June 7, 2016

Currently...

(For more Currently posts, check out Katy Upperman's blog.)




I've been writing again! And loving it. The baby has been taking longer naps during the day, which allows me to use that time to do things like write. It's been so great to get my butt in the chair to revise one of my WiPs. I've decided that finally finishing a story again, is just the motivation I need to keep on going. Writing is becoming a habit again, so fingers crossed.


I just finished Morgan Matson's latest, THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING, and really enjoyed it. It has everything I love in a summertime read: friendship, a sweet romance with a sweet boy, just enough conflict to keep it from feeling too angsty, and all that good stuff. My one quibble—and I can't believe I'm even saying this—is that it was a wee bit too long. Like about a hundred pages too bulky, especially for this kind of contemporary story. That's not much of a complaint, though.

Now, I'm just starting SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys, and I couldn't be more eager to read this one for a few reasons: my sister recently met the author, and she's as lovely in person as I suspected she might be; I read BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY and was moved by the story and subject matter; and I've heard only great things about her latest novel. During the summer, I tend to read a lot of contemporary (mostly because so many of them are set in the summer), but it's nice to mix things up a bit with a historical I'm certain I'll enjoy. Have you read this one yet? What did you think? (#nospoilers)

Honestly? A whole lot less TV lately. I had gotten into the habit of watching HGTV during the day while taking care of the baby (home reno shows are like crack), but I've started leaving the TV off and *gasp* it's amazing what I've accomplished in its place. My husband and I are planning on getting rid of cable but keeping Netflix, and I'm pretty excited about this. 

We have been watching the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's a little weird, sure, to be watching hockey when it's 30°C outside, but since I've cheered for the Pittsburgh Penguins for some time now and they're in the final round, it seems only right. We recently watched The Finest Hours, which was good but made me anxious thanks to my fear of drowning and my inability to swim. Ha! Last night, we watched Zoolander 2, and it was every bit as bizarro as I was expecting. Probably more so even.

My husband likes to listen to the radio first thing in the morning. I much prefer a more quiet start to my day, but what can you do? I've been hearing The Lumineers' "Ophelia" quite a bit, which just reminds me I need to buy the whole album. 

Also: X Ambassadors' "Unsteady", which I kind of like even though my husband thinks one of the background noises in the song sounds like someone shaking a can of spray paint. Apparently, he's not the only one who thinks so because the first YouTube review of the video says the exact same thing. I just really like a great voice, and I think the lead singer has one.


I'm taking part in the Sweet Summertime Reads 2016 photo challenge hosted by Ginger at GReads! I love a good Instagram photo challenge, so this one should be fun. And since the topics are only one per week, the commitment level is much lower than many other challenges. So, I'm thinking about this week's topic—"Your Summer TBR Pile"—and which books I'd like to have in my pile. Since it's taking me longer to get through books these days, I'm going to have to be choosy. If you'd like to join in, check out Ginger's blog for the #SweetSummertimeReads2016 photo challenge topics. Should be fun!


I've been thinking a lot about all of the things we're going to get to do with Gemma as she gets a little older and it's kind of exciting. Me: "I can't wait to introduce her to Harry Potter. Maybe one day take her to the Wizarding World." Hubs: "I can't wait to see her try tasting a lemon for the first time." Sure, Todd. That's definitely something worth anticipating. Haha! :P

...For so many things it's mind-boggling. I struggle so often with simply being content with the things I have in life, which I know is kind of awful because I have so much more than so many people in this world. I need to keep telling myself that. It's okay to wish for things, to have dreams, but when it starts dragging you down, well that's another matter altogether.



In an effort to find more joy in the simple things in life, I'm trying to come up with solutions to some of the things that have been bumming me out. One of the things that's making me happier is compiling a list of fun stuff we can do as a family this summer, most of which is cheap and uncomplicated. (Which is key with an infant.) Some of those ideas:
>> Take a drive in the country to go exploring.
>> Go for family walks to the park or to get ice cream.
>> Spend time reading in the backyard, enjoying the nice weather.
>> Use our inflatable pool (a $30 Walmart special) when it gets hot.
>> Enjoy this time with Gemma while she's tiny. It'll go by super fast.

I mean, with a cutie like this, how could I not be happy?


So, what are you currently up to?


May 24, 2016

Currently...

(For more Currently posts, check out Katy Upperman's blog.)



