Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 Goals Revisited & Graded

The year is coming to a close and, as I've done every year for the last handful (at least), I’m going to grade myself on the accomplishments of the goals I set for myself.

I’m giving myself a pass or fail, but I’m not judging myself too harshly. We were (and still are, of course) living in a COVID world and the fallout from everything hits everyone at different times and in different ways.

I think I got hit with some depression and worry over the course of the year and that had an effect on my efforts. But there were other factors as well. Some within my control, others not. Having to prepare for my conference was also a problem.

But let’s get going, shall we?

1) Learn about and harness the power of my personality strengths.
--> Big fat fail. Just didn’t have enough brain power for it.

2) Actively cook 1 meal per week; work up to 3 per week.
--> Pass! Doing okay here. Still at it.

3) Lose the 3 pounds I gained.
--> Pass! I’m back within the four-pound swing I have.

4) Publish 3 books.
--> Big fat fail. One project got derailed because of another, and I just couldn’t get things back on track before prepping for the conference got in the way.

5) Get my home gym completely kitted out.
--> Pass… Now, I didn’t get new ceiling fans. But I have all the equipment I want / need, including a TV, so it’s usable and I’m satisfied with it for now.

6) Get a handle on my housekeeping.
--> It took the better part of the year, but I did finally make a list of tasks I wanted to be doing on a regular basis and am making progress with getting those few things taken care of each weekend. There’s still work to be done, but so far, so good.

7) Brainstorm characters and plot arcs for new series.
--> Big Fat Huge Fail! I started off with the detailed character worksheets. I got a worksheet created for all the main characters of a specific series. I was missing a lot of information for each person after the first pass, but I’d planned to revisit each worksheet a couple of times and flesh the characters out more and more with each pass. But I never went back to a single one. I sketched a basic plot for exactly one book. And now I’m not sure I’m ever going to write any of those six books I’d planned for the series. I learned that that’s not a good process for me to follow.

8) Send a postcard to my Grandma in Denmark monthly.
--> Fail. I managed maybe once a quarter rather than the once a month I was aiming for. Part of the problem is—not much happens around here, which is why I went to post cards in the first place.

There you have it. I passed half, I failed half. Not great, but better than I expected going in.

I started thinking about my 2022 goals back in November, and I made a huge detailed list. It’s been a work in progress, but I’ll share the ones that made the cut next week.

Have a super holiday weekend, and I’ll catch you in the new year!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Miscellaneous Monday

I rather like this topic / format. Sometimes one item is not enough for a post, but if I gather enough small things to share, then I'm golden. So here we go!

Yukon Cornelius / Jordie Benn

The likeness is remarkable, isn't it? :0)

* * * * *

Head Scratcher...

My sister- and brother-in-law who live and work in Saudi Arabia most of the year, brought me back this pretty mug, but seeing that it was made in China made me laugh.

* * * * *

Gnome Crazy

So, yes, I caught the gnome flu... DD and I did Painting With a Twist before Christmas (I think I mentioned that already), and then we found little ceramic gnomes at Dollar Tree... So here we are... And there are more to come. :0)

* * * * *
Christmas Post Mortem

We had a super time seeing family and exchanging gifts for the first time in two years. I was very blessed by my family. I shared the mug above, but some of my other faves include a box of my favorite See's Candies chocolates I've been coveting, as well my Marc-Andre Fleury Funko Pop! They were all wonderful, to be honest, and I will enjoy every last one of them.
Thursday I'll grade myself on my accomplishment or lack thereof of 2021's goals.

Have a super week. Catch you Thursday!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Happy Christmas!

Memories of Christmases Past
GI Snow!
I haven't created my redneck gingerbread scene for a few years because it's a lot of work. I miss the final product but not all the time and effort that goes into it.

This is my SIL's tree from several years back. I can tell by the white walls and the poinsettias on the tree. Can't wait to see everyone this year after not seeing them since 2019.

