Creatives… Snails… Updates… Coffee Liquor…

The Bloggy Part:

Today I wanted to share some great POC creatives. Fair warning, I spend a lot of time on YouTube, so a lot of these creators are YouTubers. No shame, just letting you know ahead of time, where you will be spending too much of your time.

Kelly Stamps is a hilarious, straight-forward, tiramisu-loving YouTuber. I’m not just subscribed to her YouTube channel because of her sense-of-humor and her love for Law & Order SVU. I’m subscribed because her content feels genuine and she gives off this wonderfully confident and badass vibe that I admire. Her channel is mostly about her journey as a YouTuber, unique vlogs, travel videos, and inspirational videos where she talks about topics like self-care. I love her “Kelly’s Food Stamps” playlist. My favorite video is the one where she tries to make tiramisu. It was so honest. A lot of YouTubers just show their best takes in the kitchen (with a couple of bloopers at the end). You just have to watch it. I was rooting for her the whole time.

Tamara Woods is an Authortuber. On her channel, she talks about grammar, books, other writing topics, and #ProjectAuthortube. I have to gush her weekly write-ins. Virtual write-ins are my jam! I can write in my pajamas, listen to other writers talk about topics, and be productive all at the same time. Her write-ins are always super diverse, welcoming, and I love her energy.

It’s also through Tamara (and her write-ins) that I’ve found The Naked Firefly and KaShay Warren. All three of these wonderful ladies post writing content on a regular basis. I’m super new to subscribing to The Naked Firefly and KaShay so I can’t share too much. As far as I can tell TNF writes under the pseudonym Kierra L. Rose and has a debut novel coming out next month (how exciting!) and has write-ins every Friday morning. KaShay’s last live stream was a Self-Care Sunday Crochet chat. I absolutely LOVE that idea and I hope she does it often so I can join in. (SPOILER: she does Self-Care Sundays every week.)

I’m really new to roller skating and I don’t know much of the culture too much. I have followed a few skaters on Instagram, however:

Asia Eryan: @sk8galpozzi

Toni Nicole: @gr00vyquads

Missy Savage: @missysavage68

 

Something I’m OBSESSED About:

One word (kind of): SnailHaus.

The more formal moniker of this new development is named after the “Miskatonic University,” which exists only in H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction. Our snail habitat is called the Mollusk-atonic University Faculty Dorm.

This is just the facade of their habitat.
Their actual habitat has two floors (I don’t think I need to add a ramp (because snails), but we’ll see.
Here is one of mah widdle bebehs. I’ll take better pictures of all my little guys later.
Right now the Molluskatonic University Faculty Dorm sits on my desk. That little peek-a-boo snail is a clay one made by my friend, DeltaSierra. ISN’T IT THE CUTEST THING?!

Yes. That’s right. We now have snail tenants. Welcomed snail tenants, not the unwanted kind. I have given them the most prosperous, pretentious names I could think of. Since the cardboard facade I built (to go around their habitat) was meant to look like a brownstone, I decided our new tenants were going to be 3 Mollusk-atonic University professors living together:

  • Fredrick Teague SHELLby III, Professor of Archeology
  • Earnest DIGby Whitaker V, Professor of Art History
  • Ansley Margaux WHORLington IV, Water Polo Coach

I also have five teenie tiny Myosotella myosotis who are, of course, four Molluskatonic University students:

  • Charles
  • Dexter
  • Ward
  • Herbert
  • West

You might be thinking, “Joy. Isn’t this the hobby of a six-year-old?” And while you wouldn’t be wrong. You are… so very wrong. Apparently.

A few months ago, I happened upon one of those cute pictures of tiny snails doing adorable things in the wild by macro-photographer, Vyacheslav Mishchenko. I thought, “This must be why kids keep snails as pets.” And this thought kept nagging at me.

Why couldn’t I do it? Adults have all sorts of pets. I keep Teddy, Director of Human Resources as a pet, for goodness sakes. I should be able to keep a couple snails, if I want. It turns out, plenty of adults do this.

Most snail owners keep their mollusk friends in vivariums (an enclosed area, maintained to keep and raise plants and animals for observation). Though most of you might be thinking terrariums, which often have artificial elements for their residents. Then of course there is a paludarium which is a mixture of terrestrial and aquatic elements. Not to get confused with equilibrium which is both a state of rest of balance due to the equal action of opposing forces and a movie starring the great Sean Bean.

The difference between the six-year-old hobby of keeping snails in shoeboxes and my construction of the Mollusk-atonic University Faculty Dorm is the fact that I have put time and money into this and my parents won’t release my snails in the wild, under the cover of darkness, after they’ve grown tired of them.

 

30-Day Challenge Update:

Writing: I have been writing (and rewriting) scripts for the writing podcast I have been preparing for so I’ve been neglecting the whole “writing fiction” thing. In all honesty, that is really what I should be focusing on when it comes to writing every day. So from this point forward, I’m aiming to only count “narrative writing” for this challenge.

Skates: This last week, my time in skates has been a little sporadic. Between spending all of last Saturday with my in-laws and feeling under the weather on Tuesday, I’ve been slacking. But I still have 2/3 of the month left and I plan on spending the rest of it on wheels.

Spending: I’ve refrained from superfluously spending my money since May 31. Whoop whoop!

 

A Drink Recipe from the Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered. Please drink responsibly.

