December 01, 2016

Some Resources for our Advent Celebrations Past and Present

We pull from lots of different places every year to use some traditional stuff and some new stuff for our children.  Over the years we have changed our "programming" to fit the ages of our children.  We have used many children's books and children's Bibles but this year we have older children and we are doing a more mature style for them.

We read a scripture reading or two, a devotional reading from one of our books above and we sing a hymn or two.  This year we added the Christ in the Carols book to read about the hymns before we sing them.  The children always look forward to that time.  I dare say they were drawn in when they were small by the eggnog/cocoa and dessert we often share but they have grown to love the reading and time together, too.  They participate fully in the reading and lighting of candles and always have since the time they could read.

Advent started last Sunday but if you are reading an Advent devotional then most of them start today... December 1st.

Here is our list with titles and authors for each resource above and a few extra not shown.

Books Shown Above

Advent and Christmas:  Wisdom from G. K. Chesterton

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy:  Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper (On my NOOK)

The Christ of Christmas by Calvin Miller

The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren (this was a gift from last year)

Christ in the Carols:  Thirty-One Devotionals for Christmas and Advent
 by Christopher and Melodie Lane

Christ in Christmas:  A Family Advent Celebration from Focus on the Family

Great Christmas Ideas by Alice Chapin

More from my NOOK

Christmas Footprints by Todd Stiles

Finding Christmas:  Stories of Startling Joy and Perfect Peace 
by James Calvin Schaap

Devotions for Christmas:  A Celebration to Bring You Joy and Peace 
from Zondervan Publishing

Christmas Playlist:  Four Songs that Bring You to the Heart of Christmas
 by Alistair Begg

Children's Books We Have Used

The First Christmas Tree:  A Legend from Long Ago by Helen Haidle

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

This is the Star by Joyce Dunbar and Gary Blythe

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

Night is Coming by W. Nikola-Lisa

Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate

Three books in a series by Arnold Ytreeide
Bartholomew's Passage
Jotham's Journey
Tabitha's Travels

My Son, My Savior:  The Awesome Wonder of Jesus' Birth by Calvin Miller

Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki

The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs

How do you celebrate Advent?

Do you have a favorite resource?

Please feel free to share with us in the comments.  

I always love learning about new resources!

November 30, 2016

The NaNoWriMo Wrap...

Weeks one and two I moved through my days pretty well 
and had hope of staying on track 
and then week 3... 
and Thanksgiving 
and traveling to see my parents 
and my daughter 
and not wanting to have my head buried in my 
computer while I spent time with them...
Yeah, all that happened.

I ended up with almost 28,000 words when it was all said and done.
I did a ton of research on the history for my timeline.
I developed some characters.
I wrote some tragedy and joy.
I did some virtual write-ins on YouTube at the NaNoWriMo channel.
I read about the writing process... a lot!
I am developing goals for more writing in 2017.
I am toying with the idea of taking a real live creative writing class.
I will do this again next year.  

I knew by about Saturday/Sunday this past weekend that I was just done for right now.  
I have a super full plate this week and just knew it was not conducive to big chunks of writing time.  So, I put away the big file on my computer with all the writing and research and will use it all at some point if for no other reason than to give me a place to restart and a list of characters to develop more deeply.  

Well, that is it... I did not "win" but I grew as a person and a writer and that really was the point for me this time around.  Time to regroup and make a plan for December.  

The adventures are not over... there is much more to do.

Onward and upward my friends!

November 26, 2016

Advent Begins Tomorrow...

Some great resources I found to share...

A blog post full of resources and a free 28 day handout you can sign up to receive.  It is a great resource!

A more detailed description of the meaning behind all of the elements of the Advent Wreath.

A free resource - digital download entitled Good News of Great Joy

November 14, 2016

NaNoWriMo Lessons from Week 2

Week two nearly KILLED me!  LOL

I lost my focus for four whole days and wrote NOTHING!

I, honestly, had a great reason for not writing, I promise.  I was canning all things pear for the entire week between keeping up with the house, kids and work.  There is a canning post coming, btw.

They were not kidding on the NaNo site that week two is hard.  There was one point where I thought, "What would happen if I did not continue?"  That thought did not last long.  I love my characters so I kept going.  I am going to try and get ahead during week three so that my travel plans and family time don't have to be spent in the bedroom writing while everyone else is having food and fun.  I want to take some time for some photographing of all the family that will be together and the lovely fall surroundings so getting ahead is to my benefit for sure.

I decided that some motivation was in order so I took some time to do a little research and reading on the four uninspired days and got my groove back by Saturday afternoon.

Here is what I did that helped me if you need some ideas.

1.  I loaded a Pandora channel for music of the 1930s.  This is the time period I am writing about and the music feeds my soul so I thought I would give it a try and now I write listening to it for most of the time I write.  Gershwin inspires greatly!  LOL

2.  I added an East Texas history app to my phone for quick research.  It is a quick reference app sponsored and maintained by Sam Houston State University and I LOVE IT!  Click on the button to have a look...

3.  I started a Pinterest board for all things 1930's from clothing and food to historical information about the region I am writing about.  I just scroll through and read from the resources when I am feeling the need for a brain boost to keep going.

4.  I picked up a cookbook on food served in the boarding houses of the area during that time period and one on food, in general, during the Great Depression.

Food typically served in the boarding houses and hotels of the area where I am writing about.

Clara shares her Depression Cooking here in this book and online on

I also pulled out some old "Church Cookbooks" which have many recipes that have been passed down from church dinners over the decades.  There is also a plethora of videos on cooking in different eras on if you just search for them.

Food inspires me, too!

5.  I am continuing to read in the No Plot? No Problem! book and I am attending some of the online writing sessions on the Nano channel on (link below)

I finished up yesterday with 16,458 words written and as soon as this is posted I am taking some time this morning to plug away a bit more at it between laundry and cleaning chores.  There is coffee in my cup and my brain is working.... yes, even on a Monday morning.  So, I continue with a little Ragtime and Big Band music playing in the background.

Hope this inspires you NaNoWriMo writers out there, too.

What do you do to inspire you to write?

How do you warm up for a writing session?

Are any of you reading any writing books right now?  Please share!

Some others sharing their journey....

a little sweary but good tips

November 07, 2016

Lessons from Week 1 of NaNoWriMo 2016

This might be my best effort for writing, outside of journal writing and blogging, that I have ever made.  Granted, I have not tried to write fiction very often.... maybe three times now?  I have already come across some things that I would do differently if I could go back to October and start again. Here are my current observations...

1.  I would make an outline of my book idea ahead of time - There are two categories of writers in this venture according to the NaNoWriMo website.  There are the planners.  Planners are those who plan out their outlines and characters and do the research ahead of time.  The second kind are called Pantsters.  Pansters are those who start this process with no planning and fly by the seat of their pants for the entire 50,000 words.  There are combinations of the two that are referred to as Plantsters.  They combine both methods with a little planning and a little pantsing to get it done.  I have discovered that I am not a pantster and I need a plan.  Next year I will take October to prepare much better than this year.

2.  I would make a chart for characters - I loved a video I just watched about developing a character notebook and I find myself having to backtrack and make some details about characters that I am coming up with.  Without the character sketch I am finding myself struggling to develop scenarios and responses of my characters because I have not thought through how they would respond.  I need to start a notebook and start developing characters.  I know many writers do this and their stories flow from the characters they have built in their research.  I am starting that notebook now and will keep it ongoing.  When I need characters I will already "know" them to some degree and be able to write more effectively as I tell their stories.

3.  I would have read No Plot? No Problem! in October instead of November - I am enjoying the book very much and reading it slowly as I work through my writing but I wish I had known so much of this before I started.  Next year, since I am reading it now, I should have a better handle on the great information in this book.  I still won't be pantsing it, though.  LOL

4.  I would read other books on writing fiction before starting this process - The more I write the more I realize how little I know about doing this.  I know a good story when I READ it but have no earthly idea how to WRITE one.  I need better skills and knowledge to make this a real success.

5.  I would read FAR more fiction than I have to this point in my life - I have been so into non-fiction for so long I tend to write like that.  I am making a goal for 2017 to read FAR more fiction and historical fiction specifically.  I am a firm believer in reading good fiction to write good fiction.  I think it is super important to read a lot from the genre you want to write in.  I plan to make this new habit a priority.

6.  I would take a creative writing class - This one is HUGE for me.  I have already looked into some continuing education class schedules for the coming year.  I am researching some online writing courses that are legit.  There will be a six week course or two for me in this subject.  I don't believe you HAVE to take creative writing to be a creative writer but my personality is one that needs a class to give me some ground rules to keep me in line.  The ISTJ is not necessarily the best storyteller.... or are they?  I know I like lots of details and research and I love finding little tidbits that are exciting and cool to share.  I think the ISTJ, and me in particular, would be rather good at writing historical fiction.  The only problem is the lack of creative artistic feel to my writing but I don't think that is an impossible obstacle.  I think with a little push in the creative writing realm I could soar at that.  I may never be an award winning writer but I can, at the very least, improve my skills and as an ISTJ that is very appealing.

7.  If you write historical fiction there is A TON of research that should be done BEFORE you start writing.  I am writing an historical fiction work and the more I write the more I have to stop and read things about what I am writing.  I know I could keep going and make it up and correct the inaccuracies later but I stop.... and I read.... and I research... and get drawn into the history... and forget to write.  LOL  I would read ahead if I had it to do over again and for next year I will think through what I want to do and start reading from that time period several months in advance.  I am learning that it takes WAY more than a month to truly write a novel but the daily writing is the best practice I could imagine so I will keep going.

Are you writing a novel this month?

Have you ever done NaNoWriMo before?

Have you learned anything through this process?

Feel free to share your observations in the comments below or link me to a post you have written on your own writing adventures!

November 06, 2016

Road Trip North...

I love going to Las Cruces, New Mexico.  It has my favorite bookstore in the whole world and a few yarn places I like to visit.  It also has a yearly event called Tournament of Bands (TOB).  This was our 10th year of going with our kids.  It was a magnificent overcast cool day for a band contest.  Thought I would share a few photos from the day for you...

The first thing I did this morning was head to Coas Bookstore for a book signing with Bruce Wilson.  He just published a new book called Death in the Black Patch.  He just happens to be the father of a sweet friend of mine.  I love historical fiction so this is right up my ally.... if I can keep it long enough to read it before my husband snags it I will do a review for this one, too.

The rest of the day was spent looking at this magnificent sky!

and a plethora of bands

This band is the one my son is part of.

It was a great day.

I also came home and wrote over 3,000 more words for NaNoWriMo.  I am sitting just under 9,000 words right now.  I am still plugging away and doing a little reading for inspiration tomorrow.

Hope you guys had a great Saturday and that your Sunday will be one that is a day of recharging for the week ahead.

November 04, 2016

Beep Beep, Beep Beep Yeah!

Oh my goodness.... I spent the entire day driving around in my car today!  

Tuesdays and Thursdays are such long days but today had an added trip up to NMSU to go and pick up tickets for a band event this weekend.  That drive is about a 45 minute trip one way.  I headed to work first thing and then left from there around 10:30 am to head north.  I acquired the 200 tickets for our band families but while I was parked (literally 10 minutes) I got a ticket for not having a sticker because I am not a student and, well... if you are not a student you would not have a sticker now would you.  

I had to immediately head over to the parking office and explain why I was there and why I should not have to pay that ticket and then they made me fill out a paper to get it "expunged" from my record.  In the process of getting it taken off they realized I did not have a record to expunge it from so they made me fill out another form to register to park on campus for free and then told me how to come by and get a pass when I do come on campus.  The whole thing was a bit of a joke but I appeased the god of campus police and now I know how to avoid any future tickets.  Plus I got a campus map for free, too.  LOL

Once I finally got off campus I headed straight for my favorite bookstore.  I frequent Coas Books when I am in Las Cruces.  It is a used bookstore with two branches in town and one of those branches is close to NMSU.  I had five boxes of books in the back of my car to deliver for store credit and I brought 9 home with me when I left the store.  Not bad.... here is my book haul!

I went a little crazy on the Adriana Trigiani books but I loved the movie Big Stone Gap so I am trying them.  I also bought a book because it had a cute foodie picture and the word Gumbo in the title.  I have no idea how I will like it but it intrigued me so it came home with me. LOL  There is the tried and true Erica Bauermeister that I have read a book by and I know I love her stuff.  The book Dune is for my college girl and then Longbourn is just a highly recommended book by friends.  I love a good book haul!  Oh, and I paid.... ONLY $12.72 FOR THE WHOLE STACK!  Hurrah for credit!

From the bookstore I headed back home to sort tickets and then deliver them to the school for distribution.  It is my thing every fall now I suppose.  I don't load equipment or do chaperoning or offer my cooking services much and lately I don't even frequent the ballgames or most of the contests on Saturdays.  I make sure they have tickets for the big event of the season and that is it.  It is a quiet little job that affords me a small road trip and a bookstore run.  If I had had more time and cash there would have been yarn involved, too.

I also picked up stuff to make lots of pear canned goodies from and for a friend.  We are going "halves" on the final product.  She bought all the ingredients and jars and brought me the recipes she likes best and I am doing all the processing and then we share the final cans of goodies.  The pears are all from trees on her property.  I will share pictures and process when I am done so you can see everything.  

Reading any good books right now you might want to recommend?

How about canning.... do you can?  

If you do are you working on some seasonal stuff right now?


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