Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Stuff

And on the eighth day God said, "Okay, Murphy, you're in charge!" ~Author Unknown

Should have posted that quote yesterday!

Not much to say today, really... didn't do much of anything yesterday (to be honest, I was a little afraid to after the day before, lol), and I don't plan to do much today. I might start my taxes. Woot.

I did hear from the vet about Dakota's tests. Seems she has a pretty major imbalance of the good vs. bad bacteria in her system which causes digestive upset (this we know). So, the doggy doc has recommended we start adding probiotics to her food for a few weeks to see if that affects her tummy trouble. Probiotics for dogs... who knew? And, no, I can't just give her plain yogurt. Aside from the fact that she seems to be lactose intolerant, I'd have to give her several quarts every day to get the amount of probiotics into her system that I need to get in there.

After this treatment, we might be able to get her off the icky food she's on (I'm using prescription diet, which you would THINK would be awesome, but the first three ingredients are: cornmeal, cellulose and chicken by-product meal ... blech) and onto something healthier like this or this.

Ah, the joys of pet ownership...

========================

There's a Nor'easter heading our way next week. They can't seem to decide whether it's going to be rain or snow, but either way, we're going to get WHOMPED. If it's rain, there will be floods -- the ground here is frozen solid. If it's snow, we're going to get BURIED. DH is thrilled about the possibility of so much snow. Me? Not so much.

Hawaii, here I come.

========================




You Are a Jester



You are a natural entertainer. You can get a laugh from the toughest of crowds.
You make friends very easily. You tend to know a lot of popular, rich, and powerful people.

You are also good at playing politics. You know how to get along with many factions without upsetting anyone.
In modern times, you would make a good actor or world leader.



HAHAHAHA... no.

======================

Friday, January 30, 2009

Monday on Thursday

I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones. ~John Peel

Never say, "oops." Always say, "Ah, interesting." ~Author Unknown


When DH left yesterday, I murmured... "It sure feels like Monday." You see, Wednesday the world (as we know it) was closed for the storm. Schools were out, stores were closed, the library shut its doors. We were supposed to be bombarded by at least 14" of snow (it ended up being an odd mixture of snow, sleet and rain ... but no less treacherous).

So yesterday really felt like the beginning of the week.

I took Dd in for her blood work. The two vet techs (one to hold and one to poke) mentioned that it sure felt like Monday... and then proceeded to be unable to find poor Dakota's vein. One tech tried three times and then they switched, and the other took two more tries--one in each leg, with a wiggle once she was under the skin which made me cringe, as I have veins that like to hide and have had this happen to me more than once.

Dakota was NOT a happy dog. Worse, she had two vaccinations to get as well -- one in each hip. AND it was fasting bloodwork, so she hadn't eaten since 5 pm the night before. Poor puppy.

When we were done, I decided to skip the rest of my errands so she could go home to eat. All of my errands, save one: the post office. I'd been trying to mail out a box of books for a while, and didn't want to wait any longer.

We got to the P.O. and DD couldn't decide if she wanted to wait in the car or come in. And then, I realized I'd bought a bag of dog food, and with Dd so hungry I didn't want to just leave it sitting there on the seat, so I had to hide it. And then, I needed to pick up the packages. All of this "and then-ing" had one unfortunate result.

I locked my keys in the car.

Oh, yes I did. So, there I am in 25 degree weather, my starving, sore dog stuck in the car (I need to train her to unlock the doors on command, lol), my DD freaking out because the dog is trapped in the car, and ... when I pull out my cell phone, it's nearly out of power! I use it to quickly call everyone I know. No one is home. I call DH, and he says: call the police. So, I do--but they only break in for you if it's an emergency (i.e. the car is running or there is a baby -- a TWO-LEGGED baby -- inside). My emergency road service will take upwards of two hours (the roads are still a bit icy, and there are accidents, apparently). DH offers to drive home. I tell him NO. It will be faster if I walk (I'm about 2 miles from home) and get the spare key and drive the truck back.

First, though, I want to try two other neighbors but have no juice on the phone. But WAIT... the cell phone store is right down the way in the same shopping center. I'll go there and see if they'll charge me up a little. I'll stop in WalMart to go potty first, especially if I'm walking home. Try to open the bathroom door and WHAM!, there's a lady inside with a wheelchair, blocking the door. I stand outside wiggling for a good five minutes, potty and move on. Just as I get to the Verizon store, the fire alarm goes off. In the entire shopping center. Okay, so no recharge.

Folks... it was one thing after another, but I did finally manage to get a ride home to pick up the truck and let out the dog. It took nearly an hour, during which time, DD nearly had a meltdown. AND, when I finally did get home after finding another neighbor to help me retrieve the second vehicle, DH was HOME. He decided to make sure I was okay, but my phone wasn't on so he couldn't call.

Fast-forward to later that day at our agility class. The one where Dakota is doing fabulously. She made her first run like a champ and I was so proud!! Then... the second run had the see-saw. No problem. She did fine on it last week. And she would have this week, except I screwed up and let her run up it too fast and when it tilted down, she nearly fell off -- add in the loud noise and her absolute panic, and from that moment on she not only refused the see-saw, but also the "walk-it" plank because they look the same. And if I ran her off leash, and came anywhere near them, she would either run away and refuse to come back, or lay down and roll over on her back in complete submission (and refusal). I was so mad at myself. If I'd been more careful, this wouldn't have happened. At the end of class, I ran her up and down the "walk-it" over and over until she refused less vigorously (though she still wouldn't go up it without a fight).

I sure hope today is better...

OTOH, I'm sure this will end up in a story someday!

===========================




Your Ideal Island Vacation is Fiji



On an island vacation, you prefer to get the full beach experience.

And for you, that means staying somewhere with few people and lots of beach.



With over 300 islands, you can find your own private spot in Fiji.

Relax by the crystal clear water, or venture off to find a waterfall.



I'm good with that!

==========================

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday Thunks and Miscellanea

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted. ~John Lennon

I had planned on doing Booking it Through Thursday, but they are having an "on blog" discussion this week, so that doesn't really give me much fodder for HERE, lol. It's about eBooks and the digital era of publishing, so feel free to hop over and either read folks opinions or give one of your own.

In the meantime....



1. Have you ever felt alone, but yet there are people around you?

All the time, and especially when there are people around me. Sounds odd, I suppose, but I am not the kind of person who makes friends easily -- not REAL friends. I can talk to anyone, but I'm quite reserved and a bit shy (yes, really) -- two personality traits that got me called "stuck up" more than once in school.

2. Do you have any video game consoles? Which ones?

Nope. Nada. None. Wouldn't mind a Wii for the Wii Fit, but otherwise we really don't miss them.

3. Do you freak out at food warnings/outbreaks, such as the recent peanut butter salmonella scare?

"Freak out"? Nah. Why? I'll usually research it a bit, but I won't go crazy. If anything I have falls into the suspicious category, I'll consider giving it the heave-ho, but if not... there are plenty of things to freak out about. That isn't one of them. At least not for me.

4. What color/pattern is your beds' comforter/bedspread?

It's called "Naturewood" and it's pale green and cream. It now has a crocheted afghan over the top (and quite frequently, a dog as well):



5. How many windows do you have in your house?

Dear heavens... a LOT. Okay, let me count...

Nineteen.

I love sunlight. If I could, realistically, I would live in a glass house.

6. Name six things that are in your bathroom.

Hmmm... I have a pretty sparse bathroom, so it's the usual culprits: towel, shampoo, razor, toothbrush, vitamins, bath salts... OH... and a cross stitch picture that my mom did. See:



7. How big is your garage? Should it be bigger?

We have a large, three-car garage. We built it that big so the room over (which used to be my mom's apartment) would be large enough. Now... it's stuffed full of stuff, and we really could use more room. And, no, not boxes or junk (heaven forbid!) -- my DH's toys, mostly, or things we need for the property: the boat, the lawn tractor, the snowblower, the snowmobile and so on. We also park two of the vehicles inside. The poor commuter car gets stuck out in the driveway.

