500 Words: Taking Possession at Michaelmas, and Other Miscellany

Happy Feast of the Archangels!  A Janeite cannot let Michaelmas go by without some sort of commemoration.  The Crofts have taken possession of Kellynch and Mr. Bingley of Netherfield Park.  Mrs. Jennings’ predictions of so-and-so being married and settled at Delaford have yet to come to fruition.  Or have they?

I am taking possession of my own domain—my writing domain—this Michaelmas with a 30-day resolution to write 500 words/day.  No less than 500, and not too much more.  Right now, I both need the challenge of consistency and the limit of a small word count.  I have a lot going on; large word counts are out.

My goal is to write something every day.  It might be the novel, it might be a blog post, it might be something for Real Housekeeping or CatholicMom.com.  What it is doesn’t matter; that I write a little every day does.

Given that I attribute much of my writing success to my Guardian Angel, who wakes me up in the mornings to write, this feast day is an appropriate day to recommit myself to my work.

The kids and I returned from Oregon this past Saturday.  My brother and his new wife said their I dos on the 20th; now I have a lovely new sister-in-law.

"A new auntie, AND she gives me homemade ice cream?"

“A new auntie who gives me homemade ice cream? How’d I luck out?”

Jared joined us for the weekend of the wedding, while the kids and I stretched our trip out to almost two full weeks.  This gave me plenty of time to visit with my immediate family as well as my grandparents and my aunt and uncle who flew to Oregon from Missouri and Texas, respectively.  We had a family barbecue the day after the wedding, and other aunts, uncles, and cousins came, some of whom I haven’t seen for ages.

It was good.  Very good….

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ASUS Chromebook, CWG Conference, Minnesota, and More—All Part of Your Quarter-to-Two Rise-and-Shine Morning Edition of 7QT

Joining Jen and the gang with 7 Quick Takes.

— 1 —

It’s 2:12 a.m.  I’m up.  How about you?

Lazy bums.

— 2 —

I love my ASUS Chromebook. Really.  Truly. Do.

I’ve been meaning to write an SEO-laden lovefest of a post devoted to my darling ASUS, but I doubt I’ll ever have time for that.  Here’s a list instead:

  1. 2.5 lbs.  Fits in my purse.
  2. Keyboard feels normal-sized to me.
  3. Trackpad is smooth as buttah.
  4. The battery?  It goes, and goes, and goes.  I can go a full day of hard work, and up to a couple of days with intermittent work, without charging.  It’s amazing.
  5. Chrome OS? Love it.  No issues.  I was already a ubuntu devotee, if only for the fact that I don’t have to buy virus protection.  (Or software.  Or the OS, for that matter.)  Chrome appeals to me for the same reasons—it’s not bloated and it updates itself.
  6. I’ve figured out the workaround for almost every single thing I need to do on a computer, with the exception of Adobe and Scrivener (and the latter isn’t necessary right now).  My life already ran out of Google; now Google owns me.
  7. Beats using a tablet, any day.
  8. Did ya see the price tag?

I take it pretty much everywhere and do pretty much everything with it.  My only complaint is that the screen is a little shiny.  But for $230, that’s a flaw I’ll take.

— 3 —


…non-existent picture…

…is the pile of brochures, notes, and business cards from the Catholic Writers Guild conference in July, still sitting on my desk.  I’ve meant to follow up with everyone I met, but with our vacation, followed by one sitter moving out and the other sitter moving in, followed by the start of school—it hasn’t happened.

Soon.  In the meantime, I can encourage any and all Catholic writers out there to GO to the live conference next year.  It’ll be in New Jersey, but don’t let that deter you.

— 4 —

(I just made a NJ joke.  Can you tell I’m married to a NYer?)

— 5 —

My review of Rachel Jonat‘s new book, Do Less, is live at Real Housekeeping today.  Take a moment and check it out.  I’m a big fan of Jonat’s blog and have found her brand of minimalism both practical and life-altering.

— 6 —

Minnesota vacation photo dump:

[I need to put the pictures back in. Reinstalling WP, blah-blah-blah.]

— 7 —

That’s all for me.  Have a great weekend, everyone.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Knitting, Books, School, Spanish, Social, and Writing (YA/SS/7QT)

Linking up in two places today: CatholicMom.com‘s Small Success Thursday with Sherry and Yarn Along with Ginny at Small Things.  Tomorrow I’ll link this up with 7 Quick Takes with Jennifer at Conversion Diary.

Cheating?  Maybe.

I’m not above cheating.



My bag is coming along.  I learned a new skill: picking up stitches from an edge.  It wasn’t difficult at all.  This is also my first time knitting in the round. I began with double-pointed needles, but one broke (!), despite the fact that it was my first time using them AND they are quality Brittany needles.  I’m going to write Brittany and see if I can’t get a free replacement.  I bought them at store closing sale (the owner retired), so taking them back there isn’t going to work.  Obviously.

The only mistake so far is that I dropped a stitch on my second go-around when transferring my work from the double-pointed to the circular needles.  One mistake out of all the possible mistakes I could have made isn’t bad!


Reading: I started St. Francis de Sales’ Roses Among Thorns.  This is a new translation from Sophia Institute Press.  Early verdict: amazing.

I’m also still reading Ven. Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ for my morning meditation.  I’m on a big Sheen kick at the moment; I also read The World’s First Love for Lent.  Can a person ever get enough Sheen?  I’m thinking not.


Ben started school this week.  Technically, it’s summer camp, but it’s held at the school he’ll be attending in the fall.  Getting him up, dressed, fed, and out the door is no small feat, but we’re managing.  Success!

He seems to be doing okay so far.  Not sure if he likes it yet or not, given that he’s not into communication and feedback and what have you.  Time will tell.


I have every intention of working on Spanish.  Do good intentions count as a small success?

My dad and I have been wanting to learn Spanish since I was, oh, ten years old—23 years?  That’s a long time for wanting to do something!   He’s in China at the moment for extended business, and being by himself without his family for months at a time grates on him, as anyone would imagine.  I suggested we work on Spanish together over Skype as a way to spend time together.  Good idea, huh?

A few weeks ago I scoped out DIY Spanish from our local library—I have a bad habit of checking out every new language learning book I see—and thought its approach to learning the most immediately useful language first would work well for Dad and I as not-quite-beginners.

Problem is, I haven’t started.  But I intend to!  Sorry, Dad.


Who knew Twitter could be so fun? Two months ago I hated Twitter.  Now I really like it.

Solution: Hootsuite and custom lists.  I needed a way to manage it so that I could use it.

I’m enjoying my bon mot conversations with Erin, Barb, Cristina, Colleen (of course), and others.  It’s also great fun to promote other people’s projects via Twitter—such a simple way to show encouragement.

Jared’s also learning to use Twitter for the Saint Benedict Forum.  (Follow SBF, will ya?) His questions are largely about Twitter etiquette and what, exactly, to tweet about.  I think he likes it, too, even though he still doesn’t want it for himself.

I also started a Tumblr blog.  (I feel so… expansive.)  I’m not posting there directly; it’s acting as a feed for this blog, for Real Housekeeping (did I mention that Ethel is tweeting, too?), and my Instagram pics.  I’m told that Tumblr attracts a younger crowd, and given that it requires zero work on my part at the moment, well, what the heck?  Right?


Writing: there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ve been clearing stuff off my to-do list and SAYING NO (that is a BIG success!) to other projects, in order that I have the mental and chronological (?) space to WORK ON MY NOVEL.

Saying no works, FYI.

I’m going to do a big push today in order to have the next several weeks of Real Housekeeping ready to go in WordPress.  Then it’s novel time, baby.


I’ll stop here, but not without pointing you in the direction of something awesome: free retreat contest!

Ciao, bellas.

Oregon Nostalgia

Mary's Peak from 99W south of Corvallis.  Pinched from the internet.  I'm homesick.  Sue me.

Mary’s Peak from 99W south of Corvallis. Pinched from the internet. Sue me; I don’t care.  I’m homesick.

Mt. Jefferson. Also pinched.

Mt. Jefferson from Timberline Lodge. Also pinched. On a clear day we have a great view of Mt. Jefferson turning left from my parents’ street onto the main road (they live at the top of a hill).

McKenzie River.

McKenzie River. Also pinched.

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park.  Photo from Wikicommons.

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park. (Wikicommons)

Mount Angel Abbey.  Photo: Wikicommons.

Mount Angel Abbey. (Wikicommons)

Ben hiking in OSU's McDonald Research Forest (Peavy Arboritum)

Ben hiking in OSU’s McDonald Research Forest (Peavy Arboretum).  We did this 3 to 4 times a week when Ben was small. Our favorite trail was a 3 1/2 mile trail; Ben usually walked the last mile.

Beverly Beach.

Beverly Beach.  Coffee.  Very Oregon.

Sitting in his own folding chair.  11 months old.

Sitting in his own folding chair. 11 months old.

Walking toward the Pacific.

Walking toward the Pacific.

There he goes!

There he goes!

7QT: [Of course I clicked "Publish" without putting in a title]

— 1 —

I’m over at Real Housekeeping today, doing the Clean-Up Link-Up and showing off my mad painting/office rearranging skillz.

Everyone’s welcome!  Clean your house with us, one little task at a time.

— 2 —

Speaking of Real Housekeeping… I am looking for contributions of the quality kind.  Read this and this and, if it interests you, shoot me a post/inquiry at editor “at” realhousekeeping “dot” com.

— 3 —

Hope is on Spring Break, so Jared, with all his free time (ha), took us all on a little mini vaycay Monday and Tuesday.  Destination?  The Great White North…


…a.k.a. Traverse City, Michigan.

Jared found a super-duper great deal on a nice hotel (because what crackpot people go NORTH for Spring Break? I ask you) and so we went.  We paid cash for everything, too!  Dave Ramsey would be proud of us.

Old Mission Lighthouse, and the 45th Parallel.  The 45th also runs just north of my parents' house, but it's a bit warmer there in OR than it is in Traverse City.

Old Mission Lighthouse, and the 45th Parallel. The 45th also runs just north of my parents’ house, but it’s a bit warmer in OR than it is in Traverse City.



Interesting buildings downtown.

Interesting buildings downtown.

Popcorn that looks and tastes exactly like Cap't Crunch.

Popcorn that looks and tastes exactly like Captain Crunch.

We asked a friend from Traverse City what we should do and see.  She then queried her TC Facebook friends.  Top must-see tourist attraction?  The Germ Tree at the mall.

I think they were joking.

— 4 —

I’ve read that writers should keep track of their work time as a means of increasing productivity and word counts.  I’m not one to keep up an Excel sheet, but being a happy Ubuntu end-user, I went in search of a (free) timer program in the Ubuntu Software Center.  I found this.

Yesterday I had both the early morning and the morning to work (woohoo!). I tracked my time for each task, then sorted from greatest to least.


Interesting, no?  At least it’s interesting to me.  The “Household” time was spent doing taxes.  That I only spent 20 minutes wasting time is, I think, a HUGE accomplishment.  That I spent zero time reading blogs (not quite true, but close) and working on the novel (very true) is telling.  Makes me want to flip those numbers around.

— 5 —

Added to my design portfolio (click image to enlarge):

FINAL_motherwithgrace_concept5_vertical_nohalo_BLACK FINAL_motherwithgrace_concept5_vertical_nohalo_GREENThe fine ladies requesting this logo wanted something Marian in feeling, with a rose.  Last I heard, however, they hadn’t decided between green or no green in the type, so I include them both here for your viewing pleasure.

Another logo:

Benedict-Medal-S-color Benedict-Medal-S-bw (1)

This one was for my husband, who wanted something very specific for a new project of his.

— 6 —

Last week I mentioned the possibility of doing April’s Camp NaNo.

The jury’s still out on whether or not I will, in fact, do it.  I’ve got a “feeling” that maybe I shouldn’t.  I wasn’t going to set an outrageously high goal for myself, but… still.  Gut feeling.

— 7 —

I wanted to share some videos with you, but I’m already 22 minutes over my allotted time for 7QTs.  Next week, then!


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7QT: Of Lambs, Goats, and Sardines

— 1 —

Quick Takes.  Here we go…

We I (what is up with my co-dependent self, always writing in the third person first person plural I-wrote-this-very-early-in-the-morning?) have a lot going on right now.  My to-do list is unbelievably long, plus I’ve had some personal circumstances crop up that require my tending.  I’ve been tackling that list in order to clear space for the more important things: family, yes, AND…

…the novel.

I hate it when I don’t work on it for weeks at a time.  So much so, that I’m thinking of doing this:

The beautiful thing about Camp NaNoWriMo, as opposed to regular NaNoWriMo, is that participants are allowed to set their own word counts and project types—novel, short story, screenplay, even nonfiction.

I’d love to bring my rewrite to the April Camp, with a goal of making it to the midpoint.  That’s a reasonable goal for me, and it would give me the impetus I need to finish Draft #2 by sometime this summer—perhaps during the July Camp?

Of course, I have to clear the to-do list if I really want to be able to do this.  It’s feasible, but only if I get some more pressing tasks done first.

Anyone else up for a month of writing?  Even if it’s only the minimum 10K?  My username is rcmfo—request me and I’ll request you back.  Cabin buddies!…

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7QT: Housekeeping, Knitting, and Digging Lent

— 1 —

Lent is here.  If you haven’t already gathered by now, we Ortizes dig Lent.  Perhaps it’s because we’re natural melancholics, but we gravitate to fasting and purging and all that.

I’m not sure how many people there are who jump up and down, yelling, “Yippee!” when Ash Wednesday rolls around, but we’re among them.

— 2 —

Want to see our newest purchase?  The latest and greatest gizmo in our house?

I know you do.

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Day 7 of 7 (okay, 8): On Paying Attention… Wait, What Was That?

I failed on Day 7.  Today is Day 8.


Oh well.


Yesterday our priest preached a simple message we’ve all heard: Learning to pay attention… learning to not worry about this-and-that… learning to turn off the smart phone/computer/social media and being present to the here and now… learning to listen to God and others… learning to stop trying to do eight things at once…

You know that feeling you get when the congregation is “with” him?  As if a pin could drop?  Father wasn’t preaching anything we didn’t already know, nor was he delivering it in any way other than his usual gentle manner.  But he had us.  Or, rather, the Holy Spirit had us.

We were riveted.

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7QT: Vegetables, F-Bombs, and the In-Crowd

Hanging out with everyone else over at Conversion Diary.

— 1 —

Does anyone else ever get the, “I’m sad because I’m not part of the In-Crowd,” blues?

Well, I had them yesterday.  An itty-bitty trigger released the squirrel in my head from his cage, and round and round he ran!

I’ve come to realize how dangerous little Squirrel Nutkin can be when I let him rummage for too long.  In situations like this I need an outside opinion.  A reality check.  Preferably from someone who understands rodents.

So I called Colleen….

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One Big Happy Allergy Family

Like all good stories, multiple plot lines form the structure of the Ortiz Allergy Saga.

Let’s start with Ben, our first protagonist.

Today was Ben’s doctor’s appointment.  The good news:  We (and by “we,” I mean, “I”) can turn down the PANIC!!!!! knob a bit.

The bad news:  He has allergies….

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