Sunday, December 20, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - White Chocolate Pecan Pie (w/gluten free version)


NOTE: You can make this gluten free by eliminating the piecrust and substituting flour for gluten free flour. Cook for approximately 20 minutes. 

White Chocolate Pecan Pie

1 9-inch piecrust
2 cups pecan halves
1-1/2 cup white chocolate chips
3 eggs
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons flour

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

- Layer pecans and chips in a piecrust.

- In a large bowl, hand whisk the eggs until just combined. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and flour. Stir until thoroughly combined. Pour over the nuts and chips.

- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is set. Cover with spray coated foil after 25 minutes of baking. Cool for two hours. Refrigerate.

NOTE: We’ve noticed baking for the recommended time makes it hard around the edges. So it depends on how you like your pie.



Saturday, December 19, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Chewy Flourless Chocolate Cookies


Chewy Flourless Chocolate Cookies

1-3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt 2 egg whites

- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

- Mix ingredients until mixture forms a dough. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake 16 to 19 minutes. Remove from parchment, cool. Makes about 15.


Friday, December 18, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Cranberry Scones




CRANBERRY SCONES


2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup cold butter, cut in small pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk 

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in
cranberries and sugar, then buttermilk just until blended. 

Cut dough in half. On lightly floured surface with lightly floured fingertips, press half the dough into an 8-inch circle about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Place wedges 1/2-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. 

Bake 12-15 min until puffed and lightly browned. Remove to
rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 16. Freeze unbaked wedges up to 1 month. Bake without thawing, adding a minute or two to baking time.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Triple Chocolate Pound Cake



TRIPLE CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE

Makes one 9×5″ loaf

- 1/2 cup  butter, softened 
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon half-and-half
- 3 eggs
- 1-1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
- 3/4 cup mini-chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sour cream, sugar, and half-and-half, blending ingredients well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add half the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and blend well; then add the remaining flour mixture and blend everything well. Fold in the mini-chocolate chips, stirring to distribute the chips evenly in the batter.
Pour or spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for 70 to 75 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Your toothpick may not come out totally clean because of the melty chocolate chips in the loaf. Be careful not to overbake or loaf may be a little dry.
Cool in loaf pan 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely before frosting with Rich Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (recipe below).

RICH CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon half-and-half
- 1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, for garnish

Cream the softened butter and powdered sugar. Then add in the cocoa powder and blend well. Add half-and-half and mix well. When pound cake is completely cool, spoon all of the frosting on top of the cake and spread out to cover the top and sides. Then garnish with the mini semi-sweet chocolate chips on top. (For presentation, I also heavily sprinkle the chips all around the edges of the cake where it touches the plate. This will require you to use much more than 1/3 cup, but it looks fantastic.






Wednesday, December 16, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Marbled Cheesecake Bars



Marbled Cheesecake Bars

2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
3-8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1-14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

Heat - 300 degrees Fahrenheit

- Combine crumbs, cocoa, sugar and margarine; press firmly on bottom of
13x9-inch baking pan.
- In large mixer bowl, beat cheese until fluffy.
- Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth.
- Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.
- Pour half the batter evenly over prepared crust.
- Stir melted chocolate into remaining batter; spoon over vanilla batter.
-With table knife, gently swirl through batter to marble.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - White Chocolate Blondies


White Chocolate Blondies

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

- Line 9-inch square pan with foil, spray with cooking spray.

- Beat butter and sugar together in large bowl until combined. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Stir in chocolate and nuts. Spread in pan.

- Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool. Remove from pan and cut into bars.



Monday, December 14, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies


White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies

Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate cups (or coarsely chopped white chocolate)
1 cup fresh cranberries

- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9x9x2-inch baking pan with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray.

- In a large bowl, beat butter, sugars, baking powder, soda and salt until combined. Add eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in flour until combined.

- Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate. Spread batter in pan. Sprinkle fresh cranberries evenly on top.

- Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

- Cool 1 hour. Life with foil to remove from pan. Cut into bars.



Sunday, December 13, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Chocolate Maple Nut Bars



Chocolate Maple Nut Bars

1-1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon flour
3/4 cup cold margarine or butter
2 eggs (you will use them one at a time)
1-14 ounce sweetened condensed milk (variation: buy the chocolate kind)
1-1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring
2 cups chopped nuts
1 cup chocolate chips

Oven temperature - 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

- In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.
- Cut in margarine until crumbly.
- Stir in 1 beaten egg.
- Press evenly into 13x9-inch baking pan.
- Bake 25 minutes.

