Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's All About Paint

Right now my life is all about paint.

I'd like to tell you that we had a windfall and used the overabundance of money to take a scenic tour through Europe where I'm inspired to dab in oils and watercolors while I paint Monet's gardens, bits of the Sistine chapel, and the famed canals of Venice and St. Petersburg.

Alas, tis not so. (And a good thing too because painting in that form is not one of my talents.)

I'm talking about tables, buffets, cabinets, chairs, trim and walls.

With the youngest on summer break and the oldest hitting it in about two more weeks it's painting time at my house. I get my best paint time in when the kids are out of school. I know that sounds like crazy reverse psychology, but it's true. We were barely home last summer but in the 3-4 weeks we were I managed to paint several rooms.

On the docket this summer, finish out all the trim on the main floor, paint the remaining doors, the laundry room, the upstairs hallway and the final project is the master suite and bath. I'm excited to get painting!

Goal: to finish before the family reunion in mid July.

Lofty? Yes. Within reach? Absolutely!

This will mean multiple trips to Home Depot. But hey, the kids have to leave the house once in a while, right?

So, while I may not be writing this summer, I'll have a beautiful home to enjoy before the end of it and that should be inspiring to my creativity and I won't add to my writer's butt!

As for the basement, I'm leaving that alone until next year unless I get really motivated.

What's your summer project?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Austenland & Alfred...Hitchcock that is

What do these two things have to do with each other?

Just that I finished both last week!


I know, how can I call myself a true Austen fan when I hadn't read Shannon Hale's Austenland yet? It's been on the list of 'want to read' for years now. A friend finally put a copy in my hands and said, 'Read it!' I did.

Blissfully wonderfully Austen all twisted up and modern. Loved the concept, the heroine, everything. I had trouble putting it down so thank goodness it's a short fast flowing read!

A woman in her thirties is hung up on Austen but especially Pride and Prejudice. Hmmm. I can think of several friends who fit that description. But at least, I'm in good company!

Colin Firth, lake, white shirt. 'Nough said.

Go on a journey to Austenland. If only it was a real vacation immersion experience. That would totally rock! But alas, it is not so. Sigh.


I have never seen Psycho or any other Hitchcock film or television series.

My husband was shocked. Just put Psycho up there next to Jaws on the list of classic films I haven't seen.

This film is about Hitchcock making Psycho. So I learned a bit about it, other than the famous knife sound effect in the shower.

I totally got into this movie. The actors are superb. Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. Fabulous combination! They totally transformed Hopkins. His figure (they made him twice as big around as normal!) and face and even more crazy, his voice! Loved the setting, time period, costumes. They both show a little skin and I would love to look as good as Mirren in that red bathing suit when I reach her age. Scar Jo, Jess Biel. Just great.

Pop the corn, grab a pint of ice cream, or a good old Hershey bar (whatever your fave movie snack food is) and watch.

I vote adults only. Subject matter and young kids just won't have the attention span for it. Not to mention it's PG 13.

So, what movies and books have you been catching up on? or What would happen if we crossed Austenland with Hitchcock?

PS I'd love for them to make one about The Birds.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Writer's Butt vs Swimsuit Season

The battle is on!

So, it wasn't until writer friends started a crusade to stop the dreaded writer's butt that the light bulb went off over my head. This is precisely what has happened to me over the past year or so. I've spent more time sitting while writing. That might be why I had to buy new jeans this winter. Hmmm.

So, what to do?

I already eat pretty sensibly. I mean I do love my chocolate and all, but one square after lunch and dinner usually does it for my craving. Although I don't turn down a good cookie or brownie!

But seriously, what else to do?

I already read on my stationary bike in the mornings. Again this is a sitting activity, but I'm still burning calories!

I discovered one minute abs last summer and do them everyday. This means a reclined position on the floor with knees pointed at the ceiling, belly button pulled back to spine and torso rotating from left to right while holding an 8 pound weight with my hands vertical over my belly button. Seriously works! I have indents and the spot where the hourglass figure should be is still there. But the body is not what is was 10 years ago despite having active kids. Is this what just happens when you're 35?

I admit, I got lazy over the winter. I didn't want to exercise, so I didn't. I went into bear mode and stuffed myself for hibernation. You can see the problem there.

By March the reflection in the mirror wasn't pretty and I began thinking about the dreaded swimsuit season. Yes, I start thinking early. January when I've got my head on straight. Usually a look in the mirror is all the motivation I need. Not so this year.

So the crusade began.

I want to thank Authors Incognito and esp. the Queen of the Clan for getting me motivated again. My writing sessions now begin with a mandatory 15 minute walk. This is a good time to ponder, not think or lay out my writing for the day. And I'm not sitting!

Now, when my kids ask to go out and play I don't say no. I get out and go. And those T-ball practices aren't spent solely in the chair. I attempt to teach K how to throw and catch. This means I chase a lot of balls for half the time.

Also, I've attacked the yard. Dandelions, weeds, sawing down the wretched honeysuckle, etc. They say it burns calories and builds muscle. We'll see. At least the yard looks better!

Lastly, I got back to making the work outs fun. This means going to Zumba once a week every week and partying it up with C in the mornings doing Just Dance 3.

I sighed when the budget caused me to pass up the great pole dancing deal for May and June. Plus with the kids activities I knew I'd be just too busy to make it as often as I wanted. So, that's on the back burner for now.

I've added my long wanted Pilates videos to my wish list. Soon, soon, they will be in my hands, I hope.

One more thing I hope will help is being part of Oliver! The Musical portraying Nancy. This means more time on my feet and dancing. Not to mention stretching my vocal chords, acting skills and fighting off the Mommy brain! Thanks to my hubby and kids for sacrificing time with me so I can be back doing something I love to do!

Oh and I finished writing romance novel #3 this week so I won't be writing over the summer. Can't get writer's butt if you're not writing! Although, I will be editing and prepping to query.

I'm looking forward to getting back in the pool this summer for the exercise. Maybe I'll work up to 300 M. But, even with the extra effort, I know I won't be rockin' the suit this summer even though I'll be wearing it. Oh well, there's always next year!

Maybe I just need to live somewhere where it's warm all year round so I feel motivated to be active. Hmmm.

SO, that's what I'm doing. What do you do to stay motivated and fit?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jack Reacher

In short: A waste of 2 hours of my life.

I didn't have huge expectations for this but I thought it might flow along the lines of Minority Report of the MI series and be entertaining.


The mystery gets solved half way through and the rest is just running from the law, catching the bad guys, and dispensing 'justice'.

The car chase scene is far too long.

Mr. Cruise is beginning to show his age. And while he's in great shape for a guy his age, the shirts off scene days are numbered.

Two bright spots: Rosamund Pike who switches her native British accent (which I adore) for a flawless American accent and Robert Duvall.

Do yourself a favor: watch the trailer. All the best parts of the movie are in there including the hat at the bus stop which was my favorite part of the whole movie. Does that tell you anything. When the trailer concludes move on with your life. You've seen all that's worth seeing and will only have wasted 3 minutes of your life. A much better deal.

Next time, I'll rent Hitchcock and hope for better luck with Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mother's Day Pick #3

Remember how I gave Family Size by Maria Hoagland a shout out a month or so ago when it first hit book shelves?

Well, here's my review.

I'm not great with head jumping (that means moving from one character's head to another to hear their thoughts) so it took me a couple of chapters to get straight who was who and their corresponding challenge as we move within multiple characters throughout each chapter. But once I got the hang of it, I was hooked on this book.

In fact, I had a little trouble putting it down.

I got very wrapped up in each of their lives and constantly wondered, "What will happen next on her journey?" (Translation: this is good writing!)

It also got me pondering on how judgemental we can be as women/people. We don't know what another person is going through yet we constantly make judgements with a serious deficit of information. This book really digs deep as to what we think daily about ourselves and others in regards to the role of motherhood without coming across as preachy or depressing. That's not easy for a writer and Ms. Hoagland does it well.

Seeing as this is an LDS faith based book, LDS Christians won't have any trouble keeping up. A word of help to those Christians of other faiths. This book involves prayer, religious settings and a personal relationship with God in regards to the characters. Nothing to be afraid of. You'll be just as home here. You may even learn something about the LDS faith you didn't know before, but you won't feel preached at or like anyone's out to convert you.

Families of all faiths deal with fertility and birth control issues along with adoption and children with special needs. This book deals with all of those and gently tugs at your heart strings and mind.

What size should your family be?

Whatever size you, your partner and God work out.

One of the mottoes I live by is: Every parent should know their own limitations, especially when it comes to the number of children they have.

I can relate to all these women even though I haven't been through each of their struggles, but I have watched family and friends go through them.

Remember on Mother's Day, no matter whether your a mother or not, all women come to this earth with all those mothering characteristics that can be used, honed and shared regardless of marital status or mommy status. For me, Mother's Day is a celebration of women. Not just a celebration of mothers.

Read Family Size. It will raise your awareness and change your thinking without you even noticing all while enjoying a wonderful story.

What book changed the way you see motherhood?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mother's Day Pick #2

Motherhood Matters: Joyful Reminders of the Divinity, Reality, & Rewards of Motherhood by Connie E. Sokol

First, let me start by saying how much I love the cover. Beautiful, clean, uplifting and lovely and what girl doesn't love a purple flower?
Second, Connie has written this in bite size chunks so you can read it and reread it one tiny bite at a time or devour it like cake and eat it in one huge bite. Chew and swallow.
Third, I love books that remind me that it's okay not to be perfect, that as a mother we all make mistakes, and that we all deserve second chances and to cut ourselves a little slack.

Here's the link to Deseret Book:

What Motherhood book do you recommend?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mother's Day Pick #1 Life's Alphabet Soup

Uh oh! It's almost mother's day and you haven't picked out a gift yet! Worse, you have no idea what to give!

At least, that's how Mother's Day usually goes for me. A secret tip: if you find anything during the year that screams "That's my Mom" or "That's my mother-in-law" BUY IT and hold onto it until May. Then calmly retrieve it from its hiding place (granted you can remember where that is), wrap it and blissfully return to celebrating your own Mother's Day.

This week I'm giving you two book gift ideas to keep you cool as a cucumber instead of a hopping frog in a boiling pot.

Today's pick is:

 Life's Alphabet Soup: When Your Children Make You Eat Your Words by Terri Ferran.

This book is in the vein of Connie Sokol storytelling and y'all know how much I love Connie!

Ms. Ferran goes through the alphabet Dr. Seuss ABC's style, which any mom whose read that book knows how that works. Each letter has a theme and then an anecdote or two that gets you laughing or saying 'been there, done that' or 'better her than me'.

From A to Z it's sure to please. I especially like the pet contract and her addictions to chocolate and Ben and Jerry's ice cream.

Good laugh out loud life lessons that'll have your mom smiling.

Look for my next pick on Thursday!

Do you have a good Mother's Day gift idea to share?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My New Desk . . . A Metaphor for Life

In tiny pieces the desk sat there on the floor of my bedroom for the past 6 months or more. It mocked me. It smirked. It said, "You'll never change me and put me back together. I am too big for you. Sucker!"

Most of my life, I've harbored the secret wish to own a roll top desk. My husband knew this. When we went to an estate sale back in the fall, there sat such a desk. I negotiated down the price, then told him I didn't think we should buy it. It was a good deal, but it was lovely honey colored oak, which I don't like. At all. Ever. Should we purchase this desk with 30+ drawers, I would have to sand and paint or refinish it. Mt. Everest looked more doable.

My husband bought the desk.

Broken into tiny pieces it came to my home in the back of my minivan and took up residence on my bedroom floor.

I despaired when I looked at it. How would I ever get this thing painted? No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't Kaizen my way out of this one. (See an earlier post on Kaizen.)

Then one day, my husband got the brilliant idea that we could use the paint sprayer (not spray paint), lay it out on a tarp on our basketball court and voila, in the course of a couple of hours or less, the desk would be white.

The dark cloud of doom and gloom lifted. This was doable!

We set the date - this past Saturday. After the early baseball game, we'd have all day to get it done.

My husband removed all the hardware. I laid the pieces out on the tarp. The paint sprayer was loaded. Paint flew. Honey turned to white. Bliss.

The tiny drawers, nooks and crannies and roll top done. All that was left were the base and big top.

That's when the sprayer broke! Why hadn't we started with the big pieces!!! Painting tiny drawers would've been a piece of cake with a brush!

I begged to go buy a new one. My husband handed me a paintbrush and gallon of paint and said, "Get going." or something to that effect.

The day turned out to be warmer than expected and the paint dried as I slapped it on. The three main pieces have drips and flaws. But they are white.

Metaphor: Just when everything is smoothly sailing along is right about the time the floor drops out from under you. Then it's scramble and make do with what you have on hand, i.e. Plan B! This is what I think about when I look at my desk. Life isn't perfect. It's meant to have flaws. Just like my first drafts!

But the saga isn't over yet.

Once we assembled the desk,we installed the lock and shut the roller. Then I handed the key to my husband. It didn't fit. He asked for the other key. What other key? I was only given one for this desk! We managed to jimmy the door back open (without breaking anything) and then removed the lock and threw it away. I'll never be able to lock the desk. I hadn't planned to anyways. I may never even shut it! Plan C!

The saga continues.

We spray painted the hardware to convert it from gold to nickel. Then reattached them to the drawers. Only one of the card holders went missing. So, I search the backyard with a flash light. Nothing. Return to the bedroom to pick up the box I'd carried them in on and it fell off the side. It had stuck on with the paint! Sheesh! Plan D!

But I'm still not done.

The drawer pulls are obnoxious. I need new ones.  We thought they were 4 inches, a standard size. Guess what? Nope! 4 1/8. Really people? Really?! Plan E! Find some online or attach knob pulls instead of drawer pulls. I'll only need 20! I can't shut any drawers or put things in them until I have pulls on so I can open them again. Oy.

The last piece of the saga.

It occurred to me on Monday that I'm missing an essential piece to this desk. A chair!!! Plan F!


So, remember life, writing and desks aren't perfect. That's okay. That's what I think about when I look at my desk. Not perfect but still works, has my mark on it, and reminds me to smile through all the bumps in the road. Because of course, there will be bumps!

So chose between the following questions to answer:

How is a raven like a writing desk?


What is your metaphorical desk?

Happy writing!