 

“The Call of Kahlua”

 

I need a comfort drink. The world is on fire and I’m never uncomfortable anymore. When I’m craving a comfort drink, I don’t turn to hot toddies, I turn to my first go-to drink: Kahlua and Coke. I used to order these all the time because I could just drink them all night without having to worry about getting drunk. They’re sweet and satisfied my sweet tooth. Also coffee flavor. And caffeine from the soda. I mean, it has it all. Unless you want to get s***-faced. Then, you’ll want something a little stronger than these. Anyway, for our purposes, I’m calling this one: The Call of Kahlua.

 

What you’re going to need:

  • Two parts Kahlua (or your favorite coffee liqueur)
  • Three parts Coca Cola (or your favorite dark soda)

What you’re going to do with those things:

  • Fill a Collins glass halfway with ice.
  • Add Kahlua to the glass
  • Add soda to the glass
  • Gently stir
  • (Optional) Squirt in a splash of lime juice to top it off.
  • Drink responsibly. 
  • Educate yourself.
  • Get a snail.
  • Get your snail a snail friend cause they’re happier in groups.

I know I just posted yesterday. Today is something a little different. I still plan on highlighting some great P.O.C. artists during my Monday blog post next week but I wanted to share something else today. It comes too late and just couldn’t wait any longer.

If you’re looking to do something for the Black Lives Matter Movement and can’t go to a protest or don’t have the extra funds to spare, please look into signing some of these petitions. Read the story, sign the petitions, share the links, donate if you can.

Justice for George Floyd

Justice for Ahmaud Arbery- Pass Georgia Hate Crime Bill

Fight for Breonna

Mandatory Life Sentence for Police Brutality

Investigate the killing of Tamir Rice

Reopen Kendrick Johnson’s Case

Justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquet

Find more petitions here.

In yesterday’s post, I said the smallest of things. It was even as PC as I could make it and that was wrong of me. I was afraid of saying something offensive since I’m filipina and not black. I didn’t want to make it about myself. I didn’t want to accidentally say something that would make it worse. But then, as I watched a video put up by one of my favorite Authortubers, I thought, “Why didn’t I say it?”

There are so many things that I want to say. About how the word “unfair” doesn’t even begin to explain the centuries of discrimination and racism against black people in this country and in other countries as well. No, I can’t understand what that level of racism might feel like, but I am trying to educate myself. I’m trying to learn about what I can do. Even if I can’t make a huge difference, trying to live an honest anti-racist life is the least I can do. I urge you to do the same by:

  • looking into where your money goes
  • not turning a blind eye to the racism around us
  • reading up on the issues

Stay safe.

Stay educated.

Love one another.

Words… Wheels… Mail… Whiskey

The Bloggy Part:

So my new story has a bit of a backstory. We’re going to hop into the Wayback machine for just a quick jaunt. Poplar Cove: The Podcast was written after a good friend suggested that we write stories that mash-up two opposing genres. I chose Lovecraftian and Soap Opera. I loved how much I could toy with the different elements of each genre. I toyed with the stereotypes and got to see how they worked together.

For this story, I wanted to try something similar so I’ve mixed up workplace drama with Lovecraftian-slasher-horror. Yes, those are probably three separate genres but… eh.

In other news, the world is an absolute dumpster fire. Seattle is a violent mess. People in Forks are being discriminated against by chainsaw-wielding, gun-toting racists (I’m not even being facetious right now). I’ve been trying to do what I can at home. I’m not going to bore you with what I’ve been doing (cause I don’t want this to be about me patting myself on the back) but I do want to share one tiny aspect: I’ve started actively looking for awesome African American artists, writers, and skaters to follow.

What I have realized, when looking at my various social media feeds, is that (other than my friends and family), most of the people I follow were just Caucasian. In addition to the wonderful people I already follow and admire, I’ve been looking for amazing POC creatives. Mostly African American and Filipinas. Hopefully, next week I can compile a list of all the wonderful new people I’m following and supporting!

 

Something I’m OBSESSED About:

I love my skates so much. Yes, I still wobble like Bambi on ice but I’m getting better.

After I’ve been upright for a few minutes, I get out of my head (or lazier, thus less tense) and I start to get the hang of it. It is a careful balance of “my feet don’t know what’s going on” and “my feet are too tired to care.”

Some ankle support and pads, just in case.
My pretty blue helmet and inline skates
I put a white toe-cap on my white quad-skates and changed the light blue laces (which matched the wheels) to the pretty purple-teal ones I had bought from Derby Laces.

30-Day Challenge Update:

I’ve been writing every day, which is great, except that it’s only been a week so… nothing too exciting. But it is nice to get back into the swing of things.

I’ve also been in skates every day so far, despite the fact that I can only really skate 20 feet at a time on the Pergo. Baby steps… Er, baby gliding-across-slick-floors.

I have also not spent any money, which has been difficult since there are beautiful wheels, laces, and other accessories I would love to buy for both my inline skates and my quad skates. There is also… Well, that story is for a different day. Specifically, next week’s edition of “Things I’m OBSESSED With”. What I will say is that this project has been a bit more difficult now that I can’t buy anything. However, I binge-bought a number of things at the end of May so items have slowly been trickling in.

 

A Drink Recipe from the Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered. Please drink responsibly.

 

“Whiskey in the Darkness”

Let’s be honest. This is just a Jack and Coke with a Lovecraftian name, but who doesn’t love a classic drink with a surprise ending that may or may not have metal cylinders in the dark that may or may not contain [CENSORED FOR SPOILERS] in them. Have a “Whiskey in the Darkness” and listen to “Whisperer in the Darkness” as read by HorrorDrabble.

