Friday, January 29, 2021

It's National Puzzle Day!

I recently shared that one of my rewards for accomplishing my daily tasks for 4 days out of 7 was an inexpensive jigsaw puzzle from the local Dollar Tree.

And guess what--there's a day to celebrate doing puzzles and it's today, January 29. :0)

Here are three of the four puzzles I've done so far:

And my puzzle helper Karma...

My reason for choosing puzzles was two-fold. One, as I mentioned, is that they're inexpensive (these ones from the Dollar Tree, anyway) and I enjoy them. Two, they're great for the brain. I'm getting older, but I'm trying to keep my brain sharp and even improve some of my brain functions.

According to various websites I visited, doing jigsaws uses both sides of the brain. So not only does it exercise creativity, emotions, and intuitive thinking, but it flexes the logical, objective, and methodical side as well.

In addition, it helps with spatial reasoning, hones attention to detail, improves memory, and improves problem solving abilities.

Not only all of that, but it's relaxing which put you in a better mood and reduces stress, which in turn allows you to be more productive and get along better with others.

Other puzzles work too, like crosswords and Sudoko, but I'm not so good at those so I'll still with jigsaw puzzles.

Are you a jigsaw puzzle enthusiast??

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Oh, Say Can You See...

Yep, those are the opening lyrics of our National Anthem. It's a song near and dear to my heart because I do love America. It has a lot of issues. A lot. But it also has a lot going for it. And also, I sing it a lot during hockey season. I've sung it three times in the last five days and will sing it yet again tomorrow night. :0)

But that's not where I was going. A couple of months ago, I listened to a podcast about the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.

Francis Scott Key was a lawyer and, according to Amazon, an amateur poet. Our anthem began its life as a poem called the "Defence of Fort Henry." Key was being held temporary captive aboard a pair of British ships. He and another lawyer were on a mission of truce at the time the bombardment of Fort Henry began.

As he indicates in the poem, he was watched through night as Fort Henry was being attacked. Watching from the enemy's ship. Key was a guy who lived this, was practically a part of it. He didn't just write an ode to the battle and to America's victory. Knowing all this gives the song a new gravitas for me.

For more information, here's the Star-Spangled Banner's Wikipedia page, and here's the link to the History This Week podcast about the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner "Land of the Free?".

 Have a great rest of your week. See you Friday.

Monday, January 25, 2021

We're 2 and 0...

Two games, two wins.

This, however, is a picture from a previous win because cloud cover was so low Sunday night, that the Reunion Tower Ball wasn't visible. I hope it was lit, but we'll never know.

It's only two games, but there are so many things that came out of these two games. I won't bore you with them all, because I know you don't care and it could change in a heartbeat. But what a way to the start the season.

In lieu of my trip to Buc-cee's which I did earn, I bought a new puck for my collection:

I also tried a new dish, which turned out sensational. It's also versatile--I can use fish or pork instead of chicken if I want.

I'm having leftovers for lunch. :0)

Hope you had a great weekend...

Friday, January 22, 2021

My Dallas Stars... their first game of the season tonight. I can't tell you how excited DD and I are.

And yes, we'll be there. The Stars organization has implemented socially distant seating arrangements, one must wear their mask the whole time unless actively eating or drinking, and there's a COVID form each person must fill out before being allowed into the arena. I think there will also be temperature checks upon entry.


The Western Conference Championship banner will be raised and a commemorative mini banner will be handed out at the door. So yeah, we're going.

I'll have safety precautions in place upon my return home--namely going straight to the garage and changing clothes.


* * * * *

In other news, I'm in negotiations with a friend for an exchange of services. I'll get editing for the epic lowlander book. She has an extensive knowledge of Scottish history which I want / need before this book baby goes into the world. Plus she's a great editor. Win/win for me.

