Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Update - Week 21

Welcome to Sunday! 

Let's see... 

I wasn't as much of a slug as I thought last week.  After tallying the words over the past seven days, I see that I hot 9863.  Woohoo.  I've still got 14198 to write before the month is over, but it's do-able.  As long as I average about 2K a day.  We'll see what I can crank out today and tomorrow to make that average come down a little. 

In other news, I spent some time online ordering the stuff for our next two projects* - 1) putting a vapor barrier under the house and 2) removing the orange paint from the exterior.  Oh, and we got blinds for the garage windows because when the sun hits that side of the house, it heats the place up in there and we're trying to delay putting the AC unit in the window. 

I only got two books read last week.  My friend JB Lynn's newest The Mutt and the Matchmaker (totally fun and cute and awesome) and Tess Gerritsen's The Bone Garden (not cute or fun, but still pretty good).

Oh, and yesterday, I saw a turtle in the yard.  First turtle of the year here on the hill.  I know it's not really exciting out there in the world, but I was jazzed.

Other than that, the week's a blur.  How'd things go for you?

*If you order stuff through Amazon, try out their Amazon Smile program.  A percentage of the total cost of your order goes to the charity of your choosing.  This week, I ordered some rolls of Gorilla Tape and my charity got a small bit of fundage.  Pretty neat, eh?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Kinda Cranky Today

I crawled out from under the wrong side of the rock this morning.  Rather than share this overabundance of negativity with you, here's a picture of a bunny...

(Don't worry.  Nothing's wrong.  I just need sleep.  Or more coffee.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Go Read This and Think About It

As I was laying in bed not sleeping last night, I came up with a most excellent post about bullying.  (Yes.  Again.  Because the world wasn't paying attention last time... and even though it still won't be paying attention, it still needs to be said.)  Of course, I lost most of it between then and now.  Thankfully, Sarah A. Hoyt says it better - if only in part of where I thought I was going.  So go read this...

Sticks and Stones

...and then think about it for a while.

Then think about this bit that I've said before: The only people who have the power to make you feel bad are the ones you give that power to.  And then realize that if you don't care about what someone thinks, then their opinions don't really mean shit.  (Unless, like Sarah points out, their opinion slathered around the internet might lose you sales. Of course, being an author means you give a boatload of people you otherwise wouldn't have given a damn about power to hurt you, but it's the life we choose when we seek publication.)

And yes, I feel really bad when my acquaintances get their feelings hurt - even if it's because they gave someone else power they shouldn't have.  And I'd really like to poke those mean ol' bullies in the eye.  But then I remember what I said above and then I feel bad for those hurt people, that they can't just say 'Fuck you and the horse you rode in on' and then completely ignore the words coming out of the fingers of people they should consider fucktards.

Okay.  'Nuff said about this for the day.  Expect it to crop again - probably with more eloquence after a full night's sleep.

Edited to Add:  After I posted this, I came across another pertinent blog about the subject.  (Must be something in the air.)  So, go read Why Bullies Bully, too.

(Note: I've only read one of Sarah's books, but it was most excellent, so check her stuff out.)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Update - Week 20

Twenty weeks into the year.  Wow.  Where did they go?? 

Anyway, time flies when you're growing older.  Fun or not.  The older you get the faster time goes.  Remember when we were kids and the summer seemed to last forever, or it was forever until Christmas?  But I digress...

This was a slacker week for me on the writing front.  I missed two days - Friday because I was freakin' pooped, and Saturday because I couldn't figure out where the story's going yet and I have a weird feeling I lost the path again.  I still got 7200 words out, but I'm way behind for the month.  I expect I'll make it up and still reach my 44K, though, so no worries.  I'll worry when it's May 30th and I only have one day left with 6K left to go.  ;o)

Speaking of the number 44, it's my birthday.

