Wednesday, September 28, 2011

chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

Well, maybe not.  Sarah received a chestnut at our homeschool co-op yesterday, and she was very eager to try it.  I'm not sure it lived up to its hype though.  We still have part of a chestnut sitting on my kitchen counter.  Sarah said its flavor was "very strong."  That might mean a lot of different things, but I think the fact that the chestnut is sitting on the counter half-eaten speaks for itself. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

once upon a dream

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to write.  My preference is fiction; even as a child I wanted to create stories.  I started making up my own "episodes" for TV shows I enjoyed.  (I have since learned that this is called "fan fiction", and there is a ton of it out on the Internet.  If you have a favorite TV show or movie, look on Fan to see if they have it there.  I've read many stories on that site for shows I love.  Some are amazingly good.  Some are abysmally horrible.  Most are somewhere in between.) 

But I digress.  The point is I started to make up stories.  At first, I used a tape recorder and "dictated" my tales.  Then I moved on to completely original fiction and writing on paper.  Later still (much, much later!), I switched to writing on the computer. 

I was probably in about third or fourth grade when I announced to my parents that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.  God bless them, they never once told me what a completely unreasonable, outlandish dream that was.  They honestly seemed to believe that I would someday "make it."  I don't know that I ever told them how much I appreciated the fact that they didn't shoot me down, so here is public acknowledgement and a great big thanks.

I have by no means "made it" now.  But in the last few days, two things happened.  One, a random stranger emailed me about how much he liked this blog and how well-written he thought it was.  He wants to advertise here.  I have not decided whether to accept his offer, but I am incredibly flattered nonetheless. 

The second thing is by far the cooler.  On Money Saving Mom's blog, she mentioned a company called Textbroker International.  I applied and sent in a writing sample.  I received the highest rating possible for a first-time review.  I applied for my first assignment.  The client bought my article, no revisions necessary.  I am now officially a "paid" writer.  Don't get me wrong: I got paid very, very little for this article.  But I got paid.  I can't even begin to describe how excited I am about that.  I can now browse other assignments at Textbroker...and continue to get paid for them.  I feel like I am finally starting to fulfill the dream I had as a kid.  It feels pretty good.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

necessity is the mother of invention

I have been starting my days most mornings with exercise.  At the moment, I am using various Leslie Sansone workout videos.  One day I am sure I will be ready for harder workouts, but not today.  Sarah and Natalie often like to do the workout with me, Sarah especially.  However, the workout I did this morning uses a prop--a "walk belt" (resistance bands attached to a belt that is worn around the waist).

Sarah really wanted to be able to do the portions of the video that utilized the belt/bands.  I only have one though.  She could have just done the arm motions without the bands, but that's not really Sarah.  She wasn't about to give up so easily.  Instead she created her own "walk belt."

She took a long red ribbon and tied it around her waist.  The ribbon was long enough that even after being tied like a belt two long strings still hung loose, giving her her "bands."  She still wanted handles though (my bands have handles), so she tied Natalie's flip-flops to the ends of the ribbons.  Voila!  Handles.

Natalie was less than pleased to have her flip-flops doubling as handles, but she acquiesced.  Sarah was thrilled to have her own "walk belt."  Sure, her ribbons weren't actually providing any resistance, unlike the rubber tubing of the real belt.  She didn't know that, nor did she care.  Heck, I don't care.  It was a creative solution to her problem.

You can see the walk belt (plus the videos I used this morning) here.   The bands don't provide the highest level of resistance, but they do ramp up a walk pretty well.  They've also held up well over the years; I've had them for quite a long time now. 

The link is an affiliate link. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

snatching victory from the jaws of defeat

Okay, so the title isn't totally accurate...more like snatching just-a-plain-old-defeat from the jaws of we-got-completely-stomped-on-and-crushed-defeat.  Still, I'll take it. 

On Cinco de Mayo, I tried unsuccessfully to make tortillas.  They didn't turn out well at all, and I wrecked the kitchen.  What a mess to clean up! 

Last week, I was really trying hard to skip grocery shopping and just use what we had on hand.  On Thursday, pickings were starting to get a bit slim, but I did have the ingredients to make black bean burritos.  Well, I mostly had the ingredients.  I didn't have tortillas.  So I took a deep breath and tried that whole making tortillas at home thing again. 

It's funny; I can make breads of all description.  I can even concoct a pretty decent pie crust.  I can make pizza dough.  But I can NOT make tortillas.  Not even a little bit. 

The "dough" for the tortillas (that I was supposed to knead for five minutes) never actually became dough.  I followed the directions exactly as to proportion of ingredients called for, but all I got was glop.  You could stir it, but it wasn't going to knead. 

So I began adding more flour.  And more.  And more.  Finally I gave up.  Sarah and Natalie stirred the batter-like goo for awhile.  Natalie smeared it around the kitchen, then tasted it and declared it "good."  I stashed it in the fridge so I didn't have to see it mocking me.

Apparently hanging out in the chill chest did improve the tortilla makings a bit.  Sunday afternoon I pulled the stuff back out.  It still wouldn't cooperate enough to roll it out into nice thin little rounds, but I did manage to get it into nice, not-so-thin amorphous blobs.  I cooked them, and I made the black bean mixture.  The darn things are too thick to be tortillas, so I told the girls they were tamales.  They ate them and declared them good.

That's something, right?  I can sort of claim a victory here?  Or at least say I staved off total defeat?

I think I'm buying tortillas in the store from now on.  It saves my sanity and makes my kitchen easier to clean. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

happy birthday to me!

Okay, so it's not my birthday yet.  And what I'm posting about isn't really a birthday present.  But it feels like one! 

If you've ever looked at my blog roll, you'll see Stephanie O'Dea's Crockpot 365 blog.  If you have never visited her site, you should.  Every crockpot recipe you could want is there (including several yummy coffee-shop recipes--a great way to get a Starbucks fix at home!), and I love Stephanie's humor and writing style.  (If you need a chuckle, read the posts labelled "flops.")  But Stephanie also gives homemaking/organization tips at Totally Together.  She's written a book by the same name.  Earlier this week, she did a giveaway of this book. 

I have entered who knows how many giveaways in my online years.  Some of them, I really, really wanted to win...but I've never won one (that's the case for most people, right?  "Many will enter, but few will win, blah, blah").  Well...until now!  I won a F*R*E*E copy of Stephanie's book!  I like free, and I like Stephanie, and goodness knows I need help with organization.  (I told my SIL that God was hinting at me, letting me win this!).  So I'm calling it a birthday present to myself, and I'm excited to get it.  Once I've had a chance to read it, I'll share my thoughts and insights. 

Oh, and speaking of blog recommendations, if you've never checked out my other blog, I invite you to do so.  You might find an interesting article or bit of advice there (I really like the article on how eating your veggies can give you a natural tan!).  Truth be known, I have a third blog, but I don't update it very often.  Maybe I need to consolidate.  (And yes, I realize that I didn't include the link to Blog #3.  Perhaps some other time).  :) 

I'm going to wrap up now.  We were in the waiting period of a science experiment, but the timer is beeping now, so I'm off to do more school!