Friday, May 28, 2010

Progress Report

This has been a fairly productive week for me.

1) Planted 4 more containers, 2 tomatoes, 2 decorative. (but then you already knew that, eh?)

2) Started reading A Place to Come To by Robert Penn Warren.

3) Got a gym membership and met with a personal trainer to fashion a workout plan. Yay! I do a lot of good thinking while sweating.

4) Made delicious salsa cruda with avocado.

5) Sent our 2nd car to hubby's uncle's used car lot, where it will hopefully sell very soon. We are functioning as a one-car household right now. If the Saturn sells, then we'll be able to pay off the remainder of the PT Cruiser! Yay!

6) What's that? How's Saving Me going? Ohhhh....that's what this is supposed to be about. :-)
    I hit 40k last night. I'm in an interesting place, that middle ground that's really difficult to pull through. I know where my story is going, but filling in all the bits and pieces is proving to be a challenge. Also, I just broke my MC's nose and cheekbone, which was unplanned, but could be interesting...I also had a really good, uplifting chat with one of my best friends, who's also a writer. He's coming to visit in July, so if I don't make my June 21 finish goal, then I'm definitely aiming for July 15.

Overall, a good week, quite productive and enjoyable. I'm also half-way through LOST season 3; we'll no doubt finish it over Memorial Day weekend. :-)

To my fellow Americans, have a safe and fun holiday weekend! To the non-Americans: same. But without the holiday part. :-)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Award

This morning my lovely bloggy friend Christine Danek, whom you all probably know and love from Christine's Journey, was kind enough to pass on this award to me. I haven't seen it around yet, so I'm going to let myself believe that it's shiny and new:

I've been writing for a long time, and while my family "knew" that I was a writer, and they'd seen plenty of my examples in narrative essays and paper-writing, and even a poem I wrote for my grandfather's eulogy, I've never really allowed anyone to be a part of my writing path. That changed somewhat in college, when I was feeling more confident in my writing ability and took some creative writing courses. The more I read and wrote, the more confident I became in my ability, and the easier it was to share my writing with practical strangers.

I started this blog on January 1 as a New Year's resolution to encourage me to write more; I've always been a terrible diary/journal-keeper, and I thought that maybe a blog would help.

And it did.

I don't have to tell you how great the blogging writer's community is: you're all part of it, and you know it as well as I do. And here more than anywhere else the adage "You have to be a friend to have a friend" holds true. I feel lucky enough to consider many of you my friends. I love getting comments--I'm still at home 24/7 with my wrist injury, and I spend a lot of time checking my email. Every comment makes me smile. The larger my following grows, the more I find myself feeling a little shy--isn't that silly? I'm truly sorry that I can't follow each and every one of you back, but just know that I'm still supporting you in my goodwill, if not in my follower face.

Now that this acceptance speech is over *snore* I can pass along the Journey Support award to the following people, people who may or may not realize how special they are to me in my little internet world:

(In alphabetic order)

Alex J. Cavanaugh 
Sarah Ahiers
Lola Sharp
Courtney Barr (Who also has a kickass contest for Memorial Day--check it out)
Talli Roland 
Crystal Cook
Jon Paul

Aren't you impressed that I gave it back on the same day I received it? Also, it should be known that I would gift it back to Christine Danek, but I thought that might be redundant...

Go forth and be happy, friends!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Garden Updates (TONS of pictures)

On April 7th, our garden space looked like this:

Remember? And then we did lots of backbreaking labor and put lots of money into it...

Today it looks like this:

Some new stuff since I last showed photos. 

Stargazer lillies are coming along nicely. The trellis will hold a carolina jessamine, which we bought to help shade a new gardenia. 

Birthday present from the in-laws. 

Roma tomato, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. 

First one!

Cherry tomato plant. Should be getting fruit any day now.

Yellow crookneck squash. Had to replant zucchini in a pot, as some critter decided it was tasty in the garden. 

Lychnis are on their 3rd week blooming now...

The only annual we bought: rose moss. Dwarf callas are coming up fast!

Got some groundcover: this, creeping thyme, and some creeping rosemary.

Penstemon finally bloomed! Had to stake up the flower spikes, but they're lovely!

The corner bed has been plug and play, pretty much. Ice plant is still doing great, and the daylilies are getting flower spikes. 

