Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Compromise

I want to clear up a few points regarding my Black Friday rant.  I think I got so rant-y that I wasn't clear.

I am not against stores opening early and giving good deals. JUST DON'T OPEN ON THANKSGIVING. To me this means you open on Friday morning, and not butt-crack-of-dawn early either, because then you're just depriving people of sleep. 5 am to me seems reasonably (foolishly...) early enough. That way the bargain hunters can get a modest amount of sleep, get up around 4am, throw their clothes on and go battle the hordes, should they choose.  Besides, whatever time you say you're opening, they'll be there.  Why make it so early?  It's not going to deter anyone determined enough to take part in this craziness.  (That was foreshadowing.)

I am not against the ads. Just give them to me in the Thanksgiving paper like you used to.  I just think having pre-Black Friday deals the entire week before Thanksgiving (my favorite day of the year as you may have heard) takes away from the specialness of THE day we are meant to be celebrating. It's like having all the Christmas decorations up in the store before Halloween. I hate that too.

Any questions? And Mr. Briane Pagel, I'm eagerly awaiting your “respectfully disagree” rebuttal. Very eagerly. BRING IT ON!


All that said, you can't keep The Engineer away from a tool which is 1/3 the regular price AND needed for the dreadful bathroom project, AND he has declared as his Christmas present from me. (That's how we do it – I got new Vibram Five Finger Shoes because I, of all hideous outcomes, LOST MINE somewhere. I hate losing things. Seems so...unintelligent.) 

Anyway, of course this is a doorbuster Black Friday special and I sit down to “calmly discuss” my objections to his adventure. He (actually) calmly points out that:

Home Depot opens at 5. (Ok, that's OK, I can go with that IF:

They weren't open on Thanksgiving. Which they weren't (thank you Home Depot, you are now my favorite Home Depot-ish store).

So they rise (early), go, and conquer. And also scored packs of 24 AA batteries for $4 per pack. Yeah for my conquerors!  Yes, this probably makes me a hypocrite.  It wouldn't be the first time...


There's also a bonus to this story. When I get up, OYT is already up, and I ask him to make me breakfast.

We call this omelet with a piece of bread squished into it. Maybe I'll write another piece about cooking...another day. We have a second Thanksgiving dinner to go to with The Advocate's extended family. 25 people. My kind of party!

I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday. See you Monday!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

He is Good!

(photo credit wikipedia commons)

Psalm 106:1

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for his lovingkindness is everlasting. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful friends in this community.  I'm grateful for each one of you. 


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Random Act of Kindness

I am happy to report that there are still nice people out there who do random acts of kindness for others. It's a good thing, because I needed this R.A.O.K because as it turns out, someone had done a random act of vandalism on my car.

I'm in line a l o n g time before I even get into the test bay at Air Care Colorado, our state run emissions testing station. I'm ushered politely into the tunnel-o-more-waiting. Almost immediately the polite young man who processed me comes to me and says,

You do know you don't have a gas cap, right?”
Yeah, I know. It broke off a long time ago and I've never replaced it.”
No, ma'am. I'm not talking about the door. I mean gas CAP.”

I lose it. I've had a pretty stressful ten days, I know they test the gas cap for leakage, I've been to emissions testing three times in the fall already with The Transporter's car which failed (among other tests) the gas cap test. 

I imagine myself going home, cannibalizing one of our other Volvos, and then remember that the gas cap which passed is on The Tranporter's car. Which is in Boulder, with The Engineer, at work, because we're waiting for his car parts to arrive and the weather to thaw so he can fix his. (When you drive old cars, always have a spare...) And of course I have no idea where mine is.

I apologize for crying hysterically over a gas cap (and of course over all the facts of the above paragraph and having to come back and get in line again because I've procrastinated so well that it's the next to the last day to accomplish this, but I don't share that...I'm just telling you why I'm nuts) and explain that it's been a bad week.

Stay right here.”

He literally slinks off, looks around, and then grabs one of their gas caps and puts it on my car.

That ought to make your week just a tiny bit better.”

I beam and thank him, drying my eyes.

When the test is over, I notice that there is once again no gas cap. Makes sense. I PASS EMISSIONS. Miracle. As soon as the paperwork guy is done with me he dismisses me.