In reading news, I've been re-reading a favorite of mine.  It's Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks, and is the second book in the Shannara series.  But I read it first, and it was so awesome that the first and third books paled by comparison - thus making me not read the rest of the series.  It reads as well now as it did the first time I read it back in 1983.  (I know the year because King of Pain by The Police was new on the radio and will forever be merged in my head with this book.)  And even though I know the end, I'm still gonna cry. I cry every time.

In home improvement news, Hubs finished putting all the plumbing in yesterday and we have water everywhere we're supposed to have water.  (And no place where we're not.)  If you're thinking about doing any plumbing work, I really recommend the Pex tubing and the Sharkbite* brand supplies.  The stuff is awesome.  Hubs did our whole 1500+ square foot, 2.5 bathroom house pretty much by himself in just under 3 days.  He's so cool and I'm so proud of him.

Anyway, today, I'll be in and out whilst having birthiversary fun** so if your comment doesn't post right away, don't worry.  I'll get to it one of the times when I'm in rather than out. 

How did your Week 20 go? 

*Yes, Mack the Knife has indeed been looping through my head off and on since we started the project.  Why do you ask?

**Last year for my birthiversary, I went antiquing.  =o)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ten Years

Ten years ago today, two people who really hadn't spent a lot of time in each other's company, who'd really only met a few months before, but who also knew everything deep about each other, stood in front of judge and vowed to spend the rest of their lives loving, honoring and cherishing one another.  The only other people there were witnesses the judge had pulled from the desks to watch the ceremony so they could sign the marriage license. 

There was no party afterwards.  They went back to his hotel room where he changed out of his suit and then back to her apartment where she changed out of her dress.  Instead of gathering with her friends - strangers to him - or either of their families (all but one of whom were in other states), they hopped in her car and she drove.  They meandered and saw pretty things.  They chatted and laughed and enjoyed each other's company.   

Simple.  Easy.  Relaxed.  Pretty much the way their first months together had gone.  Pretty much how the next ten years would go.  And exactly how their tenth anniversary is expected to play out*. 

Have a beautiful day wherever you are.  And my life be simple, easy... relaxed for you today and every day.

*Okay, so they're actually finishing up the replumbing of their home today.  So 'simple, easy and relaxed' may not be exactly what occurs, but once that's finished, there'll be a lot of relaxing.  LOL

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Thrift Store

About five miles from my house, in pretty much the middle of nowhere but at a crossroads, sits a store.  You really wouldn't know what it was if you were just driving by.  The sign says 'Trading Post' but not much else.  I think if you look closer is says something about the charity it works for.  We were here for several months before we knew what it was, even though I stop at the gas station next store every other week or so for coffee.

You walk in and it still doesn't look like much.  A counter sits to one side.  A diner-like booth sits on the other.  In the middle are display cases and shelves filled with china and porcelain and jewelry.  There are a few art pieces ringing the room near the ceiling.  And there's a opening into a hall where you can see some more art on the walls.

It's not until you walk down the hall that you begin to see this place is filled with friggin' everything.  Turn to the right and you're in a folksy room with craft and native American pieces.  Stay straight through there and you end up walking down into a huge space filled with clothing and holiday stuff.  Get to the back of that and walk up a ramp and you're in bargain shopper Nirvana.

Five rows of shelving stacked all the way to the high ceiling.  Furniture, sporting equipment, records, bathroom fixtures, lighting, handmade wood stuff, pianos... Every Thing.  If you wander back out to the craft room again and hang a right, you're in the homegoods area where everything that wasn't in the other areas is.  Including books, btw.

I've been in there many times.  I now own a lot of decor from within its walls.  My pink reading chair, the coffee table in our sun room, pictures and prints of every size.  (And books, of course.)  I usually wander through looking at this and that, waiting for the right pieces to catch my eye.  Yesterday, I took my time.  I tried to not miss anything.  I went in with a goal in mind - specifically to find something I could repurpose into a medicine cabinet for my bathroom*.  I left with several items I didn't even imagine buying. 

Like my early birthday present to myself... an old manual typewriter that weighs a ton, but looks so awesome in my office.  It's a Royal and near as I can figure it's from the '30s or 40s.

