Urban Word Wednesday: Bathtub Jesus

Welcome to Urban Word Wednesday! New words, phrases, and sayings I am learning (and using in my day-to-day life) brought to you by ME…and the Urban Dictionary. You are gonna love these!

Bathtub Jesus: Decorative lawn ornament, popular through much of New England, where an old cast-iron bathtub is buried standing up, halfway into the ground, and a statue of Jesus is placed inside. Frequently seen near or with a lawn ball. Associated with white trash.

Examples Of Use:

Yesterday, I talked about meeting my first ever, real life Bathtub Jesus on the weekend. Well, you had to know hubby and I would have some fun with that! On Sunday we golfed Pine Needles Golf and Country Club’s 18-hole River Course. This course ain’t for sissies. It’s a tough 5500-yard (women’s tee) course with lots of length, water, trees, and sand to test your skill. But I love it.

The first time I golfed it (3 years ago…my first year golfing), I scored a 270 (par for women is 73 but most people I golf with are around 110 to 120). I practically played the course twice. But you’ll be happy to know, I shaved a few strokes off my score since then. I’ve been averaging around 150.

Hubby and I enjoyed this conversation in the club house as we returned the key to our cart.

Hubby: I can’t believe you beat me…by 1 stroke…first time ever, eh?! You even pared a 500+ yard hole. A 120 is amazing! Great game…congrats honey!

Me: I owe it all to Bathtub Jesus.

Hubby: what does Bathtub Jesus have to do with anything?

Me: well, this morning when you thought I went to the bathroom, I actually walked down to the drug dealer’s Bathtub Jesus and had a little chat with the old fella…I asked him and his Dad to show me some golf luv!

Hubby: you know, I think their Bathtub Jesus is actually a Bathtub Mary?

Me: whoever it is…I think we need one! It’s obviously bringing the drug dealer some good luck and look how I golfed today?!?! We could put him or Mary near the cedar bush…it’d look fahhhbulous!

Hubby: God help me…

Me: that’s who I am trying to hook you up with…I am tellin’ ya!!!

Do you have any yard ornaments or decorations displayed? Seen any good ones lately? What [insert sport of choice here] God do you pray to? Come on…share the wealth…

More blog deliciousness here:

He is the deet in my Deep Woods Off

The scene of the infestation!

Hubby and I spent another fine weekend deep in campground country chilllaxin’ this weekend. And yes, we brought my shit shack with us; otherwise known as Nat’s Stool Shed (why hubby has chosen that nickname is beyond me…I only use it for number 1). I think he’s having a sign made. How wonderful.

Anyway….back to the point of my story. We soon discovered that it’s caterpillar season at the campground. There were oodles of the little creatures everywhere. Mostly the white/black type which kind of freaked me out because I had heard they can be deadly. After a little Google search, turns out I was being a wee bit dramatic (shocking…I know….). They aren’t deadly but some people can have an allergic reaction to them in the form of an itchy rash after touching. So I was not going near them.

In all honesty, I am just not a huge bug fan. Hubby is actually surprised I enjoy camping as much as I do given my distaste for all things insect. Bugs, ants, spiders, flies…UGH. I mean, I am not afraid of ALL of them but I certainly don’t want to be BFF with any of them. And yes, I do scream and flail around like an epileptic having a seizure when I surprisingly find something on me.  This weekend, that happened a lot.

There we’d be…playing crib at the picnic table. I’d be kicking hubby’s butt when I’d just happen to glance down at my lap and BAM…one of the white crawling devils would be plotting my rash demise. I’d leap up in a single bound, scream hysterically and start doing the dance of “get this freaking creepy caterpillar off me NOW!!!!”

UGH!

It was exhausting standing on guard all the time. Where were these bad boys coming from and how the heck were they getting on my lap? I started wearing a hat fearing they had hidden wings and were circling the obvious weakest link.

But I must say hubby proved to be my hero time and time again.

He got up from the table or his chair a hundred times to “magically sweep” away the persistent little bastards. This was no small job given the world-wide domination and infestation that was going on (perhaps being a tad dramatic here but there were a LOT of them). Not to mention, I started developing a keen eye for spotting one within a 20 foot parameter of what I deemed my “caterpillar-free safety zone”. I armed hubby with a fly swatter and was commander-in-chief sending him out into battle over and over again.

Hubby…there’s one over there crawling over a leaf 10 feet from the fire pit on the left hand side next to the green twig. Quick…get him!!

No insecticide needed here. I had Soldier Hubby in the trenches fighting the good fight; being the deet to my Deep Woods Off.

I gotta say, there’s nothing quite so romantic as your loved one putting a smile on his face time and time again regardless of the incessant inconvenience to do you a solid.

Sweep. Me. Off. My. Feet.

