Monthly Archives: September 2022

Three Down and One to Go…

…quarters, that is. A couple of blog posts ago, I wrote about becoming a passionate planner. The system I use breaks the year down into four quarters, and it’s hard to believe we’re just about to move into the fourth and final quarter of the year. Where has the year gone?

Prior to discovering my inner planner, my writing schedule was a bit hit and miss. Basically it had become a ‘write when the spirit moves me‘ kind of deal, and to be brutally honest, the spirit didn’t move me that much at all!

Anyhoo, that’s all changed, and it’s time to start planning for quarter four. Moving into October means some of my quarter four planning will be geared up to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which takes place in November each year. NaNoWriMo challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel during the month. The aim is to let the words flow and get the bones of the story down so it can be edited and refined later.

To be clear for NaNo, I need to finish the first draft of book one of a new paranormal series by the end of September. Since book two is in first draft mode too, it means that October will largely be editing and revision, and hopefully even working on the third book of the series which is about thirty percent done. I also want to be planning my NaNo project ready to start on 1 November. Depending on how things go with the third book, I might even use the 50,000 NaNo words for this.

Before becoming a planner, I probably would have stressed out at the workload, but now I get to plan it all out using the system developed from working on the original course.

Easy, peasy (she says with her palms together, eyes up to heaven) or it should be if I stick to the plan, and manage to catch a following wind 🙂

Oh, and something else I’ve discovered while working this whole planning deal. Stickers! Oh, how I love them, especially ones with pretty colourful shapes and inspirational quotes. They make a great motivator to get the words done, or any other task you want to complete. Just award yourself a sticker when the task is complete and pop it in your planner/diary. It’s simple, but for me it’s working so I’ll take it.

So, here’s to Quarter 4… Bring it on!

Shepherds Pie

With fall looming I thought it was time for a recipe and this is now one of our favorites.

We bought Cosco’s Shepherds Pie and loved it. Their version is made with hamburger and Linda and I decided to try beef stew meat.  We didn’t look up a recipe and I realized as I did a little looking before writing this that there are a lot of recipes on the web. Just Google. 

Our version:  

Make any size you want. We made a 9×13 one. 

* Stew meat – we got stew meat that was cut in small pieces at Safeway. I’d never seen it like this but it cooked faster. 

* mashed potatoes – we used instant and they tasted great. We did mix grated cheese in them 

* can of beef broth

* can of mushroom soup

* pea’s & corn – we used frozen 

* carrots, we used baby carrots

* seasoning – Johnny’s Dock & garlic powder

Brown stew meat with flour (use enough flour so it will make a thick gravy). In a pan or bowl mix broth, soup, and vegetables. Stir in browned meat and season.  Put in a casserole dish (again we used the 9×13 size). Cook in 350° until meat is tender and the stew thick.  

Spread mashed potatoes over top as thick as you want and put back in oven until brown.  

In the Wee Hours

The mind and the brain can be a curious bedfellow at times, especially at night whether asleep and dreaming, or awake in the wee early hours trying your darnest to fall back to sleep. I’ve never been a great sleeper, the slightest unusual noise will wake me up, as will a sudden alteration in sound, which is why I dislike falling asleep listening to the radio or television or to audiobooks. As soon as a voice changes, the pitch or volume on music switches or the recording comes to an end, then bang – I’m wide awake. A solid 7-8 hour night’s sleep is a rarity; I get by on a broken 5 or six hours at most. I have no trouble going to sleep initially, it’s the staying there I struggle with. And if I do fall back into dreamland, I have the most peculiar dreams. I’ve always been like it.

But this has advantages, for it’s during this time I fix things. In my head. Like plot issues in my novel or have a marvellous idea for another book. Work out what my characters are going to do or say next. When I was doing the 9-5 life, I’d solve a dilemma or figure out a solution to problem in the office. In my head I’d rehearse what I need to say to someone. Finger out how to fix something broken. Decide on what we are going to eat for our Sunday lunch, even if it’s only Tuesday morning. I’m used to this and am sure I’m not the only one who experiences these things.

But lately, my mind has been working in an unexpected way. It seems for no reason I can fathom, I suddenly recall songs from my childhood, ones I’d forgotten about, surprising myself I can even remember the words. If it were pop songs of my teenage years, then I could perhaps understand it. I love music and that of the 60s and 70s especially, but these are songs often from further back.

