Friday, July 29, 2011

Create: Clipboard Notes

My life is hectic, or at least it seems that way when things aren't organized.  I have a full time job that pays, two part time 'jobs' that don't pay, and other assorted groups and responsibilities.  All of them have due dates and things that need to get done.  I can make list after list, but something will probably get lost in the shuffle.

I decided that rather than making one list that could easily get lost or could forget a group/due date, I'd make a list for each.  But where would I put them?  A single piece of paper in my house becomes a needle in a haystack.  Four?  No way would I ever find that.  Instead, I made a clipboard with a bunch of paper dedicated to each realm in my life.

During a previous project, I glued two sheets of cardboard together.  I still had some of that left so it became my base.  If you are gluing cardboard, I've found it best to set them so that the support line thingies running inside of it are perpendicular to each other.  You know how cardboard boxes are easy to fold one way and harder the other?  How they have little support slat things in them?  That's what I'm talking about.  Once you glue your sheets together, put them under something heavy and wait for them to dry.

Since I have a fascination for half sheets of paper, I used that size for my notebooks.  Measure your paper and add however much ease you want on each side.  My paper 5.5" so I cut my cardboard to 6" wide.  Luckily the piece of cardboard I was working with was a great height with a two inch or so ease at the bottom so I didn't have to measure it.  Do the same thing you did with the width and add a couple extra inches to the bottom of your measurement.  This gives you space to write what the clipboard is for.

Once your boards are cut out, (I used an exacto knife and didn't cut myself, yay!) pile up your paper and secure it with a binder clip.  Now where to put them?

Mine are hung under my white board with thumbtacks.  I used medium size binder clips because the top loops are perfect to go over the tacks. 

Now I when I am thinking of one particular responsibility, I can jot down my deadlines and compare them with the rest.  Yay, organization!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Write: A Few Words

Last week, I received a rejection notice for my poetry.  It was expected and I submitted before I really should have just to have submitted.  It was the beginning of my 'submit something at least once a month' kick that only lasted a month.  Rejections aren't so bad, I got a lot several years ago and I know my poetry is far from traffic stopping right now.  What it did do was remind me that I need to work.

I've been slacking off in my writing lately.  For instance, I don't have anything written to share with my writing group tonight...  Last night was scheduled as my writing night and I had a couple good ideas, but by the time I got home, I was so tired and stressed that I watched TV and went to sleep early.

Earlier this week, I received a letter of acceptance for my short story.  It's going to be published by Misanthrope Press in their anthology, "A Rustle of Dark Leaves."  I don't get paid squat for it, but it's still a publication, and one that fits directly into what I write.  Now I have more confidence and can start going for the markets that will pay something. 

I have one more poetry submission out there.  There are a couple deadlines coming up at the end of this week, but I don't think I'll be able to make them.  I'm going to try to get back to submitting at least one thing a month and see how it goes.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Inspire: Thunder, Thunder, Thunder, ThunderCats! Ho!

My mom always said that when I was little, and pissed off, I wouldn't swear.  No, instead I would yell "Thunder, thunder, thunder, ThunderCats!"  She also says I would run out of the bath nekkid to watch Fraggle Rock...  It should come as no surprise that I am bouncing with anticipation for the new ThunderCats series to premier on Friday.  Although I promise I'll have clothes on. 

My kiddo keeps giving me crap and wandering around the house yelling "Thunder, thunder, ThunderCats!"  But I really don't care, it's awesome.  He watched the first couple episodes this weekend and now I think he's excited about it as well.  He wants me to get the disks from NetFlix.  How awesome is that?!  Unfortunately, his Magic: the Gathering tournaments are on Friday so he won't be able to watch the premier. 

The new series takes the ThunderCats back to Thundara, but I'm not sure how long they will stay there.  I had thought the new series was going to be placed before the old series in entirety, but after watching the old episodes, there's no way it can be.  In the first episode, Lion-O can't even lift the Sword of Omens and he's a really little kit.  How can you have a whole show without the Sword of Omens and without Mumm-Ra?  From some of the previews I've seen, they don't leave out either.  That means it will probably redo the old series.  I think I'm okay with that. 