 

What you’re going to need:

  • Two shots of Jack Daniels (or your favorite whiskey)
  • Ten ounces of Coca Cola (or your favorite dark soda — I also like whiskey with Dr Pepper)

What you’re going to do with those things:

  • Fill a collins glass, halfway with ice
  • Pour in the soda and the whiskey
  • Stir
  • Enjoy responsibly
  • Don’t mess with aliens.

Cubicle… Crate… New… Yellow…

*I’m not affiliated or working with this company or any other company in this post.

The Bloggy Part: 

The DeVore Business and Industrial Park has been thriving in these last few weeks. The Great Husbando has been working as a trainer for a new set of cubicle drones. I’m not using this phrase in a malicious manner. Actually, I often romanticize certain things because I watch too much TV. “Cubicles” are one of these things. Since I don’t work a 9-to-5, the idea of working in one intrigues me.

You have your own space while also working with others? Fantastic!

You can put hilarious passive-aggressive notes on your cubicle wall when you don’t want to see others? Sarcasm at its finest!

You can decorate your space to show off your personality? How creative!

When you get lonely, you can poke your head into other cubicles, then run to your own when you don’t want to see people? That’s the right amount of “social” for me!

Of course, this is coming from someone who doesn’t have to deal with the fishy-smelling microwave, burnt popcorn smell from the hallway, mandatory-yet-pointless meetings, and the actual 9-to-5 work. My enthusiasm is probably misdirected.

 

Something I’m OBSESSED With:

Storytime! Okay, so I’m going to try my best not to spoil the riddles of the parcel I received from The Mysterious Package Company.* Instead, I will omit the contents of the package, while still telling you the sweet, sweet story behind it.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned it was my five-year anniversary with The Great Husbando. Our actual anniversary was a roller coaster of emotions. Sadness (when we found out our friend had passed away), happiness (at being together for over a decade and married for five), and fear. A surprising amount of fear.

Both of us had to work that Friday but I finished my workday early. I was nearly snoozing on the couch when we heard someone on the front porch. The creaky steps. The thud of a package. The knock on the door. Then more creaky steps as the person walked away.

I pondered over what embarrassing 3AM Amazon purchase had suddenly arrived on my doorstep.

The Great Husbando wondered also. He opened the door and brought in a heavy cardboard box with my name on it. I looked up at him with wide eyes.

“Nope,” he said. “I didn’t get it for you.”

He placed the box in front of me. Other than my name and address, it was unmarked. So I opened it, only to see a [REDACTED] sitting on top of a wooden crate. The [REDACTED] looked [REDACTED] and it read [REDACTED]. Mysterious, no?

Excited, I tried to open the crate but found it nailed shut. It was actually nailed shut.

With actual nails.

We tore through the garage to look for a crowbar. When we finally got it open, There were a number of things inside including a [REDACTED], a [REDACTED], and a [REDACTED] holding a [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED]. My hands were shaking.

I read the [REDACTED] out loud. Halfway through the [REDACTED], The Great Husbando actually got up and waved his hands around while chiding me. “WHY ARE YOU READING IT OUT LOUD? YOU’VE SEEN HORROR MOVIES? WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”

But, I mean, I had already started so…

I finished reading the [REDACTED] out loud and continued to paw through the [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED]. Then, underneath it… Would it be cliche to say that the [REDACTED] was indescribable? Maybe that’s why Lovecraft “described” his gods and monsters as such–because he had received crates from the Mysterious Package Company and didn’t want to spoil the surprise for his readers.

Seriously, the amount of detail in the experience and the actual items in the package are amazing. If your family or friends aren’t much for horror, they have other themes as well. Highly recommend. 10/10 would scare again.

So now the [REDACTED] sits on my desk alongside the wooden crate, which I love because it fits the aesthetic of my office. I even have my Miskatonic University class ring sitting on it, as well as my Cthulhu pendant. Before I die, I want to bury everything in a metal tin (or something) so archeologists in the future can dig it all up and my ghost can laugh and laugh as I watch them try to figure out the puzzle.

I digress. Honestly, I think part of the fun was seeing The Great Husbando’s reaction to the whole thing. I’m sure my reaction was interesting too but the look on his face… Hahaha!

I was convinced he bought it for me but he adamantly denied it. “I wish I could take credit for this.”

I messaged a number of friends to figure out who had done this wonderful deed. I even gave some of my friends on Discord a live unboxing (snapping pictures as I went along since I had no idea what was going on).

It turns out that it was sent to us by the voice actor behind the voice of Elizabeth Cushing-Birch on Poplar Cove. She messaged me later in the day, asking me if I had “checked the mail lately.” She had ordered the packages weeks in advance and it was just a coincidence that it arrived on our actual anniversary. Coincidence? Fate? Conspiracy? A message from the gods? Tomato, tom-Ahhhhhh!-to.

 

30-Day Challenge Update:

It’s June which means that I have a new 30-day challenge for this month. This time around, I have two things I want to focus on. Both of these things require that I set up some healthy habits:

  • a writing habit (write every day)
  • a physical activity habit (where I do something active every day)

That doesn’t sound so bad, right?

For my writing goal, I want to work on a new story. I really wanted to do my Lovecraftian cozy mystery but that story is tied to some negative emotions. Every time I sat down to write last week I froze. Maybe I’m not ready to pick it up yet? So… What am I ready for?

I guess it’s time for a new project, eh?