Ones such as Cool Water “All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water. Cool water…” Old Shep “When I was a lad and Old Shep was a pup through the hilltops and meadows we’d stray…” “Carolina Moon …keep shining, shining on the one who waits for me…” Little Green Frog “There’s a little green frog, swimming in the water, a little green frog, doing what he oughta…” “Don’t You Worry …my little pet, don’t you worry now, don’t forget…” You get the jist. And I wonder how many of these you are singing right now. (Sorry)

These are just a few of them I hear, and many are the B side to records, ones rarely played, let alone remembered. Okay, so I know I grew up hearing these songs. With older siblings and parents who loved music, the radio or the gramophone playing, that is no small wonder. But why, I ask myself, should all these come flooding into my brain at 2 0’clock in the morning! Are they trying to tell me something?

I’ve tried thinking back to any incident or conversations recently that may have jogged open an old memory of them. Tried hard to recall hearing them on an advert on TV. Have I read any recent articles or books that might mention them or their singers? Nothing! So for the moment I have to content myself with “listening” to them, at least they are songs I like, and they in themselves are bringing back happy days memories of childhood and family. I just wonder what my brain will conjure up next to earworm me through the night.

Has anything like this happened to you?

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Is it fall yet?

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I write this as the Pacific Northwest survived another warm up. It wasn’t too bad, but it’s time for these 90 degree days to go away and we have smoke from fires in Eastern Washington and Northern Oregon that pushed … Continue reading

The End of an Era

Jillian here. This month, I’ll be truly sharing what many are discussing today over backyard fences all over the world. A true end of an era. 

For most of us, we have only been alive during the reign of one monarch in the United Kingdom. Some were alive before she took the throne, but would have been young people or children at the time she ascended. Yes, of course, I mean Queen Elizabeth II. 

Even though I’m an American through and through, I have a special love for our neighbors across the pond. My ancestry is both English and Scottish. My paternal grandfather’s side of the family comes from the clan MacDonald and my paternal grandmother’s side were Londoners from a very long time ago. Both sides came to the USA early on—late 1600s.  My fifth generation back great-grandfather enlisted in George Washington’s army when he was only 15 and almost froze to death at Valley Forge. My MacDonald relatives fled Scotland near the time of the Glencoe massacre so we’re definitely long term residents of the North American continent. 

That doesn’t take away from the fact that I love the United Kingdom. In fact, every time I visit, I feel like I’ve come home. It’s kind of weird how that feeling just comes over me from the minute I step off the plane. 

I don’t know that I’d call myself a monarchist, but I do enjoy reading about and studying the history of the various countries making up the UK. I have followed the lives of the current royal family since Lady Diana became engaged to Prince Charles. She and I were the same age and both had two sons so I felt an affinity for her. 

Queen Elizabeth was a woman to be looked up to. She worked hard in the time of WWII and made herself useful. From the time she took the throne—and even before that—she served her country tirelessly. Even up to the Tuesday before she passed away on Thursday. That’s admirable. Ninety-six years old and still working. Very impressive. 

I didn’t think she’d live long once she lost her husband. It’s a sad fact that many long term partners pass away in close proximity to each other. They become so dependent on each other, they seem to deteriorate faster once one is gone. She had been looking quite frail lately which was worrisome. 

I was saddened by a lot of ugly comments online about the queen’s passing. I get that some people do not admire her nor the institution she represented, but at the end of the day, she was a woman. A human being. A mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin, friend. Her family, no matter  rank or standing, has a huge loss to cope with just in their personal capacity, not even considering succession and all that entails. I wish the people making such unkind comments would take a moment and remember that.  Can you imagine having to grieve in such a public way? And subject to nasty comments? It would make it so much harder, I think. 

The end of the second Elizabethan era comes to an end and the beginning of the third Charles era begins. What do we call it? Charlesian? 

It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes to change over all the currency, beefeater uniforms, post boxes, etc. Not many of us would have been witness to those kind of mundane changes when Queen Elizabeth took over from her father. History. We’re living history right now. A front row seat, so to speak. 

The Renovation is DONE!

In April, we started demolition on our old, paneled family room, intent on freshening it up with new carpeting and sheet-rock. But first, while we had a wall open, we had a chance to update the last of the old plumbing. Now, I know renovations don’t always go according to schedule. I get that. But complications with the plumbing delayed the family room we’d moved everything out of for over a month. Which meant our contractor went on to another job and had to squeeze us in a day here and a day there. Sigh.

So we didn’t move back into the family room until August. Four months later. And you know what?

WORTH IT! We are loving the “new” room and even managed to keep some of the clutter down when putting things back. A win-win.

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