No Escape from No Escape’s Lessons

Okay, I have something new to obsess over when traveling. Not that I needed something new. Or was looking to fill an empty spot in my obsession closet. But thanks to Owen Wilson's new movie NO ESCAPE, I have new fears to address. I already knew that traveling to foreign lands carries with it an inherent danger. Well, let's face it, traveling anywhere--domestic or abroad--can be dangerous. But when you leave your country and travel to another, you are at the mercy of their laws, their government, and their problems. I have always weighed those risks against the benefits of meeting other people, experiencing other cultures, and expanding my life horizons and found that the benefits far outweighed the possible issues. I still feel that way, and I'll still travel. As much as possible. But thanks to NO ESCAPE, I've learned a few new things I should be concerned about.

1. A Coup

Um, yeah. I never really considered this one when planning my itinerary. But as NO ESCAPE so clearly illustrates, if the country you're visiting experiences a hostile takeover while you're there, YOU ARE SCREWED! All existing laws, treaties, policies, and procedures are thrown out the window. Even the citizens of that country aren't safe in those instances, so people from other countries? Expendable. No internet. No phone. No newspapers. No regular bus service. And airport schedules? Fuhgeddaboutit.

American Flag, 4th of July2. I'm American

I've always been welcomed with open arms and treated with the utmost respect when traveling outside the country, but the reality remains that the US is not popular everywhere or with everyone. NO ESCAPE pointed out that Americans tend to frequent the same hotels and the same locales when we travel. Which I always figured meant safety in numbers, but this movie pointed out some flaws in that theory. Can you say targets? EEK!

3. The Embassy

I think this was the most eye-opening revelation from this film. I have never researched the location of the American Embassy prior to traveling. What?!? I feel like that's kind of irresponsible of me now, but I never thought about it before. There's a moment in the movie where they realize they don't know how to get to the Embassy. Under normal circumstances, you could just ask someone or walk around with a map. But under extreme circumstances such as the military coup, you may not be able to navigate that easily and it would help to have a route planned out ahead of time.

4. I May Just Have to Be Shot

This movie puts Lake Bell and Owen Wilson in a never-ending stream of situations that made me hold my breath, gasp out loud, and occasionally come up out of my seat a little. To say I was entertained by the thrill ride is an understatement, but I also had a sickening realization. I don't know that I'd survive. Granted, they were on a movie set with a camera crew around and perhaps some CGI, so they didn't really have to do those things to survive, but I don't know what I'd be able to do if it happened in real life. My Knight and I discussed this on the way home, and I do have a pretty strong survival instinct. I'm sure I would probably do whatever it took to survive. But watching her jump from one roof to another in the movie nearly stopped my heart. I don't know if I could do it. Would the fear of gunfire be worse than my fear of heights? Would the need to survive outweigh my lack of physical ability and the fear that comes from my knowledge of it?  I don't think you just suddenly develop new skills because your life depends on it. Let me just say, I hope I never find out. But my hat's off to Lake Bell's character in the movie!

5. And on a good note...

I loved this movie! It was a fast-paced, thrill-a-minute, action-packed adventure, and I enjoyed the ride. I felt like it was a departure from Owen Wilson's normal roles, and I was impressed to seeRemington Steele him branch out. I didn't have any prior experience with Lake Bell, but I'm now a fan! I thought her performance was awesome. And I'm always up for a Pierce Brosnan viewing. He and I go way back to the Remington Steele days when I thought he was the most handsome, debonair dude on TV.

So anyway...

Go see NO ESCAPE if you like action and adrenaline. I felt lightheaded from holding my breath by the end of it, but I definitely recommend it if that's your kind of movie. And now if you'll excuse me, I need to go map out the American Embassy for every location on my bucket list.

Quick & Easy Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Chicken Pot Pie recipeBelieve it or not, even though I've been quite vocal about my distaste for cooking, there are a few dishes that I actually enjoy preparing and eating. I don't think there's any danger at all of this turning into a recipe blog, but today happens to be a dear friend's birthday, and one of my family's favorite recipes was given to me by her about twenty years ago. (When we were both just babies--tee hee!) I happened to prepare this meal tonight at the request of Dr. Smooth, so I thought I'd share it with you in honor of my friend's special day. Now, if you're looking for something particularly healthy or gourmet, this ain't it. But if you want something quick, easy, and delicious with very little clean-up, this is a recipe for you! My family requests this recipe more than anything else I make. (Which may actually say more about my cooking repertoire than it does this particular dish, but anyway. They like it when I make it!)

