March 31, 2010

no plot? no problem!

Shaunna hit the nail right on the head with her comment on my last post: I am writing a novel. And I am doing it in a month. Starting tomorrow.

Sounds crazy? Because it is!

While I was reading The Happiness Project (seriously, can I say anything MORE about that book?!), I learned about another book called No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty. In her quest for happiness, Gretchen Rubin tackles Baty's challenge to write a novel in 30 days. And she does it. And it makes her happy.

I have always wanted to write a book, but I never had the know-how/fire in my belly to do so. Writing a novel in 30 days following Baty's outline and schedule seems perfect for my "first time." The goal is to write about 1,667 words a day. I am also to lower my expectations from "best seller" to "something that won't make someone vomit." This novel will be terrible. But that's ok. It will be a 50,000 word(ish) novel at the end of the month and that's all that matters.

So, it seems I have been eluding for some time. Along with reading Palin's biography, I have also been reading Baty's book. I know, I'm so sneaky. Once I finish his book, I will definitely tack it onto my Bookin' It in 2010 list.

So, there you have it. The novel-writing starts tomorrow. And I am extremely overwhelmed. Do I have a plot? No. But I've heard that's not a problem...

March 29, 2010

tell me about your uncle.

The older I've gotten, the more I've come to realize that truth is definitely stranger than fiction. So here is my next challenge for you, oh readers of my blog: Tell me everything you know about your strangest relative.

Why?

Because I want to know. That's why.

Got an uncle who wore flannel shirts every single day of his life? An aunt who sneaks bologna and bananas into movie theaters? A grandma who collects wrestling figurines?

That would be my grandma, by the way. I wouldn't say she was my "strangest" relative, but the fact that an 80-year-old woman had plastic Hulk Hogan toys in her living room was a bit strange. What can I say? The woman loved her wrestling!

I also have an aunt and uncle who have been together since the beginning of time...but won't get married. No one knows why.

I have a grandmother on Husband's side who is required to carry around an oxygen tank so she can breathe, yet she smokes unfiltered cigarettes every single day.

And there's a customer up at my shop whose drink order is as follows: "Half a pump of caramel sauce, one pump of coconut, two pumps of chocolate sauce, two decaf shots, one regular shot, 3 ounces of half and half (measured in a shot glass, of course), fill the rest of the mug with soy, extra foam on top, save the milk mixture so I can top my drink off after I sip off the foam, extra hot, where are the bagels?"

Not joking.

So, tell me about someone quirky in YOUR life.

March 26, 2010

what, to you, makes a good novel?

It's an excruciatingly broad question, but give it a shot. And feel free to be as vague or as nerdily detailed as you like. Anything that floats your fictional boat...

My list is as follows:
  • Lovable characters
  • Interesting dialogue, smart dialogue that makes me want to underline what the characters are saying
  • "Relatability." I have to be able to connect to the story somehow.
  • Authenticity. A story has to be able to happen in real life. I'm not big on escapism/science fiction.
  • It somehow gets me to smile and/or cry - two very difficult things for a book to accomplish with yours truly. Lots of authors try, but I usually find their attempts are so cliched.
  • Modern settings (for the most part)
Now, on the flip side, what things bore or depress you about novels?

My list includes:
  • Descriptions of scenery that go on for pages and pages.
  • Authors who stray from the point by the excessive use of parentheses. I know I do that a lot on this blog, but hey, I'm not trying to write a book.
  • Pre-20th-century settings (typically, not always)
  • Descriptions of characters that go on for pages and pages. I'd like to learn more about the character by listening to their voice.
  • An unhappy ending. Just shoot me, Jodi Picoult.
  • Neurotic characters. They can be fun and endearing to an extent, but mostly annoy me
  • Novels set on spaceships
And you?

March 24, 2010

de-railed train of thought(s).

  • I have been asked to place an ad for Backflip Photography in a local beauty pageant that is coming up. From what I have gathered, this pageant is for little ones, so I commissioned Shay of Dumplin Design Studio to create an ad for me. I couldn't be more pleased with the way it turned out. If you are interested in getting ANYTHING designed, check out her website. Her prices are extremely reasonable and she punched this out in no time! I'm in love.

  • Sarah Palin's book is fascinating. I started it only a couple of days ago and am already about halfway through. I only read it at night, just before bed, so that tells you how interesting it is. Meaning, I stay awake for hours reading it. Although I love the woman, I am a bit turned off by her "raging Republican rhetoric" as of lately. I get being fired up for change, but crosshairs on states with Democrats you want out? That's a little too much, even for me, a card-carrying member of the NRA. Despite all that, her book is good. And I'm glad I chose to read it.
  • I am still feeling crummy. Husband has been coughing for about a week now - perhaps I've picked up something from him? I just have NO energy for anything. I must get back to the gym, though. We ordered pizza tonight, for the sake of convenience, and it was damn good that's not going to help achieve my weight-loss goals.
  • Is it the weekend yet?
  • I think I am about to embark on a pretty lofty goal for the month of April. More details to come. Maybe.
  • That's all I have. The end.

