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Good book! Good book! Read The Martian!


I read a book!

 Oh c’mon now, no yawning. Yes, I know, that is hardly an interesting proclamation but when I’m in the writing process it’s really rare for me to read anyone else’s work. I have this weird paranoia about inadvertently picking up any great stuff from someone else so I just avoid it. Plus, there’s really no time. Plus, it can feel so intimidating to read such amazing stuff from incredibly talented writers.

 I get around all of that simply by not reading.

 But I loooove reading and getting into a good book has been calling to me lately so I compromised. I picked something so far from my own genre that there was no way I would want to “lift” anything from it. Plus it sounded mostly interesting so therefore a good use of time if I was going to “waste time” not writing.

 The Martian by Andy Geir did not disappoint. In fact, one of the strengths of this book is its wonderful surprises. I’d heard a review of it on NPR several years ago now, ordered the book and there it sat with many others on my book shelf just dying to be read by someone. Thank goodness the day had come.

 Well technically two days since that’s how long it took for me to get through it. That’s the other reason I can’t read when I’m writing – it’s all I want to do till the book is done!

 So the set-up for The Martian is that mankind has made it to Mars. There’s nothing there but us and on one of the walks on the barren planet something goes wrong and one of the team dies. The rest of the team have to leave him, head back to the ship and back to Earth. But the thing is he didn’t die. He’s alive on Mars with very limited supplies, no way to contact home, and four years before the next ship returns. Oh, and giant size smarts and a strong will to live.

 The book has many pages on technical stuff on how to make “living” on Mars possible. Most of it way over my brain level and yet:


 Loved it! It is smart and clever and best of all, at times, flippin’ funny! The main character is written as smart and self-effacing. He faces incredible challenges at every turn. When I realized it was really, truly going to be a book about just this one guy on Mars and not this one guy finding some alien race on Mars, I was skeptical. I’m a fantasy girl. My trips to Mars would have little green men. :)

 Thank goodness this didn’t. It’s far more powerful and, at times, magical almost in its realness. You are that guy. You are the team that left him there believing him dead. You are the team at home sick about it all and eventually, you are the world wanting him home.

 So, go on, skip re-reading one of my books right now. I know you love me. :) Pick this one up instead and be really, really happy you are human and that each one of us matters.

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle


Notes from Jabbering JingleBelle



The Jolly Jingle is out y’all! Check your inboxes and read it while its hot! This month my favorite feature in it is tips – direct from the head leprechaun himself, Redson O’Brien – for a great St. Patricks Day party. A not to be missed issue from me to you.

Have you noticed a trend toward kind acts lately? I have seen so much attention and deliberateness around kindness and practicing it consciously on social media, at my job and even in some media stories lately that hope is alive in my heart that a new time is coming.

I’m on a cantaloupe kick lately. Anyone else or is it just me? I’ve been having a half a cantaloupe in one way or another every day! I like it for breakfast with yogurt. At lunch with cottage cheese. At dinner with a spicy garbanzo salad that I’m hooked on and for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle.

The count now in my “complaints fund” after one week is at $14. Not the greatest I know but $10 of that came from one bad rant. I’m reporting here to keep me both accountable and a bit rueful.


Some amazing barges and freighters have been going by our house lately. Love that! Tugboats like the Mistletoe, of course, are my very favorite but these big ole boats the other day made me think of the brand new South Pole Village barge that is finally going to be completed in this book! I’m soooooo excited about that – and so is Sandra. I think it will be about the size of this big barge here – but much prettier of course. :) (That is when you can see it. The new paint developed by the elves is going to make it so easy for it to blend in with its surroundings wherever it is!)

Okay, that’s it today from Jabbering JingleBelle! I just love Jolly Jingle days. And all of you.

Give up complaining – join me!


I posted this week on my Facebook page that I was giving up complaining for in the spirit of Lent. Truth is, I’m not a member of a religion that follows Lent. Somehow though, I have come to like the idea of giving something up each year for the six weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter. (It could be any six weeks of your choosing but that is when Lent runs.) The act of making a conscious choice to give up something deliberately and then work to stick with it during that time appeals to me.

Generally speaking, I have given up sugar many times since it always seems to be my nemesis. I’ve also given up eating meat in the past and one year watching TV on the weekends. My choices have varied. This year though I have selected something more challenging for me that I hope I can do successfully.

I’ve given up complaining.

It’s been fun seeing the different reactions to that when I’ve shared my choice. The most common one has been “NOOOO!” I’ve laughed at it partly because it is such a strong reaction but also just because it is so deeply felt as well. We all like to complain. We do. It gives us something to talk about and to bond around. I am definitely a fine complainer.

