Saturday, September 18, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

At my job, we have a huge assortment of delicious-smelling awful-for-you unvegan pastries that have been assailing my senses for the last three weeks.

This week though, the coup de grĂ¢ce was delivered when I opened a package marked "banana chocolate chip coffee cake" and was literally knocked back on my feet. It smelled like heaven!

I'm at a point in my veganism where non-vegan foods are non-foods for me. This pastry though, it drove me nuts. So I searched high and low to find a veganized version of this recipe... which just didn't seem to exist.

So I made one!

The chocolate chips I used in this recipe I found at my co-op last night. I was content to use carob chips (which don't melt very well but I love the flavor), except that I found vegan grain-sweetened chips last night that tasted so much like milk chocolate I nearly offed the entire pound and cried.

I also used this as the breaking-in recipe for my thrited springform pan. I'd been wanting to buy one, but couldn't justify the cost. I think $2.50 for a USA-made pan was just fine, especially since the donation goes to a women's crisis center.

Banana Chocolate Chip you-won't-ever-make-another-kind-of-Coffee Cake

For the streusel
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp cinnamon

For the cake
1.5 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt * (I omitted this, but will include it next time)
2-3 ripe bananas
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp soy or coconut yogurt (or 3 tbsp soy milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar if you're desperate)
1/3 cup room temperature unhydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance did the trick)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch diameter baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix the streusel ingredients together. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In yet another bowl, mash up your bananas. Whisk in the oil, sugar, yogurt and margarine. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture.

Divide the batter in half. Spread one half on the bottom of the pan (it doesn't have to be perfect).

Layer with half the streusel. Spread on another layer of the batter (it won't be perfect this time, guaranteed.)


Spread the final layer of streusel on top.

Pop it in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until a butter knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from oven, allowing it to cool for a few minutes so your knife doesn't get melted chocolate all over it. But if you're okay with that, then have at it.

Craving satisfied.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Pursuit of Badass

In my pursuit of badassery, my first major purchase as an official Floridian was this beauty here


I've never been mountain biking before. When my boyfriend told me about it, I silently called him crazy. But, this is the same guy I told that I would never stop eating meat, never sleep in the woods, and certainly never move out of New York City.

So, I gave it a chance.

We went to Higher Ground, a locally-owned bike shop that touts itself as being the highest bike shop in Florida (though considering that the elevation is still under 400 feet above sea level, I stifle a chuckle). The associate who helped me spent a lot of time asking questions, taking measurements, and pulling down various models for me to try out. It turns out that proportionally I'm more male than female, so female-targeted bikes were taken off the list. (Thank goodness; they were more pricey.) What I liked about this guy was that price was not the concern. He didn't push me to the more expensive options, knowing it was the first time I had even ridden a bicycle since I was 12 or 13 years old. Certainly I had never been mountain biking.

My first trip out was incredible. I whined and moaned a lot about how hard it was; my boyfriend reminded me I needed to shift out of third gear when I was going up steep inclines. Overall though, I had a lot of fun.

And came out of the woods looking like this.


Actually, the second ride was a lot worse since the blood literally dripped down my legs, but since there were no major arteries hit, no infections to speak of, I definitely kept up with it. After three months, I'm still no pro with picking the bike over large logs, but I'm getting better at the trails I'm familiar with.

Last week, I decided to start taking my bike to work with me. The four mile ride to and from work up and down those steep Tallahassee hills was a great workout. For sure, I'd show up to work a little sweaty, but I was prepared with Tom's of Maine deodorant (a placebo, at best) and a fresh change of clothes. Except Friday afternoon, as I was pulling into the driveway after a refreshing post-work ride home, my back tire went flat. No idea why. Not that a mountain bike is really suited for roads, but come on! Thankfully it waited until I had less than a three-minute walk home to explode, but this week, I'm taking the car in with the boyfriend until I can have it replaced.

So much for my eco-consciousness. At least I saved a week's worth of gas!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Home brewing!

My favorite thing recently (besides a hundred of my other favorite things) has been thrifting and garage sale hopping. I really should do a post just on the swag I've picked up on the cheap, or free, someday. Several Saturday mornings ago, my partner and I happened to stop by a moving sale that turned out to be pretty fruitful. Actually it was a pretty awkward exchange to begin with, as I always feel garage sales are. Essentially you're picking through someone's life and offering them a quarter for a piece of it, something I'm still getting comfortable doing. The couple we shopped from was young and friendly, and unloading their belongings before a cross-country move. We wound up purchasing a floor lamp, new USA-made mason jars and a wooden print painting of the Buddha.