8. Got your taxes done yet?

Not yet. We have one place that doesn't have to report until the end of February, which really ticks me off, cuz I'M READY. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

9. Think of a mental disorder..... why did you think of that particular one?

OCD -- because I'm pretty sure my DH has it. LOL... just kidding, but he is an over-the-top neat freak.

================================

I redid my website. I like the new colors. I like the new set-up. I love the covers Judy made for my free reads. I think the bookshelf page is far neater. I'm tickled that all the stuff for each book is on one page. Oh, and I added a deleted scene for "One Love For Liv", if you're interested.

Go check it out and see what you think!

=================================

YAY.... just got this from Reuters:

"Dawn Treader" lands at Fox 2000

Tentatively scheduled for a holiday 2010 release... .that's a long way away, but I guess it's better than "NEVER".

================================

We got a lot of snow yesterday. And sleet. And now, there is a thick crust of ice on top of the snow... poor Dd is having a horrible time going potty. She's just heavy enough to break through now and then. So, she'll be walking along on the crust...lalalalalala... and then WHAM!, she'll fall through.

Speaking of Dd, she goes in for her blood test today to ascertain whether she is missing a particular digestive enzyme and if that is what's causing all her tummy troubles.

Have a great day!

=================================

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What, When, Where, Why, How with Margay Roberge

Welcome to "What, When, Where, Why and How"! Today, we are being entertained and edified by Margay Roberge

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

I'm not much of a breakfast person. I hate to say it, but I often skip breakfast because I don't like to eat when I first get up and by the time I decide to eat, it's usually lunchtime! When I do manage to eat breakfast, I like a good omelet with lots of melted cheese. I have a weakness for sharp cheddar cheese and there's nothing like the taste of it in an omelet.

When do you do most of your writing?

I do a lot of my writing in the morning/early afternoon. Mornings are actually my best time to write because my daughters are at school and I'm pretty energized from a full night's sleep. I think I'm also a lot more creative in the morning, probably because of the full night's sleep. But once the girls come home, there's a lot of activity inside the house and I have to share the computer, so I don't get as much done. I still try, though.

Where were you born and, if you no longer live there, would you like to move back?

I was born in Massachusetts, where I currently reside. I've lived in a few other states - New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida - but I always come back. I think it might have been Stephen King who wrote something to the effect that a true New Englander always returns home to their roots. It's so true in my case. All of the other states I've lived in had their merits, but they just weren't home to me. Most of my family still lives in Massachusetts and I like to stay close to them. The other places are nice to visit, but Massachusetts is my home.

Why did you decide to write for publication?

For years, people have been telling me that I should and I finally believe them! Actually, I've been having a love affair with the written word for many years and I thought it was time to get it out in the open. I just always, sometimes more strongly than others, felt the need and desire to see my work in print and to hopefully bring others the same pleasure I've derived over my many years of enjoying the written word. And there's nothing like the sense of accomplishment you feel when you hold your book in your hands for the first time and actually see the results of your hard work. You literally hold your dream in your hands, just as you literally hold your future in your hands the first time you hold your baby. It really has been a dream of mine to become a published author.

How good are you at Scrabble?

I'm a pretty good speller, so I guess I can hold my own. Let's just say that people don't usually want to play against me. I don't know why. It's not like I'm a walking dictionary or anything. Although, certain members of my family would probably disagree with that. I like Scrabble; it's the one game where I feel I have the advantage!

Descended from the same bloodline that spawned the likes of James Russell, Amy and Robert Lowell, Margay Leah Justice was fated to be a writer herself from a young age. But even before she knew that there was a name for what she was doing, she knew one thing: She had a deep and unconditional love for the written word. A love that would challenge her in times of need, abandon her in times of distress, and rediscover her in times of hope. Through her writing, Margay has learned to cope with every curve ball life has thrown her, including the challenges of single parenting, the harsh realities of living in a shelter, coping with the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and the roller coaster ride of dealing with a child who suffers from bipolar disorder and Asperger's Syndrome. But along the way she has rediscovered the amazing power of words.

Margay currently lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, two cats, and a myriad of characters who vie for her attention and demand that their own stories be told. Visit Margay at her
website.

For another "What, When, Where, Why, How" segment today, check out Judy Thomas' blog.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tightwad Tidbit: Where's the Beef?

Save money on cooking with meat without becoming a vegetarian

I eat a *mostly* meat free diet, but my DH is a carnivore, through-and-through. Because meat is so expensive, even when you get it on sale, I look for ways to cut back on use without DH missing it.

Here are a few tips to help you do the same.

* Check to see when your area supermarket puts their nearly-expired meats on sale. Here, it's typically on Tuesday and Thursday. I'll go and stock my freezer about once every 4-6 months on one of these days.

* Grind your own burger. I have a grinder attachment on my KitchenAid mixer that I'll use for this. I can buy inexpensive roasts or steaks on sale, grind it up and freeze it. I'll do the same when boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (they'll go on sale for less than a dollar a pound, now and then). When's the last time you got ground beef or turkey for less than a dollar a pound?

* Don't serve meat as the main part of the meal. Instead of baked chicken breasts and rice with peas, try using half as much chicken, chopped, and added to the same rice.

* Find ways to extend your meat. I buy TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) and boil it in beef bouillon and toss it into lasagna or other casseroles in place of, or in addition to, ground beef. My DH has yet to notice (and, as a side benefit, I can make a small dish of my own, completely meat free). You can also use things like oatmeal or bread crumbs.

* Go meat free for at least one meal a week. If you have a family of four, and you each eat 1/2 lb of meat, you save 2 lbs a week (or at least $4-6 a week, possibly more, depending on what meats you typically buy).

* Cut back on how much meat you serve in your meals. Do you really need a full pound of burger for your spaghetti? One chicken breast is usually more than enough for a person -- if you consider a serving of chicken is the size of the palm of your hand (or about 3 oz), you probably eat far more than you should.

If you save only $10 a week on meat by using these tips, you'll have $520 more a year. What would YOU do with an extra $500?

Anyone else have ideas on saving on your meat budget?

==========================

In other news, I just discovered that Disney is opting to NOT produce "Voyage of the Dawn Treader"... can I tell you how truly distraught I am? What are they THINKING???

**sniff**

I can only hope that another studio picks it up before the original actors aren't too old to play their parts.

==========================

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Morning Meme and MP3 Player Giveaway

Education would be much more effective if its purpose was to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they do not know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it. ~William Haley



1. What was your favorite subject in grade school? Why did you enjoy this subject so much? What was your favorite part about this subject?

Does basketball count? LOL... seriously, I loved school, so it's hard to choose. Probably English (which is called "language arts" now for whatever reason -- was there something wrong with calling it English?). I imagine I loved the subject partly because it was easy for me and partly because I just love words. Grammar interests me. Reading was usually incorporated in the subject (in grade school at least) as well as writing (I had my first writing prompt in sixth grade -- my teach had one of those boxes where you choose a card with a first line...) and, to be honest, I'm a bit of a grammar geek. I'm not perfect, but I really enjoy grammar (and all the goofy rules that go along with it).

2. Tell me about your best friend in grade school. Do you still keep in touch? If not, why did the friendship dissolve?

Um... Janet Saling. We stayed friends into adulthood, but in our twenties, just slowly lost touch. I tried to find her a few years ago, and still look for her now and then on Classmates.com or Facebook. Hey, Janet... if you're out there, drop me a line!

