Friday, December 26, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things-December 26, 2014

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

I'm a co-host for this weekly blogging event, along with these other wonderful bloggers:

Diana Wilder
Katie @ TheCyborg Mom
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse

This has been a great week.  Last Friday, I won $100 off a $3 scratch ticket, so I was pretty happy about that.  That afternoon after my kids got out of school, I took them to the mall to see Santa, and that certainly made their day.

My son Jude went on a field trip to the movie theater on Tuesday, and he couldn't stop talking about how much he enjoyed it.

We spent Christmas Eve with my dad.  I got a new set of cookware, which I definitely needed, so I'm happy about that.  My husband got a Millennium Falcon, so we need to find a place to put that.  It looks awesome, though.

I spent the night after we got home wrapping presents (I had about 40 of them to wrap in total) and baking muffins.  I made a dozen blueberry muffins and a dozen apple cinnamon muffins.  Needless to say, that kept me busy until pretty late.  And I'm sure it's hardly a surprise to anyone who has or is familiar with small children when I say that they woke up as early as possible the next morning.  They were excited when they opened the gifts they'd asked Santa for: a new electric Thomas the Tank Engine for Jude (he used to have one but it was tragically lost one day), and a new Percy for Lyle (his old Percy broke).  They also got plenty of other toys and lots of candy.

We went to my in-laws Christmas in the afternoon.  Jude got a new train table, and Lyle got a drum set.  I can't tell you how excited they were about that.  They also got a DVD player for the car so they can watch movies on long trips.  That will be nice.

My in-laws got me a sewing machine, so I'm excited to start making things!  I, of course, have to re-learn how to use one.  I haven't actually used a sewing machine since high school.  I've done a lot of hand sewing since then, but they're very different activities.  Still, I'm sure I can pull it off.  I'll share pictures once I successfully make something worth sharing!

My husband and I also got a new Queen size bed, so we have to get that set up later today.  We didn't have a way to transport it home last night.  Our car was jam packed as it was, but I'm excited to get it home.  We've been needing a new bed for a long while.

Over the last couple of days, we've eaten way too much good food (I shudder to think what a scale would have to say about that) and got to spend time with family.  I'd say that's worth celebrating!

What would you like to celebrate?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Express Yourself: Potential EYM Topics

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The prompt for this week is: List some topics you'd like to see on EYM in the new year.

This is a challenging one.  It makes me appreciate how much work it is to run a meme like this.  Nevertheless, I'll give it a go.

-If you could choose any genre to live out your life in, what would it be and why?

-What is your favorite kind of apocalyptic scenario (natural disaster, zombie, alien invasion, etc.)?

-Tell us about your biggest guilty pleasure.

-Name the most bizarre use of duct tape you've ever seen.

Okay, I know that last one is a bit silly, but I've seen some shocking ones in real life and I know how entertaining duct tape can be.

What are some EYM topics you'd like to see in the next year?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Deja Vu Blogfest

It's time for the Deja Vu Blogfest!  Be sure to thank our hosts DL Hammons and Nicole Zoltack for making this possible!

The purpose of this blogfest is simple: to help you bring attention to one of your favorite posts from the past year, or to unearth a post that didn't get as much attention as you'd hoped.  How do you do that?  Simple.

On December 19th, anyone who decides to participate will re-post their favorite blog offering from earlier in the year, or one that you believe failed to receive the exposure it deserved. To take part all you have to do is sign-up with Mr. Linky below, then shout out to all of your blogging friends and encourage them to sign up as well.  Take the badge above and plaster it everywhere, blogging graffiti gone wild. Tweet about it (#dejavu2014) and post the picture on Instagram. Then on December 19th as the day unfolds and everyone hops from one blog to another, what they will be reading is the best of the best (as determined by you) from this 2014.  The blogosphere will be chock full 2014 writing brilliance!  Encouragement, enlightenment, knowledge, bared souls, stimulation, hilarity, insecurities, success stories! All on display…the very same day.  And it couldn't be any easier to take writing necessary!