-In the meantime, beat sweetened condensed milk, remaining 1 egg, and
flavoring together.
- Stir in nuts


- After baking, sprinkle chips evenly over prepared crust.
- Top with nut mixture.
- Bake 25 minutes longer.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Peanut Butter Balls


PEANUT BUTTER BALLS

1 cup butter or margarine softened
1-1/2 cups peanut butter
1 box (1 lb) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces chocolate chips
1/8 pound paraffin

Cream butter and peanut butter and vanilla. 
Add powdered sugar a little at a time. 
Roll into balls and place on wax paper. 
Let sit overnight. 
Melt chocolate chips and paraffin and dip balls. 
Set on wax paper to dry overnight.

Friday, December 11, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Martha Washington Candy


This was a holiday tradition for me growing up. Two of my aunts would make batches and batches of this delicious candy, and it would be spread out wherever there was a flat surface while it set. It was one of my favorites. Now I'm making it a holiday tradition for my family. 


MARTHA WASHINGTON CANDY

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 pounds powdered sugar
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 chopped pecans

Combine all ingredients, mix well, and drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper.
Let set for 24 hours.

Chocolate Coating:
1 box semi-sweet chocolate
1 box unsweetened chocolate
1/2 bar paraffin (wax)

Melt chocolate and wax together in a small pan over low to medium heat,
then dip candies and let sit another 24 hours to set.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Chinese Chicken Salad


 Another great dish for potlucks.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Dressing:
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar (seasoned rice vinegar works best)
3 packets of Equal


Salt and pepper

Mix well. (I use a shaker to really combine these ingredients.)

Salad:
1 medium head of cabbage (chopped)
2 small or 1 large can of chicken
2 packages sliced almonds
4 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 bunch green onions (diced)
2 packages ramen noodles (crumbled) (any flavor...you won’t use the flavor packages)


Brown chicken and noodles in a fry pan. Mix cabbage, almonds, sesame seeds, and onions. Add chicken and noodles. Mix well. Pour on dressing and toss.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Barbecue Sausage



This is the perfect thing for potluck events. Quick and easy. 


Barbecue Sausage


3 bottles of chili sauce
1 medium jar of grape jelly
3 to 4 pounds of sausage (whatever flavor you like)


Cut sausage into one inch pieces.  Put sausage, chili sauce, and jelly in crock pot.  Mix.  Cook until heated through. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Bacon Cheddar Scones



Bacon Cheddar Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon pepper 
1/8 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, minced
5 to 6 bacon slices, cooked and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk or heavy cream, divided
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350F.

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and sugar in a large bowl. Gradually cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles small peas. Stir in the cheese, just until combined. Add green onions, bacon, and 1/3 cup buttermilk. Mix by hand just until all the ingredients are incorporated. If the dough is too dry to hold together, use remaining buttermilk, adding 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is pliable and can be formed into a ball Mix as lightly and as little as possible to ensure a light-textured scone.

Place dough on a lightly floured board. Pat dough into a ball. Using a well-floured rolling pin, flatten dough into a circle about 7 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 8 equal wedges.

Whisk egg and milk together in a small bowl and brush tops of each scone.

Place scones on an ungreased baking sheet and bake 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and no longer sticky in the middle.

Serve warm. Serves 8.

Monday, December 7, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake (or Muffins) (Regular or Gluten Free)





This cake has been a favorite of friends and family for years. It's rich, decadent, and is the only cake I bake. There's no need for frosting with this one. 

There are also a couple of mild variations. 

You can add peanut butter chips instead of the chocolate chips. 
You can substitute gluten free oatmeal and baking flour for those regular ingredients.
You can make muffins (24) instead of the 13x9 inch cake (which has suddenly becomes the family's preference).


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake

1-3/4 cup boiling water
3 eggs
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1-3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 12 ounce package chocolate chips


Directions

Lightly spray 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.
Pour boiling water over oatmeal and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Add butter, brown and white sugar and stir until butter melts.
Add eggs and mix well.
Add dry ingredients to mixture, mixing well.
Add half of chocolate chips, mix well.
Pour batter into pan.
Sprinkle remaining chips over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 45 minutes.