The part-sun bed. Blue borage getting its second wind (makes nice cut flowers, btw); planted my mint and lemon balm in this bed, as I couldn't keep up with their container needs.

We thinned 2 suckers from the roma tomato plant, and E decided to try and root them. As you can see, it worked. I actually planted them today, though I accidentally broke one of them pulling off the bottom leaves. Hopefully it'll still survive. 

The camera was being stubborn and wouldn't focus, but you can see the itty-bitty pepper. I'm not sure this will actually produce anything of worth: it hasn't grown much. :-(

Basil is doing great! I've harvested it three times already, and it's bouncing back stronger each time. 

Got these 2 lamb's ears and the catnip at a garden outlet on Sunday, which is why they look a bit sad. I'm sure they'll perk up soon...

Recently divided this 8-year-old dendrobium orchid. I have half, and my mother-in-law has the other half. It's a beast. 

I actually did this today, in the time that all these photos were uploading to the blogger tool...

Lavender, coleus, and vinca. I love the look of a wildflower garden, and lavender is my favorite. Of everything. 

First squirrel who conquered my new feeder. It was a hilarious thing to watch, but he finally made it up there. 

My miniature phaleonopsis orchid. The rest of the buds have opened since this photo.

And my latest houseplant, a rhipsalis micrantha. Replaced the unfortunate ivy that got a spider mite infestation. 

I hope you enjoyed your ecological tour of my home... Stay tuned for next time, when hopefully the veggies will be producing... 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Setting as Character

Just give this a listen while you read and think...(by the way, this is from the film A Love Song for Bobby Long, which I can't recommend enough.)

The novel that I am currently writing, which is tentatively titled Saving Me, has been heavily influenced by its setting, which is of course here in north-east Georgia, particularly the city of Clarkesville and its surrounding areas. Though the novel is a lot of things, I most describe it as being written in the tradition of Southern and Southern Gothic literature. Southern Literature was a particular interest of mine in college, and if I were ever to get a master's in English Lit, I would most likely concentrate in Southern Lit.

Something that's always stood out about Southern Literature is the consciousness of place/setting, whether the characters are living in the deep South during the novel's events, or if they are displaced (and displacement is often a theme: fish out of water, etc). Think on some of the classic Southern literature that you've read (Faulker, anyone?), and think about the setting. I'm willing to bet it stands out clear to you, huh?

I've been working on my novel for a year and a half; it started as a NaNoWriMo in 2008, and quickly developed into something seeded deep in my gut. I've blogged about it before, how it's almost like an entity inside me, compelling me to finish. I've been writing for a long, long time, but nothing I've ever written or worked on has enraptured me like this one.

A lot of it is the setting. The novel's events take place during the summer months, from early June through the beginning of August. Where I live, July and August are the hottest months of the year, with temperature often averaging in the triple digits with humidity well over 50%. If you've ever spent much time in this kind of weather, you know that it really has an effect on your mental well-being. Heat drives people to do things. How often have you heard or read a crime story in which a heat wave equals a crime wave?

My main character, Lily St. Martin, is having the worst time of her life, and it's also a record-setting hot summer.

The book would be completely different if it were set in, say, North Dakota in the fall. Or Vermont in spring.

Setting is everything, and the setting of your book should feel as alive to the reader as any of the characters. I haven't perfected this by any means, and it's something I'll definitely be paying attention to in edits/revisions.

How does setting influence your writing?

Friday, May 21, 2010

3 Things That Are Made of Awesome


A hilarious article written by Scott Adams and published in "The Dilbert Future": why Life Will NOT Be Like Star Trek


ZOMG! Any fellow Grey's Anatomy fans out there? The season finale* was amazing, and I mean amazing. Grey's has had its ups and downs, but this finale...oh god, if I could write like that. I was glued to my computer screen--didn't even check Twitter during the Hulu commercial breaks! OMG!

*Also, please note that I did not give away any spoilers. LOST fans, please be aware of this and refrain from doing so yourself next Tuesday Sunday, when the series finale airs. I am almost through season 2 and would really like not to waste my time watching the next 5 seasons knowing what happens in the last episode of the series. Thanks in advance. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Let's Talk

I forgot that I'd signed up for this blogfest. There's my name, smiling happily at slot number four.
Good thing I decided to look at Blogger this morning and get a gentle reminder...