The following post got a fair bit of attention when I posted it, but it's one of my favorites from this year.  It was a bit of an experimental piece for me, but I was pleased with how it turned out.  I hope you enjoy it!  (If for any reason you're interested in seeing my post in its natural habitat, you can find it HERE.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ubuntu Bloghop

Today, I am helping Michelle Wallace at Writer-in-Transit celebrate three years of blogging anniversary by participating in the Ubuntu Bloghop.  This is an impressive milestone for anyone to reach, so I'd like to congratulate Michelle on a job well done!

For those of you who don't know about the Ubuntu Bloghop, here's the info you need to know.

What is ubuntu? "In Africa, there is a concept known as UBUNTU – the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievement of others." – Nelson Mandela.
So in the spirit of ubuntu, I invite you to join me in celebrating my 3rd blogoversary!
Date – 18th to 21st February. I've allowed 4 days to make it easier for you guys, since some people only post once a week… save the date that coincides with your blogging schedule!
What can you contribute?  Any form of creativity that captures the spirit of ubuntu is welcome!
So, as I reflected on how to reflect the spirit of Ubuntu, I found myself looking at the little light-up planetarium that I recently got for my kids.  In watching the little pinpoints of light dance on their ceiling, I was struck by the knowledge that we all live under the same sky, and that fact alone connects us.  From there, inspiration poured forth.  The result is what follows.  I'm not really sure what it is, but I know what I felt when I wrote it.  If I managed to capture a fraction of the interconnectedness that I felt as I pondered these things, then I've done my job.
Beneath the crystalline dome of blue sky, treading the same trampled ground, you will find them all, harmonizing together to create the magic of the everyday.
The baker, the undertaker.
The lawyer, a first class litigator.
The teacher, the preacher, the nonbeliever.
The barista, dispensing bright mornings with a smile.
The mechanic, the plumber.
The doctor, saving lives day by day.
All different kinds of people.
Many working hard, contributing their best.
Threads of different colors weaving together to create something more, the tapestry made more beautiful in its diversity.  Strengthened by the textures of daily life.  Yet, where there is good, there is also strain.  The same sky shelters the threads that are about to break.
The conman, who takes advantage.
The murderer, who deals in death.
The thief who takes, but does not give.
Those who take until their dying breath.
And there are those who want better.
Those who don’t know how to climb.
Hopelessness abounds in the shadows.
To darkness they are resigned.
Strain wears holes in the fabric, exposing many to the cold.  Yet many of those who struggle have learned to see the light.  Sheltered by the dome of night where stars twinkle bright, you will find them filled with dreams.
The lonely child who has been ignored.
The celebrity whom all watch yet don’t know.
The single parent who struggles for everything.
The student, out of money, nowhere to go.
The homeless man who once had it all,
until the world fell apart around his feet.
So many stories, woven in tattered threads.
The bravest, most hopeful people you could meet.
Lives woven together, side by side, crossing paths from time to time.  Though littered with imperfections, the tapestry remains strong.  The beauty of each life shines through, making it radiant.

Celebrate the Small Things-December 19, 2014

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

I am a proud co-host, as are the following bloggers:

Diana Wilder
Katie @ TheCyborg Mom
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse

My husband is working overtime up until the 23rd.  As of now, he also has to work Saturday.  While this is not going to be pleasant, it will be good for us financially.  And hey, the paycheck after Christmas is a perfect time to have a little extra money.  The other good news is that, once he's off work for Christmas, he doesn't have to go back until January 5th.  That will give us plenty of family time.

With Christmas happening next week, I'm looking forward to watching my kids open their presents.  I'm also considering doing some Christmas baking this weekend.  If I make anything interesting, I'll be sure to let you all know!

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Express Yourself: LOTR & The Hobbitt

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The prompt for this week is: In celebration of The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies, highlight one of your favorite characters from The Hobbit/LOTR film franchise.

My choice would be Gandalf.  I love Sir Ian McKellan, which admittedly has a lot to do with it, but I also love how completely badass Gandalf can be.  I definitely wouldn't want to get on his bad side.

