Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Time for Learning, Part II...

A few posts ago, I mentioned the writing-related books I already had in my ownership. While I haven't giving up reading for pleasure completely, because NO WAY JOSE!, I have stuck with reading for pleasure just before bed as a way to relax and settle down.

I hadn't planned on making this topic a two-parter, but here we are. :0)

So...I re-opened the Save the Cat book and started reading from the beginning. It's been quite helpful and I'm just about done with it. In the meantime, an online friend of mine who offers online writing courses and edits and writes blogs about writing shared with me a recording of one of her classes that covered the same basic concepts as the Save the Cat book. (It was as a thank you for keeping time so often during our daily sprints in the chat room.)

I watched the video and she did indeed parallel a lot of points Blake Snyder made in the Cat Book. The gal in the video fleshed things out a bit more than the text of the book, so that was helpful.

In two days, I start an online class that I know is also going to complement and overlap what I've learned so far. I'm hoping repetition is the key to my success. The class is going to require me to plot a new book from an idea (which I have) rather than work on something in progress. But that could be useful too--starting the process from scratch and building from the ground up.

One of my goals for the year is two publish at least two new books. That means I really have to up my game in certain areas of my writing. Plotting is one of those areas.

Fingers crossed!!

Hope you're having a great week.

See you Friday.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Time is Precious...

Due to some really random circumstances, DD has been living at home with us for the last almost-four-years. She'd moved out, but then stuff happened and she needed a quick place to relocate. The only requirement we had was her paying rent this time around. She was amenable and one of my babies was back in the nest.

She's very low maintenance and I don't have to feed her unless I want to. She's basically a boarder and as an adult in her late 20s, comes and goes as she pleases.

I've loved having her home again. We are very similar creatures and can share space with little conflict. Being able to spend time with her when she deigns to do so, is precious time well spent. Eventually, though, she's going to move out again, and when choosing people to do things with, I'm not going to be on the top of the list. As it mostly should be. I hope as I get older, I become first choice every now and again.

Yesterday, we ended up at Stars open practice again. She'd originally planned to go with her BFF and her BFF's kids, but one kid fell ill and they couldn't go. I was the backup plan. It's fine. I'm happy for any time offered, even as a second choice. And I'm grateful for the overlap of hockey as interests in our lives.

I had other tentative plans for yesterday afternoon. But time with any of my kids is precious, and I opted to spend yesterday afternoon with my darling younger daughter.

We didn't end up getting any new autographs, but most of the healthy roster was on hand and it was interesting to see the various sessions of things they practiced.

Some pictures, because why not?

 Here's my bruiser, Roman might remember him from last week's celebrity dinner party post.

Coach Monty...third coach in three years. One of the few coaches in NHL history to come up from the college coach ranks.

This is Anton Khudobin, also from the dinner party post, all geared up and awaiting some action.

One of our young defensemen, Esa Lindell, bouncing the puck on his stick blade.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend and got to spend some time with the special people in your lives.

Friday, January 25, 2019

My Celebrity Dinner Party...

Okay, I thought that would be a more interesting topic when I came across it, but as I was thinking about who the celebrities would be... after Benedict Cumberbatch, it would be... drum roll please...

I bet you know the answer, right?


Hockey players.

Tyler Seguin, Sidney Crosby, Marc Andre Fleury, Mattias Janmark, and Nate Schmidt. Maybe Roman Polak, Anton Khudobin, and Evgeni Malkin. Oh, and Jason Dickinson.

This is actually a nice cross section of positions. Two goalies, two defensemen, and five forwards. I have one more goalie and two more forwards than I need on a single shift, but this isn't about a game. It's about my dinner party.

Are they all pretty? I find them all pleasing to my eye but not all of them are necessarily classically handsome or hot.

One of my favorite pics of Tyler...

He's a good player, don't get me wrong. One of the Stars best. But the aesthetics...


Sidney is actually the best player in the world right now. But also the aesthetics. He might not be everone's cup of tea, but between his hockey, his personality, and his looks, he's my straight up favorite hockey player.

Marc Andre...

Marc Andre no longer plays for the Penguins--he's a Golden Knight now, but it's a cute picture. One of the things that I love most about Marc Andre is that he's almost always smiling. That, and he thanks the posts and cross bars of the net (he's a goaltender) when they help him out by giving them a rub or a pat.

There's just something about Mattias. He just looks sweet and kind and gentle.