The Let's Talk Blogfest is hosted by Roni at Fiction Groupie. You can check out the entire list of participants (and it's a hefty one) here.

So without further ado, here is some dialogue from the second scene of my WIP, Saving Me.

As always, mature content (language). 


     “Tom Quillian was at church this morning," the sweet, high-pitched voice of my only Aunt Julie informed me over the crackle of her Walmart cellphone. It was just after noon; she would be in the kitchen fixing gravy for the Sunday pot roast, Baptist-best dress covered with the floral apron I'd given her five years ago.
      “What? You're shitting me.” I was in my Sunday-best too, panties and a thin tank-top, hair snarled and skin smelling like sex and Linden's cologne.
      “He was there, sitting right by his mama.” Ice clinked in the background. “He looked so handsome, wearing that uniform.”
       “When did he get back?”
      “Oh, I don't know exactly. A few days ago, I reckon. Anyway, he asked about you.”
My gut clenched and I was glad to already be sitting on the couch. “What'd you say?”
      “Told him that you're fixing to move to California and that you're doing really good.”
      “Oh.” The disappointment in that single vowel sound surprised me. I wondered if Julie could hear it too.
    “He looked good,” she said.
     “You said that.”
      “Well, he did. You should visit him when you come up.”
      “God, Aunt Julie!”
      “I'm just saying!” she interrupted me. “He did ask when you were leaving.”
      “Uh huh.”
     “I think he wanted to see you.”
     “Julie—” My voice rose in warning as all the pieces started falling into place.
     “Oh, hush! It's just lunch, Lily. It ain't gonna kill you.”
     “I wish you'd stop playing fucking matchmaker. It's not happening, Julie. You know that.” I frowned at the throw pillow in my lap. There was only one subject that could catapult me from happy to pissed in five seconds, and Julie had blown the lid off its cover with wild abandon.
     “He asked, Lily! That means something.”
     “Yeah, like he just got back from the goddamn desert and is looking for a piece of ass.”
   Her harsh sigh overloaded the cellphone speaker.
      “Well, I can't stop the boy, Lily. If he wants to see you, he's gonna see you. You could use some company, you know. You haven't been out much since your surgery.”
     "I know. Christ!" I sighed. Besides the fact that I had plenty of company. Well, I had, before he'd gone out the door to meet his girlfriend.
    “Did you tell him to come today?”
     “No,” she said, but she'd always been a terrible liar. Lying was my specialty.
     “You did,” I insisted. “Didn't you?
     Silence told me all I needed to know. I closed my eyes and clenched my teeth.
     "And you gave him my address. Did you at least tell him to call before he comes?"
     "No, but he's a polite boy, Lily. I'm sure he knows that."
     “Then I'd better go, Aunt Julie. I just woke up.”
She couldn't disguise the self-satisfaction in her tone.
    “Okay, Lily. And when d'you think you'll be coming home?”
I looked around my living room. My entire personal life fit into five boxes. Not even big boxes, but paper-box sizes. “Tuesday, maybe. Probably around noon.”
     “Is Hannah still having that party?”
     “Yeah. It's tonight.”
     “Well, good. You have fun, now.”
     “I will.”
     “Okay, Lily.” A timer dinged on her end. “Oh, there's my roast. I'll see you soon, baby. And listen, I'm sorry. But you two loved each other for so didn't seem right for you to go away without saying goodbye."
     "We said goodbye a year ago.”
     “You know what I mean. And anyway, I've heard he hasn't been the same since he shipped off. Just thought it might help. Both of you. I care about Tom too, you know.”
     “I know. I'll see you in a couple days, then.”
      “Take care of yourself, Lily. I love you.”
      “You too.”


Be sure to check out the other entries.

& PS: I may have been misleading yesterday, but I'm still considering myself on hiatus. I'll probably post once a week just so I don't disappear completely.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday! All the plans I tried to make kept failing one after the other, but it still ended up being a nice day, mostly because my husband is the best, and I love him bunches. I was being emo for a lot of the day, but this cheered me up:

My peony bloomed!

The nature loves me, at least. :-) 

My in-laws gifted me with a patio table and chairs, so I will be living it up outside when the weather permits, which leads me to...

I will be taking a blogger hiatus for an unspecified period of time. 

I had my appointment with my hand surgeon today, and he's pleased with my progress. I have 6 more weeks of physical therapy, and then he'll make his final recommendations on June 21. 

