Sunday, January 31, 2010

Writing is a Lot Like Running

It's true. Both can be a lot of hard work or a lot of fun. It just depends on your perspective.

Sometimes just getting started is the hardest part and it can feel a little intimidating.

How do I begin?
Where do I begin?
How do I prepare?

There are so many questions, one might even be "who do I ask?"

You have to set goals and start out easy or you might get overwhelmed.

I know from experience--at least when it comes to running. I used to be a "runner". I know, most people wouldn't believe that from looking at me now. But back before I had kids, I used to run at least two miles a day, 3 to 4 times a week. Then I had kids and my entire world changed. Their goals became my goals.

Well, now the kids are grown and it's time to get back to a few of my own goals: one is running and one is writing.

Currently I just started training for the Shamrock run here in Portland, which benefits Doernbecher Children's Hospital. And, I'm also trying to get a manuscript published. Both take a lot of focus, concentration and commitment--plus, a lot of hard work. But, as I reach each goal, I have a sense of satisfaction.

And, I may never win a marathon but at least I'll complete one. And, my manuscripts will be finished. There's joy in the journey--we just need to remember that.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Men Who Stare at Goats


By Jon Ronson

I'm reading this true story about the U.S. Military Government and secret service special operations. This isn't the usual type of book I would choose to read but I have a B.S. in psychology and a friend thought I would be interested. The title was enough to make me lose interest but when she recommended it, well, I had to give it a chance.

I think it's fascinating - in a very Area 57 type of way. I'm not all the way through it yet. But I think it is very interesting. It's been made into a movie - and I'm thinking about watching that but I think it might be hard to take this book into the silver screen mode. Anyone seen the movie-with George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and the Goat, someone must have seen it...?

Are there any books you've read that you didn't think you'd like - but did?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Living Wall - Earth-friendly Friday


I love to garden – who doesn’t like to spend their weekends knee deep in dirt?

I look forward to the flowers and the fun. I scan seed catalogs starting in January, then I plan my planting, picking and then preparing some yummy homemade meals. There's no better way to cook than to go outside and grab some goodies right out of my front yard garden to whip up some homegrown goodness.

I use my front parking strip to plant flowers and veggies in raised beds and I’ve been doing it for over 20 years. But I never thought of creating a living wall. If you want to see more photos click on the "living wall" and scroll down to take a look. If you live in Portland, take a trip downtown to Modera and check it out for yourself.

I think this will be my next project-or maybe my husband's.

How about you? Any innovative ideas about gardening you’d like to share?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Answer to Riddle for Thursday

Answer: God doesn't think he's a Federal Court Judge.

RIDDLE for Thursday

QUESTION: What's the difference between God and a Federal Court Judge?

Come back at 3:00 to see the answer.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Answer to Word for Wednesday

Answer: favorable

If you'd like to see more, check it out here.

Word for Wednesday - a game for Writers

Word: Unpropitious

Take a guess - please add your guess to "comments" and then come back around 3:00 to see if you were right.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tip for Tuesday - For Writers

A great writing resource is The Elements of Style by William Struck Jr. and E.B. White.

It's a short little book packed full with helpful tips, hints, and examples.

Here is one example of the types of advice listed in the book:

"Exclamations: Do not attempt to emphasize simple statements by using a mark of exclamation.

The exclamation mark is to be reserved for use after true exclamations or commands.

What a wonderful show!
Halt!

Margins: Keep right-hand and left-hand margins roughly the same width."


Have you found any great writing resources - please share them in the comments section. Thanks.

Monday, January 25, 2010

MONDAY, MONDAY - I HATE THAT DAY

"Monday Monday"

Mondays are never easy. I thought they were only supposed to be hard when I was young. NOT.

It's never easy to get up out of a warm cozy bed and get going.

Have you found any tricks to make Mondays easy-er?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Me and the Girls


It was a beautiful day today. So my husband and I decided to take the girls for a walk: Sasha and Kit.

