Friday, December 28, 2007

The Holidays Are Over...The Year Coming To A Close...

Well, in my mind they are. New Year's to me isn't so much a holiday as the ending of one chapter and the beginning of the next. I eat cooked cabbage, cornbread and black eyed peas, for good finances and good health in the coming year.

I normally wait to take down my tree on New Year's Day and I subscribe to the notion that whatever you do on New Year's is what you'll be doing all year- ex. laundry, work, etc. (As if I wouldn't be doing that stuff anyway! LOL)

Some make resolutions. For years I did write down a list of resolutions, but I always failed at them and it left me feeling awful. Now I just concentrate on the goals in my heart- the desires I want to fulfill and the things I hope will happen in the coming year.

Last year the goals of my heart were to come up with more novel ideas, do revisions and editing on my finished novels, write 2-3 more, win NaNo again and join RWA and KYRW. Well, I did come up with more ideas, did revisions, wrote another novel and I'm still working on finished the 2nd one, which was the one I won NaNo with this year. I did join RWA and KYRW. I don't know if I'll get the 2nd novel finished by the end of this year, but I saw the majority of my "goals" reached, so I can't complain too much.

In 2008 I hope to write more novels, edit more, and get a few stories polished enough to send out and keep my fingers crossed that one (or more) find homes.

Almost 10 years ago, in 1998- I wrote myself a letter on my 23th birthday- a letter not to be opened until I was 10 years older- in 2008-- a "time capsule" if you will, about what my life was like at the time and where I thought I'd be in 10 years...LOL I will have to open that on my 33rd birthday in February, though I KNOW my life has changed dramatically since then. I'm no longer with the guy I was with at the time, and any dreams or hopes I had for the future I thought I would have with him are nonexistent. I don't have to read the note to know that my life is nothing like I imagined it would be. Haha!

All in all though, I think that's probably a good thing. I'm not that same young girl and that guy broke my heart, even though I now realize I cared about him, loved him even, but not enough to be married to him. I hope his life is better for not having me in it, the way I'm thankful for the life I now have without him.

Isn't that the oddest thing to say?

I guess though I think of it this way- I cherish the relationships I had once upon a time, but as Rascal Flatts so eloquently puts in one of their songs- "God bless the broken road that led me straight to you."

That's how I feel about my husband. There were others before him, ones who broke my heart, relationships that ended, sometimes seemingly without rhyme or reason, but on the narrow path I took, it was those roads I followed, the broken relationships along the way, that led me to my wonderful husband.

New Year's makes me a tad bit melancholy, mixed with reminiscent memories of years past. The loss of loved ones gone from our lives. It makes me take inventory of who I once was and who I am now- who I want to be in the coming years.

Years of experience has taught me to be thankful for where I've been, for who I was and who I am and to be forgiving of the hurts that have burnt me to my very core. I know it does me no good to hang on to the anger and hurt of the past. I can't thrive when I wallow in self-pity.

My mom always asks me, "How can you still care about so-and-so?" "How can you be so forgiving?"

My answer is always this- If it wasn't for what came before, I wouldn't be where I am. And that being the case, I should try my best to hold no grudges, to live without regret of the mistakes in my past, and to forgive past hurts and wrongdoings. To be THANKFUL for all of it- the good, the bad and the ugly. Everything that came before has shaped me into the person I am.

And well, I know I'm not perfect, but I think I have it pretty good. I have a roof over my head, food to cook/eat, a wonderful husband, beautiful kids, great friends and family who support my dreams and the freedom to pursue those dreams. Life isn't always easy or beautiful or simple, but I have the love of a good man and a really great life.

I'm hoping for more wonderful days with my husband and family in the coming year, the transition of my writing life, the transition of having my daughter start school in August and good sense not to take anything for granted.

My wish for you, my dear friends, is that 2008 holds all the wonderful things you hope and dream of. I wish you good health, happiness and joy. I hope that this year brings you more good than bad and seeing your dreams come true. May you be truly blessed.

Taryn

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas, Snow and All That's Holly Jolly

This may be my last blog- at least until after Christmas. We've got a very busy weekend coming up, as I'm sure everyone else has.

Tonight we've got grocery shopping and tomorrow we've got a get together with my husband's mom's side of the family for lunch. I was contemplating waiting until Sunday to make peanut butter fudge, but I might do that this afternoon and fix up a small tin to give my stepson's mom when she comes to get him this evening.

Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday we plan to just sit back and relax and enjoy it before the big festivities start. Christmas Eve morning will be spent with my husband's father's bunch...breakfast and presents. We'll probably run by his grandmother's to visit for a few minutes and give her her present and then come home because we've got to be here when stepson's mom calls to say when he can be picked up that evening.

So after we get back home I'll be fixing
homemade apple pie-per the request of my sister
turtle pumpkin pie- an egg less pumpkin pie my husband thought he might be able to eat
pineapple surprise dessert- my original dessert plan for Christmas

Depending on the time, my husband's dad and his wife may come over to see my stepson open his presents from them since he won't be with us that morning at their house. Not sure yet on that. Stepson needs to write a letter from him and our daughter to Santa to leave out with the cookies(which reminds me that's another baking thing I need to do that night! LOL) and "strawberry" milk. Santa likes strawberry milk at our house...it gives him a change from plain ol' milk...hahahaha!

Once they go to bed, hubby has to go pick up something from his mom's that was too big to hide here for stepson and so while he's gone doing that, I'll be getting the rest of the presents wrapped and under the tree...most especially my "secret" Santa one. It needs to be hidden up under the tree so my hubby doesn't see it. LOL It's from Santa to us as an entire family.

While I'm doing the wrapping, I'll be watching my all time favorite- White Christmas and sipping eggnog and eating cookies. Then I'll need to write a small note back to the kids from Santa, like I did last year, to be left with the empty cookie plate and drained glass of milk.

Christmas morning we'll be up early- I'm sure- as soon as the kids get up and realize Santa came and then they'll open their presents from him then and we'll open anything else, etc. I'll have to get the house straightened up and start the macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes and corn while we wait for my mom and dad, sister, grandma and hubby's mom and her husband to get here. My mom's bringing ham, rolls, and baked beans. We'll eat and then watch the kids open their presents from all the grandparents and nibble on sweet treats and so forth.

I'll probably have Christmas music going on the stereo in the kitchen while I cook. My Christmas comedy cassette has finally bit the dust...I've had it for about 20 years. I've got all sorts of country Christmas, one that's a Thomas Kinkade set, Toby Keith's first one, Garth Brooks, George Strait. I've got Ally McBeal's Christmas one. The "Now! That's What I Call Christmas!" Vol. 1. The Carpenters' Christmas. One I made years ago with a variety of songs, when I celebrated my very first Christmas in my first apartment. Jewel's Christmas. My favorites though- 98ΒΊ This Christmas, NSYNC's Home for Christmas, and Elvis' Christmas. (I even have a guilty pleasure one- New Kids On The Block...LOL)

I'll wish it was snowing...we have a very slim chance of rain with a little snow mixed in, but nothing like the snows I've seen on Christmas Days past. Gosh, I miss years like that.

It seems we have so little snow in this area. Where I'm from up in North Central Kentucky, we used to have some of the best snows on Christmas Day...At least it sure seems that way to my old foggy recollection. Down here it seems to stay warmer, so there's less chance of a real accumulation. So I suppose you could say I AM dreaming of a White Christmas, though I know how slim the chances are. It wouldn't have to be much...just enough on the ground to KNOW it had snowed...it wouldn't have to cover the road- no...I wouldn't want that...it would mean my family wouldn't come down and I wouldn't dare want that. It just wouldn't be the same.

I think one of my favorite things is looking at my tree. It's filled with red bows and gold garland, but it's also filled with cherished ornaments. Mine and hubby's first Christmas ornament as well as the ones we've gotten over the past few years to add to each year that we've been together. This will be our 6th Christmas spent together.

There's also all the kids' special "annual" ornaments. Stepson has a BUNCH of Spidermans, Spongebob, Scooby Doo. This year it was a Transformers one.

My daughter's first Christmas one- Baby Tweety and Baby Bugs Bunny. A ballerina kitty, Dora, a Carebear. This year it was a My Little Pony.

The past two years, mine and hubby's have been the kind with the LED lights that you plug into your light set and they change colors. There's my hubby's Oakland Raiders ones and the homemade plastic canvas mailboxes with holly on it that I made the year my daughter was born. One for each of us with the holly on one side and our first and last initials on the other.

My favorites though....the ones my stepson has made at school and deemed worthy of having here on our tree.

