Monday, December 30, 2013

A productive weekend...

Did I get everything done that I wanted to? No, but the birdies, squirrels and yard cat got fed and watered. I got eight bags of leaves raked and half the back yard mowed--which added two additional bags of grass and leaves.

 Remember my Chinese wisteria? This is what it looked like earlier in the season:

This is what it looks like now:

I hope it comes back.

I thought for sure my azalea would have bitten the big one after the ice storm and the subsequent cold spells, however, it's hanging tough. See...

The house is relatively tidy and laundry and grocery shopping are done. Saturday, I worked on revisions to the young adult novel I entered in a contest. And on top of all of that I watched A LOT of television. I even got some reading in--'cause you have to do the quiet stuff when you wake up at 6am on a Sunday.

Remember my bush weighted down by ice?

It's standing tall again, but will be getting cut down soon in preparation for a flower bed. I want to plant red, white, and blue (purple) bulb flowers. I'm gonna take a page from a friend's book and request labor from my kids for Mother's Day. Several hours worth to pull the trees out and the root balls, churn up the soil, and lay the border stones. Yep!

And wouldn't you know, after ALL that raking and ALL those bags of leaves, a stiff wind blew through and left another layer of leaves for me to work on next weekend!

In addition to watching a movie I hadn't seen before (I'll catch you up next Monday), DD and I enjoyed a partial Harry Potter fest. We watched the first two movies on Saturday evening and then the third, fourth and fifth movies on Sunday evening. (Okay, I confess--I slept through most of the second one...) I even got to watch a few episodes of China Beach as well. All in all, it was a great weekend.

How about you? How did you spend your last weekend of the year??

Friday, December 27, 2013

A good time was had by all...

Christmas has come and gone and I think everyone was pleased with their haul. I was spoiled and received many wonderful things.

One of my faves was my digital picture frame. I've posted tons of pictures of various things and themes over the past year, but ultimately my pictures live on the server at our office. But now I can enjoy 128MBs worth at home. I may have to create a "playlist" of images, if you will. Choose the ones I like and crop extraneous stuff, so I can enjoy more of them.

(If you look close, you can see my reflection!)

Some of my other treasures include an electric throw blanket, a snow globe, and some jar candles.

I traded one of my iTunes gift cards for DD's Amazon gift card and spent a good hour on Wednesday afternoon sorting my Amazon wish list and determining which books on plotting to spend my funds on. In the end, I was able to purchase five books. Now, I've a head start on my goal for 2014 to read a dozen books on the topic.

So what was your favorite gift this year?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

What are you doing here?? But just in case, I did pre-post this. I'm just sharing scenes from last year, since I'm in the midst of this year's scene.

 My sisters-in-law and their hubbys along with my father-in-law right in the center.

 The grandsons/nephews: Evan, Tim, and Rylan.

 Our sweet puppy, Sammy, who died a few months later.

 My Brown-Eyed Girl!




And the post-Christmas tree looking very naked without all the gifts.

Have a great day!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The big day is...holy smokes!...two days away!

The weekend was spent wrapping and buying presents. Now I have to wrap the additional ones I bought. And I only have today left to get everything done since I work half day tomorrow and then prepare to hit the road.

But what's left?

I don't have to cook--we're going to my in-law's house.

I don't have to clean for company--we're not having any.

So just wrapping and a bit of driving. And I may not even have to drive. DD says my driving makes her crazy and since the Brown Eyed Girl is gonna be with us, perhaps the sisters can sit up front and I can read in the back. Yeah, sounds like a great idea.

So here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas in advance!

 Remember--JESUS is the reason for the season!

(Last year's tree...)

dear friends and faithful readers

Friday, December 20, 2013

Remove, Repair, or Modify

We have a certain piece of software that offers these options if you try to install it and it already exists.

That's my goal for the next three weeks or so, though most of my efforts will take place between Christmas and New Years Day.

