Monday, October 29, 2007


Today I'm giving Michelle, a friend of mine, the Blog Floor. She's a newly published author and a regular wife and mom like you and me. Here's her story.

For thirty years, I was a fiction writer who avoided writing. I read about writing, wrote in a journal, shared family stories in scrapbooks, and blogged. Deep inside, though, I knew I was a writer, and I almost didn’t give that part of myself a chance to be heard.

That changed in 2005 when I read a little book called No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty.

Mr. Baty is a man who came up with the crazy notion that all it takes to write a novel is to write it. The catch is that you write it in 30 days. His reasoning is that if you write it that fast, you have to turn off your internal critic and just write. Of course, writing it that fast means that you have to lower your expectations from “this will be the next bestseller” to “this will not make someone throw up.” On the other hand, if you don’t write anything, you’ll end up being the “one day novelist” – as in “I’ll write a novel one day.”

In October 2005, I visited Mr. Baty’s website and read about his contest, known as National Novel Writing Month. The thought of writing 50,000 words in 30 days was staggering, but I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo anyway, just to see if I could do it. I could have done it any month, but November is the official month of NaNoWriMo, and there was something exhilarating knowing that I would be furiously typing 1700 words a day with thousands of other people around the world.

As I subjected myself to neck cramps, bleary eyes, and possible carpal tunnel, I learned that the story in my head was frantic to get out (I guess it had been in my head for too long). By day three, I had 9,000 words. By day 17 I had 53,000 words, and the story was only half-finished. I stopped and realized that I had not written the story that I really wanted to tell. But I had written something, and I had proved to myself that I had a story in me.

To pursue my dream, I had to give up time with my children, time with my husband, and time with friends. I put aside nagging household projects, and did only the minimum to keep my house running.

Would I do it again? Yes, because it was the best thing I ever did for myself. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve signed up to go through the 50,000 word frenzy again this year. In my opinion, NaNoWriMo is a great way to discover the writer who may be hiding inside. You could join me and find out if there’s a writer inside of you.

Michelle Gregory and her husband of twenty-one years reside in Mesa, Arizona. Amidst the craziness of homeschooling three children and taking care of four dogs and fluctuating numbers of fish, she finished her NaNo novel – Eldala. It is now available at When she isn’t writing, she also enjoys blogging, playing with her kids, watching chick movies, working on her scrapbooks, and reading a good book. You can visit her blog at Life in the Midst of Writing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2007 Photo Journal -- Ranching

We've been busy around here and I've had very little time to blog or do much on the computer except keeping up with the emails and phone calls (along with 3 meals a day and clean laundry). We're gearing up for our Annual Bull Sale and so life's all a-flutter at home--visitors and customers coming and going along with regular day-to-day chores. If you need a good Hereford bull or know of someone who does, just give us a shout!

I thought I'd share this photo journal that S. and I did together. One day I decided to plunk around on the movie maker thing-a-ma-bob on my computer and I came up with this after a few edits. It's a pretty good picture of life on the ranch. I hope you enjoy it. The only thing missing from it is a picture of a country church. Maybe next year!

You may want to turn off the background music before you start this video.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fancy-frosted sugar cookies

These are the rolled sugar cookies that I always make for holidays -- especially Christmas and Valentine's Day, but I also like to surprise my family and friends with sugar cookies at the not-so-obvious seasons. I just bought a few new cookie cutters and had to try them out. I frosted these with yellow and orange powdered sugar glaze (milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar) and let the frosting dry. For a special touch, I swirled some melted dipping chocolate over the cookies to create the illusion of veins on the leaves and dots on butterflies. After the chocolate was mostly dry, I layered my cookies in a cookie sheet and added waxed paper between layers and put them in my freezer. I wanted the chocolate to really harden and not become smeared.

I had a blast playing the the frosting and the chocolate!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Woolen shirts turned pillows....

I did this little project on a whim. I had seen some homey-looking plaid pillows in the latest Country Home magazine (Nov. 2007 issue) and I thought how perfect they'd be for fall and winter. I remembered that I had saved some of Hubs' plaid shirts and so I decided to cut them up. As I was cutting off the collars and sleeves and laying out the shirts, I had a brilliant idea to leave the shirt front all buttoned up and use the snap-placket as my closure for the pillow. This way I could remove the pillow and wash the shirt-covering when needed. I used a soft fleece for the backside of my pillows just in case the woolen side was too itchy for the dear head which laid upon it. Here are the results!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Just a quarter cup!

Wedding gowns are such fun to talk about, but now it's time to move on to things practical and everyday-ish, things like: how much detergent to measure into the washing machine.

I was refilling my old 2-gallon crock with my favorite laundry detergent -- powdered Arm & Hammer -- as I do regularly. You know how the green scoop is always stuck into the box? Well, for some reason I looked at it and noticed, as I have a couple times before, that there are lines way down at the bottom of the scoop. I thought, "Gee, maybe I should read the directions on the box. (what a clever idea that is) Perhaps I'm not measuring out the right amout into my washloads." As I read, I realized that I was probably measuring double the amount called for in the instructions. "But," thought I, "why the big scoop if I need so little?" I determined then and there that I was NOT going to use that dumb green scoop any longer, and I certainly didn't want my sons to get the idea that they needed to pour an entire green cupful of soap into the washer for every load so I took the cup up to the kitchen and filled it with water to the proper measuring line as directed on the big yellow box. Then I poured that amount into a kitchen measuring cup and it measured a meager 1/4 cup! Did you know that's approximately 3 tablespoons? Ack!! I have been pouring needless amounts of Arm & Hammer through my washer for nothing! Now I ask you, how many of you are reading your laundry detergent box or bottle? How many of you are measuring out exactly the amount for a "normal" washload? Or am I the only one measuring out double the amount because it "just looks about right?" Sometimes I wonder if these concentrated soaps and detergents are meant to confuse and confound the simple, unassuming homemaker and swindle her out of her hard-earned cash? Do you remember the days when we really did use a full cup of Tide in the laundry tub? Those days are gone, my friends. Just read the instructions.