Janet was one constant in my life from fourth grade at Pioneer school on. We moved a lot, and I attended several schools, but we stayed in touch. I remember when I was returning to Pioneer school after a few years away (the middle of seventh grade, because we never seemed to move at the beginning of a school year -- so, not only was I always the "new kid" I had to figure out how to fit in mid-year after all the other "new kids" already found their niche). I was so nervous, changing schools in junior high ... my folks dropped me off for the first day, and -- standing out in front, waiting -- was Janet. I hadn't been in touch with her for a while, but she'd heard through the grapevine (Pioneer was a VERY tiny school in a VERY tiny town with a BIG grapevine) that I was returning, so she wanted to welcome me back.

A good memory. I hope she's happy, wherever she is.

3. Do you remember your first day of school? If not your very first day, then please tell us about the earliest memory of your first day of school - how did you feel? What did you wear? Did it take long for you to make new friends? Do you remember anything about the classroom or the teacher?

I don't remember kindergarten. I skipped first grade, so my first memories are of second grade. Mrs. Butler was my teacher. I don't remember school, but I do remember recess and how ALL the girls thought Darin Reynolds was s-o-o-o-o-o cute. We used to chase him up to the monkey bars (there were two sets: one for girls, one for boys, so he could be safe). Poor kid. He probably never enjoyed a recess because he was always being chased by a gaggle of girls! LOL...

Otherwise, to be honest, I have few memories of school until fourth grade, for whatever reason. ::shrugs:: I have lots of memories of that time, just not of school. Guess it didn't make a huge impression on me!

4. Let’s jump to middle school. What were your middle school years like? Did you have a lot of friends? Did you adjust quickly or slowly to the change from grade school? What was your favorite subject in middle school?

Middle school... that's what, sixth, seventh, eighth? See, when I was young we had elementary, junior high and high school. And, I homeschool my DD, so the new terms confuse me.

Um... As noted previously, we moved a lot. I went to fifth grade at Pioneer, sixth at Sierra School, started seventh at Mitchell Jr. High, switched mid-year to Pioneer, started eight grade at Pioneer, switched mid-year BACK to Mitchell, started ninth grade at El Dorado High School, switched mid-year to Mills Jr. High (they did 7-8-9 and was I ever annoyed at ending up BACK in junior high) ...

Anyway, you get the idea.

Thankfully, most of the schools were in the same general area, so I could usually find someone I knew -- until I hit Mills Jr. High, which is another story and NOT middle school, so I'll leave it be.

I don't really recall suffering through any adjustment. Even in fifth grade, we used to switch classes for electives and stuff, so the changing classes thing never bothered me. I suspect that the fact I changed schools so much made it easier for me to deal with the other changes that came along. I never really got settled into a routine, so I just went with the flow.

I had lots of people I hung out with, and getting along was never an issue for me, but I also seldom developed deep friendships -- because I only knew people for a year or less before we moved. Unfortunately, this little quirk seems to have followed me into adulthood, where I know LOTS of people, but have deep friendships with very, very few.

Tell me about your school memories.

==================================

Karen, who hosts the Monday Morning Meme is having a Bloggy Giveaway on her blog -- she's giving away an MP3 player! It's easy to enter, all you have to do is comment (daily if you'd like).

The link to the contest info is here.

==================================

We at JaNoWriMo are going to continue on with our writing group -- the rules will be changing a bit, but the big thing is that the "ja" in JaNoWriMo can't stand for "January" anymore. And, we're not writing a novel in a month. But, I don't want to change the link, so I'm looking for help. What ELSE can JaNoWriMo stand for?

Ja = ?
No = ?
Wri = ?
Mo = ?

Help?

Anyone, anyone?

Please? I'm desperate....

============================




Your Expression Number is 6



You have an outstanding sense of responsibility, love, and balance.
You are helpful and inclined to comfort those in need.
You have many artistic and creative talents, but you only use them to better others.

You are loving, friendly, and appreciative of others.
You have a depth of understanding that produces much kindness and generosity.
Openness and honesty are apparent in your approach to all relationships.

Sometimes, you can be too demanding of yourself.
At times, you tend to sacrifice yourself for the welfare of others.
At other times, you have trouble distinguishing between helping and interfering.



Um... a lot is true, but not all of that. Interesting...

====================

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Misfortune = Fodder for Stories

Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won't have time to make them all yourself. ~Alfred Sheinwold

I had one of those "anything that CAN go wrong, will" days yesterday. I won't go through it all, but it started off when I went downstairs to wash my only pair of jeans so I would have something to wear and discovered that I'd flipped the laundry soap container the wrong way (it has a spigot on one side, and the cap--which you keep loose so the spigot will work--on the other), so all the soap leaked out of the loose cap onto the rug.

I used the carpet shampooer to get it up... but it took forever (actually, I didn't finish getting it all up, because I just couldn't face sucking up foam, going upstairs to dump and rinse, back down, sucking up foam, back up, back down...).

And it went downhill from there.

========================

DD has a sudden fascination with vampires. I have no idea why. She even calls her canine teeth her "vampire teeth". She asked about my teeth, and I mentioned that I was missing four bicuspids. I'd had them pulled (along with a baby tooth) as a teen -- my mouth wasn't big enough for my perm teeth and I had a tooth grow in behind the baby one. So, yeah, I had braces to close the gaps. The good news is that it made room for my wisdom teeth, which came in nice and straight and that I still have...

... But...

Any of you who read "The Christmas Curse" will get a laugh when I say that the training bra incident really happened to me. And I remembered something else that I need to include in a book: when I had those five teeth pulled, and sat with a drooling, numb, mouth full of bloody gauze on the way home... our car broke down. Yes, really. Broke. Down. And did we have any tissues, or napkins, or anything to deal with the bloody drool? NO.

Yep, that's going in a book.

What unfortunate thing has happened to you that you might use in a book or story?

==============================




You Are a Blue Flower



A blue flower tends to represent peace, openness, and balance.

At times, you are very delicate like a cornflower.

And at other times, you are wise like an iris.

And more than you wish, you're a little cold, like a blue hydrangea.



Wise like an Iris? Who knew? All I know about Iris' is that the are VERY short lived... hmm.....

===============================

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Slug-a-Bed

The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more. ~Wilson Mizener

You know what? I slept in today... sort of. I was awake early, but DH isn't home (he did an overnight at his BILs camp -- camp cleanup yesterday and snowmobiling today), so instead of worrying about waking him because I was restless, I just stayed there. I let the cat in and she flopped onto my head (why do they DO that?) and the dog snored beside me and all was well with the world.

Until DH called... lol. It was early, but he knows I'm *always* up early.

In any case, I can see the attraction of laying around like a lazy slug-a-bed.

===========================

DD and I watched "Nancy Drew" yesterday. She loved it, I thought it was okay. I loved Bruce Willis' cameo, very cute. But what cracked me up is that my DD is hitting the stage where she's noticing boys, but it's uncomfortable. So, at the end of the movie, when Ned and Nancy share a very chaste kiss, she got all scrunched up on the couch and said, "Don't do it, don't do it!" and hid behind her hands. I said, "I can fast forward." She said, "NO!", but still watched through her fingers. *sniff* My little girl is growing up.

==============================

Would you believe I started brainstorming a sequel to the fantasy I'm working on? I'm only 23,000 words into this one! But, I couldn't help myself. There's a character in this story who deserves a HEA and I want to give it to her. First things first, though. I need to finish this one. I will -- I like it a lot. It's challenging to write a fantasy, though. Despite the fact I get to play God and decide what works and how, and if things behave in certain ways, it still has to make sense. So, if I say -- "This rock is sentient", I have to have a reason for that, a purpose AND make it work.

It's doubly tough working with psychic powers, which a few of my characters have. I have to remember that they always have them, not just when it's convenient.

