Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Teatime

Haha, I guess I have Christmas cookies on the brain! Here's another Flash Fiction Friday post!

“Don’t you think tea time is weird? It’s not like we’re British.”
Her host offered her a plate of sugar cookies. “Don’t you think it has a certain charm?”
The blonde woman took one and munched away, alternately draining her tea cup. “Thanks for inviting me, just the same. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
The host stirred her cup, the sugar cubes long dissolved. “I suppose it has.”
Her guest’s breath caught and she slumped to the table, her grip slipping on the cup as it fell to the floor.
The host brushed up the large pieces of broken glass, glad her guest had been considerate enough to drain the cup before she shattered it.
The hemlock had been an impulse buy.

This short story is a part of the illustrious Flash Fiction Friday. Read the other lovely stories, spun off the prompt:  "It was an impulse buy . . . ." at the links below!

Friday, December 12, 2014


Aaaand we're back with creative writing postings! Yay! I've joined a Flash Fiction group very similar to the last one, so you probably remember the deal: one hundred words inspired by the prompt. Every Friday! (It's another thing to look forward to after a long week :D)

Here's my offering:

He awoke, having blacked out after hearing the crunch. It wasn’t there. His leg was no longer there.
Don’t think about it. Breathe. In and out, just in and out. He tried to calm himself. Look around. Distract yourself.
He glanced around, but only felt more dread.
He was surrounded by sprinkles. His compatriots had fallen. Those brave, brave gingerbread men. Gone.
Why was he spared?
Remember. Try to remember. That man had attacked them.
He looked down to see how he had fared and noticed a strand of dog fur peeking from the bitten leg. Saved by a hair.

This short story is a part of the illustrious Flash Fiction Friday. Read the other lovely stories, spun off the prompt:  "What happened to all of them?" at the links below!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Baby it's Cold Outside": Why you shouldn't be creeped out

EVERY YEAR I have friends who talk about why "Baby it's Cold Outside" is the creepiest Christmas song ever. I disagree, because not only is it not a Christmas song (it talks about the cold, people! So it's a fall/winter/spring song depending on where you live), but there's a lot of versions of this song and so, accordingly, there can be a lot of readings of this wintertime classic.

Once a ladies man,
always a ladies man.
(Which is saying a lot;
not everyone can rock a bad wig.)
A little history: The first time most audiences heard this song was in Esther Williams' 1949 film Neptune's Daughter. The song is a comedic number that takes place in either California or Florida (it has been a while since I've watched it and I don't want to shell out the money to watch it on to double check the state. Sorry kids.) during swimsuit season (so obviously it's not cold outside) and Ricardo Montalban (yes, Kahn) is trying to romance Esther Williams, who is aware and skeptical of his playboy ways (those South American polo players!), never mind the fact that she's going on a date to prevent him from dating her boy-crazy sister. They sing the song and then there's a reprise with Betty Grable as Esther Williams' little sister trying to convince Red Skelton (who is pretending to be Ricardo Montalban) to stay.

I know it sounds a little convoluted, so you just go watch the movie. I promise it's adorable, with all those things you love about old movies, like fashion shows and jazz musical numbers. (In case you don't want to watch a 40s musical, I found the song clip for you.)


The song won an Academy Award for best original song and it became attached to the Christmas season because of titular cold. 

More thoughts: Some of the lyrics are distressing, I won't disagree with that. "The answer is no." is one that stands out for me and I know "Say, what's in this drink?" is frightening, to say the least. For what it's worth, when the song was written roofies hadn't been invented yet. Asking someone what they put in a cocktail isn't uncommon, and it my way to dance around any unpleasantness. In my opinion, the lyrics make it seem like the person protesting would like to stay, but doesn't want to have to contend with any scandalous rumors. So that's how I convince myself that the song is all good fun. And not creepy.

And if that's not enough to love the song again, the lyrics are less of an issue with Idina Menzel's duet with Michael Buble -- all references to drinks, cigarettes and "no means no" have been lifted and replaced with lyrics suitable for adorable lip-syncing children.