She'll get a series guide for one of her series which currently has four books.  She wants to write a couple more at least. She'll have details of her characters and her world (it's a fantasy series) at her fingertips rather than reading all the books herself... So hopefully a win for her. Plus my writing is pretty clean to begin with and this book has been gone over several times already, once by a beta reader way back in the day, and by me a couple of times, so it shouldn't be a time-consuming edit needing a lot of "teaching" comments.

Also--it's the weekend so extra writing time for me. I've started writing the missing scenes and the ability to just submerge and write without having to stop and get ready for work is much needed right now.

Have a great weekend.

Catch you Monday.


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Happy Hump Day


 Not much going on in my little corner of the world right now...

Revisions for the epic lowlander historical I've been working on are proceeding apace. :0) Better and faster than I anticipated, since I opted to work on it while waiting for the cookie book to rest before I give it one last read-through before submitting, rather than jump into hockey book 5.

Hockey book 5 needed / still needs a little percolation time, so it's worked out better since I've had a couple of helpful revelations about the characters and plot arc.

Hope you're having a great week!

Catch you Friday...

Monday, January 18, 2021

I Lied, I Lied...

Since I earned both rewards last week, DD and I went on a road trip to one of the newest Buc-cee's locations in the greater DFW Metroplex area: Ennis, Texas.

So we wandered around and I'm going to be tempted terribly by the treats...


Praline pecans and coated pretzels!! The temptation was great, but I resisted and walked out with a root beer and this bag of trail mix--the least bad offering of trail mix they had. It was all nuts but also dried cranberries...

I might have to re-think my plan. Or just not venture into the food section of the next Buc-cee's we visit.


I also got my puzzle which was only 350 pieces and easily completed yesterday afternoon. :0)

Hope you had a great weekend. I did!


Friday, January 15, 2021

My Personality Strengths


Back in November, I read an article that recommended a book, which I read, which lead me to another book that led me to a podcast. Most of the first episodes of this podcast focused on what were termed personality strengths.

There are 34 of them. We all have them in various conglomerations and orders. According to Gallup. there's a 1 in 33 billion chance someone else has the same top five strengths in the same order. Anyway, I was quickly intrigued and coughed up the $50 it cost to take the test that would tell me what order all 34 of my personality strengths were arranged in.

I was so excited to see this list. I was a bit surprised by the high-ness or low-ness of a couple of strengths, but overall my top-ten were spot on and explained so many of my behaviors.

Now, the podcasts target writers so they discuss behaviors most specifically about writing habits and such, but certain things like how or why you write the way you do extends into other aspects of your life as well.

The top ten strengths influence so much of what we do and how we do it, and it's recommended to really lean into them and learn how to harness their power rather than try to strengthen any of the items on the bottom of the list.

That's one of my goals for this year: to learn about each strength and determine how I can best utilize it to become a better writer and ultimately a better me.

I hope you'll come along on my journey.

The first strength I'll explore is #6 of 34 (for me): LEARNER.

That blog post will show up some time in February.

And on a quick note--I forgot to put writing to my Grandma in Denmark monthly on my goals list--so back up to 8 goals. Also, Buc-cee's isn't limited to Texas as I'd thought--it has two other locations, one in GA and one in AL. There might be a long weekend road trip on my horizon. :0)

 Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Jen's 2021 Goals

As promised--here are my goals for 2021. Finally. I know you've just been on tenterhooks waiting, haven't you, lol...

Last year, I had eight, and in previous years, I've had ten. This year...down to seven! But I've got a separate list of behaviors that need to become daily habits, if they aren't already. I won't bore you with the details, although I've instituted a reward system for completing them that doesn't involve food. Right now, I have 6 items on that weekly chart.

If I complete all 6 tasks for four out of six days, I get a puzzle from the Dollar Tree. They cost $1 and come in 350 or 500 piece sizes. They good for my brain and they're fun. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed doing puzzles.

If I complete all 6 tasks seven out of seven days, I've earned myself a trip to Buc-cee's which is a local-to-Texas travel store/gas station chain. They have all kinds of cool things and a wall of beef jerky, trail mix, and a "food court" of sorts with all kinds of deliciousness. Not that I'm after the food. I just love to look around.

