Writing prompt – Cooking in 2014

NaBloPoMo writing prompt from December 31, 2013:
What do you want to do more of in 2014?

I could quickly come up with a multitude of answers to this question, but the one that comes to mind today is cooking. I usually have a culinary New Year’s resolution of some sort, like in 2011 when I challenged myself to try a new recipe every week (and I more than succeeded!), but this year I haven’t settled on a particular goal. I’m definitely eating out too much these day so I’d like to start making more lunches and dinners at home. And how else am I going to be ready for the chili cook-off in October if I don’t practice? I’m mostly kidding, but that isn’t stopping me from making two batches of chili for a Super Bowl party tomorrow. I love making food for my friends and family, and just feeding myself is much less fun so I jumped at the chance to cook for the party. Can you believe that besides a batch of red velvet brownies for a co-worker’s birthday I haven’t cooked a single thing in 2014? Crazy, I know. I have been using good use of my new breakfast sandwich maker and blender to make some interesting things, but that’s a topic for another day. Let’s just say there seems to be a bit of a learning curve when it comes to making smoothies. But anyway, I can’t believe I didn’t use my kitchen to cook any meals in January. Fortunately that’s going to change in the morning when I fire up my Crockpots to cook the chili. I spent today baking two different kinds of cookies for the party, but not until after I went to the grocery store three separate times (not counting my shopping trip last night where I got the bulk of the chili ingredients). The first time was to get ground chicken at Whole Foods for the chili. It was the easiest trip to Whole Foods I’ve ever had, which should have been an indication that something was wrong. When I got home and started gathering all of the ingredients together I realized that I didn’t have any cumin in my spice cabinet so I ran over to Pavilions and picked some up. And then as I was halfway through mixing some cookie dough I discovered that my flour bin was nearly empty. One more trip to Pavilions and I finally had everything I needed. Phew! The chocolate chip shortbread and sugar cookie bars turned out very well so I hope the partygoers like them tomorrow. I also chopped all of the vegetables for the chili so I should be able to assemble everything for the chili and get it into the two Crockpots quickly in the morning. And it’s a good thing too because I’m planning to go to Disneyland before the party. Enjoy the Super Bowl, everyone!

Writing prompt – Favorite author

NaBloPoMo writing prompt from August 1, 2012:
Who is your favorite author?

To start with I am a big fan of the greats – Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy, etc. I’ve read as many classics as I can get my hands on (mostly thanks to the Paperback Rack used book store in Tallahassee), and I count A Tale of Two Cities as one of my all-time favorite books, but I have to admit that I love YA (Young Adult) fiction. A few days ago I ran across a quote from one of my favorite YA authors, Cassandra Clare. It wasn’t a quote from one of her eight bestselling novels, although I’ve read them all (and I’m looking forward to the next one that’s coming out in March), but from her Live Journal back in the day. When I first discovered Cassie Clare she was writing Harry Potter fan fiction and working on her first book. I devoured every chapter of her Harry Potter fan fiction epic and I was really sad when it was over. (If you’re interested it’s called the Draco Trilogy and it’s archived all over the internet so it shouldn’t be too hard to find.) But besides her fictional creations, reading her blog was just as enjoyable. Especially when she reviewed a newly released Harry Potter book or movie. Her writing was like the text-based version of observational humor. Incredibly hilarious. Unfortunately I can’t find some of her older posts (her LJ account from back then no longer exists), which is a shame because she wrote a fantastic review of the “Goblet of Fire” movie. Luckily I copied a few of my favorites over the years and I still get a kick out of reading them now.

“I suspect the assumption with the filmmakers is that everyone who sees the movie has read the books. Even POA, which I think is the best of the films, left out crucial bits of exposition (‘Harry, your father was a stag Animagus’), leaving Harry to assume, I suppose, that he is magically protected by Merrill Lynch.”
Review of “Goblet of Fire” film

“The other great lesson I took away from this was that it is in fact impossible to get out of going to a wedding you have been invited to, even if you do not want to attend because you have to save the world instead.”
Review of Half-Blood Prince book

“There maybe were one or two too many back-and-forths where Harry suddenly pops into Voldemort’s head. I kept waiting for Harry to check in on Voldemort and discovering him going to the bathroom, or perhaps adding to his vast Beanie Baby collection in a local trinket store.”
Review of Deathly Hallows book

Writing prompt – Procrastination

NaBloPoMo writing prompt from January 3, 2014:
Do you have a tendency to procrastinate, or do you like checking things off your to-do list?

It’s after 10 PM and I’m just starting my webpage post, so what do you think? I’m a terrible procrastinator. Not that I don’t enjoy crossing items off my daily to-do list (yes, I write one everyday), but certain things tend to fall by the wayside. Like tonight I went to Target after work and then washed a sink full of dishes after I got home rather than sitting on the couch with my laptop. Some things just take priority. In my defense, I did spend about an hour looking for a prompt that I wanted to write about (after I finished washing the dishes, of course). By the time I found one it was too late to spend an adequate amount of time actually composing a decent post. It’s a terrible excuse, I know. As for today, I’d actually like to spend more time elaborating on the topic of procrastination, but it’s way past my bedtime and I’m really tired. I realize this writing experiment isn’t going well so far. Hopefully I can turn it around later this week. Good night!

Writing prompt – Resolution #3

NaBloPoMo writing prompt from January 23, 2012:
What have you recently started that you know you’ll finish?

New Year’s Resolution #3: Run a race

I’ll be you’re wondering what happened to Resolution #2, huh? Don’t worry, I’ll get back to that in a month or so when I get started on it. (For once I’m not procrastinating, I promise!) Until then I’ll elaborate on Resolution #3. I started running right after the Fourth of July last year and I think I’ve made a lot of progress. Back then I could only run about a quarter mile before I had to stop, and now I’m running 2.25 mile intervals (and hopefully increasing that before too long). Crazy, right? It’s unfortunate that I’m having so much trouble with my running shoes at the moment because I really need to keep improving. This is because on January 2nd I registered for the Seal Beach 10K. The race isn’t until April 5th so I have plenty of time to prepare, but my ultimate goal is to run two intervals of ~3 miles with a short walk in the middle. It’s not too ambitious so I’m fairly confident that I’ll be able to accomplish with more than two months left to train. But I need to find some good running shoes as soon as possible! No, I haven’t taken mine back yet, but I’m planning to tomorrow. But back to the race for a minute. Not only is 10K a good intermediate distance for me to tackle at this point in my running career, but the start line is just a couple of blocks from my front door! It’ll be great to wake up, walk to the race, run 6.2 miles, walk home, and get directly into a nice hot shower. Perfect. I admit that I’m already nervous about the race, but I’m excited too. No matter how it turns out, it’ll be interesting!

Writing prompt – Reading again

NaBloPoMo writing prompt from August 19, 2011:
Do you like paper books or e-readers?

This is quite a polarizing question for avid readers. Some people appreciate being able to carry their entire library with them in a thin Kindle or iPad, but others people swear that holding a hardback or paperback book in their hands and turning the pages is integral to the reading experience. From the arguments I’ve heard, no amount of convincing will cause anyone in either party to defect, but from what I can tell folks seem to find their way into the electronic age in time. Back when the original Kindle was introduced I was sure I’d never want one. Why would I? Holding a new book in my hands was such a magical experience, and surely downloading digital versions wouldn’t be nearly as exciting. But after I started traveling to the East Coast once month, I had to admit how convenient an e-reader would be. I even wrote about it.

“I’m beginning to think I might like one of those digital book readers. Does that make me an enemy of the printed word? I’ve just been on one too many trips with multiple books in my carry on.”
11/16/09 webpage post

So what did I unwrap on Christmas morning 2009? A Kindle! It was a 2nd generation Kindle – simple, elegant, and fantastic. I fell in love with my portable electronic library as soon as I started reading on it. I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread! (I had a similar experience when I got my first iPod – I didn’t think I’d ever really want one, but once I had one I didn’t know how I’d lived without it.) Over the years that Kindle went everywhere with me – from the car dealer (for use during long service appointments) to cross-country flights (mostly business trips, I admit). It was wonderful to be able to read whatever I was in the mood for at the moment. And despite warnings that electronic books were going to end up being more expensive than hardbacks or paperbacks, they remained the more cost-effective (and clutter-free) option. Unfortunately last month I noticed that the battery on my beloved Kindle was draining very quickly, even after I’d just finished charging it. I was resigned to replace it. After some debate my parents gave my an iPad Mini for Christmas that is not only perfect for reading (Kindle app, of course), but also for web browsing and Netflix watching. It’ll be great when I travel. I know this has been a long-winded explanation, but I hope it adequately expressed my preference for e-readers. I’ve been exclusively buying digital books for over four years (starting 12/26/09 – I checked!) and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. If that makes me an “enemy of the printed word,” so be it!