NOTE FOR MUFFINS:
Place cupcake liners into muffin tins.
Fill with 1/3 cup of batter. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 



Sunday, December 6, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Apricot Bars

Apricot Bars

1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup apricot preserves

Mix together dry ingredients.
Stir in oats and sugar.
Cut in butter until crumbly
Pat two-thirds of crumbs in 11x7x1-1/2 inch pan.
Spread with preserves.
Top with remaining crumbs.
Bake about 35 minutes in 375 degree oven.
Cut into bars when cooled.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

From Caitlyn's Kitchen - Snickerdoodle Muffins



Snickerdoodle Muffins

cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup sour cream
1 pkg. Hershey's cinnamon chips
3 TB sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon

Directions
- Cream butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon until fluffy.
- Add eggs and mix well.
- Add vanilla and sour cream and mix well.
- Mix in flour and baking powder until all combined.
- Add cinnamon chips and stir into batter.
- Spoon batter into muffin pans lined with cupcake holders (only two-thirds full for each muffin).
- Mix 3 T. sugar and 3 t. cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle over the batter in each muffin.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes about 2-1/2 dozen muffins.



Thursday, August 20, 2015

Your Favorite Author's Backlist

Few things are more delightful than discovering a new author whose work you love. You devour all their current releases, then drum your fingers impatiently until the next release comes out. Demanding, I'm sure, that they write faster. Searching their website or Amazon daily for news. Then you discover their backlist. Gleeful with joy, you start reading...only to discover it's not what you expected or not on a par with the current work. That's not to say the backlist is horrible. It's merely different and not what drew you to that author in the first place. Your knee-jerk reaction might be, "I'm never reading this author again." You might want to reconsider despite your disappointment.

Why is there a difference between new stories and older ones?

Simply put, writing is a business. As with all businesses, the more you work at it, the better you get. Through the years authors hone their craft like fine-edge steel. They are learning and growing as you would expect any professional person to do. So their new work (the story that captured you in the first place) is a result of years of experience.

Be patient. Don't give them up. Their new stories will come out and you'll fall in love all over again.

:)
Caitlyn Willows

Friday, August 7, 2015

Write Or Die

No matter what stage of your writing career, one thing remains paramount to all honest-to-gosh writers. We must write or a little part of us withers and dies inside. A part of our soul is lost and trapped in the dark recesses of our minds. Yet it's difficult to realize this when we "go dark."

It all starts rather innocently, I suppose, with life pulling us this way and that. Perhaps a day slips by without having written. Then another day and another. We feel crawly and angry inside--at ourselves, at the world and everything in it. Or the writing world itself has us reeling with its ups and downs, the shoulds (you should write like this, you should promote here), and the opinions of people who truly don't matter and really have no concept of what it means to be a writer.

I fight the urge to roll my eyes, sigh, and snicker every time someone tells me they want to write but don't have the time, or they want to write because their life is so interesting/tragic/fun. Bottom line: If they wanted to write, they would be writing.

It's hard too for those of us who live in isolated areas where we lack face-to-face support from fellow writers. This is one reason why I enjoy writing conferences--it allows me to recharge and reconnect. Because no one understands a writer better than another writer. Unfortunately, I can't always go to conferences. Then I'm left to find ways to keep on and be the wind beneath my own wings.

It helps to set boundaries. (Oh, the hysterical laughter in my head with those words.) I said "it helps." I didn't say I was an expert at setting boundaries. But I am getting better at it. Having realized I was most creative and prolific in the mornings, I started positive reinforcement for myself. "I write in the mornings. I don't like to be disturbed. I am most prolific in the mornings." Within a month, I was telling others the same thing, and meaning it. "I'm sorry. That time isn't good for me. I write in the mornings." The phone calls still came. Because of a family situation, I can't ignore the calls. Because of the way our phone system is set up, I can't unplug the phone, nor would I because of the family situation. I still said the words in conversation and in my head. It took about a year, but eventually the morning phone calls dwindled.

It's important to take care of our basic needs. For writers a basic need IS writing. Don't cheat yourself. Writing is as essential to us as food, air and water.

"I write because it is who I am." Say it. Mean it. Live it. Take a stand. Don't let anything take this from you, not even yourself.

Caitlyn Willows 










Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wrapped In Flame by Caitlyn Willows





WRAPPED IN FLAME
by Caitlyn Willows
Contemporary - Erotic Suspense Romance
April 2018
Cover Artist - Scott Carpenter

Originally released in April 2015

Shed of the biggest mistake of her life, Erica is looking forward to starting over. Who better to help her explore her options than the man who’s been front and center in her fantasies. Mike thought hell was wanting Erica and knowing she belonged to another man. That hell was knowing the other man was a worthless son of a bitch who didn’t deserve her. Now she’s all his and he’s not wasting a single second. Nothing like being suspected of her ex’s death to destroy unfettered bliss.

Mike would to anything to keep her safe, to have her in his life now that she’s free, even if that means letting go when he wants to hang on tight. Erica’s determined to stop the monster preying on others. Giving over control isn’t so easy when you know doing so could very well cost the woman you love her life.

BUY LINKS


Excerpt:

“Let’s face it, Erica. I didn’t marry you for your looks.”

She stopped in her tracks. No, he hadn’t. That had been clear very early in their marriage, hurling those words at her. Keith had been after her money, not her looks, and not even her. She didn’t have a fortune. She’d worked for every dime, saved pennies, cut corners. Then she’d married him, trusted him, and lost everything in less than six months. Pride had kept her from sharing the outcome of her folly with anyone. Brave face and all that. But the rift between her and Keith was apparent. Anyone who came to their house noticed the separate bedrooms. Trish Delaney had drawn her aside more than once, asking why she didn’t dump his ass. Erica couldn’t tell her how close Keith’s spending had put them toward bankruptcy, how she barely had enough to pay the bills he’d racked up. She couldn’t lie either and say she loved the guy. She didn’t. Looking back, she never had. She’d done this to herself, and it’d been up to her to fix it.

A clean exit needed precise planning and money to survive afterward. If she’d told Trish money was an issue, the crew would have done everything possible to see she had it. Erica couldn’t let that happen. This was her mess to solve. She’d scrimped and saved until the moment was right. Then fate had stepped in with a whopper of a surprise. If Keith ever found out…

Erica shook her head. She’d keep that little secret close to her chest, even from her nearest and dearest friends. They’d eventually learn about it, but by then Keith would be history. Actually, him filing for divorce was perfect. He couldn’t accuse her of pulling a fast one. Well, he could, but…
One problem at a time.

Erica pulled in a much-needed breath and scrolled through the numbers on her cell phone while she paced the empty living room. All it would take was a call to any one of the firefighters, and she’d have all the help she needed to move tomorrow.

Her heart skipped a beat when she came to Mike Barnard’s number—the other reason she knew her marriage to Keith had been a mistake. The man made her blood sizzle in ways she couldn’t describe. She’d met him when she’d met the rest of Keith’s crew. Something had kept drawing her and Mike together that night, like magnets. She should have known, should have realized. Keith proposed that very night after everyone left. Almost as if he felt threatened. Maybe he had. After all, he had an agenda of his own—her money.

Erica shook the memory away. Mike still did things to her that she’d never believed possible, yet he never once crossed the line beyond friendship. Neither had she. He was her friend. If truth be told, her best friend. Logic decreed he be the one she called now. She called Trish instead.

“Hey, you. What’s up?” Trish’s bubbly greeting bolstered Erica’s mood.

“I could use a little muscle tomorrow, moving my things from the house into my new place.”

“Woo-hoo! You finally did it! You left the son of a bitch.”

Erica managed a small laugh. “Yeah, all about the planning. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped.” She gave Trish the rundown of events.

“Bastard. The guys’ll go over there right now—”

“No. I don’t want any trouble.” Nothing could risk her bigger plan. “Keith’s spoiling for a fight. Them going over there won’t go well. He’s on-shift tomorrow. That will be the better time.”
Trish huffed. “Where are you now?”

“In my new place.” Erica gave her the address. “I was getting ready to go for pizza and to find a motel room for the night.”

“Screw that. We’re coming to get you.” Trish disconnected without waiting for a response.

