Saturday, December 31, 2011

Turning the Page

New Year's Eve feels like the turn of a new page in an open book. I know, from my faith, that the pages have already been written by the Author of life, but I haven't seen them yet. It's like they are in invisible ink and will only appear as life enfolds, as I turn the page.

New Year's Eve invites me to look back on the story so far, and look forward to the adventures to come, knowing with confidence that the end of the book is a happy one, even if there are trials on the way.

One way that I look forward is to create goals . . . you know, New Year resolutions.

For 2012, I have some goals to improve my blog.

1. Keep my posts shorter - hovering around 250 words. (splurging maybe to 500 once in a while)

2. Post pictures or video with every post.

3. Keep a steady schedule. Unless a blogfest beckons, I will post M, W, F.

4. Pre-write my posts. No more seat-of-pants rambling.

5. Get to each of these themes once a month:

Poetry/Humming like Pooh
Social Causes/Needs
Movie/Book/Storytelling Reviews
Interview/author highlight/guest post
Blog/website highlight day
Random Day (only once a month)

6. Visit more blogs, and encourage fellow bloggers.

Do you have any goals this year? Feel ready for 2012?
Have a metaphor for New Year's Eve?

Happy New Year!!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gingerbread 2011 Gummi Bear Treehouse

My kids had a dream of multiple Gingerbread treehouses with walkways of fruit leather, and a zipline of floss and gingerbread. As you can see, we didn't quite get to that level, but we did have a lot of fun.

We have one main treehouse, with two tree platforms - one for cooking gummi worms over a firepit, and one for eating gummi worms.

In the background, the gummi bears are on the forest floor hunting for wild gummi worms with toothpick spears.

My kids ideas . . . really.

Laughter greeted this gingerbread scene when family members viewed, and I hope it gives you that same kind of joy.

I know that fantasy action adventure isn't quite what you might expect out of gingerbread, but in my household, it isn't that surprising.

Now, if I could just get my kids to be Star Wars fans . . . we could try a Milleium Falcon gingerbread scene . . . but so far, they aren't taken with that idea.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Traditions - Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread Houses of Years Past:
2006 and 2007 Gingerbread House and the Big Bad Wolf - one side folded in on us in transport from our house to the "contest" site. I know we have pictures somewhere, but I'll let you imagine what it looked like.

2008 Gingerbread Castle (we won an award for this one)

The "part" that made this one a winner isn't visible from this picture - we made indented lines to make it look like the castle was made of bricks and stones. We also had fun with the candy moat, the well with blue frosting water, and the candy stone paving inside the castle. It took 12 hours to make this particular castle, and my husband was the master chef/engineer.

2009 Gingerbread Village

Faster, easier, and still satisfying. Only 6 hours of preparation, baking, setting up and decorating.

2010 The Dawn Treader . . .our most ambitious project ever. We did get the Dragon-head mast cookie piece attached for a few minutes - but I can't seem to find the picture. And I think by that time the mast had broken off. At one point we just filled the deck with decorated gingerbread people, and then started eating.

We spent at least 12 hours on this thing, and our hopes were dashed repeatedly as one part or another fell apart. We decided not to make a boat again . . . ever.

Gingerbread 2011 Plan - Gingerbread Treehouse Village - three Gingerbread tree-houses, a zipline, and a swaying bridge. Note: this is the plan. Measurements, diagrams, and template patterns have been made. Dough is being rolled, cut and baked. Ideas for a dental string zipline, and a swaying bridge of fruit leather are planned.

Will it work? Will it stand up?
Will we actually get it together before Christmas?

I'll keep you posted, and I'll even take pictures - even if it's a disaster that just gets eaten up.

Note: All our gingerbread houses are homemade, gluten-free, corn-free, and rice-free. Part of the challenge is making it all work with interesting ingredients.

Do you have any ambitious cooking plans for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oooh. I just can't wait! Can I open my presents now?

Ever had that feeling . . . as if anticipation is just coursing through your veins and making you jump up out of your seat?