Or the foot square slab of marble**.  I've been looking for a stepping stone to place outside our crawlspace door in the pea gravel border I'm creating.  It's perfect.

And the pretty little print of some birds on a lilac bush.  The unframed print was 25 cents.  I found a great frame with no glass for 50 cents  and a crappy frame with great glass for 75 cents.

Lastly, I found this great little footstool to fit in front of my pink reading chair.  It's a low stool and upholstered in leather.  Not quite my style, but I'm planning on reupholstering the chair and when I do, the stool will get a makeover to match.

I walked out of the thrift store $21.50 lighter.  And the ranch for urban youths got $21.50 fatter.  Plus I got some awesome stuff.  Since they have an awesome turnover rate for their donations, I wonder what things I'll find the next time I go in.

What about you?  Do you do thrift stores?  Yard sales?  Do you enjoy pilfering through other people's items to find the perfect treasure for yourself, or do you think it's just other people's trash?

*Haven't found the medicine cabinet yet, but I'm not giving up.  ;o)

** Upon further reflection, we think the slab is actually granite.  Either way, it's pretty cool stuff for not much more than Walmart would charge me for concrete.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday Update - Week 19

Well, here we are again.  Or some of us are here and some are at the RT Convention in new Orleans.  I'm here, of course.  Tada!

Okay, as for what happened last week, let's start with the writing, k?

I wrote six out of the last seven days.  Friday became a day off when I realized I wasn't sure where the story was going.  (I still wasn't sure by Saturday, but I knew I had to write, so I slapped down 1852 words of what I believe is hot mess.)  Six days of writing netted me 9188 words.  Bringing my count for the month of May to 12736 and my total for this book to 21408.  Like I said, it's a hot mess.  Like a huge canvas someone spewed ten different colors of paint at.  It's kinda gross looking right now, if you ask me.  Lucky for me, this can all be fixed in editing. 

In gardening news, the hydrangea I thought died an ignoble death shortly after I planted it has made a decision to live by sending shoots out away from the dead crap currently sticking out of the ground.  Lucky for it, I noticed BEFORE I pulled what could've easily been a weed.  I've decided to name it Lazarus.  Also, the crepe myrtle I transplanted from the middle of the front yard that I was pretty sure was half dead is making a miraculous recovery as well.

On the home improvement front, we'll be starting the plumbing project this week.  Even as I type, Hubs is hard at work laying everything out on paper, so he knows what he needs and where it all goes.  (I say 'we' but he's the one doing the work.  I'm just here in case he needs help.)  So, to that end, I helped him clear out the crap in the crawl space under the house.  I also stood in a plumbing supply store for ninety minutes while he discussed Pex and how to install it with a dude.  Not a huge trial on my part because I found out they had replacement rubber stopper things for my kitchen disposal, new hardware for my bathroom sink stopper, a floor register that actually fits my weird bathroom (a size no one else had in stock, btw), and clear caulk so I can lay a bead in a few oplaces that never got caulked. 

Like I said, I'm here very obviously not going to the RT thingie.  What I'm doing instead is a Facebook thing that Kerry Schafer cooked up called the 'Not Going to NOLA Party Page'.  A bunch of writers (and readers, too, I think) are kinda hanging out online.  So far, it's been fun.  If you're interested at all, let me know so I can send you an invite.

What have you been up to this past week? 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Apple Raisin Bread Pudding

Well, as you all may or may not know, I've been trying to perfect a bread pudding recipe for the past few months.  Whenever I have leftover bread or get day-old bread on sale, I whip one of these together.  My first pass was more like a fail.  The second go was okay, but not wicked awesome.  The third try was unmemorable.  This last batch, though, I think I've finally got it.  So here's the recipe I came up with...  (if I remembered all the tweaks I made this morning... yeesh.)