My babies from the first year Sonshine was in the Navy. In fact, at this point, he'd just graduated basic training and was headed for his job training facility. We were all so excited to have him home. Me, especially.
Tomorrow's Christmas Eve, so let me send my Christmas wishes out to you all today.
Have a great weekend no matter how you spend it.
Take care.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Miscellaneous Monday

Yellow Rose Award Winner!

I forgot to mention that I received this lovely trophy / plaque at my writers group meeting. And yes 2020 is the correct year. I won the award last year, but did not get the plaque. The president at the time sent the yellow roses; this year's president went the extra mile and got me the thing that would last longer than a couple of weeks...

Giant Christmas Light Pillow!

Sadly all the Christmas stuff at Walmart has been condensed to a few very short aisles as the store makes way for the next seasonal thing--but I saw this large shiny plush green Christmas light. I was tempted to get it, but I certainly didn't need it and have no place to put it. If it's there next week at a significant price reduction, I'll consider it. :0)

Board Games and Colorforms!

I had so many Colorforms as a kid. I had the game Battleship as a kid. But the combination of the two just tickled me. I was tempted to buy it, but it would never get played and so I took the picture to share the nostalgia here.

* * * * *

Hope you all had a good weekend. Mine was quiet and productive. Made ever more progress on the house-cleaning, one little extra project (like dusting a specific thing) at a time while I keep up with the general tasks & previous additions to the tasks.

Baked pup-cakes and made more taco soup for DD--more soup than fit in my largest stock pot, so we had to break out the crock pot. That ended up filled to the brim (no lie) as well. Since DD is home because of school break, she requested a double batch because she likes it that much.

Have a great week; see you Thursday...

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The Akinator!

Have you ever played this game??

Oh. My. Goodness! It's fun and amazing...

The premise is basically "20 questions." You think of a person, place, or thing...and you answer the questions about that person, place, or thing to the best of your ability, and AI will come up with the right answer most of the time.

Sometimes the game asks more than twenty questions before giving you an answer, and sometimes it seems like he's asking filler questions to get you to the twenty-question mark, and it's interesting to parse the questions in each case. :0)

The other day, I had a person in mind, though for the life of me, I couldn't remember his name. I didn't want to Google it in the same browser, of course, so I answered the questions to the best of my ability and the game correctly guessed Nelson Mandela!

I've also "tested" the system. As the AI was asking questions, I realized the answers I gave (up to a certain point, of course) applied to two different people. So after he successfully guessed the first one, I played again and unsurprisingly, it correctly guessed the second. Then I went for a third, which it also correctly guessed.

Anyway, if you've got time to kill and want to be amused and delighted by its powers, then give it a try.

Here are the links:

For PC:

For mobile phones:

And have a great rest of your week & weekend. Catch you Monday.

Monday, December 13, 2021

To Linzer & to Cherish



As of last Friday, my latest book is live and available for purchase. It was a fun book to write, although there were some challenges along the way.

All buy links are here, if you're so inclined.

Book two, In Shortbread & in Health, is in progress.

* * * * *

The last of my holiday events is behind me. My writers group gathered as we used to for a holiday party and ornament exchange. It was a small group, but it was fun to eat and talk in person. Then my closest writer peeps and I spent the rest of the afternoon together at a different restaurant gabbing as we used to do back before the plague.

Now it's time to hunker down and quarantine in preparation for Christmas with the fam. Can't wait to see everyone open their presents. And to just see everyone, period.

Have a great week.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

And you're in Puck Soup...

All good things must come to an end. I was going to brag on my hockey team who had tied their longest win streak in franchise history this past Monday. They had a chance to set a new record at eight wins last night, but lost. Granted, it was to one of the better teams in the league, but any team can beat any other team on any given night, so they could have done it. And were on their way to doing it, but seemed to rest an their laurels in the last few minutes of the game and gave up a two-goal lead in less than minute. *sigh*

Instead...let's talk podcasts.

As I said at the beginning, all good things must come to an end.

Puck Soup is my favorite podcast. I've mentioned it before, here and there. I won't bore you with how I found it, but it was the first and the favorite and has been a staple in my life for a good four? five? years now...

While this pod has its roots in another pod with a different pair of hosts, it started for me with Greg and Dave. Greg was a part of that original pod, but for whatever reason, one or both had to move on from it.