The Christmas decorations are up. Christmas carols are in the air. Presents surround the tree.

Every morning, mid-day, and evening, my kids inform me of how many days are left until Christmas, and they say - "oooh, I just can't wait! Can I open my presents now?"

I know how they feel. Except I feel that way about more than just Christmas.

I want to open presents, and see them opened.

I want to go skiing (soon, very soon - despite my foot issues).

I really want to go see a number of movies - and that will have to wait. Sherlock Holmes looks so good. So do a number of other movies that are already out.

Then my oldest daughter and I are eagerly anticipating The Hunger Games, and I've read that Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is being made into a movie with the possible release date in March 2013 - and I love that book.

Of course, there is a flip side to all of these highly anticipated events:

Sometimes they don't turn out the way we expect. Sometimes that's good, and sometimes it's challenging.

I love Christmas beyond presents, so there is no challenge there.

My foot and I are still having an argument over skiing - I want to go, but my foot doesn't like walking so skiing might be really hard. (or maybe the hard ski boot will make it easier?)

Movies, especially the ones made from books that I love, sometimes challenge my vision of the characters and their landscape.

However, that is part of the excitement of unwrapping any moment.
We don't know exactly what is inside the shiny paper.

It's kind of like a life of faith. We know the Lord is good. We know He loves us.
We don't know every plan He has for us.
Some may challenge our plans/vision/imagination.
Some may be joy complete.
Living a life of faith is like opening a shiny wrapped up gift of new life every day.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tis the Season for Life

Merry Christmas everyone!

I have been out of the loop in blogland for two reasons:

1. The Advent-Christmas season of life is full.

2. My laptop has been seriously ill.

I am so thankful for friends, family, awesome kids at church, the Christmas pageant last Sunday that I wrote, directed, and then fell over from afterwards . . .

The coming week promises three family gatherings, caroling, gingerbread house making (we have the schematics ready to go for three gingerbread tree house platforms fit for gummy bears), the last of the Christmas shopping (just a few more things).

Life is full and merry. Anticipation is in the air, and preparations not just for Christmas day but for 12 Days of Christmas are in the making in our household. The full 12 days won't be as amazing as the first one - Christmas Day -but we want to remember the birth of our Savior beyond the wrapping paper day.

In the midst of our preparations, and at the end of NaNo, my laptop gave me the whiteout screen of illness many times, and then it started shutting off on it's own . . .you know, it was tired and had to take a nap - NOW, and I was left hovering over it in frantic worry that it would not come back to life under my many ministrations.

My husband told me it was time . . . time to give up my laptop for 48 hours so he could save everything on it, then wipe out everything and start it up again. New programs are installing as I write this on my husband's computer, and I have full hope that my laptop will be revived fully in a matter of hours.

So, I am hoping to go caroling/visiting in blogland again soon.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cleaning the Closets, Finding old Presents

Have you ever cleaned out your closets just before Christmas, searching for that missing box of ornaments and found, much to your chagrin . . . a forgotten present?

One that was meant to be given last year?

I have. Last year I thought I found them all, but somehow I created two new missing presents that just surfaced today . . .


Other than giving everyone too much information about the state of my closets, I would like to think that this is a providential analogy "aha" moment from the Lord.

Has He given us gifts we haven't opened yet? Or do we have a "gift" like encouragement that we've forgotten that needs to be shared with someone else?

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Clause

"The Santa Clause: In putting on this suit and entering the sleigh, the wearer waives any and all rights to any previous identity, real or implied, and fully accepts the duties and responsibilities of Santa Claus, in perpetuity until such time that the wearer becomes unable to do so, by either accident or design."

The Christmas Clause: In putting on a santa hat or a nativity play costume, and entering into any public place, the wearer waives any and all rights to any previous identity, real or implied, and fully accepts the duty and responsibility to be merry and know the joy of Christmas, in perpetuity until such time that the wearer becomes unable to do so, by either accident or design. The wearer gives up any semblance of normal life, and becomes whole-heartedly into the Advent and Christmas season.

