Archive for March 2012

The Writing Class- Part two   4 comments

Does it surprise anyone that I have slacked a bit?

I tried, I really did. But the past month has been C-A-RA-Z-EEEEE (crazy! lol). LA was sick, I fell super behind in everything…. so I was a bit late submitting my pages to my writing instructor for critiquing.

I wasn’t super worried about it because he hadn’t forwarded me anyone elses work so I figured it was ok. Turns out it wasn’t. I had missed the deadline (even though he had never told me there was a deadline) and he hadn’t sent me work because he assumed I wasn’t participating. Which was very irritating because I paid for the course, why would I not participate?

I wrote back and asked him to tell me when the deadline was for future reference and if he could send me the other students work so I could read it. He never responded.

I tried to contact the main person to find out if I could skip this weeks course and add one on at the end of the class (same amount of classes for what I paid). Her response was to come to class to talk about it…. which seems strange since I was asking if I could skip it.

So when I get there I get the distinct impression that she is there to “handle” me… she offers to refund my money if the course wasn’t working for me etc. I said that the class wasn’t exactly what I expected but I wanted to stay and was ok with it. I had only been curious if I could miss this week and add an additional week on to my time. She explained that there were not extra courses.. so I said fine. I was surprised she was there as my question was simple and I wasn’t trying to make a stink…. I just figured if I had nothing to critique for others and nothing of my own to critique I was somewhat useless. And again, I got the impression that my teacher asked her to be there… which was odd because I didn’t think I was argumentative in my communication with him.

During class he passed over nearly anything I said or offered.

Thankfully after everyone’s critiques there was time in class for me to read from Sadira aloud.

This was really good for me. I’ve been looking at it so long most of it felt dull to me or in need of work. But the other participants really liked it. They said I had an excellent strong voice and an easy to read rhythm. They pointed out several stellar sentences (their phrase not mine) and they laughed out loud in parts. It was good for me. My teacher’s critique? “You were reading too fast and I didn’t catch it.”

What?! If I was reading too fast why didn’t he stop me?

Then he drops the bomb….

When I signed up for the course the advertisement said the class was to help finish a novel. As I mentioned in a previous post it was pretty clear that the class was not really designed to help with the grand scale of helping finish a novel. So I was hoping I could polish key pieces of my novel and get feedback on my style and technical needs. He told us that we were to turn 5 pages in monthly and that we could submit parts of our novel, a short story, or the response to writing prompts he would supply. I remember this specifically because someone asked directly if we could submit continuing sections of our novel and he said yes.

So tonight he passes out an outline of a short story. Similar to ones I gave my high school students when I was teaching and he tells us that our assignment is to write a brand new short story. He DOESN’T want parts of our novel, he wants something brand new and to try to write a short story that follows the steps. This is so basic. I know the steps of a short story. I have about 20 short stories that follow this outline… heck, I TAUGHT this outline. I am not here to do this.

Granted, it’s not as if it wouldn’t help… because again we can focus on style, voice, characterization etc… but I’m here to work on my novel!!!!

Another woman asks if we can work on our novel and he says, “Well of course you can do what you want…” and he went on to say that we could but heavily disapproved of. His disapproval was palpable. I wish I could remember exactly how he said it because it was good but the message was “You can do whatever you want but if you don’t do what I want I will not take you seriously and it won’t be the same and I won’t have as much to offer or help you with when your work is sent out you non cooperative, lazy, selfish, non team playing writer”

After class I went up to speak to him. I began by saying I was sorry if he took offense at my questions regarding the deadline for manuscript submission. He just kept giving me a condescending smile and not making eye contact. Said he hoped I could meet deadline this time. I said, yes on that note I wanted to ask about that. I reminded him that he previously told us we could continue to submit from our novel and that was really what I was there for. I was trying to have a conversation with him but he was clearly not having it. He again repeated that I could do what I want but basically that he didn’t approve…. a lot of shrugging and eyebrow raising. So disapproving.

I’m really disappointed.

I’m used to teachers liking me…. I’m annoyed that he seems to dislike me for no good reason. I’m annoyed because I feel like if I do what I signed up to do he will not take my work seriously and he won’t critique me as he would if I’d done his assignment.

I could easily pull a short story out of my “vault” or I could write a new one… it’s not a big deal but I’m trying to finish a novel… I don’t really want to split my focus or use a critique on something that doesn’t matter as much to me right now.

On the way out though another woman stopped me to ask if I had permission to submit from my novel. She had the same complaint and concerns that I did. She said she really liked what I read in class and asked if I’d send the first five pages so she could critique it for me and I could do the same for me. Better yet she said that she was going to submit the next portion of her novel so that we could both be “problem children” together and it wouldn’t just be one of us.

And on a bright note she told me that there is a local group that meets every Saturday morning for critiques. At this group you get five minutes to read and then everyone gives you input. You pay 35$ for the whole year…. so that might be really useful to me. If I had to have five minutes worth of reading every week it could be vastly helpful.



Posted March 16, 2012 by etainl in Education, Writing

Handmade Christmas successes- Coasters   3 comments

So another project that I felt turned out well was homemade coasters.