I'm not sure I can explain the appeal. He's Sidney Crosby's teammate and a great hockey player in his own right. He's also Russian, so there's that.

Are we noticing a trend? I like the backwards ball caps. :0)

One of the Stars talented young forwards. I chose him to attend the dinner party more for DD than myself. She's a big fan.

Anton is one the Dallas Stars snappiest dressers. He's also a bear in goal.

This picture doesn't reflect it, but in post-game interviews Nate almost always has this rosy glow about him. He's got a huge smile and you can just see how much he loves to play. And he's always got more than a general soundbite for the media.

And last but not least..Roman...
Okay so he's no Sidney Crosby or Tyler Seguin. And it's not the most flattering picture of Roman, but I chose it for a reason. As you can probably see he's a bit banged up: cut across his nose, his left eye his black and blue. That's because this guy always sticks up for his teammates. If he thinks justice wasn't served, he'll take it upon himself to avenge them.

What's on the menu? Probably a lot of protein and carbs. Hockey players have a hard time maintaining their weight as the season progresses.

So that was a pleasant way to spend a few minutes on a Friday. At least for me.

Have a great weekend...

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A Time For Learning...

New reading material of the fictional variety that I love so much is hard to come by right now. I think the universe is telling me to change my focus for a bit. I'm hoping my writing will be sparked as well. Those partially-finished books won't complete themselves...

In the interest of improving my craft, I'm switching gears and reading books related to storytelling. I've had a few on the ol' Kindle for a while and have just never gotten through them for whatever the reason was at the time.

First on the docket is Save The Cat by Blake Snyder. It's long been touted in the romance circles and after a speaker we had at my writers group gushed about how it changed her writing for the better, I finally (after over ten years in RWA) bought the damn book. I started it and then summer happened and I never got back to it. But I'm back to it now and even if it doesn't end up being the angels choir for my writing, there's bound to be a take-away or two.

I signed up for a class that I actually took years and years and years ago. I don't think I was ready for it back then. I'm hoping it'll also generate some much-needed sparks for the current works-in-progress.

Once I finish Save the Cat, I'll move on to K.M.Weiland's 5 Secrets of Story Structure. That's another book I began and never made much headway through.

BFF Jenn just bought and recommended yet another book: Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. I'm contemplating that one, but I have another K.M. Weiland book waiting on the Kindle as well as a handful of other random writing-related books. So maybe I ought to read the books I already have and see where that gets me before spending anymore cold hard cash.

That's what I'm up to...hope you're having a good week.

Catch you Friday. :0)

Monday, January 21, 2019

Monday Miscellany...

My tidying process continued this weekend. I purged my closets and drawers of two more garbage bags full of clothes, along with four pair of shoes. One pair went in the trash as they were broken, although I would have kept them otherwise. The other three went into the donation pile.

Along with all the clothes, I purged more books. There are still more books yet to be sorted through, but I'll get there slowly but surely. I also tackled a shelf full of small bins and a plastic chest of drawers and threw out or or put in the donation box everything I didn't need or want.

There will be a trip to the donation station on my agenda for next Saturday.

Writers group meeting went well this past Saturday and the new and improved version of the GetPublished! program now in my hands was well received. I opted to not attend the Stars game Saturday in order to hang out with my writer friends. I see DD everyday and attend most of the games with her. I only get to see my friends generally once a month, so it was no-brainer.

I found some ornament storage containers on clearance for $4.50 each at Walmart yesterday, so taking down the rest of Christmas should happen over the course of the week and into next weekend.

Not much else going on.

Hope you had a good weekend and I hope your week goes well.

Take care!!

Friday, January 18, 2019

To go along with the 100 Things...

So there's a show called "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo"--a young Japanese mother and mogul who helps families de-clutter their homes and lives. I had seen it passing on Netflix, but hadn't quite decided to watch it until a friend of mine mentioned that she'd binged it. Next time I was looking for something to watch...Marie Kondo got the click. Since I have been in a "getting rid of stuff" faze, it seemed like a good choice.

The first aspect of people's lives Marie tackles is clothes. She has the people she's helping take all of their clothes out of closets and drawers and boxes and make a pile on the bed or floor so that an individual can see how much clothing they actually have. Usually it's a lot. Partners make separate piles.

One guy had over 150 pair of shoes, many of which he'd had for over a decade and most of which he'd never worn. It was interesting to see how emotionally invested he was in those shoes. Eventually though, he pared the cache down to under fifty pair.

