Friday, February 29, 2008

Reading for Comfort

Happy Leap Day!

I'm not having a lot of time to read lately (see that Midwesternese slipping in there?). Pretty much just before bed. And then I listen to books on CD while I'm driving to and from work and various other places in the Heartland.

I've got a lot of design projects going on right now. I've not had to be so creative on a deadline so consistently for such a long period of time before. And by the time evening comes, I don't have much attention span left. There's probably more to it than that but I'm too creatively depleted to think of what it could be.

So I find myself turning to my literary equivalent of comfort food: suspense novels. Now this ca be a bit tricky because I get nightmares easily so I have to have more suspense than horror since I'm reading right before bed. Maybe letting my mind turn over a different kind of problem--a who dun it, one I'm not likely to face in life--gives my brain a break from the problems it does have to solve. I don't know.

And it's not to say I don't still have a taste for my more literary favorites. But after a long day, I'd rather have a good pizza than a gourmet meal.

Though I'm thinking by next week, a steak is going to sound really good.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Today we have a snow day. Lots of heavy snow! I hope the power doesn't go out.

I have a lot of miscellaneous tackles, those kinds of things that are perfect to get caught up on on a snowy day, like cleaning under the couch cushions and vacuuming the baseboards in the living room.

But my big tackle for the day is finishing my taxes. Ugh! :( At least I know I'm getting money back which makes the process a little less painful.

I also put some ribs in the slow cooker with onions and barbecue sauce. I'll let you know how it turns out. The house should smell really yummy in a couple of hours.

Happy tackling!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Passion Most Pure--a Review

A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman (Revell)

I have to admit I'm a historical fan from way back. But I have a Bachelor's in history so I get picky about details that are wrong and pull me out of the story. So while I like historicals, I find it hard to find ones I can fall in love with.

A Passion Most Pure fits the bill. The spicy sassiness of Deanne Gist and the sweeping saga feeling of Gone with the Wind, A Passion Most Pure manages to capture the World War I era while still creating characters that we love, relate to, and root for. While the page count may seem high, there is no fluff or padding here. You come to feel like part of the family and the pages just breeze by.

On a personal note, it was fascinating for me as a crit partner to see the progression of this novel from manuscript to finished-novel form. It was a bit like looking at a scrapbook of our crit group, remembering the changes and brainstorming we'd done over certain parts. Other parts were new, but I could see that they were the fruit of the seeds Julie had planted in earlier versions of the manuscript.

All in all, it's like standing on the sidelines cheering as your friend finishes a marathon you saw her start.

Congrats, girl! You did great!

Monday, February 18, 2008

An Acceptance at Last

I got some good news Saturday. My short story, "Heart Surgery" was accepted by Mused, the online literary journal of BellaOnline.

This thrilled me to no end. First, of course, because it was an acceptance and those are few and far between in my life lately. But this piece has an interesting history. I submitted it to a Christian contest last year where it didn't place (but fellow Misfit Angie Poole did).

Also, it was the seed that started the novel I'm currently working on. I don't normally consider myself a short story writer. But as I have less time to write, I find that it is an interesting way to play with characters and story ideas.

But what I think is really cool is that Mused is a secular publication, an area I've been thinking about moving toward. So it was wonderful feedback that my writing can succeed in the secular women's fiction world.

I'll post the link to the issue when it comes up, around March 21 I believe.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Biddy Basketball

As I've mentioned before, Hoosiers take their basketball seriously. And they start them young. Calvin (not his real name) started playing biddy ball last week for Pre-K and K. He's one of the oldest, already being 6, but still one of the shortest. Wait for the growth spurt, Son, around 9th grade.

Unlike other little kids sports where all the kids move in a pack following the ball, their first game actually looked like a real game with dribbling, shooting, running up and down the court, and falling on the ball.

The cutest thing is how they teach them to play defense. They give them and an opposing team member matching armbands and that's who they're supposed to guard. Calvin of course thought his was either a Power Ranger or some super power wrist band and kept pointing it at the other kid. Not sure if he thought it would vaporize him, or what.

