Tag Archives: Mona Karel

Vanity of Vanities…All is Vanity. AND Muffins #MFRWAuthor

A totally self indulgent silly post. You can skip to the end for a really good recipe.

This phrase has been running through my head these last few weeks. I honestly had no idea it was a quote from the bible..thereby exposing how little attention I paid in bible camp. Yes, bible camp. Camp SAYSF, in fact, in southern Maryland. I was, oh, around 11 or 12.

136I was a ‘hefty’ young person, or so I thought. Even now, many years past young, I still obsess over my appearance. Okay, I can forget to brush my hair sometimes. And, yeah that was a paw print on my skirt last week. All right, I don’t own a pair of heels. Geesh, you trying to expose all my secrets? At least my face stayed pretty, right?

Then I needed an author head shot for my publisher. They let me send in a bit of graphic I’d 222889_101308309961119_101308129961137_9460_7954124_n[1]created instead. Seems over the years we took pictures of the dogs, not so much the people holding the dogs. From time to time I’d come across a photo, but for sure I didn’t look like THAT. Did I?

022When the heck do our faces end up with more lines than smooth skin? Does it happen overnight? Certainly that face in the photo isn’t the one I saw in the mirror, ummm…when WAS the last time I really did look in the mirror?

Yikes, that long?

It so happened my little Biddy had a successful show last month, and we posed for a me only 001win picture. Well, she posed for the picture, I was caught gaping. I asked a photographer friend if he could just blur my face…you know, like the witness protection program? In this case I guess it would be handler protection? He said I didn’t look that bad. Problem with e-mail, you never know how much the person on the other end is chuckling.

Mona 0513I have to face the facts: I’m no longer that crazy kid with the decent skin. Now I have to work at keeping my skin from showing the effects of years spent outside. I’ve come to the conclusion taking off my glasses goes a long way toward fixing my dry skin. Maybe I should ask for gauze over the camera lens?

Okay, as promised, a really yummy recipe, for CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE MUFFINS Super simple, also. For this first round I didn’t add the chocolate but I might do so in the future. I generally have a bar of 90% in the freezer for an occasional indulgence. Here are the ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Swerve Sweetener or granulated erythritol
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup pecans, coursely chopped
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp molasses (optional)
  • 2.5 oz 90% cacao chocolate, chopped OR homemade sugar-free chocolate chips

I left out the molasses and the chocolate but I just might try the molasses…bet it gives a knockout richness to the final goodie. Oh, and I used the mini muffin tins so I didn’t have to turn on the full sized oven.

For once I managed to get a picture before I ate everything.
Happy munching!



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It’s Not All Bad…From Another Point of View

I know, I’ve been all about how awful it’s been for women. And it has. In fact next week I’ll be back at it with things that bug me, and we’ve accepted as ‘the way things are’ for way too long.

But I would not be fair if I didn’t talk about the other side…the positive side…of how women are treated or should be treated. Yesterday I flirted with what Rod Stewart had to offer with his songs. While I was noodling around on YouTube, I came across some other feel good songs. What better way to slide out of the weekend?

I think this is a particularly enjoyable version of a lovely song.

Since I love this sort of song so much I’ve decided it would be fun to use some of these titles for my books. Then I can think of the song while I’m working on the book. Like this one:

Which I think would work really well for the book now at Black Opal. Sydney has always ‘done for’ everyone else, shorting herself. Until she meets Devin, who only want to make her life better. Although I might use another favorite instead:

Because…really what’s more romantic than the magic of touch with the right person?

Sweet Dreams

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Who Do YOU Think is Sexy?

I was contemplating a discussion of a certainly newly released film, based on a book that was controversial on so many levels. But as I mentioned earlier, Kristen Lamb shared her take on the issue HERE. Comments are mixed, and based on personal experiences. Not much more I can add that’s not based on my own experiences.

However Melissa Snark (who is hosting The Write Pet where I visited earlier this month) started a FaceBook discussion about the current trend for BBW heroines (Big Beautiful Women) and gorgeous, ripped, heroes. Is this what we really want to read? Obviously enough people want to fall into this fantasy to boost those book sales. And many more want to vicariously be the gorgeous woman and powerful, wealthy man. Or date a sexy warrior.

What is sexy?

1981…34 years ago. Wow, the energy. Do you think he was sexy there? If so was it the slender body, the energy, the charisma?

I spent a lot of time around horses and horsemen when I was younger, and a favored body type was longer and leaner but when I married it was to a man with a sense of humor and tremendous loyalty who thought I was wonderful. Which was pretty darned sexy when you think about it.