So anyway...once you've got your clothes in a pile, Marie says to touch each item, one by one, and keep it if it sparks joy within you, while thanking and then putting aside the items not being kept.

While clothing wasn't specifically on my list of things to purge, I do know I've got stuff I don't wear and so I've been pondering the KonMarie method to get rid of anything extraneous. I'd love to get DH going on this process too because I know he has quite a bit of stuff that could be gotten rid of, but that's going to be a challenge, so it'll have to wait--life is still not quite back to normal.

Getting rid of books will be (has been) pretty easy. Since I prefer e-reading and the fact that I can carry 100s of books/stories with me on a phone or a Kindle is wonderful; getting rid of physical books isn't a hardship. I have a few that are sentimental in value, but for the most part, the rest can/will go.

It's really all the miscellaneous stuff that I'm going to struggle with because I love my stuff...all my collections and fandom oddities that I've accumulated over the years. But Ms. Kondo isn't about getting rid of ALL your stuff. Just the stuff that no longer sparks the joy it once might have. That's easy and fair enough.

I promised an update today on my quest to get rid of 100 things, so here it is...

On Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, I worked my way through three drawers of a dresser in my office. The contents were mostly craft related with a handful of other random items thrown in for whatever reason.

I was pretty ruthless and realistic about the stuff. All I kept was anything cross stitching related. Business cards were relocated. Sewing stuff was put in a box for a friend I mentioned a while back. All other random crafty things were put into the donation box.

Contents of the top draw...all that I kept were the rolls of Aida cloth, the white box in the center, and the two post cards at the bottom. Everything else was given or thrown away.

Contents of the middle drawer...everything given or thrown away except for that little stationary set on the left. I thought it would be good fro writing notes to my Grandma.

 The bottom drawer "before"...

Contents of the bottom drawer...the fabric and the patterns went into a box for my friend. The cross stitch related items went into one of the other two drawers. A few things went into the donation box or the trash. See below what's left in the drawer now.

Marie Kondo is all about using small boxes for sorting and organizing small items within drawers. I took her method to heart as you can see. I used to use plastic shoe box containers a lot to keep things like batteries and light bulbs sorted. I've gotten away from it as a general practice, but the clean lines of sorted possessions is speaking to me again. Here I used empty boxes from 12-packs of Ramen Soup. I had one sitting around and pulled the other one out of the cabinet, leaving the packages of soup in a stack.

I guess I just have to classify everything I got rid of as two items: one of miscellany and one of sewing stuff. That puts at me at thirty-two items. :0)

Have a great weekend, y'all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Enjoyed a lovely day with my Darling Daughter...

This past Sunday, DD and I went to the Dallas Stars open practice. It was apparently an optional practice as only three players were on the ice and they were three players that hadn't participated in the previous night's loss again the St. Louis Blues. Two are injured players who should be back in the lineup any time now, hence practice, and the other a healthy scratch--meaning they had too men for a certain position and one of them can't play.

Once practice was over, we waited outside one of the facility doors for players to exit so that we could get a few autographs. The three autographs we ended getting were not from the three players on the ice, though.

I'd been saving my tickets for other reasons, but when pondering what to take for signatures yesterday morning--as our decision to go to open practice was made the night before on the way home from the game--the thought occurred to me and sparked joy. (more on that phrase later)

Here are a few pictures of practice...

 #25 Brett Ritchie, the healthy scratch

 #5 Connor Carrick, foot injury

#16 Jason Dickinson, back injury

On a fun note, DD was able to grab the errant puck that hit the net and fell through the netting and the glass. She was very thrilled.

Also, while we were waiting for autographs, I got to meet Josh Bogorad--the Dallas Stars play-by-play commentator. That was cool too. :0) I should have taken a picture with the guy!! Shoot--

On a side note...after acquiring a lot of stuff  over the holidays (we won't talk about how much stuff!!), it's time for me to get back to clearing stuff out, so look for a report on Friday.

Have a great week.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Being a Bloody Do-Gooder...Mike Rowe Does It Again

By now, most of you know how much I adore Mike Rowe. I got to hear him speak in person once and get my picture with him... That was a thrill, let me tell you.

I know I've mentioned his show, Returning the Favor, at least once. The link there is to the show about the Soup Ladies who take energy-laden meals for the first responders at scenes of natural disasters and the like.

