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Wednesday is now Shiny-Day

August 28, 2013

Recently, I’ve been thinking about what kind of blog posts I love most to read. I’ve always tried to write interesting things but there is a variety I feel like I’ve really never focused on before: product reviews.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am thrifty and hate spending money to experiment with products that I don’t know if I’ll like or not. Which is why I always search out reviews online. Makeup, clothes, cleaning products, books, you name it.

So from henceforth, Wednesdays will be known as Shinydays (this being a reference to that fact that a lot of things I love are shiny as well as the term “Shiny!” from Firefly.)

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As I am never consistent, I don’t think I will post every Shiny-day but when I do have something I want to share with you, I will post it here.

Today’s Shiny thing is e.l.f.’s Healthy Glow Bronzer

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I’ve always used blush but I had never tried a bronzer until a few months ago. I am still a little intimidated by the idea of putting something so dark on my skin as I am super pale. So for an everyday, fool-proof, sun-kissed glow I use e.l.f.’s Healthy Glow Bronzer in Warm Tan.

I put this on my cheeks, nose, chin and forehead just around the edges (draw a number three on each side of your face with the brush). It looks more like gold than what I think of as a bronzer. It is so sheer it would be really hard to put on too much. I load up my kabuki brush twice for my whole face. I love that it doesn’t make me look fake-tanned (my pale neck and chest would be a dead giveaway that I belong to the tribe of the pale people) and it goes well with every blush I have.

Super simple way to get a bit of extra glow and for $1 at Target, you might as well give it a shot. I use mine daily and it usually lasts about 3-4 months.

Stay Shiny!

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Hello Again

August 23, 2013
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So its been a few months since I’ve blogged. Nothing new really. I am terrible at being consistent. So here’s something awesome I want to share. I just got back from Austenland and it was fabulous! The best part about this movie is Jenniffer Coolidge and her many ad libbed lines. And for those who are not Austen fans, don’t worry. You don’t need to know anything about Austen or even like Austen to love this movie. It is a piece of awesome.

 

What is Fat? What is Thin?

April 27, 2013

I’ve been considering writing about this question for quite some time but today I had an interaction that worked like a catalyst, making it impossible for me to not write about this.

I complimented a woman larger than me on her adorable striped maxi dress and asked her where she got it as I have been looking for something similar. She informed me that it was from a plus sized store. I guess I must have looked sad because the next thing she said was “Oh sorry. I guess you’ll just have to be tall and thin instead.” The conversation ended there because we were leaving anyway but I felt like I had been stung. And the sting took me back as far as 6th grade.

Now, I do not know this woman. We both had had a long day at a conference which can make anyone cranky. And I genuinely loved her dress and thought she looked good in it. I could be reading way too much into this passing comment but I’m going to delve anyway.

I am constantly told by girls larger than me that I am “so” skinny. Girls smaller than me compliment my body by saying I am very proportionate or I dress well. Sometimes they completely ignore my width and bemoan how they wish they were tall. This is kind but what I think they know as well as I do that I could be thinner than I am and still be “proportionate.” And being tall can suck just as much as being short, just sayin’. They are simply different.

Now, let me give you some information to help this conversation. In my closet I currently wear pants and dresses that range from size 10-14 and tops anywhere from Medium to Extra Large. I am a 38DD, stand tall at 5’11”, have an hour-glass figure, wear size 11 shoes and weigh in at 192 pounds.

So am I fat?

This is a serious question. I only mention these things because when most people hear my pant size they say “But you’re so thin!” I keep hearing size 14 tossed around as the average woman in America today. And according to that “statistic,” America is fat. Therefore, by that definition, I am fat. I was told by my doctor that I should consider losing some weight because my BMI was too high and that was more than ten pounds ago. My body fat tested at 33% in January which is just above so-called “normal” ranges.

To friends and family reading this, I am not having a personal crisis so don’t buy me chocolates or email me articles from Beauty Redefined. I just want to have a discussion from my personal experiences and my complete frustration with how girls see themselves, including me.

Being as tall and as well-endowed as I am (not to mention my hormone imbalances), I am always going to be a “larger” size. I will never ever fit into a size 0 without a scary surgery, massive photo shopping or going through an intense period of starvation during the zombie apocalypse (you know it’s coming). My boobs will never shrink unless I discontinue the hormones I take to keep my body from causing me crippling pain. I constantly have trouble finding jeans, dresses and shirts that cover me because I am taller than average.

But am I fat?

For me, the answer is yes. And the answer is yes not because of what number or letter is on the tags of my clothing. And my answer is yes even though I get compliments on how gorgeous I am. It is because I know I would be the first to die in the Hunger Games. Seriously, I know you’ve seen this floating around:

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Now, there are those whose weight/size is skewed because of various reasons beyond anyone’s control (medication, drug use, hormonal changes, emotional problems, genetics, lifelong habits, a medical condition, etc.). Believe it or not, there are those who struggle to put on weight and keep the weight they have (my brother for example).

Not everyone’s situation is a simple matter of diet and exercise. But I have become very well acquainted with my body in the last 26 years, even more so the last two years and I know that for me, it is that simple. I look better now as a size 12 than I ever did in high school as a size 8 because I dress better (Thanks Stacy and Clinton!).

The fact is, I am perfectly happy with the size I am. I have a fantastic wardrobe and would hate to have to start over again because I got down to whatever size is “normal.” There is no universal normal. There is only normal for you.

I am more concerned with the abilities of my body as far as strength and stamina. I’d even be happy to go up a size or two if it meant I could do a pull up because …

I have never been able to do a pull up in my life. Not a single one. This year (after learning my fat percentage and weight recommendations from my doctor) I decided to take up yoga and body weight training to increase my muscle mass and overall fitness. After four months of work, I can do two pull ups with 100 lbs of my body weight, which is more than half way there. To me, this is incredible. I am that much closer to being able to scramble up that tree like Katniss and save myself from the less able climbers below.

I am on the journey to being Fit, not Fat. I don’t know that there is a specific finish line to cross that boldly separates Fat from Fit. Because really, there isn’t a number that is the opposite of Fat. Fit is the opposite of Fat. And Thin is just a shape, like Amazonian, Curvacious, Pear, Hourglass, etc.

I wrote this post more for me than for you dear reader. I still have days where I see a picture of myself and think I look fat (like last week). I still have anxiety and worries about how the world looks at me for various reasons. This is simply because I am human and I mingle with humans on a daily basis (Time Lords on the weekend only). I’m writing this because I recognize that this behavior is destructive to my happiness.

I leave you with the hope that this discussion will continue in your living room, cubicle and gym between the two of you who read this blog (you probably know each other by now). We are all too hard on ourselves a majority of the time when it comes to our looks. I have gained ten pounds since the beginning of this year but I feel better than I ever have, mentally and physically. Working towards Fit makes me happy, body and soul. If your happiness comes from a number, on the scale or in your pants, I hope you will reconsider just what you think happiness is. I think your abilities in every aspect of life will make you more happy than comparing your “number” to someone else’s. Thank you.

Lists are My Answer to Everything … and Also Some Stuff About Revision

March 22, 2013

I make lists. A lot. My entire life is full of lists. Almost every notebook I own has a To Do list of some sort partially crossed off.

Because of this habit, people think I am terribly organized and productive. And I probably am but not as productive as I’d like to be. I think it is healthy to always want to improve, work harder and work smarter. Hence, the obsession with lists. As someone smart once said, even the dullest pencil is sharper than the sharpest mind. Paper doesn’t forget but your brain does.

Just to give you an idea, here are the titles of some of the lists I have right now:

  • The Neverending To Do
  • Mermaid Novel Revisions
  • Exercise Routine
  • Cleaning Like Cinderella
  • To Do Today

All my lists are currently stored and organized on my phone using ToDoist, a fantabulous app that keeps you on track of all your many goals and due dates. I have a just one frustration with it; once an item is checked as Complete, it disappears with no trace that it ever existed and I think being able to measure progress is super important. I’m going to try out Evernote sometime in the next few weeks. I’ve heard great things.

Writing a list is my go-to whenever I am feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead of me, whether it is cleaning the house, organizing my time at work or, in my current case, revising my novel.

I didn’t really announce it on this blog but I finished the first draft of my Japanese mermaid novel at the beginning of February. I even started writing a blog post but halfway through I froze. I have never revised any of my novels. I have written them, printed a copy on CreateSpace and proudly displayed them on my shelf. I haven’t actually read any of them after finishing. Quite frankly I’m too scared. My current self is a much better writer than my old self and my old self wrote those books. Shocker.
So as per usual when I don’t know where to start, I researched a bit and made a list. And here it is for all to see!

  •  Answer open ended questions for all main characters (used Jennifer Nielsen’s Character Questions list):
    • Kin
    • Eri
    • Daichi
    • Tomoyo
  • Plot our all character arc(s) for main characters (used Dan Well’s 7 Point Plot Structure for this):
    • Kin – 3 arc
    • Eri – 1 arc
    • Daichi – 1 arc
    • Tomoyo – 1 arc
  • Brainstorm mermaid culture
    • Write a few scenes from Eri’s past to flesh out
    • Brainstorm and write scenes to better explain Magical Breath
    • Brainstorm other sea creatures and how they interact with mermaids, dragon king, etc.
  •   Choose either Japan or made-up fantasy world (chose to make it up)
    • Research more every day things (houses, food, clothing, etc.)
    • Name the world, gods, towns, people, etc.
    • Map the world, places in next book, etc.
  • Re-Outline
    • Re-read the first draft (gulp!) and take notes of …
      • things to explain better
      • missing scenes
      • what is/isn’t working
      • consistency errors
    • Write outline and sort into complete scenes
      • Make sure each scene has an arc and works to move the plot forward
      • Sort scenes into chapters and write one paragraph description of each chapter
    • Create a scene map (see Rachel Aaron’s blog)
    • Create a timeline (see Rachel Aaron’s blog)
    • Draw a map
    • And finally … create a problem To Do list (again, see Rachel Aaron’s blog)
  • Start the rewrite (double gulp!)

*** After talking to my writing group I totally realized I forgot to do character development and plot development for the “bad guy.” Oops … my list just got longer***So my question to you dear reader is this. Does this list seem daunting to you or inspiring? What do you make lists of? And do you have any advice for the first-time re-drafter? I love hearing from you (yes you).

What’s on the needles: another GAP-tastic cowl in grey-white new wool
What’s new on the iPhone: ZZ Ward over and over and over again. I cannot get enough of this girl’s voice!
What color are my nails: Sinful Colors “Matte Savage”

Scarf Swapping or A Funny Thing Happened in Line at the Book Signing

March 6, 2013

I knit. A lot. I usually knit a majority of my Christmas presents and can be found knitting at almost every writing event I attend. I love to knit at writing conferences especially because then I remember the event every time I wear said knitted item. I remember the things I learned, the cool author(s) I met and my yarn is infused with invisible threads of inspiration and good feelings all around. I can wrap myself up in inspiration. How cool is that?

Valentine’s weekend was my usual trip to LTUE (see my guest post about it here) and I started to knit The GAP-tastic Cowl. I couldn’t find the yarn I wanted in stores so I had to order it online. I was waiting for that yarn for two weeks before I got it (beautiful silver grey). I also had to buy new needles to knit it on (size 13 circulars, something I thought I would never need). I was stoked to finish it and wear it before the weather got too warm.

I no longer have said scarf. I swapped it with Tahereh Mafi for her very yellow scarf. I love to give away my knitting. Usually I don’t get anything back so this was a bonus! And I think both of us are very pleased <3
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I hadn’t even heard about the book signing until the day before. Not sure how that happened, as I’m usually the first to know. And I felt like such a fraud going to a book signing without having read any books by either author . Aware of them, yes but I haven’t gotten around to reading them. This happens all the time, as my To Read list is over 400 books now on Goodreads.com (I am now reading Shatter Me and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and both are fab!)

