Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Clutter On, In, and Around Us

I have been doing some major cleaning. I have sent stuff to the Desert Industries, I have thrown away stuff, I have given away stuff. I've always been somewhat of a clutter-er. Is that even a word? I watched an Oprah show about this hoarder.

While I am nowhere near that messy, I do have my piles of stuff that I have no idea what to do with or where to put it. Show like that inspire me to clean out what I need to do.

My two favorite Clutter/Organizing people are Don Aslett and Peter Walsh.

Don Aslett has written tons of books about Clutter, Packrats, how to clean your home effectively, even one about how to get the rest of the family (husbands, kids) to help around the house. His books have a lot of suggestions and ideas from people, so there are lots of good ideas.

Peter Walsh is on TLC's Clean Sweep. It is such a good show. I haven't read any of his books.

One of my favorite lines from Don Aslett's book: "Weekend Makeover"

The Triangle of Too Much

1) Mental and Emotional Stress (clutter in us)
2) Overweight worries and concerns (clutter on us)
3) Our stuff: all the things and possesions of all kinds we have (clutter around us)

"Too much" causes much of the "too busy" in life, so in reality we have only one giant in the battle of life to fight and defeat -- too much."


So whether you are a hoarder, a little messy, or your closets and junk drawers are a mess, these books/shows are so inspirational to get moving and clean out junk. I would very much recommend Don Aslett's books. Amazon has some books that you can read a few pages of, to see if you like the style.

I've decided that I have to get rid of stuff that I don't love, don't want, don't use, don't need. I'll have less stress, less stuff to take care of and clean, an easier time cleaning, and more time for the things that I love - like my family, my writing, my crafts, my piano.

I've done a little here and there in the past, but this week, I have decided enough is enough. I may not get it all cleaned right away, but progress is progress.

So, have a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone that is celebrating it. Hopefully after this week, my posts will be flooded with writing themes.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Five Things Meme

This is my first tag I've gotten from blogging, so it's pretty neat. Thanks Tristi.

Five Things Found in My Room:

I am chosing my front room.

1) I have my new digital piano. It is my Christmas present, but I got it early. A friend needed to sell it and I wanted it. So we both made out well in the deal. I haven't had daily access to a piano for over 7 years and I've played the piano since I was little. So it is really exciting to finally be able to practice and play the piano whenever I want. The best thing about the piano is that it has a volume knob. The kids can play on it without driving me crazy. It is also one of those weighted keys that feel and sound just like a real piano. Best Present Ever.

2) My grandmother's sewing machine stand with sewing machine. Her sewing machine is actually inside the stand. It's one of those cool old ones that are black and sleek looking. It works, but it is rather loud. I preferred a newer one to sew with. I haven't actually sewn anything on it yet. It's tough to find time to sew with little ones around. I mostly will use it for craft projects, not making clothes. I can sew clothes, but don't enjoy it that much.

3)A wood burning stove. It's the type that isn't in the wall. It was fun to use it the first year we lived here, but then kids started coming, and I worry that they will touch it or trip and fall near it. Because there is a stove on that side of the room, there is also a rock wall on that side. I love the rock wall, and want one in my new house (whenever the new house happens).

4) Our entertainment stand. We got this from a friend for a good deal. (Notice we get lots of used stuff from friends. We've got some real good friends.) Anyway, it is solid wood, no particle board at all. It's tall, and has doors that shut, so you can hide the TV when you don't want to see it. It also has all the DVD, video games, VHS, etc up at the top. Our son used to put crackers in the slots, but now cannot reach them anymore. This will save us lots of money, because we won't have to replace stuff as much.

5) My two wonderful children. I say that, because I've just come from church, and am feeling uplifted still. But they really are good kids. They drive me crazy sometimes, but what 3 and 1 year old don't?

Five Things I've Always Wanted to Do:


1) Travel outside the U.S. I have been to Canada (BC area). But I would like to go to another continent.

2) Sing really well. I can sing okay. I'm not tone-deaf. But I wish I hadn't been so fearful of learning how to sing when I was little.

3) Be in a movie. I think it would be fun to have a small (VERY small) part in a movie. Maybe just be part of a family having a picnic in the park and the scene shows it for a second or two. Nothing huge, no speaking, but be able to say "I was in a movie."

4) Serve a mission. I hope that I will be able to go on a mission with my husband someday in the future.