Did I miss any arguments on either side? Let me know!

Friday, November 28, 2014

RIP Edwina

Thanksgiving is a massive affair for my family. Last year, the count was 55 people and 36 pies, and that wasn’t even everyone.
It’s always been a time of pie and family -- a sort of reunion for the Webb sisters, my grandma and my great-aunt. They reunite with as many of their children and grandchildren that can make it, and we eat and talk and talk and eat. After pie, we sing Christmas songs in SATB parts as my grandma plays the piano.
Every Thanksgiving is lovely, but some are more memorable than others, like the year Sunny the Alston’s dog ate all of the pies they were bringing. But some years get passed down as legends; none more so than the year of Edwina.
Not Edwina. Or the national bird of the U.S.A.
First, it must be said, don’t ever name something you plan on eating. When you name an animal, it turns that livestock into a pet.
My family learned this the hard way when, one Thanksgiving, they were gifted a turkey and my oldest uncle christened it “Edwina.”
Edwina lived in our backyard and, according to my grandma, “had the prettiest little gobble.”
The morning came, the Arizona sun shining on Edwina, who glimpsed Teapot Mountain from our backyard for the last time.
My strongest uncle went to her side, machete in hand and began hacking. And hacking and hacking and hacking.
We blame the dull machete. But next time you read Alma 17, keep in mind how remarkable it is that Ammon is able to cut off as many arms as he does. Because if it’s hard to chop off the head of a turkey, I can’t imagine how hard it is to get through an entire human arm.
I think it’s safe to say the whole family was a little traumatized, but my pragmatic grandma pressed on, roasting her for the feast as was intended.
There she was, laid out on the faded turkey-print platter that had seen many a Thanksgiving, her plump flesh golden brown and (presumably) delicious.
My aunts and uncles and their cousins stared at Edwina, some of the eyes suspiciously shiny. They stared at the gravy my grandma had made from the drippings.
“I can’t eat it!” One of the Alston cousins proclaimed. “It’s Edwina juice!”
“Are you going to let her life be in vain?” My uncle said. “Edwina gave her life to us and we need to be thankful.”
With that, some of the family dug in, but others abstained. They had, after all, loved the little turkey with a pretty gobble.
We haven’t raised a family turkey since, but, as I ladle gravy over my potatoes each year, I can’t help but think of it as “Edwina juice.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Summer reading, had me a blast!

I always feel like Labor Day weekend is the death toll for summer, but it’s not the Autumnal Equinox yet! So, even though I posted this at the beginning of summer, it's not too late!

For the first time in a long time, I made a reading list. A summer reading list. Normally, I don’t do such things because I feel like reading lists ate confining: they keep you from actually reading what you want to read and I get stressed out if I’m not reading all the books fast enough, and then, when I start reading books that aren't on my reading list (I'm looking at you, all the John Green novels and Mercy Thompson books), I feel like I'm cheating. However, I decided to put my personal issues aside and give reading lists another shot. 

I was inspired by a former teacher of mine, Todd Petersen, who posted his summer reading list. I followed his “assignment” and looked up the actual class rubric (I'm either a total nerd or a creeper!) to try to gain insight into the list parameters. There were three categories and I picked five for each: books I WANT, SHOULD and HAVE to read. I solicited advice from Facebook, and decided that “want” books were solely for pleasure, “should” books were those I felt would benefit me in some way (either socially or for personal writing) and “have” books were books I own that I haven’t read yet (my ten-year-old self would be ashamed that such a category could exist).

These are the books I chose (plus the book of Isaiah; turns out Good Reads won’t let me add just one book from the Old Testament. How rude of them.)