How does your significant other sweep you off your feet? What things does he/she do that you know deep down drives him/her batty, but they do it anyway…with a smile…for you? Come on…share the wealth….

More blog deliciousness here:

  • August McLaughlin’s post on learning to trust our instincts was bang on. Not just in your writing life but across the board!
  • Loved this post by Lisa Hall-Wilson on what makes a real man. So timely with today’s post because I am so grateful that I held out for hubby…he is the real deal! And the real deal is always worth waiting for.
  • Fab post by Elena Aitken on taking time to unplug and how important it is that we all do it from time to time. Tks for the wonderful reminder girl!

Partying in the spam files

I’ve been ROFL ever since reading Jenny Hansen’s post about things she’s learned from her spam files and search terms. I instantly headed off to visit and play in mine. I’ve been having a grand time ever since; a little ego feeding is good for the soul, isn’t it?! Even if it’s poorly written flattery…

Dive into your comment section…

Andressa got a lot out of my Just shut up and cuddle post. She says:

this really is an awesome post, i’m happy i came across this. i will be back to look at out more of your articles later.

Well Andressa, you are welcome back anytime girl! Even with your poor grammar. Perhaps you should consider signing up for David Walker’s grammar series.

I loved Elisete’s comment:

great blog! the information you provide is quiet helpful, why i was not able to find it earlier. anyways i’ve subscribed to your feeds, keep the good work up.

I don’t know why you hadn’t found me till now. It’s not like I’ve been in hiding. It is a public blog after all. Regardless, thanks so much for subscribing to my feeds because it is the best way to be sure to get my uberlicious posts every single week (hint hint y’all…click the “Sign Me Up Baby” button on the side and you can join Elisete and get my posts emailed to you)! I will definitely keep up the great work. For you…anything! BTW, you may want to consider joining Andressa in checking out David’s grammar series.

I couldn’t agree more UAE escort when he (or she) wrote:

I think other site proprietors should take nataliehartford.com as an model, very clean and excellent user friendly style and design, let alone the content. You are an expert in this topic!

I gotta say, I kind of like my ultra pink layout as well so I’m glad to hear I am not alone. And an expert. Wow, here I thought I was just writing about the first thing that came to mind. I had no idea that made me an expert. Squeeee!!!

And…last but not least, Aniele says:

your blog happens to be not just informative but also very stimulating too.

Well now…Stimulating?!??! That’s new! I had no idea….I’m kind of speechless on that one.

Search Terms Insanity!

The search terms that bring readers to me was quite enlightening and entertaining. In this last quarter, the top way people found me….

  • women peeing

I’ve become the place to go when you want to know about women peeing. Hmmm…not quite the brand I was going for but hey…I’ll take it.

Other top search terms:

  • natalie hartford blog (Phew….)
  • duck dynasty
  • womenpeeing (more of this, eh?!?!)
  • women peeing outdoors (Ok…this is starting to get strange…)

Looks like I might want to consider doing some more posts on…women peeing. Gotta please the readers, right?

Ever spend anytime in your spam folder? What fun things have you found? Any outlandish search terms bringing the readers to you? Come on…share the wealth….

More blog deliciousness here:

Maximizing summer with magnetic convenience

With summer coming up on us like a freight train (and for those of you who enjoy summer nearly all year-long – damn you), hubby and I have started pulling out the usual fun-in-the-sun gear.

We’ve got our beach chairs (I admit, I have a slight addiction), we’ve got our umbrella, and we’ve got a new collapsible cart from Costco to help us tug all our gear to and from the beach. Ok….not “we”…more like hubby will tug it along but I digress.

As you can see, we are pretty well set up!

Except for this TRAGEDY right here! Note the red circles!

Yes…that’s right! While maxin’ and relaxin’ catching some rays, Hubby and I have to physically HANG ONTO our beer? A major intrusion on my mucho relaxo attitude! It requires care and consideration which hampers my potential nap possibilities. I mean, what if I fell asleep or got so relaxed I simply….let go?!?! We are talking possible epic beer blunders people. There’d even likely be…spillage….

GASP! Say it isn’t so Natalie?!?!?!

It’s so people. It’s so!

For those skeptics who are reading all confused saying “why doesn’t she just set the damn thing on the sand?!?!?” Silly people….silly, non-beach people! Although to the less experienced bodacious beach baby, that would sound like an adequate solution allow me to impart some of my hard-earned fun-in-the-sun lessons with you. Setting said koozie on the beach leads to 3 things:

  1. SAND on my beer koozie. I understand, in and of itself this is not a huge issue except for the fact that now, each time I bring that cold cocktail to my lips, I’ll inadvertently get sand dribble all over myself. This is both uncomfortable and leads to uneven tans. No thank you!!
  2. Speaking of cold, setting said koozie on the HOT sand means that my brown bottled brewski will be tasting like hot chocolate in no time. Ewwww…
  3. And finally, by having your beverage sitting in the sand, there is an increased likelihood of knocking the darn thing over. When I pour myself out of that insanely low-to-the-ground beach chair, I stagger around like a drunken sailor that’s been on a bender for a week.

