HAPPY THANKSGIVING !! May your turkey be stuffed to a pleasing capacity, your dips be savored from their serving dishes, and your cherry and pumpkin pies be so delicious it puts a smile on your face.
Posts Tagged ‘Home’
Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, tagged Children and Youth, Classroom, Cooking, Directories, Happy Thanksgiving, holiday, Home, Pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving on November 24, 2011 | 4 Comments »
How many of you out there try and beat the traffic/and or people to the great deals that come along on Black Friday? I went last year for the first time ever, only I waited until about 7 a.m. to hopefully avoid getting mashed and mangled by the crowd. There was still a healthy amount of people out, and key items left, but yeah, missed the big splurge items.
This year, my niece gave me an idea I like: stay home and shop on the internet for the same deals you get at the door. You have to be there at the same time the sales open, of course, whether it be 10 o’clock or 5 in the morning. But—you save the running, no pushy neighbors, and less hassle getting to the cashier in time. Plus, when you have children—especially small ones—you don’t want to be out in that mess.
Has the internet changed the way of shopping forever? I think so. So, what I’m going to do over the next week-and-a-half is make a list of what I want at various stores and then be there when the items go on sale. I’ll be able to sip a relaxing cup of tea or coffee to keep me up those hours and know that I’ve saved myself some wear and tear.
So what do you do on your Black Friday? Shopping? Or do you skip until the last minute deals the night of Christmas?
Well, it’s that time of year. When things start to blaze with colors, nature can’t seem to get enough of the different palettes in her paint box. Everywhere you look, animals are busy foraging, getting ready for the season ahead. Sweaters come out, warm drinks ply hands, soups become popular again…ah, this beautiful hug from heaven.
Of course, here in Ohio, we’ve been drenched in rain but I’m sure the sunshine is smiling down somewhere out there. If you could please box some up and send it our way, we wouldn’t mind at all— School is back to a brisk start and the kids are settling into their routines. Apple cider is haunting store shelves and those donuts and turtle apples are looking pretty good right now.
Soon talk will turn to holidays and family gatherings and cheer will gather in our hearts. For there’s nothing quite as special as this time of year. My children have had their Christmas lists ready since last Christmas. Lol. Of course, changes have come up, here and there. Spending time with family and friends though is the best part of the holidays and a joy I wish that we shared more often throughout the year. It is hard with everyone spread throughout the country and sometimes world.
Yes, enjoy those fall colors while they last, they are a gift, a reminder of pleasant days to come. Okay, so we can forego the white stuff, but at least we’ll trudge through it together, smiling, laughing, making memories. And that’s what counts.
Cooking and Me
I adore cooking. I’m always pouring over recipe books, looking for the latest one to try. Today, I’m making homemade beef stew in the slow cooker. It’s my Momma’s recipe. First, you dust the beef in flower (after cutting it in chunks) and brown it in a frying pan. Cook in beef broth on low in the slow cooker eight hours. Meanwhile, boil your potatoes then after they cool, fry them, then add to stew. If you’re adding carrots, add that along with the beef (unless, like me, you only have the canned variety on hand. Lol.). You can put in anything you like, celery (I tend to have to make due with the salt as the kids HATE the vegetable), green beans, sweet peas, etc. Add the extra vegetable about a couple hours from the end, same with the potatoes as they’re already cooked and you don’t want them to get mushy.
Any recipes to share? I know not everyone likes cooking from scratch, but I find it fun and relaxing. I can get as creative as I like (yeah, that writer in me. Lol.) and save time in my crockpot, not having to worry about fitting time in to make dinner later. So what are your thoughts? Hate, love? Want to throw that bowl of homemade lumpy, mashed potatoes out the window? (I prefer sour cream & butter to making them instead of the milk.) Oooh, know any good bread recipes (without the maker)?
Come on, share, share!!
