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Feeding My Addiction

If you’ve been reading here long, you know that I love coffee.  I’ve had all kinds of coffee pots over the years.  I’ve tried cheap ones.  I’ve tried expensive ones (to me, any coffee pot that costs over $100 is expensive).  I’ve bought green coffee beans and had them roasted to order.  I jumped up and down when Caribou Coffee opened, only to become…disillusioned.

Over time, my taste has changed.  I used to love Gevalia, for example.  I bought Kenya by the box.  Then I got sick of it and I can’t stand how it tastes now, even from other companies.  There’s a honey-cured bean (with some of the coffee fruit still on the bean) that we adored from Costa Rica, but we haven’t been able to order it for over a year.  Nothing else compares.  Even my old standby – Mahogany from Caribou – loses its taste if that’s all I drink.  It helps if I trade in other coffees, like Living After Midnight from Classic Rock, a local roastery, but…

Now I’m having problems with my coffee pot.

I’m hard on pots, I know that.  I make 2-4 pots a day.  By “pot” I don’t mean a full pot.  I make just enough at once to fill my favorite white mug, which takes about 4 cups of water on the measuring line.  I use a ridiculous amount of beans to get it as strong as I like, even with the 1-4 cup/Bold setting on this pot.  Yet it still doesn’t have that TASTE I want.

It’s hard to describe.  It’s like when you steal the first 1/2 cup or so out of the pot, when it’s really really strong and rich.  That’s what I like.  I’ve been making my coffee stronger and stronger over time, and cutting back on how much I make as a result, but this pot just isn’t making the coffee as strong as I like, even when I only make 1 cup at a time.  Plus it’s ridiculously expensive to waste so many beans.

Then this pot started leaking.  And it’s less than 6 months old!  I thought a KitchenAid would last longer than that.

Anyway, I’ve been eying an espresso machine as a result.  I wanted that rich strong taste that I crave, even if I get a much smaller cup at once.  (If I drank my white mug full of espresso I think I’d have a heart attack.)

We went to Everything Kitchen to try out some different pots (they were nice enough to demo them for me, which makes shopping so much easier).  I tasted espresso both from a Nepresso Pixie and a gorgeous stainless steel Saeco, fully automated.  I admit, I loved that Saeco.  The coffee was incredible.

So was the sticker price at over $1200.  Gulp!!!

Needless to say, I didn’t spend that much.  But I did spend more than I’ve ever spent on a coffee pot before and bought the Pixie.  I was reluctant because I don’t want to chain myself to a pod-only system, but since I’m fairly tired of the beans I typically buy, it’s a risk I was willing to take.  Plus my other pot still works — it just leaks.  When I need to change things up, I can always make a traditional pot of coffee.

So here’s my cute little lime-green Pixie.  (My colors are black or red, but this was a demo model and I got a really good price on it.)  My only complaint so far:  I ran out of the sample pods way too quickly!  I was desperate enough that I drank the decaf ones today until my order arrived.

I’m not addicted or anything….

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Save An Ent – Read An Ebook Giveaway

Since Tecun arrives 8/6, I’m going to celebrate ebooks the entire month!  I’ll be doing several guest posts again throughout the blogosphere, so this entry will be updated as those links become available.

What’s up for grabs:  WINNER’S CHOICE EREADER up to $200 (USD) value.



  • Love the one-click buy at Amazon and want to upgrade to a new Kindle Fire?
  • Have you been lusting after the Nook GlowLight?
  • Or maybe the Kobo Vox is more your style.

The winner picks whichever eReader you want.  I will ship internationally, but please make sure the device you select will work in your country and that I’m allowed to ship it there without violating any customs regulations.  I do not retain names or email addresses after the giveaway closes.

How to enter:

  • Comment as many times as you want on this post through Aug 31st, midnight CST.
  • Comment as many times as you want on any of the guest posts I’m doing the month of August (I’ll add the links to this post).
  • Rate or Review The Bloodgate Warrior on any online book site and post a comment here with the link.
  • Post about this giveaway on your own blog or website and make a comment on this post with the link.  (A cool giveaway icon is coming soon!)

