Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Year of No Numbers

At the beginning of 2014, I decided that I wasn't going to pay any attention to numbers, especially numbers concerned with my weight/health.  For the past few years, my life has revolved around calories, reps, and pounds and I was over it.  I decided that I wasn't going to do a damn thing other than live my life - as long as I was healthy enough to do what I wanted to do - I wasn't going to give numbers a second thought.  I even gave away my BodyBugg, so I wasn't tied to calories burned/steps taken/etc.

I walked a 5K because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to.  Nebalee walked with me, but the thought of "no numbers" about made her crazy.  I didn't care about my time, as long as I finished.

I spent a few weeks doing Les Mills' Body Pump with a friend of mine.  Again, because I wanted to.  It made me feel good to complete the workout.  Then summer came and I got Skeeter.  My exercise became working with her.  Ten minutes here and there.

Stacking hay - talk about functional fitness - you can't get that kind of workout in a gym. 

I ate and drank what I wanted, when I wanted.  You know what I found?  I can no longer tolerate greasy burgers.  5 Guys used to be my favorite burger joint on the planet.  I can't even get one down now without feeling sick.  I go for days without a Coke, and those of you who know me, know I refuse to give up my Coke.  It's pretty amazing when you feel like nothing is off-limits, how easy it is to "choose wisely".

It's been a surprisingly peaceful year, not worrying about how many calories I'm stuffing in my face or stressing out about how much weight I've lost (or not).  As the year ends, I'm down about four pounds over the beginning of the year (I know this because the doctor still weighs me).

Mentally, I'm much more relaxed.

Physically, I'm kind of a mess.  My liver enzymes are out of whack, my LDL is elevated, and I'm tired of being a cream puff.  There has to be some sort of middle ground.

2015 is all about finding the middle ground.

The fact is I do need to lose weight and I do need to engage in exercise (other than just playing with the horses), but is there a way to do it without turning into a calorie-counting bitch?  Without all of the guilt that goes along with knowing I shouldn't eat this and I should do that?

My doctor recommended The Fast Metabolism Diet.  I trust my doctor implicitly; I used to be her medical assistant, so we've built a stronger-than-usual patient/doctor relationship. She believes in the diet and uses it herself for weight maintenance, so I felt good about her recommendation.

I took the time to read the book, and what I read has me excited to give it a go.  It's all about "re-setting" your metabolism.  It explains why calories in/calories out doesn't work for everyone.  I've lost and gained weight a lot since my thirties and my metabolism doesn't have a clue what to do, so it stores everything as fat.  So much of what is in the book makes sense that I wonder why I never figured it out for myself.

Jay and I are going to start the "diet" tomorrow.  I hate to call it a diet considering there is so much food involved, and it's all good, "real" food.  I'll have to re-join the numbers game for a bit (no calorie counting, though!), just the measuring tape once a week to see progress and maybe an occasional scale, but I'm not going to focus on the numbers.  I've had a year of no numbers training under my belt, I think I can ignore them as needed.

Here's an example of what our first week of the "diet" will look like:

Morning snack: watermelon slices with lime and chili powder
Breakfast: steel-cut oatmeal with berries
Lunch: chicken, apple, and spinach salad
Afternoon snack: veggies and dip
Dinner: pork tenderloin with broccoli and pineapple

Morning snack: fruit (probably pomegranate - yum)
Breakfast: steel-cut oatmeal with berries
Lunch: turkey, bean, and kale soup
Afternoon snack: veggies and dip (or more fruit)
Dinner: Chicken and broccoli bowl

Morning snack: jicama with lime and chili powder
Breakfast: Spanish egg white scramble
Lunch: steak and spinach salad
Afternoon snack: deli meat wrap
Dinner: baked cinnamon-mustard chicken and lemon garlic spinach

Morning snack: jicama with lime and chili powder
Breakfast: turkey bacon with celery (sounds weird, I know, but I'm willing to try it)
Lunch: steak and asparagus wrap
Afternoon snack: deli meat wrap
Dinner: southwestern beef and cabbage soup

Morning snack: berry smoothie
Breakfast: berry nutty oatmeal
Lunch: 3 egg salad
Afternoon snack: raw nuts
Dinner: avocado chili

