What Might New Year Bring?

Oh boy, the last few hours before the New Year Holiday are tick-ticking by…then CABIN TIME! I have already determined to improve these items:

  1.  Science Fiction Writing. I shall finalize the 6th book of the Elise t’Hoot series, send it to the editor and thank those odd characters for the exhilarating journey. The series started out a little rocky, requiring a second edition of The Distant Trees (1st book) to fix errors. Even so, these books won top or high spots in contests with Tenembras garnering GREEN.Dig.BadgeWINa Kirkus Best of 2012 designation, hooray! I have a new story line in mind with some vignettes and character sketches done. On the Elise t’Hoot series, I had Create Space do the interior design, cover design, everything but the text. It cost me a bundle, more each time. The interiors were okay, but I never felt I got my money’s worth on the covers. Download 090915 078They used clip art and took no apparent effort to fulfill the advertised “Custom” part of the art. I could have done that much. Since I had a poorly resolved dispute with them on the fifth book Hate All Around (cover nothing like what I asked for), I’ll do my own interior and exterior design this new series. Maybe even for this last book of the t’Hoots, although I’d like them all to match. Book Baby has some good deals, so I might jump ship. I got interior and exterior templates from Joel Friedlander “The Book Designer”, licensed for multiple personal use, so I be eager to try them out. They’re 40%off!
  2. Contests. Hate All Around is submitted for the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; cross fingers. The so-far published t’Hoot series is entered into the Eric Hopper Awards, a big time contest. I should know one way or the other this Summer on both. Wish me luck!
  3. Brewing. I shall carbonate properly and not slack on sanitizing since I have recurring Cabin June 2015 085issues with muddy water. I may even get a filter (wow!). I have exclusively used hopped malt, but 2016 is the year to work up to Midwest Supplies’ next stage of brew boxes; you need to assemble more. Surely I can do.
  4. Mead. I discovered a fella that works here is part of a family bee farm. Even if the honey is a little more than my online sources, honey is heavy – no shipping. I got a book called Hooch for Christmas and there is an interesting recipe for mead in there, among other things. Still, the Alaska Bootlegger’s Manual is my go to reference (pun intended). It’s for my stories, I have homebrew and distilling throughout the series. What did you think?
  5. Sewing. I had not sewn more than curtains in decades before Ma arrived just over a year ago. Now I have scads of skirts and dresses for us, I can whip them out in no time. 2016 is the year of sewing challenges. Dresses and jackets with linings and special features. Coats. Cabin June 2015 077Costumes. Slipcovers. One challenge extant is my Janome is 30+ years old, the light won’t work and the presser foot won’t stay on. Santa failed to bring me a new, modern one – I need to rectify that.
  6. Picture Books. This year I wrote several kiddie books and made elaborate plans. I tried to find the right artist on Fiverr (5$ gigs!) and gave up. The ones that put vigor into their art charged many multiples of $5. This could be another case of how I can do as good as I can afford and save the money. I have lots of paint supplies and have devoured Northlight  art instructional videos. I believe I will give it a shot. When I got the interior and exterior templates up top, I also got templates for kiddie picture books. I gotta find out how to make days last longer.
  7. Up in the Air. I could register myself as a publisher and publish with my own imprint. That seems easy, yet it gives me the willies. Too ambitious for the time I have and skill level? I’d be running my own show and having my own imprint would be so cool! I could do podcasts, maybe reading my books, I bought a microphone. Or I could serialize my books on my blog or on Reddit. More practically, I could put gutter up at the cabin…now we’re really talking ambition.

What New Year goals fill your dreams?

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Ale-Repair Update, Cookies

After all that bluster last week about opening up bottles and attempting to carbonate that flat first batch of ale, I made no moves toward that task whatsoever last weekend. Why?

  •  Not enough time. The nerve of even writing that…I spend ample time staring into the ether, wondering about what I should Me puzzledreally be doing. It felt like I had a destination and purpose but had slid into a ditch on an icy day. (That happened last winter, had to shovel an hour to get enough traction to heave-ho.) As it got closer to supper time, I finally decided to make cookies. At least that would be welcomed by others and might even bring a few smiles.
  • The method was too iffy.  Lame excuse. If I under-carbonated it, I’m no worse than now. If it looks over carbonated, don’t bottle it yet, wait a day and see. If worst comes to worst, there’s nobody in the basement unless I go down there. An exploding dozen bottles would (probably) Cabin June 2015 095not send shrapnel as far as the litter boxes. Fermentation is not rocketry.
  • Live with your mistakes and learn.  Ah, the real reason. If I leave the house without my lunch, I deserve to go hungry or to subsist on microwave popcorn for the day. If I go out without a sweater on a cold day, I walk faster and warm up. If when loading groceries in the car I realize there’s no milk, too bad. No gravy, no cereal, no pudding in the coming week. The intent of this harsh discipline is to learn to do better. Generally, it works darned good as I do like to enjoy a real lunch, to be cozy warm and to stir up a good milk gravy for supper each week.

