26 December 2011

A Challenge ...Austen Style!

I've always loved to read.  I was a very early reader.  I still love to, even though I don't have nearly as much time as I'd like, but I make the time every night before going to sleep, no matter what time it is. 
So I decided to look for a Reading Challenge for 2012, and wouldn't you know the very first one I came across was a Jane Austen-inspired one?  

I like that is has 8 genres you have to read from, not just Jane's books.

  • Variation Stories: An example of this would be "Darcy's Voyage" by Kara Louise. Essentially this category is for writers who have taken the original story, and changed it. 

  • Sequel: An example of this would be books by Rebecca Ann Collins, books that follow the Darcy's or Knightly's or whomever after the original story ends. 

  • Jane Austen as a Fictional Character: 

  • Paranormal: An example of this would be "Jane and the Damned" by Janet Mullany. These are stories in which Jane Austen characters, or Jane herself, become or interact with vampires, sea monsters, etc.

  • Modern Adaptation: An example of this would be "Persuading Annie" by Melissa Nathan. Jane Austen's stories written in a modern time frame.

  • Mystery: A great series is the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mysteries by Carrie Bebris.

  • Supporting Characters: These are books based on the supporting characters in the book such as Georgiana, Charlotte Lucas, etc. An example would be "Charlotte Collins" by Jennifer Becton

  • Books by Jane Austen: Many of you have become Austen fans through the movies, or maybe you are a die hard Pride and Prejudice fanatic. Read a novel by Jane: Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Persuasion or Sense and Sensibility. You could even read one of the incomplete works, such as Lady Susan, to complete this challenge.

  •  The hardest part of this challenge, for me, is finding books I haven't read already!  Anyone up for joining me in this challenge? Let me know!
    Here the link to the main info page: http://existingstricky.blogspot.com/2011/12/explore-many-genres-of-jane-austen.html

    21 December 2011

    Waiting at the starting line

    I went to the gym.
    The kids club was closing 50 minutes after I got there, so I managed to walk around, check things out & do 15 minutes of cardio.
    Then I went back today.
    I had a one hour consult with a trainer.  It was helpful & gave me some info I needed.
    I probably won't be able to get back until next week because of the holiday.
    It guess I'll use this time to indulge because then it's time to take control.

    16 December 2011

    Let's Do This!

    I looked at a photo of myself taken this morning & thought, "Dear God, is that REALLY what I look like"?
    SO...I decided I'd take care of what I could immediately.  I got myself a haircut!
    Our gym FINALLY opening in 3 days.
    I need to commit.
    I want to look good in a photo for our Holiday Letter next year.
    I want to look good for my daughter's graduation in June.
    I want to look good for a friend's wedding in DC in June.
    I have a LOT to change in 6 months.
    Here's hoping for strength, motivation & support.
    And a boosted metabolism!

    13 December 2011

    The Golden Rule

    So, in a follow up to my last post, I'm still struggling with my faith, but I have come to a few conclusions about it all.  I DO believe there is a God, that isn't the issue.  However, I do NOT believe in the "it's in God's hands" or "God has a greater plan"  pre-destination sorts of philosophies.  I DO, however, believe that God have us Free Will and expects us to do good with us.  That the whole point of Jesus Christ was to encourage us to not be self-centered and to care about your fellow man, across the board, no matter how "shunned" they are by society.  THIS is the biggest hypocrisy I see in so many people who claim themselves "Christians". Live by "The Golden Rule" to Do Onto Others as You Would Have Done Onto You.  
    In trying to find some comfort in faith, we have started going to a Unitarian Universalist church.  I will always consider myself a Catholic, and really love the pomp & circumstance of the Catholic mass, but I like the sense of Community at the UU church.  I just wish I could find a combination of the two.  Until then, I'll continue to focus on figuring it all out this Advent season.

    07 December 2011

    Lost Faith

    'Tis the season.
    And I've lost my faith.
    People talk about "God's greater plan".  I don't buy it.
    People talk about "it's in God's hands".  I'm not believing it.
    People say, "Just have faith".  I can't anymore.
    If God's greater plan is to let good people suffer without any hope of living life & merely existing in pain, 
    then God's a real jerk. If God's plan is to let little children be abused, he's clueless.  
    I WANT to have faith.  I WANT to believe God is out there looking out for us.  
    But I'm really having a hard time trusting it anymore.
    I WANT to have comfort in God, but all I feel is angry.
    Angry that my mom, a beautiful, vibrant, kind lady has had to suffer a non-life for years now.
    Angry that good people get nothing for their kindness or hard work. 
    Angry that innocent children are killed at the hands of creatures worse than any wild animal.
    Angry that good, loving couples are denied children yet teenagers or drug addicts or worse can get pregnant at a glance.
    Angry.  At a God who allows it to happen.
    And angry at the people who say it's "God's Will".  
    My faith is hanging on by a shoestring, God.  Can't I have some sign to restore my faith?

