Friday, November 25, 2011

Victory in Triplicate!

   Victory is ours!  We have succeeded in our goals! We have remained friends through thick and thin, word wars, and chocolate deprivation!
   Having reached our goal of 50,000 words each (which comes to a total of 150,000+ words all together!) we have rewarded ourselves several ways, the most popular being that we have not touched our manuscripts since we finished. It has been wonderful, and I think our word vocabulary's are slowly returning. (Although I am beginning to think there may be some slight permanent damage, I couldn't remember the word for rack yesterday when I was moving things around in the oven. . . . )

   To celebrate this victory we have a little surprise planned for you all that will be posted, hopefully, sometime in the next two weeks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chocolate vs word count

      Our heroine sat hunched over her laptop desperately trying to stare down her nemesis.  She sighed, wondering when it all had gone so wrong.  One moment, the characters she had created were following her plot like good little children; the next they were bickering and fighting with her as though they should dictate the plot.  The story details, the little twists and turns that had seemed so brilliant last night while she was falling asleep had turned traitor and were nowhere to be found now that she really needed them.
Now, the word-count on her screen taunted her with its infuriating smallness; the blinking cursor seemed to laugh maniacally, daring her to type something, anything just to get that tally closer to the daily goal.
  "I WILL NOT resort to making my characters sing lyrics to songs that never end, or having them review the periodic table just to increase my word count!" she defied the blinking cursor - for what was at least the sixth time that half-hour.
  "Whose brilliant idea was this, anyway?" she grouched to her writing buddy.  Her writing buddy, instinctively knowing an answer wasn't really wanted smiled serenely and didn't bother to look up from her own plot.
  "Oh I give up!" our heroine conceded.  "You may have won the battle," she glared at the word count box, "but the war still wages.  I'm going for re-enforcements," she announced, dramatically flipping the laptop screen closed.

  "I need chocolate."

  Each word was punctuated with frustration and a hint of lingering bitterness toward uncooperative creativity.


      A fellow word-fighter materialized, sensing that the previously hostile war-zone had transitioned to a temporarily peaceful truce.
  "Yes," our heroine asserted firmly, uncurling her legs from the chair and working the kinks out of her shoulders.
  "Me, too," her ally sighed, plopping down on the almost lumpy couch.  "My hero is having an identity crisis and my villain is showing disconcerting hero-ish tendencies.  My story sounded so brilliant in my head and once I started putting it on paper it's falling a bit flat."
  "In that case we might need a cookie or two as well," our first heroine mused.
  "Will this fortification of comforting endorphins involve . . . . coffee, perhaps?" a third compatriot joined the ranks.
  "We might be able to handle that," the second heroine nodded thoughtfully.
  "I have just the thing," the first heroine brightened.  "I found it a few weeks ago and have been saving it for An Emergency."
  "I've been staring at the same paragraph for the last 45 minutes," the third heroine observed dryly.  "I think this qualifies."
  The other two nodded.
  "Think you can hold out for another half hour?  This shouldn't take too long after I do my mise en place."
  "There she goes again," the third heroine rolled her eyes.
  "We're fine," the second heroine said quickly, shoving her toward the door.  "Go.  Do your mise en mess thing and stop spouting weird words that normal people never use!  Don't you know that mixing Food Network and NaNoWriMo could be disastrous to my plot?!"
  The first heroine giggled as she quickly snapped a picture of the black board on her wall and retreated to the kitchen.
  "It looks yummy," she said to herself as she reviewed the original recipe, "but I think I'll make a few changes."
  "Oh for crying out loud!  Once, just once I'd like to see you make a recipe the way its written," the third heroine called after her.
  "Shhh!" the second heroine hissed.  "If you leave her alone long enough she'll forget we're in here.  If she starts talking to herself we might get some good dialogue inspiration out of this arrangement."
  "I'm not that entertaining," the first heroine called back to them as she propped the camera up on a shelf and started gathering her ingredients.

  Thanks to modern technology, there was a pot of fresh coffee brewing moments later.  And after a quick rummage in the pantry and refrigerator, our heroine had the ingredients she needed.

"2 ounces baking chocolate
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 cups coffee
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon", 
she read the list to herself off the camera's view screen.