In reality, the habits are referred to as Cowtown Commitments because my group of girlfriends (originally Cowtown Critiquers) and I meet via Zoom each week, and we all usually commit to a handful of things to accomplish for the week. Mine are usually the same things every week because one of my personality strengths and comforts is consistency. :0)

I also get stickers, so I have a fun visual reminder of my progress and my goal.

And now drum roll please...

My goals for the year, in no particular order, are:
1) Brainstorm characters and plot arcs for bar & grill series. ~ I've penciled in filling out one character worksheet per week. I'll answer what I can answer during the first pass (it's a really long questionnaire) and revisit each one at a later date. I have eighteen characters to flesh out and eight romance plot arcs to come up with. I have fifty-two weeks to fill, and I'm not starting this series in 2021, so it looks like I can revisit everything at least once. Woot.

2) Publish three books ~ Along with needing to write hockey book #5, I have two historicals to work on. One is complete and needs some strategics revisions; the other is almost done, and will need finishing as well as editing and polishing. The plan for these is to show up at my computer every morning. I’ll have to come up with some sort of schedule, but I won’t bore you with that.

3) Harness the power of my top ten personality strengths to do things better and faster. Specifically, to write better faster, but I imagine all aspects of my life will be improved. More on personality strengths on Friday.
4) Last year I wanted to complete a household project, namely the home gym in the garage. That didn't happen, but it's happening this year. I only need a few things to complete the project at its most basic level. Of course, two of those things (TV & rowing machine) aren't cheap, but I'll get it sorted out with DH.

5) Lose the weight I gained since Halloween. ~ That's three pounds. As long as I stick with eating low carb/low sugar consistently, it shouldn't take long. I'm not setting my sights on being 100% Keto for a few months though.

6) Get back to the family meal schedule & plan. ~ This equates to three prepared meals a week. Each meal will include a protein and a vegetable or two. Some of these will be on the easy side, like pre-made frozen meatloaf and microwave veggies, but I also want to make the effort to cook something scratch as well. I'm staring with one meal per week and working my way up. This week--beef stew. Yum! 

7) Get a handle on the housekeeping. ~ I keep the basics done, specifically bathroom and kitchen. It includes sweeping, but not mopping. So mopping is going to be the first thing I somehow implement. Dusting comes after that. I’ll decide what’s next once those become routine.

I keep thinking I need to start walking the dog. You may remember this goal from several years ago. She's a chubster and could definitely use at least 3 or 4 outings a week, but I have no idea where in my schedule to carve out the 20-30 minutes needed. I'm not adding it to the official goal list, but I'm keeping it on the radar because it really needs to happen. So the goal is to figure out how to make it happen.

And there you finally have them!!

Hope you're having a great week. Catch you Friday.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Chaffle of the Week

This week we tried taco chaffles and a pumpkin chaffle cake...


It tasted fine, but it wasn't a taco. It was a meat and cheese batter and it tasted like one.


My conclusions after only a few recipe attempts...

I think I'm going to much prefer a regular old cheeseburger, hold the bun, to a chaffle version.

I'm going to much prefer a taco salad over a taco chaffle for maximum taco flavor and feel.

If I need the crunch of a taco shell, I'll have to earn a visit to Taco Casa somehow.

I'd rather have a pizza with a cauliflower crust than a pizza flavored chaffle.


Where I think this chaffle idea can come in handy for me is for sweet things. I've always had a sweet tooth. These days I lean more toward baked goods than candy as long as you don't wave black licorice in front of me. Or gummy bears. Or Peanut M&M's. Or-- Well, you get the idea.

The pumpkin chaffles could be good with a little more experimenting. Also, I forgot to put the pumpkin pie seasoning in the batter, so it ended up in the frosting instead.

I think eating them one at a time while warm with the frosting melting into the waffle squares would be better than waiting until all layers have cooled. They don't taste quite as good cold.

