Thursday, May 30, 2013

You Had Me at Chocolate . . .

Normally I write about writing stuff on my website, but lately I've felt the pull to branch out--to share other things that motivate and inspire me. Next to God, my faith, and my family, I would say comes chocolate...

I love chocolate in most forms: ice cream, brownies, cookies, candy, you name it.

I really love homemade chocolate frosting. Not just love, but love-love it. I made a birthday cake the other day for a family member and doubled the frosting batch, just so I could eat the frosting.

When my extended family is around, I have the cake with the frosting on it, because that's civilized. When it's just my immediate family, I dip graham crackers into my own bowl of frosting. But, when I'm alone . . .

It's just me, the frosting and a spoon.  No guilt, no restraint. Just delicious chocolate abandon.

I also love chocolate cookies.
and brownies.
and chocolate cake.

and especially chocolate ice cream.

Yes, I know.  Many people would tell me eating chocolate isn't healthy (unless you like ultra dark chocolate, which I think is disgrusting.) And yes, I know the chocolate fuels my muffin top. But, I don't care. I love it. It completes me (and then some.)

So, since we are such good friends, I thought I'd share a few amazing chocolate recipes with you today!

Enjoy! And may the chocolate be with you! And, no, I won't cry if you decide to make me any of these :)

Six Sisters Chocolate Caramel Brownies  by Six Sisters Stuff

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie by One Crazy Cookie

Chocolate Caramel Tart by Annie's' Eats

Fudge Mountain Cake by Yammie's Noshery

Chocolate Lover's Cupcakes  by How Sweet it is

 Chocolate Cannolis by BH&G

Chocolate Dump-it Cake by Food52

5-minute Chocolate Mousse by Drizzle & Dip (I skip the option brandy.)

Monday, May 20, 2013

"If your life isn't changing you, you aren't living it right."

I was reading a post by one of my new favorite people Tristi Pinkston on her blog here and came across this quote: If your life isn't changing you, you aren't living it right.

The words rang true to my core.

I was talking to an old friend from high school a few years back. We talked about life and the many changes it affords. She told me that she didn't feel any different than she had in high school.  She was the same person, just a bit older with a husband and kids now.

I can't imagine what that would be like.

I am such a different person now.  Hopefully I have kept and magnified the good, but I have tried hard to learn and grow through the years. I'm not the same person I was in high school, and how glad I am for it!

I am more confident. I have better priorities and values. I make better choices. I am happier.

Tristi talks about how she had changed as a persona as she had been a writer. I love the list she made. She says:

I was more confident.

I was more educated.

I was more outgoing.

I was finding new talents to share.

I was becoming an expert in my field.

I was funnier.

I was more popular.

I was learning how to respect myself more.

I was making money.  (Not a lot, but some. Still working on that.)

I was sought after.

I was viewed as a mentor.

I was stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

What a wonderful example to me of the power of positive change!

We were meant to change and grow in this life. We were meant to get better, bolder, more confident. We were meant to nurture and magnify our talents, and loves ourselves more. We were made to change and transform into higher levels of ourselves.

Our lives don't get better by chance, they get better by change!

So, if you feel you are the same person as you were twenty, ten, or even five years ago, take a look at how you're living. And remember:

If your life isn’t changing you, you aren’t living it right.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Who's Awesome?

Ever had those days where you feel completely un-awesome? I do. I look around at my messy house, my riotous children (my youngest was running laps at the frozen yogurt place today), my hair in a bun for the fourth straight day, and I feel un-awesome.

It's easy to feel awesome when things are great, but it's during those other times that we need to remind ourselves what awesomeness really isn't and is.

Awesomeness isn't a perfectly clean house, perfectly obedient children, homemade meals every night made while we wear pearls and an apron in the kitchen. It isn't the size of our pants, the color of our skin or hair, or the length of our nails. Awesomeness can't be measured by money or things.

So, what is awesome, then? 

These things are Awesome: love, gratitude, forgiveness, kindness, mercy, empathy, humility, patience, sacrifice, service, and love (yes, I said it twice, because love is doubly awesome).

I'm not perfect at anything on this list, but I've got pieces of them in me. And these pieces join together to create something beautiful, something awesome.

That's the way God intends me to be--awesome. That's the way He wants me to see myself. I am awesome, and I won't apologize for it. I can't apologize for it. It would be rude. God made me that way, and He doesn't make mistakes.

So I go on living my awesome life, being as awesome as I can. And when I forget, I simply have to remind myself that He made me this way. He made me awesome.

And He made you Awesome, too. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. They don't know you like He does. He know who you are and what you can accomplish.

On the days that you might be feeling un-awesome, don't think about it too much. Just remember that.He knows you're awesome, because He made you that way.

You don't have to be everything to be awesome. The word isn't allsome for a reason. It's awesome . . . like you.

Now, go forward, with a smile on your face (mustache optional) and Just. Be. Awesome.

And remember, we are pretty much at the top of the Awesome Meter. And the Awesome Meter never lies.

It's Alive!! 6 Tips for Breathing Life into Your Story

So you've got a great idea for a story . . . you might even have a great story. It's got a great arc, great characters, and great voice, a beginning that grabs and an end that satisfies. But, does it breathe? Is it alive?

How can you turn this:  

into this.


Well, aside from visiting the Wet Canvas Art Etsy site, and ordering your own origami book, the only other way to make your book come alive is by good writing. Here's a few tips that I've learned, and someday hope to master.

1. Make Sense--Life is full of sights, smells and sounds. There should be at least one sensory experience on each page.

2. Make the Scenery a character--Think about the many different places you've been in your life. Each one feels different, has its own mood. Bring that feeling to your story in through the POV of your characters. Have then interact with the world around them. What do they hear, see, smell, feel?

3.Action--Action and reflection are like peanut butter and pickles. Some people do it, but they just don't belong together! When writing an action scene, make every sentence move the action forward. Make every word count. Omit passive words such as like, felt, saw, heard, look, watch. Include what the character is feeling. Show them what happens, then their reaction to it. Make the reader experience it with your character.

4. Great dialogue--Write dialogue like people talk. Avoid meaningless small talk or exchanges. Use dialogue to pass along important information and/or move the plot forward. Think of TV shows or movies--they don't show entire conversations, just the parts of the conversations that are necessary to move the story along and/or create emotion.

5. Create memorable characters--Your readers are real people, and can smell a fake from a mile away. Take time to develop your characters, get to know them. Use character cards to keep traits and quirks straight. The better you get to know your characters, the more you'll find they will come alive, and even begin to write their own story. The story, no matter how good the plot, is ultimately about people. Make your reader care about your characters by making them real, fallible, but set on a task or goal. Give your readers someone, and something, to cheer for.

6.  And arguably the most important: Show, don't tell--Rather than making a statement about someone (Mr. Dunken was a cranky old man), show that he is a cranky old man by letting his yell at a neighbor for having the music too loud, or grimacing as yet another child's ball flies over his fence. You get the idea. Pretend your book is a silent movie--what would your cranky old man do that would show us he is a cranky old man?

Use these tips and watch your stories come alive!

(This are so cool! Aren't they?)