More about that next week. This post is long enough as it is.

Secondly, I received my skates in the mail (along with neoprene ankle supports and a pack of cushions/pads/arch support socks, just in case) so my physical activity habit is mainly going to focus around skating. Skate each day (quad or inline), at least a half an hour each day. That might mean that I just roll around on the carpet or Pergo. Or maybe I can be brave and unabashed and go… out… side… Heh. Crazy talk. (Even though our county is technically in Phase 2 now, so I might be about to go out with a friend.)

Oh, and I want to also tack on: No spending money frivolously in June. That’ll be a good habit to reintroduce my wallet to.

 

A Drink Recipe from The Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered. Please drink responsibly.

 

“The Kamakaze in Yellow”

In celebration of the mysterious package I received in the mail, today’s drink is called, “The Kamakaze in Yellow.” So you can probably tell that the theme for my particular package was “The King in Yellow”. While they no longer have this particular package for sale, they do have some other ones available.

What you’re going to need:

  • 3/4 of a shot of lime juice
  • 3/4 of a shot of triple sec
  • A shot and a half of vodka
  • Some ice
  • A lime wedge

What you’re going to do with those things:

  • In a shaker, combine all of the liquid ingredients. 
  • Add ice.
  • Shake.
  • Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with the lime wedge.
  • Enjoy while reading The King in Yellow by R. W. Chambers. (optional)
  • Slowly go insane. (optional)
  • [REDACTED] (optional)

Raise… Writing… King… Apple…

*I’m not sponsored by the CBC Writing Workout or any other links.

The Bloggy Part:

I officially resigned from NaNoWriMo as the municipal liaison for my region. I loved doing it and still intend on participating in the events every year.  It’s run by some great people and I love the organization. However, I had been pondering this decision for the past couple years. I was getting tired and my projects every year were feeling a bit lackluster (despite the word count). It seemed like the right time. I didn’t know how much of a difference I was making in my region and (as hard as I worked last year), there wasn’t a huge turnout at each of the events. Perhaps my region needs a new face. After all, I have been the ML for eight years already.

This year has felt like a turning point in my writing career. I realized that I had been in this profession for nearly ten years and because of that, I raised my rates for the first time. It was a frightening thing for me to do but it was the right thing because:

  • My time and expertise are worth it
  • I need to take my job seriously
  • It’s time to grow up and not think like an entry-level writer anymore

With this increase in price, I also intend on working harder on honing my craft. Writers should always be working on their skills and reading about industry standards and techniques. I also intend on focusing on my own fiction more this year. My own fiction goals are to:

  • Finish writing and editing a novel-length piece
  • Begin publishing a piece of serialized fiction for my website (this website)
  • [insert another goal here]

My list of goals is a work in progress.

 

Something I’m OBSESSED About:

I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter. However, I have been trying to post regularly. I’ve rejoined the #5AMWritersClub try to make an appearance in the morning as often as I can. The goal is 5 days a week, so I can work on my own fiction before I have to work on other people’s fiction.

One of my favorite things about Twitter is the writing community. A few weeks ago, after I posted about being in a writing rut, a fellow member of the #5AMWritersClub replied with:

Writing workout? It piqued my curiosity. Upon researching it a bit, I was so happy to have found it.* The Curtis Brown Creative website is a wonderful resource for writers and their Weekly Writing Workout is a helpful, free resource. You do have to send them your email address in order to gain access to their four-week writing course. They emphasize that it’s not a creative writing course. It’s a writing course, to help get your pen moving and your fingers doing that… tappity-tap-tap thing.

I’ve also rediscovered Brendan Sanderson’s BYU lecture on YouTube. When I first discovered it, I made it through a few of the videos before I was promptly distracted by something shiny. This time, though, I intend on watching all of them and applying the information in these videos to one of two unfinished projects:

  1. Lovecraftian Cozy Mystery
  2. Culty Soap Opera

Spoiler alert: I chose the Lovecraftian cozy mystery. I’ve since started the rewrite of the story outline. It looks a little like this:

You can’t see the red string leading from one plot point to another, but it’s there. Because it’s Lovecraftian as well as a cozy mystery, I’m debating on whether I should be wearing a fedora or a tinfoil hat with my tan trenchcoat. Maybe I should just make a fedora out of foil…

 

30-Day Challenge Update:

Books are definitely a thing I should pay more attention to. With my sudden craving for more writerly advice and knowledge, it might be the perfect time to pick up either On Writing by Stephen King or The Productive Writer: Strategies and Systems for Greater Productivity, Profit and Pleasure by Sage Cohen. I’ve read both of these already but they’re both worth a reread.

I’m also looking for some suggestions for cozy mysteries. I’ve been reading M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series and loving it, but I should branch out.

 

A Drink Recipe from The Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered. Please drink responsibly.

 

“Apple-thoth”

This week, I’ve got my own twist on an apple martini. I call it the Apple-Thoth. Because Azathoth, but really, it just sounds like you’re trying to say “applesauce” after you’ve had one too many apple martinis. When you’re making this, remember that each brand of green apple schnapps taste different. Some are more tart, others are sweeter. Because of that, you’ll need to adjust the level of lemon juice accordingly. That’s one of the reasons why I suggest starting off with a splash first. You can always add more lemon juice but when you have too much lemon juice, well you can’t take that away. The pucker power can be intense. Yes, I’m writing this from experience.

What you’re going to need:

  • Two shots of your favorite vodka
  • A shot and a half of green apple schnapps
  • A splash of lemon juice

What you’re going to do with those things:

  • Fill a shaker halfway, with ice.
  • Add all of the ingredients and shake 
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

 

Until next time

Joy

Hardcopy… Moneys… Yoga Mats… Gin…

The Bloggy Part:

I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut lately. That is, until I was chatting with Dark Overlord the other day. During the course of the conversation, two great flash fiction prompts presented itself like peacocks at the peak of mating season.

Feathers out, strutting their stuff.

“Look at me!”

“Tell me I’m pretty!”

Yes, they were pretty. No, I didn’t write them.

They’re still sitting in front of me, written on a couple of sticky notes. I don’t know if I’m still scared to write or if all of my emotions are still busy scrubbing me clean of any motivation but… There they sit. Waiting.

At the end of March/beginning of April, I went through a difficult time. I had a bad experience with someone concerning things not said (specifically “things not done”). It took me a while, but I think I’m over both the pain and have moved on. Looking back on the experience now, I suppose I should have learned a lesson or two from it:

  • (Cynical Lesson) Don’t trust people. Only dogs. Dogs are the only living things worth my trust (in addition to The Great Husbando).
  • (Real Lesson) I wasn’t yet ready and my lack of determination and professionalism about the experience led me to get hurt. Instead, I need to rely on people who are more serious about the matter and who take writing seriously.
  • (Something Else) I reach out for writing buddies regularly when I feel lonely and need motivation but what I really need to do is focus on writing.

With those lessons in mind, I’ve once again joined the #5AMWritersClub on Twitter. Yes, I originally joined to just meet other writers. I’ve joined again for a different reason. In the course of my early morning writing sessions, I’ve learned I am more creative in the morning.

Getting up at 5AM made me realize schedules are what keep me functioning when I’m awake. Schedules and coffee. During these last few weeks, there were a few things which may have added to my creative rut:

  • I wasn’t keeping to any sort of routine or schedule.
  • I wasn’t talking to anyone other than Husbando, especially about writing topics.
  • I rely too much on “hoping my writing friends will ask me about my writing” instead of motivating myself and just writing already.
  • I no longer turn in work to my Saturday morning critique group since we’re not meeting during the lockdown.
  • Not writing has made me miserable.

At the height of my productivity (when I pumped out short stories every week) I meticulously micromanaged my routine. That’s one of the reasons why I loved keeping a Passion Planner. I made sure every hour between 5AM and 11PM were accounted for. It feels a bit over-the-top to think about it now, but it helped me see how I spent my time.

My current hardcopy calendar won’t allow for that. Don’t get me wrong. I love my “Get it Together” planner from Sarah’s Scribbles. I might just use a different system next year.

 

Something I’m OBSESSED With:

The Great Husbando and I have recently found the joys of grocery delivery. I know we’re a little late to hop on this train but we’re here none-the-less, huffing and puffing at the back of the train cause we had to chase it down.

In one day, we ordered from Safeway and Total Wine (because we were surprised to see it as an option). Three hours later, lo and behold, there was a knock on our door. Fresh vegetables! What was this madness? Then, another hour later, a cardboard box filled with booze showed up. Why? So we could:

  1. Test out the InstaCart app’s Total Wine delivery.
  2. Make sure our bar is totally packed for the end of lockdown and we can (once again) have people over.

So The Two-Headed Calf is now stocked with vanilla vodka, Midori, and a couple more bottles of specialty booze we won’t drink often. Other than the judgemental look from the delivery guy when he dropped off the booze, it was a pretty pleasant experience!

In the midst of all the chaos and COVID madness, a Sprouts opened up nearby. I’d never been to one and I figured I could give it a go. After a couple tappy-tap-taps on my phone, a stranger came to our door. She dropped off bags that had things which said “Organic,” and “Gluten Free,” and “Coffee,” and “Kale” on them. It was glorious.

Anyway. I now had kale chips without having to make the entire house smell like a broccoli’s butthole. I had healthy snacks… which were actually healthy. This must be the height of luxury.

Honestly, though, I’ve been doing a lot of retail therapy for the past couple weeks and I should stop. I know it’s not sustainable, nor is it a healthy form of stress-relief. I am trying to at least keep my purchases to:

  • Things which will benefit the household (kitchen supplies, plants which clean the air),
  • Things which will save us money in the long run (I bought reusable boba straws so I can start making boba at home instead of going out and buying some each week),
  • Things which are good for my health (inline skates, quad skates, skating accessories, and bandages/ankle wraps–just in case)

The only exception to this rule are the doggy neckties I bought for the Director of HR. Necessity.

 

30-Day Challenge Update:

I’ve been listening to audiobooks while I do core exercises. I would like to develop a core muscle. Just one. That would be great. Hopefully, this will help me stay upright when I finally get to go out and practice skating on concrete.

Did you know I have a yoga mat? No? Me too. It was sitting in my closet, patiently waiting for me like Jim, patiently waiting for Pam until he didn’t want to wait any longer. Then my yoga mat will follow me to a gas station in the rain where it will ask me to marry it. I will say no because my yoga mat is not Jim. Also because I’m already married.

 

A Drink Recipe from The Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered.

 

“The Gin on the Doorstep”

Yes, this is another gin drink. I’m sorry if you don’t like gin.

A couple of weeks ago, I messed with/butchered/altered a few cocktail recipes and Lovecraftian-ized them for Husbando and my five year wedding anniversary. Because of lockdown, we weren’t able to go out and travel like we normally do. Instead, my goal was to bring exotic locations to us.