Ginny's bookshelf: summer-2014

5 of 5 stars
This has turned into a series I want to own! My inner feminist loves how well ALL the characters are developed. (But I especially love how many women characters there are and how they all have different dreams, fears, talents, personalit...
tagged: summer-2014
0 of 5 stars
tagged: summer-2014
To the Lighthouse
0 of 5 stars
tagged: summer-2014
All the President's Men
0 of 5 stars
tagged: summer-2014
The Accursed
0 of 5 stars
tagged: summer-2014
Lord of the Flies
0 of 5 stars
tagged: summer-2014
Hollow City
4 of 5 stars
I love Riggs descriptive language! (Especially when he talks about love. Man, some of those analogies . . . .) And the pictures are still so fun, even though at times they seemed a little forced in this installment. I need to read it aga...
tagged: summer-2014
The Hollow City
4 of 5 stars
Ugh. How to feel? Scary book, which was kind of fun -- I had this sense of dread the whole time. I mean, I'm not sure I enjoyed it, but I kind of did. I like how Wells takes unconventional protagonists and runs with it. I also like the...
tagged: summer-2014
The Way of Kings
3 of 5 stars
The last 200 pages were exhilarating! So why didn't I rate this higher? Because it took 1,000 pages to get there! I understand this is a part of Sanderson's fantasy epic so a lot of it was setting up the rest of series, but the jury's st...
tagged: summer-2014
Life After Life
3 of 5 stars
A fresh take on already-sung theme -- kind of a Groundhog Day meets reincarnation, but all within a historical fiction novel. Sometimes I get fixated on the land of "what-ifs," so the idea that so much can hang on one moment resonated wi...
tagged: summer-2014
Dandelion Wine
4 of 5 stars
Magically melancholy, Dandelion Wine paints a nostalgic picture that is the embodiment of summers of yore. (And the second book one read in a row where children are constantly philosophical. Which is a little bit unbelievable.) Lovely pr...
tagged: summer-2014
The Handmaid's Tale
0 of 5 stars
tagged: summer-2014

You’ll notice I haven’t read them all (the ones with reviews are ones I've read), but here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. I finished all the books in the “want” category first. So maybe I need to change how I look at books I “have” to read so I can actually finish them.

2. Asking for suggestions was fun and something I need to do more often! It can be a lot of fun to read a genre that isn't my go-to.

3. Having a reading list made me think about what I was reading and why I was reading it. Was what I had expected to get from the book what I actually took away? Was I making the most of the book I was cheating on my reading list with? (I actually ditched a book because it wasn't exciting enough and didn't justify the guilt I was feeling for not reading from my list.) 

4. I read borrowed or library books faster than ones I actually own.

5. Some books are better than others for certain situations. Lord of the Flies may not be the best book for your flight. And don't be surprised if people look at you strangely for tearing up while reading Dandelion Wine at the beach.

6. I still have a hard time with reading lists. (I would say "hate," but that's such a strong word.) I still feel like they make reading an assignment when it should be a joy. But I noticed how having a reading list expanded my reading horizons. So, maybe I'll keep doing a reading list. I'll just keep it a little more informal and account for my random library picks and obsessive author-binges.

Okay! I've got a month left! Better run off and actually finish To the Lighthouse! And let me know what I should read next as I procrastinate my reading list :D

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Red Light, Green Light

He had never seen anything like it, not in his 20 years of teaching.

“No, no, Sally. You’re supposed to slow traffic,” he said, his legs dangling from the stoplight where he perched.

“Sorry!” She stuck her tongue out, trying to concentrate on the yellow car that was hitting all the green lights at exactly the right time. “It’s too hard to make them go red!”

She shook her head and focused on a tabby instead. It walked into the intersection and four cars swerved to miss the suddenly blank-eyed stray.

“Good girl,” said the traffic devil. “Now let’s move on to highways.”

This short story is a part of the illustrious WonHundred Word Wednesday. Read the other stories, spun off the prompt:  "He hadn't seen anything like it in twenty years of teaching." at the links below!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mattel Intruder

In the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never called it home. This is illogical; I was made for this house, but at first it felt too new. The wallpaper was too fresh, the sofa too springy – it wasn’t “lived in.” I had hardly begun to use the pristine china before *she* came – Miss Long Legs, with her painted smile and peroxide-blond hair. Right away she, the giant, chipped the china and warmed the house with her plastic boyfriend, their legs dangling over the edge of the four-poster bed. But what can I say? I’m a wooden vestige of another era.

