Monday, July 25, 2011

Play Dough Is a Writing Mommas Friend

It’s so very tempting to sit my kids down in front of the television for a movie or to let them play the afternoon away with the Wii, just so I can have a little time for me. Usually, I’m wanting to plot away on my newest writing venture. Sometimes, I just want a little time off  the “mom on the constant go” roller coaster. But, at the same time, I don’t want my kids brains fried from too much television or video games. I want them to know how to entertain themselves and let their imaginations soar at the same time.

I have a box of 24 colors of play dough sitting on our kitchen table. It was a family Christmas gift this last year. I believe it was a 5 dollar after Thanksgiving special I scored early on Black Friday.  And all I can say is it is proving to be as good of a deal as the 5 dollar waffle maker I bought at another Black Friday deal 12 years ago.

One day they started making these creations. I need to point out that Barbie is very popular with the 4 year old and her older sisters play along graciously, most days. I think on this particular day they were looking for a way to kick it up a notch or two.

IMG_1979[1]      IMG_1995[1]

IMG_2058[1]  IMG_1994[1]

They are very fashion savvy.

Next came the sculpting, which you do a lot of with play dough. But they took it a step further and created a story around their scene.

IMG_2014[1]    IMG_2013[1]

They happily told me a story to go along with each creation. Very nice, no brain frying here.

Then as I was bragging to WB about how creative and wonderful our children were he made a suggestion, Claymation. What? I asked. You know let them make movies. Oh yeah, right, Claymation. Why didn’t I think of that? Sweet WB set up the camera on a tripod by our arts and crafts table and the fun began. I need to note here that when WB was home he poured himself into this project. I happily retired to my bedroom, plopped myself down in front of my big window and wrote away.

This is what they have been creating:

Soph’s movie


Em’s video


Little One’s Worm

I love it! They are having a blast, I am a happy momma doing my thing and no brains are being fried! Play Dough is a writers friend.

How do you keep your kids entertained this summer so you can have some time to do your thing? I’ve got pencil in hand and will be taking notes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writing Your Love Story

I’m in the business of writing love stories. I’m also an avid reader of them as well. But I’ve come to realize the love story I enjoy writing the most is my own personal one.

Sometimes, as a writer, I struggle with plots and characters. I get bogged down in the conflict and story arch. All the technical stuff weighs heavily on my fingers as I try to type out the perfect story, the one everyone is dying to read. Struggling with the fact that my writing techniques are far from flawless, I get frustrated and worn down. There are times I have wanted to quit. Times I have walked away from the story. Put it on the shelf to come back to later. I tell myself I’m neglecting too many other things in my life to sit at the computer and write. Sadly, this can be said of my love story with my husband as well.

In my marriage, at times, I have gotten worn down. I have become tired of the constant effort it takes to have a successful union with my husband. I have kids to take care of, dogs to look after, household chores and errands to run. I have put my marriage on the shelf, too busy tending to other things. I’m a busy momma, who can argue with that?

Then there have been times when I have given it everything I thought I had, only to find failure. My husband failed me, I failed myself, or life failed us in some significant way. Failure and quitting, they go hand in hand, right?


Every successful writer talks of the roadblocks and rejection letters that were flung out before them. But they also talk about how the passion for their writing endured. The failures led to more passion, more focus on how to better their writing.  Failures, yes. Quitting, no. This, too, can be said of marriage.

At some point I realized that the failures in my marriage were actually an opportunity.  An opportunity to learn and grow. Sometimes the learning process took much longer than I would have liked. At times the failure had to be repeated several times before my husband and I “got it”. But “got it” we did and the passion was reignited.  Passion for one another and our marriage. 

I’ve learned that many things can be neglected. Laundry, dishes, grocery shopping are just a few on my list. But what can’t be neglected is my love story. Each day is a chance for me to write a new chapter, make each word count. And all you writers know, we count each word dearly!

I’ve been asked by some to share about my marriage. I’m humbled by that request and hope to blog about it once a week, along with my writing and my crazy family life. It’s all part of the story, my love story that is.

What is your biggest obstacle when writing your love story?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Party Food


First, I have to apologize because I was so busy cooking and
WB was so busy entertaining that I don’t have very many pictures of the food. But, I do have the recipes for those who want to try them out.

The menu for my MIL’s 70th birthday party fell together after we had decided on the flowers and the casual/classy spin we were trying to take on things. Okay that, and the fact it is Texas and July so of course we had to do some sort of spicy meat thing. Let me share a couple of my entertaining secrets. First, look for dishes you can prep or mostly prepare ahead of time. This way you aren’t going crazy in the kitchen as your guests are arriving. Or find dishes that people can help you with. Another secret, I have my family favorite dishes I like to prepare and I have my “go to” cookbooks for entertaining. Two of my favorites are Ree Drummond /The Pioneer Woman’s Cookbook and Rebecca Rather’s Cookbooks.  Both are amazing cooks and both know how to entertain.

