Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Write: Epic Fail, or Lessons from NaNoWriMo

So... I didn't come close to finishing NaNoWriMo this year.  Yes, I know I still have all of today to catch up, but it is not going to happen.  I still have a good start on my novel and I really like it, it's just not getting done right now. 

Last year, I finished NaNoWriMo with a sense of accomplishment.  I could, indeed, write a freaking novel.  I could find time to write more than short stories and I could hang in there over the long haul.  I had hand written a novel in a month.  It didn't end up where I wanted it to go, but it was down on paper.

This year, I walk away from novel writing month with only a big sigh, a half finished manuscript, and a sense that I have finally stretched myself as far as I can. Catching up on my writing would have only added to my insanity and everything would still be half done right now.  I can't take on any other tasks for a while.  However, I know I can still make some time for writing.

Did you finish NaNoWriMo this year?  How do you deal with tasking yourself up to the snapping point?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Inspire: Getting Over the Ghost

Netflix is a wonderful thing, it has movies and tv shows, and all sorts of stuff.  Granted, sometimes it doesn't have the most recent, but I enjoy the thrill of randomly finding a favorite show from years ago.  Recently, I ran across a paranormal/ghost hunting show I used to watch on TV and just had to watch all of it.

I know it's bad for me, and I'm sure a lot of it is staged or exaggerated, but it keeps my attention.  With an overactive imagination at times, watching ghost stories is not the best idea.  I don't watch a lot of horror movies either, especially ones that mess with your mind, (The Ring and The Grudge, I'm looking at you).  Halloween haunted houses?  No way. 

Yet at the same time, I think it would be fantastic to go ghost hunting in real life.  Maybe it would help me find the difference between imagination and real activity.  Would I ever join a team?  I don't know.  I would have to do one investigation and see how it goes from there.  My imagination might take something home with me and I have a hard time sleeping anyway.

What keeps you up during the long, cold, winter nights?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Create: Holy Craft, Batman!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  I'm finally kicking off the funk of turkey and getting back to a normal schedule.  

I finally finished (mostly) my big projects.  I've got a bit of cord making to do and I will be done and dressed for next weekend.  Dressed?  Yes, dressed.  I finished my attempt at Italian Renaissance under and over dresses this week.  I also made a absolutely basic mantle/cloak, a belt, and a new bag.  All in all, I went through about seventeen yards of fabric.  Yikes.  It mostly looks like a big pile of fabric right now.  I'll try to remember to take a picture when the lacing is done.

In addition, I made a fantastic sweet potato recipe from Budget Bites, my new favorite foodie blog.  Of course, I forgot to take a picture.  A few members of my family even ate and really liked it too!  For my family, who are suspicious of a cheese ball, this was a good step forward.  Well, a step forward for those who ate it.

I will continue my quest to widen the taste buds of my extended family.  My mom said I could cook the turkey next year.  Mwah ha ha.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Write: Keep going?

“Mom, aren’t you supposed to be writing?”

“I will in a minute.”

“Mom, do you want me to turn off this show so you can go write?”

That was a conversation The Kiddo and I had last week when he (and I) discovered Ouran High School Host Club on Netflix.  At first, it was on in the background and I thought it was a silly anime show.  But then I realized that I wanted to see the end of it and the kiddo wanted to use the computer and I wouldn’t let him because I was, at some point, going to go write.

I’m thankful to The Kiddo for trying to get my butt writing.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked all that well. 

The weekends have been killing me.  I have the weekends scheduled as my catch up writing time.  I figured that hours and hours of time would mean that I would be writing during that time.  Instead, I work on other projects and never touch my writing.

I’m currently hovering over ‘quitting’ NaNoWriMo for the year and just typing at my own pace and buckling down to get it done.  I hate quitting.  I feel like if I do, my novel will never get done.  I think I’m going to try catching up during this long weekend since my other projects are almost done.  If I don’t manage to ‘win’ NaNo, then it’s okay, but I’m going to give it my best shot to keep going.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Inspire: Gathering the Family

Define:family on Google brings up these definitions:
 They are all pretty cut, dried, and lacking what I think of when I think of family.  Well, except maybe for number 5…. 

I live in a duplex with my son (family #1).  I gather together with my parents, grandparents, and extended family (#2, 3, 4, 9, and sometimes 5… :)).  We call come from the same parents or grandparents, and we all share the same family history/mythology.  My aunts and uncle wouldn’t be here, and neither would I, if my grandfather hadn’t first seen my grandmother in the trunk of someone’s car driving down the street (As far as I know, there was no illegal activity going on, just a ride to the drive-in theatre). 

However, my family extends beyond the reaches of blood and history.  I consider my good friends family.  Sometimes, my friends know me better than my blood family.  A lot of my core values, the way I view the world, are completely different from my relatives but in line with my friends.  My kiddo tends to be a part of those friend relationships as well, and I’m quite happy to be raising him in an extended friend-family.

It doesn’t matter to me if those gathered around the dinner table are friends or relatives, they are all family.  And I am thankful for every wonderful face.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Create: From the Archive: A Cozy Jar

I am still using this cozy for my water jar and I am very happy with it.  I've gotten a lot of comments on it.  I might need to make one in a different color, but this cozy is definitely a keeper!

I tend to hoard things, especially recyclables.  I just have a problem throwing away things that can be reused.  Given that I try to buy things in glass jars rather than plastic, that means I have a collection of glass.  Yes, I could take them to the glass bin that sits in our Fareway parking lot, but that would require me to remember.  And what if I need a jar after I get rid of them all?

One use for jars that I don't use often enough is drinking glasses.  If I feel safe enough eating food that came from a jar, I should feel safe washing it out and drinking from it.

I recently broke my jelly jar water glass at work.  It was thick, had a handle, and I had used it at work for almost two years.  I dropped it just right to shatter it.  Now I do have a match to that glass, but I use it often at home.  So instead, I dug through my stash of jars and found a new one.

My tea mug has had a cozy for quite some time, so I decided my new jar should get one too.  I chose to use a pattern I had made for xmas and changed it to go around rather than flat, making it look more interesting than single crochet.

Unfortunately, it looks a little bulky, so I might have to make a single crochet cozy or find some thinner yarn.  What do you think?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Write: NaNoWriMo Update

Yesterdays word count:  16036
Yesterdays goal:  25000

I'm still a bit behind, but I'm working on it slowly.  Yesterday, my computer and the NaNo site were acting up, so I called it a day early.  Today is a meeting day, so I've got to try to get my word count in somewhere.  I will leave you with this quote from Dr. Seuss and get my fingers writing!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inspire: A Gathering of Friends

I had a blast on Saturday.  Another friend of mine tied the knot.  While this time there was a DJ instead of a band, we still filled the floor and danced the night away.  I was disappointed they didn’t have the Time Warp, but we did do the Funky Chicken.  There was laughter and joy, the most important things at any gathering.

Last week, I had a great time at Creative Collision, the monthly get together of my local arts group, Ames  I wasn’t planning on going since I had a headache, but I’m quite happy I did.  We laughed, we shared, and we had great drinks.  I left feeling energized about the rest of the month – and I had an offer to borrow a sewing machine. 

Two weeks ago, I went roller skating for the first time in years.  My friend, my sister, and my kiddo all drove thirty miles outside of town to put on wheels and skate around a rink.  It reminded me so much of my hometown rink, now buried for years under the Super Walmart parking lot.  I was ecstatic that I remembered how to skate, and I loved watching my sister learn the ins and outs of a rink. 

I am beyond thankful for my friends.  They are my family, and they welcome me and mine without question.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Create: From the Archive: Naruto Headband

This post originates from May of 2010.  The kiddo doesn't watch much Naruto anymore, but he is still watches lots of anime.  Every once in a while, I catch him with his headband on running around the house making sound effects.  I hope you enjoy!

My son loves Naruto.  And he is always talking about wanting to save money to buy a Hidden Village of Sound headband.  I like Naruto, if you can space out the annoying voices...  There are many reasons I want to learn Japanese, unsubbed anime is one of them.  I made my son a cloth/cardboard/tinfoil headband for xmas but it ended up not holding together as well as I thought.  So I decided that this week I was going to crochet him one.

The music note isn't exactly like it is in the show, but it's close enough for me.
The pattern is pretty simple, only the note is a bit tricky.  Here it is for all you anime geeks. :)  Enjoy!

Naruto Sound Village Headband:
G Hook
Acrylic yarn

Row 1:  Chain 120, chain one and turn.
Rows 2 - 6:  sc in each chain, chain one and turn
Row 7: sc in each sc across, fasten off, weave ends.

Row 1:  Chain 18, chain one and turn
Row 2:  sc in each chain across, chain one and turn
Rows 3-6:  sc in each sc across, chain one and turn
Row 7:  sc in each sc across.  Sc around the whole piece putting three sc in each corner.  Fasten off and leave a long tail for assembly.

In each corner of the plaque, use black yarn and a needle to make small x's to represent the connectors.  There should be three to a side, now that I look at the actual plaque.

Sound Symbol:
With a magic circle, sc 8.  Join together and chain twelve.  Turn and ss in second chain from hook, sc, dc, sc, ss, fasten off, leave a long tail for assembly.

Place the sound symbol in the middle of the plaque. Use the long tail to sew the symbol onto the plaque.  Attach the plaque to the center of the headband and use the tail to sew into place.

Tadaa!  You are done.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Write: Writing Check In

It’s been over a week since NaNoWriMo began.  I made a schedule and I had a plan.  How am I doing?  Not so hot.

I had a few days of events I didn’t plan for that meant I didn’t get any writing done.  I went roller skating and learned how to cartridge pleat!  There were a few more days where I just couldn’t summon the energy to get anything done.  All of that adds up to me being several thousands of words behind.

I could say, eh, I’m not going to catch up… but I can’t do that.  Last night, I got back on track and went over the 1667 word a day goal.  I feel like I’m ready to go and can accomplish my goal. 

My laundry is still getting done, my dishes are mostly getting done, and I have made dinner every day this week since Sunday.  For me, that’s pretty impressive.  Also, it’s a pattern I can continue while I catch up with my writing. 

So am I on target?  No, but I’m getting there.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Inspire: Community Gathering

One of the things I am thankful for is my community. defines Community as:

Community never has one definition for me.  Like those listed above, I have a local arts community, a religious community, a writing community, and a community of friends.  Each community is different and unique.  I am thankful that each community welcomes me and makes me feel a part of it. 

I recently attended my second Iowa Poetry Associationworkshop.  Poets gather together to hear two critics go over the poems they have sent in.  The critics give praise and constructive criticism on how to make the poem better.  No names are included and only you, and the organizer, know who belongs to which poem.  I know a couple of people in the group, but mostly these are all brand new people to me.  Both times, I have been welcomed and made to feel like I belonged.  For someone still dealing with severe shyness issues, that welcome made a world of difference.

While my local arts community, Ames, is a lot of work, it is just as much fun.  Where else could I paint a mural one year and then create an art vending machine the next?  Getting together with other creative types helps keep me motivated and enthusiastic about my own ideas.

As I’ve been solitary for most of my life, it is a huge relief to have a community of people who share my religious beliefs.  The Pagan group I am in gives me the strength of knowing that, yes, other people do believe the same thing.  The UU helps me live by my ethics and morals, and gives me another voice that says I’m not alone. 
I don’t know how I managed before without my communities.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Create: From the Archive: Cloth Tissues

This was originally posted in April, and I'm still using my cloth tissues!  I've started making larger handkerchiefs as well using the same technique.  One of the new things I've learned since this post is that you can make a small snip in the cotton or linen and rip a straight line.  Much easier than measuring out each piece.

It seems I'm always sick this year.  When I'm not sick, I'm still dealing with a runny nose.  I get so tired of my nose getting all red and sore, not to mention how many tissues I throw away!  So, I did some research.  Supposedly, it is the wood pulp in tissues that irritates your nose, not just how many times you rub it.  Yet another reason to make cloth tissues.
I always thought it was pretty gross to blow your nose in a cloth and then tuck it back into your pocket.  However, that's kind of what I do with my regular, disposable tissues.  When I'm on the road or not near a trash can, it gets tucked back in my pocket.  Now that I have a washing machine at home, I don't have to worry about having snot rags piling up before I go to the laundry mat.  Now all I need is to make a bag to throw them in.

I used an old bed sheet to make my new tissues.  It had been hanging around in my fabric stash for years.  I had used a bit of it for another project.  It was nice to be able to use it again.  The sheet was very thin and soft so it makes great tissues/handkerchiefs.  To make the pattern, I unfolded a Kleenex and traced around it on a scrap file folder.  Instead of using a pattern to cut them out, measure your length, make a small snip, and rip the sheet.  This works well on cotton and linen.

I used pretty much the same technique for these as I did my cloth napkins.  These ones are just smaller and I did the corners differently.  I folded over an edge, ironed, then folded it over again.

Instead of mitering the corners, I folded one edge, then folded the other on top of that.  It made the corners a little bulky, and my sewing machine a bit sulky, but I thought it worked pretty well. 

Now I just have to make sure I don't throw them away when I use them!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Write: My November Schedule

How do you write a novel when you have many other things going on?  You add writing to your schedule. 

Normally, my schedule involves days.  For instance, Wednesday is Ames day.  I have my Ames meetings, work on tasks assigned to me, write newsletters and create Facebook pages.  Tuesday I'm supposed to work on writing.  Thursday, I'm supposed to be crafting.  But when a task involves doing something everyday, it's typically not schedule and almost never gets done.

For NaNoWriMo, I decided to make my writing time from 8pm to 10pm every night.  The kiddo starts getting ready for bed at 8:30 and bedtime is 9pm so I'm not missing time with him.  Last night I didn't get started writing until 8:30, but I went above and beyond my desired word count.  So far, it seems to be working.

The second part of my writing schedule does involve days.  I know that on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and one Monday I will not be able to achieve 1667 words.  Instead, I have given myself a goal of 250 words on those days and added the word count to Saturday and Sunday goals when I typically have more time to write.  Why didn't I take those days off my schedule entirely?  I feel like if I miss one day of writing, it will break my habit and it will all spiral down from there.  250 words isn't a lot, but it is progress.

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month?  What does your writing schedule look like?