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2016 Reading Challenge




I've given up on the official Goodreads challenge, although I have borrowed their logo. I'm going for 3 million new words and the re-reading of whatever fics I decide sound interesting as well as creating pod fic. Everything will be listed on the other side of the blog and you can view the details and numbers here.

2016 Goals

  • be a better website person for my writing group
  • be a better treasurer for my writing group
  • get physically healthy and well
  • walk the dog/walk to the post office
  • reach that 120lb. mark (for real this time)
  • get the house clean(er)
  • keep cradfting/do a wider variety of crafts
  • create pod fic
  • read and re-read
  • writie 10K to 15K word book for Christmas box set

2016 NASCAR Winners

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Yard Posts


I haven't had any this year. Usually by now I'm chomping at the bit to do some small project in my yard, but funds have been a little tight, so I didn't even plan anything beyond scrounging up the money to pay the yard guy who was due to start upkeep again after a months' long hiatus. Of course the spring rains have kept everything soggy, which is made worse when the grass is overgrown and the sun can't reach the ground as easily. But we finally had a few days' grace and Lawn Guy came buy yesterday afternoon.

Before:








And after:





There's still some work to do to get it looking like I want it to, but some of that's on me. We've still got large branches down and leaves in the corners. So between now and his next visit, I'm going to get out and enjoy what's left of spring.

Anyone doing any fun yard projects?


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

American Fun Facts


In honor of seeing my sister this past weekend, we're going to learn a little about Michigan. That's where she lives, not where she was born and raised. That was Nebraska, but we've covered that.

