Friday, August 31, 2012

Foreign Service Fridays: First Impressions

Hi everyone! I'm here in Russia and back to blogging. I hope you'll check out my somewhat-lengthy post about our first week here. And as always, Happy Friday!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Things I Love Fridays? Katie's Scarf Dress

I'm bringing you this special edition of Things I Love because a) I wasn't loving much yesterday and b) I didn't have the photos I needed for this post yet. Lucky for you, I saw the beautiful Katie last night and was able to get this photo tutorial. You can thank me later.

When I saw this photo of Katie at a wedding, I thought, WOW! What a cute dress!

The fact that this girl lives on a farm still kills me.

When I inquired about it, Katie told me that it was actually a scarf she'd made into a dress. No, not a scarf she cut up and sewed into a dress, a scarf that she tucked and folded in such a way that it required nothing more than a couple of pins, and is now happily back to its former scarf self. WHAT?! you're probably thinking. How is this possible? Well, Ima show you.

First, grab a large scarf* (and a small model).
Second, drape it around the model's neck and tie a knot.
Third, be silly.

Fourth, strike a pose.

Fifth, fold the scarf up to desired length.

Sixth, pull the fabric around your waist like an apron.

Seventh, tuck excess fabric into the waistband.

Eighth, make any adjustments.
Ninth, strike another pose, because you're fabulous.

Let's all give Sarah, my sis, a round of applause for being such an enthusiastic model. And to Katie, of course, for being so creative and just darn awesome. The belt she's wearing is actually a necktie with a vintage pin. Ridic.

* Katie assured me this scarf wasn't sheer. I beg to differ. But somehow she attended a wedding (an English one at that) and didn't manage to offend anyone.

Then again, look at her.

Foreign Service Fridays: The Move

A more detailed look at a State Department move is here. Happy Friday everyone. I plan on spending my last weekend state-side doing all the things!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Writing Wednesdays: The Love List

I've never participated in one of YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesdays before, but since I'm lacking for blogging ideas and it's always good to remind yourself why you love your novel, I thought I'd give it a shot. The idea was inspired by this guest post from Stephanie Perkins. I also read Dahlia Adler's love list and it totally made me want to read her book. Such a fun idea! So, without further ado, here is my love list for Forever Friday:

"What I Love About My Novel"

Solar eclipses
Wolf tattoos
Riding horses in the rain
Eternal love
A certain green dress
Road trips
First kisses
1920s slang
1950s slang
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Purple hair
Skipped heartbeats

So there you have it. Writing this list made me think back about all the parts of my novel I haven't thought about in a while. And I can't wait to do love lists for my two WIPs, including a brand new one! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mommy Mondays: Say Goodbye

Hello all! It's good to be back after a week off from blogging. Last week was pretty nuts - we had our farewell BBQ last Saturday, then spent the beginning of the week organizing and packing. The move itself was crazy. Four packers the first day, six the second (so yeah, we spent A LOT of money in tips), and stuff going in four different directions: our luggage, unaccompanied baggage, storage, and everything else that will get to Russia about a month after we do. I made some packing errors: no diapers or wipes in the unaccompanied baggage. Yeeeeah. But mostly it went pretty smoothly. It's nice to have all that behind us and be able to relax (sort of) for our final week in the states.

Moving, as you all know, is tough. Moving with a two year old is something else entirely. Jack was out of sorts all last week. This is a kid who never needed sleep training, but I felt like I was starting over, the way he screamed at every single nap and bedtime. Now that we're in the hotel, he's back to sleeping like a champ (thank goodness!), even in his pack n' play, which is in all honesty way too small. But he's not in a toddler bed yet, so it's the best we can do. He's even eating better than he was last week, which just goes to show how much change can affect a little kid. Despite the fact that he most likely won't even remember living in Alexandria, he still has to go through the "goodbye" process, just like the rest of us.

On Saturday we finished the move-out process. You know, making sure we'd gotten everything out of the house, leaving the keys, paying the maids for the final clean. Jackie explored what was left of his house for a little while, and then it was time to go. As generally happens when we tell him to say goodbye, he ignores us, and then about two minutes later starts crying that he didn't get to say goodbye. We'd forgotten to drop off the keys with our landlady, so we went by the house one last time. Jack got the chance to say his official goodbye, waving at the house from his car seat, and back we went to the "hotel house."

I can't say I'm going to miss the place we called home for the last three years - it was sort of falling apart around us, and John always hated it so it never really felt like home - but it will always be Jack's first house, the house he came home to after he was born, the place he took his first steps and said his first words. There are a lot of good memories tied up in that house.

I always liked that blue door.

Riding the trike on our street.
Last family photo in front of the house.
As for saying goodbye to all our wonderful friends, well, I haven't really allowed myself to go there yet. I guess I won't be able to put it off much longer, though. We leave one week from today. The only consolation is that, unlike Jackie, I have a million wonderful memories to hold onto.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Moving Week is Here!