March 23, 2010

queasy and lethargic.

I don't know what it is, but I have been feeling OUT OF IT lately. It might be PMS. It could very well be PMS, come to think of it. Blugh.

I just haven't had ANY motivation to work out, I haven't been hungry, and I have been SO TIRED, but unable to sleep! Last night, I didn't fall asleep until about 4am (I was in bed at 11pm) and thus, didn't wake up today until after noon! I hate that! It's a vicious cycle that will probably repeat itself tonight. How am I going to get to bed early if I didn't even get out of it until the afternoon?!

Despite all this, I did my weekly weigh-in and have lost 1.4 pounds! I know it's not a product of working out, but I have been eating healthy and since I have no appetite, have been eating a lot less.

I plan on taking a walk with girlfriends tomorrow morning to get some exercise in; it's already on the calendar, so I can't back out now. I need to get my butt in gear!

For those of you thinking it (I know you are), I am not pregnant. If I am, it would be too early to test anyway. Just saying.

March 22, 2010

steamed perfection.

While I was in Atlanta, my BFF, who is a nanny, cooked a delightful meal for her three charges: shrimp pasta. Since she is currently training for a triathlon and I am currently training to wear my skinny jeans again, she decided we would eat shrimp and asparagus.

Right on!

She busted out an amazing contraption. "All you do is put the vegetables in it, add a little water, and microwave for five minutes," she said. My jaw dropped.

Since trying to eat more organically and more clean, I have discovered that I love asparagus. It really is the new green bean. The problem is, other than grilling it, I have made a mess out of trying to cook it on the stove. I need a steamer-like-contraption, I once thought while gagging down a botched bundle of slimy, over-cooked asparagus.

Bed, Bath, and Beyond and BFF to the rescue!

One can purchase their MiracleWare Microwave Fish and Vegetable Steamer for a mere $8.99. And that I did. I bought mine a few days ago and used it tonight for - you guessed it - asparagus. BFF was right. A little water and 5 minutes on high = asparagus perfection!

It is dishwasher safe (top rack only) and is large enough to fit a whole pound of asparagus, but small enough to fit nicely in my already-overflowing kitchen cabinets. Oh, and it also comes with a handy-dandy guide for how long to cook various vegetables and types of fish. Veggie fan? This is a must-buy!

I have three heads of broccoli that, oh yes, will be steamed to perfection very, very soon. Yay, vegetables!

March 20, 2010

the happiness project: a review.

Why did I read it? I saw it on the Real Simple No-Obligation Book Club website. I was already reading two different books at that time, so I decided to mentally "bookmark" this book for a later time.

First Impressions: This is going to be amazing. I can't wait to read this book.

Upon reading the first few chapters: I was hooked. I felt like I related to Rubin on many levels. I loved her honest approach to the project, especially. She knew she had a good life, but she wanted to challenge herself. After my own experience of the joy of writing a graduate comprehensive project, I really admired that Rubin took so much time to research various aspects and perspectives of this elusive thing called "happiness." She worked her butt off to prepare for this journey, and I absolutely respect her for that.

I enjoyed: The chapter on marriage, money, work, and friendship the best. She really does make you smile and tilt your head sideways to ruminate on a pearl of wisdom on almost every page. I enjoyed that she shared both her successes AND her short-comings. It wouldn't have been fun to read about a year-long personal project that went off without a hitch!

I did NOT enjoy: The fact that it ended. I felt like I lost a friend. I put off reading the last chapter as long as I could. I wasn't crazy about her chapter on spirituality because she and I have totally different viewpoints on the matter, but to say I wasn't crazy about it just means I didn't necessarily feel the need to underline every sentence like I did other chapters.

Read this book if: you've ever thought about being happier. If you've ever wanted insight on how to do so. If you like good, honest writing. If you like the idea of projects and challenges. If this moves you, at all.

Rating: Five perfectly-brewed, velvety-smooth lattes out of five.

I am really excited to share this book with my Book Club in April. Gretchen Rubin so graciously emailed me a copy of her Resolutions Chart, that I plan on copying it for everyone at the meeting. She also emailed me a wonderful discussion guide for the meeting. I am a Gretchen Rubin Super Fan.

I am actually going to re-read this book, since Book Club doesn't meet until April 3rd. This time, however, I am going to take notes.

Below are Gretchen's "Secrets of Adulthood." Read them and then, if you feel so inclined, please comment with one of your own secrets. I tacked mine on at the end.

