Tag: booksbycarrieannryan

Review of Inked Temptation: The end of an ‘era’

Welcome back to the Montgomery Ink world! We’re back in Fort Collins, Colorado and Archer is finally getting his happily-ever-after.

Inked Temptation takes place about a year or so after Inked Craving and features Archer and Killian.

Archer is the last ‘single’ Montgomery…and he’s trying to figure out what he wants after his marriage ended…Yes, Marc is no longer in the picture…

He decides to do a lot of the remodeling of a cabin on his own…and literally falls for his neighbor…

Killian is trying to make peace with his past and wanting to be left alone with his dog…

While the ‘neighbors’ might be growly towards each other…maybe they’re just what the other needs…

Though someone seems to be out to cause problems for Killian…

Will these two realize that while they may not be ‘perfect’, they’re ‘perfect’ for each other?

The answer to that question, plus finding out who is causing problems for Killian, in addition to seeing all the Montgomerys can be found within the pages of ‘Inked Temptation’.

I absolutely adored the book and was happy to see Archer getting his happily-ever-after (Marc just didn’t seem like the ‘fit’ for him). While I’m ‘sad’ to see the end of this group of Montgomerys—I can’t wait to see what is in store with the next generation…I’m going to assume a little ink, and probably a whole lot of cheese.

I give Inked Temptation five out of five stars and highly recommend any Montgomery Ink book as a jumping off point into the Montgomery Ink World.

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Six months down…six months to go…June Goals in Review

So, we’re in July—which means we’re halfway through 2022. When we think about how much ‘time’ is left in the year, we can look at it as: six months; or 184 days; roughly 26.3 weeks; or 4,416 hours.

Whoever is playing with the voodoo doll for the year—please put it down…

The year isn’t mellowing at all…and seems to be trying to spiral downhill faster and faster each month…

The supreme court overturned Roe v Wade towards the end of June…stating that the states should be allowed to dictate a women’s health…FYI: there is the separation of church and state (not to mention freedom of religion) within the Constitution for a damn reason.

Thanks to six jackasses on the court (all of which should be impeached for lying under oath—opinion on Roe v Wade is usually asked during their confirmation hearings and at least five stated it was law) I have to add another layer to the job search (figuring out which companies are going to support women’s right to choose).

Needless to say—the anxiety has been acting up royally.

Now it is easier to get a damn assault rifle than it is for a woman to get life saving medical care.

It’s time to end the filibuster, expand the court, and enact term limits for both the Supreme Court and Congress.

In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘May in Review’ on June 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 85.9 million cases and now as of July 1st —we have reached just a little over 89.3 million cases (an increase of a about 3.4 million cases). Numbers are going back up—in part to the different variants of the omicron sub-strain of the SARS-CoV2 virus.

So—please, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get boosted when needed.

As I alluded to last month, I’m going to focus on my strengths and values moving forward this summer: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths).

So before setting goals for July (and possibly the rest of the year), its time to look back at the goals I set for June and see how I did with each of them. The goals for June included:

  1. At least 130-150,000 steps
  2. At least one weekly walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day
  3. Finish two non-fiction books that I’ve started
  4. Read at least two-to-five fiction books (having at least one mini-book review written and published)
  5. Recommit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least twelve days)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time (aim to work on Rolex’s memorial tapestry)
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course (aim to finish LinkedIn Unlocked)
  9. Writing, writing, and more writing

So how did I do with each of them?

130-150,000 steps:

I managed to get a little over 144,000 steps in for the month…144,303 steps to be exact. I managed to be somewhere in between the minimum and maximum in terms of steps—I would have been able to hit and surpass the goal if the weather had been slightly cooler (I only managed two walks up at Boomer this past month).

At least one weekly walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day:

I managed two walks up at Boomer this past month. We’re in summer—which means that our daily temperatures are ranging somewhere in the 90s to 100s. The two mornings that I managed were two days that we had ‘cold’ fronts moving through the state.

I’m still working on trying to ensure that I’m doing five to ten minutes a day of intentional movement…it’s difficult to get in, when you have a 100 pound dog sprawled across your bedroom floor a good portion of the day. Both Boozer and Chaos basically are my ‘shadows’ for majority of the day…workouts might be ‘returning’ in the evenings when everyone else is home and I can ‘lock’ the dogs out of the room for thirty minutes or so.

Finish two (of the many) non-fiction books I’ve started to read. I managed to read:

  1. The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and Myth in Greek and Roman Times by Adrienne Mayor
  2. UNLIKE A BOSS: Positive Leadership Skills You Wish Your Manager Had by Alexander N. Andrews

Read at least two-to-five fiction books (having at least one mini book review written and published). I managed to read:

‘Re-reads’ included the entire Gansett Island series (currently at 24 books) by Marie Force–the 25th book is scheduled to be released on July 19th; and I also read the Buchanan/Renard/MacKenna family series (currently at 13 books) by Julie Garwood, as the 14th book is also due to be released on July 19th.

The ‘new’ books that I read this past month included:

  1. Montgomery Bites (Anthology & Cookbook) by Carrie Ann Ryan & Suzanne Johnson (book review written)
  2. Forever with Me (Everhart Brothers #4) by Claudia Burgoa
  3. Can’t Help Love (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #2) by Claudia Burgoa
  4. Hidden Waters (Tatter & Torn #3) by Catherine Cowles
  5. Inked Temptations (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #5) by Carrie Ann Ryan (Book review coming early July)

Recommit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least 12 days)

I decided last month that the new ‘goal’ was to be a little better than the month before. The ‘minimal’ goal for June was set at 12 days of no spending and I managed 16…so slightly over half the month…and that will be the goal for July…at least 16 days of no spending…

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings:

Well, since summer has made it’s presence known—the time outdoors has been regulated at times to the evening when I take the dogs out, or earlier in the day.

Thanks to various things this month—I need to get back into mediation/sitting quietly, writing in the journal, and doing daily oracle card drawings.

I’ve found that as long as I do a few stretches before bed, I sleep somewhat decently—no stretches, and that is when I toss and turn.

Craft time (work on Rolex’s memorial tapestry):

I created one needlepoint tapestry this month. I decided that before working on Rolex’s memorial tapestry (since it will rather complex), I would do a couple of smaller pieces to get the hang of working with the cotton fabric.

The first one I completed was a flower:

Cotton tapestry #1–freestyle drawn flower…

I still need to work on tying off the fabric and the different types of stitches…but not bad for the first time working with the cotton fabric.

Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course (aim to finish LinkedIn Unlocked)

I managed to finish the LinkedIn Unlocked course (I just need to go back through and make a list of the various action items). It was a really good course that highlighted a couple features of LinkedIn I was unaware of—but am slowly starting to use more often (especially the ‘build your resume’ feature).

Writing, writing, and more writing:

I managed to get some writing done this past month—I’ve been posting on LinkedIn some graphics and slowly introducing the molecular cloning series as posts (I’m also through the ‘planning stage’ of the experiment).

I’m in the planning stages for various projects for the blog and other sites—as I’ve realized that I really need to figure things out, get a portfolio together, and start seriously job hunting…

So how did I do overall: I would say that I managed to meet eighty percent of the goals that I set for June. The reading goal was at 100%, as was the craft goal (different tapestry—but it was finished), the rest were somewhere between sixty and eighty percent and it all averaged out to eighty percent.

July goals will be almost identical, though I know that I won’t be spending huge amounts of time outside, and I’ll be lucky to get a single walk in up at Boomer (so I’m not really going to aim for weekly walks).

We’re entering the second half of the year, and the third quarter. Its time to reset, refocus, and commit to various long term goals: getting a remote position (or starting a freelance business), getting into the best shape of my life, and focusing on my strengths and values: learner, intellection, input, achiever, deliberative; knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, and evolution/transformation.

So what will be my ‘repetitive’ goals for July? They will include:

  1. At least 135-155,000 steps
  2. At least one walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books (having at least one mini book review written and published)
  5. Recommit to the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least 16 days)
  6. Time outdoors (probably briefly in the evenings), mediation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drwings
  7. Craft time (work on a needlepoint project and/or create some jewelry)
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course (looking at possibly either seven best ways to get paid as a writer and/or the sorthcourse on podcasting)
  9. Writing, writing, and more writing

These are goals that align with various strengths/values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, and evolution/growth.

I recreated a new bingo card for the second half of the year, and will be creating a bingo card for the third quarter and then for July (some of these goals will be finding their way to that bingo card). I’ll also be working on the multi-prong personal/professional development plan that I originally tried to put together last month (and ended up having an anxiety attack over).

I mentioned to a couple of people that my biggest ‘problem’ is that I’m overzealous and try to cram months worth of ideas/goals into a shorter time period, and then allow my inner critic/imposter syndrome to drag me back into the comfort zone when I ‘fail’ to achieve a goal in say five days when in reality it would take five weeks to achieve the goal.

I also will be trying to decide on a new web addy for the blog/website, as I still want to have a multi-facet site (the ‘professional’ communication side and the ‘personal’ hobby/creative/reflective side)…and everything is up for renewal this coming month.

I’m actually thinking of restarting both the 90-day content creation/research challenge as well as restarting the 101 goals in 1001-day challenge (I’ve tried this one several times; latest was doubling the time frame to 2002 days).

The goal of restarting both is to be a little more focused on things (at least in terms of the large number of goals).

I truthfully don’t think a single month has gone ‘smoothly’ so far this year…I’m just trying to roll with the tide and punches…

I deleted the one game from the kindle again, and once I feel like I’m on ‘auto-buy’ again, I’ll save things on the computer, shutdown the computer and go outside for a few minutes (minus all electronics).

How are you handling the stress that is 2022?

Namaste….

