Of Interest to Writers

Bethany House is doing a cover survey, it’s short and a great way to get your input to those in the publishing biz! Go do it just for fun!

Writer…Interrupted has moved to Word Press! (Me and my office chair are doing a happy dance!) Be sure to visit Gina’s new site and let her know what you think of the switch!

Got this link from wordplayer.com …it’s for screenplay writers, but the concept of using “Strange attractors” would work for any fiction writer. Gotta hook first an agent’s attention, then the editor’s and then hopefully it will sell like wildfire to the public so your next WIP will be a sure sale! And as I’m back to revamping my first chapter, I’m open to all possibilities!

Also, I’m blogging this week at MInTheGap’s site. I have his live feeds on my right sidebar if you’re interested in reading the posts I’ve written,  just click on whichever title interests you. My favorite? Pleading Guilty. Plead no longer, let it go…

Here are two questions for you:

1. Do you read prologues?

2. In a romance or women’s fiction novel, do you hate it when the pet dies?  (this Q was asked in a poll of mystery fans and most of them said they wouldn’t finish reading the book, AND they wouldn’t read anything else by that author!)

The “Making Home” List

Monday’s early morning plan came off with success, despite the fact that it happened in my nightgown (not dressed for the day as intended) and that I drank Bengal Spice tea instead of cappuccino. Whatever works, right?

February’s calendar is filling up. Knowing I’ll be stretched to get everything done has me desiring my house, at least, to be in good order. So with that in mind, I read my Bible, prayed, and made a list.

Don’t know what it is about making lists, or implementing schedules, but it’s amazing how it motivates. I listed things I knew I could accomplish today–or this week, got dressed, fed the girls their breakfast and got them started making birthday cards for their grand-dad.

Then I was off! The red-checked ones are accomplished!

  • catch up on housework from the weekend, pretty much a: (Check!)
  • catch up on laundry which includes scrubbing some pretty gross stains from toddler’s two “incidents” yesterday–at church, no less (Check!)
  • change and wash sheets on all the beds (Master bedroom–Check! Crib–Check!)
  • sort out the overflowing basket of mismatched socks on hubby’s dresser–where do they all come from? (Check!)
  • HOMESCHOOL (easy to forget once I get to cleaning!) (Check!)
  • deep clean the bathroom (except for washing curtains) (Check!)
  • mend the following: hubby’s two sweatshirts (front pockets and tear in back of one), hem 6 yo’s skirt, re-attach 9 yo’s sundress strap, sew tie tabs back onto kitchen chair cushion (Check to all those!)
  • help 6 yo make oatmeal cookies for her grand-dad (Check!)

Still to do, sometime:

  • print out a Google calendar and use it to plan my next quarter as Education committee chairman–or I might just make a notebook for that job, haven’t decided (Georgiana D at her new blog: Honey Do, has some great ideas on this)
  • patch dh’s jeans and wonder-under tiny tear in one of his nice shirts
  • make posters in prep for my spelling rule classes
  • finish making flash cards for each family participating in the spelling rule classes
  • organize my words/sentences for this Saturday’s spelling bee (I’m the pronouncer)
  • write the second part of a two-part blog post for MInTheGap’s site (I’ve been contributing there this week, while he’s being a new daddy to baby #3)
  • wash and change sheets on girls’ bunk beds
  • deep clean/rearrange living room
  • take pics of my quilts in hopes of using them for my new blog header
  • finish critiquing one friend’s wip, read and review another’s, work on my own (?) (that’s a hopeful question mark!)
  • trim up dh’s curlies (do all wives do this? shave the fuzz that grows on a man’s neck in between haircuts? Dh is looking neglected!)
  • back porch? Not sure I want to go there after a couple week’s snow and mud

That’s all I came up with for this week. I’ll probably add more. Fitting it in between:

  1. Tuesday morning’s Bible study and lunch here at my house with my parents
  2. Homeschooling
  3. Blogging each day (my reward for getting above accomplished!)
  4. Possibly taking a meal to a friend who’s just had a baby
  5. Helping a friend put up wallpaper border–several room’s worth in her new house–if I can round up a babysitter for toddler

The torture of it is I have an advance copy of Deb Raney’s Remember to Forget just begging me to pick it up and read away…I have a feeling that it’s going to be the escape I need at some point during this coming week!

Plus, the weekend holds not only the spelling bee, but our 4H Groundhog feed fundraiser…

On a nice side note, my 9 yo invented a candy just like Reese’s peanut butter cups. She used our candy molds, and melted a mixture somewhat like the chocolate glaze we used when making cream puffs…only it was all from memory…then she put a dollop of peanut butter and covered it with more chocolate, then refrigerated them. Yum!

