Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Favorite Kind of Exercise

Today over at Mama Kat's, one of the writing prompts is to talk about your favorite kind of exercise.  And although I do physical activities when I can, I don't have a favorite because to be honest, I hate to sweat. And put forth effort.

I'd much rather prefer to snuggle under a warm blanket on my cozy couch with a good book in my hands.

So in reality, my favorite kind of exercise is the kind that exercises my mind. And my eyes. And my arm as I lift my tea cup from the table to take a sip...

I'd show you a picture of this, but usually when I'm reading, I don't have my cell phone near by to snap a pic.  Instead I will show you my other favorite reading spot:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday the 13th

I was born on the 13th of December, so I've always considered 13 to be my lucky number.  Many people are spooked by the number, and even more spooked by the legends and lore that go along with Friday the 13th.  However, I am not a sufferer of triskaidekaphobia. In fact, I revel in the spookiness!

And maybe today is a good day to share one of my favorite pictures.  I enjoy going on ghost tours, and have been on various tours in Chicago, Philadelphia, and of course New Orleans.

The picture below is from Chicago.  It is a close-up shot of the second story of Hull House.  For those that don't know the history, you can read about it here.  But that is the historical account of the museum.  For the real creepiness lies in its old legends - the wife of Charles Hull died in the house and is said to haunt the front rooms.  She is referred to as the Lady in White. It is also rumored that in 1913, a woman gave birth to a "devil baby" with horns and a tail, and brought it Hull House.  Jane Addams, was not being able to baptize the child, and supposedly locked it away in the attic. This story is the inspiration for the movie, Rosemary's Baby.

Whether or not the house is haunted, I cannot say for sure.  All I know is that there is something strange going on in the left window on the second story in my picture.

(There are two orbs in the picture as well, but those could be a light reflection. Or not.)

Monday, September 9, 2013

To Be Grateful

Imagine driving past a park one chilly November morning as you are headed to drop your kids off at school. The sun is just bursting out of the clouds, and the cold frost twinkles on the grass.

You pass a park and see a minivan. It's side door is open, and overflowing with open boxes and bags of clothes. Two small children play on the swings in school uniforms, as a woman picks up the picnic table and walks to the garbage can with the remains of breakfast. A man walks out of the park bathroom with a pile of clothes in his arms.

You think to yourself how odd it is to see a family at a park at this time of morning.... especially on such a cold morning.

Then it hits you. The boxes and bags in the van are the family's entire belongings. The children are spending time playing in the only backyard they know. The woman served her family breakfast on a cold metal picnic table. The man had washed up and changed for work in a park bathroom.

Over and over, this scene replays each morning, until the first snowfall. Then the park district police stop coming to unlock the bathrooms for the winter.

Fast forward to today.

As I drove the kids to school, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a minivan in the park's lot. I didn't really pay attention until Keira mentioned the child on the slide had on the same kind of dress as her. Flashback to last November.

Was it the same family? How could it be? Or was it another family, down on their luck, who just happens to attend the same school as my children?

As I drove to work in my new jacket, sipping my just-bought iced coffee, I was hit with a wave of heartbreak and guilt. How truly grateful am I? For the house that keeps my kids safe and warm? For the nice clothes I have for work? Granted, I only spent $15 on this jacket at Walmart of all places, but we had stopped there after dinner and a movie... luxuries that I am sure some families do not know. What a person might give to have a hot cup of coffee early this morning with a bit of wind in the air, the person who may have slept in his car last night. And here I sit at the drive-up window, a myraid of choices to drink and some cash in my hand.

My life is full of blessings. Absolutely overflowing with them.

Yet last week, I was sulking over something petty. I even question my writing skills and if there was a point to keep this up. I took sometime to myself, and thought I was over it. But the feelings still lingered deep inside. Until this morning. When I realized there are so many bigger things in life to worry over. And many of the big things - I don't have to worry about. I have a house, two cars, a job that includes great insurance, three little monsters, and a great husband. We are for the most part healthy, the kids are well-fed, and we all stay warm at night.

What about you? What are you grateful for?

***Also posted on Embracing Chaos

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Just Breathe...

This has been my mantra this past week. 

It hasn't been the best of times.

Culminating with the tomato soup

All over my nude-colored ballet flats today at lunch time.

*Note to self:

Wear black the rest of the week.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Decorating the mantel...

I've been so excited for fall to come so I can update my mantel with some autumn decor. However I found some things recently on clearance and fell in love with the new look.   

Lighted branches - coupon at Bed, Bath & Beyond
Vase - clearance at Michaels

Blue candles - clearance at Target
White candle - Kohls 30% off 

Bird - clearance at Target
Candle holder - coupon at BB&B
Vintage Nancy Drew books - they were my Mom's!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

COVER REVEAL: Running in Place (Mending Hearts #2)

While I've read the first book, Running on Empty, I haven't made it to her second one yet (Mending Hearts #1.5 -  Recovery).  The great thing about this next book in the series is that the author, L.B. Simmons, states on her website that you can read this one without having read the others.  But after you check out this excerpt, I can't see how you would want to skip the first two!