Which Hobbitt/LOTR character is your favorite?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things-December 12, 2014

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

I'm happy to be a co-host, along with these other lovely bloggers:

Diana Wilder
Katie @ TheCyborg Mom
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse

This week I'm celebrating the announcement of a blogfest to commemorate my 3rd blogging anniversary.  The Sarcasm, Snark & Sass Blogfest will go down on Friday, January 9th, 2015. I plan to combine it with my weekly Celebrate the Small Things post.  If anyone is interested in helping me celebrate 3 years of blogging, feel free to check out the details and sign up!

I'm also celebrating my kids this week.  The closer to Christmas we get, the more excited they are.  It's adorable.

I'm looking forward to this upcoming weekend.  We don't have any special plans, but it's always nice to spend time as a family.

What would you like to celebrate?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Express Yourself: Favorite Beverage

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The question for this week is: Coffee, tea, soda . . . what's your fave beverage?

While I am a fan of many beverages, there is one I simply cannot live without.  Coffee. Just coffee.  Though I occasionally sample fancier versions of coffee, my every day go-to is just straight up coffee.  Black.  No adornments.

My love of coffee is so great that I decided to have a little fun with it and write a poem. I penned this poem while drinking coffee, of course.


Coffee, oh coffee,
where would I be
without your dark beauty
and aroma to wake me?

Coffee, my coffee,
you course through my veins.
Pungent and powerful,
you result in many stains.

Coffee, precious coffee,
I could never blame you.
When I wear something white,
I haven't thought things through.

Coffee, dear coffee.
Rings left behind on pages.
The writer in me rejoices,
as if they are the work of sages.

Coffee, sweet coffee,
I have one wish that does abide.
That my TARDIS mug truly were
bigger on the inside.

That's all from me!  What is your favorite beverage?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Announcing the Sarcasm, Snark & Sass Blogfest

My 3rd blogging anniversary is coming up soon, and I wanted to commemorate the occasion.  I also wanted to do something fun with it, though I'll admit, my idea of fun and the idea of fun heralded by popular culture don't always align.  Meh.  It is what it is.

Anyway, I've long been a fan of sarcasm and snark.  It's far better to throw out a bit of sass than to throw a punch, in my opinion.

With that in mind, I concocted The Sarcasm, Snark & Sass Blogfest!

The rules are simple.  On Friday, January 9th, 2015, give me a post that celebrates something sarcastic, snarky, or just satisfyingly sassy.  You can give me an example from real life, a favorite film or book, or you can give me an original piece of fiction. The sarcasm can either be well understood, or hilariously misunderstood.  Some people are in desperate need of a sarcasm sign, after all.

If you'd like to include the linky list with your post, here's the code:
<script type="text/javascript" src="" ></script>

If you can't post on Friday but you'd still like to participate, just let me know when to expect your post.  I'm fairly relaxed about these sorts of things, so no worries!

So, yeah.  Sign up if you like, and feel free to spread the word!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things-December 5, 2014

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

I'm happy to act as a co-host, along with these other amazing bloggers:

Diana Wilder
Katie @ TheCyborg Mom
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse

Last week I mentioned that I'd like to get back to quilting as another creative outlet.  I don't yet have all the supplies I need, but I have completed several new designs, so that's a plus.  One of the new designs is geometric, and the others have holiday themes.  It should be fun once I can get things started.

My writing is progressing at a slow but steady pace.  The story I'm working on right now is a challenging one, but I'm determined.

I made an amazing batch of brownies this week.  I was running low on cocoa powder and didn't think I'd be able to make them, but then I remembered that I had a chocolate bar hidden away (don't judge me!) and decided to melt it down and use it for the brownies.  Best decision ever!  They were the best brownies I ever made, so I'll have to use the same method next time.  It's amazing how adapting to unexpected circumstances can yield great results.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: December 2014

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for the next meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  Our esteemed leader is the enigmatic Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month he is being assisted in his duties by Heather Gardner, T. Drecker, Lilicasplace, and Patsy Collins.

If you're so inclined, I recommend that you also pay a visit to the IWSG website.

