Holiday Hangover

To the people who think it’s cool to hate the holidays, it’s not.  I don’t even hate the commercialism (who doesn’t love a fancy department store all donned in holiday décor?),  just the gladiator-like materialism.  I have never shopped on Black Friday, and never will (except online), as there is nothing in this world I want badly enough to need full body armor.  The kind of items people shop on Bloody Friday for are those they buy for themselves anyway.  I’ll stick to smaller and more thoughtful, predominately handmade/homemade gifts.

My brother, who is as cynical as Greg Gutfeld (and just as unsentimental), was visibly touched when I gave him a framed picture of him and his girlfriend (that I’d lifted off his Facebook profile) and I’d had printed at Walgreens.  With the exception of my husband (who got three pairs of Levi jeans), everyone else got homemade or more personalized gifts.

My mom and dad got framed family pictures of my little family; my grandmother also, on a smaller scale, and, I must admit, a regift of a wedding gift my husband and I received–a box of stationery in a country design.  I don’t consider a regift a bad gift as long as it’s new and it’s something you believe the other person would use or enjoy.  Even the bag was a bag I had received at my husband’s family’s Dirty Santa.  It was the only one I had that was big enough.

My friends all received homemade goodies (a tin of handmade truffles or a Cherry Coca Cola cake–the best cake I ever made (http://www.coca-colacompany.com/food/coca-cola-cake-recipe), only I baked it in a Bundt and used this ganache recipe (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Chocolate-Ganache/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=chocolate%20ganache&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page), substituting the rum for cherry brandy I had on hand, garnishing it with crushed almonds.  I also gave away some personal care products I had couponed.

I also sent a couple of books directly to my cousin in Missouri from amazon.com (one cent plus $3.99 shipping).

I now wish I had pictures to add, because I read somewhere that photos and video add interest to a blog, but I’ll get to that later.  I guess to be a successful blogger, one not only needs to be a writer, but a photographer as well.

Right now, I’m just getting myself into the habit of blogging.

A triple whammy if there ever was one:  coffee, chocolate and vodka.

A triple whammy if there ever was one: coffee, chocolate and vodka.

On Writing

Being a part of a local writer’s group has enriched my writing experience in so many ways.  Through it, I’ve met like-minded people I can share my work with, made new friends, and I’m always super motivated after the meeting, which carries all the way through till the next meeting.

I’ve taken a hiatus somewhat, from my novel writing, and am concentrating on completing shorter pieces.  Reading a novel is a grand investment of one’s time.

Writing smaller things, I am able to submit more work, enter more contests, thus increasing my chances of being published and maybe even making a little money at it.

I have decided, after querying over fifty agents, that self-publishing is probably going to be the way to go with my first novel.  I just want to get this one book out there and be done with it.  I love the writing part of the business, but the introvert in me hates the marketing part.  I’m a writer, not a salesgirl.

The truth is, this book will probably offend all my Mormon friends (it’s a farcical drama of one family’s experience with the Church), so I won’t be promoting it on my Facebook page.  I had considered publishing it under the pseudonym of Katherine Mayfield (a character from Beverly Lewis’s series, “The Heritage of Lancaster County”, who leaves the Amish faith to become a Mennonite), but it just wouldn’t be the same with another name on the cover.

shoes

The Cost of Christmas

Not only are there the presents, but there’s the food (some of which become gifts), but the tree (if you buy a fresh one every year), the decorations (we always add to our Christmas Towne Square every year), and now, the pictures.  Oh, and let’s not forget about the after Christmas sale.  This is not even counting any charitable donations.

As much as I’d love to simplify my life, I love having stuff–just not too much of it, and I like it to be nice.   If I already have a certain number or amount of something, I don’t buy another, unless I have to replace it.  I don’t even buy movies anymore.  Why bother, if you can DVR them, or rent them from Netflix?  It’s just more clutter.  Now printed books are another story (pardon the pun).

My goal (one of my many) this coming year is to make do with less, and make do with what I have (not to mention eat less, but better).  I think I can achieve that goal as long as I stay out of Kohl’s and Target (and their online stores).  Thank goodness for online bill pay.  It’s easier to avoid temptation than resist it.  I’m ready to get out of debt the Dave Ramsey way (sans the living on beans and rice).

It’s not so much what you have, but what you do with what you have (to a certain extent).  However, I am beginning to believe people who make less than 40K a year don’t even bother calling Dave.  To listen to his show, one could conclude that it’s better to be deep in debt but making boatloads of money.

I don’t know what the next year will bring, but I do know I can’t count on anything but what I have control over.  I don’t know if I would say God is in control of the rest (everyone has free will, and sometimes, their free will infringes upon ours), but I do have faith that if I do all I can do, everything will work out in the end.  It’s so easy to get bogged down in the day to day stuff and miss the big picture.

Dave’s List

Lists are one of my favorite forms of writing.  I love to make them (whether it’s a grocery list, a list of goals, etc.), and I love to read them.  I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s show in my car during my lunch hour, and he mentioned this list he received a lot of hateful comments over.

I can see how this piece would hit a nerve with poor people; I don’t know if one becomes rich by having these habits, or if they acquire these habits if they are rich or become rich, though I’m inclined to believe the former.  This is the list:  http://www.daveramsey.com/blog/20-things-the-rich-do-every-day

Though I believe time wasted isn’t wasted if it is being enjoyed, I do believe how we manage our time is important if we want to be successful in this life, if we want to accomplish things (it’s not all about the money).

So many people waste hours on Pinterest (one of my friends in the local writers group I attend referred to it as “Internet hoarding”) without doing any of the things they pin.  I remember reading somewhere that we’ve becoming a nation of watchers, not doers, and some people, I believe, only do things so they can take pictures of it and post it on Facebook.

One of my many New Year’s resolutions is to do more, watch less.  Now the only thing I’m not doing on this list is wake up three hours before I go to work.  That would be four in the morning, when it’s still dark, and that’s just depressing.  I would have to go to bed right after I get home to make that happen, and I have to have time to unwind.

Back to the list:  One can disagree with the list all they want, but to borrow a banned phrase (at least I think it’s a banned phrase) by Greg Gutfeld, it is what it is.  One can not like the list, and, I suppose, disagree with it, but facts are facts.  I choose to use this list as a way to improve my life not so much to make me rich, but to improve myself.  I think when one does certain things, other things just naturally fall into place.

The shopping holiday

I’ve done good.  My husband and I bought our real life/live(?) Christmas tree from the Optimist Club (a charitable organization), grown in the USA and not made in China.

Though I buy all our Christmas décor, paper, etc., after Christmas at Target and Kohl’s, I am determined to stay local when it comes to gifts this year.  I bought my cousin two books from a third party merchant on amazon.com (saving myself the hassle of shipping them by having them sent directly to her), and a girl I work with crochets these cool scarves, which I am getting for one of my close friends.

My parents’ thinking about gift cards is to only get gift cards to places they know a person likes, but I see gift cards as an opportunity to get the receiver to try someplace new.  I’m going to get my parents (and my brother and his girlfriend) a gift card/gift certificate to a local restaurant.

I’d love to find a cooking class for my husband (not something he would have to go to every other day, like a college course, but a one-time deal to learn some specialized thing).

As for the rest of my more casual friends, there is no better gift than good food, and those are the most enjoyable gifts to give.