Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The 10 Best Stories in the Universe

Laughing. Crying. Sharing.

Don't the best stories make you feel all of those? Don't they reflect life and make us connect as people and give us something to feel, something to share, inspire us, make us marvel at life itself?

If that doesn't move you, how about imagining yourself helping a starving writer, struggling to be published, to earn a living?

This is your chance to own your very own copy of my new ebook and be a part of my little experiment about the possibilities for writers to publish via this media.

Right now, you can download The 10 Best Stories in the Universe Written by Me (Plus Two Awful Poems) and be a part of my experiment. These are short stories, so you can read them on your break, while on hold on the phone, or even print them out. The entire ebook is 49 pages long.

Need more persuading?

  • If you order, I'll send you free gifts! (No, they aren't more stories by me)
  • If you order, I'll forever be appreciative!
  • If you order, you can send me your comments. Tell me how great my stories are. Tell me how rotten my poetry is. Show me how you can do better. Maybe you too could be a part of The 10 Best Stories in the Universe Written by US (the sequel, of course).

This collection has something for everyone! Adoption stories, funeral stories, peacock stories. Some have even been published for real!

What, you want a sample before you buy? Ok, you can see an excerpt from my in-progress novel here , and even though I haven't maintained this blog in I can't believe how long, there has to be something else worth reading somewhere on it.

If you decide to share one of the stories with your cousin in Omaha, that's fine, please just give me credit and keep my contact info intact. If you decide to help it go viral (I think Night of the Living Tooth has a chance) or DIGG it or think it is, Thanks a Million (not dollars, but huge gratitude). If you are a friend of mine who just wanted to give me $7.95, I love you too!

Ordering is easy. Just click on the PayPal button on the top of the right sidebar. When PayPal notifies me, I'll email you the pdf file and the aforementioned free gifts. That's it!

Any questions, email me at


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Here a Twitter There a Twitter

This morning I read my email subscription for Dosh Dosh, and it has 17 tips for using Twitter. One of the tips is to use Terraminds to search for a keyword and then follow folks who come up in the list of keywords to expand your network, drive related traffic, etc.

Further down in my list of emails that came in overnight were three notifications of new people following me on Twitter! Coincidence?

So my detective mind kicked in and I had to find out what we all had in common, other than probably being readers of Dosh Dosh. Fortunately it was easy to figure out (Real Estate), and I didn't have to engage too many brain cells before morning brain fog lifted (no, I'm not a drinker, just have a hard time with mornings).

This brings up one of my ongoing concerns about my Internet Identity. Should I separate out my LockBoxDeals ID into its own Twitter account with real estate only followers? Or is there some sort of cross-referencing beneficial kismet in integrating all of my fractured personas in this one Twitter account? Are the real estate friends going to get bored with all the mom blog posts (or vice versa), or will we all recognize that we have more commonalities than we have differences?

For now, unless I hear otherwise, I'm going to keep it all together. I like the cross functionality of people from different realms with potentially nothing in common meeting in the virtual cocktail party that is my Twitter account.

Would you like to follow me too? Follow the link in my right side bar. I follow back because I don't appreciate it when I have to listen to someone talking on their cellphone and only get one side of the conversation, and following someone who doesn't follow you is kind of like that.

Want to subscribe to RMB? That's on the right side bar too.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Yeah, I'm Gonna Play Lucky 7

Thanks for the tag from both Katrina and Pajohnson on this one. I never liked feeling like the last kid to be chosen for the team, but now do I have to write twice? Well, I'll be lucky to come up with seven unusual facts, so here goes.

The rules:Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog.
Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
Leave a comment on their blog so that their readers can visit yours.

So, seven weird or random facts about me…
I wish I could sing well.
I have my grandma's toes.
I inspire myself to write by visualizing myself on Oprah talking about my bestselling novel.
I have had pets my entire life. Seriously, not a day without a pet.
I love finding patterns in numbers, any numbers - birthdays, phone numbers, etc.
When I retire, I plan to volunteer to study hieroglyphics at archaological sites.
I'm an amateur astronomer.

And now, I tag. I hope to find some people who haven't been tagged yet, forgive if it is a double.
Vegan Mama
Cans and Jars

You’re it!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Shoes were the topic of the day.