The old series always seemed to focus on moral character.  The ThunderCats needed to have loyalty and honor to be what they are.  We can only hope that in this new age of cartoons blowing stuff up for the fun of it, that the message of the ThunderCats will still ring true.

ThunderCats, Ho!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Create: A Little of This and That

These past few weeks have gone by in a blur.  Crafting wise, I've been making a bunch of stuff, but none of it is mine.  I've fallen prey to the swapping bug again and I've sent out and received two packages.  I like the swaps because they challenge me, but they often don't leave time for other crafting and leave my confidence a bit shaky. 

But!  I've made two skirts in the past couple weeks and I'm pretty proud of myself for finally overcoming the block and getting them done.

I made one with multicolored polkadots.

And the other with a 'rasta' theme.  I like the way this one turned out best.

I've made headbands and bags and wallets, all falling from my sewing machine like rain dropping into the ocean.  All going away.  But they left me with a new skill set and some nifty stuff.  I just received a skirt in the mail yesterday that I'm over the moon about... but I feel bad because she is the one I sent my first skirt too and she put more work into hers than I did mine.  But that's a part of swapping, right? 

I'm trying not to sign up anymore, my weekends are pretty full from here until sometime in October.  But there's a Dresden Files swap in the works and I do love my paranormal detectives... :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Write: Character Mapping

My brain is a jumbled mess, if you haven't noticed already.  It tends to think in loops and whorls instead of straight lines.  So when I write things down about the characters I'm working on, it normally ends up being on multiple pieces of paper, in no consistent order, and scribbled to fit into the remaining space.

Getting ready for Camp NaNo means that I need a better organizing system for my characters.  How can I jot down all the things about them so I can easily access the information?

Character mapping!  (Note, I didn't realize this was the term until I wrote it down.  Go my brain and things I learned in high school!)

Mapping ideas is something I'm sure you learned somewhere in school.  It uses the bubbles and lines radiating out from a central idea with smaller concentrations and details.  It's like an outline but spread all over the page.  It's actually fun to do too.

I circled my characters name in the center, then though about what important parts I'll want to know about her.  Then I drew a rectangle around those items and started adding in more divisions and details.  I might need to rewrite it onto a bigger piece of paper...  With these maps, I can remind myself at a glance little details about the character.  Much easier than flipping through a notebook over and over again.

I think I'm going to use maps to work out my scenes as well.  Now that I have my outline done, I can go back and figure out the goal of each scene and flesh things out a bit more.  Maps like the ones found here could help me with the consequences of my character's actions.

How do you keep your characters in line?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Inspire: Let's Go Camping!


I've always loved camping.  The fire, the forest, the animals, and hanging out with family and friends.  Although, when I first started camping, it was in my grandparents pop up camper, so my experience with tents didn't come until later.  Depending on who I'm camping with, I've found setting up a tent to be a meditative experience (or a horror story).  But once all the fussy stuff is done, I love the view of trees lit up from underneath by the fire and warm laughter shared.

I haven't gone camping in quite a while.  I didn't go at all last year, and the year before I think I went once.  I miss it.

The last weekend in July I have an opportunity to go camping with a group on someone's land.  It'd be me and the kiddo and a bunch of people I barely know.  But you know what?  I'm getting excited about it.  I think I might pull out my new Salvation Army tent and make sure it's all there this weekend, let it air out. 

The kiddo has already gone camping this year since I signed him up for Nature Camps through the county conservation program.  It was his first overnight without family and I think I was more worried than he was.  He had a blast and gets to go again the first week of August.

In the middle of the heat, before school starts, during an excessive heat warning, I'm dreaming about camping and trying not to think of the heat, bugs, and sweat.  I'm ready to go.

