Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book Review- Redeeming the Lost

Redeeming the Lost
Book 3 of 'The Song in the Silence'
By Elizabeth Kerner

In this book you start off exactly where you left in Book 2, Lanen is held captive by the Evil Brays and the true dragons have just landed after flying from their destroyed home island. This fast paced book leads you though the captivity of Lanen, the awaking of the Dark Dragon and the final battle between the demon that killed so many of the Dragons centuries ago.

Lanen finally meets the mother she had been yearning for while the father she wished she had never met, tries to return her to the evil mage intent on stealing her soul. Lanen's and Akor/Varien's relationship is put to the test during the final battle and in the resulting chaos afterwards.

Overall this book was a joy to read although it did stall a bit in the first couple of chapters, but one you get past them the story speeds up and continues in a fast action packed pace. I love her depiction of dragons and how they dance in the sky. Her explanation of postures help the reader understand how the dragon is looking but in a way where the reader understands exactly how their feeling.

Over all I would give this book a 4 out of 5 storyline/romance. Although there is very little romance in this book their is are affirmations of relationships that the storyline brushes upon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Long Slow Learning Curve

Yes, I swear sometimes I have the worlds largest learning curve. I decided that it would just be fantastic if I created this spectacular Quilling gift for my mother on her birthday. It was going to be a giant J with a flower off to the side and fill with wonderful quilled paper.

First issue I ran into, base paper. Having the proper base paper will make or break your project. Mine warped, bubbled and I swear disappeared in places. I was using a thick paper, but not card stock.

Next, paper stretches when wet. Allow your paper to dry before applying that last coat to the piece. It was fun having to cut and reset the outline (yes it took me forever to just get the outline done, that darn base paper can kill you).

Get a small ruler. I learned the hard way that trying to make do with something that is almost straight isn't as great as if it was straight. It'll also help you with length measurements.

Realise what type of mog pog your using will effect the base paper. I used dark gray paper and a gloss like mog pog. It was shinny and you could totally see where I used the brush.

Watch that frustration level. If you find your project isn't work because its too wet, the paper's sliding or not sticking, the papers kinking (I had this problem a lot), please and I mean please, take a break. Let what you've done dry and come back. It helps immensely and you're more likely to finish the project.

Currently I have the J completed and part of the flower.

Because it was taking so long, I decided that she needed some Calvin and Hobbes ornaments. I found clear plain glass balls and proceeded to cut out small pictures of Calvin and Hobbes. Number one fact you should know about ornaments. They're curved.

Who knew! This causes pinching, buckling and overall frustration with the pieces you where imagining would look spectacular. But I continued on and in the end they weren't too bad.

I used the mog pog again, coating the back of the paper or the ball and pressing and holding the paper down until is stuck to the glass, smoothing any wrinkles by lightly creasing areas. Let dry and apply one more coat of mog pog to the outside of the paper. The mog pog dries clear. Next time I'm going to try a colored ornament.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Years Resolutions Starting in December

My New Years resolution is to write every day in the blog. Even if it's only one line. I'll also attempt to review at least one book per week. The only thing unusual about this resolution is I plan on enacting in starting tomorrow December 1st. Why put off a month what you're going to start anyway?

Things have been busy with my lately. I finally have the location for my wedding all figured out and the clothing designed for most of the participants. I have several prospects for my wedding photographers and I found my dress in November. Now I'm just waiting to get the contract back from the location and start working with the caterers. I'm hoping to keep them at the same price, but I think that might be delusional thought right now.

I also got in my first accident, yeay. It was so fun I hope I never get into one again.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Review- Styx's Storm

Styx’s Storm
By Lora Leigh

This book brings together Storme Montague, whose father and brother where killed by the breeds they helped create, and Styx, whose a wolf breed with Scotland highland warrior genes. Storme is on the run from the very council her brother and father worked for and a group of breeds who either want to help her or kill her. They want the information her father gave her on a secret project and she refuses to release the information to just anybody. Styx’s seduction begins they night he kidnaps her and he’s decided that he won’t let her go until she gives him her heart.

I love Lora Leigh books. Her scenes and character involvement are a joy to read and always get me wrapped up in her books. That being said, I felt this novel might have been better as a Novella. After Storme has been kidnapped by the ‘good’ breeds, there are a couple of scenes that seem to repeat themselves again and again. We are also re-introduced with several past novel characters and it could be a bit tedious with all the job descriptions and past histories of each character provided, especially if you are already familiar with them. Styx’s ‘grandfather’ was also briefly introduced and I wish that he had made more then one appearance as he could have helped carry on some of the storyline and provided more emotional growth for Styx. Storme is a strong female character whose opinion doesn’t change fast even with a large amount of emotional pressure. Her character also didn’t seem to have a lot of growth aside from the trust aspect of the story.

Overall once you get past the little bit of rocky start, although it’s only rocky if you’ve read the rest of her books and know the characters, the story picks up and the romance between Storme and Styx was steamy and enjoyable to read.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a hot read and a sexy accent that could nock your socks off. I give this book a 4 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 5 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Review- Last Dragon Standing

The Last Dragon Standing
By G.A. Aiken

This book follows the outrageous adventures of one female dragon name Keita and Rangar, the male who can't decide if he wants to kill or marry her.

This book was a joy to read. I love all of her books, but I wasn't aware when this book was released that it was going to be under a pen name of G.A. Aiken instead of Shelly Laurenston which series was originally published under. So I didn't get to read it until two weeks after its release. Laurenston does an amazing job portraying her characters and making them unique. She has the great ability of causing entertaining chaos when the interact.

I felt the romance between Keita and Rangar was in the foreground during the first part of the novel then moved to the background once it was decided that they liked each other. The characters had a strong emotional bond that grew through the durration of the plot, but the physical aspect of it was only briefly encountered. Towards the end of the story, when all the big climatic action was being described, I felt she skipped around a little bit to much for the story to flow easily. That being said, she did have about 6 different action scenes happening at the same time and they were all easily trackable.

I would recommend this book to anyone. I love her characters and the plot kept me hooked till the end.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 3 out of five for bedroom steaminess.

Romance Publishing Houses Submission Guidelines

I thought I'd take a gander at some of the publishing houses to see what they're accepting for submissions. I do have to say, for not having an agent there are a lot of publishing houses that won't except unsolicited manuscripts.

Please note, this is for reference only. Please visit publishers website for more information.

Random House, Inc.
Does not accept unsolicited submissions, proposals, manuscripts, or submission queries via e-mail at this time.

Kensington, Zebra, ect
For fiction, send cover letter, first three chapters, and synopsis (no more than five pages). Note that we do not publish science fiction or fantasy.

We do not publish poetry.

For non-fiction, send cover letter/query, including the author’s qualifications and connections relevant to the book’s content and marketing, and summary or outline of book’s content.

All submissions should be double-spaced, paginated, cleanly printed and readable. Do not bind pages together.

If you need material returned, you must enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope large enough to hold the submission. If we may recycle your pages, you can receive a response by enclosing a letter-size, stamped, self-addressed envelope. MATERIAL WITHOUT RETURN POSTAGE WILL BE DISCARDED.

You may QUERY ONLY by e-mail. Do not attach manuscripts or proposals to e-mail queries. An editor will respond if he or she is interested in seeing your material based on your query.

SUBMIT TO ONE EDITOR ONLY. From the list of editors and their areas of interest, determine which editor would be best suited to or most interested in the type of book you are proposing. Address the submission to that editor’s attention.



Alicia Condon, Alicia Condon, Editorial Director of Brava (paranormal and fantasy romance, romantic suspense, historical and contemporary romance, young adult paranormal romance of 80,000 – 100,000 words).

Audrey LaFehr, Editorial Director (women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, thrillers, erotica, multicultural fiction).

Amy Pyle, Assistant Editor, Citadel Press, Kensington, and Aphrodisia (nonfiction including memoir, pop culture, narrative nonfiction, business, pop science/psychology; fiction including mainstream novels, women’s fiction, literary thrillers, and erotic romance).

Peter Senftleben, Assistant Editor (mainstream and women’s fiction, mystery, suspense/thriller, urban fantasy, paranormal and contemporary romance, romantic suspense, erotic romance, gay fiction, pop culture, humor, entertainment).