Today's Saraism *

*truth from the mouth of a 5-year-old

This on the way to the beach:

"Mama I want to be born again."

Well, we are not a traditionally religious family, so I had no clue.

"You do honey?"

"Yes. I want to be born again." She has the conviction at least.

"Why is that?"

"Because then I could be 4 again and wear my old shoes."

Ah, the power of Barbie light up sneakers.

We met friends at the beach, and one had on, well, what looked like dressier shoes than you'd picture for a beach outing. Not that I commented, but since shoes were fresh on my mind I must have looked.

"Oh," she said. "I've got to buy new shoes. I've gained weight."

Reminded me of my mom, who once told a friend who complained that all her shoes were too tight, "Well don't you know when you get fat, you get fat in your feet too."

Another reason for those new year's resolutions. Or for turning back time.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Vegetarian Chili Recipe - Quick and Delicious

Before the kids came along, we used to have an after - Christmas party with all of our friends that we usually didn't get to see during the holiday rush of family and travel, and we always served our vegetarian chili. Even the meat eaters asked for the recipe, which was embarrassing because it is so simple. Our 5-year-old likes it, but it is still a little too much for our 2-year-old, so we give her mostly the accompanying rice with a little chili and cheese mixed in.

After-Christmas Chili

Vegetarian ground beef crumbles equivalent to 1-pound *
2 cans Chili Magic or Chili Beans or other brand Chili Starter that includes beans and spices
2 cans Ro-Tel original or milder diced tomatoes
See below for rice and toppings

Brown crumbles in canola oil. NOTE: vegetarian crumbles do not brown like ground beef, but will get heated through and require more oil than ground beef. Add Chili Magic, add tomatoes, heat through.

Serve over brown or white rice. Top with shredded cheese, onions, jalepenos, or any other desired topping.

*different brands of crumbles have different amounts that create one pound. My favorite brand is Quorn.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Totally Gushing Love Post

I have a not so secret crush. Actually, not at all secret, because I have the bumper sticker on my car advertising it to anyone who is stuck crawling through Miami traffic behind my behemoth of a van. Or to anyone who is pushing their grocery cart past in the Publix parking lot. I'd drive a lot more, just so more people could see my bumper sticker, if I had a hybrid car.

So this morning, after dropping Sara off at school, I turned on talk radio since I am now a political junkie following the presidential campaign, and imagine the wonderful morning surprise of having my guy on the show:

For regular readers of Fiction Friday, this is not fiction. I really do think that Dennis has such high moral standards and consistently takes action in the direction to achieve those standards.

Case in point today. Kucinich has asked for a New Hampshire recount in the interest of election integrity. As quoted on his website:

"I am not making this request in the expectation that a recount will
significantly affect the number of votes that were cast on my behalf....Serious
and credible reports, allegations, and rumors have surfaced in the past few
days...It is imperative that these questions be addressed in the interest of
public confidence in the integrity of the election process and the election
machinery - not just in New Hampshire, but in every other state that conducts a
primary election."

It had to be a candidate on the ballot who asked for the recount, so Dennis, who was shut out of the election debates, who isn't one of the top contenders, is the one to stand up for the voters to make sure that every vote gets counted correctly as cast. And in asking for the recount, he has to be willing to pay for the recount (btw, if you want to donate, is the place).

Maybe you don't think he's presidential material, but I just love knowing that there is someone in the world who is willing to put himself on the line to do what is right, over and over again. Someone who wants to achieve peace in the world. Someone who wants to ensure equality and justice for all.

Thank you Dennis. Keep up the good fight.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My First Thursday Thirteen! 13 Bloggers I Follow and Why

Thirteen Things about Lisa Merritt

I've only started blogging recently, so my regular reads are constantly changing. And I know they are all over the place (see my post yesterday about my Internet Multiple Personality Disorder). But this is part of the current list, in no particular order.

1. Cajun Vegan - Last week's TT post inspired me to join the club and is required reading for understanding her world.

2. Momisodes - Sandy is the hardest working young blogger out there, accessible, friendly, spreads around the comment and link love.