Balancing Home-Life with Writing
It becomes a challenge (with any career) to balance such with home-life. On one end, you have the kids, piled up laundry, dirty dishes, pets that demand attention, and at the other, there’s your job, that thing you do that supports/fulfills you. Writing is that for me. It’s my pick-me-up, face the bald facts, never-going to-end-till-I-die occupation. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As I think I’ve mentioned, writing kind of saved my life after my divorce. It brought me back to believing in myself, in going that extra mile, and restored my faith in the kindness of others. When you have such a life-line, it can drag you through shark-infested waters. I won’t say it’s been easy. There are hurdles like in any other field. You have to train, train, and train.
You also have to figure a way to prioritize things. For me, I spend the early morning hours and afternoons writing, I split the rest of my day taking care of the house and spending time with the kids. It’s not easy. Sometimes I wish there were more hours in the day, but there aren’t. We can only do what we can do. Don’t beat yourself up about tasks you don’t get finished, save them for the next day.
One step at a time, I guess, is how I balance things. Giving my all in all three areas. Someday if someone special pops into my life, I’m sure I’ll have an even tougher spin of the wheel. But I do love a challenge. I didn’t used to, but I’ve come to realize that they’re what keeps us alive and going forward.
The kids respect my writing, but they also know I’ll be there for them if they need me. And yes, I go through thousands of little interruptions a day, as I’m sure any stay-at-home or work elsewhere mom goes through. You take care of them then go on. Does it break my concentration? Sometimes. But the truth is, the kids will only be young once, I figure I better treasure them now before the house becomes silent to their laughter. So, no, when they need me, I do my best to be there.
And you know what? I still have plenty of time left to pursue what I love. Writing is a tangled, exciting, enriching, and glorious job. It can also be painful. That’s when we need to step back, enjoy some time away, and get back to the basics. You and me, kid. Life kicks enough dirt in our face, let’s do our best to wipe it away, and get back in there. Anything you put your heart into will pump back the rewards. Motherhood. A career. Your love-life. It’s only a matter of time to figure out how to handle them all.
When things seem over-whelming, just retreat to your quiet place. In fact, I recommend doing so, at least ten-to-fifteen minutes out of the day. Just relax your mind, dream a little, have a talk with your muse, whatever helps. It’ll calm and energize you and set you on your way again. So the secret to balancing your writing (aka career) with home life is to handle things as they come. Figure out what’s important to you, the rest will fall into place.
How do you handle your day-to-day tasks? Any advice to others on how to stop the craziness that is life and get down to what matters?
Genealogies are Stories in Themselves
I’ve been researching my family for years. I’ve poured through hundreds of birth and death certificates, tax and census records, and even old addresses. Anything to find a clue, a link to the next stage or to fill the pieces in clearer on the person/s in particular I’m looking into at that moment. It’s always exciting to learn their stories. For instance, in the 1800s, my family owned a stagecoach inn here in Ohio that burnt to the ground at the turn of the century.
My family also was quite well off (wish I could say the same for me. lol.). They owned a lot of acreage, giving some away to churches and dowries for their daughters. My great, great grandfather was one of the earliest pioneers in Ohio, coming here from New York. It’s been a struggle to find anything going back further than that or who his parents are, but I’m not giving up. It just takes turning over that piece of puzzle to make it fit.
On my mother’s side, our great, great grandfather comes from PA. We know who his parents are but have little info on them. Sometimes records get lost in fires or misplaced. I do know that we have Cherokee blood in us from my Mom’s side as well. It’s been fascinating learning about these people and their lives. You can see the hardships and triumphs they’ve gone through. This same great, great grandfather, for instance, married a second time to a woman who turned out to be a gold-digger.
It’s been difficult to trace some of my mother’s side as well as there are 16 kids on that side (no, we’re not Amish. Lol.). People lose touch and move on. That doesn’t always mean their life stays invisible to us though. It just takes a little more effort. I’ve been fortunate to find three others who share my passion for looking into our roots. They’ve filled a lot of blanks in for me, and I hope I’ve returned the favor.