So Greg recruited Dave, and the two of them started this adventure called Puck Soup (version 1.0), mostly hockey news and talk (the PUCK) with some pop culture thrown in for fun (the SOUP).

I loved that version and the dynamic between the two of them...the jokes and the bits and the impressions. Oh, the impressions...

But then Dave needed to move on for career reasons, and Greg brought in two new voices, Ryan Lambert and Sean McIndoe, for Puck Soup, version 2.0... It took some time to get over missing Dave and adjusting to Ryan, who, sadly, has no use for Greg's impressions.

Wysh impressions are like sighting endangered species in the wild... I had a couple faves and I do miss hearing them. Sean is great and has a hockey-history-mind like a steel trap.

Now, because of contract terms with his employer, Greg can no longer host the pod. He's gonna be around for guest appearances and provide other content for the community, so we're not losing him completely. Thank the hockey gods because I just don't think I could handle the loss well at the moment.

I'm hearty believer in "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." I'm looking at you Special K and Apple.

As I said, I was disappointed with the loss of Dave from the original incarnation, but have come to love what Sean and Ryan bring to the table, er... the pod.

Sadly, even though nothing was ever broke, circumstances forced the morphing of the product. And while I'm sad that Greg won't be a part of the regular shenanigans, he'll be around and a new voice is taking his place--one I'm familiar with and actually enjoy and am looking forward to hearing on a more regular basis.

So here's to Puck Soup, no matter what version we're in. Long may it simmer.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Merry Christmas...

 And the shopping is done. I ran out and bought the last gift yesterday afternoon. The tree is up & decorated and the presents are wrapped and waiting patiently for their unveiling in just three weeks' time.

The best part is that with the shopping and the wrapping done so far in advance, I can really enjoy the holiday season.

I've decorated as much as I'm going to I think, unless I get a wild hair in the next couple of weeks...but that's unlikely!

Here's my before and my after...

And yes, sadly, there are two sections of lights that have now burned out...I'll have to either find the extra bulbs and go through replacing each one in turn or just string in new lights next year... 

Hope you had a lovely weekend and here's to a  good / productive week.

Take care.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Zoo Related Fun

 As I mentioned last week, DD and I were headed to the zoo, and to the zoo we went.

It was a brisk day with chilly temps and some wind, but the sun was out.

There's a section of zoo under construction, so DD and I are already planning our return visit for 2023 when the new exhibits open rather than waiting another decade.

The two highlights of our visit were the giraffes--to which we were able to get pretty up close and personal with on the back side of the exhibit. A couple of them were rooting around for fallen leaves.

Our other exciting interaction with animals was in one of the bird cages: Parrot Paradise. No parrots, per se, but lots of parakeets and cockatiels! We bought little sticks of bird seed to feed them with and had so much fun, we went back again before leaving the zoo...

And here are few more pictures...

Baby elephant!!

Can you see the hippo in there?

Take care. Have a super week.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

History This Week / Thanksgiving Reconsidered

 Happy Thanksgiving!

There are so many things I'm grateful for, including this wonderful four-day weekend, but did you know that the history of Thanksgiving is rather ugly?


The pilgrims didn't land at Plymouth Rock!! There was no such thing / place until later when the locals area dragged a huge rock into place and just declared it the "arrival" location of our original forefathers in order to drum up tourism to help their local economy...

By this time, I hope we all know the native peoples of America were savagely mistreated and exterminated, much like the Jews were in Europe.


It wasn't an official holiday until 1870 when Ulysses S. Grant made it one, so, whaaat?

For a look at the sordid tale, visit History This Week.

* * * * *

On to nicer topics...

One of the things I'm thankful for is my kids. All three of them of course, but I only have one living close enough to spend time with. You know her as DD and my Hockey Partner in Crime.

She's my second child and my younger daughter...and today, we're going to spend some more time together...not just at home enjoying a delicious meal, but at the zoo. It's been a while since our last trip and we've been wanting to go and meaning to go and finally we found a good time to go.

So--lol--we're going today!

