Christmas Shopping is the Ultimate in Self-Restraint #Burberry

My son's fiance loves to eat. I mean, like seriously loves to eat -- it's their hobby. So we went to Tin Dai Fung the other night when he was home on leave. If you don't know what Tin Dai Fung is, it's a place to get Chinese dumplings (Xiaolongbao) and it's the bomb. But you have to wait hours to get in there. They don't take reservations because people were getting reservations and selling them. So now, you just have to shop and wait. (It's in the Valley Fair mall.) So we shopped. For three hours, we shopped. (And we didn't buy anything, yay us!)

Tin Dai Fung is in a very dangerous place for me. It is in handbag alley. You can buy the following there: Prada, St. Laurent, Versace, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Givinchy, Ferregamo, Tory Burch, Michael Kors and my personal favorite, Burberry.


Naturally, we had to shop all of them, but Burberry had three black handbags in the style I want, on sale, and I wanted this handbag so much! I won't tell you what it cost, but suffice it to say, half price is still more than most people will ever pay for a bag. And I wanted this bag. It was black (I usually like color) but it had a strap that was the Burberry plaid and the interior was a Burberry plaid. I wanted it. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

There were three black bags and I loved them all. My future daughter-in-law Alyssa didn't care for the one with the green straps, she thought it was tacky. She's a basic black Chanel girl. I am a bring-it-on, let's-party-with-the-Coco-colors, Italian kind of girl. So Alyssa was not happy when the Engish saleswoman told her, "She doesn't need to match. She's making a statement."


YOU ARE SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE! This is the purse I was carrying at the time. Does it match anything I wear? Rarely. But I LOOOOOVE it. I felt this connection with the saleswoman immediately. You get me. You really get me. Let's box up this bag and go get a drink already!


My mom used to call me Veruca as a child. (I took it as a compliment -- I'm a girl who knows what she wants!)
Anyway, I did not buy the handbag and I have regretted it ever since. In fact, shopping for Christmas presents may have caused a little post-traumatic stress disorder as I wandered through the mall yesterday. Burberry! I wanted to cry as I passed.

We all have that urge for something we want that makes no practical sense. My son has a $1,000 drone. Does that make sense? It does not. Does he need it? He does not. But what is life if not to have a little fun in the midst of all the drama. What's your impractical desire?

Pearl Harbor Day!

It's the 77th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. My bestie's mom was on the beach playing as a child when the planes came in and attacked. Her mom whisked her back into the house. My daughter just went to the Pearl Harbor museum for the first time this year. It's such an ominous experience and it reminds us of the ultimate sacrifices that so many have made to make this country great (no political leanings in that statement FYI!)

Anyway, if you want to pay homage to this day's importance, may I suggest you watch "From Here to Eternity." Naturally, it's a Hollywood classic with iconic scenes and lines, but it's also a great storytelling of the people who were there that day. How every one of us has a story and they interweave. I'm sad that people don't watch the classics any longer. I forced my kids to an anniversary showing of "Casablanca" but it is one of my great mom regrets that NONE of them have sat through "Gone with the Wind."

Do yourself a favor, put this one on your watch list:


John Denver is Haunting Me...

Okay, don't shoot me, but I am not a John Denver fan. Once, in a high school, this stalker guy wrote out the lyrics of a John Denver song and left it in my car. Let's be clear, I wasn't a fan in the first place, but that pretty much ruined it for me. Now, as if I'm God's favorite punchline, my daughter LOVES John Denver. Listens to him constantly. Immediately gets in my car, plugs in her phone and out comes that Rocky Mountain High. ARRGH!


It relaxes her. She listens to it as she flies over the Rocky Mountains to see her beau. As she drives to the great outdoors with her father and when she does homework. It has the opposite effect on me. He makes me want to hurt something. HIs voice drives me BONKERS and it's like he's trolling me. It comes on my radio stations now and just seems to be everywhere. Including in this amazing video by all of the top country stars. Why THAT song? But at least it's got all of country's best (except Chris Stapleton) -- I loved seeing Randy Travis in this video. And can we have a moment of silence for how hot George Straight STILL is?

If you haven't seen it, watch to the end when the queen gives us a showstopper. But seriously, why a John Denver song? What did I ever do to him?

