Friday, November 29, 2013

"In a word: tradition"

My family is all about traditions when it comes to the holidays.  For those of you who don't know, my Dad's side of the family is fairly close.  Daddy has four still-living siblings, three of whom are married.  I have nine cousins from my aunts and uncles, and we all gather for large parties at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

For Thanksgiving, usually someone volunteers to host the big turkey dinner, and then the rest of the families chip in by bringing something. This year, Mom and I hosted, so we made the turkey and stuffing (and corn bread rolls...yumm!) while mashed potatoes, green beans, yams, etc. came from the various other segments of our family.  It was pretty awesome this year, despite all the work Mom and I had to do.  I re-organized the kitchen completely so things finally made sense (since it's been, you know, a year since we moved in  =P), and then I helped Mom clean the house and cook for the big dinner.  Unfortunately, my cousin living in South Carolina couldn't make it, which was rather sad, since she just had her second baby a couple of months ago and I haven't seen little Adriana in person yet.  But the people that did arrive had fun, and the turkey turned out perfect.  We talked and laughed around the table like always.  It was really great to see everyone.

Towards the end of the night, we exchanged names for our Christmas party.  With as much as the family has expanded, we can no longer afford to get everyone a gift like we did when I was very young and my cousins were fewer.  So now we exchange names and we set a dollar limit, like a Secret Santa.  Luckily the individual I pulled only put down gift cards on her list, so she'll be easy to buy for.

Today, Mom and I passed out cold all day.  I sat around reading House of Hades by Rick Riordan (which you all need to read right now because it's amazing) while Mom took a nap on the couch.  Then Maggie texted me and told me she was at her dad's house only a few minutes away, so I raced over and spent a few hours there.  It was awesome.  One of her cousins (at least, I think he's a cousin...Maggie?) asked what LARPing is, and it turned into a two-hour discussion.  The poor kid looked like a deer in the headlights once we all finished telling him about not only LARPing, but also Cosplay, conventions, Furries, Morphicons (don't ask, it's gross...), LAGing, and D&D.  Then, after we finished telling him everything, Maggie's step-mother comes in with the most hilarious line of the night. She comes in from the kitchen and hears the word LARPing, and asks, "Wait, what's LARPing?"  We all were nearly rolling on the floor, we were laughing so hard.  It was pretty funny.

Christmas, on the other hand, is an entirely different ordeal with us.  I've heard my aunt/godmother say that missing Thanksgiving is forgiveable, but missing the Christmas party is a crime punishable by death.  She was only joking (I think), but since that particular aunt is a police officer and, therefore, has immediate access to guns, handcuffs, tasers, and batons, I don't think I'll take my chances anytime soon.  Similar to Thanksgiving, we all gather at the host's house, which rotates every year according to the age of the original family sibling (i.e., my dad still counts, so Mom's house is still in the rotation).  Everyone still brings something to help with the meal, and we all bring the gifts for our particular exchange person.  It's more talking and laughing and catching up, of which we have a lot to do, since some of us only meet up during these parties.  It's good fun, and if I ever moved away far enough that I couldn't attend anymore, I think I would go crazy.  You know, after my aunt police officer murders me.

So Happy Holidays to everyone!  I hope your Thanksgivings were awesome and that you all had the chance to indulge!

The Holidays

Hey! I want to know about everyone's Thanksgiving! How was it? What were/are your plans? What was the most memorable moment for you?

Also, what's everyone's plans for Christmas?

Lots of thanks!

Oh, the irony of being late on my own topic. I guess I got a little distracted, what with the holiday and all.

I am definitely thankful to have a roof over my head (and to have that roof to myself!), food to eat, and warm clothes to wear. I'm thankful for the amazing opportunities I've been given this fall. I'm thankful for all the people who have had to listen to me complain about how hard the work has been, and most days I'm thankful for that hard work. I'm definitely thankful this semester is almost over, and the holidays are almost here (because I totally need the break)! And I'm thankful for you guys, of course! I know I'm not around as much as I could be, but it has been fun reading all your posts and updates :)

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of family and far too much food. <3!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


God's blessings: that's what I'm thankful for. He provides either a day at work when everyone is cheerful, someone who is happy to have a conversation, or a few moments in the company of someone who allows my heart to rest. 

Sometimes He blesses me by my attempts at dinner working out. To address Heidi's topic: turkey vanilla meatballs. Recipe calls for onions sautéed in W.shire sauce and broth(neither of which I have)...uh...vanilla's brown! They actually turned out pretty well! 