It used to be that when the men got involved in fireworks season, I tackled a project around the house... Or so I thought. But then I realized I don't do projects during the Christmas break because I'm too busy shopping for and then wrapping Christmas presents. Then of course there's the holiday itself when we go to my mother-in-law's house to celebrate and exchange gifts. And then a few days later it's New Years and we all work the store those last few days/evenings/nights.

So when do I have time to complete any projects? That's right, I don't. I do projects during the summer break.

But this holiday break, I'm hoping to get some of my neglected chores done as well as complete a few repairs. Minor, inexpensive ones. We have a few little things that could stand to be taken care of. So that's the plan.

Removing anything I no longer use.

Repairing some minor things around the house.

Modifying some things, like mowing the backyard and raking up the leaves in both the front and back yards.

Maybe some reading. If there's any time left, though I'm not holding my breath. On the other hand, I'll need to rest in between bouts of removing and modifying, so...

Oh, and some TV watching. One of my most very favorite shows finally came out on DVD after like twenty-three years. And I bought the whole set. What is this show you ask...?

Oh, yeah!!!

Anyone else watch and LOVE this show???

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The end of one era, the beginning of another...

So yesterday was Sonshine's 18th birthday. My baby boy is now a full-fledged legal adult. Not that he won't always be my baby, but, whoa!, where did the time go?? We're in an interim era though since he's still in high school. But once he graduates, then what's a momma to do?

And he's such a strange boy, too. For his birthday (or for Christmas, but it ended up his birthday) he wanted a new suit. A suit!!! So Sunday morning I dragged him off to a local mall store and bought him a new suit. Along with his suit, he picked out two dress shirts, a regular neck tie and...wait for it...a white bow tie. The kind you have to tie yourself. Then he spent the rest of day learning how to tie it. Yep, that's my son.

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture since my camera was at my office Monday night/Tuesday morning and he changed out of his new digs before I could get a picture. We enjoyed pizza, wings, and brownies for his birthday dinner. Then we opened prezzies. And I do have a few pics of that.

 One of two pair of dice for his role playing games.

 A book! He said he'd read more if he could find some good books. Last year he made me buy him The Hobbit.

And a music lover always needs another set of headphones...

Tonight is the winter band concert, so I'll have pics of the new adult in his snazzy new suit.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Elixir of Life

After water, which I drink plenty of, though I've slacked off of late, my personal elixir is Plantation Mint tea by Bigelow.

I love love love this tea and drink as much of it as I do water. Probably more, especially in the winter.

It's gotten to the point where it's my cure all, and for me it works.

Headache? Several ibuprofen and a mint tea chaser.

Stomach ache? Mint tea

Feeling chilly? Mint tea

Stress? You guessed it--more mint tea.

It even has aromatherapy properties! This particular brand individually wraps each tea bag in a foil wrapper, so when I open the little package I waft the tea bag under my nose a few times and enjoy the lovely scent for a few moments. The scent, obviously, becomes diluted once you drop it into the boiling hot water.

I've even gotten the rest of the family leaning on Plantation Mint Tea's healing properties. Well, not DD so much as she doesn't drink a lot of hot stuff to begin with, but Sonshine--his indoctrina--I mean his enjoyment and experience has him in agreement and when he's not feeling well, he'll ask for a cup. And now that the colder weather is upon us, he's actually drinking it just because.

Morning tea for work and school...

Yep, the boy totes a thermos-ful of hot tea to school quite often and most of his teachers allow him to drink it during class. Very amusing, huh?

Ever tried Plantation Mint tea? Or do have another flavor you enjoy? Not a tea aficionado? What do you prefer?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Well, I'm a published author!

Alas, not an actual romance novel, novella, or short story despite the fact that I have a good dozen of them in various stages of completeness.

Now, some of my readers know this already, so please bear with me while I re-tell the tale.

A few months ago, August to be precise, I was reading JA Konrath's blog. For the self-pubbing author he has a lot of info he's willing to share, so if you don't read him, you may want to check him out.

Anyway, he shared a story about when he was a kid/teen and would write stories and have them printed and bound and then he'd give them away. All because he loved to tell his stories and share them with people. He went on to say that once you start publishing and caught up in the grind of revisions and deadlines, you tend to forget why you started writing in the first place: to share a story with people.

Then he went on to talk about a super secret experiment he conducted to see if he could re-capture some of that child-like enthusiasm by publishing a book in an hour. He ended up with four tongue in cheek tales, each written and published, including cover art, in an hour or less. He said he makes maybe $50 a month on them combined, but hey, it's $600 a year into perpetuity for a mere four hours worth of work.

He challenged his blog readers to do the same, and if they completed the challenge to contact him somehow or another and he would then feature everyone's creations in a subsequent blog post. Tons of people met the challenge--not me, though--but I was intrigued by the idea. I even mentioned it to at least one of my critique partners. She didn't follow the challenge to the letter, but did eventually get her two self-published novellas uploaded and published. Here's the original blog post, if you're so inclined. Scroll down a bit to find the relevant part of the post.

But back to me....

So the whole idea of throwing together a short book to sell at $.99 has stuck with me and, the other day, during a proofing job, an idea for the subject of such a book finally came to me. I hadn't really planned on taking up the challenge at this point, nor had I planned on non-fiction over fiction, but then I got a wild hair last weekend when we were iced in and I went for it. And The Romance Writer's Guide to Punctuation was written, edited, proofed, cover created and published. I might have exceeded the eight hours by a little bit, but it didn't matter. What mattered was that I finally finished a damn book and published it. Here's the listing at And here's my cover. No, it's not much, but it gets the job done and that was also the point.

I have a couple more topics in mind for non-fiction, but I definitely do want to get some fiction out there as well. But with Sonshine's birthday, Christmas, and fireworks season upon us--not to mention a proof job--the chances of any of that happening until after the New Year are pretty slim.

But-- I DID IT!

Thanks to my writer friends, for your friendship and support. It means the world to me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wishful Wednesday

The next item on my Wishful Wednesday wish list is foundation repair. It's certainly not a glamorous way to spend a chunk of change, but the house needs it desperately. We had a minor issue when we first moved in that was really only noticeable in the kitchen. And nothing really changed for a number of years.

The severe heat and subsequent drought conditions of the last several years wrought their damage. Shouldn't they tell you when you buy a house that you should water it??? I mean, if you come from a state where that's not an issue, how are you supposed to know these things??

We've always had slight issues with doors being harder and easier to open and close as the seasons waxed and waned, but things have not righted themselves this year. I can no longer completely shut my bedroom door nor the master bathroom door. DD's bedroom door and one of the hallway closet doors close, but they rub the upper jamb. All these doors are located on the far east side of the house and are ones you head north or south through. The bathroom door, which you walk east or west through, remains unaffected.


Some of the damage...

Space between kitchen back splash and the wall. Maybe between 1/4 and 1/2 an inch.

In Sonshine's room, up at the ceiling.

This is in the hallway. The door issues I mentioned are all on this side of the crack.

This is as far as I can close my bedroom door.

I guess it's time to look into foundation repair whether I want to or not. Anyone know any reputable and fair priced companies?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

Last week an icy arctic-type weather system plodded across the state of Texas leaving many of us iced in for several days. After school activities on Thursday were cancelled and many districts across the area closed schools well in advance. Much to my surprise, ours was one of them. Normally, FWISD waits until the very last minute to decide. Which I get. Kids need to be in school.

Even DH/boss man deemed the office closed on Friday and instructed clients and employees that work would be done remotely. I don't think that has ever happened. But I wasn't complaining. I was certainly glad to have a three day weekend so soon after my nine day vacation. DD was supposed to be at work some 20 miles or so miles away by 5AM on Friday. Yeah, that didn't happen either. Though she drives a large pickup truck, affectionately call The Tank, she took a test drive around the block and had no traction at all and decided she wasn't chancing it.

Thankfully, we never lost power and our dead tree remained standing. I braved the cold temps to take some pictures of our house, yard and car...