I’ll accumulate a spreadsheet of everyone who comments throughout the month on the above posts and use to select the winner on Sept 1st.  The winner will have 3 days to respond.  If I’m unable to reach the winner, I’ll pick a new name until I have a contact.

To get the comments started:  are you an ebook lover, a possible convert to electronic reading, or a take-my-paperback-from-my-cold-dead-hands reader?

Comment at these guest posts for an extra entry:

Artwork courtesy of S.J. Collins

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Crazy Busy

I’ve been so busy this past week, and we’ve had a lot of drama and stress.  I also had galleys to get back on Yours to Take – which I’m ashamed to admit I ended up turning in late.  I’ve never been late before, but with everything going on, I just got behind.  So that was my main push last week.

That Man has a job and he starts tomorrow.  I started school shopping this weekend.  I got several business casual outfits for myself to prepare for my upcoming trip to MN.  I found some great vegetarian recipes (watch out family, I might be pulling them out on everyone, not just Princess!).  The fridge is well stocked for a week of healthy meals, including lots of smoked chicken That Man cooked today.

Now let me buckle down and finish the additions to Lady Blackmyre…  And the expansion to Bloodgate… then I’ll be in good shape for this month.  Nose to the grindstone!

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Weight Watchers: When Points Don’t Matter

I knew this all along, but it really came home to me this past weekend.  Sometimes, you can eat within your points and smugly think you’re doing so well….and gain.

It’s not just the weird and frustrating way the scale can lie sometimes when my body retains fluid for whatever reason.  The FOOD I choose to eat does MATTER.  Points — or calories — are not created equal.  Those choices affect my weigh in.

I chose to go back to Weight Watchers because I was tired of having a near-panic attack because I ate something that wasn’t on the “allowed” list.  Struggling all the time.  Making two separate meals everytime I had to cook.  I’ve been on diets that involved no salt.  No carbs.  No meat.  No sugar.  No fat.  You name it.  I didn’t want to be that exclusive.  I wanted to eat with my family on a normal basis and not have to worry that I’d just blown it.

In that regard, Weight Watchers is perfect.  Most of the time, we all eat the same thing.  I just choose parts of the main meal to replace with something slightly healthier.  More and more, the family is also joining me.  Tonight, Middle ate sauteed cabbage and loved it.  That’s 4 out of 5!  Just one more monster to convert…

But I blew it this weekend.  The stress of That Man’s job situation got to me, combined with travel to the in laws and frustration because I didn’t have time to get my workout in before heading out.  I ate my healthy brunch at home while the family ate fast food in the car on the way over.  I made the mistake of not taking some healthy snacks to tie me over… and dinner couldn’t come quickly enough.  I was starving.

And out came the chips and dip.  Sigh.  My old nemesis.

I resisted for at least an hour, but I just got hungrier and hungrier.  One taste of that evil salty goodness and the old addiction kicked in.  I wanted more salt.  More fat.  It was soooo good.  I made myself leave the area and managed to avoid it the rest of the night, but the damage was done.

I indulged in chips again on Sunday while watching movies with the family.  Then we ordered in pizza.  Sigh.

I counted EVERYTHING.  I had to guessimate on a few things, but I did the best I could.  I had the activity points to cover everything, limited myself to only two pieces of pizza, and thought I was okay.  I didn’t even touch my weeklies.  People eat all their APs and weeklies all the time, right?

Yeah, but not with a SALT fest.

(Top that off with a trip to see Brave last night.  That Man couldn’t pass on the popcorn.  I had to listen to that endless munching and resist.  I did it, but man, it was hell after all that salty evil deliciousness I’d allowed back onto my tastebuds.)

So this was week #2 that I saw a 2 lb gain.  That’s right, I’m up 4 pounds in two weeks.  Do you know how long it’ll take me to lose 4 pounds again?  Probably 4-6 weeks.  I’m so mad at myself I could cry.  I know it’s just fluid retention.  I know it’s not really 4 pounds of fat.  But it’ll still take me weeks to get it off again.