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What make the Montgomery Ink World go round? Family and Food….

Welcome back to Denver and the Montgomery Ink world!

Montgomery Ink Bites is a anthology and cookbook collaboration between Carrie Ann Ryan and Suzanne M. Johnson.

It is a time to check-in with the ‘original’ Montgomery siblings that kick-started the Montgomery Ink world, and get some tasty recipes with each story.

So what’s the latest with the Denver crew?

Are Austin and Sierra ready to send Leif to college??

Spend Valentine’s Day with Decker, Miranda, and their crew…

Then spend some quality time with Montgomery-Dodds…

See what brings Griffin and Autumn to New Orleans…

Catch up with Maya, Jake, and Border on vacation…

Spend some time with Tabby, Alex, and their twins…and of course cheese…

Can Storm and the rest of the family pull off his surprise for Everly?

Then finally check in with Wes and Jillian, and the ‘surprise’ they find when they work to fix a plumbing leak….

I loved checking in with the original Montgomery crew and seeing how everyone was doing.

Plus—the recipes!!

Each short story also includes at the end—several original recipes by Suzanne Johnson that fit each family.

I have several ‘bookmarked’ to try—including the cheesy chicken enchiladas, the cheesesteak stuffed peppers, raspberry dark chocolate fudge, s’mores cinnamon rolls, and peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes.

I loved being able to check back in with the Denver branch of the family, and while I know we’ll be seeing everyone in various spin-offs—I would love to see each ‘branch’ get their own cookbook…..

So, pull up seat, grab a drink, and possibly a pad of paper and an pen (to start the grocery list) and enjoy spending time with the various members of the Denver branch of the family.

Carrie Ann never disappoints, and I’ll be checking out Suzanne Johnson’s other collaborative cookbooks with other authors…

I give Montgomery Ink Bites five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who loves to read or to cook…

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An unplanned rant, hit two goals, plus planning for the future: May Goals in Review

So, we’re entering June—that means there are only seven months left in 2022.

I’d mentioned last month how I’d hoped that things would start to ‘mellow’ and ‘level out’—they haven’t. May wasn’t a great month—if it were possible to ‘erase’ months from the calendar, I’ve already picked the four months I want to do away with: February, April, May, and October.

Seems random doesn’t it? Well all four months have something in common: they’re months that we’ve lost dogs.

February 2018, we lost Spelunkers to cancer.

April 2015, we lost Speedbump to old age.

October 2018, we lost Piranha to old age, and Chewi to a combination of old age and cancer.

Then, this past month (May 2022) we lost Rolex to hemolytic anemia.

It was thought that her hemolytic anemia had been brought on by the allergy shot she had gotten last fall. Since she’d been on medication for over seven months and slowly being weaned with (what was thought to be no complications), everyone had their fingers crossed.

Unfortunately, her allergies acted up (we didn’t notice her licking and chewing on her leg), she gave herself a sore—which kicked in the immune system, which also triggered the immune cells against her blood cells. We had thought we’d caught it in time, but due to various issues, she didn’t beat this relapse. So I hope you’re enjoying yourself at the rainbow bridge, and watching over us.

The world is still going to hell in a hand-basket—Russia is still waging their illegal war in Ukraine, the SARS-CoV2 virus is still running around, and then there is the gun violence.

There were two mass shootings last month within a week and a half of each other. The ‘first’ was up in Buffalo, where ten people were gunned down in a supermarket—because of the color of their skin.

The ‘second’ one was just last week—and 21 people were killed: two teachers and 19 kids; plus 17 others were wounded.

Plus there were three shootings today: one at a high school in LA (students wounded), outside a Wal-Mart in Pennsylvania (one injured), and one in Tulsa OK at a hospital (four were killed plus the gunman). Not to mention that there had been another shooting in a small town outside of Tulsa earlier this week.

I know that people state that one shouldn’t be ‘political’ when trying to job search, start a freelance business, and so forth—but enough.

If people want to disagree—fine. If people don’t want to work with me—fine. If somehow these views result in not getting a job interview or offer—fine.

I know that people will say—‘but the Second Amendment’…

What is the wording of the Second Amendment?

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”

So, while it does refer to the right of individuals being able to own guns—it also states its main goal: a well-regulated militia (national guard) for the security of the state.

The amendment was needed because of the disconnection between individuals while they were drafting the constitution and debating over it—some didn’t like the idea of the government having that much ‘military’ control, while others thought it shouldn’t matter, since everyone had some type of ‘arms’ at home.

I truthfully don’t have any problem with responsible gun owners—those that have gone through the background checks, keep the weapons and ammunition locked up (separately), and so forth.

My problem—the ability for those who obviously have severe mental health issues to be able to buy weapons and ammunition and no one really blinks twice at it.

My problem—the toxic culture we live with day-to-day, that makes it ‘taboo’ for people to talk about mental health issues.

My problem—is that there are organizations and people who would rather keep lining their pockets with money, than try to resolve a pandemic that has been raging for decades.

My problem—the toxic patriarchy culture where rich, old, white men are afraid of the future—so they fan the flames of hate and misogamy to try to stay in power.

There is a good percentage of the American population that wants sensible gun laws; that want universal background checks, and the age limit raised for the purchase of weapons.

Why won’t Congress do anything? The pockets of many are being lined by the businesses that would ‘lose’ some money if those changes were put into place.

So, here is a solution: vote out every NRA-backed Congress member, plus any NRA-backed state politicians, and vote in those who support the Second Amendment—but who also support common sense gun laws, and universal health care (especially mental health).

So—please, lets have a civil discussion about universal health care (including mental health), universal background checks, closing loopholes, and ensuring that weapons don’t end up in the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.

So, that was my unintentional rant on gun violence in the United States. I know that it will take quite a while before anything worthwhile happens—but we need universal healthcare (including mental health) in this country, we need universal background checks, and ways of keeping weapons out of the hands of those that could do severe harm.

In terms of the total number of cases of the SARS-CoV2 virus within the US, when I published ‘April in Review’ on May 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 83.0 million cases and now as of May 1st —we have reached just a little over 85.9 million cases (an increase of a about 2.9 million cases). Numbers are going back up—in part to the different variants of the omicron sub-strain of the SARS-CoV2 virus.

So—please, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get boosted when needed.

As I alluded to last month, I’m going to focus on my strengths and values moving forward this summer: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths).

Before trying to set my goals for June, I should look back at the goals I set for May and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for May included:

  1. At least 130-155,000 steps
  2. Starting to lift weights, do some cardio, yoga, walking, and so forth
  3. Read at least two non-fiction books
  4. Read at least two-to-five fiction books (also have written at least two mini book reviews)
  5. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course
  9. Writing, writing, and more writing

So how did I do with each of them?

At least 130-155,000 steps; I managed to actually surpass my goal step. I managed 188,937 steps for the month of May. This was in large part due to weekly walks at Boomer Lake—I think I only ‘missed’ one week walking at the lake.

In terms of the intentional movements: well, I managed weekly walks (for the most part) and since it’s summertime—it means mowing the yard at least every other week.

Since we lost Rolex, the other two dogs spend a good chunk of the day in my room with me—and I haven’t had the heart to ‘kick’ them out so that I can do a thirty-to-forty minute workout (yet).

For the non-fiction books, I’m currently reading the following:

The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and Myth in Greek and Roman Times by Adrienne Mayor

INNERCISE: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain’s Hidden Power by John Assaraf

I’m a little over a third of the way through each of them.

In terms of fiction books I’ve read the following:

Wildfire Griffin (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #1) by Zoe Chant

Wildfire Unicorn (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #2) by Zoe Chant

Wildfire Sea Dragon (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #3) by Zoe Chant

Wildfire Pegasus (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #4) by Zoe Chant

Wildfire Hellhound (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #5) by Zoe Chant

Wildfire Phoenix (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #6) by Zoe Chant

How Much I Want (Miami Nights #4) by Marie Force (book review written)

Etched in Honor (Aspen Pack #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review written)

Faking the Game (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #1) by Claudia Buroga

There may have been several other fiction books read—but they were either repeats or I haven’t finished them yet.

In terms of the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending challenge–I managed about a third of the month without spending some money. I of course splurged on e-books, the silly game, essentials (dog treats and so forth), and craft supplies.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings:

Time outdoors was manageable for the most part this month (there were some rainy days where I only went out briefly at night with the dogs).

The meditation/sitting quietly is still a ‘work in progress’—mainly in terms of setting a area up that I wouldn’t have to ‘take down’ as soon as I was done meditating. I managed the daily gratitude journal entries for the most part (there may have been a day or two that I didn’t do it), and I managed about two-thirds of the month in terms of the daily oracle card drawings

In terms of craft time: I managed to get in at least a weekly photography session up at Boomer Lake, and once some more black thread comes in, I’ll be starting on Rolex’s memorial tapestry. So there has been craft time—just not a ‘daily’ chunk of time.

In terms of working through personal/professional development courses: I’m also done with the LinkedIn Unlocked course that I purchased at the end of April—I think I have like two and a half modules left of it.

In terms of writing, writing, and doing some more writing: since I decided to start a 90-day content creation/research challenge, I have been doing a little bit of writing daily.

I’m working on the ‘molecular cloning’ series, in addition to researching various other topics.

I’m trying to stay ‘true’ to my strengths and values, but at the same time not fall down the rabbit hole of ‘overthinking/analysis-paralysis, and constant research’.

So, I made progress with some goals (steps, and reading), while others are still slightly ‘stagnant’ (limited spending, intentional movement, and working through various e-courses) in progress.

While it would feel ‘better’ to blame others—I know that I ‘triggered’ this month (due to stress, anxiety, and depression), and instead of rationally working through the emotions—I spent money.