This month I am insecure about the future of a novella I wrote.  I alternate between thinking it's a solid story and feeling like it's a piece of garbage no one will want to read.  I'm not trying to be dramatic when I say that.  My feelings are that extreme because it's written in a style I've never attempted before, so I'm not entirely sure if I've achieved the effect I was aiming for.  I also don't know if I want to try to self-publish it or take the chance and send it to one of the handful of small presses that consider novellas.  Decisions, decisions.

Okay.  Those are my neuroses.  Now I want to move on to the things that are going well.  I recently mentioned that I revived a story I started earlier in the year.  The story has promise.  I simply ran out of inspiration and temporarily shelved it.  I recommend to any writer that you keep everything you write, even if you don't think it's going anywhere.  You never know when inspiration may strike.  I've even mined unfinished stories for characters or situations that I felt would work elsewhere.  It's kind of like using a broken-down car for parts.  It's nice to see those elements take on new life in a different story.

What is your insecurity this month?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Express Yourself: Holiday Movies

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The question for this week is: What Holiday themed show/movie/book are you most looking forward to? Don't celebrate the Dec. Holiday-then name something you're watching/reading this month.

As a kid, I always watched It's A Wonderful Life, and if I don't watch it at some point, it doesn't really feel like Christmas.  I've always had a soft spot for Jimmy Stewart movies, so that probably has something to do with it.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is also a must.  Gotta have a few laughs, after all.

Also, my husband and I agreed on a new tradition within the last couple of years.  We have to watch Die Hard every Christmas.  It does take place during Christmas, after all, so it totally counts.

What holiday themed show/book/movie are you looking forward to?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things-November 28, 2014

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

I'm a co-host for this weekly blogging event, and so are these other lovely bloggers:

Diana WilderKatie @ TheCyborg Mom
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse

It's the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States, so I've been focused on the things that I'm thankful for this week.  I had a great meal with my husband's family yesterday, and we're going to have a second Thanksgiving meal with my dad tonight. That's certainly worth celebrating.

I've resurrected a short story I abandoned a few months ago.  I was always happy with the premise, but for some reason, I just wasn't getting anywhere with it.  This week I found myself inspired to dig it up again, and things are going well so far.  Times like this are the reason why I never delete the stories I haven't been able to finish.  You never know when the muse will strike again.

I also want to get back into quilting.  I did some quilting in high school, and I kind of miss it.  If I can get my hands on a sewing machine and the proper materials, I plan to make and sell some things for extra money.  I already have some designs drawn out on graph paper.  Here's one of the many designs I have mapped out.

It never hurts to multiple ways to express yourself, right?

What would you like to celebrate this week?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Express Yourself: Favorite Recipe

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The question for this week is: What's your favorite family recipe/meal?

My favorite meal that I make for my family is one that I don't make all that often.  It gets a bit pricey, and it also takes between 2 to 3 hours to cook.  Still, when I do embark on the journey of making this delicious dish, it's well worth it.  What?  You want to know what this wonderful dish is?  Okay, I guess I'll tell you.


There are numerous ways to make lasagna, but the version I'm going to share with you is the official family favorite.  I don't think my husband would want me to make a different version.  It's the kind of meal he dreams about.

Anyway, I'll share the recipe with you, because I'm nice like that.


1 package lasagna noodles

Meat Sauce:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 to 2 lbs. Italian sausage (depending on how meaty you want you lasagna to be, can be sweet or spicy-I tend to go the spicy route)
1 medium diced onion
4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
4 tbsp. parsley
salt (to taste)
ground black pepper (to taste)

Cheese Mixture:
16 oz. ricotta cheese
3/4 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 lb. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, sautee diced onion and garlic.  Add Italian sausage, cook until well browned.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and water.  Simmer, stirring frequently. Season with basil, parsley, salt, and ground black pepper.  Remember, you're adding the salt and pepper to taste.  This means that you have to taste it without eating too much.  Difficult, I know, but it must be done this way.  Let the sauce cook for an hour to an hour and a half.  The longer the sauce cooks, the better the flavors mingle together.  Just don't forget to stir.  Sorry.  No leaving the kitchen for too long. (Note: Sometimes I add mushrooms to the meat sauce.  It just depends on my mood. And really, any vegetable you fancy could totally join the party.)