3. Sarcastic Mom - ok, maybe there is a tie for title of hardest working young blogger. Fresh perspective, great photos.

4. ProBlogger - always something great and useful. Check today's post on Entrecard.

5. Zen Habits - who doesn't need to approach life with a little more Zen?

6. What's Up On Planet Earth - ok, remember that I'm also Stellar Shaman. I love the energy readings Karen provides.

7. Sweetney - in addition to the ever popular posts and photos, Song of the Week!

8. Living in The Now - Dave was the first to befriend me during NaBloPoMo, and what can I say? I'm loyal. And he's great.

9. Chris G - I can always learn something about blogging from him.

10. Dosh Dosh - more great blog building information.

11. Deep End of the Gene Pool - do you need more than the title? I just found this one, but will keep up.

12 - Astronomy-Blog - I'm a geek.

13 - Bloodhound Blog - one stop real estate updates.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Internet Multiple Personality Disorder

I've always been a multi-tasker, a starter, and I love to work on multiple projects. Not the best strategy, I'll admit, but it seems to work for me. I especially like to have one big long project and several short-term projects, so that I can work on the big one, take a break and do a smaller one, then go back.

My internet strategy has been similar. I've got several different projects going on, and corresponding blogs. While this has been enjoyable for me and my work style, joining Twitter exposed an underlying problem.

See, I, or I should say Russian Mafia Babe (RMB), joined Twitter to keep up with fellow bloggers, get ideas for posts, and see what all the hype was about. I realized in looking for people to follow that there were several Real Estate identities there, and signed up to follow them. However, most of my real estate contacts know me as Lisa from LockBoxDeals. Ah, the confusion.

I started wondering how much I should utilize social media and when. And how do I keep all these different personalities straight? This led me to lay out a plan for my multiple identities on the internet, and if anyone out there has a simpler option, or a way to keep it all straight, please, PLEASE, let me know. Here, for now, is how I shall manage the multiple facets that are me in the blogosphere:

1. Stellar Shaman - (no social networking) this blog was an outgrowth from a suggestion by our teacher of shamanism that we each find a way to be shamans in our own back yard. I was lucky enough to secure a monthly writing opportunity at The Cosmic Path, and that led me to think about writing as a means of shamanic practice. But it is my own practice, not meant to recruit anyone or network across all social media or even exist in a formal website, so it is just a blog. If any other students of shamanism come across it and contribute, wonderful. If not, wonderful. I post occasionally, when inspired.

2. Simply Grant Writing - (only newsletter, no social networking) oh, the wonders of using a blog to send out announcements to clients! I uploaded my non-profit newsletter subscriber list to FeedBlitz, use this blog to announce upcoming grant offerings, non-profit news, board development standards, and fundraising ideas, and have seen my business at Pegasus Consulting Group, Inc. grow! This is the bread and butter business for 11 years now, but not a high-tech presence.

3. LockBoxDeals-Blog - (business social networking) another form of driving traffic to my real estate investment website at LockBoxDeals, which has been underutilized so far. LockBoxDeals strives to establish presence all over the internet - on MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter, Squidoo, LinkedIn, forums, articles, networking. We send out a weekly Top Ten Deals newsletter, have subscribers across both Realtors and Investors. This is my most formal and pervasive internet presence, but we're fairly new (under 1 year) and still growing!

4. Russian Mafia Babe - (social butterfly) writings and ramblings, a very social gal, but also very informal. There is no official website, she exists only in social media. Creative outlet for the wanna be writer, and rantings of a going crazy parent. RMB gets the most posts as we've signed up for Blog365 : ).

That's all there is to me. Link to me here, there or everywhere and let me know so I can link back. I'm working on being better at comment luv too!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Potty Training Made Easy

Sorry for the short post and lacking comment love in the community this week, I'm on a big grant deadline.

But several friends have asked me what happened to make Mia's potty training go so smoothly, so I wanted to pass along the best potty video ever (don't know how much competition there is in that field).

Poor Sara was nearly potty trained one summer when we had several plane trips planned over a couple of months. It was just so much easier to have her in a diaper in the airport and in the unknown places that by the end of the summer, she decided she'd just stay in diapers. That's when a friend turned me onto The Potty Song, and we used it right from the start with Mia.

