Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Simple Computer Maintenence You Ought to be Doing

I'm not an IT person, but I'm often asked computer questions. (Behind every good amateur computer tech is :) Often the problem is relayed to me like this: "My computer is doing something funky."

Here are some things you ought to be doing to keep your computer from bogging down and doing something funky. (This is mainly for for Windows PC users). If doing these things doesn't fix it, you can google your specific problem and read computer discussion boards if you want to figure it out yourself, or then call the IT guy, but don't pay him to do these things that you can do yourself!

Computer Maintenance

  • Turn off your computer-A tech guy told me that a lot of times he makes a house call to fix a computer and basically gets paid to restart the computer.When your computer reboots, it's fixing its little brains. Shut off your computer daily, don't keep it on all the time. And if something weird happens, sometimes restarting is all that you need to do.

  • Clean out files periodically--Get rid of stuff clogging up your computer space.
Go to Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>Disk Cleanup
Run this and get rid of everything, then...

  • Defragment your computer--Have the computer put  the pieces together instead of haphazardly for quicker running, don't do this until you cleaned out your files.
Go to Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>Disk Defragment

  • Update your Computer - Updates make things run more smoothly and catch more bugs.

If Windows or Adobe or your Browser or other legitimate software ask you to install and update, do so, it's good for your computer.

Make sure you have your automatic updates turned on.
Go to Start>Control Panel>Windows Update>Change Settings (Turn on automatic updates here if it isn't already on)

Internet Browsing Maintenance

  • Use a Firewall - Helps block things you can't see
If you do not have a purchased firewall, use Windows Firewall
Start>Control Panel>Windows Firewall

After researching, I chose to purchase Vipre's firewall system. (Just FYI) I've had it for 2 years and am happy with it.

  • Avoid and Destroy Malware -- Malicious software hidden on your computer slows it down.
First, DON'T visit crazy sites--if sites look iffy and not professional, avoid them and don't download anything from this kind of site, download from legitimate sites that lots of people trust. Here's a good article on how to keep YOU from causing problems.

McAfee Site Advisor If downloaded, it will tell you if the site you are about to go on is iffy.

Periodically run a Malware destroying software (These are free downloads):

Malware Bytes
Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool

Ad-Aware gets rid of adware that causes similar problems

  • Close Down or Try a New Browser - Just like needing to reboot your computer brains, sometimes restarting your browser is helpful, and sometimes a problem with a website is actually a problem with how the browser is viewing the web site. Also, if you are creating a website/blog, look in each browser to see if it looks right in all of them.
If you are using Internet Explorer, I'd advise switching


  • Clear you Browser's Cache and Cookies - These tidbits hold private information on you and collect like trash and bog down your browser's capabilities. This will, however, erase your automatic sign ins, passwords and fill-in forms, but if you only do it once a month, you won't have to reenter things too often on sites you visit most.

Each browser will be different but basically look here to clear cache and cookies:
Open Browser>Tools>Options>Privacy

You will work faster and more efficiently if your computer has been maintained in order for it to work fast and efficiently as well.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chocolate Dream Dessert

One of my goals in life is to have a repertoire of simple, delicious recipes that are impressive enough for company and guaranteed to disappear at potlucks. Perhaps it’s not a lofty goal and maybe some will think me a bit lazy in the cooking department, but I’d rather do other things than spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

This is one of those recipes. It’s quick, easy and yummy, appealing to both children and adults alike. For best results, refrigerate overnight.

Chocolate Dream Dessert

First (bottom) layer: 1 cup flour, ½ cup chopped nuts, 1 stick of butter. Combine and press into a 9X13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Cool completely before adding other layers.

Second layer: 8-ounces cream cheese (softened), 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 cup Cool Whip topping. Blend well together and spread on top of first layer.

Third layer: 2 3-ounce packages instant chocolate pudding, 3 cups cold milk. Mix together and pour over second layer. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.

Fourth layer: 1 to 2 cups Cool Whip. Spread over firmed third layer. Refrigerate until served.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sour Cream and Bacon Crockpot Chicken

4 chicken breasts
bacon slices
1 can (10oz) roasted garlic cream of mushroom soup
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. flour
(optional, chopped onion, more garlic, parmesan cheese (at the end as a topping)
egg noodles

Wrap raw bacon around each raw breast and place in crockpot.

