Sunday, May 24, 2020

Week in Review - May 17 - 23

Rain, rain and more rain. Which means humid, humid, humid afterwards. Which means my tomatoes, especially those which have been in containers and suffering from aphids are not happy!

However...


My first tomato is ready to pick!

Monday was my day off and I woke up feeling super-productive. In the kitchen primarily. So two loaves of bread later, a peach cobbler and an apple tart. I used up fruit which needed to have something done to them. In the course of the day, I also did my weekly laundry and finished up my book club book.

Tuesday I picked up Lady K after work for an overnighter.


After an evening of Animal Crossing together (she loves coming to my island to dress me up), we headed out EARLY the next morning. After a stop at Bush-n-Vine for peaches, strawberries, tomatoes and breakfast ice cream, we headed back across Charlotte to BinCity to pick through bins for treasures.

Dropping her off at her house, I came home and did a bit of room decorating with some items I picked up at BinCity. Savvy says my room now looks like a tribute to Animal Crossing. That wasn't my aim, but I'll take it.

Thursday I finished up my review for Save the Cat! blog tour. It was fun and I now have a book to read for another blog tour in July with WOW-Women On Writing. A quick batch of strawberry jam, which is a bit 'runny' but still very good. And a video chat with Lady K. Her idea of chatting is to also do this...




And when I am out in my garden, I sometimes have an audience.


They are trying to tell me 'the catnip is over there!' 

Friday, as I was picking up Lady K to take to her dad, tornado warnings! So the drive was done mainly in the rain. But not too bad. 

I am doing shopping over the next few days at work as the main person is out for a long weekend. I love it! Tiring, usually puts be over 10,000 steps during the day, but I love it.

Otherwise this week...

  • Walked over 5000 steps 6 days
  • Wrote 6 posts
  • Planned out next week's posts

This coming week...

  • More To-Go shopping and only 2 office days
  • Elijah Mountain Gem Mine and their butterflies (plus rocks of course)
  • Pick up more tomatoes and peppers (I know - it's garden crack and I'm addicted)
  • End of the month review and June planning

But for now, more coffee and off to work.
























Saturday, May 23, 2020

Save the Cat! and Software


As I mentioned in a post on April 27, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to receive and review a copy of Save the Cat! Software and to be part of the blog tour for the book by Jessica Brody held by WOW-Women on Writing

For those unfamiliar with Save the Cat!, here is a brief description - 

Save the Cat! provides writers the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily written by Blake Snyder (1957-2009). Blake's method is based on 10 distinctive genres and his 15 story beats (the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet). Our books, workshops, story structure software, apps, and story coaching teach you everything you need to unlock the fundamentals and mechanics of plot and character transformation.

Find out more about Save the Cat! by visiting their webpage at www.savethecat.com.



Now for my take on Save the Cat!


First, I already had the book by Jessica Brody. 




And I was using it to put together an outline for my 

novel, Sanctuary. My problem is my novel is  

turning into a series, with ideas and scenes, and no 

way to really corral it all. 








I have tried other word processing software and

novel writing platforms, none of which really worked

for me. So a chance to try out Save the Cat! software 

was really interesting.







One of the things I really like about the software is 

the option to write a single novel or to set up for a 

series. The software allows me to add notes and 

track everything from characters to locations and 

everything in between. All in one place!



On the left hand side are the books of the series

(note - those are definitely working titles). And if I

am working on Sanctuary and get an idea for book 4 

in the series, I can quickly flip over to it.



But the main thing I really, really love about the 

software are the 'beats'!






Everything from the logline of the novel, to the page 

count and character descriptions come equipped with

questions which need to be answered about the 

scene or character, making, in my opinion, a deeper, 

more well-rounded story.



For those who love having index cards to track their

story, you can print them out from the program. 



So my pros about about software - 


          Prompts/Beats - allowing me to write a better

                                  story (in my opinion).

