My Tiny Obsession

My Tiny Obsession

 

Guys, I’m addicted to the tiny house shows on HGTV and the DIY network. I love everything about the tiny house movement.

What is this movement? Simply put, it is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet. Whether on wheels or a permanent foundation, there are tons of options. Tiny houses come in all shapes, sizes, and forms, but they enable simpler living in a smaller, more efficient space. While 100 sq ft is too small for me, 400-ish would be fine.

People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular reasons include environmental and financial concerns, and the desire for more time and freedom. I don’t have an attachment to a lot of things. Minimalism is my cup of tea. But speaking of cups, I will need room for my coffee cup collection. Priorities, people. 🙂

Tiny House Hunters takes the person/couple/family to see three options. (Note: I would not suggest living in one of these small space with a family. Growing up in a 1200 sq ft row home with eight people was pretty tight.) It’s interesting to see which house they’ll pick and their reasoning for doing so. I vote along at home. It’s fun.

Tiny Luxury follows the story of a single home being built. It’s fascinating, and shows that creativity and imagination go a long way in utilizing every inch of space to its best use.

One of the biggest problems seems to be finding land for a house you’ve had custom built. Where you can live in a tiny house is determined by local city, county and state zoning regulations and building codes. For example, in Philly, I could put one in a friend’s yard as the property secondary dwelling, but not on its own plot of land. So, clearly, I need to find friends with bigger yards. 🙂

After watching these shows for a long time, I think I have what it takes to go tiny. As they say, try it before you buy it. And I’m going to do just that. I’ll be renting one for a few days, and will share the pics and my experience in a future post. After spending some time in the house, I’ll know for sure.

But I think it’s for me. Do you? Could you? Would you?

Brownies: Reinvented

Brownies: Reinvented

It’s no secret that I don’t enjoy spending long hours in the kitchen. It’s also no secret that I like to eat healthy. But just because you’re eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up fun things like dessert.

What it DOES mean is that you might be substituting ingredients…and it’s not as scary as it sounds. Cooking is supposed to be an adventure, right?

Today, I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes with you — Brownie Batter Hummus. It’s so good! And it’s easy – from start to finish, you’ll have your dessert in five minutes.

(Yields 2)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed OR 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (You could probably also use garbanzo beans. I’m going to try that next.)
  • 1/2 cup cashew butter (Or nut butter of choice (I’ve also made this with natural peanut butter and natural almond butter. Use sunflower butter for a nut free option – but I find this one tastes a little more bitter.)
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (In a pinch, I’ve also used 1/2 cup of stevia powder.)
  • Water if needed, to reach desired consistency (I use about 1/3 cup.)

What to do:

  1. In a food processor, combine all 4 ingredients. Mix well.
  2. Add water if needed. Start with 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach a desired consistency.

(Recipe is courtesy of http://mywholefoodlife.com/2016/05/27/brownie-batter-hummus/)

It will get more solid as it sits in the fridge, so add a little more water than you think you need.

You can dip anything from pretzels to fruit, or eat it by the spoonful. 🙂

Enjoy! And let me know if you try it!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

 

Opening Day of baseball season is upon us! That means, the boys of Summer are back! And, there’s nothing like watching a game right at the stadium. For me, that holds true whether it’s basketball, football, hockey, or baseball — there’s an energy when you’re right there where the action is happening that you just can’t get through a TV screen, regardless of how big it may be.

Living in Philly, I’m spoiled by having the four major sports team all in one spot. The stadium complex houses Citizens Bank Park for the Phillies, Lincoln Financial Field for the Eagles, and the Wells Fargo Center for both the Sixers and Flyers.

For today’s post, we’ll stick with baseball. Citizens Bank Park is a fabulous place to watch a ball game. The field is beautiful, manicured blades of grass, perfect baselines, the rich reddish brown of the warning track, and the giant Liberty Bell in the outfield that lights up when the Phillies score a home run. And, nothing says ballpark like the smell of popcorn and hot dogs. Not that I eat those things. 🙂 My only complaint is there needs to be more vegan/vegetarian options on the menu…and decent coffee… But I digress.

There’s also tons of Phillies history tucked into and around the stadium, so fans of the sport have a lot to see.

I’m the first to admit that I like a lot of action in my sports, like what you get in a hockey game, but baseball is a lot more than just some guy hitting a ball and running around the bases. There’s a lot of strategy involved, from which pitches to throw, to which player to try to tag out, and where players bat in the lineup.

A few of my favorite things are: watching the players huddle at the pitcher’s mound with heads bent close together (I always wonder if they’re chatting about things other than baseball, like which pub to hit after the game), the pitcher’s ritual as he gets ready to throw some heat, trying to determine if a player is getting ready to steal a base, the way your body tenses up as a player makes a diving catch, and finally, the most fun is watching the antics of the mascot as he messes with the opposing team. The Phillie Phanatic, aka the best mascot in major league baseball, is a genius at doing this.

