Posted by Susan Sey Aug 19 2014, 12:13 am in BWCA, canoeing, chocolate, food, Kids, Susan Sey, yum
Kids love water. I know they do. I have never yet successfully watered my garden without also watering my children. Setting up a sprinkler on the summer day is like rolling out the welcome mat.
Or the slip-n-slide.
To my knowledge there are no more joyously welcomed words than “Who wants to go swimming?”
So taking the kids canoeing should be a slam-dunk, right?
Well….I don’t know.
See, we’re taking the kids on their first canoe camping trip this weekend. It’s just a quick two night/three day paddle in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area–which is one of Minnesota’s hidden treasures. We have loads of lakes, as everybody knows, but fewer people know that we’ve preserved a big ol’ chunk of them right up near Canada specifically for canoeing.
The BWCA is one of the most gorgeous places on God’s green earth, & we’re about to introduce our kids to it via sweat equity. Not because we’re nature nazis, but because that’s the only way to see it. You literally can’t get into the BWCA unless you’re willing to put all your gear on your back, a canoe on your head & walk it in there. And then put that canoe down, get in, & paddle it someplace.
And the BWCA? Worth it. No question.
Now I’ve taken kids into the wilderness before. I’m not an amateur. I know exactly what it takes to make a trip like this do-able for the younger set. Well, for anybody, really. Outdoor life is wonderful if you follow two simple rules:
Staying warm isn’t easy when you (and your gear) spend the majority of every day a few inches above a chilly lake. But it’s not complicated, either. It’s very simple, actually. STAY DRY. I have impressed this upon my children, who are given to wild starts & unpremeditated actions. We can easily end up swimming rather than paddling if things don’t go exactly as planned, at which point they will be cold. And mommy will be unsympathetic, because what did I say about sitting DOWN IN THE CANOE?
Eating well, however? We’ve got that one nailed down. We’re a little limited, of course, as we can only take what we can carry on this trip. (As opposed to car camping, where you just load up the trunk & reach in whenever you want something.) But with a little practice & some creativity, you can perform miracles over a campfire. I can fill the kids’ bellies, no problem.
But we all know that eating is about more than just filling the belly. Eating is about pleasure, & one of camping’s great pleasures?
The S’more. Blessed, blessed s’more. That holy trinity of chocolate, marshmallow & graham cracker.
If there’s one thing that’ll make a kid smile–no matter how wet, how miserable, how whiny–it’s a s’more.
Now my oldest likes to light her marshmallow on fire. She enjoys waving it around, of course, but also really likes that crispity blackened outside paired with the untouched-and-still-sort-of-bouncy inside. She mooshes it between graham crackers with a wedge of classic Hershey’s & she’s golden.
Me? I take my time. I want my marshmallow perfectly browned until it’s warm & gooey all the way through. I prefer a Hershey’s Symphony bar–the kind with the toffee bits, please–and a couple of classic graham crackers.
Mr. Sey takes his with dark chocolate, & the little one just eats the crackers. She likes to toast marshmallows but prefers not to eat them. (We don’t recall having dropped her on her head when she was a baby but clearly something happened there. We’re looking into it.) I’m teaching her to toast mine, as it’s all about efficiency when you’re camping.
So I know you all have opinions about this. What’s your perfect s’more? Or, if you’re not a s’more girl (WHAT?), what IS your favorite over-the-camp-fire dessert?
Posted by Susan Sey Jul 29 2014, 12:22 am in Friendship, rwa14, Susan Sey, vacation, writing
There truly is no place like home. And you know what makes you really appreciate home? A vacation!
And yes, while home is where the heart is, it cannot be denied that vacation is where the restaurant food, hotel beds and far-away friends are.
And I just spent a week in the company of my beloved writer friends. We laughed, we ate, we brainstormed & plotted, we dressed up, we dressed down & we hung out. And it was so good for my soul.
More happened than I can possibly recap for you, but here are a handful of snapshots that’ll give you an idea.
There were these lovely hanging stars in the main conference hotel. I found them strangely fascinating. They were sort of a theme, actually. I discovered different versions of them all over the place. Is there an explanation for this? Is is a San Antonio thing? Or was it just a theme for the decor? Either way, they were beautiful.
The talented & amazing Joan Kayse opened her heart–and her room–to me this week, graciously sharing her bed and her roommate with me. (Hi, Lisa! Hi, Karen! I’m wearing pants!) This is us lounging around in bed with snacks & a mere sampling of the free books we were showered with. (insert big, happy sigh here) Free. Books. I *love* RWA’s national conference!