I definitely need to make sure I have powdered sugar substitute for the frosting. My batch came out a bit gritty. Tasty, but gritty. I tried to powderize the granulated sweetener, it didn't work as well as I'd hoped, so gritty frosting.

I'm also going to try a little less batter and cooking a bit longer so they don't feel quite as gummy maybe?

Next batch is going to be chicken bacon ranch and/or buffalo chicken.

This years goals will be up Wednesday.

Hope you had a great weekend. We had snowfall but no accumulation at least not at our house. Other areas of the Metroplex had accumulation. I was jealous.

Catch you Wednesday.

Friday, January 8, 2021

It's Friday, Y'All!

I don't really mind the work weeks that much, but I look forward to Saturdays and Sundays for the extra hour or two of writing time I get. :0)

This weekend will be focused on revisions and getting my book, To Linzer & to Cherish, as close to ready for submission as possible.

I'll also work on my goals list, since, as you can see I don't have those...but I've been thinking about them and working on the list and the action plans. Next week for sure.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

It's Finally the New Year

For some that means the horrendous year of COVID has passed. Of course, we've still got a ways to go until the return of many normals or the cementing of new normals. By mid-year, vaccines should be available to all who want one. Hopefully, businesses will be reopening and the economies of cities, large and small, across the country will grow and thrive once more.

For the FitzGeralds in general, that means the slowness of the holidays has come and gone, and plans for the business can once again be ratcheted up and set into motion.

For me specifically, it means a fresh start on the accomplishment of my personal goals. Some goals will be recycled from previous years, some will be new, some will be variations on a theme.

Last week, I revisited my goals from 2020 and rated my efforts in achieving each one. I didn't do nearly as well as I hoped. Part of the problem, I think, was that I didn't set actual plans in place to accomplish the individual goals. I also plan to institute rewards. Because who doesn't like to be rewarded?

I'll have my list of goals along with my strategy for accomplishing each one and hopefully the reward soon. I was hoping for Friday, but action plans require a little more thought a time.

The new year also means hockey. The season start in a couple of weeks and if I can be in attendance, I will be.

Have a great first week of the new year. And remember...

Monday, January 4, 2021

WORDs for the YEAR

 Happy 2021! We made it.

(image from

Last week, I was scrolling through Facebook and there was a meme on one of the groups I'm a member of.

There was a word-search-like image and the first four words your were able to see in the grid were supposed to be your words for the new year.

So I scanned the jumble of letters and noted my four words, thinking they were interesting and probably accurate, but nothing more than that.

Until a day or two later when my core of girlfriends was texting back and forth, and someone mentioned choosing a word for 2021.

Maybe it was coincidence, maybe it wasn't, but the more I thought about my words, the more I realized how apropos they really are.

My four words were: creative, adjustment, gratitude, and strength.

Creative: I'm not 100% sure how creative fits in, but it feels right. I guess because I'm looking to strengthen certain aspects of my creativity this year.

Adjustment: There are going to be a lot of adjustments coming, both personally and for our business, so that one definitely fits. I'm not a huge fan of change, but knowing it's coming is half the mind-battle.

Gratitude: I know I need to be more grateful about many many things--including the upcoming changes that will grow our business. I'll definitely need an attitude adjustment to help me with certain aspects of that. :0)

Strength: And as for strength, this works for a variety of reasons. I'm gonna need metaphorical strength (and forbearance) to get through the changes in our business. It'll be a stressful time.

I'm also going to be studying my top ten personality strengths and learning how to utilize them for maximum potential. (More about those to come.)

And I'd like to increase my actual physical strength.

What do you think?

Do you have a word or two that you'd like to harness for the upcoming year?

I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Have a great week.


Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!

2021 has finally arrived.

Our New Years was a quiet one for a change as, due to COVID, we did not open the fireworks store.

It was nice change of pace and, as I mentioned, I'm planning to enjoy the three day weekend.

Have a super weekend and here's to a better year!