The very first Category Romance I ever read was written by Stephanie James AKA Jayne Anne Krentz. Her hero wasn’t handsome, her heroine wasn’t beautiful. They were perfect. For each other. After a life time of losing out to the prettier and skinnier it was refreshing to fall into a story of people with energy and personality and loyalty without the plastic descriptions.

And here’s a Valentine for you, and those you love


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I’m Not Laughing…Potential Triggers #MFRWAuthor

I had planned a quick sweet blog for this Sunday evening, finishing out a lovely New Mexico day. But I read this blog by Kitt Crescendo and I knew I had to step forward with something that has disturbed me for so long. I have to warn you this can be disturbing.

I’m Not Laughing.

Kitt’s blog has to do with FGM…Female Genital Mutilation. I hope you’ve heard of it. Well not really hope since it’s such a horrific thing to have happen to young girls I wish it would only be a footnote in historical books. But it is very real. It is happening NOW and not enough is done to try to STOP IT.

It is NOT funny. Along with other things NOT funny: videos of frightened pets making odd noises. Children falling down or being pulled down by accident. Crotch hits. Most of the “funniest home videos” Sorry, not funny.

Not. Funny.


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We Can All Be Winners

I  have huge blocks of insecure moments. I think we all do. It’s helped to remind myself most of my problems are truly “first world” and also to try to put things in perspective I remind myself of a song from long ago:

Now don’t we all want to be winners? Of course we do. Maybe not quite like this cowboy!

I’m working on winning this game of life gig. As a helpful guideline for all of us I’d like to share something from one of my fellow Your Turn Challenge bloggers Robin Estevez

“Got to Get” by Robin Estevez, @robinaestevez

I’ve got to put my kids to bed
I’ve got to get up early for work
I’ve got to walk the dog
I’ve got to take out the trash
I’ve got to fix this problem
I’ve got to help with my kids homework
I’ve got to go see mom & dad
I’ve got to make the call
I’ve got to to meet with the bank
I’ve got to write this post
I’ve got to…I’ve got to…I’ve got to…

What happens to your mindset when you change the “O” in “Got” to an “E” and make “Get?”

I get to put my kids to bed
I get to get up early for work
I get to walk the dog
I get to take out the trash
I get to fix this problem
I get to help with my kids homework
I get to go see mom & dad
I get to make the call
I get to meet with the bank
I get to write this post
I get to…I get to…I get to…

Change Got to Get…and we’re all winners.

Big skies, glorious sunsets

Big skies, glorious sunsets


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It Never Ends, Does It…But a Glimmer of Hope #YourTurnChallenge

I really didn’t want to write another rant, since so much of the My Turn Challenge blogs concerned negative messages toward and about women. Some of my examples were decades ago, though the “Like a Girl” was all too recently. Still it seemed I needed to back off a little.


Colleen McCullough died yesterday. She rose to fame and wealth with her second book “The Thorn Birds,” about an illicit affair with a Catholic priest. No happy ending here, so by definition not a romance. Her books explored human nature and relations, and brought enjoyment to many readers. Writing was her second career, when she realized her work in  neurophysiological research would not pay her the same scale as her male co-workers. Obituary from the Telegraph

A brilliant writer is gone, a loss to her readers and the literary world. Obituaries published around the world, most of them with a modicum of respect although you might see from the Telegraph obituary there is a discussion of her private life not generally seen with famous male writer obituaries. Then one obituary went so far over the line it is lost in the distance. Hmmm, I’m not finding that specific article in The Australian, but there is a copy here: McCullough Obituary, Australian

The response has been incendiary, but the push back encourages me, as did the interview clip from the Golden Globe red carpet, where the “Who are you wearing? How long did it take you to get ready?” questions were lobbed at a male actor. Who was at first befuddled then offended. He needs to think about this happening to him EVERY time he’s interviewed since it’s standard interview procedure for females. Naturally I can’t find that darned video clip. Perhaps you’ve seen it?

FOUND IT! NOT THE GLOBES Who are you wearing, Kevin Spacey?

Maybe, just maybe, we’re turning that corner at least in Western countries. At least we’re not stoned for displeasing the powers that be. Although that does bring up possible snarky remarks about stoned and ‘stoned.’ Too obvious even coming from a Stoner.

I want to think our new day is dawning.


Winter Dawn, New Mexico

Winter Dawn, New Mexico


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We ARE Family

My January 27 blog referenced loss. This was the anniversary of my husband’s death, and also his father’s. It was also the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Someone asked me if I had family at Auschwitz. Being of essentially WASP background, I had to say no.
With an event of such magnitude, how can we not all be related?

