A new year, a new #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

It’s kinda nice to get out of the house, isn’t it?

Yeah, it’s not like I’ve been cooped up all week–far from it!–but sitting in this Starbucks gives us some space to spread out. Too bad that local coffee shop in Maple Glen closed. It was charming. They started a tab for me the last time I was there. How cool was that? How dangerous was that? I wanted to show my husband, but alas. I was hoping we’d meet there, too, but this is the best we’ve got at 6:12pm.

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Happy New Year in Philly

Happy New Year! How did you spend yours? My husband and I were crossing the highway hand-in-hand when everyone tooted horns and yelled out windows. We made it to Sugarbush Casino to see the fireworks over Philadelphia. Much warmer than last year, and this spot in Philly is easier to get to. Maybe you’ll be in town to join us?

My gosh, a worldwind week: shopping in New York City; train ride from New Jersey; craft stores in North Wales here; mall shopping at King of Prussia and here in Montgomery Mall; coffee shops everywhere; and so much more. The weather was great all week.

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Believe in the magic of Christmas and window displays

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Celebrating in the City and beyond

It was in the 40s when we were in the City, perfect for walking around. Times Square was the most crowded, maybe because some streets were already blocked off for the ball drop the next day. The Macy’s window displays were creative. The bookish geek in me adored the Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus display, but the Charlie Brown animatronic windows were divoon. My favorite was the Red Baron one with Snoopy decorating his dog house in lights then taking off into the sky among fireworks. The way the curtain of clouds revealed the story made everyone gasp.

We found some fun Starbucks Christmas tree ornaments and exclusive Times Square mugs. It rained only as we got to Penn Station for the train home, and of course we got roasted nuts. No trip to the City is complete without nuts.
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The Penn State bowl game yesterday was a loss, but it wasn’t. My husband and I watched the game with the Montco Penn State Alumni Chapter. They hosted it at a bar and provided free appetizers. The final score was 24-17 Georgia, but our team came back with two 4th quarter touchdowns to make it a game at the end. It all came down to the last play of the game, and it was a real effort. No one gave up, and we don’t feel bad about the outcome. Okay, we hoped they would win, but the soul and the spirit that the players showed was enough for me to feel proud about it all.

I did get some writing done, as well as some writing organization. I didn’t touch Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks once I chose not to publish by December 31, but I did some blogging, some planning for blog and writing time, and I’m catching up on my much-neglected social media.

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Lucky the puppy flops on the stairs waiting for head and tummy scritches

It’s strange that people are going back to work tomorrow, but we’re still on vacation until Wednesday. Not that I mind. It’s been nice visiting with my in-laws and the puppy. Eat, nap, scratch, eat, sleep…oh, the life of a dog. I feel like that today since I’m sleeping in tomorrow.
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Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I haven’t, and I don’t intend to. It’s complicated but really simple: I don’t want the pressure. I’m being kind to myself that way, but that’s why this whole writing-planning thing is important. I’m setting goals and striving towards them, which is different than “resolutions.”

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Together time: he whooped my butt in air hockey

It’s been all about food. There was brunch last Sunday, pizza from another delicious hole-in-the-strip-mall Italian restaurant here, more pizza in the City, homemade lasagna, Wawa subs and…. Let me say that I’m looking forward to getting home if only to eat “normal” food and exercise on my WiiFit.

It’s really been all about family. And the puppy. My husband and I had together time, we talked with his folks around the dinner table a few nights, we played with the puppy, stuff like that. His folks are getting older, so it’s good that we make these times to be together. Make no mistake, I wasted many hours playing games on my phone and watching YouTube videos, but we were here in the house with them. Sometimes just being is enough.

Care for more coffee or tea? There’s free in-store refills for Starbucks Gold Card members, and I have yet to hear what you’ve been up to. How was your week?

Feeling okay with a less-than-perfect NaNoWriMo word count

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”~Jimmy Dean, American actor

It’s third way thru NaNoWriMo and I am not ashamed at my word count, or lack of word count.

Those 8 words represent my name and title.

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I’m not worried about word count because I am incredible.

Early November is always challenging for me. There’s usually a Penn State football game my husband and I travel to around that time. This year, in fact, it was Halloween weekend, and I signed up for NaNoWriMo around 11:30pm on October 31. Our wedding anniversary falls mid-October–which should not be an excuse–but when travel or events are planned for that, there’s little time for me to settle back into a routine before any football games arrive. This year, my work schedule changed the last week of October–just before the football game, which we won big! over Illinois–and I’m still rearranging my life around that change.

And, I’ll admit it, I had no idea what I wanted to write about, but I did have a format. This year, I’m breaking away for the norms. NaNoWriMo is intended to be the inspirational event for you to write the first 50,000 words of your fiction novel, but in my past NaNo years, I wrote those words and then left them to rot in some folder-in-a-folder on my computer. I was never inspired by the stories after that.

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I’m important and incredible!

My previous 8-Hour short stories, however, have proved successful, so I’m choosing to do more of them. The idea is one 12,500-ish story per week, something easy enough to edit and ePublish by the end of the year. I’m more invested that way, and I’ll have something to show for my toils and tribulations this month.

Always be kind to yourself, words written or not, other goals met or not. You wouldn’t say to “you failed” to your best friend because he or she wrote only 43,177 words, so don’t say that to yourself. Ever! About anything.

I’m not ashamed of that word count because that work schedule change opened up more potential writing windows of opportunity that I can–and am–taking advantage of. Also, by releasing the Zentangle aspect of my life earlier this year, I have freed my mind from that distraction. I have the time and the will to focus on my true passion and talent: writing.

Word count is calling to me. I now have a great idea–well, ideas–for what to write about. Let’s see how that goes before I share them here.

A #WeekendCoffeeShare of writing…failures?

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”~Margaret Mead, American scientist

If we were having coffee, I might be dozing off. It’s been a long week. I guess I haven’t caught up on sleep from last weekend’s trip to State College for the Penn State-Illinois football game. We ate too much, stayed up too late, shopped way too much, cheered until we couldn’t speak, and just other general alumni rowdiness.

My writing has fallen off this week, and I guess that’s just part of life, the universe and everything. I signed up for NaNoWriMo at 11:30pm on October 31, and my current word count is six, I think, and that’s because I typed in a proposed title. My idea with NaNo this year is bucking against the “rules” to write 50,000 words of one novel. I plan to write 3-4 short stories, easy enough to edit and ePublish by the end of the year. That’s a good use of my November, rather than draft another novel-I’ve-always-wanted-to-write just to have it sit in a file on my computer.

Other writing goals are sluggish. I did finish my Scrivener tutorial. What a mentally exhausting task that was. In the process, I seem to have muffed up the program itself, so I’m awaiting response from the developers to see what I did. MailChimp is proving to be not as easy as others said it would be, or else I’m making more of it than I should.

I haven’t submitted anything to my writers’ group in a few months, but I did discuss with them the options of self-hosting this blogsite and finally using the domain name I’ve been hanging onto for about 5 years. At least I planned ahead for that.

My husband’s off sulking because Penn State didn’t win this week’s football game. I’m a bit bummed myself. It came down to one play–a poor play call, even I could tell–but a lot of games this season have been won by one final play.

Grab an Oreo cookie to-go; we have plenty left from my Halloween blog party. Have a safe drive home, and I’ll see you next week.

It’s all fun and games with a twist this Halloween

Welcome to the annual Halloween Blog Party hop sponsored by A Fanciful Twist. Come stay, play and eat for awhile, and then hop over to the other parties you’ll find.

For now, walk up to the door.  Don’t be scared by the warning.  The zombies just cross the sidewalk; they don’t come inside the house.

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Greeted on the other side by our host, Sehlat.

“Welcome to my 6th Halloween party here.  Tonight is just about fun and games.  Come in, come in….”

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“Are you hungry?” he asks.  “There’s a buffet table in the other room.  Help yourself to some finger food.”

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“The coffin dip is on the kitchen counter.  Don’t worry about the crypt keeper.  He just hangs around.”

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In the living room, there’s a furious game of Scrabble in progress.  Snufflet and Finse keep score, but they’re in third place.  Lasso is last for the moment.  Socks is winning by 9 points, and she is quite happy about that. 

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Blue places her tiles for a score of 6, and the fourth round begins.

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Snufflet and Finse study their tiles intently….

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On the other side of the room, a game of Jenga has just started.  Boo Peeps celebrates his skill removing the his block.  It’s Snuff’s turn, so he looks up and studies the tower.  Otter, Brownie and Frost offer suggestions as they pace around the structure.

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There’s a warm, smoky smell coming from the kitchen. Appetizers are out of the oven.

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“My famous homemade Mummitizers,” Sehlat says, straightening his shoulders as he sets the tray down. “There are two types: savory and sweet. The sausage wraps are ones are a tad smoky. The banana ones have a touch of hazelnut spread to them. Be sure to take a napkin because the mummies are known to leak the sauce out onto your fingers.”

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It’s tough to say “Thank You” with a full mouth, but a nod is enough for Sehlat. With a smile and nod back, he takes off the oven mitts, grabs a nutty mummy and wanders into another room to mingle.

In the parlor, Whiffer and Ploppers hover over a handheld game. They’re playing Nintendogs on the special pink paw Nintendogs Nintendo DS console, a unit that was a limited edition.

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On the screen, Rosie the dachshund has been fed, washed, and now decides between a nap or playing ball.

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Wades, Tuesday, Prickles and Ice start a game of Clue.

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“Clue is a murder mystery game,” says Wades.  “Does anyone object to a more appropriate setting? 

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“Not at all,” says Prickles.  “What did you have in mind?”

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“This,” says Wades, and with a click flick of her wrist, the black light turns on.

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“What do you think?” she asks.

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“Oh, this is much better,” says Prickles.

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“Spooky-eerie,” says Tuesday, smiling beneath his mask.

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“Indeed,” says Ice.  “Let’s roll.”

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“Desserts are ready,” says a booming voice in the kitchen. Frankenpudding with tart orange cider.

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Hyde has already wandered over to the freshly-dipped caramel treats. He’s a favorite of the nut covered ones, but the smooth caramel looks enticing tonight.

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“It’s a football Saturday,” Catnap tells new lion. “Before Penn State takes the field, let’s get in some practice now.”

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If you’re looking for more games, there’s a pile in the corner, and there’s lots of Guys around to join in the fun.

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Sehlat calls the partygoers over for a round or three of group MadLibs.

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Friendship. Games. Chocolate. Makes for a good party. Hope you’ll be staying for awhile….

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Dancing in memories: a reflection of April

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”~Peter Drucker, American businessman

Back to my regular blogging schedule now that the AtoZ Challenge has ended. Did I complete the challenge? No…and yes.

I did not post all of my alphabet posts on the day-of alphabet days. Why the delay? One: Life interfered. I took some vacation, had a minor house issue which required major effort to contain, and bought and installed a new computer and printer, the latter being not as easy a venture as I expected. The trip to State College to see the Penn State Blue-White game was the highlight. That involved daily Creamery ice cream cones, my husband’s first venture into The Phyrst bar, shopping, photos at the Lion and on the Beaver Stadium football field. That trip was followed by a mini-trip to visit his folks: dinner, a trip to quaint Doylestown and lots of puppy play time.

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The wonders of April 2015

I exercised more on my WiiFit–and it shows;
see Day 14–attended my friend’s book signing, bought three bags of used books for my Found Poetry Zentangle class next week and saw my baby turn 200K in our driveway.

Lots of little things make up one big life. Remember that.

But the second reason all of my AtoZ posts are not posted as of this blog post is that I wrote flash fiction in each of them. Flash fiction. It was spontaneous, not planned at all, but it takes time, more time than I expected. However, after Day One, I couldn’t stop; both for myself and for my readers. It was my first attempt at both flash fiction and AtoZ. My first time writing daily blog posts and daily storytelling.

Not the best idea I had.

So I’m extending the challenge posts throughout the month of May, rather than doing an info dump of alphabets on my readers.I hope you’ll come back and learn all the ways to Procrastinate a Writer. Maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe you’ll feel for Jayne and Tom, and who is that Newspaper Guy? Or maybe you’ll just leave hungry for cookies.

Penn State Blue-White Weekend 2015 in photos

“Life is one big road with lots of signs; don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality.”~Bob Marley, Jamaican musician

Sights for the senses from Blue-White Weekend, April 2015

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New news in a Zentangle New Year

“Life isn’t about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself.”~George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright

February 14th was Valentine’s Day. My husband and I had evening plans in Detroit, but snowy weather and a busy week for both of us changed our minds into a snuggly day together. We went to two different local coffee shops and played a total of FIVE Yahtzee games. We ordered take-out from Palermo’s, a pizza place we haven’t eaten in for entirely too long. We drove to Penn Theater in Plymouth and also picked up an extra-large bag of popcorn so we could enjoy some new DVDs at home movie-style.

As such, I almost missed this blog post because it published on Valentine’s Day. Thanks to my friend’s email, my news is officially official.

Seriously, it’s exciting Zentangle class news. Check it out here. Go ahead. It opens in a new window, so I’ll wait.

Love it, love it, love it! Since I’ve began attending in 2007, Mega Meet has opened up to the new and exciting everything. Scrapbooking has transformed over the years into something beyond matted pictures and precut stickerss on colorful paper. I blame–or thank–some of that to the popularity of Tim Holtz, a man who met an unspoken need in the market: artsy scrapbooking and art crafting.