Hi all. I've made the decision to take this week off from blogging, since the movers are coming on Thursday and WriteOnCon is this week! They just picked up the 4Runner to ship it off to Russia, so it's definitely feeling real right now. I should be back to blogging next week, then taking a week or so off for the actual move. Have a great week!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Things I Love Thursdays: Coats with Russian Flare

I hope you guys will forgive me for keeping things short and sweet this week. The movers come a week from today (yes, they moved it up a day - thanks folks) and I'm suddenly realizing how many things I need to cull, weed, organize, etc. I'm going room by room. So far I've done the upstairs office and the hall closet. Yes, I'm screwed.

Anyway, I'm a huge ModCloth fan, and over the past week or two they've posted some amazing coats. These three from Plenty by Tracy Reese really caught my eye not only because they're beautiful, but because they seem like they'd be right at home in Russia. I'm ignoring the hefty price tag and focusing on the chicness.

This one deserves an honorable mention just for being so dang cute. I am a sucker for all things plaid, and I have a special fondness for coats with hoods. Plus, I figure at some point I need to embrace my American-girl-abroad status. I'm probably going to stick out like a sore thumb anyway.

Coat by Lauren Moffatt

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Writing Wednesdays: A Book of a Different Color

The other day I noticed something strange about myself. Well, something ELSE strange about myself, anyway. I tend to associate books with colors. As in, when I'm thinking about one of my WIPs, my "mind's eye," if you will, fills with a particular color. I'm wondering if anyone else does this or if I'm totally off my rocker.

For example, when I think about Forever Friday, a violet shade comes to mind. Somewhere in this range:


I have no idea why. There's nothing purple about the novel. It's just the color I associate with it.

When I think about my new Russian novel, Needle's Eye, I see black and red. "High Risk Red," apparently.


 The dystopian/sci-fi book I was working on was a blue-y yellow-y green-y color that I can only call "Afghan Girl." You know, as in the eyes of girl in the famous National Geographic photo.


So someone out there, please tell me you're as weird as I am. Otherwise I'll have to keep this kind of crazy to myself.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mommy Mondays: My Weekend O' Fun - In Pictures

Hello all! It's been a crazy weekend, full of really awesome stuff like horse-back riding and wine tasting, and not-so-awesome stuff like cleaning out our shed in the backyard and discovering tiny dessicated spider nests in some of my boxes. The craziness continued this morning, when John and I got our international driver's licenses and canceled a bunch of our utilities. It's getting real, people. Fast. So due to all this craziness, I'm going to keep today's (written) post short and share some of the highlights of my weekend in photographs. I hope you enjoy them!

Friday night with the boys
As promised, me on a horse!
All my girls together! Love you!
Me and my sis, who organized my Day O' Fun!

Me and Dixie on the left, Sarah and Midnight on the right.
Alexis, Erin, and The Other Sarah
Dixie and I eventually became friends, after a rocky start.
Wine tasting with The Other Sarah, Cowgirl Extraordinaire
The Other Sarah, Sarah, The Other Jon
With Evie and Erin
Sunday antics with Jack (and Mike and Alexis too!)
Thanks to all my friends for helping make my last hurrah so special! And an extra big twin thank you to my wonderful sister Sarah, who organized the whole day. I'm not going to think about how much I'm going to miss you right now. I'm just going to say I love you.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Foreign Service Fridays: It's the Little Things

Come on over to Most Eligible Family and help me decide what's worth taking to Russia and what to leave behind! Tomorrow is my epic day o' fun, organized by Sarah. Expect a photo of me on a horse on Monday! Happy weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Writing Wednesdays: Another Brick in the Wall

In January of 2009, I had just given up hope of finding an agent for the first novel I wrote (the first real one, anyway; I didn't query the first two practice novels). I was feeling a little down, so my sister, Sarah, sent me the video of Randy Pausch's last lecture (which I'd already seen, but she didn't know that). Her favorite part, she said, was his quote about brick walls, which I'm sure many of you are familiar with:

"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!"

Here's what I wrote in response to her email:

"Yes, I'm sure we are just being tested. I know that a lot of people would give up on the book thing now. Here's where the toughies keep going. I'm here for you if you ever need a little encouragement, and I know you're here for me. We have to be each other's cheerleaders, as well as our own."

It's hard to believe it's been three and a half years, and I'm still trying to learn this lesson: every rejection is just one more brick in that wall, one more opportunity to prove to myself how badly I want to be a published author. I thought at the time that no one could want it more than I did. I was wrong - the person I am today is infinitely more passionate about writing than the person I was three years ago. I've queried and shelved another novel since then, and I'm in the process of querying the next one. Once again, I find myself scrabbling at the bricks, doing everything I can to make it over the wall.

But this is what I have to believe: that one day, when the time is right, I won't have to climb over the wall. If I keep writing, keep pouring my heart and soul into my novels, and keep hitting the wall with everything I've got, I'll knock that sucker to the ground.