Whether a cool wind is whipping across the outfield in spring and fall, or the sun is baking the seats in the dog days of summer, a day at the ballpark is always a hit. (See what I did there? 🙂  ha ha!)

Play ball!

Expedition Unknown

Expedition Unknown

One of my favorite shows is the Travel Channel’s Expedition Unknown. Starring host Josh Gates (aka really funny, clever, archaeologist), as he embarks on adventures to discover the world’s greatest mysteries. We’ve joined him on uncovering the legend of King Arthur, the hunt for the Yeti, the mystery of DB Cooper, the Temple of Doom, what happened to Amelia Earheart, and searching out evidence of lost civilizations.

I’m a bit of a history buff, so I love the stories behind the legends, and I also love the glimpses into the peoples and cultures that Josh encounters on each expedition. He always soaks up the local culture and jumps into whatever is going on around him.

I first became a fan of his when I saw his old show, Destination Truth. A funny guy who throw pop culture references into his commentary and investigates the strange, elusive creatures that every culture seems to share a version of — yes, please. He’s passionate about what he does and that translates through every frame.

But, you guys, one of the best parts is seeing places around the word that I’ll likely never visit, and that call to my inner-explorer. Like, traveling through permafrost in Siberia searching for the woolly mammoth, jungles, rain forests, Tibetan temples, under sea wreckage, cities of gold, just to name a few.

 

It’s also pretty cool to see the technology available now to researchers and archaeologists: advanced scanners, radar, and more, allowing detailed study and giving us so much information.

If you’re a fan of exploring myth and legend, Josh is your guy and Expedition Unknown is not to be missed.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming,

 

Which Love Song do you LOVE?

Which Love Song do you LOVE?

In the interest of Valentine’s Day, we’re talking love songs. Do you have a favorite?

I was thinking about it, and there are so many love songs that I, well, love, but I can’t think of one that I love most.

But here are a few that are on my playlist today:

Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”

 

Josh Groban’s version of “Falling Slowly”

 

Adele’s version of “Make You Feel My Love”

 

Foo Fighters “Everlong”

 

Train “Marry Me” (since my book of the same name is out today!)

 

And, for people who really aren’t feeling the love today, or who hate this holiday, I have one for you too:

J. Geils Band “Love Stinks”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

xoxo,

Resolution Reality

Resolution Reality

resolution

 

The final strains of Auld Lang Syne are fading and a fresh, new year is upon us.

For many people, when the calendar rolls over, it’s time to take stock, have an honest look at your life, and see if you want to or need to make changes.

Studies say that less than 15% of people who make resolutions actually end up sticking with them.

So…how do you have a better chance?

I think enthusiasm counts for a lot. You have to be motivated enough to follow through. If some area of your life makes you miserable, then that discomfort is begging for a change, and you owe it to yourself to make it. If you don’t care enough to make a change, then you probably won’t make it/stick with it. The saying is true: If you want to, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse. Just know that IF you want to make a change, any change, you CAN make it happen.

heartandbrain

It takes just as much time to wish as it does to plan. Write out step-by-step plan of action. Seriously, a detailed step-by-step of how the resolution will fit into your daily life.

Accountability works. Share your goals with supportive friends and family. (The key word is supportive. You want a helpful cheering squad. No negativity allowed.)

If you’re making several changes, it may be better to tackle one at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed.

Have patience. If, for example, your goal was to lose twenty pounds, that’s not going to happen just because you went to the gym two times last week. But if you track your progress, say, noticing your strength increasing or that you’re losing a pound a week, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

Know that you might slip up, and if you do, that’s okay. Start fresh the next day. In all things, be kind to yourself.

I took a poll and here are some common resolutions that people will be making for 2017: break a bad habit, take a trip, stand up for yourself more, spend more time with loved ones, de-clutter, be present, learn something new, take up a new hobby, help others, eat healthy, exercise more, get enough sleep, find a new job, face a fear, relax more and stop stressing out so much, and do more of what makes you happy.

Whatever you do, I hope that 2017 is your most amazing year ever!

Toasting you with a glass of champagne,

Susan-Sig

‘Tis the Season to Sparkle!

‘Tis the Season to Sparkle!

warm-wishes-for-the-holiday-season

 

Red and green may dominate this time of year, but the holiday season also encourages one other element.

Whether subtle shimmering like the sun shining off fresh snow, or a sea of sequins that screams party, now is definitely the time to pull your sparkly pieces out of your closet.