Speaking of books, here’s a small sampling of the Romance Bandits who participated in Read for Life Literacy signing, giving away their books to raise money for literacy. I couldn’t get photos of Tawny, Beth or Anna Sugden–I ran out of time–but I was proud to be among them all!
Then there was the eating & the drinking. I love food–and I especially love food I don’t cook or clean up, so eating out all week would have been a joy in & of itself. But the food in San Antonio came with friends! There was dinner with my Romance Bandits & PJ Ausdenmore from the Romance Dish…
…Drinks in the bar with thehilarious Susan Gee Heino…
And breakfast meetings over bacon. (Mmmmm, bacon.)
We wrapped things up with our version of the Oscars, the Golden Heart/Rita awards, where I was shocked & amazed at the line I had to stand in. Evidently, other people also wanted to watch the proceedings. Who could’ve known?
All too soon it was time head home. I’m missing my writing friends something terrible but I’m using all that emotion to fuel the next story. I’ve managed to hack my way to the end of Chapter One, & I think–I hope–I’m on the right path. But if I’m not, I know who’ll steer me back to it. I just spent all last week basking in their friendship, & advice is only an email away.
So tell me, what’s been the highlight of YOUR summer so far?
Posted by Susan Sey Jul 19 2014, 10:10 am in camp, independence, Susan Sey
So my big girl is off to overnight camp tomorrow, & I have to admit, we’re all feeling a little trepidation about it.
Not that we don’t love camping. We’re all about camping here in our house. Summer’s not summer until we’ve busted out the tents, thrown on the backpacks & burnt dinner over a fire. But this is different. This isn’t camping. This is Camp.
Like overnight camp.
Like away from the family camp.
Like sleeping in a cabin with fourteen other girls, & a couple of adults who don’t know that you like to sleep with the bathroom light on. Or that you often end up in your sister’s bed. Or that you have a deadly & unreasonable fear of spiders.
This is Girl Scout Camp, & unlike 5th grade camp, I won’t be in the next cabin over. I’ll be in San Antonio, hanging out with my writer friends. Her sister will be doing day camp & coming home every night to hang out with Dad, but my big girl will be having a big new experience. And as I mentioned, we’re all facing it with a little worry.
Not that I’m letting it show. No, on the surface I’m all, “You’re going to have a great time! You’ll be so busy you’ll hardly even think about us!” But inside? I’m worried for her. She’s a sensitive, loving kid, & she’s very family oriented. This is going to be a tough experience for her. It’ll be good for her, I know. Good for all of us to let her prove to herself that she can do it.
But it’s killing me to think she’ll be sad or lonely or afraid, and far from her mommy.
Do you remember the first shaky steps you took away from your family & into the world? How did it go? Any advice for her? For me? Share!
Posted by Susan Sey Jun 29 2014, 12:55 am in Susan Sey
One of my dearest friends in the world has a little cabin in the woods. We’ve spent many happy days there with her & her family, enjoying the lake, the woods, & the company. Last winter, though a number of fluky circumstances & some plain old bad luck, the heat went out, the pipes burst & the cabin flooded. It wasn’t a total loss, but it required a complete gutting. The kind of gutting that begs the age-old question:
Repair, or rebuild?
Now I don’t have a cabin & I probably never will, but I’m totally enchanted by this question. It applies to so many decisions in life, of course, but I personally like to apply it to my own house. I’ve never been in love with my 70s split level, but it’s in one of the better school districts in the Twin Cities, it’s in a safe neighborhood, & it’s got plenty of room for our family. I have nothing to complain about.
Not that that’s ever stopped me.
So listening to my friend think through her decision has got me thinking. Dreaming, really. So let’s say there’s an Act of God. Let’s say a storm dropped a tree on my house & I got to redo/replace three things. Only three. What would they be?
Oh, baby, I’ve got my list ready to go:
1) I’d tear off the screened in porch currently rotting off the side my kitchen & replace it with a kitchen addition, complete with an big ol’ island the whole family could eat at. Big glass windows, stovetop on the island….oh, yeah. I could get used to that.
2) I’d take our bathroom down to the studs & replace EVERYTHING from the plumbing out. We have a harvest gold bathtub people. Harvest. Gold. And the shower/bath toggle has never actually toggled properly. Our guests take shaths. Or maybe bowers. But you don’t get to pick either a shower OR a bath. Both the faucet & the shower head run at all times. I’d love to deal with that.