Megan Records, Associate Editor (historical romance, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, urban fantasy, historical fiction, select women’s fiction).

Penguin Group/Ace/berkly/Viking
Manuscript Submissions
Due to the high volume of manuscripts received, most Penguin Group (USA) Inc. imprints do not normally accept unsolicited manuscripts.

How do I submit a manuscript? Can you send me a copy of your Writer's Guidelines? Do you accept manuscripts from unagented writers? And other questions along the lines of "where should I send my fabulous manuscript?"

Unfortunately, with the exception of Avon romance, HarperCollins does not accept unsolicited submissions or query letters. Please refer to your local bookstore, the library, or a book entitled LITERARY MARKETPLACE on how to find the appropriate agent for you. You can also visit our site for writers,

To submit your romance or women’s fiction (only), please query first. You must query by e-mail. When you do so, please put QUERY in the subject line. Due to the overwhelming amount of Spam email we receive, subject lines that have manuscript titles often do not reach the editors. Your query should be brief, no more than a one-page description of your book. Do not send chapters or a full synopsis at this time. Also, please do not send attachments – THEY WILL NOT BE OPENED. You will receive a response — either a decline or a request for more material — in approximately six to eight weeks.

Please e-mail your query to

Random House
Q. I want to submit my manuscript to be considered for publication, how should I go about doing this?
A. We only accept for consideration those submissions which come via a literary agent. This decision has been taken in response to the vast number of unsolicited submissions we receive, which we simply do not have the time or the manpower to evaluate properly. So please follow the advice above.

Ellora's Cave/Cerridwen
Ellora's Cave is always open for submissions in all our genres.
Cerridwen Press is currently open by invitation only. No unsolicited submissions.

Please read the Author Information brochure for information on the company and instructions and advice on how to submit manuscripts to us.

If you would like me to look into other publishing houses, please comment and I will look into it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book Review- Under Cover

Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Title: Under Cover

This book is an anthology of three short stories which are linked together and written by the same author. The first starts out with Renee Jardin, a feisty head of security at a biotech firm who is on the run because the firms leading medical project was slipped into her purse. While fleeing from her own staff she unknowingly runs into the very person who is trying to find her. The second story deals with one of the biotech’s security personnel Peter Random and Lori Jamieson, a damsel in distress who, and I’m still not sure how, knows of him. Her stepfather and his son will do anything they can to get their hands on her inheritance money. The only thing standing between her and them is Random. The third story deals with the genius of a scientist Thea, who invented the medical breakthrough ‘stolen’ in the first story. She and her staff are unsure of their future as their biotech company has just been purchased by boy genius Jimmy. When he comes in wearing a cap, things really start to get interesting.

I love this book. Each story was unique and different from each other. Even though the humor is the same throughout the entire three stories, I didn’t feel like I was reading the same character in every one. Both male and female characters had emotion and physical hurdles to overcome not only to be together in the end, but for the story to finish and to emotionally grow on their own. Although there are several sex scenes in each story, they progressively got better the further into the book you read. The first story is little more then description of foreplay and the actual sex skipped over, the second story provides the same brief information on foreplay and the sex while the third one, and I don’t know if it’s because of the day dreaming, provides a bit more description and the scenes are longer.

Over all I give this book a 4 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 4 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book Review- Dead Girls are Easy

Dead Girls are Easy
By Terri Garey

Nicki Styx is a vintage store co-owner who has a near death experience that enables her to see dead people, and not every ghost is nice. Upon waking she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her handsome doctor, Joe Bascombe, who was the attending physician during attempted resuscitation. While struggling to overcome the fact that she can see dead people, Nicki is also attempting to workout her budding romance with the doctor. When she finds out her friend has been murdered, things head south as Nicki discovers that her deceased friend had sold her soul to the devil and the devil wants its due.

This book was an interesting read as I haven’t read a lot into voodoo. I was unsure how accurate her descriptions where in regards to the voodoo aspect, as a food reference earlier in the book was not correct and leads me to believe that although she might have researched her work, perhaps the material she used was not correct. Terri provides interesting secondary characters, which at times almost seem to overpower the main character. The romance storyline in this book was unusual in the fact that the male interest, Joe, character doesn’t really evolve or change in any way. He doesn’t have any real problems to overcome in order to grow as a character in this story which, to me, puts him in a secondary character place. He is also frequently overshadowed by Nicki’s friend, the storyline and her dead friend’s parent/grandma.

The main character also doesn’t really seem to emotionally evolve nor does it seem in the end that she’s really gotten over or accepted her current ‘I can see dead people’ issues. There are some evolving points thrown in the way, like a cheating ex that ruined her for love and commitment issues, but the characters displayed emotional involvement in those issues is negligent and doesn’t provide a strong feeling of ‘these are serious issues’ to the reader. This negates the hurtle of getting over an emotional problem if the character doesn’t really feel like it’s too big of a difficulty to begin with.

This book was interesting to read and the story flowed nicely from one scene to the next. I’d recommend this book for some light reading. I give this book a 3 out of 5 for storyline and a 1 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess as everything was behind closed doors, except for a few kisses.

Please click here if you’d like to visit the author’s website.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review- The Undead Next Door

The Undead Next Door
By: Kerrelyn Sparks

This is the fourth book in her vampire series that deals with Jean-Luc who is a sword welding Paris fashion designer who is being hunted by his arch enemy Lui who does everything in his power to destroy everything Jean-Luc holds dear including killing his current love interest Heather.

I've enjoyed reading the first four books in her series. The stories are interesting and each one is different then the other. She does a good job providing different male characters, mostly by providing them with different backgrounds. I have a hard time with her female characters as I feel that for the most part, they are the same base character.

Her storylines, not necessarily the action side, but the romance, also feels as if it changes little from each book. I will say that their wasn't any 'vampire sex' in this story (you'll have to read the story to find out what juicy little act it is, and its not what you think). I would recommend reading this book for some easy reading.

I give this book 3 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess and 3 out of 5 for storyline/romance.

Click here to visit Kerrelyn Sparks website.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Book Review- Iron Hunt

I've decided that I'm going to do each book review as its own post so that it is easier to find and access.

Iron Hunt
By Marjorie M. Liu

This is the first in her Hunter Kiss series and was a joy to read. This story is based on a character named Maxine Kiss who has has five demons that stretch across her skin during the day and come alive at night. She is the last warden for our world and it is her duty to protect the people who live here from other demons who want to possess and destroy our world.

When I first started reading this book, I felt as if there was another book before this one that I had missed as there where parts of the story that I had no idea how they came about and felt as if they had happened in another book. This did not deter from the story and in fact made the series more interesting. The storyline was amazing and kept me interested and unable to put this book down. Maxine Kiss is a strong female character that has her weak points but has a strong support system and people and demons who lover her.

I would recommend this story to anyone. Five out of five for storyline.
Click here to visit Marjorie M. Liu website.

Writers Block

I've been thinking a lot lately on writers block and how to get around it. My first experience with writers block was in the fourth grade when I was writing my first story as part of a class assignment. It was on zombies. Interesting, considering that I don't watch scary movies. I got to a point in the story where I could not get any further. For the life I me, I could not figure out what to do next. I ended up dropping the story.

Since then, I've dropped a few more and I've come to the realization that most of my writers block is because I have no idea what should happen next or what the end result of my story should be.

A few ways that I've thought about fighting writers block:
1. Killing off a character (might throw some drama into the story as well)
2. Introducing a new character (could be tricky because they might take over the story briefly)
3. Move your character (have them travel to a new area in your story)
4. Have an argument between your characters, one of them main (argument should probably involve one of the main story point issues that will get resolved in the end)
5. Focus on building the 'support' of the secondary characters (this could be the romance between the characters or the supporting friendship that helps carry the character through the story)

I hope some of the above suggestions help you get past your writers block.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tournaments, Emotional Conversations and a Book Review

Well, it seems I’ve take a bit of a hiatus for about a week to a week and a half. And it was an eventful break as well. I went to two tournaments in a coaching capacity, had a lengthy conversation with Mike that almost broke my heart, hosted my first Mary Kay party, went to the first annual Tacoma Hemp Fest and (I know there’s more…) went to the Bite of Tacoma.