Office Supplies by Kristin

We ran out of staples in my office. Ironically enough, I had a difficult time finding the staples in the office store. We don't go through many staples in my office, so I didn't want to buy a pick package. Well, the smallest package was ON SALE! I'm like, "BRILLIANT!" So I bring them back and install them in our trusty pink stapler only to discover that the "on sale" staples are purple. Now you might thing, how bad can a purple staple look? I mean, it's so little. However, you'd be wrong.

When you get into a business environment, and you hand someone a report with a purple staple? It's literally all you can see. It's like you've attached rhinestones with a bedazzler. On a happy note, we will run out sometime in this decade. And purple isn't my favorite color as I had to wear it every Friday in high school. Now I usually avoid it like the plague.


Just a word of helpful advice to those of you buying office supplies. Pay extra for a standard staple.

New PBS Adaptation of "Les Miserables"

I can't think of a story I enjoy more than "Les Miserables." The only time I ever went to the movie on Christmas Day was when the new version came out in 2012. That was disappointing. Although I loved Eddie Redmayne in it. This one is not a musical, which is fine. The story stands on its own. It's the best prodigal story there is. Anyway, this wasn't isn't due until April of 2019, but I'm stoked! This is a movie they cannot remake enough for me.

"Old people are weird."

Last night was my company's annual Christmas party. For those of you who don't know, I work part-time for the apartment complex where I live. Every year, my bosses throw a fabulous Christmas party at the beach and we get to stay overnight in a luxurious room. We've been to the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, which is to-die-for gorgeous. And they have a bagpiper at sunset. I mean, can you get much more elegant than watching the sun go down over the Pacific ocean while listening to "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes? I'm going to say no.

Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

This year, we were at Seascape in Rio Del Mar. We had these wonderful suites and a magnificent steak dinner with polenta. I mean, they had me at polenta.

After dinner, my boss loves a good karaoke night. The fact that none of us can sing does not seem to bother anyone. So while some of us sang, some of us danced. My son saw my SnapChat and commented, "Old people are weird." Okay, old people are also a wee bit liquored up, so there's that. But also, we were having fun. The only difference between "old people" and young kids in a club is we have better music with lyrics you can understand, and maybe more clothes.

After karaoke, we headed to the beach for a bonfire and S'mores. It was FREEZING out, hence the fire and the hot chocolate beverages. It was such a great time. It's like I got the best parts of camping (the starry sky, the thunderous roar of the waves and S'mores) without actually camping. Incidentally, this is my makeup bag:

Anyway, as if being called "old" and "weird" wasn't enough for my kids before I left I came out in my red dress and my daughter actually groaned. "No, Mom. You are not wearing that."
I looked down at myself, "What's wrong with it?"
"Oh my gosh, do you really need to ask?"
Apparently, I did. So she went into my closet and pulled together an outfit for me. All of my shoes were wrong, so she gave me her boots. Anyway, this is her finished product.


I'm almost like a Real Housewife. Got any plans for your holiday parties? Do you need a daughter/stylist?

#VikingStove Fail -- If things can go wrong...


Mom's Vikng Stove (chair is there to prevent Bob the Vacuum from getting stuck)

This is my mom's stove. It's a piece of art and a pain in the bum to clean. It's also not working (the ovens) right before Thanksgiving. We are having twenty people for Thanksgiving. All of my kids, kids' friends, cousins, etc. My dad bought a tabletop roaster for the turkey and we're grilling the ham to warm it. I say we like I have anything to do with it. I'm not cooking this year.

I think this is pretty indicative of who my parents are. If that happened to me, I'd be like, okay, Safeway, make my turkey and I would have given up. Not my parents. Since it can't be fixed until November 30th (apparently, the Viking man is busy) they are going to keep calm and carry on. This is why I'm the "different" one in my family. I panic. They reset.

The truth is, the food doesn't matter anyway. This year, with the fires in California, I think we can all agree that we have everything to be grateful for if we have a roof over our head and our loved ones beside us.

Triggered by Mike on #ShahsReunion



I feel like the "Shahs of Sunset" are the reality version of the "Seinfeld" cast. They seem like really terrible people -- and maybe we all would if we put our lives out there like that. But wow, Mike triggers me. I find him to be such a misogynist and his "I love women" comments seem well-rehearsed and part of the act to collect notches.

When he went on a date with Mona, her nail polish was chipped and because she wasn't reciprocating his feelings (ie., falling for his schtick) he felt he needed to take her down a notch, so he pointed out that her nail polish was chipped. What kind of weirdo notices that someone's nail polish is chipped? My guess is only someone who sees people as objects to be judged. And what you put out is what you get in return. That's why decent women RUN.

Seriously, who would want to be married and go through childbirth with someone who felt the need for you to be perfect at all times? A big no thanks. Anyway, that triggered me last night.

#BohemianRhapsody Again

It's no secret that I love music -- the 80's are my jam so naturally, I was excited to see "Bohemian Rhapsody" and I went to a prescreening on Halloween night. Loved it! I know it was a sanitized version of Freddie Mercury's life, but could we really handle the hard truths of such a legacy? Probably not. The truth is, he was a genius and like all geniuses, slightly off-kilter. Ego takes hold and the inevitable downward slide takes place. The great thing about Freddie Mercury's story is that even though it ends tragically, it doesn't. Freddie gets what he's done wrong, and I do hope that part of the story is true. I believe it is since he left his ashes and money to his wife.


I was so excited to hear my son's friends had all seen the movie on opening weekend. It made me feel like a winner as a parent somehow. ; ) I'd done my duty. I had introduced classic rock to my children and they got it. A total success story for me. I wanted to know how they enjoyed it, not having lived through it -- and they loved the movie. They were interested in the story and the tale behind one of rock's greatest anthems. They also informed me Mike Myers was in the movie (I missed that.)

Anyway, it's a great movie and the soundtrack is amazing. I'm including a picture of Freddie Mercury's stretchy pants that I took at the Hard Rock in Florida. Why I wanted a picture of Freddie Mercury's stretchy pants is questionable, yet here it is. Greatness on display.

Go see the movie. It's Queen for crying out loud. I'm going again this weekend with my friend. IMAX this time.


When life shifts... #AmWriting

Well, lovely readers, I am in the midst of a life shift. It seems I've been in this place for four or five years, but that's what happens when most of your kids are Irish twins (close in age.) And yes, I'm Irish so no cultural appropriation here. I say I have empty nest sadness, which ticks my daughter off because she says, "I'm STILL here. You do NOT have an empty nest."

But teens are rarely around. Little buggers just come home to sleep and raid your fridge.

I am back to writing daily though, and that's a big deal. I feel essentially the Christian market has left me. I mean, I was never a perfect fit for the Christian market as it was, but now I feel an age away. The books I'm working on have a lot more family drama and humor has never been a big draw for the market. I've tried to write straight (ie., in third-person and without humor) and it's just not me. I always have to be the weirdo!

So I'm currently working on a few books and if they don't sell then I'll be self-publishing them and getting that arm of my career going. The one thing I don't want to do is write to the market. I'm too old to write to what's selling -- does anyone want a sweet romance from me anyway? I'm definitely too defiant. And I've never once met an Amish person, so that isn't happening.

I write about what makes me angry. "Swimming to the Surface" is the novel about a friend whose husband was a pompous ass and pastor, combined with another friend whose wonderful "Christian" husband left her for a man. Incidentally, it's not the gay part I took issue with. It's the LIVING A LIE part. If he wasn't a selfish jerk, he could have gone off and lived his life, rather than destroy his wife and make her feel ugly, unwanted and always wrong. In real life, this man made his wife look nuts when she knew his truth all along. She was kicked out of the church for not being submissive and "ruining her marriage." They kept him. Until he left for his new boyfriend. But that all got brushed under the carpet. The thing is, sin is like energy. It doesn't go away, it changes form. And it infects.

We're all hypocrites, don't get me wrong -- none of us is perfect. We are all the prodigal son and those who think they are the "good" son who stayed home are in the biggest trouble. God sees all.

Anyway, after 20 years in the industry, I've seen a lot over the years. Maybe I'm jaded. Maybe I'm just sorry to be rejected (I don't think it's this though, or I'd write what is selling.) Rejection is just part of the publishing game. The issue for me is that I cannot color between the lines.

I'm working on a few books. They're funny. They're romantic. But they're also dealing with some hard issues -- like narcissism in the church, a sociopathic mother and mental illness being viewed as "sin." They're not for the Christian market -- though they contain no swearing or questionable sex scenes. The beautiful part about this new publishing era is that it allows for me to write to MY market.

Sometimes we have to change whether we want to or not. (Waving hand wildly!) Life has a way of moving us forward.

Here I am with the great Frank Peretti who a., did not write to market and who b., single-handedly started the Christian fiction realm.