  "Me thinks that unsweetened baking chocolate could add complications," she continued.
  "But its easier than figuring out the cocoa equivalent," she shrugged.  "And you could easily stir in a little extra sugar if it isn't sweet enough."
  "True," she agreed with herself.  "Let's get the milk warming and we can figure out the rest as we go."
  "I'll use a bigger sauce pan so we have room to add the coffee later."
  "Good idea.  This says to use a double boiler to melt the chocolate, but 2 ounces really isn't all that much.  "
  "So rig something.  Double boilers haven't been around forever . . . what would your great grandmother have used?"
  "Good point.  I bet if I use a clothes pin to clip this bowl above the tea kettle that would work."

  "Be careful you don't burn yourself on the steam.  Oh, that's brilliant!"

  "I thought so.   I just hope the clothes pin holds.  I'd hate to have it drop the chocolate into the water," she smiled, very pleased with herself as she poked at the chocolate with a whisk.

  "Could you read the directions again?  Once its melted, what do I do next?"

  "Whisk in the cinnamon, salt and sugar."

  "Thank you."

  "Be careful you don't pop the clothes pin off!"

  "I am being careful!  Do you have any idea how hard it is to try cook and take pictures of what you're doing?"

  "Sweetie, calm down.  You're less likely to drop stuff if you're relaxed.  Now pour in a little of the hot coffee."

    "Okay," she sighed slowly.  "You're right.  But I think I'm going to take this off the hot water now.  This is going to involve a little more whisking than I think my rigged double boiler can handle," she observed.


  "Good idea," she agreed, moving the small bowl to a hot pad on the counter.  "Keep stirring until the coffee dissolves the sugar."  

  "I'll add the vanilla now and then taste it to see how that unsweetened baking chocolate is working out."

  "Not bad," she told herself.  "But it would definitely qualify for dark chocolate.  I'm not sure your compatriots are going appreciate that."

  "Probably not.  They are definitely of the 'sweet' chocolate camp.  I'll add another 2 tbsp. of sugar and that should get it up where semisweet would have been.  Are you going to add the rest of that coffee to the milk or should I?"

  "I'll do it.  You can add the chocolate in a minute."

"Oh that's pretty!  I love how the coffee turns the milk a soft, gentle brown.  Is it my turn?"

"Go for it."

  "Now we whisk it frothy, just because it's fun.  If you'll get the cups, I'll get the biscotti."

     Five minutes later a tray of biscotti and steaming mugs of Brazilian Hot Chocolate was sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be carried into the fray.

       Laptops were ceremoniously closed with sighs of relief when the mugs were passed around.
  "To plots un-kinking," the first heroine toasted.
  "To meeting word counts before bedtime and being asleep by midnight," the second added.
  "To heroes who do what they're told . . . without argument," the third heroine finished solemnly, clinking the glasses 'round.  The first steamy sip was savored; and the tension of missing word counts began to ease.  Then, a lovely crunching of biscotti; contentious characters began to blur into a relaxing imagination.
  "Mmmm," someone sighed deeply.
  "This is really good."
  "I don't feel as crabby as I did a minute ago."
  "If y'all don't mind, a little peace and quiet seems to be in order.  I'm having a very serious conversation with my Brazilian Hot Chocolate and biscotti, and y'all are interrupting," a tiny, genteel voice scolded primly.  The three heroines stared in shock at the tea tray.
  "Is there any more of this very lovely caffeine spiked chocolate?" the third heroine asked quietly.
  "You haven't finished the first half of that cup," the first heroine objected.
  "But I just heard your writing buddy scold us for interrupting her enjoyment of her cup!  I didn't think I was that far gone, but if I'm hearing stuffed bears speak . . . I'm going to need way more chocolate."
  "No, I heard her too," the second heroine whispered. 
  "Me, too," the first heroine admitted slowly.  "I think we've been at this NaNoWriMo thing too long."
  They silently regarded the small, innocent looking bear for a moment.
  "Well, look at the bright side," the third heroine smiled.  "Being a little nuttier than usual could come in handy when battling stubborn word counts or goofy characters."
  The second heroine started giggling.
  "I bet a talking teddy bear would shock my hero into getting back on track," she grinned.
  "Teddy bears don't really fit in my plot," the third shrugged, picking her laptop up and opening the lid.  "I think I need a singing rock."
  The others giggled.
  "Okay," the first heroine conceded, laughing as she booted her computer back up.  "I'll add a quirky kitchen maid who can't get a straight answer out without turning it into another question.  Then we'll see what happens."
      The busy clack of computer keys, the occasional sipping of chocolate and crunch of nutty biscotti blended into a symphony of creativity.  And on the corner of the tea tray, a small bear sat with a tiny cup of chocolate, smiling a small smile to herself and thinking that, in the end, maybe she was the heroine of the story after all.

