Breaking Ground

To celebrate 2022 arriving, I would like to take a moment to stop and appreciate the craziest purchase I made in 2021.

Weird, right?

Don’t worry.

It gets weirder.

Know why? In 2021, my husband and I bought . . . an aircraft hanger.

Are you shocked? Horrified? Intrigued?

So was I.

What happened was this. The day—and I kid you not, the exact day—I packed up my desk and left my full time job to start my own business in March, my husband and I met my sister and her husband at a local sushi restaurant to celebrate my nerve-racking transition into self-employment.

We were going to talk and laugh and eat sushi and pretend I wasn’t terrified about the idea of running my own business and setting my own hours.

Instead, we decided to buy an aircraft hanger.

Decisions get made in sushi restaurants, guys. It happens.

Obviously, my sister and I do not own a plane. I can’t even make a decent paper plane. But . . . we both needed a house. And my dad had a contact in the metal building industry who had an aircraft hanger he’d built for a client. The client had changed his mind, and our contact was now offering us the building . . . for a massive discount. Turns out, with a few minor tweaks, an aircraft hanger makes for a pretty nice house—one that will fit two growing families quite easily.

Obviously, we’ve got a long way to go before the pile of metal struts and beams becomes a house we can live in, but I’m feeling optimistic. The last parts for the metal building have finally been delivered, and a few weeks ago, we broke ground on our property, so we actually have a place to put this house.

When it’s actually built, anyway.

Needless to say, buying a home just as I was transitioning into a business owner has been a huge stretch for me. I like to make my huge life transitions one at a time, thank you very much, and navigating both of these monuments at the same time has been a lesson in faith, especially when it comes to finances.

But I am learning to trust.

So . . . now we own an aircraft hanger.


Do you have any huge milestones in 2021 that you felt stretched you to the limits? Tell me about them in the comments!

Writer’s Group and Sabbaticals

img_3662I went on a sleepover this weekend.

My first since quarantine, in fact.

Not that I make a habit of sleepovers. Not since I was like sixteen. Except when I get trapped in town due to crazy snowstorms and six-foot snowdrifts.

But I went on a sleepover this weekend. With my writer’s group—or most of them, anyway. (We love you and missed you, Caylene!) We ate chocolate, read each other’s work, talked about way too many stories, and stayed up until all hours of the night.

Midnight, to be specific.

Ten minutes after midnight, I knocked out.

But we got some writing done, caught up on each other’s projects, and reconnected after being away from each other for months. Kelly’s hair ended up in curlers. She looked amazing. Before and after, actually.

There was talk about pink hair dye.

That didn’t happen, but it would have been pretty exciting.

Now that I’m back home, and spending way too much time writing down all the appointments that I am making for my wedding, I’ve had to take a minute to be realistic about my energy and time right now. So . . . I’ll be on sabbatical until after my honeymoon. See you all October 1st!

On Sabbatical Until October 1st!

A List of Lists

I got engaged last week.

Is that crazy or what? I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Sometimes it amazes me how quickly life can change. All the sudden, my weekends are booked with wedding planning, engagement photo sessions, and attempting to figure out all the things one is supposed to do to prepare for a wedding.

Apparently there are a lot of them.

I need to make a list.

Two lists. I need two lists.

Okay, I need to make a list of all the lists I need to make.

Thankfully, my fiancé’s brother and sister in-law rescued us from wedding planning on Sunday and took us up to a reservoir about an hour away. We took their boat out on the lake, and my fiancé and his brother tried wakeboarding.

They offered to let me try.

I declined.

I’m happy to watch people get sprayed and dunked and yanked along behind a speeding boat while attempting to stand upright. Not so happy to do it myself.

Thankfully, they didn’t insist.

I’ll try next time. When we have a tube instead of a wakeboard. Tubes need less balance. And strength. And skill.

And basically all the things that I have in short supply.

However, watching is great fun, and so was sitting on the back of the boat when we stopped for lunch and fed the geese.

I got toasted in the sun.