Have you put on a santa hat yet? Or a suit? or a nativity play costume?

I have.

And the Christmas season is fully upon our household, from nativity ballets and nativity pageants, to homeschool co-op festivities, and decorations and wrapping paper scattered throughout our house. Christmas cookies have been baked and baked again. We hosted a rehearsal for our church's Christmas pageant rehearsal complete with costumes and cider.

And yet, in my heart it is still advent too. I am waiting with hope, peace, and joy for the day when we can fully celebrate the birth of our Savior, the day when Christmas really begins. I've entered into the Christmas Clause, with an Advent attitude.

What about you, have you signed the Christmas Clause this year?

By the way, if you haven't seen it, check out Santa Clause with Tim Allen. I highly recommend an unedited version that's not cut for commercial breaks - there are some humorous gems that you don't want to miss.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Late Insecure Writers post + Shakespeare Sonnet Winner! + Random Awesomeness

"I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date! No time to say hello, goodbye! I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!" - White Rabbit in the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland

As an insecure writer, I have often felt pressure (from myself) to hurry up and get things done. I love writing, but I have too many ideas and not enough time. Will I ever finish the second draft of The Crystal Sword? And when I do, will it really be finished?

Last year, after NaNoWriMo, I fell into a three month writing slump, where I only wrote poetry and journal entries. I like writing poetry. I like writing in my journal. But my novel was at a standstill. I didn't even want to look at it. When I did, it was so bad I laughed my way through reading it. It was either laugh or cry. Then my kids told me they expected me to make it better. They "knew" I could write a better draft. So I started, then I stopped, then I started again. Right before NaNoWriMo, I was only a little over halfway through with my second draft. It felt like it was taking forever, and my mind was in daydream land over new novel possibilities.

So, I took a month off from my revision work to write On One Wing, the sequel to The Crystal Sword.

Then I took a week off to write poetry. However, this had an unexpected benefit . . .

I won the Shakespearean Sonnet Contest I entered!!! This was totally unexpected, and really cool, and even better - the prize for winning is a free edit of 2,500 words of my current manuscript! To see my "Sonnet of Leaves" go to Winner of the Shakespearean Sonnet at Aimee Beatrice Jordan's blog A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman. Thank you Aimee!

That (editing) is just what I needto dive back into revising The Crystal Sword.

So, this year, in an unexpected way, my poetry writing has given me a way to get back into revision, back into prose.

So this is my advice for myself and for all Insecure Writers:
Just keep writing. Write beyond NaNoWriMo. Write something every day. Enter your writing into challenges, contests. Submit your work. Write, and then write more. Surround yourself with encouraging people. And then keep writing.

In Random Awesomeness:

Cherie Reich is having an Editing Giveaway on her blog. Go enter and win a free edit of your writing here: Tis' the Season for Giving Critiques

Go Read Emily Ann Benedict's book, The Father Christmas Confessions

And Watch this Video. It made me laugh, and laugh, and laugh.
Cello Wars - Watch out for Darth Vader, and his . . . accordion?

Monday, December 5, 2011

An Interview With Emily Ann Benedict + a Free Christmas Story!

The Father Christmas Confessions warms the heart like a cup of sweet cocoa with extra marshmallows in a big Santa Mug. I meant to just open it up, and read part of it, and a few hours later I found myself finishing it and wanting to read it again.

One of my very first followers, Emily Ann Benedict (the author of The Father Christmas Confessions) made me feel at home here in the blogging world with her encouraging words and insightful thoughts on writing. Her generous spirit shines through everything she does, and this is especially true with her recent decsion to share her Christmas story, The Father Christmas Confessions for free with everyone.

Interview With Emily Benedict:
Tyrean: What makes you passionate about writing?

Emily: Writing is easy to become passionate about once you get the process started. It begins with a small idea for a book, then the creative process of writing the story out is too much fun to stop. When you realize how much joy you can bring to someone through a story there is no looking back.
Writing is also a wonderful way to share your ideas with people. Sometimes we have trouble discussing certain topics with each other, but when the same ideas are wrapped in a story it becomes easier to relate to one another.

