they spelled the answers wrong.
Anyway, I digress. Even back then, over twenty years ago, my heart loved the idea of being a writer. This little book touched that heart. Made me think of the women that were more servants than wives, women who never had the opportunity to read let alone write.
It a long essay that reads more like a letter to all women writers, well maybe society as a whole. Even thought by today standards I’m not sure I’m a feminist, but I believe every child has right to grow into the adult and fulfill a purpose only they can do.
A Room of One’s Own, covers her thoughts on society and art and sexism. Woolf, English writer and one of the foremost modernists and critics of the twentieth century, has an utterly entertaining conversational with us as she walks through the European history of women in writing. With humor and tongue in cheek she smoothly points out the success of the likes of William Shakespeare while lampooning the chauvinistic state of university education in the England of her day.
When she made the claim that to achieve their full greatness as writers women will need a solid income and  privacy, Woolf pretty much invented modern feminist criticism.

There are a few things I need in order to write:
At times my quiet corner has been in my car as I wait in the pick up line or for volleyball, football or basketball practice to finish. I’ll write as I wait for a track event or a meeting to start. During my thirty minute lunch break I write dialogue. I make notes on my smart phone as I shop or drive. I have learned to create my own room wherever I am.

At home I do have an office I could write in, but I prefer to be close to the family. So I have made a creative corner at the end of my dining table. With my Beats and storyboard I’m good to go. The view is nice too.

The view from the corner of my creative space
The view from the corner of my creative space
West Texas A&M Writing Academy with Alex Sokoloff.
West Texas A&M Writing Academy with Alex Sokoloff
San Antonio Romance Authors
San Antonio Romance Authors

I would also say that a writer needs a supportive community that understands the writing demons. I’ve been blessed to have a few of those too.

Do you have a corner or room that is just yours or a group that supports your dream?