But what if I wasn’t? That was my thought when I finally landed on this goal for Lent this year. What if I could curb my enthusiasm for jumping in with my complaints? I think I’d like myself better if I tampered down on them.

I should be clear here lest you get the wrong idea. I’m not a down sort of personality or a chronic complainer. I see the world from rose-colored glasses and I usually wake up happy. But, complaining is insipid and sneaks into our lives even when what we’re complaining about is a big ole nothing.

I want to be done with that kind of complaining. Or at least done for a bit.

I think this goal is going to be more challenging for me than any of the others. It really takes a lot of self-awareness. I’ve decided to make it a little bit more “painful” and more positive too. So for every time I catch myself complaining – twice now in just the several days I’ve been at it! – or someone else points out my complaining, I’m putting a dollar in my gratitude jar at home. If it’s a real bad complaint then it will be $10. At the end of the time, the day after Easter, all of the complaint dollars are going to our local animal shelter as a donation.

The only bad thing about that is I like donating to the animal shelter so that might not help me quit complaining! Ha! Well, one thing you know for sure, I’ll make that donation without complaining about it! :) 

How ‘bout you? Giving anything up for Lent or any other reason? A new year’s resolution perhaps? How’s it going? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below or drop me a line!

Hey and the Jolly Jingle comes out on Tuesday! Be sure and check it out to see what the free drawing is for this month. Something extra special fun. :) 

happy happy joy joy list




It’s a perfect day for a gratitude list! Here’s the top things on mine:

  • It’s a holiday Monday and I have the day off! Woo Hoo!
  • More than that, it’s a holiday Monday in the Northwest and it is a flat out gorgeous February day! On a day off! I have the deck door open as I type this!
  • I sort of need it open cause I’m cleaning my oven. Now you wouldn’t think that would go on a gratitude list but A) I have an oven and B) I have time to clean my very dirty oven.
  • And I have had time to clean my fridge, make a  couple meals for the week, pack my lunch for tomorrow, unpack from this weekend and get a basket ready for an auction donation. 
  • Oh and I also got to go to Trader Joe’s and Target and I didn’t have to hurry! Almost unheard of in my world.
  • That was all after having a nice chat on the phone with my parents this morning. 
  • Next up is a walk.
  • I spent three days up at Orcas Island and got 18,000 words written toward the next book! Praise be! It’s always a great thing to get it underway. And on the way home there was some kind of super cool sailing regatta going on next to the ferry dock. 


  • Oh and this adorable Valentine from our adorable five-year-old niece Savanna is on the list too.
  • And finally, still to come today, I’m meeting my sisters tonight for dinner to catch up on their latest adventures.

Life is feeling fabulous today – what’s on your happy happy joy joy list?

Oh Oh Oh! — jingle

Time for Kind!

What day is it? Huh? What day is it?

I know that’s what the camel says on Wednesdays for hump day but he’s always so excited in those commercials that I can’t help but copy him a little bit. Today, is one of my favorites – the kick off to National Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Week!

Now, as you know, I think every week should be a random act of kindness week but since I still don’t yet rule the world, I appreciate the boost from the RAK organization to promote such a great occasion.

And I have a PERFECT example of an outrageously special RAK to share with you to get the creative juices flowing on ways to make it special.


So on Saturday my niece and nephew came by and the two of us – my husband got in on this fun Rak too – and we headed for a surprise night out in Seattle. We had watched their treasured dog (who we are crazy about too) while they were away on vacation and they wanted to take us out to say thanks.

We arrived through the deluge of rain at a super fun Mediterranean restaurant that, even though it was still fairly early for Saturday evening dining, was PACKED! The place was hopping. It seems Glen and I were the only two that hadn’t heard about such a fun spot.


From start to finish the dinner was delish. Then, instead of simply taking us home, we headed down to Pike Street Market and ended up in a fabulous hat shop where we tried on pretty much every hat in the shop. (Not to be immodest, but I really felt like I rocked almost all of them. :) ) It was so much fun. Making it even better though? Ty and Kinga bought us each a hat! We couldn’t believe it. First dinner and then an after dinner party favor? Be still my heart.


Was that the very best random act of kindness ever? It sure is way up there on my personal list. We felt completely spoiled and even more importantly, completely loved.

And its that last part that kindness is amount. Every act of kindness, no matter how large or small, how thought out or random, has at its core the awesome factor of love.

And that my friends, makes this week of random acts of kindness, ironically, cooler than Valentines Day the day we say is about love. Yes, it’s a fine day but its got a lot of “buy me stuff” pressure in it. Kindness has no pressure and only love. Oh man, oh man . . .