Michigan Facts and Trivia

  1. Detroit is known as the car capital of the world.
  2. Alpena is the home of the world's largest cement plant.
  3. Rogers City boasts the world's largest limestone quarry.
  4. Elsie is the home of the world's largest registered Holstein dairy herd.
  5. Michigan is first in the United States production of peat and magnesium compounds and second in gypsum and iron ore.
  6. Colon is home to the world's largest manufacture of magic supplies.
  7. The state Capitol with its majestic dome was built in Lansing in l879.
  8. Although Michigan is often called the "Wolverine State" there are no longer any wolverines in Michigan.
  9. Michigan ranks first in state boat registrations.
  10. The Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit manufactured the first air-conditioned car in 1939.
  11. The oldest county (based on date of incorporation) is Wayne in 1815.
  12. Sault Ste. Marie was founded by Father Jacques Marquette in 1668. It is the third oldest remaining settlement in the United States.
  13. In 1817 the University of Michigan was the first university established by any of the states. Originally named Cathelepistemian and located in Detroit the name was changed in 1821. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1841.
  14. The city of Novi was named from its designation as Stagecoach Stop # 6 or No.VI.
  15. Michigan State University has the largest single campus student body of any Michigan university. It is the largest institution of higher learning in the state and one of the largest universities in the country.
  16. Michigan State University was founded in 1855 as the nation's first land-grant university and served as the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions later established under the Morrill Act of 1862. It was the first institution of higher learning in the nation to teach scientific agriculture.
  17. The largest village in Michigan is Caro.
  18. Michigan's state stone, The Petoskey is the official state stone. It is found along the shores of Lake Michigan.
  19. The Mackinac Bridge is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. Connecting the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan, it spans 5 miles over the Straits of Mackinac, which is where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. The Mighty Mac took 3 years to complete and was opened to traffic in 1957.
  20. Gerald R. Ford grew up in Grand Rapids and became the 38th president of the United States He attended the University of Michigan where he was a football star. He served on a World War II aircraft carrier and afterward represented Michigan in Congress for 24 years. He was also was an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.
  21. The Kellogg Company has made Battle Creek the Cereal Capital of the World. The Kellogg brothers accidentally discovered the process for producing flaked cereal products and sparked the beginning of the dry cereal industry.
  22. The painted turtle is Michigan's state reptile.
  23. The western shore of Michigan has many sand dunes. The Sleeping Bear Dunes rise 460 feet above Lake Michigan. Living among the dunes is the dwarf lake iris the official state wildflower.
  24. Vernors ginger ale was created in Detroit and became the first soda pop made in the United States. In 1862, pharmacist James Vernor was trying to create a new beverage when he was called away to serve our country in the Civil War. When he returned, 4 years later, the drink he had stored in an oak case had acquired a delicious gingery flavor.
  25. The Detroit Zoo was the first zoo in America to feature cageless, open-exhibits that allowed the animals more freedom to roam.
  26. Michigan is the only place in the world with a floating post office. The J.W. Westcott II is the only boat in the world that delivers mail to ships while they are still underway. They have been operating for 125 years.
  27. Indian River is the home of the largest crucifix in the world. It is called the Cross in the Woods.
  28. Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the world.
  29. Michigan has more shoreline than any other state except Alaska.
  30. The Ambassador Bridge was named by Joseph Bower, the person credited with making the bridge a reality, who thought the name "Detroit-Windsor International Bridge" as too long and lacked emotional appeal. Bower wanted to "symbolize the visible expression of friendship of two peoples with like ideas and ideals."
  31. Michigan has more than 11,000 inland lakes and more than 36,000 miles of streams.
  32. Michigan has 116 lighthouses and navigational lights.
  33. Seul Choix Point Lighthouse in Gulliver has been guiding ships since 1895. The working light also functions as a museum, which houses early 1900s furnishings and maritime artifacts.
  34. Forty of the state's 83 counties adjoin at least one of the Great Lakes. Michigan is the only state that touches four of the five Great Lakes.
  35. Standing anywhere in the state a person is within 85 miles of one of the Great Lakes.
  36. Michigan includes 56,954 square miles of land area; 1,194 square miles of inland waters; and 38,575 square miles of Great Lakes water area.
  37. Sault Ste. Marie was established in 1668 making it the oldest town between the Alleghenies and the Rockies.
  38. Michigan was the first state to provide in its Constitution for the establishment of public libraries.
  39. Michigan was the first state to guarantee every child the right to tax-paid high school education.
  40. Four flags have flown over Michigan - French, English, Spanish and United States.
  41. Isle Royal Park shelters one of the largest moose herds remaining in the United States.
  42. Some of the longest bulk freight carriers in the world operate on the Great Lakes. Ore carriers 1,000 feet long sail Michigan's inland seas.
  43. The Upper Michigan Copper Country is the largest commercial deposit of native copper in the world.
  44. The 19 chandeliers in the Capitol in Lansing are one of a kind and designed especially for the building by Tiffany's of New York. Weighing between 800-900 pounds apiece they are composed of copper, iron and pewter.
  45. The first auto traffic tunnel built between two nations was the mile-long Detroit-Windsor tunnel under the Detroit River.
  46. The world's first international submarine railway tunnel was opened between Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario, Canada in 1891.
  47. The nation's first regularly scheduled air passage service began operation between Grand Rapids and Detroit in 1926.
  48. In 1879 Detroit telephone customers were first in the nation to be assigned phone numbers to facilitate handling calls.
  49. In 1929, the Michigan State Police established the first state police radio system in the world.
  50. Grand Rapids is home to the 24-foot Leonardo da Vinci horse, called Il Gavallo, it is the largest equestrian bronze sculpture in the Western Hemisphere. 

See you Friday!

Monday, April 25, 2016

So, life...


It's been an exciting few days. The most exciting thing is that I got to see my second mom, my sister, my aunt and my cousin this weekend. It was my aunt's birthday last week and they were having a party. My second mom and my sister flew down from Nebraska and Michigan respectively to be here.

My sister and me:


And baby sister wearing her tutu, because life will always be better with a tutu!


She has inspired me though and I now know what I'm wearing to the 221B Con next year. :D

In other very interesting/exciting news...I was contacted via Facebook by a very very old friend of mine. Usually, when one hears about these things, the parties involved knew each other in high school or college. In this case, I knew this friend back in elementary school!! Our moms were great friends for many years, and so we were friends too. The really amazing thing is that while we both lived in Southern California as children--she now lives in Texas! So we'll be making arrangements to meet and catch up here in the next month or so.

So how was your weekend??


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

American Fun Facts...Nebraska


Nebraska Facts and Trivia


  1. Nebraska was once called "The Great American Desert".
  2. In 1927, Edwin E. Perkins of Hastings invented the powered soft drink Kool-Aid.
  3. J. Sterling Morton founded Arbor Day in Nebraska City in 1872.
  4. The state nickname used to be the "Tree Planter's State", but was changed in 1945 to the "Cornhusker State".
  5. State insect is the honeybee.
  6. State motto: Equality before the law.
  7. The goldenrod was declared the state flower on April 4, 1895.
  8. The Naval Ammunition Depot located in Hastings was the largest U.S. ammunition plant providing 40% of WWII's ammunition.
  9. The Lied Jungle located in Omaha is the world's largest indoor rain forest.
  10. Nebraska is the birthplace of the Reuben sandwich.
  11. Spam (canned meat) is produced in Fremont.
  12. Nebraska has the U.S.'s largest aquifer (underground lake/water supply), the Ogalala aquifer.
  13. Nebraska has more miles of river than any other state.
  14. The Union Pacific's Bailey Yards, in North Platte, is the largest rail classification complex in the world.
  15. Nebraska is the only state in the union with a unicameral (one house) legislature.
  16. Nebraska was the first state to complete its segment of the nations mainline interstate system, a 455 mile stretch of four lane highway.
  17. Nebraska is both the nation's largest producer and user of center pivot irrigation.
  18. Nebraska's Chimney rock was the most often mentioned landmark in journal entries by travelers on the Oregon Trail.
  19. The 911 system of emergency communications, now used nationwide, was developed and first used in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  20. Nebraska has more underground water reserves than any other state in the continental U.S.
  21. Marlon Brando's mother gave Henry Fonda acting lessons at the Omaha Community Playhouse.
  22. Lincoln County is the origin of the world's largest "Wolly Mammoth" elephant fossil.
  23. Weeping Water is the nations largest limestone deposit and producer.
  24. Mutual of Omaha Corporate headquarters is a public building built with 7 floors underground.
  25. The Nebraska Cornhuskers have been to a record 27 consecutive bowl games and 27 consecutive winning seasons
  26. The University of Nebraska Cornhusker football team has produced more Academic All-Americans than any other Division I school.
  27. In Blue Hill, Nebraska, no female wearing a 'hat that would scare a timid person' can be seen eating onions in public.
  28. The world's first college course about radio personality Rush Limbaugh is taught at Bellevue University in Nebraska.
  29. Origin of Nebraska's Name: From an Oto Indian word meaning flat water
  30. Nebraska's Motto: Equality Before the Law
  31. Nebraska's State Gem is the Blue Agate
  32. The largest porch swing in the world is located in Hebron, Nebraska and it can sit 25 adults.
  33. The world's largest hand-planted forest is Halsey National Forrest near Thedford, Nebraska
  34. The world's only museum dedicated to Fur Trading is located at Fort Atkinson near Blair.
  35. The famous architect, Edward Durrell Stone, designed the Stuhr Museum near Grand Island, Nebraska.
  36. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln weight room is the largest in the country. It covers three-fourths of an acre
  37. Chevyland USA near Elm Creek, Nebraska is the only museum dedicated to a single line of cars.
  38. The largest Kolache Festival in the world is located in Prague, Nebraska
  39. Cozad, Nebraska is located on the 100th Meridian where the humid east meets the arid west.
  40. In Nebraska in 1986 for the first time ever, two women ran against each other for governorship of a state.
  41. The cost of the Nebraska Capitol building was $ 9,800,440.07 in 1932. The construction job came in under budget and the building was paid for by the time it was completed.
  42. Union Pacific Railroad's museum is headquartered in Nebraska.
  43. Buffalo Bill Cody held his first rodeo in North Platte, Nebraska July 4, 1882.
  44. In 1950, Omaha became the home of the College World Series.
  45. There are five army forts open to the public in Nebraska: Atkinson, Kearney, Hartsuff, Sidney, and Robinson.
  46. Sidney, Nebraska was the starting point of the Black Hills Gold Rush.
  47. Antelope and Buffalo are counties in Nebraska named after animals.
  48. Dr. Harold Edgerton of Aurora, Nebraska is the inventor of the strobe light.
  49. Kearney, Nebraska is located exactly between Boston and San Francisco.
  50. Father Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska in 1917.
Ever been to Nebraska? I lived there for ten years, and it's where I met DH. :)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday, Monday...

Haven't been feeling well...


Friday, April 15, 2016

Happy Friday


Hope you have a super weekend!


Monday, April 11, 2016

So when did I come become this person...


...who watches sports??

This past weekend I watched six different sports!

Hockey, golf, and NASCAR (well, part of a race) on Saturday; English football (aka soccer), ladies gymnastics, and figure skating on Sunday.

Philadelphia outscored my Penguins to get into the playoffs.

As you know, we hadn't had TV in years until last November. I'd had a hankerin' for it since Sonshine left because I greatly missed the sound of sports (really, Xbox hockey and soccer) in the house. But it took awhile and I'd gotten past the missing (for the most part). I didn't watch much when we first got TV, but then again it was football season--not my fave. And while I was keeping up with current TV programs, I was doing it on my schedule by watching my shows via the Internet when I chose to and not being a slave to the networks' schedules.

But NASCAR season started in February and now it's baseball season and while I haven't actually watched any baseball yet, I'm looking forward to it. I've also caught some English football!

A couple weeks ago, I watched the Manchester Derby, wherein the two premiere leagues based in Manchester, England play one another.



This weekend  I watched Tottenham kick Manchester United's arses 3 to zip. :)

In a couple of weeks--the Kentucky Derby!! And in August--the Olympics!!!

I never considered myself to much of a sports watcher, but I guess this is all part of the journey. The down side of watching many sports--you can't do much else while you watch certain sports (gymnastics or figure skating) because if you don't watch, you miss a lot.

For pure fun, watch Javier Fernandez defend & maintain his world champion status.



Do you watch sports? If so, what's your favorite?




Friday, April 8, 2016

So. 221B Con...


I'm planning to go back next year. Absolutely. The whole thing was super fun. Panels or break out sessions started at 10am and went generally to 10 or 11 at night. There were also a couple of groups that rented suites and offered alternative events as well as just a place to go for a break if needed.



Panels ranged from discussing all incarnations of Sherlock Holmes since Arthur Conan Doyle collectively to discussing individual versions such as CBS's Elementary. There were a ton of writing workshops, which I loved. There was a panel for folks to share how/when they came to fandom in general and Sherlock specifically. Other panels included how to pod cast, discussions of plays that various actors perform in between seasons of Sherlock, a London Travel Guide, and book club type discussions with authors who have written pastiches.

In addition, David Nellist who plays Mike Stamford in the BBC's Sherlock, was a special guest. He's very charming.



And if all of that wasn't enough, more people than not were in costume. Most of it Sherlock Holmes related, somehow or another, but not all.

This nice man is a lawyer in real life and was dressed as a Victorian gentleman,
although I'm not sure if his intent was to be either Holmes or Watson.

This lovely young lady was as John Watson as a Hogwarts student. Yes--there's crossover cosplay!

I thought about taking a costume, but it was my first con and I wasn't sure what to expect, so I just took my Sherlock-related t-shirts and left it at that. I bought two (maybe three) new tees while I was there. Next year I may go for a costume, although I have no idea at this point what it might be... But I have plenty of time to come up with something.

I didn't take many pictures, honestly. I was too busy soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying myself.

Ever been to a non-work con? Did you love it? What was it?


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Jen's Grand Adventure


As you may or may not remember, I attended my first fan con(vention) this past weekend. I traveled to Atlanta on my own to attend 221B Con.

Let me just say--BEST TIME EVER!

I found my tribe. :) But more about that later...let's start at the beginning.

It started at about 4am last Friday morning. DH and had discussed when to leave for the airport and due to various factors decided that 4:30 was best. I dragged myself out of bed, ate breakfast, drank reheated leftover tea (even though I really wanted fresh), and made and drank my arthritis elixir (cinnamon and honey). I packed the last few items like deodorant and toothpaste and was ready to go. The drive was fine, though there was more traffic than one expects at that time of day. But it flowed fast and fine all the way to the airport.

Arriving that early was definitely a good thing. The line to check baggage (no curb-side check-in for Spirit Airlines) was long and it took about 45 minutes to finally get through. The security check on the other hand was quick and painless. I chose the good line and sent my purse and jacket through the X-ray machine and walked through the people screening machine. I didn't even have to take my shoes off. Woot!

After that I hunted down a restroom, some water for my water bottle, and some hot water in that order, and sat down to wait for my flight. I people watched a bit and then it was time to board. The flight was only an hour and a half or so and I spent the time with my eyes closed listening to the deep baritone of Benedict Cumberbatch reading Sherlock Holmes to me. :)

Navigating Hartsfield-Jackson Airport wasn't terribly difficult, but it took me half an hour to walk from the gate to the baggage claim. It really did. Don't get me wrong, it was a lovely walk as the corridor was filled with all manner of lovely art and historic information. I could have taken the tram, but I wasn't sure about it and opted for the exercise instead.


Once my suitcase was in hand, it was time to tackle the MARTA, Atlanta's rail system. I found the station and was on my way across Atlanta without further issue. I loved seeing all the wisteria growing like weeds along the way.

It's hard to see 'cause I was in a moving MARTA carriage! But all that purply stuff is it. 

It took a little orienting to find the hotel from the MARTA station, but only because there was a taller building between me and the hotel and I didn't immediately see it. But once I located it, off I went. I reached the hotel without incident despite construction and checked into my 9th floor room.



I had a westerly view and was able to enjoy the late afternoon sun and the sunset.

Anyway, I navigated myself all the way there and back (DFW to Atlanta and back) on my own. :) Quite a feat for me.

Con details and a few pictures on Friday, although I didn't take many.

TTFN!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Quarterly Goal Roundup


It's that time to revisit the goals and see how I'm doing... I'll just go down the list (which can be found along the left hand side of the blog..)

1) be a better website person--YES! I've stayed on top of updates and have even done some reviewing for broken links and the like. I'm almost caught up everything.

2) be a better treasurer--YES! I'm pretty much caught up and have instituted some positive changes to the job.

3) get physically healthy and well--I'm feeling good.

4) walk the dog/walk to the post office--No and yes... I was walking the dog, but she's not very well trained anymore so I was having a hard time keeping her under control when we came across other dogs. I had to give up on that for now. I'm going to see about getting a chest-harness thingy to see if that will help. But I do walk to the post office every day that I work at the office, which is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And most days it's too short a walk. I might have to find a longer route there and back!

5) reach 120lbs.--I'm making great progress. Only ten pounds to go.

6) get the house clean(er)--I've done some stuff. Not as much as I want to, but it's happening, which is actually progress.

7) keep crafting--I'm still cross stitching even though the epic birth sampler of love is now complete. I haven't branched out yet as there's nothing that's caught my attention to try. I may go back to rubber stamping. Goodness knows I have plenty of stamps and paper and ink to play around with.

8) create podfic--I've played around with this a bit but haven't done or posted anything official. I've just been too busy to take the time a project needs. Hopefully, the second quarter will allow me some give in the schedule.

9) read and re-read--Yes, of course. I haven't re-read much from last year yet, but as you can see on the right, reading in March picked up a bit.

10) write 10K to 15K word book for a Christmas box set--YES! I wrote 17K words in February. The book is currently out with the other box set writers. It needs a bit of revision, of course it does, but I did it. I've continued working on the epic highlander Sherlock fic and have also returned my attention to a book I wrote last year. After the Christmas book, we've got a Valentine cruise book planned, so I'm going to have to come up with an idea for that soon.

Doing better this year than I have in years past at the 1st quarter mark. Now if I can just keep up all the momentum.

How about you?


About Me

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Jen FitzGerald
Thanks for stopping by one of my little corners of the world wide web. So, a little about me...My husband and I have been married for twenty years and we have three adult children although our youngest is still in high school. We've lived in Texas for fifteen years and for the rest of the story, click here.
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Jen's Glossary of Terms

  • DH = my husband
  • my Brown Eyed Girl = my oldest daughter
  • DD = my Darling Daughter (the younger one)
  • Sonshine or Marching Band Boy = my son
  • NT = the North Texas chapter of RWA
  • RWA = Romance Writers of America

Read in Mar 2016

  • Omnibus by dhampir72
  • Lay It Down by dhampir72
  • Sleeping With James Bond by dhampir72
  • The Hand I Want to Hold Forever by dhampir72
  • Favours by dhampir72
  • Sigh No More by dhampir72
  • To the Sticking Place by blueink3
  • Wars We Fought, Things We're Not by blueink3
  • Crush by stereobone
  • Synchronicity by stereobone
  • Call Him Love by itsallfine
  • Sleep Deprivation is No Excuse by elenothar
  • When the Sun Goes Down and No Stars Light the Night by elenothar
  • Pitfalls of the Odd Pagan Holiday by elenothar
  • Wooing Rituals of the James Bond Variety by elenothar
  • How Q Hacked Online Dating by JayEz
  • Our Final Problem by JayEz
  • Five Years Isn't So Long by scioscribe
  • Amber by scioscribe
  • Home (and Country) by scioscribe
  • Cuckoo by scioscribe
  • Fallible Creatures by scioscribe
  • Dramatic Arts by scioscribe
  • A Pox on All Your Machines by scioscribe
  • Love and Other Hazardous Materials by Luchia
  • Amenable by resonant
  • Practical Angora Goat Raising by lavvyan
  • Tantalus by moonblossom
  • Whoredom in Egypt by ancientreader
  • Let Them Howl by alex_caligari
  • Rearranged by itsallfine
  • Order of Operations by patternofdefiance

Read in Feb 2016

  • Monetising Love by SamuelJames
  • To the Sticking Place by blueink3
  • The Wedding Past by bold_as_brass
  • John & Sherlock Get the Giggle by wendymarlowe
  • The Wedding Present by bold_as_brass

Read in Jan 2016

  • Practical Johnkeeping by what_alchemy
  • Unwasted by patternofdefinace
  • Chemistry and Crooked Shelves by 221b_careful_what_you_wish_for
  • Two Days by PoppyAlexander
  • Two Days by tweedisgood
  • A Sense of Scale by alphera
  • We Are Only Human by TennantsLittleKitten
  • Checkmate by TennantsLittleKitten
  • A Married Man by Persophones_Keeper
  • A Time of Beauty by akashathekitty
  • What Dreams May Come by danlef
  • No Bangs Without Foreign Office Approval by reckonedrightly
  • Save the Last Dance for Me by Lilith (Citrine)
  • Snapshot by saziikins
  • The Violet Hour by breathedout
  • Drunk With Your Kiss by Biswholocked
  • The Human Cipher by wendymarlowe