    15 November 2011


    My kids crack me up.  Here we have, from Halloween, Miss Tinkerbell & Master Skywalker disguised as a Storm Trooper & Darth Vader.  They never cease to make me laugh.  I really do cherish them.
    My other kidlet received her first college acceptance!  Where did time go?

    02 November 2011

    Sunflower Girl

    This is Abby.  Beautiful, isn't she?
    She is the daughter of some very dear friends of mine.  
    Someone told her about something horrible called the Choking Game. Or Pass Out. Or some other stupid name because it is NOT a game.  Kids, apparently are doing this thinking they'll get a rush from it. They aren't.  They are killing brain cells, at best.  Too often they are dying.
    All the details can be found HERE
    People need to be informed about this!
    Kids need to be warned against this!
    Parents need to be aware of it!
    I cannot plead, beg or petition you enough to read about it.  Learn about it.  
    And most importantly, tell EVERYONE about it!
    This beautiful girl passed away recently because of this horrific "game".  
    In her memory, PLEASE help prevent another amazing child from dying.

    25 October 2011

    Stick a pin in it

    Ok, so my "restart" has been a slow one.  oh well.
    My latest love has been the discovery of PINTEREST.  If you aren't familiar with is, basically you can bookmark anything on the internet, save it to a self-created bulletin board with a photographic reference.  But, it's also a social network, where you can share your "pins" with anyone and vice versa.  You can search of any topic.  You can follow other people's boards.   Basically, it lets you find things on the internet with little effort.  You don't have to print and, if you're like me, lose things you want to come back to. Or forget why you wanted it in the first place.  Come play! Come check out my boards on Pinterest!

    14 September 2011

    Starting Line

    I was looking at some of my old posts from a few years ago.  They were bright & mostly happy.  And they made me realize just how down & negative I've been.  I need to find a bright moment each day to put here.
    Today I finished the research for my upcoming tours.  I need to figure out my Halloween party costume.  I want to get some character details sussed out before I perform at Stronghold.  And then I need to focus on Christmas & then my Titanic party in April.  Those are all hard work, but all are fun!

    So that's my bright spot...research fun!

    14 August 2011

    Who am I?

    I don't write anymore, as you can see.
    I don't do faire anymore.
    I don't hang out with a bunch of friends anymore.
    I don't look cute & sassy anymore.
    I've lost ME.
    I know I should be happy, I have a family who are healthy & fairly happy.
    But I'm not.
    I feel like I'm a stranger who takes care of them day after day.  I don't know ME anymore.
    I feel fat & ugly & old.
    I feel unclever & unwitty & certainly unwise.
    I had spark.  Lived by it.
    And it gone and I don't know how to get it back.
    I just know I'm perpetually sad.
    And lonely.
    I wish I could help ME.
    Please come back.

    30 June 2011

    Is Freedom Ringing?

    Once again we approach the 4th of July weekend.  Once again I will have friends over for a cookout. But anyone who reads this knows, I am NOT much of a patriot, pure & simple. (Given my choice, I'd be living back in England.) I respect this country. I respect our president. I certainly respect the military who make the choice to put their lives in danger.  But, I have no respect for many of the current governors who don't value education or the careers of people in the state they are supposed to be representing.  I also believe that the majority of Americans are self-centered & insular.  (Not saying I think any other mass of peoples in the world don't have their faults, I'm only speaking of the country in which I reside.) Anyway...in preparation of the 4th, I'm doing a "rerun" of a post I wrote this time in 2006.

    Thanks to the Rest o'the WorldToday Americans celebrate the 4th of July...America's Independence Day. I know there are going to be blogs everywhere extoling the virtues of the United States, so I wanted to do something a little bit different. I want to recognize that many of the symbols we associate with our "freedom", actually come via other countries. Or the facts we know may be just a little bit squewed. I'm not trying to incite a riot or upset any patriots...I just want to look at things from a slightly different point of view.

    First, let's begin with the day itself. Why do we celebrate today? I think most people will answer "Because its the day the Declaration of Independence was signed!" Wrong! It was the day it was adopted by the 2nd Congress. It was read on the 9th, when it was approved by the 13 colonies, officially created on the 19th, but it didn't actually get signed until August 2nd!