Best of all are the ones I made a couple of years ago- Snowman handprint ones. I bought new purple and blue balls(any color works, but the darker ones the better) and then painted the kids hands with white paint and pressed their handprints onto them- each fingerprint painted to look like 5 little snowmen with the kids names and the year on it and a little written note that hangs from the hook that says-

"These aren't just 5 snowmen
As anyone can see
I made them with my hand
Which are a part of me
Now each year when you trim the tree
You'll look back and recall
Christmas of 2004
When my hand was just this small."

I made a set of each for all the grandparents that year...and of course, if you want to do it every year, you just change the year on it. I know my MIL mentioned she'd like to have another set now that the kids are older, but it was such a mess to make the first time! LOL I imagine my supplies are shot anyway and I'd need new balls to make them now.

May your Christmas be filled with as much love and happiness as I'm sure mine will be. Hope you have fun and enjoy great food in good company. Be careful if traveling and have a blessed holiday!

A Few More Holiday Treats

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

3/4 cup peanut butter (generic brands or low fat peanut butter not recommended for this recipe)
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

CHOCOLATE DOUGH:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

ICING:
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

In a mixing bowl, cream peanut butter and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Roll into thirty 3/4 inch balls. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, cream butter, peanut butter and sugars. Bean in egg white and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa and backing soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Roll into thirty 1-1/2 inch balls.

Using floured hands, flatten chocolate balls and shape one around each peanut butter ball, sealing edges.

Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets.

Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar.

Bake at 375ΒΊ for 7-9 minutes or until cookies are set and tops are cracked. Cool for 1 minute before removing to wire racks.

For icing, in a small mixing bowl, cream shortening and confectioners' sugar. Beat in vanilla and enough milk to reach spreading consistancy. Spoon into a resealable plastic bag or pastry bag; cut a small hole in corner of bag. Pipe icing over cookies in zigzag pattern.

Yields 2 1/2 dozen.

*****
World's Best Peanut Butter Fudge

4 cups white sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow cream
12 ozs. peanut butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1) Grease a 9X13 baking dish, set aside.
2) In a saucepan, combine sugar, milk, and butter. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallow cream and peanut butter. Gradually stir in flour. Spread into the prepared pan and let cool.

******
Chocolate Layered Pie

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cool whip
1- 8 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 (5.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding
milk- as directed on the pudding box
2 cups cool whip
sprinkle of pecans

1) Mix together pecans, butter and flour. Pat into a 9X13 (or slightly smaller) dish. Bake at 375ΒΊ for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and let cool.

2) In mixing bowl, blend 1 cup cool whip, cream cheese, powdered sugar until creamy. Spread into cooled crust.

3) Whisk pudding mix with milk- spread over cheese layer and then spread 2 cups cool whip on top, sprinkle lightly with chopped pecans.

Refrigerate 1-1/2- 2 hours before serving.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Desserts and Treats, Oh My!

Thought I would share a few of my favorite recipes for desserts and treats for the holidays today.
***
Spicy and Salty snacks-

Bisquick Sausage Balls
2 1/2 cups of Bisquick
1 lb tube of mild sausage (Tennessee Pride, or your favorite)
1- 8 oz Shredded Mild or Sharp Cheddar Cheese

1) preheat oven to 325 degrees
2) Combine sausage and cheese until well blended
3) Mix in Bisquick and roll into balls
4) Place on baking sheets and bake for 20-25 minutes

****
Cheese Ball with Ritz
(this recipe is for 2 balls, so you can divide it if you only want 1)

2- 8oz packages of Cream Cheese
5 bunches of green onions
1 teaspoon Accent
1 Tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
1 package of thin sliced Ham (such as Deli Selects or Buddig)
1/2 teaspoon of Salt

1) chop ham and onions into tiny thin pieces and combine them in a bowl
2) Mix together cream cheese, Accent, Worchestershire sauce and salt
3) Mix 1/2 of the ham and onion into cheese ball
4) Form into two balls, then roll them in remaining ham and onion
5) Refrigerate until ready to serve
6) Serve on Ritz Crackers

****
And now for something sweet-

Super Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup Peanut Butter
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Egg

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1) Mix together all ingredients and drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet.
2) Press cookies out so they're not completely flat, but still slightly ball shaped.
3) press with fork prongs in a crisscross fashion
4) Bake for about 8-10 minutes. (I keep an eye on them and check them after the first 6 minutes to be on the safe side.)
5) Let cool on sheet for a few minutes before removing.