Then tragedy struck. We lost one of our dear friends. We’re still reeling from it.

While the original plan was to “spend one day” in Japan, one in the Philippines, and one in R’lyeh, my energy level was depleted from all of my crying. So, I just put the effort into one place: R’lyeh.

I decorated with paper lanterns and set up marine animals everywhere.

Of course, there were ingredients for drinks at the bar, including these “cultist sacrifices.”

I inflated the air mattress and set our picnic blanket on it for comfy movie-watching. It was approved by the director of HR.

I made a YouTube playlist with some ocean and marine life ambiance.

I also set up Elder Sign: Omen from the Deep at the kitchen table, and wrote up specialized drinks for The Two-Headed Calf (temporarily renamed The Cth-hula Tiki Bar and Lounge). The Gin on the Doorstep was one of those but wasn’t Husbando’s favorite. I thought it was pretty okay. Try it if you’re adventurous.

What you’ll need:

  • Two shots of gin
  • One shot of lemon juice
  • Four shots of root beer
  • A teaspoon of simple syrup
  • A jar of maraschino cherries 

What you’re going to do with those things:

  • Shake everything (except the root beer) until chilled
  • Half-fill a collins glass with ice
  • Strain over the ice. 
  • Top with the root beer
  • Garnish with a maraschino cherry or fifty. Because cherries.

 

Shopping… Wheels… Audiobooks… Gin…

The Bloggy Part:

This morning I found myself thinking, “When I look back on 2020 and the pandemic, what sorts of things will I remember about this experience?”

  1. I’ve found comfort in plants and online shopping carts.
  2. We now get our groceries delivered to us like we are pharaohs. (Now to find someone to feed me grapes.)
  3. I never know what day it is. Or what time.
  4. Every day is an emotional rollercoaster, dipping down into loneliness and then back up to bursts of creative inspiration.
  5. SGN is my favorite news source.
  6. I snack too much and now I need to discover the joys of healthy snacks.
  7. We have stocked the bar and have rediscovered Elder Sign and can’t wait to hang out with friends agai–OH WAIT.
  8. Sarcasm and tone-of-voice are hard to read when you’re texting someone who doesn’t normally text you.
  9. Actively avoiding watching too much TV is much more difficult when you add another TV to a small townhouse.
  10. I like lists with nice round numbers.

 

Something I’m OBSESSED With:

One of my good friends started sending me snaps of ADORABLE rollerskates because she was thinking of buying herself a pair. Since then, she’s asked me about going out and skating together after the quarantine is over. My sense of balance is horrible and I’ve never successfully roller-anything-ed, which means I answered her with a resounding, “YES THIS IS A WONDERFUL IDEA!” Thus, we both ordered adorable death-wheels online. She got the idea off of cute Tik-Toks and (I think) wants to make her own as well. Meanwhile, all I can think about is going to see a roller derby match. Also, buying cute band-aids for my knees. ‘Cause I will need them.

My skates should look similar to these.

Being the impatient person I am, I ordered a pair of skates online but soon found out they are on backorder and I wouldn’t get them until late May. This would not do. Especially because The Great Husbando wanted to get some rollerblades as well. I did the responsible, adult thing, and shopped for rollerblades with him. Now I have a pair of blades now and have quad-skates coming in… later? They’re not in stock yet so who knows.

These have a surprising new use as well. A couple days ago, I found myself at a place where I was having trouble focusing on work. Instead of sitting in my office chair like a responsible adult, I found myself running around the house trying to finish some (albeit much needed) housework. So, I sat in my chair, strapped myself into my blades, and was trapped in them. This was under the guise I wouldn’t be able to get up and go downstairs without falling over. And it worked! Kind of.

Since then, I’ve been rolling my way around the (carpeted) upstairs of our home with ease. The Pergo laminate flooring downstairs is a different story. Much like Mario Bros, the smooth, slick underground level is much more difficult than it is here in the carpeted topside world. You see, down in the depths of the first floor, there are plenty of sharp corners and I have yet to get elbow, knee, or wrist guards. What can I say? I’m a fragile, delicate human with the stability and muscle strength of cooked pasta.

 

30-Day Challenge Update:

I am reading and listening my way through my TBR list but I still need to curb my TV-watching habits. It’s a work in progress.

 

A Drink Recipe from The Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered.

 

“Gin and Tonic”

I didn’t think I used to be a fan of gin until one of our friends mixed up my first gin and tonic. Since then, this has become one of my go-to drinks when it’s warm out or if I want something refreshing and cool. He had the heart and the cooking prowess of an Asian mom, however, and concocted the recipe “by taste.” With no actual recipe, I’ve had to fiddle with a few of the generic recipes a bit. As far as I can tell, this is as close as I can get to what he served us.

Things you’ll need: 

  • A couple of fresh mint leaves
  • A couple of lime slices
  • A couple of medium-sized ice cubes or one large ice cube
  • One ounce of gin
  • Four ounces of tonic water

What to do with those things:

  • Muddle the mint leaves and one of the lime slices in a collins glass.
  • Add the ice cubes and the gin. 
  • Add the tonic water.
  • Stir.
  • Squeeze the last lime slice into the glass.
  • Swipe the fruit around the rim of the glass and then drop it in as a garnish.
  • You can also garnish with more mint leaves. If you squeeze or pinch the mint leaves, you’ll be able to get a whiff of the mint essential oils while you drink.
  • Enjoy responsibly with a couple of cocktail straws. Unless you have a penchant for chewing on small mint fragments.