Both fencing tournaments where held at Rain City Fencing Center, which is a very large facility that offers exceptional fencing. The first was held on a Thursday night and I barely managed to get home before midnight. It was a C and under event that had an extremely good turnout. Most of Metro Tacoma Fencing Club competitive members came out and competed. Several of our fencers made it past their first DE’s. The second tournament I coached at was held on Sunday morning and was for youth competitors only. This tournament was held youth's the same age could fence eachother. There were Y8, Y10 and Y12 groups. The student I was coaching was in the Y12 group which consisted of 12 to 14 kids who where split into two pools before being grouped with their DE partner. The DE’s (direct eliminations) are done differently in the youth groups then with the adult competitions. Normally the fencer fences for up to 3, three minute periods with a minute break in between, the first fencer to reach 15 or have the most points at the end wins. The youth DE’s are still done in 3, three minute pools but instead of a total of 15 points, it’s the first to 5 points wins the first segment and the points are cleared before the next three minute period begins. The fencer who wins the youth DE’s will have to have the best 2 out of 3 in the DE's in order to move forward. This was the first youth tournament I had attended and it was interesting and fun to watch, the kids where particularly entertaining.

My conversation with my future hubby was both calm and especially devastating. I was of a mind that something had been bothering him lately but I figured it wasn’t something we couldn’t work out. When I started the conversation it was to figure out why he was off lately and ended up being a conversation about him feeling uncomfortable with getting married. We discussed what was bothering him and tried to figure out what the exact problem was with getting married. I suggested he take a couple of days to think about it. In the end I only gave him three days. Those had to be the longest most unpleasant days of my life where I was locked in my head trying to figure out and get a grasp on where he was coming from. I have to say that for all the shear emotional upheaval I was able to come to terms with what I actually wanted in a relationship. What I felt I deserved and wasn’t receiving if not all the time, often enough to sooth me.

I feel like I wasn’t a very physical child when I was younger, what I mean by that is I didn’t hug any friends, never told anyone of importance that I loved them and didn’t provide any light touches on the arm or shoulder that indicates close friendships. I know when I was in elementary school and my sister and I shared a room, we’d fall asleep holding hands. It was a creature comfort that I enjoyed until I received my own room. I don’t know when what minimal friendly contact I provided died but my sister and I are of an agreement that we aren’t really physically ‘touchy’ when it comes to friends or family. That being said, I find that I need an almost constant physical contact from Mike. I need to feel loved and aside from saying it, I realized that I needed the other comforting touches as well. I need the rubbing hand on my back occasionally when we’re out an about. I need the hand holding and small reaches of touch. I need to be touching when we’re sitting close enough to. It’s like my body stored up all this want and need, found the right person and said, ‘This is who you’ll be getting it from’.

Is it bad that I measure any ‘adjustments’ that I’ve had to make in our relationship by physical actions as opposed to verbal ones? Mike and I really haven’t had any large arguments, I can only think of one instance where we almost had one, but we’ve never gotten into any shouting matches over the 3+ years we’ve been dating. To me the distinct changes in our relationship are the physical accomidations I had to change. I remember the first time he asked me not to ride up behind him on the motorcycle. I understand why, apparently it was crushing his private parts and wasn't a very fun or pleasant experance, but it felt like a physical blow that I’m a bit ashamed to say made me cry. The next was when we where at a party and I wanted to hold his hand and he immediately released me and stepped away, it made me feel like he didn't want me to be around him. Lately it’s been the lack of feeling loved as he gives me a brief buss as he walks out the door for work or the feeling that I’m supplying most of the nonsexual physical touches and he doesn’t supply me with them in return. I was left feel a deeper harder touch that showed he loved me as much as I loved him.

So after the initial conversation, even though it was particularly devastating to me, it allowed me to look at our relationship with a critical eye for what I wasn’t getting out of it. What I deserved to have in a relationship, especially if we’re going to be married hopefully for the rest of our lives. I decided that I deserved to feel loved every day and that I hadn’t been feeling that way lately. During the follow up conversation we had on Saturday the conversation was more about me then him and I have to say that I felt better having the conversation then I thought I would. We spoke again about what was bothering him and what I had thought about over that three day period. It’s a conversation that I hope to never really have again, but would welcome it if it was required at a specific time in our lives. I would rather discuss what was bother eachother then pretend that nothing was wrong in the first place.

On to happier thoughts….My first Mary Kay party went off without a hitch. My mother threw it for me and my aunt’s, grandma and her friend came out and partook in the event. We did a facial party for 5 and some of the participants tried on a few makeup samples. I was a bit rusty, mostly because I hadn’t really practiced but I feel that everything after this event will be smooth sailing! I’m excited to try and get new booking and help with parties where I don’t know anyone. Insane but fun :)

Saturday was also filled with a trip to the first annual Tacoma Hempfest. It was defiantly a lot different then the Seattle Hempfest which have been going on since 1991, if I read the article correctly. It was a lot smaller with a few vendors placed around the park, I say a few but it was probably about 30. There was defiantly a lot of room around the park to walk around and people watch. The cops were out, although I only saw 4 of them when we where leaving. I even recognized one who helps keep the piece at The Swiss, a local bar/club in Tacoma. Still some shady people hanging around, but I was able to park close and had access to The Hub, a local food/bar restaurant in the area that Mike and I usually hit up about twice a month. It was a beautiful day to be outside and the park was relatively clean and bum free.

On Sunday, we couldn’t decide if we want to swim or go to the Bite of Tacoma. In the end we were able to do both. The last time I went the Bite of Tacoma, it was a small gathering and everything was priced at $5 (I think it was caped) and the food when compared to the Bite of Seattle, was found to be lacking. Now, some three years later it was a huge event with thousands of people traipsing through the area. They had a large food court, vendors and a stage. The food was more expensive, from $4 to $8, but there where more vendors out then last time I had attended the event.

Mike ate a German bratwurst and I had a jambalaya.
I tried to get something that I hadn’t eaten before and it was an okay dish. Temperature wise it wasn’t hot enough and the tomato base seemed a bit too mass market but overall it was something that I’ll probably try making at home. Mike’s dog had sautéed onions and sauerkraut and he had a hard time eating it because the bun had been destroyed during handling.

I tried to get some pictures of the ducts but I needed the longer lens and instead ended up getting some relatively boring shots. This was the best one by far.

Once we got back to the apartment, I tried to find the keys for the gate at the pool, when I realized that we could go through the office. It had been so long since I’d been in a pool I forgot what it felt like. I’m not a bath person, mostly because I feel like it’s a waist of water and the tubs are never long enough for me. So being submerged in a cool chlorinated pool, felt like a new experience. It almost felt like I was floating in jello. The silky smoothness of the water seemed to wrap around my limbs almost like I had been covered in Egyptian silk except instead of being tangled in the sheets its would float around me. It probably also helped that there wasn’t a lot of kids in the pool.

I’ve also been re-reading a large bunch of my books, mostly because I can’t find anything that I want to read at the book store. But one of my favorite author’s recently came out with a novel that I wasn’t sure I hadn’t read before despite the ‘first time in print’ statement printed on the cover. So without further ado, here is another book review:

Lisa Kleypas
Married by Morning

This book was about the eldest son of the Hathaway’s and his sister's paid companion. I felt like I’ve read so many of this type of historically themed novel that I was bit hesitant to pick it up. I have to say that although I enjoyed reading it, I felt like it was missing her trademark sexual tension. The character’s repertoire was a joy to read and helped bring together the romance between the two characters but the passion between them when they did finally managed to meet between the sheet seemed a bit disassosiated, almost like she had taken a step back from her normal writing technique and put a screen between the sexual emotions of the characters and the readers. I know writers have to ensure that each sex scene has more emotional depth then the last in order to illustrate a growing love between the characters, but in this case in the end I feel like she still didn’t come through on her promise.

I’ve kept every book of her's that I’ve ever read but I’m sad to say that with the limited book shelf room I’ve found myself with, I won’t be keeping this novel. Lisa Kleypas does have a new novel coming out in July called ‘Love in the Afternoon’ that I will defiantly be picking up when it’s released. I’d suggest to you any of her novels, as I know you’ll enjoy reading them, and to visit her website

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hospital Pillow, Dress Board and Writing

Man, I’ve been running around like crazy this week. I still need to finish making those napkins and get them in the mail by Saturday, which I will do. Mike and I decided that we where going to camping with my sister and her boyfriends family and friends. We barely had a tent (apparently it leaks like crazy), no sleeping bags and I’m worried that I won’t have enough food (really this does seem to be a constant worry for me).

I found a pair of sleeping bags, mummy style that are rated from 0 to +5°F and now I just need to set up the tent in order to make sure that we do have everything to assemble it. I’m really crossing my fingers at this point, mainly because Mike said, ‘I just threw everything into the trunk’. Let the fear unfold! He also stated that the tent rain jacket was not included (which I think it was). So hopefully I’ll find that today as well.

Aside from all this, one of my coworkers is going in on Tuesday to have part of his lung removed and I was running around work for the last week and a half, trying to get a good luck party started for him and trying not to step on any toes, particularly the two sets that are in his department. Well long story short, I really shouldn’t have worried about it as one didn’t show up to the party at all and the other only stopped in for maybe three minutes max. But it did go off well. He was really happy and is enjoying the pillow I made for him. Everyone signed it and he's bring it with him to the hospital. I thought it would be better then a card.

I really wished I had taken a picture of it after all the signatures had been placed. It was gorgeous and just the right size (about 8/12 x 9” stuffed). I wanted to have fun with it and have it give him joy at the hospital. I originally thought about making a pair of lungs and then having people sign that, aside from the fact that it would have been extremely labor intensive, I was afraid about the seeming to hold the two lungs together and didn’t want it to break apart.

As a side note, he’s actually getting the top portion of his lung removed and not the bottom, like I though he said. At least I got it on the correct side. HA!

I’m trying to work up a wedding invite themed as if it where a Johnny Cash CD cover. I’m really excited about it. I already have the invite about half done. It’ll be on black paper with thick white lettering and perhaps a stylized leaning cowboy on the RSVP and Thank You cards. What I really need to work on is drawing up location maps. That’s about the only think I haven’t tried yet.

I don’t know if you remember but I entered in a ‘Win an iPad’ contest and I’m proud to say that the first post after the winner was announced was mine! Yeay :) I hope that means she liked it. To view it on the post on the contest webpage please click here.

I also started writing a new book. I officially have one book I’ve finished (but is only in rough draft form) and several, probably about 20, storylines that I haven’t finished. I just keep telling myself that when I actually publish a book and I can’t seem to make the current novel work, I’ll have a bunch to fall back on. I’m hoping that this upcoming month I’ll enter a few contests.

Why would any sane person enter a contest? I do it mainly for the feedback. I’m already in a critique’s online group (lovestoryL) and they are a great help but it sometimes helps to get opinions from outside sources that haven’t previously seen any of your work and are looking at it from a selling point of view as opposed to a cohesive story. You can have an awesome storyline but the actual plot might not be of interest to a publishing house for what ever reason. It also gives more of a gut reaction to your initial story. You don’t have to agree with that reaction, but it still is one.

Contests can be a bit expensive especially if you aren’t member of the RWA (Romance Writers of America), which I’m not. It’s a hundred and ten big ones to join initially and then I think it’s only $85 a year for renewal (up $10 since the last time I looked). You get a writers magazine once a month and discounts on most contests. The magazines are filled with helpful writing types, what agents and publishers are looking for and ads, which you can’t ever really get away from.

This something that I should have joined a long time ago, but haven’t wanted to fork over the money for it. It’s a shame really, but I’ll probably do it this year sometime not around August, that’s when the USFA (fencing) membership is due for renewal ($60).

Well, I leave you to enjoy your weekend and will see you next week after I pour over the first 7 pages of my story in order to prep for the contest entry for the Greater Seattle RWA. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Napkins, Emulsion Hatrid and Zanga

Wahoo! I got another wedding photography gig. I’m really excited. I have to say that I’ve been seriously slacking off on posting on Craigslist lately. Mostly because all the other photographers have photo-websites set up and I currently have none. Which I am working on BTW, just very very slowly.

It will be a small, 25 person wedding and there won’t be a rehearsal, which makes my job a little harder but I’m overjoyed nonetheless. It’s for my cousin and won’t happen for another 2 months, so I’ll have plenty of time to speak with them on what type of pictures they want and who they want in them.

Because I’m still in the planning phases of mine it will be interesting to see how a small wedding of 25 people actually goes. That’s not to say that I’ve particularly been to any big weddings. The largest one I’ve been to was probably 50.

I chickened out on talking about costs. Gosh, I can be such a wimp at times. I’m hoping that he'll made a suggestion in his email where he sent me all the info. I’ll probably end up doing it for about the same as the last one I did, depending on what they want me to do and for how long.

On the napkin side of things, I’ve been fighting with my stupid screen for the last couple of days trying to get the emulsion off of it. I even went and got the emulsion remover spray bottle formula and the stupid stuff still sticks. Then to top it off, when I was cleaning the darn thing I punched a hole through it!! It was like a hot knife through butter. One minute I washing and the next, I’ve cut a three inch jagged line through the center of my screen. I don’t have time to be dealing with this.

It also seems that the world is out to get me, fore whenever I actually need a screen no one seems to be caring them. I’m slowly running out of time and I need to get this project going. I probably have a week before they all need to be shipped and sent out. (OMG!!! Just realized that) Deep breaths, deep breaths. If I wasn’t pissed off before, I’m pretty close now.

Here’s the catch I’ve gotten so far off of forums. In most cases you can’t get the old emulsion off without a power washer. Emulsion remover doesn’t always (usually) work because the emulsion can fuse the strands together and form a single bond which makes if virtually impossible to get out of the mesh. This is the stage I’m at right now. Nothing works. A power washer was the final suggestion and unfortunately I don’t think that that will work in this case. The screen is so flimsy I’d probably punch the material straight off.

I really need a 220 mesh screen as the 110 won’t have the detail that is required for the napkins. I’ll probably start losing my hair soon, either through stress or by pulling it out handful by handful.

To end the blog post on a positive note, here is a game I made up to help my mom pass the time. I hope you enjoy it:

Is the button pushing becoming too much? Are the plants screaming at you to water them? Is the rodent in the corner looking upset? Perhaps its time to sit down and play Zanga! What’s Zanga you ask? Well Zanga is the demented friend of Janga. Similar in playing style but instead of a tower of blocks you’re playing with nano sized little dots and instead of dismembering a wooden structure, your task is to ensure this magnetic little bunch of balls doesn’t stick together. But where’s the fun in that you ask? Well let me explain. Once those cute little black dots have been released from their individually packaged boxes (imagine the fun trying to find the minuscule release lever!) they love each other so much that they just want to hug and be near their friends. Why would you want to keep such a cuddly little bunch apart you ask? Here comes the fun part! Because once released from their tiny safe boxes, the longer those adorably little balls hug, the closer you come to a experiencing the greatest explosion of your life! That’s right kids, these cuddly little death bringers chemically react the longer they are together (and who said love wasn’t tangible?) and depending where you are, your inapt attempt at playing the game might bring down the whole building or heck, even the entire neighborhood. So remember kids, don’t forget to ask your parents permission to buy Zanga (tell them it’s a video game) and have fun playing with your friends. Please no returns or repeat purchases.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wildlife and Spicy Extra Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

So I had my first excursion into wildlife photography and it went something like this...

Me: Oh look, two ducks. How cute. I think I'll stop and take some pictures.

Ducks: What is she.... I don't think I want to stay around for this (they get up and look at me while taking wild glances towards the water).

Me: Oh, wait. Don't move. Just let me get the window down. Where is that stupid camera.

Ducks: No I defiantly don't like this. (they slowly head towards the pond).

Me: Ah ha! Now where did those ducks go. No, stop moving. Come back. Gosh darn-it!

By now the ducks had made a break for the water and where halfway across the pond. I could really feel the love from those two evil creatures. I've seen some swans around as well, but I'm not quiet brave enough to go towards those large crazy things.

So in place of wild animal pictures, I give you my cat, Mischa.

For some reason she was extremely easy to take a photo of. Usually she's hiding under the bed or runs away when I head towards her.

I've played it safe the last couple of days in the kitchen. One day I made pork chops and ended up drying the heck out of those. It was like eating leather. And last night I made tacos. Even managed not to burn the meat. They turned out great. We ended up trying the refried beans with jalapeños in them and it was delicious! But not as good as the stuffed mushrooms I made the other day.