          Organization - allowing me to write either

                               a stand alone novel or a
     
                               series. Options are also there

                               for a screenplay or TV series.

          Sync across devices - if my desktop had not
                                     
                                          died, then I could sync
   
                                          between that and my
  
                                          laptop.

          Ease of Use - While there are a lot of things

                              you can do with the software,

                              it is fairly easily to start using.

                              Tutorial videos are available for

                              to help you get started.

          Customer Service - I did email a couple of 

                                       questions to tech and 

                                       received answers in a 

                                       very timely manner.



The cons of the software - 

          

          The colors - I wish I had more options for

                            changing the colors of the cards. 

          Price - it's not cheap. As an unpublished

                    author I might balk at the annual cost.

                    If the cost was for lifetime use, I would

                    be more willing to pay for it, especially

                    the Pro edition which has all the bells

                    and whistles. But I understand the

                    cost, it is a really great program. 




All-in-all, once my time is up on the software I was  

given to review, I will probably renew at the 

Premium, or Experienced Writer, level.  I find I am 

really enjoying it much, much more than other 

writing platforms I have tried in the past.



Now to get back to Sanctuary.





          























Friday, May 22, 2020

Foodie Friday - I Went On A Cooking Binge!

On Monday I had one of those days where I got up and felt (and was) Productive with a capital 'P'!

It seems I had a request in for 'real bread', which started it all. Then I realized my peaches had ripen on the counter and needed to be peeled and used. The same thing for a bag of apples which had been sitting there - unused, uneaten. 

So...

First, I started the bread so it could rise while I was doing something with the apples and peaches. Then it was a quick and easy peach cobbler. I only made half of one since I wanted to keep a few of the peaches for my own consumption and the cobbler would be going to Texter. 

Last, but not least, I pulled out the sheet of puff pastry which was in the freezer and decided to create an apple tart - quick and easy.

By about 11 a.m. (I wanted it done before the day got too hot) I had the following...








Hmmm...seems the peach cobbler had a 'visitor'. 

I took one of the loaves of bread and the peach cobbler to Texter and Lady K. Cobbler for Texter and bread for Lady K. Since I was driving past work, I took a huge chunk of the apple tart of my Food Lion to Go Head (buttering him up to be sure I get more To-Go time!).

Mr. RaceCar needed to borrow the SUV for a bit to move some tires around, so I went prepared to sit and talk for about an hour with Texter. However, upon arrival, I was told Lady K had told her mother to go with Mr. RaceCar because she needed 'alone time' with grandma!


The bread was immediately sliced and ample amount of butter was placed on each piece and then 'reviewed' by the local food critic.

I am now on a path to eat more home cooked food. I have spent the past couple of weeks (maybe more) doing a bit too much drive through food. And my body let me know about it. So, with all the summer crops coming in, it's back to cooking. Yesterday I stopped and picked up some green beans, tomatoes (local hydroponic), peaches, strawberries and local cheddar cheese. I plan on making some turkey burger patties and have fresh veggies and fruit with them for dinner and lunches this week.

Hope everyone is eating well!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Positive Focus Thursday - It's All About The Plants!

The past few weeks has been more taxing to all of us due to Covid-19. Some days it's hard to remember what life was like before mid-March and everything turned on its head. 

One interesting thing, and a good thing in my opinion, is more and more people are becoming interested in gardening.

I have been gardening since I can remember. Or at least running around in a garden. 

My grandfather had a large back yard filled with roses, veggies, and fruits. My parents always had a little garden of some sort, whether it was in the back yard or plowed by the tractor at the farm later on.

And I love my indoor plants - my orchids, Hoyas, Peperomias and anything I can get my hands on. 

I have haunted nurseries and grown plants from seeds and cuttings and they never fail to lift me up and bring me joy. Ever my failures, while disappointing, are not enough to make me stop.

And this year it's especially comforting and enjoyable. Especially since Lady K is taking an interest in plants and gardening.

This past Friday, on my day off, I potted up almost all of the plants I have on hand to put into containers.

It also gave me a chance to take a closer look (and look for more aphids)...



The blueberries are getting bigger and bigger under their protective netting. Savvy is eagerly anticipating picking her crop of berries and we have plans to make some Lavender/Blueberry Jam, some to consume ourselves and some to give as gifts during the holidays.


A surprise to me was this marigold I picked up to help repel bugs from my tomatoes. The blooms are as big as my palm - lush and thick.  How could you not be happy when you see these bright spot of golden yellow.

A couple of 'rescues' from last year are growing well this year for me. The first is my grapevine.


It has tripled in height from last year and has a half dozen clusters of little grapes. I am hoping I get a couple of grapes to sample this year. 

And my bag of dried up lily bulbs which did grow some last year are now surging forth. In fact, one of them is about 3 1/2 feet tall and right now shows about half a dozen flower buds so far.


I need to take a picture of it when it starts blooming with Lady K beside it. As it stands right now, I won't have to bend over to smell the flowers - they will be practically face high.

Last, but not least, are my tomatoes and peppers I am growing. It is so much fun to discover new tomatoes every day slowly growing bigger and bigger. Plus some of them are not just about the fruit, but also the foliage, like this one...


This is Elsie's Fancy 19-30, one of the experimental tomatoes I am growing. It was named after a grandmother (not one of mine) of the developer and is supposed to have ivory or yellow, good-sized fruit. I can't wait to see a plant, 3 feet tall, with variegated foliage.

So these days being positive is green in color and growing. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tuesday Sundries - Variegation Fun

Well, this first picture isn't about variegation, but I love these flowers next to each other.


How fun are they! And they are spilling out of their separate containers toward each other. But what is really fun are my tomatoes!




One of the most interesting, and fun things, about trying out these 'experimental' tomatoes is I am growing something only a handful of people are growing. And these three tomato plants have variegated leaves. 

And...

Since they are experimental, the color of the tomatoes may be a surprise also. How cool is that! 

Right now, they are all under 6 inches tall. I can't wait to see them when they get taller to see if they hold onto the variegation. 

Those who garden understand the thrill you get walking out into the garden daily and 'talking' to the plants, checking for pests, watering, touching and smelling them. 

However, those damn aphids! Grrrrr...!!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Week In Review - May 10 - May 16

We have gone from a week where there was a frost scare to temperatures in the mid-80's during the day. So it has been a bit of a weather roller coaster.

It was also Texter's birthday this past week. Due to C-19, celebrations were a bit limited. Actually, my end of the celebration was taken care of a couple of months earlier when I traded my Animal Crossing edition of the Switch for her older one. 



But the blueberries don't seem to have be affected and are continuing to plump up nicely. I can't wait until they turn 'blue' and we can pick them. I see a few muffins in my future.

I did manage to get the rest of my plants in the containers on Friday. Just in time for the rain which is suppose to come early next week due to a tropical storm off the coast. My hope is that it 'appears' on Monday, my day off. 


Another wonderful addition to the garden is one of my 'rescue' amaryllis I planted in Savvy's front yard and its blooming its head off. Four large buds and the first one is just opening. Now if I can get the gardenia I planted to make it through the summer.

I received a book I am going to review in July for another blog tour. And I finished a book which I had for the book club round robin. I also made another trip to Bush-n-Vine and picked up some strawberries and early South Carolina peaches. A quick dip into the King's Mountain State Park as a future outing for Lady K and I while on the drive. 

Otherwise this week...

  • Walked over 5000 steps 6 days
  • Wrote 5 posts
  • Mailed off 4 letters
  • Finished 5 books

This coming week...

  • Finish my guest post for Save The Cat!
  • Write 4 letters
  • Mail off my book club book to the next person 
  • Hopefully another trip to Bush-n-Vine for more fresh strawberries and peaches and a hike through King's Mountain State Park
  • Budget review

Until then, more coffee and off to work!



Saturday, May 16, 2020

Seedy Saturday - Aphids and Bugs and Tomatoes, Oh, My!

I am loving my little enclosed garden. Despite a big dip in overnight temperatures this past week, everything has done quite well. 



I am in love with these petunias. They are taking over their end of the planter and spilling over. Now I wish I had invested in more than one plant and made a large display of them. I will know for next year. 



Another delight is my Bug Bat Pitcher Plant bloom. The center is actually puffed up and like a little pillow in the center. I need to find a larger flat planter to put both of my pitcher plants in so it has room to stretch out. I have several new pitchers and they are close to 12 inches tall. 

Now my poor tomatoes...

They are actually doing quite well. And most of the plants I had in pots at the end of March are now showing baby tomatoes. But Friday was spent with a spray bottle of detergent and water, spraying them down for aphids! 




However, they haven't seem to have made the plants unhappy yet. But plenty of baby tomatoes forming despite the cold temperatures earlier in the week. 

I also have a 'volunteer' coming up in the banana planter.


Not sure what tomato it is, so it will be interesting to see what happens with it. I will probably dig it up and move it to a more suitable container in the coming week when I plant my other tomatoes.

My grapevine is another plant I am excited about.


Baby grapes! It is definite, I have achieved baby grapes. Now if I can keep them growing strong until time to harvest them. 

So for now it is all about spraying for the aphids and getting 18 tomatoes and peppers into pots. And a possible trip to pick up some more?






Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Writing Wednesday - Happy Birthday Texter!

So no writing news today.

Today it's all about...


TEXTER!

Today she is 27 years young. Unfortunately, with things still semi-closed down, no birthday meal out. And I'm working, so I'm not fixing her anything either. But she did maintain since I swapped out the Animal Crossing Switch with her, I don't have to buy her a birthday present ever!


She's a great mom, even though she now maintains she could never homeschool on a regular basis and can't wait for Lady K to be back at school. 


She is smart and creative (don't know where that comes from...lol) and loves anything 'foxy'. She also  has a wide network of penpals which all have become really good friends. Her home, she just put up prism film on most of the windows as one of her projects. 


I can almost always count on her to be ready to go on an 'adventure' with me to new places. 

In short, she is awesome and getting more awesome every year.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TEXTER!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Tuesday Sundries - Farm Stands

One of the things which has helped during the past few weeks is the fact many of the small, local farm stands are open.

While we haven't been able to pick our own strawberries, we can at least stop and pick up a bucket of berries picked for us. And there is nothing like a 'real' strawberry, only hours from being on the plant.

McConnell Farms was recommended to us while we were in Hendersonville last week. So we detoured on our way out of town to give them a look.




Driving up to the 'store', we passed through fig trees on either side of the gravel driveway. Once there, was a stand with buckets of strawberries and apples. Lady K filled up her bag with a selection of apples you can't find in the grocery store and Texter and I looked over the jams and jellies.

And then we saw the sign for cider!

I wasn't sure how they would taste, but I came home with a half gallon each of peach and ginger-apple cider. As of now, they are gone. Empty jugs. Savvy just about downed the ginger-apple cider by herself and I threatened dire punishment if she so much as touched my peach cider. By the way, they grow their own ginger too!

Of course, it would only be right to try out the ice cream. Homemade with their ingredients, of course. 


While they don't grow black walnuts, they were from a local grower. Homemade Black Walnut ice cream!

They also had a selection of plants, mainly rhododendron and iris.


Not only do we have to come back to Hendersonville to visit Elijah Mountain Gem Mine, but I have to come back to stock up on cider! There is still the strawberry cider and a couple others to try.

But really, check out local farm stands. There is nothing like 'real food' only harvested hours earlier. Plus you are helping a local small business survive. And you can eat their product!