National Novel Writing Month Has Started!

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I am writing a novel. You should too! I joined up with National Novel Writing Month organization. They've been around for a while and this year I'm finally DOING IT. The goal is to write a novel (50,000 words) in the month of November. Totally doable!  A draft is a draft.

Today is my 6th day in a row so I've earned this badge already: 

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My story came to me while we were in England this year. I kept jotting down notes and thoughts and ideas, expecting to get to it sometime. Then I was reminded of NaNoWriMo and signed up. So glad I did! I like keeping score, which is what the group and website encourage you to do, very motivating.IMG_6134

There are challenges. The actual putting words to (virtual) paper is not the hard part.

My challenge is switching back to freakin' Pacific Standard Time last weekend! (I write in the early early hours before anyone else gets up.) But since the time change, Harper has been getting up even earlier than she normally would have. UGH! And she comes right to me. This morning I had been at it for about 20 minutes (My goal is 1 hour) and she came in and sat on my lap.

Mama, I had a bad dream

I'm sorry sweetheart! 

Can you read Harry Potter?

No.

I then made her lie on the guest bed in my office and doze for about 1/2 hour!  I wrote as far as I could before she started sitting in my lap again. And yes, I then read Harry Potter (we are in the middle of Goblet of Fire, FYI).

With all that, I have still written every day, can't wait to get my fingers back on that keyboard and continue! Hopefully she'll settle back into her normal sleep pattern and I can have my full writing time back.

Challenge yourself! You can still get started.


What I'm Reading: Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Speaking of books written by men that I read for a specific topic: Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath inspired me greatly last week. The examples they used to illustrate their points were fascinating, sometimes down right amazing. (Solving malnutrition problems in Vietnam or stopping abusive parents.) Their book is mentioned in the other most inspiring book I've read lately - The 12 Week Year. - which is how I found it.

Change can make you crazy whether you choose it or it chooses you. Books like Switch help you identify pieces of the puzzle that you might not have seen before. Taking the challenge from angles you never thought of. If you feel stymied, give this one a read, see if it makes you go "huh, never thought about looking at a problem from that direction." 

And be prepared to do the work!

 

PS Affiliate links above.


What I'm Reading: Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

I'm a reader. I love books. I love the smell and feel and look of them. I love libraries and bookshops and random bookshelves in other people's houses. My eye goes right to books and I can't help but peruse the shelf of them wherever I see them. 

Books come at me from various sources - magazines or newspapers or facebook groups or podcasts or radio shows. I don't remember where I heard about Washington Black but I knew I wanted to read it. I like history and the main character, a slave to start, then a free man, and how he makes his way in the world. It's not the standard story you expect at all. It takes place well before the American Civil War and includes hot air balloons, the arctic and aquariums. Unexpected all.

I'm also trying something new. Only reading books written by women. This is a pretty easy thing to do and why not? Men have dominated literature for eons, so why not just read women's work? This rule applies to all new books that I seek out. If I already own a book written by a man that I haven't read yet, then fine, I'll read it. Eventually. 

I have finished two books written by men recently. These were specific books whose exact material I wanted to read about. But majority of my book reading will be by women. Try it.

 

PS. Affiliate links included above.


Pencils - Standard #2

IMG_5876I bought me some basic pencils today. Bog standard pencils. Classic yellow #2 pencil with pink eraser. I got a pack of 10 from the grocery store and I love them so far. USA GOLD - "Proudly made in Tennessee."

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Harper's Pencils

Harper is in first grade and we are drowning in pencils. They are given as party favors and valentine favors and rewards at school and come flying out of piñatas. And most of them are CRAP. You can sharpen them over and over, but they break so easily and so often. With all the "oooh look! We can print pencils with anything cool on it!" enthusiasm, they forgot the basics about ACTUALLY USING A PENCIL.

I know I know, kids today barely use writing instruments of any kind (past a certain age).

But I recall pencils not only being used for writing, but for PENCIL FIGHTS! Raise your hand 🙋if you had pencil fights during recess or on the school bus! I certainly did. Armed with my trusty Berol Mirado #2 or the Eagle, I would challenge my friends. (All this in between Chinese jump rope and marbles and milk caps.) Berol Mirado Eagle Pencils 

I never grew out of my love for writing instrument. You might know I'm obsessed with office supplies in general, writing instruments in particular. So much so that I once did a Writing Instrument Census in our house. (Gosh that was in 2010 - I have two years to prep for the next one.)

PENCILS!! Get yourself some. You know you want to (affiliate links in this blog post):


The Things You Keep When Clearing Out

JaiEarringsCleaning up / clearing out your space, no matter that space, challenges you to think hard about what you want to keep and what you truly don't need. We packed up most of our personal belongings when we went left for England this year. (Friends were renting and we were making space for them.) Upon our return, we pulled out the essentials from their boxes and left the other stuff to get around to.

I finally got around to a big plastic bin of random t-shirts, bathing suits, work out clothes and my jewelry. "My jewelry" sounds fancy, but really it's a bunch of cheap and cheerful bead bracelets, glass earrings, etc. Nothing upscale at all. I just hadn't wanted to take two sandwich sized bags of stuff with me. 

Since we've been back I've had only what I had in England: four pairs of earrings, five necklaces and one ring. And it's been plenty.

While unpacking yesterday, I made a pile to give away and cut down my jewelry load by 1/3 or so. That feels good.

But these. These will never go. Never ever. 

These were made by a dear friend I knew from high school. She died in a house fire with her two little children in 2003. Devastating.

You could never put Jai in a tidy box. She couldn't be defined. Quirky gets close, but is not quite enough. She was an artist and made lovely jewelry. These are the only things of hers I own and I will keep them close. 