It’s all about celebrating. Think about your holiday party or ringing in the new year. A sprinkling of sparkles makes it even more festive.

dressshoesscarf

And let’s not forget that plenty of makeup and nail polishes come in glittery shades too!

facenails

 

If you’re worried that you might be overdoing it, take comfort in the words of fashion icon Iris Apfel:

“More is more, and less is a bore.” 😀

May your days be Merry and Bright (and Sparkly),
Susan-Sig
Just a Taste of More Than Words

Just a Taste of More Than Words

more than words

My other job, aside from being a romance author, is being a voiceover artist. I absolutely love it and it was the perfect job for my heroine Skye. I also gave something I love to my hero Aidan. He plays hockey in a men’s rec league. I heart hockey so much. But that’s a post for another day… Please meet Aidan and Skye below. 🙂

This excerpt is from Chapter One:

 

Aidan MacKay prided himself on staying cool under pressure. His army days taught him the importance of an even-temper and self-control which served him well in civilian life, too—at work as the head of HR and at play, guarding the net for his hockey team.

But even Zen masters had a limit.

Waking up to a sick dog, followed by a dead car battery, two employee emergencies, then a showdown with the new payroll company had him clock-watching. At three o’clock, he’d barely made a dent in the pile on his desk, wading through seventy-five resumes for only three job openings, two of them temporary. Aidan teetered a breath away from his breaking point.

His head pounded. His mind swam with his never-ending to-do list. And his muscles ached from too many hours hunched over a desk.

Email after email appeared in his inbox and frustration mounted again. Blood pounded in his temples. He forwarded what could wait into Angie’s inbox, and then glared at the rest.

“Might as well get started,” he mumbled, scrolling down.

A name popped out at him from the mass of emails. A pleasant surprise. He lifted his fingers and sat back, staring at the screen.

Sky Galen.

The voiceover artist had been working with the company for the past six months, voicing sales training tutorials and workplace safety videos. Her friendly emails always made him smile. He closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair and hit play on the sound file.

Her voice glided out of the speakers, enticing him to open his eyes as if he expected her to be standing in front of his desk. Calming. Soothing. Like a spring rainfall cooling his hot skin. His heartbeat slowed. Breathing eased and his taut muscles loosened.

The recording ended all too quickly.

Holy shit.

He sat up straight, staring at the sound file on the screen, and hit repeat.

Wonderfully modulated.

Slightly husky.

Completely sexy.

Her voice contained magic. Real magic. No recording had ever affected him like that before.

He hit repeat again. Then, continual repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Perfection.

Her voice possessed the same relaxing effect as an hour’s worth of yoga, or several minutes of deep breathing, or time spent playing with his dog. Instant, utter peace.

Heartbeat quickening, he clicked on the link for her website below her email signature. A background in swirly shades of blue as peaceful as her voice, countless testimonials, and demos showcasing a broad range of projects, including a few for Kallis, filled his screen. Her About page spoke of a previous career in radio before pursuing voiceovers full-time. He’d known she liked music; they’d had an interesting email exchange on rock bands when he’d mentioned his hockey team listened to eighties hair metal bands in the locker room before games.

He clicked through each page. Unfortunately, no photo. He would have loved a face to place with the name and voice. They’d emailed back and forth, quite a bit during her last few projects. He’d learned that she loved scary movies, Italian food, and lucky for him, hockey—even though they rooted for two rival professional teams. Hell, he knew more about her than the last three women he’d dated—combined. And when was that last date?

She was funny, sweet, and now, he was eager, more than eager, to get to know her even better.

Screw it—why wait?

He jabbed his fingers at the keypad and dialed the number listed in her email.

Two rings later, she answered, “Hello?”

“Skye?”

“Yes?”

“It’s Aidan. Aidan MacKay. With Kallis Toys.”

“Aidan, hello. It’s nice to hear from you.” Her voice flowed around him like a gentle breeze. The way she said his name… He wanted her to say it again.

He shifted the phone to his other hand and relaxed against the back of his chair. “I wanted to let you know how happy we’ve been with you.”

“Thank you. I’m so glad. I love working with you. Kallis is one of my favorite clients.”

Damn. He was consumed by the urge to see her. Hearing her voice live only heightened his craving for more. Nothing short of face time would do. “I’d love to meet you sometime.”

“Yes, well—” A blast of hard rock music echoed through the speaker, drowning out her voice. Two feminine voices mixed in before he could hear her close a door. Quiet returned.

He glanced at the phone, wishing he could see her through it. “Uh… Are you okay?”

“I’m sorry. My sister is here visiting, and she accidentally turned on my sound system. In hindsight, having a universal remote wasn’t a smart decision.”

“Good taste in music. Can’t go wrong with The Fury. Great band.”