Ingredients:chicken pot pie recipe, cream of potato soup, mixed veggies

1 can mixed vegetables* 2 cans cream of potato soup 1 and 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast** 1/4-1/2 soup can of milk*** 2 pie crusts

Directions:

chicken pot pie recipe, sauteed chickenPreheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut chicken breast into bite-size pieces and saute in skillet. (I use PAM spray to lightly coat skillet.) Salt and pepper chicken to taste as it cooks. Mix cooked chicken pieces with potato soup and mixed veggies. Fill 1/4 of a soup can with milk and pour into mixture. Put one pie crust in the bottom of a pie dish, add chicken mixture, and add second crust on top. Pinch together around Chicken Pot Pie recipethe edges to seal together. Puncture top of crust with a fork. Bake at 450 for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. *I have had friends modify this to use fresh veggies, which would admittedly be more healthy, but that reduces the "easy" factor. So do what works for you. **Her original recipe calls for 1-2 pounds of chicken. We seem to like it right in the middle with 1 and 1/2. If you want more meat, add more. If you want less, add less. Duh. milk, chicken pot pie recipe***The original recipe calls for 1/2 to 3/4 can of milk, but that's a bit too soupy for us, so we do only a 1/4. Adjust to suit your own tastes. The best part is....you have like three dishes to wash. A skillet, a mixing bowl, and a pie dish. Oh, and a spoon, I guess, so four. That's amazing in my book. And the pot pie is even yummier the day after!chicken pot pie, recipe So Happy Birthday friend, and thanks for the many happy years of Chicken Pot Pie!

Diary of a Single Wedding Planner is Released!

It's official! The book is out! It's available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook formats. It's called Diary of a Single Wedding Planner, and here's a basic summary of what it's about from the back cover of the book: Diary of a Single Wedding Planner"Wedding planner Tyler Warren left heartbreak behind when she ran away from her small Southern hometown and started a new life in a big city. Years later, she wants to believe in the fairy-tale endings her job promotes, but the clients she meets day after day seem to be more “Crazily Ever After” than “Happily Ever After.” Meanwhile, her own attempts at romance play out as bizarre comedies rather than love stories, and she’s starting to think Prince Charming either fell off his horse or got eaten by a dragon. When unresolved issues from Tyler’s past complicate things even further, she discovers she may yet have some things to figure out before she can find her own happy ending. This delightful first book in the Tales Behind the Veils series chronicles Tyler’s wacky misadventures, both personal and professional. Whether she’s getting insane requests from brides or outlandish requests on dates, you’re sure to be charmed and entertained by the Diary of a Single Wedding Planner." Some of y'all already heard this news on Facebook, but for those who didn't, you can purchase Diary of a Single Wedding Planner in paperback or ebook over on Amazon.  (click on either of those words to go straight there. Trying to make it as easy as possible for ya!) If you read it and you like it, I would be forever grateful if you would leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, your local book club, the grocery store or anywhere else you think people might read your review.  Basically, tell everyone you know! If you didn't like it, please feel free to let me know what you think I could improve for next time, and I'm okay if you don't publish a public review saying you hated it. There's also a new author website up and running for Violet--feel free to go check that out at www.violethowe.com. The Goddess Howe blog also has an author page for Violet now, as well as a book page that tells about Diary of a Single Wedding Planner and hopefully will soon have details about the second book. I can't thank you all enough for your support. It is an incredibly exciting, nerve-wracking, scary, and humbling experience to put this out there for everyone to see. Thanks for being a part of the journey. So rush right over to Amazon and pick up a copy! Let me know what you think, and if you can get it in my hands, I'll sign it for you!

Getting Excited Over Here!

So the cat's out of the bag on Facebook today, and it's been quite exhilarating! I made a couple of big announcements there, and I'm thrilled to share them with you here as well. First and foremost, the novel is finished.  Done. Completed. Final Draft-Hit Save. It's been edited and proofed by a professional editor. It's been vetted and critiqued by beta readers. Revised and tweaked. Cover Art designed. Book Formatted. Ready to go. Available for sale in a matter of weeks. (Cue confetti streamers and loud, raucous laughter and applause here!) Woohoo!!!!! Please allow me a moment to feel completely invigorated before the mammoth project of marketing and promotion seeps in. I have accomplished a life goal that I set in my third grade diary and have been working on in various ways ever since! Wow! A full-length novel. Of course, I didn't do it alone...and there's a ton of people to thank. So many that my acknowledgments page in the book stretched out to two pages. And I still probably missed a name or two! But it's finished. And I like it. I'm proud of it. And I hope you all will like it, too. Another exciting tidbit of news is the creation of a pen name. It turns out my own name was a little more common on-line and in author world than I knew! So to avoid any confusion moving forward, I will publish books under the name Violet Howe. Don'tcha just love it? It has an old-fashioned, vintage, romantic feel. And since purple has always been my signature color, Violet is ever so fitting! In addition to all the hubbub related to publishing, the last few weeks have also been a whirlwind of creating an identity. Facebook page, twitter account, website design, and all the legalities of doing business as a name other than your own. This journey has been simply incredible.  I have learned so much about writing, publishing, genres, reviews, marketing, taxes, and royalties. But the greatest lesson I have learned is how amazing the people around you can be. I have received so much love, support, enthusiasm, and encouragement. I am blown away, and I do not have the words to properly express how grateful I am. Snoopy DancingI'll be releasing  a sneak preview of the cover within a week, and I think you're going to love it. I'll also be putting out a brief summary to tell you what the book's about, and there'll be a new author website debut for Violet Howe to correlate with the Facebook site that premiered today. I should also have an official release date for you within the next two weeks, but the target is the second week in July. Once I have that date, I can give you all the details on how to get your own copy! This is so much fun, y'all.  I can't hardly stand it! So stay tuned for all the excitement. And if you haven't had a chance to visit the Violet Howe Author page on Facebook, pop on over and click LIKE!