I am sure you all understand now the dilemma I am faced with. That all beach people are faced with. A travesty!

Well no longer! I’ve saved our respective beach butts with….the portable magnetic beverage stake!

I want to BE That lady in the picture! How uberliciously fabulous does that look (although it would be improved if it was available in bedazzled pink…just sayin’!) Ya just drive the little stake into the ground near the chair and use the magnetic insulated koozie and voila, all done.

The magnetic based keeps the koozie secure to the stake so all is kept “cool, raised and in reach” (my kind of motto). You don’t have to worry about knocking it over unless you want to punt it like a football (another viable FUN use – gotta luv multipurpose products!!!!)

You can order this genius gadget for $10.99 (+ shipping) from the website.

How do you keep your beverage cool and clean in the summer? Are you a beach bum or a sand hater? What’s your favorite ways to cool off and beat the summer heat?

It’s Twisted Tuesday and that means it’s time to enjoy a smile, giggle or laugh…here’s hoping I’ve provided it in spades…enjoy!

More blog deliciousness here:

Urban Word Wednesday: Vagancy

Welcome to Urban Word Wednesday! New words, phrases, and sayings I am learning (and using in my day-to-day life) brought to you by ME…and the Urban Dictionary. You are gonna love these!

Vagancy (pronounced vaj-ancy): A portmanteau of the words “Vagina” and “Vacancy” meaning a vacant vagina.

Examples Of Use:

While down in the Dominican Republic on vacation, hubby and love to people watch and we like to have a little fun while at it! We were lying on our beach chairs with some friends (and strangers alike) around when hubby spotted a woman….ummm…really working on her tan.

Hubby: wowzers – will you look at that?

Me: what?

*hubby gives a nudge to look towards the water*

Me: well now…that’s confidence! At least she won’t have those smiley-face tan lines when she bends over.

Hubby: posed like that, it looks like she’s advertising a vagancy.

Me: well, she’s definitely putting it all out there.

Friends: ok, what in God’s name in a vagancy?

Hubby: you know, availability in the vagina.

Friends: OMG – seriously? You two are whacked.

Hubby and I: we know!

I know you’ve all got stories about women overtly displaying their vagancy…come on…share the wealth…

More blog deliciousness here:

  • Near died reading The Oatmeal’s horrible cards. RIOT! Sadly, I could use some of these.
  • Elena Aitken’s guest post on Leanne Shirtliffe’s blog with the top 10 signs Mom needs a vacation had me keeling over in giggles.
  • Ever gone toe to toe with raccoons? OMG loved K.B. Owen’s post on the little furry bandits and all the stories everyone had to share.

Hubby’s Corner – Supply vs Demand

As this big ol’world turns, there is one constant concept that remains untouched – and that concept is supply and demand.

Many things will change in this world over time but the primal concept of supply and demand will always come out the winner. If you want it – there will be somebody there to provide it. Simple! Quick! Easy! Right?….Wrong!

As you may or may not know here at Hubby’s Corner we live our lives to the fullest. We are very active and have many interests. Some of these interests include: tubing, stock car races, canoeing, fishing, BBQing, kayaking, camping, bicycling, music concerts – you name it and we are into it. And at most events there is group that accompanies us and the one question that always arises at every activity/event is…

Who’s gonna be the Designated Driver?

And since we usually end up taking many vehicles we usually require many designated drivers! AH-HA! We have DEMAND!!!

It was at this point the hand of God reached down and touched my soul and presented a vision! A dream you might say! There in the corner of the parking lot of our local Canadian Tire shadowed by clouds and illuminated by a single ray of sunlight engulfing it entirely sat my chance to SUPPLY! There sat an old shorty school bus like the one here.

Yes! It needed a little work but at a mere $2000 purchase price, how could we go wrong?

I pitched the idea to my lovely wife that we could buy this bus, and transform it into a functional transport device that could take us and all our friends to activities and events and with only a single designated driver.

Voila! Perfection.

Natalie quickly thought about the idea….

And *poof* came back to reality and quickly opposed the idea as ridiculous. I on the other hand began brainstorming:

  • We could tie tubes down the sides.
  • We could put bikes on top.
  • We could put canoes/kayaks on top.
  • We could all go in on it together to reduce the cost.
  • The list went on and on.