Tyrean: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

Emily: I really hope people enjoy my books and find in them a moment or two to escape from the stress of life. Hearing my work makes people laugh always makes my day.
The love of God and how involved He can be in our lives if we let Him is one theme I carry from book to book. It’s a lesson I’ve learned, and continue to learn, in my life and I enjoy sharing it others.

Tyrean: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Emily: My family has always been a major factor in helping me move forward as a writer. Their encouragement as well as editing and suggestions are invaluable.
In terms of which authors have inspired me the most, I have to say Agatha Christie is a huge inspiration and one of my favorite biographies. She began as an ordinary girl who just wanted to write books. Eventually, she became one of history’s greatest mystery writers and lived an extraordinary life. I also found the many different styles she wrote over the years helped me learn a lot about writing itself.

Tyrean: What words of advice do you have for other writers?

Emily: The best advice is simple to just keep writing and writing and writing. The more you do it the better you’ll get.
I also think it’s really important to find a group of people who will honestly edit your work and help you determine which areas you’re strong in and which techniques you need to work on. Sticking with people who just give you constant positive feedback feels good, but it won’t help you progress.

Tyrean: Beside writing, what other talents and hobbies do you have?

Emily: Besides writing I have lots of little things I love to do. Cooking is a huge favorite among my family, especially at this time of year. We will take any excuse to make more Christmas cookies.
My family is also devoted to taking care of rescue dogs. We have cared for many abused and handicap dogs over the years. Currently we have five in our little home and honestly it is one of the most rewarding things we have ever done. There’s nothing like taking a frightened little handicapped puppy and turning her into a spoiled rotten lap dog.

Emily is the author of two books, Only Angels are Bulletproof, and her most recent, The Father Christmas Confessions . . . which did I mention, is free?

So, go unwrap your first Christmas present of the year, and read The Father Christmas Confessions

What if Santa Claus wasn't one man?
What if he was a secret organization?

Jeremy Ogden has 25 days to accomplish his mission. Just like every man in his family, he has a list of people whose lives can be changed forever if he makes it to them in time. But he has one big problem…And her name is Virginia.

To read more, go to The Father Christmas Confessions

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Celebrate His Birth

My kids are tap dancers, and yet, this year they are into ballet.

We have been friends with a wonderful dance studio owner, director and teacher for years and for the first time this year my daughters are taking classes at her ballet studio, the Metropolitan Ballet of Tacoma.

One of our favorite ballets that Metropolitan Ballet of Tacoma puts on every year is Celebrate His Birth, a beautiful nativity ballet. Each year for 25 years, Celebrate His Birth has been a free gift. Donations are gladly received for the costs of putting on the performance, but not required for admittance.

So, today I am thankful for: the joy and beauty of dance, Damaris - our friend who is both passionate for the Lord and for dance, all the parents and kids who make Celebrate His Birth a ministry and not just a performance, my daughters - just for being who they are, and my husband - for helping out with moving the set and for all his tech skills.

Here's a behind the scenes look at last year's Celebrate His Birth Performance:

Excerpts from Behind-the-Scenes Ballet from Paul Lovelady on Vimeo.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Looking Ahead

It's Friday, and I'm looking ahead to:

Tonight's Dress Rehearsal for the ballet, Celebrate His Birth

Tomorrow night's and Sunday afternoon's performance of Celebrate His Birth

And, next week, an interview with an author . . . more details to come . . .

What are you looking ahead to/for?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Words of Wisdom

"To soar or to rest, the daily adventure is soul to soul, not of flesh. And to dwell is to fully live in the adventure of the moment with those we love.
Imagine that!" - Grace Nichols

Today's quote comes from The Daily Adventure at A Grace Story

Grace Nichols is a real world friend of mine, and she has a beautiful blog called A Grace Story where she shares the wisdom that the Lord grants her and her family. She is a precious, and wonderful sister in Christ, and I highly recommend reading all her posts.