Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Closed for the holidays

I've been too busy with holiday madness to do as much writing as I'd like. We've got school parties , gifts to buy, doctor's appointments and a hundred other items on our to-do list before heading to Memphis at the end of next week. We're really looking forward to going "home" for the holidays, and then I'll be ready to make 2010 a great year for my freelance writing career.

So Happy Holidays to all and we'll see you next year.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving tradition

No Thanksgiving is complete without listening at least once to "Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie." (Warning: video of Guthrie's performance is 18.5 minutes long, but worth it.)


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's a Rhapsody, all right


SEO Blog

Found this great blog for SEO writing. I'm especially happy that the Daily SEO blog emphasizes quality of content, as many SEO sites have a clear emphasis on quantity of articles vs. quality. I was also a little surprised to find out that Google rules the world. I mean, look at all these websites, writers, photographers and other content creators and hosts who spend their work lives trying to entice Google spiders to like them. I know I often feel like a Google stalker. Just don't tell anyone else.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to me

Today I'm 43 years young. Woo hoo! I have a rip-roaring fun day in store, with Nina home sick with a stomach bug, Thanksgiving grocery shopping to do, and much writing to catch up on so I can take a few days off for the holidays. Nina's illness means Kevin and I will have to postpone the dinner out we had planned (he lined up a babysitter and everything), but he did make me a wonderful birthday dinner Saturday night--grilled steaks, baked potatoes, squash and yummy focaccia bread.

Happy Lisa's birthday, everyone.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How pumpkin pies are made

Angie short emailed me this hilarious pic. Thank goodness I wasn't planning to serve pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Find me on Suite101

Check out my first article for Suite101, an itinerary for a one-day visit to Columbia. I sure enjoyed writing it and wish I could have found something similar before Kevin and I visited the first time. Pretty good advice, if I do say so myself.

I plan to write a lot more features on Columbia for Suite101, and I've got plenty of story ideas. So be sure to check my Suite 101 pages before you come for a visit.

Writers & Perfectionism

Some good writing tips from Angela Booth on how to overcome/eliminate perfectionism by clearly establishing your intentions and setting deadlines. Reminder to self: follow these tips. I often get stuck on trying to find the perfect word or phase and spend entirely too long on an article. I also focus on that aspect of the story and lose sight of my original intent with the piece.

I realize I'm not perfect, but I guess I still hope to get there some day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No NaNo for Me-O

When I peruse my favorite writers' blogs and forums lately, I read plenty about NaNoWriMo gains and pains.

I'm jealous.

I have no time for NaNo this year, though it's no one's fault but my own. I'm months behind on writing, and I'm quite busy playing catch up. That means writing non-fiction for pay, leaving little or no time for "pleasure writing."

Still, I feel happy to at least be back on the rails, even if I'm not completely on track. And this time next year, I'm sure I'll be on all those forums complaining and celebrating right along with you.

Happy noveling!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Morning laugh

For any of you wondering what to get me for Christmas or my birthday (just remembered it's next week--shop now!), I would LOVE any Phyllis Diller books. I'd especially like to have "Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints," appropriately published just a few months before I was born but apparently out of print. While searching for a particular quote from the comedienne, I found these gems:

“What I don't like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.”

"Most children threaten at times to run away from home. This is the only thing that keeps some parents going.”

“You know you're old if they have discontinued your blood type.”

"A bachelor is a guy who never made the same mistake once."

"Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance?"

What I've Been Writing

Some of my most recent articles:

Memphis Fine Dining
How to Clean Mold Spores out of the Air
How to Pick the Right Reading Glasses
How to Take Care of Hives Without Antihistamines
How to Get Free Medicine for Children

As you can tell, I'm partial to "How-To" writing these days.

Write, Right?

I'm back on that horse.

After a six-month hiatus to get settled in South Carolina, I'm finally writing again. Feels pretty good, too. For a while there, I figured my freelance writing career might be over. I've been substitute teaching at Amelia's preschool and I planned to look for a full-time job after my youngest starts preschool next year. But that writing bug is hard to get out of your system, even when it's been dormant for a while.

I've decided to diversify--writing mostly for short-term money, sometimes for long-term career goals, and occasionally just for pleasure. Sites for which I'm writing include Demand Studios (SEO) and Constant Content (content). Suite101 accepted me and I recently submitted my first article there. I've also applied at Examiner for the Columbia State House gig, and I await their response.

It may not be glamorous, but it's professional writing, which is good enough for me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle

In case you've been curled up in a cave somewhere and haven't heard or seen it, here's Susan Boyle singing I Dreamed a Dream. What an inspirational and heart-warming story.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Another feature

I had a feature in today's Commercial Appeal about the Mid-South's first Autism Festival and the family behind it. It was an enjoyable story to write and I enjoyed meeting with Mashal Mirza and her family. I hope the carnival is a big success.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cool illusion

Thanks to uncle Timmy for sending this great pic of a painted bathroom floor in a high-rise building. I enjoyed the picture but think I would be forced to use another restroom.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Photo by Mark Weber, The Commercial Appeal

An article I wrote on disabled artist Shirley Patton ran in today's Commercial Appeal. I really admire Ms. Patton and wish I could afford to buy several of her pieces. Here's hoping she finds much more success as an artist.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Active imaginations

This is the latest piece of artwork from four-year-old budding artist Amelia. She calls this one: "Mommy Juggling Cookies Under a Rainbow."

