Saturday, September 29, 2007

Setting yourself up

I have a wonderful friend who does cake decorating. She did my wedding cake fourteen years ago and has done hundreds since. She recently related to me how she'd made a cake for her granddaughter's birthday. She'd decided to use butter cream frosting because it tastes so much better than shortening based frosting. However, it doesn't hold the decorative shapes as well as the trans-fat-laden-alternative so by the time she went to the party the frosting was blobby and drippy. She then spent the party trying not to be embarrassed and annoyed with herself--knowing that she should have used Crisco.

I don't decorate cakes, but there are so many other things in my life where I face this same thing. I hurry to get all the dishes in the dishwasher before I leave the house so that I'll have clean dishes when I get home, but getting it all done makes me late for my appointment. I--totally hypothetical here--agree to participate in a Book In A Month Challenge before reading the project I'll be working on. I haven't read it for a year and realize I need to cut 4,000 words. Not to mention that I have another book I'm editing for someone else, I am buying bookshelves that have to be put together, and between my own presentations and my kid's stuff I have 3 evenings in a two week period of time that I'm even home. I know I won't have time, but I commit anything. Sometimes it seems as if I have masochistic tendencies.

I could go on and on and on and on, but then we'd all wonder what was wrong with me.

The point is, why do we do it? Why do we set ourselves up for failure?

I think I figured it out. Because we have to fail. We simply CAN NOT do everything. My friend chose butter cream because it tastes better, she wanted a cake that tasted good. Shortening is beautiful but most people scrape it onto the plate. She had to choose between presentation and enjoyment of product. Who's to say she didn't make the right choice? If it were my cake--butter cream all the way.

Yes, I'm late for an appointment, but when I get home with half an hour to get dinner on the table, I'm sure glad the dishes got done (now, had I chosen not to spend 2 hours on the computer before I did the dishes. . . ) And as for the BIAM, well, I AM making progress that I don't think I'd be making if I didn't have a goal.

In my own life, I know that it is through my failures that I grow. It is through sin that I've come to understand the Atonement and through weaknesses that I've found the desire to do better. I still hate that I'm not perfect, hate that I can't do it all the way I see it in my head, but if I can look at life as a journey, at which I am slowly improving myself bit by bit, screw-up by screw-up, well, it's not so dang depressing.

And then I hear my friends butter cream vs. shortening story and remember that I'm not alone. We all set ourselves up in some way or another--so, what's your poison? And yes, I'm asking for purely selfish reasons.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bookshelves = Happiness

I have dreamed of bookshelves for many years. I have had little shelves here and there, but I wanted a library, a one-stop-shop for my bound and beautiful little friends. Last January (after not getting bookshelves from Santa AGAIN) I bought some shelves from Office Max. They are called 'mission' shelves, which means they aren't solid, but made up of strips of wood. But they were affordable for me so I bought them. I thought they would fit all the books that had been hiding in boxes for years and years. They didn't. I thought they would be taller, they weren't. I did not expect them to have a static charge that made them nearly impossible to dust--they did.

But they were bookshelves and they looked nice and I was happy. However, I am still a mere mortal so I wanted MORE. About four months ago I was as my mom's and she had an IKEA catalog. IKEA had just come to Salt Lake and I was rolling my eyes at the big deal everyone was making over it. It's furniture in a box, for heaven's sake, how good can it be? And yet, I honed in on some bookshelves and felt myself drooling. They were simple, yet tall, and almost affordable.

Since then I have plotted and planned and finally last Tuesday I made the trek to IKEA and bought my shelves! I also ate the meatballs--YUM. I got home and went to work, only to realize I had not calculated well, so I had to go back on Friday. My family nearly sold me on eBay for being such an obsessive freak as I put these together (You want dinner AGAIN--I did that last night!) and it took me days to get my study arranged the way I wanted it and figure out what to do with the furniture I already had. I put one set together with one backward, which meant I had to take it apart and they are far easier to put together than they are to take apart. I ended up making huge gouges in the wood and taking five years off my life, but a little sharpie marker made it all but disappear.

And now, I have my library! It fits all my books, scrapbooks, paper and knickknacks with room to spare! It even looks nice for now, without any toys or dust to mar it's loveliness. I love it, love it, love it, and my family loves me again.

I wonder what other people have done with their books? Are you still in the closet/box phase as I was last year? Have you already established one in your home? Or do you think it's a silly waste of time when there are so many shoes you could buy instead?


