Archives for May 2011

Photos from Lake Austin


Two weekends ago, I was lucky to have an event at Lake Austin Spa Resort as a part of their For the Love of Books Club.  It. Was. Bliss.

So blissful that I NAPPED!  I read somewhere once that it’s common for people to crash and sleep a lot during their first day at a spa, and even though sleep for me is an elusive, complicated thing, I did just that. I let everything go and slept like it’s easy. I don’t think I realized just how noisy my life is until everything was suddenly calm and quiet.

And it didn’t hurt that my room was the stuff dreams are made of.  Seriously, wouldn’t you kill for a bathtub like this…


…overlooking the most perfect little private garden?


I wrote by the pool.


Until a flash thunderstorm chased me to the library.  It’s an amazing spot to watch lightning over Lake Austin. And to watch the sun come out after the rain stopped.


I’m pretty sure I’m spoiled for life now.


On Saturday evening, we had a great book club chat about STAY.  We talked about the writing process, and did a writing exercise together.  It was lovely to have quality time with people who love books as much as I do.

Oh, and the majority of the veggies and herbs served in the dining room come from absolutely gorgeous organic gardens on the grounds.  It’s inspiring to see just how beautiful vegetables can be.


I spent some time at up at the spa, took yoga, somatics, and foam roller classes, and went on a boat tour of Lake Austin.  I ate five course meals every night (I’m still dreaming of the stone fruit gazpacho), and had a wonderful time chatting with staff and guests.  I’m so thankful for my time at Lake Austin, and hope to visit again!

Also, my imaginary dream home now has need for a red chandelier.  I’m completely in love.


P.S.  If you’re looking for a good excuse to get away, Claire Cook will be at Lake Austin in August for a Reinvention Workshop!

A recipe (sort of) for @aracauna_man

I’m happiest about cooking when I don’t have a recipe in front of me.  I like to combine good, basic ingredients to taste and see what happens.
I tweeted about my leftover lentil concoction today, and @aracauna_man pointed out that if I’m going to tweet about good food, I should at least offer up a recipe.
I’m way too lazy to try to figure out how to explain my mad scientist approach to lentils in 140 characters, so here’s an almost recipe for my new favorite meal.  There are no amounts listed.  I just eyeball the amounts for our meal needs and what I’m in the mood for.

Veggies, etc.
Precooked lentils
Fingerling potatoes
Frozen artichoke hearts (thawed)*

Sesame Oil
Fish Sauce
Rice Vinegar
Lemon Juice
Bragg Aminos (I can’t eat soy sauce, if you can, you could probably use that instead)

Chipotle Chile Powder
Chili Powder
Chinese Five Spice
Dried Basil
Ground Pepper

I cut the potatoes into small rounds and brown them in sesame oil in a big frying pan on high heat, adding chopped onion and garlic once the potatoes are cooked through and browned.

I add splashes of fish sauce, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and aminos once the onions & garlic have browned slightly and started to soften.  Then I turn it down to medium heat, add the artichoke hearts and lentils, and season with the spices in whatever amount I feel like using.  I also splash some more of the liquids and/or a little of the thawed artichoke liquid if it all starts to look too dry.  I add Sriracha at the very end, because I feel like it gets lost in all the other flavors otherwise.

It’s not the prettiest of meals, but it’s one of my favorites.  Cold leftovers for lunch the next day are even better.

* I use fresh broccoli instead of the artichokes, if I have it, separated into bite-sized sections.  I add it after the onions & garlic, and give it extra time to steam before adding the lentils.

Book Trailer Fridays – Maria Dahvana Headley & Queen of Kings

Maria Dahvana Headley‘s novel, Queen of Kings, the first book in a trilogy, hit stores yesterday, and is listed as one of USA TODAY’s 10 books not to miss in May!

Here’s a description:

Once there was a queen of Egypt…a queen who became through magic something else…

The year is 30 BC. Octavian Caesar and his massed legions are poised to enter Alexandria. A messenger informs Queen Cleopatra that her beloved Mark Antony has died by his own hand. Desperate to save her kingdom and resurrect her husband, Cleopatra turns to the gods for help. Ignoring the warnings of those around her, she summons Sekhmet, goddess of death and destruction, and strikes a mortal bargain. But not even the wisest of Egypt’s scholars could have predicted what would follow…

In exchange for Antony’s soul, Sekhmet demands something in return: Cleopatra herself. Egypt’s queen is possessed, transformed into a vampiric creature of mythical proportions, an immortal shapeshifter with superhuman strength—at once ferocious and seductive. Fighting to preserve something of her humanity, Cleopatra pursues Octavian back to Rome: she desires revenge, she yearns for her children…and she craves human blood.

Clashing against witches and monsters, gods and warriors, Cleopatra journeys from the tombs of the Pharaohs to the great amphitheaters of imperial Rome to the ancient underworld—where she will meet her love once again, and where the battle between man and beast will determine the fate of the world.

Blending history, mythology and the darkest of fantasy, Queen of Kings brings the timeless story of Cleopatra to life like never before in this stunningly original and spellbinding debut.

Here’s what people are saying about Queen of Kings:

“The dark, romantic novel Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley mixes history with vampire lore, imagining Cleopatra as a vengeful, bloodthirsty queen who travels to the underworld to save her kingdom and her king.” ~Tres Sugar-Pop Sugar’s May Must Read

“You may think you know vampires, and you may think you know Cleopatra, but in Maria Headley’s inventive and sweeping historical fantasy, Queen of Kings (Dutton, May), the rulers of ancient Egypt and Rome grapple with bloodlust, magic, and betrayal in ways you’d never expect…Readers of Guy Gavriel Kay will love the rich storytelling, laden with historical detail.” ~Publisher’s Weekly 

Just when you think the subject and the character of Cleopatra have been exhausted, Headley adds a new twist to the timeworn legend by blending history, fantasy, and epic battle scenes in this intriguing genre bender, the first volume in a projected trilogy…Can Cleopatra defeat Octavian, bring Rome to its knees, and even conquer death itself? Readers will keep turning the pages to find out. ~Booklist

And here’s the trailer:

You can follow Maria, who is also the author of The Year of Yes, on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.