****
Pineapple Surprise Dessert

1 Box plain Cheesecake Mix
1-8oz. box Cream Cheese
1 small can of Crushed Pineapple, drained
1/2 cup of Pecans, crushed

(you'll use the cheesecake powder mix, but not the graham crumbs)

1) Mix Cheesecake mix by the directions and add the cream cheese to it, until well blended.
2) Drain Pineapple *the less liquid the better or the dessert gets runny
3) Fold in pineapple and pecans into cheesecake mixture
4) Top with a few nice looking Pecan halves
5) Cover and Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Have Yourself an Animated Little Christmas

A while back I had posted in reference to blogging about Christmas cartoons after the movies. Well, I figured now is as good a time as any. :D
***
The holidays abound with wonderful animated cartoon shows for kids and adults alike.

There's a serious theme in most of them- being a misfit, an outcast- until everyone realizes how special the characters are and how their differences actually help when it really counts the most. It's all about acceptance.

Rudolph has his red beaming nose, which caused him to be ostrisized and made fun of, but in the end he saved Christmas and everyone realized how wrong they were. But he wasn't the only misunderstood one- Hermie the elf felt out of place among the other elves, simply because he aspired to bigger dreams than the others. The misfit toys weren't loved- until Rudolph made sure Santa found homes for them.

Nestor, the sad little long-eared donkey, was made fun of for his differences too. His mother sacrificed herself to save him in a snowstorm and he went on to carry Mary to Bethlehem.

Kris Kringle was shunned and considered an outlaw- a criminal, in Santa Claus is Coming To Town. He and Jessica, the Kringles and the Winter Warlock had to leave their homes and move north to escape imprisonment by Bergermeister Meisterberger- who hated toys and all that kindness represented.

Good vs. Evil, Naughty vs. Nice, Rejection vs. Acceptance.

One of my favorites is Jim Henson's Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas- a roundabout retelling of The Gift of the Magi. Ma Otter hocks Pa's toolbox, which Emmett used for odd jobs to get fabric to make a dress to enter the talent show contest with a song. She did it so she could win the contest and get Emmett a guitar for Christmas. Emmett puts a hole in Ma's washtub to be in a jugband for the same talent contest to win the money and get Ma a piano- or at least put a down payment on a used one for her. Both had good intentions but neither win. They accept their losses but end up with a paying gig at the restaurant in town after they combined their talents and music. By working together, instead of separately, they actually accomplished more.

Another favorite is 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Alfred, of the Mouse family got together with his friends and sent a letter to the paper stating that Santa was a fraud and no one believed in him. The consequences of that letter caused Santa to send all their letters back, unopened, with no intention of coming to their town at all on Christmas Eve. Father Mouse shows Alfred what his letter has done to the town- to the children in the Trundle family as well as the sick children in the hospital.

Mr. Trundle, the clockmaker, comes up with a towering clock, built in the middle of town, that will play a song of pleading to Santa to forgive the town and encourage him to come. Again, Alfred, who's full of book smarts, but not much in the way of imagination, accidently tears up the new clock and ruins it for everyone. Eventually though after seeing the Trundle family working together in hopes that Santa will still come, Alfred realizes his mistake and fixes the clock just in the nick of time and Santa comes after all.

But then, there are lots of good Christmas cartoons-
Frosty the Snowman, Frosty's Winter Wonderland, Frosty Returns
Rudolph's Shiny New Year (Happy and his big ears)
Mickey's Christmas Carol (and the other various ones that go with it- Chip N' Dale in the tree, Donald and his nephews and the snow fort, etc)
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
The Year Without a Santa Claus
Jack Frost
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Garfield's Christmas
Winnie the Pooh and Christmas, Too
The Forgotten Toys
The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas
I Want a Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown
It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown
The Little Drummer Boy
Vinson's Claymation Christmas
Looney Toons Christmas

The last two were ones I'd forgotten for years, but my husband's mom had them on tape where they recorded them when he was a kid, so we all watched them last night. The claymation one was from 1987- exactly 20 years old. The tape really shows it too...it's full of static and just about wore out. I'd love to be able to find that on DVD for my husband. Maybe not this year, but soon. It's one of his favorites.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but that was quite a bit to recall as it is! LOL

Do you have a favorite? Please feel free to share.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Looking Back (crosspost from myspace)

It might not seem like, but my life has changed a lot in just a little over a year. In the middle of 2006 I decided it was time to pull out my first novel and finish it. And that I did. And then I finished my 2nd one before the year was out. I've gone through a lot of emotional, personal changes in my point of view and feelings about who I am and where I'm going in my life.

