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  • Have some animals

    Have some animals

    I've taken thousands of pictures of our girls over their lifetimes. Mikenna in particular, after almost eleven years, is pretty tired of being a photo subject, and tends to look away when the camera comes out.

    However, apparently if you sit on the floor to play with your camera settings, you'll attract attention from even the most camera shy.

  • It's Novel Season

    It's Novel Season

    Shhhh...

    Be very very quiet.

    At long last, it's novel season in my brain.

    Truth be told, it's been 'novel season' for a while. I just haven't had the time/effort to put actual pen to paper. What you see up there are my 'cheat sheets'. I made a quick character creation sheet a few years back to help quickly flesh out characters. They're one of the first steps in novel creation for me now. I start with the tangible questions, and then flesh them out even further - but at least this way, I have something to start with.

    Also, please pardon the fact that I totally botched the word 'caucasian' on the papers above. I can spell - really.

    I can't really tell you much about the project at hand. In my brain, it started out as, "Oh, here's how I think I can fix my 2009 NaNo novel..." and then those ideas took off on a life of their own such that they're really not the same story. It would be like saying cake and pudding are the same thing because they both use liquid.

    I've got some good character ideas, however, it's the world building that is really fuzzy. I'm not sure where the idea falls on the sci-fi/dystopian spectrum, but I guess we'll find out.

    For now, I'm keeping the working title of the NaNo novel, just dropping the word "The" - "Zoe Project" ... in my notes, I refer to it as either "Project Zoe: Red" or "Zoe: Red". Why? Because it's a "redo", and I arbitrarily decided that I'd keep my materials color coded red.

    Oh, the random nonsense that comes with starting a new project. I love it.

    So, yeah. I'm finally (thank you brain, for cooperating, at last) working on something again. It's probably light sci-fi, I guarantee there's an element of romance in it (because all of my stories must), and my folder and notebook are red. There you go, now we're on the same page.

  • Weighty Matter

    I've had a bad relationship with the scale since I can remember. I have a vague memory of stepping on at some point and my childhood, feeling horrified, and trying to figure out how many years I needed to not gain weight in order to be 'normal'.

    I didn't step on a scale for almost seven years because my anxiety over that number got to be so ridiculous. The fear of having to step on a scale kept me from going to see doctors for that period of time. I'm not sure whether this is proof of how absolutely crippling anxiety can be, or commentary on how stupid our obsession is with weight. I think it's both.

    When I did finally step on a scale because of I had to go to a doctor, the number wasn't pretty. But I had reached a point where I really didn't care. I knew that I was so much more than whatever number the scale read.

    I was me at my lowest weight, and at my highest. I had come to the place where I didn't believe that my weight determined whether I was worthy of love, of good things, or health. (Now, whether I was able to act on that belief on a day to day basis - much more difficult.)

    In the past, when I've tried to 'consciously eat better and exercise', I end up petering out because I'll exercise really hard and then not really see any results. Sure, Matt might tell me that, "I think your sides are slimming down!" but if I can't see it ... it's really discouraging. And I had that experience over the winter/spring. I exercised my little heart out, but my jeans still felt the same. I might have had more energy, but a really overcast day still sent me hiding under the covers.

    As much as I want to be a 'it's the journey' oriented person, I apparently need to see some results in order to stick with things.

    I want to be healthy and I want to be strong. I want to be able to run, and to give myself the best shot I can at a long and happy life. That means so much more to me than what the scale says.

    But ... I'm finding that when my self esteem isn't completely bound up in the number, the scale is a decent way to track progress for me. It's not the only measure, mind you, but it's tangible and concrete. The jeans I couldn't button last year are now getting baggy. I can run for two at least two minutes, and I remember when forty five seconds was unimaginably difficult. But the scale also says that I'm down, as of this morning, 26.4 pounds.

    I don't weigh myself every day, or even with any consistency. If I get the urge to check in, I do. But I'm happy to be at a place where I feel like the scale is working for me, and I'm not working for it. That's how it should be.

  • Biscotti!

    Biscotti!

    I'm having a bit of a love affair with biscotti lately. I never thought I'd be a biscotti person - I mean, who wants dried out cookies when you can have decidedly not dried out cookies?

    But then I became a tea drinker.

    I only tried biscotti a few weeks ago, when my sister in law took me on a tea tasting. It wasn't amazing biscotti there, but I decided there was something fun about that little crunch along with your tea. So as I often do with baked goods, I thought, I can do better. I should try this.

    So, I did.

    I'm a bit fan of rituals and making little things special. So I started making a cup of tea for myself at night, and grabbing a couple pieces of biscotti. It felt just a little bit decadent. While I guess you could plow through a whole plate of biscotti with your tea, two slices seems about right to me. That's way better portion control than I usually exercise with cookies. Plus, because biscotti is already dried and crunchy, with proper storage, it lasts a pretty good amount of time.

    As a bonus, I noticed myself not really craving sweets throughout the day, and not wanting to pick up stuff at the store, because I knew I had my tea and biscotti to look forward to.

    It's a little ritual I've really come to enjoy. I think there's something to be said for finding something that feels special and indulging on a regular basis - whether that's tea, bubble baths, or a good book.

    If you'd like to try making biscotti yourself, here's a couple of recipes.

    This one here is a well rated, simple, crunchy biscotti. I added some almonds to it, because otherwise I think it would have been too plain. I might also suggest cutting the anise extract in half and also using almond or vanilla. But that's my preference.

    Simple Biscotti

    The second recipe is a bit more complex, but just barely.

    I didn't have any almonds on hand, so I substituted mini chocolate chips. This recipe turns out softer, more dense, than the first and feels a bit more 'cookie' like. I did like this one a lot.

    D'Amaretti Biscotti

    Try one and see what you think! Next time, I think I'm going to track down a chocolate biscotti recipe. Mmm!

  • Seven years ago...

    Seven years ago...

    I married this boy on a really hot July day in a church with no air conditioning.

    And then

    we had

    the best party

    ever.

    Good times.

    Happy anniversary, hon. I love you.

  • Indie games: The Blackwell series

    Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

    Lately, as Matt gets ready for bed, I've been running to the microwave, heating up some water for tea, grabbing a biscotti, and hunkering down with some indie games that I picked up during the most recent Steam sale.

    Hey, $1.99 for four games. A girl's got to have some vices, at least mine are cheap.

    They're by Wadjet Eye games, a small indie company based in NYC. Wikipedia tells me that they have four employees, which makes these games even more impressive.

    The games are the Blackwell series - Blackwell Legacy, Blackwell Unbound, Blackwell Convergence, and Blackwell Deception being the ones in the bundle I purchased. The series' conclusion, Blackwell Epiphany is also available, but that's getting a bit ahead of things.

    These games are fun and absorbing. They're all point and click mystery games. You are a medium, whose unofficial job is to help wandering spirits find peace. Along the way, you'll find out why they died, and the story is usually far more complex than it first appears.

    I love that these games are fairly short. I finished the third game earlier this evening, and each one has taken me a little under three hours. I've read that the last two games are longer, though we're certainly not talking 80 hour epics. For me, that's a great amount of time - sometimes it's difficult to invest weeks into a game, or maybe I just don't want to. But the Blackwell games are addictive and engrossing, and I can chew through one in a couple of tea and biscotti sittings.

    So if you're looking for a fun little indie experience, check these games out. You can find them on the Wadjet Eye Games website, or on Steam. Even not steeply discounted during a sale, I think these games are a blast that's worth the price. Plus, supporting indie developers is an awesome thing to do. :)

  • Henrietta Lacks

    Each of us, in our own way, want to make the world a better place.

    Maybe it's for our kids - we'll change neighborhoods for better schools to keep them safe and give them a better start.

    Or we want to be the next Beethoven, Jane Austen, or Spielberg.

    Perhaps ending world hunger or easing the suffering of others is the legacy we want to leave.

    So many aspirations, so little time in our lives.

    I've been reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - shamefully belated, since my parents lent it to me with their fervent recommendation a year and a half ago. (oops)
    The boiled down version is that Henrietta Lacks changed modern medicine with her cells, and never knew it.

    Her cells, the first to survive and multiply in a petri dish, are the reason the Polio vaccine was able to be distributed. She was sent into space to test the effect of zero gravity on humans, and has played a part in many vaccines and disease research - including AIDS, depression, and even in-vitro fertilization. Our knowledge of cells and cell culture took leaps forward because of Henrietta.

    All because she had cervical cancer.

    Cells were taken from her body without her knowledge, and used without her permission. She died without knowing what amazing effect she had on the world.

    Do the best you can to bring about the change you want to see in the world around you. But don't discount the possibility that you may have some effect that you may never know about, in ways you'd never imagine.

    Because we live in a world where one person can rock the world of science without even knowing it.