All of a sudden, I see Mr. Nice Guy sneaking back over, and hear the distinct Volvo click of a tight gas cap. He pats my car like they do at pit stops in Nascar and runs off before I can thank him.

I was shocked. What a totally nice thing to do for this hysterical lady about to just totally lose her marbles. Made my day. Which was a good thing, because when I got to the DMV, and W A I T E D again, one of the other vehicles I was renewing needed proof of insurance, and I didn't have it with me, and my agents office which I called to have them FAX proof was already closed for the I get to go back today. On the last business day of the month. Looking forward to it.


P.S I can hear you saying, “I bet she just didn't put it on when she last got gas.” No way. It was a freezing day, we'd just had a snowstorm, and without the door covering my cap, it was crusted with snow and ice. I remember when I went to put it back on considering getting my gloves but I hate getting them gas smelling, so I just took one for the team and twisted that cold, icy cap back on. We have had a string of car vandalism in town, all over town, random things. What would they want with my gas cap? Ooohhh...maybe they need it to pass emissions...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Go Away Black Friday and Leave Thanksgiving ALONE!

Can we talk about Thanksgiving and Black Friday and the fact that THE ONE NON-COMMERCIAL, NON-RUINED BY SOCIETY holiday we had left has now been high-jacked by the retail community and is no longer about friends, family, pausing to be grateful, and just enjoying each others company (and of course FOOTBALL) but just a day to quickly shovel in some sustenance before heading out to the stores to be trampled and perhaps killed for the latest and greatest in electronics?

Phew. I need to calm down. That first paragraph was one sentence, but I feel extremely strongly about this. Extremely is probably not strong enough of a word to describe how this pisses me off. I'm incensed. Furious. Disappointed in society. ANGRY. Sad. Melancholy for the “good old days”.

I'm in the mood to boycott any and all stores until spring. (Well, except my boys are growing like weeds and both need new wardrobes. If they stand still long enough, which they don't, they certainly SIT still long enough, but you can't really see someone growing when their quickly expanding feet are tucked under their legs or under a desk, and they're playing video games...but as I was saying before I interrupted myself – you can see them growing before your very eyes, much like aquaponic lettuce, but wow, I need to calm down because:
  1. This is starting to be a jumbled mess, and
  2. I was talking about Thanksgiving, not my boys...

Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. We have a wonderful tradition of celebrating with a cousin on my mother-in-law's side and his entire family. I've know The Engineer's family for 29 Thanksgivings, and it's always been with those cousins. This makes for a table for around 20-25 depending on who has a date, or who is bringing a parent(s) from the other side of the family. Both hostesses love to set an ELABORATE table. I mean, Martha Stewart would take notes. Everyone brings a dish so the labor is divided, and you can always see the TV from the kitchen so you can football it all up and do dishes.

But now, it's all changing. Thanksgiving isn't about family and tradition and gratitude anymore. The ads for Black Friday (did you even know what that meant 7-8 years ago?) started weeks ago. There are pre-Black Friday specials. My mailbox, my inbox, my newspaper are STUFFED with ads.

Many of my friends work in retail and have to be at work as early as 2 pm to get ready for the pre-Black Friday early openings of so many major stores. 2 pm is about when we sit down for our meal. It's not right.

What are we doing people? We're slowly being convinced that being thankful, grateful, and focused on family isn't really that big of a deal. No, the big deal is to be had at the store. Get shopping! Buy something! No one has enough!

Thanks for listening this far. I'm thankful for you wonderful friends and the community we've built where we can discuss whatever we want. What do you think about this whole mess?


P.S Briane Pagel (you must read and follow him, truly) also wrote a piece about how Thanksgiving is disappearing, but for a different reason. (And his debunking of the Pilgrim story in quite a deliciously funny read). Go. Please.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Good Enough For Walmart

You've seen this video, right? If you don't have the 6:45 to laugh your butt off, cringe, and gape in wonder at the wide world of weird out there, then let me sum up. She has taken pictures of actual Walmart shoppers dressed in their...finest attire. Kinda scary actually.

Anyway, here's how I got the sweetest compliment EVER from The Transporter.