And there is more -- but world-building is hard and I know I haven't done the best job I can. I'm going to have to make sure I take care of any problems or lacks when I go back and edit. In the meantime, I'm still moving forward.

==============================

Re: yesterday's post and hair.

Brandy, I don't know how you can wear your hair the same way every day -- doesn't it hurt?

Amy, I use headbands, but they still bother me after awhile -- and the soft kind tend to slip out of my hair unless I let my hair stay wicked curly.

Gay, yep I like to change things with my hair, too. My only problem is that my hair grows VERY slow, so when I do something drastic (like the last two times I did Locks of Love) it can take forever to get back to where it was. It take MORE than a year to grow ten inches of hair for me.

==============================




Your International Spy Name is Honey Steel



Your Code Name: The Pirate

You Reside in: Stockholm

Why You're a Good Spy: You have total recall



Okay... sounds more like my porn movie name, but hey ... I can see the fun in it. "Don't call me sweetheart, my name is Honey."

===============================

Friday, January 23, 2009

This and That

Hair style is the final tip-off whether or not a woman really knows herself. ~Hubert de Givenchy, Vogue, July 1985

I was looking for a change, so I started parting my hair on the opposite side.

I know... I'm a rebel.

Seriously, though -- those of you with absurdly thick hair will understand: fixing my hair the same way all the time made my head hurt to the point where I couldn't stand it. That pain is the reason I keep getting it all whacked off -- braids, pony tails, even just pulling a little bit of the sides back -- it all hurts. But, I can't stand to have my hair tickling my face. Drives. Me. Nuts.

My hair is as resistant to change as I am though, so I had to pin and spray the pogees out of it to keep it in place the first day. And, I have to admit, it really felt funny. The wind on my part... I kept thinking something was wrong: I shouldn't FEEL the breeze there. The way I auto-flip my hair was in the wrong direction. Funny how we get so used to something, isn't it?

I'm on day three of my new part, and my hair and I are getting used to it. Still, I'm rather tired of having to mess with it at all, and dream of chopping it off again. DH is resistant to this ("Short hair looks like a man."), but it's my head, so I'll make the final decision.

In the meantime, I'll have fun with my new look.

=========================

Dakota is doing incredibly well in agility. I don't have pictures because the instructor doesn't want the flash to distract the dogs, and I completely understand. Last night, we learned the teeter-totter (or see-saw, which is what I chose to call it... you have to name the obstacles so the dog knows where to go). I thought this obstacle would be the one Dd refused to do. It's noisy, it's scary and IT MOVES!! She didn't love it, but she did it -- and she did it without help the last time. I was so proud. She really enjoys doing the agility and is becoming quite the star of the beginner class. She's one of the few who does the course off leash, and gets it *mostly* right.

The only problem we have right now is that there is one dog in the class who is dog aggressive. The owner is using the class to help socialize the dog AND to build a stronger bond between owner/dog. They keep her on leash the entire time (except when she runs through the tunnel or chute), and the instructor is always near, but it makes us all very nervous. It doesn't help that the dog is a pit bull. I try not to be biased against breeds as I firmly believe that it's HOW a dog is raised not WHAT a dog is. In fact, neither pit bulls nor rottweilers are in the top three breeds of reported dog bites (interestingly, Golder Retrievers ARE, so throw those preconceived notions right out the window).

Still, the fact is, while I don't believe that pit bulls (or rotties, whom I adore) are more aggressive than other breeds, the simple fact is this: if a pit bull attacks you or your dog, you're more likely to get seriously hurt than if a ... oh, cocker spaniel or Australian shepherd does.

So, it makes me uneasy.

And, last night, we compounded the fun by adding an unsocialized German Shepherd to the mix. She wasn't exactly dog aggressive, but she wasn't being friendly, either. And Dakota developed a fascination with her. The two times Dd stopped listening to me and took off, she went right to that dog.

Dumb Dd.

Anyway, for the most part (except the one time the pit jumped through the tire facing us and lunged with a menacing growl and was stopped about 18 inches from us...leaving my heart firmly planted in my throat) fun was had by all.

==========================




You Are Kate



You've done a bad things in your life, even though they were justified.

And since you keep your past to yourself, people see you as very mysterious.

You're independent. You do what you have to in order to survive.

You are quick witted, and you have a variety of useful skills. You're quite resourceful.

Although you're a loner, you form strong romantic bonds quickly.

Deep down, you're very loving - though you are still scared of being burned by someone.



Some yes, some no... and since I don't watch "LOST", I have no idea who Kate is, or whether I'm like her... Now, if there was a "Eureka" quiz...

==============================

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Contest!

Books are delightful society. If you go into a room and find it full of books - even without taking them from the shelves they seem to speak to you, to bid you welcome. ~William Ewart Gladstone

I love reading... and I know you all do, too.

Since I'm guessing most of you have already bought and read my work, it seems silly to give away my own books exclusively. So, here's what I'm going to do... I'm having a contest with CHOICES! Yep, you decide between either one of my books in eFormat OR one other option I'll give you. And, I'm going to do this every month.

:-)

So from now until February 14th, every comment will enter you into a chance to win your choice of any of my releases - or - a eBook copy of "Best of Intentions" by Michelle Cary.

Seth McFadden would love to ditch his life as a rock star and return to his hometown and girl he left behind. When a wicked winter storm fulfills his desire, Seth learns the true meaning of be careful what you wish for. Injured and blind, Seth loses his psychic powers. Finding out Tess, his high school love, is his nurse is even more of a shock as he learns to adjust to his new life.

Tess Parker has never been psychic, save for her connection to Seth. Now after his return, she’s having strange nightmares and visions about the hospital’s ‘Angel of Death’ killer. Seth broke her heart once and she’s fearful he’ll do it again, yet she can’t walk away knowing he’s the only one who can explain what’s happening to her. When the killer learns that Tess knows the truth, the price for justice may very well be her life.
=====================

Best post EVER on how to be a successful writer is here.

=========================

Folks... I hope you enjoyed the little interview I did yesterday -- I've had so much fun with these, and as the weeks progress, you'll see even stranger questions come through. Some of these authors have cracked me up to no end and I'm absolutely sold on them and their voices -- so I imagine you'll see some of THEIR books in my upcoming giveaways.

I got an unbelieveable response to my call out for participants as well -- I'm already scheduling into July -- so am pleased.

===========================

Judy and I have challenged each other on writing -- she has to do 250 words (about one page) every day. I have to do 1000 (about four pages). For me, even 1000 words a day won't help me reach my JaNoWriMo goal, but it'll get me about halfway. Not too shabby. Speaking of which, I need to go write. TTFN!

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You Are Traditional and Dependable



You view the world with childlike wonder. You are very inquisitive. You can help but spy, investigate, and ask questions.

You seek harmony and balance in your life. You prefer to work with a partner.

You're fun loving and playful. You never take life too seriously.

You seek security in your life. Feeling safe is important to you.



Except for the "feeling safe" part -- this is pretty much wrong. But I do love me an Oreo.

============================

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What, When, Where, Why, How with Renee Wildes

Welcome to the inaugural week of my new, fun game of silly questions and interesting answers. Today, I get to torture Renee Wildes!

What was the last movie you watched?

I took my kids to see the movie BOLT.

Which surprised me in the fact that it reflected a premise I use all the time -
What happens when a character finds out the truth they've been told their entire life turns out to be a lie? What do they do when they find out the "real" truth? How do they initially handle it? How do they come to accept it and how do they use it to go forward with the rest of their life?

In my current release HEDDA'S SWORD, my heroine Maleta spent her life chasing down the Black Wolf, the man she holds responsible for stealing her home and killing her family, only to find out the entire attack was orchestrated by the Queen herself because Maleta's father was fomenting rebellion against Queen Sunniva's corrupt regime. Maleta's fight for personal vengeance becomes a full-scale rebellion to free a country.