Baking! I've always loved baking, but lately it's been a little difficult finding the time. Add to that the fact that I loathe our too-tiny kitchen with the fire of a thousand suns. My latest favourite baked good is sour cream pound cake topped with Devon custard and whatever fresh berries I can find. The raspberries we used the last time I made it were soooo delicious.


Also loving: #SockSunday. I've been meaning to take part in this fun Instagram challenge, but only got around to it for the first time this past weekend. I've been loving all the #SockSunday photos coming up in my feed each week. Plus, I ♥ socks.



I finally finished THE WINNER'S KISS after nearly two months. Let me just say, it's not the kind of book that you can read in bits and pieces. Honestly, picking it up and putting it down repeatedly made it difficult to enjoy as much as I enjoyed the first two in the series. I'll have to reread the whole trilogy again sometime when I'm a whole lot less distracted. 

After that, I picked up EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon and got totally sucked into this quick and delightful read. I loved all of the little doodles on the pages (by the author's husband), got swept up in Maddie and Olly's sweet romance, and even though I guessed something pretty major very early on, it didn't affect my enjoyment of the story. I have a lot of thoughts about this one, but I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a sweet contemporary.

I just started reading THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING by Morgan Matson, and I'm super excited to devour this one. Anything Morgan Matson is an instabuy for me. It's exactly the kind of book I'm in the mood for right now too.



A whole lot of HGTV and not a whole lot else. My favourite shows: Fixer Upper, Income Property, The Expandables, and Home To Win. (At least a few of these are Canadian shows.) I'm learning so much and drooling over so many gorgeous design ideas. Other than that, I've been watching Game of Thrones and trying my hardest not to stumble across spoilers on Twitter every Sunday night. Incidentally, people live-tweeting shows drives me completely bonkers. #giantpetpeeve

Not much. If we're talking music, that is. Gemma has been making little noises like she's trying to laugh, so that's adorable.

I'm going to try my hardest to start writing again this week. Gemma has been taking longer, more consistent naps these days, which allows me to sneak in some of the stuff I need to do and/or love to do. So, I've narrowed down the multitude of WiPs I have on the go to one that I'd like to focus on, and I'm thinking about some of the changes I need to make and some of the gaps I still need to fill. In addition to this, I've been thinking about and jotting down ideas for another story I've been wanting to write for a while now. It's similar in many respects to a book I just finished reading, but I'm not sure I'm going to allow that to keep me from writing it. I like the idea far too much to give up on it.

I'm really looking forward to making better use of Gemma's nap times, like I mentioned above. It's going to be a challenge squeezing in writing, reading, knitting, and all of the chores that need to get done as well, but it just means I'm going to have to get more disciplined with my time. I guess that's where my trusty planner will come in handy, right?

A little sweater I'm currently knitting for Gemma.

That I could own my own business. I've had a lot of ideas for businesses, but the one that really interests me, that I really wish I could make happen is to open a café in the town I live in. It would be wonderful to take my barista experience and my love of baking and make this a reality, but I'm not sure it's exactly feasible for a whole multitude of reasons. 

Still, it's nice to dream about it and make up plans, you know?

I've been stir crazy lately and irked by all the clutter around this place, so I've been making small changes here and there to make me happier with my surroundings. I shortened the legs on a pub table (that we've been hauling around every time we move) and swapped it out with the too-large table that was in our breakfast nook. It makes a HUGE difference in the room and makes it feel less tiny. I also affixed a makeshift shelf/desk thingy to the wall in the living room for my desktop computer in order to facilitate the writing I hope to do in the coming days. I spend most of my time in this room, so it only makes sense. It's not the most attractive set up in the world, but it's useful and that's good enough for me.

And, of course, this little face makes me the happiest of all. ♥♥♥

(Her eyes aren't quite this blue. The filter I chose did that.)

So, what are you currently up to?


April 12, 2016

Currently...

It's been AGES since I last posted here on the blog, so I figured I'd join Katy Upperman this week and do up a Currently post.


Gemma Charlotte
 
I've been bombarding my Twitter and Facebook and Instagram friends with photos of this little chicken for a month and a half now (#sorrynotsorry), but I just can't help myself. We think she's pretty cute...even when she's being kind of a turd.


Sitting down with a book for any length of time has proven to be a challenge (see above), but here's what I've been reading:

THE WINNER'S KISS
I've been waiting on this series finale for ages now, but it is taking me just as long to read it, unfortunately. Lately, I've been finding that reading books on my phone's Kindle app is easier when I'm holding the baby. A thick, heavy hardcover? Not so much. Needless to say, chances to sit down with this one are few and far between. If only the baby would nap consistently...