The problem with this disciplinary approach is that my nature is warring against my nurture. I have learned things that can be fixed with what I have on hand ought to be done. I like being experimental, to find out if something can be done well. Hence I was stuck in mental loops until cookie time.Oaty close

The snickerdoodles and oatmeal cookies with walnuts came out fabulous. Ma loves sweet stuff, so she got the snickerdoodles. I have the oaty gems right here at my side. Not all was lost!

Plus, there’s a nice long holiday weekend nigh. What I really want to do is make a nifty long overcoat with a wide, skirt-like bottom half. I have looked at the fake fur material online until the drool threatens to short out my keyboard…we’ll see. I do have a 20% off coupon and the fur is 50% off and the pattern is $1.99 and the lining is also 50% off. Today only. Like I could go by there tonight after work. This doesn’t look as if I’ll fool with ale, does it?

 

 

 

Ma’s Old-Fashioned Dress

Our church had an old-fashioned day last Sunday, when all were supposed to dress as they would have generations ago. Saturday I looked through our stuff and saw nothing really appropriate for her to wear. I had a few yards of Delft blue cotton with perched white birds all over it that I got 85% off a while back. I got a picture in my noggin of a design with a tie at the neck. Using one shirt pattern to size the top half and a different one to gauge the skirt part. I made the dress in a few hours. I knew the others would pull out bonnets like they did last year, but Ma does love to be different. What better for an old Ma Old Fash Laughcountry granny than a leather hat and boots? As luck would have it, the braid on the hat just about matched a braided belt I have of the perfect color.Ma Old Fash Dress Only

Most folks there had some degree of old-fashioned clothing, some pilgrim-looking ones and most men in overalls. Nobody like Ma’s. The preacher’s wife took Ma by the hand, escorted her up front and said, “I think Miss Nell is the prettiest old fashioned one here, don’t you?” Applause! Yea, Ma! The dress turned out beautiful, but it was that dress and accessories on her that was fabulous!

By the way, she’s not sneezing, she’s laughing like wild at the thought I’d post her picture. Ha!

Ah, Sew…

I have come to the conclusion I am a person driven by one compulsion after another. Brew season, I am obsessed with sanitizing more bottles and deciding how many Cabin June 2015 076buckets I can manage fermenting at one time. In the Spring, I am consumed by trying such and such fruit trees yet again or having another go at more flowery bushes. When I am writing, I write non-stop many hours at a whack.

Now I sew. I have spent way too much at Hancock’s (great bargains!) for 13A Plus 029material and patterns. My weekends are gobbled up with sewing up one garment after another. It doesn’t seem to matter we don’t need more clothes, I simply love making them!

Most patterns get used in an inspirational way, maybe make this shirt pattern into a dress 13A Plus 028with poofy long sleeves. Make this unlined simple jacket pattern into a lined and insulated long coat with cool toggles. You’d think I’d need fewer patterns if that’s what I used them for. Ha!

The only possible conclusion is that making something well is the way I judge my self-worth. When the books I labored over so arduously do not sell, I get anxious and crave another creational outlet Download 090915 016that might do better. I made three fruitcakes last weekend with supreme optimism that at least one will make a wonderful birthday cake and present for Ma who will be 85 the day after Thanksgiving – she adores fruitcake. I hope she likes the fact I’m slathering them with homemade apple wine periodically.

I also made Ma an electrical blue with silver sparkles tunic with matching skirt and me a poetically patterned dress and a black and white plaid pencil skirt with a matching cool, complicated jacket. I love the feeling (perhaps mistaken) that I’m gaining some degree of mastery in this endeavor. Did I mention the saddle-brown boot skirt just made that has the back zipper pull on the inside? I decided it wasn’t that big of a deal and left it that way…Cabin June 2015 054

Once I get my backlog sewing projects done, next is the acrylic art studio upstairs. Or perhaps I’ll be in that studio all this weekend…I have a marvelous idea and have made ten sketches already. That room is over the garage and not directly heated, so if I am going to paint, I’d better get a move on!

The Sewing Marathon!

 

I threaded up early and kept on until almost midnight Monday night. Take a gander at what I sewed up:

071415 058071415 048 071415 022 071415 019071415 028071415 017

This is all from one three-day weekend, in between making a devil’s food cake with fudge icing, a double rice pudding, routine meals and clean-up, laundry, yard work and enjoying music and movies. This was not ‘trying to see how much I could do’, it was rather, ‘let’s get this backlog of sewing out of the away’! Some backlog remains, but this weekend it dedicated to my book – it does not write and promote its own self.

 

071415 067Although there is one really lovely tropic print that yanks my attention every time I waltz by to the kitchen. It calls out, “Just some thread, a little elastic! Stitch me up! I’ll be fantastic!”