And as Natalie’s eyes rolled back into her head – I was already off in fantasy land, conjuring up ideas and inventions on how to incorporate this vessel into our daily living.

I even came up with a way for it to become revenue generating by converting it into an “after bar” transport taxi called the FRY N’RIDE! My vision; for a “nominal fee” clubbers could get a French Fry and a ride home. This idea was followed by hideous laughter – not quite the support I was hoping for! And as the idea churned out the worse it got.

  • We could build a deck on the back with a BBQ.
  • Instead of shooter girls we were going to have “Fry Girls”
  • Disco balls, stripper poles, lights, music -  the works!

It quickly became a running joke between the two of us and eventually all of our friends and family. Every once in a while we’ll see some grease wagon or fry truck and it will resurface or the occasional dig; “If we only had the Fry N’ Ride!

So there I stood….one defeated man…ONE VOICE…ONE HEARTBEAT….ONE DREAM!

And then….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ALAS I AM NOT ALONE – SUPPLY AND DEMAND LIVES ON!

More blog deliciousness here:

About me and the superhero formula

I recently watched Clay Collins’ video on how he accidentally created one of blogopshere’s most viral “about me” page. I thought I’d take a crack at re-writing my ultra boring About Me page using Clay’s five steps superhero formula.

Superhero Formula

  1. Establish a common enemy with target market – fight against the enemy for them. You go to battle for them! Specific or idea.
  2. Super power – show it off – how do you make miracles happen for yourself and others.
  3. Purpose – your target market needs to know you are doing things not just for the money but for a larger purpose – and you must be truthful.
  4. Fatal flaw – your kryptonite – it will help target bond with you.
  5. Your original story – explains how you went from ordinary to extraordinary – how did you transform?

My answers:

  1. Common enemy: together, we will fight against boredom and bland colors.
  2. Super power: urban redneck powered by a tacky sense of fashion (who said a cowboy hat with stiletto heels wasn’t hot!?? Is there such thing as too much bedazzling???) and a stellar sense of humor. My secret weapon: hubby.
  3. Purpose: to entertain you, make you smile, make you laugh and bring you joy.
  4. Fatal flaw: procrastination and temper tantrums which can lead to occasional bouts of negativity.
  5. Transformation: Thanks to Kristen Lamb’s blogging to build a brand course, I transformed from a bland blogger using basic colors, a plain header, inconsistent and deadly boring blubbering to a blogger extraordinaire with a flair for color, content and consistency. The 3 Cs baby!

How I put the formula to use.

Natalie Hartford

Natalie Hartford is an urban redneck; a cross-breed of city girl and redneck. She loves high heels, bling, all things pink and sparkly along with ball caps, 4X4ing, camping, and drinkin’ beer. She often mistakes tacky for fahbulous! An avid golfer, don’t let the stylish and colorful outfits with matching clubs fool you; she’ll wrap that driver around a tree in a temper tantrum in 2 point 5 seconds (hello…she nearly got kicked off a golf course for her potty mouth).

By day, she sports dress pants, button downs, and suits putting her bachelor degree in journalism to good use working in public relations. She slings words for fact sheets, press releases, and powerpoints. From chairing meetings, to organizing and emceeing events, she rocks the corporate communications world.

By night and weekend, she used to flail around in cyberspace until she ate from the forbidden fruit and channeled super human blogging powers. Now her blog is a pink pallooza of fun bringing color and comedy to all the lands. Where once lived a bland blogger with inconsistent and deadly boring blabbering now lives a sparkling pink goddess blogger divine battling against the seriousness we all face in life spreading laughter, smiles, and zany word fun all over the blogosphere.

At the same time she sets fire to the page working on her first novel. Torn between chick lit, women`s fiction and paranormal, she`s getting to know characters, drafting scenes, sampling dialogue and plotting to her heart’s content.

She doesn’t do it alone. Her secret weapon, the Robin to her Batman, is hubby. He keeps her calm, neutralizes nap time, and blasts her procrastination. Second time around for both of them, they rock the romance by living and playing large. Best friends forever; you complete me; yin to my yang; K.I.S.S.I.N.G. When they aren`t having “shock and awe” fun sampling Natalie’s urban words in public, they sneak away to their rustic camp hidden deep in the New Brunswick countryside (so deep, there`s no cell reception or Internet). There they spend their days tearing up the trails in their 4X4 Rhino and nights pondering plot possibilities, cuddling and hanging with their trusted side-kick Tess (their beloved Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retriever). Ahhh…the life!

If you want more of Natalie:

Visit her at: http://nataliehartford.com
Talk to her at: natalie@nataliehartford.com
Follow her on twitter at: @NatalieHartford

What do you think? Did I rock the super hero formula or make a mess of it? Suggestions to improve? What do you think makes a kickin’ About Me page? Know of any fahhhbulous examples that rocked your read? Share the wealth…

More blog deliciousness:

Author spotlight and a book giveaway!