One my father’s side I represent the British Isles…Scot, English, possibly some Irish. We are the Hendersons of Glencoe,. That would be the ones who decided to leave without fighting, or so I’m told. Be that as it may, and it was so very long ago, we are also kin to those Scots who were slaughtered at Culloden in a brutal attempt at domination.
On my mother’s side, I’m American Indian. Choctaw to be more specific. My mother was born in Oklahoma and there’s a saying: if you’re born in Oklahoma and you’re not part Indian, you’re lying. Again, something told to me. And certainly the white folk on this side of ‘the pond’ can’t have much pride in how they treated those who were different.
Fact is, I’m a mutt with delusions of grandeur. After all on one side my ancestors were landed gentry in Merry Olde England. On the other side? There’s some German immigrants and an Indian lady named Liza Blue. I hear there’s also a horse thief and a scoundrel. The horse thief might have been on the more refined side of the pedigree.
Even so.
When something as brutal as the concentration camps happens, we are all family. We must be. We must connect not only to the Jews but also to the Africans and the Kurds and people around the world without a voice to stand against oppression.
“We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately”..a statement of a man who was not perfect but who was willing to stand up for what he believed in…Benjamin Franklin.
This probably seems like a disjointed rant. Maybe it is. And maybe I’m trying to express what I’ve believed in for most of my life. There is no such thing of supremacy of any race, color or creed.
We are ALL family

GROUP HUG? Or just giddy fun?



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Gathering Rosebuds

Robert Herrick, 1600s
Pictures from NM gathering for Tom 015To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

This is so much a poem of its time, but with a many layered message. On the one hand, this cleric/poet seemed to be encouraging young women to hurry up and marry before they lose the ‘bloom’ of youthful beauty. He celebrates youth and seems to see prime as only those immature years. He lived to the ripe age of 83, remaining a bachelor yet writing sensual poetry. I know there’s a deep story behind those bare facts. Dead Poet’s Society revealed the poem’s most important layer.

Live your life as fully as possible. Love large, write wonderful words, paint amazing pictures, carve sculptures people need to caress.

Carpe Diem…seize the day.

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As Promised…A Treat. Almond Butter Cheesecake. #YourTurnChallenge #MFRWAuthor

With the last blog of the My Turn Challenge I promised a yummy dessert recipe. This is easy to put together but difficult to resist.



Fortunately this first time I used small glass ramekins, so I could share with friends. And also so I could avoid that trick of ‘just a tiny slice’ that ends up devouring the entire pie. I’m sure I’m not the only person to try that.

The original recipe was on Buttoni’s wonderful website Buttoni’s Low Carb Recipes, a go to place for delicious low carb ideas.


½ c. (2 oz) Emerald brand roasted cocoa almonds

24 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 c. heavy (whipping) cream

Sweetener of your choice to equal 1½-2 c. sugar  (always add a little at a time & taste)

½ c. water

1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin

1½ tsp. almond extract

2 T. almond butter

DIRECTIONS:  Process or crush cocoa almonds until evenly crumbly.  Spread all but 1 T. (for topping) onto the bottom of a pie plate as evenly as possible.  Place softened cream cheese into large mixing bowl. Place water in a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over the water and heat on medium heat until gelatin is completely dissolved.   Pour gelatin over softened cream cheese and whip with hand mixer until creamy.  Add in almond extract and almond butter and whip another couple seconds until well blended. In a separate bowl, whip whipping cream until thick.  Gently fold that whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.   Now gently dip up the filling mixture and gently place atop the crumb bottom crust.  Try not to disturb the crumbs any more than is absolutely necessary.  Smooth the top of the cheesecake with a rubber spatula or spoon.  Sprinkle the reserved tablespoon of crushed cocoa almonds over the top and chill for 3-4 hours.  Cut into 8 pieces and serve with or without cherries or strawberries for garnish.

crust with a touch of cocoa

crust with a touch of cocoa

Nutritional information is available on the link above. I saw this recipe a while back but didn’t get around to trying it until the last heavy snow fall. I didn’t have any of those roasted cocoa almonds in the cupboard (really, how long do you think they’d stay?) But I remembered making a sort of graham cracker crumb crust with almond flour. So my crust was 1 cup almond meal, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and some Truvia (what I had in the cupboard…your choice which sweetener you want to use) The proportions I read called for 2 tablespoons, I used one. I also added about 1tsp of cocoa powder. Press this crust into your pie pan or in my case the ramekins. Bake at 375F for 8 to 10 minutes…keep your eye on it, you want it to begin to brown. Let it cool completely since this is a no bake cheesecake.