After our purchases we got to chatting, and lo and behold, the girl of the couple ran the local raw-food meet-up group. My partner told them I was vegan, and the girl offered me some kombucha she had brewed. Which I had never had, commercial, home-brewed or otherwise... but I said yes anyway to be polite.

And walked out with a scoby!
Lots of scobys hanging out in this one!

It was recommended that I brew it for an additional two weeks, which I did (not taking into account that her apartment was much colder than mine). I wound up with 2 gallons of vinegar and more scobys than I could keep up with. I threw out all but one, which I brewed using the directions she gave me when I said, "So what do I do with this again?" I started a new batch, waited two weeks, and yesterday I bottled it up ...

We like wine in this house, mmkay?

And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the corks don't fly off as the kombucha sits for 3-5 days its post-bottling fermentation cycle. I flavored each one of these bottles a little differently, but being the genius I am, forgot to label them! So it will be a surprise.

I've already started brewing a smaller batch, testing out my organic assam tea. My most recent bottled kombucha is still a bit vinegary, just past the point of being sweet but not entirely unpleasant, so this is going to be a smaller batch with a shorter brew time.

One day later and I already have a daughter scoby
forming on top!

The jar sitting on my counter is just another reminder of the steps I'm taking in my transition from the Standard American Diet to a living foods-centered lifestyle.

Even though I've cut out most of the SAD components of what I eat, there are things that I just can't give up. Things that at this very moment are causing a fair bit of mumbling and grumbling in my stomach.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Leah Eventually

My partner has given me this loving new nickname to describe my personality. I am now Leah Eventually.

All right, I'm a chronic procrastinator that uses the excuse "I work better under stress!" Everything from doing the laundry to writing my 20-page master's thesis gets put off until the last pair of socks is on my feet and the timer is ticking down to the last few hours before my final class. I'm sure the appearance of several gray hairs over the last year are due to the stress caused by waiting until the last minute to get big projects done, be it something for work, school, home or (yes, even) leisure.

I woke up a few weeks ago in a sweat at 3 AM. There was an awful pain in my chest, and every breath was insufficient for bringing oxygen into my blood. I started panicking, and woke up my partner to find the blood pressure monitor. I thought I was having a heart attack.

My life started flashing before my eyes as my too-calm partner wrapped the cuff around my left arm. What did I do wrong? Was I eating too much junk food? Not exercising enough? Exercising too much? Had all this stress finally done me in? Who would cry at my funeral? Would anyone even show up?

According to the monitor, my pulse was 65 beats per minute. Normal for me. Blood pressure? 100/70, slightly higher systolic than normal, but otherwise... normal.

So one drink of baking soda diluted in water later, and I realized that for the first time in my life, I had heart burn. And realized it's about time that I reduce the stress in my life. I've been under a lot of stress in the last two months for various reasons, and I think it's time for it to stop.

That day, I meditated silently for the first time in my life. I've done yoga before, and consider that a movement meditation, but sitting quietly and just being aware does something for me that I didn't think possible: I calmed down. It felt good!

I haven't meditated since then, honestly, but I'll get it into my routine....eventually.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Farmer's market, dinner, gluten intolerance and.. oh yeah, writing

Summer in Florida is Brutal, with a capital "B." Whereas my brethren in the northeast have endured their heat wave with much valor, I can't help but look at our own forecast and see that we are in a perpetual heat wave. Fortunately, the state of Florida is air conditioned.

Which would be fabulous, if the central A/C in this place weren't making me so congested.

Yesterday was spent furniture hunting, running from garage sale to garage sale to World Market (because it's here, so why not?). We wound up with two large picture frames and a drawing of the Eiffel Tower in a beautiful frame, all for $15. My DP (that is, dear partner) is always on the lookout for new frames. We have more frames than we have pictures to put in those frames.

Now we look pretentious. Yes!

I was getting cranky, and food shopping always cheers me up! After being completely disappointed by the price of produce in Florida supermarkets, we did finally get to a farmer's market before they closed up.

7 yams, 6 cukes, 6 squash, 5 peaches. One peach
didn't make it to the photoshoot, it was too delicious
to wait!

This guy was on sale at Target... it's been a long
time since I've had animal crackers, and well, I
needed a cute cookie jar. You can see his foot in
the previous picture!

