Friday, January 30, 2009

Ta-Da Friday


My little wall hanging is finished. What a fun feeling to tie off the last stitch last night. It is way cuter than I thought it would be when I first laid out the pieces. In fact, about the time I ironed on the appliques, I decided I didn't like it at all. Since it was a kit, I didn't get to choose the fabrics. It just seemed bland and uninteresting, but I didn't want to waste it either.

On I sewed.

Thankfully, too, because the more detail I added, the more life the quilt took on. By the time I added the embroidery and ladybug buttons I rather liked it. Quilting only added more depth.

I'm finding I have the same sticking points when it comes to a story. About a third of the way into the script I realize I thoroughly dislike the characters I've created. Bland, uninteresting, and one dimensional. They certainly aren't doing anything of interest. At that point, my MO has been to put the mess aside and do something else. Usually create new characters, who like someone on a first date, seem enchanting and intriguing.

I'm learning my characters and story are a bit like my wall hanging. Boring until added details give depth and interest. What I've learned is that I can't quit on a story. I have to push on through, keeping the characters moving until they finally *do* somthing worth reading.

Here's to pushing through and adding details.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Unwritten Rules

In the land of writing, there are a few unwritten rules an author dare not break. (Cue spooky music here.) A couple of them came to mind while writing this afternoon.

Rule of woe #1. Do not introduce your character's physical features by way of a mirror. Need I tell you that one of my characters is looking in a mirror?

Rule of woe #2. Do not start a book with the main characters traveling in a car. I can think of a couple of well known authors who've smashed this rule effectively. However, a New York editor told me that she would put down a manuscript with this as an opening scene. She would also put down one containing--

Rule of woe #3. Don't start a book with a dream scene.

From what I understand, each of the above scenarios tells an agent or editor that the author is new to the business. Which brings me to another rule...

Rule of woe #4. Editors and agents look for authors who've written at least three manuscripts. Even if they haven't sold one of them, the very act of writing three complete novels tells the agent/editor a lot. That an author has persistance. That an author has more than one story in him or her. That an author is able to finish a project. An editor once told me that by the time an author gets to the third manuscript he or she has begun to learn to write. Nora Roberts had six manuscripts written before she sold her first one, so it may take a few people a bit longer.

Professional photography is full of rules of woe...Homeschooling has its share, too. I imagine there are lots of unwritten rules in whatever we do. Are there unwritten rules in what you do? And what do you do with those rules? Abide by them? Break them?

One of my favorite quotes is 'learn the rules, then break them. But learn them first, so you can break them with authority.'

Off to begin figuring out another way to let my readers know what my character looks like....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Icy Days and Comfort Foods

When the weather is cold and damp, I love to cook up some comfort food.

Cherry Turnovers

Homemade bread

The Pilot Guy made these



Besides cooking, I worked on a writing project and did some hand stitching on the wall hanging.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The 2009 Gardening Season Begins

A string of pretty days has made joyful work of winter gardening.

The guys at the garden center seemed slightly unnerved by my showing up only two hours after they unpacked the veggie transplants. Don't know about them, but my gardening alarm clock has been ringing for days.

We put onions sets into cool soil first. Purpley reds and sweet yellows. Thin little slips that will root, grow, and swell into bulbs of flavor and scent. Two days ago, I put in broccoli, cauliflower, and red cabbage transplants. Bunny watch has now begun, too. They won't nibble on onions, but they do seem to enjoy broccoli. If all goes well, a crunchy lunch salad will be served to you and I sometime in May.

What a wonderful feeling to get my hands in the dirt again. My only concern is that pretty warm weather in January often leads to hot, hot, dry weather during the summer. I'm already planning and thinking about our watering systems this spring. In addition, the Pilot Guy should be very pleased with the restraint I've shown thus far this year. Why, just the other day, in shirt sleeve warm sunshine, I did not start digging on a new and expanded pond. Admirable, right?

Here's to a happy, productive, and beautiful gardening season.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Small Pleasures


a stitch in time....

Yesterday as the pagentry of the peaceful transition of power unfolded in Washington via my TV, I camped on my couch with a small wall hanging, hand stitiching around appliques. The rhythmic pull and tug made a long line of rustic stitches. It was creative, peaceful, and productive, quieting my heart, settling my spirit.

Maybe if we all want to give peace a chance, we should take up more hand stitchery.


Monday, January 19, 2009



Jean, in a comment to a recent post, said that reading many books on writing didn't make her a writer. It made her a reader.


A clean shot right through the heart.

I've often joked that reading about writing was as good as writing. (Isn't it? Are you sure?) But, Jean has it right. If we continue to read..... And read some more.......And read again, then we are spending our time not creating.

My photography mentor often told me that I had everything I needed within me to succeed. Still do. I need only to limit my reading about writing (quilting, gardening, photography, etc.), settle down and create. I know enough.

Frankly, actually doing something can be scary, whether it's writing a story, picking out fabrics for a quilt project or breaking ground on a new garden bed. It's anteing up and saying you want to play the game. Sometimes the game is filled with hard knocks, losses, and disappointments. On the other hand, you can't win anything if you don't play.

To that end....I started on a non-fiction book proposal today for an idea I've turned over in my mind for about six months. I plan to have the proposal complete before Valentine's Day.

It's time to ante up and get in the game.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Short Story Has an Ending


I've been working on a spooky, Twilight Zone-ish, short story for a while. I kinda knew where the ending was going, but I was having a difficult time getting there. Today, I forced it to end.

Yay! I love bringing a story together. This one is in no way finished, but it does have an ending. I suppose if you compare it to quilting, I've completed the top. Now, I just have to layer, back, bind, and quilt this story into a finished form.

For today, I'm celebrating a small success and hoping it leads to bigger ones in the future.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tortilla Soup

It's a cold, windy day, perfect for one of my favorite soups simmering in the crock pot.

Tortilla Soup. This recipe orginally came from my sis-in-law, Denise. Great tasting recipes, loving heart, and she's cute, too. We use this recipe a lot for groups. It is fun to assemble your own bowl.

Tortilla Soup

1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. can of chopped green chilies
1 can beef broth
1 can chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced, Grilled chicken adds lots of flavor!
1 ½ cups water
1 tsp steak sauce, (Heintz 57, A-1, etc.)
2 tsp worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp pepper
1 can stewed diced tomatoes

Corn tortillas, grated cheese, avocado, sour cream

Saute onion and garlic in veg oil in a large pan. Add all other ingredients through tomatoes and simmer. Just before serving, slice corn tortillas into 1/3 inch strips and fry in hot oil. Drain and salt slightly. Cut up avocado.

To serve: put a few strips of tortilla in bottom of bowl. Ladle soup into bowl. Top with avocado, grated cheese and sour cream.

The soup doubles and triples well. It is even better the second day. Freezes well.

I simmer in a crock pot most of the time.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Gotta Do My Part


It strikes me that I’ve wanted God to help me be a writer for years, but I’m not always doing my end of things…the writing and completing. I am the queen of the great start. The NaNoWriMo challenge was particularly fun because I FINISHED.

Recently, I listened to a Dave Ramsey presentation on extraordinary performance. One particular phrase caught my attention...Execute your plan and trust God to show up. In other words, work hard and let God open the doors wide. Aim for dreams you know you can't accomplish alone. Dave calls them BHAGs.


Today, the calendar on the fridge is quietly screaming at me. My log shows too few minutes of walking last week (and this week so far) and very few words written for 2009. It seems I’m letting my fitness and writing goals take the back seat to my other commitments.


It is a challenge to juggle all my responsibilities and aim for the BHAGs. I have only eighteen more weeks to be a homeschool mom. Finishing well there remains my number one goal. There are still commitments to church and others that must be honored. Yet, words and stories jumble about in my head. My fingers *need* dirt on them occasionally. I need scraps of color to play with, whether fabric or glass. It is all about finding the rhythm and balance in order to dance to the tune in my heart. I can do all of it, can't I?

Oh, I just want to build up an inventory of completed, polished stories. I want to have something WONDERFUL to submit to some agents and editors by next fall. I want to play with fabric, glass, and color and share it with others. I do not want to waste the time I'm given on this earth.

I want to do my end of the bargain and trust God to show up.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Stained Glass Fun

Today, the Pilot Guy and I dabbled in something new. Stained glass.
We took a class where we learned how to cut, polish, foil, flux, and solder bits of colored glass.
Very fun!
The teacher, Donna from Merry Go Round Stained Glass in Ft. Worth, talked about how much she loves working with glass. She said when she is working with glass, all her cares fade away.
I must say I had the same 'in the zone' feeling during class. All the steps were almost mediative in their process.

Here's what I made:
Here's what The Pilot Guy made. His was much more intricate than mine.

I have dreams of
colored glass
dancing in my head.

In the window...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Transplanting Roses

Let it be known....

if you decide to transplant a rose from one part of your yard to another, be you make the first cut into the earth with your shovel, the rose will triple in size. The amount of effort, strength, and sweat to make the transfer will also have to triple.

The rose will demand and take a blood sacrifice from the gardener(s) before allowing itself to be uprooted and replanted.

These are the facts of rose gardening, my friends. We have the aching backs and thorn-marked skin to prove it.

But, its worth the effort...
Republic of Texas Rose

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Stop List


Okay, I'll admit it's been said that I kinda like being different. Swimming upstream, against the current, going against the flow. What can I say? Sometimes the view is much, much better from upstream.

Going against the flow is a good way to get a fresh perspective. Take the famous and much talked about T0-Do list. I love my to-do lists. I love crossing things off and building energy through the day. But there are times when a to-do list makes you crazy. Am I right?

On those days, I like to make a 'don't do' list. Instead of all the things I want to do, I list all the things I can quit doing without pain. Instead of write novel like my to-do list says, the quit list says stop watching TV at night. (What am I going to do with that time, I wonder?) Instead of clean house, the stop list says ignore the laundry today which often means I will get to my sewing machine or out into the garden. Not a hard choice at all.

After a day or two of stop action, my brain is ready to tackle something more interesting, so we pick up the to-do list and try again.

Or you can do an 'add-on' list. Go about your regular business, but add a couple of things to your life.

For example, starting a body edit? (Ever noticed that edit and diet have the same letters? I prefer to edit rather than diet. It sounds more precise and controllable. Editing to my writer's mind is still a creative process.) A friend of mine said she wanted to lose weight, but didn't feel she could cut out sweets cold turkey. I suggested the 'add-on' list. Instead of cutting out anything from her regular eating, she could add eight glasses of water a day. Then in a week, she could add six or eight servings of fruit and veggies to her days. Eventually, she will be so full of good, healthy food that she can't eat those sticky desserts or trashy snacks. She will have filled her eating with healthier choices. Leaving the unhealthy choices behind is easier at that point.

Middle January is when real life settles hard on your goals list. If you dream of accomplishing something significant, don't let the ides of January squish that dream. Keep looking for ways to rearrange or move around your schedule to fit the necessary time into your life. Look at your schedule from upside down, sideways, and backwards.

Keep pushing forward through the crowd going the other way. It is worth the effort.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Weather in Texas

Last Saturday, the temps were a delightful 83 degrees here. Monday, it barely got to freezing.
My gardens were draped with crystal.




Monday, January 5, 2009

The Coffee Club


Every Monday morning, I hang out with a creative group of people at a local Starbucks. The focus of our discussion is someone else's work for which we offer encouragement, advice, critique, and opposing points of view. We also share stories, ideas, and lots of laughter and, in doing so, have gotten to know each other well.

Because of the holidays, we'd missed a couple of sessions. This morning, I braved potentially icy roads to be there because I needed what ever it is that we breathe and sip during those minutes. And I'm not talking about coffee.

Creativity. Acceptance. Encouragement. Ideas.

