Thursday, November 29, 2007

thank you, thank you. you're too kind.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

the point at which my lungs felt like they were going to disintegrate

Having run A 5K RACE earlier this year, I am now able to drop that fact casually into any conversation. Want to impress the neighbors? All I have to do is say, "Sure, you can borrow a stick of butter. Which reminds me that I had a real hankerin' for butter at about K3 of THAT 5K RACE I ran in May." Bingo. Impression left.

Want to draw a parallel between running and writing? Simply open a new Create Post template in Blogger and start typing away a few sentences that go something like this:

"With four days left in NaNoWriMo (three if you don't count today) I'm feeling kind of like I felt toward the end of THAT 5K RACE I ran earlier this year. The finish line was almost in sight, but I still had a goodly-sized chunk of running to do. So, this interesting mixture of dread and elation started to set in, and I'm pretty sure it had something to do with the fact that I almost threw up on my neighbor's shoes at the finish line when he reached over to tear off the little paper "finish receipt" on the back of my number." Bingo. Parallel drawn.

Oh, NaNo word count as of this moment: 38,639. Let's hope I don't almost throw up on someone around here after typing word 50,000 later this week.

Monday, November 26, 2007

enchanting, amazing, and the very best ever

I hope you all had a fantabulous Thanksgiving.

Okay, first of all, Disney's new joint, Enchanted...It's enchanting. Very clever of me, I know. But seriously, I believe Disney has struck a real chord with this movie, no doubt because everything from the story line to the song and dance numbers hearken back to one of Disney's Golden Ages, when stars such as Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews were the big box office draws. I love the completely a-political nature of this film as well. There were moments when I thought, "Uh oh. Here comes the big global warming message," or "Here comes the big feminist princess message," but they never showed. This is a movie our family will probably go see together again in the theaters, and it is definitely one to own.

Second of all, my mom and I both finished the amazing mother/daughter memoir Come Back over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I must say it is the kind of book that changes the way I view life as both a mother and a daughter. The extended title is "Come Back: A mother and daughter's journey through hell and back," which is definitely appropriate. It is also represented by my agent, Stacey Glick, who wrote an interesting blog post (scroll down to her 10/22 post) about the process behind the publication of this book (but even if Stacey wasn't involved I would love it). Pick up a copy for yourself, and give copies to your favorite mothers and daughters, especially if they have had to endure major, transformative trials in their personal lives and/or their relationship with each other.

Lastly...Friday Night Lights? Best. Show. EVER. I come to this show late in the game, since I just happened to be channel surfing one Friday night (I need to get a life, I know) a couple months back. I thought it was a show about football! Well, it is...sort of. But only to the extent that the high school football team of the tiny Texas town that provides the setting for the show is sort of like the touchstone for all the characters, the one thing they all have in common to some extent. But it's so much more than a show about football. Rarely, if ever, have I seen such accurate portrayals of (in no particular order): the odd mixture of joy and insanity that accompanies having a baby; the multi-faceted tensions inherent in converting to Christianity; the complex sexual, social and emotional tension of being a teenager...and the list goes on. Now I have to figure out if the first several seasons are on DVD.

That's it for now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

long time, no blog

Or at least that's how it feels. I've been in busy bee mode - or chicken-with-its-head-cut-off mode; you pick. But I am still alive to happily proclaim that craft show season is officially OVER. Which is a good thing. The soaps did well, and people scattered far and wide now have cute gifts and stocking stuffers to hand out at Christmas, so mission accomplished.

A craft show is such a bizarre little microcosm - all those crafty hopefuls schlepping their much sweated-over treasures into a strange location where they are stuck for at least an entire day surrounded by people they have probably never met, people who are also trying to hawk their lovingly-crafted wares. It can make for a delicate situation - all that hope, all those fragile egos, all that need to unload this year's inventory and earn back one's table fee, materials and (hopefully) one's investment of time and energy. You just never know how it's going to go.

At the first of the two shows the sweet, elderly, granny-like lady with the scrap booking booth just behind my soap booth asked me at lunchtime if I had any drugs. I absolutely kid you not. However, I lucked out at last weekend's show, partly because my mom flew into town for a visit and to sell her jewelry, which has become something of a tradition for us. So, I had her on my left. At the table to my right was a vendor I'd never met before, though I noticed right away during setup that she had some incredibly cute and artfully-made things. Turns out we had all sorts of things in common, not the least of which are consuming passions for Disneyland and English degrees. So, during the lulls in business I had a lovely time chatting about books, the Tower of Terror (which I am still too much of a scaredy-cat to ride) and mom stuff. Here's her blog, The Polka-Dot Pixie, where you can see a bunch of her wares. It's amazing to me that she's never been to art school. Such talent. Oy.


NaNo word count: 25K plus. Yeehaw!


Last Friday's soap giveaway? Oops. Totally spaced it out amid all the hustle and bustle. I'll make it up to you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pumpkin Spice - we have a winner!

Congrats to Laura (of laurawilliamsmusings) for winning Friday's Pumpkin Spice bar!

As always, the winner was randomly chosen with the help of a cute, random kid. I'm glad Laura got a chance to win, though, since she's been so great about blogging my weekly giveaway on her uber-popular blog.

I loved your Thanksgiving stories, Ladies. They really put me in the mood for all that upcoming cooking. Thanks so much for sharing, and be sure to check back later this week to see which soap I'll be offering for the giveaway.


Friday, November 09, 2007

friday soap giveaway: Pumpkin Spice!

My daughter calls these "Monkey Tail soaps."

Okay, okay, so it's almost Saturday. My soap giveaways are starting later and later in the day on Fridays, I've noticed. But I have a fairly good excuse: Tomorrow is the first of the big holiday craft shows in Northern AZ, and I'm doing what I always do the night before - staying up way too late boxing up soaps and loading the truck. At least the weather's gorgeous this year. I remember one year our old truck got a flat tire and my husband was out in the snow late the night before a big show with the jack and a none-too-pleased expression on his face.
But I digress. This week's soap giveaway is a yummy-smelling bar of Pumpkin Spice. I'm bringing a bunch of these tomorrow, since they always do well at this time of the year.

If you'd like to throw your hat into the ring for a chance to win this bar, simply leave a comment to this post telling me the short version of one of your favorite Thanksgiving memories. I know, I used to just GIVE these things away. Now I'm making you work for it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


My NaNo word count thus far: 13, 036.

So, is my WIP any good?

Oh, heck no.

But it's fun.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

toys made in China? thanks, but no thanks.

It's not often that I put this blog down on the ground in the middle of a crowded World Wide Web, step up onto it and use it as a soap box from which I deliver my views on a specific issue in a way that will hopefully make you take action.


With the Christmas shopping season fast-approaching (already HERE, if walking into Wal-Mart is any indication - they were actually playing Christmas music over the sound system the other day), I feel it's time to bring up something important.

I've been cleaning out my daughter's room for the past couple days. A better word might be "purging" her room, since it's been too long since I've been a good little Fly Lady fan and dumped all the useless junk the girl never plays with anymore. But my mom will be coming to town in a little over a week, so it was definitely time to address that particular room, which serves as a grandmother/granddaughter sleepover spot whenever Abue comes to visit.

Anyway, I couldn't help but notice that just about every toy/gadget/tchotchke that either got thrown away, put into the Goodwill bag or put back in its proper place had the inevitable "Made in China" stamp on its underside.

Now, let me just admit here that I am a major devotee of both Wal-Mart and the Dollar store, both of which sell massive amounts of Chinese-made junk. Much of it is useful junk, though, and it's always cheap, which means a lot when you have kids and live on a budget. This fact alone might make me a giant hypocrite for writing this post, but I don't think so, and here's why:

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock has probably heard about the widespread recalls of toys made in China that came with free, extra helpings of lead. This is really scary to a parent because in the worst-case scenario lead is fatal. In the less-worse but still horrendous-case scenario it can cause irreversible developmental delays. And I'm really happy that you can find such detailed recall lists online, but I can't help but wonder about the toys they haven't tested yet, those that are still on the market.

So, have I decided to boycott Chinese-made goods entirely? Heck, no, though I heard an interesting piece on NPR about a family who decided to do just that for an entire year. She ended up having to buy kids' tennis shoes out of a European catalog, and paid something like $75 for them.

But here's what I am going to do this year and for every year in the foreseeable future when it comes time to buy toys for any kid. I'm going to check out websites like this one and this one. I'll still check out the toys at Wal-Mart, Target, etc, but if I can't find anything made in the U.S.A., then forget it. I hope you'll make an effort to do the same.

Do I think American toys are perfect and without risk? Of course not. But I know for a fact that literally millions of toys coming from China are not only imperfect, but they have put my kids' health at risk in a very serious way.

Which brings us to an easy way to both buy American and shop locally: Hit your local holiday craft fairs this year! I'll be hawking soap at one of Flagstaff's biggies this weekend, and I'll also be doing some shopping, which means I'll be putting money directly into the pockets of some of our insanely talented local artisans. I can't think of a better way to spread some early Christmas cheer.

So, what you you all think about this issue, and have these recalls changed the way you shop for kids? If you have any good ideas on non-Chinese-made toys, please share!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mulled Cider - we have a winner!

Is that like, "Houston, we have a problem"?

Anyway, congratulations to angelaandconnor for winning last week's bar.

Be sure to check in later this week to see what I'll offer for the Friday Soap Giveaway.

Friday, November 02, 2007

friday soap giveaway: Mulled Cider!

This is one of the staples of my soap line, and has been for several years now. There's something about the spicy, slightly tangy apple-y scent of cider slow cooking on a stove top (with cinnamon sticks, cloves, etc. floating around inside) that keeps people coming back for more.

I'd like to gush about them even more and I apologize for the quality of this old picture, but since Halloween I've been feeling sore of throat and head - like a family of smallish porcupines has taken up residence in my sinuses. So, that's all for today, folks. Had to get that soap giveaway listed, though.

Want one of these yummy bars? You know what to do (and if you don't, all you have to do is leave a comment to this post). How about telling me what your favorite scent is - soapy or otherwise?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

our contribution to the dentist's down payment on that summer home