We ended the day going to Grand-dad’s to deliver the goodies and wish him a happy birthday! (I wonder if dd saved back some of those chocolate things for me…) :O)

Making Home

Monday, the beginning a brand new week… What are you going to accomplish this week? Besides the normal?

I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to be up before the girls, dressed, and sitting at my kitchen table with a blank sheet of paper and a cup of orange cappuccino–yes, it’s still my favorite. To ensure the homemaking spirit lingers, I’m going to be wearing one of my long knit skirts and an apron is going over my head the minute I get done formulating my “to accomplish this week” list. There is a feminine sort of power in these things, don’t you know? Donning an apron does things to a woman.

And my house needs things done to it! What is your “home sweet home” trying to tell you?

Little Girls

Last night my friend MInTheGap and his wife, Virtuous Blond, gave birth to their third child, a healthy little girl…you can read all about their adventure (and it really was an adventure!) at his site this morning.

When I heard the news, I couldn’t help getting all nostalgic. After all, I’ve given baby.jpgbirth to three beautiful girls of my own. Each of whom has a very special relationship with their daddy. MIn, you are in for some very special heart-ties.

My nostalgia resulted in a poem that I titled (not so uniquely–sorry), Daddy’s Little Girl. I time-stamped it to publish at 3 pm EST at MInTheGap’s site. He’s letting us contributors run his blog while he’s on “paternity leave”…so be sure to stop in and help us keep things alive over there this week!

Homemakers, Be Encouraged

I’ve discovered a sweet and encouraging blog…full of beautiful pictures and Godly wisdom all from an older wife and mother. Lady Lydia writes for the Ladies Against Feminism website, so maybe you’re already familiar with her blog, Home Living Helper.

I’ve added it to my blogroll, and my hope is that you will go there and be blessed! Today she posted on the “power of one” and titled it, Making Judges Obey the Law

Snow Science

Tis the last Thursday of the month…my day for posting about family fun and/or homeschooling over at Writer…Interrupted! I hope you’ll check out my post, “Simple Science and Snow Ice Cream”. Better comment too, or I might lose my slot to some more worthy individual! ;O)

In case you’re wondering, I do share a delicious recipe for snowman.jpghomemade snow ice cream, plus a super simple science experiment you should do BEFORE you make snow ice cream. Either way, you are in for an eye-opening surprise, and a very tasty treat.  At the very least, happy kiddos!

Hope to see you there!

Laundry Loot: Tips and Money-Savers

No, I’m not talking about loose change, though that would be nice. I’m talking about smart ways to stretch your laundry dollar, plus some tips I’ve appreciated along the way.Necessity is a good teacher. In our self-employment years, times were lean. I picked the brains of frugal friends and devoured books like The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyzyn. So here are some tips, mostly frugal, for you and please feel free to add more in comments!

Washing savers:

  • unless you have coupons, powdered detergent is much cheaper than liquid per load
  • if you do use liquid detergent, be sure to get the last few ounces out when the bottle is empty by adding some water and shaking the bottle then dumping. You have enough for another load in there!
  • wash clothes using cold water in all cycles, except in the case of dishcloths, washcloths and cloth diapers/underwear which need washed separately in hot/with bleach to kill germs
  • if your water is soft, you can get away with using half the amount of detergent per load (same rule applies to dishwashing detergent in dishwashers…if you have soft water you can use 1 TB with success!)
  • vinegar added during the rinse cycle acts as a fabric softener

Drying savers:

  • Clothes lines are great if you have them…not only for the obvious, but to air out your comforters, curtains and quilts. It keeps them from fading (hang backward side up), plus other wear and tear.(Of course if they’ve been stained, or exposed to sickness, go ahead and wash them but dry them on the line backward side up so the sun doesn’t fade them)
  • Save electricity and put moisture in the air during winter: Get some clothing racks and hang your wet clothes in the bedrooms at night…
  • I halve my dryer sheets getting twice the bang for my buck; it does the job, believe me. I also reuse them twice more with fresh halves before throwing out.
  • Never use both fabric softener and dryer sheets, they do the same jobs. Sometimes though, I forget to add fabric softener to the wash so I’ve been known in a pinch to splash a clean rag or sock with fabric softener and use it for a substitute dryer sheet…ahh the clothes smell good!
  • Clean out your lint trap regularly for maximum efficiency. And once in a while, take it to the sink and clean it with dishwashing soap. You’ll be surprised at how much cleaner it becomes.

Recipe for Home-made Laundry detergent

I got this from The Raising Godly Tomatoes forum and have been keeping it tucked away for a rainy day.

  • 1 cup grated bar soap, Ivory or Zote soap
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda, not baking soda

Grate the soap with the smallest grating holes. Add borax and washing soda. Shake and store in tightly sealed container. May have to shake occasionally. Use 3 TB per load, 1 TB if you have soft water.