In bowl, combine soup, sour cream, and flour (onion and garlic if desired). Whisk. Pour this concoction over chicken.

Cook on low 6-8 hours or until meat is 160 degrees. Cook noodles according to package, rewhisk the sauce, and serve over noodles.

Caveat: This doesn't look very appealing but it is extremely yummy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Good Mother

I’m a terrible mother.

Before you call social services and report me, no, I don’t beat or starve my children, but there are days when I fall way short of today’s definition of a good mother. I don’t spend a lot of time with my children (and often think that’s okay). I don’t correct their homework (and have no intention of doing so). At times, I get annoyed when they interrupt me. I sometimes yell at them when they frustrate me (like spilling milk on the table I just cleaned).

How many times have I not paid attention to what a child was saying because my attention was on my email? How many times do I pack my day with too much work and end up too tired to play a game or read a story to them before bed?

We as mothers and women have a tendency to set the bar so high, it’s nigh on impossible to reach. We tell ourselves that if we don’t bake the cookies from scratch, or don’t pay close enough attention to the babblings of the 2-year-old, or don’t fill-in-the-blank, our children will not be happy, healthy, or have a good life.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But how many of us have had similar thoughts dance through our minds, along with the accompanying guilt at not being a good enough mother? I sure have, even though I try very hard not to.

Then there’s the inevitable comparisons with other mothers. Even when we’re not consciously thinking about how other women parent, it can seep into our minds in the blink of an eye.

Here’s an example of what I mean: When my oldest was a toddler, we went to the park on one of the first warm spring days. She had on a short-sleeved shirt probably for the first time that year. As we walked to the playground, I looked around at the other mothers who were arriving with their children. Nearly every one of them had whipped out a tube of sunscreen and was slathering their child’s face and arms with the stuff. My daughter looked at me and asked if she needed sunscreen. I told her no and to go play, but in that moment, I felt like a bad mother, one who sends her defenseless child out into the sunny world with no sunscreen.

Other times this feeling has cropped up for me includes being the mom without the first aid kit at the playground and another mom has to lend you a Band-aid to bandage your child’s bloody knee. Or giving my kids a non-organic, not-too-healthy snack when other moms have artfully arranged carrot sticks and hummus.

If we fall into this mindset that we are not good enough mothers, that our parenting styles and family life is not up to par with the rest of the world—and as a result our children will not be able to fulfill their great destinies— then we will miss out on a lot of the joys of childhood.

We also will miss out on the laughter and the pain, the joys and the sorrows, the average grades and the missed goals. And those lessons learned from not being perfect, from seeing how we as mothers handle life’s disappointments, and from enjoying life to its fullest whatever our circumstances, are priceless.

It’s not being the perfect mother that our children will love us for—it’s being the best mother we can be for them. That won’t look good some days, but if we turn our backs on measuring ourselves to an impossible standard, we can have more good days than bad.

It took me several years to come to terms that I wasn’t a great mother by certain standards. And there are times when I slip and start to obsess about how I’m not a good mother. But most of the time, I aim to be a good enough mother, and so far, it’s been a good one for my four children.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interview With Jeemaa, Part 2

Give-away Necklace
Welcome back for part two of our interview with jewelry designer Jeemaa. If you haven't entered her give-away contest yet, be sure to link over and do so!

Yesterday Jeemaa shared a glimpse of her home life with us, today we are going to focus on the work side of her life.

Jeemaa, do you keep a schedule, and if you do, how flexible is it?

Yes I do, but it is flexible. Our routine changes constantly as our son grows, so flexibility is very important to us. Typically, we start our day with some mommy and baby snuggle time, then breakfast followed by some kind of activity. We enjoy story time at the library, play time with little buddies, going to the zoo or park, or anything that can be done within two and a half hours. Then it is mommy’s work time and baby’s nap time. I try to get done as much as possible during the nap time. That includes making the jewelry, photographing the pieces, listing new items in my etsy shop, packaging the orders, communicating with my customers and so forth. Then it is our lunch time and more play time. Each day is a little bit different though. Some days my son is more independent and allows me to work more in between play times, but some days he needs me more. Those days I work late nights. It was definitely more challenging in the beginning but as my son gets older, our schedule is getting more and more consistent and I get more accomplished.

Come downstairs Mommy!
So where do you do your work? Do you have a separate work-space?

I have a separate work space in our loft but I somehow seem to end up downstairs. So we had to do some rearranging. Now both the loft and the dining room are used as my work space  I think it is mainly because everything happens downstairs and it is child proof. 

I find the same is true for my situation! I have a work studio in our attic and just about every time I go up there to work, something happens to call me downstairs! So if I'm working on a portable project, I bring it down, otherwise it waits until later. Flexibility is key!

So what suggestion(s) would you offer to a newbie work from home mom, or a mom who is considering coming home to work?

Everyone’s situation is a little bit different but I would love to share what seems to work for me. 1) As I mentioned earlier, establishing some kind of schedule and routine is very important.  2) Keeping a good line of communication with customers is crucial. A lot of my jewelry ideas come directly from my customers. For example, “Grandma’s Little Sunshine” was inspired by a grandma who loves spending the time with her adorable grandson.  3) Taking occasional time off to recharge is a must! My husband is in charge of reminding me of this part. It does not need to be a week-long vacation; even if it is just a picnic at a park or a long walk - anything that you enjoy other than your business will help.

That sounds like excellent advice! 
What has been your experience with advertising and promoting your business?

I find blog giveaways and Facebook promotional events a wonderful way to spread the word about my jewelry business. It is cost effective but produces excellent results! I think it is great that small business owners are working together to promote each other’s businesses. I have never been a Facebook person before, but now I really enjoy interacting with my customers and fans via Facebook. I love seeing their feedback, appreciation photos, custom requests, suggestions and questions. In my opinion, it is not just a fan page, I see it more as a community of moms and caregivers who support each other.

Fancy Mama Teething Ring Necklace

Facebook is a great tool, if used wisely! I find myself tempted to waste too much time there! I need to work on this and devote myself more to homeschool planning, work, and housework!

Your necklaces are simply beautiful, yet functional and affordable! Where does your inspiration come from?

Day to day life, colors, natural stones, beautiful outfits, magazines…there are so many things that inspire me to create my jewelry.  But as a mommy jewelry designer, I get very excited about baby friendly and mommy fashionable pendants to serve as the focal points of my jewelry! When I find that unique focal piece, I usually lay it out on my dining table for a few days. Sometimes, the design idea comes to me right away but sometimes it takes days. I love finding out what that stone represents, match them with complimenting beads and create a piece that has a special meaning! I also pay attention to the things that my little man does while I nurse him or hold him.  Here is my son chewing on his favorite teething ring. This inspired me to create my “Fancy Mama Teething Ring Necklace” design.

Sometimes I find myself in a "designing rut", do you ever feel that way? What do you do when you find yourself stuck in a rut? 

do occasionally find myself in a “designing rut”. That is when I take a break for a few days and do other things that I enjoy as much. The trick for me is not to think about jewelry at all… then I miss it and get inspired all over again to create some more …It is a great feeling
Jeemaa, thank you for your wonderful advice and insight into your successful work from home business! 

MHW readers, remember to enter to win "Grandma's Little Sunshine" necklace here and be sure to check out Jeemaa's work on Facebook and Etsy!Bonus coupon code for readers: 10% off at Jeemaa's Esty shop.
 The coupon code for readers is: MAKINGHOMEWORK  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Interview With Jewelry Designer Jeemaa {and Give-away!}

Please join me in welcoming jewelry designer Jeemaa to Making Home Work!  Jeemaa is the brilliance behind Mommy Jewelry Sturdy and PurdyJeemaa, tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

I am a wife to my wonderful husband Jeff and a mom to our sweet little boy Zachary. I love scrapbooking, cooking and taking long walks in nature. I also enjoy beading and creating unique and functional pieces of jewelry for mommies.

Jeemaa and her husband, Disney 2011
 Thank you Jeemaa for interviewing with us, please tell our readers about your business products.

I make nursing and teething ring necklaces for mamas and caregivers. They are especially designed to keep babies’ little hands busy while making the mamas look stylish. I use natural wooden teething rings, organic Flaxseed oil or beeswax and all kinds of semi precious stones.

I have ordered a few of your beautiful necklaces and I love wearing them as much as my toddler loves playing with them! Jeemaa, tell us how you got started making jewelry.
My business was inspired by one of my best friend’s custom necklace requests and my own experience with my baby boy.  A few years ago I opened my Etsy shop to sell my nature inspired whimsical jewelry. At that time, I had a full time teaching job so I could not always find the time to maintain my shop. When my son was about four months old, one of my best friends asked me to make a nursing necklace for her. I got some pretty beads with different shapes and textures and made one for her and one for myself. I wanted the necklace to be durable and functional – interesting enough to grab babies’ attention but pretty enough that it can be worn as everyday jewelry. My son loved it!! He gets easily distracted during nursing, especially in public. With the necklace he was more focused. He loved the natural donut stone and really enjoyed exploring the beads. He played with it while I waited in a checkout line or changed his diaper. He tugged on it instead of pulling my hair. I was so excited that I posted the necklace pictures on Facebook and it didn’t take long before another mommy wanted one. And my business has been flourishing ever since.
I love a good story of how children inspire a mother in business! Tell us more about your son.

We have a very busy eighteen month old toddler! His name is Zachary. He loves to play with his daddy’s golf clubs, remote controls, tools (which he doesn’t get from his dad), stickers and anything that makes noise. Zachary also loves books that keep his little fingers busy. We think that Matthew Van Fleet is his favorite author.  He never gets tired of reading Tails with mommy and daddy. 

Oh he's a future reader! We love readers here at Making Home Work!
Never too early for books!
Your child is still pretty young, do you involve him with your work?

I do not involve my son in the making of the jewelry part as I work with beads and small pieces that are not safe for him. I also work with teething rings and keeping them clean is extremely important. So mostly, I make my jewelry during his nap time or after he goes to bed. But there are parts that he gets to help mommy. He loves putting the packages in the “mail” bag. We frequently journey to the post office and he has become good buddies with the post office ladies! We both enjoy listening to the post office ladies sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to us.  
Packing the mail bag!
Sounds like Zachary is a favorite at the Post Office! 
What do you find the most challenging aspect about working from home?

For me the time management is the most challenging aspect of working from home. I am very lucky because our son takes pretty long naps during the day and it really helps me to get my work done. But I can’t always count on naps - there are days he doesn’t want to nap and needs mommy to hold him or be near him at all times. In such instances, there is not much that I can do but wait for my husband to come home.  Working late nights or weekends can get stressful at times but things always seem to work out in the end. 

How do you handle meal preparation? Do you have a time saving trick that allows you more time to work and less time in the kitchen?

I am not very good at planning things but with the help of my better half who is more organized, we make a pretty good team. We usually have some idea of what we are going to cook that week and create the grocery list accordingly. The amazing time savers are my husband’s grandma’s amazing crock pot that turns anything we throw into it a delicious dinner, a rice cooker that my husband got me for my birthday, the savory lemon herb Rotisserie chicken that Meijer prepares, and a giant wok that we purchased from Amazon! That is dinner/lunch for at least three days of the week. Then we add some kind of easy pasta and tortilla wrap dinner to our weekly menu and we are all set! Our meals get sort of repetitive at times but it definitely saves us time and money.

Sounds good to me! Crock-pots do come in handy, I have two that I rely on heavily here at our house.
So with all of this to consider, is it worth it? What keeps you home instead of having an outside career? 

Absolutely! It is worth everything! I will be honest. Some days I wish I had a 9 to 5 job, made more money, had more adult interaction or more alone time, could go shopping and buy new clothes - but even before I finish the sentence, I take it back. I count my blessings every day and am so thankful that my husband works extremely hard so that I can stay at home with our baby. Without a doubt it is one of the most challenging jobs. So what keeps me home? The joy of watching our lil guy grow!

That's the best reason to stay at home! Thank you Jeemaa for giving us a glimpse into your home life. Next post we will explore the work side of her business. Be sure to check out the beautiful necklace give-away below!!

Jeemaa has graciously offered a beautiful necklace give-away and a 10% discount code to our MHW readers! The coupon code for readers is: MAKINGHOMEWORK  The coupon code is a 10% discount code for Jeema's etsy shop. 

Giveaway ~ "Grandma's Little Sunshine"

Description: This all natural organic maple teething ring measures 2.5 inches. The teething ring and the wooden beads are all finished with Certified Organic Flaxseed oil. It is safe for your little one to chomp on. The wooden beads are individually knotted. The 100 percent 2 mm cotton cord is extremely durable. It is a beautiful soft brown cord. The necklace is adjustable up to 29 inches with a Sliding Knot.

Grandmas Little Sunshine
Value: 11.50

To enter, (you can have up to five chances to win) leave a separate comment for each one you complete:

Optional extra entries: 
  • "Like" Making Home Work on Facebook 
  • Follow Making Home Work Blog
  • Tweet this give-away (tell us your twitter name!)
  • Share this give-away on Facebook (tell us your Facebook name and/or leave link)
  • Post one comment telling us you've done each item above and increase your chances to win! (up to five entries!)
Entries must be made by Friday, Nov 18, 2011 by midnight. will select our winner, verification and announcement will be made Sunday, Nov 20, 2011 by noon.  Check back here to see if you won!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Good Ol' Texas Brisket

"Hey there Cowboy!" My mother-in-law always greets my kids in a thick Texas accent. She lives in Northeast Texas, the setting of my novel. I have been in deep edits so I thought I would share a guaranteed delicious recipe from that part of the world...and my mother-in-law's own recipe collection!
This is a great recipe to give someone when they have a baby or need a meal. I always take some rolls so they can make sandwiches if they'd like. Enjoy!

Carol's Beef Brisket

1 (3 to 4 lb) brisket
1 tsp. meat tenderizer
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
3 Tbsp. Liquid Smoke
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce

Combine meat tenderizer and all flavored salts. Sprinkle both sides of brisket with seasoning mixture. Place in a covered container or plastic freezer or baking bag. Refrigerate overnight (I skip these two steps...I am never that together. But it still comes out great). Place brisket in a baking pan and pour the marinade over top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake slowly at 225 degrees for 8 hours or until tender. Slice against grain with a sharp knife.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vegetarian Lasagna

26 oz Pasta Sauce (bottled Organic or homemade)
8 oz Lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions-don’t over cook. You can use rice pasta if you're desiring a gluten-free dish.
16 oz soft Tofu, Mori Nu brand is shelf stable and doesn’t have to be refrigerated until opened. I prefer it's texture over other brands of tofu.
3 c. fresh veggies, sliced and lightly steamed: broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms,
       Onions, Carrots,  your choice!
8 oz shredded Mozzarella style soy or rice cheese

In a large casserole dish layer in the following order:

Put just a little sauce in the bottom of the pan.
Mashed Tofu

Cover with foil and bake 35-40 min. Uncover and bake an additional 5 mins.
Note: Tofu takes on the flavor of what ever it is cooked with. By layering it with the cheese it will blend in and you might not even notice that it’s not all cheese. This is a great way to introduce tofu into your diets if you aren’t used to it. Or to try it on some unsuspecting children! :D

When making your own pasta sauce, add 1 Tbsp of honey to really set off the tomatoes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Feeling Invisible?

"Am I invisible? Am I inaudible? Do I merely festoon the room with my presence?" as Christopher Fry was to ask in The Lady's Not for Burning.

I've never read the book or seen the play and probably never will, but I love that quote! It made me laugh out loud when I first read it.

Do you sometimes feel as if you aren't seen or as if no one is listening? Life is such a demanding clamor of people and things. We're pulled in a dozen directions at once, and feel both invisible and inaudible. Who sees who I really am? Who truly listens to what I have to say?

"Honey, I'm home!" translates "Is dinner ready? as husbands need us and expect much of us. "Mommy, where's my bunny? morphs into "Mom, what did you do with my red shirt?" as our children grow. And "Are you coming over? or "Have you called your sister yet?" from parents whose control we long ago thought we were out from under.

It's Time!

Our homes are full of bells and chimes, the washer, dryer, microwave, phones, all beckon us to race to them for attention. When the only warmth and welcome seems to come from a pot full of freshly perked coffee or the brisk scent of brewing tea or the comforting aroma of hot chocolate, maybe it's time to stop and take a break.

Of course, we don't merely festoon our homes with our presence. We are loved by our family and we have sweet glimpses of appreciation.

But what do you do if you feel invisible?

Stop and turn things around. Lift something more than a cup of coffee or a mug of hot chocolate or a glass of tea. There is One to whom you are never invisible or inaudible. Lift your eyes, lift a friend, lift your voice, lift up your soul.

Pray: Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. Psalm 123:1

Be there for a friend: For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Ecclesiastes 4:10

Sing: Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together . . . Isaiah 52:8a

Seek the Lord: Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. Psalm 86:4

Praise: Lift up your hands in His Name: Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. Psalm 63:4

They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing;
for the majesty of the LORD they
shall cry aloud from the sea.
Isaiah 24:14

God knows your name and loves you: Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing. Isaiah 40:26

Allow God to lift you: Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:10

Be uplifted in His peace: The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. Numbers 6:26

And here are a few quotes I've loved and leaned on for many years. I hope they will lift your spirits and help you to know without a doubt that you are never, ever invisible to the Creator of heaven and earth!

Theresa of Avila said:
"Our Lord does not care so much for the importance of our works
as for the love with which they are done."

From The Practice of the Presence of God--
"We can do little things for God. I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for the love of him; and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him who has given me Grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king." Brother Lawrence

William Law wrote:
"What ever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank God and praise him for it you turn it into a blessing."

John Oxenham wrote in Bees in Amber--

"Not for one single day
Can I discern my way,
But this I surely know--
Who gives the day,
Will show the way.
So I securely go."


Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Philippians 4:4

All Scripture is from the New King James Version of the Bible
It's Time photograph was taken by my daughter, Deborah Sandidge
Photograph of the little girl with her hands raised is my great granddaughter, River.
She's standing in the surf, thrilled with that huge Atlantic Ocean before her.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Challenge Week ~ A Week of Nano...

Today is the beginning of NANOWRIMO, National Novel Writing Month, an event that comes every November. Writer's from all over the world, of all shapes and sizes challenge themselves to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I successfully completed Two Sides Of Wilde in 2009 during NANO and this year I'm back for more!

Two Sides Of Wilde, available on Kindle by Amazon, is the first in the three part Wilde Series, but all three books can also stand alone.

Since this blog is meant to be a week long challenge, I'll measure out the equivalent. I am actually attempting to write TWO books during NANO and I'd like them to be 60,000 words or more. Not trying to be an over achiever, but I am very motivated by deadlines and accountability, so I'm just getting the most bang for my buck! Just a pun, NANO costs nothing!

My two titles are The Vegan & the Butcher and How Long Has It Been?. Here is an excerpt from VB....
Gran was especially picky and interested in cuts of meat, an education that would prove useless to Charlie when she became a vegetarian and then a vegan in college, but Joe the butcher never held it against her. He always called her Charlotte, like her Gran did, a habit Charlie loved as much as she hated. Old Joe had always had a little crush on Gran, or at least Charlie thought so. Gran insisted repeatedly that he treated all his customers with the same attention and charm, but her granddaughter wasn’t buying it. Charlie smiled as she remembered the teasing that she and Gran had shared over the years. The memory and the parking lot of Jamacha Junction made her stop and realize that Gran was gone. She’d been having moments like this all day, all week really. It was hard to believe it had been a week since the phone rang, in her new apartment, cardboard boxes still strewn about and nothing but a shiny framed degree hanging on one wall.

And one from HLHB....

Ginny looked at her watch, wondering if Eric was up. He had an alarm, but always seemed to be up before it was. He would get up and brush his teeth and drink his coffee, in that order, all while watching CNN and read the paper. She wondered what he would tell the girls; probably very little. He had a special knack for being vague. But they would be uninterested anyway. As long as there was someone to drive them to school and listen to their chatter, they would immediately be insisting on pizza delivery for dinner, which Eric would happily oblige. He wouldn’t check their homework and they would stay up too late. This would normally stir anxiety in Ginny when she traveled, but the reliability of it was actually a welcome comfort.

So, I'm a day late because I couldn't start til today (Tuesday, 11/1). Our blog challenge week ends on Friday (11/4). So, my goal being to write 4000 words a day, 2000 on each book (preferably,) but because the writing process is so unpredictable, I could finish one book and then the other, depending on the inspiration, so my four-day goal is 16,000 words total, by bedtime Friday.

It's not too late to participate in NANO at!! There's a great community there where you post your daily word counts and see how others are doing in your area.

At the end of the month, those who have finished get a free proof of their printed book from

So, wish me luck and be sure and post the challenges you have planned for yourself this week. Come back and post your progress. How will you reward yourself for a job well done? :)