This means I have 6 weeks in which I'd like to finish my WIP, Saving Me. I'm a pretty slow writer, so I'm going to need all the time I can carve out of my day, and unfortunately, blogging takes up a big chunk of that day. 

I may pop in from time to time, but nothing set. I'll also still be on Twitter, so if something momentous happens, let me know @summerbp, 'kay? 

Wish me luck and speed with the writing, and maybe I'll see you around. 

Until we meet again...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bad Girl Blogfest Entry

My contribution to the blogfest Andrew Rosenberg is hosting at his blog. Check out the other entries.

Note: This is part of the opening sequence of my novel Eternal Spring. Might be a little different from some of the other entries, but I still think it qualifies. Especially since I know the character. :-) It's long, and for that I do apologize, but it was hard to find the right beginning point.

As always, mature content. 


She trudged through the accumulation past the residential tents, heading for the crest of the hill they'd made camp around in a ring. The fire beckoned her, considerably larger than it had been when she left. Several people stood around the fire while others shouted orders. Two men struggled up the hill against the ice, carrying a long black box between them.
“There you are,” a familiar voice said from behind her. “You're almost late.” She glanced back.
“Where did you come from?”
Jason grinned. “Trade secret. How was your nap? Feel better?”
“Yeah. Thanks.” She stopped and waited for him to catch up, shivering as another gust of wind hit. “I see you finally got your coat.”
He plucked at the sleeve of the thigh-length duster, identical to hers. “Didn't want to get my clothes dirty.”
She tried to muster a smile, but it didn't quite come out. Jason's bare hand grabbed her arm, and he leaned in close, the tip of his nose freezing her ear while he whispered.
“Get your game face on, Kin. Your sunny disposition is decidedly lacking today.”
She closed her eyes. He was right. Of course. But it wasn't as easy for her to wake up every day and pretend to be one of the enemy. Lately the line between reality and actuality was blurring so far out of focus that it disappeared.
Kinnasy opened her eyes and smiled at Jason, forcing sincerity into it. Faking wasn't hard with him. At least not faking this.
His hand dropped away from her arm, and they walked to the top of the hill in silence, feet moving in tandem. The woman's head slumped forward, hair matted with blood. Kinnasy could see frays in the ropes that bound her hands and feet, scorches on the wooden post her bare back had been strapped against. She'd fought hard, by the looks of it, but in the end they had won. They always did.
She didn't want to get any closer, and it had nothing to do with her cover. Burned flesh stank, and it looked like Haakon and Elin had inscribed every sigil they knew into the woman's blue-tinged flesh.
“Now that both our Nox have deigned to join us, we can continue.” That thin, arch voice raised Kinnasy's hackles every time she heard it, made her want to grab Elin by the throat and rip out the offending vocal chords. She didn't give a fuck what god's son he was.
So she smiled at him and took her place beside Jason without comment.
Haakon and Elin moved forward together, identical except for the color of their long, woolen robes. Flecks of blood spattered Elin's long blond hair and dotted that perfectly sculpted, cruelly handsome face. He liked to wield the knife and brand himself, get nicely acquainted with the subject. Haakon contributed from the sidelines, though with no less fervor. Kinnasy could see it in his eyes even now, crystal blue chips glowing molten as his brother and fellow godsson unsheathed a knife.
She recognized it and shifted from foot to foot. Easily the length of her forearm, the knife was one of the Lux relics that had survived the fallout. Cast in bronze and inlaid with silver, it sparkled in the firelight as Elin hefted it. The knife had some name that dated back to its Grecian origins, but most everyone called it the Kinslayer.
Elin ran his finger across the blade edge. Blood welled up and smeared the bronze. Kinnasy sucked in her breath as the air around the knife shimmered, then all the runes and sigils inlaid on the bronze blade glowed to life.
Beside her, Jason scuffed his foot on the ground, then uncrossed and recrossed his arms. She could feel the knife's presence humming through the air, and while she would swear it was nothing more than a weapon, at times like this it seemed to take on just a hint of sentience. And that sentience had acquired a taste for her and Jason.
“Bring forth the vessel,” Elin commanded, voice ripening as the Kinslayer tapped into his well of power. A Nox man stepped forward and knelt in the snow, singly holding up the long, thin box she'd seen the men carrying up earlier. Haakon approached the Nox male, let his long fingernails drag across his bare shoulders before settling both pale hands on the box.
“Father Apollo, hear mine words and open thy heart to those things which we desire,” he began, closing his eyes. Kinnasy bit the inside of her lip as he continued the invocation. Chills raced down her spine as the Kinslayer flashed.
“I call thee, who dwells in the dawn, heed the cry of thy sacred children,” he continued, voice leveling into monotone. His fingers curled beneath the box's lid, and he threw it open with vigor. Across from him, Elin approached the woman tied to the stake. Holding the knife like an artist's brush, he pressed its razor tip between the woman's breasts and began to carve as Haakon's words carried over the camp.