I purchased white tiles from home depot for 10 cents a piece (I think!). I made coaster sets of four.

I also had to buy Modge Podge, acrylic sealant and regular glue…. this was the most expensive part. If you are planning on making one set of coasters (as I originally was) this is not cost effective. If you will use these things or will make lots of coasters (or use them for future projects) than it is ๐Ÿ™‚

Then you need fun paper. You can use anything. I happened to use some cool scrapbook paper I had. You could even use family pictures which is fun!

You need to cut the paper until it is slightly smaller than the top of your coaster.

Then you paint on a layer of modge podge and set the paper in the center of the tile. Paint another thin layer on top and let it dry.

repeat this 2-4 times or until you feel it’s firmly “on”…. The modge podge will dry clear not to worry.

When you are done and they are dry you need to spray them with the acrylic sealant… this will make them waterproof, and effective coasters ๐Ÿ˜‰

I took mine outside to do this and I did several layers as well.

Next you cut out felt and glue it to the bottom… voila!

I failed to take completed pictures but you can get the general idea I think.
I was pleased with them, those who received them as gifts seemed to like them. My only complaint was even though I let them thoroughly dry the felt seemed to stick to the coaster underneath when you stacked them….
But they were cute ๐Ÿ™‚

Handmade Christmas successes- wine glasses!   3 comments

I saw this idea on pinterest and just loved it. The idea is you take wine glasses and basically bedazzle them. Steve says I should not call it bedazzling because it brings up tasteless 80’s references… and he’s right. But it is the most accurate term I can think of.

I bought the glasses at the dollar store and I collected the beads and stones from various sales. The best being the Borders going out of business sale. I also bought someย tinierย beads at Joanns and I had some on hand from some old project or another.

You need glass sealant. The kind from home depot used for aquariums is waterproof and dishwasher proof (reportedly, I have not tried it although I feel I will have to).

For this first set I used black, frosted and clear stones. Some small pearl and black faceted beads as well as some metal rolling, rivet style beads.

You definitely need rubber gloves and a protected base for working.

Next you take the acrylic and mush it all over the bottom of the wine glass and then apply the beads and stones in any pattern you like. I started with the large ones and then worked my way down in size filling in spots, using the tiny ones last. A toothpick was very helpful to get them in nooks and crannies.


I was and am… very pleased with how they turned out. These pictures don’t even really do them justice. They did take nearly a half an hour per glass to complete, so not a quick thing.

I made a couple black sets like this, one blue set for my mom, a green set, an amber set. My grandmother gave me some vintage wine glasses that are petite in size…. I bedazzled those and they look adorable. A few people got them as gifts.

Now here is the thing… I’m actually thinking of opening an Etsy shop selling these as well as other things. I read once that to make money on Etsy you have to be selling something that no one else is making. So I did an Etsy search and there is one mosaic glass seller, she takes teeny tiny pieces of glass and does mosaic, very pretty. But not the same.

The great thing is I could make them special order so I wouldn’t have to have sets of glass piling up everywhere and the possibilities are endless. I could bedazzle the whole glass with pink or sparkles for bachelorette parties etc.

So I think I’m going to do it…. the question is what should I call my shop? Steve suggested Wine by the Glass. Which I think is adorable, but it does limit me to the wine glasses. My mom thought Art by Angel, which I like as well. Any thoughts?

Also, can someone come up with a better, classier term than bedazzling lol?

PS my brother is going to take some fabulous proper pictures of the set

Posted March 4, 2012 by etainl in Arts & Crafts, Cutting Costs, How To, Stay at Home Mom

Handmade Christmas- successes! Plum Wine   Leave a comment

One of my favorite things that I made this year was plum wine. Yummm ๐Ÿ™‚ I thought it was too strong and needed to be diluted with sprite or another mixer but some of the other gift recipients drank it straight and were happy with it.

Plum Liquer Recipe:

Makes 3 1/2 liter jars


2 1/2 lb.s of small Italian prune plums

2 cups of sugar

1 cup of water

2-in. long cinnamon stick

5 whole cloves

1 1/2 cups of vodka

Buy small just slightly larger than walnuts (I used old spaghetti jars).

Prick each plum 2 or 3 times with a darning needle.

Combine the sugar and water in a high-sided 10-inch skillet and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add half of the plums to the syrup; they should fit comfortably in the pan in one layer. Return the syrup to a boil and cook, pushing the plums around in syrup with a wooden spoon, for 2 to 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, gently transfer the plums to a 9 by 13 inch glass baking dish. Repeat with the remaining plums. The trick is to boil the plums without tearing the skins too much. Cooking the plums in one layer and using a wooden spoon to push them around in the syrup minimize breakage.

Pour the hot syrup over the plums, now in a single layer in baking dish, and cover immediately with a sheet of plastic wrap. Leave the plums overnight in the syrup, turning them once or twice.

With the Slotted Spoon, transfer teh plums to sterilzed jars, filling the jars 3/4 way full.

Transfer the syrup to a saucepan, add the cinnamon stock and cloves, bring to a boil. Continue to boil until slightly thrickened. You should have 1 1/2 cups left.