When did you start writing?

In real life since I was six. Since nobody (besides my mom and grandma) wants to read horse stories penned by a six-year-old, officially I'd have to say since 2002. That's when I joined RWA and started entering unpubbed chapter contests and going to conferences. I switched from short contemporary to my true love, fantasy, in 2005, joined a couple critique groups and sold my first fantasy romance to Samhain at the 2007 NJ RWA PYHIAB Conference. My current title is HEDDA'S SWORD, and it was released 1/6/09. It's Book 2 in my Guardians of Light series.

Where were you when you got your first kiss?

I was a late bloomer - I was the horse-crazy tomboy who had no time for boys. Seriously. I went to parochial boarding school for high school and I got in trouble with the dean by forgetting a formal banquet and going riding in the mountains - leaving my date, corsage in hand, standing in the lobby looking like a fool. I wasn't trying to be mean - it honestly just was that low on my radar when I was 15 and I forgot it was that night. (My sister still tells me I probably scarred that boy for life.)

So my first kiss was when I was 18. He was 36. I went through a LATE rebellious stage of "sex drugs and rock and roll" - I was a roadie for a hard-rock band for 10 years in what my mom and I refer to as my Bad Decade. My first real boyfriend was twice my age, but there's something to be said for older men! We were taking a bike ride on a trail through a wooded park, and stopped to rest on a big rock by a creek. It was fall, so it was a bit chilly once you stopped moving. So I shivered, he moved closer to put an arm around me...and kissed me. Warmed me up in a hurry!

Why is the sky blue?

The Blue Fairy won the coin toss. (Payback for losing to the Pink Fairy in Sleeping Beauty!) If you notice, the Pink Fairy tries to sneak in at sunrise and sunset, but the Blue Fairy puts her foot down and ultimately wins.

How can you solve a Rubik's cube?

Never figured it out. A friend of mine in one of my local writers groups says to just switch the stickers around *LOL*.

I'm not one for logic or mind puzzles. I SUCK at crossword puzzles, too. I'm more of a word search kinda gal. I'm better at Scrabble, Boggle or Best Sellers. Best Sellers is a great game for writers meetings. You pick a genre card and two letter cards, and you have X # of minutes to write a story in your selected genre using as many words starting with your two letters as you can cough up. It's great fun - except for the poor person who invariably picks X or Q!

I’m a study in contrasts. I’m a Navy brat and a cop’s kid. I’m the lone vet tech in a family of nurses. Growing up all my friends were boys and Arabian horses, but I’d stand a date up to go horseback riding in the mountains. My ideal weekend is caving, the muddier the better, or rappelling, but it takes me twenty minutes to lean back over that cliff – every single time. Steve Irwin was my hero, but I’m deathly afraid of snakes and spiders.

When I’m not writing, I’m running between my day job as an insurance customer service phone rep, figure skating lessons, flag football & karate lessons. I drive a minivan. I am not a soccer mom. I HATE to shop, unless it’s horse stuff. I own 2 pairs of shoes, 3 skirts and 1 dress. I live in jeans in the summer and sweats in the winter.I have pierced ears but never wear earrings. I love the Dark Ages, Medieval Renaissance fairs, and scrapbooking. My favorite flowers are lilies.

When I get time to read, I love fantasy, action, and dark paranormal. My favorite book is The Ladies of Mandrigyn by Barbara Hambly. I want to be Mercedes Lackey when I grow up. I love reading Suzanne Brockmann, Lori Foster, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan & Angela Knight. In non-fiction I love history from Ancient Egypt & Greece through the Dark Ages, also New Age/Magical Arts. I’m a writing book junkie. I could start my own reference librarian/research business.

I will have to die in my current house because all my friends refuse to haul my book collection another foot. Not even one little box.

my website
http://www.reneewildes.com/ Where Believing Is Seeing
my personal blog
http://www.reneewildes1.wordpress.com/
my new character blog
http://www.guardiansoflight.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Quickie...

A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart. ~Author Unknown

Technically, this is Tightwad Tips Tuesday (see below), but tomorrow I have a guest so wanted to slip in a quick howdy (because I love to talk).

Yesterday, we had another 3-4" of snow on the ground. DH got up late and had a meeting (not to mention his usual 1 1/2 hour commute), so tore out and left me with the clean-up. We have a new-to-us (though 20 y.o.) snow blower that has about 80 knobs -- and I haven't a clue how to use it. So I shoveled.

And shoveled.

And shoveled.

It may not have been so bad, except the sides of the driveway are so high with snow that I really gotta chuck my shovels-ful HIGH and over and after I'd finished about half the driveway I was done in. DD stayed outside sledding, and the dog and I adjourned to a spot by the fire.

After a little bit, I realized I didn't see DD on the hill out front, so I went to look -- and she was clearing the rest of the driveway.

Awwwwwwww....

I think I'll keep her.

==========================

I figured out the end of my fantasy novel two night ago. It's the first time I haven't known the end of a book before I wrote it. Usually it's the ending that pops in my head first, so this was frustrating. Especially because the conflict I've chosen is one that would have made it absolutely impossible to have a HEA (which made it a good conflict, right), but of course I had to HAVE a HEA. It was a conundrum.

And I finally, FINALLY, figured out a way for it to happen. Even better, it led to several more (rather depressing) scenes. So, I'm writing a story I love again. (Geoff's story I do NOT love, currently. Geoff is a very naughty character and is in a time out).

=======================




You Should Be a Puppeteer



You are an entertainer - pure and simple.

You know how to engage an audience. You are a natural storyteller.

You are naturally dramatic, even when life doesn't call for drama.

Luckily though, you save most of your drama for your stellar performances.

Tightwad Tidbit: Got Gas?

"Can implementing the three R's - reduce, recycle, reuse, save you money? If you only implemented the three R's in your kitchen,
you would save money." -- Catherine Pulsifer, from 10 Tips for Saving Money in Your Kitchen


Although gas prices are currently quite low, there are murmurs about them rising again soon. And, being one to pinch pennies, I always comparison shop.

I'm sure y'all know that typically gas stations right off the highway are more expensive. So are the stations by the mall or other large shopping areas.

I do avoid "no name" stations because they can have bad gas (it only takes once getting bad gas to take steps to keep that from happening again!), so I limit my purchases to bigger named brands. To help, I use this nifty website:

Gasbuddy.com

It's easy to find the prices of gas locally. They also note when the most recent updates are done, so you can tell if the price is old or not.

Anyone have tips on saving money on gas? I'd love to hear them! Just post them in the comments :-)

Thanks!

Also, if you're looking for more penny-pinching tips, my friend Maria Zannini has begun blogging about that subject on her blog. Check it out here!

==========================

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Morning Meme and more

Dust is just a country accent. ~Author Unknown



1. You have just been hired to clean your own home, what is your first complaint?

That hardwood floors are impossible to keep clean! I hate them... hate them. I'll Swiffer and mop and five minutes later there is a fine layer of dust. ARGH!!!!

2. Are you able to ignore a ringing telephone? How often do you allow a ringing phone to go to voice mail? Do you answer your cell phone, out in public, every time it rings? Or do you silence it and get back to it when you’re in a more private area? How often would you say you’re on your home phone? Your cell phone? Do you like talking on the phone or do you view it as a necessary communication tool?

I seldom outright ignore a phone, but I will check caller ID and won't answer a call from a number I don't recognize. My cell phone almost never rings -- I'm not a big phone person and am always amazed at people who have their phones all but glued to their ears. Is there really that much to talk about? But, yeah, when it rings I answer because it's typically either important or it's my mom (who is also important!).