“Walk among this land once more and spill thy seed of eternal spring,” he cried, and reached into the box. Kinnasy inhaled deeply, embracing the bitterness of ash and blood as the godsson sang out his prayer. The woman on the stake swam to consciousness in time to see Elin drag the knife in a swoop across her belly. She screamed, drowning out Haakon's words, but he didn't stop, lifting the pale, naked body out of the box. He clutched the body to his chest like a mother protecting her young, then gently lay it down on the snow. Kinnasy could see the ugly gash across the white throat, a gaping, hungry maw.
“By Nott's blood, I call thee, not that thou might be angry at my sacred chants, but that thou might stir and cleanse the darkness from this land with thy holy light!”
Elin carved the sigil's finial at the woman's throat with a flourish, then closed his eyes and threw his head back as blinding light burst from the woman's body. Kinnasy felt her pulse pounding in her throat, realized that she was leaning forward, waiting with the rest of them. Was this it? Would this be the one?
The light wavered, then burst into a million specks of dust.
Murmurs swept through the crowd. Kinnasy heard Jason sigh.
The godssons launched into action, Elin kneeling beside the body in the snow and carefully carving the twin sigil that had just ended the woman's life, this time with light pressure and care. No blood welled from the grooves, just soft underbelly splitting apart. Haakon knelt beside his brother, palms outstretched to the sky, lips moving rapidly.
She looked at Jason out of the corner of her eye, saw that he too was looking elsewhere. He sighed again, put his hands in his pockets. They had a break coming up soon, next week. Just a few days away from the godssons and the sacrificing and the lingering smell of burnt flesh, but lately it was all she could think about, all she worked towards.
When she looked back at the godssons, Elin had taken off his outer robe and was now covering the awakened female with it. She grasped the edges and bound them around her nakedness, eyes large, but still slightly unfocused.
“We're up,” Kinnasy said, elbowing Jason. She walked forward quickly, careful not to slip on any of the blood-slicked snow, and squatted in front of the female. The female looked at her, eyes bloodshot, tears overspilling down pale cheeks.
“Where am I?” The female's voice sounded harsh, gravelly. Already the gaping gash across her throat was fading away, now just a jagged white line. Kinnasy took her right hand out of her pocket and grabbed the female's face, spreading her fingers to cover from temple to temple.
The female reached up to fight away Kinnasy's arm, but Jason appeared behind her and intercepted the fragile limbs, twisting them neatly behind her back. She started moaning.
“Are you ready?” Kinnasy asked him, ignoring the female's attempts to communicate. He nodded.
She met the female's gaze.
“Your name is Elana Gotrich. You are human. You were attacked by a group of remnants and barely escaped. You sustained mild amnesia.”
The female's eyes rolled back in her head. She began trembling. Kinnasy paused, then probed the female mind. It felt supple, open, willing, even, for her suggestion.
“Your name is Elana Gotrich.”
“What is your name?” Jason asked, speaking directly into her ear. The trembling subsided.
“Elana Gotrich.” The female sounded confident, despite her still-healing vocal folds. Jason nodded, then released her arms and reached into his jacket. The female sat still, no longer trying to fight away Kinnasy's grip. Jason handed Kinnasy a sheet of paper. She skimmed over it, then set it in her lap and refocused her attention on the human.
“You are from Area 3. Your family died during the '78 riots. You work at the transit station.”
She recited the information pre-selected to program into this vessel's brain, distantly aware of the Nox men untying the Lux woman's body from the stake. They carried her to the box and laid her inside, then shut the lid.
Jason took over, questioning the female on the information Kinnasy had just implanted, and though she should have been listening to the female's responses, an approaching figure stole her concentration.
Tall, willowy, long blond hair caressing her body in the icy wind, protected by heavy black robes. Even from this distance, Kinnasy could see the tattoos swirling across golden skin.
Her eyes darted to Jason, who was full engrossed in the female's Displacement. He didn't see the robed woman approaching, too wrapped up in his work to sense her presence. Kinnasy fought the urge to speak, to break the spell they were so carefully binding through this human—Elana Gotrich's—mind and spirit, to warn him of the woman's imminent arrival.
But she couldn't blow their cover. Her tongue felt like a chunk of lead in a suddenly dry mouth as the woman sidled up to them, her perfectly-formed face clearly visible now, down to the tiniest curlicue on her tattoos.
Her hand slid across Jason's shoulders, red-lacquered fingernails digging into his jacket's thick material.
Kinnasy wanted to vomit, wanted to lay her hands on the woman's face and see who would be most powerful in the end: light or darkness.
Jason's gaze flicked up to hers, deep amber glinting orange in the firelight.
“Come to my tent,” the woman said.
Though she lacked their ability to force word into action, Cleric Griet Overgaard's voice still resonated through Kinnasy's body and mind, shivering pure raw power down her spine. Jason released the human female and stood up.
“Elin wishes your presence when you're finished, Wilder,” the Cleric said, then slipped her arm around Jason's waist.
“Yes, Cleric,” she said, averting her eyes.
“Yes, Cleric,” the human mimicked. Fuck, too strong a presence in her mind. The Cleric's untimely arrivals always unnerved Kinnasy.
“Come,” Cleric Overgaard whispered to Jason, and Kinnasy watched with furrowed brow while the leader of the Lux Cipher Order led away her lover.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