3) I’d tear out the ugly 70s faux stone fireplace in the basement & replace it with a natural gas fireplace/heater. I’d rip out that horrible old stone with the same terracotta tile I have in my foyer/kitchen & I’d put in an honest-to-goodness mantle. I’ve always wanted one. Someplace to hang the stockings & put up framed pictures. It would make our family room feel like a FAMILY room.
So what about you? What would you do if Fate suddenly handed you a reason to renovate? I know you’ve got a list…share!
All images courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net, mouse over for artist attribution…
Posted by Susan Sey May 29 2014, 8:38 am in haircuts gone bad, Susan Sey
Top Five Things That Happen When You Get Your Hair Cut Shorter Than You Intended:
1) The very short hairs around your ears now stick straight out around the arms of your glasses.
2) Your youngest child cries because you look like a boy.
3) Your husband says kind things about how it wasn’t what he thought you were getting but “it actually looks pretty good on you.”
4) You can’t stop feeling the back of your poor, shorn head.
5) You resolve to wear your contacts to your next haircut so you can keep an eye on the proceedings.
So…that pretty much sums up my yesterday. Have you ever had a haircut go awry? Let’s hear all about it while I wait for my haircut to grow out…
Posted by Susan Sey May 19 2014, 12:03 am in camp, Kids, outdoors, Susan Sey
As you read this, I am likely already at camp.
Fifth grade camp.
That’s right, friends. I’m up north this week, chaperoning my daughter’s 5th grade camping trip. And when I say “up north”, I mean it. From where I’m going, I’m pretty sure I can see Canada.
Which is fine by me. I like Canada. I also like camping. And fifth graders.
For a couple of years, in fact, I made my living taking 5th graders into the woods & introducing them to nature, so this is right up my alley. I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity to get back to 5th grade camp for years, & I’m pretty sure I’m about to have a great week.
Here, in no particular order are 5 things I’m excited about:
1) The smell of the north woods in the spring.
2) Taking a dozen girls & making a team of them.
3) Sleeping like the dead because we’ve been outside all day.
4) Reading my girls to sleep by candlelight.
5) Watching kids discover that school isn’t the only place–or even the best place–to learn.
That said, here are 5 things I’m not looking forward to:
1) Chow hall food.
2) All-day rain. (Scheduled for today.)
3) Discovering (the hard way) which kids are bed wetters.
4) Wet socks–no relation (hopefully) to #3.
5) Parent chaperones who think they’re on vacation.
Given that I’m at camp, I probably don’t have internet access, which means I won’t be very present on the blog today. But if the opportunity presents itself, I’d love to check in on the conversation. So here’s a question to get you started:
Have you ever been to camp? What was your most memorable camp experience?
All images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Mouse over for Artist Attribution
Posted by Susan Sey Apr 29 2014, 12:11 am in glasses, shopping, Susan Sey
True confessions time: I have terrible eye sight.
Now everybody says they have terrible eye sight, but I really do. Oh, it’s definitely not as bad as it could be. I mean, I don’t have bifocals yet (knock on wood) & my eye doctor (whom I visited just today) said my macula are immaculate. But for some people, glasses are just helpful. For me, they’re absolutely necessary.
I don’t have a bedside clock, for example. I just wear my watch to bed. It’s big & ugly, but it has indiglo & I can bring it right up to my nose without waking up all the way. And this is handy because I’m constitutionally unable to go back to sleep unless I know what time it is. I can’t explain it; I just know I have to know. So I wear my watch to bed.
When we’re lying in bed at night with our books & screens, and my husband wants to show me something on the iPad or in a magazine, he can’t just tilt the screen & say, “Hey, check this out.” He has to reach over & put it about six inches from my nose.
Driving? Ha. I was at the wheel on a rainy Saturday recently & I pulled off my rain-spattered glasses so my husband could give them a quick wipe for me. We made it about half a block before we decided that perhaps it was better for me to just look through the rain drops than have dry glasses. Safer for everybody.
It wasn’t but a few days after that when I was giving my glasses a quick wash. I opened the towel & discovered them in two neat halves, the nose bridge snapped clean through the center. I had a minor moment of panic. The last time I’d gotten new glasses, I’d had my old pair made over into prescription sun glasses. Which promptly broke. Did I have a back up pair? How old were they? Lord knows I didn’t want to go back to contacts. I know they work for many good people, but they always make me feel like I’m wearing a scoop of sand in each eye. They’re definitely special occasion wear.
Happily I found an old, sturdy pair buried in a drawer. And when I say “old,” I mean it. I think I was dating my husband when these frames were in daily rotation. (We’re having our 14th anniversary this summer.) Luckily, the 80s had already taught me some important if harrowing lessons about trendy glasses by the time I bought this particular pair. These frames were classics. I’ve been wearing them for a month now, & have actually received a handful of compliments on them.
But I deserve new glasses. It had been a solid four years since my last pair, & my rule is every three to five. So I’ve been doing some serious frames shopping, only to rediscover this tragic fact: It’s about as hard to find good glasses as it is to find good jeans. And finding decent jeans that flatter your body & don’t cost the earth? It’s a certifiable miracle. (Am I right, ladies?) So I finally just today pulled the trigger on a new pair. I think I like them but it’s hard to tell. I had to take my glasses off to try them on. I’ll have to let you know in a week to ten days.
So how about you? Do you panic when you blow out the knee of your favorite jeans or break you five-year-old glasses? Or are you already in the car heading for the mall with a smile on your face & a song in your heart? What’s the last important-to-you item you had to replace?
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Posted by Susan Sey Apr 19 2014, 12:14 am in meet the parents, Novella, Susan Sey, Touch of Trouble
So I’ve been thinking about meeting the parents lately. I recently released a novella–TOUCH OF TROUBLE–in which a man meets his beloved’s family for the first time. There are a few wrinkles, of course. (Aren’t there always?) They’re not actually dating, for one thing. She doesn’t even want to date him, for another. And her family is utterly bonkers, for a third.
But that aside? It’s a tough situation no matter what. Because meeting the parents is a big deal. It’s the day you acknowledge that maybe you aren’t just sharing a few laughs with this guy. It’s the day you acknowledge that maybe–just maybe–there’s a future in this.
That maybe–just maybe–you really like this guy.
That maybe–just maybe–he’s the one.
You want to love his family just as much as you love him, right? And–no denying it–you’re kind of desperate for them to love you, too.
But no pressure, right?
I’m sitting in my in-laws’ basement as I write this, thinking back on the very first time I visited this house nearly 16 years ago. I’m remembering the very first time I met the people who would become my mother- and father-in-law. The people who would become my children’s beloved grandparents. The people who would stand up at my wedding and give their son into my keeping. Who would watch my parents stand up & give me into his keeping as well.
I was terrified.
Partly it was because I wanted so much for them to love me. But mostly it was because of the damn peacock.
See, the neighborhood in which my in-laws live is home to a handful of wild peacocks. (No kidding. Peacocks.) Once upon a time they must have belonged to somebody but at this point nobody really remembers who or when. Now they just wander the neighborhoods, stroll through gardens & generally class up the place.
They also enjoy photobombing innocent young women just trying to make a decent first impression on her future in-laws.
Picture a young, innocent me trying very hard to make myself agreeable, knowing that my future happiness depends on convincing these people I’m cool.
Now picture me smiling for photos on the back deck, because evidently my beloved boyfriend (the current Mr. Sey) was not in the habit of bringing girls home. Ever. My MIL understandably wanted photographic evidence of this unprecedented event.
Now picture an enormous peacock dropping out of the heavens and landing on the deck railing not 5 feet from my elbow.
Picture me swallowing a startled f-bomb and trying not to spring out of my Birkenstocks. (And before you judge me, please remember, we were all wearing Birkenstocks in the 90s.)
Picture my in-laws cooing with delight. “The peacocks! Oh, how lucky! Did you know we have peacocks? Get closer! Let’s get him in the shot.”
And that was how I knew it was true love. That bird was a solid five feet tall, with death in its eye & very sharp beak.
And all I said was, “Cheese!”
How about you? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to impress your beloved’s loved ones? Come on, I know you’ve got stories. Share! I’ll gift one lucky commenter with a Kindle download of my latest novella TOUCH OF TROUBLE!
Posted by Caren Crane Apr 16 2014, 12:51 am in Ben Skrewd, Blake Brothers trilogy, Caren Crane, Cross Springs In Bloom, Cross Springs novella, Deb Marlowe, Half Moon House series, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, Red Door Reads, Susan Sey, Touch of Trouble, Who's Ben Skrewd
A provocative question, wouldn’t you agree? Well, last summer a number of us Red Door Reads authors decided that we all knew “who’s Ben Skrewd,” though the encounter is different for each person. Which gave us the idea of creating a character named Ben Skrewd who could appear in a group of novellas linked by Ben and our iconic Red Door. Launching the novellas on Tax Day (April 15th in the U.S.) was an irony we couldn’t resist!