Sasha is almost two years old now and she is a Siberian Husky. Kit is 16 and she's a Shiba Inu.

Kit is a little overweight but at 16 I'm not putting her on a die...t.

They are such sweet dogs but we had trouble getting them to look at the camera at the same time. Oh well, you can see how sweet they look even if you can't see Sasha's beautiful blue eyes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Book of Lost Things

This is a book filled with retold fairytales but it isn't a storybook for kids. Each of the fairytales is darker and grimer than a Brothers Grime version. From Snow White to the Wizard of Oz, this book blends old classics and gives them a new twist - or perhaps I should say "twisted" version.

I really enjoyed it though. It was never quite what I expected and that was fun.

John Connolly did a beautiful job of weaving tales together into one story. If you like a mystery with a little fantasy, I would definitely recommend this but only if you are over 14 and probably more like 20.

If you've read it, I'd love to hear what you thought.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Earth-Friendly Friday: RePurposing



My husband built the arbor with the benches at our front gate, using recycled lumber. Plus, his brother built our garden chairs using old torn down picket fencing.

I love reusing old worn out materials and repurposing them.

Are there any ways you use things in a new way? Please add your ideas to my "comments" to inspire us all to live a little greener.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Answer to Thought for Thursday

Answer: $2.00


$1.00 for the script and $1 for directing the movie.

THOUGHT FOR THURSDAY- FOR WRITERS

Thought: George Clooney wrote and directed the 2005 film Good Night and Good Luck

How much was he paid?

Post your guess in "comments" please, and then come back around 3:00 to see if you were right.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Answer to Word for Wednesday

Bereft means bereaved and/or deprived. If you want to see, check it out here.

WORD FOR WEDNESDAY

WORD: Bereft

Take a Guess and put it in "Comments" then come back around 3:00

to SEE

if you were WRITE

or

Wrong

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tasty Tuesday


The Danes always celebrate with a cheer. They raise their glasses and instead of saying "Cheers" they say "Skol", usually serving alcohol that's been frozen inside a block of ice. It is very similar to what we think of as Schnapps but some people might think it's similar to lighter fluid.


My husband moved to America from Denmark when he was a kid and became an American Citizen during his senior year in high school. Since we got married, we've been involved in different Danish Cultural Societies such as the Northwest Danish Foundation and

DAVS: Danish American Vintage Society

DAVS NYTÃ…RSFROKOST

Saturday was one of those days when we got together to celebrate, with other Danish American couples. It was a TASTY TUESDAY with a Danish Food Fest.

DAVS is a group of people involved in feasting in the Danish tradition. The group consists of mostly mixed married couples - from dual cultures: one American/one Dane.

One of the traditional foods usually served in Denmark is smorgasbord or open-faced sandwiches.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Movie Review

Both my sons love animation. My oldest 'tooned all of the ECOwomen on my sidebar plus, some of you know, Jake has a degree in multi-media design from the University of Oregon. So we go see "cartoons" regularly - as a family.

Over the Christmas holiday we went to see The Princess and the Frog and then tonight we watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It was a fun family show that had some good messages inside the show.

The Princess and the Frog was really cute. It reminded me of an old fashioned Disney story. And, we all enjoyed it. Some people say it is as good as Lion King - I'm not sure about that. Animal stories and babies are hard to compete with.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was a fun show to watch as a family and it was on dvd - so that was the right price.

Have you seen any good movies lately? Share your recommendations in the "comments" so I can pick another show for us all to see.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I HAVE A DREAM

Martin Luther King is famous for that line, which he used in a speech in front of 250,000 people. He was a civil rights leader who helped to end racial segregation on public transportation.

His life was tragically ended on April 4, 1968 but during his life he had many accomplishments - and we will celebrate his life on Monday, January 18, 2010.

Martin Luther King's real birthday was January 15th, 1929 but we celebrate MLK Day on the third Monday of January now.