This short story is a part of the illustrious WonHundred Word Wednesday. Read the other stories, spun off the prompt:  "In all the years I've lived here, I never once called this place my home." at the links below!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Future-See-er

Step right up for the moment of your young life, ladies and gentleman!

Before your very eyes you will get a chance to see to see the future. Our fortune-teller has the mind-blowing talent of not seeing your future Рno, no, nothing that pass̩ Рbut the ability to *show* you what is to come.

Hold her hand, yes, that’s right, with your fingers interlacing, and watch your life flash forward. Just don’t close your eyes – the moment you do, you will see your future death. From what I’ve seen, every time I close mine, life after life is not pleasant.

This short story is a part of the illustrious WonHundred Word Wednesday. Read the other stories, spun off the prompt:  "No matter what you hear, no matter how badly you want to, do NOT open your eyes." at the links below! (Obviously I remembered the prompt wrong and wrote about closing your eyes. But I like what I've got and I don't have time to rewrite it, so it will have to do for now!)

Lindzee Armstrong/Lydia Winters  *  Laura D. Bastian  *  R.K. Grow  *  Wendy Knight  *  Kat!e Larson  *  Kelly Martin  *  Canda Mortensen  *  Miranda D. Nelson  *  Leah Sanders  *  Angela Schroeder  *  Amryn Scott  *  Jaclyn Weist  *  K.R. Wilburn  *  Jessica Winn  *  Alison Woods  *  Stephanie Worlton

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

For the Love of a Blanket

When my grandparents insinuated that I, their oldest grandchild, was perhaps a bit too old for my blanket, my young mother caved under their pressure. After all, Kindergarten *would* start soon and they had raised eight children – they were experts.

“You can keep the new toy,” she gestured to the bargaining chip from the Disney store, “but you have to trade Mousey.”

I eyed Gus-Gus, Jaq and the girl mouse I was excited to name. I put them inside the plastic pin cushion and then on top, so they could sleep.

I handed over my beloved blanket without a hesitation.

The love of a child is a fleeting thing.

This short story is a part of the illustrious WonHundred Word Wednesday. Read the other stories, spun off the prompt: “The thing about love is . . .” at the links below!

Lindzee Armstrong/Lydia Winters

Laura D. Bastian

R.K. Grow

Wendy Knight

Kat!e Larson

Kelly Martin

Canda Mortensen

Miranda D. Nelson

Leah Sanders

Angela Schroeder

Amryn Scott

Jaclyn Weist

K.R. Wilburn

Jessica Winn

Alison Woods

Stephanie Worlton

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

STOP! Story Time!

My cousin Kat?e (the spelling is an long story from a long time ago) of Kate's Novel Idea introduced me to this fun group called WonHundred Word Wednesday. Every week, you get a prompt and write one hundred words off of it, then publish it on Wednesday. I've been meaning to write more, so I thought I'd give it a go. (I found out about this last Wednesday and had an idea for that prompt so there's two. Think of one as a bonus.)

Box of Wonders

After the funeral, Ellen was left with the task of settling the estate. She was, after all, Aunt Ellen's namesake and lived the closest, reasoned her brothers, eager to shirk responsibility.

The attic was a solid two steps below a Hoarders episode: she only found *one* dead squirrel.

What was more surprising was at the bottom of a box of pastel pantsuits -- a shoebox tied with twine. Ellen lifted out letter wrapped in a black lace negligee, the spicy smell of old paper and faded perfume wafting into the dust-chocked air.

Gingerly she put them back, burying her maiden aunt.



My grandma used to tell me, "No good comes from listening on the other side of closed doors, Sally." I guess I've always been a little too curious for my own good.

When I moved in, my roommate and I laughed at the newlyweds next door -- but the amusement quickly faded once their amour turned to passion of another kind, prompting us to keep the TV on to drown them out.

My roommate moved; it got too much for her. Now I sit here on the other side of the apartment, waiting for the gunshots I know will come.

That's all for now! Curious to read what others have imagined? Check out the blogs below!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mini Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes

Every once in a while, I feel like being creative and decide to cook something delicious. Recently I made cheesecake for the first time and it turned out pretty well if I do say so myself:

I mostly used the recipe from Taste of Home but, because I'm a cheapskate, I didn't want to buy that much cream cheese. This is my inexact recipe.

box (gluten free) graham crackers, pulverized (I'm sure regular graham crackers would be just fine)
1 stick of butter, melted
1 c. sugar

Combine ingredients. Press into lined (or unlined, PAMed) muffin tin. Bake for five minutes at 350 degrees and let cool.

3 (8 oz.) boxes cream cheese
2 Tb. vanilla
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. peanut butter (I used the last of my world's-worst peanut butter and all I had was half a cup. I'm sure that if you're a big peanut butter fan, more would be great.)

Combine ingredients, adding chocolate chips after everything has been mixed together. Fill muffin tin with mixture almost to top. Bake until golden brown (about 30 minutes) and remove from tin.

Peanut Butter Buttercream:
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. peanut butter
5 Tb. butter
3/4 tsp. vanilla

Back in April, I made peanut butter buttercream frosting for some cupcakes. I had leftovers, which is partly what inspired these cupcakes. Since the cheesecake wasn't too peanut buttery, the frosting made a delicious glaze! I swirled it on the top right after they came out of the oven!

Refrigerate over night and then chow down! (The recipe made 12 mini cheesecakes and then, instead of dirtying another muffin tin, I made the rest in two medium sized ramekins. I obviously am really good at this precise cooking thing, huh?)

I'm more of a flavored-cheesecake person, so I really liked how they turned out! I also liked the small size; they're easier to share (and store)!

So, there you go! Cheesecake tips and ideas are appreciated for my next attempts!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dear Girl (or Guy) Getting Engaged . . .

Wedding announcements are a big deal. Engagement photos may be an even bigger one.

As a girl who spent four years in college and lived with scores of other girls, I've gotten my fair share of announcements:
After a while, you start collecting them like Pokemon cards . . . .
Some of my very favorite people made it on my house's shrine to the engaged.

It should come as no surprise that I've formed a few opinions. So, you, person reading (congrats by the way) may want to keep a few things in mind before you send out that piece of photo paper that will be immortalized on someone's fridge.

1. Faces please! I know it's tempting to get all sorts of artistic, but Great Aunt Betty might not have met your fiance yet. She'll want to have an idea so she doesn't congratulate the wrong person at the wedding.

2. Capture your couple essence! Have a little fun! You're getting married after all. On the flip side, remember this is marriage: a (at least) lifetime commitment. You're not taking Prom pictures.

3. Keep kissing to a minimum! Remember Great Aunt Betty? Let her be able to show-off your announcement. I know kissing is fun, but you don't want her (or her friends) to be scandalized.

4. Keep it varied! Should you choose to make a collage, go with different kinds of pictures. In photojournalism, we talked about how different photos make for a good photo spread. The same goes for announcements: have a close up, a long shot, an action shot and a portrait. (That is probably too many pictures for one announcement, but you get the idea.)

5. Smile! Look in love! This isn't a funeral, guys. Unless that's your thing. But maybe you should be rethinking marriage if it is.

And the bonus, not picture-related tip:
6. Proofread! Have someone else proofread! Copy editors are so important. Don't believe me? Google it. But, if you don't have money to hire one (also, if you have a hard time finding them because it's one of those regrettably extinct jobs), have a friend look it over. Twice. Make sure ALL of the date and address are correct. This seems obvious, but I've seen it.

Disclaimer (before any of my friends disown me): I've seen plenty of beautiful announcements that have broken these rules. But in the (hopefully) eventual day that I get married, I would like to remember my critical preferences before my brains get too love-addled! 

So, if you're just a one photo or a collage person, remember that a picture is worth a thousand words and your engagement pictures are that time to share your love story!