On the bright side, I am still managing to do Power 90.  I only made 4 days in a row (instead of 6 as the program specifies) but as sore as I was, I needed the weekend to recover.  I’ve made it 2 days this week.  Even if I can only manage 5 days a week and skip the weekends, that’ll still be a really good goal until life settles down.

I know what the stressor was.  Looking back, I can see the signs.  I don’t know what I could have done to prevent it, but I know working out would have helped.  Next time, if we have to be late for an event, then we’ll just have to be late.  If nothing else, I have to get my workout in!

There are still chips in the house, but hopefully I’ve got the lid clamped back down and my willpower is fully in place.  It’s so funny–the family can indulge in ice cream all the time and it doesn’t tempt me.  Birthday cake.  Even donuts.  Very little temptation.  But oh man the chips.  It doesn’t matter what kind.  Plain.  Cheetos.  Fritos.  I can sometimes handle them in small measured amounts, but when the stress is too high, I can’t.  I can’t even see the open bag on the counter (a huge no no but the monsters continue to forget), I have to really physically rein myself in and get that evil bag shut and put in the cupboard.

Out of sight.  Out of mind.  The points may fit in my plan, but the salt is crack for me.  I just can’t risk it.

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Secret Project is Live

A few weeks ago I might have mentioned something about a big secret project that wasn’t a *specific* writing project.  Well it’s live!  I’ll be adding more as the details come in but I hope you’ll stop by and say hello!

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Review Roundup

Wow, I hadn’t realized it’d been so long since I’d posted here.  I can’t believe June is already half gone!  Let me catch up with some awesome reviews for Yours to Take.

First up is an incredible review by Whitney at RTBookReviews:  4.5 stars and a Top Pick!

Book three in the Connaghers series will delight readers whether or not they have read the first two stories. With concrete world building, multi-layered characters and a dynamic plot, this story is an excellent portrayal of a woman taking her first steps into the world of BDSM and struggling to hold onto the two men who have stolen her heart. Readers will be swept up in this emotional, extremely passionate tale and root for this threesome every step of the way.

She writes more in an extended review here:

Ultimately, Burkhart does a fantastic job of illustrating this new BDSM ménage relationship as it cracks out of its vanilla shell like a baby bird and then takes its first few steps. The story moves beyond interesting to downright fascinating, and is one that readers will feel comfortable with even if they tend to take their erotic romance sans ménage or BDSM elements.

Nancy’s review is also up at Queen of the Night Reviews:

Joely sue Burkhart has a talent for creating worlds that suck you in and make you feel like part of the story. This story is no different, and I felt like I was seeing and feeling everything Vicki was at times. The characters in this are strong and well written and the interaction is fully believable throughout the story.

Thank you so much! If I’ve missed posting a review, feel free to comment or drop me a note (joelysueburkhart AT gmail DOT com). I’ve been discombobulated this summer!

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Power 90 Round 2

I decided I’d better post this and make it public before I wimp out.

I’m going to do another round of Power 90, this time all at level 3/4.  Today was day 4 for me.  I only managed a handful of exercise days in May, so I decided I’d better get my fanny in gear and make a commitment.  This gives me a deadline of about the time the monsters head back to school this fall.

I’m a little behind where I was before RT but not bad at all.  I can still get through the cardio portion without having to stop, but I can’t quite do as many pushups.  Hopefully that’ll come back after a week or two.  I’ll probably need to move up in weights sometime in the first 30 days, but I’m not sure when.  I guess I’ll play it by ear.

I’m not traditionally very prolific in the dog days of summer, so I’m hoping the exercise commitment won’t interfere with heavy-duty writing.  I’m nearly finished with the first draft of Lady Blackmyre – just one more scene.  I could have finished it this evening after work, but we had two neighbor kids over and it was raining.  Five kids in the house.  Yeah, wasn’t happening.

Then I’ll have some edits I want to do on another story so I can decide what to do with it, and then I’ll grind through a second draft of Blackmyre so I can get it submitted in the next month or so.  I need to finish plotting Lord Regret’s story too.  Hopefully I can continue exercise while managing all my To-Dos.

