Month: November 2018

Christmas Shopping – Planner or Pantser

Are you a planner or a pantser?

In writing circles, a planner is someone who outlines their book before they start writing and a pantser is someone who writes (“flies”) by the seat of their pants. They sit down and write and sees what comes out.

I think the same might apply to Christmas shopping. In past years, I’ve been a planner, keeping lists and checking things off. Usually I’ve waited until later in the season, so a list was essential.

This year I think I’m more of a pantser. Albeit an early-working pantser. I decided to pick up gifts throughout the year as a I came across good ideas, because it seems like during the last few holidays seasons the gift idea well had run dry. Any ideas I had over the previous six months completely evaporated when it came time to add things to my cart. This year, I think I picked up my first gift in May or June.

So, how’s it working out?

Pretty good…I think. I still have a few gifts to get. (Why are dads so hard to buy for? Oh yeah, because they go buy whatever they want.) I am definitely ahead of the game. Of course, now I have a whole pile of presents to inventory and make sure I’m ready. Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve bought multiple presents for the same person. Seems like that would be a bad thing, but now I know I have birthday presents ready for 2019.

I would definitely say this is more of a “pantser” method, picking up things as I go along. But it’s definitely an improvement over the birthday presents I gave six month late this year. #truestory #yesimterrible #itsthethoughthatcountsright

What’s your Christmas shopping looking like this year?

If you haven’t started yet this year, my biggest tip is to shop the Black Friday sales ONLINE. Most places will have their sales available online on Thanksgiving Day if you want to get a head start. Then you can get a good night sleep knowing your shopping is done without having to wait in line with overly caffeinated shoppers in the middle of a cold night as you anticipate being trampled for a $50 TV.

If you’re someone who enjoys shopping at the last minute, that’s the ultimate pantser move. I salute you!

Hallmark Christmas Movies

It’s time to talk about Hallmark Christmas Movies.

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, you say? Well, Hallmark’s been airing (and I’ve been taping) Christmas movies since late October! I already feel like I’m behind.

Here’s the beauty of a Hallmark Christmas Movie:

  1. I don’t have to think too much. I know there are whole channels devoted to airing “edgy” and challenging content. That’s fine, but with so much to worry about and think about in our world today, I don’t need to be challenged in every show I watch. It’s nice to turn that all off for a couple hours.
  2. There’s always going to be Christmas music. I mean, Christmas music! It’s sweet, it’s perfect, and it’s perfectly matched to the story and gives me warm fuzzy feelings inside.
  3. The stories are comfortable, like an old sweater. More often than not, I can tell where the story is going. Sometimes there’s a twist I didn’t see coming, but I’m good either way.
  4. I like the people starring in the movies. Hallmark has a reliable stable of actors and actresses, so watching these movies year after year starts to feel like revisiting old friends. Am I the only person who is happy when I see an actor I like get a job?
  5. The decorations. Honestly, can just one of those set decorators come decorate my house for Christmas?
  6. They are perfect to watch while wrapping presents. Because of #1, it’s pretty easy to wrap a ton of presents and not miss much of the movie between cutting, taping, and tying ribbons.
  7. There’s always a happy ending. In this bizarro world, where it seems each day I’m surprised by the terrible things going on, it’s nice to watch something I know is going to end happily. It’s a nice respite.

Do you enjoy the guilty holiday pleasure that is a Hallmark Christmas Movie? It’s okay I’ll keep your secret!

The Privilege of Working with Generous People

I am lucky in many, many ways. One of the ways is I get to work from home. Another way I am lucky is I get to work with 12 x 12.

The 12 x 12 Writing Challenge is a calendar year challenge for writers of picture books to write 12 drafts in 12 months. I’ve been working with Julie Hedlund, who founded the group since 2013. I’ve watched people who were just starting to pursue their writing dreams become published authors during that time. It’s amazing to see the hard work pay off. I’ve also seen the highs and lows. The publishing industry is not for the faint of heart.

Seeing real life books written by people in I know is awesome. Announcing new book deals is inspiring. Celebrating with writers landing a new agent is incredible. But the most amazing part?

The willingness to give back.

I’m not sure I’ve seen a group of people more willing to give back to people who are just starting down the road they are so far down. Several members who started with us with no agent and no book deals have multiple books on store shelves. They still come back year after year to help critique and help new members in the forum. One member runs a “Rejection Raffle” to reward people who are putting themselves out there, but haven’t had success…yet.

Today is no different. In 2014, we started the 12 x 12 Scholarship. We offer a financial need scholarship and a diversity scholarship. Yesterday, we sent a email to our members for donations to fund scholarships for 2019. Today, we met our first funding goal for FOUR SCHOLARSHIPS.

In just over 24 hours, our members have provided hope and inspiration. I am so privileged to work with and for such generous people.

We are well on our way to giving SIX scholarships this year to deserving writers, all thanks to our thoughtful members who are willing to help others find their way in the writing world.

This is the type of thing that gives me hope for the world around us. People can be good, decent, and kind.

Market Street Meatloaf

Do you have meals you make for special occasions?

Now, I don’t mean the big holidays, those are a given. I mean a special meal you make for someone’s birthday because it’s their favorite or something reserved only for celebrations.

For my husband, it’s Market Street Meatloaf. It’s one of those dishes that takes some thought and definitely some time to put together, so I usually only make it on this birthday or Father’s Day. Well, this has been one of those years where either he hasn’t been home on the day of celebration or frankly, I’ve been too tired to make it work. (I’ve spent most of 2018 exhausted, but that’s a different story.)

So, I took advantage of his day off and Veterans Day to make him feel special with a little meatloaf. (What can I say? We all have our love languages. Amiright?)

Market Street Meatloaf goes back to early in our marriage when we were both learning to cook (and before the Internet made it easy to find new recipes and discover new techniques). We found the recipe in this cookbook. (I think it was a wedding present):

The New Basics by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins

Like the description on Amazon says for beginners it will show you how to boil an egg and for experienced cooks it will show you new techniques to try. This is definitely a cookbook to have on your shelf.

It’s worth all the chopping of onions (white & green), carrots, celery, bell peppers (red and green), and garlic to see how much he appreciates it. Be forewarned the vegetables have to sweat and then chill for an hour, then the meatloaf itself cooks for about 50 minutes. So this isn’t a quick and easy meal, but you will be rewarded for your hard work. (You can even do the vegetables the day before, but, honestly, I can never seem to work that far ahead.)


And, one more tip, it seems like some of the ingredients, like the meats, aren’t necessarily sold in the same quantities as called for in the recipe. This recipe is pretty forgiving if you’re over or under a bit, it’s not going to make much difference.

This time I saw where someone had topped it with a mixture of ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard five minutes before pulling it out of the oven. That was delicious!

Hubby was so excited when I offered to make it last night and that makes me happy.

What meal can you create to make someone in your house feel special tonight?

Armistice 100/Veterans Day

One hundred years ago, the treaty to end The Great War was signed on a private train carriage in a remote area of France.

People really believed there was never be a war like that again. How could there be? It was so terrible with such a great cost to human life. Wouldn’t we all do what we could to prevent that from happening again? Thus the name “The Great War.”

It was such a hopeful thought.

Of course, we now know The Great War as World War I. In the last one hundred years, not only have we seen World War II, but also Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Iraq. And, those are only the one involving the U.S. Unfortunately, there are people at this moment living in war zones.

Armistice Day is now known as Veterans Day to honor and celebrate those individuals who have served their country and put themselves in danger to ensure freedom for the rest of us.

Today, I honor my husband. He chose to serve not once, but twice and then reenlisted again after a year of active duty after 9/11. His sense of duty and desire to keep the bad guys away from our shores and to help others find freedom is inspiring. Thank you, Honey.

I am forever grateful God puts warriors on this earth to stand up for what is right.

Bedlam and Playoffs!

What a weekend of football in our house!

Last night, my son’s high school team won their first playoff game this season 49-0! Go BA! Go Tigers!









It was quite a feat since it was literally freezing out there!

I’d like to institute a new rule. When the temperature hits 32 degrees, we play “soccer rules.” The clock no longer stops. For anything. No timeouts. No stopping when someone gets out of bounds or for a first down or even for an injury. Let’s get this party going and get people into the warmth!









Seems reasonable, yes?

We’re on to the semifinals next week!

Then, today, was Bedlam!

The University of Oklahoma played Oklahoma State University. It probably doesn’t sound like much to anyone outside of our state, but since we don’t have professional football here, it’s one of the biggest football events of the year. (Although, being an OU fan, it feels like every game is a huge event!) It’s fun to be a fan and even more fun now that my oldest is a student there. I can even imagine what game day must be like as a student on campus!

The fun continues tomorrow with pro football. Our family has restarted our family football league where everyone picks a team before the beginning of the season. The person whose team makes it the farthest wins! It use to be that the losers had to throw the winners a Super Bowl party, but since we’re all in three different states, we’ll have to think of a way around that. I have the Rams and I’m currently tied for first place!

Better start looking a trophies!


The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

The Miscalculations of Lightning GirlThe Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m just going to say it: I loved this book!

It is the middle grade equivalent of ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE. (If you haven’t read that one, get right on it.) Thanks to a lightning bolt, Lucy is smarter than your average 12 year-old (or 40-something year-old, for that matter), but her Nana insists she needs to experience real life in the form of middle school. While she might be able to hide her math prowess to fit it, it’s much more difficult to hide her OCD. Seeing how the world looks through Lucy’s eyes was wonderful and thought-provoking. Stacy McAnulty manages to shows such character growth without Lucy ever changing who she really is. Ultimately, it’s a story about friendship, forgiveness, and accepting people even when they turn out to be different than your first impression. I was in a puddle of tears at the end.

Bonus: This book makes learning a little something about math easy because you’re not learning math, but rather learning about Lucy who loves math and sees it in everything.

It says it’s for ages 8-12, but I couldn’t have loved it more.

So, buy it for your upper elementary or middle school student, but I suggest you preread before they do it. You know, just to make sure it’s a good read for them. 😉

Pick it up here!

View all my reviews

Changing Energies

Well, here I am at the end of the day again with barely any energy to write. But, I promised myself to write a blog post each day in November, so, by golly, I’m going to do it.

Let’s talk about how it’s not wise to put the things you know need to get done until the end of they day, unless that’s when you have energy. I use to be a night owl. It still comes out sometimes, but it use to be if I didn’t get myself to bed by a certain hour I might as well stay up because I’d be awake until 2am anyway. I use to get a ton of crafting done in the wee hours and pack many boxes during moves in the late night hours.

Time though, they are a-changin’.

The older I get the more I realize I need to manage my energy and not my time.

I am tired by the end of the day. I am ready for bed at 10pm. (Now, of course, I wake up at 3am, but that’s a different story.) I tend to have more brain power earlier in the day. This would be a good time to write blog posts, but I’m also enjoying seeing where the day leads and what comes to mind for a post.

I’ll find a happy medium some place.

But, for now, I know that writing posts after 9pm just make me more tired and frustrated with myself.

I need sleep.

110 Women

110 women are going to Congress.


These are women from all over the country. These are women from different political parties. These are women from different races, religions, creeds, and preferences.

Women make up over half of our country’s population, so there’s a ways to go for a truly representative government, if that’s something that’s even possible, but tonight I am encouraged.

I do not like the political strife in the atmosphere these days, but seeing people galvanized to take part in our democracy makes me very happy.

I think this is an election that will be felt for generations to come.


I Voted

I’m not gonna lie, Election Day is one of my favorite days. I get to vote!

One of the first things I did when I turned 18 was to go with my dad to the Election Board to register. It has always been a big deal for me.

I feel grateful to live in a country where I have a say in the government.

Not all of my female ancestors had this privilege. There are so many who came before me that didn’t see the realization of their dreams to have a voice in our government. I owe it to them to take advantage of my vote.

As the wife of a veteran, I recognize there are men and women at this very moment fighting for the right of others to have a say in how their countries are run. And, there are those who will never have the opportunity to make their voice heard. I owe it to them to not take this responsibility for granted.

Now, I’m not blind or crazy. I know these are politically charged times. I voted in enough elections now to know that my candidate doesn’t always win. And, you know what? That’s okay. It doesn’t make my vote any less valuable or important. I don’t believe the intent of our Constitution is for us to get our way all the time. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. I think we are suppose to have people from all walks of life with all different opinions to create legislation that works for everyone and to get there it takes compromise.

It takes working together.

It’s not a perfect system and certainly many of our current congresspeople don’t see it the way I do, but I believe we can keep moving forward and working together, but it really only works if we vote for the things we believe in.

One more thing: I posted this picture on Facebook with the caption, “I voted! God Bless America!”

It was the first time I wondered if by putting “God Bless America” in my status if people would assume I voted a certain way. I live in a mostly Republican state. I’m a Christian. I live in the middle of country, one of the “flyover” states. I would encourage you not to judge a book by it’s cover. I don’t think you can assume how anyone votes unless they tell you. Don’t assume or get mad at anyone over their vote or what you think their vote is for. The truth is I voted for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Like I said, I think we all need to work together.

We are the people in “We, the People.” God Bless America.