“I’m so embarrassed—not about the band—I saw them in concert twice, and they were amazing. I’ll be hiding the remote from Terri for the rest of her stay.” Skye spoke louder, over the other voice profusely apologizing in the background, strong enough to penetrate the closed door.

He chuckled, more relaxed that he’d felt in ages. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll let you get back to your sister.”

“Wait. Did you need something specific?”

She seemed flustered. And he didn’t want to continue the conversation when she had a captive audience. “It can wait. I’ll be in touch with more projects soon.”

“I look forward to them.” Her voice softened, and he smiled.

He was still grinning like a fool a full minute later.

He returned to her website and played the various demos. Her voice changed from friendly to informative to concerned, but each one had the same effect on his system—utter peace.

He’d give anything to bottle that up. And maybe, with Skye, he’d find something more than the words filling the air.

 

More Than Words is Book 2 in my Holiday Hearts series. It’s available at all retailers. You can find the links, and lots more, by visiting me at susanscottshelley.com.

Happy Reading!

Susan-Sig

 

National WHAT??? Day

National WHAT??? Day

holiday

I love that every day has a holiday. Just last week, we celebrated National Pumpkin Day. While some people may think it’s silly, I think it’s fun.

And today, November 1st, has several for you to enjoy.

Up first – National Calzone Day 

Confession: I’ve only had one once. A long, long time ago. At the Philadelphia Art Museum’s cafeteria, believe it or not. And yes, it was artistic.

calzone

 

It’s also National Authors’ Day.

YAY! *jumps up and down* How did this one start?

In 1928, Nellie Verne Burt McPherson, president of the Bement, Illinois Women’s Club had an idea of setting aside a day to celebrate American authors. She wrote a fan letter to fiction writer Irving Bacheller. Upon receiving her letter, Bacheller sent her an autographed copy of a book. McPerson decided to show her appreciation by submitting an idea for a National Author’s Day to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

author

So, what can you do? Send your favorite author a note to brighten their day.

 

Fitting in nicely with celebrating authors, it’s also National Family Literacy Day.

If you have kids – read to ’em. My mom read to us every night when I was little, and she loved books. She passed along that love to me.

family

 

And because pets are members of the family, you can celebrate with National Cook For Your Pets Day.

I don’t have a pet, but if I did, I might try this one, even though I avoid spending hours in the kitchen at all costs. Per the experts, consult your vet first.They’ll know your pet’s nutrition needs and can also tell you foods to avoid.

grain-free-sweet-potato-dog-treats-4

 

Now, this is an interesting one. It’s also National Vinegar Day.

This household product can be used for SO MANY THINGS, from cooking to cleaning to gardening. Yay for multi-purpose items!

vinegar

 

Hungry? It’s also National Deep Fried Clams Day.

According to research, fried clams have been on restaurant menus since 1865. And the modern deep fried version since 1916. 

clams

 

And after eating those clams, you can celebrate National Brush Your Teeth Day.

This holiday is designed to remind and encourage parents to get their kids brushing their teeth for just two minutes, twice a day.

brush

 

So there you have it. All of today’s holidays. Now, which one are you going to celebrate? 

I really love that there’s something to celebrate every day because every day should be a celebration anyway. (Let’s hear it for the optimists!)

Susan-Sig

p.s. According to National Calendar Day, there are over 1200 national holidays. Want to know what to celebrate next? Check them out: http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/

Falling for Foliage

Falling for Foliage

foliage

As the only travel I’ve been doing lately is logging tons of hours and miles traveling along the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Turnpikes en route to physical therapy (yes, that is as glamorous as it sounds…) I thought we could have a fun post today. A where would you go post, if you wanted to see pretty scenery for Autumn.

And so, I bring you a small taste of few of the top places in the States to view the change of seasons.

First up, we’ll start in the Northeast with Stowe, VT: (Where sugar maples sparkle in shades of fire and gold.)

Then, we’ll head down to Oakland, MD, and Swallow Falls State Park: (The oldest stands of eastern hemlock and white pine—more than 360 years old—blanket the area in gold, orange, red, and evergreen.)

Next, we’re heading over to Michigan, and Porcupine Mountains State Park: (Talk about variety – this park has more than 100 species of trees and more than 300 waterfalls.)

Then, we’re off to the west coast, and Leavenworth, WA: (SO pretty and peaceful! I want to go!)

And finally, back to my hometown: Wissahickon Valley Park in Philadelphia, PA: (I LOVE walking/running the trails here.)

 

I so love this time of year. Nothing could be better that spying some pretty colors while drinking a pumpkin spice latte. (Though, to be honest, my preferred version is sprinkling pumpkin pie spice into my coffee). Where do you think is the best place to see fall foliage?

xoxo,

Susan-Sig