Of course like other little kid sports there were kids not paying attention, kids who didn't wnat to play, and parents "coaching" from the stands. My personal pet peeve. Let the kids have fun, okay?

There was some confusion over which basket belonged to which team. And the ceiling started to leak which lead to an interesting variation on the sport: Parents had to stand on towels in the leaky spots.

Personally, as long as Calvin can run off some of his energy that builds up from being cooped up inside all winter, I'm happy. Otherwise he tends to be a little too much like the creative-but-destructive Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes (thus, the nickname).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

In keeping with my theme to post non-wintery pictures, here's one I took last year of an Arizona cotton field at sunset. Ah the sun! I miss it!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

My tackle this week was to cook 7 meals in advance. I like to do this because afternoons are my low energy time. Defrosting and throwing something in the oven is right up my alley. And 7 meals can easily last us two weeks.

I use Cyndy Salzmann's book The Occasional Cook because she gives you menus, recipes, shoppings lists, and a game plan. It cuts down on the thinking for me.

For this week I made Nebraska Shepherd's Pie, Taco Soup, Barbeque Cups, Chuckwagon Quesadillas, Porcupines, Swedish Meatballs, and Sloppy Joes. All are family friendly.

I photocopy the recipes to use on the counter while I'm cooking because I'm a messy cook and I'd rather replace a splattered photocopy than a whole cookbook.

The whole thing took me 2.5 hours including clean up, which works out to about 20 minutes a meal. Quite a time saver!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

My New Phone

Considering I'm a web designer, you'd think I'd be more embracing of technology. And I do like gadgets. But I'm also a creature of habit.

I've had my Motorola ROKR for over two years. I loved it. I knew how to use it. It worked as an iPod and did everything that I needed and wanted it to do.

Except it stopped taking a charge. The charger port had some pins that got damaged and I couldn't get it to charge at all. Not very useful to have a phone that is dead. Especially considering it's my only phone. I don't have a land line.

So I went into AT&T to see what could be done. They couldn't fix the phone and I could get a free one--a bottom of the line that now does everything my top of the line ROKR did--if I renewed my contract. Okay fine. Free is good.

But I still haven't figured out how to work this phone. I can answer it. I did get all my info transfered over. And it does have the cool, old-fashioned phone ring on it. (I had to explain to my kids that, yes, phones did used to sound like that.) I suppose I should read the manual to figure out how to access my music and photos. I just don't have the time. Although I guess I could do it instead of writing this blog post!

I'm probably pouting a little. I still have my old ROKR in my purse. I don't know why. Not sure what to do with it. Maybe give it a decent burial?

Any ideas for a phone that doesn't work?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

To remind those of us trapped in the middle of the winter blahs that summer does indeed exist, here's picture of a roadrunner that was in my back yard when I lived in Arizona.

Make sure you head over to Michelle's Wordless Wednesday. She's giving away prizes if you can guess her photo.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Four Tag

This is the latest meme going around like the flu. I saw it first on Heather's blog, then Mich tagged me. So, here is goes. Or you can skip it. Not sure my answers are overly fascinating.

4 Jobs I've Had: (just a few of the man)

1. Learning disabilities tutor
2. College community service officer
3. Mom (hey, hardest job ever!)
4. Web site and Graphic Design Firm Owner

4 Movies Watched Over and Over: (I don't really watch movies over and over unless forced to by my children because they're playing constantly on TV. So, do I answer with movies I like, or the kids movies I've seen a zillion times? Hmm, going with movies I like.)

1. Waitress
2. O Brother Where Art Thou?
3. When Harry Met Sally
4. Mystic Pizza

4 Places I've Lived:

1. San Bernardino County, California
2. Orange County, California
3. Gilbert, Arizona
4. Indiana

4 TV Shows I Watch:

1. The Unit
3. The Office
4. My Name is Earl

4 Places I've Been:

1. All over California
2. Phoenix, Arizona
3. London, England
4. Maui

4 People Who Email Me Regularly:

1. Mich
2. The Weather Channel warning me about the weather
3. The Fly Lady warning me about the state of my house
4. Writerly types. Probably some of the same as Mich.

