Tag Archives: Writing

Starting to Plan for Thanksgiving

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I go a little crazy at Thanksgiving time. I love to cook for people, and I tend to cook for my family on the day itself, then do another meal with friends soon after.  I make an insanely huge amount of food, too.

This year, I am thinking about skipping the friend Thanksgiving meal. I do love it, but I may be taking on too many things for the holiday season. I need to ask the kids what they think and do a small poll of my friends to see if they will be available on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I have taken on so many other things, though, I am not sure about taking on a full day of cooking. I am not sure about skipping it, either, though, because it makes me sad to think about missing it.

Regardless, I need to do some planning about the upcoming Thanksgiving time, both food-wise and time-wise. I am taking some time off leading up to the big day, plus the day after, so I want to make sure I am using the time wisely. I will be off this Friday, and every day except Tuesday next week, but I will be working at home on Tuesday, so I could do some baking, in theory. I like to spread the cooking out for a few days so that I am not running around like crazy on the day itself, especially since I like to do a late lunch-time meal. I also want to make sure I use my time off wisely to do some other tasks. So this is another post of lists.

Food for Thanksgiving day (subject to change after I consult my family—or not)

  • Dill dip and rye bread with veggies
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Butternut squash risotto (or possibly cornbread stuffing)
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Turkey
  • Steamed green beans
  • Tropical sweet potato casserole

I have no idea how I am going to do the turkey. I am not sure I have ever made a full turkey, between a spotty history of vegetarianism and just having other people make it (my ex-husband or my dad, usually.) However, the boy is excited to make the turkey this year, so I said we would. My dad did offer to come over and do it on the BBQ grill, though, and I may take him up on that.

I am thinking about doing the risotto instead of my usual stuffing this year for a couple of reasons. First, I have been experimenting with going wheat free lately, and I am thinking it is going well. I have eaten wheat a few times and felt that I was having symptoms related to that, although I have not been systematic about it. A much bigger factor, though, is that I am the only one who likes the stuffing I usually make. I love it, and eat enough to make up for everyone else, but I am thinking I may be better off going to the risotto that I know at least 4 of the 6 of us love. I am considering trying out a cornbread stuffing recipe though, so we’ll see.

I am not sure what to do about dessert this year. I might do a crustless pumpkin cheesecake, or some kind of pudding. This gluten free and dairy free pumpkin pudding looks good. I may have to try that out this weekend to taste test.

Things I can make ahead

  • Dill Dip
  • Cranberry sauce
  • The pumpkin pudding up to baking
  • All the chopping
  • Roasting the butternut squash

Writing Tasks I would like to do in my time off

  • Complete Gaming Angels Holiday Guide
  • Complete The Cult of Lego review
  • Posts for ever day
    • Another budget set up post
    • List of gifts to make
    • Menus
    • <More planning needed here>
  • December Convention post for Gaming Angels
  • A few other Gaming Angels things—featured web magazine, featured web comic, talk to other Pulp Angels team members for ideas and schedules

 Crafts I want to work on

Does this seem like too much? I hope not, because I haven’t even gotten to cleaning and reading and gift shopping.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

To Do List for This Weekend

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I have a lot of things I would like to get done this weekend, now that I am finally feeling better. I have writing to catch up on, housecleaning, and outside projects. On top of this, we are having friends over tonight, and going to my parent’s house tomorrow night. If I don’t make a list, there is no way I am going to get to even half of what I want to do.

A note on my philosophy of list-making: I make a much bigger list than I am likely to be able to accomplish. I find that I don’t finish any list, no matter how many things I put on it, but I do usually get a majority of the tasks done, again, no matter how many things I put on it. So, I think of my to do lists as more of a wish list and forgive myself in advance for the items that don’t get checked off. It is better to have too many things on the list than to end up with some free time and no choices for how to fill it, anyway. Also, the kids will be helping with some of these tasks.

House

  • Vaccuum living room, family room, my room
  • Clear off dining room table
  • Clear off buffet
  • Go through the papers on my desk
  • Kitchen cleanup
    • Clear off table
    • Clean out refrigerator
    • Clean and organize top shelf of the pantry
  • Declutter bookshelves in living room
  • Spend some time cleaning overgrowth out of the creek
  • Cleaning bedrooms

Writing

  • Write two blog posts for this weekend
  • Plan next week’s blog posts
  • Review The Cult of Lego for Gaming Angels
  • Start looking at December conventions
  • Start tabulating gender breakout for Hugo Awards for Broad Universe statistics

Holiday planning

  • Plan Thanksgiving menu
  • Have kids write a Christmas wish list
  • Determine whether I will be able to make any gifts for Christmas presents this year
  • Talk to kids about what holiday events they would like to do this year

I also have a book to finish, and I think I am ready to start practicing another stitch in my crocheting practice, so it will be a busy weekend!

What are your weekend plans?

