Thursday, December 18, 2014

Working towards Yule.

Last night, I finished the last of my yarn based gifts. Now, I just have projects for myself to finish. Aside from that, I'm now at the point where I need to begin my baking. I have pre-made cookie dough sitting in the fridge right now. I just have been too lazy to bake them yet. A part of me says that if I bake them closer to Yule then the likelihood of stale cookies will be lower. More of me just doesn't want to go through the effort of baking right now.

I have been feeling  a bit unwell over the last several weeks. I think, however, that is starting to improve. I just am a bit disappointed that it took sleeping all morning yesterday and going to bed early last night to make it where I wasn't a zombie this morning. I am pleased, however, that the nightmares that had been problems for the last month and a half seem to have abated. Perhaps this aggressive push with my therapy related journal writing is helping me after all.

Right now, I'm not sure what I should write. I feel like I should be posting something more cheerful but I am honestly at a loss for words. Life has not been exactly cheerful. It has been just more of the same exhausting tedium every day. I don't know how much of that is influenced by my depressed mood state and how much is just the case of life being humdrum boring. I see people posting happy, cheerful things on their blogs and on Facebook and I wonder what I'm missing.

Of course, Facebook is a bit of a problem for me right now too. I appreciate and support people who are striving to raise awareness about their respective causes. I have reached a point, however, where seeing more images of police brutality, domestic violence, and animal cruelty is leaving me anxious and feeling somewhat triggered. (Yay, PTSD! /sarcasm) As Facebook has been my primary social interface of late, I'm reluctant to step away from it because my social interactions are heavily limited outside of the internet.

I'm not sure what to do to build my off-line presence. In my local area, there is a lot of stuff that goes on about the time that Beloved is due to get out of work. Much of it is stuff that I'm not interested in, but the few things that have caught my eye are usually enough out of the way that I would need the car. Never mind the fact that I would need someone to watch the kids. I was going to PEACE group at the church up the road for a while last spring. Then summer had them meeting at places that I couldn't get to and we fell out of the habit of attending.

I feel like there is no way for me to build relationships in my area. It is a very disheartening feeling. I suppose I could start going to one of the local churches but I am really uncomfortable with that idea. One, the churches around me are fairly conservative branches of Christianity and I really don't want to deal with the problems that would come from my pagan presence. Two, my ideology is very different from theirs and I feel like I would be inviting trouble to go when I am such of a radically different stance. Third, I don't want my children being indoctrinated into a faith that no one in the house practices and the mindset that is opposed to what Beloved and I believe. (He may be indifferent to religion, but his politics are as liberal as mine.)

I don't know what I'm going to do. I know that this weekend, my dear friends in Buffalo are celebrating Yule and I will be attending that. And the last Sunday of the month (the timing of which amuses me), a dear friend and her family in Rochester are celebrating Yule and I will be attending that. As for the rest, I think we'll be attending stuff with my side of the family and Beloved's parents next week. The kids and I will pay a flying visit to our friends up the road on Monday. Aside from that, we don't really have plans for the break.

I find myself a bit saddened that we just don't have the means to take a vacation because I would love to get away from this cold. I confess, I am a little envious of the folks who take vacations this time of year off to places like Florida or Phoenix where you're more concerned about sunburn rather then if you're wearing enough layers to stay warm. Ah well, we do what we can with what we have.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Saving a recipe from Facebook

Reportedly, this is a viking recipe.

Chopped apple
Apple  leaves

Heat the apple pieces and leaves in water until boiling. Sweeten with honey and serve hot.

I'm going to try this (sans leaves) tomorrow as I am baking bread. I will report back if it is as tasty as it sounds in theory.

** Edited to Add **

I didn't have leaves but I did chop up and apple and throw it into a pot of water to boil. I think the next time I attempt this, I am going to use more apples because it was a really weakly flavored result with what I did. If I had cooking apples, I suspect it would have worked out better as well. So, my next attempt will be a ratio of 1:1 apples to water, where as I had used 1:2.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Getting ready for Yule.

Today, we decorated the Yule tree that Beloved's folks were so kind to give us. The kids were merrily singing Christmas carols with their aunt (who had stopped by after work just for this reason) as they decorated the tree. I pretty much spent my time holding the tree steady and handing people ornaments.

It was a pleasant afternoon. We baked cookies and sent my sister-in-law off with some when she left. I offered her some of the stew that I had made for dinner but apparently she had plans to eat out with her parents.

At school, the boys are getting progressively more excited for the holidays. They were thrilled with we got the tree yesterday (my father in law and my sister in law brought it over right when the boys got home from school). Baking cookies this afternoon had them talking about leaving some out for Odin. I think the biggest challenge will be keeping them from playing with the tree.

I have 90% of my Yule crafting done. I've got a train to make for Snuggle Bug and I'm going to whip together a few fancy towel toppers for my aunt and uncle. I don't know what I'm going to do for my brothers or my parents. I'm leaning towards making a dozen cookies for each and calling it done. For my eldest niece, I am going to give her some jewelery. I don't have the time to make her another hat and I honestly think she may be getting tired of handmade things. I might make the jewelery myself or I may find something in the hoard of stuff that I have left from when I was attempting to set up a business on Etsy.

Last week, I officially threw in the towel on that endeavor. I realized that I just didn't have the bandwidth to do that and get started with taking my writing as a career. It was either do both things poorly or sacrifice one to do the other well. As writing is my passion, the choice was naturally the Etsy shop. It may happen that some point down the road I will attempt it again. I may even attempt that Keen stuff again next year. (Social phobia has pretty much made that a no-go.)

Right now, I'm just focusing on getting through the holidays with as much grace as I can manage, even though I haven't been feeling particularly festive. I'm still feeling the loss of my grandfather. It is hard to believe that this will be the second Christmas with out him. If we can manage not to have anyone sick over the holiday, then we might make it to both my side of the family and Beloved's side of the family gatherings on Christmas day. Some of my pagan friends are planning celebrations for Yule. I want to go to that, but I'm not sure which one will fit into the schedule.

It seems to be the case with so much stuff right now. It is part of the reason why I don't exactly enjoy the holidays. It's always so busy that I feel like I can't breathe. And there feels like there is so much pressure to give just the right gift, always wear a happy face, and make other people happy. It is exhausting. Ah well, it only comes once a year, so I suppose there is that small mercy.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Earned my cup of tea!

Like the nice lady in the picture to the right, I have earned myself a cup of tea. While my mug may not be as big as hers, I am just as enthusiastic about having it. Last week, when I was grocery shopping, I bought a package of loose leaf tea. I've been making my own 'tea pods' to use in the Senseo coffee maker. Making my own pods means I can use different coffee and loose leaf tea in the Senseo. It's something I've been really enjoying.

November was a very busy month for me. I was doing National Novel Writing Month. Granted, I have written novels in other months, NaNoWriMo holds a special spot in my heart. It taught me that I can write a book in a month (One year, I manage to write two even!) and that I can produce quality work at that pace.

I started doing NaNoWriMo with Stargazer a few years after I had graduated from college. I was vaguely aware of National Blog Posting Month from Stargazer's regular updates to her Livejournal. When she mentioned NaNoWriMo, I decided to take the plunge. While she was writing Gundam Wing fanfiction, I set to work on writing the sixth version of the first book in my fantasy series. As I watched my word count numbers climb, I started getting excited. She started getting excited. It was a beautiful thing.

Now that NaNoWriMo is done, I'm taking a break from the fantasy series. So far this year, I have written three books in the series. While a part of me is itching to get to work on book six, I'm stepping away from it for a little while so that I can take a mental break from it. Now, I'm working on writing my memoirs and this is proving to be a lot more challenging then writing fiction. It strikes me as a rather contrary thing, to be honest. I don't have to do the work of creating a new world and people for it. All I am doing is recording my memories.

At the same time, this is a grueling process. Partly because I have a great deal of past trauma that I have wound up writing about. And partly because I am finding it difficult to express the 3d quality of the memories. As I am a bit of a masochist, I have decided to write this monster by hand. I started work on it on the first. As of today, I am about twelve pages in. My goal is to write three pages a day.

Honestly, I feel like it is a reasonable goal, even if life got in the way for a few days. At the same time, I am working hard on my writing in other areas of my life as well. I have resumed writing in my journal. Right now, all I can manage is one page in fifteen minutes. I feel woefully out of practice writing by hand. Still, I know that page count will go up as I get back into the swing of things. I have also resumed writing my 'morning pages' as suggested in the book The Artist's Way. I'm making my morning pages do double duty, as I am writing them in my therapy journal.

I have been letting several of my blogs languish for a while now. I want to get back to writing in them, so I am returning to my writing schedule that I had last spring. I recognize that I may not hit 100% on them, especially with the holidays going on and my finishing up my crafting work. It is, however, a goal that I want to accomplish by the end of the year. My thinking is, if I can write 50K+ in a month, I can parcel that out to different projects. It gives me the opportunity to work on different things and still keep a manuscript in the works.

I believe that I will save editing for a summer endeavor. As soon as I can manage to find the space, I will be hooking up my printer and printing off hard copies of my manuscripts. While editing on the computer is easier in some respects, I think that editing a printed copy is going to be more portable and user friendly when the kids are on break from school.

But, that is what's on my mind right now. I hope that you all are having a wonderful day. Enjoy your own cup of tea or coffee or whatever beverage strikes your fancy. I think you've earned a few minutes to kick back and relax too. :)