Apple Raisin Bread Pudding

4 large bakery style hamburger buns, cubed (roughly 8 cups of bread cubes if not pressed down)
4 cups cubed apples (about 3/4" dice)
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 2/3 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup margarine
4 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 heel slices of sourdough (or other crusty bread)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray 9x13" pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine bread cubes, apples chunks and raisins.  in a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, maple syrup, milk and margarine.  Heat until margarine is just melted (the milk may appear to separate, but that's okay).  Pour over bread mixture while still in bowl, and stir to combine.  Pour into prepared baking sheet, pressing to make sure it covers corner to corner.  In a separate smaller bowl, beat eggs.  Add in cinnamon and vanilla - beat until combined.   Pour evenly over bread mixture in pan.  Dice bread heels into medium sized chunks and sprinkle evenly over pudding in pan.  Press down so some of the moisture hits the harder bread, but not so that it's soaked.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until apples are tender and top begins to be golden brown.  Serve warm, or microwave later and top with ice cream.

Updated: I can't believe I forgot the secret ingredient... probably because I added it on a whim.  To the brown sugar, maple syrup, etc. mix, add about one tablespoon of brandy and then heat until the margarine is melted.  Sheesh.  Can't forget the booze.  (Even if the heat gets rid of the alcohol before you eat it.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Irises

Since I keep talking about my irises, I thought I'd take some pics to share...

First, here's what the iris bed looked like last August:

And here's what it looks like now:

I didn't move this next bunches of irises, but I tidied their bed up and this year they're blooming... WHITE!

I'll take more pics after they open.  But I'm totally jazzed.  (And if you look close, you can see the azaleas I moved last year in front of and behind the irises.  They still look haggard, but they're working on it.)

Update: The white ones bloomed overnight. I'll post pics once the sun comes around to highlight them.  =o)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday Update - Week 18

Eighteen weeks into 2014?  Where did those months go?  Holy crap.  April felt like a total wash.  March was consumed with my trip to Florida.  February?  Who even remembers back that far anymore?  I think I was writing in January...

So here we are in the month of May.  I still have to wrap up April, though, and get this party month* started.

Let's see...

The big news is that I'm writing again.  I promised myself I would take May and do some kind of warped NaNo type thing.  44K words in 31 days.  (44 because I'll turn 44 this month.)  So far, I've written every day of May.  It's early yet, but I can do this.  And maybe it'll be the kick in the pants I've needed.

In home improvement stuff, the Hubs is almost done with the insulation project.  That huge pile of stuff in the garage that Max was using as the world's biggest kitty-bed is down to 4 rolls of R30 unfaced, 4 bats of R30 faced 16", and 1 bat of R30 faced 24".  It's nice not having to wear socks - the floors were really cold, but now they're not. 

I'm working on the pea gravel project.  We got 6-7 yards of pea rock piled in the driveway with the plan to put it underneath the deck and the sun room and in a perimeter around the house.  Before we can put it anywhere, thought, we have to prep the space, and with Hubs wrapped up in insulation, I'm shouldering the workload on the prep.  I also took this pile of flat pseudo rocks (concrete shaped into rock forms) that I found in the woods, and made a neat patterned border along the edge of the underside of the deck.  I ran out of those a lot quicker than I thought, so I'm using just flat-ish rocks I have laying around.  It looks quite nice, if you ask me.

What were you up to last week?  Anything fun on the agenda for May?

*Not really.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Chunky Apple Cake

Careful, folks, the batter for this is full of awesome, so you may want to eat it all before you bake it, but hold out - the cake's pretty great, too.

Chunky Apple Cake

6 medium apples (peeled and cored)
3 eggs
1 ½ cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 snack sized Musselman’s Chunky applesauce cup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9x13” cake pan.  Cut apples into large chunks (about three-quarter inch cubes) and set aside.  In a large bowl, whip together eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in applesauce, oil, cinnamon, baking soda and vanilla.  Stir in half the flour until combined.  Stir in other half of the flour.  Fold in the apple chunks.  Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean and toothpick inserts into apple chunks easily.  Cool, slice and serve.

(If you don’t have chunky applesauce snack packs, use ¾ cup vegetable oil.)