Almond-oatmeal crusted spicy chik'n seitan
and agave candied yams

For $9.50 I got enough produce to last a few nights ($3 for the peaches, but worth every penny). DP also picked up a jar of hot pepper jelly for $5 from the same elderly couple who sold us the squash, cucumbers and yams. It was delicious, so I'll forgive him for trying to convince me that they use gelatin to make jam.

The yams were candied in canola oil and agave nectar last night as a side dish for dinner, to complement the oven-fried seitan with an almond-oatmeal crust. The gluten certainly didn't agree with me a few hours later, but it was still so tasty. I love making my own seitan; I kneaded some ground chickpeas in with the wheat gluten which kept the inside soft while the almonds baked into a solid crust.

On the writing front, I've definitely been doing some procrastinating. I reached my 10k word goal, but coming up to the final scene I decided I'll be doing a major rewrite of the entire bit and target for a different publisher.

This is why I consider myself more of a pantser than a planner. I do have a pretty good idea of where I want a story to go, by I let the characters take me in a direction that is most suited for them. The scene I wrote last, I had an entirely different idea of what was going to happen before I reached the end. Upon rereading it, I realized I was putting too much of a censor on myself and it was making the characters struggle in their dialogue and actions.

Still on the market for some cheap furniture to get this place set up by the end of the summer. Every day is a search for a desk so I don't have to write from a folding chair with the laptop getting warm on my lap, or from the floor...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Back to the grindstone

After a very refreshing few weeks of:
  1. Moving out of our apartment
  2. A 21 hour drive (nonstop except for potty breaks, with three cats and no rear-view mirror access) to Tallahassee
  3. Spending oodles of money refurnishing after The Big Purge of all our worldly acquisitions
  4. Refilling my pantry... $200 later, I'm still only eating lentils, rice, beans and sundry nuts and seeds
  5. Losing one of my rats to an upper respiratory infection caused by a lung tumor :(
I've been encouraged to get back to writing with a vengeance. In the past week, with help from Ju, I've churned out about 4,000 words to a planned Nocturne Bite. My goal was to have 10-15k finished by Monday, and I'm sitting pretty at 6k as of Friday morning. I gave myself an extra week to edit, but what has been slowing down is that I'm constantly editing as I go along. The expected date of submission is July 20, with final edits on July 19 and taking care of the rest of the submission requirements on that final day.

Is this realistic? Absolutely not. I've never finished a lengthy story in my life.

Well, with one exception.

I used to write fan fiction.

*Exaggerated gasp*

I was am madly in love with The Legend of Zelda series. I had been playing the game since I was in diapers, and with the release of The Ocarina of Time just a few years earlier, my infatuation with the series took hold. In 2001 at the ripe old age of 16, I sat down to pen my first ever fan fic. Well, my first multi-chapter fiction. If you search through there, you can also find my incomplete Harry Potter story. I'm particularly proud of those two because, even though the writing and character development leaves much to be desired, it is the first evidence of my pantsing habits. I'm a life-long pantster!

I think I will write more on my thoughts about fan fiction at another time, because there is a lot to say about it from the perspective of a writer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Excuse me while I clean up the mental vomit

How many times have I said to myself in the past week, "It's okay, it's almost over"? How many times have I been told, "Only X-number of days until Y!" How long have I spent dwelling on the end and holding my breath through the process of getting there, willing time to pass by quicker so I can take my big exhale at the end?

That big sigh-of-relief that I've been waiting for, that I always wait for, is never as fulfilling as I build it up to be. My eyes are closed for days in anticipation of the beautiful bright light that will make enduring this struggle seem worthwhile, but why do I ignore the struggle?

Needless to say, the final days of school and the final (6!) days of packing have been some of the most trying that I have had in months. Writing my master's thesis was a fraction of the frustration that these times are now. Getting through a full MS seems to be on par though.

My life has been spent ignoring the present, willing myself to forget the struggle of the present to quicken the arrival of the presumed better future. When I look back at everything that I have done with my life up until this point I have a big black void staring me in the face. I've succeeded in one thing, and it's not the one I've hoped for.

Failing to recognize that pain and stress and struggle are part and parcel of the process has cheated me out of so many memories and character building opportunities. Doing so, looking at today and thanking it for helping me take one step forward to my goal, will make reaching my goal all the more fulfilling. But even then, that goal should not be seen as an end. Rather it is another giant step that I've taken in the right direction, on a path that does not necessarily have an end.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Into The Woods

Backpacking is very new to me, but I think if I had been exposed to it as a child, the nature-loving side of me would have the present Leah setting up permanent residence in the woods.