Hope you have / had / are having a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Making Progress ...

My chore chart is doing what it's supposed to--get me to do things and make new habits.

It's amazing that a hand-drawn chart and a random sticker can motivate me to get stuff done. See those stickers above--those are from my planner. You know, they give you stickers for birthdays and vacations and appointments. Yeah, I never used them for that. And then I thought why waste them? They're perfectly good stickers and will serve my purpose. So, yeah... 

As you can see I had five tasks that I completed all seven days. The green hand-drawn stars mean I was excused from those tasks because of hockey. Meaning, I slept in because I attended a hockey game the night before. I do not cheat myself of sleep.

I've been trying to do better with my I have three things listed in each of the Sat & Sun square for "chores." And I don't get that sticker unless I accomplish all three items.

One of those things is dusting. Along with just running my feather duster around picture frames and along the tops of door casings and the like, each week I'm adding a bit extra. Like... I have this multi-compartment decorative shelf, with a handful of knickknacks filling the compartments. This week I dusted that whole thing. Took each item out and cleaned it. Going forward, I can just feather it clean. I have also been taking down a few of my collectible plates and washing them as well.

Yesterday, I almost pushed off cleaning the bathroom to today. But I wanted that stupid sticker for Sunday, so I sucked it up and got my toilets scrubbed.

I still have a bit of work to do, and I'm not striving for 100% every week forever. That's unrealistic due to life events and the random circumstance that presents itself. But I do need to get back into certain habits, and this is doing the trick.

Remember back in the summer I was rewarding myself with $1 puzzles from Dollar Tree for accomplishing so much? I have no reward system in place at the moment, but surprisingly, the doing of the thing and getting the sticker has been its own reward. :0)

Hope you had a great weekend, and here's to a wonderful short week.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Hello There! *waves*

I've been meaning to post. I've been wanting to post.

But then I sit down to do so and my mind draws a blank. At least for a blog topic, because the reality is...I have a lot swirling around in my brain.

Christmas. Writing. Thanksgiving. 2022 in general. Planning for 2022. Writing. Hockey. Family.

And many combinations there-of. As well as things as mundane as what I'm making for dinner tonight and what our food plans are for the Thanksgiving weekend. Not to mention other personal things that you don't share on the Internet. :0)

Hope you're all well. Hope you're all prepped for Thanksgiving.

We're having lasagna, garlic bread and salad. I'm thinking I need to make pupcakes... we haven't had them for a while.

Sadly, I haven't see my Sonshine in a while, and it's going to be a while longer before I do.

The Brown-Eyed Girl and her Soulmate are staying in CO for the holidays, so it'll be a while before I see them too.


DD of course is my hockey partner in crime, and we spend plenty of time together. One of my favorite memories of time shared with her--that still happens and will probably continue to happen--is when we're in the car together (usually driving to or from a hockey game, but also road trips) and listening to music, and a song comes on that we both know and love or is just fun and we both start signing. Last week, I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas cycled through my shuffled playlist, of off we went.

I treasure those times with this daughter. 

I'm thankful that I continue to have those times with this daughter who is very tender-hearted, but keeps that side of herself under wraps.

Have a great weekend. Catch you on Monday. I'll brainstorm some ideas and come up with a topic.


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Thank You, Veterans...

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Charles M. Province

* * * * *

A personal shout out to the Veterans I know:

Dan FitzGerald, Timothy FitzGerald, Charles Spicer, Sharon Spicer

Al Cilley, Lynn Reinke, Charlene Simser

I am grateful.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Keeping Busy...Being Productive


Along with my chore chart, which is for personal accomplishments (mostly), I have a to-do list that sits on my desk at work... The same tasks are on it from day to day and then there's another list of things that appear at certain times of the month...

Anyway, the point of this is to say...I broke down a few tasks to very specific details...

For example, I'm creating a series guide for a writer friend of mine. And rather than just saying I'm going to work on it everyday, I've specified that I'll read through fifteen pages each day. It's a measurable thing and I know when I'm done and can move on to another task.