The menu for the party was Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork from the Pioneer Woman. It is so very simple to make. Just take a pork shoulder and salt and pepper it. Put it in a Dutch oven. Dump 2 cans Dr.Pepper, 1 can chipotle peppers with adobe sauce, one whole onion wedged and a couple tablespoons brown sugar in with the meat. Put it in the oven at 300 degrees and cook a 6-8 lb. roast for about 6 hours. I love this because anyone can make this, but everyone who tastes it thinks your amazing.

I served Jalapeno-Cilantro slaw with it, just like Ree suggested. You heap the pork and the slaw onto a toasted bun and you have a divine sandwich. I felt the need to explain to my guests just how to put their sandwiches together. They are family,  they are forced to love me and my instructions on eating.

Next up was the One Pot Cajun Potato Salad from Rebecca Rather’s Pastry Queen Party Cookbook. This, too, was super easy. Take a 1 lb. of red potatoes, cut in half if they are larger then a golf ball. Put in a pot of water and bring to a boil until tender. Drain. Add 3/4 cup butter, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir. Add 1/4 cup parsley leaves as garnish.

And it wouldn’t be a southern summer gathering if mason jars weren’t involved. Okay, it might be a southern gathering, but it wouldn’t be as much fun. The Layered Salad in a Jar was my favorites to make. This salad would be perfect for picnics and days at the beach. This also comes from Rebecca Rather.IMG_9586

First, you need pint size mason jars. You fill the first layer with cooked orzo and a little of the dressing.


Next, you layer with a cucumber, green onion, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and cherry tomatoes. The next layer is a mixture of feta cheese and oregano. On top of that add either baby spinach, arugula or a mix of baby greens. Last, sprinkle some toasted pine nuts on top. Drizzle with some of the dressing and screw on the lid.

The dressing is made by mixing 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey, 2/3 cup olive oil, salt and pepper and 1 cup feta cheese.

These can be stored in the fridge for up to 6 hours before and when the guests pick them up all they have to do is shake and eat.

My mom and sister made a fruit salad served in a watermelon basket and we had homemade Pico de Gallo and chips, along with some yummy Sangria. The sangria was a mix of Pioneer Woman’s and my Dad’s additions (specifically, more alcohol).

It was just a wonderful weekend of eating, visiting, and having a good time together. I love weekends like that.

Do you have a recipe you like to make when you have a crowd? I’d love to hear it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Celebrating A Special Birthday

A couple of weekend ago we had the honor of celebrating WB’s mothers 70th birthday in our new home. All of her sons and their families came in for the celebration, along with a surprise visit from her little brother. We had a wonderful time gathering together as a family. My parents and sister’s family were here as well. I love having people in my home, and I love it even more when I have my entire family under one roof. It just makes me smile and fills my heart with joy.


My mom came over to help me with the flower arrangements. I dream up these ideas and my mom makes them reality. I’ve had very few parties in which my mother was not there working like a crazy woman trying to help me put it all together. My dad is there too, we usually give him the kids to entertain. Couldn’t do it without them. Notice I am wearing white, yellow, and blue. That is important, there will be a quiz later. Okay, not really. NO quizzes today, it’s summer.


My mother-in-laws favorite flowers are carnations and sunflowers, which were fun to work with. I love putting together parties. Sometimes the theme comes from a favorite color, or place. This time the party ideas started with the flowers. I pictured casual fun, but classy too. Really, this describes my MIL perfectly, so it worked. I also pictured bright yellow and dark blue. Which lead me to forcing my parents, my husband and myself to drink lots of wine in blue bottles for weeks before the party.  I needed them for my sunflowers and they indulged, just for me of course.IMG_9584

The flower arrangement on the left came from my MIL’s bank up in Amarillo. I think it’s pretty wonderful costumer service to have your bank remember you and track down where your party is so they can send you flowers. The spirit of the panhandle is alive and well, and I miss it.


The birthday girl, doesn’t look a day over 59 does she?

We had a wonderful time canoeing, playing washers (WB’s dad brought this fun game) , and visiting. It was a wonderful weekend of good times.

IMG_9550The birthday girl and her first canoe ride with WB and Little One.


My beautiful sister-in-law and niece.IMG_9700My other beautiful sister-in-law and her daughter and little one.


Gator sighting. Everyone was waiting. Our little gator made an appearance, but our big momma gator waited until the day after everyone left to show up. Figures, she’s shy.


The whole crew!

In the next post I will tell you about the food. Food is always very important around here. I’ll post the recipes some have asked for too.