I shared with my partner yesterday (mostly out of frustration) that my only memory of camping with my family was sitting at a picnic table late at night, eating pizza with a flashlight while my father cursed about how inconvenienced he was at being there. We didn't last the night; jumped back into the car and drove to our safe haven in the city. Fortunately, my partner was an avid backpacker and took me out for the first time last summer, then again in early April 2010.

We spent Friday night at an established campsite not too far from the North-South Campground.
At some point we passed these ruins of an old home,
when I still had enough energy to take pictures

Campsite was set up a bit further south than the ruins,
about 500 feet away from the stream fed by this one, in
our fancy shmancy 3-season tent

The campsite we found had very obviously been used before, and that is an important part of the Leave No Trace philosophy. The fewer sites that are created, ideally, the lesser the impact on the immediate ecosystem. Unfortunately, a group that had camped there before us had left a right mess, and we did wind up cleaning up a bit. (Except for a bottle someone had urinated in.... we just threw that in the fire pit.)

When we woke up in the morning, I made quick work of brewing some coffee... some Trader Joe's instant coffee that is. It was the first time I had set up the backpacking stove by myself, and also the first time I had made the coffee myself. My partner had done it before, and I always thought the instant coffee was terrible... turns out that he, being a man, thought "more was better." Turns out Trader Joe's makes a pretty decent instant coffee!

In my non-leaching plastic backpacking cup, probably
not made for high heat, but it got the job done

The coffee was a much-needed boost to get us (at least me) through the day's hike. We decided to take Devil's Path over two of the four peaks that follow the 14-mile stretch. We hit the peak of Plateau Mountain, which is a misnomer given the extreme gradient to get to the 2-mile plateau, in about an hour and a half. From there we traveled further east to Sugarloaf Mountain, which was not quite as difficult a hike...

(Yes, this is part of the trail)

but still had some spots like this one along the trail where I was convinced that if Hell existed, it would be an eternity of climbing uphill.

It's the view from the top of the peaks that makes
the whole body-breaking ordeal worth it.

It was about 2 o'clock (we had left just after 9) and both of us were battered and bruised. We found a lean-to where I bandaged up a chaffed toe (and a flare-up of folliculitis that hit the day before, which I will not show off!), then rejuvenated with a ClifBar.
Note my awesome Kiowa Vegan hiking shoes, a gift
from my very obliging partner

At this point I was suffering from a bit of hypoglycemia that the rest of the trek, despite my better efforts to stay focused, passed by in a blur. We were lucky to run into someone along the path who exchanged making a call on my cell phone for a ride back to our car. We never caught her name, but in the woods, who really needs them? She showed us a fancy rock quarry, and we got another amazing view from the look-out.
The Twin Mountains, which barely look like twins if you
get them from the correct angle

Burning more than 400 calories per hour, 8 hours in one day, takes its toll on a body that has been more or less sedentary since the weather got warmer. I woke up this morning, back in my own bed, sore from my head down to my toes. I'm totally ready to do this again.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Losing the love-scene virginity

Three hours and 1900 words later, I finally sat down and did it.

I set the mood by turning down all the lights. Made myself comfortable, set the mood by playing soft music and lighting candles. Then I dove into it -- I wrote my first love scene!

Okay. So the lights were turned down because all my lamps are packed away. And I wasn't playing music, I had a B horror film on the background that I more or less left on to keep me company while I struggled through this new landscape. Oh, and no candles in this househole -- the cats would set themselves on fire.

Wow. And after all those months of building up this moment, putting it in a mental category labeled "unattainable," and skirting around it, I'm a little disappointed that there weren't fireworks going off when I had finished.

Now that I know it isn't that daunting, I think my Muse may have been stirred up a bit! Keep her working!

Inspiration for today's love scene comes courtesy of Mandy Roth's "Goddess of the Grove." I love Mandy's writing because it is to-the-point, witty and suits my tastes just fine. She paces her scenes extraordinarily well, and I read GotG just before taking on this task of writing my own scene. (I think I borrowed the word "culmination" from her, but that's about as close a resemblance the two scenes share!)

Now it's nearly 1 a.m., time for this accomplished lady to get some rest!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Veggies, Montauk, Running and Writing

Why do people have so much trouble fitting veggies into their diet?

Vegetable market swag today: kale, peppers, grapes, bananas, cherry tomatoes, carrots, apples.