It's been soooo helpful. I'm planning to break as many things down to a doable/measurable amount. The challenge will be figuring out all the things I need to do this for and then finding the time to break them down. But maybe one thing at a time eh?? Measurable! That means I need a list. Another list. Or to find the one I probably started somewhere...

Hope you all had a lovely weekend... I'm almost done with the Christmas shopping. I just need some ideas for my father-in-law, and I'll be done. Then I can sit back and enjoy the season.

The weather has been lovely as it usually is this time of year...and it's good to be alive.

Take care. Catch you later.

Monday, November 1, 2021

It's Beginning to Look A Little Like Christmas...


I got my Christmas funding and I started ordering they are trickling in. :0)

No, the tree isn't up yet, but it may end up getting put up sooner rather than later just because...well... The wrapped presents will need somewhere to be, won't they?

* * * * *

The fam went to see Dune yesterday. DH has been a fan of the franchise since way back. DD just wanted to see it. I played the Dune 2000 PC game for many, many years and wish they'd upgrade the programming to be compatible with current technology. Maybe the success of the film will spur someone into action on the project. (Not that I need the distraction of a video game!).

* * * * *

One of my goals / plans for the next year or two is to learn more about advertising and promotion. And I got invited to a free webinar about using Goodreads...which was quite informative. I've spent several days over the last week getting all my Goodreads ducks in order.

In doing so, I found that seven (!) of my books had been associated with the profile of another Jen Fitzgerald (no capital G!)-- But I was able to reach out to the Goodreads "librarian" group and someone there got everything corrected.

Now to get my upcoming release added. For some reason, Goodreads won't accept the AISN as correct... Might need to reach out to those librarians again. Once the new book is in their system, I'm toying with the idea of a giveaway. It'll cost a bit of money, but the book will get a lot of exposure and hopefully a lot of sales up front as a result...

* * * * *

My chart's working well enough. I'm not completely on track, but I'm getting there. I completed an office chore every day last week, but that's about the only thing I did 100% on. I missed one day of writing, which is fine, really. I needed a little extra sleep, which I don't skimp on anymore. Everything else had two or more misses for various reasons, but each week will show improvement.

Anyway...hope you had a lovely weekend. Weather was gorgeous here in North Texas.

Catch you later in the week.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Getting back on track...

It's time for me to utilize the chart / sticker method again.

As you can see, I have a bit of work to do. There is a task listed for each of those rows, even the one without any stickers in it. Some of these tasks are a bit of a cheat. I'd accomplish them even without the reward of a sticker, but it's helpful to have a show of success in some areas to encourage success in others. It's also a challenge to myself to strive for a better and better percentage.

I knew it would take a week or two. (More likely three. lol) Some things are easier to integrate into the routine than others. Not to mention, I had quite a few carb-laden food stuffs left over from my trip that I'm working to consume. So getting back to better eating habits is taking longer. Of course, the canned goods will last a while, so there's no real rush to eat them. And I could give them away in a canned food drive if one comes along. But the leftover Hershey's Kisses (they were sprinkled across my display tables at the con) have got to get eaten.

I'm trying to get into the daily habit of chores at the office. A few do happen and they're on the list, but adding a few more to get rewarded and solidify the habit.

I haven't instituted a reward yet, but the accomplishments are partly their own reward, but we'll see how it goes.

One of those line items is getting back on the food plan. My weight is back where it should be, but now it's a matter of trimming off the inches I gained. Meaning a KETO intensive for a week or two. :0)

Hope you're all well. Have a super weekend.

Monday, October 25, 2021

What a Home Opener!!

You know what that means...

Dallas Stars Hockey is back and the Stars pulled off a win.

It was super game and the boys did us proud.

Being back at the AAC with a full-capacity crowd was mostly awesome. :0) Awesome because, of course, the crowd yelling "Stars" as one during the National Anthem is amazing. The sound of the goal horn and the cheering of the fans is music to our ears. Just feeling the excitement of the crowd and the all-encompassing reverberation of the whole crowd yelling "Dallas" "Stars" "Dallas" "Stars" after a goal is a unique experience.