Pictures are scarce from days past, but when found they are a true treasure. To see the resemblances, the face of someone who helped shape your future. I’m trying, right now, to link my family pages with as many of them as I can. Oh, and FB, believe it or not, has become a good source of info as well, though you still have to cross-check your facts.
I encourage everyone to look into their past. Open those family Bibles, you’d be surprised at the stories you’ll find. And get people talking—what they have to say may surprise you. Moms, dads, grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, you’ll be fascinated by what they went through and what led to defining who they are. So take a look, have a listen, you may be delighted to find that some ancestor kept a journal, wrote a book, invented something, stood out in battle. Good luck!
Posted in Uncategorized, writers, Writing and Poetry, tagged characters, Cheyenne, Family, fantasy, fiction, Gabriel, God, Hero, Home, horror, Kenworth, keys, muse, supernatural, United States, Writer, writers, Writing, Writing and Editing, young adult, Young-adult fiction on April 26, 2011 | 6 Comments »
How to Breathe Life into Your Characters
Part 1: What is in a Name?
How do you go about naming your characters? Do you just close your eyes, dip
your finger onto the page, and choose that one? Or do you meticulously search for one? In any case, the one you end up is going to say a lot about your character. It’s instantly going to give us an image of who he/she is. The type of profession we see them in. Family person or single? And more come to mind.
Take Harry for instance. If we look into the meanings of baby names it means, “Army Ruler.” But when I think of the name Harry, I don’t see that. I see an average Joe, just trying to get along. A family man who brings home the bread. Solid. Dependable. Someone who makes a good Grandpa or friend. Harry’s got a lot going for him, if you want his type of character in your story. But if you want, say a British character, or a villain, his name wouldn’t do at all.
All right, let’s try: Caydan. His name means, “Fighter.” And he sounds like a hero, tough as nails, someone who will go the extra mile. Someone devoted, tough when called for, and a popular guy. Friends growing out of his ears and the like. Oh, and his name is American. So that leaves out a foreign tribute. He definitely makes Harry come across as a bit boring, a bit set in his way. Caydan promises danger, romance, intrigue.
Gabriel means, “God is my strength.” This name evokes heavenly references, of course, but it was one of the most popular old-fashioned baby names. To me, a Gabriel sounds like he would be Lord of the castle, a gentleman of means. He also sounds a bit edgy, on the outskirts of what society might find as the norm. Compared to Caydan and Harry, Gabriel is unique. He could be the hero or the villain of the piece. He could even be a “she.”
Which brings us to the heroine names. Let’s start with: Abedabun is Cheyenne for Sight of the Day. Her name could encompass many different character traits. She is the maiden that saves the village, a Present-Day champion of Native American values. We have loads of possibilities with this one. She can be anything and everyone. A secret agent perhaps? A mother defending her children? A heroine who has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit?
Whereas Abigail is stoic, someone certain in the path they choose. She is old-fashioned, perhaps a bit wealthy, upper-crust. One doesn’t see Abigail fighting off alligators, running from terrorists, or blazing a path of glory. But she could. Twisting the fate/name of a character broadens their horizons and ours. It calls for us to stretch as writers. And that alone could make planting the seed of her name worth it.
Queeny. Wife. Grandmother. Someone trying to break out of the mold. She wishes for so much more out of life than what has befallen her. She strives to make a better live for her children even in the face of danger. She is courageous, a bit rebellious, freedom-loving. You could do so many fascinating things with this character. She has no boundaries, no limits.
And isn’t that what it’s all about? Picking names that resonate with our ideas of the character? We can take Harry and Abigail together and make them uproot from our perceptions. We can make them heroes or villains, a force to be reckoned with, or a prop for laughs. They can be the loyal friends of our hero/heroine, or monsters waiting to be noticed. The truth is, any name can become unique because it’s how we see it, what our imagination pulls forth. So the next time you need a name for a character, stroll through the possibilities of baby names, their meanings, their origination, hidden perks that can bring them to life.
And paint that picture of them. Let them soar into creation, designed to be all that they can be, with just a whisper of a name. That’s the first test of breathing life into your characters…