STEALING PARKER
I read CATCHING JORDAN, the first in the Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series, some time ago and enjoyed it. I've been looking for lighter reads lately as I find that they're easier to pick up and put down without losing the train of what's going on in the story. (Yet another reason why it's taking me so long to read THE WINNER'S KISS.) While I liked STEALING PARKER and found I could really relate to Parker's struggles with her church and the control it had over her life, I liked this one less than other contemporaries I've read recently. Parker read as young to me, even for a high school senior. Still, I do plan on reading more in this series and would recommend them to those who like sports in their contemporaries.

THESE VICIOUS MASKS
This one has been on my radar since Swoon Reads put out the call to vote on its cover. It's been described as an Austenesque X-Men, which hello. Right up my alley. I'm not very far in, but I'm already enjoying Evelyn's voice.

...A whole lot of Netflix and HGTV these days. I recently rediscovered HGTV and, in particular, the show Fixer Upper. I love all of the homes that Chip and Joanna Gaines renovate and decorate. I'm pretty much ready to pack up and move to Waco, Texas at this point. (A really small, not overly nice house here costs more than $300,000. Many of the houses featured on this show cost a mere fraction of that even with an "all-in" reno budget. And the final product is to die for.) As for Netflix, I've recently started rewatching Friday Night Lights, one of my favourite series ever. This show features some of the best characters I've seen on a TV show. Tim Riggins, Tyra, Matt Saracen... And if I can be even half as awesome a parent as Coach and Tami Taylor are, well, I'm golden. Julie Taylor, though...ughhhh. Worst character ever. On any show ever.


A whole lot of white noise to calm a fussy baby and get her to sleep. Good times.


When I actually had time to do things and it didn't take me a million years to actually do up a post like this, to finish reading a book, to make myself look halfway presentable, and on and on. Real talk: We've had a rough couple of days, Gemma and I, and more than anything I'd like to just push pause and catch my breath, without a fussing, screaming baby to deal with. I've cried more in the past six weeks than I have in years. Parenthood is hard, guys. So very, very hard.


More beautiful spring days ahead. To be honest, the winter went really fast and it was actually pretty mild this year, but with all of the gorgeous weather we've been having, I'm anticipating all of the even nicer weather to come. We got out for a walk for the first time this past week, and it was glorious. Gemma slept the whole time, which was absolutely wonderful.


That my family could actually meet my daughter. My siblings are spread out across the country and my parents moved to Ecuador at the start of the year, so there hasn't been the opportunity for visiting. More than anything, I'd just love to sit down in person with my sister and my little girl and just hang out. Skype visits will have to suffice for the time being.


So many things despite some of the grumping above: 

I'm so very grateful for the many friends--online and in my daily life--who have been so supportive, encouraging, and helpful with advice while I've been adjusting to this whole mommy role. Seriously, it has kept me sane when I thought I was legit losing my mind. 

Seeing my husband take on the role of daddy and doing such an awesome job of it. He's the best!

Stealing the odd moment (when I can) to read, pretty up my planner pages, or knit for a bit.
One day soon, I hope this list will include working on one of my many WIPs. Here's hoping.

This amazing slideshow my husband's cousin's wife put together of photos from the newborn shoot she did with Gemma. I love all of the pics, but my favourites are the one where she's yawning and the one where she has the flower in her hair in the basket. Todd and I didn't get nice wedding photos done (I so regret that), so we wanted to capture these early moments with our little sweetheart in the nicest way possible. Thanks again to Bree Friesen Photography for making that happen!

Also: STICKERS.



So what are you currently up to?


August 31, 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! (Wrap-Up)

Wow! Hard to believe it's already time to wrap up Ready. Set. WRITE! for another summer. We really hope this was a productive few months for all of you and that that productivity carries right on into the fall and beyond. We also hope you felt encouraged throughout this summer because that's such a big part of RSW.

As you know, today we're not only sharing how things went this summer, we're also showing off our Manuscripts & Manicures. Can't wait to see all your nail pics!

How my summer of revisions went...
Well...it wasn't completely awful. Ha! I changed horses midstream a couple times over the past few months. I started out drafting one project, piddled around with revisions on another (briefly), then finally settled on revisions of my WiP ONLY ANNIE (a contemporary retelling of Jane Austen's PERSUASION). I really wanted to finish a major round of revisions on ONLY ANNIE this summer, and I came pretty close, I think. The ending is still corny as all hell, but it's totally fixable. A major change I made was to the tense (it's now past) and to the POV (now third), and I think this story is better for it. If nothing else, I'm most happy with that.


Manuscripts & Manicures
You know, I really couldn't think of a single great manicure idea that reflected my WiP. Plus, as you can probably tell by the way I flaked out toward the end of RSW, I haven't had a whole lot of time to get creative these days. (Thanks in large part to the new job.) Since this summer was all about the words--the writing of words and revising of words--I opted to go with a manicure that is sort of word-y or, I guess you could say, font-y. Thankfully, Jamberry took care of the creativity for me. ;-)

So, here's a snippet from ONLY ANNIE. It's still desperately in need of more revisions, much better prose and whatnot, so bear that in mind. Sharing my writing is not something I'm super comfortable doing (I stress far too much about it), but I figure it's something I need to get more used to doing. So here goes nothing:



The rich scent of coffee finally reeled Annie into the café. With her head ducked against the rain, she stepped toward the entrance.
Right into someone who was just leaving.
And not just anyone. Went.
The coffee he gripped in his hand sloshed up onto his shirt on impact, nearly reaching the stunned expression on his face. “Annie?” he said at the same time that she gasped, “Ohmigod, I’m so sorry.”
Annie froze for what felt like ages, then snapped out of it and reached inside her purse, snatched a handful of tissue, and began frantically sopping up the mess she’d made. It took her only a moment to realize she was actually rubbing and patting Went’s chest--his chest, for God's sake--while he just stood there awkwardly letting her. More likely, she mused, he was unsure what to do about this all-hands girl who was suddenly groping the heck out of him. A girl he was supposed to hate. And with good reason, she knew only too well.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to—”
“—totally my fault.” Annie’s arms dropped to her sides, crumpled tissues clutched in her trembling fist. “Your shirt… It’s ruined.” In all the scenarios she’d played out in her mind, this was not how she’d imagined things going. For starters, she hadn’t planned on literally bumping into Went.
Raindrops rolled down her face and off the tip of her nose, but Annie didn’t move from where she stood, rooted to the sidewalk, mere inches from Went’s coffee-stained chest. And Went, wonder of wonders, didn’t step back either.

#

All of us--Alison, Katy, Erin, Elodie, and I--would like to thank all of you for taking part in Ready. Set. WRITE! this summer. I know, speaking for myself, that I've appreciated the accountability and encouragement you've provided. It means a lot! 

Wishing you all the best with your WiPs and your writing journeys!



August 24, 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! (Week 12)

Welcome to WEEK 12 of Ready. Set. WRITE! We hope you all had a productive week! For those of you who are just joining us and are wondering what RSW is all about, it’s a summer long writing intensive through which we write/revise/plan like crazy, cheer each other on, and hold each other accountable with weekly updates. We will be sharing our goals and giving updates on our progress on Mondays and keeping our posts as brief as possible so we can save our words for our WiPs! Sign up on the linky at one of the host blogs each week, and don't forget to hop around to encourage other RSW participants.

As part of Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015, AlisonKatyErinElodie, and I will be giving away writerly care packages throughout the summer. At the end of the summer, to celebrate making it through three months of RSW, we will be rewarding ourselves with what we we're calling “Manicures and Manuscripts.” (See below for more details about this!)




Before we go any further, we need to announce the winner of last week's Writer's Care Package:




MANUSCRIPTS & MANICURES (!!!):
The end of RSW is upon us, and for this final week we will be treating ourselves to manicures! (You've probably noticed us mentioning Manuscripts & Manicures in the intro to our posts all summer.) Since everyone has been working so hard this summer, we thought it would be nice if we rewarded ourselves with manicures. And even better, manicures that somehow reflect our WiPs! Here's how it's all going to go down if you'd like to join in:


   • pick a nail polish colour(s) or design that reminds you of your WiP in some way
   • snap a pic of your manicure for your wrap-up post on Monday, August 31st
   • if you'd like, you can include an excerpt from your WiP to go with the photo
   • and/or just include an explanation of how your manicure reflects your WiP
   • feel free to share your manuscript manicure pic on Twitter and/or Instagram

Simple as that! We hope you'll join in the fun!



Happy Writing/Revising/Planning!