Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work In Progress): Writing is on hiatus during the holidays.

Quote of the Week: “Opportunities are gifts. To seize the opportunity and run with it is a living, breathing thank you note.” ~ Unknown

What I'm Reading: Magnate by Joanna Shupe. This is the first book in the Knickerbocker Club series. It's also the first book I've read by Ms. Shupe and I'm really enjoying it. I will definitely be reading the other books in the series.

Random Thoughts: I spent last Friday lazing away on the sofa and reading a book. It's pretty much all I did all day. Well, I did take a 45 minute nap in the afternoon. I can't remember the last time I took a day to do absolutely nothing, didn't worry about what needed to be done, or how long my "to do" list was. I woke up the next day feeling refreshed and relaxed. If you can take a day and do whatever you find relaxing and nothing else, I highly recommend it. It was a nice way to destress before the craziness of the Christmas season begins.

Random Photo of the Week:

                            Mrs. Green's (and mine) ideal way to spend Black Friday.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Holiday Baking

Within the next couple of weeks, my mom will start her holiday cookie baking. She makes at least 6 different kinds of cookies and at least 10 dozen of each kind. All these cookies are given away with gifts or as gifts with just a few cookies left for us as a family to eat. Maybe about 2 to 3 dozen total out of all the cookies she makes.

I always contribute at least two to three different kinds of cookies as well. This year I wanted to try some new recipes and stumbled on a copy of Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Cookies Cook Book in a used bookstore. It was published in 1975. There are some recipes I'm looking forward to trying and some I will never attempt - Fruit Cocktail Bars anyone? Just the thought of fruit cocktail in a cookie makes me shiver, much less eating one.

I did find a recipe for Velvet Pistachio Squares that I'm looking forward to trying. It seems relatively easy to make, butter or margarine, flour, sugar, an egg, vanilla extract, milk, baking powder, flaked coconut, and chopped pistachios. After you make the squares/bars, you frost them with vanilla frosting.

I'll let you know how they turn out.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you enjoyed the holiday surrounded by loved ones.

And for those of you who brave the crowds to do Black Friday shopping, I hope you find all the great deals you're looking for.

I haven't had a free day with nothing on my "absolutely needs to be done" list in months so I'm taking full advantage of the time today to spend it reading and relaxing.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work In Progress): Writing is on hiatus.
 
Quote of the Week:  “There’s nothing false about hope. It may not change things immediately, but it will change you immediately, and that will change things eventually. Hold onto hope, white-knuckled if necessary.” ~ Unknown

What I'm reading: I'm still reading Hot in Hellcat Canyon by Julie Ann Long. It's been a bit hectic lately so reading time has been had to find.

Random Thoughts: I've been wavering back and forth on whether I want to do any shopping on Black Friday or over the weekend. JoAnn's is having a great papercrafting sale starting today. I've been drooling over the sales flyer I received in the mail on Monday. But if I did take advantage of the sale, I'd be buying things for myself, not gifts so I'm telling myself that I don't need any more scrapbook paper or card stock, dies, embossing folders, and I definitely do not need another planner or any more washi tape or planning supplies. 

Random Photo of the Week:

 Somebody insisted he needed to go out on the porch and check out the snow. It didn't take him long to decide he wanted to go back inside where it was warm and dry.

Monday, November 20, 2017

2018 Planning...or Should I Say "Planner"

I purchased a 2018 planner. Rather than purchase 3 separate planners, one writing related, one every day life related, and one health and wellness related, I'm going to frankenplan the one I bought. (In case you think it's crazy to have separate planners for different things, I know some people who keep 3 or more separate planners and manage to keep track of them all. Personally, I'd probably go crazy trying to keep track of more than one.)

Because I want to do a better job in 2018 of staying on point with goals and meeting objectives, I decided I need to keep better track of what I need to do and where I am in relation to those goals on at least a monthly, if not weekly, basis so I'm adding pages to my 2018 planner, hence the frankenplanning.

Frankenplanning if you're not familiar with the term is where you add, subtract, or glue pages together to make the planner what you need it to be. It's really a way to customize the planner so it best suits your needs. Some people buy one or more planners and combine them in some form or another.

I'll be using my planner for every day life stuff, but adding sections for writing related and health and wellness so I can keep track of all three in one place because each of them are equally important to me in the coming year. I'm using the Happy Planner by MAMBI (Me and My Big Ideas) for 2018. It's a disc bound planner that makes it easy to add or subtract pages, add dashboards, journal cards and the like.

Do you use a paper planner or do you use the calendar on your phone?

Friday, November 17, 2017

This I know for sure...

I hope to get the majority of my holiday gift shopping done within the next 2 weeks. I also plan on doing as much of it as I can online. It's easier to shop online and have it shipped to my address or the gift recipient's address than having to fight the crowds or troll store parking lots trying to find a place to park. I will do some shopping in physical stores, but as little as I can.

