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2017 Goals

  • write to my grandmother every six weeks or so
  • call my moms every month or so
  • cook/eat better
  • clean out and organize my writng/craft room
  • re-institute the cleaning plan
  • publish six books by September 2017
  • reach 120 to 125 pounds
  • walk the dog three times a week

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Hang on to my hat--here comes February.


My February is going to be rather crazy and so I'll have to balance my busyness with enough down time to keep me sane.

(Renwick, Professer W. L.: “The Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume I” (1930))


I have work of course. The first week of February is always a bit hectic due to a certain client of ours. Their membership year ends on the 31st of January and so there are tasks and phone calls that come in a flurry because of it.

In addition, my writing group puts on a contest, one of two, and I'm a co-coordinator. I was sole coordinator last year, so at least I have some help, but the next three weeks will see contest activity ramp up significantly.

My proofing business is in full swing, so gotta make time for that....

 I have a couple of personal projects on the books.

Gotta make time for enough sleep, eating right, and exercise to keep me on an even keel throughout...

Oh, and Sonshine will be home for ten days or so!

So how's that for a jam-packed month??

I'm tired already.




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Yeah...



Monday, January 26, 2015

A really productive weekend...


Even the weather cooperated and I was able to spend some time in the back yard. I filled two lawn bags with grass clippings/leaves. That didn't even get half the lawn mowed... But it's a start. I was going to dead-head the dandelions but instead pulled up these huge plugs. A couple of these things were the diameter of a half dollar with the carrot-like root up to six/seven inches long. Yikes!

Looks like no rest for the wicked and I'll have to get back to dandelion patrol despite any cold spells we get. I've neglected my duties since October and now I'm paying for it.

In other news, I found this super recipe for cleaning soap scum. It doesn't take as much as elbow grease as one would expect even for a nice thick coating... 1 cup Borax, 2 tablespoons liquid dish soap, and 1 to 2 cups water. The instructions said add enough water to make thick pancake batter. It only took 3/4 cup water for me, though perhaps I should have just added the full cup for a thinner mixture that lasted a bit longer.

As it was, it took me three batches to completely clean DH's three by three foot shower stall and only the bottom 2/3 at that. I think it still needs a second going over, but I've rubbed the tile down with baby oil to prevent any further buildup in the meantime. I duly cleaned the rest of the master bathroom and promise to keep up with it now that it's had its big cleaning. (Part of the goals, remember?)

Laundry and groceries also done for the week.

There were a handful of other miscellaneous tasks on my list and all conquered. I'm feeling quite accomplished. Pleasure reading, writing, TV watching and napping even got some time too.

Hope you had a lovely weekend as well.


Friday, January 23, 2015

My teeth have never been so clean...


Back in October, I was forced to the dentist due to awful mouth pain. I'd suffered abscesses off and on for years and then I lost my bridge at some point in September so the two decimated teeth had finally had enough.

The teeth ended up being pulled and I experienced immediate relief, as you can imagine. After a thorough exam including x-rays, the state of my mouth was every bit as bad as I expected. Not much of the damage can be reversed, so the rest of my life will be spent keeping the inevitable progression to as slow a crawl as possible.

Borrowed from dreamstime.com.


The dental tech laid out a daily care regime I have adhered to morning and evening with few exceptions: flossing, brushing, rinsing with mouthwash, gum massage. Okay, the gum massaging fell by the way side for a bit--aside from just what they got from the actual brushing.--but I'm getting back to it, though just with my toothbrush. I do however, need to go back to the dentist for a thorough cleaning. I have bad plaque and badly stained plaque from all the tea I drink.

One thing I've added to my daily routine is oil pulling. Basically, I spoon a tablespoon or so, maybe a bit less, of coconut oil into my mouth each evening, let it melt, and swish it around my mouth for twenty to twenty-five minutes. The solid is a bit off-putting, but once it melts it's fine. According to Wellness Mama: Oil pulling is an age-old remedy that uses natural substances to clean and detoxify teeth and gums. It has the added effect of whitening teeth naturally and evidence even shows that it is beneficial in improving gums and removing harmful bacteria!