As most of you know, in July/August 2011 I took Kristen Lamb’s blogging to build a brand course (go sign up for her next class) with about 40 other writers/bloggers. Our class was called WANA711 and you can find most my fellow classmates in my Circle of Friends on the right-hand menu.

Given that so many of our classmates are published (traditional and self) authors, the WANA711 class has decided to do book/blog promotion throughout February and March. So watch for more author spotlights, book giveaways, and blog guest postings among the Circle of Friends.

Elena Aitken

It gives me great pleasure today to welcome Elena Aitken to my blog digs! Elena is a writer, a mother of twins, a swimmer, a wife, a volunteer, a runner, a friend, a triathlete, a daughter, a sister, a Brownie leader (recently retired), an auntie, a cyclist, employee…she’s doing it all!

She’s been writing in one form or another since elementary school. She turned to non-fiction for a number of years and was a regular contributor to local parenting magazines, published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, and a compilation by Seal Press. It wasn’t until 2005 that she tried her hand at writing fiction and wrote her first novel. It’s buried on her hard drive but she’s written four more that she shares with the world:

  • Drawing Free: sometimes Mom loses herself in the daily struggle. What would happen if one day, Mom just kept driving? (her latest release)
  • Nothing Stays In Vegas: a contemporary romance novel spanning the bright lights of Las Vegas to the tranquil Canadian Rockies.
  • Unexpected Gifts: a Christmas romance.
  • Betty & Veronica: a touching short story showcasing the power of best friends.

Welcome Elena! I am thrilled to spotlight you on my blog. I recently read both Drawing Free and Nothing Stays In Vegas and I have to tell you, I was totally blown away and more than a little jealous. The story lines popped, the plots and subplots were interesting (with a couple of twists I did NOT see coming), the writing was smooth and flowing, and the characters were amazing (believable, authentic and so real they jumped off the pages).

Thanks, Natalie for having me over here on your blog. I’m super excited to hang out with you. Even if it’s only virtual.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? What’s your writing process?

Is it cheating if I say I’m both? I actually am a bit of both. I do like to have a somewhat clear idea of what’s going to happen in a story before I start, and I’ve recently started using a technique called storyboarding that’s really helped me develop all the key points of a story. BUT…it’s never that straight forward because every single time I start writing, the characters kind of take on a life of their own, and lead the story in a different path. Inevitably, I end up adjusting my original plan. For me, the key is to be fluid and listen to the characters. And yes, I realize that makes me just a wee bit crazy.

How do you come up with your story ideas? I mean from the very start; how do you brainstorm, pick a final idea to run with, and then develop the idea with a plot and subplots?

That’s a tricky question. Story ideas have never been a problem for me. They tend to pop in my head at all times, always have. I’ve always made up stories in the strangest places, but in the car, while driving longer distances has always been my favourite place to brainstorm, which is handy because I drive a lot. As for picking the final idea, that’s harder. I usually go with the idea that won’t leave me alone. I work it, developing it in my head, creating scenarios, etc. If it works, I’ll try sketching it out. Sometimes, I stall out at that stage, which just means I’m not ready for that book at that time. But other times, it works. It’s usually the story that keeps nagging and won’t leave me alone that makes it to the planning stage and ultimately the writing stage. I have to love an idea.

How do you develop your characters?

Oh, another tough one. Character creation usually comes from an amalgamation of traits I observe from those around me and of course, my imagination. What I usually do is sketch out a few details and then just start writing and the character develops itself. Of course this almost always means I have to throw out the first few thousand words I write, but that’s okay. Because I write women’s fiction, all of my characters are usually someone I’d be friends with or at least know in real life. Even if it’s someone whose actions I don’t agree with all the time, I have to relate to them in some way.

How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?

That totally depends on the book. With Unexpected Gifts, my Christmas story, it was fast. Really fast. I think I wrote the first draft in five or six weeks. But with Drawing Free, I wrestled with that one for almost three years. It got three complete and total rewrites, a whole lot of stress, and a ton of angst. But I couldn’t give up with that one. For me, Becca’s story in Drawing Free, needed to be told. Nothing Stays In Vegas was a pretty fast write for me as well. I think the first draft took a total of three months. Of course there are edits and rewrites after that. I’m fairly prolific which is good because I have a lot of ideas!

What’s your advice to writers JUST starting out, like me? What do you wish you would have known when you started out?