Do you regularly, or irregularly, go camping?  Tent or camper?  All weekend or one nighter?  Please feel free to share any tips or recommendations!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Create: A Patio Garden


Sometimes I tend to over research things.  I get so caught up in the details that I defeat myself before I even begin - I don't have that tool, I don't have the skill, I can't keep track of all that!  Sometimes, I just go do things.
Cucumber, Jerusalem Artichoke, and Peas
Once I planted my garden and things started to grow, I realized that my cucumber and peas needed something to climb.  I tried just sticking a branch with lots of offshoots in the peas for it to climb, but the wind liked to twist it and I lost one of my peas that way.
Cucumbers!
With the cucumbers, though, I knew I needed something more sturdy.  A quick look through my yard yielded many fallen branches perfect for making a teepee. 

Since my container was square, I found four straight long branches and pushed them into the corners.  I tied them together at the top with yarn.  Then I took four smaller branches and tied them horizontally to the support branches.  I tied the two opposite sides and then put the last two on top of that.  Then I moved upwards and repeated that process.  I ended up with a teepee with two levels far enough apart I could still get my hand, and watering can, inside. 

I'm hoping that my patio tomato doesn't need a cage, but we'll see.  I'm not sure I can make one of those!

Did you put in a garden this year?  What do you use to support your plants?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Write: Putting Together a Novel

National Novel Writing Month has decided to go to camp.  August has been turned into Camp NaNo, another opportunity to write a novel in thirty one days.  This is a great opportunity for me to rewrite my vampire novel.  I wrote it once in November, but I didn't like the way it ended up.  So it's time I rewrite it.

How do I make sure that this time my novel comes out the way it's supposed to?

Starting with outlines doesn't always work for me.  I get bogged down in the little details and end up changing things.  That's part of the reason I didn't like how my novel turned out.  I also tend to jot down scene ideas in my everyday writing journal.  This let to scenes being lost in the pages among poetry and short stories.

Once I filled my last notebook, I made sure to get one that had dividers.  My awesome plan for one section being poetry and the other fiction didn't work so hot, but I did have a divider to keep my scenes separate.  After jotting down the scenes, I found it easier to see which ones wouldn't work with others and how to find a better thread of the story.  Easing the scenes into an outline only required shuffling the parts, not writing them. 

It also gave me an opportunity to write two outlines to ponder.  There were a couple scenes that could be placed in different spots to give me a completely different novel.  I've got to finish up the details and get it to a friend for an opinion today (because he wouldn't understand what “Blood spoiled again” without details).  Then I can develop the winning idea even more.

This is definitely a strategy that I am going to be following in the future.  What organizational skills help you write? 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Inspire: It's a Garden Thing

The Oath I made this year was to finally plant a garden.  I've been buzzing about it for the past couple of years and it was one of those things that just never happened.  This year, however, it did.  I grabbed a bunch of plastic buckets and made myself a garden.

It's not very big, but it works just fine for me as a starter garden.  The kiddo is getting excited about it, and I now know more for next year.  Next year we might get a community plot and actually put stuff in the ground - but then we would have to remember to go over there.  With it outside my house, I can check on it when I get home every night.

We currently have a couple of small tomatoes ripening, a couple spring peas we've already eaten, and cucumbers getting ready to fruit.  My peppers don't have any growing yet, but I planted them later than everything else. My spinach and radishes failed, but my lettuce and sage are growing well.

It's a joy coming home and seeing those things.  I love just running my hand over my dwarf basil and trying to train the cucumber vine to it's cage.  It's amazing to see a tomato come from a flower. 

Are you growing anything this year?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Create: Picnic Party

My birthday party is on Saturday.  My actual birthday isn't until next week, but it's hard to gather friends together in the middle of the week.  I almost never throw myself a party because I feel all self-conscious about gathering people together who might feel obligated to give me things.  Except family. :)  But I've been wanting to do some sort of a tea party for a long time now, and what better reason to have one than my birthday?

I tend to plan and then procrastinate (as you can tell by some of the posts on this blog. ;)).  So while I can see my party in my mind's eye, pulling it off will be a test - especially when I have to clean and declutter my house plus get everything ready in a day.  Go me!  On one hand, I have almost everything I need already as I am using my own dishes, silverware, and jars as drinking cups.  On the other hand, I have to borrow tables and an ez up from a friend and hunt down some table cloths.  I have more than enough napkins for the kiddo and I, but for ten people?  I don't think so.

Luckily, one of the pieces of fabric from the garage sale looks perfect for a table cloth.  It's a bit long, so I'll have to fold it in half, but it's a beautiful blue and doesn't need to be hemmed.  I think it makes the table look classy.  Let's hope that works outside too. 

My plates, jars, and other pieces will all be set out in my picnic baskets with jars of sun tea, pitchers of drinks, and potluck food.





Tonight I have to finish up some more napkins, and go thrifting just in case I find something awesome.  I need to count my knives and jars to make sure I have enough, then make sure all the paper labels are off the jars. 

I'm excited, a little nervous, and trying to figure out just what I am going to make for food.  It's a potluck.  Do you know any good recipes for a summer picnic?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Write: The Crowd Jumped

Thump.
The floor shakes.
Thump thump.
The crowd jumps,
a room all in time,
gathered by electronics
and strings.
Hands raised,
voices shouting.
Thump.
The floor shakes.
Thump thump.
The crowd jumps.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Inspire: There's a Party Going On

Happy Independence Day to the Americans, and happy 4th of July to everyone else!  It's a time for fireworks, picnics, and barbecuing.  Here in Iowa, this weekend was also festival time.

I finally managed to get myself to part of 80/35 on Saturday, a two day music festival that hosts local and national acts.  It has three stages, a craft fair, local food venders, and this year had a 'green' area where you could pedal a bike in order to power a video game. 
Nearly 50 astounding acts on multiple stages thrill crowds with spine-tingling sonic stimulation. From wondrous indie headliners and electrifying hip-hop acts to astonishing alt-country and funky fun bands. 80/35 is made for music fans of all ages and genres. And, as a bonus, much of the magical music is absolutely free, including regional and local acts.
I talk a lot about local music, but I rarely get to shows and in the four years 80/35 has been going on, this is the first time I've gone.  And I'll definitely go again.  I might not take as many kids with me, but I'll go. :)  Unfortunately, I didn't get to see all the bands I wanted to since we left early.  However, the bands I did see made up for it all. 

When I decide to break out of my shell, I go all the way.  Not only did I go to 80/35, I went to a CD release party on Friday for Mumford's.  No, not Mumford and Sons, Mumford's.  They are a local band who put on a great show.  All the bands were awesome and crazy on stage, especially Utopia Park.  One guy was in a dress and ended up humping the ceiling.  Yes, the ceiling.  It was fantastic.

Next weekend is my birthday party.  While there will be little to no ceiling humping, accordians, or goat masks, it should still be fun. 

Do you go to festivals or parties during the summer?  What are you listening to right now?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Create: A Dirty Place

This week has been a rough one.  I've had a bunch of stuff come due that I haven't been planning for.  I have three swaps due and two concerts this weekend.  I've known it's all happening, but I just haven't felt motivated to get it done.  Well, I've had a bad case of anxiety over a swap project and that's put a halt to the whole process.

I couldn't get my crocheted swim bag done for today, but I found something even better to make.

I've been planning on making some sort of bag to hold my napkins, tissues, and towels from the kitchen.  They have a tendency to pile somewhere and then I can't find them to wash them, and then I can't tell if they are clean or not.  This project from Cornflower Blue was exactly what I was looking for.  There's no sewing like I was planning, and I didn't even have to go buy supplies.  In addition, I get to use the really nifty pillow case that I haven't used in the bedroom because the colors clash. 
The colors are much, much brighter in real life.
All I had to do was attach a hook to my laundry room door, put a pillow case in an embroidery hoop that I don't use, and poof, I managed not only to round up all my little pieces of dirty laundry but I washed them too!  Fantastic!

If you use cloth napkins, how do you keep them all rounded up?