I can handle the emotions (even all three at once)—but when there are multiple ‘causes’—that is when I really spiral.

Two of the main causes this month: losing Rolex, and the two mass shootings. I could also mention that there are health issues with other family members that didn’t help the situation.

But, all I can do is put one foot in front of the other and try to do a little bit better than I did yesterday.

For example—I managed about a third of May without spending money—therefore the ‘minimal’ goal for June will be twelve days (or forty percent).

I was ‘reminded’ in one of the personal/professional development groups—that when it comes to writing, having an outline is essential (especially as one moves towards a communications role and/or freelancing)—and that isn’t something that I do often. Usually, I’ll start writing and then draft an outline from the notes (even though I know that isn’t the way one should usually go about writing).

So moving forward into the last month of the first half of the year, goals for June will include:

  1. At least 130-150,000 steps
  2. At least one weekly walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day
  3. Finish the two non-fiction books that I started
  4. Read at least two-to-five fiction books (and write at least one mini book review)
  5. Recommit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending month challenge (aiming for at least twelve days)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time (work on Rolex’s memorial tapestry)
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course (aim to finish LinkedIn Unlocked)
  9. And of course–writing, writing, and more writing

Are the goals redundant??  Yes—but (at least for me) that is how they become habits—repeating them over and over again.

But they’re also goals that align with strengths/values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, and evolution/growth.

What may change—how I go about achieving the goals–I’m going to spend the next couple of days also working on a multi-prong personal/professional development plan that will focus on career, finances, personal/professional development, spirituality, and hobbies/crafts.

I know what my biggest ‘sticking’ points are: being over zealous, trying to cram a months worth of ideas/goals into a few days, and then allowing the inner critic/imposter syndrome drag me back into my comfort zone when I ‘fail’ at achieving the goals.

This means I’m also going to be working on improving my time and project management skills as well—considering they’re part of each and every goal listed above.

The first step for June will be creating the rough draft of the multi-prong personal/professional development plan for say the next three-to-five years; then breaking those goals down into say one-two-three (or one-three-five) years, first set of quarterly, first set of monthly, first set of weekly, and then finally first set of daily goals.

In addition—I’m still working on figuring out my ‘brand’. I’m settling in on certain colors and fonts, I’m still attached to the blog byline (‘A little bit of this, A little bit of that’), so now I just need to figure out a good working web address for the site.

I’ll also be continuing with my 90-day content creation/research challenge. The goal is at the end of the 90 days I’ll have at least three months worth of content (maybe more, maybe a little less—since anything written and published here, or submitted to Medical News Bulletin is included on the spreadsheet), plus hopefully even more ideas of things to look into researching and creating.

So May really didn’t go as plan for the most part—but when one acknowledges the ‘triggers’, then they can slowly start reworking their responses to said triggers.

I know that when my anxiety and stress levels get too high or I start to feel a little more depressed than usual—I have a tendency to find chocolate and spend money. So, when I start to ‘auto’ buy things again—I need to pause, shut down the computer (after saving anything I’m working on), and go outside for a while (without any other electronics). That way, I’ll start creating a new ‘neural’ network for reacting to the problems.

But with just hearing about yet another shooting in the Tulsa area tonight (there was another one earlier this week)—I’m tired, and truthfully can’t think of anything else to say tonight—I’m voting out any and every political figure that is funded by the NRA (they may still win—but not with my vote), or who is against common sense gun laws…

Namaste….

No Comments BookscareerfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPoliticsprofessional developmentReflections

Etched in Honor: Mix together: a lioness, a wolf, and a dash of ‘mystic villainy’

Welcome back to the west coast and the packs: Redwood, Talon, and Aspen.

Etched in Honor is the first in the Aspen Pack series, and we’ll be seeing friends from the Redwood and Talon packs popping in and out of the series.

Etched in Honor is Audrey and Gavin’s story, and it’s a doozy…

The Aspen pack is slowly recovering from their past.

The hierarchy is being rebuilt…

Audrey is the beta, only lioness, and sole ‘survivor’ of the former Aspen hierarchy.

Gavin is a lone wolf, and soon to be the Aspen tracker.

He looks like someone Audrey lost decades ago…

Throw in some foes from lore…and you have the recipe for Etched in Honor.

I loved Audrey and Gavin’s story, including all the little twists and turns throughout the book.

Etched in Honor is the perfect introduction to the shifter world created by Carrie Ann Ryan, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the hierarchy and pack.

I look forward to reading Chase’s story next…

I give Etched in Honor five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who loves Carrie Ann Ryan’s books, paranormal romance, or those just looking for a new series to start.

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Introducing the first of the Wilder Brothers: Eli

Welcome to Texas, and the Wilder brothers series.

This is a ‘spin-off’ series focusing on Eliza’s brothers (who were first briefly introduced in Inked Obsession [book two of the Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins mini-series]).