Zote soap comes highly recommended, you can find it in the hispanic section of the laundry detergent area. A 14 oz bar is under a dollar!

The nicest thing about using a recipe like the above one, is that you’re eliminating all the chemicals of most of the detergents out there. If anyone in your family has sensitive skin, this might be the ticket. The downside is, depending on who you talk to, *using this homemade detergent day in day out can leave your nice clothes a bit dingy. I’d think it would be great used alternately with store-bought, or to have on hand for lean financial times, or to use exclusively with all your loads of sheets and towels.

How many loads of laundry do you do each week?

*this could be due to hard water issues and not the detergent

UPDATED ON DECEMBER 13, 2007: Wanted to share this wonderful site with you guys…a home made laundry soap recipe similar to the one I shared here, but with a picture tutorial and a money breakdown that shows how much money you save…basically, with this recipe, each load costs you about 1 penny!

Cow Stories: Farm and Faith

Dh is loving the cow/calf aspect of his new job. It’s calving season, a time when rescuing little calves becomes an hourly occurrence. Especially when they all want to be born on wintry nights such as we’ve had lately. At last measurblackcow.jpge, we had 6 inches of snow on the ground. My cowboy and the ranchers he works for will be taking shifts throughout the night, dh’s starts at 4 A.M., which means he leaves home at 3 A.M.

So often his “cow stories” of the day get me to thinking about spiritual parallels…weird, huh?

The ice/sleet storm that hit us last week left ponds frozen 8″ thick in spots. Dh told me about a winter long ago when he’d run a hot wire fence around a pasture pond to keep the cattle off the precarious ice. You’d think that was kind of harsh, an electrical jolt to each cow whose only offense was wanting a drink, right? Well, a local cattleman lost 16 head the other day. They’d gone out on the pond for a drink and the ice broke sucking them down in three different places. They’re still trapped under the ice, and what a mess they’re going to have wenching them out of there when things thaw.

I’m sure you see the obvious parallels between the above story and us, God’s wayward ones. After all, He continually refers to us as sheep in the Bible.

Today, a baby calf needed a mother. And a mother cow needed a calf. They’d each lost one or the other. Dh and his co-worker tried everything to get the bereft mother to accept another cow’s calf. They made sure the mama cow still had plenty of milk–she did; they rubbed her manure all over the baby, hoping her scent on it would help her take to it. It didn’t. They ended up having to remove the entire hide from her dead calf and wrap the living calf in it. Immediately she started bawling (mooing) in recognition of her baby. If you’ve never been in a pen of cows/calves you can’t appreciate the deafening racket they put up trying to keep near to one another!

The spiritual parallel of this is God can’t look at us in our sin. He can accept us only through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins. When God sees us, sinful man, He sees instead, thanks to our redemption, Jesus–whose blood has covered us in every way. Just like the mother cow cannot accept a calf that is not hers by blood.**

After dh told us about the calf-swap, my girls asked, “Will the mama cow still accept the calf once the other calf’s skin is taken off?” He then explained that as soon as her milk had been through this calf’s system, she’d know by his manure that he was hers.

Okay, obviously, I have a strange way of relating even things like this to scripture, but doesn’t this make you think of how we’re to be fed and nourished by God’s word, so we can fulfill the scripture that says, “By their fruit you shall know them”?

Before God created us, He and the members of the Trinity knew that ultimately, Jesus would have to take on the sins of the world. Not one of us humans is unblemished enough to be worthy of being called God’s child. No matter how good we say we are, if we don’t believe in the truth of Christ’s sacrifice and our need for a Saviour, we’re going to hell.

Unbelief is the only unforgivable sin. I’m so glad for John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

God is the Father of the fatherless. The father of all fathers. Eternal life in His family–the choice is all yours, thanks to Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice.

His life for ours.

**I first heard it explained this way in Fourth Dawn, a Brock and Bodie Thoene book, one of the AD Chronicles series…only they used sheep, not cattle…this is a fictional series surrounding the life and times of Christ and I highly recommend it. Btw, the sixth AD book will be out in March…

Energy AND Fat Loss Part 3

Today we talk about how starved our bodies are for oxygen and water.

The Importance of Deep Breathing

Straighten up, no slouching! Good posture encourages good breathing and we are lazy, shallow breathing chair slumpers! Okay, even if we don’t slump, chances are we rarely take a good cleansing, belly-distending breath. Think of the productiveness and energy we are missing out on!

In Flip the Switch by Robert K. Cooper, PhD, we read,

Oxygen is the central fuel for metabolism and energy production. When you don’t take in enough oxygen with each breath, your metabolism automatically slows down, your cells are unable to effictively burn off excess body fat or resist turning new calories into stored fat.”