3. When did you last go for a bike ride? Do you own a bike? Do you encourage your children to ride bikes? Given the most popular New Year’s resolution of losing weight, would you consider putting bicycle riding as one of your exercise options? Why or why not?

We did LOTS of bike riding this summer because we'd take Dakota to wear her out. It was the most efficient way to get rid of all that crazy energy she has. But, using it for weight loss or fitness? Nope... because there are so few nice days to ride. We've had frigid temps and snow on the ground for months and have months to go. There is more winter here, than summer. I'm trying to get DH to say "yes" to a treadmill. I'm such a lump.

4. If you had to name a smell that always makes you nostalgic, what would it be? What sorts of memories does the smell evoke?

Leather. And before some of you let your minds run away with that (get them out of the gutter RIGHT NOW. You know who you are), the smell of leather reminds me of horses. I really, really miss having a horse. *sigh*

What about you?

=======================

Attention authors: I am going to begin a "What, When, Where, Why, How" day on the blog. I'll ask you five questions beginning with those words -- you answer (feel free to be verbose. No three word answers, please.) and I post them on the blog. This is in lieu of the guest blogging I had last year. I'll also include an author bio, your site/blog and one book cover. I won't schedule your day until I receive your responses back. IMHO, it's a fun and unique way to showcase yourself.

Interested? email me at authormariannearkins AT gmail DOT com and I'll send you questions.

C'mon... be brave.

=======================

We got about a foot of snow yesterday. Whee.

=======================




You Are Chocolate Chip Pancakes



You prefer sweet and rich foods.

You shy away from anything that's overly bland or unnaturally fat free.

It's not likely that someone would find low fat cheese or sugar free cookies in your kitchen.

Instead, someone might find a pan of brownies baking in the oven or warm popcorn covered in real butter.



Yep. Hence my need for a treadmill!!!

==================

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snow Day

The advantage of being celibate is that when one sees a pretty girl one does not need to grieve over having an ugly one back home. - Paul Leautaud

That quote seriously cracked me up!

We managed to watch two movies yesterday: Enchanted and Prince Caspian -- both of which were heartily enjoyed by all. But DD and Dd did find a little time to play in the sub-zero temperatures.

video

Today? Well, it's snowing, so I think I'll work a puzzle. Maybe write a little, if I'm in the mood. I'm due some time off after the brutal schedule I kept rebuilding the entire LASR site in less than a month.

What about you? Any plans?
=====================

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm Late!

"It must be remembered that the purpose of education is not to fill the minds of students with facts…it is to teach them to think. -- Robert Hutchins

That quote has nothing to do with the post... I just liked it :-)

We've already had a busy morning... I slept in like a lazy slug, until 6:00 and then woke up the DH for snowmobiling. Folks started showing up shortly thereafter and have only just gotten on the road.

So my morning had this -- DH running around the house until everyone showed up (bet my neighbors LOVED that!):



And this -- Dd having to come inside from playing because her feet got too cold (she's pouting, but GEEZ... it's -6 degrees out):



And this -- DD having snowball fights with her cousin (who was going on the ride -- DD wants to start going, but we don't have equipment for her yet):



==========================

Today, DD and I will be hanging out together. Going to get a movie from the library, pop some popcorn and watch it (maybe "Nancy Drew"). Then, we'll pull out a puzzle and work on that some. She and I haven't had much time together lately (real time) because I've been busy and she's had to do school.

===========================

And, on that note, I'll sign off for now. Have a great day!

===========================

Friday, January 16, 2009

Brrr... part deux

Never take a job where winter winds can blow up your pants. - Geraldo Rivera

It's cold today. I have a love/hate relationship with this nearly record-breaking cold. On the one hand, when I have to go out in it, every breath I take makes my lungs feel as though they are freezing from the inside out. It's literally cold enough to take my breath away. And, poor Dakota... she has to get her business done in record time because if she lollygags, her tooties get so cold she can't walk. Yesterday she stood on two feet, the other two feet up in the air and cried. I had to go fetch her inside and give her feet a good rub.

On the other hand (and I wish I knew where this phrase originated... I may have to Google it), the sheer force of this particular weather system has worked to keep the snow that was expected to hit us today, away.

So... bitter cold and clear. Warmer and snow. Rock. Hard place.

Sunday will warm up to 24 degrees. We'll all be running around in our shorts and T-shirts! Actually, by the week following, they are predicting highs in the high 30s. Dear heavens, I actually feel a little faint contemplating it.

=======================

I did a search for the etymology of "on the other hand" (though I'm not sure if that's the correct word for the origin of a phrase... let me check. Okay, probably not: the study of historical linguistic change, esp. as manifested in individual words. -- but, too bad, I'm using it anyway) and found nothing. Anyone know?

=======================

I submitted my romance/mystery yesterday to Resplendence Publishing. I feel a little ill. Why doesn't it ever get easier? Maybe because I have the same number of rejections as I do contracts? LOL... in any case, it's out of my hands now. Their estimated time of response is 6 - 12 weeks. So, for now I wait.

=========================




You Are "tab"



Some people might try to say that you're always spaced out.

You do tend to be a dreamer, but you're also a great multitasker.



You work quickly and efficiently. So it's no problem if you goof off a little while you're working.

And if people want to think you're flaky, that's fine. You're getting more done than they are.



Hmmm... mostly that works. I don't *think* I'm flaky, but wonder if that's like thinking you're crazy. If you don't, you are? :-)

=====================

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Mystery of the Missing Comment Box

I don't know WHY there aren't comments being allowed on my BTT post -- I've messed with it, and even deleted and rewrote it. I checked my settings. It's a mystery.

And, this box doesn't have one either. I'm confused. Anyone got any ideas? Not that you can tell me because THE COMMENT BOX WON'T SHOW UP.

*sigh*

Booking It Through Music

A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. ~Leopold Stokowski


But, enough about books … Other things have words, too, right? Like … songs!

If you’re anything like me, there are songs that you love because of their lyrics; writers you admire because their songs have depth, meaning, or just a sheer playfulness that has nothing to do with the tunes.

So, today’s question?

What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love?

Why?

And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them?

You don’t have to restrict yourself to modern songsters, either … anyone who wants to pick Gilbert & Sullivan, for example, is just fine with me. Lerner & Loewe? Steven Sondheim? Barenaked Ladies? Fountains of Wayne? The Beatles? Anyone at all…


Not to steal directly from your question, but I absolutely ADORE Gilbert & Sullivan. My DD has been listening to the soundtrack from "Pirates of Penzance" non-stop of late, and it's on my mind.

I love them because they are just so freaking clever.

In PofP when Frederick finds out he must return to his pirate band because of his birthdate, and that he must stay indentured to them for eighty-eight more years, he goes to Mabel and tells her the sad news... and says:

"In 1940 I of age shall be." (This story takes place in the 1800s)

and she responds:

"It seems so long."

Or when the pirates are sneaking up to the castle to kill the Major General and they sing, at the tops of their lungs, "With Catlike Tread".

Or, when the Pirate King says to Frederic: "Away to the cheating world go you, Where pirates all are well-to-do..."

Or just the comedy factor (Keven Kline was truly a master of it in this movie) -- like when the pirates are trying to marry the daughters of the major general and they get into a grave misunderstanding between the words "often" and "orphan" because of the MG's accent.

Their other works are equally as clever: HMS Pinafore or The Mikado. If you ever have a chance to see them, don't miss it. If you pay attention (and you do have to pay attention, because G&S slip their humor in), you'll laugh until you pee your pants.

I leave you with a little taste:



=============================

I did some writing yesterday and wrote about it on JaNoWriMo, where things are very, very quiet. I hope that means everyone is writing like mad!

=============================

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Brrrr....