But it is such a wonderful experience to fall in love with an author as a person before reading their work. That way you don’t have any pre-conceived image of them as a person. And I’m not yet intimidated by them because I haven’t read their books (again, reading them now and I would be so very intimidated if I met them again because they are both such great writers!)

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Both Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs were completely charming and funny. At one point, Ransom asked me what I was knitting as I was sitting on the front row feverishly casting-off on my glorious scarf. I held it up for everyone to see which is a strange occurrence, even for me. And as I cast off the last stitch, I put my new scarf on so they both could see it in all its glory. Truth be told, anything you knit in the round looks better off the needles, trust me. Both were astounded that I had finished it before their very eyes. Really, it’s not that impressive one knitter to another but I enjoyed the spotlight anyway.

Tahereh loved it so I took it off and offered it to her. So she took off her scarf and gave it to me. Isn’t she the sweetest? We both get a new scarf, both infused with book lover energy. Enjoy it Tahereh. I have been enjoying your scarf very much. Speaking of which, I hope you don’t mind but I shortened it into an infinity scarf as well and made boot cuffs out of the left over yarn. Pictures to come <3 I’ve been known to buy sweaters at the local thrift store and tear them apart for the yarn so this doesn’t seem too sacrilegious to me

So I have decided this is my new thing. I will bring knitted items to book signings and offer them to authors, in hopes that they will remember me kindly when I get published (you know it’s gonna happen!). So far my knitting has been given to Libba Bray, Shannon Hale and now Tahereh Mafi. I wonder how widely I can distribute my knitted goods … I am going to need to knit more chunky items. They knit up quite a bit quicker :)

Guest Post for Breathing Fiction

February 23, 2013

My good friend Marisa Di Placido asked me to write a guest post for her about Life, the Universe and Everything, a local science fiction and fantasy convention I have been attending for years. I wasn’t sure exactly what to write but here is a snippet of what came out.

New Directions in Old Places

I’ve been going to LTUE (Life, the Universe and Everything) forever and this year I was not excited. Last year I vowed I would not attend again. I was critical and annoyed at the panels, many of which are repeated every year. I had heard it all before. Don’t write a love triangle. Write what you love, not what’s popular. Don’t stalk editors in the bathroom. What not to put in your query letter. Wait thirty days, ninety days, a year before you revise anything. Never give up.

… It is a truth universally acknowledged that whining drowns out sense.

Read the rest on her blog Breathing Fiction.

Paleo Banana Pancakes

February 19, 2013

Have you seen this e-card? It’s about to come true!pancake-eecard2

I was perusing Pinterest the other day and saw this recipe for paleo pancakes. Now, I am not on the paleo diet (I could never give up milk and bread products!) but I love regular pancakes with banana slices baked in. So I figured I’d give this a shot. I had to wait until I had a banana that was slightly brown as well. So behold! The recipe!
banana1 Two eggs and a banana. Look, they’re smiling at you. Super simple, right? I am skeptical but I persevere. After mushing things up for a bit I thought it was too runny (maybe I needed a bigger banana) so since I am not really on the paleo diet, I added about 2 tablespoons of flour, just to thicken it a bit. [Now that I have finished, I probably didn’t need the flour but it didn’t hurt either] Still a bit chunky but it’s never going to be perfectly smooth unless you put it through a food processor, which I don’t have.

Here are the pancakes cooking. I’m not sure if it was just me having trouble with the stove (I have yet to cook pancakes in this apartment), but the center of the pancake was still runny when the outsides were cooked perfectly. So they splashed a bit when I flipped them. Oh well. And my pan was a bit hot so the butter burned a little. They still turned out fine. And my batter made three pancakes exactly, which is perfect for the single cooking girl.
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The finished product! Complete with maple syrup and a dollop of butter, just like in the cartoons.banana4

Hesitant first bite: YUM! I ate the entire stack in about one minute flat. Given, I already liked banana slices in my regular pancakes so I was bound to like these. The texture is more like German Pancakes, not surprising with eggs as the main ingredientConclusion? I will always make pancakes this way from now on! Bananas all the way!