 The End

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lemon Sugar Scrub

As the weather turns colder and the humidity in the air drops a persons skin tends to begin to dry.
One of my absolute favorite pampering procedures is a Lemon-Sugar hand scrub.  Not only does it feel really nice, it sloughs away the dead, dry skin and leaves your hands smooth and soft.
   The best part?  You only need two things, both of which you probably already have hanging around in your kitchen or pantry.

1. Lemon Juice
2. White Sugar

First - begin with a palm full of sugar.
  I specified white sugar because it is finer and tends to works better than, say, organic cane sugar, which tends to be a bit too coarse for a hand scrub.
 (Although I have used it before and it does work, it isn't as gentle and I personally don't like it as well.)

Dribble lemon juice until sugar is just pasty.

This is a little bit too much lemon juice - you want it thick and pasty instead of runny.

 Then you gently scrub. . . . .

And scrub . . . . . 

And scrub! 
Make sure to concentrate a little bit extra on the spots that are really dry, and make sure to get in between your fingers.  It feels really, really nice so you can stand there and scrub away.

 Then you rinse. . . . .

 And rinse . . . . . .

 And rinse!
You want to make sure you get it all off, because it has happened more than once that I have discovered a sticky spot somewhere after doing a scrub.
You may have noticed in a couple of the pictures that my hand was splotchy red in a few places - this will happen because of the exfoliation and stimulation your skin is getting.  If it feel irritated you might be rubbing a bit too hard.
There you are! It is simple, quick, and feels wonderful! 
If you feel like it you can extend the pampering even further and follow up with scented lotion, and/or a manicure! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Hi everyone
As some of you know I just got into the jewelry making hobby a few months ago and I thought you might like to see something I've done.
This is the latest piece I've made, it started as a play-around and not sure if it was going to work at all.  I got the idea from a bracelet that I saw in Kohl's, it was expensive so I didn't get it.  Then a few day's later I thought I'll try and make one myself.  My version isn't just like the other one but it has the same shape pretty much.

 Plus it will go with the earring's I made a few week's ago.
So now I will have something to wear on Red Friday. (WAHOO)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Word Wars

  Words in general have been a pretty big part of my daily life recently. I knew when we started NaNo words would take priority over a lot of my hobbies - I just didn't understand what that would mean. 

As far as the attempt at 50,000 words goes, I've already had a few ups and downs.  (To the point that I almost didn't start at all, but I'm rather glad I did.)  Writing is something I've always loved to do, but I don't think NaNoWriMo would be as much fun if I didn't share the common ground - and accountability - with my sisters and mum.  We'll be sitting on the couch, laptops whirring away, and someone will ask for a random word - "that word for when X happens, but you don't really want to admit it, and it isn't Y" . . . "Z" someone will helpfully supply - or we'll need a character or place name.  We haven't hit any character rebellion yet (sounds weird, but it does happen), so we haven't had to do any major plot problem solving.  We're steadily typing away . . . and checking out each-other's word count.  :)  

      The farther into NaNo I get, the more I can't help thinking that NaNoWriMo is a lot like life.  We started NaNo with basic story ideas, and the more we write the more we are surprised at the direction our stories are taking.  Life, when I was five or even seven or twelve, wasn't that big of a deal: it just happened.  Kind-of the way I read books: someone else wrote them and I get to enjoy all the work, frustration and painful re-edits they went through before it went to print.  But the older I get, the more Life seems to be a huge endeavor - some of it really fun and exciting, and some of it really not.

      Writing fiction is a lot like painting: you sketch your scene (sometimes only mentally) and then you start adding color and detail.  And when you step back from the painting to get the whole picture, you realize that in one corner the shadows are a little too dark, or that the shades of blue used for water aren't quite rich enough to give it depth.  Stories work the same way.  And so does life.  Its called growing.