I had taken a nap and my new ultra short hair looked a bit weird. I was wearing my uniform: jeans and a t-shirt, Danskos. I was pretty sure the rest was fine, because it better be since that's what I wear. Like all the time.

I was concerned about the hair. I'm still in the experimenting with different looks stage because it's a really GREAT cut and I can do at least 6 different things that look really different. So I decide to ask The Transporter. Teenagers know when their parents are embarrassing.

Mom, you're going to W A L M A R T. You could wear ANYTHING.”

But I'm meeting Dad to help him pick out his new glasses. I'm don't want to embarrass him.”

Mom, you could come to my school and meet all my friends looking like that.”

I think that's the ultimate compliment from a teenager.

What's the best compliment you've gotten?


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Best Thing I Ever Ate: Comfort Food #2 - Grilled Cheese

This post is the second in a series I'm calling “Best Thing I Ever Ate, after one of my many beloved cooking shows. My first category was comfort food, and I talked about Jenocide's Favorite and gave the recipe. 

When I first started blogging, I wrote an Ode to Grilled Cheese and gave some of my secrets for making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Since that post, I've figured out an even easier, quicker and MORE delicious way to grill it. What can I say, I like tinkering in the kitchen. So get comfy and pretend you're watching a cooking show ;-)

Welcome to Tina's Best Thing I Ever Ate! Today the category is still comfort food, and the topic is grilled cheese. We are making a simple grilled cheese sandwich to help you beginners get started on the wonderful road of gourmet grilled cheese.

First I will start browning some butter in my pan while I assemble the sandwich. Today I'm using English muffin bread because it's solid and has a slight sourdough taste, which I love. I'm putting on a slice of provolone, which is a cheese similar to Swiss, but with a bit more of bite and tang, and a slightly nuttier profile. It pairs well with this beautiful roast beef I'm adding. Last is another slice of cheese, and we're ready for the microwave. 45 seconds.

Surprised? Microwave? Buttering the pan and not the bread? Let me tell you why. Cold butter is hard to spread (and as you know from watching my show, we only use real butter, none of that syntho-crap that IS easy to spread), and it takes too long to melt the cheese, on medium low, so as not to burn the outside before the inside is melted. If you already melt the inside, and put it in a hot pan with melted butter, you're done in about ¼ of the normal time.

So as you see my butter is now nicely browned. Smells delicious! A chemical change occurs as it browns and the taste is AMAZING. I now place my melted hot sandwich in the pan. Oh, hear that delightful sizzle.

When your pan starts to look like this around the edges, it's probably time to flip your sandwich. 

(yes, it's already flipped...I didn't decide to make a post until I got to this point and then there was no turning back.  This isn't a REAL cooking show...I'm just an amateur!)

(Don't worry, it's supposed to look just like that. It's called browned butter because it's...brown.)

So we're going to flip, as I was saying, but wait! Just hold it on the spatula and throw just a titch (Technical info: a titch is about a ¼ of a pat of butter. I know you've always wondered!) in the pan, it will melt and sizzle and brown instantly. Now flip and cook the other side.

Slice and serve. Ooey, gooey, cheesy, melty goodness with some perfect roast beast. What could be better? We'll see you next time when I share about another delicious “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”


P.S If you want to learn more about my grilled cheese making ideas, read that other post. Just cook it this new way. You'll be amazed how fast it is.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Holiday Food Drive Blogfest: The OUR Center

Our town came together to help each other after the devastating floods, but long before that, we came together to create a place called the OUR Center. Those initials stand for OUTREACH UNITED RESOURCES Center.

Here are the words from their website explaining how they got started.

The OUR Center, founded in 1986, grew out of the Longmont Ministerial Association. Church leaders realized that those in need were turning to the churches for help that they were not always able to provide. The churches agreed that uniting community resources would give better help to those who needed it, and also give the churches a consistent place to refer folks. Out of this realization grew the OUTREACH UNITED RESOURCE CENTER, INC. or OUR Center.
The OUR Center is truly a community-based agency. While most of the churches in the St. Vrain Valley support the OUR Center, it is not affiliated with any one church, or any other agency. The OUR Center works closely with many other agencies in the community to assist those in need, especially those in emergency situations.

