Friday, December 30, 2011

How To Do Alone: Feel Better

Liquids and Biscuits 
Let's pretend that you had a lot of fun during Christmas but also worked every day this past week and all of a sudden you wake up one morning and you feel... sweaty, phlegmy, run down. And you can't taste anything.

Yep. It's happened. You, my dear Spatulan, are under the weather. Well, let's also pretend that I am feeling the same way. (Which, I am. No pretending here.) But just to keep it interesting, let's pretend that you are still able to go to work. You just feel crappy. You don't really have a fever and your snot isn't bright green or yellow. You're probably just "breathing warm air out of [your runny] nose" and you don't have any nasal spray. This post is how to make your self feel a little bit better if you're feeling plum wore out after the holiday chaos festivities.

What You Need:
Rest. Take a nap during the day if you can manage it. Go to bed early if you can't.
Liquids. Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
Comfortable clothing. If you can go to work in your PJs and not get called out: awesome.
A scarf. I really like my neck warm when I don't feel well.
Healthy things to eat. I know, I know. But comfort food can be healthy too. You do need to eat something.
Something Soft. A cozy blanket, that giant sweatshirt you love, or your favorite stuffed animal.
Green Smoothie. Cause they taste so good and are so good for you. (I'll give you my variations)
Ginger lemon tea. A friend gave me this recipe and I love how it's Spicy, Tangy, Sweet! Almost like a TLC album!
Vitamins. Yeah, well. You knew this was coming.
Face Tissues. By the truck load. And make sure they are soft so you don't chap up your nostrils.
Hand lotion, Chapstick, a good book, a good movie, some knitting. Just... you need this stuff.
Dark chocolate. Because it's a cure-all. And it is so too a healthy food. So there. *pout*


Thursday, December 29, 2011

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

Ahh, New Year's! I love it! I might even love it more than Christmas. (Shh, don't tell on me!) But the saying good-bye to one year and the greeting of a brand new one conjures up all kinds of memories for me.

There were multiple lock-in's at church where we played foxes & hounds, video games, and watched one too many episodes of "Veggie Tales". There was the time a guy drove all the way from Michigan to hang out with me in my friend's basement. I've sat around on the couch impatiently waiting for the ball to drop so I could go to bed. (You'll all envious of that last one, neh? You should be.)

And then there was that one time when Clara and I were in the only bar on an island off the coast of Ireland with a bunch of drunk revelers singing Auld Lang Syne, and at midnight we went marching the perimeter in time to the local bagpipe bands.

I don't think we'll ever top that. But I'd love to try.



So friends & other fine folk, what are you doing New Year's Eve?



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Things I Love, Christmas Edition

Is everyone else as exhausted as I am? This holiday season really took it out of me. But, between you, me, and kitchen sink, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am happy to report that all the parties were a success and all gifts were well received (worrying about that is a major source of panic for me). So after such a successful Christmas, I'm taking a little bit of a break; just a simple little post tonight. I thought I might take a page out of Miss Lucy's book and do a Things I Love post and since Christmas just whooshed by, I'll combine the two. 

  • I got to see some folks this holiday that I hadn't seen in a while and that was a blast.
  • I love Peter Jackson forever for giving us something to look forward to next Christmas with the trailer for "The Hobbit." So excited!
  • I love how well my family and friends knows me; I got steampunk and sci-fi for Christmas. Check out my new toy! He moves and when I turned him on for the first time, he made straight for the Christmas village on the piano shouting "Exterminate!"

  • I'm super delighted to know that my brother's fiancée is comfortable enough around us to wear some truly impressive leopard print pajamas on Christmas morning. And that she wasn't weired out by my family's eccentricities. Welcome to the family, Maria!
  • So much good food!
  • Performing a bit of magic with Miss Lucy; I swear those bundles worked, Lucy!
There was so much more, but that is all I can think of at the moment. Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to get started on my New Year's resolutions; I ate far too much! I hope you all had a Fantiastic Christmas!

Monday, December 26, 2011

I think that was more "nog" than "egg"....

Greetings, Spatulans!


I hope everyone had a fun, happy, fulfilling, and yummy Christmas!  Being your Monday blogger, I have the honor of giving you your first post-Christmas blog! Yay!  Also looks like I'll be giving you the first blog of 2012 too... no pressure on the new guy! *looks at Lucy*



My Christmas was an interesting one.  I was originally going to spend it with my family going out to dinner.  But my stepmother, being the wonderful woman she is, decided to cover some shifts for the weekend for a coworker who lost a child over the holidays last year.  THAT is some Christmas spirit!  I spent yesterday with some friends instead and had a fantastic time.  Met some new people, and enjoyed the company of those I already knew.  This week was mostly spent reflecting on the company of friends, and the wonderful people I am surrounded by.

So what did you guys get up to for this holiday season?  Any fun, interesting, and most importantly magical adventures?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Silver Bells on the Silver Screen

Less than a week to go, gang, before the big day! I hope none of you are running around with the last minute panics. With all the shopping done, and all the food planned out maybe you can finally take some time to relax and watch some Christmas cheer. I try to watch at least one of these movies every year and they are my absolute favorite holiday films.

Meet Me in St. Louis
I know it isn't, strictly speaking, a Christmas flick, but there is something about Judy Garland in that beautiful red dress singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" that gets me every time.