Most of us were able to squeeze Ben into a novella in an ongoing series. My novella, Cross Springs In Bloom, takes place in the familiar environs of Cross Springs, NC. Cross Springs is the setting for my debut novel, Kick Start, as well as my next two novels. Baby Steps should be out in May 2014 and the long-awaited Tiara Wars will be out in July. In Cross Springs In Bloom, we spend time with Connie Burns and Katie Warren from Kick Start, but the heroine is Mindy MacPherson, the gossipy receptionist at Cross Springs Dermatology. When she helps Connie and Mindy track down the source of some prize-winning roses, Mindy comes face-to-face with a lover she let go and hoped never to see again.
Susan Sey’s novella, Touch of Trouble, we once again encounter her rowdy, sexy Blake Brothers. This time we are given some insight about the hard road the youngest Blake brother, Drew, and the brainy Meg will have to travel to find true love. It starts right where the second Blake Brothers novel, Talent for Trouble, left off. The two of them tackle a particularly sticky situation involving Meg’s family. Exceptional fun!
Deb Marlowe’s novella, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, is the next entry in her Half Moon House series. If you love feisty Regency heroines, hedge mazes, epistolary pleas and intrigue, Lierty and the Pursuit of Happiness - heck, the whole Half Moon House series! – is for you. The heroine is an American spitfire who longs to make a real difference in the world and volunteers to help at Hestia Wright’s Half Moon House. In helping a young friend extricate herself from a potentially awkward situation, she becomes entangled with Viscount Brodham, who is trying to save his young nephew…from Liberty’s friend!
Eleven of us have brand new novellas available (for a short time) at only 99 cents! Authors in the special collection are Caren Crane, Susan Sey, Deb Marlowe, Claudia Dain, Linda Winstead Jones, Ava Stone, Lori Handeland, Jane Charles, Andris Bear, Tammy Falkner and Susan Gee Heino. The special price won’t last forever, though, so be sure to visit www.RedDoorReads.com to get the scoop on all the novellas and snap them up while the deal is hawt!
Since Ben Skrewd is an integral character in each of the novellas, we have an ongoing “Find Ben Skrewd” contest set up at our website. Each of the 11 Red Door Reads authors with a Ben Skrewd novella has “hidden” Ben on her website. When you find Ben, just go to the Red Door Reads site, click the link, and tell us whose site and which page you found him on. A winner will be drawn when the contest closes on April 22nd and the winner will receive an iPad mini!
Meanwhile, enjoy all the novellas and the “Easter egg” of finding Ben Skrewd in each of them.
Speaking of Ben and Easter eggs, have you “Ben Skrewd” by the Easter Bunny? He used to faithfully visit me every year and now I get bupkes in my basket! What is your favorite Easter treat? Tell me all about it, little friends, and I’ll enter you in a drawing for a free copy of my new novella! I’ll admit my favorite is a dark chocolate-covered Russell Stover marshmallow egg. I’ve already had a few this year. Yummm…
Posted by Susan Sey Mar 29 2014, 1:40 am in perfect, saturday, Susan Sey
This is the first free Saturday morning our family has enjoyed in a long time.
I can’t even say what we’ve been doing that’s been so busy. It’s just a lot of life. A little of this, a little of that. Sports, dance, meetings, vacations, work. But this morning? Nothing.
Here’s how I plan to enjoy it.
1) Wake nobody up. I wake people up all week long & believe me, nobody thanks me for it. This morning I’m letting those cranky pants stay in bed.
2) Read the newspaper. Most mornings my girls stage a cage match over the comics, but I’m not waking them up today, am I? And I’m not going to until I’ve savored the whole paper, national news to classifieds, over a nice bowl of yogurt & blueberries. (My favorite breakfast.)
3) Settle down in a sunny corner of the couch in my bathrobe, with a book & a cup of coffee & wait for the first kid to wander down the stairs. And then I shall make waffles. Because I like to make waffles more than eat them. Weird? Probably. But this is my perfect Saturday morning, & I make no excuses.
So what about you? What’s your perfect Saturday morning in three steps or less?