Some of the services they provide are a clothing bank, a food bank, a Center for Childhood Development, a day shelter, and daily hot meals. They are very efficient, with the collection center (for donations), the intake center (to help new clients), and where they provide the actual services all within a ½ mile.

My church participates in providing some of those hot meals, with our small groups (weekly Bible studies that meet in homes, with about 10-12 participants) taking turns serving lunch on Sundays. The group purchases, cooks, serves, and cleans up using the OUR Center facilities. Anyone is welcome at these lunches, and lots of blessings have happened for those providing the meals, not just those receiving them. 

It was easy to contribute to the clothing bank this year. With the rate at which my boys are growing, we always have coats, hats, and gloves that are ready for someone else to enjoy, so  I cleaned out our closets, and the hideously overflowing basket-o-winter gear (that would be the gloves, hats, scarves, neck-warmers, etc. and um, baseball mitts that no one has used since 2007, so yeah, a long overdue overhaul) and found a whole contractor bag of stuff that will keep others warm this winter. 

I much prefer to do "good deeds" in secret (as in not brag about them on a blog...) but the purpose of this blogfest is to encourage others to get involved. MJ Joachim and I are hoping that by reading what others have done, you might be encouraged to give of your time and extra stuff to someone in need. (Which does NOT mean you need to join this fest and tell everyone about it...we just want to encourage the spirit of giving.)

So if you feel like sharing, let us know what you're doing. It just may be the spark someone needs to get involved.  We are open until the close of blogging Wednesday, and the linky list is below.


Friday, November 15, 2013

How to Combat Road Rage

I don't usually give in to road rage. I mean, I scream a lot in my car, explaining to oblivious drivers what idiots they are, but I've never gotten myself into a confrontation before. It was close yesterday. Good thing OYT and his sweet, quirky personality was along.

To begin with, I wasn't happy about the errand, and it was getting close to rush hour (yes, our small town has one, on this particular street we were traveling.) Traffic is   S L O W. I have no idea why it's all plugged up, but as I get cut off by someone who thinks it's really important to be one more car further along, OYT says,

How about a fun factoid to distract you?”
Um, OK Sheldon, go ahead.”
Did you know that womens' tear ducts are shaped differently than mens', so that their tears will roll prettily down their cheeks while a man's tear will roll discreetly down the side of their nose?”
Why no, I didn't know that. That's a good one. WHERE did you learn that?”

Unlike most fun facts he shares, I'm not thinking this one was from Mythbusters...

It's (name of YouTube channel – I can't keep up, the subscribe to so many.)”

Cool. Got anymore?”

Yes, but I'll save for the next time some idiot pisses you off.”
That didn't take long. By now we can see that it's down to one lane (in each direction). I move over, but many cars just keep driving. You've seen them, they're exempt from the rules, will drive all the way to the barricade, then barge in front of you, who planned ahead and was already safely in the appropriate lane, and force their way in front of you.

If you eat polar bear liver you'll die of vitamin A poisoning!”

That was just in time because I've just been waiting for seven yahoos to barge in, and some idiot is letting people turn left in front of him, and they're almost getting hit by the CONTINUOUS stream of special folks who've seen the yahoos and decided to join them. So we now have idiots on all sides.

I start to seethe, and scream, and glare. OYT starts singing “Soft Kitty.” It's from Big Bang Theory. Sheldon' s mom used to sing it to him when he was sick, and he makes his friends sing it to him even though he's an “adult”.

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purrrrrr.

I melt. And relax. We continue on in traffic. I've had to take some alternate routes because the traffic signal was out at one of THE major intersections and they decided oh so brilliantly to get their cherry-picker trucks and block off two lanes of each major road, direct traffic around the trucks, and fix the lights DURING RUSH HOUR. I understand the directing traffic, absolutely necessary, but wait until you've gotten all those people out of there first, then bring in your equipment. Instead, you've snarled half of town.

We're almost to our destination when we're stopped by a train. A long train. A little hand sneaks over to my shoulder and a soft voice starts singing again. 


P.S SMK (handy nick-name tab above) who reads all my posts, immediately had the answer to the Squirrelmageddon dilemma.

"Of course there are squirrels everywhere.  We had a flood.  They're looking for their families, a new home, they're running all over the place!  Mystery solved.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I don't know if it's happening in other parts of the country, but in our neighborhood, it's Squirrelmageddon. I am NOT making this up and I'm not the only one who noticed.