Okay, I got toasted on one side. My arms are unevenly burned now. Red on one side, white on the other. Hopefully that doesn’t last long. I don’t want to add ‘uneven tanning’ to one of my to-do lists.

Any wedding planning tips for me? Tell me about them in the comments!

Back in the Office

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I went back to work last week.

Back to my office, actually. I’ve been working all along. Just from my couch instead of my standup desk. And with free access to snacks. And very little motivation to get out of my pajamas.

It’s going to take me a little while to get used to the no-snacks thing.

Especially no popcorn.

Popcorn is my favorite.

Other than that, I’m very happy to be back in my office. I can go to the gym again, talk to my coworkers, ask my manager questions, water my special tiny tree that I bought for the occasion.

The bamboo I left behind when this whole quarantine thing began . . . ahem . . . did not survive.

Three months without water will do that to you.

It was pretty withered. And brown.

So now I have a tiny tree instead. And life at the office—at least two days a week—has begun to go back to normal. Albeit with masks. And temp checks. And sign-in, sign-out sheets. But normal!

Sort of.

Since my life is showing a serious lack of normal nowadays, normal at the office feels pretty good. So does my gym. And the occasional restaurant visit. Even wearing masks when we go out and making sure to social distance can’t change how wonderfully good it feels to be out and about and to see people.

As an introvert, I never expected to be so excited to see people again. In shops, at work, in restaurants.

Man, that’s a good feeling.

Has life begun to return to normal for you yet? How? Tell me about it in the comments!

Running Away

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I almost got eaten by an alligator this weekend.

Maybe it was an alligator gar.

Or a catfish.

Something.

But it tried to eat me, I’m pretty sure. Killer catfish are dangerous too, you know.

Maybe I should start at the beginning.

I ran away from my life on Thursday. Packed up my car, grabbed my toothbrush, the whole nine yards. Because I’m a responsible person, I requested time off from my job and told people where I was going and when I would be back too, but it still counts as running away. I mean, I planned it in all of two days, and that’s definitely what you do when you’re running away.

You also get up ridiculously early and leave in the dark before it gets light, and I did that too.

Then I drove to Missouri. To see my editor.

It was glorious.

First off, there was the drive. I was gone for four days, and two of those were nothing but me and the open road, all the snacks I could eat, and as many audiobooks as I could possibly listen to in 24 hours of straight drive-time.

In case you were wondering, I plowed through four and a half books.

Three and a half of them were scary.

The last one was sad.

I am still questioning my choices.

The other two days were spent soaking in the  Missouri sun, canoeing down a gorgeous river straight out of Jurassic Park, almost getting eaten by a killer catfish, horseback riding through the woods, and slapping at bugs.

The catfish didn’t actually bite me.

But it flopped like it was going to bite me.

I screamed in self-defense and it was a totally normal reaction, so you can stop laughing now.

Anyway, I’m home again and running on no sleep and adrenaline, so wish me luck for the next week. I’ll sleep when I can’t run away from my problems anymore.

What were you up to this weekend? Anything special? Tell me about it in the comments! 

Keeping Pace

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Reading has been hard lately.

Isn’t it weird how that happens sometimes? Life gets busy, people need your attention, work takes up more time than you expect, and BAM! You’ve read two books for the whole month.

Ouch.

I actually don’t remember how many books I read in May. I’d have to check. Hopefully, it was more than two, but I have my doubts. Reading has been HARD lately. Sometimes, even the most important things in your life can get pushed back because of stress or work or people or about a hundred other things that I don’t have the energy to list right now.

Life happens, is what I’m trying to say. And when it does, you have to pick your priorities in order to keep pace with it.

And right now, sadly, reading one hundred books this year is not one of my priorities.

Tragic, right?

Oh well.

The nice part is, I really do have time to read occasionally. In the mornings after my workout . . . six minutes before I start work for the day. Or in the evening, fifteen minutes before I drop into bed. It’s not for long stretches, generally, but I do try to pick up my books often enough to remember that I love to read. Thankfully, I have no shortage of things to read. There’s the audiobook on my phone that I have neglected to start. And the book on my phone that I’m reading for work. And my many, many bookshelves which are full to bursting of books I would love to read or reread.

Still haven’t chosen one of those since I finished the last one. Should probably do that.

Leaving a book on my end table right next to where I sit has also proven to help remind me to read. A page here, a page there. I may not reach a hundred books this year, but I’m keeping pace. And I’m getting a few books read while I do.

How do you keep up with your reading when life gets busy? Tell me about it in the comments!

Potstickers and Pasta Dough

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I’m on a dough shtick.

Pasta dough, mostly.

With a few dumplings thrown in.

Okay, what are those things actually called? Dumplings? Potstickers? Momos? I have like ten different names for them in my head and everyone calls them something different and every time I say a name, I’m wrong.

As you can tell, it has been frustrating me.

We’re going to go with dumplings.

Basically, they are small pockets of dough filled with tasty meat and steamed.

Dumplings.

And for dumplings, you need dough.

Or, you know . . . knead dough.

Haha.

Sorry.

So I’ve been kneading dough lately. On my weekends. Because it’s my favorite thing. My most favorite man bought me a totally awesome pasta rack to dry my pasta on. Not bragging, but he’s my most favorite. So, on Sunday, we stuck in a couple of movies—because making dumplings and pasta on the same day takes a long, long, long time—and I made dumpling dough. And pasta dough. And dumpling filling.

I’m not going to lie, half of the dumpling dough got wrapped up and stuck in the freezer after we ran out of filling. Because Sundays only have so many hours.

But I managed to finish the pasta off—thank goodness—and the drying rack worked like a charm. No more sticky pasta lumps! Yay!

So now my freezer is full of dried pasta and all the dumplings we didn’t immediately cook up and devour.

Which was not very many.

Basically, I have enough to snack on until next weekend—when I will be making more potstickers. Or dumplings. Or whatever you want to call them.

I’m perfecting my technique, see. Which means lots of practice. Trial and error, in which you eat all the evidence in order to keep other people from knowing about your mistakes in folding and rolling the dough.

Not a bad system, to tell the truth.

Someone enlighten me! What is the proper name for these dumplings/potstickers/momos/whatever they’re called? Have you made them? Tell me about it in the comments!

Lost in the Mountains

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I got lost this weekend.

My boyfriend and I went up into the mountains on Saturday. We were heading for Chessman reservoir, up in the mountains. The plan was a picnic . . . roast chicken, sparkling cider, picnic blankets. I was planning on taking pictures.

I didn’t take any pictures.

We used Google maps, see. And Google maps doesn’t always take you where you think it’s going to take you.

It took us somewhere we weren’t expecting.

We ended up on a dirt road winding up through the mountains. Lots of boulders, dead trees, and gorgeous views. I loved it. Except the part about being lost on a road that was so narrow it was a little awkward to turn around.

That’s when my boyfriend’s phone ran out of service and the map glitched out, leaving us with a blank map and miles of nowhere stretching out in every direction.

We turned around three times.

We ended up at a gate on private property and decided that this was probably the wrong way. So we drove all the way back to where the road was paved again and followed the map old-school style to the reservoir.

This method worked.

Sort of.

The map brought us to another, even narrower dirt road with a ridiculous amount of traffic on it. Cliff on one side, hills on the other. We pulled over a lot. To let the cars by. When we finally made it to the lake, I was ready to get out of the car.

Except there was no parking. Because everyone and their brother and their sister and their Aunt Matilda had decided to visit Chessman reservoir that day. So we circled the parking lot, turned around one more time, and found a place next to a stream to have our picnic. Cliffs, gorgeous trees, sparkling cider, a hidden nook to have our picnic, and places to wade and cool off.

So it turned out pretty amazing.

Despite all the twists and turns.

What did you do on Memorial Day weekend? Any big plans? Tell me about it in the comments!

A Dozen Worlds

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You know what’s crazy about being a writer? Especially one with a full-time job?

The worlds I visit.

When I first started writing, I had one story.

One.

I had fragments of others, of course. But one ‘project’. One world that occupied all my time. The characters that whispered over my writing desk and tugged words out of my poor tired brain all belonged to a single story, and I liked it that way. It helped me focus. I knew what I was working on, I knew when to work on it, and I could devote my entire attention to one lovely, blossoming story that was growing bigger every day.

That was eight years ago.

Eight very long years.

Now my life is very different. My single world has split into many. I have a half a dozen stories sprouting up at my full-time job, all in different stages. Some are seeds of ideas, still needing a little sunlight, a little love before they’re ready for other eyes on them. Some are outlines, not quite blooming yet but sprouting up hurriedly, with lots of leaves and stems that will need trimming. And some—some have flowers.

But as much as I love seeing those half-dozen stories grow and flourish, they’re not the only worlds I live in. I have others too, books that are out in the world, books that are hopping back and forth between my editor and myself, books that are still trapped on my computer. Some of them are half-finished, others need a few chapters cut here, a section rewritten there. These stories get my love after my ‘official’ work is done for the day. When I can steal ten minutes or two hours out of a busy schedule. When I have a day off or a weekend free. When I can hide away, I grab my computer and add something to the growing pages. Five hundred words, or two sentences, a new character outline. Anything I can conjure up.

These projects grow very slowly. So slowly that sometimes I worry that I’m not making any progress at all, that I’ll never reach the end.

But I will. One day.

I have two stories like that just now. One with multiple books connected to it. Two stories. Two more worlds on top of a half-dozen others.

Then, there are the stories that live nowhere but in my head. No documents, no updated notebooks, not even an outline.

The stories that will be. The worlds that haven’t been created yet.

I have a dozen of these. Some of them are small still, just ideas. Some are completely fleshed out with characters and settings and plot lines that have never yet seen the light of day.

And they won’t.

Not yet. Probably not for years. When it’s time, I’ll dust them off and write that first word. That first chapter.

Until then, they’ll live on in my head. One more world to visit—when I have the time. When I can steal the minutes.

I live in a dozen different worlds at one time.

Occasionally I visit my own world too—although maybe a little less often then I should.

What kind of worlds have you been escaping into lately? Tell me about it in the comments!

Mountains, Mother’s Day, and . . .

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23 pounds of fresh lasagna!

Man, this was a crazy weekend. Anyone else feel like that? You’d think with social distancing and all that, the weekends would be more restful. You know, binge-watching, lying around on the couch, eating Cheetos and wondering when they’re going to let us out again.

Okay, I’ve done my share of that. If you replace Cheetos with marshmallows.

But this weekend didn’t turn out that way.

First of all, I dragged myself out of bed way too early on Saturday morning, and my boyfriend and I drove up to the Dillion reservoir. Because dating is hard when everything is closed. Thankfully they haven’t closed the mountains or the lakes, and Colorado has plenty of room to social distance even on our beaches.

(Don’t worry, we spread out our picnic blanket far more than six feet away from all the people.)

After driving all the way up there, around the lake, and back home, we’d logged about six hours of drive time all together. We saw bison on our way up, skipped rocks on the lake, got stomach aches from crazy gummy bears, and had a hard time not falling asleep on the way home. Long day.

But we had a blast anyway.

And where, you might be wondering, does the 23 pounds of fresh lasagna come into the mix?

I’m getting to that. See, I bought a pasta roller. Like, one of those machines that rolls your dough out good and thin so your pasta isn’t chewy. And since it was Mother’s Day on Sunday, I made lasagna for my mum. Fresh noodles, zucchini, ricotta cheese. The whole nine yards.

My sister helped.

It took about three hours, all told.

Since my family never does anything by halves, we ended up with a 23-pound pan of lasagna, way too much garlic bread, and so, so much fun working together. I started making fresh pasta a few months ago, and let me tell you, it’s been a hit. Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies, and doing it in a group, with my sister helping and a whole mix of younger siblings standing around watching and assisting as needed, is always a treat.

Plus, fresh lasagna is always welcome. No matter how long it takes to make it.

How was your weekend? Are you finding things to occupy you, even with all the social distancing going on?