Friday, May 31, 2013

Flying by the seat of my pants...

It's been a while since I sat down to write a blog post with absolutely no idea as to the topic...

But it's Friday and it was a four-day work week, so today and this post crept up on me.

So let's see...what's happening -- or should I ask-- what *else* is happening in Jen-land...?

Well, in celebration of my writing group's 30th anniversary, we put together another anthology. Group members were able to submit a short (3K) story and see their name on a book cover.

I'm proud to announce the release of Deep in the Hearts of Texas for free from Smashwords: The Kindle version doesn't look like it's available yet, though the book is listed on Amazon for $3.85 for a print copy (that's just the cost of the actual printing). It should show up soon. And yes I have a story in this one too!

Cool, eh?

What else, what else...

Oh, yes, we're hiring new employees at our company. I'm a little leery about this prospect. Mainly because cash flow hasn't been that great. But without more workers we can't increase cash flow, so it's a catch 22. We do have some reserve and fireworks season is coming up, so we know we'll make so money there if we need to utilize it. And also pay two weeks in arrears, so that also gives us time to ramp up jobs. The first new guy starts next week. The second guy comes along in a couple of weeks.

And as I mentioned Wednesday and previously in this post and probably some other time--fireworks season is just around the corner. Selling starts the 24th. The men will head out the weekend of the 15th. This season is going to be very scary because our main competition on the corner went out of business. Plus DH has a billboard and is taking out a half page ad on the back of the local Thrifty Nickel. We doubled our usual take last season and are hoping for similar this season. The fact that the 4th is on a Thursday is going to skew everything a little though. But we're still going to end up being busier than we've ever been and are going to have to bring in reinforcements. So DH is supposed to call some of the local high schools and see if any of the booster clubs are interested in earning some $$ for their groups. I'm hoping we get the band--you know how marching bands hold a special place in my heart.

And that my friends is all for today.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What's Going On Wednesday...?

Last night DH, DD and I watched Sonshine get inducted into the National Honor Society. I'll admit I was surprised because while he's smart enough, he's not always diligent enough in keeping his grades up. But hey, if they want him, so much the better for college applications.

Here's my boy, signing the EHHS NHS Chapter Register.

In the last couple of weeks, we've also attended the Band Banquet and the Spring Concert.

Sonshine playing both trumpet and French horn.

We're on the downhill slide toward the end of the school year and we're all very glad.

In other news, the plants and flowers I planted are doing well! Nothing has died on my watch, so that pleases me. In fact, the Gerbera daisy my daughter gave me several months ago re-bloomed. That surprised me because that one just looked like it was going to wither up and die on me. But with a little TLC--okay, just regular waterings--it decided to stick around.

They don't look so great, but hey--it's alive and blooming. I'll take it. An aspect of flower beds and gardening I'd forgotten about and hadn't taken into account: weeding! But I've managed to stay on top of it despite all the rain we've had and all the watering I do. I need to get after the stuff growing beneath the bird feeders now.

In years past, when DH and Sonshine go work the fireworks, I've taken on projects around the house. Don't you know it's just easier to get it done without the men around asking questions and just generally getting in your way? I've got a couple of projects in mind: re-organizing the master bedroom closet or adding a shelving system to the living room. I'm really leaning toward the closet just because the need is greater. Believe it or not, DH has way more clothes than I do and they're smushed together on his side of the closet.

My proofreading is going well so far and I've gotten another awesome project creating a series bible for two different series for an author friend.

It's been a while since I talked about getting out of debt, but most of the money I'm earning from my new "career" path is going to go towards paying off debt. I mentioned a specific credit card a few months ago and that bad boy will be paid off at the end of June. I'll roll its payment over to another debt. Anyway, I'm so excited about this. It feels good to be able to truly actively work at this, rather than just pay monthly and wait for things to get paid off in due time. Speaking of paid off--we'll also make the last car payment in June as well. Of course we're going to need to put some $$ into the all the vehicles soon. Now I just wish I knew something about investing. Something else to learn in due course.

And that's all for now...time to get Sonshine out of bed and off to school.

How are YOU???