One Way Back to Me is the first in the series and focuses on Eli and Alexis and takes place about two years after ‘A Night for Us’ (the free prequel to the series).

Eli and his brothers bought land from a retired Air Force general, and are slowly figuring out the ‘civilian’ life—including how to run a resort and winery.

Each brother has their own little piece, and the resort and winery are going well—but they need a wedding coordinator.

They’ve gone through two wedding coordinators in two years, and are desperate for one that will last.

Who should apply for the job—the one woman that Eli didn’t think he’d ever see again—Alexis.

Alexis applies for the job, as she is need of a new beginning after the disastrous end to her marriage.

The brothers hire her on as the new wedding coordinator for the Wilder Retreat and Winery.

Alexis and Eli realize that their attraction to each other wasn’t just a ‘one-night’ thing.

While they’re trying to figure out their relationship—someone comes ‘knocking’.

What does Alexis’s ex want? How big of a pain will the Dodge family be, and who is being hired as the top chef???

The answers to those questions, and a ‘surprise’ visit from a few familiar faces from Colorado can be found within the pages of ‘One Way Back to Me’.

I absolutely loved this book and the introduction of Eliza’s brothers. I will freely admit that when I read she had six brothers—I had my fingers crossed that there would be another spinoff series.

Carrie Ann did not disappoint with this book. I loved Eli and Alexis’s story, and am going to have to hold off until all of the Wilder boys get their happily-ever-after before I can decide on my ‘favorite’.

So, grab a drink, pull up a chair and settle in to find out what the Wilder boys are up to and I’m hoping to see a glimpse of Eliza and family in each additional book.

I give ‘One Way Back to Me’ five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

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Introducing the Wilder brothers and Alexis…A great prequel, now waiting on book one

So what happens when you and your younger brothers all get out of the military at the same time?

The Wilder brothers (first introduced in Inked Obsession) are out of the Air Force and figuring out how to adjust to civilian life.

Eli, Evan, Everett, Elijah, East and Elliot are settling into life in Texas, and deciding on what to do now that they’re all civilians.

Eli has the crazy idea of them buying land and going into business together.

A friend invites Eli and Everett to ‘crash’ a wedding, and that’s where Eli finds her—Alexis.

A Night for Us was a great introduction to Eliza’s brothers and Alexis. I’m now impatiently waiting on “One Way Back to Me” to be released to find out how Eli and Alexis’s relationship turns out.

I’m sure that the Wilder brother series will have an appearance or two by Eliza, Beckett, and the Fort Collins Montgomery family.

I give “A Night for Us” five out of five stars, and highly recommend it (and the Montgomery Ink World) to anyone looking for a great contemporary romance to read.

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Evernight Unleashed: The Final Installment in the Ravenwood Coven Trilogy

Welcome back again to Ravenwood, Pennsylvania—a small town both like and unlike others.

If you haven’t read the first two books in the trilogy (Dawn Unearthed and Dusk Unveiled)—I suggest you stop here, and go read both Sage and Rome’s, and then Laurel and Jax’s stories before continuing…

Evernight Unleashed is the final book in the Ravenwood trilogy and is Rowen and Ash’s story.

What happens when the ‘family’ curse takes your soul?

What happens when your mate bond breaks?

Rowen and Ash grew up together, loved each other, and then ‘loss’ each other—or did they?

While trying to save her town, Rowen discovers the enemy’s ‘tie’ to both her and the town.

The coven needs to break the Christopher family ‘curse’ once and for all in order to survive…

What is ‘buried’ beneath the town?

All these and yet more is revealed in the pages of ‘Evernight Unleashed’.

While I enjoyed the trilogy—I think that this one was my favorite. I was always wondering what secrets Ash was hiding when he came back to town.

There are a few other little twists thrown into the story…Possibly another mystical creature…

Paranormal romances are one of my favorite genera, and this book (and actually trilogy) did not disappoint. I highly recommend Evernight Unleashed (and the previous two books) to anyone who enjoys a good paranormal romance with a few twists.

Carrie Ann Ryan doesn’t disappoint whether it is contemporary or paranormal romance. I highly recommend the Ravenwood Coven trilogy to anyone who wants to take a trip without leaving the comfort of his or her home (or favorite chair).

So, pour yourself some coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and settle into getting to know some dear friends. I give Evernight Unleashed five out of five stars.

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Warning: Ranting and reviewing last months goals. 2022 is becoming a rocky road.

So, we’re two months into 2022, and I’m getting really tired of living through historical events. I’m hoping to ‘reset’ come March, and become a little more productive than I’ve been the past two months.

I mentioned last month, that I felt like I should treat January as the ‘tester’ month—well, if January was the ‘tester’ month, February was ‘flat’ and I need to really ‘reset’ this coming month and figure out the daily schedule—when I say I’m going to be working (researching/writing/editing, reading or doing crafts) and when I decide I’m done for the day.

So, we’re now about two weeks shy of starting year three of the pandemic (the US started shutting things down roughly mid-March 2020), and I’m scared that we’re starting to ‘normalize’ this damn virus and all its variants. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘January in Review’ on February 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 76.2 million cases and now as of February 28th —we have reached a little over 80.6 million cases (an increase of a little over 4.2 million cases). Numbers are going down—I think in part to kids getting vaccinated (five and up), and others getting their booster shots.

So, why am I getting tired of living during historical events? Well, I could go on and on about the damn pandemic—but now it is the possibility of world war III that may be on the horizon that is pissing me off.

Last week Russia invaded Ukraine for absolutely no damn reason. While there have been swift sanctions against Russia, they haven’t stopped or turned around. My respect for the Ukrainian population is through the roof considering the odds against them. Also—I don’t hold anything against the general Russian population (considering the number of people who have been protesting the war, both in person and via writing). My irritation/grief/anger is towards particular individuals (whom I’m not naming—because I’m not giving them those ‘seconds’ of fame).

Somehow we need to develop both a universal anti-bullying law and a universal ‘pay/earning/savings’ cap and then work on improving education and other aspects of life.

Looking at the world—problems are arising from the huge gap in wealth between people. I truthfully don’t think that anyone needs to be a multi-billionaire or aim for becoming a trillionaire.

Also—there is no planet B, and trying to colonize Mars or the moon—that isn’t happening anytime soon. True there were plenty of sci-fi shows in the late 1990s/early 2000s that showed humans conquering space and starting colonies on far-flung planets—but that would require both belief and funding for science (two things lacking in the current day and age).

So, it would be nice if the huge companies would pay their employees above a ‘living’ wage, pay their fair share of taxes, and possibly give back to help protect the planet that we all call home.

So, in a nutshell—I’m tired of bullies (political/economical), and wondering when the next ‘disaster’ is going to strike. Therefore, before looking ahead to setting goals for March, I need to look back at the goals I set for February and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for February included:

  1. At least 120-140,000 steps
  2. Daily Intentional Movements (walking, chores, lifting weights, yoga, pilates, ect)
  3. Read at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. No spend days/No-spend weeks/limited spending month
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings
  7. Daily craft time
  8. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

At least 120-140,000 steps; I actually managed to reach the goal step, and actually slightly surpassed it. I managed to get 140,796 steps in during February. This included mostly walks with Chaos through the neighborhood and a short walk at Boomer Lake. We had quite a few winter days (snow/ice) that had me house bound.

Daily Intentional Movements:

There was ‘daily’ movement—though some days it was just ‘wandering’ around the house. There were eight walks with Chaos, a short walk at Boomer Lake, a couple of times shoveling the driveway & sidewalk (snow and/or ice), and doing chores. I’m still in the process of ‘developing’ a intentional movement calendar/game-board.

Reading at least one non-fiction book:

The only non-fiction book that I finished this month was ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson. I have been bouncing between several others, and also added quite a few others to the reading list as well.

Read at least two-to-four fiction books:

So, I read numerous fiction books this past month—but have only done one mini-book review:

Inked Craving (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #4) by Carrie Ann Ryan

The other books that I read this month included:

  1. Tattered Stars by Catherine Cowles
  2. Rescuing Annie (Delta Force Heroes #12) by Susan Stoker
  3. Someone Like You (Wild Widows #1) by Marie Force
  4. Cry for Me by R. Sullins
  5. The Redeeming Love series (nine books) by J.E. Parker

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month:

Didn’t do so well this month—my response to the possibility of the world ending is to spend money. Aiming to improve during the month of March—I’m planning on only a few ‘large’ orders from Amazon and the handful of e-book preorders.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings:

Time outdoors was dependent on the weather this month (as that is usually the case during the winter and/or summer months). I did manage to take Chaos for several walks, did a short walk at Boomer Lake (it was really windy that day), and spent some time outdoors.

Meditation/sitting quietly is still a work in progress. Due to elderly cats that are having ‘issues’, I’ve decided not to have a ‘permanent’ meditation area. Instead I’m in the process of designing an meditation area that can be put together when I want to meditate, and then taken apart afterwards.

I’m getting better at both daily gratitude journal entries and doing the daily oracle drawings. I only ‘missed’ a day or two of the drawings, and for the most part have managed to find something that I’m grateful for each evening.

Daily Craft time:

This is still something that I’m also working on improving. When I have ‘free-time’ I either decide to read, or possibly play the game Klondike. Though there have been a few days that I took the camera out, or did a color-by-number on the kindle. The craft goals for March include: a new cross-stitch project, and at least eight days of photography (either iPhone or actual camera).

Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course:

I watched two short Skill Share courses on mind mapping:

Mind mapping-beginner’s guide and Mind Map Mastery

These two courses were chosen because I wanted to ‘refresh’ myself on the basics of mind mapping. Since I’m in the progress of trying to both increase and ‘diversify’ my writing portfolio (via the blog, LinkedIn, volunteer writing, and other future prospects)—I want a ‘better’ way of brainstorming (instead of just a ‘vomit’ list of words and bullet points).