Erica didn’t have the energy to argue with her—suddenly she wasn’t sure she had the energy to move. The luggage in her car disagreed. She had at least fifteen minutes before Trish showed up. Time she could use to start unpacking. An overnight bag would suffice for her stay with the Delaneys.
Anger and adrenaline had helped her carry the suitcases to her car. All Erica had going for her this time was determination, because those suckers were heavy as hell. She wouldn’t put it past Keith to have packed them with rocks. Relief sagged through her when she opened one up and found clothing, complete with hangers. It looked as if he’d grabbed everything from her closet and dumped it in. Fine by me. She discovered a similar disarray in the other three suitcases. She did a quick inventory and found all her clothing and personal effects accounted for. At least he’d done something right. Maybe things weren’t going to be so bad after all.

“Erica?”

Her breath caught at the sound of Mike’s voice echoing through the empty house. Nerves quivered along the surface of her skin.

“I’m in the bedroom. Be right—”

His body filled the doorway before she could finish the sentence. Damn, but he looked fine. His deep-blue eyes settled on her face. At six-four, he made Erica’s five-ten feel petite. It was one of the things she’d liked about him, one of many. Too many. She stood by the closet, her body alive and fully aware this was a real man in front of her. A man she wanted more than she could say.

“I was expecting Trish.”

“She called.” A slow step brought him nearer. “I came right away.” Another step. “Is everything here?” He motioned to the bags. “Clothes, personals, papers, jewelry?”

“Clothes and personals, yes. My valuables are in a safe-deposit box Keith can’t access. I always carry my laptop in the car.”

“Did he hurt you? Hit you?” Mike coiled his fingers coiled into loose fists at his sides, an act that promised retribution if Keith had hurt her.

Erica shook her head. “No. You can put the guns away.” She pointed to his fists.

Mike glanced down. The hint of a flush swept his face, then disappeared. He shrugged and advanced again, slow, determined, until mere inches separated them. She stared into his eyes, shaken by the unmistakable fire blazing there. Indignation over her circumstances, or something more?

“Good, because if he did, I would hurt him.”

Erica managed a little laugh. “You wouldn’t have to. I could hurt him myself.”

“So you could.” His grin washed over her. “But still, he’s a sneaky little bastard.”

“Tell me about it.”

“He’s hurt you here.” He pressed the pads of his fingers above her heart, right at the curve of her breast. She wanted to push it into his palm, feel his grip mold around it.

“He definitely shook what little faith I had in him, disappointed me, but my heart was never his to break. If I’m heartbroken at all, it’s because I failed to trust my instincts in the first place and married him anyway. It was wrong from the start and only got worse.”

“Then why—”

“Did I stay with him so long?” A year of her life wasted. There was no harm telling the truth now. She was financially on her feet again. “He robbed me blind. It’s taken me time to recover enough money so that I could leave. I knew he’d never leave or vacate the house.”

“You know any of us would have helped you.”

“My mess. My marriage, such as it was. I retook control I never should have relinquished and worked it out. No sense dragging the rest of you into it. I didn’t want you to have to choose sides.”

“We did that the minute we met you. There isn’t one of us who wouldn’t go to the mat for you, Erica.”

He said that now, and Erica knew he meant every word, but… “You still have to work with the guy.”
His scowl darkened the room. “Don’t remind me. I do my best to make sure we’re not on the same shift. He’s lazy, incompetent, and those are his good qualities. He has no friends at the station. You aren’t the only one he’s screwed.”

“Well, technically speaking, he hasn’t been screwing me.” It was important Mike know that.
There was a hitch in his breath. “Yeah, we’ve noticed the his-and-her rooms. Berto cornered him on that one day.”

Erica could hear Berto. “What the fuck’s up with that, man?”

“Apparently, I snore,” she said. “Or his hours make it easier for him to sleep without me dashing all over the place. Or I twist the covers. Or my body’s too hot.” She lifted her palms. “It was fine with me because at that point the last thing I wanted was him anywhere near me.”

“Keith is an ass. Always was, always will be. I’m glad it’s finally over.”

Mike closed that last bit of distance between them. She rested her hands on the plane of his sculpted chest while he slipped one hand around her waist. Eyes on hers, he slipped his long fingers behind her neck, cradling it, drawing her near.