Goose… Plant… Book… Space…

The Bloggy Part:

It is the height of this craziness and we are all still “exiled for the good of the realm” or “keeping everyone out of melee range.” This particular week has been rough and has taken quite a toll on my mental health. Because of that, I want to make a note of some things which have been making me smile lately:

  • Spending quality time with The Great Husbando
  • Elder Sign: Omens of the Deep (a cooperative Lovecraftian tabletop game)
  • Snuggles with the best director of human resources ever
  • Video and text chats with my cousins
  • Untitled Goose Game (a fun console/PC game where you play the role of a horrible, mischievous goose)
  • Surprises in the mail and surprising my friends
  • The outpouring of love amidst a tragic loss
  • Having closure
  • Waking up next to someone I love every morning
  • Having the sun pour through my office windows and shine down on my house plants
  • John Krasinski’s SGN show
  • The loud AC unit in my office window
  • All of the “new coworkers” in my office
  • Skincare masks (particularly the peel-off kind)

 

Something I’m OBSESSED With:

Like most humans, I like to categorize things to better sift the information my face is bombarded with. When it comes to social media, I’ve noticed my brain has been grouping the posts on my various feeds into “new hobbies my friends have taken up during this quarantine.” Mainly these different categories:

  1. “BAKE ALL THE THINGS.”
  2. “Our dry bar is stocked full. What can I make you?”
  3. “I just bought my weight in fertilizer because I’m buying out all of the local nurseries.”
  4. “I’ve finished all of Netflix.”
  5. “Don’t bother me when I art.”
  6. “Are you following me on Tik Tok?”
  7. “I haven’t slept in two months because video games is why.”

While I am poking fun, I actually think it’s great. We’re falling back on old hobbies or picking up new ones. We’re (for the most part) taking a step away from technology so we can enjoy something we can make or nurture with our own hands. We’re enjoying media with our family and friends via the internet.

Early on, I bounced around between group two (stopping short of alcoholism) and group four. It seems, though, I’ve settled into group three pretty nicely. Well… I’m not known for having a green thumb. In fact, my thumb is pretty brown with root rot but, so far, my little guys have been staying alive.

I haven’t planted anything of use, however.  Instead, I have “embraced” the art of succulent care. Embraced with the grace of Elmira from Tiny Tunes. I’ve named them all after Lovecraftian gods (but shortened to avoid any of the names I was uncomfortable with). So, let me introduce, the greenest team members at the DeVore Freelance and Podcasting Office:

  • Cxax, Nug, and Yeb (not pictured) were, at one time, one elephant bush which has since been split into three different tiny pots.
  • Abby is an Echeveria Apus.
  • Yogs is a string of pearls.
  • The Creeping Terror is a string of pearls and a temp; he’ll be going to a friend.

The newest members of our staff are four air plants. After a long flight from California, they had a soak in the public bath.

Then, after letting them fully air dry (yes, I know they’re not yet fully dry in these pictures), I set them up on their stands. I had some leftover wood, fabric, and foam board so I made a couch, hammock, and beach chair for them. Here are the loungiest air plants in the world:

Star Mother is an Ionantha Guatemala.

Shoobs is a Tillandsia Ioantha Rubra.

Yarra is a Tillandsia Tenuifolia Emerald Forest.

Gloon is a Spanish Moss.

He is currently being held by Dion, my wooden mannequin/lay figure, so he can be as much of a creeper here as he is in the wilds of Florida.

 

30 Day Challenge Update:

I’ve started this month’s 30-Day challenge late so, I’m opting to finish out the rest of the month by reading as much as I can and watching as little TV as possible. With the addition of an additional TV in the DeVore Business and Industrial Park, I’ve been a little too “glued to a screen” then I’d like.

For May, my goal is to finish:

 

A Drink Recipe from The Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we have inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered.

 

“The Color Out of Space”

When it comes to mixed drinks, I’m a big fan of white rum. This particular white rum recipe is one of my favorite specialty drinks at The Two-Headed Calf (as in, drinks we’ve modified or made up). It’s a great spring or summer drink with chunks of refreshing fresh fruit. I’ve modified it from a generic punch recipe and while it doesn’t have a ton of alcohol in it, you can add as much white rum as you like. I’m not encouraging you to add the whole bottle. It’s in a collins glass, so you can cut back on the ice to leave room for one more shot.

Things you’ll need:

  • 2 strawberries
  • 2 slices of pineapple
  • 2 oz white rum
  • ¼ oz lime juice
  • ½ oz pineapple juice

What to do with those things:

  • Muddle the fruit together in a mixing glass.
  • Fill the mixing glass halfway with ice.
  • Put in white rum, lime juice, and pineapple juice and shake.
  • Carefully pour into a Collins glass
  • Enjoy (responsibly) with a thick straw or with a straw and spoon
  • If you’re a Lovecraftian fan, I suggest watching the latest film iteration of The Color Out of Space (no “u”) with Nicolas Cage. I highly recommend it!

The DeVore Business and Industrial Park

The Bloggy Part:

I put a yellow and green striped necktie with a tear-away collar on my dog and promoted him to the position of Director of Human Resources of our home, which I’ve dubbed the “DeVore Business and Industrial Park”. Now I’m not saying the COVID-19 quarantine has driven me to do this. In fact, before his promotion, he was already the Productivity Manager of my home office. However, since the new [REDACTED] office moved into the room down the hall, it felt like the natural thing to do: give my dog a promotion.

The DeVore Business and Industrial Park is like any other industrial park, of course. There is the [REDACTED] office on the second floor, next to the DeVore Freelance Writing and Podcasting office (where I work). The first floor is all about dining: The Writers Brew Coffee Bar and Joy’s Airport Diner which is not located at an airport but does serve popcorn at all hours of the day.

But after a hard day at work, we don’t head straight for the coffee bar or eat at the diner. No. We go to The Two-Headed Calf, which is the dry bar next to the theater. It is named in honor of “Doc” Carl Trenton DeVore, The Great Husbando’s great uncle, who was one of the most talented large animal veterinarians in Montana. The Harden Historical Museum has several artifacts from his estate including his Ford Model A, various veterinary accouterments—Oh, and the pelt of a two-headed calf that he delivered. The Great Husbando has informed me it is NOT stuffed like I had imagined, but instead, a pelt. Like a bearskin rug. Except it’s a calf. With two heads. Not creepy at all…

Luckily, that will be the only mention of a doctor today as we have been staying healthy.  We are staying healthy by fighting scurvy (Gin & Tonics with LIME), washing our hands, and have yet to kill each other. Our backyard has yet to become the DeVore Cemetery, so I think we’re doing just fine.

Having a new tenant in the building isn’t bad. I was used to working alone during the week and having my dog—I mean, the (then) Productivity Manager—to talk to. While I can’t chat with the new tenant during work hours, it is nice knowing there is another human being in the building. Also, my office and the [IRS] office have the same breaks and lunch so now we can meet down at the Airport Diner for some cucumber tea sandwiches or fried rice or their daily special: leftovers. Mmm… Scrumptious.

Since I worked from home before we were all “exiled for the good of the realm” due to COVID-19, this hasn’t impacted me or my work life much. I didn’t see people during the week and I don’t see anyone now. I do realize I’ve taken “social interaction” and the “choice to go out and intermingle with others” for granted. I miss being annoyed by the general public. I’ve also realized that, since I only talk to The Great Husbando now, I no longer know how to people anymore. The times we have gone out to buy groceries, my interactions with people are awkward, my conversations bumpy. It’s like I’m learning how to ride a bike all over again, which is troublesome because I never learned how to ride a bike in the first place. Figuratively or literally. I just wish I had a helmet.

Something I’m OBSESSED With:

The Succulent Bunch (gifted to my niece)
(Front) Octopus with banana (Back) Octopus with heart

I’ve been dabbling in needle felting lately. Previously, the only exposures I had to the hobby were those ridiculously realistic depictions of animals that (while beautiful) freaked me out a bit.

So of course, my creations are mostly chibi Lovecraftian gods, plants, or tiny octopuses. I’m still learning but it’s been pretty fun and so far I haven’t turned myself into a giant pin-cushion.

I feel like it’s similar to sculpting, only this is sculpting with large chunks of wool that shrink down like how 50 tons of spinach cooks down to a tablespoon of veggies when you stick it all in a frying pan. (WHY?!) I’ve since made a rendition of my spirit animal (a blobfish), a Cthulhu idol, Nyarlathotep, and a few My Little Cultists (though they still need cutie marks). Why these things don’t freak me out is beyond me. Maybe it’s those big ol’ eyes. Or the pink cheekies. Who would be afraid of pink cheekies?

 

30-Day Challenge Update: 

April has been such a cluster that my 30-day challenge for this month is strictly staying alive and healthy. So far, so good.

 

A Drink Recipe from The Two-Headed Calf:

The Classic Old-Fashioned

I recently watched Crazy Stupid Love for the first time (which, I loved, by the way). I kept wondering exactly what Jacob Palmer kept making/drinking during the movie. Of course! It’s an old-fashioned, with the biggest orange twist I’ve ever seen in a rocks glass. It looked amazing (even if it wasn’t Hannah’s drink) and upon some investigation (for science!), I realized that I really do like them. Of course, I went into this knowing that bourbon is one of my favorite spirits so…

Anyway, here is my favorite Old-Fashioned recipe for your enjoyment.

Things you’ll need :

  • Old-fashioned, tumbler, or rocks glass
  • A gigantic ice cube or a couple regular sized ones
  • A muddler
  • 1 ½ oz Bourbon
  • A couple of dashes of Angostura (orange) Bitters
  • 1 sugar cube (this is the only reason we have sugar cubes in the house)
  • Some plain water (filtered, if you have it)
  • Orange twist
  • Maraschino cherry

What to do with those things:

  • Put the sugar cube in the glass and drip the bitters onto it. 
  • Add a splash of the plain water, then muddle it until it’s dissolved.
  • Add the ice cube(s) and pour the bourbon over it.
  • Take the orange peel and twist it, sliding it along the rim of the glass afterward.
  • Give it another final twist before dropping it in the glass.
  • Garnish with a maraschino cherry or (if you’re in our house) fifty cherries. Because cherries.

 

‘Til next time.

*hugs*
Joy

Poplar Cove Season One Trailer

Poplar Cove Season One Trailer. A new resident in Poplar Cove. Also a telenovela.

 

Like what you hear? Check out all of the available episodes and audio extras at the PodBean site or on iTunes. Like, comment, share, download, or follow the pages to show your support.

 

Music:

“Greta Sting”

“Neo Western”

“As I Figure”

 

All of the music was composed by Kevin MacLeod. (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/