Things I Have Done Today, and Things I Would Still Like To Do

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I am finally feeling better today, and can get a few things done. I have a lot of things backed up though, from all the time that I was just not feeling up to it all. I want to make sure I don’t forget it all, and also see if I am trying to pack too much into this one day, so it is list time again.First, things I have already done (for the sense of accomplishment):

Now, what I would like to do still:

  • #FeministSF chat moderation
  • Finish GA post
  • Clean up the menu, type it up, schedule it to post tomorrow
  • Empty all trash and recycling and take the bins to the curb
  • Go to Trader Joe’s
  • Wash dishes
  • Clear off dining room table and buffet
  • Repot mums on front porch into a more sturdy pot
  • Cook dinner
  • Make some cole slaw for weekly lunches
  • Put together shelves I bought for my closet

That doesn’t look too ambitious, does it? I also want to read some more blogs from my fellow NaBloPoMo-ers, and I am thinking about taking on a new organizing challenge, so I am doing some thinking about that.

Am I the only one who finds weekends more exhausting that the workweek?

Menu, week of 6/26

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This week I am focused on greens in the garden. I am sure the kids are going to be thoroughly sick of greens soon, but they are so healthy, and we have a ton of them growing now. I don’t want to waste them.

Tonight:  chili pasta (which is like that boxed helper meal, only made with actual ingredients), broccoli
This was the boy’s suggestion. I haven’t made this in a long time–not since before I started eating meat again.

Monday: Minted lamb burgers with hummus and feta, beef barley soup, sweet potato fries, sauteed greens
I know, two meat dishes is not something I would normally do, but I need to use my leeks, and I would like to have beef barley soup for lunches and stuff through the week.

Tuesday: polenta with sausage and mustard greens
The kids will be at their dad’s on Tuesday, so it is the perfect time to have a dish that calls for hot Italian sausage–something that might cause the girl to spontaneously combust.

Wednesday: beets and greens curry with chickpeas, chicken curry, aloo paratha, basmati rice, chopped salad
I am having my Indian-food eating friend over for dinner this night, which will be fun!

Thursday: layered chicken casserole, rice, broccoli
This is from Cooking for the Rushed, and involves a casserole of pre-cooked chicken, grated cheese and cream of chicken soup. Not my favorite idea, but it involves the girl willingly eating something with a sauce, so I do like that.

Friday: beet green risotto, various leftovers
The risotto will be based on this recipe, but not totally the same– I am thinking that I will roast some beets to add to the dish. I wanted to make this on a night the kids were here, because they will eat almost anything in risotto, but this is where it seems to fall in the planning.


Overall, this should be good–healthy and varied enough to keep me from being bored.

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Update on writing goals:

Once again, I met my goals at the last minute. Here is my third post, I submitted one Pulp Angels post, and I wrote 1090 words in my fiction story. I even did some work on my statistics on women in SF project. All in all, not bad, but I am thinking I need to do more to really make progress as I would like. It is hard to fit it all in, though, with work and kids and friends and the need for some downtime. I am working on it, though.

Update on leaving vegetarianism

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It has been a little over two months since I stopped being a vegetarian, so I think it is time to evaluate the results. Spoiler alert: they are all pretty positive.

Here are a few things I have noticed:

  • I don’t have that unfillable hunger I used to have; I get hungry, but then I eat and I feel better, unlike before, when I would feel burstingly full of stomach, but still not satisfied
  • I have more energy
  • I have less breakouts on my face
  • I haven’t lost any weight, but I haven’t gained any weight either; all of my clothes are looser, and people ask me all the time if I have lost weight, so something is going on here

I have not turned into a full carnivore, eating meat all the time. There are still nights when we have a vegetarian or vegan dinner, and when we do eat meat, it is usually more in the ingredient role rather than the star of the plate. I am still focused on getting as many vegetables crammed into a day (and into my children) as I possibly can. We are still reducing but not eliminating carbs, especially simple carbs.

The transition has been easier than I anticipated. I have found lots of good recipes online, as usual, and I have been enjoying trying some different things. It certainly makes eating outside the house a lot easier. People can feed me, and I can go to just about any restaurant. I am still somewhat appalled by the whole situation, because I thought I was doing what was best for my health. How could it all be so wrong? But I am adjusting.

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In other news:

  • I made it to 1027 words of fiction for the week last week. That number includes notes, but those notes were important, because they led to the decision to throw out a bunch of what I have and start over. I know, that doesn’t seem like huge progress, but it is, because now I feel that I can move forward with a draft, and not edit anymore until I am done, because I have a good direction. I will re-use some of what I have, I am just restructuring a bit and changing the timeline of the world building (I was going to be doing the story post-big-political-change, and now it will be mid-change).
  • I need to add a note to my camping planning: I must do menu planning for the week after the camping trip either as a part of the planning for the trip or during the trip itself. This week has been pretty random on the dinner front, because I had no plan, and I am out of the habit of worrying about this during the week.