Bernard and the Genie
I have no idea where my family found this movie, but it is delightful and, yes, it is a Christmas movie. It stars Alan Cumming and Lenyy Henry, with guest shots from Rowan Atkinson, Bob Geldoff, and the Mona Lisa.
(And sorry for the quality of the video, the movie is from '91 and the internet doesn't appear to like it.)

A Christmas Carol (1984)
 This is, without a doubt, my favorite Christmas movie, an dmaybe even my favorite of all time. What could be better than George C. Scott as Scrooge, David Warner as Bob Cratchit, and Edward Woodward as the Ghost of Christmas Present? Nothing, that's what.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

More Christmas baking.... without the baking...

Weeeheeeheeeelllll then.... seems like we're on a baked goodies trend.  However, in my previous post I mentioned how my baking endeavors have gone, so here is a delightful recipe that we would make at my house that again requires no baking.  And this time, it involves rum... and chocolate... because that's what the holiday season is all about right?  You can make your balls however you like, big, small, odd-shaped.  Personally, I like mine dipped in chocolate.  Get your mind out of the gutter... Santa is still watching and he will not hesitate to take all your presents back, you dirty perverts.

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups crushed vanilla wafers
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup spiced rum

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large bowl, stir together the crushed vanilla wafers, 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and nuts. Drizzle in vanilla, corn syrup and rum.
2. Scoop scoop and shape into 1 inch balls or larger. I used about 4 teaspoons of the chocolate mixture per ball which equaled 2 level scoops from the small cookie scoop.
3. Roll Rum Balls in additional confectioners' sugar, cocoa, sprinkles or whatever strikes your fancy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days to develop the flavor.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Hello, Spatulans!

We seem to be having a theme here this week on FS, and I intend to continue with it tonight.

Christmas means one thing and one thing only in the Casa de Wiggins: Cookies! (Okay, there may be a few more things that Christmas means to us, but by and large it means cookies.)

Usually there is a baking marathon that goes on for weeks at the home of Mama & Papa Wiggins. Mama Wiggins' personal record was 25 pounds of fudge in. one. month. Now most of that went as gifts to friends and family. What wasn't sneaked out by me or Pops that is.

Then there's the ginger snaps, the sugar cookies, the monster cookies, the toffee, the peppermint bark, and last but not least- the red velvet cakes. Yes, plural. As in many, many bottles of red food coloring and made-from-scratch cream cheese icing. (Oh yeah, baby. Come to Lucy!)

This year I'm joining in on the fun. Most years I assist Mumsy Wiggins by licking the spatulas. (No, no, not  the fellow blog writers- the actual spatulas.) But this year I'll be making my own cookies- and they are none other than Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey Chocolate Butter Cookies. (I know, if it's Paula Deen, there's got to be the word 'butter' somewhere in the title. Fine by me!) The recipe can be found here: *clicky, clicky!* But to make my cookies a little more festive, I'll be adding some peppermint extract in along with it.

Happy baking! What are some of your favorite holiday recipes? 
Stop drooling on your keyboard. Stop! I see you! You're going to short circuit something!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Food, Glorious Food!

Greetings my lovelies! I hope the Holiday spirit hasn't gotten you down. But if it has, how about a quick pick-me-up? I have to admit that there are a few treats that my family and I make around the holidays that are perfect for lifting the spirits. They don't take too long, but even if they did, it is so worth it.

Mulled Cider
In a large glass or steel pot, combine 1 quart apple juice, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves, 1 small cinnamon stick, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Simmer on low heat 20- 30 minutes and enjoy.

Orange Balls
Mix 1, 12 ounce box of crushed vanilla wafers, 1 pound (I know, I know) powdered sugar, 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, and a 6 ounce can of thawed orange juice concentrate. Roll into balls and then into fine coconut or powdered sugar. Refrigerate, or just go ahead and enjoy.

Cake Mix Cookies
Pick out your favorite cake mix (strawberry is my favorite), and mix with 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup shortening, and 1 tablespoon water. Roll into balls and bake for about 8 minutes at 350°.

Toasted Pecans
There hasn't been a Christmas yet that my parents didn't make toasted pecans, and it has been a favorite of our guests for years. In a large bowl, mix a bag of pecan halves with about 1/2 cup of melted butter and worcestershire sauce to taste. If you like bold flavors, add a lot, or just enough to coat the pecans if you'd rather have a more subtle taste.

Of course, I have tons more holiday recipes, but these are my favorites. And I don't think anyone else would want to hear about our Braunschweiger on toast. It's delicious, but I'd rather not think about where it comes from.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Greetings, Spatulans!  So, for some reason, Seattleites seem obsessed with lights.  Like, moreso than normal for Christmas.  Construction cranes, radio towers, sky scrapers, and of course the Space Needle, all decked out in lights.  I do NOT want to get the city's light bill this month.  Just sayin'.

Speaking of things lighting up, my first attempts at Christmas baking ended up with quite a bit of carbon left over.  In retrospect. lining my oven with aluminum foil for easy cleaning and to save energy probably wasn't a good idea, since they are designed to vent heat anyways.  Lesson learned.  I will stick to a favorite no-bake treat that I will share with you here.  Do not ask for nutrition advice.  I don't have any as I don't want to know myself.  I'm not here to make health food.  I'm here to make Christmas magic, dammit.