I don't know where she got the artistic talent (Kevin's only slightly better at stick figures than I am), but I'm pretty sure the active imagination came from me, or at least my sub-conscious.

Last night I dreamed a 12-year-old beach policeman halted his volleyball game to chastise me for running too fast on the beach. "Are you serious?" I asked him. "Look at me. I'm 42 and overweight. How could I possibly be running too fast?" He then radioed headquarters to make sure I didn't have any priors (I didn't, YAY!) and issued me a warning. I promised to slow it down and went running on my merry way.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tourney lowlight (thus far)

This play really angered me:


I've been having some pretty vivid dreams lately. If any of you have ever waited tables, you know all about waitress nightmares. The place is packed, you're the only server there, and everything is going wrong. I used to have them frequently when I was a full-time server, but I haven't waited on tables in more than four years. Maybe it's my subconscious telling me that I should consider but immediately dismiss the idea of going back into the restaurant business.

Anyway, as vivid as my dreams have been, thank goodness they haven't seemed THIS real:

Friday, March 13, 2009

On decorating

A feature I wrote on apartment decorating ran in today's CA. The subject of the story, Marie Provence, is a decorator after my own heart, though she's much better at it than I am. A student at Memphis College of Art, she's obviously a very artistic person. Me, not so much. I'm more "crafty" than "artsy."

One thing I really liked about Provence is how she "recycles" furnishings and has such an appreciation for antiques and older things. She frequently refurbishes pieces, as I often do, usually with paint, recovering, new knobs, etc.

Almost every piece of furniture in my home is either a hand-me-down or a thrift-store or yard-sale find. While budgeting is definitely a consideration for me when decorating, I also like the idea of turning trash into treasure, and it's rewarding to create a one-of-a-kind piece.

For example, the wardrobe above was left here by Kevin's former roommate, Chase, before I moved in. It was sort of a primer gray color, the doors were nearly falling off their hinges, and there were nails hammered in all over the thing.

So I took the monstrous thing apart, removed all the unnecesary nails, filled in the many holes with spackle, painted the interior a neutral color, and gave the exterior a faux finish. I had Kevin fix the hinges (the thing is so old that I couldn't find any new hinges close to the same size and shape) and line the doors up correctly, and we also installed magnets so the darned thing would stay closed. Top it off with new silver knobs (to tie it in with the rest of the kitchen, which includes our super-cool, 40-inch, five-eye, stainless-steel gas stove/oven), and voila, I created a new and functional piece of furniture. Our toaster oven and microwave are stored inside, opening up more room on the kitchen counters. We also use it for dish towels, pot holders and utensils too large for a drawer.

I'm pretty proud of it, but it's unlikely that anyone will write an article about my decorating prowess anytime soon. Still, I have fun with decorating, or at least I used to before the kids forced me to relinquish all hope of having a clean, attractive home until they ship off to college.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A few updates

Busy, busy, busy. Here's some of what we've been up to lately.

My wonderful husband turned 41 March 6, so we did a little bit of celebrating with the family this weekend. We also got to have a date night, so we went out to dinner (thanks to Chase for the gift card) and then rented a couple of movies. We're pretty boring, and we're pretty broke, to boot.

Also, I had a story in the CA last week.

I've been trying to get as errands, checkups, etc. taken care of as possible while our insurance is still in effect and before I (hopefully) go to work full time. Looks like the month will be filled with visits to doctors and dentists and vets, oh my.

I got a big surprise this morning when I received our cell bill for February. We used up all our rollover minutes and still went WAY over our minutes (about $100 worth). Now that Kevin doesn't have a desk phone, he's forced to use his cell all the time, and he used over 2,000 minutes last month. I did more than my usual bit of calling, too. Looks like it's time to upgrade our plan, and I only wish we had realized it sooner. Those usage charges really hit you hard.

I'm quite busy between job hunting, entering data, writing features and taking care of the kids. I'm getting a lot done, but not all of my efforts are fruitful (especially my job hunting efforts). I think the Memphis job market is even worse than most of the country.

Kevin and I have talked about looking into other job markets. He's found a few good jobs in New Orleans and a recruiter from Tampa is really working on him, but I think we're going to keep trying Memphis for a couple more months before we give up on jobs in our hometown.

So that's some of what's been going on. Hopefully I'll have some good news to share soon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A good week

I'm feeling pretty upbeat and optimistic this week. Amelia's 4th birthday was Tuesday, and we had a great day at the mall. She rode the carousel and train, played on the indoor playground, and received a special birthday gift from the Kidgets Club. We ate Subway sandwiches and splurged on a Build-A-Bear. She and the bear have been inseparable since.