I was just thinking, if it is really religion with these nudist colonies, they sure must turn atheists in the wintertime. ~Will Rogers

No guest blogger again -- I'm working on a slightly different more fun approach to featuring authors here. Not an interview as I don't love how those turn out, but something a little off the wall. That's assuming authors are willing to let me mess with them. Stay tuned. :-)

It's absurdly cold here right now, and only going to get colder. In fact, we've stopped using our wood stove to heat (which makes me want to cry, because it keeps it WAY warmer than we'd ever set our oil heat) and have started back to our oil heat because we're afraid the pipes will freeze if we don't. It's expected to get down to -11 degrees overnight Thursday. Whee. I'm telling you, Hawaii ... here I come.

Had a brainstorm on "Return to Stiller Creek" and am writing up a couple of news scenes. Then I'm submitting it to a new publisher -- I've done research, and all I've seen are rave reviews, including from Piers Anthony (what a sweetie he is to compile all that information, don't you think?). I'll do a little more poking around, but the simple fact is: I want this in print eventually and TWRP has changed their guidelines and only sends books 65k words or longer to print, so I can't submit it there.

Once those scenes are done, it's back to hunkering down on one or both of my JaNoWriMo projects.

===================

Dakota went to the doggy doc yesterday for her annual check-up and shots. We talked at great length about her dietary issues, and the doc is concerned about (WARNING: TALK OF DOG POOP AHEAD) the fact she eats so much (6-7 cups of dry food a day), and then poops about 8-10 times a day (pretty much every time she goes outside to potty) and is STILL skinny (he says she's at her "ideal" weight, but IMHO she looks like a concentration camp escapee). So, in two weeks we're doing tests to see if she's lacking a particular digestive enzyme which would cause her body to be incapable of breaking down the food--making it pretty much just pass on through.

And THEN I get to put her on some kind of diet plan that includes unusual proteins and starches -- like venison and sweet potato that doesn't include ANY other type of common foods like chicken meal, and no grains such as wheat, barley, rice, or corn.

*sigh*

The joys of dog ownership. My DD is healthy as a horse, but I get a dog with food allergies and problems.

It's a good thing she's cute.

=========================



You Are a Hat With Flaps



You are fun loving, cheerful, and even pretty cute most of the time.

You use fashion to play. You never take style all that seriously.

You're the type most likely to wear a funny t-shirt or goofy hat.

But when it comes time to clean up, you clean up nicely.



It's good to know I clean up nice! LOL...

====================

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An Interview with Me!

I nearly forgot -- Sarita Leone has posted an interview with me here... feel free to come by and say howdy!

Tightwad Tidbit: When Cheap isn't Less Expensive

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. Harriet Van Horne

I made Chili con Carne this weekend. I really love some spicy food and happily cooked up the beans and meat, chopped peppers and onions, added tomatoes ... and then the all important chili powder.

That particular chili powder was a life-changing spice for me. You see, being a tightwad, I tend to look for things that are least expensive... so, you'll find me shopping at places like The Christmas Tree Shop for my spices. At least, you would have until the chili powder event.

Here's what happened: My MIL took a cruise down to the Caribbean somewhere and when she came home, she brought me a gift -- a cute little basket with tiny baggies of various spices. I received ginger, cumin, three kinds of cinnamon, a whole nutmeg (with a tiny little grater), and chili powder. I thanked her and set it aside for an unbelievably long time, until one day I needed chili powder and didn't have any! I remembered the gift, opened the baggie and put in the amount called for in the recipe.

When I sat down to eat, the stuff was so spicy it was all but inedible. How can this be? I followed the directions! It's an old family recipe (tamale pie... yum) that I've made dozens of times.

And then, it occurred to me: I used really good, top quality, fresh chili powder. And because of that I needed to use less--far, far less-- than the recipe called for.

As a result, it's actually cheaper for me to buy good spices than to buy the cheap, old, flavorless ones at The Dollar Store.

So, folks: splurge! There are several places online to buy decent spices, or go to your gourmet shops in person. But, be warned, once you've used good spices, you'll never want to go back. They taste better, smell better and ARE better. So, though you may cringe at the initial cost (I know I did), it's worth every penny (and IMHO, cheaper in the long run).

Just remember... you're going to have to get used to using less. AND, you're going to need a crash course in spices because not all cinnamon (or pepper, or chili powder) is created equal. Who knew?

Where's your favorite place to get spices?

============================




You Are Cumin



You are warm, unique, and pretty dominant.

It's also pretty likely that you smoke or like fire.

You are energetic and intense. You definitely stimulate people.



Hmmm... I don't smoke and have a dread fear of dying in a fire, so that part isn't right. Maybe the rest, though. Hmmm...

============================

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Morning Meme and more

A hearty laugh gives one a dry cleaning, while a good cry is a wet wash. ~Puzant Kevork Thomajan



1. What book is on your nightstand right now? What was the last book you read? How many books do you think you read in 2008?

Um... "Seduction in Death" is what I'm reading that is fiction, and "Total Money Makeover" is my non-fiction (I usually have at least one of each going). The last book I read was "Betrayal in Death" and I probably read somewhere between 50-100 books last year -- I don't keep track. I mean to. I even set up an excel spreadsheet for it... I have about three books in there. *sigh*

2. Name three blogfriends that have inspired you. Now please tell us how these blogfriends have inspired you.

Dru, for her upbeat attitude, her pictures, her quilts (!) and so much more.

Groovy, for her ability to put a humorous spin on even the most un-funny things.

Suzanne McMinn for her photo-stories, recipes and tips on country living. I seldom comment, but I read her blog every day!

3. How far do you live from the place where you grew up as a kid? Tell us about the place you grew up - would you choose to go back there and raise your own family (if you have one)? Why or why not?

According to MapQuest.com I live 3054.48 miles from where I lived when I was in high school. Where I "grew up" is tough because we moved so much (though, all in the same 60-90 mile radius).

I went to school in Rancho Cordova, CA and no, I wouldn't go back and raise my kids there. When the air force bases there and near there were closed in the 90s, it really destroyed the town. It's a little "ghetto-y" and run down, but also tremendously populated and overcrowded. I miss California something fierce, but it's been a while since I've been there, so really I'm missing the California of my childhood, not how it is now. Whenever I go back to visit, I'm reminded why I left.

Still, I WOULD and HOPE to move back out west, somewhere a little more rural (Wenatchee, WA for example) but still close enough to my family and friends to visit more easily (a 15 hour drive as opposed to a 50 hour one).

4. Finish this line: Absence makes the heart……
(please do not say “grow fonder”.) How long do you think is ‘too long’ to be away from your loved ones?


Depends on who you're talking about! LOL... Absence, IMHO, makes the heart grow distant. My DH and I both lived through that -- being engaged (not to each other) and being separated from our respective intendeds for long periods of time. By the time we were in the same time zone again, his fiancee was married and mine was living with someone.

And any time away from loved ones that has a day and a night is too long (**MOM**)... just saying.

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I had a nice birthday, yesterday. DD got me two dark chocolate Dove candy bars (can I just say "YUM") and gave me a coupon that said the following:

This is for you. You may use it as often as you like. When it expires you can get another one. I don't think it will expire soon. I hope you like it and use it wisely and also when you're sad.

COUPON: Free hugs for the next 500,000,000,000,000,000 years.
And then, after I opened and read it, she said, "You could use it right now."

I'm not sure if that coupon was really for me or for her...

I also got a couple Amazon.com gift certificates! WOOT! I am so using part to preorder "A Geek Girls Guide to Cheerleading".

We had lunch at Shorty's -- a Mexican food place. DD had a taco and shared my portabella mushroom fajitas with me. DH had Polla con Espinaca -- and, oh MAN did it look good. It may just have been the spinach and cheese sauce over the top but I was drooling.