Morning snack: berry smoothie
Breakfast: B&B toast
Lunch: avocado/turkey lettuce wrap
Afternoon snack: raw nuts
Dinner: sesame chicken stir-fry

Morning snack: berries
Breakfast: B&B toast
Lunch: lentil stew
Afternoon snack: raw nuts
Dinner: Rosemary pork roast with sweet potato

Apparently, we have to eat within 30 minutes of waking, which is why our morning snack and breakfast are flipped.  We get up, feed the horses, get ready for work and leave all in a 30 minute time-frame, so there's no way we'd make breakfast.  Snack first, breakfast at work.  The other major key (besides not eating anything processed) is to eat every three to four hours as long as you're awake to keep your metabolism cranking along.

There are things that we "can't" eat, but it's only for 28 days.  You can do pretty much anything for 28 days, right?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's Almost Time For Baking Weekend!

Just a few more days and my girls (minus Staci, who is living the life on her boat with her family) will be joining me for baking weekend!  We are a cookie baking factory over the weekend and I can't wait.

However, there is one thing I can guarantee I won't be baking this year and it's these puppies (or should I say cubs?).

(Reposted from 12/11/11)

My girls came!
Robs, Sue, Staci, Me :)
I love my girls.

They did lots of this...
This is Robs' double batch in a single batch bowl -
I was super impressed she managed.
And this...

Which resulted in these...
They were baking machines.
(Yes, SGG, there was alcohol involved)

I did zero cookie baking.  Zero.  I kinda felt bad about it, but I was focused on a project I've been contemplating for two years now.  I don't even know where I first saw these Snow Globe Coca-Cola Cupcakes, but ever since I saw them, I've been wondering if I could pull something like that off.

I mean, look at them...
Photo cred: Bakerella
In fact, I was pretty sure I couldn't pull them off, but I've been getting braver in the kitchen.  Last year, we had success with the bococcini.

So I gathered up my courage and hit the stores looking for what I would need: Coke in the "ornament" plastic bottles, rolled fondant, an edible pen, and a red sugar sheet. I followed the directions that I found on Bakerella.

I used the bears on the wrappers as inspiration.

Beel even got in on the act...
See the bandaid on the back of his hand?
Yeah, I wasn't sure that I should allow him to use a knife.
I'm happy to report that he still has all of his fingers.
I even tried the Cola Cake recipe that Bakerella linked to.  It was one jacked up recipe.  I've never baked cupcakes from scratch, but I'm a direction following fool.  I read the recipe a couple of times, and then obsessively referred to it while I was making the cake stuff.
Butter, veggie oil, cocoa, and Coke.
It's not quite as gross as it sounds.

I brought that crazy concoction to a boil and added it to the dry ingredients, which included a cup and a half of marshmallows...
It didn't taste too bad,
for a diabetic coma in a bowl.

I then baked up a batch of the cupcakes.  They were awful.  They fell, which was a bummer.  But they didn't taste so wonderful either.  Plan B - store-bought Devil's Food cake mix.  Win!!

While I was waiting for Nebalee to come up to the lodge with my Plan B, I worked on the fondant.  Oh God, what a disaster that was.  The store must have put out last year's fondant, because it was a brick.  I had to break it open and scoop out the inside just to have any to work with.

I lost easily half of the fondant I bought - the outside was unuseable.
Staci and Little Miss 'Mantha helped make the fondant bears.

Staci was a bear making fiend!  I made two.  She whipped out the rest.  Wait...Nebalee made the little cub.  Aren't they cute?
I used the red sugar sheet to cut out their scarves,
instead of the fondant recommended by Bakerella.
Auto Bot and Kyzzer helped me prep the snow globes...
We sprayed the inside of the bottles with sugar water
and then the kids sprinkled them with sugary thingies.

Mom and Nebalee put snow on the cupcakes after I frosted them...

And then I got to assemble...
Oh. My. God.
I can't tell you how thrilled I am with them!
They're not quite as polished as the ones at Bakerella, but then, neither am I.  I'm so not a professional baker - I'm pretty sure that once-a-year baking doesn't count - but I am beside-myself-excited about these cupcakes!
I'll post about the rest of Baking Weekend when I come down from my cupcake success high.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Abandoned Kitty (Abby)

On Monday, when I returned from lunch, there was a commotion on campus, so I had to go check it out.  My boss' wife was there with the tiniest little kitten snuggled into her jacket.  It seems that she and their son had been out grocery shopping and saw a box with "free kitten" written on it.  The box was in a grocery cart parked in the middle of one of the aisles with no one around. A little black and white kitten face kept poking up out of the box.