This is what I'm using now--a more nutty flavor than the Louana--and more pure.
 
It's also helpful in dislodging any food particles that may have gotten stuck in my gums or between my teeth during the day. Once time is up, I spit into the trash can (it's oil and will harden in the pipes...) and then floss, brush, and rinse.

In addition to that, I've switched from store brand toothpaste to Wellness Mama recipe involving coconut oil and baking soda. Baking soda helps eliminate bad breath and helps break down plaque--the coconut oil makes the soda more palatable and has its own variety of benefits, which I may cover at some point.

All that to say, certain things have started tasting different and my conclusion is that now that my mouth is so clean, now that I've removed whatever coating or bacteria or whatever, I am experiencing true flavors.

 I still have more research and learning to do about homeopathic mouth care, but I think it's going to really make a difference in the long run.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The back yard is in bad shape...


This past weekend was lovely and on Sunday, I finally spent some time outside enjoying the warm temps and the sunshine. I took stock of the mess, but wasn't quite ready to tackle anything.

Besides just having a generally healthy lawn by the end of the year, I have two--no, wait--three, four... projects that need tackling. They are not listed in the order in which they'll necessarily be accomplished...

First project: trimming the holly in the planter built into the front of the house. I had delusions of digging up the holly at some point ages ago, but it really was going to be a whole lot more effort and probably money than I was willing to expend. And it grows quite nicely there. No guarantees anything else would, so I left it. It does eventually grow past its boundaries every now and again since we have never been diligent about trimming. And now it's time to square it up and dig out all the leaves that have taken up residence as well.

Second project: several trips to the dump to finally, finally clear out the dead tree limbs that have been lying in the yard since before Sonshine went to boot camp in October. We had a hellacious summer storm that knocked the dead branches out of the tree. But with one thing or another, we've just never gotten around to taking care of them. There's also another pile on the side of the house that needs to go. You've seen those in previous years...



Third project: clean out the bird feeder and flower beds...




Fourth project: the lawn. That's going to take ongoing weed pulling along with treatments of some sort or another, as well as regular mowing and weed whacking.

Well, now I finally have the goals in place. Now to come up with the plan of attack--fail to plan, plan to fail. I'll get back with you on the plan.

What about you--do you have a yard you enjoy working in?


Monday, January 19, 2015

Voracious Reader...


Yes, that's me--a voracious reader when I'm in the zone. As I have been of late. Last Monday I mentioned my progress and now, a week later, I'm here to report that I've read over ONE MILLION WORDS. The spreadsheet with dates, titles, and word count is a click away to the left, the list is to the right and down a bit.

Almost all of those words have been fan fiction. I came across a treasure trove of fascinating works, and the cold weather has been conducive to snuggling up and reading, reading, reading...

However, I did also pledge to read 26 real, published, official books that I could track via Goodreads and so, with a milestone of one million words+ under my belt, I somewhat sadly turn my reading attention to making a dent in another of my personal challenges. As a bonus, I will also be working at the ramping up the proofreading business goal. I have a series bible project to do and the books are historicals and highlanders to boot!



However, a proofing job has come in and so the historicals must wait too....

What about you--favorite romance sub-genre?

PS--I think the three million word goal is going to be a cake walk....what do you think?


Friday, January 16, 2015

Working From Home


Good news! I get to transition into working from home again. If you remember, I'd started working from home back in mid-summer, but got called back to the office to help keep an eye on our new employee. Well, he's no longer with us and so I get to start working from home again.

There's a balance that needs to be worked out, but we're beginning with two mornings from home. That's been a nice change.

 Yes, that's the corner desk, not in a corner, and a faux wicker patio chair, but it works for now.


I love my husband, I really do, but our personal energies are very different and I'm very much an introvert, so being around people 24/7 wears me out. Being home in my personal, comfortable space helps restore balance to my inner universe. And that goes a long way toward maintaining my emotional health and well-being. I can feel a difference in just the two weeks/three work-at-home mornings I've enjoyed.