Time Magazine listed Martin Luther King as the Man of the Year in 1963 and then in 1964 he became the youngest person to earn the Noble Peace Prize. Dr. King was bestowed with five honorary degrees.

These are just a few facts you can enjoy as you celebrate the life of a great man.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

MLK Day - Weekend of Service


We can all honor the spirit of Martin Luther King by performing service for our communities. If you live in or around the Portland metropolitan area, here is a list of events going on this weekend that you can volunteer to be a part of. These events are sponsored by United Way and showing a United effort to honor MLK.

Here is another event where you could volunteer in honor of MLK

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Precycle - Earth-Friendly Friday

Why is it that we love to wait?

We wait in lines at the movies -- well, don't we?

We wait in lines at the grocery store, the gas-station, and even on the on-ramps to get onto the highway.


Well this is one time we can take control: We don't have to wait.

But while you're not waiting, don't waste.

We don't only need to recycle, reduce and reuse, we can go beyond the boundaries of "normal" and precycle.

We can all save natural resources, energy, and reduce our carbon emissions by simply thinking ahead. And, if we all do a little, it will do a lot.

Think green and save energy.

• HOW MUCH ENERGY DO YOU USE? It's pretty easy to find out. Simply call your local energy company and ask. Then ask for some helpful hints, tips and even money saving programs that might inspire you to think outside the box, the energy meter box.

• GET AN ENERGY AUDIT. Most energy companies will provide an energy audit or give you options for companies to choose between.

• GET RID OF OLD APPLICANCES. You might save more money than just on your energy bill. Sometimes you get a tax break for buying energy efficient appliances. It’s worth checking out.


BE PROACTIVE AND PRECYCLE!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Answer to Thought for Thursday

ANSWER: A paper clip. Norwegians consider the paper clip their invention and it was worn on the lapel as a symbol of national unity.

THOUGHT FOR THURSDAY

THOUGHT: What did Norwegians use as a symbol of Nazi resistance during World War II?

Hint: It is a common office staple.

Put your guess in Comments and then come back around 3:00 p.m. to see if you guessed right.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Answer to Word for Wednesday

Answer: To throw out of a window.

Okay, maybe you wouldn't throw anything out a window - even if you were angry but still... some people might.

Word for Wednesday - a game for Writers

Word: defenestrate

Do you know what it means? If you do, heck even if you don't, take a guess and put it in the comments section. Then come back around 3:00 to see if you were "write" or totally wrong.

Here's a clue - it's something you might do if you are angry.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Comment Challenge

Come on Cyber friends. It's time to join the challenge. Mother Reader has a challenge going on right now. Check it out here. And, then go out and travel the information highway, finding friends in cyberspace.

See you out there in the world wide web-log.

:)

Monday, January 11, 2010

SNOWSHOE TOUR - ROMANTIC - SHEESH!

BY THE LIGHT OF THE (NOT SO) SILVERY MOON

A moonlit tour sounds peaceful and romantic, or it did when I was reading the travel company website.

Walk through the pure white snow in the High Cascades, looking for signs of animal life in their nocturnal wonderland.

“AHHHHHhhhhhh, it sounds so relaxing.” I told my husband, “I’ve always wanted to go snowshoeing.”

What I hadn’t planned on was scaling those High Cascade Mountains and repelling down the backside of cliffs—without a rope.

Somehow the guide put my husband and me in a group with thirteen 25-year-olds and, to add insult to injury, they had the youthful bodies of Adonis and Dianna.

Immediately, I felt like a fish out of water: a sardine, as we sat huddled together in the van.

What I didn’t realize right then, was the fact that he was sizing us up. If I had, I would have raised my hand to make sure he saw me, the chubby old Mom sitting hidden, wedged between my 6’4” husband and the forest fire-fighting dynamic duo that sat blocking me from view, on the bench seat beside me.

I should have seen (or at least heard) the warning signals, when he said, “ Usually we wander around an open field beneath the moon and stars, gazing up at the night sky BUT tonight I think we’ll try something a little more exciting.”

I had no idea that one little three-letter word was something that could have such a huge impact on my life—not until later.

I excuse my stupidity by saying I didn’t know what he was talking about. If I had, I would have stayed in my seat and been safe for the rest of the evening. Instead, I climbed out of that oversized van, into the dark night, as an old lady looking for a little romance on a weekend get-away with her husband and unknowingly entered the world of extreme sports fanatics.

”SHEESH!” Don’t be fooled by ads that entice you with promises of “Snowshoeing by the light of the moon!”

Try SURVIVALIST TRAINING in the pitch black polar caps with the wind whipping around your legs. Jet streams twist and turn like dangerous ice snakes. This wasn’t any little Jack Frost nipping at your nose. He was more like Jack the Ripper and he was trying everything he could to knock me to my knees.

Then that kind ‘ole man, Father Winter, sent whistling air around my face--blowing ice pellets into my eyes. And that was just standing in the snow park, while we were getting our gear out of the van.

That’s when the guide handed us headlights to strap on our foreheads.

I said, “We’re not going caving are we?”

He smirked, “We might as well ‘cause it’s as dark as an underground tunnel out there tonight.”

“But, what about our moonlit tour and gazing up at the romantic stars?” My chin started to quiver.

He looked at me and laughed, “What moon, what stars?” He snickered, pointing up at the overcast sky. “Did you think this was some sort of Lucky Charms Expedition? We can’t order the moon and stars like a ham and cheese sandwich at a deli.”

“But, but—,” I started to stutter. He couldn't be bothered and walked away without waiting for me to finish.

He was back in the crowd and handing out snowshoes and snowboarding pants for those of us who hadn’t anticipated subzero temperatures.

The group quickly slid on their gear, as I stood struggling to get my shoes strapped to my boots. I turned to my husband and begged for assistance. With the heavy clothing bundled around me, I had trouble finding—let alone bending—at the waist to reach the buckles on my feet—heck I have trouble touching my toes in yoga after I’ve warmed up and here my muscles were nearly frozen solid.

My loving husband helped me then we all moved out like rats following the Pied Piper into the darkness.

The Cascades were supposed to be bright beneath the moonlight reflecting off the pure white snow, at least that’s what the on-line brochure had advertised. But tonight the clouds weren’t cooperating.

Thank God we started out on flat ground or I never would have made it. At least I got a chance to get used to the off-balance feel of clown-sized shoes attached to the bottom of my feet with razor-sharp blades poking out, before I fell down in a snow drift, as I descended our first hill.

“Oh yeah,” the guide announced as he sprinted down the side of the cliff to me, “you have to be careful of those metal spikes or you could really get hurt. Not only will they shred your winter gear but they’ll make mincemeat of your flesh and you’ll get blood all over the pure white snow then we’ll have no problem finding that wildlife we’re looking for.”

“Wildlife?” I whispered.

“Oh just bears, wolves or cougars, they tend to congregate on this side of the mountain late at night.

But don’t worry. Tonight I think we’ve got them outnumbered.”

“Speaking of numbers,” I said looking around, “Didn’t we start out with 16 people?”

The guide looked around nervously, “Jessica, Jessica, Jessica where are you?”

I saw a sudden movement in the distant darkness, and wondered just who these people were. Why was I wandering around the forest, in the dark, at night with people I knew nothing about.

I’d wanted to get away from the lights of the city, to learn a little bit about the constellations, and watch for shooting stars all while listening for the hush of the nighttime forest of the Cascades.

But just what sort of people hop on a van, in the middle of the night, heading for an elevation of 6500 feet with a person they don’t know anything about, to guide them?

I started having my doubts about the people surrounding me, when the guide laughed anxiously, “Oh there you are” as Jessica flipped the switch to her headlight, sending a beam glaring into our eyes.

She giggled, sounding embarrassed.

“For God’s sake, don’t ever turn your lamps off out here unless I tell you,” the guide insisted.

She hollered, “I’m sorry, I just wanted to look up at the stars.”

“Shhoosh,” his voice was as sharp as the blades attached to my feet, “we’re hoping the bears are hibernating. I wouldn't want you to wake them.”

Finally, we made it to our last hill, wheezing and gasping for air, we looked up. Two of those 25-year-old women looked at each other and I heard one whisper, “Oh my God, is he serious?”

The other girl just nodded—too out of breath to even speak.

“I’m waiting down here,” the first one exclaimed, taking another look at the 45 degree slope of the hill.

“I didn’t sign up for a heart attack,” My husband groaned in my ear then announced to the others, “I’ll volunteer to stay behind and protect the stragglers, even though I’m making the sacrifice don’t feel sorry for me.

Shaking my head, I whispered, “Oh brother,” and started the steep ascent. But, when I made it to the top, I was dizzy and my vision was blurred and then I realized I was going to have to climb back down. Reality hit me and I knew I couldn’t make it. I sat down on my butt and assumed the Pilates tabletop position. With my snowshoes up in the air, I slid down to safety—doing the quickest set of hundreds I’d ever done.

The tour guide sprinted past me, as I glided through the snow, announcing over his shoulder, “Remember, we offer these romantic trips the few nights surrounding each full moon--from December to May.”

“Yeah, I remember your advertisement very well,” I thought, recalling the words that had sold me on this trip.

When I reached the bottom of the slope, sliding into the side of the van, I had my own personal icepack lodged up my back; my fingers felt frozen even inside my gloves and, when I tried to stand up, I realized I’d been turned into a human snowball.

The guide rushed to my aid, rolling me over to the heater he handed me the advertised cup of hot chocolate served with marshmallows to help thaw out my fingers. A few icicles melted from my nostrils into the steaming hot liquid but I didn’t care—I took a huge sip, and burnt my mouth. But I was still thanking God I was alive.

My husband came leading the others from the other side of the hill, whistling as they came. He turned to me and smiled, “Are you ready for our big adventure tomorrow morning?”

I barely managed to get one word out of my mouth, “Huh?”

“We’re going on a 47-mile tandem-bike ride tomorrow.”

The guide looked at us and laughed then with an evil sneer, and a slight chuckle he said, “Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope the van starts.”

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Building Boxes



Some of you might have seen some of these step stools my husband makes for friends' kids. I think they are so cute I thought I'd show you a couple he made for Christmas presents.

Are there any homemade gifts you make?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Floam Friends and Fancy Food - NOT

It doesn't take fancy food and high-cost trips to have a good time. Just go retro and play like a kid again.


You're never too old to play with playdoh, floam or make-believe friends.
And after you create your friends - sit down and share a piece of upside down cake - wait that looks right-side-up. . . I guess when you get in touch with your inner child you just might lose touch with reality ;)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Earth-Friendly Friday: LEMONS

My husband was broiling some salmon the other night and after he sprinkled some lemon juice over the top and we ate our meal, he used the left over lemon rinds, with a little salt, to scrub at the pan he'd cooked the fish on. Then he used the worn out lemon juice, to wash away some of the fish.

I thought this was an innovative way to be earth-friendly. Nothing like using it all:

We ate the lemon then used it to clean the pans.

Can you think of anything you've done like this? Share your helpful hints in the "comments" please.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

TU PUBLISHING OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS

Tu Publishing: a new independent small press that will publish multicultural fantasy & science fiction for children & young adults.
http://www.tupublishing.com

They're on Twitter, too! http://www.twitter.com/tupublishing

Fan them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tu-Publishing/112191230046?ref=nf

I'm just passing on some info I got from my local SCBWI for all my writer friends out there in cyberspace. Here it is:

"I just wanted to announce that my new small press, which you may have heard about last fall when we were raising money through Kickstarter, is now open for submissions. We will focus on diverse science fiction and fantasy for children and young adults--that is, science fiction and fantasy that features characters and settings about people of color and/or non-Western cultures (including minority US subcultures). As you may be aware of from discussion in the blogosphere over the last couple of years, there's a gap in children's literature, especially speculative fiction, for such books, and we'd like to be a part of filling it out.

Here's our submission guidelines: http://www.tupublishing.com/submission-guidelines/.

Please make sure to browse our blog at http://www.tupublishing.com to get an idea of the kinds of books we're looking for. Because we (obviously) don't have a backlist yet, we've been interviewing writers and bloggers and posting lists of books we recommend so that you can get a better idea of our tastes.

If you've been working on a manuscript that would fit our needs, please consider submitting. Note that we do NOT take initial email submissions, so please do not reply to this email with queries--please use the snail mail address in our submission guidelines. We hope to have an electronic submissions system up and running soon, but until we do, snail mail works best for us.

Thanks, and happy new year!

Best,
Stacy Whitman
Editorial Director
Tu Publishing"

So submit away, and good luck!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder


It was a dark and stormy night. The perfect time to go sit in a big comfy chair and listen to ghost stories.

That's what I did on Tuesday night. My daughter and I drove over to Barnes & Noble at Clackamas Town Center to listen to Lisa with a group of other like-minded people: readers.

We were all there to hear bits and pieces of Lisa Schroeder's newest release: Chasing Brooklyn, published by Simon Pulse. And we weren't disappointed.

Even the cover is haunting:

It was a cold, wet, night in the Pacific Northwest, as we drove across town to listen to Lisa. So consider yourself lucky as you cuddle up in your snuggie and listen to a few of the words Lisa shared with us:



I'm not sure if you'd actually call it a sequel to I Heart You You Haunt Me but some of the characters make appearances so maybe . . . I guess you'll just have to read it to find out.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 - we celebrated all day

The kids all went out. I only caught MacKenzie and Luke quick enough to take a photo.

Then we all went out for lunch.

and the food was amazing.


and the dessert was even better


and I loved the Creme Brulee
Another picture of us enjoying the food at Sinju in the Pearl

Then a few short hours later we went to dinner at Bo and Sue's where we had traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches.
Guess it's time to start another die---t.

How did you celebrate?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Death Masks

We've had death masks made but not Mackenzie. So before she takes off for France, to study for a semester, we wanted to immortalize her in marble - but we could only afford to do it in plaster. So here's the process.


This is the mold that was made by pouring the mixture onto Mackenzie's face. It looks 3-D but this is just the form that was made first, then the plaster had to be poured into the mold:






Doesn't she look like a little flower?








In the end, it needs a little touching up to fill in the gaps where air bubbles left holes. But I think it turned out pretty lifelike. What do you think?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Unexpected Snowfall

It created a huge commuter hassle but it was a winter wonderland while it lasted.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bow Hair


MacKenzie and I were playing with our hair. She wanted to show me a new hair style so she tied my hair up into a bow.

First she had to straighten my hair because it is full of waves then she straightened it-one layer at a time by pinning it up and doing a little bit at a time.

 
Posted by Picasa


Then she separated it into a side ponytail.

And split the hair in two. Then she began pinning it into place
 

Until she had a bow sitting on top of my head.
I asked my husband if he liked my new hair style.



He didn't seem to like it so well. He said it was "interesting".

Friday, January 1, 2010

Answer to New Year's Question

Answer: Tournament officials instituted a "Never on Sunday" policy in 1893 to avoid frightening horses tethered outside local churches and thus interfering with worship services.

New Year's ?

QUESTION:

When is the New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California not held on January 1st?

Make a guess in the comments then come back around 3:00 to see if you were right.