Here it is

There is a girl version and a boy version, books, dvd, vhs. Works great!

Monday, January 7, 2008

I Can't Believe How Old I Am - Part II

We spent this evening playing with a new toy - the giant bubble maker:

There's Sara playing with the giant bubble maker.

And that was Mia playing with the giant bubble maker, but big ham sis got in the pic. Are all 5-year-olds that way or only mine?

After the bubbles, we were swinging on the swingset, and I decided to hang upside down on the crossbar. I like to stretch out my back that way, especially after the treadmill. So I went to swing my feet up, and missed the bar. Not bad, but a miss nonetheless.

Sara said, "You're too old to do that mama."

Of course I had to do it now. I went up with my foot again, got it hooked over the bar, and was bringing up the second one when I got a horrible cramp in my calf, the one that was hooked up on the bar. I fell backwards onto my head and was lying on the ground, moaning in cramp-induced agony, begging for help.

Sara said, "See, I told you you were too old."

First installment of Old

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Watch out for the falling iguanas

Sorry to all you folks who are buried under snow, that was my day today. That's Sara, taking off away from me.

Sara and Kati making sand angels.

Big sis was even nice and helped baby Mia.

The weather was just beautiful and we got the kites up in the air. The only problem was that earlier in the week, the temperature dipped down into the 30's at night. Not bad for most of us, but Miami happens to be overrun with a non-native species of green iguana, that looks somewhat like either a huge lizard or a smallish komodo dragon. They like to sun themselves out in the grass during the day, but then sleep up in the trees at night.

When the temp dips below 40, they go into a very deep sleep that causes them to lose their grip on the trees and fall out. It is almost as if they are dead, because they don't move or anything. They have up to ten hours to warm up, and they will be ok, come out of their deep sleeps and walk on off. But if they don't warm up in time, unfortunately they die. We did see a couple out in the park this morning that were just like mummies. Strange but true. Mia walked right over one before we realized it wasn't a tree branch.

Friday, January 4, 2008

E.T. Go Home - For Now

The other night, E.T The Extraterretial was on television, and I DVR'd it thinking it would be wonderful to watch with my 5-year-old. We snuggled in on the couch and all was going ok until the spacesuited guys came into the house where the little kids were watching over E.T. It was a pretty scary scene, through Sara's eyes. We fast forwarded and saw E.T go home safely, tearing up a little at the long goodbye. Later that night she went to bed without any problems.

But in the middle of the night, she called out for me.

"Mama, I'm scared," and I rushed over, heart thumping, guilt starting to build. Had it really been too much for her? Was I wrong to have her watch it?

"What is it baby? Those men in the suits?"

"No Mama. I saw E.T.'s finger, in my room. It's scary."

The finger? That beautiful, glowing tip, I'll be right here finger that made everyone feel better was the stuff of nightmares for my Sara?

I remember when E.T. first came out, and he taught all of us that beauty really is in the eye, or maybe the heart, of the beholder. Some looked at the squat little big-eyed alien and beheld a magical being. For me, he opened the door to the Universe at large, and I couldn't wait to ride in a spaceship. For my little one, he is the stuff of nightmares.

The lessons of parenting are half for the child and half (or more) for the parent. Sara has taught me all her life. When she started out as the neighborhood bully, I had to delay my dreams of being the social mom who hosted playdates and tea parties until I understood that social situations overwhelmed her with excitement that she was too young to control. When the Emilia Reggio system of education didn't work for her, I had to quit thinking it was such a wonderful gift that would have been perfect for me and start the search for what would work for her.

So maybe Sara won't be the one who stays up nights with me at the telescope looking for star clusters and nebulae and UFOs. I can't make her fit my mold; it is my honor to help her be her own person in the world. Maybe it won't be baby Mia either, and that is fine. Maybe one of my lessons is to find out how to carve out time for me to be my own person too and not feel guilty about it.