4 Favorite Things to Eat:

1. Chips and Salsa
2. Chocolate
3. Seafood
4. A really good steak

4 Places I'd Rather Be:

1. On the beach in Hawaii
2. On the beach in Florida
3. Anyplace in the Valley of the Sun, Arizona
4. Anyplace with a spa

4 Things I Look Forward to This Year:

1. Turning 40 (not!)
2. Seeing my first real spring
3. Watching my son play organized sports (term used loosely) for the first time
4. Summer and Fall!

4 People to tag:
1. Diana
2. Malia
3. Jenny
4. Sabrina
And anyone else who wants to play!

How Cold Is It?

So, I've experience my first couple of 20-below-with-wind-chill days. And I have a couple of observations.


Surprising, huh?

1. The inside of my garage door ices over.

2. The driver's side door of my car froze shut. Had to crawl in and out of the passenger side for two days.

3. The inside of the windows ice over while you're driving.

4. You can't get your car remotely warm. I had to keep checking the air vents to see if the heat was even on.

5. Even with multiple layers of clothes, coats, gloves, and hats, and the heat on in the car, it's still REALLY COLD!

6. The dog doesn't want to pee outside.

7. The previously-melted snow in my garage turned to ice.

8. They cancel or delay school because it's too dangerous for kids to walk to school in the cold.

The good news is, my garage can double as a freezer.

And best of all, it makes 30 feel almost warm!

Luckily, the super cold days don't last too long so I've been able to survive. However, I'd really like to be able to feel my toes again sometime soon.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Book and Color Lover

Photo by: Chotda

To keep up with the world of design I read blogs. Big surprise, huh? One of my favorites is Even if you're not a graphic designer, go check it out. It's a feast for the eyes.

The picture above comes from a post about organizing your bookshelves by color. And they're serious! This particular line caught my eye: "If you’re really anal, you can create sleeves for your books and code them by color (fiction=yellow, textbooks=blue)."

I love color and organization, but I am NOT that anal. I have to admit to loving the effect though.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Two Tag

This tag was on Georgiana's blog back in November. You can see how behind I am on these things. Still, I kept it because it seemed like a fun thing to do. And since today is a snow day and I'm feeling lazy--okay, procrastinating getting any actual work done--I thought I'd post this meme.

Two names you go by: Jennifer and Jen (or Mom in my house)
Two things you are wearing right now: pajamas and socks. Hey it's a snow day and I slept in and made pancakes.

Two of your favorite things to do: read and sing

Two things you want very badly at the moment: To find more time to write, and I wouldn't object to a little more money or some better design software.

Two favorite pets you have/had: I've had a ton of cats and two dogs and I've loved them all. Doesn't seem fair to pick a favorite. They all had their unique qualities. Right now I'm going my longest period in my life without a cat. Charlie, aka Dog Vader, is more than enough animal for our little house.

Two people who will fill this out: Mich and Diana.

Two people you last talked to: Calvin and Sissy, who are here at the dining room table with me. Calvin is using his inhaler/spacer as a weapon to shoot bad guys while watching Justice League. And Sissy is popping in and out of here while doing a Jane Fonda step aerobics tape of mine from the 80s. I tell you, the workout clothes and hair are enough to make you bust a gut laughing. Sissy doesn't seem to appreciate that though. She takes her work outs very seriously.

Two longest trips you've been on: Now, is this time wise or distance wise? Road trip with Mich from Arizona to Indiana. It was only three days but almost 2000 miles. And a two-week trip to London. That was fun.

Two favorite holidays: Christmas and Fourth of July.

Two favorite beverages: A really good Merlot and Earl Grey tea. Alas, my poor Diet Coke doesn't make the cut anymore.

I think we got about 6 inches of snow last night and they're calling for about 5 more inches today. It's 26 degrees right now and not snowing at the moment. The snow plow already sent my trash can flying. Luckily the trash guys got here at 4 AM, only a day late. Charlie kindly informed that they were stealing my trash at that early hour.

So, if we get all our chores done around here while it's still halfway decent, we'll probably head over to Mich's where she's got a wood stove and more room for rowdy kids.