At first I thought I was over-reacting and making it up and the only one who noticed. Driving out of my neighborhood, I drive on my street and one more, and then I'm on fairly main streets. On each street, a squirrel will dart out. And keep running. Right in front of my car, almost daring me to hit it.

Now, I'm not an on purpose squirrel-hitting sort of girl. Of course, I won't swerve, or slow down, or otherwise endanger the occupants of my vehicle, so that squirrel better be fast, or turn around, or he might get hit. Usually they do that frantic combination of all of those and somehow manage to avoid my wheels, though there have been many times they went under my car, but emerged unscathed on the other side.

Nowadays though, they're not doing that. They're on some sort of mission. Maybe they're running from squirrel-zombies only they can see. Maybe they ARE squirrel-zombies and that's why they just run, knowing they're already dead, so why would getting hit by a car matter?

But so often? Nine out of ten times I pass two squirrels in two blocks. It's worse out on the main streets. Squirrel road kill everywhere. Seriously. A massive increase in dead carcasses littering the landscape. Maybe they got hit. Maybe the zombie-squirrels killed them, sucked out their edible parts, and left the pancake behind. I don't know. But I was wondering about my sanity, about the possibility of a true Squirrelmageddon, but hadn't said a word to ANYONE. (For obvious reasons.)

Then one day The Transporter was transporting me (because that's what he does) and says to me, out of the blue:

So Mom, have you noticed the Squirrelmageddon?”

What do you mean?” (acting casual, digging for info)

I mean, there are like at least twice as many squirrels running around, and they're not stopping, and there are dead ones everywhere. What's up with that?”

Well, I have no idea, but YES, I've noticed but I thought I was, you know, a little crazy.

Well, yeah, you are, but not about the squirrels.”

So we've been counting. And debating causes. Meanwhile, I'm wondering if you've noticed anything odd about the squirrels in your neighborhood. Do tell.


P.S No actual squirrels were harmed in the making of this post.

P.P.S There is the possibility that I've been watching too much Walking Dead. But that doesn't change the fact that in my town, it's Squirrelmageddon.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Life is Sometimes Ugly, but Always Good

Life is many things: good, bad, frustrating, and sometimes plain ugly. So you ready for the ugly? Don't worry, these aren't medically ugly or “not for the squeamish” pictures. They are rotten bathroom from the 70's ugly.

We've had our house checked for mold, because so many people said that maybe that's why I'm so sick all the time. Never found any mold, not even in the dank, dark, dungeon of a used-to-be-crawl space turned aquaponic room. Well, now we found the mold. Accidentally.

The Transporter takes a shower, and The Engineer starts screaming about the flood of water in the laundry room. An argument ensues. “I didn't do anything differently. I didn't splash against the faucet! I didn't splash against the corners!” These are spots that in the past have had leaks that The Engineer-Handy-Man fixed. So like any good engineer would, he investigates. And is able to just flick off some tiles around the soap holder. He keeps going. Finds this. The elusive mold.

Oh goody. A major remodel is just what our budget needs at this time of year and when medical bills are arriving like Harry Potter's acceptance-to-Hogwarts letters. Flying into the house through every possible entrance. Sigh.

We decide that IF we're redoing all the tile, we should take out the 1970's vintage “goldenrod” tub. Good decision. Here's what we found under it. 

The missing floor was so rotted it just sort of fell out, 

and what's left 

will take a bit more effort to remove, but by now The Engineer has been Demo-Man all day and stops.

So yeah, the ugly. Very ugly.

Now for something good, and SWEET.

The wonderful Jo of Jo on Food, My Travels,, and a Scent of Chocolate  has gifted me with The Sweetest Blogger Award. She said some very encouraging stuff about me and it just made my day. I'm to answer the following questions, which is going to be quite fun since I'm hypoglycemic and can't eat sweets...and then pass it on to five sweet bloggers.

    1. Cookies or Cake?
       Pizza. I like artisan, weird pizzas. One of the best was at          Serious Pie in Seattle. It had roasted garlic, mushrooms,            arugula, and something else unusual which I cannot                  recall at this time.
  1. Chocolate or Vanilla?  Chocolate. I will sometimes sneak a very dark piece of chocolate with my wine. Then I have to go eat some slices of roast beef or something else to counteract the sugar...
  1. Favorite Sweet Treat?
    Another glass of wine. It's what I'll order for dessert in a restaurant.