My boss' wife is an animal magnet - if there is an animal in need, it always manages to find her.  She and her son claimed the kitten, picked up some canned food and brought it to work.  She had a new owner in mind, and it wasn't me, but when I saw the kitten, I knew we had to have it.  We've been looking all over for a kitten that wasn't going to cost us an arm and a leg.

Since the weather got cold a couple of weeks ago, the mice have been getting bolder and bolder to the point where they would just stop and look at you like, "I dare you!".  We had mouse traps out, but hadn't bagged as many as we had hoped.  I hate to hear them in the walls, but there they were, scrabbling in the wall between the bathroom and mudroom.  It was past time to get a cat.

I texted Jay and told him we now had our kitten.  I'm not sure she even weighs a pound yet and she fits curled up in both of my hands.  She also had worms (yuck), which we realized when she started dragging her butt on the carpet like a dog.

She definitely likes being up and would not stay in her box, despite taping it shut, for the drive home, so she sat on Digger's shoulder.

After I dropped Digger off at his place, she climbed onto my shoulder and slept the whole way home.  It was tough work being abandoned and then claimed.

She wasn't so excited about Allie-bird when I first introduced them, but has now decided that Allie is her dog.  However, she immediately claimed Jay as her human.

She's a bold kitty, not afraid of much, and has immediately taken over the house.  The first couple of nights were really rough.  It's been a long time since we've had a single kitten with a ton of energy.  It made it kind of tough to love her those first few days.

But she's just so darn cute when she's not terrorizing everyone and so loving when she wants to be that she'll get to stay.  It didn't hurt that she killed a mouse her first night home.

We (de)wormed her and gave her her shots yesterday.  The shot(s) was easy, but the wormer pill was not.  Between the two of us, we were able to choke it down her throat without losing any fingers, but it was a close thing. Because we didn't want Allie to end up with worms, we also treated her.

Abby likes to "help" whenever I'm on my cell phone, so I downloaded an app for her to play with.  How cute is this?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Publishing Has Killed My NaNoWriMo Mojo!

Here it is, twenty-two days into NaNoWriMo and I've barely broken 7,500 words.  In the five (or six) years I've been participating, I've never struggled like I am this year and I blame the fact that I finally published my books.  I've resigned myself to the fact that I am not going to "win" NaNo this year, and that's okay as long as I get useable words out of my effort.

No longer can I just "vomit" words onto a page and feel okay about it.  Editing sucks.  Taking all those crappy words I threw up onto the page and trying to make something useful out of them is one of my least favorite chores.  Now that I know this, I'm struggling with putting the "right" words down the first time.  I understand why Tara Janzen says that writing is "excruciating" and "that it's like placing individual pieces of glitter with tweezers".

I find that I have to know where the story is going, whereas in the past I didn't care.  I find myself thinking things like, "will this tie into what is going to happen in chapter so-and-so?".  Or, "is this even believable?".  Things that never once crossed my mind in NaNos past.

And you know what?  I miss the free writing.  I do.  I just want to be able to shut off the "inner editor".  Now, just as soon as I figure that out, I'll let you know.

I'm currently working on two books: LYON'S RAGE and  PICEANCE BASIN PRINCESS.  My thought was that when I hit a wall with one, I'd switch to the other.  It worked beautifully for a couple thousand words.

LYON'S RAGE is a book, still early in Stacy's career as a Protection Specialist.  Her recent past comes back to haunt her when a potential client tries to hire her to kill his spouse. 

PICEANCE BASIN PRINCESS is Skeeter's story, how she came into my life after losing Her Highness.  It's not going to be a sappy, oh-she-saved-my-life story, because I honestly hate those stories.  It's more the reality side of things.  Yes, I loved Queen Estes and yes, I love Princess Skeeter, but it's hard work to keep from comparing the two.  It's more of a "she's different from Estes and I still love her" kind of story.