Of course, all I have is my laptop now--my work PC had to go back to the office when I did, and until we can get a second PC that will allow me to remote my work PC while it remains at the office, directly on the network, I can only do so much from home. Another reason for the slower transition.

But I'm not complaining. I'm just happy to get the process started.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Happy Hump Day



Taking the easy way out with a meme...


See you on Friday!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Potpourri...


There are places with lower temperatures and snow and ice, so I really shouldn't complain, but... I'm sick of the cold. Even just a ten degree increase would be welcome!

I wanted to work in the back yard this weekend, but it was too cold and then wet to brave it. Had it been sunny, I might have attempted some raking, but alas, yard work will have to wait a couple more weekends. I haven't forgotten that I need specifics for the year, but until I can go out and assess the yard, I can't.

Cold temps and rain aside, it was a good weekend. I got a lot accomplished and a couple of my goals for the year are looking bright.

I spent several hours Saturday morning working on my proofreading info located on the blog. I decided what I was willing to do and not do, revamped the verbiage accordingly, and thought up monthly specials to entice new business. Then I updated my website as well so all information and pricing and specials are the same across the board. I also have a couple of jobs lined up, with another prospect (a series bible) in discussion. Needless to say, I'm excited about the opportunities. I've just remembered that I need to go post some free ads to generate some February jobs...making a note...

On another goal note, I have read 19% of my 3 million words and we're only 4% into the year!

Last topic for the day...a movie! DH and I went and saw The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch on Sunday morning/afternoon. I loved it and DH enjoyed it as well. The film is about Alan Turing whose mathematical genius was directly responsible for cracking the Enigma machine and helping shorten WWII by more than two years and saving over 14 million lives. I give it two thumbs up and a ten on the rating scale, but for no logical reason other than I love Ben, thought he did a brilliant job, and the fact that I love that historical time period. However, the film is up for and has already won many, many awards, so it's really not just me.



If you've seen it, what did you think?

P.S. I posted this before I'd gone outside this morning and what do I find--warmer temps. Hopefully they'll stay in this vicinity for a while.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Steps to Achieving My Goals


A week ago Monday, I shared my goals for the year. I posited that the reason I failed so spectacularly in achieving more than three of my ten goals last year was because I failed to plan, to outline the tasks that would help me reach said goals.



I've spent some time in the last two weeks looking at my various goals and coming up with action items that will ultimately help me reach my goals. Now it's time to share them out here in cyberspace so you can hold me accountable.

So looking at my list of goals, let's just take a few in no particular order...

--> read three million words

That breaks out to a 58k word book a week and 8500 words a day. I'm including my proofreading jobs twice as I generally read them twice, and I'm also counting any and all fan fiction or writing contest entries that I judge. Looking at that 8500 words a day makes me nervous, but I'm pretty sure it's not really going to be a problem.

--> ramp up my proof reading business

Unfortunately, this is one of those things that I can't just decide to do. What I mean is, I can advertise and touch base with previous clients and offer specials to encourage business, but I can't actually make anyone hire me.

But to that end, I've already placed my first ad and will work on finding places I can advertise for free--author forums and the like. And keep my fingers crossed!

--> clean up & clean out the house

Now that all the kids are gone, it seems like a good time to go through closets and cabinets and get rid of stuff we just don't use anymore. I also want to repaint DD's old room at some point and make it a guest room/sitting room. DH wants to get Sonshine's old room turned into a home office. I'm not the greatest housekeeper in the world either so I'm going to pick a room every couple of weeks and hit the dusting, sweeping & mopping and then try to stay on top of it.

--> do more crafts

Almost anything will equate to more, so this one will be pretty easy to accomplish. I used to do rubber stamping a lot, which I really enjoyed and would love to start again. Maybe I'll make my own Christmas cards--I have eleven months. I have some sewing projects in progress that I want to finish. And who knows what interesting things I'll find on Pinterest!

--> work on the yards

We--I-- talked a lot about my back yard last year, and as for as my goal was concerned (work on the back yard), I'd say I accomplished it. But I have nothing to really show for it. This year I want to have at least two things I can point to and say, "I did that." I'm still debating and determining specifics, so we'll have to revisit the yard another day.