       We've been having a lot of interesting discussions at home about what it looks like to love others the way Christ intended us to.  And in my own quiet time I've been coming across a lot of things I thought I knew the answers to, but I'm having to re-evaluate: is the way I live this conviction truly about honoring the God who redeemed me with His blood, or is it about me looking like a "good" Christian?  There are a lot of words swirling in my head and my heart.

      When I was wee, I was pretty sure I knew how to love others: the Golden Rule of "do unto others as you would have others do until you" seemed pretty clear.  But then I grew up and the issue of convictions that didn't line up clouded things . . . . your church says, and my church says, and this evangelist teaches, and that one does, and I'm convinced . . . . and words that contain truth begin to seemingly war with each other.  'Good things' become Standards that we defend fiercely, sometimes to the detriment of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  I love how Jasmine Baucham's post "Are you Trusting In Chariots?" neatly wrapped the issue in a single question:

"Are we more focused on giving an answer for the hope that we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15), or in defending our particular lifestyle or pet paradigm? "

      I am ashamed to say that in the last several weeks I have to admit that I do.  The words that define what I say I believe have become more important than my desire to be more like my Savior.  I never once thought that realization would ever have similar threads with NaNo.
      Chickadee, Sharpi and I all have vastly varying NaNo plots.  And we all have different ways of working through the writing challenges that crop up.  If we end up comparing efforts, I’m pretty sure at least once we’ll all come across details in the other’s stories that prompt a, “Hmmm . . . . I don’t think I would have taken that route,” moment.  But at the end of the day, we are more interested in encouraging one another and helping each other through the tough spots than we are in making a word-count happen.  We're family.  That's what it means to love each other.

      In "The Church" (as being defined as the body of Christ, and not limited to one specific congregation or denomination) there is a vast array of people living lives that are never going to look the same.  We - yes, we - hold to our Standards and end up behaving as though it is our job to change the hearts of our brothers and sisters instead of loving them unconditionally.  And the words of truth that inspired our standards end up condemning and discouraging.
  On the extreme flip side you have the view that, since we are supposed to love each other no matter what, we should also be tolerant of wrong - which is nothing more than twisting words of truth to mean what we want them to.  (If the issue boiled down to love alone, there would have been no reason for Christ to make the ultimate sacrifice of His life, since the need for reconciliation with God would have been negated by His unconditional love.)
      We Three have different writing styles - and as much as I sometimes wish I was writing my sister's stories instead of mine, that isn't how it works.  Conversely, God has given each of us different lives and things work a whole lot better when we focus on living ours instead of someone else's.   While we girls are all cozied on the couch writing, we are in the perfect position to offer each other advice, encouragement, word suggestions, and spelling corrections; when we live we should, by all means, offer encouragement and correction IF we have earned that privilege from the other person by first walking with them and loving them unconditionally. 
      I don’t know about you, but I wouldn't appreciate it very much if a near-stranger came up to me and told me in polished Christian-ese, “You should be living you life better.”  I’m guilty of making mental judgment calls on other people’s lives, and have to be reminded that I don’t see the whole picture; I haven’t walked in their shoes.  And who am I, with my stubborn, rebellious heart, to be making that judgment?

      Hmmm.  Lots to think about.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go focus on my word count.  I mean, my life.

Monday, November 14, 2011


While we girls were on our shopping trip I found Irish Rose's Christmas present, want to see. :)
                                             (Sssh, don't tell Irish Rose)

Just kidding, IRose was the one that found it but she wasn't going to buy it
and seeing as I needed a Christmas present for her it all worked.
As we were leaving the store I said to her "Now what am I getting you for Christmas?"
She promptly replied "You have my Christmas present?"
"Very Good!"  :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