The biggest changes started around that time, around the end of last year and the beginning of this year. I got more ideas than I know what to do with for novels and I found a lot of new friends online- writers like me. I finished my 3rd novel at the beginning of August and I'm working on my 4th.

I don't know if this would be possible, if not for all the changes that have gone on in my life. I have some very supportive people in my life. My mom, who tells me that she knows I will be published some day, she only hopes she's around to see it happen for me. She says she's so proud of me for working so hard this past year or so. I have friends from back home, who think it's a great thing I'm endeavoring to do and they know I'll be successful.

And then I have all these new writer friends. Albeit, it's a bit presumptuous to say they are friends- since we have only known each other through myspace and other blogs, but I consider them friends nonetheless because I have received so many encouraging messages and so forth from them.

Even with all the crap we've gone through in the past year or so (my dental issues, water lines, dead dryer, getting rid of the condo, etc....) this new phase in my life has been embellished and enhanced by all my new aquaintances online through writers groups and blogs and RWA and KYRW already.

Over a year ago, I would never have thought I'd mingle with other writers. That seemed a far out dream. Now I feel like I'm a part of something. I have a community I can chat with about writing, I have support and encouragement and help when I need it.

It truly is an amazing feeling, especially when I used to think that writing, for me, was a distant star I couldn't reach nor capture. I didn't dare try before. I had given it lots of thought and though my insides gnawed at me that writing was what I REALLY wanted to do, I still didn't hope to believe there might be a future in it.

Now I recognize that deeper stirring and acknowledge it. I have that feeling that it is possible and it is something I should strive to achieve. I have more confidence than I ever had before and I want to take it as far as it will let me go.

So to all my friends- I want you to know that you have all been my blessings this year. For those who encourage and cheer me on and check in on me to see how my writing is going. I have a long road to pave- lots of editing to do, but each little message from you spurs me forward toward reaching my goals and following the dream of my heart.

Thank you!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

URWA gets a new name-

In an earlier post I mentioned URWA- United Romance Writers Association- We've had a recent change though and thought I would update links to the yahoo groups and forum-

We're now WRR- aka Write. Read. Romance- It's still the same great group, with a new name-

A forum for authors to critique, workshop, and share info about the Romance industry. This forum is a private member group FREE to all Romance authors published and unpublished. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WriteReadRomance_Writers/

Love romance novels? Here is the place to discuss, discover, and dig deep into today's romance novels and authors. This is the official romance reader group for the Write. Read. Romance. WRR authors may announce their new releases, post blurbs, chat up their books, and host author/writer events here. Writers who are unpublished may also tease and please us with their "pre-pubbed" work and test out their stuff with readers. Authors/Writers please check for brief guidelines in the files section. Readers, enjoy!

To host an event: WRR authors/writers may use the calendar to reserve a time/day for your book event. Please feel free to add yourself to the calendar. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WriteReadRomance_Readers/

The website and forum can be found at the link below.
http://writereadromance.com/

Less Than 2 Weeks Till Christmas...(Cross Post)

We've only got about 9 days till Christmas. The kids enjoyed their birthdays and as usual, made out like bandits.

We got Chris a cool new lamp for his bedroom because his bedside one died a while back thanks to the bulb being too close to the shade and it melted it. We got him one that has 3 lamp heads and he loves it. We got Koty a Disney Princess dress-up trunk with interchangeable outfits and she went nuts over it.

My parents got Chris some Ben 10 stuff and gloves. Koty got the My Little Pony Teapot thing.
From Dave's mom and her husband Chris got a new twin size bedset with Cars on it, along with a 2 disk Looney Toons collection of old cartoons, the Cars soundtrack and a towel and washcloth Cars set. Koty got a small jewelry box with Lipsmackers, gloves, a Disney Princess toddler bed set of sheets and comforter and Princess panties.

Both kids got small boomboxes from Dave's dad and his wife, which the kids are tickled with. Koty has spent more time in her room in the past few days than I've ever seen her do. In fact, yesterday afternoon, she stayed in there listening to a cd and cleaning her room up! LOL
Saturday morning we went up town to pay the property taxes and then stopped by Dollar General Market and Pamida so I could look for a new set of lights to wrap around my wreath on the front door. The other died in a big way. At DGM I didn't find the type of lights I'd like, though I did find my old-fashioned Christmas cookies for a buck. But, at Pamida, I did find the LAST box of the LED blue & white snowflake lights I had seen up there and thought were really cool.

I will tell you now- LED lights, even "covered" with snowflake twist on caps will MESS WITH YOUR EYES! It's like watching a strobe light. And if you're moving the string of lights around...it can almost make you nauseated! LOL I was looking away while I wrapped it around my wreath! It looks beautiful though and I told Dave I think I might just leave them up till after winter and the "chance" of snow passes away into spring, since snow isn't just about Christmas. And even if we don't get any real snow in our area, at least I've have my snow on my wreath! Haha!
I finished my refreshing/editing and got back to where I was in my novel. I wrote the 22nd chapter and started the next one. Of course the weekend has gotten in the way, but I feel confident that tomorrow I can pick back up on it.

Yesterday I made homemade vegetable beef soup. It's my version of my mom and grandmother's. Something I'd been wanting to fix for a while now. My husband ate a little, but my recipe isn't MINE (or my mom's or grandma's) without cooked cabbage. He HATES cooked cabbage. It wasn't until it was too late that I realized I could've divided the recipe and made two batches...one with cabbage, one without. He said he'd eat it all, so long as I left out the cabbage. I told him next time, that's what I'd do. Koty though LOVED the soup with the cabbage...That's my girl though...when I fix regular cooked cabbage with butter, salt and pepper, she will eat it up. Especially if I fix cornbread to go with it.

I still have some cabbage leftover, so I told her we'd have some of that later in the week. She started jumping up and down in excitment. Then later yesterday evening before she went to bed, she asked me if we could eat more of the soup. That's what we're having for lunch today- leftovers. That made her happy too.

Oh, on the height front- Chris grew just about 2 inches exactly and Koty grew about 2 1/2 inches in the past year since their last birthdays. We have a growth tree stickered to the wall in Koty's room, that Dave had put up in there when it was Chris's room. Chris was a bit disappointed the Koty grew more than him, but we had to explain that boys and girls hit growth spurts differently.

Hiding the "surprise" Santa present just got a little harder yesterday. Of course, I did slip off into the spare room and hide one night to wrap the Singing Machine (which BTW was on sale in the Pamida salebill for $20 less than what I paid online and comes with 2 mics instead of one- BUT I wouldn't have been able to sneak it into the house like I did...I couldn't have even gotten it without involving someone outside the house)...but yesterday the CDs arrive and just as I came back in the house, hoping Dave and Koty were in the other room, he came into the living room just as I slipped into the spare room to hide the box until I can wrap it. UGH! He's starting to get suspicious about what I'm up to. I'm biting my tongue in excitement though...so long as he doesn't figure it.

I've been trying to figure out how to put them under the tree on Christmas Eve without him seeing the boxes, and I think I've got a plan. I realized yesterday that Dave will HAVE to go to his mom's to get Chris's television from over there that night, so as soon as he leaves, I'll slip the surprise under the tree and then start stuffing the other presents in front it as I get them wrapped so he CAN'T see them until the following morning. hehehehe!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Plethora of Things (cross-post from myspace)

Today, 5 years ago, I had my daughter. Of course, five years ago it was a Friday the 13th, but there she was. The light of my life- a piece of me that will live on. Tonight we'll be doing her birthday "party" like we did for Chris a couple of days ago. Grandparents, presents and ice cream cake.

In other news~ I'm officially a member of RWA and KYRW. We also now have a myspace profile for KYRW. See link below.

Kentucky Romance Writers Myspace

I'm still taking in being a member, feeling a bit overwhelmed, but still tickled to be a part of it and have had quite the warm welcome from other members.

Yesterday was the first time in a while that I was able to concentrate my current WIP, 4 that I started during NaNo. I went through about 140 pages..possibly more. I lost track. Right now I'm mostly correcting misplaced words or adding or deleting where I saw editorial mistakes and just trying to get my head back in the story so that I can move forward with finishing it.

I would like to at least get this draft done before the year is over. Not sure whether I can manage that with the holidays coming up, but I'm sure going to work my hardest to complete it. Then it's back to editing and such on all 4 novels after the beginning of the year to polish till they shine and I feel ready to try submitting.

I'll admit, it makes me nervous as can be to imagine doing so. I just hope that I'm also well prepared for a lot of rejections. LOL I like my writing-most the time, but I'm not foolhardy enough to believe I'll be picked up directly.

So...I am off to cross-post this to my other two blogs so I can cut my time online today and get back to doing more editing on my novel. Hope everyone has a lovely Thursday!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Change in Direction....

I've been wondering why I've been remiss to work on my novel since I hit 50K in November during NaNo. Today it was like lightning struck me...

While on Petticoats and Pistols reading Stacey Kayne's blog, wherein the discussion centered around what kind of hero we all like, I realized I love the rugged emotionally wounded hero. The general idea of what I said was that to me an emotionally wounded hero's transformation to breaking down the wall around his heart makes him "stronger" in my eyes than the sensitive man who loves wholeheartedly all along because it takes more strength and courage to open up and love after being hurt than to have always loved without misgivings.

Ok, so it's not EXACTLY what I said, but the idea is still there. And that's when it dawned on me....my hero in Haunted Melody- Wes- he's been loving and waiting for Melody to come back all along...always loving her....He's the "sensitive man" who has had it easy in loving her...I need to come up with some turmoil, differences in his character so that this works or it's going fall short of what I want to see and would never make it as a published novel...ever.

As I sit here, I realize I didn't make him strong at all. He's been "weakly" awaiting her return, in hopes that she still loves him just as much. There needs to be more conflict...more of each of them tearing down the walls around their hearts that have kept them apart for years. I don't want him to be a jerk, but he needs to be "less open" to her return, less open to giving his heart to her after she ran off and left him without rhyme or reason.

It didn't occur to me that Wes was such a weak character. I will definitely have to take action about that and well, that gives me something to go on now. I was in a rut in regard to this story, knew that there was a good reason I wasn't getting anywhere and now I know what it is.

Wes Stanford needs a character overhaul.

He'd better look out...cause I'm coming after him! LOL

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cartoons Bumped...

On account of good news!

I got my email this morning- my acceptance email from RWA with my member #. I'm now a member or Romance Writers of America!!! I've still got to fill out my application for Kentucky Romance Writers Chapter, but I've already crossed the first hurdle. Husband thought I was silly and laughed at me when I started bouncing in my chair a little while ago over my excitement! hehehe!

Today marks a good start of the day for me. Very cool and I thought for sure it would be several weeks before I heard anything, but not so. That was quick like lightning.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Holiday Visuals

I know I said I'd cover movies and cartoons today, but I think I'll go with movies first and then blog tomorrow about the cartoons because there's just such a massive list.

So, who doesn't love a good Christmas movie? Or a movie set around the holidays?

I have so many that are must-sees during this time of the year.

I've already watched It's A Wonderful Life - one of my favorites. I'll probably watch it again if I get a chance! LOL George's discovery of what an impact his life had had on others is a wonderful reminder that, though we may sometimes feel that we make no difference in this world, there will always be others who see us as amazing people they couldn't imagine their lives without. You don't have to have riches to be rich in love and life and friendship. The last three things are far more important.

Miracle on 34th Street(1947) with Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood. This one is the heartfelt dipiction of how important it is to never stop believing, to always have faith. My favorite parts? When Kris spoke Dutch to that little girl and sang with her, the gum in the whiskers, the postal delivery to the courtroom and the ending scene at the house. (I'm a big sap by the way)

Holiday Inn- Oh Bing Crosby-"Be careful with my heart..." I love this story for the simplicity of romance and songs. The Inn from this movie was later remodeled and used in White Christmas, also starring Bing Crosby.

I also like Christmas In Connecticut- both the Barbara Stanwyck and the Dyan Cannon versions.
A Christmas Story
A Christmas Carol- George C. Scott
Little Women- any of them, but most especially the one with June Allyson

Other less "classic" favorites are-
While You Were Sleeping
You've Got Mail(love the song River)
The Shop Around the Corner- James Stewart
When Harry Met Sally
The Santa Clause 1, 2, & 3
The Preacher's Wife- Whitney Houston singing Believe in You and Me brings me to tears.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation- my husband's favorite
Prancer

But my #1 is White Christmas

Growing up my mom and my sister and I would watch this and sip eggnog in front of the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree. We'd sing along with all the numbers and bawl our eyes out. This movie has special meaning to us. My mom said she and my aunt used to always sing "We'll Follow The Old Man" in reference to my grandpa. As a child I thought my grandpa had been a general in the Army because of how closely connected I saw him with General Waverly in White Christmas. My mom and aunt were the Hanes sisters in my mind and numerous times they'd break into "Sisters," laughing and cutting up with each other. Even to this day I still see a lot of my grandpa in the character of General Waverly and it fills me with nostalgia about him. I enjoy the movie through teary eyes and that reminds me I need to get Kleenex at the store, SOON. LOL

It's not just a fun movie, but a classic and it's my definite must-see Christmas movie. I have so many favorite parts I can't separate them from the rest of the movie. While I was working on this blog, I did some searching and found out a few cool trivia bits I didn't know about this movie-
  • They had wanted Fred Astaire to come back to team with Bing, but he claimed to be retired. The part was rewritten with Donald O'Conner in mind, but he pulled out and they finally got Danny Kaye for the part of Phil Davis.
  • The "Sisters" lip-syncing scene that Bing and Danny did wasn't originally scripted for the movie. They were goofing off on the set and the director thought it was so funny, he added it.
  • The midnight snack scene was improvised, according to Rosemary Clooney.

So this is my list of favorites. What are some of yours? Tomorrow I'll be posting about the Christmas cartoons. Please join me!

Calling Romance Writers

Check out blog about URWA getting a name change to WRR- Write.Read.Romance.
I have removed the original info and link from here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I'll Be Home for Christmas....

Yes, Christmas is fast approaching. My decorating is finished. I'm mailing out the last of my Christmas cards today. Well, except for maybe one or two I'll mail if I ever hear from a couple of friends who I emailed to request their snail mail addies.

We've gotten most of our shopping done, other than a few treats to put in the kids' stockings and I still have some wrapping to do...mostly the gifts from Santa and the couple we are giving the kids from us and the one that needs to be wrapped for my stepson's Christmas party at school.

I'm also eagerly awaiting the shipping and arrival of the "secret" present from Santa that will be for the entire family- a karaoke machine and a few CD+Gs to get us started. I decided this year there should be a gift to all of us as a family from Santa under the tree. Even my husband isn't aware of this gift. hehehe...HOHOHO! I'm being Sneaky Santa this year! LOL
The house is warm and toasty, for the most part...other than a few drafts that sneak in when the wind gets up. I've had to put up plastic over the window in my stepson's room and in the kitchen over the back window that has the air conditioner in it. Brrrr....

I've been sipping General Foods International Coffees in flavors that remind me of the holiday- French Vanilla Cafe and Suisse Mocha. Yummy! I've also had some Egg Nog already and I've got my holiday mix of red and green M&M's to nibble on from time to time.

The outside of the house is reminiscent of how my grandfather would decorate his house for Christmas. We spent several weeks before Thanksgiving checking the lights, which stayed up all year, though only turned on during the holidays and changing out the shot ones.

We'd have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and then when it got dark, my grandpa would turn them on for the first time. I can remember how even when the wind was bitter and ripping through me, bringing tears to my eyes, I still felt this warmth excuding from inside at how beautiful the lights were.

We'd all go stand outside and look at them for several minutes. He ran a junk yard that had a tall fence to keep the lot from being an eyesore, and he had the lights strung up all the way down the fence row in both directions from the house. We'd all walk down there, oohing and ahhing over how great it was. It always filled me with a sense of awe, a sense of the holiday spirit.

Between my grandpa decorating the fence and house and my mom always going all out to decorate our house, I was blessed with this "traditional" inclination myself. It's not for competition, it's for the pure joy of being able to light up my home and hedges with bright colorful lights and enjoying it with my kids the way I did as a child.

I love seeing their faces light up, the shimmer of awe in their eyes and hearing their oohs and ahhs. It fills my heart even more with the spirit of the season, the small joys children get from seeing those festive lights, even if they're only up for a month or so...It's the one time of year that I connect with my children on that special level where childhood innocence, awe and joy subside and it also brings me close to my grandpa again.

I miss him a lot. I wish he'd been around to see my daughter. Not that I don't feel him near a lot. Her birthday is coming up and to me she will always have this special connection to him. She was born on December 13th, on a Friday and that was always my grandpa's lucky day. He was discharged from the Army after WWII on that day.

So, as I close out today- I did work on my novel a little bit yesterday...wrote about 900 words or so..not as much as I would like, but that will change I'm sure.

Tune in tomorrow- I'll be blogging about my favorite Christmas movies and cartoons. Feel free to join in with me and tell me about yours!