While the sauce is simmering away, you can pass the time by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil.  Because, hey, why not?  It'll keep you occupied and make it possible to cook your noodles.  Feel free to follow the package directions here.  I'm sure they know what they're talking about.

Then, once the water is boiling away and your arm is about to fall off from stirring the sauce (it'll be worth it, though, trust me!), you can take a break to make the cheese mixture.  Okay, so it's not a break, but it's a change of pace.  In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, egg, salt, and pepper.  Parsley would also work well in the mixture too.  Only if you want it there, of course.  Not forcing you to do anything.  Just make sure it's mixed consistently.

Prior to lasagna assembly, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

When it comes time, take a 9x13 inch baking dish and spread just a bit of meat sauce along the bottom.  Layer some of your scrumptious lasagna noodles on top.  Then spread some of your cheese mixture over that, followed by a layer of your meat sauce. Then more noodles.  Keep layering.  I could go into more detail about this part, but I'm sure you get the idea.  Save a little meat sauce, though.  After the last layer of noodles is down, you'll want to spread the little bit of remaining meat sauce over the top.  Cover your the lasagna with aluminum foil and stick it in the oven for 30 minutes.  Caution: the pan will be extremely heavy.  This is a massive amount of food, after all.  Don't drop it!  You've put in too much work at this point to have it end that way.

At this time, you can feel free to put your feet up.  You could also start to tackle the enormous pile of dishes now littering your kitchen.  I never do, but you totally could.

After 30 minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle remaining shredded cheese on top.  Put the lasagna, sans foil, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.  Basically, you want to make sure your top cheese layer is melted.

Now you can eat!  Just remember, it's hot!  No one wants to ruin a good meal by being impatient and scalding the roof of your mouth with molten cheese.  Yikes!

What's your favorite recipe?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things-November 21, 2014

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

I am happy to co-host this weekly blogging event, along with these other wonderful bloggers:

Diana Wilder
Katie @ TheCyborg Mom
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse

There's plenty to celebrate this week.  First of all, next week is Thanksgiving.  I love this holiday!  I'm also celebrating the fact that I am not currently on a diet.  I'm pretty certain I should be, but I'm not.  That's what New Year's resolutions are for!

The weather this weekend is supposed to warm up some.  Instead of the freezing cold temperatures we've been enduring, it's supposed to get up to the mid-40's.  It's not exactly a heat wave, but I'll take it!

I'm also celebrating having the ability to laugh.  Here are a couple of things that made me laugh this week.

What would you like to celebrate?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Express Yourself: 5 Fictional Characters

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

This week's prompt is: Name FIVE fictional characters you would want to have in your life.

It'll be tough narrowing it down to five, but I'll do my best.

Neville Longbottom-Harry Potter (book and film series)
     He's adorable.  He's kind.  He's loyal.  And, as it turns out, he can be quite the badass when the need arises.  Who wouldn't want someone like that in their posse?

Captain Jean-Luc Picard-Star Trek: TNG (TV series)
     He's intelligent.  He's logical and diplomatic.  I would also like to see how uncomfortable he gets around my two energetic children.

Marcus Cole-Babylon 5 (TV series)
     He's got great voice (and accent), and he knows how to be really annoying in a delightful way.  Yet he'll also go out of his way to make you happy, and he delivers the perfect amount of snark in tense situations.

Johanna Mason-The Hunger Games (book and film series)
     She's tough, and she says what she thinks regardless of the consequences.  Brave with a good dose of crazy.  She'll definitely keep things interesting.  I also wonder how she would interact with Picard.

Luna Lovegood-Harry Potter (book and film series)
     She's loyal, and she's the kind of person I could happily spend an afternoon with. You never know what she's going to say next, and as off-the-wall as she may sound sometimes, she also offers valuable bits of wisdom at the darkest times.

Which five fictional characters would you like to have in your life?