Seemed like a lot to pick up for $12 ("This will last me all week!"), except the entire head of kale turned into this...

Noochy kale chips!

...and I just couldn't contain myself. They were amazing. I don't have a dehydrator, so I baked these in the oven. I found a recipe for these on Averie's blog, and modified it based on the ingredients I had on hand/wanted to clean up after. I mixed together in a food processor:

1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 green pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup water

Threw it together in a bowl to fully coat a bunch of kale (stems removed, leaves cut in half). Spread it on two baking sheets at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping a few times in between. I wish I had more pictures, but it's all gone!

This Saturday I meant to go backpacking, but with rain in the forecast in the Catskills, we decided to take our new car on a long test drive. So we drove from Queens to Montauk. We literally drove there, ate lunch at a fish and chips place, and left. (I had sweet potato fries; it was my partner's birthday that weekend and I went for him, but thoroughly ruined it when I started sobbing at a boiled lobster being brought to another guest.) It was a good test drive for our new car, before Aaron left New York to Florida yesterday morning, and I've never seen "The End" of Long Island.

I woke up at 3 a.m. (or at least that's what my alarm was set for) to make coffee and breakfast (failed) for us to get him ready to go. It was a nice good-bye, and though I'd promised myself I wouldn't cry, I did get a bit teary. On June 12 I'll meet him in Virginia to see his sister's graduation, and we'll drive back up to New York together, but in the last four years we've been apart one other time for more than a week. I like time alone, but I cherish time together! Or at least I need to learn how to!

After he left (and after getting a great pep talk from Ju) I looked out the window at the beautiful rising sun.


Not the best view from my balcony (no privacy either), living on a busy intersection, but all the elements were aligned. The temperature and humidity were perfect, the air smelled crisp, it was a holiday morning (Memorial Day) so it was extra quiet. A great morning for a 6.5 mile run!

Well, maybe not, because today I'm extra sore despite a nice 20 minute yoga stretch afterward.

Running is my meditation. When I need to plot, gain perspective, or just clear my head, nothing does it better than a middle to longer distance run. No music, no accessories, just pure meditative running. I'm a slow runner for longer distance (I have no dreams of qualifying for the Boston Marathon), I run with my breathing; that means that if I want to run a 10-minute mile, then I'll run a 10 minute mile, but if my lungs will put up with a 7:30, then that's what I'll run. I don't time, I don't race other people on the trail. It really is meditation, I'm focused inward.

Which can get rather boring. So partner runs are fun!

And on the writing front, I've procrastinated all day, but I will not stop until my MS reaches 1500 words. I currently have 300.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Weekend in the woods

We're going backpacking this weekend!

I love a relaxing weekend camping in the woods. Well, of course by relaxing I mean anywhere between a ten to twenty mile hike through rough terrain, unpredictable weather, digging a hole and calling it a latrine, bathing in a near-freezing stream, purifying your own water and pitching a tent at the end of all that, only to have a curious little mammal scratching at your tent in the middle of the night, scaring the bejesus out of both of you.

I love it!


From my last trip in the Catskills.

During my March/April break, backpacking in
the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

It's been a while since we've been to the Catskills, and it will be nice to hike a new peak. The Catskills are a nice challenge because of the nature of the geological history there. The trail often cuts over and through large boulders transported through glacial activity and erosion of the sedimentary bedrock. And the water is delicious!

Except I did get a parasitic infection the last time we were there. Three days of not being able to stray more than twenty feet from a bathroom is not my idea of a souvenir.

Pictures to follow, along with my take on Leave No Trace.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'll do it tomorrow..

That's pretty much the theme song that I've got following me around day to day. "I'll start packing tomorrow." "I'll grade these tests tomorrow." "I'll finish this paper tomorrow." "I'll get to writing tomorrow."

Replace the word "tomorrow" with "after whatever the heck is my current preoccupation." Right now, I'm fretting over this.

Ignore the Amish dress hanging off of the boxes of books,
it just hasn't made it into a box yet... oh I'm sorry.

Yes, there are 22 boxes of books in this stack.

And this.

Why is there an iron on top of these boxes?
I'll just pack it back up tomorrow...

In the last four years, my partner and I have moved four times. You would think we have this down to a science, and pretty much he does, while I just putter around waiting for him to finish.
There's a reason I haven't shown you my packing. (Hint: It's not done yet.)

I can't pack my clothes because how will I know what I want to wear?