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle


A little bit of bad, A whole lot of good


Holy holly berries! I made it to the weekend! Whew. This week was a doozy. My Seahawks tanked on Sunday. My favorite boss ever gave his notice on Tuesday. I found out I had two chapters labeled 58 in the Santanapping on Thursday (ay caramba!) and I can’t even list the crazy number of things that turned head over heels this week at work in between. Suffice it to say, this weekend evening calls for a tall cocoa with a good drop of an adult beverage poured in!

We’ve had loads of rain here this week to add into the mix with a good dose of fog so maybe a good sleep-in is being called for tomorrow morning. Can’t dilly dally about too much though cause there is fun in the air! My nephew and niece are taking us out on a surprise adventure tomorrow and I cannot wait! Who cares about those troubles? Who cares about the rain? Fun is a foot! And on Sunday, I head off for a major brainstorming session with my book coach Breeze to work through a couple of stuck points in Inside Out & Upside Down. Sometimes talking it all out is the perfect way to break loose the ideas.

Hey and another bit of fun – Noelia Salinas was the lucky winner of our very lucky, cool socks in the January Jolly Jingle drawing! And there’s another fun prize coming up this month so be sure to come on back to check it out.

Sure life has its moments but they’re usually nothing that a good cup of cocoa, some kindness from friends, and some time for fun can’t help kick to the curb!

Look for the joy in your world!

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle


The Elves are Tw-elves!

Live from the North Pole, two elves show they are “tw-elves” too! (Nothing personal on the Patriots, I’m sure there are elves that are patriot fans too they just didn’t send me their pic. :) )


Book Four: Coming Right Up


My head has been on fire lately with good thoughts and good ideas! Don’t you just love it when that happens?

Its perfect timing because I’m just getting started on book four! It is so nice to be writing a book with all sorts of ideas flying around in your brain. I gotta say it would be pretty tough to do it any other way. :)

So the process begins! By now, if you take the newsletter (you are signed up for the Jolly Jingle right? right?) then you already know the working title for this book is Inside Out & Upside Down and its going to pick up right where we left off in book three. There’s a lot of peril and lots for Sandra to start on right away again. Sadly, I don’t think she’ll be getting to enjoy Slumber Month again this year.

But at least she won’t be bored! We won’t be having any of that bad kind of mojo hanging around these here parts. :)


And speaking on books related to Christmas, check out this one I spied at my most recent trip to Barnes & Noble. What the what? Clearly this was written by someone chronically on the naughty list. :)

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle



January Kindness Tips for You!

Well all, my hair is a mess and I look a little unorganized but that is how we roll on an early Sunday morning in January when the sun is shining, the thoughts are flowing and there’s lots going on. :) My second vlog is on three easy kindness tips for your most important audience — yourself! My favorite part of this one? Lovey — our little white cotton ball of a cat — photo bombs me a couple of times. Watch for her! Love to you all!

All sorts of crazy good!

What’s been on your good list lately everyone? My list is loaded with fabulous!


A visit with my parents

In the sunshine! So spoiled. This time of year the Seattle area is wrapped in gray most of the day with doses of rain followed by darkness. Alas. I love getting in some sunshine each winter visiting my folks down in sunny Arizona.  And I got a glimpse of the Super Bowl stadium before everyone else in my part of the world. :)

A win by the Seahawks!

Woo-hoo! I’m a Seattle girl and our birds are headed again to the Super Bowl. Green Bay was a great team to play against for the playoffs and no one was more shocked with that win then a bunch of us locals. Russell Wilson though and the team are a class act and we’re super excited about Super Bowl Sunday coming up soon. I got a preview of the stadium on my way to the Phoenix airport this week and there was tons of sponsor displays already going up!


I got cool new business cards

I shared these on Facebook but what do you all over here think? I was pretty jazzed about them. Order your own cool cards on

This weekend, book four begins!

The time has come to start writing, the hubs is out of town and my schedule has been cleared. Can’t wait to see what is in store for Sandra and the gang this time around. Oh my goodness.

The Jolly Jingle is coming!

The next issues of the Jolly Jingle comes out on Saturday, Jan 24. You’re on the list right? :)


My husband is the best

I mentioned how nice it would be to have our computer downstairs instead of hidden away upstairs and just like that he made it so! He tracked down a table at Pier 1 (my favorite!) moved some furniture around and we got ourselves a computer just where I wanted it. New writing corner! Win! 

Good friends are treating me to a concert

I am sooooo spoiled! We have good friends who scored front row seats to hear Marc Cohn (Walking in Memphis) perform Saturday evening and they asked me along! Lucky day!

So c’mon, what’s on your list? Goodness flows around the globe

Oh Oh Oh! – jingle