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fort Worth Friday

Today we're going to take a look at one of several buildings/areas of Fort Worth that have been revitalized--

The old Montgomery Wards building--

(used without permission, not sure the actual photo date)

The building was built back in 1928 and was the largest building in Texas for many years. It was built so well, it apparently withstood the 1949 flood and the tornadoes of 2000--probably because of the 12 inch concrete walls! (

These days, the whole area has been built up. Not only has the building itself been renovated and now sports condo lofts (, shopping and dining, but the empty property around it is filled with additional retail and living space. Not only that, but it's only a few blocks from FW's Cultural District.

Here it is these days (pictures taken by moi 05.07.13):

The bottom picture is the rear of the building--it's north arm extending farther back than the south arm. As I was driving around I saw a restaurant on top of one of the smaller buildings. One of these days, I have to go in there and chack it out.

Movie Monday

It finally arrived!! The sequel to my all time fave film, Star Trek 2009 (aka the Reboot) --

Star Trek Into Darkness

I'd been waiting FOUR years for this blasted film to come out, and I was seriously disappointed when I found out it wasn't coming out last year. :(

Kirk, Spock, and the gang fight off the bad guys, including the recycled (from the film) Khan (played by Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock fame) and Admiral Marcus. For plot info, click here. We also meet Carol Marcus, who in the original series apparently becomes the mother of Kirk's only known son. Aw, man, that's a spoiler for me. I wish I hadn't found that out.

See, I've never seen the original series, so while I'm familiar with the franchise, I'm ignorant of a lot of the original series back story. I have however seen all the other series except the animated version.

Anyway, while I really love love loved Kirk and Spock's character arcs in this movie (I got weepy in a couple of scenes), the movie itself fell a little flat for me. My expectations were really high and I left the theater feeling it just wasn't as EPIC or WOW for me as the first one. Don't get me wrong, I'll see it at least once more in the theater and I'll buy the DVD when it comes out, but it won't replace its predecessor in my heart.

I'm giving the move eight out of ten movie reels.

Have you seen it? What did you think??

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Whirlwind weekend of awesome!

Where to begin? First another apology for not posting Monday or Tuesday (like I said I was going to), but it's been crazy and here's why...

Writers retreat!!! The writers retreat portion of the weekend started Friday and continued through to Sunday. I had to cut my attendance short, but was loads of fun as well as productive while it lasted. Plus I made a new friend.

Writers group meeting!!! Writers group meeting on Saturday was fantastic as always and I had a great time visiting with my lovely friend Nancy.

Saturday evening was Sonshine's band banquet which is why I had to leave the writers retreat. Sonshine received two honors: Outstanding Junior Band Member (as in freshman, sophomore, junior, senior). He's gotten Outstanding Freshman and Outstanding Sophomore as well, so here's hoping the new band director will love him just as much! He also received Outstanding Jazz Band Member.

The really fun part was giving the band director her gift: a cardboard stand-up of NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. She was ecstatic. She'd been trying to convince our local Office Depot (Tony Stewart's sponsor) to give her theirs. But as I learned many years ago on my quest for a standup of my favorite driver, stores and bars are not allowed to get rid of those things. I wish I had been able to get a picture of her face when she saw it, but this will have to do.

Annual JAG weekend!!! Sunday I headed back to Dallas to hang out at a friend's house for part of the annual JAG weekend, which also started Friday. Many years ago, a group of women met online in chat rooms and forums to discuss the TV show JAG. JAG aired from 1995 to 2005, so when I said many, I meant it. Though I'm not sure exactly when all the fan hoopla started, but at least by '99.

Anyway, they formed friendships and eventually decided to meet in person. I was not among the original group, but was adopted a few years ago. Believe it or not, fellow members of my writing group were among the original group and when they learned my online fan girl identity, they invited me to a get together about five years ago. And the rest is history. We have gals from Tennessee, Minnesota, and somewhere in the Midwest who drive or fly here to attend. No pics, though. I just enjoyed the day.

And on top of all that--my proof reading business has suddenly taken off, thanks to my wonderful CPs who have put my name out there. I took on a client who had to have her manuscript turned in to Harlequin by Tuesday, so I worked all weekend in between all the other activities, staying up late and getting up early to get her manuscript read twice. WHEW!! And she's paid me already. I am Snoopy dancing with excitement. My goal with this endeavor is to pay off our debt. I'm finally on my way.

I also have two other proof jobs lined up as well as a project to create a series bible for two separate book series for another author. I'm now booked through the middle of June. Can you say WOW!!!

And if all that weren't enough--and despite my binge eating all weekend--I lost some more weight and fell into the 130s range. WOOT!!!

So what's going on your world???

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow...

Today's post in postponed until tomorrow...

Friday, May 17, 2013

Crazy weekend...

It's Friday, thank goodness. It's been a long two days. We've had a temporary technician in the office while our one employee and DH are both out of town. The guy is very nice, but he talks slow and he thinks I care about what he's doing. I know that's mean and snarky, but it's the truth. You're the IT guy, just do it and leave me out of it.

And he's sharing my space with me, which makes Jen an unhappy camper. I'm used to and enjoy my solitude. I listen to my music and once my work's done, I do what I want. Well, I don't really feel comfortable spending the day watching TV while he's here, so I've had to find other, less obvious ways of keeping busy.

And I got one--my first real proof reading gig!!! I'm so thrilled. It's for an author multi-published with Harlequin. Oh, my gosh--how exciting is that!!! I also waiting to hear back from another gal, but I don't know if I will. My theorys are, either she's just super busy or when I confirmed the cost, she flinched. That's okay. I'm pretty inexpensive as far as my research has shown, but it's still not cheap. We'll see I guess.

But the week's almost over. And this weekend is going to a non-stop whirlwind of events.

In addition to turning around a 324 page manuscript by Monday, the weekend will be filled up with a writing retreat at my dear friend Angi Morgan's house. Except I can't stay the whole weekend because it's also my annual JAG weekend and Sonshine's band banquet is Saturday night. It's also writers group weekend. I'm tired just thinking about all that driving! And we have construction everywhere right now. UGH!!!

Tonight, I head to Angi's house. Tomorrow, we car pool to our writers meeting and back to Angi's house. I have to leave there around five to get home in time to haul Sonshine to a birthday party he can only attend for 45 minutes, and then he and I will head over to the school for the banquet. (I might have skipped it, except the band director's retiring this year.) Then Sunday morning early, after I do my grocery shopping, I'll be heading eastward again to have breakfast with my JAG friends and spend the day seeing folks I haven't seen since last year at this time, and others I haven't seen in several years.

I hope you have an awesome spring weekend as well.

Catch you on Monday with all the details and pictures!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


So Mother's Day was this past Sunday. DH cooked my favorite, grilled hamburgers, on Saturday night, and I got three mini-roses, one for each of the kids. And all of us are going to go see the new Star Trek film sometime next week, when the Brown-Eyed Girl has a day off.

My flowers:

The pink one on the left is from DD, the lavenderish one on the right is from the Brown-Eyed Girl, and the cream colored one in the back is from Sonshine.

The day itself was spent peacefully with me enjoying the lovely spring day and the herd of wildlife I have enticed into my backyard.

At one point there were sixteen mourning doves and two squirrels!

In other news...DD just finished her semester of college, and one of her classes was an art class. One of her projects was to mimic Van Gogh. I have a new piece of artwork on my wall now!

I have taken up sewing again! I don't know entirely why, but partly because I just got rid of all my fat clothes. Of course, all my patterns were sized for the larger version of me, so I needed new patterns. I now have seven new patterns to mix and match.

Second thing on the sewing agenda was taking apart a dress, whose fabric I loved and that I didn't want to just give away with the rest of my clothes. The bodice of the dress is too big, but I've sewn a casing to the skirt, slid in some elastic, and voila! a new skirt. Finished last night and wearing today!

Speaking of clothes and the slimmer me, I finally passed the 144lb. plateau I'd gotten stuck on. I'm hoping to fall into 130s range here soon.

Are you a seamstress? Have you ever laid hands on a sewing machine? What have you made??

Monday, May 13, 2013

Movie Monday

This Monday's movie is A Royal Affair, a foreign (Danish) historical film about the relationship between the wife of King Christian VII, Caroline, and the king's physician, Johann Struensee.

Based on actual events, the movie chronicles the rise to power of Johann Struensee, a German doctor, who becomes royal physician to King Christian, who, it is believed, was mentally ill. By basically playing into the king's illness, he gained the king's absolute trust. Despite his father being a priest, Struensee was a firm believer in the Age of Enlightenment, and encouraged and helped the king to begin reforms. And as the title represents, during this time, Struensee and the queen entered into an affair

I'm not much one for foreign films (and this one did win several awards) but being second generation Danish, it piqued my curiosity. (My mom was born there and my grandmother still lives there.) The movie was slow moving, but I cut it a little slack and gave it a movie reel rating of seven because I'm a history buff and Danish. :)

Anyone seen this? A fan of foreign films in general??

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fort Worth Friday

Let's visit the Fort Worth Zoo! Our zoo is one of the best zoos in the country. DD and I visited the zoo last fall for the first in many many years. I think I went with one of the kids on a field trip way back in the day, but I was chaperoning kindergartners so my enjoyment of the zoo was minimal at best.

But this time--lots of fun!

 Here's me sitting on a large brass crocodile...

 And DD sitting in the window to the otter tank...

The zoo was founded in 1909 with only a handful of animals and was operated by the City of Fort Worth. It's everyday operations were transferred to the Fort Worth Zoological Association in 1991.The zoo has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and now houses over 7000 creatures, both native and exotic, including the largest herpatarium--the reptile and amphibian house. FMI: Forth Worth Zoo wiki page and The Fort Worth Zoo website.

And now for some pics of the animals--cuz that's really why we go to the zoo, yeah??

Have you been to the zoo lately?? And I've gotta ask--what's your favorite zoo animal?

(Mine's the elephant.)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Overcoming Obstacles

Today's post is about remember my smart funny handsome Marching Band Boy...

Sonshine who is a junior this year wants to go to Texas A&M to study architecture. Which is awesome. However we can't afford to send him there. We've told him if he wants to go for four years, he's got to get a full ride. In order to do that, he's got to lean on his band laurels such as they are.

He's a good player. The band director has said so and she's not one to just flatter kids to their parents. If Sonshine practiced, he could be better. A lot better.

One of the obstacles Sonshine has to overcome in the next year is the change in band directors. The current band director is retiring. The problem is, apparently, the school district hasn't hired a new one. We thought they had and just haven't introduced him or her to the kids, but Sonshine no longer thinks that's the case. He now thinks it's one of the helpers the band director has utilized this past year and according to Sonshine this guy doesn't do anything.

So going into his senior year, Sonshine has a new band director--one that has been given no time to prep and plan for the upcoming year. usually by now, the show music for next year's UIL contest has been chosen. The kids have heard it. Band camps are scheduled for the summer so the kids can learn not only the music but some marching choreography--and how not to trip over each other in the process. Usually by the first game of the school year, our kids know at least a couple of movements to their music and have their marching uniforms when a lot of schools don't. Next year...not so much. The district is really screwing us over. Our school has enough disadvantages and obstacles as it is.

So all of that to say, Sonshine is going to be on his own this year to a large degree. I told him yesterday that if he wants a scholarship then A) he's going to have to get it through band, which means he has to be in band in college and I don't think he was planning on that; B) he's going to have to practice on his own A LOT this year. If the band director ends up not being up-to-par, it's going to be up to him to keep up and improve his skills; and he's going to have take on a new instrument...

An advantage of playing for a small band is sometimes you get asked to try other instruments. His primary instrument is the trumpet, but he's also played the baritone (looks like a small tuba) and the mellophone (the marching French horn. He thought about going for the sousaphone (that's the marching tuba, that's round in shape that the players have to 'wear' and that sports a really huge bell) for marching season, but with all the other changes, he's going to stick with the mellophone. Anyway, being flexible and being proficient on more than one instrument can only work to his advantage. Not only did he participate in marching band, but he's also participated in symphonic and jazz band. Though I'm sure a lot of kids do too.

Obviously there are other things he has to do to earn a scholarship, like keep his grades up and earn good/great SAT and/or ACT scores, but I think the band thing is going to be the biggest key. That and getting everything applied for and taken on time.


I'm putting a lot on him, because if he wants this, then he's got to step up. Unfortunately, his dad and I have never really put a lot of pressure on him, so it's going to be a learning experience for all of us.