5) Learn Web programming/design. I know some basic html, but I would love to be able to have my own website and be able to design it. I will make sure to have one with I am a published author. Or maybe before if I can find a website name I want.


Five Things Found in My Bag:

1) 2 Diapers (just in case for my 3 and 1 year old.. I don't carry a diaper bag around since I don't have a baby, but my kids are still little and in diapers.)

2) A Checkbook

3) Lotion

4) A toy car

5) Lots of receipts



Five Things Found in My Wallet:

1) A gift card to Meier and Frank that I have had for 7 years. I just haven't gone and used it. There is no expiration, so I haven't had an urgency to go and use it.

2) Change

3) No Cash

4) Health insurance cards

5) Papa Murphy's coupon card

Five Things I'm Currently Into:

1) Making cards.

2) Blogging.

3) Taking short walks (by myself - when I can). It's a good time to get away from the kids and house, while getting some exercise too.

4) I like to read books to fall asleep. Sometimes my mind in going a mile a minute, and focusing it to one thing helps me wind down.

5) Ribbon. I've never been that fond of ribbon. But ever since I've started making cards, I have been buying ribbon like crazy. I need to slow down.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Little Break

I haven't been writing too much since my last post. I've been trying to catch up on the house and getting myself taken care of. I did get about another 250 words, so that's another page. It may be slow, but as long as it's progressing I'm happy.

Now if I could only get my 3 1/2 year old to take a nap, I could lay down and rest.

Oh, but on a happy note - my cholesterol has lowered! It was 228, and now it's 188. I was a little doubtful that I had lowered it, but I guess losing that weight and moving around more really did make a difference.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Motivation For Me

First off - I went to a cabin this weekend with friends. It was SO much fun. No kids, no husbands, just 5 out of 6 of our little group of best friends. We talked forever. Everyone was up there by 7:00 pm, and we talked until 4:00 am. We got up at 8:00 am, and kept on talking. We made cards, did crafts, played games - all while talking. We talked about life, kids, goals, families, trials. It was fun. And when I got back, I got to hear the excited "Hi Mommy!" from my kids.

Anyway, I took my novel up there. It's about 70 pages (considering 250 words a page). I told my friends that if anyone wanted to read it, they could. I wanted to make sure I was on track. I knew where I wanted the characters and plot to go, and wanted to make sure it was coming out right. The LOVED it. Which, of course, made me VERY happy. It's always nice to hear good things. They agreed with me with what I wanted to have happen in the story. They loved the characters.

And now I want to write even more. Sometimes you start doubting yourself. I can see the characters, feels the feelings, see the scenes in my mind. But getting them on paper has always been the hardest part for me. So knowing that I am doing a good job so far, motivates me on.

And the best part, is these friends of mine are really in the target audience I am writing for. And since they love it, I know that I am on track.

I really hope to get this published someday (sooner than later). But even if I never ever get published, I will be satisfied. If I know I did my best, gave it my all, and publishers just aren't taking it, I will be okay. But, hey, if my friends (target audience) love it, then I think I'll do alright.

Published is a goal, but not the dream. The dream is writing something that I can be proud of and that others can enjoy reading.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Inspiration

I'm sure that all of us have some sort of "inspiration" that gets us writing, whether it's a person, and idea, or whatever.

The best thing that gets me writing, is thinking and reading about writing. I've recently discovered a bunch of authors blogs, and have them bookmarked on my browser. I've heard somewhere that if you write down a goal, you have a better chance or achieving it. But you also have to actually go out and be proactive about it. You can't just sit there and hope it happens.

So, I've decided to be proactive about my goal of having a published book someday.

One way I've decided to be proactive is to consider myself as a writer. I'm not aspiring, I'm not hoping, I AM a writer.

I've been reading books on writing. Books about the passion of writing, better plots, better dialogue, and better characters.

I'm taking an online writing course. It's through the BYU online education, and they have two creative writing classes. They are only $28, since you don't get college credit for them.

And I'm trying to soak up as much knowledge as I can about writing/editing/publishing. Afterall, knowledge is power. I've been checking out authors websites and blogs to read their advice. I've been reading LDS Publisher to get some ideas of what to expect when it's time to submit a manuscript. I'm starting to participate in Tristi's Challenges to get myself motivated to do more writing and editing.

And of course, I really enjoy meeting authors. I met a few when I was a teenager, and the thought of meeting an author was 10 times better than the thought of meeting a celebrity. Always fun to "hang out" or meet people that you aspire to be like someday.

Blog Action Day

So, Monday was Blog Action Day. I didn't know that until yesterday, but I thought I would say a little something about it on my blog anyway.

The topic is environment.

In the past, I haven't been so concerned about the Environment. I did some stuff, but not anything that great.

I live in a rural area, so I'd have to do some traveling to do recycling. I'd have to say it's more what I don't do than what I do.

For instance, I rarely drink soda. So I don't have many cans to need to recycle. But I have family that does drink soda, and do keep the cans to recycle.

I also don't get the newspaper. I read the news online or watch the news on TV. So I don't need to recycle the newspaper. But if I ever do get the newspaper again, I'm planning on recycling it. My parents have a garden, and keep their newspaper for the planting season. Lay some of it down between rows of corn, and put some mulch on it, and you don't have to worry about weeds.

We also have a wood burning stove, that I will put papers in to burn. Usually it's just old bills or documents that we don't need to keep anymore, but that I don't want to put in the trash. So it saves some landfills of extra papers.

One other thing that I saw on a morning show once, was someone saying that even if everyone decided to not take a receipt from the gas station, that it would saves tons of paper. I forget the amount, but it adds up in time. I thought about it, and realized that even if I do get a receipt, I don't do anything with it. So I no longer take a receipt from the gas pump or ATM machines. If I want to know my bank balance, I can go online and check it out.

True, one person isn't going to change the world, but one person doing even the smallest thing can add up to lots of change.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Potty Training :(

My son is 3 1/2 and we decided it was time to potty train him. From what I've read, he has every sign, except he doesn't care that he's wet in a diaper. He's been in underwear for 3 days now, and has not made it to the potty once. I bought plastic diaper covers though after 2 days, and it is the best purchase I've made.

But he doesn't quite get the connection that he needs to go in the potty. He'll let me know when he's already wet. I've noticed him a few times, where I thought he was about to go, so I rushed him to the potty and he had already gone. We have gotten him to where he wants to wear underwear (he cried about having to wear it at first). And he will occasionally say that he needs to use the potty. I make sure to praise him for trying, but he never actually goes when he sits on the potty.

PLEASE, anyone that has gone through potty training with a boy, please give me some advice. He's not exactly fighting potty training, but just not "getting" it.

25 Ways I Save Money

I was checking out some blogs, and came across "Frugal For Life". On there, the author had "25 Ways I save Money." There is a long list of others that have posted how they save money. It sounded like a good idea to come up with my ways too.

1) I bought a freezer from a place that was selling slighty damaged stuff. The only problem with this one was that the box got all wet, and so it wasn't "pretty" to send to stores... something like that. No damage whatsoever. But I got it for a good discounted price. I stock up on meats/freezable foods when on sale. I also occasionally make 2 of some meals (lasagna, etc) It's nice to have extra stuff on hand, for days that I don't want to cook and saves us from eating out as often.

2) I occcasionally buy books from stores. But since I love to own books, I like to go to library book sales. You can get a book anywhere from .50 - $1.00. I got a grocery bag sized amount of books from the last one for $5.25.

3) I like to shop caselot sales. Some of those items I use a lot, I may as well stock up and get in bulk for a cheaper price.

4) I love to look online for good deals. KSL ads (a local newstations website) has people wanting to get rid of their stuff and it's a good deal for you.

5) Wash clothes with cold water. Not a problem for us, since the knob that changes the water temp broke off, and we are unable to change it even if we wanted to. At least we are saving money.

6) My husband can fix cars, and bought mine at an auction for $900. It was 2 years old at the time. Just had some damage. $1600 later, I had a 2 year old car for $2500, paid in full. It should last me for quite some time.

7) Some of my friends thought I was strange, but I save tissue paper from gifts. Most people save the bags, why not the tissue paper if it's still in good condition.

8) Have a garden. I don't currently have one, but grew up with my parents having one. I've helped my mother can the food in the past, but with 2 little kids, we aren't much help now. But she supplies me with canned and fresh fruits and vegetables. When we have a yard, I plan on having a small garden and some fruit trees.

9) Save money at Christmas. This year, we are planning on giving one bigger item gift, instead of lots of small items. Of course, my budget is about max $50 dollars per kid, including stocking stuffers. Gifts are great, but not the important part of the holidays.

