Things to do at home Part 2Mar 24, 2020

The calendar says it’s spring. Is your weather saying the same? We’re slowly melting, but I’ll take the improvement.   

I’m entering my second week of social distancing. This is hard, but doable. I’m still walking daily, but I’m looking for more things to do because even my knitting is losing its appeal. I need to feel productive, so here’s what I’ve been up to.   

1.     Quick cleans. I already did my closet. If it didn't fit anymore, if it was torn/worn and I hadn't got around to throwing it out, if I never liked it in the first place, or if it was barely serviceable and badly out of style, I got rid of it. To be donated, to be tossed, or to be turned into rags. Next up are my dresser drawers. I only need to one at a time. After that, the kitchen cupboards. Then the front and back closets. Even if I only do one a day, I will be close to done by the end of March.   

2.     Photo Albums. I’m finally getting them all organized. If you are a scrapbooker, now’s a good time to catch up on that pile of pictures in the drawer. And for goodness sake, write down the names of people, especially those who aren’t immediate family so the next generation knows why Joe Who has his arm around Aunt Carol! My poor dad has been inundated with photos of “Who is this?”  Spoiler – it was my maternal grandparents’ wedding photo.   

3.     Summer maintenance. The snow will be gone soon. (We can hope.) Odds are good that a lot of our usual summer sports teams will not be organized in time for a full season, so we’ll be on our own. But it’s important to stay active. Check those bike tires. Dust off the rollerblades. (I did this. I discovered I need new knee and elbow pads.) Fix the hole in the goal netting. Get prepared to move that body in the sunshine.   

4.     Play in the dirt. It’s only two months till planting season starts in Winnipeg, and I’m not prepared. I'm plotting out my vegetable garden this summer. I have some seeds left from last year, but I know I can get 3 or 4 packages for under $10 and get 10 times the value in fresh from the backyard produce later. I may expand beyond my regular plots and find extra space this year. After two years of bad tomato harvests, we’re do for a good one, and we have a killer salsa recipe and jars waiting. Also, we finally know what we’re doing with beets and carrots, and they are a tasty treat. I may experiment with something new – like watermelon, pumpkins, or corn.  

5.     Be hometown proud. Even after the borders reopen and flights and hotels are having “back in business” sales, most of us will not be in a place financially to take advantage. Plan now for a stay-cation this summer. Be a province or state booster. You know that museum that you haven’t visited since your fourth-grade field trip? Hit it. The zoo? Wave to the polar bears for me. The big city park with the nice flower gardens? Plan a picnic. There will be lots to do, and now is a good time to do your research on what is available locally.    

We were planning to attend our first Blue Bomber (CFL Football game) this year but I don’t know if the season will still be on, so now I’m looking for alternatives, just in case. We did Lower Fort Garry two years ago. If they are still on, we may try the Morris Stampede, the Morden Corn and Apple Festival, or Stonewall’s Quarry Days. We’re definitely going to the zoo, and one weekend we’re going to Gimli to check out their beach. I see much Googling in my future.    

Keep on keeping on, my friends. This isn’t fun, but it’s the most effective way to stay healthy and keep others safe.   

All the (virtual) hugs, 


Things to do at homeMar 18, 2020

Spring is right around the corner, but right now everything is grey in so many ways. 

I work from home, so this situation isn't totally foreign to me. I did, however, try to get out at least once every two days to talk to another person besides my sweetie. Now that face-to-face socialization is no longer an option, here's what I'm doing.

1. Take a walk.  You are allowed to go outside and for a walk. Just stay 6 feet/2 metres away from others. The fresh air and break from the media are a great mental break for me.

2. Reader's Digest crosswords. New ones come out daily. Keep your mind sharp.

3. Cooking. I love sitting down with cookbooks and flagging recipes I'd like to try. This is more challenging when you are trying to stay out of the grocery stores and use what you have in your pantry. I'm planning ahead, scouring recipe books for stuff I've always wanted to try (hello, Shepherd's Pie but with mashed potatoes instead of cauliflower), and making lists *by recipe* of what I need. The next time I hit the store, I will try to collect these items like I'm ticking off a bingo card. If all are in stock, Bingo! If not, I'll get what I can and wait.  

4. Baking. A lot easier than cooking when it comes to ingredients. (And, honestly, I have 8 - I counted! - bags of shredded zucchini in the freezer. We are going to be having so much zucchini fruit bread and chocolate zucchini cake.) So long as I have flour, sugar, and eggs, I should be good. I'm also dusting off my bread maker to try this simple Italian bread recipe.

5. Read and review. I have tons of free books on my e-reader that I've picked up over the years. NOW IS MY TIME!  Also, it only takes a few minutes to leave a review. You wouldn't believe how much reviews (especially on Amazon) help a writer, so please, take a few minutes to help out someone if you enjoyed their book.

I'm hoping to keep upbeat, so please check out my Twitter feed and Facebook page for more things to try.

Happy St. Patrick's DayMar 17, 2020

Do you know why St. Patrick is celebrated in Ireland? Check out the real story. (Spoiler: it has nothing to do with leprechauns or green beer.)

Coming soon - more Hopewell MillionairesMar 10, 2020

All that's left is the formatting, and FALL A MILLION TIMES will be ready for its May 4th launch! It sounds like a long time, but it's less than two months away. Then former pro-hockey player Andie Ronald and contractor Freddy Turnbull will be let loose upon the world to find their futures together in this sweet romance series. 