Recipe for the Spicy Extra Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms pictured above:

1 lb mushrooms
1 small or 1/2 large onion chopped or diced
1 tablespoon jalapeño juice
3 to 4 sliced of jalapeño, diced (I used the jarred stuff)
4 to 5 pieces of chopped or diced bacon
3 ounces of softened cream cheese
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to taste (optional)
1/2 cup of water
Oven: 325 degrees F

Wash and de-stem the mushrooms. Place caps in a bowl off to the side. Chop up the stems. Be sure to cut off dead ends first. Place in bowl off to the side. Chop/dice onion (depending on preference for size) and combine with mushroom pieces. Dice jalapeño up and combine with mushroom onion pieces. Chop/Dice Bacon.

Heat pan to med heat and add bacon (it’s important to note that the type of bacon you buy will severely flavor your stuffed mushrooms. I used plain the first time and maple the second). Cook until almost crispy and remove from pan and place on a paper towel covered plate (Note: leave fat in pan). Dump mushroom/onion/jalapeño mixture into pan with bacon fat and cook until onions are see through/translucent. Remove pan from heat and spoon out vegetables matter onto a paper towel cover plate. Let cool.

In a medium sized bowl, add cream cheese, jalapeño juice and cooled bacon and vegetables. Mix well and salt to taste (I also think adding a hard cheese to the mix would be great ad\nd provide the extra salt required. Will have to try it next time).

Place mushroom tops top side down on a 9x13 pan (I needed two pans for mine). Carefully spoon cream cheese mixture into the open ends of the mushroom caps. Add a 1/2 of water to the pans and place in oven, uncovered. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove and enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wheelchair fencing, Pressure Cooking and a Wedding Insperation Board

Okay, so I slacked off last week. I kept thinking I’ll get to it tomorrow, I’ll get to it tomorrow and I just never did. I’d like to say that last week wasn’t to interesting (not that my life is on a regular basis) but this weekend was. I helped give a beginning class/fencing introduction on wheelchair fencing and it was loads of fun. The kids where nice and really interested in learning about wheelchair fencing.

We ended up at the South Seattle Community center and that was such a beautiful building to begin with. They have jungle gym equipment set up outside where screaming kids played and dogs barked. To top it all off, Saturday was a gorgeous sunny day. It was a bit toasty with the fencing gear on but it was well worth it.

We had about 10 people show up and after a brief demonstration we got them suited up and showed them the basic steps required to fence. It’ll be a challenge to work with each individual and figure out what works best for them and it’s one I can’t wait to pick up. It sounds like a few of the kids where interested in picking up the sport and I can’t wait to see how it all works out. For more information on wheelchair fencing please click here.

Mike decided that he needed a new pair of jeans. So we set out to the South Center Mall after the clinic and had the joy of walking around a crowded mall in an attempt to find a pair of pants that fit the way he wanted but didn’t cost an arm and a leg. We wandered around for a bit before ending up at Buckle where he managed to find a very nice pair of pants that were half off. I don’t know why, but a lot of men’s jeans out there today provide extra room for saddle bag thighs (as I call those types of jeans in women) and he is lean like a string bean.

Afterwards we walked around for another 2 hours before heading over to the Cheesecake Factory where we had the joy of waiting around for an hour and half before being seated at a booth with a chair on the end. What a joy. That’s the second time in a row that we’ve had to wait an excess of an hour to be seated in a cramped booth with a chair on the end. The food was great, although we didn’t get any cheese cake (I’ll have to go later this week), the initial server was great until she went on break and was switched out with another server (also second time in a row) who ignored us most of the time until it was time to collect the check then he was all over our booth.

Sunday we ended up buying a pressure cooker. I’ve never cooked with one before, but I’d been told that you can cook a frozen chicken in it. And although that wasn’t what I initially intended, by the time we came back from looking at shelves (a work in progress to get the books organized) the chicken was still frozen and I thought that I’d give it a try. After reading the instruction manual on how to use the cooker (I’ve never even seen one in motion) I got the recipe ready and prepared the pot.

The instructions I read stated that the frozen chicken should be cooked 1 minute longer per pound then an unfrozen bird, so I figure if I left the bird in the cooker for an extra five minutes that I was good. Well after waiting for it depressurize (sounds so sci fye) I went to pull the chicken out of the cooker and realized that half the bird was still frozen. So I put the lid back on and decided to cook it another 30 minutes just to make sure it was good (going on the assumption that it was half way cooked the same amount of time would be required to finish it). I put the lid back on, turned up the heat and waited another 30 minutes.

When I pulled the pot off the heat I could smell burning and started to freak out a bit. Once I got the lid open I saw that all the vegetables I had on the bottom of the pan had turned black and burned (apparently I forgot to add more water when putting the pot back on). The chicken was only a little dry and the potatoes I made where mostly salvageable. Overall I think that for a first time use, it was pretty successful. After getting everything I could scraped out of the pan I wanted to get a picture of it and share it with you.

Tonight I get to clean it yeay!

So for a frozen chicken about 3 lbs, I’d cook it on med to high setting for 45 to 50 minutes probably about 2 cups of brother/water or a little more (i'm thinking that I might not have had enough water in it as well). Potatoes will survive and be very juicy as since the bird is frozen you’ll have all that fat dripping from the chicken and the potatoes will soak that up (if it's store bought and you didn’t trim before freezing). I can’t wait to try chicken again.

I also made stuffed mushrooms last night and I’m trying it again today. I’ll be sharing the pictures and recipe tomorrow if it turns out as delicious as I think it will.

News on the iPad contest I entered. My submission was accepted (Yeay) and my entry can be viewed here.

This is the other entry I almost submitted but when finding the links, I noticed one of the items had sold. Which was big bummer because this is the one that I was planning on submitting.

Fall 2010 Runway Collection Piece Supastar Clothing -- Black And White Forest Bumple Dress, Esty shop: Supastarclothing, Dress Price: $149.99
Flora Bella, Double Strand Swarovski Pearl Bracelet, Esty Shop: luxedeluxe, Double Strand Bracelet: $72.00 (SOLD 5/5)
Black Tulle Wedge Birdcage Veil with Ostrich Feather Comb/Brooch Pin Combo, Etsy Shop: brendasbridalveils, Black and White Veil: $49.99
Bakers, Was $149.95, now $99.99, Sergeant Pretty Heals: $99.99
Vintage Inspired Pearl Earrings, Etsy shop: Janice Marie, $17.50

Total: $439.43 (with shoes full price/ not allowed to use sale price)(discounted price: $389.43)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cooked Food, Wedding Board and a Book Review

Well I think somewhere down the line today, I might have gotten a various on my computer… what fun! Probably should run a virus check sometime soon.

Well last weekend was a fun experience. Mike and I spent the entire weekend together without one car crash! Yeay. We took his car to a couple of places to have a maintenance check done, mostly to figure out what is wrong with the darn thing that is close to 150k miles. Both places we took it to told us two different things. We jokingly (probably will) said that we should take it to a third store and see what they have to say. Ah, got to love the overpriced car maintenance shops.

It’s pretty windy and cold over here and with the bad weather the south is getting I don’t know if the windstorm we currently are experiencing on the west coast is going to be good for them. It’s weird that it could be sunny and cloudless (a miracle as it is) while this windstorm blows through the northwest. I’ve been trying to get out and get a picture of the ducks that frequent the man made ponds and of course the pool they can’t seem to stay out of. I’ve been a bit lazy (mostly cause it cold) and haven’t grabbed the camera and just walked down the street. It would be my first foray into wildlife photography. I’m excited for the baby ducts to arrive. I just wished I lived a little closure to the ponds.

I decided to compete in a contest where you have to create a wedding inspiration board that costs under $500. To be included: gown, shoes, jewelry/other accessories and veil/headpiece/tiara/hair accessories. More information and how to enter can be found here. It’s both a hard and easy task. I found a bunch of items I like but do they fit together? I’m hoping they do! I have a couple going at once, as I wanted to try it out with a couple of dresses that I found. So I have dresses down, hopefully shoes. Next its jewelry and headpieces. I can’t wait, but I’m kind of late in the game (i.e. just found out about it today and the contest closes tomorrow, the story of my life). I’m really excited about just trying to make an inspiration board that I can’t wait to see what weird stuff I match up!