“I know you had to live it, but we had to watch it. You have no idea how frustrating that was for us to not interfere. It’s been hell watching you—”

He pressed his lips together, rolling them, moistening them, tempting her with a taste. What would he do if she stretched up on her toes and kissed him? There’d never been a hint her attraction to him was reciprocated. He’d never crossed a line, never made a pass, never treated her any differently than anyone else. But then, she’d been taken. Now she wasn’t.

Mike cupped her head and drew it to his shoulder. “Someone needs a hug.”

“You or me?” She slipped her arms around him.

“Both of us?”

Mike did like his hugs. He was always tossing them around. Granted, he never gave hugs this close, but this circumstance was unique. Erica was glad she hadn’t tried to sneak a kiss. She felt silly thinking he’d want her. A man this yummy had his pick of the crop. Women were always trying to cozy up to him. Beautiful women. She’d envied every one of them when he’d cast that dazzling smile in their direction. A smile that promised a night they’d never forget. She’d wanted to draw them aside afterward for a blow-by-blow account. Nothing like living vicariously. But Mike was careful to keep his relationships away from the crew. Few were allowed within the family, as they were called. He never spoke of them either. “Real men don’t need to kiss and tell.” How many times had she heard him say that? And there was no doubt Mike Barnard was a real man.

He slipped his hand her lumbar. There was the barest hint of pressure there, as if he were trying to pull her even closer than they already were. She felt the hardness between them—hot and unmistakable.

She swallowed. Her throat had gone dry. Make a move or ignore it? A mistake now risked ruining their friendship. Erica couldn’t bear that. She’d leave control in his hands, let him make the next move.

Why didn’t he make it?

Her hopes fell. The erection pulsing between them meant nothing. Guys got hard-ons all the time for all manner of reasons. This was no different. She hadn’t expected that knowledge to hurt as badly as it did.

“Let’s face it, Erica. I didn’t marry you for your looks.”

That knife thrust to the heart again, similar to words her own family had uttered time and again. Too tall, too big, too opinionated, too…everything that could be wrong with a person. And she had the nerve to think a man like Mike would want her? She was buddy material, not mating material. How many men had told her that since college?

Tears welled up. She tried her best to fight them. The hurt was too much. Words slashed at her heart. The fantasy she’d carried with her crumbled to ashes around it.

“Oh, sweetheart, it’s okay.” Mike rubbed his big hands over her back. “I’ve got you.”

How she wished that were true.



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dealing With Doubt

Doubt is like this demon inside us looking for an excuse to break free and take us down. It undermines our goals and destroys our self-confidence. I'm sure you've heard it whisper things like: "Who do you think you are?" "You've got no business trying something so foolish." "You'll never make it."

I'm not an expert of dealing with doubt, but there are some things I try to do for myself to quiet that voice.

- Don't measure yourself by someone else's success. That's their life path. This is yours.
- Shields up. Guards in place. This is especially important when you are in a crowd of people.
- Ignore the chatter and rumors around you.
- Don't allow yourself to be swept away by the negative emotions of others.

I found this article today that is definitely worth reading. Perhaps you will as well.

Doubt Destroyed My Confidence: 5 Steps I Took To Fight Back

:) Caitlyn
www.caitlynwillows.com


Monday, March 2, 2015

Naming Groups of Animals

The gems you find when cleaning up your office. :)

This list is not all-inclusive. I can't guarantee with 100% accuracy to its correctness, and some of them I might even question, but it's a list I found years ago and stuck away for informational purposes. I thought it would be fun to share.

A PRIDE OF LIONS
A GAGGLE OF GEESE (on the ground)
A SKEIN OF GEESE (in the air)
A MURDER OF CROWS
A SCHOOL OF FISH
A LEAP OF LEOPARDS
A POD OF SEALS
A SLOTH OF BEARS
A GANG OF ELK
A COVEY OF PARTRIDGES (AND QUAIL)
A FALL OF WOODCOCKS
A WEDGE OF SWANS
A PARTY OF JAYS
A COLONY OF PENGUINS
A RAFTER OF TURKEYS
A BUSINESS OF FERRETS
A CRASH OF RHINOCEROSES
A SIEGE OF HERONS
A GAM OF WHALES
A HOVER OF TROUT
A HUSK OF HARES
A LABOR OF MOLES
A BALE OF TURTLES
A DULE OF DOVES
A SHOAL OF BASS
A DRIFT OF HOGS
A TRIP OF GOATS
A CHARM OF FINCHES
A SORT OF MALLARDS
A TIDINGS OF MAGPIES
A CAST OF HAWKS
AN OSTENTATION OF PEACOCKS
A BOUQUET OF PHESANTS
A CONGREGATION OF PLOVERS
A PADDLING OF DUCKS
AN UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS
A BUILDING OF ROOKS
A RICHNESS OF MARTENS
A BEVY OF ROEBUCKS
A HOST OF SPARROWS
A KNOT OF TOADS
A DESCENT OF WOODPECKERS
A MUSTERING OF STORKS
A DRAY OF SQUIRRELS
A SPRING OF TEAL
A ROUTE OF WOLVES
A SHREWDNESS OF APES
A SOUNDER OF SWINE
A MURMURATION OF STARLINGS
A PARLIAMENT OF OWLS
AN EXALTATION OF LARKS