Hmm…I think the best advice I could give is to write what matters to you. Fall in love with your characters and love your story. You have to want to go to the keyboard everyday and totally immerse yourself with these people/characters. I think too many writers fall in the trap of writing what’s ‘hot’ or what they think agents and editors want. Don’t. Write what YOU want. I wish that someone would have told me earlier to trust my own voice. But even if they did, I probably wasn’t ready to listen. Another good piece of advice… find a quality writing group. Write. Submit. Learn. Repeat. Always write. Always. It’s the only way to get better and find your own voice.

What’s coming up next from you?

I’m really excited about my next project. It’s tentatively titled ‘Sugar Crash’ also known as ‘The Diabetes Book’. It’s the story of Darci, a single mom who doesn’t need anyone and can do it all. When her daughter Taylor is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, they’re forced to adjust to a new lifestyle and Darci has to learn that it’s okay to let others in. It’s a powerful and raw look at diabetes, but of course there’s a love interest and a few twists thrown in as well!

I’m so enthusiastic about this book because it’s based loosely on one of my dearest friends and her personal experience and I’ll be donating a portion of the proceeds to Team Diabetes in support of much needed diabetes research.

What’s your favourite Urban Word? Ever used it?

Hmm… I love all your urban words. BUT I really liked Vajazzle. That word made me giggle every time I read it. Also, I’m a huge fan of making up words that work. Bring em’ on, Natalie!

Would you share an excerpt from Nothing Stays In Vegas?

I would LOVE to! I thought I’d share something a little fun, and dive into a little bit of Chapter Six.

Leo took the key from my fingers and slid it into the slot on the door. I had a flash of something.

Hesitation? Uncertainty? I knew I was being very forward, brazen really. The total opposite from how I normally act. But when I looked into his dark eyes, I didn’t care.

We’d barely stepped inside, and Leo grabbed me and spun me so I was pressed against the door. And this time when his lips met mine, I was ready for the way my body would react to him.

At least I thought I was. His lips melted into mine the same way they had earlier, my body responded with a thrill and I pulled him closer, securing my hands around his waist.  As the kiss grew deeper, I needed more.

It wasn’t enough.

Everything I thought I knew about myself went out of the window and I bit down on his lip in what I hoped was an invitation for more. I thought my body might explode from the heat.

Leo kissed me deeper and this time I didn’t over think it. I let myself open up to each one of the sensations he stirred inside of me. As long as we were kissing, I didn’t think.

I couldn’t think.

It was as if all of my energy and focus was channeled into Leo. But when he broke the kiss, sucking on my lower lip as he pulled away, a million unwanted thoughts came crashing into my brain.

Should I be doing this? I didn’t even know this man. I was still legally married. Am I making a smart decision?

If my uncertainty showed on my face, he didn’t notice. His back was turned and he led me across the floor to one of the queen sized beds.

“This one’s yours,” he said. It wasn’t a question. 

I smiled, my concerns forgotten as I looked at the two beds. The one closest to the window was covered in clothing. Shoes, blouses, a dress and two purses lay on the comforter. It looked like that half of the room had been ransacked. Or, someone couldn’t decide what to wear. The bed we were standing in front of was freshly made from housekeeping. The novel I was reading earlier lay open on the pillow.

“Only you would bring a book to Vegas,” he said. He lifted it, marked the page with a napkin and placed it on the bedside table before turning back to me. He ran his thumb down the side of my face, until it touched the corner of my mouth. I closed my mind to everything except him. When he touched me, I no longer cared if I was making a smart decision, every nerve ending in my body sparked and reacted to him. That was all I needed.

I ran my hands down his chest, feeling his muscles through his shirt. His hands were on me as well. They moved down my bare arms and my skin tightened in response to his warm touch.

He didn’t kiss me, but instead looked into my eyes. Somehow the connection between us intensified with the anticipation. Feeling bold, my fingers found the buttons on his shirt and began to work them free. I took my time as I undid the first two, but my pace quickened when the fabric parted, exposing his bare chest. Impatient I yanked the fabric, popping the bottom buttons free. He still didn’t break eye contact with me, but I could see his lips turn up into a smile.

His hands came to rest on my upper arms, his thumbs worked slow circles on my skin.               

With a small smile of my own, I pushed my hands beneath the open fabric of his shirt and slid them up his chest. The feel of his smooth skin, chiseled from what? Time at the gym? Physical work?

It didn’t matter.

The feel of him under my fingers cranked up the level of my desire. I moved further up and over his shoulders, pushing the shirt down and then before I realized what I was doing, I took half a step forward and bent my head so my lips pressed onto his bare skin. With small kisses and nibbles, I worked my way from his neck down his torso. His grip on my arms tightened, and he let out a moan. When I got to his waist and his belt buckle I straightened up and looked straight into his eyes again.