Thursday, September 20, 2007


Cre8buzz is a new social networking site geared toward adults, with no ads, and, the really unique part is that it 'ranks' you according to how many people are coming to see your page, how many comments you leave on other people's pages and how many freinds you have. Right now I'm #4 in the fiction community. They have a nice crisp look that, while it allows for some personality, it's over the top. I've been on it for a few days and it's a lot of fun. Many of the same people I read blogs from are on there as well.

Another big difference between it and other sites like My Space or Facebook, is that it's in Beta. That means they are still testing it out. Just anybody can't join up, however, if you happen to know someone already on there, they can invite you. Annette Lyon is the one that invited me, and I'm enjoying it. I'm sending this out to see if anyone else wants to be a part of it. If you do, send me your email address and I'll get an invite out to you.

If you want to know more about it, go to this article written by one of my new friends made at cre8buzz. It's kinda fun.

Also, my blog posted yesterday if anyone wants to take a peek.

And I've eaten about 8 sugar cookies so far today, in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Summer Reading Thing Recap

1. How many total books did you read? Were you surprised by that number?

I completely read a total of 9 books. Six from my list and 3 extras. I started two books on my list that I didn’t finish and have one I’m still working on. I was surprised in that I read so many. I have definitely fallen off my reading game the last few years and this was just the kick in the pants I needed.

2. How do you feel about what you read?

I feel good about it. I tried a few authors/books I had heard about and hadn’t taken the time to get to know. And, reading really helps me with my own writing, so that was a definite bonus I very much needed.

3. Which was your favorite book, and why?

Gosh—I don’t know. I loved Peace Like a River, it was probably my favorite overall. But I also loved the Twilight series and Harry Potter was awesome too. They had been ones I’d been excited to read for a long time, so it was that much more awesome to finally get them. But Peace Like a River was an unexpected surprise and I loved it.

4. Which was your least favorite, and why?

For those that I read completely, my least favorite was Metro Girl, cause it was crude and plot-hole-ridden. But I liked the James Patterson one even less, which is why I didn’t finish it.

5. What about your stretch book? Did you find that you enjoyed it after all? Are you planning to read more of that genre/author?

My original stretch book was Einstein’s biography, but it was much more of a muscle pull than a stretch so I dropped it and made “Simplify” my stretch. I don’t really like non-fiction, especially guilt-non-fiction, but I really liked this one and it reminds me not to be too judgmental, but to try books that I can implement in my life.

6. Did you read as many books as you intended to? Or more? How do you feel about that?

More, and it feels great! I’ve missed reading and didn’t realize how much. I have one book, Peace, happiness and Joy that I’m still working on, and I wish I’d finished it in time, but I didn’t. I like that I’m not going to be sent to the principal’s office over it ☺

7. Did you discover a new author that you're excited about?

Yes, Stephanie Meyer. I can’t wait for the next installments, and I’ll be looking for Michele Holmes and Leif Enger’s next ones as well.

8. What did you learn about yourself through this reading experience?

That I DO have time, and that I need to find it. It is a worthy use of my time and I’m a better, more well rounded person, when I am reading. I’ve missed a lot of great books and don’t want to miss anymore.

9. Was this fun? Do you want to continue (if so, sign up for Katrina's Fall Into Reading challenge.)

Super fun—I’m already working on my book list. One thing I’m doing differently, is finding out which ones I have and which ones I can get from my library, I ran into problems with this because I don’t have a great selection at my local library and book stores are not easy to access. I plan to start with ones I need to check out and get them reserved, instead of having to look for them week after week.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Middle Name Meme

Annette tagged me for the middle name meme, so here we go. My middle name is Snow. Because most y’all are Mormons, you probably already assume it’s because I’m related to the famous Snows of Church History lore (Erastus Snow to be exact. His cousins, Lorenzo and Eliza are more commonly known). I once fantasized that my parents chose Snow because they were wigged out hippies determined to raise me with a love of all things free and natural. Not so. My mom was a Snow and all but 3 of my siblings have Snow as their middle name. No creativity at all.

S—It’s a really bad sign when the very first letter stumps me. Sweet (Julie, stop laughing!) Snotty (someone please start laughing?) Sarcastic—ah, that’s it. Sarcastic works.

N—Nerdy. But not in the cool “Let’s ask Josi, she’ll know” kind of way, more in the “Did you see what she was wearing?” kind of way. I’ve never been the cool kid, the one that got asked to the dance, or even the teacher every kid wanted to have in Sunday school. I tell jokes people don’t understand, say things I shouldn’t, laugh when its not funny, and get things stuck in my teeth. I think I’ve had less than 2 dozen days in my whole life where I felt like I was wearing the right thing. Oh well, me and the guy I’m sleeping with don’t mind too much and my kids don’t know the difference since I’m the only mother they’ve ever had. What do I care what other people think? If only I were nerdy enough that not caring was an option.