10) Buy after the holidays. I don't like going the day after Christmas, but shopping after holidays and getting discounts is fun. I bought all my Christmas lights and the (fake) tree after the holidays. I've even heard of some people buying holiday M&M 1/2 off and freezing them. Come Feb, they use the red candies for Valentine treats. They use the green candies for St. Patrick. Don't forget easter and other holidays. Lots of possibilities.

11) Share. I have some friends that love to scrapbook and make cards. We all have different types of papers, stamps, punches. We get together once a week at night and have 3 times the amount of stuff we normally have. Unless I really love a certain product and HAVE to have it more often than once a week, I don't need to buy things that I don't use often enough to spend money on.

12) If you buy something online, share the order. I recently ordered something with 2 other people. Shipping was divided in 3, so we all saved $6 in shipping cost. Then I had a code that saved me $8 on the order.

13) Get your insurance all from the same place. We have home and car insurance at the same place, so when we decided to get some life insurance, it was relatively cheap because we got a discount for already having something insured from there.

14) Buy Generic. Most items, I don't mind generic over a brand name. Most things seem to taste the same or work the same to me. But I do have my few things that I won't buy generic. Like BBQ sauce - I have my brand that I love.

15) If we go out to eat, we have our two little kids share a meal. It seems that if we buy them each one, they tend to hardly eat anything. If we buy one to share, them seem to eat it all and want more. We can never win, but we can at least pay less and have them eat some of our food.
16) Don't buy computer games for young kids. We haven't yet bought any computer games for my son. I just find free ones on Disney or PBS kids. He loves them, and they don't cost a dime. Then if he outgrows a game, we don't have lots of games laying around that he won't play.

17) Organize. I'm still working on this one. But have you ever not been able to find something and went to buy another one? I have. And it's annoying. So I'm working hard to get as organized as I can so that I can save money by knowing where things are and can get them easily.

18) Read books by Don Aslett His books are about cleaning and organizing. But really, if you're getting rid of stuff you know you don't need, when you see stuff at the store, you start to question yourself if you really need it. You just sent two boxes to the thrift store, do you really need to fill up the house with clutter again? Keeps your spending in control.

19) If you want to go on vacation, try to take it in the off season. My husband I went to Disneyland twice before we had kids. Once in November, once in January. Hotel prices were cheaper, tickets were cheaper, and the longest we had to wait in line for a ride was 5 mins. Some ride we even got to ride twice, because there wasn't a line. Also, if you get a motel/hotel that has a kitchenette or at least a fridge, you can save money by eating all or most meals in your room.

20) Get online bill paying or automatic deposit. The only bill I send out is the gas bill. Every other bill gets taken out of my account automatically. I can log on my account and check it how much it was. No worries about late fees, because they are always paid on time.

21) Use CFL bulbs. You know the ones that give out maybe 15 wattage, but are as bright as a 60-70 watt normal bulb. I've never compared my light bill (I'm sure my husband has) to see how much it saves, but everyone I've read that has them, says it really does add up. Now days they are getting even cheaper to buy.

22) Don't use as much makeup. I don't wear any most of the time. Not to save money though, I just don't like wearing it much. I will use it on a few occasions, like weddings, family photos, funerals. Even then, I just use foundation and a little eyeshadow.

23) Cards. I love to make cards, so it combines my crafting hobby with saving money on cards. Also some people like to buy cards in boxes so they are cheaper that way. Or at the dollar store. Cards can be anywhere from $1.99-$3.95. If you give cards, this could cut down on a lot of money.

24) Photos. I live about 5 miles away from the nearest place that prints photos. Since I have a digital camera, when I get enough photos that I want to printout, I go to Walmart.com 's photo center. Upload them, and have them sent to the local store. When they are in, I get some grocery shopping and my photos at the same time. I don't have to pay shipping to come to my house, and can combine a trip for two things.

25) Pay in full. When we do make new purchases like stove, couch, etc. - we pay in full. We occasionally will pay on credit if there is a deal to not have to pay interest for 3-6-12 months. Especially if it's around tax return time and we know we will have the money for that item before the no interest gimmick wears off. The only thing I want to pay interest on is my house. (Well, I don't WANT to, but you know what I mean) :)

This took a bit longer to think of 25 ways than I thought it would. I am by no means frugal like some people. I got a little of both parents in me. My dad is really VERY good at saving and spending wisely. My mother does good, but enjoys herself with money on occasion. But she is organized and doesn't go overboard.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Lots and Lots of Words

I'm writing a novel. Somedays the words just fly out of me, and other days I'm not really sure what to write. Today I've got the writing bug. I did some more writing, probably only about 1/2 page worth. I have two little kids and a husband, so getting time to write without any distractions doesn't come often.