It lacked a bit of awesome because we lost the elbow room from when social distancing was in place. But it's time to re-build normalcy. And this was a super start.

They added a new thing, at least for the home opener, but I'm hoping it sticks around--three long sheets of fabric acting as a projection screen:

Of course, we're sat on the wrong side of this one... For most images, it doesn't matter, but it does for the logo!

For opening night they handed out battery powered glow bracelets:

Mostly they glowed green or white, but during the National Anthem, they glowed red and blue.

Normally, I'm all in on just enjoying an experience. I grew up before cell phones, and I don't take a lot of pictures...but...if you're so inclined to get an inkling of what it's like at the AAC, I perfectly-timed hitting record to catch the game winning goal and the resultant crowd response.

It looks as though we have a new group of fellow season ticket holders on our little area and one guy is going to get really annoying really fast. But we'll see how often our paths cross. Not often I hope.


Be Loud. Wear Green. and..


Monday, October 18, 2021

GRL 2021...

My first author lounge setup...

The author signing setup...

Aaaand...GRL is now in the rear-view mirror.

Overall, the experience was a good one. Between my two author lounges and the book signing, I talked to a lot of people and was able to get a good dozen people to download book one of the Ten Rigs series which is always free.

My roommate and I are friends outside of the conference through fandom/fanfic for the BBC's Robin Hood. She did invite me to attend the con in the first place, back in 2017. It was in Denver that year.

As I've mentioned numerous times, I was reassigned from a storyteller panel to a general author Q&A panel due to life circumstances of two of our original panel members....

The Q&A in and of itself was fine. I never had to go first, so I could contemplate my answers for some of the more thought provoking questions, and I kept from putting my foot in my mouth. On the other hand, only a handful, and by a handful, I mean maybe 10, people were in attendance. Needless to say, I was terribly disappointed. That's not to say it was anyone's fault. I don't lay blame anywhere but on crappy societal circumstances.

GRL will not be on my radar for at least two years. Now that it's off my plate and off my mind for this year, I can devote brain power to planning 2022.

* * * * *

So what's in the forecast for the next year...?

Good question!

I'll be pondering the action items for the following:

  • finishing the fifth hockey book
  • planning / writing the sixth hockey book
  • planning / writing the next Christmas book
  • pondering the planning / writing of two new three-book series that are little more than a few vague "what if" ideas
  • doubling down on learning some aspect of my craft--specifically plotting
  • coming up with some sort of advertising / marketing plan for my books that won't take a lot of time and won't break the bank
  • and more...

Hope you had a super weekend. Catch you later!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

A funny thing happened on the way to St. Louis...

Okay, it really happened before I left, but I didn't realize it until I was halfway there.

So I stopped for the night in Neosho, MO--roughly halfway between Fort Worth and St. Louis--and discovered when I went to take a shower, that I'd forgotten to pack underwear! What with all the duplicate lists I had, I missed this one key item of apparel. Luckily for me there was a WalMart across the highway from the hotel I stayed in, so the issue was easily rectified.

There's some very lovely countryside between here and St. Louis...the eastern part of Oklahoma is mostly cattle country as far as I could tell and I enjoyed the beauty of the Ozarks as well. The foliage had barely, and I mean barely from green to yellow, started turning, but it was so so lovely.

Here are a few images...

This was Tuesday morning..first day out. Gorgeous blue sky as you can see.

My first couple of hours on the road Wednesday morning was filled with low, low clouds and then some rain.

And then some beautiful canyon-like passages in the last couple hours before hitting the outer edges of the city.

My roommate was arriving via Amtrak and I timed my arrival to pick her up. Actually I arrived a little early because, as it happens, the Enterprise Center is right across from the Amtrak Station. :0) Despite not being a fan of the Blues by any stretch of the imagination, I am a hockey fan. I visited the fan store, because of course I did. They didn't have much that wasn't Blues specific, not even hockey pucks, which was a bit disappointing. I did end up buying a cat toy so that Karma could literally tear up the Blues.

They did have some lovely statues out front however...

And that's it for today...more about the actual conference on Monday. Have a great rest of your week.