I'm watching the latest season via Facebook, although I haven't gotten around to watching the second season just yet, but I digress...

Watching Mike Rowe help people who are selflessly helping others almost always makes me cry and it most certainly makes me wish I could somehow help others on a regular basis. I have no idea what I can do or where to start or how to figure it out, but hopefully something will occur to me at some point.

Anyway... if you don't know who Mike Rowe is, go look him up. He's a down-to-earth, no nonsense guy who does a lot of good things for a lot of good people, and not just through his show.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Or not!!

I caught the crud going around and am putting up the good fight. I have no cough and I can still sleep pretty well. I had a sinus pressure headache that I didn't feel like battling my way through, so I bought some OTC sinus medication. Pain relief within twenty minutes! That's the good thing about not taking anything on a regular basis, not even ibuprofen--my system is completely cleared out so I don't have any built up tolerances.

My body was sore from the reinstated workouts and it welcomed the day off I took from the gym, allowing it to fight this cold instead.

I also decided to work from home today so that I could  rest or nap as needed. It's been close to three months since I worked from home. My desk was a mess of piles since I hadn't needed it for anything other than storage.

Hope you've avoided catching whatever's going around...

See you Friday.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Damn the torpedos, full spead ahead...!

Life is officially back on track. More or less.

DH/Bossman is back in the office. There is a list of "new year" tasks to get done this month. All clients are back at work in full force as well.

Sonshine made it back to Seattle with no issues.

The house is back into some semblance of order except the Christmas trees that I am working on and the plethora of cardboard boxes from all the package deliveries for the holidays.

I got up and went to the gym both yesterday and today like I was supposed to. Besides the last carb intake of cinnamon cakes Sunday morning, I ate properly all day Sunday and planned my menu accordingly for Monday. Remember, no more bread-based carbs for a while...not even my carb-lite tortillas. :(

I haven't worked writing tasks back in to the routine just yet nor the cleaning plan. Getting back to the gym on a daily basis at the early hour I go is going to take me a few days to adjust to in terms of not being physically tired during the day. I may end up in bed earlier than usual for a few days until I get back into sync, so working everything into the daily/weekly routine will take a week or two. And that's okay.

 Hope your new year is off to a good start. See you on Wednesday!!

Friday, January 4, 2019

What haven't we talked about in a while...?

If you said hockey, you'd be correct. It's been a month, almost to the day. :0)

So let's see...

There has been some big news around the League specifically regarding the Dallas Stars...

Let's start with the bad. On Dec. 28, the Stars CEO went on a profanity laden tirade, calling out the  franchise's two highest paid players. Fans of the Stars as well as of hockey in general were divided on how they felt about it. Discipline in private, praise in public was a statement heard often on my various social media platforms. That his harangue was directed at two guys specifically was ridiculous. As frustrated as the organization is, top to bottom, with the lack of post-season appearances, so are fans.

But it's a team effort. Of course the two-highest paid / best players should be playing better, but they need guys around them who can play too and the team has been plagued by injuries and, if not for one of the best goal-tending duos in the League, the Stars wouldn't even be in the playoff hunt at all. Not only that, but the General Manager has had more misses than hits in gathering the right players around his faces-of-the-franchise. So most of us agree the scrutiny needs to be at all levels, not just ice level.

 Now onto the good stuff!

It was announced during the second intermission of this year's Winter Classic, that the 2020 Winter Classic--one of several outdoor games each season and played on New Years Day--is coming to Dallas. To be played in the Cotton Bowl specifically. Woo Hoo!! I AM SO THERE. Provided the tickets don't cost hundreds or more dollars each of course.

On Wednesday, members of this year's NHL All Star teams were announced and the Star's amazing, brilliant rookie, Miro Heiskanen was selected to go. Suffice it to say, he's been on fire since the beginning of the season and stepped up in a big way when our #1 defenseman was out for six weeks with a hand injury. This is a 19-year-old from Finland who took the lower level hockey world by storm for the last few years. Now he's making a name for himself at the highest levels.

Also on Wednesday, DD and I attended our first game of the year and the boys won!! And tonight, DH, DD, Sonshine and I are all going and it's going to be a blast. I love watching hockey with Sonshine. I love going to games with DD. And I love DH for getting me the tickets in the first place. :0)

So have a great weekend and let's meet back here on Monday.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Goals for 2019

Happy New Year!!