Yum-yum Dessert (no, really... this dessert is called a Yum Yum)

Ingredients:
1 carton Cool Whip
1 1/2 c. graham crackers, crushed into crumbs.
1 can cherry pie filling
1/4 c. butter
3/8 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
Mix flour, crumbs, and butter and 1/8 cup sugar in 8x8 inch pan.  Bake at 350 until golden brown.  Basically make your own really buttery pie crust. Beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar. Add Cool Whip and mix well. Pour cherries over crumb mixture. Pour cream cheese mixture over cherries. Sprinkle with leftover crumbs. Chill overnight before serving.  My mom and I like to add some chopped walnuts and/or pecans to the crust too.

Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Not Quite How To Do Alone: Christmas Tree

I didn't exactly do this alone. I did the ground work alone (alone because it was a surprise for someone and I didn't want them knowing about the tree) but I drove with someone to the Christmas tree place, and another someone else put a stand on the tree. But basically this is how you're going to do it alone. Or with the help of others.

What You Need:
A place to get trees (This can be a nursery, tree farm, back yard, wilderness. Finding your place of choice will require some ground work like Facebook stalking, internet browsing, or newspaper reading)
A vehicle to get paid for/cut down tree from one location to the home in which it will stand and look pretty and smell good (This is where another person with a big car will come in handy)
Lights
Ornaments 
A Cat (This is not necessary but it is highly entertaining to watch a cat pounce around under a Christmas tree. It's also highly annoying to try and put lights on tree while cat is attacking the tree branches and running between your legs.)


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Compassionate Christmas

source

There is a lot going on in the world right now that is disturbing. Another senseless act of violence on a college campus, more news of an ill friend, the steady decline of others. The past six months alone have brought nothing but news of trouble in one form or another.

There seems to be a lot of compassion fatigue going around. Our nation as a whole is suffering, and it's hard to put a positive spin on things when all we see around is so negative. No matter how much of ourselves we poor out into caring for others, sometimes it doesn't seem like it's enough. Other times it's easy to lose sight of everything we have to be grateful for, and we take advantage of all the good we have in our lives.

For me, being grateful means looking around my apartment. Almost everything, from furniture to kitchen wares, to books and computers has been given to me by friends and relatives. I have a phone full of numbers that connect me to people I love and trust. Being online I can stay in touch with those who I can't see everyday. Reminding myself of all of these things is how I stay connected and grounded. Yet I realize this might not be so easy for others.

Being as how it is close to Christmas, I'm going to extend a little offer to each of you. My gift this holiday season is to be a Professional Listener. (As a middle child, this sort of thing comes natural. ;) ) Simply put, if you are feeling more than a little down about the affairs of the world, or if the stresses of holidays is weighing too much on you, I'm here to listen. As a disclaimer, I am not a professional counselor or anything of the sort. What I know how to do, and am good at, is listening. And sometimes that's all we really need, isn't it?

If you just need to vent/ get something off your chest/ want some advice, contact me: lucydylanwiggins(at)gmail.com. Or, fantasticspatula(at)gmail.com. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Time Has Come

The Season is upon us! Run, run for your life! Flee!

Ok, ok. It isn't as bad as all that. It's Christmas time! The trees are up, the wreaths are hanging on doors, and things suddenly smell of cinnamon. And for some reason the AMC channel is showing The Addams Family movies...

Now, I can't lie, December has kind of sneaked up on me, so I needed a little help getting into the swing of things. I've been making lists of my favorite Christmas things and this week I want to share the music that gets me into the proper spirit.

The first thing I listen to, always, is The Chieftains "Bells of Dublin" album. This is a mix of the carols we all know and love mixed with traditional Irish Christmas tunes. I recommend the whole album, but this one song is my favorite.

"O Holy Night" is my favorite carol, and I love to hear Lou Christie sing it.

And, of course, it really wouldn't be Christmas with this little gem from Bing Crosby.

But the ensemble wouldn't be complete without the marvellous Eartha Kitt.

Of course, there are many more, but these are the ones that really jump start the season for me. What do you guys listen to? I'm always looking for new music!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Let's Be Friends

And I want to feel bitter but I can't
Because I know it's all my fault
I loved you with all my heart
But didn't say anything until it was too late

And you gave me every warning
Of where it all was going
And I just wasn't seeing
Exactly what was happening

But now I've lost your warm embrace
And though I know what we say it is
It kills me to think of the future of us
When you want to still be friends

Sunday, December 4, 2011

How To Do Alone: Holiday Edition

"Christmas" and "Alone" are two words you typically don't hear in the same sentence. Usually "Christmas" is accompanied by words like "family" and "in-laws" and "relatives". Well, lets say you just moved somewhere away from all of those words and you're spending you're first Christmas without "family" and "relatives".

There are actually a lot of things to do at Christmas alone. Also, it's a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle the season has come to bring. But here is my problem. There are only a few days in the Christmas season and only a few times I post. So, I need you're help. I'm going to try this "You Choose the Adventure" thing again. So, Spatulas, you choose what the HTDA: Holiday Edition will be.

1. Shopping. Alone. At Christmas.
2. Making Holiday Cards/Cookies
3. Going to a Christmas Party.
4. Picking out the Christmas Tree.
5. Caroling. Alone. HAHA! No. This really isn't an option. Because that would be creepy.

Choose, Spatulans, by Saturday (That's December 10th). That way I can actually do this before December is over and you, should you find yourself alone during Christmas Season, can be prepared. Cheers!

How To Do Alone: Going To A Movie

A while ago I asked readers to pick the next HTDA outing for the series. Out of a few choices, “Going To A Movie” was the winner. So here it is readers. Finally. It’s been a long while, I know. But I did it. Just for you. How To Go To A Movie Alone.

What You Need:
 A movie in mind.
A theater playing said movie
Some movie cash. The price of movie outings have really increased since I used to go to movies as a kid (listen to me talk like I went to movies when they were a quarter or a nickel). You’ll need at least $20. I know, I know. You’d think that if you’re going to brave something alone you could at least do something that was kind to you’re wallet. Well, tonight you're being kind to yourself. Beat up that wallet and fish out the dough to take you’re self out to a nice movie. This "niceness" may or may not include popcorn, drink, candy. It depends on how nice you can really afford to be.
A big purse. If you’re not someone who carries purses, try a messenger bag or back pack. But, I’m not sure how suspicious looking a big back pack is in the theater. You’re just carrying you’re wallet and money in it after all. Right? I mean, you're not bringing outside food or beverages into the theater in the giant oversized purse able to fit a bag of mini Twix and two bottles of cream soda. No, sir. Nope. Not you. Ahem.
A sweater or jacket because it sometimes gets pretty cold in the theater.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

White Wine in the Sun

Ah, December, we meet again! Your cold is settling in beneath the layers of our jackets, we can smell the snow on your breath, and taste the gingerbread and wonder. Welcome back. Welcome home.

I don't mean to put a damper on the spirit, but it looks like this winter is going to be a rough one. Weather aside, we all seem to be a little low on morale. I can feel it where I work, I can feel it on the way to and from home, I can feel it when I lay down at night, and lord knows I feel it at Wal-Mart.

Then again, that might just be the general funk of the place.

But it's Christmas season, and that means we carry on. Oh sure, the pocketbooks and wallets are heavy with guilt and light on cash. Yes, the stocking won't be quite as bulging as they were last year. Yes, we'll have to steer clear of the idea that Happiness comes prepackaged and was probably assembled in China. And yes, our crazy aunt will once again spike the eggnog at the Christmas party. But there are trees to truce up and treats to decorate! There are wreathes to hang and lights to teach us patience! There's Mama's fudge and peppermint candy! There's Dad singing twisted carols slightly off key! In fallceto! There's nothing that the scent of pine can't cure! Tis the season!

It's easy to get down. The Holidays will do that to you. So to ward off the blues, huddle around some folks you cherish. Sip comfort, consume calm. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. Raise your glass, and drink white wine in the sun.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Concession

I don't know if this is going to amount to anything, but I thought it would be a nice way to end our conversations with Blackbeard. :D


"Well, that's beside the point."

"It's completely the point! You just won't admit that you like me now." Darcy grinned victoriously.

"I do not, and I will not concede my point. I have not yet had my revenge on you." Blackbeard summoned his full, and considerable, height. "I cannot leave until my vengeance is carried out."

"But thanks to that little stunt you pulled on Thanksgiving, my aunt has officially gone off the deep end. And she is a descendant. You just don't want to leave."

"She does have a convincing argument there, old boy." Patrick eyes smiled over his round spectacles as he looked up from the morning paper. "You do have to admit, Mr. Teach, that we have had some tremendous fun since we've aquainted ourselves with dear Miss Darcy. Remember the Halloween party?"

"I insist that I cannot leave yet and there is no other reason than that which I have already stated. My business here is not done!" Blackbeard boomed in his most commanding voice and was entirely unconvincing. Darcy laughed as she answered her ringing phone.

"Detective Stebbins. What? You're kidding?" Patrick and Blackbeard glanced furtively at Darcy. "Ok, I'll be right there."

"What is it, ducky?" Blackbeard asked.

"Oh, Eddie, you're defintely going to want to stick around now. That was central and apparently some fool just strolled into downtown walking an alligator. You look me in the eyes, Edward Teach, and tell me you don't want to know what's going on there."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cut up

So something weighing on my mind a lot lately is the issue of self-harm.  As some of you may or may not know, I am a cutter.  I haven't cut in a long time, but it's something you never get over.  It's an addiction.  You get to the point where you feel like you need it to feel human, to feel real.  And even a paper cut can refresh that feeling.  Cutters do not want to die.  Quite the opposite, we cut to feel alive.  If someone you know is cutting, the last thing to do is to chide them.  The best thing is to understand and come from a place of love.  Try and reach out to them.  They really want to be acknowledged and loved and most of all understood.  If anyone has any stories to share about this particular subject, feel free to share below.  Thanks for hearing me out, readers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Questions

Want to know what Blackbeard was doing before he tried haunting Darcy? Click to find out.

Also, Happy Thanksgiving y'all! (And can anyone tell me why Blogger is eating all of my edits?)


"Edward, where's Patrick?"

"I resent that accusation"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Funday

Ship happens. To everyone. Not all days are filled with magic. However, someone just smiling at me can make my day brighter, a well placed joke can lighten the mood, a hug can relieve pressure and make my sick belly feel better. This is my Monday Funday post to you Spatulans. If you're bummed it's Monday already, if you've gotten some bad news, if you're just bored waiting around for quitin' time - this is my virtual hug, smile and well placed joke. Because we all need to laugh. And a hug would be nice. And smiles... OK you get the idea. Just enjoy.
 Guess who is Turning Japanese in this music video?
 Billy Collin's action poetry is really fun to watch and nice to hear.
The oldest rocker in the neighborhood. 
Baby Bat's are frackin cute
Seeing sound? Say, what? What. No, really. See this sound.
Holy, photographs of water droplets, Spatulans!
And you wanted to know about using your off camera flash... ok ok here you go.
"Cowbells and hand claps. Huey Lewis was Hot and Cold before Katy Perry was born." my Friend Matt Whaley
Don't be a bully. No, really. This video was really intense. Not to be a downer, but I had to share.
Now to lighten the mood watch this Canadian Treasure sing! Bam!
Being smart is sexy. Damn right. Read the newspaper to me, baby. Spell correctly for me, baby. (C-O-R-R-E-C-T-L-Y. Correctly. Is being a smart-ass sexy?)
Tom Waits has a new CD. I want. Watch this music video for his new song Satisfied
Guess who else has a new CD/DVD. Tegan and Sara. They Get Along. Like Woah.
Check out this woman mechanic. Yes.
I was told to read Lydia Davis' short short stories. Instead I found this interview with the writer in a 2008 article in The Believer. I like her. I want to read her short short stories now.
I also found this interview with Joyce Carol Oates who says running feet helps writing minds run. While I'm not advocating running to boost your writing/magic making capabilities, or anything overly exerting, this is a good read and I will say that being able to move around outside makes me feel more inspired.




Have a Fantastic week, Fantastic Spatulans. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blocked

My mind is blocked
Within a thousand tragedies
A melancholy requiem

Death knocking at my door
A thousand troubles join the fray
And nothing will come out

Just some random musings.  I had 2 friends die this week within a few days of each other so I'm in shock currently and not having much inspiration other than to be an emo kid.  How is everyone?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vignette: Motorcycle Drive-by

[This is a continuation of last weeks theme of writing small scenes/glimpses of a story inspired by a song. This little vignette is brought to you by Third Eye Blind's Motorcycle Drive-by. If there's a song you want to request I write about for next time, leave me the title and artist in the comments and we'll make it happen! :) ]



"The City" was the hardest thing Fred had done since he moved there. All he could think about in the days before the trip was how long it had been since he'd glimpsed the coast. Carolina would always be his home. He was sure his mother was still baking chicken on Sundays and doing little else.

What he missed the most was the smell. New York City also had a smell, and it was far from a pleasant one. Living on the ocean was different, and that is of course the reason he had left in the first place. Too laid back, too calm, and the sand gets everywhere.

When he was eighteen it was what he wanted most- to move to a place where the environment took over the minute you set foot outside your door. That was New York City at its most basic. Survival mode took over you. No matter how high up the ladder you climbed, you always felt like scraping for more.

But after scratching and clawing for ten years, Fred felt like it was enough. His twenty-eigth birthday was only two days behind him, but the lines on his forehead were starting to show. His teeth stained by tobacco; a habit he developed when he moved here. And although his hands showed no signs of arthritis, they ached for something different, something more alive and tangable.

So that day, after selling all of his posessions that couldn't stuff into his ruck sack, he pointed his Triumph towards the South with only one word on his mind, "Home".

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Touché

Hello, internets. I feel I should apologize because the post is rather short. I'm just having trouble concentrating because I got a movie in the mail today and it's calling to me from it's place on my coffee table.

Anyway, if you get my historical reference then send me a note and I'll send you a cookie. Maybe. I'll at least give you a round of applause. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go sob over the final Harry Potter movie.


“Don’t pout, Edward, it doesn’t suit you.”

“You’re cheating, ducky. And I’m not pouting, I’m glowering.”

“It’s not cheating. Where in the rule book does it say I can’t use a Bluetooth to avoid looking like I’m crazy?” Darcy hadn’t been anywhere but work in the past few weeks for fear of having a public outburst because of Blackbeard’s incessant pestering.

“I wouldn’t have mentioned old Harald if I’d thought it’d give you ideas. He’ll get a right laugh out of it if he hears about it.”

“I just can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. It’s brilliant. I can talk to you without having to whisper and act like a total creeper.”

“At least I can take some small consolation from this.” Blackbeard allowed himself a little smile.

“And what is that?”

“Now everyone thinks you’re an attention seeking, insensitive jackass who can’t live without her telephone for two minutes. But at least they don’t think you’re crazy, right ducky?”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Filling In the Gaps" or "What Job Would You Write Home About?"

I'm working on a story. Yes! Thank all that is Holy! I'm working on a story! Behold the glorious singing of angels and cartoon birds acknowledging this great feat!

I actually don't know where I found this image... Sorry.
But my story is about a person in China. A person singing karaoke in China. While I have some memories and experiences of China and karaoke that I can write from there are a few things that kind of hinder me: a fading/shoddy memory, not actually being in China, not having actually sung in karaoke. So, I'm going to put in some research. This research isn't going to be too hard core, like moving to China or actually singing in a karaoke contest (maybe I'll sing... but just thinking about singing in public is making me anxious while I'm sitting here... in my apartment...), but I feel it's research just the same: I'll ask some main characters about their experiences and life in China, and I'll go to a few karaoke nights at The Badlander and the VFW.

I know we've all heard the adage : Write What You Know. But what happens in the times when we don't know. Do you make up things? Do you look it up in a book? Do you go somewhere? And on the flip side: Research To Know. If you haven't been or experienced and you find out and research to know what you do... with what do you fill in the gaps? A voice that is robotic and all researched out? Do you just research to fill in the gaps?