Do you do a lot of your holiday gift shopping online or do you prefer to shop in stores?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work In Progress): Writing is on hiatus.

Quote of the Week: "How can you make yourself happier on a daily basis?” ~ Unknown

What I'm reading: I'll be starting Hot in Hellcat Canyon by Julie Ann Long this evening. This is the first book in the Hellcat Canyon series. 

Random Thoughts:  Many of my relatives live in the south so I don't see them very often. Unfortunately as we all grow older, it seems we only see each other at funerals. 

Random Photo of the Week:


                    Here Mrs. Green is pretending to be the Wicked Witch of the East.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Ruminating a Bit

I rarely do any writing from the week of Thanksgiving until January 2nd of the new year. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the accompanying additional shopping, cooking, baking, hosting of friends and family as they come to town for visits, and wrapping of gifts, it leaves very little free time so when I plan my yearly goals, I always plan for those 6 weeks or so to be writing free.

2017 in terms of writing and anything related to it has come to an end for me. It's earlier than usual, but I hope to use the time to get my holiday cards made and sent out. I felt like I needed to step away from writing earlier because I wasn't making any headway and was more often than not, making excuses to do anything but write. 

Besides hand making my holiday cards (with one or two birthday cards thrown in), I want to use the time to really figure out why I was spinning my wheels when it came to my writing. I've been looking at my 2017 goals and trying to see where I got off track. I will be honest and admit I came no where near meeting the majority of them. 

I've been reading articles to better help set goals and how to stay on track in terms of meeting them and how to get back on track when you go off the rails. I've been looking at different planners to see if a different set up will help me stay on point. 

I'm determined 2018 will be a much more productive year. If you have any tips or helpful hints that you use to keep you on track with your goals regardless of what they might be for, I'd love to hear them. Along with writing related items, I also want to set goals for trying different types of exercise, getting stronger, and to increase my savings.

Friday, November 10, 2017

This I know for sure...

Today we had our first snowfall of the season. While I've lived in upstate NY my entire life, I'm never ready for winter. I'm hoping this year we'll have less snow than the average 100 inches we usually get. I'd much rather have freezing cold temperatures each day and no snow or very little snow. People who know me well, know that's something for me to say since I hate being cold.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work In Progress): As I mentioned in a previous post (titled Writing Hiatus - 10/23/17), I've decided to put my writing and revisions of completed manuscripts on hold until January. 

Quote of the Week:  “There are many reasons to get physically and emotionally stronger. Stronger people get what they want more often.” ~ Unknown


What I'm Reading:  I started Must Love Weiners by Casey Griffin. This is the first book in the A Rescue Dog Romance series. I haven't read anything by this author before. I realize the author had no say over the title, but I have to say it almost put me off reading the book. I hope the story is better than the title.

Random Thoughts:  I picked this week's quote (above) to go with the random thought of this week. As strange as it sounds at this time of the year with all of the holidays coming, I've started a new eating and exercise plan. My goal is not to lose weight, if I do that will be a bonus. My goal is to maintain my current weight. Every year I gain between 7 to 10 pounds in the time frame from the week of Thanksgiving through the week of New Year's day. So by changing up my eating plan and ramping up my normal exercise routine, I'm hoping to keep that from happening this year. I will, of course, still eat holiday treats, just not as much as I usually do. 

Random Photo of the Week:

                                  This is a picture of a card I made for my sister's birthday.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Baking

Feeling a bit unsettled after this past week, I decided to bake yesterday. I've always found baking to be soothing, the rhythmic kneading of dough, the scents emanating from the oven.

I bought a mini bundt pan a few weeks ago and hadn't had a chance to try it out so I pulled it out of the pan cupboard along with a recipe for olive oil bundt cakes I've been wanting to try. I've never had an olive oil cake before and was a little worried they might be heavy or greasy, but they turned out the opposite. The recipe below is a from a family friend. I hope you enjoy it.

Mini Olive Oil Cakes

Butter or Olive Oil Cooking Spray (I used Pam Olive Oil Spray.)
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/3 cups Sugar
2 tablespoons Lemon Zest
2 large Eggs
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2/3 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside. Whisk together the sugar and lemon zest in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each one. Next add the olive oil and milk. Whisk mixture together with a strong whipping motion to ensure all the ingredients are will combined.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder together. Add to the egg/sugar mixture mixing just enough so that everything is combined. (The same way you'd make muffins from a box mix.) Pour batter into the individual bundt areas in the pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cakes should be golden brown and spring back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. (My pan is a six mini cake pan. If you have a 12 mini cake pan, you may need to adjust the baking time down a little.)

I serve glaze on the side because some of my family members don't like it. (Crazy, I know.) For the glaze, mix 1 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar and 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice to taste depending on how lemony you want it to taste. Whisk until smooth and and drizzle over the cakes.

This recipe makes 12 cakes.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Apologies

There will be no posts for the remainder of the week due to a death in the family.