“Seriously, why are you even with him, Tatum? You never seem happy when you are.”
Well, that sure turned her smile upside down.  It also caused her to glare back at me.
“Like you have room to talk, Noah. Why are you with Piper?  You sure as hell never look happy when you’re with her, either.  You usually look irritated, actually.”
“Touché.  You’re right,” I shrug as I lean back against my chair, “We kind of have an agreement. So, it is what it is. But, it’s nice to know you’ve been watching.” I give her a quick wink.
She narrows her eyes as she sits back in her seat and crosses her arms over her chest.  “Well, you might want to explain that to her, because I’m pretty sure she thinks otherwise.  Like, she probably has the church booked and wedding magazines all over her apartment.”
It seems that even the mention of marriage also has an adverse effect on my cardiac system. Or maybe it’s just any reference to Piper?
We are getting way off track here, so I scoot my seat underneath the table, getting closer to Tatum and shift toward her, crooking my finger for her to lean in as well. After a slight hesitation, surprisingly she does.  I shield the side of my mouth with the back of my hand and lower my voice to a whisper. “Let’s drop the Piper topic for a second, it’s giving me heartburn, and concentrate on you for a second.” Her hardened mask breaks and she laughs even though I couldn’t be more serious.
“I’m going to give you a loser lesson.  Let’s call it, ‘Loser 101: Introduction to All Things Loser.’” Another small smile breaks across her lips and I’m once again momentarily distracted by her mouth. 
Glancing back up, I look into her eyes and grin.  “Okay, so number one.  His name isn’t really Cash, you know this right? His name is Herman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if he’s not man enough to even stand behind the name his mother gave him, well?” 
Tatum’s eyes widen and she covers her mouth. “How did you know that?” she whispers back from behind her fingers. She looks like an adorable little girl with her huge blue eyes gaping back at me. It’s captivating.  I burn the image into my brain before letting her in on my secret.
“I’m a bartender.  I’ve seen his I.D.  In fact, I make him show it to me every time he comes into the bar because it makes me laugh.”
She drops her hand, huge smile displayed.  “You’re evil.”
“Yes, yes I am.” I hold up my pointer finger.  “That’s number one.  Number two…” I draw out, “He’s what? Twenty-four? You know what I see every time he hands me that I.D. other than his name and age? His goddamn huge-ass senior ring … from high school. He really needs to learn to let go of what were probably the best years of his life and just move on. So, if they still feel that their high school years are relevant – loser. Lesson number two.”
I count it on my fingers as I lean in even closer and whisper my final lesson in her ear. “The third one is the most important, so listen closely.” I take a discreet whiff of her hair before continuing. “You may not believe this but it’s the truth.  You deserve to be treasured.  You should be with someone who respects you, who makes you a better person, and most of all who makes you happy.  He, however, treats you poorly. I see it every single time I’m around the two of you, and I have to say it takes a lot of restraint on my part not to beat the shit out of him when I see him do it.” I lean away from her and hold up three fingers in front of her shocked-as-shit facial expression.  “So, they don’t respect you and treat you how you should be treated – loser. Lesson three.”
I clear my face of its smartass smirk so she understands that I’m completely serious.  “Never settle for less than you’re worth.  You don’t give yourself enough credit.  Hopefully, one day, you’ll see what everyone else sees.”
She graciously accepts my compliment with a half-smile and after sliding herself back into her chair, she studies me intently.
“Interesting lesson there, Noah.  Thank you for the wise words. But, as I clearly displayed last night, I have issues.  Not everyone would take me back after what I did last night. But he did.  Because, he loves me. We all have our faults, not everyone can be perfect, like you.  I hope you know that’s not meant to be an insult, so please don’t take it that way.  I just mean that some of us are flawed and have to deal with what we’re given.” She breaks from my eyes to watch the waitress pick up the empty plates from our table.  Once they’re cleared, she begins again, still gazing off in the distance.
“Broken hopes and expectations can leave very, very broken people. So, after a while, you learn not to aim so high, because when people fail you, you land hard and there’s only so many times a person can be shattered before they’re beyond repair.”
She brings her eyes back to mine.  “What you’re so quick to label as settling, I simply call survival,” she finishes with a defeated shrug of her shoulders.
After her statement, she casts her glance away from mine to smile at the person passing by.  Although as usual, it’s not genuine. It’s the same one she plasters on her face to appease everyone around her.
What the hell happened to her? 
The waitress conveniently drops the check off at our table, providing Tatum the perfect way out of this conversation and therefore any further interrogation.  She stands and pushes the chair out from underneath her with the backs of her knees. “Ready?” she asks, purse already in hand and stepping towards the direction of the register.
Well, I guess that’s all I’m getting from her for now. I know it’s not much, but I’ll take it.
It’s not like I can actually concentrate on asking her any more questions, because there’s one gigantic conclusion I’ve just drawn and it’s currently blocking any other thoughts from entering my mind.
A person who judges someone without really knowing them, without walking in their shoes, or without at least attempting to understand what they’ve gone through or experienced during their lifetime – loser.
Lesson number four.

“Two fleeting souls,

Unknowingly tethered.

Too slowly drawn,

Impatient fate calls.

The jolting collide intertwines their lives

   And splinters their walls.”

“Catalyst” – Noah Reese


L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and holds a degree in Biomedical Science. She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.
Connect with L.B.:  
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To celebrate the cover of her newest novel, Running in Place, L.B. is offering her readers an awesome Giveaway!

·        Winner 1: $100 Amazon gift card

·        Winner 2: A set of signed paperbacks of Running on Empty and Recovery.

·        Winner 3: ARC of Running in Place, to be sent to the winner in mid October.
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