And, we were all so stuffed from lunch that no dinner was necessary!

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I really hate Google reader. Really. It locks up my computer every-freaking-time. I'm trying to move everyone into bookmarks, but since it locks up every time I try to retrieve your URLs it's time-consuming, and time is one thing I am extremely short on. I don't know WHY it does this. No on else seems to be having trouble. But, I am.

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I'm not terrifically enthused with either of my stories for JaNoWriMo. Wait, that's not entirely true. I LOVE the idea of them, and the fantasy especially excites me. But... writing them isn't exciting me right now and I don't know why. I'm desperate to write, but I can't seem to find the words.

I may try to do another short for Woman's World (as an aside, I had a dream the other night that they sent me a check for $885 to publish my story -- it's supposed to be $1000, but they took out taxes, lol) or another short for somewhere else. Maybe that will get me excited? I don't know. Color me frustrated.

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You Are a Hooded Sweater



You are active, casual, and laid-back.

There's not a pretentious bone in your body. You are very humble.

You have a very giving spirit. Whether you're dealing with friends or strangers, you tend to ask very little of people.

You are honest and open. You believe that if you are truthful with people, they will be straight with you.



Um... some is right, some isn't. I'll let you guess which is which! LOL...

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Today I'm 42

Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many. ~Author Unknown

A man's age is something impressive, it sums up his life: maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles, illnesses cured, griefs and despairs overcome, and unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves. A man's age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wartime Writings 1939-1944, translated from French by Norah Purcell


I like announcing my age. I've never understood why folks are hesitant to do so... does NOT telling people make you any younger (or older, for the teenagers who long to be 21)??

I'm proud to be forty-two today. I don't feel forty-two, I'd like to think I don't look forty-two (though, anymore isn't forty the new thirty or something?). I hope that number keeps on rising and doesn't stop until there are three of them up there. And then, I will proclaim that I am one hundred years of age and proud of it.

I celebrated by lazing around this morning like a lazy slug. I went to bed around 9:30, DH woke me at 11:30 when he came in and had to shuffle the dog (she's a snuggler and doesn't like to sleep at our feet, so it's always an ordeal) and then Dd woke me at 1:30 to go out (which is why she sleeps with us, btw -- she doesn't whine to go out, she just... stares. So if she were crated or put out in the living room, I'd have a mess to wake up to), so I took her out and then checked on the wood stove, fed it and curled up on the couch with the dog and the cat. I'd wake periodically, look at the stove and see the glow, and then doze off again. It was good.

Not going to do anything much today, though. It snowed and is still snowing -- the expectation is 6-9" and I won't drive in the white stuff if at all possible. So DD will sing to me, I'll open her gifts and bask in being the birthday girl for the day. Maybe DH will even make dinner.

How do you like to celebrate your birthday? And... do you care if people know how old you are?

As an aside, happy half-birthday to Charity. :-)

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In 1967 (the year you were born)



Lyndon B. Johnson is president of the US

President Johnson and Soviet premiere Aleksei Kosygin agree not to let any crisis push them into war

Thurgood Marshall is sworn in as the first black Supreme Court justice

The first home microwave is released by Amana

Dave Matthews, Kurt Cobain, Liz Phair, Vin Diesel, Julia Roberts, and Anna Nicole Smith are born

St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series

Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I

Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup

Disney's The Jungle Book and The Graduate are the top grossing films

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is published

Paul McCartney announces that all four members of the Beatles have "dropped acid"

For the first time, Jimi Hendrix sets his guitar on fire during a concert in London

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is released

The first issue of Rolling Stone magazine is published

The FCC orders that cigarette ads on television, radio and in print must include a warning about the health risks of smoking

Saturday, January 10, 2009

CAPA and Rambles

Now that it's all over, what did you really do yesterday that's worth mentioning? ~Coleman Cox

So, I was tickled to discover that "Kitchen Matches" was a TRS CAPA Nominee in the contemporary category, and "Miles From You" was a nominee in the Psyche category this year. I even got my official badge whoosie:

There's no voting from you guys -- it's all internal on their part, which I really like (less chance of making it a ballot-stuffing, popularity contest -- more chances of the results actually being at least somewhat legit).

But I was really amazed to see my name there -- especially when, out of all their reviews they selected KM as one of only 13 in the contemporary category.

Yay!

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There's another big snowstorm coming in later on today. Can I just say how truly thrilled I am by that news? May can't get here soon enough. I'm ready to move to Hawaii. Anyone want to come?

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Not much else to say. It was a quiet day here yesterday. My body feels as though it's being weighed down by 100 pound weights, and I'm usually tired. I think this whole never sleeping an entire night thing is really catching up with me ... sounds like a good day for a nap. Although, is there ever a BAD day for one?

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You Look Like an Aquarius



It's likely that you are very striking. You stand out in a room.

You are probably also taller than average, and that also helps you get noticed.



You have classical facial features... what some might call a handsome face.

You have are attractive in a cool way. You're so attractive, it's intimidating.



Like most Aquarius people, you are probably extremely independent... both in your thoughts and actions.

You find other people fascinating, and you develop deep, long lasting friendships.



Hmmm.... much of that is correct (especially the "so attractive, it's intimidating" part... are you guys intimidated?). But I'm not an Aquarius.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Dog Agility

Some things have to be believed to be seen. ~Ralph Hodgson, The Skylark and Other Poems

Last night, DD and I took Dd to her first agility class. I've been apprehensive because Dakota is afraid of...everything. When DH comes home, she won't greet him until he puts down his keys. If anyone walks in carrying a package, she stands back nervously until it's put away. I still remember how terrified she was of garbage cans! So how would she deal with jumps and tunnels and poles?

She dealt with them just fine. She was truly amazing. By the end of the night, she was off-leash and running through the tunnels, over jumps and through the "tire" like a pro (well, maybe not quite like a pro, and maybe "running" is exaggerating a bit, but I was truly amazed at how well she did). After class was over, I decided to try her in the "chute" -- an obstacle that begins as a tunnel, but has a collapsing cover made of parachute like material that they have to push away and run through. I didn't figure I'd ever get her through it.

I had DD at one end, holding the material up so Dakota could see all the way through and I put Dd into the opening and gave her a little shove while DD called her. Took her a minute, but she ran through. We did that a couple times, and then let the material fall when Dakota was halfway through and she just barreled on all the way. After that, it was easy-peasy and I told the instructor I was a believer. AMEN!

We were the only orange dog in a class of black and white Border Collies, so that was odd. One of the dogs took a dislike to Dakota, but otherwise she made a bunch of new friends. She was completely exhausted and dying of thirst when she was done. I was tired (I did almost as much running as she did) and DD was excited (the teacher was fine with DD working the dog, too, which was good...so we took turns running her through the course).

I love this class. I didn't bring my camera... sorry. But, to give you an idea of what Dd was doing, here is a YouTube video (the first dog is a Border Collie -- and it goes through many of the same obstacles we did last night...don't they all look so excited?):



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DH is home today... so we'll see how writing goes. For the most part, we're all of us at JaNoWriMo doing well. Maybe not up to goal, but we're all WRITING, and having fun and isn't the important part?

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BTW, I'm having some trouble with my computer and Google Reader. I can read the blogs in my reader, but when I try to click through to comment, it locks me up. I'm going to rebookmark everyone and try to visit you that way, but it'll take some time. So... it's not that I'm not READING you, I just can't get there to comment! Sorry. It's been frustrating, to say the least.

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You Are Copper



You are provocative and challenging. You help people realize who they really are.

You live a very balanced life. You always take time for love and art.



You are both a powerful and generous person. You always have time to give back.

People find you to be incredibly ethical and loyal.



Um... hmmm... maybe... some?
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