If you've seen the tattoo on my right ankle, that's her website logo design. She's always with me. 

Cleaning out stuff always brings up memories and emotions and joy and pain. And so much to celebrate, even in grief. 


5 Things I Miss About England (An Incomplete List)

We lived in England for only four months and I miss it just about every day. Today I wanted a nice cup of strong black tea but didn't have any in the house. Plenty of Earl Grey and Jasmine green and chamomile and etc etc. But not any bog-standard* black tea. I had to order some from Amazon. Made me think of what else I've been missing! Here's a short list:

I miss the green! This was in the park behind out house and we walked there often. Soothing to the soul.

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I miss Waitrose! This was my last visit to our local Waitrose and I was so sad. Not sure why I loved it so much. A bit nicer than your standard Sainsbury's or Tesco, but not crazy fancy by any means. But they had this brand of prepared foods that we fell in love with. So YUM.

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I miss the tea. Good strong black tea. The Tea aisle in any grocery store in the UK is much more fascinating than our "coffee and tea" aisles in the states.

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I miss the pubs - Especially ones with excellent food and lovely gardens. Like this one - The Holly Bush. (Even better - it's in Potter's Crouch!) Pubs are family friendly, dog friendly, friendly friendly. It's a different type of place that we don't have an equal to here in the US.

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I miss school uniforms. I never went to a school that required uniforms, so this was a total novelty for me. They are so sweet! I know, I know, anyone who went to school in England is rolling their eyes at me. I loved shopping for these. 

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Gawd I can't wait to go back. Until then I have to get my fill with The Crown, British Baking Show and Doctor Who.

 

 *Bog standard is a phrase I learned there and love. I use it still, and always will. 

 

Note: Affiliate links included in this post.

 

 

 


One Of My Many Side Projects

HASHTAG HOME:

Hashtag Housewarming I can't say for sure what my main project is right now. There are a lot of sides projects going - and going strong!
 I started designing some fun "merch" (as the kids say) and have it up for sale on a site called Zazzle. 
 
 I started with lots of wacky fun Halloween/Candy Corn/Sugar Skull items. And have now been updating with my Hashtag Home   line. It's all a bit of fun and I love how the items are turning out!
 
 CLICK on the images to see more in each collection. Then tell me what you think.
 
 And in the header up thereImage result for finger up emojiImage result for finger up emojiImage result for finger up emojiyou can click on "SHOP" to go to the store and see what's new anytime!
 
HALLOWEEN SHOP:
Candy Corn Halloween


Different Directions

I don't have a job at present. And by job I mean I'm not booked on a movie. But I am working my ass off.

My Menopodcast partner, Sarah, recently mentioned a book called The 12 Week Year. It sounded intriguing to imagine jamming a bunch of goals into 12 weeks instead of 12 months. I was curious (skeptical?) and had a free Audible.com credit so I got the audio book and started listening. 

And I'm in. 

I bought a hard copy so I could write notes, highlight sections, easily reread bits, and flip around for different sections. My key takeaways are to FOCUS ON ACTIONS, not results. Also to write everything out, build a schedule that works for me every day and STICK TO IT. There is an aspect of this plan that I love: Scoring. You have to score yourself each week-score yourself on tangible tactics and "to-dos" on the plan. 

You also have to stretch and sacrifice and be uncomfortable because that is what change requires. 

Some days it SUCKS. But one of the tips to get you back on track is to review your big vision. What do you want your life to look like in 3 years? I realized today I need to have that vision statement nearby my work desk so I don't forget what I'm working toward.

I'm in week 2 and have achieved a decent amount of my weekly goals set for week 1. I'm doing well so far here in week 2 (and yes, blogging is scheduled as it is part of a bigger goal.) 

I won't review my goals with you now. I would much rather review what I accomplished at the end of 12 weeks. And even if it's not 100% - even if it's only 65%? I will be proud. Proud because I started now and will have accomplished something. 

Stay tuned for the review of my first 12 week year. Coincidentally it ends on December 29.

Give it a shot! 

 

 

 

Note: My links (and/or images) often connect you with Amazon Affiliates products. I write about things I love and use. I don't get compensated to write about them. (I'll tell you if I do.) However, if you do decide to click through and end up buy something, I'll get a little bit from that sale.

 


New Favorite Breakfast-Overnight Oats

Preamble: I'm not really a food blogger. But I do like food very much!

My breakfast routine is pretty routine. Usually nonfat greek yogurt with fruit or berries and sliced almonds on top. Occasionally I'll have cereal, but that's kinda more like dessert in a way. (Even if it is made up of high fiber twigs and flakes.) I love oatmeal, but it's not cold enough for a big bowl of hot breakfast yet (I live in Los Angeles - go Dodgers!)

Overnight Oats have been on my radar for a while, but I didn't pay attention, thinking they were too prep heavy. Turns out I have idiotic thoughts and in fact they are SUPER EASY!

  • 1/2 cup rolled/old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup milk (of whatever kind of milk you like)
  • 1Tbs chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried fruit
  • Put all that in a mason jar, stir well and refrigerate 5 hours or up to 5 days. When you go to eat it, stir well and add honey or syrup or fresh fruit or nuts. 

That's it! Here's my before/after shots. I like using frozen cherries in oatmeal or the yogurt/fruit combo. And almonds. Lots of almonds! PS - also kinda healthy for you.

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Note: Many of my links (and/or images below) connect you with Amazon Affiliates products. I write about things I love and use. I don't get compensated to write about them. (I'll tell you if I do.) However, if you do decide to click through and end up buy something, I'll get a little bit from that sale.

Mason Jars: 

 

Quaker Old Fashioned Oats: