Adventures in Restaurants: One expensive outing!

It’s been almost four years since the last time I did a restaurant post. haven’t done one of these posts in a long time. When covid broke out, my province went into lockdown three times, and now that we’re heading into our third year of covid (let’s hope not), we did manage to go out a few times. Our big splurge was when we went to Ottawa for our anniversary. We booked a table at a very classy restaurant and the mean was incredible!

This was the most expensive dinner we’ve every had, but it was so worth it. You can see the pictures HERE.

We started with drinks (naturally); rye and coke and negroni with appetizers, and I was surprised to see that they didn’t have escargot on the menu, so I had to settle for shrimp and Hubby had a crab cake. Both were awesome.

Main course was steak and lobster for me, and stuffed rainbow trout stuffed with crab meat and baby shrimp.

Funny thing about this place, they serve sides in separate dishes, so we had sauteed wild mushrooms and roasted broccoli.

I had desert but the desert I will remember was a surprise from the chef, who learned (probably from our server) that it was our anniversary, so he prepared a special treat. We finished the meal with a glass of ice wine for me, and a B-52 coffee for Hubby.

Yes, I took a picture of the bill.

This was an important night for us. Not just because it was our anniversary, but it was the first time in almost a year and a half that we dared to go out and try to have a normal night, or as normal of a night as possible. I’m not sure how many more of these special nights we’ll have in the future, at least not ones that were this expansive, but it’s a small step toward the new normal.

Have you gone out for date night since the pandemic began? How did it go?

Five Things Every Writer Should Know About Instagram.

I like to call Instagram the Twitter of pictures.

For those of you who don’t know, Instagram is a picture heavy social media site. It also hosts videos as well. Probably in competition to TikTok and YouTube, but personally, I like it just for pictures.

Instagram is one of my favourite social media platforms. I post so many different types of photos, from personal to business and connect with others who do the same, but it’s my favourite because I don’t have to think of something clever to say, like I try to do on Twitter. With Instagram, I can throw up a picture and leave it at that, and honestly, it’s one of the simplest platforms to use, and like all platforms there are good and bad sides to it, so here are 5 things you need to know about Instagram.

  1. Picture heavy. As a writer, you want to reach as many people as possible and that means you have to expand your audience to include non-writing people as well, and Instagram is a good place to start. I think of it as another way to be creative. You can post pictures of themes that run through your story, maybe of actors or places that you used for character and story inspiration. I sometimes post snippets of my works-in-progress. A visual excerpt of the actual word file.
  • You can link to other platforms. Instagram is owned by Facebook (or do we call them Meta now?), but that doesn’t mean that you’re limited to what you can connect to. Facebook -yes, Twitter – yes, Tumblr – yes, and I have it connected to my WordPress blog, so pictures come up in a side bar. Connecting one social media platform to another an greatly expands the range of your audience and you may pick up a follower or two.
  • Limitation on what you can do with pictures. Apart from a few filters, Instagram doesn’t have a lot of options to fancy up your photos, BUT, you can upload pictures from your computer, so if you do something fancy in whatever paint program you have, you can easily share it.
  • Can use hashtags just like with Twitter. The whole purpose of having social media accounts is to connect with others, and it’s much easier when you use hashtags. You can even follow certain hashtag topics, so anyone who uses ones you’re following, will pop up in your stream, and vice-versa.
  • Very user friendly. After Twitter and a blog, I would suggest (once you feel comfortable) having an Instagram account. Want to post a picture? Click on the icon of a box with a (+) sign, and it will either open a box (on your computer) to drag a photo, or, on your phone it will have all pictures that is in your gallery, and you just pick the one you want. You can do multiple pictures as well by clicking the double screen icon on the bottom right-hand corner.

Instagram has been around for almost twelve years and there isn’t a business site that doesn’t have an account. It’s fun, simple to use, but it can be a time suck as well. There are so many creative ways a writer can use the platform to promote themselves and their work. I’ve mentioned a few in this post, but if you think of others, I’d love to hear it. I’m always looking for a good idea for a picture.

The Crystal Realm: When the negativity of the world starts to mess with you . . .

(This is kind of a continuation from my Wiccan post)

Recently, I’ve integrated more crystals to my life. You know how much I LOVE them, and with the ongoing negativity in the world, it was taking a tole on my well-being, so, what’s a better way to counter-act that nastiness, but with banishing, negative-clearing crystals!

I already own a hematite ring, a black tourmaline crystal and an onyx ring (needs to be fixed), but before the holidays I bought a second black tourmaline that I can hand on a chain and a black obsidian bracelet. You can see them HERE.

I know this looks like overkill but considering what each of these stones can do and the fact I work retail, I don’t go to work without them. 

 

A Wiccan Journey: Onto a new year!

Over the last few months, I’ve worked on reiterating my beliefs back into my life. It’s been difficult. With stress from work and the holiday season, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and do anything ‘witchy’, and once again I’ve lapsed into not doing anything at all. I started doing three card tarot spreads every day for myself, but once the holidays season really ramped up, I forgot, or was too distracted to do one.

I liked doing these little readings every day because it helped me to mindful on the moment and they would show me what I had to focus on for the day. It was a simple three card spread; what the day would bring, what I need to focus on, and what I need to let go of. I used both the normal and reverse interpretations as well. It’ll take me longer to learn them all, but the cards mean things when they’re reversed, and I don’t want to miss out on that knowledge.

The easiest part for me to remember of the Tarot is the four aspects of the Minor Arcana. Spades-mental, Cups-emotions, Wands-physical, and Pentacles-energy, but I tend to get confused when it comes to the Court cards. I know they can represent a real person and represent that part of our personality us as well, only I keep thinking it’s about a person and the few times I’ve had one come up, I sat there and tried to figure out who this person could be.

I have several Tarot decks, but I like the Ryder-Waite deck the most. Maybe because it’s the traditional deck and I want to learn that first before venturing on to the others. I have one deck, it’s very nice, but the interpretation of the cards is much different than a traditional and I need to have a good understand what the original represents before I venture into new representations.

I think this, along with using more crystals, will help me ease back into my practicing my spiritual side again.

Random Question of the Month: If the world fell apart tomorrow, what would you miss?

I thought of this question the other day getting ready for work, and it’s trickier to answer than I thought. There’s so much that goes into our daily lives, so much we’ve come to depend on, and just assume it’ll always be there, but what if it wasn’t? What if all the technological advancements of our modern world disappeared? And by ‘modern’, I mean the era that began after WW2, otherwise we might as well go back to pre-industrial or even post Medieval periods of history . . .

But I digress . . .

What is the one thing you would miss the most?

For me, I think it would be doing anything online. Sure, I can still write with a pen (barely though. Have you seen my handwriting?), but the loss of instant communications or the ability to immediately look information up for anything whenever I wanted, is a hard thing to let go of. I would adapt, eventually, but considering in this scenario there is no power—which runs EVERYTHING in our world—it would take a very long time before forms of communication and information gathering would return.

I’d miss the interaction with my online friends, that’s for sure. I think I have more friends online than I do in real life. Not that this bothers me, I’m picky about who I hang with, especially in the time of Covid. I’ve come to know a lot of great people, writers, and non-writers alike. They ‘get’ me when very few people do.

It would hit me hard in the writing department. Do I really need to look up Every. Single. Thing? FOMO is a real problem sometimes, compound that over the last couple of years and I’m amazed I even THINK about not being online Considering what I write, I don’t think I could do research for any of it without the help of Google. I’m used to doing quick research for a few items as I’m writing. I don’t think a library could hold up to that, let alone have the specific information I need. Do they have pictures of dead bodies at the library? Could I access them? Would they let me access them?   

What about you? What would you miss? Let me know because this really interests me.

The Green Side of Life: It’s that time of year!

To be thinking about gardens, and no, it’s not too early either.

I’ve done container gardens for the last few years, with some veggies planted in the main garden. The container ones were good, but I found I have to water A LOT to keep up with the plant’s needs, and the last few summers we had long hot spells, I couldn’t keep up with it all.

This year is going to be different. While I’ll still use the containers, I’m also doing raised beds in the back yard. Mum is always saying how there’s not enough ground to really do a good garden (I disagree) and when she took down two tall evergreen bushes at the front of the deck, I thought the space it left behind would be a perfect place to do two raised gardens. That’s my plan and made more real over the holidays when Hubby bought me a $300 gift card from Home Depot for the wood, and Sithboy got me a seed starter. I am seriously looking forward to this summer. I might even take some time off to get the garden ready.

It should be big enough to put in four kinds of tomatoes (yes, you read that right), and a few other things. I need to document how much sun the area gets, but it should be good. The only obstacle is the neighbours maple tree, but I don’t think it shades the back deck. As for the containers, I’m not putting them on the deck. It seemed like a good idea at the time but pulling the hose all the way up there was really a nuisance.

She’s had three trees taken down over the last few years (they were dead or dying) and that’s opened up the yard quite a bit. I’m also thinking of using the ‘dark’ end of the garden. The maple tree is at the far corner of the neighbours property, and the damn thing shades half her main garden. I’ve done some research and I think I can plant some spinach and other leafy veggies there. That would be cool. I did spinach a few years back and it got so hot out that the whole thing went to seed.

First step is documenting the area of light. I took a few pictures yesterday and I’ll do that every month on the same day and time. It’ll take me a whole year to map out the area, but I’ll have a better understanding of where I can plant things.

You can see for yourself what the yard looks like HERE.

The ideas are brewing!

Of Writers and Prose: When obsession is incomplete.

For years, I was obsessed with acquiring a literary agent. I thought it was the only way to become a published author, but shortly after I sent out my first short story, self-publishing became a thing, so I went with it. In the years that followed, my drive to acquire an agent has waned, but the idea did not.

This whole agent thing, it pokes at me, especially when online events happen. It’s almost as though I need this assertion that my writing is good and the only way that can happen is by landing an agent. I know that’s not true, but it’s this little chunk of doubt that persists, and if I don’t act on it every now and then, it festers and becomes toxic.

I’ve written three books that have been turned down. One I eventually put out myself and the other two (which includes my most recent novel) I will probably do the same. I truly thought I had something with my magical realism novel, even got a nibble, but in the end, it wasn’t meant to be, and I must face facts that agents can’t connect to what I write. Am I sad? Maybe a little, but the biggest problem I face now, is accepting this and moving forward.

A small part of the reason I haven’t put out any books over thee last seven years is because I hung on to this idea of having an agent. I’ve worked on other projects, but in the back of my mind, the notion that none of these were any good depleted my love for the project to a point that I had convinced myself that a better idea would come along, and I would put all my energy into that project.

I wrote five novels in the last six years; Down Finnegan’s Hollow, The Possession of Mercy Moreau, two zombie novels, and my magical realism, plus I started umpteen others, but it wasn’t until Eva and Skye that I felt I *had* something and threw my energy back into writing, solely on the hopes that THIS would fulfil an agents wish. Now that it hasn’t, how do I break this obsession? How do I stop lingering over a dream and just start writing for me again?   

Oddly enough, while writing out the first draft of this post, Hubby and I went out for breakfast, and a crow flew across the street in front of us. When I looked up what that meant (because I am superstitious), the information on the web site coincided with what I was writing about.

            The crow is trying to bring attention to unhealthy behaviors that are holding you back. The crow is literally trying to stop your tracks to metaphorically give attention to self-sabotaging behavior that is holding you back. It could also mean that big changes are about to happen in your life, but they will lead to long-term happiness and success. 

So where do I begin? How do I break this mindset? I’m not sure, but this last story is strike three and I’m not going to try again. I love all the stories I’ve written, and plan on publishing them. I’m not sure when, but you will be seeing them in the future.

Hopefully.

Wish me luck.

Writing Update: December 2021

Happy New Year’s Eve! Been a hell of a fucking year.

First off, here are the stats for my query. I’ll keep updating as replies trickle in, but I don’t expect any more. It’s been seventeen weeks as of tonight. Way past the 4-6 most agents give so I’m going to assume they passed.

Stats of December 31, 2021.

35 queried

15 rejects

1 request – 1 refusal.

As you can see, the request didn’t pan out. To be honest, I was very surprised at the number of rejections for this submission. This story is a light-hearted tale based in the 80’s. Being a teen during this decade was intense, to say the least. A lot of stuff was going on, and I tried to incorporate that into the story. The motto for that decade was sex, drugs, and rock’n roll, whether people like it or not, and there are some dark parts to it as well. I’ve never written anything that agents seem to want, and I was okay with that, but I thought maybe this one time . . .

Anyhoo…

I didn’t complete NaNo, and I didn’t think I would either. Because I work retail, November and December are busy months for me, and while I didn’t get 50k written, I did surpass last year by about 3k and I’m happy with that. Book 2 now stands at just over 20k.  

Now with the new year just a few hours away, I have plans. This setback hasn’t stopped me from wanting to get my stories out there. If anything, it’s made me even more determined, and not just for my magical realism novel either. I have plans for my zombie series and a couple ghost stories that I’d like to publish. That is, after they’ve been revised and edited.

This is my goal for 2022. No more sitting on my ass. I have things to do.

From the Recipe Box: Mushroom Rice.

I love mushrooms. They’re so versatile and taste great fried up with some garlic butter, so I was especially happy to find a recipe for mushroom rice that’s easy to follow. I took one picture and then got so wrapped up in the cooking process that I forgot to document each step.

You can find the original recipe HERE.

I’ve made this twice in the last couple months and there’s not a lot to preparing this dish, but I did change a few things to bring out more flavour as I found the original bland and my mother said the first batch was too salty.

I only changed two ingredients the second time around. I used mushroom stock in place of vegetable/chicken stock, and unsalted butter. I also cooked this in a cast iron pot because it distributes the heat better, but the handles and lid will get just as hot as the pot. Cast iron gets crazy hot, which is what you need to brown the first few ingredients.  

I cooked the mushrooms, garlic, and onions for fifteen minutes instead of five. Caramelizing onions takes a while (45 minutes, without cheating), but even with diced onions you want them nice and brown to add to the flavour. Same with the garlic but keep a close eye on the garlic as it will burn easily. Leaving the garlic and onion to cook longer gives a good base on the bottom of the pot which adds to the deglazing with the mushroom stock. You’ll get a lot of your flavour from the deglazing.

The small amount of rice for this recipe means you will have enough for leftovers, but not for days on end. I find with some recipes, I still have food at the end of a week and because we have an older and smaller fridge, I end up throwing it out to make room. Next time I make this, I’m going to use a mushroom stock I make myself. This dish was perfect for the nights I had to work late and needed to eat something before bed. A few seconds in the microwave on low did the trick and I swear it tasted better as a leftover.

Writing Update: October 2021

Happy Hallowe’en! Blessed Samhain (saw-wen)!

First off, here are the stats for my query.

35 queried,

12 rejects

1 request

That one request has me very excited so cross your fingers! I’ve never had anyone request more pages apart from the original submission, and I’m not sure what to think. They said they liked the five I send and wanted another fifty, that’s a good sign, right? Then my head starts to do me in with thoughts like ‘what if they don’t like anything after that? What if just the first five were good and the rest is shit? I added a bit more since my submission, what if they don’t like that? Did it change the mood? Ugh, someone turn my brain off please.

To keep me and my doubts busy, I began the second book of my Eva & Skye series. Working title is, Eva and Skye and the Dawn Charm. I’ve got a few chapter down now, and I’ll continue to work on it for NaNo, which is what I did last year for the first book. I put a blurb up on the Nano site if you’re interested. You can find it HERE.

This is the continuation story arc that I wanted to write from the beginning. It also shows why I had certain secondary characters appear in the first book, and while their roll was very small and may seem not necessary, but they actually are, and I didn’t want to give them a cold introduction.

I’ve also discovered that making short TikTok videos is easier than making long YouTube ones and have started putting up more content on my page. I’m still working out what I want to do, but I think that because there’s a time limit has a lot to do with why I prefer it. It’s a Twitter form of YouTube.

Have a safe Hallowe’en and save me some candy corn! 

%d bloggers like this: