Saturday Breakfast

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If you don’t live around the Pennsylvania area, you may never have heard of one of the great breakfast meats: scrapple. It is of Pennsylvania Dutch origin, and as an offal product, to many outside of the region may seem rather gross. However, it is inexpensive and tasty, and DH and I both like it.

While we don’t buy it very often, we do when it’s on sale, and it freezes well. It’s nice to make on a Saturday when we’re both home for breakfast, usually with eggs. We both prefer it pan fried; it is crispy outside and soft inside. I prefer it with ketchup, but people put many different condiments on it.

If you’re ever in the area, do give it a try. It can be purchased in most grocery stores and diners. Have you already tried it? Do share in the comments.

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Novel Writing Month – 2017

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With Novel writing month approaching way more swiftly than I’d like–can’t we catch a breath somewhere?–I’ve decided to participate this year. This was last week, when I thought, “Hey, I write pretty much every day anyway, so I may as well.” Does that sound too uncommitted? Possibly.

Document setup is about half way done. I’ve got all the main headings and places to start, but haven’t had a chance this week to get more notes in. Hopefully I can get that done before the first.

For me, novel writing month changes how I do my daily writing. I’ve got out of the habit of carrying the laptop and have been doing pen and paper writing for quite some time now. I’ll have to keep the laptop charged and carry it on my daily commute for the month. Who knows, maybe I’ll get back into that mode of writing and continue with it.

The main story this year will center around Aura, and at the moment I have no idea where it will fall between fanfic vs. original canon. It will definitely be exploratory writing, and hopefully I’ll learn a lot more about her and where she comes from.

Books That Shape Us

Being from a reading family, and the daughter of a librarian, book have always been a part of my life. They’ve greatly influenced who I am today. Growing up with books trains the mind to build deep thought processes, be exposed to experiences it normally wouldn’t, and build imagination and creativity. Like Harry Potter has affected entire generations (yes, it will be on this list!), I know that I have been heavily influenced by certain books and series in my reading background.

It was hard to narrow it down to the list below. There are many wonderful books I haven’t included because they haven’t had effects in my life, which is really the required thing here. In alphabetical order.

 

  • Amy Tan
    • I no longer remember when I first read a book of hers, but it was probably The Joy Luck Club. Her work is deep and intense, and I ready many of them during a time when I was expanding my world view.
  • Anne McCaffrey
    • Of everything on this list, she is probably the most influential writer. I cannot say enough about how much I was obsessed with the Dragonrider series. My mom first got me Dragonsong on tape as a young teenager, and when I finally listened to it I went on to read all of the Dragonrider books I could get. My first serious attempts at writing were Pern fanfics, and that in turn has led to so many other things.
  • Anne Rice
    • Your view of vampires won’t be the same after reading these. It’s been very difficult finding anything as good. Nothing else I’ve read stands up to the level of character, plot, and clearly thought out vision of her vampire stories.
  • Beatrix Potter
    • I don’t think I’ve ever not known tales like Peter Rabbit or Two Bad Mice. Peter Rabbit came out in 1902, and people still read these to their kids. I don’t know any other picture books still in use after such a long time. My mom has been to her home on her tours of the UK, and I’m lucky enough to have some first edition “reprints” from their store.
  • Beverly Cleary
    • Another childhood staple. The tales of Ramona Quimby, beef tongue, and yogurt chicken were prevalent in our household. DH had never heard of her and that made me sad.
  • Bishoujou Senshi Sailor Moon
    • A gateway anime for lots of people in my generation. But the original manga is a lovely story, with lovely art. I have met so many awesome people and that has shaped my life tremendously since 2004. I’m also into the musicals.
  • Black Beauty
    • I read this as a kid, and still read it once in a while. Being a horse girl, I read tons of horse stories, but this one is pretty universal and still read by children today. Also a great story for animal rights.
  • Blood and Chocolate/The Silver Kiss
    • These are okay YA supernatural stories, but it was shortly after reading these that I was inspired to write a story. That became the origin of Zaira’s story. After 20 years with her, and now a writer, I just can’t leave these off the list.
  • The Color Purple
    • Despite the fact that this is a great story that sheds light on important issues (both historical and current), I discovered how the author, Alice Walker, talking about her characters–as if they are real people. It’s very similar to my own inclination when speaking of them and how my relationship with them is.
  • Dawn of Desire
    • I have no memory of where I found this used book, but it is one of the only romance novels I’ve read–really, it’s an adventure/ancient Egypt story and does not include many of the details found in modern romance books. It did, however, get me even more interested in ancient Egypt with a story of intrigue, magic, and adventure.
  • The Deer Dancers
    • I discovered these books in a large book shop when our parents took us to Toronto as teenagers. It’s a great series about Native Americans and were some of my first books in that genre and greatly improved my understanding of Native cultures.
  • Gail Carson Levine
    • This author does both re-written fairy tales and original YA fantasy works. If you’re a fantasy reader who also enjoys fairy and fold tales, then her books are for you.
  • The Golden Filly Series
    • More horse stories! This is one of those rare good Christian fiction series, featuring a young female jockey. There are 10, and I enjoyed them all. It greatly expanded my knowledge of the racing world, and I really did love them.
  • Harry Potter
    • I’m really not sure that this needs any explanation. Although I’m a bit older than the Potter generation, this series has affected my life and I enjoy many of it’s fandom qualities, including fanfiction.
  • Louisa May Alcott
    • I’ve always loved Little Women, and have read various works of hers. I can say that her ethics and morality are high, and seeing how she stood up for these things being a social reformer is quite inspiring.
  • Marguerite Henry
    • I was totally into horses growing up, and read TONS of horse-related fiction and non-fiction. Marguerite Henry was a children’s book author to specifically wrote about horses, and I read so many of them. You’d most likely know her as the author of Misty of Chincoteague.
  • The Mandie Series
    • This is a historical fiction mystery series aimed at young teens, the title character being a young female “detective”. These were influential on me late elementary and early middle school, and I also had the cookbook. I read over half of them, and many were published after I was in their age range.
  • Narnia
    • Although Mom read these to us growing up, it wasn’t until the movies came out that I developed a deeper interest, and re-read them. I find them more meaning full now that I have a better understanding of the concepts and design of the stories.
  • The Ordinary Princess
    • This is another book which I don’t remember picking up, but ever since the first read, this has been one of my favorite fairy-tale like stories. It’s definitely a children’s book, but is charming and a quick, lovely read. I read it a few times a year, and was delighted when the recurring Lavender’s Blue song was used in Disney’s live action Cinderella.
  • Redwall
    • I discovered this series as a teenager, and couldn’t put them down. While most of the stories revolve around good, freedom-loving animals fighting a tryant who wants to take over, the plots are varied, the world well-built, and the feasts epic. They will make you hungry. So, so hungry. I myself now enjoy getting into food and descriptions in some of my stories.
  • The Sano Ichiro Series
    • These are detailed, in-depth novels set in Shogunate Japan. They are good and well-researched. However, the main reason they’re on this list is that I read them with a friend and we enjoyed discussing them together. Also a great way to learn old Japanese culture, which I already had an interest in.
  • The Shannara Books
    • I read the original two sets of books in middle school, and I remember being quite engrossed in them. The show now on Netflix is…not at all what I remember, and we’ll leave it at that.
  • Tamora Pierce
    • While I didn’t discover this awesome writer until I was an adult, she writes some of the best medieval-type fantasy for girls and young women you’ll find anywhere. My favorite so far has been the Protector of the Small series. If you are into YA or fantasy at all, these are must-reads.
  • Tolkien
    • I’m very glad I didn’t read these as a teenager, I wouldn’t have finished them. While the books are good, the movies have changed the entire way that movies can be made, and also brought in things from the appendices and histories (which I haven’t read). Nevertheless, both mediums speak to the genius, complexity, and ideas encapsulated in these master works. It has also affected me greatly that this and works like Harry Potter bring fans together, whether it’s the fandom or teams making movies. It is part of what changed fandom from geeky to cool.
  • Wicked Lovely
    • While this is the first of a series, I haven’t had a chance to read more of them yet. However, it was shortly after reading this and seeing what the author did with the various groups of Fairies that I seriously considered starting a fairy story. I’ve always had an interest, so this was encouraging, and I’m now working on a story with with its own versions of the varied lore.

 

I’d love to hear some of the books, authors, or series have greatly influenced your life, and if you have any questions or opinions on what’s shaped mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wear dresses now?

Something that online people likely don’t know about me, based on by blog content, and even most IR people likely don’t know about me, is that I’m into fashion. However, one look at my Pinterest home page would quickly clear up questions of my interest. I’m not a fashionista, though. While I’m aware of current trends, I don’t haunt fashion blogs, hunt down the newest cutting edge trends, or seek out the hottest new fads for my wardrobe.

For the most part, I am quite conscious of what I wear (let’s face it, that’s another story altogether), and especially interested in historical fashions–including undergarments. While my history with what I wear hasn’t always been the greatest, recent realizations have prompted me to look back at the evolution of my style.

Childhood

When I was a kid, and even into middle school, my wardrobe was heavily influenced by my mom–who isn’t at that age?. In the 80s and 90s, she didn’t have the greatest fashion sense either, wearing a lot of what we’d now consider country or very old fashioned clothing. I had jumpers (Brits, this doesn’t mean sweaters), vests, and turtlenecks. I’ve never had the neck required for a turtleneck. But I still wore a lot of these things into middle school. Mom also  made quite a few pieces of clothing when we were very  young. I wore a lot more dresses then, but then, I was a little girl, and most little girls wear dresses.

Teens

As a teen, I made my first ventures out into other fashions. I distinctly remember a period where I wore a lot of denim and flannel, and wore a few things that used to belong to my dad. A few years later, I was in flimsy tank tops–quite popular at the time–until I realized some of them weren’t really appropriate. It was in my older teen years that I began to really take an interest in presenting myself a little better, although not much compared to today.

20s

There are some tales from college I won’t share here, but my roommate and I definitely shared clothes. It was fun! Being around the same size, it was easy and expanded both of our wardrobes. But it wasn’t until sometime in my mid-;ate twenties that I really started to think about what I looked like. I’d had my job for some time by then, and saw a lot more people every day. I began to look carefully at cut, color, and style. At stores, I tied on many types of things and began to determine what looked good on me, and what fashions to avoid. The most common problem, of course, was usually money. Most of us can’t afford to dress super-well  unless we have a small wardrobe.

 

30s

Now, it’s much easier to identify pieces that will look nice before trying them on. What colors not to pick up. But I’ve also made determinations that have developed two separate wardrobes: one for around the house, and one that goes out of the house. This has enabled be to deal with funds. I don’t spend money on things I’m only going to wear around the house, and save it for things I’ll wear out of the house. The other big thing this decade has been the rise of leggings.

At first, I was very against this trend–and with good reason. Coming down into the city every day, I’ve seen more people in inappropriately tight/fashioned leggings than I’ve ever wanted to see. So I stayed away from them for a long time, until it became clear that they weren’t just a fad. This is where we come to dresses.

I’m a cold-weather kind of person. Summer is gross and sweaty and hot. The last few years, summer had become more and more brutal, so I started looking for more dresses and skirts. Some days I wear shorts to commute and put on pants when I get to the office. As summer started winding toward fall, I kept thinking that I could keep wearing my dresses (most of them are comfortable and flattering) if I had some leggings. This was last summer, and that fall, I broke down and got  a pair. And now I wear leggings.

 

The Rules

A Quick Guide for Larger Ladies

I am a larger lady, and so this was one of my biggest concerns. My self-rules for whether I can wear leggings are below–I promise they are simple.

  1. My short or dress must cover my butt and upper thighs. I don’t want to see all that fat, and I should make anyone else see it, either.
  2. I can only wear them to work with a dress I would also wear to work without leggings in the summer.
  3. If I don’t want to see the outfit in the mirror, I can’t wear it out of the house. This does not apply if I’m unwell and running out for medicine or other such necessities. Especially if I can wear a coat or jacket.

And that’s it! But the upside is that I have more pretty dresses in my wardrobe than ever, and am now comfortable wearing them.