I only need to lose a little over 16 pounds to hit my next major milestone.  Maybe this round of Power 90 will get me there!

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Practicing Maintenance

I have good news and bad news on the Weight Watcher front.  Since RT in April, I’ve pretty much been hovering up and down 2 pounds.

The bad news:  I’ve been gaining and losing the same 2 pounds.  Only this past week did I edge slightly deeper into VFT (virgin fat territory).  I’ve been *this close* to losing 80 pounds for weeks now.

The good news:  that’s well over a month of maintenance.

See, one of the huge reasons I’ve bailed on diets before is this exact phase.  I get tired of the ups and downs without a steady downward trend.  I start feeling sorry for myself.  “Gee, I’m working so hard.  It’s not fair.  Whines.  I didn’t eat this or that and the scale is stilllllll up, so I should definitely polish off that bag of chips in the pantry.”

I get in a rut.  I’m tired of tracking.  For seemingly “valid” reasons (RT travel, Lady Blackmyre’s whip), I can’t get my normal exercise routine in.  I’m stressed out (That Man’s job situation).  Maybe we eat out a little more because of traveling (Mother’s Day trips).  I might overeat a little at birthday celebrations (mine in May, Littlest in June, That Man’s in July).

I’m sick.  I’m tired.  I’m sick AND tired.  I’ve got a release out.  The kids are out of school.  That Man’s out of a job.  Ahhhhhh!  *runs away tearing out my hair*

Once you’re derailed, it’s really really hard to get back on track.  Danger, Will Robinson!  Here be Dragons!

The good news this time around is that I’ve basically been practicing maintnenance.  I haven’t gained more than 2 pounds, which I immediately lost over the next two weeks.  I’ve not blackslid into poor eating.  While I did indulge at Mythos for my birthday and a patty melt and fries (my all-time favorite) once at Smith’s, I’ve always gotten back on track the very next meal.

My usual breakfast.  My normal veggie side dishes and homemade dressings.  My faithful snacks of fruit and protein and healthy oils.

My smallest jeans still fit.  My favorite jeans are still too big.  I keep putting them in the sell pile and then pulling them on “one last time” even though I know they’ll stretch out and drive me nuts because I’ll be hauling them up all day.

Maybe it’s wisdom in my old age :mrgreen: but I’ve come to realize these periods are not failures.  In some ways, they’re necessities.  This is time for my body to adjust to a new weight.  Maybe it’s all in my head, but I really think it gives my skin time to shrink in and adjust to my smaller body.  I feel tighter and smaller, even if the scale doesn’t budge…ESPECIALLY if I get my Power 90 routine in.  (I’m working on it – I’m hoping to log a steady 5 weeks while That Man is training for his new job.)

If I’m bored with food, then that gives me a reason to research new menu options.  I pulled out my old WW cookbooks.

If I’m bored with my clothes, then I try on my drawer things for new inspiration.  By the way, I wore my first pair of shorts in at least ten years last weekend on a family trip to Silver Dollar City.  Small children did not run in horror at my deathly white cellulite that still lingers.

It’s just like writing (or any other Hero’s Journey).  Some days the traveling is joyous and easy and exhilarating.  I can’t wait to get up in the morning to see what new low the scale has given me.

Other days it’s a struggle to even get out of bed and trudge in there to see what that lying cheating box of metal is going to shovel on me today.  I don’t wanna exercise.  I can’t gag down one more bowl of yogurt for breakfast.  I want chips, damn it.  Or homemade bread!

But if I stick to the path, eventually these periods of Inner Cave and Dark Moments will pass.  I will only contine my journey by passing through these moments of boredom and fear and laziness.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  If I do the right things and eat the right foods, the hateful lying scale will eventually be forced to cooperate.

I can’t use the cave as an excuse to leave the journey entirely.  In some ways, this phase is more MENTAL than physical.  I have to let my mind adjust as much as my thinner body.

So the journey continues.