Strain the hot syrup, pour it over the plums, filling each jar about 1/2 full.

Let cool and pour in the vodka. The liquid should cover the plums completely. Seal and store in cool, dark place. Leave to rest for at least 2 months before opening. Gently tilt the jars every so often to mix the syrup and the vodka.


Homemade Christmas- planning   1 comment

So last year I posted about the food gifts that I made for homemade Christmas. My standby is Apple Butter, I make a mean apple butter, and I tried something new, Red Velvet Cake balls, which were amazing. I also always make chocolate covered pretzels, I think Steve snuck that in our marriage vows so I have to.

This year I did not make the apple butter, and I did miss it a bit. I made one batch of chocolate covered pretzels, pretty much just to keep Steve happy ๐Ÿ™‚ Then I tried to make one batch of red velvet cake balls…. it took forever! Last year LA was immobile and if she got fussy I could talk or sing her out of it long enough to clean my hands. This year having my hands covered in cake and goo was a dangerous, dangerous game. So pretty much the only time to work on them was while she was sleeping and I had other homemade gifts to work on so it took forever!

I never really went back and posted what I made last year for homemade Christmas so let me tell you now ๐Ÿ™‚ I never really took pictures either, very neglectful of me.

I made homemade sugar scrub, which turned out really well, even had two recipients ask for the recipe so they could make more. The only issue I had with it was something to put it in that held it well and was nice for presentation.

Another popular thing I made was Skittle Vodka… yum!!! Pretty much all the boys on our Christmas gift list got this. It was easy but a bit time consuming in separating the Skittles and it took WAY more skittles that I imagined. We needed 8-10 skittles for each ounce we made. Then you soak the skittles in the vodka. I used mason jars because shaking them up occasionally is necessary to really help the waxy part dissolve. Then you strain the wax part from the vodka and voila! The straining part was annoying, they recommended cheesecloth or coffee filters, which is what I made and the straining took forever! I made a batch of purple, red, green, etc… and then each flavor was bottled individually. They were yummy…. although the yellow was super strong and vodka-y. Everyone who received them seemed to really enjoy them ๐Ÿ™‚

I also made the family little photo frames with LA footprint, a poem and her picture.

I am thinking I made other things but I can’t remember what they were. In fact I’m certain I did, perhaps it will come to me. Unfortunately one of the main things I remember about last years Christmas season was being stressed to finish the homemade gifts. It was lovely giving them and everyone seemed to enjoy them and it did save us money… but whew!

Oh and I made LA her own Taggie… ๐Ÿ™‚ she seemed to like that!

So fast forward to this year….

I learned my lesson, I decided to start early. A group of similarly minded mama friends created a Facebook board of ideas (mostly from Pinterest) of homemade Christmas gift ideas. I got A LOT (if not all) of my ideas from them, which was great because I had no idea what to do for this year.

There was a really great group created on Facebook where people posted ideas and helped people with suggestions. We also each created a list of who we were going to make presents for and what we were going to make. Mine was fairly ambitious but I did accomplish most of what I planned.

Here is said ambitious list…. If I crossed it out I made it.

Steve- Husband- 33 years old. Techie, Gamer, sometimes plays golf with his friends.

This is the hardest one! I was thinking of making him the “I love you because” dry erase board. I think he’d get a kick out of it, but I also feel like it’s more a family gift than one for him.

La-DD- will be nearly 16 months old

Mom- loves history, travel, archaeology, very sentimental. Also need to make her a b-day gift for a few weeks before Christmas

Fan family tree from Pinterest

Going to transcribe some old family movies onto DVD and make the covers and labels all professional like.

Going to make a photo book and DVD of La’s first year.

Maybe something like this

And maybe this or an ornament for her birthday- photo wreath

Step Dad- tailgating, techie, cooking (former chef)… probably my hardest person to buy or make for after my husband


Going to transcribe some old family movies onto DVD and make the covers and labels all professional like.

Going to make a photo book and DVD of La’s first year.

He might like this book safe

Step mom- loves spa things, interior design, reading…also have to make her a birthday gift for a month before Christmas

Think she’ll like this, the decorated wine glasses

And then maybe a spa package

milk bath-

lavender eye pillow

I also thought of the coasters….

and considered the basket

Grandmother- very sentimental…. likes music, wine… always saying she doesn’t need anything

Going to transcribe some old family movies onto DVD and make the covers and labels all professional like.

Going to make a photo book and DVD of La’s first year.


Brother- 30- professional photographer…. loves his dog, adventure, traveling etc

BIL- 36- loves to cook, technie, into mechanics thought about cooking something but not sure….

MIL- loves to garden, cook, history… tinkering

Going to make a photo book and DVD of La’s first year.

thought maybe something for her garden….

also thought of these wine glasses

Various close friends- definitely thinking the wine glasses

or the coasters

also thought of the jewelry stand


Usually get gift for best friends husbands too as they are my hubby’s closest friends.

Also usually make cookies, brownies, candy for co-workers and acquaintances…. usually something a little bigger and nicer for Steve’s boss…. last year did sugar scrub.

Maybe Plum Liquer or Blackberry Wine (my hubby could get on helping me make either)