Friday, September 26, 2014

taking a break



Hey kids.  I know I've been absent for a week (at least now) and I apologize!  However, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the time being.  I just need to prioritize, you know?  Thanks for sticking with me!  In all likelihood, this blog will pick up again in a matter of weeks or months. So keep me bookmarked if you feel like it!

L

Saturday, September 13, 2014

photo project #1

So my friend Pip over at The Journey and the Joy and I are doing a little photography project to keep our shutter-buttons clicking this fall!  Here are a few of the snaps that have been my contribution!

(Water)

(Morning Light)

(Spice)

Would anyone be interested in some tutorials about how I edit color curves in GIMP?  Comment below!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

good stuff #3

1. All the wonderful coffee I've been drinking lately.


2. Strangers who leave their newspaper in the coffeeshop when they're done with it.


3. Taking drawing requests and then feeling really happy with the results.


4. Reading a chapter of Out of the Silent Planet every night.  An old favorite for me but new experience for Michael.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

moka pot


I got a moka pot!  It's a (ridiculously cute) stove-top coffee maker, that reminds me of a camping percolator, and makes something fairly akin to espresso.  I love it!


Here's how I use it:  Fill the bottom compartment with water up to the indicator line.  Insert the filter middle compartment and put in two scoops of coffee.  You're supposed to fill it all the way up, but I don't need the equivalent of six shots in the morning, so I like mine diluted.  Then screw on the top compartment.  Place the moka pot on the stove on medium heat with the lid open. Stand by.  When the coffee starts bubbling out, close the lid and wait for a gurgling/hissing sound.  As soon as that starts, remove the pot from the heat.  Then just pour and enjoy!


Saturday, September 6, 2014

tips for feeling better


We all have bad days.  Maybe you're fighting off a bug--or sick as a dog.  Maybe you're sad or lonely or didn't get any sleep.  Maybe you're bored or stressed.  Maybe--and though I don't like to jump on bandwagons, I support the education of the public on mental health issues--you're struggling with anxiety or depression.  Whatever it is, I've seen patterns crop up in my life over the past three years; patterns that help me take care of myself and feel better at any given moment.  Here's a quick little inspiration list for those days when you need pick-me-up ideas.


When you're sick:

  • brush your teeth--it makes so much difference
  • take a hot shower or bath--ease aches, help your body regulate your temperature, clear sinuses and soothe sore throats
  • drink a mixture of 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp raw honey, and a cup of hot water--this cures my tendency to lose my voice for weeks at a time
  • employ peppermint essential oil--it settles stomachs, clears sinuses, and blocks pain receptors naturally
  • settle in with a rice bag heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer--I have this one

When you're sad:
  • if you have time, make a new cup of coffee, take a hot shower, and when you get out, treat your day like it's just starting--I "restart" bad days all the time in order to be more productive and structured
  • micro-manage a little bit--make a detailed list of things to do in the next few hours, and include rewards (like watching a funny TV show, baking cookies, reading a book)
  • do some drawing/sketching/doodling--the sound of pencil or marker scraping over paper consistently calms me down
  • drink a cup of black tea--this may be just me, but if caught fast enough, the slow-release caffeine can prevent my panic attacks
  • buy an old-fashioned mood ring--I like to put it on, check the color, and tell myself, "See?  Actually you're calm/happy/normal!"  
  • find a place (online, books, whatever) to look at pretty things--for me, this is collecting pictures of flowers and surfing tumblr and instagram
  • listen to cathartic music (which expresses how you're feeling) for a predetermined time and then stop and switch to more positive music--a little can be helpful, but don't let it encourage you to wallow
  • do that sinkful of dishes while singing loudly
  • go for a walk/skateboard ride/swim
  • put on some soothing noises via this website
  • if it's late enough, just call it and go to bed--I have the most trouble once the sun goes down, so don't make yourself stay up late when in reality, things will probably look better in the daylight
What do you do to take care of yourself and feel better?  Do you have any tips for pick-me-ups?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

baking



Do you follow my Pinterest?  I finally got around to trying this recipe I've had pinned away for awhile.  It worked perfectly!  Almost no work at all, easy clean-up, great results.  Michael was super impressed, too, so bonus points!


What are you baking these days?


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

the sunshine award

Dawwww!  The Journey and the Joy has nominated me for The Sunshine Award!  Thanks, Pip!

Here are her five questions:

1. What would your dream vacation be?  Well, lately I've been watching these travel vlogs so I've got Denmark on the mind!

2. Coffee or tea?  I'll just take that OR as the mathematical OR that allows you to have both. Ha!  But if I have to choose, I pick coffee. 

3. What's the last book your read?  The last book I read out of was Let Go by Fenelon.  But the last books I've been reading can be found here.

4. What's your favorite movie?  Oh dear, that's hard!  I'll go with The Fantastic Mr. Fox for now--because it's so pretty!

5. If you could live anywhere, where would that be?  Oh, Canada.  Prince Edward Island or really anywhere.  Just love Canada!

Okay, so I don't normally do these things, but I'll nominate Anna at Loquacious Wanderer (like that blog design?  Done by yours truly!).  Your questions are...
1. Tell me about a favorite memory!
2. What's something that was culture shock during your time in England?
3. Favorite food?
4. Favorite school subject?
5. Do you have any poems memorized?




a few writing tips


So a few thoughts have been solidifying in my mind lately related to writing...and improving your writing style. Of course, voice and style are going to be very unique for each writer, but if you're looking to get the wheels turning up in your style-evolver, here are a few tips that have influenced my fiction.
  1. Poetry.  I maintain that the best thing you can do for your prose is to write poetry.  I mean, think about it... As fiction writers, we can sometimes be big-picture conceptual folks.  We've got an image in our heads, an idea, and that's important.  But how that image is communicated is a wordsmithing thing.  It's all about the words.  Poetry--both reading and writing it--forces you to really focus on word choice, flow, and rhythm.  These are all the things that are going to make your prose enjoyable to read.  Poetry trains you in attention to detail.  
  2. Read writers who really have their wordcraft down.  I recommend some Vladimir Nabokov, as he has had a huge impact on my personal style.  Obviously, many of his works are on somewhat...sensitive subjects, but I can definitely recommend Pale Fire as a starting point.  One of the things I love about him is the way he really milks a word for all its worth.  He'll take a word that is normally a noun or a verb, perhaps, and use it as an adjective in a way that really gets his imagery across.  For this kind of unexpected detail in word choice, I also recommend reading Seamus Heaney's Beowulf translation.  Old English poetry is full of kennings, which is where the writer uses two words hyphenated to replace a boring word.  For example: "whale-path" instead of "ocean."  
  3. Read aloud.  Even if your audience is going to read in their heads, the best way to really get a feel for your narrating "voice" is to go ahead and read it yourself.  You'll catch flow issues faster with your ear than with your eye.  You'll notice times that your style becomes too sarcastic, too artsy, too inconsistent.  Consistency is key for a recognizable, "trademarkable" narrative voice.
What do you like to do to improve your writing?  Let me know your tips in the comments!