There's an article I read in Poets & Writers about writing what you know and filling the rest in with research. It was about the different jobs one had and the experience one gains which one can then use for writing. (OK look... I don't buy a lot of magazines because of my need to buy toilet paper and Kleenex but I recently indulged one lazy sunday and bought myself this magazine because there was an article called "Why We Write: A Necessary Magic" that made me think "I could use this for FS!"... there's something wrong with me I think... perhaps not?)

All of these things got me thinking: One What jobs have you had that you could write about? What job, horrific or splendid, could you give one of your characters from experience? I've been an agricultural feed processing assistant, a juvenile blue crab research lab assistant, a news paper writer, a reference librarian. Two What jobs have you never had but always wanted to have? I've wanted to know about the circus life. Also I'd like to know what it's like to be a musician on tour, and a professional photographer. Three When you write, do you research, write from what you know, make things up to fill in the gaps, or do a combination of two or more of these things? Four What jobs or things have you done for a day or a week just to see what it was like? Have you done anything for research sake because you didn't know anything about it? I went on an Owl Institute Research outing once. I love owls and this tagging and recording outing was pretty unexpected but I could use the experience for something.

To Keep Writing/Arting

Basically, this post is about you. OK. It's about me and my ticks, through which I ask and want to know about you. That's right. Stop hiding in the corner comment space, you Fantastic Spatulan, you. I want to know something.

I've been wraslin' with some doubts and questions about writing and how to keep doing it. "How do I keep writing/arting/making magic", this thing that I feel was put on this Earth to do, when I'm not in a class, being published, or motivated? When I have doubts and fears and biases about my own writing - how do I ignore them and keep going?

Today after breakfast I was looking through the books in my "library" in hopes of finding one to help with a Fantastic Spatula post. I noticed there were a lot of writerly/arting advice books like "The Bodacious Book of Succulence" by SARK, "On Writing" by Stephen King, "Eats, Shoot and Leaves" by Lynn Truss, "Writing Fiction" by Janet Burroway. Not to mention the art and photography text books and collage books that help inspire. I remembered when I read these books for the first time and was so excited and inspired and ready to write and make art that I couldn't stand it. I wanted to write well from then on. But things get put in the way. Etc. So on. And so forth. But I wanted to feel that excitement of reading something inspirational again, where I wanted to do nothing but write. And I also wanted to know why I couldn't be that excited without having to read or see someone else reading or writing or arting.

I want to know: What are some of your top inspirational/how to/ motivational writing and arting books? What do you go back too for that dose of "I wanna write/make art like woah"?
What are your top five books on writing or making art? This question is for my own benefit, yes, because I wanna read your top five favorite books on writing and arting. Also, I think it's time we all share a little bit so us FS writers can get to know the audience to whom we are writing. And the readers can get to know the readers!

I want to know: What keeps you going? What is it that you do, whether you want to or not, to write/art/make magic.
How do you keep doing this? This is also a selfish questions, cause I wanna try some new techniques... Also, consider this cathartic where we all share how it's hard to motivate and keep going but we all do it any way. Let's commiserate together... oh yeah!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vignettes: Dandelion Girl


I thought that for the next several weeks instead of trying to write a continuing saga while attempting to get my NaNoWriMo up to speed, I would post a different vignette of a story based on a song. Points to whomever figures out which song it is! :) Hope you enjoy!

"What's this one again?" Pan's curious fingers picked up the mason jar and held it to the light. Miniature tufts of dandelion seeds dancing and glowed in the afternoon sun. Her curious hands had been all over her mother's pantry. Ditra had long ago given up on keeping the curious little one out of the small room.

"That's the dandelion seeds, Sweetie. Remember how you blow on them and make a wish?" She spoke to her daughter in soothing but firm tones while wiping her hands on her checkered apron. "Yes, but what's it for?" Pan's impatience was beginning to show.

"You remember. What do we do with their leaves?" Pan sighed heavily; she knew well what the uses were for all the seeds on the shelves. At least for the ones she could reach. "I know mom, but I want to hear you tell the story again. You tell them the best." It was Ditra's turn to sigh audibly. "Fine, fine. Dandelion leaves are what we put in our salads, right? They help our bodies fight off infections and a lot of other things."

Pan listened while gazing into the jar and tapping on it so that the light changed. "Uh-huh. Now can you sing the song?"

"Oh alright...

Prince or pauper, beggar man or thing
Play the game with ev'ry flow'r you bring
Dandelion don't tell no lies
Dandelion will make you wise
Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away dandelion..."





[In case you're curious to what the song is: here's a hint!]

Encased

It's been nearly an eternity since I felt okay
Forgotten in the name of my own protection
"You can't break what's not there" I used to say
And the feeling worsened like an infection

It's cold being lonely and it's lonely being cold
To sit in the lofty towers of apparent apathy
But nature abhors a vacuum, so I've been told
But somehow I thought the exception was me

In the emptiness of emotion that I had created
The all consuming dark of the surrounding void
Consumed all that was left of the heart ablated
But darkness doesn't stop when you're destroyed

It spread around me, burying me alive
Pressed underneath the power of my own choice
I lay suffocating, praying for help to arrive
The layers above me muffling my voice

And now I lay entombed under my morass
A testament so that all may look and see
Preserved inside the clear lifeless glass
The inner mummy that I have come to be

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An Argument

Probably the only person who'll find this week's installment funny is my Mom. To everyone else, take a peek at what happens when an argument breaks out between Edward Teach,  a.k.a.Blackbeard and Det. Darcy Stebbins. (I figured I should probably name the poor girl, she does suffer so.)

And we have a new ghost, so everyone make him feel welcome. He's certainly not getting any love from Darcy and Edward.


“Oh, come off it, ducky. You don’t know what you’re saying.” Blackbeard took giant steps around Darcy’s apartment. For being a ghost, he had very heavy footsteps.

“I don’t why you’re so adamant about this, Edward. I’d hardly think it was a subject you were well versed on.” Darcy threw her hands up and turned away from Blackbeard’s tantrum.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How To Do Alone: A Lazy Sunday

What's not to love about A Lazy Sunday? Unless you're so in the future that you hate Sunday because you keep thinking how the next day is Monday and how it will be time to go back to work again, there really isn't anything to dislike about Sunday. Today was A Lazy Sunday for this Spatulan. And by lazy I mean I enjoyed my day off, ate breakfast late, bought something nice for myself (a magazine), and did something nice for a friend. This post is How to Do Alone: Lazy Sunday Edition. (It's lazily been posted late at night too! I'm going the whole nine yards with this one, yo.) Being lazy alone isn't hard but one could possibly get stuck in the same old wake late-eat late-watch same movies in bed-grumble about monday-lazy day routine. Here are some suggestions to shake up a lazy day. But not too much shaking, because we're still trying to be lazy.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo-itis

Well now that we're all back and settling into our blogging routine once again, I have to confess one small thing: I have NaNoWriMo-itis. 

NaNoWriMoitis is pretty severe. Seeing as how some of you are also participating, or know what it is about, I won't drone on at length about it. Suffice to say, it's a month long hand-wringing, sweaty brow, stress elevating, and panic inducing marathon. 

I will state for the record right here and now that this is the ONLY marathon I will ever participate in. I am not a runner/sprinter/athlete of any kind. For those of you who are, I commend you. I would also like to commit you to a local mental facility, but I'd do it with all the love in my heart. It takes a lot of discipline to train for and run a marathon. I, however, will not unless their are bears involved. 

No, my marathon calling is of another sort. I tend to lack discipline for any creative venture that takes longer than a few hours. I flit from working on one story, to starting another one, to taking pictures, to painting, to creative visual journaling, to facebook stalking (hey, it's an art!).  I rarely finish anything that I start. And I will even put off starting until the nth moment, just so I can say I didn't have enough time. 

Needless to say my ability to stick to one thing and see it through until the end is in desperate need of work.

This is what drove me to participate in NaNoWriMo. Last year I decided to participate and actually make myself finish something. It was rough at first. I had started a week late as I do with most things. But an idea for a novel came to me early that Saturday morning. The characters were there, in my head, begging to be written. So that morning, in my pajamas, I signed up and started writing. Did I finish? Well, to the detriment of several friendships, my sleep patterns, and my house keeping...I did! I hit the 50,000 word mark with one day left to spare! 

Not bad, neh?

So what, as Mama Wiggins would say, is the moral of the story? The moral, my dears, is that starting late is better than never starting at all. 

Which reminds me- I'm already a day behind. (Some things never change! ;) )

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Borrowed Conversations

New month, new ideas! This has been bumping around in my head for a while. I like the idea of hearing bits of conversation out of context and trying to figure out what's being talked about. So, I've created a few conversations between a woman and some unwanted guests.

See if you can figure out who she is talking to in this first conversation before it becomes apparent.

“Look, Edward, if you insist on hanging around, you’re going to have to do something about your head. It’s freaking me out.” She glanced briefly into the corner where her guest sat.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Tradition

I'd like to share with you, if I may, a bit of my Halloween tradition. Besides watching old, scary movies, my mother and I will sometimes break out the recordings of old radio shows. Most of the ones we have are adventures or mysteries, but there is one that scared the living daylights out of me when I was little. It is a 1945 radio drama of "The Dunwich Horror" by H.P. Lovecraft.

I've never actually read any of Lovecraft's stories; I've been too scared to and it is all because of this radio show. It even made me afraid of whip-poor-wills for a while.

It isn't really that scary, to be honest. But it is chilling. It gets into your mind and nestles there next to the imagination, whispering to it and allowing it to run away with all kinds of unsavory images. Even now, I get chills when I listen to it.

If you've about 30 minutes to spare, I recommend giving it a listen and I dare you not to shiver when you hear the voice of Wilbur Whateley demanding the incantation, or when something unmentionable calls out to its father.

Don't pay any attention to the slide show that come with the videos, just listen and let it sink in.




Happy Halloween! Don't let the Elder Gods haunt your dreams.

How to Rent People



People come into a costume store to rent costumes for Halloween all the time. But how frightening would it be if you went into a store to rent a person. How frightening would it be if you were a rented person. It could possibly be much more frightening than this little story here.














Progressively Scary Snippets

As things do, they don't go according to plan. So, instead of the creepy photos of my black cat, which were eaten by my unformatted camera card, and instead of a really long story about renting people in costumes to people who want people, I'm posting three little photos I've taken and three scary snippets of  the lives in which these "people" live.  Happy Halloween!

Keeping Dead

Hi, Everyone!


We hope you've been enjoying the wonder October Treats Clara and I have been posting for you during our Annual Break from Blogging! We're back tonight with a few tales that are ripe for the season, and just in time for Halloween! Hope you've all been good ghouls and zomboys. Even if you haven't, the Spatulans still have some treats (not tricks) for your enjoyment. :) 


Keeping Dead


I surveyed the land stretched out before me. It was a modest place, old and overgrown. You could feel the history of the setting through the grass and up through the soles of your shoes, as if the land was trying to convey to you the importance of its past through every cell and fiber of your being. 

I had worked the land for many years. I came here to be the Keeper when my mentor, Chris, a wise woman, asked me if I would be interested. Needless to say I jumped at the chance.

This job had been completely different from the one I worked before. My former profession was that of a lay minister. I had grown up in this same town, sadly receiving no formal training or education, married, raised children, and settled into the life and heartbeat of a humble, backwards community. And it is here that I remain. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

This Is Halloween

I was going to post something Lovecraftian and horrifying, but then I found this video and...well... what's Halloween without a little fun?

Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Haunting

"The dead are not quiet in Hill House."

The Haunting, the 1963 original, was the first  movie that scared me stiff. Sure, by today's "horror" standards it isn't really that scary. But that's the thing about this movie; there are no jump scares, no excess of gore or violence. In fact, you don't see anything.

And that's why it scared me so much. My imagination was free to embellish all kinds of horrible possibilities for the things that happened in Hill House. And I really think that is what is missing from movies (and movie audiences) today, nothing is as terrifying as what our own minds can conjure for us.


I watch this every Halloween and it stills gives me cold shivers every time I watch it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Raven

It wouldn't really be Halloween without Poe's "The Raven." I present, for your entertainment, the two masters of horror reading the masterpiece poem. It's hard to figure out which one I like more, Vincent Price's frantic tone or the creepy deepness of Christopher Lee's voice.







Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cauldron Bubble: An Apple Cider Recipe

Today's recipe is brought to you a mite bit late due to getting the dodge out of hell to see Louis CK in Durham. The smiley muscles, they ache! :) 


I'd been looking for an easy, yet delicious, apple cider recipe and this one is it! Hope you all enjoy!


Ingredients: 
4-5 cups apple juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg




Directions:
Combine all ingredients into a saucepan and stir until all the spices have dissolved. Chanting of Shakespearian Witches' rhyme optional. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Eye of Newt: A Green Smoothie Recipe




Eye of Newt | A Green Smoothie Recipe


While I'm aware this might look like something Latrine would have concocted, I can assure you it tastes much better than it looks.

It's also a healthy alternative to Monday's milkshake, and a good way to get yourself going in the morning. Unless you're a night owl like myself. In that case this will help you wake up after 8... in the evening. ;)





Ingredients: 

  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Mango
  • 2 Cups Kale- Chopped fine or torn
  • 2 Tsp Raw Cacao (I substituted chocolate syrup for this. Hence why the color came out a little less green and a lot more pond scum)
  • 1Tbs almond butter
  • 1-2 Cups water
  • *Optional: I added a little bit of honey to the top and swirled it around with a toothpick. This adds a nice touch, and also a little more sweetness for us Sugar Addicts. 


Directions: 

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Twitchy, Witchy Girl: Pumpkin Pie Milkshake


AH, yes, Fall is the best time for making ooey-gooey treats and dipping into warm, refreshing beverages. While we are all dreaming of wearing our scarves and borderline-fashionista-drool-worthy footwear, the weather around Southern Virginia has been a mite bit inconsiderate. So while we are having dreams of cider and bonfires, we're still swilling on iced lattes with our feet still happily in their flip-flops. 
Thus, a Pumpkin Pie Milkshake is the best of both worlds! Autumnal Spices blended with Summery Ice cream, and suddenly everyone's happy again and all's right with the world! Now, if only everything else were so easy!

A pumpkin pie milkshake out in the wild!


There are actually two recipes. You could use the more involved one, as I was originally going to do, explained here. OR, you could take the easy, no-brainer route. You can tell which one I used...

Here's the Easy Way-
Ingredients:
1. Two- Three scoops of Eddy's Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream.
2. 1/2- 2/3 cup of milk (or soy, or almond milk, depending upon your preference.)
Directions:
1. Combine ingredients in blender and churn those suckers up! 
2. Top with your choice of nutmeg or cinnamon. I chose to top mine with a swirl of caramel and a dash of pumpkin spice for extra OOMPH power. 
3. Enjoy!



Friday, October 14, 2011

In His House at R'lyeh, With A Mouse?

A little levity for Friday!


H.P. Lovecraft meets Dr. Seuss courtesy of dA artist DrFaustusAU, complete with rhymes and cute illustrations.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"There are certain themes of which the interest is all-abosorbing,
but which are too entirely horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction."
-Edgar Allen Poe, The Premature Burial

Friday, October 7, 2011

Are YOU Afraid of the Dark?

Growing up in the 90's made for some pretty wonderful television. SNICK, (Saturday Night Nick), was the highlight of the week for me. Mostly because my siblings and I weren't allowed to watch TV during the week, and Saturday meant staying up late.

One show in particular captivated me. There was nothing quite like "Are You Afraid of the Dark?". Not only did some of the episodes absolutely TERRIFY me, I was enthralled with the story telling and the act of gathering around the campfire with friends.

Today, when I went looking for clips to share, just the intro alone gave me a serious case of the heebs. (I frighten easily. Thanks, Adam!) 








Some of my favorite episodes, and the ones that scared me the most, were:

"The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner" --> Note: Don't watch this if you're afraid of clowns! :-/
"The Tale of the Frozen Ghost" --> Note: This one guests Clarissa Joan Hart! Always a favorite! :)

Did you ever watch AYAOTD? Which episodes kept you up all night?