A potent brew.

I love hanging out with creative souls. They make my life richer.

Friday, January 2, 2009



Ladders are handy dandy tools. I have a short version in my kitchen to make reaching the fondue pot in the upper cabinet easier. We used a long skinny version a few weeks ago to replace the dead Christmas light bulb at the very apex of the two story part of our house. (Why is it that the ones going out are at the top and not the ones over the porch that we can reach with high heels?) We have a nice collection of ladders to use in different situations. They help us reach what we desire.

I like reaching goals, too. Even ones that seem as far out of reach as that dead light bulb. There are ways you can help yourself attain success rather than accepting the status quo. Think of these as ladders that can help you reach higher and farther than you ever dreamed.

1. Set up your environment for success. If your goal is to lose weight, then stocking the pantry with Oreos is not a good thing. If your goal is to create a sewing project a week, then stashing your sewing machine and fabrics in the back of a closet is a bad idea.

Right now there is leftover chocolate cake on the counter from a New Year's bash we hosted. I hate to throw it out. It was expensive to bake (lots of pecans.) It is my favorite cake. However, I know as long as it is sitting on my counter, I'm going to be nibbling on it. That is not going to help me lose my fifteen pounds. I need to toss, purge, and restock the kitchen with healthy alternatives.

Set up your environment to support, not hinder, your goals. Organize your tools and creative area to support your dreams. Is there a tool or supplies you need? Find a way to get them or be creative and MacGyver something to use.

2. Stay Focused. I'll admit freely this is an issue with me. Being borderline ADD is not always a fun thing. If I choose some aspect of my writing career as a goal this year (and I have) then I should not volunteer to be an officer in my writing group or run a big project at church. It is a time commitment thing. Saying yes to something is also saying no to other things.

Be sure you are saying yes to the things that will help you get where you aim to go. To help me, I keep a copy of my goal poster as the background on my computer. (Digital cameras are fun!) I see it many more times a day than I would if I only had the one hanging in my closet.

3. Support systems work. Having an accountability partner for anything from exercise to Bible study helps both of you on days when you'd rather not. Having a cheering squad for your written work in progress is a motivator to type instead of veg in front of the couch. I know when I show up at the next meeting of my writer's group, two individuals are going to ask me about a short story I haven't finished. I really hate telling them I haven't worked on it.

4. Start on it. Some goals are big and scary. It is hard to know just where to begin. A friend says to swiss cheese these kinds of scary things. Start somewhere and poke holes in the to do list. Before long, the project has taken on energy and momentum.

5. Forgive yourself when you fall off the ladder. Not reaching a goal is a temporary thing. Pick yourself up, brush off the dirt, readjust your sights, and start climbing again.

Will you need a little ladder or a big one to reach your goals? I am going to need several in different shapes and sizes. Climb on up! The view is much better from up here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!


I love the beginning of January. I love having a full year of potential laid out, clean and fresh, in front of me.

As many of you know, I like to choose a word or phrase to be a theme during the year. 2008 was 'do it' which morphed into 'finish it' by the last quarter of the year. This year's theme is 'make it happen.' So much of what I want to accomplish depends first on me taking the baby steps to begin. I'm hoping 'make it happen' will remind me to focus on my goals.

Here's a random assortment of interesting words and a few phrases to inspire you in your own search for theme word.

Create Faith Wisdom
Listen Inspire Hope
Pause Happiness Holy
Calm Joy Wait
Love Forgive Dare
Silence Learn Still
Presence Delight Pure
Trust Encourage Pray
Appreciate Available Comfort
Serve Relax Laugh
Encounter Skill Humble
Vision Develop Strengthen
Bold Run Family
Heart Courage Beautiful
Grow Dream Discover
Go For It!
Make it Happen
Live Your Life Beautifully
Life is short, live it in color.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
I'm a Creative Soul.
May 2009 be a healthy happy year for each person who visits this blog. My hope is that this will be our most productive, creative, inspiring year yet. Thanks for being a part of my creative journey.