Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What I Gave for Christmas

Instead of focusing on what I got for Christmas this year, I’ll tell you what I gave to other people, since that was more exciting for me this year.

To my parents, I gave audiobooks that they can listen to while they are driving. Both books are radio drama done by Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre. To my mom I gave “The Hiding Place,” and to my dad I gave “The Screwtape Letters.” (Did you know that Andy Serkis is the voice of Screwtape? He’s insanely creepy!)


For my oldest sister, I got a candle. But this is no ordinary candle. It’s an artificial one that flickers either yellow or blue, and to turn it off, you just blow. And you also blow to turn it on. :)

For my next oldest sister, I made a recipe box, collaged with cooking-themed papers. She’s a great cook and loves culinary arts. I made recipe cards to go with it.

To my brother, who has his blog here, I gave the game Risk, but with a twist. It’s set in the year 2210 A.D. He played it with our cousin on Christmas night (stayed up until 3 in the morning!), and they both like it better than the original Risk game. Then I played with him… and lost. But I will triumph eventually!

And for my youngest sister, Hepzibah, who blogs at Beauty of Christ (among other places), I made an altered book about fairies. The book used to be "The Thousand and One Nights," but now it is all about fairies, with lots of colors and glitter. It’s my second altered book, and I learned a lot of new techniques for this project. This is probably the present I worked on the most. She loved it, and kept flipping through the pages in delight. I’ll try to post some pictures of it soon.

And for the whole family, I made a photobook. The title is "Faces: Looking Closer at the Personalities Around Us." You can view it here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Safe and Sound

I'm posting this from my newly updated and backed-up laptop!  I'm now running Snow Leopard on my Mac, and everything automatically backs up to my external hard drive. Yay! No more do I need to worry about my computer dying on me and taking all my photos and stories into the endless abyss. I'm covered! (If only I'd done this last summer! I would have avoided a lot of headaches and expenses.)

Just in case anyone's curious: Time Machine is awesome. Snow Leopard is awesome. Macs are awesome.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Symbols of Christmas

I've been so busy getting ready for Christmas, but I took the time to write this poem to remind myself of the importance of all the aspects of the celebration. And so, it's now my gift to all of you! Merry Christmas!

To give someone a gift
Is a symbol of love
Just as the snow
Is a gift from above.

To light up the house
With colors so bright
Is a symbol of triumph
Over Satan's dark night.

To sing carols together
'Round Advent flame
Is a symbol of worship
Why the Lord Jesus came.

To ring bells in the morning
Spreading news of his birth
Is a symbol of joy
Ringing out to the earth.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cookies, and a Recipe

I can't cook, but I like baking! Here are some pictures of the first batches of Christmas cookies in our house. (My dad likes to call them Advent cookies, so we can eat them before Christmas Day.)
First up, Spritz wreathes, some with plain old sprinkles and some with red-hots for the adventurous soul...

Oops. I thought I had pictures of my decorated gingerbread camels... but I guess they got eaten already. :)

And here are the sugar twists, my family's favorite Christmas cookie. It's an old family recipe from my dad's side. They are delicious, and fun to make. The funny thing is, they have no sugar in the actual cookie dough, but the end product is very sweet indeed. THE BEST!

Here's how to make them:

(for the dough)
2 tsp. yeast (or one package)
3 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. butter (or margarine)
2 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla

(for the sugar mixture)
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix the yeast with 1/4 cup warm water. Set aside.
Blend the flour and salt. Cut in 1 c. butter. Blend in 2 beaten eggs, sour cream, 1 tsp. vanilla, and yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly and chill for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375ยบ
In a little bowl, combine 1 1/2 c. sugar and 2 tsp. vanilla. Spread half of the sugar mixture on a floured surface.
Divide the dough in half. Roll out one of the halves to 8" x 16". Spread with more vanilla/sugar mix and fold into thirds. Turn and roll again, and spread more sugar. Then fold and turn and roll it again!
Cut into 4" x 1" strips with a pizza cutter. Then twist each strip and place on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugar.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, and then enjoy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

THE END! And some excerpts!

I'm DONE! Yesterday, I finally finished my NaNoWriMo novel, Bluewillow! I'm so relieved and glad to be done writing for awhile. The final word-count is 76,114, which is only a thousand words over what I estimated it would be. That's almost 200 hand-written pages!

Here's a brief synopsis of the plot:

The Flicker Chronicles book 2
A girl with blue hair wakes up under a willow tree and can only remember other people's memories. She sets out to find a mysterious inter-dimensional portal that could somehow be the key to her past, but she gets caught up in a struggle between colorful worlds. Will she turn to the true King before it's too late?

Here's the banner I made for the book: 

And here are a couple of short poems from my novel. I wasn't expecting to write any poetry, but these just appeared on the page without me really thinking about it. :) And then I put them to music, and turned them both into songs.

"In the wings of the morning, in the depths of the earth
Ring songs of great value and words of great worth
The birds of the air and the fish will cry out
When the people are silent, even stones will shout."

And then a silly one:

"My honey went away, away, away,
In search of another day, away, away.
My dear sweet girlie
Went all a-twirly
And fell into a portal swirly
And made my head turn gray, away, away."

Later, when I type out my book and start editing (it needs a LOT of editing), I'll post some longer excerpts. But for now, I need to turn my attention to other things, namely Christmas. I enjoy making gifts for my family, but that will require a lot of time and energy, so I'm putting my finished draft aside for awhile. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Swine Flu and Novel Writing

Yeah... I'm sorry I haven't been posting at all during November. I wanted to keep you guys updated with my word-count goals and excerpts from my novel, but less than a week into the month, I got really sick. I never went to the doctor to get tested, but I had all the symptoms of the H1N1 swine flu. I had a fever for nine days, and felt poorly for over two weeks.

Of course, that didn't help with the novel writing. I've never been sick during National Novel Writing Month before, so it was a frustrating time for me. I wanted to make it to at least 75,000 words, and hopefully finish the whole story, but with several days in there where I didn't write ANYTHING, I was really behind. My parents kept telling me to give myself a break, but it was hard when I've been planning this book for months, and looking forward to NaNoWriMo all year.

It was also hard to accept that I would be writing alone this year. In all the other years of NaNo, my brother was writing with me, and then my dad tried it and my younger sister did it for a couple of years. But this year, the others weren't able to write novels for one reason or another, so I was alone. (And since I was sick, I couldn't go to any write-ins with local Wrimos.)

I did make it to 50,000, though, and then for the last three days of November, I wrote over 5,000 words a day!  Yay! My final count is 70,213 handwritten words. So even though it felt like a terrible month, it was not totally unsuccessful.

And yet, my book is not yet completed. *sigh* Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to write I go... And when I finish, I'll come back and post a few excerpts for y'all to pick on and admire. :)