Now for your assignment.........

Go to your laundry detergent box or bottle and find the proper measurement for an average washload, then do what I did, and buy a new set of stainless steel measuring cups and put the 1/4 cup measuring cup right into the detergent or into the cupboard and use it! Instruct your children in the way they should measure as well.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Zipped but snug...

G. tried the dress this week. We wrestled her into it, tugging here and there, and got it zipped, but it was a tight sqeeze -- nothing a young lady would like to wear all day on her wedding day. Still, it was fun to pull out the aged lace and see it one more time. So this means that.......
we're going shopping next Saturday!
We're so excited to begin the hunt for the perfect wedding gown!
All of you have been married 25+ years--
do you recognize this style?*

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wedding Gown -- Found!

What was stashed.... now is found!

The wedding gown -- sweetheart neckline, white lace, pearl buttons, and chiffon ruffles -- the one I wore back in 1981 when I married my Best Friend was put away in a pretty white box somewhere in my mom-in-law's house. Who knows where? At the time, we lived in a 14x70 foot mobile home with no room for big, white boxes stuffed with lace. Only the necessities could stay. So somewhere -- who knows where? -- the wedding dress was stored with care. And then another wedding was to be, and the white lace was brought out for another airing, another wearing, another nuptial before God and man in 1987. My sister-in-law borrowed it to wear on her wedding day. I was so delighted and honored that she would want to wear it. It was lovely for me to see it once again in all of it's elegance and grace, lovingly walked down the isle with a beautiful bride, carrying red roses, all buttoned into it.

Again, the wedding gown was carefully stowed away somewhere -- who knows where? -- in my mom-in-law's house. Years and years passed and I never really thought about its whereabouts. What did I need with a pretty box stuffed with white lace and ruffles while raising five children -- 4 boys and a girl -- who mainly needed all my attention and feeding and wiping? The only thing white I had in my house was diapers, and they weren't even very white.

All through the years the wedding gown remained dutifully in it's box stashed away somewhere -- who knows where? -- collecting dust, yellowing, silently waiting for another airing, possibly another wearing.

My daughter, now engaged to be married, asked where it might be. "Well, I'm sure it's in Grandpa's house, but who knows where? Gramma isn't here to tell us where she stashed it, so we'll have to think about this. Where would she have put it?"

My daughter-in-love and I looked under beds, in closets, around boxes and in boxes that *could* be big enough to fit a wedding dress in, but it was nowhere. And then we went upstairs to the attic room. We opened the door and found spider webs and dust and cardboard -- lots of it. We searched old suitcases and more boxes and moved a black trunk and looked inside it. Not there either. A little more moving of this record player, a high chair and a baby crib, and those record albums and another empty cardboard box and then behind a rack of old letterman's jackets and worn-out coats, we found a box. A long, white box with lettering that read "My Wedding." Ah ha! We had found it! It was all wrapped in plastic, sealed on the edges with mailing tape and so I thought it was fairly well preserved. We grabbed a few other things as well before turning out the light -- an ornate, gold mirror, a 1957 calendar with horse and rider, the creche I had made back in 1981 -- and we left the attic behind, closed the door on the dust and carried our treasures home to my house.

The plastic was removed, the tape was slit open with Hubs' pocket knife and the box was opened to reveal the wedding gown. Beautifully packed with stuffing in the sleeves and bodice so it looked just like someone was proudly wearing it. Yes, it was yellowed. Yes, it was stained here and there, but it was still beautiful. Also in the box was a veil and gloves, not mine. They had a 1950's look about them and so I figured that they might have been my mom-in-love's. I was so glad she tucked them in. These might be worthy of another wearing too! Now to show my daughter and see if the gown might fit and find out whether or not she will like the style. I'm not harboring any preconceived notions that she will want to wear it. After all, it is old. I mean, old in the sense that it's 1980's old. It's old enough to be out-of-date, but not old enough to be vintage-chic. There is a difference, you know!

Picture: The Wedding Trousseau Artist: Harrison Fisher at

Friday, October 05, 2007

Rockin' with The Beatles!

I'm not quite old enough to remember the British Invasion in 1963 -- I was only one year old at the time, but I am a HUGE Beatles fan. You know you're a Beatles Fan when you can remember performing "Yesterday" on the picnic table "stage" in front of all the neighbor kids while they threw crab apples in protest. (Really, I thought I was pretty good!) I spent a little time You-Tubin' today and found a few clips that were so much fun that I just had to share with you. Note the girls sobbing in the audience. I always wondered if I would have been one of those bawling beauties had I the chance to see them?
Are you ready to Twist & Shout?
(you might want to turn off the background hymn first)

She LOVES YOU! Yeah Yeah Yeah!!


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