“Jesus, Lexi,” he groaned and crushed me to him. His lips were no longer soft or slow, but full of heat and need. His hands released my arms and reached behind my neck, untying the halter. The soft fabric fluttered down, revealing my bare breasts. He stripped himself of his own ruined shirt before his hands found me again.

God, he was beautiful.

There was no time to study his perfect form, the touch of his hands on my chest distracted me from all thought as he slid them down my chest and between my breasts leaving a trail of heat as he went. Leo’s hands didn’t stop moving. In a quick motion, he unzipped the back of my dress and pushed it over my hips. It pooled to the floor and I stepped out of it.

“You’re gorgeous,” Leo said and he pulled back to look at me. I was thankful for the red satin panties set Nicole had urged me to buy instead of wearing my usual cotton. With my hair falling over my shoulder, I felt sexy and not the slightest bit insecure.

“Kiss me,” I whispered. I needed to feel his lips again. He obliged by pulling me towards him, but instead of kissing my mouth, his lips touched the sensitive spot on my neck, just below my jaw. I shivered and a moan escaped my lips. He used one hand to hold me to him while the other ran through my hair, gently tugging my head to the side, exposing the length of my neck. He nibbled and kissed his way down to the swell of my breasts. My body shuddered with anticipation and he stood up, meeting my gaze that I’m sure was clouded with lust.

“Your turn,” I said and I moved my hands to his belt buckle and slid the leather through. My fingers fumbled with the button but I managed to push it through and moved the zipper down. Before I could think twice, I plunged my hands into the fabric.  

Love it! Hot Hot HOT! I think you left my readers not just wanting, but dying, for MORE!

Thank you so much for swinging by my blog digs Elena. I can’t wait for your next book to come out. I’ll definitely be first in line to purchase. I wish you all the success in the world.

Enjoyed Elena so much you want more?! You can:

What about you; any questions for Elena? How does your writing process differ from hers?

Book Giveaway Details

Prizes:

How do you win?

  • The book giveaway is open all week; February 6-11, 2012 (until 11:59 pm AST).
  • You will earn one entry into the draw each time you comment on one of my blog posts this week.
  • Tweet about this post and earn an additional entry (be sure to put my twitter handle @nataliehartford in your tweet so I know).
  • On February 12, 2012, I will put all the names in a hat and hubby will draw the names of the winners.
  • Check back February 13, 2012 where I will announce the winners.

Please note: Elena will be on vacation when I make the draw so she will get in touch with winners upon her return February 25, 2012.

Forgiveness: it’s all about you

Some of my fellow bloggers have written some poignant posts on a tough subject; forgiveness. It started with a gut wrenching post by Diana Murdock on her journey to forgiveness and then Angela Wallace followed up with a great post about the key ingredient to reconciliation. Then just recently, I read an amazing post by Louise Behiel on her path to forgiveness. All are must-reads.

On Angela’s suggestion, I decided to repost (with a few edits) a post I did on the subject quite some time ago.

It all started when I watched Oprah interview Tyler Perry (Oct 2010) about his life. The interview took my breath away when Mr. Perry spoke about how he had forgiven his father for the abuse he suffered at his hands and how that forgiveness freed him to live his life according to his own truth. He said he called his father, and let it all out and then…let it go! I could imagine some of Oprah’s viewers were puzzled. How would THAT enable someone to forgive another? But I wasn’t confused. For me, it made perfect sense.

Over the years, many people have asked me that same question; how was I able to forgive my mother for being abusive and more pointedly…why? For me, the quest to forgiveness was very similar to that of Mr. Perry’s.

It happened almost by accident. From around 13 to 18 years old, I was an incredibly angry person. I was violent, mouthy, and aggressive. I had no respect for anyone in my life. I treated people poorly, was a bully, and was absolute tyrant towards my mother.

I knew that my anger had to do with how my mother had treated me growing up. She had been physically and verbally abusive for most of my childhood but stopped when I was around 11 years old. I knew that violence was second nature to me; that it actually felt good and comfortable to me. I understood that I lashed out in large part to gain a sense of control because for so long, I felt like I had none. I knew I felt the need to get even. I felt like the world and everyone in it had betrayed me and therefore owed me. I felt entitled and I felt justified. And as I got older, it got worse. The anger took over. I got to a point where I didn’t know how to control it or stop. I raged. I no longer knew how to not be angry anymore, how to let go and be free. I was possessed!

On my 18th birthday, I was living in an apartment and a party got out of hand. The police were involved and my landlord called my mother and told her that I was evicted. At that time, she was living 2 hours away and had been covering the cost of rent so I could graduate from my high school with my childhood friends.