Poor birdies trying to eat up the last of the bird seed. I did refill the feeders and threw squirrel corn all over the ground. Not only do the squirrels eat the corn, but so do the mourning doves, blue jays, and grackles.

 When not completely weighted down by ice, this bush thing stands taller than the roof line.

 Icicles hanging off the front porch roof.

Frosted pine branches--so pretty.

Once I refilled the bird feeders, I enjoyed watching all the birds come and go.

We had the usual bird varieties in addition to the woodpecker I rarely get a chance to photograph.

I've often thought about installing a wood burning stove somewhere in this house. As I mentioned earlier, our power never went out, thankfully. I was a little worried about it though because we'd had several outages just prior to the Thanksgiving break. And even though Texas doesn't experience such bad weather very often, it can still get cold, and a warm fire would just be a good thing to have available.

If you were affected by the bad weather, did you get to enjoy it?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Counting my blessings...

The other day I was in a right funk. Very pissed off about my troubles and jealous of pretty much everybody I know. Kind of ironic considering Thanksgiving was just last week. And just last Wednesday I even posted all the things I'm thankful for. And I am still thankful for all of them, but you know, sometimes we have bad days.

So today I needed a bit of a kick in the pants and decided to count a few blessings.

1) I have a husband and children who love me and whom I love.
2) I have family who loves me and whom I love.
3) My Brown Eyed Girl just celebrated three years clean.
4) I have a roof over my head and food to eat.
5) I have friends who care about me and whom I care about in return.
6) I can read books for free if I know where to look. (and I do)
7) Me and mine are relatively healthy. We're not suffering chronic conditions or illnesses.
8) I live in one of the more economically sound states of the Union. (Well, it is for now. I know it can change.)
9) I've had the opportunity to travel and/or live not only around the US of A, but to a couple of foreign countries as well. (Denmark and England)

While the list seems short, these nine things encompass a lot of blessings.

What about you? Is there something I didn't mention that you are especially blessed with??

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas is just around the corner...

Last year, if you remember, I did a countdown to Christmas, posting everyday on some aspect of the holiday. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed doing it, but as you can see I didn't plan very well for this year and, well, what's really changed since last year?

So as of today, there are a mere 21 days left until the big day. I've started a bit of Christmas shopping, though I s'pose I better pick up the pace a little.

This weekend, I'm going remove the fall and Fourth of July decorations and put up some Christmas ones. I'm not sure about the tree yet, but I'm definitely stringing some lights around this house (inside for now as it's supposed to be really cold).

And now that the Brown Eyed Girl has her own place and her own tree, it's time go through the ornaments and give hers to her. The ornament thing is one of her favorite traditions, and I have a couple of years to make up, so I'll keep on with it for now.

When do you start decorating for Christmas? Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend? The first weekend of December? Or some other time?

Monday, December 2, 2013


Yeah, for the most part.

After most of nine days away from work, I am back. What I wouldn't give for another nine days and another nine and another. In other words, I wish I didn't have to work. DH keeps promising that eventually he'll hire someone to do most of what I do and then I can work from home. And I'm holding on to that promise.

So if I did work from home or was able to give up work completely, what would my day entail?

Well, cleaning for one. I'd definitely get back on a regular cleaning schedule and those once-in-a-great-while tasks would happen more regularly. I had a schedule once upon a time and it worked really well.

I'd cook too. It's hard to cook a tasty delicious meal when you get home at 5:15 and are already starving!!! If I were home I'd be able to start soups and stews and casseroles in the middle of the day and have them ready at a decent mealtime.

I'd exercise everyday. Well, I'd intend to, anyhow, since I'd have all those lovely hours to fill. Plus, then I could eat all those tasty meals I'd be cooking without worrying too much about carbs and calories.

And, of course, I'd proofread and write. There'd definitely be time for one or both everyday.

I'd do crafts and bake and basically be Suzy Homemaker. I should have been born in the 1930s or 40s when it was expected and acceptable and not frowned upon to aspire to that. But you know, I like being at home taking care of my family.

What about you?

Career Woman or Suzy Homemaker?