My class is the best of all worlds: Zentangle techniques, creative simplicity and repurposing old items. It’s a great mixed-media technique, and I am thrilled that the organizer, Kate, has been open to such amazing class suggestions. In the past years, some of the more popular classes have been the mixed media classes such as art journaling and book binding. People know how to put pictures to paper; now there’s a craving for something new. I’m excited to teach this class. Seeing my name next to a class like this is always as exciting as seeing my name in print, whether it’s one of my books or my Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine articles. The class is unique, combining an artform I’ve fallen in love with the drawing artform that started this whole journey.nd is something that a combining of an artform that has caught my eye with my drawing passion.

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This is a great way to start the New Year. I discount January somewhat because I was sick and unfocused for most of it. February has been the cool month–and the cold month, so I’m dreaming of the spring Blue-White game.

So it was serendipity that this week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge #205 is to use inspiration from the Chinese New Year. The Zodiac sign for 2015 is the sheep. Taking a cue from Laura’s tile, I pulled out a pre-strung Zendala tile. Yes, Zendala. It’s not been my favorite Zentangle medium, but this week is was fun to rediscover it. I chose tangle that began with the letters S-H-E-E-P. Turns out there are five spaces in this tile, so away I went.

Shattuck – Huggins – Ennis – Evoke – Purk. It was actually fun to work on a Zendala again, although part of that made be the pre-strung aspect to it. It was a simple string, flowed well with just a few tangles. I felt a pull towards red, so I used my Inktense pencils to play with color shading.

If you’re in Detroit for Mother’s Day weekend, be sure to check out this class. It blows my mind that the scrapbooking community might embrace such a class in this public venue once again. I can’t wait to share this with students. My friend who sent me the email exclaimed that this is DEFINITELY one of classes she plans to take. That’s an honor: my friend is taking my class for the technique and not just because we’re friends.

Remember December

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

It’s the middle of the month. Right about now, resolutions are falling faster than snowflakes.  Mine have been sidetracked by one nasty, lingering cold. Now is a good time to reflect on the past.

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I’ve been doing a December-Photo-a-Day project since 2007. Great memories. Every year it’s amazing what I do that’s new. It’s fun to see the events that have become traditions and how those same events have changed. My Deadwood Writers Group is one of those. We have a holiday party the first week in December, and I insist–dare I say “force”?–that we do a group photo. The size of the group has grown, yet some faces are the same since that first year. My husband and I always see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen at Penn Theater in Plymouth. My compositions of the photos are interesting to compare.

It reminds us, especially during the busiest of seasons, to stop and appreciate what’s around you. To remember.

That is different than my Photo 365, which has turned into a year-long adventure.  Here, as in other months, I was with friends, I played Yahtzee and wrote in coffee shops, I created art and I played with Zentangle.  Unique to this month was that I published my third book, visited family out of town and hugged a long-time college friend, discovered new used book stores, and had a tooth filled in the Fun Room at my dentist’s new office.  My husband cooked me breakfast, a Tweet of mine was favorited by a famous TV show actor.  I cheered the Nittany Lions and celebrated victory from Yankee Stadium section 409 when Penn State won the Pinstripe Bowl.

What do you remember from December?

Welcome to the Bicentennial Diva Zentangle Challenge

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”~Martin Luther King, Jr., American activist

This week, we celebrate a milestone: 200 Diva Zentangle Challenges.

Wow.

I’ve been around since Diva Challenge 4: Stars in January 2011. What a change I’ve seen in my art, my tangling approach, in the Zentangle challenges themselves, and in everything going on in my life. Back then, I was not yet a CZT. I did not have a published book, let alone three. I was a social media holdout. This award-winning blog had been active for only nine months. Penn State football celebrated the 401st team win under coach Joe Paterno, making him the first college coach to earn over 400 victories (eventually earning 409 wins to become “the winningest coach in major college football”). I hadn’t heard about The Sketchbook Project. I had yet to meet some of my close scrapbooking friends. I finally trusted myself and submitted my first writing pieces for critique to the Deadwood Writers Group around that time, after observing the group for almost a year.

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Diva Zentangle Challenge 200 in Mooka

This week’s challenge was to use our favorite “go-to” tangles and create a monotangle, incorporating the number 200 into the design. My fallback tangle is Mooka. That tangle is quick to do, simple to create, and it is impressive alone or with other tangles. It’s made by drawing one continuous line, but it has this in-depth, 3-Dimensional illusion look to it, no matter how you vary the look of the tangles. Can you find my 200 in the design?

Happy 200 to Diva Laura and all fellow Zentangle enthusiasts and artists.

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