After dealing with the landlord, we sat down at my kitchen table. To this day, I don’t know what happened to me or what prompted me to open up but I did. For over 4 hours, I unleashed everything. I told her everything I felt, every single thing I had done, every single terrible thing that had happened to me that she had no idea about. I let everything out; how I felt about her, how I felt about how she had treated me, how I felt about my father because he hadn’t stopped her. There was no detail of my life, my thoughts, or my feelings left unturned or untold. I bore my soul to her.

I was raw and exposed but surprisingly, at the same time, I was empowered in a way I had never known. I was stunned that I felt such relief to have gotten it all off my chest; to finally have unburdened myself and to have been, for the first time in my life, 100% honest with not only her, but myself!

And, in that moment, I forgave her.

Most importantly, I forgave her not because she asked, not because she was sorry, not because she wanted or needed me to. I forgave her because it was in that moment that I realized that the only way to release myself from the past, from the anger and pain, was to forgive her. I had to forgive her for myself. It was the only way to let go and renew myself! Hanging on to that pain, hurt, and anger was exhausting and it was slowly killing me.

From that moment forward, my life changed; I changed. I still stumbled and had ups and downs over the years but that “blast/opening” was the defining moment that set me on a course for real change and growth.

Like Mr. Percy in his interview, forgiving my mother wasn’t about “letting her off the hook” and I was in no way saying “how you treated me was okay.” It was about saying “what happened, happened. I wish it hadn’t happened but I accept that I can’t change it and I am done letting it control me.”

I came to realize and understand that my mother had done the best she could with what she knew at the time. And when she knew better, she did better. How could a person ask any more of another?

At that point in my life, had I not forgiven her and let go of the past, the only person I would have injured would have been myself. I would have found myself living a life of anger and blame; holding my mother responsible for anything bad in my life, for my poor choices and bad decisions and for any and every thing wrong in my life.

And sure, you know what, at that age and to a certain degree, it was true. Had she not been abusive, maybe I would have grown up with a more solid sense of self and self-esteem that would have propelled me to make different, better choices but that wasn’t the case. But at some point in my life, I had to become the ultimate keeper of the choice. At some point, the responsibility and the fault for the wreckage I was making of my own life laid squarely on my own shoulders – no one else’s. At some point, it was all on me otherwise I would never own the ability to make my life grand.

A life of blame would have meant life as a victim; frozen in time forever. Because being a victim left me powerless to be a champion in my life. Too focused on the past to see the potential of the future.

People often ask me if I’d change anything that happened. And you know what, I wouldn’t. Yes it was hard, yes it had its challenges but it made me who I am today. And it made my mother who she is. And the culmination of those experiences has allowed us to create a most amazing mother/daughter best friendship that without our experiences, we wouldn’t have.

We both did the best we could with what we knew at the time. And when we knew better, we did better.

How has forgiveness changed your life?

If you enjoyed this post, check out more blog deliciousness here:

Marriage proposals; be original


Marriage proposals come in all shapes, size, and styles. I’ve heard some pretty incredible proposals stories and, unfortunately, some pretty lame ones. As you likely guessed, hubby did it up right when he popped the question.

It was a gorgeous summer day. Hot. Sun shining. Not a cloud in the sky. We decided to drive the 2 hours to spend the afternoon at our fav summer beach. With spectacular white sands and warm ocean waters as far as the eye can see, it’s perfection. We loaded up the truck with all our gear and headed off on our adventure.

When we got there, people were just starting to arrive so we had lots of space to choose from. We settled in with our blankets, chairs and beach umbrella and cracked a cold beer. A little sunning, a little reading; the day was shaping up lovely. To make matters even better, another couple we are close with joined us.

We were all maxin’ and relaxin’ when hubby said he was going to go build a sand castle. About an hour later, he came and asked me to check out his sand art. And there, when I rounded the sand bar, was when I saw it. Hubby had carved a spectacular sand heart with a hand coming out of it. My ring sat perfectly in the hand.

He asked me if I would marry him. I cried and said yes. Our friends gave us a huge cheer. It seemed like the entire beach applauded!!! It was by far the most romantic day of my life.

Yip, the photo at the top is REAL and was my engagement experience.

But I gotta say….this guy gives even hubby a run for his money:

What about you? What is your marriage proposal story? What’s the most romantic (or utterly disastrous) proposal story you’ve heard? Share the wealth…

If you enjoyed this post, check out more blog deliciousness here:

  • Louise Behiel wrote an ahhhmazing post on personal responsibility with a powerful metaphor that helps bring this tough concept home. The post…moved me!
  • Elena Aitken (who just released her new book Drawing Free…eeeekeee…congrats Elena) did a wonderful post on how life is about pushing yourself outside the comfort zone to reach your dreams.
  • Emma Burcart did a fantastic post on fun traditions she and her family enjoy. I am inspired to create some of my own and am definitely adopting the red panties on New Year’s Eve (I am sure hubby will love that one)!
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