O—Overwhelmed. There is so much in life to do, to learn, to write, to read, to accomplish, to discover, to experience, and to watch. I have not yet learned to take things slow, do one thing at a time, and so I spend most of my life completely overwhelmed. I often tell my husband I’ve run out of room in my brain, I can’t hold anything else. And then I see a flier for Jazzercise and I’m juggling my calendar again.

W—W? What can I do that starts with W? Wonderful is out. So it Wholesome. Weird works, but honestly—have you met my friends? They have the corner market on Weird ☺. I’d like to use Wise, but I had a friend in high-school that was struck by lightening and he said it really hurt. Hmmmm. Whiney might be the best I can do. I love to whine, I’m actually trying to make it a nationally recognized sport. I’m going for the gold.

I’m tagging Ajoy (since she’s forgiven me for being negative toward her friend Stephanie Meyers) and Carole Thayne Warburton, my paradisiacaly glorious friend who has greatly blessed my life.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What is wealth?

I think it's an accepted truth that most of us live better than our parents did at our age--at least in terms of temporal things. I'm sure our parents look at us and shake their heads at how good we have it. Even the poorest among us are wealthy in many ways.

My parents were master budgeters when I was growing up. We had nine kids and my mom stayed home, meaning that she also managed to sustain a family of 11 on a school teacher's salary. We had a big garden, didn't get a lot of new clothes, and had oatmeal for breakfast--except on the weekends and at Christmas. On Sunday, we'd get COLD CEREAL (and yes, I capitalized it on purpose). It was either rice puffs, corn flakes, or rice crispies--nothing fancy, but at least it wasn't oatmeal. My brother once had six bowls on Sunday, wiping out the entire bag and having to live in fear of his life should he ever do that again. Cold cereal was a treat, and we all knew it. And then there was Christmas.

Every year, beneath our stockings we would each get a box of SUGAR CEREAL (Please note the capitalization). The good stuff, like Lucky Charms, or Cocoa Puffs, maybe even Trix. When I was little I once ate the whole box in one day, then pouted for the next week as my older sisters carefully used their's as slowly as possible. Every one of us kids looked forward to this on Christmas, it was a big deal that made the best day of the year even better.

When I moved into my own apartment right after high-school graduation I went out and bought six boxes of sugar cereal. I felt like the Queen of England--however, by the time those boxes were empty, I'd realized that I couldn't afford such indulgences. Instead, I lived off of bulk spaghetti, Raman and the Malt-o-meal bags of honey nut cheerios--an unfulfilling substitution for Captain Crunch, but, well, I was poor. My lack of sugar cereal made that an impossible truth to ignore.

So then I got married, and with both my husband and I working (and having no mortgage, yard care, children, life insurance, gym memberships, etc) we could afford sugar cereal. The high life indeed. I had two bowls a day for about a year, until they all started tasting the same, then my obsession tapered off. However, to this day when I open my pantry and see sugar cereal in there, I feel rich. I'm reminded that whatever my hubby and I are doing, it's working out pretty good because I can smile at the Toucan and wink at Lucky any time I want to (although now I don't buy them very often because my kids don't need the sugar--but that's another blog)

Another sign of wealth and prosperity in my mind are batteries. When I was dating my husband I went to his grandfather's house. My Walkman had run out of batteries and his grandpa pulled out a huge basket full of every size battery imaginable. There must have been $40 worth of batteries in there, and he said I could take as many as I needed. I was tempted to take them all, it was like a year supply! However, I also wanted these people to like me, so I didn't. But a few months ago I was at Sam's Club and they had these mondo packages of batteries. They weren't cheap, but way less than if I bought the same amount in the little four packs. So I indulged and bought a package of each kind--AA, AAA, C, D and 9V. I came home feeling on top of the world as I dumped them in a drawer. Every time I open that drawer I just smile and feel as if I've arrived.

And of course I have my family, which is really wealth beyond measure, but in addition to that lucre, the little details really make me feel as if I've accomplished something, and I love it. It doesn't mean that I don't get late fees on my other bills sometimes, or that we don't eat a lot of casseroles by the end of the month, but I take heart in my cereal and battery supply. So, I'm hoping I'm not the only one that has this--little milestones that make you smile and feel as if you've 'made it' even if you still stress over the mortgage and have to choose one kid a month that can get new shoes. What are those things for you?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

BIAM Day 2

So, I'm on day two and I'm supposed to hit 2,000 words by midnight. I'm only 1,836 words away from my goal! Go me!