Hope you had lovely and fun celebrations. As usual, I was helping DH sell fireworks, but this year we had Sonshine with us so it was just like old times. :0) I'm not looking forward to putting him back on a plane bound for Seattle, but once he's gone, it'll be time to knuckle down, get back on the wagon, yada yada yada.

But what does that mean for me in terms of specifics?

1) I absolutely have to write my Grandma on a regular basis. I still have the post cards I bought last year, and it was a good idea, so I'll stick with it. I mean, sometimes writing a letter seems both daunting and tedious when nothing much changes from month to month. The specific goal is to send a post card monthly and a letter quarterly.

2) Still gotta call my mommas too. The once a month timing seems good for this task too, so we'll stick with that.

3) Walking the dog...yup. She needs the exercise and quite frankly so do I. The specific goal to start is to walk her Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. I generally work from home those days, so I will take a 15-20 minute break and get the dog and myself out of the house unless it's raining.

Looks like most of last year's goals are being carried forward. But, as I've done for the first three goals, I'm going to set specifics. On we go...

4) Cook and eat better. Meaning no more bread-based carbs for awhile. And then just maybe my carb-lite tortillas at some point. Other than that, more protein and green veggies. More fish if I can track it down in my WalMart that has been re-arranging foodstuff again. Less red meat. More keto, maybe.

5) Re-institute the cleaning plan. I really wanted to hire someone to come in and do some stuff like mop the floors and scrub the bathrooms, but that's not going to happen anytime soon, so that means I have to make a concerted effort myself. So I'll be digging out the box of index cards and scheduling chores. This system is from a book called "Sidetracked Home Executives: From Pigpen to Paradise" by Pam Young and Peggy Jones. It was recommended by a friend many moons ago.

6) Reduce body fat and maintain current body weight. Losing the four pounds I've gained over the holidays isn't going to be too difficult, so I'm not overly worried about it. Losing the inches is going to be a challenge. The first little bit probably won't be too hard, but once I reach that plateau again...ugh.

Part of the plan involves not eating after 7pm and not eating before 9am. I might extend that daily fasting stint by an hour for a week or so to jump start everything. I don't often eat after 7pm regardless, although I have cheated a bit and have eaten my morning meal anywhere from 7:30am onward. Warm water is a really helpful way of feeling full and defeating the hungries. I'll be drinking a lot of warm water in the next couple of weeks.

7) Work on the writing career, such as it is. I'm not trying to make a living wage off the writing, but I would like to make enough publish a couple of books each year as well as travel to the GRL Conference each October. So the goal for 2019 is to publish at least two books. I have book 7 of the Ten Rigs Texas series 1/3 to 1/2 complete. I also have book 1 of another three-book series at some partial point of completion, not to mention an epic historical (that does need a lot of editorial work) at about 75% completion. I also need to flesh out all the recurring characters for the next 6-9 book series I'm planning.


Okay, so, the first seven goals are carry-over/repeats from 2018 as well as one or two that are from as far back as 2017 or 2016. I don't need to make "attend more Stars games" a goal again, because just finishing out the season with the current tickets I have will be enough and I can't imagine that we won't remain partial season ticket holders for next season. :0)

That means I need three new-for-2019 goals. Let's see what we can come up with...


8) Get some stuff around the house done. Aside from the general housekeeping of #5, I have a few projects that I'd like to get done. One such project is the hallway bathroom. I think I mentioned I want to paint all of the tile eventually. Unfortunately, there's a lot of tile so it will have to be done in stages. The toilet will probably have to come out because there's tile halfway up the walls. Most of the other projects are smaller and require less effort, but it would be nice to finally get them taken care of. I can enumerate them all later so I have a place of reference.

9) Expand the sampler pattern offerings at my Etsy store. Let's shoot for minimum of one new pattern a month. It helps that I have a handful at various stages of completion and quite a few additional ideas. The biggest hurdle is that I like to have real life samples to take pictures of instead of just the image the pattern program generates. As you can guess, that's the most time-consuming part.

10) Spend more time together as family, including DD. I was recently reminded of how much fun it is to play board games. As a result, I bought a new one--and funny enough it was one we had years ago but that we never apparently figured out how to play. DD and I both got games for Christmas as well. So I'm going to shoot for one game night a month to start an we'll see how it goes.

So those are my goals, with specific measurables, for the new year.

How about you?