Stay tuned for sneak peaks!

Happy Valentine's DayFeb 14, 2020

Sending you lots of love, in whatever form you choose - chocolate, flowers, love stories, heart-shaped pizza. You deserve the very best! Have a wonderful Valentine's Day.

It's time for the WEDNESDAY GETAWAY Contest.Feb 5, 2020

Hello, my frost-bitten friends!

February is a hard month in Canada, and this year we have an extra day of it. Some folks are lucky enough to escape the winter for a short time. Alas, I am not one of them.

To make up for that, I'm running a contest that runs all month long. Every Wednesday, I'll be offering a chance to win a free copy of one of my Resort Romances. Set in a variety of warm tropical locations, they each have a couple that falls in love while on vacation. Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic. Take your pick.

To enter, go to my Facebook or Twitter accounts every Wednesday afternoon and comment with a photo of the destination of the week. I have four books and there are four Wednesdays in February.  How convenient for everybody.

I'll see you on the beach!

(Contest not associated with Facebook or Twitter) 

Personal Goals: Achievement Unlocked!Jan 30, 2020

If you’ve read my bio, you’ll notice that sports and exercise are not mentioned in any way, shape, or form. There’s a reason for that. I don’t watch them, I don’t do them, and I don't like them.

I’m an avid walker. That was my physical activity of choice, the only thing I truly enjoy doing. In the summer, I will go out for a twenty-minute stretch break and do a one-mile (1.6 km) loop around my house, and I’ll do three of these a day. That works out to five miles a day, four or five days a week. I thought I was doing pretty well.

In September 2018 I went in for my annual physical. My doctor said she wanted me to start adding cardio to my walking regime, so I added weekly one-hour three-mile walks to get my heart rate up. I thought that would be good enough.


A year ago this week, I thoroughly embarrassed myself when I got winded walking up a hill in Calgary. When I got home, the first thing I did was join a gym, because that was not going to happen to me again.

I made myself three promises:

  1. I was allowed to be terrible at the exercises.
  2. I was not allowed to cheat.
  3. I was not allowed to quit.

My first goal was to get into good enough shape that I would not be winded when I went on my UK trip last summer. Not only did I confidently walk all around Scotland (and let me say, that entire country is either uphill or downhill), I did it carrying my suitcase.

Goal #1 – accomplished.

Goal #2 – bench press 100 lbs. With any luck, I should hit this goal by my birthday (which is three months from now.)

I’m posting this today, though, because I hit another milestone. Today I accomplished 125 lb weighed squats and 135 lb sumo lifts. I’m still 15 lbs away from my bench press goal, but I’m a lot closer than I was.

There’s no magic pill to replace exercise (believe me, I looked.) This has taken a sincere commitment and a lot of time on my part. It’s taken me a year to get this far but I’m very proud of myself and I’m not about to quit now.

If you are on the same journey as me, I send you lots of encouragement. And if you are thinking of starting, I wish you all the best.

Happy 2020!Jan 1, 2020

I saw a terrific post about "20 in 2020." It was about doing something twenty times in the new year.

I love fresh starts and making new resolutions, so I'm taking "20 in 2020" to the absolute limit by making a list of 20 things to do! Over half of these are one-shot items to get a little more organized for the new decade, but isn't it nice to have a clean start to the year?

Okay, here we go! Take a look and see if there are any you'd like to adopt.

Elle's 20 resolutions and goals for 2020

1.     Purge 20 books (sell in a garage sale, donate, or throw away.) 

2.     Purge 20 DVDs and/or CDs. 

3.     Get rid of 20 pieces of clothes that no longer fit or are worn out.

4.     Unsubscribe from 20 newsletters. 

5.     Leave or unfollow 20 online groups. 

6.     Throw out 20 old margarine/sour cream/yogurt containers and lids.

7.     Listen to 20 songs by artists I've never listened to before.

8.     Taste 20 new foods or drinks.  

9.     Make 20 new recipes during the new year 

10.  Walk for 20 minutes a day (a 10-minute stretch break/walk in the morning and afternoon, or at lunch and after work, really loosen up your back after sitting at a desk for a couple hours). 

11.  Throw away 20 pens that ran out of ink/dried-up markers/pencil stubs 

12.  Write and post 20 book/product/restaurant reviews. 

13.  Pick up 20 pieces of litter from a park/beach. 

14.  Pick 20 photos of myself – alone or with friends and/or family - and display them. 

15.  Throw away 20 things from the junk drawer. 

16.  Study a foreign language for 20 minutes at least once a week. (I was a language major and I want to get these skills back.)

17.  Send 20 real, paper cards to people in the mail throughout the year (birthday to thinking-of-you to Christmas).

18.  Knit/crochet 20 items to donate to a charity. (I love to knit, and made 16 last year, so this is a reasonable goal for me.)

19.  Skip buying 20 coffees or lunches and save that money for a special treat. 

20.  Put $20 in a jar every payday as a vacation fund.

Happy New Year!Dec 31, 2019

With only hours left in 2019, I hope you can reflect on this past year and find some good times and good friends.

I wish you all a healthy, prosperous new year, where you can use your "2020 vision" to achieve your dreams.

(No, I will not be listing "Stop making puns" on my list of new year's resolutions.)

Merry ChristmasDec 25, 2019

Santa Claus has made his trips for the year. I hope you and your family and friends find yourselves happy and healthy this Christmas day, with lots of love and laughter under the tree.