I'm going to have to overcome a few things as well. Like putting it all on him and forgetting about it. I'll have to follow up, day after day, nagging and being the strict mom I have never been. It's going to be a tough year.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring Cleaning

As most of you know, I've been on a quest to lose some weight. It's been over a year since I started the journey--somewhere around fourteen months officially. I've used the basic method of consuming fewer calories than I expend as well as some exercising. As mentioned a few posts ago, I use the MyFitnessPal app to keep track of both.

I've had my ups and downs as far as sticking to my plan goes, but when all is said and done, I weigh much less than I did when I started.Twenty-three pounds less. I've got another twenty to go, and eventually I'll get there. Meanwhile I'm still struggling along. Off days send me seeking comfort in an excess of carbs or sugar {namely--root beer :)}This weekend, however, my flagging enthusiasm has been renewed...

How you ask?

Well! It all started last Thursday when I went to my friend Angi Morgan's house to see a third friend-we'll call her Jan--who was visiting. The last time I saw Jan was in August when Angi and I traveled to OKC for a writers getaway. One of the first things Jan commented on was my weight. Later, during the course of conversations, we got to talking about clothes and how we were all wearing clothes that didn't fit properly. Of course, weighing twenty-three pounds less means my clothes fit even less properly now.

Fast forward to Saturday and I decided I wanted to wear this pair of capris, which had still been snug last summer despite the weight I'd already lost. Well, guess what? They were way too big. At that point, I got a bee in my bonnet and decided to try on all my bottoms--pants, skirts, dresses, and shorts. Then I went after pajamas and winter clothes.After all was said and done, I have a black trash bag of clothes to donate to the ARC (a Texas charity) and hardly any clothes to wear. I don't want to buy too much new stuff, since I still have some weight to lose.

And with the proof of my progress staring at me from a bulging black trash bag, I feel ready and eager to shed the next few pounds with renewed vigor.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fabulous Feast for the Eyes

Today I decided to do something totally sexist. So sue me...I'm going to post pictures of men I find VERY attractive.

In no particular order: (click on them to get a better/bigger image)

Jonas Armstrong whom I discovered in the BBC's Robin Hood.

The lovely Richard Armitage, whom I know from the BBC's Robin Hood, but whose recent claim to fame is The Hobbitt.

Darren Criss of GLEE fame. When this guy is on screen, hmmm...

David Boreanaz, claim to fame is Angel in Buffy and the Vampire Slayer, now famous for his portrayal of Seeley Booth in the TV drama Bones.

Joe Flanagan as Colonel John Shepard in the Stargate: Atlantis series.

Kyle Chandler had played many wonderful roles over the years. My favorite is Eric Taylor in Friday Night Lights.

Christian Bale stars as my favorite comic book action hero BATMAN!
(is it warm in here??)

And last, but certainly not least, Matt Lewis whose claim to fame is his portrayal of Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter films.

What do all of these men have in common? Dark/er hair, facial hair, and some muscle. Hubba hubba.

Please feel free to share your own favorite man-candy flavors.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

If you build it, they will come...

Okay so where are all the damn birds already?

This past Saturday, morning there were three mourning doves pecking at the last of the dog food I had set out for whatever critters wanted to consume it. I immediately went to The Home Depot and bought a shepherd's crook and a birdbath. Then I hit WalMart to buy bird feeders and bird food.

And as of Sunday morning, I still hadn't seen a dang bird. A month ago, I had cardinals swooping all over the place, as well as a pair of woodpeckers, and several other types of tweeters bathing our yard in song.

I could hear them, perched in the many trees, but I couldn't see them.

Finally, though, Monday evening while sitting on the patio while DH grilled burgers a cardinal swooped in. He found purchase--barely--and nibbled a few seeds. What I discovered is that the perch part of the feeders is not far enough out for the birds to grasp and still lean forward and grab seed. The birds find themselves breast-to-feeder with no way to reach the grub.

After taking a close-up look, DD and I determined that we could easily solve the problem. It's just a matter of finding some popcicle sticks or regular sticks or dowels or something and adding/extending the perch area.

 And looky there--our wild outdoor cat. I've named him Simon. He lives under the shed. He crept out to see if there was any dog food left and to get a drink of water.

Last evening we had several morning doves and a cardinal, and just this morning, I saw a bluejay. Finally!