My foray into food has been interesting so far. At my parents house, I cooked but it was never required every day, three meals a day or heck even once a day. It’s probably been about a month before I moved out that I cooked something that wasn’t cookies (I love those small little bundles of joy). Usually it was breakfast, which can be a real no brainer. Now that I’ve moved out, it's more of a dinner meal with perhaps stuff left over for lunches. I’ve tried chicken and gnocchi (if you want a melty cheese, please keep in mind feta doesn’t melt even if it tastes delicious), I’ve cook a whole chicken (which turned out great! Thanks Anthony Boudain’s for sharing your best chicken cooking friend with us), spaghetti (which apparently needed more salt) and lots and lots of eggs for breakfast (I now have cereal so that stopped the unending torture).

I’ve concocted my very first two week meal plan, portioned out the bulk meat and vegetables we purchased on Sunday (we dropped over $250 in all) and will hopefully see how it goes. I feel just a bit better not having to try and think of dinner items every day that aren’t out of a can. I felt like I was going to repeat spaghetti/chicken/spaghetti/chicken for the rest of my life. Then I realized….I like eating other meats and I only have Mike to worry about, so I can cook what ever I want and he’ll have to eat it (insert evil laugh here). I remembered that there is steak, pork, pheasant, fish, lamb and loads of seafood out there for me to try. I can’t wait! PS- I’d like to honorably mention meatloaf in there as well. I’m so excited, I just hope Mike realizes what’ll soon be gracing his plate.

A book review for you by one of my favorite authors!

Slave to Sensation
By Nalini Singh

The first book in her series about humans with Phy powers, or can change into animals or just plan old humans was a great hit and I absolutely loved it. This book focuses on Sascha Duncan, a cardinal (top level) Psy whose flaw will eventually get her killed and Lucas Hunter, the leader of a pack of changling animals that hate the Psy like nothing else. Forced to work with Duncan, her careful training starts to unravel with every sensual look he throws her way. He needs answers she can provide but he can’t seem to fight the pull she has on him. There lives are forced into a tug of war game that has deathly consequences.

I can’t stress how much I love reading Nalini Singh’s books. She writes strong multilayered main and secondary characters. She introduces an alternate world that was easy to understand and step into. Her rules are brutally honest and at times harsh but never without reason. She’s weaved such a strong back history with just a few paragraphs that the reader in the end has no problem understanding the reasoning behind the characters feelings or flaws.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 5 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Fencing Tournaments, Car Wrecks and a Hurt Hand

This weekend was busy! As the title states I competed in a fencing tournament (saber, my favorite slashing sport) my car was hit (2nd time in under six months, I wasn’t in it both times) and my hand hurts like a you know what.

Saturday started out as any other one does, myself giving fencing instruction. But unlike other Saturdays the lesson ended with an ‘oh crap that tournaments today’! bit of a freak-out. After getting it under control and shamefully debating if I was even going to attend, I re-made up my mind and decided that I’d go.

Some how or another, even after all the times spent putting close away, Mike still doesn’t seem to know where my socks go. Heck, I would have been happy if they were even in the universal sock drawer. I ended up leaving the house a 15 minutes later than I planned, had to pick up mula to pay for the event and by the time I got there the event should have already started (they where nice enough to hold it up for me). I spent 5 minutes in the parking lot trying to beat my fencing bag into submission as I couldn’t seem to get my weapons out of the case. After pulling a Mike as I like to call it, I beat it into submission and was finally able to get the required weapons from the trunk.

I did reasonably well in the pools (where everyone fences each other). Winning 2 out of 5 and losing another 2, 5-4 and my very first bout 5-2. I was set to take the win in the DE (direct elimination) as I felt reasonably confident that I could take the guy I beat in the pools when disaster hit and I lost the DE, 15-10. Although when walking away from the strip it felt more like 15-2. I just couldn’t seem to get a hand up on the guy. Afterwards I was given some constructive comments by the ref how suggested that I got timed out (its an electric setup) and that I need to work more on a fast parry-repost if I want to try and stop it from happening again. Note to self, work on quicker parry-repost and if I’m feeling like it, take the guy out before the next tournament.

I had the misfortune of getting hit in the hand when fencing and the blade whipped down and hit between my knuckle and the top of the middle finger (and no, I didn’t walk around with it pointed up showing everyone). The initial bruise wasn’t a big deal but know that the knuckles back to its original color the soft tissue is dark blue and hurts more then the initial bruise. I’m such a baby. It also unseated my diamond on my engagement ring (please look over the fact that I was even wearing jewelry on my fencing hand). Fortunally we’re completely covered on the ring and it’s currently getting fixed right now. I can’t wait to get it back. It feels so funny not wearing the thing.

Saturday night, Mike went to Seattle to meet with some of his friends and while he was on the way up, ended up getting rear ended. And it gets worse…in my car! That’s two cars in less than six months that have been hit and both without me in them (the first was totaled right outside my house when a guy ran into the front of the car then drove off). Currently it’s in the shop getting fixed while the guys at fault insurance tries to deny the claim or even try to set one up. So mean while, I’ll probably be out $500 until they approve it, which might be forever.

I renewed my Mary-Kay consultant license and hopefully this year I’ll actually do something with it (one can only hope). Seems not so smart, but I’ll defiantly be using it to help save for the wedding which is almost a year away. I also applied for a business license, but am waiting to finish it until I get my PO Box set up as I want that to be my shipping address. I finally went through and the change of address with USPS which even though they used to claim it was free, can only be done on line and they charge you $1 to do it. Which really isn’t a biggy but I had to do it twice since two people moved, with different last names and you can’t do batch if they all don’t have the same last name.

Last weekend we also purchased a new computer/printer set from a large chain electronics store (here’s a hint, its blue) and walked away with a desktop computer, a laptop, printer/scanner and wireless router for $1200 plus tax and additional product insurance. They are also having a special right now on 18 months, zero interest if paid in full. We defiantly took advantage of that. We’ve had it a week now and it’s sad to say, but I haven’t actually gotten on any of the equipment. Should probably do that this weekend.

And yes, another book review (not one of the ones I promised before but a new one):

The Treasure Keeper
By Shana Abe

I’ve never read one of her books before and I saw the cover and just had to see if it was any good. When I couldn’t put it down in the book store, I decided that I needed to get it. I was enamored with the book the inter way through. When reading it, it felt as if it was from a first person point of view but it took me a bit to realize, it was actually third person point of view. This is probably due to the journal entries in the first part of the book.

This book is about a you drakon (dragon) with powers that most female dragons don’t receive and when her fiancé goes missing, takes off on her own to find him against the rules of the clan. Zoe finds herself in Paris trying to pick up the last pieces of Hayden’s trail when she is haunted by another of her childhood friends shade that just won’t leave her alone. Using her unique powers she searches for the lost men her life and the evil that could destroy everything she’s cared about.

My main negative comment about this story is that her fiancé Hayden kept putting off their wedding and completing in physical acts and I personally felt that not a strong enough reason was provided by the author to explain this. At first he seemed like his collar was too tight around his neck and then more relaxed later on and his personality was stronger then the reason she provided. Perhaps I don’t know enough about the subcultures in the series, but it wasn’t necessarily stressed that the females and males hadn’t been with other partners or each other before marriage. The other issue was how Hayden who was such a snob towards other dragons, didn’t seem unnatural to later be hanging out with one. This is probably back story from another, but Zoe didn’t think it was strange either. PS- still not sure what the title had to do with the story.

Overall I give it a 4 out of 5 for storyline/romance and a 5 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Napkins again (when will I stop), invitation set and a book review

I heard back from the masked invitation suit requestor and finished working up a mock up, without color for her. Her main colors are champion, black and fuchsia! What a wonderful color set. I’ve posted the ideas I had for her below. I’d love to have a bright splash of color at the corner of the masks that tapers to a light shade. I don’t know how well the letters would emboss but that would add a nice finish to the invites. I could see a fuchsia color board behind with embossed fleur de les to add even more dimension to the initiations. Since I had no idea the style or size she was looking for, I errored on the side of more conservative paper sizes.
My invites are 4.5 x 5.5 inches.

RSVP cards are 3 x 5 inches.

And the Thank You cards are 5.59 x 4.33 inches unfolded.

I can’t wait for the chance to try them out myself! She also wanted a map draw up of the wedding location and envelop with liners. I think a water fleur de les tucked inside on a champagne paper would make an excellent accent to the whole ensemble.

I’ll be visiting the universities craft store today to try and pick up a bucket of emulsion. And then swing down to the club later today to give a fencing lesson and hope to catch the UPS guy before he tries to deliver a package in which no one will be there to pick up. Bummer.

Well it’s a relatively short blog today as I’m planning a Wellness Fair at work and it seems to be taking up all my time both at work and my mind at home. Hopefully this Friday will be successful and not to total colossal failure (think happy thoughts!).

2nd book review of the week (thought I’d forget didn’t you)
Dark Stranger
(Vampire Book Series)
By Susan Sizemore

This was the first book in the start of a new series called ‘The Vampire Book Club’ that is based off of her Primal series as it uses the characteristics of Primal Vampires and the other species she’s introduced in her previous books and places them in different situations. In this book she places her characters in a science fiction setting way in the future where most of the human race has been annulated due to a space eruption that damaged several colonized planets in the solar system as well as earth. After partial repopulation, humans spread out into space and meet many new humanoids. Some of which they can coexist with and others that cause nothing but destruction.

The main female lead Zoe is captured on a peace talk mission and is thrown in the dungeon on a planet that is isolated from everything. The cell block she is thrown into is governed by a fellow inmate, the main male Matthias Raven or “Doc” where she struggles to keep her true identity from him and everyone else on the planet while he can’t seem to get enough of her. Their rocky relationship starts on its path when Zoe finds that she has a hard time staying away from him and the entire cell blocks mentality of polygamy (mostly because there are so few females). If put to the test as her chapters come looking for the captive that could win the war and the warring humanoids who what the humans death once and for all.

I have to say that I did enjoy reading this book. The science fiction was believable though not too heavily relied upon, most because they were in a prison camp. The strong female characters and the diverse supporting characters added richness to the story that was entertaining to read and helped the plot along. I had a little bit of a hard time towards the middle to last two-thirds of the story when the Zoe would decide that she didn’t want him but the conversation never changed in tone to indicate that she was even trying to fight off the desire for him. Around this time the author seemed to repeat the same emotional themes that where to closely related to make them separate items so it felt like they where one and the same.

After a few chapter of slight hiccupping in storyline, the plot gets on its way again and the action and romance continue to move ahead at an entertaining pace.

This book is based off of her original series and is supposed to be the books her character read in that series. At the end of the book, there is a chapter in which her original characters talk about the book and discuss who they think wrote it. While slightly entertaining, I feel that this could have been done without.

4 out of 5 stars for storyline/romance, 3 out of 5 stars for bedroom steaminess.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mystery Shopping, Napkins and a Book Review

So I joined one of the ‘mystery’ shopper websites, which stated that it was free to join. Well it was free to join but if I want to mystery shop then I need to become a paying member. And there is no guarantee that I’ll even get any of the mystery shopper jobs I apply for. Needless to say that it was a complete waist of time, thankfully not a lot of it, but it would have been interesting and maybe fun to get paid to shop.

So about those lovely little napkins that I spoke about in the last blog, it looks like I’m going to get the bid. Yeay! I’ll be doing a mockup of the napkins some time soon (as soon as the craft store gets the emulsion supplies I need) and I’m hoping that they turn out great on the first try (no I’m not delusional, just insane). I’ll also have 175 napkins to mess up on just trying to make the print look right, then when I order the ones she wants, another 200 for my other mistakes. I’ve also decided that the emulsion screens for those lovely little screen printing machines are a bit too much to only produce 4 screens, and by next week I’ll have a whole new exposure material to mess with. I’m extra excited to try the product and see how it goes, I just hope that I don’t have to mix the entire amount to do just one screen.

I saw a request for a Venetian mask themes wedding package and thought I’d try it out. I took a couple of masks and merged them into one using variations of the fleur de les as accents. I love how they turned out and can’t decide if it would look better with a light watercolor purple behind, with a silver mask, black accents and perhaps a dark purple ribbon or on a silver background with a light watercolor purple mask, black accents and a dark purple ribbon. I haven’t heard any response back from the original requestor on their wedding colors so I imagine when I do a test run, I can choose what ever colors I want.

I briefly (well more like 4 days) entertained the idea of entering a wedding design contest, where they were looking for original new designs that cost under $500 dollars to assemble. I was planning on running with the garden gnome theme with yellows, greens and reds. The table would be set with a few garden gnomes, herbs (as apparently they like to eat those) and wild flowers. I walked around the fabric store, circling the cloth section like a hungry hyena eyeing its first meal in weeks but never found anything that screamed this is the table cloth you want. Then I started worrying that the 4 place table I my residence wouldn’t be enough and it kind of went down hill from there.

For now I’ll just focus on getting the napkins done and printing on the three different types of tiles I purchased for coasters. I’ve never printed on pumas stone before so it should be loads of fun!

Aside from being on my own this weekend (Mike went on a camping trip), I read a couple of books (4). I won’t overload you with their reviews all in one blog post, so I’ve decided to split them up over the week. Lucky you!

I’ll start with the first one I completed.

Lion’s Heat
By Lora Leigh

I loved this book! And plan on re-reading it many many times! This is the long awaited story of Jonas Wyatt and his trials of finding his mate and the personal and emotional struggles they must go through to in order to discover if they have what it takes to give each other forever. While they're cautiously feel their way through their budding relationship, they are challenged by family that cannot be deigned and an Ex who wants to profit from his daughters birth.

This book is caulked full of action, adventure and passion that cannot be deigned. I love and own all of her books and full heartedly agree that this is an excellent addition to the Breed’s series. I give it a 5 out of 5 for storyline/romance and 5 out of 5 for bedroom steaminess!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Napkins, Mugs, Star Trek and Gnomes

Original thought for the title of this blog post "Enough with the planning already and get on with it!", but it doesn't quite go, I'll save it for later :)

So I’m hoping to get some Etsy love soon. I’m in talks with someone who would like napkins printed for her wedding, 400 of them! I’m hoping to get the bid so I can have some other products aside from hair pins listed in my shop. Don’t get me wrong, I love creating the hair products, it’s just that I’d like to expand and mostly practice making products that I’ll be doing seriously later. Not that if I win the bid I won’t complete the items in all seriousness. I’d just like to figure out how everything works when it’s not my project (going on the theory that I won’t be as stressed about it).

At first the statement was I would like a monogram printed on a napkin, and after learning the information, I sent the first set of ideas. (I threw in some simplistic ideas along with one that might be considered gaudy as I wasn’t sure what she was going for)

After indicating that they were a bit to much, even the simplistic ones, I sent the following:

Currently waiting to hear back from her. (I have my fingers crossed)

The last time I came up with an idea, it was the meshing of star trek insignias (non-geeks please avert your eyes) between Vulcan’s and Klingon’s. She liked the idea, but wanted to have their local glass artist make the piece. I was more then happy to part with the art as it was for a wedding topper and I didn’t think that I’d be able to accurately make the icon. I asked for a picture of the final object, but haven’t received one.

I think that I’m going to bid on another set of wedding invites, just need to sketch them first. It’s a Venetian mask theme so I’m thinking I’ll throw in some fleur-de-les and see how it goes. I can’t decide if I want to try putting a fence in the background but that might look funny, not that the loads of floating fleur-de-les wouldn’t. I’ll be sure to post it once I have my crazy idea down in some form or another.

I went to the craft store the other day and ended up picking up two pairs of buttons one in bronze and one is silver that look like old family shields, some feathers in the same warm brown family (different shades), brown and black ribbon and then a huge bushel of flowers in which I have to think of some way to attach the darn things to a head band or large hair clip. The only problem is the question that kept rattling around in my head, do adults still wear stretchy headbands and what color should it be? You see the flower is large, fuchsia with some rich orange colors. It’s a beautiful plant. I just don’t know what to do with it. As for the buttons, I can’t decide if I’m going to go for a head piece or a wrist wrap. I’ll have to go back to the store if that’s the case (which is certainly no problem for me).

I also tried grabbing a few bunches of flowers to see how it would look arranged in a bouquet and I have to say that for a quick ‘how do you do’ it could look pretty phenomenal (personally I’d like to use awesome- as in awe inspiring). If I got them now, at 40% off, I could cut the price in half, so instead of about $50 for flowers (one bridal and two maids), I could get it for about $30. To bad I don’t know what my dress will look like or the exact coolers, plus I think if I made it this early I might just end up throwing them away after getting sick of looking at them for over a year.

As an aside, how can some flavor dink packets taste so delicious while others taste like I’m drinking powder? I recreantly tried a strawberry energy dink flavor packet and it tastes horrible! Since I have a hard time wasting anything, I guess I’m going to have to force it down bit by bit. I’m also hoping that the energy statement printed on the side is true to fact. I could definitely use some.

I didn’t do any unpacking yesterday, but I did manage to get basic staples for the kitchen (yeay) and even pulled out the coffee maker for this morning. I have been dying these last couple of days without coffee, but now the magic elixir is free (relatively speaking) and flowing! Now, I’ll just need to stack up on traveling mugs. I currently only have one as I tend to leave them places.

On the plus side (aside from getting food), the store I went to has basic white plain mugs for 88 cents. With that much blank space, the possibilities are endless! I keep thinking that I’m going to try out some of my Alice prints but perhaps the cups should match my current light green table settings. Maybe I’ll add a bold leaf pattern or perhaps something quarky like a silhouette of a gnome playing in a field of grass. That would be interesting to say the least.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wedding thoughts, crafting ideas and Etsy

Ah, I have so many wedding questions floating around my head. Should I keep my invite ideas of a Madd Hatter top hat? Do I want to make my own veil (yes!) and what kind do I want? Where the heck is the wedding going to take place and can I even afford the darn thing!

I don’t know if I’ve put myself off of the Madd Hatter invite solely based on everyone else’s reactions. I’ve gotten mixed reviews, with high points from Mike, and perhaps its just that its so early in the planning of it all (I’ve had a year already to think of ideas and plan) that maybe I’ve burned myself out of weddings for a while. Lately I’ve become obsessed with wedding blogs, searching for elusive ideas to create a ‘story board’ as the wedding industries call them in order to set everything for the wedding before actually acquiring them.

I have loads of pictures from flowers to table arrangements, foods that will be served and what the glasses could look like. I’ve even gone back and fourth between pondering supplies for the apartment I just moved into to deciding if I could afford a hundred of those glasses and what exactly I could do to them.

May marks the one year proposal anniversary and the year count down to the main event. Needless to say I’m feeling the pressure and yet at the same time, the burning desire to just ignore it until the date gets here.

I’ve also had another guilty wedding buy hiding in the trunk of my car for the last week. I recently purchased a heat gun, brush and embossing powder. I got the heat gun 40% off and the remaining two items 20% off. The one thing I will say that really helps with wedding planning this far out from the actual wedding date, is you can calmly wait for the sales that come your way to help cut down on the price cost of the mundane quantity (yes quantity) items that will be needed for a wedding.

The other plus is that you have time to shop around and find what you want and hopefully in the price you’d like it as well. Personally I need to find little boxes or containers for the ‘eat me’ portion of the wedding favors and little glass bottles for the ‘drink me’ portion, although I don’t have the faintest idea what I’m going to put in them.

Lately I’ve been trying to expand my Etsy shop with requests to complete other peoples personal alchemy requests (items they want but can’t find anywhere else). So far I believe I’ve bid probably on 10 items, and not received one confirmation. Since I’ve never really done any of the items requested (but am planning to for my own wedding), It both scares and excites me at the same time. Currently I’ve bid on printing a monogram on a paper napkin but since the requester didn’t put letters or colors desired, I’m currently waiting for a response.

How does this relate to my own wedding? Well I’m planning on printing a few characters, one on each napkin for the wedding reception, if they aren’t provided, so that it matches the theme and isn’t exactly the same for every person. This is just one of the ideas that may or may not pan out of the wedding.

Another alchemy request I bid on was to create a dive shirt with an octopus on it with ‘DIVE’ written on one sleeve and the other would be embellished with the Dive Flag.

Unfortunately I didn’t win this bid. It would have been fun making the shirt and seeing if I’d stay within the budget. I might just make the shirt anyways and see how it turns out (this would be helpful for any other shirt items that I bid on).

I missed out on using the Borders 30% off coupon last week and didn’t pick up the new book by Lora Leigh, mostly because I wouldn’t have had time to read it and I knew I would have missed sleep to finish it. I’m waiting for more Joann and Michael’s coupons because I’m itching to buy new items to make.

On an aside, I’ve changed almost all my addresses to get forwarded to home. Now to get the cable and internet turned on.

Wedding purchase:
Heating tool
Embossing Powder
Total: ~$18.00

Monday, April 12, 2010

Moving and a Party!

Well, I did it. I (mostly) survived this weekend and everything that was packed into it. Friday was crazy, mostly because of the mad dash of packing that I tried to complete for the move on Saturday.

Last weeks agenda; Friday-continue packing, Saturday-parade 8:30-1, move 2-5:30pm, 25th anniversary party 6-7:30, Sunday- move, board meeting (didn’t make it).

Saturday started out with a fun little jaunt to the fencing club where I organized the waiting group of fencers and figured out where we needed to be for the Daffodil Festival Parade I had signed the club up for. When we made our way down to where we are supposed to meet up with the parade coordinators, there were none in site to help direct us where we need to go. We wonder around a bit, mostly because I had no idea where we where going, until I spied someone with a clip board and they finally direct us to our starting location.

We sat there in a vacant parking lot waiting around for a bit after being assured that we’d be told when to start marching. The numbers of the units around us are at about 50. Our unit was number 116. It took about and hour in a half, waiting in the cold wind for the units numbers of the parade to reach 100. At about this time, I start looking for the Daffodil Parade coordinators who I had been assured would be there to start us out and low and behold, none of them were around. I saw a unit tagged 112 and then a huge marching band rolled by and the unit after them was 119. We squeezed in behind them and started the long 10 blocks of group fencing. I wasn’t aware how long we marched until we had to walk back to where the cars where parked. My legs are still extremely soar and don’t liked to be used for mundane things like walking or climbing stairs.

Afterwards I went straight home to pick up Mike and headed over to the apartment complex so we could do a walk through and sign the lease on the apartment. The walk through wasn’t so bad, it was the continuous forms that we had to sign that seemed to take forever. After all the forms were signed, we where handed the keys and immediately started the long process of changing residences.

At around 5:30 pm we headed over to the grocery store to pick up the remainder of the food for my patents 25th anniversary party that was also taking place on Saturday. I though the party started at 7 but it started at 6 (I should have known this as I was the one who send out the invites). We where a little late and once I had the chicken salad out I started mingled with the rest of the group. Although I helped plan the event, with everything else that was going on, I wasn’t the one who really helped put everything together. My two sisters did a phenomenal job getting everything cooked and placed out on the table. I'll have to post the punch recipe as it was delicious and I'm pretty sure that I'll be serving it at my wedding.

After the party, Mike and I went back to the apartment, assembled the bed and spent the first night in the apartment. I was a bit cold, but amazing. The natural light in the apartment is great and we probably won’t end up using much electricity just because of that. We meet up with my parents for a brunch on Sunday. We ended up waiting an hour to be seated off of a 25 minute wait quote. Once we consumed the overly proportioned meals we continuing the moving process. We currently have almost everything moved in and after looking at the huge pile of junk sitting in the middle of our living room, it amazes me that I had almost everything stuffed into my room.

All that’s left to move is most of my crafting supplies and some miscellaneous items that didn’t get packed. Then it’s cleaning time at both places before I can get down to the serious unpacking.

Last night has to be one of the worst nights of sleep I’ve ever gotten. Misha, my cat, needed attention last night, probably because she knew how tired I was, and about once an hour would wake me up with sharp claws to the face or shoulders asking for attention. I didn’t want to throw her out of the room on her first night at the apartment, but if it continues again, I’m kicking her out of the room.

On today’s agenda; work, gym, clean old room and bathroom, move more stuff to the apartment, organize and clean new apartment, start unpacking.

Lets see how much of the above actually get completed.