  2. When do you crave sweet things the most?
    I've really gotten beyond craving them since it's been so many years. I crave shoe string french fries daily though...

  3. Sweet nickname?
    Pizzalatukit. The Engineer IS weird. But you already knew that.

Here are the five Sweet Bloggers that I'm passing this award to. Please go say “hi” from me! (This was almost impossible to narrow down to five...I realized how many truly sweet and wonderful people are part of my world. Love to ALL of you.)

Amanda at House Revivals. She doesn't do awards, but I can still tell you that her sweet friendship of 21 years means a lot to me. We met at church and she moved away, but thanks to blogland and fb, we're still close. 

Gary Pennick of KlahanieHe's the most generous and giving of bloggers, spending most of his “farcebook” time putting up links to other's posts, and of course leaving his witty and heartfelt comments all over blogland. A tireless crusader for the mentally ill, he's a treasure and a “sweet guy” for sure.

Hilary Melton-Butcher of Positive letters...inspirational stories...  I just can't say enough about her.  She's a dear friend, encourages me daily through chatty emails, often sharing hilarious personal stories to cheer me up.  Thanks, Hils.

Jeremy of Being Retro, and so many other places and endeavors. He's like a brother to me, and always cheers me up when I'm feeling down. His digital art is amazing, and his t-shirt shop is not to be missed. 

JoJo of Tahoma Beadworks and Photography. She's just such a fun person to hang out with (we banter on fb) and I love her photography and crafts which she shares on her blog.

~Tina, proving that life may be ugly, but it sure is good and “sweet” too :-)

Friday, November 8, 2013

How to Take a Mental Memory Picture

Jenocide (see nickname tab) shared a treasure with me this morning on facebook. This picture is just so precious to me. We are each holding one of our own children, and one of the other's.

That's Tiny Transporter right there in my arms, in one of my favorite outfits of his, the jeans overalls. I'm also holding her youngest. The picture just brought me to tears. Those tiny boys are so grown up now. That's OYT screaming his head off in her arms. He screamed a LOT as a child. She's holding her oldest, too.

Seeing this picture reminded me of a habit I developed when they were young. (This was before digital cameras...) I didn't take a lot of pictures because money was tight and developing film was expensive. Then there's the part about if you have two children under 3, you rarely have your hands free to take a picture. Not to mention, the moment you want probably includes YOU. So no picture.

What I would do instead is take a mental picture. Purposefully say to myself, “Remember this moment. It's rare. They're growing up too fast. REMEMBER.” I'd like to share one of those moments with you.

I'm a mountain biker (or was, before all these breathing issues) so when The Transporter was born, I got a Burley bike trailer and took him with me. We upgraded to a double when OYT joined us. We went all over town, exploring and finding ways to connect the pieces of the (now finally connected) developing bike path being built.

By the time of this mental picture, the boys are almost too old for me to drag them around. They barely fit in the trailer anymore, and were too tall to put the mesh protector down. (Yeah, probably illegal...but they were wearing the seatbelts and bike helmets. You know about my bike helmet thing...)

Imagine a 5 1/2 year old Transporter, well, you don't have to imagine, I do have this:

and a 3 year-old OYT:

crammed into a Burley trailer. The Transporter is wearing neon-green sunglasses, much too big for him. He insisted on bringing Woody (of Toy Story fame) with him. We are going down our favorite hill at a speed that causes them to giggle and scream with roller-coaster glee. The Transporter has Woody outside the trailer, flying like Buzz would, and asks me to turn around and look. I do. And wish for my camera. But at 20 mph (which is really fast on a bike with a trailer and 80 pounds of boys) it's a quick glance and no way would I have been able to capture that shot. So I took it in my head.

I can see it clearly to this day. The silly grins on their faces, poor Woody flying along beside the trailer, and I can still hear their delight at the adventure we were having.

Do you have any mental pictures you'd like to share? Or are you one of those perfect parents who has pictures AND video of every milestone?


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

IWSG: Ideas for When You're Stuck

I have the amazing privilege of co-hosting this month's IWSG along with CD Coffelt, Isis Rushdan, and Michelle Wallace!


Today I'd like to offer some ideas for when you're feeling stuck, out of ideas, in a slump, and just plain discouraged. These have worked for me, and maybe they will for you, too. We all have different writing processes, but maybe at least one of these “tricks” will fit your style.

As writers, we've all probably heard the “just write” admonishment. I firmly believe in it. Writing is a solitary endeavor, and it takes discipline. It takes constant practice. It takes doing it even when you just don't wanna. But how do you "just write" when it ain't flowing?

I just open up a word document and start typing. Literally. Anything that pops into my head. I jot down what I'm thinking, what I'm worried about, what I did the day before, and most of the time, something clicks and I have an idea for a post, and I'm off.

My recent post "The Fog Stole My Feet" happened that way. I was sitting there, idea-less, and I wrote, "We had weird fog this morning", and that led to Carl Sandberg's line “the fog comes on little cat feet”, which I'd memorized in high school, and I realized that I couldn't even see my feet, so off I went.

On the days that a post doesn't come to me with this method, I turn back the clock. I start typing out childhood memories, identifying them by a phrase, and most of the time something will spark and I'll write a post about young Tina and her weird antics, or accidents, or invented games.

When I'm really stuck I read. I have the luxury of a Kindle, a LOT of writer friends, and an impossibly long to-be-read list. I usually have three books going at a time, and I'll “pick one of them up” and read a few pages. Sometimes what I read makes a light-bulb go off and I have a post idea. If that doesn't work, at least I'm procrastinating in a useful way ;-)

Some days, a post just doesn't come with any of these methods, so I turn to my kids. “What should I write about today?” They usually offer some pretty weird ideas, and sometimes nothing useful, but again, a spark can come from that. However, a lot of their suggestions are about embarrassing incidents, and so that's where my series of unfortunate event posts have come from: desperation and the encouragement of my teens.

Being stuck for a post is different from being stuck in your WIP, though, but I'll save those suggestions for next month. I hope at least one of these ideas might help you next time you need a little boost for your blog.



Alex “Ninja Captain” Cavanaugh  is our leader for this wonderful, supportive group. Don't forget we even have our own website now.  Be sure to check it out if you haven't already, and "like" our facebook page, too. I'm so impressed with what these talented folks are doing to promote this group! Encouragement month long is now just a click away! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Want to Make a Difference? The Holiday Food Drive Blogfest

M.J Joachim's generous, giving spirit has led her to a really creative idea for a blogfest. I'm excited that she's invited me to co-host The Holiday Food Drive Blogfest.

The idea behind this blogfest is to give back to the community during this season - to help those less fortunate. Whether the holidays fill you with cheer or dread, helping others is always a good idea.

Our food banks are extremely low on food this season, especially with the recent government shutdown. Many of them helped feed the military and other government workers who were furloughed and left without pay during this time. Our hope is that this bloghop will, in some small way, help put food back on the shelves and feed all those in need during the holidays this year.  Here in Colorado the food banks are even more depleted from the horrible floods we had in September.

The Holiday Food Drive Blogfest is a simple one. Here are the basics:

  1. Sign up on the linky and mark your calendars.

  2. Put up your post anytime between November 18 and 20th.

  3. Write about a local food bank or organization that helps feed the poor in your area. Share as much detail as you can to help promote their cause.

  4. Then give some of your time and/or treasure to help support their cause. Honor system applies. Feel free to share your activity in your blog post – not to brag, or say look what I've done, I'm such a great person, but to encourage others and give them ideas of what they could do to help others.

  5. Show the blogfest badge (generously created and donated by our favorite digital artist, the amazing Jeremy of Being Retro.  Please link back to this informational post at either of our sites when you put the badge up. (If you need help doing this, just email me and I'll walk you through it.)

  6. Please help us advertise this blogfest, even if you're not participating. Tweet, facebook, mention it at the end of a post, whatever works for you we could use the publicity for this great cause.

  7. Follow your hosts’ blogs, if you are not already doing so, that way you won't miss any important info about this important community event.  Blogland is a community in itself - let's show the world what we can do to help our hometown communities.