SECRETS OF ADULTHOOD - from The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

1. People don't notice your mistakes as much as you think.
2. It's okay to ask for help.
3. Most decisions don't require extensive research.
4. Do good, feel good.
5. It's important to be nice to everyone.
6. Bring a sweater.
7. By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.
8. Soap and water remove most stains.
9. Turning the computer on and off a few times often fixes a glitch.
10. If you can't find something, clean up.
11. You can choose what you do; you can't choose what you like to do.
12. Happiness doesn't always make you feel happy.
13. What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
14. You don't have to be good at everything.
15. If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough.
16. Over-the-counter medicines are very effective.
17. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
18. What's fun for other people may not be fun for you - and vice versa.
19. People actually prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registry.
20. You can't profoundly change your children's nature by nagging them or signing them up for classes.
21. No deposit, no return.

MY SECRETS OF ADULTHOOD:

1. It's really okay to go to bed angry. The morning provides a totally new perspective.
2. Call your mother.
3. Don't mourn over someone or something you haven't yet lost.
4. Do what you gotta do so you can do what you wanna do (not an original thought, but definitely something I repeat often).
5. You are always, no matter what, right smack dab in the middle of God's love.
6. Sometimes you have to just let life suck. Quit fighting the troubled times. Refer to Secret #5.
7. Don't wait to cash checks.
8. Buy a filing cabinet.
9. Purchase vehicles with cash, even if that means driving a used car. It's really not that bad.
10. Be present.

March 17, 2010

where can i get me one of these?


This is a shot I took outdoors, on a golf course. Crazy what a vignette can do! Look at those green, green eyes. He's gorgeous. I love him.

backsliding.

As you can see, I've gained a pound. That's what going to Atlanta for 5 days will do to you. I figured as much, but how depressing! I am right back to where I started.

Time to get back on track with eating and exercising!

I realize this is most uninteresting post, ever. I just felt I had to "put it in writing," more for myself than anyone else. Sorry to bore! ;)

March 16, 2010

no news.

Between folks getting married and having babies, my life seems pretty dull. Congratulations, Tyly, by the way. I hope you're having an amazing time in Vegas!

And congratulations to everyonewhoispregnantitseemslikeamillionpeoplerightnow!

We had a pretty good time in Atlanta. There was some weird stuff going on (nothing to do with Husband), but I'd rather save that for another post...or just not talk about it at all. Let's just say that people change and I am getting old. The end.

I am still reading The Happiness Project, and LOVING IT. I'll no doubt finish it by the end of this week. I am still trying to eat healthier and work out. I am still taking photos of folks. See? I got nothing interesting to report. At all.

A thought piqued my interest today while reading my book: a signature sign-off. I want one! You know, a phrase you use to end your blog posts. Shaunna has one: "Until next time..." Now, I want one. Can you help me think of something?

So far, all I've come up with is, "It is what it is." But that's lame. However, it is something I say ALL THE TIME to help me reckon with yucky life situations. I'm too tired to think right now. Would love some suggestions.

It is what it is.

See? I don't like it.

March 9, 2010

week one weigh in.

I lost one pound!

Yessssssssss!

Will check body fat % before bed tonight. I'm hoping that went down, too.

March 8, 2010

well, heck!

I weighed myself today after one, full week of dieting/exercising. However, I knew it wasn't going to be pretty because I totally caved last night and we ordered pizza...and I "may or may have not" eaten 5 pieces of it. Ugh! And yeah, it wasn't pretty. I was the same weight as I was last week...but I know what I was doing was working because "I may or may have not" cheated and weighed myself on Friday and I had lost two pounds. But now they're back...

BUT, I'm back on track today and plan to work out after work. I think I'll do my official weigh-in tomorrow after this pizza has...settled.

P.S. I sort of feel a little apprehensive about this week because Husband and I are going out of town...to a very fun place with lots of junk food and good friends. Why is the application of the diet/workout plan so difficult?!

March 7, 2010

oh, sandy!

If you missed Sandra Bullock's acceptance speech for winning Best Actress in a Leading Role, please click here.

I have always been a HUGE Sandra Bullock fan and tonight only solidified my respect for her. She made me weep!

For the record, I did have Meryl Streep checked on my "official" Oscar ballot, but I was secretly hoping Bullock would pull through. I am very happy she did! Love that woman.

Also for the record, I dominated in the Webb Oscar Ballot War tonight. Husband so went down. Goodnight!

March 6, 2010

just beautiful.

I came across this quote last night:

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" -- Robert Browning

I think that would make a great tattoo. Just sayin'.

P.S. I know this has nothing to do with my original thought, but we recorded and watched Who Do You Think You Are? last night and it is amazing! If you're a history buff, or fascinated by back-stories, I highly recommend watching this show. It made me cry!

March 5, 2010

be careful what you write on your blog...

...because you just might get a comment from a book author!