DeSoto Falls Hiking Adventure!

J and I ended up going to DeSoto Falls instead of Panther Creek.
But first we stopped for lunch:

Yup, that's grass on the roof. 

After we lollygagged and ate too much, we headed up the mountain...

"Look, Ma! Water!"

We tried for a together photo, but it ended up blurry. Sadness.
PS: I am standing on a hill. He's actually like 8 inches taller than me. 

Upper falls. 

Oh, brother. Wearing my sunglasses and being cool...

Lower falls. More strenuous hike, but better reward, methinks.
And like the good adventurers we are, the Siblings Bishop dared defy the Forest Rangers...

Oh yes, that's Bishop the Elder leaping back over the ledge from the DANGER AREA.
Here we are, defying the forest rangers and being DANGEROUS:

And some of the views from my dangerous vantage point:

Well worth the danger, I'd say.

And then on the walk back, I spotted this little plant, which was being shy for the focus on my camera:


All in all a great day, in which we had sibling bonding time, discussed my WIP, discussed the nature of Southern Gothic literature, listened to Old Crow Medicine Show, and had a rollicking good time. 

Thanks for watching!
And don't forget the Bad Girls Blogfest tomorrow!

(I am a badgirl--I trespassed on a National Forest!) ;-)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

30 Day Shred Level One Summary + 5 Q's Tag

Remember a while back I mentioned that I was going to do Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred workout? Well, I have been doing it, just not every day. In fact, I was downright lazy on some weeks, but I've done a good many workouts, enough that I'm no longer sore and the exercises aren't too challenging anymore. Pretty big jump from barely being able to walk, huh? And having to take breathers from ha!ha! JUMPING JACKS! Child's play!

Jillian says during the workout that "Those of you who are on day 6 or 7 are probably seeing a big difference in your endurance." On day 1, 2, 3, I was like, "Pssh, whatever, Jillian." But she was right. I did the workout over the weekend with my husband. He's in okay shape, but he's gotten rather soft since the office job has come along. I was quite impressed with myself for out-performing him! He couldn't even do all the jumping jacks ha!

I think after this week, I'm going to move up to Level Two. I've been doing it every other day, mostly because of my wrist injury. It's getting a lot stronger, but I can't do push-ups every day with it, not even the modified hand position I have to use.

And...I took my body measurements before I started the first day of the shred.

I am 5'3 and fairly curvaceous--not a twiggy little thing.
Measurements from 4/06:

Bust: 35in
Waist: 30in
Hips: 39in
Biceps: 10/9.5in (right arm slightly smaller from disuse)
Thighs: 22.5in
Calves: 14in
Weight: 135lb

I wasn't really expecting any changes. I'm not doing the Shred for weight loss. I don't think I need to lose weight. I'm just doing it to be active and try to tone up a little. So imagine my surprise when I measured today...