If I finish the month with a good start on both of these, I'll feel really good. I've taken vacation time over Christmas break, so I plan on continuing to write. I'd like to have RAGE in a publishable state by June 2015, and the other by the end of the summer. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Reason #1,436,983 Why I'm a Lucky Girl

It's just a few hours until the kick-off of NaNoWriMo.

NaNo is one of the first things Jay and I decided to tackle as a couple and I look forward to it every year.

It's a bit odd, I know, but some of my favorite times are laying in the dark bouncing ideas off of each other in the nights leading up to NaNo.  This year, Jay's returning to his original NaNo book and I'm so excited.  His children's book is beautiful and I love the artwork, but his "grown-up" novel hooked me from the very beginning and I've been waiting for him to go back to it.

Last night, since we couldn't turn off our brains, we talked books, characters, and plots.

And it was the perfect way to drift off to sleep.

Yep, I'm a lucky girl.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Boogie Man is My Friend Book Giveaway!

The wonderful Kathryn Loving is giving our readers the chance to win all three of her Boogie Man books:  The Boogie Man is My Friend, The Rookies, and Behind the Shield.

If you've ever read her blog, The Boogie Man is My Friend, you know that she's a straight shooter with a bit of a quirky personality which shines through in these books.

Her first book, The Boogie Man is My Friend, deals with issues she has seen in her career and is, in my opinion, a great parenting book.  She talks about issues that no one wants to acknowledge and just when it gets to be too much, breaks up the tension with her signature humor.

The Rookies takes a break from the seriousness of dealing with the Boogie Man and takes a look at the lighter side of cop work, from her time as a rookie to her time as an FTO.  It's a light-hearted look at the folks who are trying their best to keep society safe.

Behind The Shield is a continuation of stories, drawn from her extensive journals.  Readers of her blog will "recognize" some of the people and stories she discusses.  I'm currently about half-way through her newest book and am enjoying it immensely.

So what do you have to do to be entered to win autographed copies of all three books?  It's pretty easy, just follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter below.  The giveaway will end at midnight (Mountain time) on October 16th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The (Five) Weekend Project: Tiling the Counters

It might have taken six weekends.  Or even seven.

All I know is that we finally got that gawdawful chore done.  Let me tell you, it definitely seemed like a good idea at the time.  C'mon, how hard can tiling be?  Really?  I mean, people with no experience do it all the time on the DIY home makeover shows.  Jay and I are reasonably intelligent people (but not intelligent enough NOT to take on this project).

Everyone assured me "tiling is easy", "don't worry about it".  They are all liar-heads, for the record.

We decided to start with the "little" counter - really just a free-standing cabinet we have by the stove for storage.  We figured we couldn't screw it up too badly.  It started out nicely enough. 

We borrowed Mr. Nebalee's tile cutter and Jay went to town making the cuts we needed.

And that was the last thing that went right with our project.  When we bought the supplies for the project, all we saw was mortar that we'd have to mix ourselves.  No problem, we can follow directions.  So we did.  And we ended up with some nasty mortar that was more like crunchy peanut butter instead of the smooth stuff. 

We fought with it for a while, then just said fuck it and slapped the tiles down, mushing them into the crunchy stuff as well as we could.

It doesn't look horrible, but there's not a single level spot on it.   That little project drove us to drink and we decided we were not doing any more that night.

When I bitched about it on Facebook, someone asked why we didn't just buy the pre-mixed mortar.  Pre-mixed mortar?  Are you kidding me?  We didn't see any while we were at Home Depot buying our supplies.  Sonuvabitch, we could have made our lives so much easier.

We finally made it back to the store to return our not pre-mixed mortar and buy some sensible stuff.  Jay and I put on our grown-up unders and started again.  He had a couple of hours before work one morning, so he started and I "finished".

I should say I finished all but the last seven pieces that needed to be cut.  I tried to bribe Deejo into coming over to cut them, but he couldn't make it.  I'm perfectly capable of running power tools, but I'm partial to my fingers, so I wimped out on the cutting part and left it for someone - anyone - else to do.

A couple more weeks went by and Jay had enough of having a partially complete kitchen project and we finally finished setting the tiles.

A day later, we grouted and now we can say the damn project is finished!

I'm all about learning new skills, but this is a skill I never want to use again.  Maybe if it had gone smoothly from the beginning, but it didn't and set a bad tone for the whole project.  I think our last weekend home project will be to build the benches for the picnic table.

Wait ... no, we're going to install a dishwasher.  That should be fun, right?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Adventures in Canning

From my Facebook on Sunday:

I've run into a little problem with the pressure cooker. I can't get it to unlock and open. I followed the directions, I let it come down to zero pounds of pressure on its own and even let it sit a bit longer before trying to get the lid off.

The lid wouldn't budge.

So I ran the whole thing under cold water to hopefully cool everything so the lid would unlock and come off.

Nothing doing.

I decided to let the whole thing sit overnight and cool to room temperature. Certainly then the lid would come off.

No way, Jose.

That lid is locked on tight, so we used a rubber "persuader" and one handle broke off, which cut Jay's hand.

Still nothing doing.

How the hell am I going to get my eight pints of pork green chili out of the pressure cooker?! 
I got all sorts of helpful ideas from my Facebook friends.  A couple even suggested shooting it.  Dudes, there were eight pints of green chili in there - shoot it and lose eight pints, are you crazy?

I was using my Great-Grandma Wheeler's pressure cooker (the one I remember from childhood) and I thought everything was in working order.  The gasket looked great, but turned to glue with the heat and the pressure. Oops.  

I removed the gauge to equalize the pressure inside and out (it said it was zero, but could have had negative pressure) and that didn't help.  Then I followed someone else's suggestion and pushed down on the lid as I rotated it, like you would a pill bottle, and that didn't work.  I finally decided that in all likelihood the cooker was going to be a loss anyway and pulled out The Greatest Little Tool Ever (the pry bar from Man Crates).

I used The Greatest Little Tool Ever to try to pry the locking teeth apart on the cooker.  At one point, I thought I was going to break the pry bar, but it's a sturdy little dude.

I tried rotating the lid to unlock it from the pot and it didn't work.  I was about to give up and then thought, "you dummy, you only did half of the pot!".  So I went back and did the other half and gave the lid a twist.

The lid rotated, but still wouldn't come off, but I hadn't wasted almost two hours trying to get the blasted thing off to give up!  I did what any frustrated woman would do - I beat on the lid.  I slammed it back and forth in rotation, picked up the whole pot by the stuck lid and slammed it on the floor a couple of times.  Finally, the gasket started to give, but there were still some sticky parts that didn't want to let go.

What the hell?  I'd already used the pry bar a couple of times, why not to "help" the sticky parts along?  Next thing I knew, the lid was off!  Success!!

You can see the black gasket still firmly attached to the pot.  I was so excited about getting into the cooker that I didn't even care about the brackish-looking water.  I'm assuming the water was discolored from the metal oxidizing over the past forty years or so the cooker has been in use.  (And, yes, my kitchen is so old it still has the 50's kitchen carpet in it.)

Looks like all I need to do is replace the gasket and get a new handle for the lid to replace the one that broke when Jay was "persuading" the lid to come off and we're back in business!  Now, who knows where I can get a new gasket for a pressure cooker that is at least as old as I am?

Water-bath processed green chili on the left, pressure canned pork green chili on the right.
Never a dull moment in our household, I tell you.

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Girls Came For A Visit!

I'm a whole week late posting this, and not because I don't love my Robs and Sue. My computer is on its last legs (I think) and is really slow, so I get impatient give up.

Last Saturday was a busy day.  First, Copper got out of his gentling pen, then my girls came up.  It's been forever since I've seen them and Robs' kids have grown so much.  I swear they were just born, but here they are, over a year old already!

Remy, Ruby, Lucy, Robs, Sue (and Skeeter and Copper in the background)

Remy, Ruby, Lucy (hiding), and Maddox
Maddox is such a good big brother.  I have three siblings of my own, but I can't imagine having triplets for sibs!

I'm so impressed with Robs.  I always knew she was amazing, but watching her handle four kids three and under is awe inspiring.  Sue has been spending one evening a week (or more) helping out Robs since the girls came home from the hospital.  I wish I was close enough to do the same, darn it. 

I miss them so much and every bit of time I get to spend with them is so special.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Why I *Despise* the Ice Bucket Challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised 15.6 million dollars for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), which is a very good thing.  I am not bashing fundraising.  Lord knows, I've done plenty myself and am currently involved in a gofundme project.


The Ice Bucket Challenge is nothing more than bullying for a good cause in my mind; the ultimate form of peer pressure.  You are called out in a public forum (social media - about as public as you can get) and have 24 hours to do the challenge (and still pay $10) or cough up the money.  To me, this is like the playground bully telling a child that he can either give up his lunch money for the week or get a swirly and give up just today's lunch money.

It doesn't sit well with me. 

I donate to charities a lot.  I give both my time and my money. 

I haven't forgotten that just a few short years ago we were living hand-to-mouth and I never knew from one month to the next if I was going to be able to keep a roof over our heads.  We went three entire winters with nothing more than extra blankets and space heaters because I couldn't afford the $300+/mo natural gas bill.  There were times when we'd wake up and the house was a balmy 40* F.

Now that I'm in a position to be more free with my money, I don't think twice about giving charities that I believe in my money, but I won't be bullied into it. 

Maybe it's the still-too-fresh-memory of having nothing that makes me hate this challenge so much.  I worry about the people who are challenged who don't have the money to donate, who are playfully "called out" by their friends.  I put myself in their position and can feel very clearly the pressure to perform.  I'm sorry, but back in the day, giving up $10 would have been taking food out of my kids' mouths.  The $100 for not doing the challenge would have been my entire month's worth of groceries.

Even though it's "for a good cause" it's still nothing more than bullying.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stuffed Potatoes

A couple of days ago, one of my FB friends was asking for cheap ideas for dinner.  I love threads like that, so I contributed my favorite versatile recipe and watched closely for any new ideas.  One caught my eye, but it was for sweet potatoes.  I hate sweet potatoes, so I substituted regular potatoes.

You'll need:
  • baking potatoes
  • can of corn (drained)
  • can of black beans (drained)
  • sour cream
  • cheese
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bake the potatoes either in the oven or microwave. It was almost 100* F today, so I opted to "bake" them in the microwave until soft.  Nebalee gave me a good tip:  after cooking in microwave for ten minutes, cover with a glass bowl and let sit for another ten minutes to let them steam.

Cut potatoes in half and scoop out the innards, leaving a "boat".  Mix the innards with the rest of the ingredients and spoon into the boats.  Stick back in a 350*F oven for fifteen minutes.

They turned out okay, a little dry, so I should have added more sour cream.  Jay suggested next time, in addition to sour cream, I should use some queso dip.  Sounds like a good plan to me.

I've also heard that chorizo is pretty good in the mixture.  That sounds really good, too.  When I started to think about it, there are a ton of things you could mix in the "stuffing" that would be really good.  I'll definitely be trying these again.

So You Want To Be A Writer

Every once in a while, someone on one of the FB pages/groups I follow or am a member of will pipe up and ask opinions on whether or not they should write a book.  The post usually looks something like this:

so ive been thinking about writting a book lol i've just allways wanted to rite n i no i have a good book people wuld by it's title is: the next best amurican novel n i no it wuld be a best seller what do u think shuld i do it

Now, I know I'm not an expert on all things writing.  Heck, there are some days when I just can't get the right words to come out of my mouth for anything.  I have not, and will not, write the Next Great American Novel.  Frankly, I don't have the time, patience, or creativity to do so.

I'm proud of the two books I've written and published.  They are solid books, good for entertainment, nothing more, nothing less.  TALES FROM THE TRAIL has hit #1 on Amazon's free list a couple of times and hovered in the top twenty for a while.  HUNTED LYON faces much stiffer competition, but has still sold relatively well.  Since I don't intend to make a living from writing, the little bit extra is kind of fun, but mostly I just enjoy my books and hope other people do as well.

I am a voracious reader, though, and have some very strong opinions about writing from a reader's standpoint.  When I see posts like the one above, I want to scream and tell the person who posted not only no, but hell no, they should not write a book.

Based on my limited experience as an author and my extensive experiences as a reader, here are a few "tips" for people who want to write a book:

  • Punctuation.  It is a really go idea and helps the reader understand WTF it is you're trying to say.
  • Spelling.  Try it some time. Even if you can't spell, your computer can and it will helpfully underline the misspelled words in red ink.
    • There is no "x" in eSpecially
    • No is there an "x" in eSpresso
  • Text-speak.  See Punctuation and Spelling
  • Sentence Structure.  A very basic understanding of  how to build a sentence will go a long way in your writing endeavors.  
  • Word Choice.  Your computer cannot decipher if you are using the wrong word, but spelling it correctly, to help you out here.
    • Could've, should've, would've are contractions for could have, should have, would have = NOT could OF, should OF, would OF
    • You must know the difference between homophones.  Your and you're are not the same thing.  Neither are there, their, they're.