How about you? Do you have your goals written down somewhere yet?? And have you thought of how to achieve them?


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Top Ten Favorite Scents


Monday, in my post about laundry soap, I mentioned that freshly laundered clothes was one of my favorite scents, so I thought today we could take a break from the serious stuff of goals and health and wellness and penny pinching to share some of our favorite scents, smells, odors...
  • fresh clean laundry washed and dried with expensive brand name laundry products
  • freshly mown grass


  • really nice mens cologne, preferably on the man
  • my line dried bedspread with fabric softener
  • the scent of the beach and the ocean on a warm day
 

  • burning charcoal
  • grilling steaks
  • wood smoke
  • paper whites (a flower, that my kids all think smell like pee)


Care to share one or two of your favorite scents??


Monday, January 5, 2015

Homemade Laundry Soap


If I ever bought expensive name brand laundry soap, it was so long ago I can't remember. I just plain couldn't afford to for a while and then refused to at some point after that. And it's not that I don't enjoy the smell of clean laundry washed in Tide or Gain and dried with a Bounce dryer sheet, because that would probably be on my list of favorite scents, but I just couldn't abide paying twice or three times the amount of money for clean clothes.

Recently, I've been on somewhat on a health and wellness, holistic, natural approach to a lot of things. not all of it is about that though. Some of it is about being cheap. The side benefits are a bonus. So today, cheap laundry soap.

I've been using homemade laundry soap for, oh, a couple of months now, and it's cheap, easy to make, and seems to work just as well as the store bought brand I used previously.

For me, the cheap is the primary draw, but the lack of funky chemicals against my body, in my clothes,  and in the sewer system is a nice side benefit.

Here's the recipe I've been using... To give credit where credit is due, I found it here, and the woman has a lot of details and an FAQ although I'm going minimalist. I really recommend reading her info.

a bar of Fels Naptha or Ivory soap
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup Borax -- safe for septic systems according to a friend I gave trial batch to
two gallon or larger bucket/tub with lid or cover

*save an old laundry soap jug or a couple of plastic milk jugs if you want to store your home made laundry soap that way instead

** since this is a very low sudsing product it is safe for those HE washing machines


The Ivory would be found with the bath soap, everything else is located in the laundry aisle.

To make--

Shave or grate 1/3 of the Fels Naptha (if using the Ivory, use the whole bar)

Mix the soap and six cups water, bring to a boil
Add the powders and stir until dissolved.
Put four cups water into the bucket, then add the hot soap mixture and stir.
Add another gallon plus six cups water and stir some more.
Let sit for 24 hours to allow it to gel.
Stir every so often for another day or so.
Pour into cleaned out laundry soap or milk jugs, if desired.
Use 1/2 cup per load.

And there you have it. According to Crystal, the blog lady, a two gallon batch costs approximately $.71, a load, $.01, depending on the price of the ingredients. She breaks it out on the web page.

What do you think? Willing to give it a try??


Friday, January 2, 2015

My Goodreads Challenges: 2013, 2014, 2015...


In 2014, I took the Goodreads challenge for the second year in a row and, again, technically missed the mark. Both years, I pledged to read 52 books--one per week. I'm a fast reader. Completely do-able.


Unfortunately, I missed officially completing the challenge by eight books in 2013 and eighteen in 2014.

But, but, but... I **know** I read enough fan fiction to cover the short fall both years. Unfortunately, I can't key those titles into Goodreads and get credit for the challenge.

So for 2015, I'm changing it up a bit. On Monday, I pledged to read three million words. Yes, you read that right. Three *million* words. That equates to one 57K word book a week, but gives me the flexibility to read fan fiction and include any proofreading jobs that don't get published or show up in Goodreads. I'll still pledge to read books via the Goodreads challenge, but I'm going to reduce it to 26 real "published" books and cover the other 26 books with anything and everything else I consume.

So what about you?? Have you taken the challenge before? How'd you do?


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