I was also thankful to see the Doctor Who special at the theatre along with Catching Fire on my day off yesterday. Only showing on one day? Well, my dear, let's make that your day off!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Sun, The Moon, The Sky, The Earth, and All Things in Between

My family.  I have an awesome mom.  There really aren't any other words to use for her besides that.  I also have an amazing sister with whom I get along very well (usually), and who is marrying (someday) someone else that I am grateful for.  She has the pick of just about any guy, so I am very grateful that Chris makes her happy and that he's such a great addition to our family.  Angie and I have shared many a laugh and good time, so and I'm lucky to have a sister that I can talk to so easily.  My extended family is made of awesome too.  I have great aunts, uncles, and cousins on my father's side who are hilarious and a lot of fun to be around.  Of special mention is my aunt and godmother Sergeant Jean Crotty of the South Euclid Police Department.  She puts her life on the line every day to protect other people, and I am grateful that she has stayed safe.

My pets.  (Yeah, you should have seen that one coming).  All six of them (eight if you include the doggie nephews) are healthy and happy, and they make my life whole.  They love unconditionally, without a care about how I look or what I do.  I have never been so welcomed as when the dogs jump up and down and wag their tails when I walk through the door.  I love the way Oscar's "excited dance" whenever I come home, Ten-Ten's intelligence, and Sport's ungainly ways (seriously, he is so fricken' clumsy).  BTW, for those who have followed the Sport Saga, he is doing very, very well.  He hasn't had an accident in weeks, and when he did it was completely our fault.  We managed to get a crate for him that he won't break out of (since he managed to weasel his way out of the first), so the house is protected from his destruction whenever we're gone.  He barks like the pit bull he is whenever someone he doesn't know comes to the door, and has shown signs of being protective.  And yet, when we give him a treat, he's the gentlest of the three dogs in taking it from us.  I'm very thankful for him  =)

My friends.  Yep, that means you guys!  Without getting too sappy - seriously, you guys changed my life.  It's good to know that not everyone thinks I'm a wierdo, which is pretty much the attitude I grew up with through elementary, junior high, and high school.  I am so grateful for you guys and the way you accepted me without judgment or ridicule, and I can't thank you enough.  You are each made of awesome in your own right as well, and I couldn't ask for a better group with which to associate.  Giving, passionate, supportive, artistic, funny,...I just love you guys  =)  Included here too is Jason, who has been my rock and proverbial shoulder to cry on whenever I need him.  No time has been too late, and no amount of boo-hooing has ever been too much.

My life.  I have so much in my life that I am thankful for, even aside from my family, friends, and animals.  Mom has a good job and is willing to shack me up until I get one of my own.  I am grateful that this past semester has gone as well as it has, and that I am well on my way to independence.  I am grateful and relieved that I managed to secure an internship so quickly, and that it's in my desired field.  (I'll be working 100 hours for the Lake County Public Defender's Office next semester!  They've hired interns in the past too, so maybe if I rock enough, I'll come out with a job on the other side).  I have everything a person could ask for - clothing, food, health, a roof over my head,... - and I am very grateful for all of it.

In general.  I'm grateful not only for things in my immediate life, but for things that touch it from far away.  I am grateful for the bright, warming sun and the summer heat I love so much.  I am grateful for beautiful beaches and the oceans they touch, and for the wildlife both in those oceans and out of them.  I have never been so fascinated as when I am learning about the amazing limitations and abilities of animals.  I am grateful for music, for song, for dance, for theatre, and for any and all forms of artistic medium.  I am grateful for screened-in porches during rain storms, for warm blankets, and for the rejuvenating affects (effects?) of sleep.  I am grateful for the mysteries of this world as well, for how would intrigue be fed otherwise?  And I am grateful for stories, for without them I couldn't be the massive nerd that I am  =)


Lets be thankful!

Alright ladies. I know we've all been busy and participation in the blog has gotten spotty (I'm the worst offender, I'm sure). So this week I'll make it easy: Tell us what you're thankful for!

What? It's Thanksgiving week! What did you expect?

P.S. Sorry it's late. School, work, etc. etc. etc. You know all the excuses.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Make it better!

Since we are on the topic of food, take a traditional recipe and make it better!

Maybe you don't like chicken and dumplings because the dumplings are tasteless: season them up! Maybe just plain old hot chocolate is boring: add cinnamon or mint or cyan.

Show us you take someone traditional and make it better, and post the recipe.

Friday, November 15, 2013


This turned out to be an interesting topic because James and I have decided not to go grocery shopping until we've eaten all the food in the house in an attempt to (1) save some money this holiday season and (2) get rid of some of this food stuff we haven't eaten. So, we have to get a little creative with throwing stuff together.