    Betsy Ross created the original American flag, right? Wrong! The flag that was created to represent the new country was created before the Revolutionary War by Rebecca Young. It was the flag General Washington raised on New Year's Day 1776. It was also our official flag on July 4, 1776. Now, did Betsy Ross actually make our flag? Well, she was a flagmaker, and made flags for almost 50 years, which is where her notoriety comes from. The "Stars & Stripes" flag (originally with 13 stripes & 13 stars) however, was created by Mary Pickersgill in 1813. It was the flag that was flying over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 that was seen "by the dawn's early light" by Francis Scott Key.

    Speaking of Mr. Key, the author of our American anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner", he was witness to the 25 hour retaliation attack of the British against the Americans at the fort during the War of 1812. Indeed, the in morning when the British ceased fire, the flag was still flying. He felt inspired and wrote the poem "The Battle of Fort McHenry". It was soon published in many places, and someone came up with the idea to sing it. However, the music ironically, is a popular English drinking song "To Anacreon in Heaven". It wasn't officially made our national anthem until 1931.

    That same night's non-stop cannon & gunfire by the Brits is also the reason we celebrate with fireworks.

    And let's not forgot that the quintessential figure of freedom, the Statue of Liberty, was a gift from the French in October 1886.

    So today let's not be so ego-centric as to believe that we wouldn't have our freedoms of liberty, or the symbols of that, without the rest of the world.

    15 May 2011

    Toddler Tantrum

    Right now we are firmly entrenched in the horror that is the Terrible Twos.
    Now, I haven't a clue of why they refer to it as that, as it always seems to surface just before the age of three.  All I DO know is that I'm at the end of my rope with this adorable, precious, highly verbal, overly obstinate, pushing me to the edge toddler.
    It's been a battle all week, fighting constantly with me, her brother, herself.  Miss Independent doesn't even cover it.  Add to it the 4 year old suddenly can't communicat ewithout whining or being afraid of EVERYTHING (his bed, the potty, his sister, the outside, the inside, his shoes, dinner, a boo)k...everything is seems EXCEPT ghosts! (He has this odd interesting in Ghost Hunters TV show, which he says he loves & is NOT scary.)
    I'm just praying the Teen years are a piece of cake.
    Yeah, I can dream.

    28 April 2011

    Royal Wedding 2011

    Friday, 29 April 2011, Prince William & Kate Middleton will be married in London.
    I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to be there.  Alas, I am not nobility or a political leader, and thus I will be relegated to watching on TV like millions of others.  But, of course I'll do it in style!

    I have 5 lovely ladies who will be coming over this evening to spend the night.  We will get up to start watching on the BBC at 3am, wear fabulous hats (with our jammies, of course!), and have a full British breakfast.  It's going to be girly, and giggly, and fun!

    Happiest of futures to the lovely couple!

    21 March 2011

    Losing My Way

    Yes, I haven't written, yet again. I've lost my voice. I've lost my job. I feel my life is in a rut...and yet I'm touring! Should I start a new blog about travel? I only have tours until June, so I'm nervous of what will happen after that. I need direction. Anyone??

    04 January 2011

    A New Year

    I've been highly remiss about writing, but life has been busy & hectic & quite frankly, I just haven't felt like writing anything. I will attempt to get back to it. To try to make it a part of my week again. I need to...for me. For my own memories.

    So. Thanksgiving & Christmas have come & gone. Both were delightful, actually. Kaitlyn came home for Thanksgiving, which was a whirlwind weekend spent sewing her a new Steampunk costume that I'd promised her LAST year. (It's very cool!) She left, and then I had Tabitha's bachelorette party, wedding (wonderful!), and Kaitlyn was back again! She & I went to Las Vegas where we celebrated her 17th birthday. 17!!! When did that happen? My baby is no baby! And we had a blast!!! I will attempt to write a "review" next, but let me just say Vegas offers way more than expected! We returned the night before Christmas Eve, and the holiday was wonderful! The kids are hilarious & made me smile! The week after Christmas was slightly hectic only in that I had to work a few days & Paul had to work 2 jobs EVERY day! So by the time New Year's Eve rolled around, it was quiet. Only Jazz & Matt came over, but that was good. I made a nice dinner; Kaitlyn made 2 amazing desserts & we played some Wii games thanks to Matt.

    Today Sebastian started preschool at the APL School in Franklin! My little boys was so excited! I can't believe it.

    So here we are. 2011. Wow!