But hey, E.T., if you're listening, I'm still here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wildcard Wednesday - Lincoln Center Christmas Tree

Thanks to for submission of the beautiful tree at Lincoln Center for this Wildcard Wednesday.
She did submit it before Christmas, but because of the holidays I was off for a couple of Wildcard Wednesdays. Here in Miami, FL though, we are still celebrating the holidays until Three Kings Day on January 6 - despite warnings from the fire department that all of the real trees were cut too early this year (people can't figure out that Thanksgiving came early?) and are now fire hazards.
Does any other part of the country celebrate Three Kings Day, the supposed day that the three wise men finally arrived with their gifts for baby Jesus? There is a big street parade here and everything. Let me know if other areas celebrate, and as we say, Prospero Ano Nuevo!

Healthy Soup Recipe for the Whole Family

I've seen several posts regarding resolutions to make healthy meals for the family this year. So, I decided to share my favorite quick, easy, healthy recipe that is my 5-year-old's favorite, even over pizza. It uses tofu, which kids really surprisingly love because the texture is easy for them to handle, and if you season it adults love it too. This is also a very versatile recipe. Should feed a family of four or five easily. Add bread or a salad if you want, or it is fine all on its own.

Easy Udon Soup

1 block of tofu
3 tablespoons (more or less) miso paste (see note)
1 cube of low sodium vegetable bouillon or Dashi stock
1/2 package of Udon or whole grain Udon noodles
any desired frozen vegetables

Boil water, as much as you think will feed your family (obviously I'm not a professional recipe maker), I use about half of a 3-quart pot for the four of us.

put the miso paste in a small bowl and ladle some boiling water into the bowl. use a spoon to dissolve the paste before adding the paste into the pot of boiling water.

add the Udon noodles and frozen veggies (check time requirement on the frozen veggies to make sure, Udon noodles are done in 5 minutes or so but unlike regular pasta they don't go soggy if you cook them longer) to the boiling miso water. Add the veggie bouillon cube or Dashi stock cube.

cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces (or my 2-year-old prefers hand sized pieces). add to the

Soup is ready when heated through and all miso and stock is dissolved.

NOTE: Miso comes in many flavors. We all like mellow white miso, but try red miso for a more pungent flavor. You can use less miso and more stock if you are watching your sodium intake.

You really can't go wrong with this recipe. You can puree the veggies first if your kids don't go for them. I've never tried rice, but you could probably use leftover rice instead of the noodles. Leftovers are better the next day. You can also add Red Chili Paste or crushed red pepper if you like spicy foods. I find all the ingredients in my local supermarket, and you can almost always find organic too.

Good luck and let me know how you like it!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Little Miss Screams in the New Year

I've decided to rename the baby. I'm going for something more descriptive of her personality, rather than the somewhat refined given name that she currently uses. Henceforth she will be known by her Indian name, Into Everything All The Time.

This morning she opened the dishwasher again, for like the 1000th time. Yes, I do know that they make a dishwasher door latch that you can stick on to keep this from happening, and I even went to the Safety Store and purchased one, but it ended up somewhere, probably the same place where everything that gets purchased to start a project ends up before the project actully happens, wherever that is, and now I can't find it. And of course I refuse to go and buy another one because there is one that I already paid for here in my house. I know, cutting off my nose to spite my face, but still it makes sense to me somehow.

So miss IEATT (not such a good acronym though) opend the dishwasher, while it was operating, so that she could stand on the door in the down position, which allows her to reach the countertop. Yes, a serious hazard and I really should install that latch.

I picked her up and said, NO Mia, NO. And I guess it was a little stronger than usual, but after like the 1000th time I'm a little sick of the whole game. She stuck out her bottom lip and started to get all watery, and then, being fully in the terrible twos now behaviorwise even though she hasn't had her birthday, she let out this high pitched, horrendous, evil screech that unnerves anyone in hearing radius, a sound that has become her favorite noise to make. I told her, "No screaming. You go time out." She only knows what time out is because big sister gets put in time out fairly often, but it seemed to work. She closed up her little mouth, stuck out her lip, got all huffy puffy and stormed her whole 24-pound-self off to the play room, but no more screaming.

About 30 seconds later I started hearing a scream that sounded like Mia's screech, but very low volume, and I thought I'm going to kill whoever gave us a screaming doll for Christmas. I marched to the playroom, ready to throw a toy away, when I see Mia face down on the sofa screaming for all she's worth, but muffling the sound in the pillows. I think I'm in for a long year.