I forgot to photograph my food! Sorry.

Chicken nugget casserole:
layer baking pan with frozen chicken nuggets, layer with cheese, layer with tomato sauce, stick in oven according to chicken nugget cooking directions.

These turned out okay. I'm not a fan of chicken nuggets. They are usually pretty horrible in terms of meat quality (unless you are chick-fil-a, omg, so delicious!). And the breading on the nuggets came out kinda soft, and I'm picky about consistencies. You could probably alter the recipe so the nuggets come out better. James liked it though, and has promised to eat all of it so I don't have to.

Succotash experiment?:
We had some Lima beans in our freezer, and mom always make awesome Lima beans for thanksgiving, so I dug those out. But in the spirit of using more ingredients, I dug out a bag of corn, and I cut up an onion, and then I thought why not add a can of pinto beans?

Put all that in a pot with two cups of water, some chicken bouillon, let simmer for 45mins to an hour until beans are tender. I haven't eaten it yet, it's still cooking. But it smells good.

Chocolate milk deliciousness:
Something I threw together when I was younger: take a large cup, spoon a generous helping of whipped cream into the bottom, squeeze a generous helping on chocolate syrup on top of the whipped cream, fill with milk. Some of the whipped cream will mix with the milk while you pour, and some of it will float to the top drizzled with chocolate syrup. Yum! You can stir the drink too, if you want.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Three ingredients!!

Pick three ingredients at random and make a dish out of them. Eat it! Photograph it! You can use more ingredients than the three but three must be random and unplanned. Enlist help if you must.

Happy eating and may the odds be ever in your flavor.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I had to show you: letters made out of books! Kind of horrible, kind of wonderful

Writing takes motivation!

Oh dear. You know how many stories have been running around in my head for years and never managed to write? I'll give you a hint - I don't even know! The problem is writing takes constant motivation, which I just don't always have. I need something like Nanowrimo (or just a straight up deadline) to get anything done. I honestly want to be a writer someday, but I know I'm going to have to find somebody to read/comment on my work on a pretty much constant basis, so that I have deadlines for finishing things (anybody want to volunteer?)

So. For stories that I haven't written/finished:
  • I technically "finished" this one for Nanowrimo 2011, but Transdimensional Lending Library needs some pretty epic editing, as well as at least one sequel to make any kind of sense.
  • I am DETERMINED to rewrite my Sleeping Beauty retelling from Diehl's class in 2010.
  • Somebody (probably me) needs to write a musical steampunk story. I'm thinking Mozart + automatons here guys. It would be AWESOME.
  • I also have an idea that's about us, though mine is more about what our time at Hogwarts would have been like. I've been going to write it for a Christmas present for ya'll for years, and it just never seems to happen. Maybe one day!
But right now, the story most consuming my mind is a fanfic for OUAT. You see, I think there is an EPIC backstory to be had about Pan, and I seriously have about 90% of the episode worked out in my head. I also would like to write a Christmas episode of OUAT (or possibly OUAT Wonderland) that uses the story of the Nutcracker. Rumple would be Herr Drosselmeyer, of course, and I might even combine this and Pan's backstory by making him either the prince, or the brother.

All of this kind of assumes that one day I will have time to write something that's NOT scholarly (seriously, I am starting to hate this paper/week class. I only have three left, but I dread going to class every. Single. Week.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

So much to write so little time

I'm doing NaNo this year for the first time ever! And I'm very excited about it. So far, I haven't met the 1,600 words a day mark. But I have a friend who wants to finish her novel this year but can't do NaNo's rigorous schedule. So, we set ourselves to doing 750 words a day, which so far I've been able to surpass, so that's exciting.

I don't really have a story I would love to write "if I had the time." I expect eventually I will get finished what I'm aiming for. There is one story however that I'm not sure I have the know-how to write. It's just so in depth and there's so much research and stuff I'm going to have to put into it, and even then I'm not sure how I can piece everything together.

The story itself is a trilogy following three different characters living our world where werewolves and vampires have been living secretly for centuries, trying to integrate themselves into human society and hiding from our governments which know of their existence and have been keeping the truth secret from the public. Additionally, there's an underground human movement to protect and provide aid for vampires and werewolves who need it. Finally, there's an independent hunters group that is working to hunt and kill the undead.

There's just so many intricate working parts, and I don't know how it all works and interacts. And it's complicated, and I just don't know if my brain can handle it. It's in there, and I want to write it, but we'll have to see.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Awesome But Little Known Fairy Tales are my Bread and Butter

Damn it, I missed my own topic again! Le sigh. In my defense, though, moving and full time job and NaNo, yada yada yada.

Anyway, at any given moment, I have a multitude of stories clamoring for attention in my head. It gets very loud and very confusing. Once the story is written, the clamoring goes away, but the moment that happens, there’s always a new story idea waiting to take its place.

So! My ongoing, hypothetical works in progress are as follows:

-My massive Next Gen universe that talked about a few weeks ago, and all the individuals stories that entails.

-A Sherlock fanfiction that I really need to finish because if I don’t finish it soon, I’m not going to finish it at all, thank you inability to write against canon.

-An anthology of short stories called Reimagined that will contain all my fairy tale ideas that aren’t long enough to be full length novels. At current count, this will contain nine stories. Two of them are written.

But my current project is my NaNo novel. It’s called Minstrel Queen, at the moment, and it is a retelling of “The Lute Player.” Never heard of it? I am saddened but not surprised. No one has. Which is a massive shame because this story is amazing. It’s been a while since I’ve written a fairy tale According to Cassie, so let’s jump into that.

The Lute Player – According to Cassie

So basically, there’s this king. And he decides that, for some reason, he absolutely has to go to war. No one has attacked him; he’s just got his heart set on leading a crusade against the heathen land somewhere off in the distance. So he rides off, leaving his wife and kingdom behind.

And then he gets killed. Or at least, that’s what everyone thinks, and everyone mourns him. For three years. During which time, the queen never leaves her chamber, and apparently, no one ever worries about putting anyone else on the throne. For some reason.

But then, the queen gets a note from the king. He’s not dead, just captured. He’s in a dungeon, and he’s asking her to sell their castle and lands and empty the treasury to put together a king’s ransom and spring him from imprisonment. But the queen, being the most intelligent character in this story, looks at that suggestion and thinks it’s really dumb, presumably for the following reasons:

  •     If she sells the castle and the kingdom, what exactly is he hoping to come home and rule?
  •     If the heathen king hasn’t demanded a ransom/killed her husband already, what is the likelihood that he’s aware he’s got another king in his dungeon?
  •     Related to that, if he isn’t aware, isn’t showing up with a kingdom’s worth of gold gonna be pretty suspicious and give this king grounds to demand even more?
  •     Who are you gonna sell the kingdom to, who are you going to trust to take that much money into foreign lands, and how are you gonna transport it?
Yeah, the Queen looks at this situation and thinks, I’ve got a better idea. Because really, a trained monkey could have come up with a better idea.
Her idea is this: she disguises herself as a minstrel boy, and journeys off in secret to find her husband. Using only her wits and her music, she makes her way to the heathen land, and when she arrives, she heads straight for the palace and begins to sing.
Her music is so beautiful and enchanting that the heathen king immediately offers her anything she wishes as payment for gracing them with her song. This seems like a really dangerous promise for a king to make, but the kings haven’t shown themselves to be the smartest creatures around, so . . .
But the queen does not take advantage of this. Instead, she says that her journey is a lonely one, and could she have a prisoner from the dungeon to be her traveling companion? Because this woman is cunning, conniving, and intelligent, ladies and gentlemen.
She is taken to the dungeons, she finds her husband, she says “That one,” and without paying a single penny, raising a single suspicion, or attacking a single person, she and the king leave the heathen country for their own.
But here’s the thing. Her husband doesn’t recognize her.
On the one hand, it’s understandable. It’s been three years. She’s disguised as a boy. She’s the last person he expects to come spring him out of jail. They’re in a dungeon, and it’s dark.
But even once they are out in the daylight, he doesn’t recognize her, and she decides to keep her secret for reasons not made clear to us in the story.
When they reach their kingdom, the king “reveals” to her that, hey, he’s actually a king! And he will reward her for what she’s done with anything she can ask for. Again, really stupid promise for a king to make. But all she asks for is his trust and his love.
They part ways. She runs back through the forest and gets to the palace first. She decks herself out as a queen again, and goes into the throne room to wait for his return and, presumably, that jolt of recognition of Hey! It was my wife who saved my ass! She’s awesome, and I will make sure everyone knows it!
But, sadly, the queen married an idiot. And he still doesn’t recognize her, and worse than that, he starts denouncing her in front of the whole court. She’s a horrible human being, she’s selfish and thoughtless and cares nothing for her king. She’s a treasonous traitor because she let him languish in prison and didn’t do a thing to help.
It’s at this point in the story that we should correctly identify that the king is assuming an awful lot of things:

    A. That his message made it to the queen.
    B. That she would have been able to raise the money and send it to him in the time elapsed.
    C. That the heathen king he went to war against for being a heathen would have immediately freed him upon receiving ransom money.

Understand, he’s asked no questions of her. No, “Hey, did you get my note?” No, “Hey, did you send anyone to try and negociate my release?” No, “Hey, I’m happy to see I still have a kingdom to rule. How’d you manage that, by the way?” No. He just jumps right in and calls her a traitor. Doesn’t even give her a chance to defend herself. He just shuns her and meets with his minsters to talk about her punishment.

And the Queen? Well, she slips from the room, returns to her chambers, puts back on her minstrel clothes, grabs her lute, and goes out into the courtyard to play.

Immediately, the king goes, “Go get that minstrel boy and bring him here! He’s the one I have to thank; he saved my life!”

So the Queen, in disguise, is brought before everyone, and pulls her cloak back to reveal who she actually is. The court, unlike the king, recognize her immediately. To his credit, though, he does, too, this time, and he falls down on his knees and begs her forgiveness. She grants it, and they rule together for the rest of their lives.

I love this story, but I do have some questions. I threw lots of the ones I have in above, but as I’m retelling the story, I’m answering even more. I follow Cecy, the minstrel queen, from the age of six through the end of her fairy tale, rescuing her husband, becoming a great queen, etc. But I’m trying to make the king a little more sympathetic, and I’m trying to make the love Cecy has for him feel a little realer. My ending also won’t be quite so neat and easy for King Rowland.

But that’s my project this month. We’ll see how it goes. Only 44,000 words to go, give or take!

Crackle It Goes

I wanted to weigh in briefly on last week's topic: a finished attic with golden hardwood floors and gabled windows.

This week: Are any of you familiar with my Lightning Farmer concept? It began as quite fantastic: a society that opperates under the assumption that the world is governed by the laws of the Story. History does not loop but is assumed to be cyclical: every few generations there is a Hero, an Enemy, and a War. It began in my head with a supernatural aspect; higher beings that weighed in on the Story and influenced it based on their favored champions much like mythology. 

Now I think the supernatural bit is unnecessary, because the characters have enough to deal with as they wrestle with the roles that have been thrust on them as members of the Story.  Without those higher beings it is only society that puts people into categories of Hero or cannon fodder, and who are they to make that decision? People behave almost like those constantly conquered rat people from Dr. Who rather than stand and defend themselves and their homes because they're ordinary and it's  not their role, it's the Hero's.

I'm toying with making the main character actually not the main character because the point is that most people dismiss her (which makes me think of the Wheel of Time's method of story telling).

On another note I saw Ender's Game yesterday and am halfway through the book.

Love you!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

So Many...

I really do wish I had the time to do NaNoWriMo.  There are numerous stories in my head that I would love to flush out, if for no other reason than I've only ever completely finished ONE of my novel-length story ideas.  It's not even a very good one, either...

First and foremost would be my Oz / Wonderland / Neverland series.  I'm pretty sure everyone knows what I'm talking about, right?  It started in senior year of undergrad as a final project for Heath Diehl's (Re)Visioning Oz class, a class that I had to drop.  The story idea, however, has remained, and I've been slowly working on it bit by bit.  The trouble is, there are still some major plot points that I still can't decide upon, along with relationships between the characters that my head refuses to finalize.  Only when I finish with Oz can I move on to Wonderland, and only after Wonderland is done will I be able to start brainstorming for Neverland.  Maybe someday, when I'm all established...

But I also have a set of characters that I would love to write a story about, I just don't know what that story will be yet.  Basically...erm...they're kind of based on us.  I have sketches done already, and character profiles, but what I'm going to do with them is still up in the air completely (or...should I say up in my head...?).  I'm going back and forth between doing a fluffed-up version of our lives in undergrad or doing something ridiculous and putting things like werewolves, fairies, goblins, and other fantastical creatures in there too.  I think it would be cool to do a semi-autobiographical series, but that just sounds so BORING!!  I'm not used to writing things that have nothing to do with magic or ancient times or enchanted this-and-thats.

There are a couple of others, but those are the big two.  I have a set of comic ideas that I would love to work on as well - just little comic strips about my animals and the idiocy of daily life with goofy pets.  BUT I'm horrible at drawing animals, so that means practicing, and practicing takes time...which I don't have much of in the way of "free" time.

I love these topics, where we get to spout off about our artistic endeavors.  I can't wait to read the rest of yours!  Have good weeks, and I love you guys!

Friday, November 1, 2013

It's NaNoWriMo Time!

Hey there! Topic time!

So, it's November, which for me means it's NaNoWriMo. I'm setting out to write 50,000 words this month. I may be crazy.

Here's the topic:

What story is in your head that you'd love to tell if you had the time?