Poor posture contributes to oxygen starvation.”

Wow, something so simple as deep breathing can activate the fat-burning process?

The Importance of Water

Drink plenty of it. In fact, Dr. Cooper says,

A recent medical study showed that sipping 17 oz of ice water can raise metabolism by 30% for 90 straight minutes.”

Lesson #1: Maximize calorie burning by drinking your water cold!

Recent research at the University of Geneva indicates green tea may increase metabolism and fat burning by up to 35%”

Lesson #2: Iced green tea, more power to you! My friend Deborah recommends Calli tea available only through Sunrider International. (I like mine with a twist of lemon or lime!)

Most sources recommend drinking four to six 8-12 ounce glasses of water daily. Dr. Cooper shared that each member in his family carries a 16 oz stainless steel insulated water bottle. They can be bought at thermosonline.com.

When you think that you lose up to two cups of water a day by breathing alone, staying hydrated takes on even greater meaning. (And all that deep breathing you’re going to start doing? Drink up!)

Conclusion:

Activating your metabolism regularly maximizes your energy levels and burns fat. It’s truly the key to fat loss that lasts.

You control the switches that govern metabolism. Not the gym, not the hour that you exercise daily. You don’t need a special program. The key is eating light meals, healthy snacks, and activating your metabolism every 30 minutes throughout the day.

To read Parts 1 and 2:

Energy AND Fat Loss? Read on…

Energy AND Fat Loss Part 2

Energy AND Fat Loss Part 2

In yesterday’s post, I promised to go into more detail on what we can do to boost our metabolism and why we should bother.

To continually activate our metabolism, and raise our energy, we’ll need to explore several things:

  • The importance of breakfast
  • The importance of moving
  • The importance of light
  • The importance of water
  • The importance of deep breathing

I’ll tackle the first three today, and the last two tomorrow. Deal?

The Importance of Breakfast

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Autumn 2003) reported that those who miss breakfast are 4 ½ times more likely to be obese than those who eat a morning meal.

Robert K. Cooper, in his book Flip the Switch says,

In one study, moderately overweight women who regularly skipped breakfast were randomly divided into two groups. One group was asked to eat a low-fat breakfast every morning, while the other group was instructed to continue forgoing the morning meal. After 12 weeks, the breakfast eaters lost significantly more weight than the breakfast skippers.

Along with the fat-burning benefits of the breakfast habit come improved mental alertness, increased energy, more optimism/better attitude, in short, a better day for your buck!

A good breakfast, high in protein and fiber, moderate carb and low-fat will rev up your fat-burning potential for the whole day. Cooper suggests and provides recipes for protein shakes: combinations of milk, low-fat yogurt, whey protein powder, fresh fruit and ice. I cheat (time wise) and make a yogurt parfait, similar to those sold at McDonalds. For one serving layer 1/2 cup fat-free or low-fat vanilla yogurt and ½ cup fresh or frozen fruit (blueberries, kiwis and bananas–my faves) with a tablespoon or two of granola sprinkled on top.

Remember, according to Cooper,

When you skip breakfast, you not only keep the body’s fat burners in “off” mode, you turn on the fat-making process instead. You lose twice!

The Importance of Moving: Activate your energy at regular intervals throughout the day

Simple: Move at every opportunity. Set a timer to remind you to get up from your WIP (work-in-progress for you non-writers) every half hour or so, stretch and rotate your shoulders, breathe deeply, and/or jog in place for 2 minutes.

This activates your nervous, muscular and cardiovascular systems, flipping quite a few switches critical to your body’s metabolism. Just to be clear, the every-half- hour boosts can be as simple as standing, stretching and deep breathing. But make sure to include at least 4 toning exercises at different points throughout the day.

The Importance of Light

In addition to having breakfast, Dr. Cooper also recommends getting up at the same time each day, and upon arising, turn on the bright lights! Sleeping in or hitting the snooze on the alarm repeatedly causes an effect that Cooper calls,

…a jet-lag-like sleep disturbance that leaves you worn out and less alert.”

He talks about bright sunshine as if it’s a plethora of healing and life-giving energy. And isn’t it true? I’ve felt energized upon pulling the shades clear up and feeling the warmth seep into the room around me. He explains,

A brightly lit room has about 500 luxes of light (a lux is the scientific equivalent of the light from a single candle) compared with 10,000 luxes of light at sunrise, and 100,000 luxes of light at noon on a sunny day. To our metabolism, spending a day indoors is virtually the same as spending the day in darkness. It stimulates the inherent physiological processes associated with sleeping and gaining weight.”

There’s that reference to our tendency to want to hibernate like big lazy bears readying for winter.

I’ll finish this up tomorrow, hitting on the importance of water and deep breathing.