So the only goal that I basically ‘missed’ was the limited spending challenge goal. I realize that I’m an impulsive buyer, and when I get frustrated/irritated/scared/angry I have a habit of spending money to make myself feel better. The goal moving forward—only to play Klondike in the morning and/or late evening (and only spend money on the game possibly once a week), read at least three non-fiction books before buying more, and to limit the ‘amazon’ purchases.

This coming month that will probably be limited to three (possibly four) purchases. I have a rather large one ready to buy (numerous spirituality books, dog treats, and some more thread for cross-stitching); I will need to purchase my niece her birthday present at the end of the month, and the download of turbo tax (on the compatible laptop).

There may also be one or two more donations to groups that are giving support to Ukraine during this shit-storm that they’re enduring.

Over the past few months (and if I’m honest—the past few years), I’ve had the silent debate on how to connect all of my various social media platforms together. We’ve all been told that when it comes to job searching (or even starting our own businesses) that there are certain topics shouldn’t be touched on (unless they’re the direction you’re going in). Those topics are usually politics and religion.

We’re told to keep things ‘neutral’ or to have more than one profile (and keep one of those ‘private’ to where it can’t be spotted), on these topics. I’d thought of doing that—but have come to the realization that I’m not going to do that.

I know what I believe in (education for all, human rights for all, women’s right to chose, climate change is real, freedom of religion, and freedom to marry who ever you want—just to name a few), and I do share memes and other things that point out when others in power don’t hold up to those beliefs—and I’m no longer going to apologize for my beliefs and stances.

With that being said, what are my goals for March?

March goals will include:

  1. 130-155,000 steps; Hopefully with heading towards spring, there can be at least one walk at Boomer Lake and several walks thorugh the neighborhood with Chaos
  2. Figuring out my intentional movement calendar/board-game (aim for at least five minutes of intentional movement each day)
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Finish two-to-four (if not more) fiction books
  5. Recommit to the limited spending challenge
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings, and overall commitment to improving my mental and spiritual health
  7. Craft time–complete one new cross-stitch project and at least eight days of photography (iPhone or camera)
  8. Continue working on expanding my writing portfolio
  9. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course

In addition to the above goals—I’m also going to work on improving my time and project management skills as well (as being better at both will help me reach the above goals and all other goals as well).

I’m also sending happy thoughts/good vibes to the people of Ukraine fighting for their country. War doesn’t solve anything, and as my grandfather (a WWII vet) stated: “War is hell”.

It seems that this decade isn’t going to be ‘smooth sailing’, and each year gets bumpier than the last. It seems that as a species, we have yet to ‘learn’, ‘process’, and ‘internalize’ that statement: ‘War is hell’. I’m afraid that until we manage to realize that, and fix a whole plethora of problems, we’re not going to escape the past—we’re going to keep repeating it (with different names and locations).

So, if you follow me on other sites—you will see me making political and religious statements. I won’t apologize for those statements, but will say this—if they (the statements/memes or whatever) make you upset/mad or whatever—ask yourself, why? I don’t share things to offend, but I do share to help try to educate, but also to show my stance of various topics.

Therefore on the eve of this new moon, I send healing thoughts and vibes to the people of Ukraine and Russia. Nothing is gained through the loss of lives…

Namaste…

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ARC review: The latest Montgomery Ink: Inked Craving-A friends to Lovers tale

Welcome back to Fort Collins, and the Montgomery Ink family.

Inked Craving picks up where Inked Devotion left off, and features Paige and Lee.

Paige is the youngest of the Montgomerys (she has four older siblings, and fifteen older cousins), is the office manager for the family business, and is workingo nmeding her broken heart.

She had thought she was getting a proposal, instead she is working on mending her heart and determined to move forward with her life.

Lee has been an ‘honorary’ Montgomery for years–what with being best friends with Beckett and Benjamin.

He comes to Paige’s rescue during a thunderstorm, and is the first to find out her ‘secret’.

He promises to be there as a friend to help her adjust and deal with things, since she is determined to do things without family interference.

They slowly go from friends to lovers, with all the ‘normal’ bumps in the road.

Though there is also some danger lurking in the shadows….

Who is Clay’s ‘secret admirer’?

Will Paige and Lee be able to hand the bumps and twists?

The answers and more can be found within the pages of Inked Craving; I give Inked Cravings five out of five stars. I’m really enjoying the Fort Collins branch of the family, and especially enjoyed the appearance of a couple of Montgomery cousins from Denver. I would say that I’m ‘sad’ that Archer’s story is the last in the Montgomery family—but it looks like we’ll be seeing the next generation as they grow up and get their own stories.

Looking forward to seeing Archer get his happily-ever-after this summer. Take a dive into the Montgomery Ink World—a perfect way of dealing with the chills of winter.

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