Luckily, for me, I have nothing but good things to say about The Happiness Project. Good thing, too, because I received this comment today:

Gretchen said...

I saw the nice mention of my book, The Happiness Project, here. I very much appreciate those kind words and you shinning a spotlight on my work. Thanks and best wishes,
Gretchen


Yup. Gretchen Rubin herself. I am in awe.

I finished the chapter on marriage today and am halfway through her chapter on work. I think all of you, my blogger buddies, should pick up this book. I've already learned so much and truly do find her "project" inspiring. And no, I'm not just fishing for more comments ;)

Perhaps I owe an apology to Cassandra Clare?

Oh, and Gretchen, if you're out there again: I, too, have an incessant need for gold stars. I've tried to employ your technique of not expecting praise or appreciation. So far, so good. But I'm not going to lie: I would really like a gold star for cleaning out the refrigerator today!

March 4, 2010

happy 3rd blogoversary!

I didn't even realize it was my blogoversary until just now when I read a comment on my blog. I'm like a man! Quick! Let me run to the gas station and pick up some carnations and chocolate!

I can't believe I've kept up this blog for THREE years. That's insane!!

Happy Blogoversary, my blog. I heart you so.

March 3, 2010

the happiness project.

Oh. My.

I am only one chapter into this book, and I am IN LOVE. This is one of those books where I want to underline/highlight almost every sentence.

I love this book (at least so far) because Rubin talks philosophy. Like, ancient philosophy. I LOVE philosophy. It was one of my most favorite classes in college (never mind that I sat next to a total hottie, who eventually became my boyfriend all through college). That class was awesome in its own right! The hottie just helped me dress up a little more for it. And act really smart. And charming.

I love how Rubin quotes Aristotle and Epicurus. I love how she applies the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. I love her frank description of her aspirations and struggles.

LOVE. THIS. BOOK.

First chapter was about energy. As in, having more of it.

Next chapter? Marriage.

Should be a doozy!

P.S. I put Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister on hold for a while. I have other books I wanted to get to first. Obviously.

March 1, 2010

it has begun!

Now that my back is finally "approved" for the gym, I am getting back into a healthy lifestyle...or trying to, at least.

Here's the game plan. This all started (officially) today, by the way:
  • Eat meals from the Biggest Loser 30-Day Jumpstart Book.
  • Work out according to the calendar in said book. I am following the schedule exactly! I am also incorporating the 30-Day Jumpstart DVD.
  • Take my vitamins.
  • Do a 7-Day Cleanse to kickstart the weight loss/flush all the nastiness out. I am hoping it will also help with water retention. I feel so bloated!
  • Drink more water. Drink less soda.
  • Only weigh myself once a week, on Mondays. Scale goes under the bed for the rest of the week. The end.
  • Take note of body fat % each week, too. Because that's important.
Day One was hectic because I woke up too late and didn't have time to do all the things I wanted to do. I managed to eat healthy all day and did get my workouts in. I hope to have a better plan tomorrow, though.

Some notes from today:
  • I want a bowl of ice cream.
  • Working out is actually helping my back! I feel less pain now that I've started hitting the gym.
  • Burned about 300ish calories doing the 10-minutes workout on the DVD and 20 minutes of cardio.
  • I will never like cooked tomatoes. Barf!
  • Hummus Deviled Eggs are disgusting and I literally did gag.
  • I learned what a jicama was. It's like a potato-chestnut hybrid, with a somewhat sweet taste to it. Very strange. I didn't hate it, but I probably won't buy one again. I am taking the advice set forth in the book about TRYING everything at least once. I think a jicama would be good with the right juice/seasoning combo, but I'm not interested in it enough to keep trying different combinations.
I'm ready to do it all over again tomorrow!

city of bones: a review.

Why did I read it? It was our Book Club choice for February. That's the only reason.

First Impressions: I would rather scoop my eyes out with a rsuty spoon than read this book. Hello, god-awful cover!



Upon reading the first few chapters: I was surprised at how much I was enjoying the story in the beginning. It is a very easy read and the story was so "out-there" that I had to continue to see what the heck was going on.

I enjoyed: How easy it was to read. No analytical skills needed, people.

I did NOT enjoy: The cheese. This book is just silly. A silly story about vampires and demons and werewolves. I don't really "do" fantasy, so reading this book was a huge challenge for me. Remember my lack of love for the Twilight series? Toward the end of this book, the main character makes note of how she won't be able to ride a motorcycle without the keys (she is trying to run away from evil forces at this point). Another character tells her not worry about the keys, since these motorcycles run on "demon energies." From that point on, I had to force myself to finish it. In fact, I finished it the day of the Book Club meeting. Oy.

Read this book if: You enjoy vampire/werewolf/fantasy stories. Read it by the pool during the summer. Read it for an fun, little escape.

Rating: 1 cold latte out of five hot, good ones.
 
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