The touch of chocolate in the crust was an extra yumminess. I plan to make this for an upcoming writers’ meeting so I’ll do something extra pretty for the topping.

I like preparing my own foods. Not only do I avoid the cost and taste of prepared foods I can also control the ingredients. I’ve been known to plot how to adjust standard recipes into something that fits my low carb way of life but this recipe has the advantage of easy adjustment to sugar. You could use a store bought crust (graham cracker or chocolate) and sweeten to taste with your choice of regular sugar. I didn’t use the amount advised since I’m not near as fond of sweetness as I used to be.

And as a friend pointed out, with cream cheese and heavy whipping cream, how can you go wrong??

I love New Mexico

I love New Mexico


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Mmmm Biscuits #MFRWAuthor

In Teach Me To Forget, Jonathan tries to make amends with Bethany by baking biscuits for her the first morning at his secluded forest home (in case you’re wondering, no they didn’t get up close and personal right away…that’s for later)

Bethany stared. “You made biscuits?”
A mocking brow asked her who else there was to make them. She also interpreted it as questioning if she would have made them, or if she could. Flushing at the inanity of her question, she idled over to the sun-drenched breakfast nook, so appealingly set with earthenware dishes that matched the mugs.
Butter filled a crock beaded with condensation that glistened in the early morning sun. The same sun highlighted clear jars of
jelly, bathing the table in their hues of peach and purple. She slid hesitantly onto the bench across from Merritt, whose full attention seemed to be on the steaming biscuit he was hiding under layers of butter and jelly. He didn’t raise his head, but nudged the basket in her direction. She took a biscuit hesitantly, bringing it closer to her face to break it open and engulf her senses in its warm essence.
“It smells wonderful,” she offered.
He indicated the crock of butter, and pushed the jelly jars closer, obviously intending her to make herself at home. Such an offer did not need to be repeated, particularly when she discovered she was ravenous. The butter melted instantly, and the jelly was diligent in offering up its goodness. She took a large bite, closing her eyes in sheer sensual enjoyment.
“Where did you learn to bake like this?”
He shrugged, appropriating another biscuit and decorating it before popping a liberal portion into his mouth, followed by a healthy swig of coffee. She couldn’t stop herself from watching the action of his throat muscles, nor from imagining the path the biscuit took. From the outside, that path was well defined by dark chest hair that lessened as it tracked lower but never seemed to totally—she jerked her gaze away, wondering when it had turned so warm and striving to remember the lessons of her youth. Advanced deportment had never covered breakfasts with unshaven men who were practically bare chested and produced biscuits that could win awards.
“Did you mother teach you how to bake?” As a conversational gambit, it covered many areas. It brought in the opportunity of discussing his early life, which would be a good starting point for the interview. It also reminded him he had a mother who had instilled respect for floundering females along with the ability to cut shortening into flour.
He nodded.
She felt her temper—that distant, barely known part of her she kept segregated from her daily life—pull at its chains, demanding some time out in the world. She repressed it automatically.
“You must be excessively hungry, Mr. Merritt,” she said graciously. Mademoiselle would have been so proud of her. “Perhaps you are not a morning person?”
He smiled, finally bringing his devastating sky blue morning gaze fully upon her face.
“I thought perhaps if I filled my mouth with biscuits, I might keep my foot out of it for a while.”


Since I’ve gone Low Carb I can only taste fresh hot home made biscuits vicariously though if a handsome bare chested man was baking for me I just might succumb. Barring that, I make do very well with this recipe I found here: Maria Mind Body Health. She

Mmmmm Biscuits

Mmmmm Biscuits

also has a gravy recipe if you want to be very Southern. I don’t mess with this recipe except for leaving out the sweetener, and I end up with seriously yummy biscuits, well worth the time it takes to separate, whip, and fold.

If you scroll through the comments you’ll find more excellent hints on eating well and low carb. I’ve found cauliflower is my friend…seriously!

For those who have asked about more books from Mona (and thank you for the interest!) I’m waiting for first edits on a Romantic Suspense set in northern New Mexico, and finishing up a semi sequel to Teach Me To Forget. Semi, since my heroine is mentioned by Bethany. Both these current books are set in Willow Springs, New Mexico and I do believe Dr. Paul, Bethany’s veterinarian friend, is going to be visiting Willow Springs in the near future. I can’t wait to see what love has in store for him!


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