Measurements from 5/04:

Bust: 40in (this can't be right, but I don't remember how I measured before. My pecs aren't that much bigger)
Waist: 28in (2 inches lost!)
Hips: 36in (3 inches lost!)
Biceps: 11in (1 and 1.5 inches gained!)
Thighs: 21.5 (1 inch lost!)
Calves: 14in (same)
Weight: 128lb (what?? I lost 7 pounds??)

I actually fluctuate body weight pretty easily, so don't be too surprised or concerned. But I'll count it as a benefit from the Shred. :-)

No pictures! I refuse. :-)
But I'll do more measurement stats when I finish Level Two.

I was tagged a while ago to complete the 5 Questions, 5 Answers meme:

1) Where were you 5 years ago?
    -Finishing my freshman year of college

    -Waiting with bated breath to see if my now-hubby would successfully dump his girlfriend and make it official with me, even though we'd been together for a few months (she was in Australia)
    -Working at the worst restaurant I've ever been staffed at
    -Looking forward to summer classes and living on campus instead of at home! 
    -Learning to drink beer

2) Where would you like to be 5 years from now?
     -Settled in a career path

     -Living in a house that we own
     -Owner of several cats, a dog, and a chinchilla 
     -Finished with a few more manuscripts
     -Possibly agented/published, depending on those mss

3) What is (was) your to-do list today?

     -Burn some DVDs to make room for more!
     -Do the 30 Day Shred
     -Fold laundry from yesterday (yuck)
     -Critique some chapters
     -Write, maybe

4) What 5 snacks do you enjoy?
     -Almonds, roasted & unsalted

     -Grapefruit and oranges
     -Mini butterfingers
     -cereal (what? It's totally a snack) 
     -colby-jack or cheddar cheese

5) What 5 things would you do if you were a billionaire?

     -Pay off my college loans and my car
     -Pay off my parents' mortgage and buy a house
     -Buy the animal shelter where I work and fire the administration 
     -Donate to ASPCA and HSA 
     -Invest wisely. 

Happy Cinco de Mayo! 

Monday, May 3, 2010

More Plants, baby (lots of photos)

Oh, the freedom of naming this post whatever I want! No more letters!!


My in-laws came over on Saturday night for a little visitation, and they brought gifts!

Jackmanii clematis + cool trellis obelisk 

They also brought some stargazer lilies, but I'll provide photos of those later in the summer, when they're actually blooming. Then we cooked out...

New York strip steaks, yellow pepper, zucchini, asparagus, green onions. It was amazing. 

And then on Sunday, E and I decided to get a couple more plants, mainly a patio cherry tomato and a pot so I could move the squash from its too-shady location to up on the patio with the other vegetables. 

L to R: new cherry plant, (big planter) roma tomato, thyme, greek oregano, (on plant stand) chocolate mint, basil (in the orange pot), and my itty-bitty squashes

But we can never just stop at what we came for. Also, E was feeling a bit left out in the plant selection process, so I told him to pick out a few that he liked. So we came away with two Euphorbia "Silver Swan" and two Arenaria Montana Sandwort. 

Full spread of the front bed.

Euphorbia Silver Swan. Interesting-looking plant, huh? 

This is the part-sun bed. The blue borage is doing great (left). Oh, and my father-in-law also bought me a lupine, which is the bushy plant in the middle with the droopy white stalk. The two little greens flanking it are the Montana Sandwort, and we're hoping they'll grow up when the lupine dies. Also, you can see the meadow sage I added in the corner, as well as the sad, pathetic gardenia that we transplanted to the shade bed. 

The mystery bulbs that I may or may not have mentioned a month ago during my first garden post did turn out to be elephant ears. They're growing quite nicely. 

And I also got some new houseplants:

Light's kinda bad, but this is my new peace lily. 

This is the poor fittonia that I've been torturing for the past 2 years. Please don't judge me. I think it's going to be feeling better soon. But how cool is that planter? :-) I also got a dracaena "Janet Craig compacta," but I didn't take a photo. It's my new office plant. :-) 

My birthday is this Friday, May 7. I will be turning 24, because I know you're wondering... ;-)
So expect lots of selfish, me-centric posts this week in honor of the auspicious occasion.