SCORE! - An Unexpected Surprise

   I am beginning to suspect that, perhaps, somewhere deep inside me there is an accessory fashionista just waiting to be released.  My reasons for this? Because in the past, oh, two years or so I've become extremely interested in searching out and putting together cute outfits. Lately it has been going beyond the outfit itself and trying to figure out what I could put with it to make it even cuter.
   We went on an All Girl shopping day last week. There were a few things we had to do, but most of it was the For Fun type of shopping where we ohh and ahh over cute clothes; try on shoes and boots that are alternately cute and so nasty they just have to be tried on, and lugging piles of clothing into dressing rooms with the sole purpose being simply that we "Want to try it on, just because" and not because we are actually seriously thinking about purchasing said item. (Then again we have discovered a few styles that really work well on us because we stepped out of our comfort zone and tried something we normally wouldn't gravitate toward.)
    A few hours into shopping we stopped at Kohls - I really like the store, but if I'm looking for clothing it seems to be somewhat hit and miss, there will be times I find things I like and times that I don't.  This particular visit I walked in without my purse because I was not looking for anything specific, and I wasn't really looking to buy anything.
   We wandered the bedding, kitchen, and shoe sections before gradually making our way to the front.  To get there we have to go past the accessory section, and the way I shop I tend to weave my way through all the different parts instead of sticking on the plain, clear pathway.  So we weave into the accessory section because mom is looking for a new, cute yet functional wallet.  My mother has a reputation for purse shopping - she is constantly on the search for The Perfect Purse - I can't seem to join her in her fascination, (in fact, this is pretty much the face I make when she heads for the bags again;rolleye0001 Free Emoticons   Rolling Eyes)  I mean, really, a purse is just a lined sack with a strap; something you lug around with you that happens to hold your keys, wallet, tissues, spare keys, cellphone, lotion, loose change, touch-up makeup, and the kitchen sink. So if it preforms the necessary functions of retaining all that without dumping it out at inopportune times, then what does it matter if it's pink, green, hobo styled, or beach bag?  I'm will say, though, that I'm happy mom loves to look at bags and doesn't give up her search for her Perfect Purse. . . . . . . it's kind of like my search for the the Perfect Pair of Boots! happy0043 Free Emoticons   Happy
   So here we are, browsing about the accessory aisle, and I happen to be vaguely looking around at the variety of purses.  A few months ago I decided that my current purse had become just a bit too small for the extra things I kept finding myself trying to stuff in there. To be fair I've had that one little brown purse for years - it being the one and only that I've purchase up to date. Yet it is only big enough for my wallet, checkbook, chapstick, and perhaps a little notebook and pen - even then I've got to squeeze and twist my hand to get it in there to grab what I want. (Clearly, not nearly enough room for the kitchen sink.)
I see a relatively cute looking white hobo bag that is interesting enough to warrant a second look. Meh, it is kind of nice, but not much bigger than the one I have, and not exactly cute enough, even with the 7.50 price tag.  I pick it up anyway, (one of those pick-up-and-walk-around-with-it-until-I-decide-not-to-buy-it type of things), and turn a corner where I see IT. . . . . . a pretty little tan and chocolate brown bag.
  "Ohhhh!" All three of my family members instantly react to my excited squeal with questions of "What did you find?" and "That is really cute!"
   Needless to say I put the little white hobo back and executed little dance of excitement at finally finding a cute, but functional bag! On the clearance rack no less!happy0064 Free Emoticons   Happy 
Finishing our perusal of the accessory section we headed for the check out.  .  .  .  .  yes, remember when I said I walked into Kohls? . . . . .without my purse? . . . . . . . this has happened enough that I knew I could probably ask one of my loving family members to lend me the money until we got back to the car - and then I remembered I had stuck a few bills into my skirt pocket! 
Pleased as I was with the bag I was even more pleased, and surprised, when the cashier rang up the purchase.   Check out the list below for the whopping total I ended up paying.

 Retail Price: $35
Clearance Price: $10.50
Purchase Price: $3.50 

Glitter Graphics |

Woo Hoo

I LOVE finding savings like that, and I LOVE my new bag!!!!!!
(Oh no. . . . .I feel something coming on. . . . .I'm picking out all the outfits my new bag will match. . . . . . . eeck!!!! I better stop before I admit something I'm not willing to own up to!)

So, even if you aren't really, seriously looking for something, check out the clearance sections. You can find some really good deals for you, or gifts for others at really, really good prices!

    P.S. I realize even my new bag still doesn't have enough room for the kitchen sink, but I don't mind, it is a very, very small step closer. (You've gotta work your way up to heavy things like that. . . . )