As I've typed, I've wondered how to tell how many real pages my story is. Most books are printed in 8 1/2 X 11 sized. Novels tend to be smaller sized. So although my story is 35 pages so far, I assume it is a few more pages than that in novel print size. I guess a better way to "compare" might be words in a book. Thankfully with word processors they do they counting for you. I can't imagine trying to count all the words myself. :) So far I have 15,847 words. That's a lot of words.

I was reading one writer's blog http://www.josikilpack.blogspot.com/ (I'm sure that even though probably no one reads my blog, at least yet, she may enjoy having her link shown. It's a good blog to read.) Anyway, her goal is 80,000 words for the book. So I get to thinking that if I times my current words by 5, that is close to 80,000. That would be 175 pages or a few more novel print size. Not at bad goal. Although, at this point I can't imagine 175 pages. Maybe more like 100. But hopefully as the story evolves I can find enough good plot line and dialouge that will make the story better and maybe a little longer.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Story Ideas from the Lives Around You

I read somewhere that as writers we should really notice the things in life that go on around us. Notice how people interact, how they react. I look at things around me and sometimes I get ideas for stories or for scenes in a story.

Well, this weekend I had two things happened in my life that I had never experienced before. I got my first EVER speeding ticket. I've been driving for 13 years and my perfect driving record has been broken. I'm not really that upset getting one, as no longer being able to proudly say that I have never gotten a speeding ticket. Oh well, that just means I join the ranks of most people in the world.

I also got a root canal. They numb your mouth up. In this case, it was my left side of my mouth. So besides having to hold your mouth open for about an hour, it isn't that bad. But when the numbness starts to wear off, it does not feel good.

These two things though, can really spark ideas for stories. I'm currently writing a story, in which I've thought maybe I can get two of the characters together in a car one get pulled over. That would be very embarrassing for the one character who is trying to act cool in front of the other one (because she likes him a lot, but he doesn't know).

As for the root canal, I'm still hurting a little, letting the pain medicine kick in. So I'm not ready to give any of my character that sort of pain right now.

Having the not so good things in life happen to us, may not be fun. But they do give us plenty of ideas, emotions, and thoughts to make our dialogues, and narratives hopefully that much better.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rules of Writing

I'm a big believer is knowing the rules of correct grammar. You should know what verbs, adjective, adverbs, etc are. You should understand all the correct stuff. But I'm also a big believer in writing however you want.

Now, if you decide to write like this - "hay dude what RU up 2?" - chances are that people aren't going to be so interested in your writing. Which is fine if you are only writing for yourself. But seriously, is it such a big deal if your writing ends in a preposition? Sure, if it's technical writing, say a brochure or manual. But if I'm writing a novel, and want to start a sentence with "but", which I just did, then I will.

I suppose it depends on your audience you're trying to reach. But everyone has a different style. And as much as I love Mary Higgins Clark or Mitch Albom, I have my own style of writing. I'm not looking to make millions from writing - althought that would be nice! I'm writing, because I love to do it. Hopefully enough people will be interested in my stories that I can have some published and make some money from it. But in the end, I write because I love it.

An Adventure in Writing

I am a writer. How do I know that? I read it somewhere. Actually, what I read was that if you write, you are a writer. If you sing, you are a singer; if you paint, you are a painter. You don't need to be paid professionally in order to give yourself a title. So I am a writer.

I have story ideas in my head, some are written out. I actually have a whole novel written, and sent it in to publishers. My goal back when I was a teenager was to have a novel written and sent to publishers by the time I was 19. And I accomplished it. It wasn't published. Looking back I can totally see why. It was disappointing, but it was an accomplishment. I still have the letter.

I also have my high school teachers note to one of my creative writing assignments. He said to "show, not tell". It was straight to the point of what was wrong in my story. I can't say that I enjoyed reading the note, but I still have it with me today. I'm a big believer in constructive criticism.

If I were only writing for my personal satisfaction, I wouldn't care so much about that. But I plan on having a novel published someday. And I want it to be the best I can give.

So, this blog is all about writing. Random thoughts, opinions, and ideas. I don't know if anyone will ever read this. But like I said, I am a writer. I like to write. So maybe someone will see this. Maybe not. But if another "aspiring writer" comes across this, I hope they will motivated to keep on writing.