I can't pack the ice cream maker, what if I want to make some ice cream? Even though I've three pints of Tofutti in the freezer that I won't be able to finish in a month. Homemade ice cream is so fulfilling...

I can't pack the slow cooker. Granted, in the four years I've had it, I haven't used it, but what if in my last month in this apartment I want to slow cook?

You see my problem with this whole packing business. So while I'm worrying about what I should be doing, I'm pretty much not doing anything at all. I'm planning a story, currently setting up the time line but can't actually commit myself to sit down because of all the other stuff I could be doing.

I just need to remember...

to breathe.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Veggies don't make good writing parchment

I know. I suppose semantically, "Powered by veggies" would be more appropriate a sub-heading, but I'm not a high-powered individual.

I just really...


really like fruits and veggies.
Shout out to the quinoa and chai-blend yerba
mate hiding in the background!

I didn't always. Even after becoming vegetarian four(ish) years ago, I would pass up legumes for a Boca burger. Even after transitioning to veganism, I was not in love with leafy greens. I still preferred Oreos, one of the foods on PETA's I can't believe it's vegan! list. No guys, I'm not a card-carrying member of PETA!

Becoming vegan opened me up to a wider variety of cuisine. (WHAT? Yes!) Being vegan forced me to become more creative with my foods. I ran out to Strand to buy the Bible of veganism, the Veganomicon. The difference between Isa Chandra-Moskowitz's cookbooks and others that I've purchased before is that all of the ingredients are from real food. I had to, for the first time, make dinner out of a bag of flour, potatoes, cauliflower and be creative with what amateur kitchen equipment I had. Around this time, tofu began to make me ill. I think because I relied on it too much as my staple source of protein. My dinners became more varied and delicious, and progressively less-processed.

Where to get my essential amino acids? (This is the question that boggles the minds of non-vegans the most). Soy is not the only complete protein, and I was more than happy to fit more quinoa in my dinner. That ancient little grain packs a lot of flavor and nutrition! I also looked at some raw food blogs for creative recipes, and still refer to a few that have been able to hold my attention or encourage me to practice yoga!

So when I say that I am "writing on veggies," essentially EVERYTHING I do is plant-powered!

(Even my caffeine indulgences!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Just going to put it all out there..

Because why not? With the Internets being the way they are today, you could pretty much Google my name and find out at least 90% of what I'm about to tell you anyway.

I know hiding somewhere in the depths of my family's "Oh we just can't throw this away" pile lies a stack of writing that is proof positive of my early inclination towards putting words on paper. I was not a very articulate child (and as an adult, my debate style is still very much, "Oh yeah? Well... oh yeah?!", using the angry Italian-American inflection that my father is notorious for).

I relied on writing to put my thoughts into words, and wrote voluminously in journals. When I realized that it was easy to make my journal entries more... interesting by adding some fictional flavor to them, I became utterly lost in the world of writing. My grandmother still tells stories about how I would beg to go to work with her and my grandfather so that I could type stories on their typewriter. This was before I had met a computer....

Fast-forward to Spring/Summer 2009. My partner and I were taking the garbage to the dumpster one afternoon, and took a gander into the bulk garbage room. (Neighbors use the bulk garbage for items too large to fit in the dumpster, or for furniture and things that are still in good condition. We don't turn our nose up to the term "dumpster diver," we've gotten some great things from there!) Tucked away in the back corner of the room was a clear plastic bag filled with books, and I quickly attacked it. The books were in excellent condition and included, among other things, several Ellora's Cave and Harlequin novels, Sherrilyn Kenyon and Charlain Harris books, and a vintage copy of The Time Machine, one of my favorite books. What I wound up keeping filled two bankers boxes, much to my partner's chagrin. (At least as he is packing for us to move at this moment, grumbling about how he'd have two extra empty boxes if it weren't for me!)

I didn't leave the apartment for a week.

Just a small sample of the books my partner "forgot"
to pack... I just finished reading
Tithe. Excellent!

I quickly became engrossed in the world of romance novels. I blew through the EC books, and scrambled to the library to fill the need to just read more. I subscribed to the Silhouette Nocturne line, signed up for the Harlequin forum, and decided I was going to start writing my own romance novel!

....So, here I am!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Breaking in my new shoes blog

So after months of saying, "I'll get around to it," and weeks of exclaiming, "It has to be done!", days of staring at an empty blog screen wiggling her fingers over the keyboard, Leah has entered the blogosphere.

...Now what do I do?