"I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift"
Ecclesiastes 9:11

Monday, September 10, 2007

BIAM Challenge

Several years ago my husband and I did shelter care, which is temporary foster care while the courts try and make decisions in regard for the children. It was fun, very hard, and most of our neighbors at the time could not understand why we were doing it. We were living in our first home, we had two little kids, and yet we'd take these other children in and make about $20 a day to do it. Why? The answer I gave, and truly the motivation for our doing it, was because we'd been so blessed and felt we needed to create our own challenges before someone else does. That sounds masochistic or overly romantic--I'm not sure which--and we ended up only doing it for about five months before I became pregnant and we were unable to continue, but we learned a lot--all because we felt the need to create a challenge.

And here I am, accepting Tristi's Book In a Month Challenge, and creating another challenge in my life. Quite frankly, I'm scared. I hate failing, and I've tried this before and within a week gave it up, and yet I'm here again, only this time I think it's possible for me to make it work. For one thing, the book is more than halfway done, I'm not creating a book from scratch. For another thing, I NEED to finish it, and for one final thing--what's life if not completely overwhelming? If I'm not crying my eyes out once a month because I'm overloaded, I'm crying my eyes out because I'm being stagnant. Okay, those are both exaggerations--I'm not a crier--but I think you get the point. Life is hard, writing is hard, deadlines are hard, so what? Do it anyway (we'll see how I feel if I really do end up in tears and give it up)

Anyway, it begins today and I'm excited. I just have to get my house caught up and stop this infernal blogging so I can get my 1,000 written today.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Summer Reading Thing 2007: Twilight~spoilers

I bought this book a month ago, and my 13 year old hijacked it, read it in two days, and sent me to the store for New Moon. I then took Twilight on vacation to read--and my sister hijacked it. She then lent it to my mother, who then lent it to another sister (Big families suck sometimes), who returned it to my mom and by that time my mom thought it was hers. No worries, I wrestled it away from her thieving fingers last week, and I finally read it.

Jeff Savage posted about the morality dilemma that many people are debating about this book, if you want to read it, and some great comments, go here. I'm not going to debate the morality, mostly because I didn't have a problem with it. Yes, they spent the night together--BUT they did not have sex, they didn't even really make-out. And, the hero is a vampire that's trying to keep himself from killing her, so not only did they not have sex but he didn't kill her either--that's good stuff. To me, the story was fantastic (as in fantasy) enough that I did not feel it handed out any 'go to hell' cards. As I said before, my 13 year old read it before I did, then I heard the debates and I worried about what she'd been exposed to. But I've now read Twilight and New Moon, and it's just not an issue for me. They did not have sex. I don't think a teenager is going to read it and then think it's okay to do what Bella and Edward do--but they still did not have sex. Watch just one MTV video, or a shoe commercial for that matter and ask yourself if sex was on the agenda--I bet it was. In my opinion, the fact that there is a moral compass, the fact that such restraint is showed is a good thing. And the fact that it's a fantastic story (again, as in fantasy driven) I'm cool with it. I also told my daughter that if a vampire showed up in her room she was to tell me and not let him stay. She agreed that would be an appropriate response. We might need to come up with a signal.

So outside of liking the non-sex that took place, what did I think of the book? I liked it. Now, I have some complaints (of course, anyone that's ever had a conversation with me about any book I've read knows I always have complaints) and for me the problem with the book was that the story was boring. The precept was great, the hook was powerful, the writing was fabulous, the characterization wonderful, and the building climax was intense--but that whole 150 pages in the middle--yawn. I liked learning about the vampire stuff, and that nearly fooled me into thinking there was a plot, but then I'd read 18 pages of pure telling dialogue and realize that nothing was happening. The best books have good internal and external conflict that leads to ACTION, and there was tons of opportunity for action, it just didn't happen much. And yet, because of all the good stuff I liked, I read it anyway and, as I said, I liked it.

I picked up New Moon yesterday and finished it today. I liked it better than Twilight because stuff happened all the way through. As soon as my house recovers from my neglect, I'll read Eclipse as well.

And, I only have one book left on my summer reading thing 2007--Peace Like a River, which I can't seem to find anywhere in my two bookstore town. Annoying. But I am hunting it down tomorrow so I can finish my list.

I'd love to know what anyone else thinks of the series, and don't worry about spoilers for Eclipse. I basically know what happens, and I'll read it anyway. Also, according to Meyer's website there will be a book four, and a fifth book in the series that deals with some already written scenes from Edward's point of view--very cool idea.