Update on Writing goals

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Since this is the first week I have tried to set a real goal for writing, rather than a nebulous “write more,” it is time to see how I did. The original goals (slightly rearranged in order):

  • 1 Pulp Angels post every week
  • 3 posts on my personal blog per week
  • 1000 words of fiction per week


What I did this past week:

  • 1 Pulp Angels post
  • So far I have done two blog posts, but if you count this one, then three (I think it makes sense to make my writing week go from Monday to Sunday, since I do a lot of my writing on the weekend, so it is totally not cheating)
  • 371 words of fiction


That last seems kind of pathetic, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about plot while I was camping this weekend, so I feel somewhat good about that still. And, since I am considering Sunday part of the current week, I might still be able to pull that one out, too, as I plan to do some more writing tonight. All that thinking about plot has left me with a direction, in addition to the setting and characters I had already started to flesh out. I will at least attempt to do some outlining to see how my plot works, and I may get more story on paper.

I have another project I am working on that I think I will be adding on top of these goals: taking a deeper look at statistics of women vs. men in the SF field, as writers, editors, reviewers, etc., for Broad Universe, updating what they currently have. I am working with a couple of other people, and we have a lot of work to do before we start posting, I think. I am very excited about it, though!

So, all in all, not a bad week. The goals definitely helped, I did more writing than I did without them. I don’t intend to turn this blog into all writing goals all the time, but it is helping me focus for now. After this first week getting used to sitting down at the keyboard, I think I am refining my goal there to be three posts that are about something else–something that happened to me, something that I read that I want to comment on, etc, and not just a writing update post, because this is starting to seem a bit circular to me. I don’t want to get to the point where I am posting every week “See, here is my third post, I made the goal!”

Professional vs. Amateur writer

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I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. I have vague memories of scribbling curlicue lines across a page, in ordered rows, when I was too young to think of an actual story with actual words. If you held it at arm’s length and squinted, it looked like prose. As I got older, I wrote real stories and went through a few years of angsty teen poetry writing, which mostly just made my friends roll their eyes. I took a creative writing course in college, but most of writing shifted to research papers and essays. As I moved into motherhood and professional work, my personal writing subsided even more. I did a lot of online writing, but it was emails and bulletin board posts, nothing formal. I blogged, but only sporadically.

I missed writing, but I had two major problems: lack of focus and lack of confidence. There was a time when I would have said lack of time, but that is just an excuse. If you are motivated and focused, time can be found in all but the busiest schedules–I mean, I am sure heads of state don’t have time to devote to writing, but I could have easily cut out tv watching, for instance. (Or drinking. My god, in my 20’s, I could have gained a lot of time by not going to bars–not that I spent all my time there drinking, I did a lot of dancing and socializing, too, but still. How much socializing do you need to do in bars? Less than I did, I assure you.)

For a long time, I thought lack of confidence was my problem. I could not sit down and write because I didn’t have anything interesting to say. I would write three sentences, become convinced they were the worst examples of uninspired dreck ever written and give it up for the day, or the week, or the month or the year. Why sit down to write at all when it would just be awful? Reading good literature made it even worse. I would be so inspired to write something of my own, but convinced that everyone had already used up all the good ideas. When there is already an Ursula K. Le Guin or a Chris Moriarty or a Rachel Swirsky or a Charles Stross in the world writing, why should I bother?

(Imagine a break here where I write down the name of many, many writers that I admire, then erase them all in a fit of depression, plus the realization the list isn’t actually that interesting to read….)

But then, I went to the doctor and got some magic pills effective medication to treat my lifelong issues with attention, and I discovered that focus was really the biggest problem. When I sit down at the computer and write anything at all, it gets easier. The blank page is the hardest part. I also let go of the thought that anything I write will be any good at first, and realized that is not a problem. That is what revision is for!

I began to get more serious about writing. I followed authors that I like on twitter and started reading blogs directed at writers, to get in the right frame of mind. I realized that writers write, and I just needed to write something down, anything at all. I started writing more on my blog, just to get myself going. I began writing at http://www.gamingangels.com, just to have a weekly goal. When I would have random ideas of things I would like to write about during the day, I made a note for later, and I went back and read those notes. I picked a character and wrote two random sentences to start my fiction writing going.

I discovered something powerful through all of this. Once I started writing, it got easier. Not that writing itself is easy, but my mindset changed, and it became easier to actually sit down and write. Now, when I read interesting news articles, I think about how the story might affect my fictional world, or how to express my reaction coherently in a blog post, rather than just passively taking in the information. I discovered that having a writing habit feeds itself. I miss writing when I am doing other things, and I do *something* writing related every day, even if it is just making a list of questions I want to answer.

In the traditional sense, I am by no means a professional writer. No one pays me for my writing (unless you count emails at work, which I don’t really). I did find this article interesting, though. By the definition that Kirkland sets out, I am getting close to being a professional, even though there is no pay on the horizon. I write every day, and I am getting closer to a real writing schedule. I am not yet at the point where I have a regular routine to my writing, or a word count goal, but I am getting closer.

To that end, I am coming up with some goals for myself:

  • 3 posts on my personal blog per week
  • 1 Pulp Angels post every week
  • 1000 words of fiction per week

I know, that last goal is a bit wimpy. That one is the hardest for me, though, and I don’t want to intimidate myself too much. I anticpate that it will go up soon.