In all seriousness, though, I think people need to pay attention to how they come across online.  The people who post things on FB/Twitter/Instagram need to pay attention to how they present themselves.  I know the social media thing has been done to death when it comes to professionalism, and I'm preaching to the choir here, but if you want to be taken seriously, you must put forth an effort.

I know that I have blog posts up with errors - I try my best to avoid them, but often, I'm just jotting something down to get it off of my chest (like I'm doing here) or because I'm excited.  My blog posts are written very much the same way I speak.  However, my books are not.  TALES is a narrative, but I put a lot of effort into cleaning it up and "formalizing" it to make it more readable.  HUNTED LYON is written in a completely different manner, much more formal, but my voice still comes through.

I know I've posted things on FB with errors (usually simply swype-os), but I always try to maintain a certain level of professionalism.  After all, I want people to buy my books and I know they won't if my posts, especially on my author's page, are so full of errors that they are almost unreadable.

The people who post that they want to write a book, yet have zero apparent writing skills are people I'll never buy a book from - even if the book is free.  Those people have killed their market even before they know they have one.

I know self-publishing has opened up many doors, for which I am very thankful. However, for every well-written self-published book out there, there are many more poorly-written books by people who post statuses like the one above.

My advice to the people who post statuses like the one above:

Just don't.  Please.  You're killing those of us who put time and effort and a bit of pride into our work.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Weekend Project #2 - Kitchen Cabinets

The same weekend we did the picnic table, we started the kitchen cabinets project.  At Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, we found a 13-piece cabinet set for $600, which we thought was a pretty good deal.  But the deal got even better, we happened to be shopping during "Habi Hour", so Jay got to spin the wheel to see what our discount would be.  I was happy with a $600 set of cabinets, but I was even happier with 40% off those cabinets!

Getting them home was a bit of a problem.  We thought we'd be able to shove them all into the truck bed, but we were sorely mistaken.  Jay called in reinforcements in the form of his family with their big excursion and we were able to shoe-horn the three cabinets we couldn't fit in the truck into the excursion.

Kitchen before

With the cabinets unloaded
This pantry? Enormous.

We couldn't find a counter top at ReStore, so the salesman suggested getting a solid-core door and cutting it to size.  Why not?  It would give us a nice solid counter top and we could tile over it.  The door they had in stock was HUGE, something like 7 feet by 4 1/2 feet and weight a zillion pounds.

To get it cut, I called in my own reinforcements with a circular saw.  Nebalee and family came out to cut our "counter top".

Huge, heavy door undergoing its transformation.
It had taken most of the day to get the cabinets home, unloaded, and the door transformed to a counter top.  We laid out the base cabinets, slipped to top on, and called it a night.

I was determined to at least get the base cabinets put together, so I took a day off of work.  When I called Mom to tell her what I was going to do, she sent Bill down to help.  Instead of just getting the base cabinets done, we were able to get all of the cabinetry put together and hung.

Me and power tools - a dangerous combination

All together

We took a break and Bill played with Skeeter before heading home.  I decided I wanted to paint the cabinets and had just gotten started when Jay came home, so he jumped in and we knocked it out in no time.

After a break for dinner, we put the doors back on and it started to look like a real kitchen!

I love our "new" kitchen.  The gaping space in the upper cabinets will be a wine rack (eventually).  We also need to replace the shelves in the two right upper cabinets and all of the shelves in the pantry.  Why on earth those didn't come with the cabinets is beyond me.  It never occurred to me to check, because who takes the shelves out of cabinets?  What does one do with lengths of board that were formerly shelves?  It's a mystery.

We haven't actually gotten around to unpacking and putting things away yet, but I'm sure I'll love it even more once we get our kitchen stuff moved in (and the shelves replaced).

Maybe once Copper is delivered, we can go back to focusing on getting us settled in.  For now, we've been too focused on outside stuff.