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Staying Warm (Comfort for Writers)

One of the things writers struggle with from time to time is comfort. It's particularly challenging in the winter months.

I don't like being cold. I don't like being hot either, but I really don't like being cold. When the weather turns cold, I have a lot of problems keeping my feet warm without pain. While wearing shoes and socks might seem like the logical solution, it gets to be quite tricky for me. I work from a desktop computer, but I also write (create) from a laptop while nestled in my recliner. Having anything on my feet while in that recliner is out of the question. I have bone spurs, plantar faciitis, a bad knee, and fibromyalgia. Crazy as it sounds, the weave lines in socks cause me a great deal of discomfort that quickly leads to pain and nerve issues. I can't have anything pressed against my Achilles' tendon for the same reason. It's frustrating to say the least. This year my family came to my rescue. I wanted to share the links for what they bought in the hope they might benefit someone else.

My husband bought me a heated throw for my recliner. It keeps my feet and legs nice and warm. Wearing anything binding is no longer an issue. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008BF2OAU/

My son and daughter-in-law bought me the most comfortable shoes (made by Flexus). These are great for sitting at the desktop. Socks? No problem. These shoes keep my feet warm (but aren't water resistant) around the house, can be worn inside or out, and are nice enough to wear for errands. They have nice arch supports so the knee isn't compromised and they don't hit my Achilles' tendon. Here's the link (it says Fly Flot, but they're Flexus): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002EAZ1D0/

Caitlyn

Friday, February 27, 2015

Starting Over

As you can tell from my blog, it isn't updated very often. I hope to be able to correct that issue. The problem is that I get all these grand ideas of what to blog about, only to freeze up the moment I open the page. Rather like what's happening right this moment. Yes, all my rambling now is a result of freezing up. It's somewhat like the path we walk in life. Think about that for a second. You're going along just fine when something happens. For the sake of my example, let's say you have a wonderful idea to try something new, something potentially exciting. However, the minute you head that direction...you freeze, physically and emotionally. My experience is that being frozen soon leads to panic. Then that wonderful idea is shoved away to the deepest, darkest recesses of your dreams.

Why does this happen? Well, it could be you haven't had the experiences in life necessary to carry out your wonderful idea. Or maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all. Or...and this is a sticky one...maybe you have a deep-seated fear of failure or success that's holding you back. Maybe YOU are holding you back.

We all have those sticking points in life. Those places where we want to move forward or we feel we should move forward, yet we remain frozen in place. What do you do?

Research and inform yourself. If there's something that interests you, learn more about that thing. The Internet is a good source of preliminary information. See what's involved first, then go from there. This is especially important to do if your wonderful idea keeps nagging at you. Again from my own experience, if you keep coming back to that wonderful idea, you must research, inform and then take steps to pursue. That's how I earned my Doctorate in Spiritual Healing. It kept nagging at me. I researched, took a chance, and there you go. More telling is the experience of my friend author Barbara Clark, who at age 78 decided to take up karate. Two years later, she's halfway to her black belt, she no longer needs a cane, her coordination has improved immensely...and she's the happiest I've ever seen her.

The bottom line is this... Life's too short to not try something you've always wanted to do. Think about it. What's the worst that can happen if you try? That you discover it really wasn't for you, after all. What's the worst that can happen if you DON'T try? That you'll spend the rest of your years wishing you had.

Life is to be lived and experienced. Go for it.

Caitlyn