I also found a wonderful job opening for a position I would love to have. It's a Volunteer Coordinator for a local non-profit. Even if I don't get this particular job, it's heartening to know there are jobs like that out there.

I've also received a few new freelance assignments, so that should tide me over for a little while. Kevin has started working a few small carpentry jobs, such as building a couple of fences, and he's seriously looking at starting his own business.

And my van should be ready tomorrow. Yay! This compact rental car has made me appreciate the roominess of our van.

And after a couple of people made mention of my appearance in reference to the job hunt, I was convinced to highlight my hair (my hairdresser wouldn't take no for an answer and he gave me a great deal) and to buy a new interview suit. I also picked up a tube of lipstick today. I guess my days of sweat pants, makeup-less-ness and natural hair are over.

C'est la vie.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Feeling better every day

It's been a very hectic week, but I feel pretty good about all I managed to accomplish. I'm optimistic about the job search--sent out a few resumés this week and met with a placement officer. I tested on several Microsoft programs and did pretty well (90 percent or better on all but Access; time to learn that one). Found out I type 56 WPM, with 96 percent accuracy. I know, I won't win any contests, but not too shabby for a soccer mom. And I did some contract work that will bring in a little money. My volunteer commitments are winding down, so I have a little breathing room.

Kevin's last day of work was Wednesday, and his new-job search began in earnest this week. We got his resumé and project portfolio together and began sending it out to a few targeted companies. He also moved out of his office and brought home several totes of stuff, just what we needed more of around here. The house has gone to pot the last couple of weeks while I've been frantically trying to search for a job, make some money and figure out childcare.

Kevin spent a lot of time Thursday and Friday helping out with the kids, and boy, that sure was nice. I'm used to him being gone 12 hours a day and having to handle all the kid and househould duties myself, so it was great to have him chauffeuring the girls to school and their various activities while I worked. Plus, he did some much-needed house cleaning yesterday afternoon, hounded the insurance company and body shop about our minivan, took Hope to the groomer for a flea dip (Fleas in February? Turns out the vet gave us expired Frontline), and ran a few other errands. He also put away some laundry (GASP!), made my lunch and tutored me on PowerPoint and Outlook.

Hmmm, maybe Kevin's unemployment isn't such a bad thing after all.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's going on

A few random thoughts:

So I've discovered that a heightened stress level is not conducive to writing. I figured as much about fiction writing, but lately I find that I can't concentrate enough to write newspaper articles. I trudge through and it takes me forever, them I'm unhappy with the finished product. Not good, especially since feature writing is one of our few sources of income right now.

But I am working on a data-entry/spreadsheet project that's going pretty well. Sounds kind of boring, I know, but I'm actually enjoying it. I'm brushing up on skills I haven't used in a while, and it will help give me recent experience in pursuit of an office job.

I'm meeting with a placement company tomorrow, so hopefully that will prove helpful. I'm a bit nervous about it but also eager for some good career/job advice. What should I do with my life?

Still haven't heard about my van--totalled or repairable? And though Kevin's last day on the job was officially yesterday, he's been at the office all day packing up his office and taking care of some last-minute details.

We're busy, busy, busy--sending out resumes, arranging childcare, handling freelance work, etc. Tomorrow we're reduced to one computer, and Kevin and I will begin vying for computer time.

I have a feeling things are about to get really interesting around here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Indulge me, please

OK, it's bad enough that I've sorely neglected this blog, but now I'm going to add insult to injury--by whining.

As you may be aware, Kevin was laid off from his job a couple of weeks ago, and today is his last day on the job. Unfortunately, I'm not handling this very well. I come by this worry-wart gene honestly, thanks to my mom, and I'm having difficulty eating, sleeping and concentrating. I've been extremely busy, working on my resume, trying to set up childcare, discussing jobs with people and doing some temporary work, but it's very difficult to get everything done right now, especially since Kevin has continued working 12-hour days, plus I can't put the kids in childcare until I actually have a job, and I've recently had to put in several volunteer hours (which I committed to prior to Kevin losing his job) at Nina's school. And oh yeah, somone ran into my van last week so I've been dealing with insurance companies, the body shop and a Enterprise Rental. Life has not been dull around here.

So anyway, I think what I really need to do is get a full-time job. Kevin has several job leads but nothing yet, and I'm really worried about health insurance. There's a chance that he'll start his own construction management company, so then I would really need to be the one with employer-subsidized coverage.

I know that moms everywhere have to deal with difficult childcare decisions, and I realize how lucky I've been the last few years. Staying home with the kids will no longer be feasible for us, and it's a terrible time of year to be searching for after-school care, daycare, etc. I had really hoped to wait until fall, but our timetable has moved up.

What a terrible time to be job searching, especially when you've been out of the workforce for a few years. My options are limited, but I'm hoping I can find an entry-level job with a very good company that offers the chance for advancement and has a corporate communications department. St. Jude Children's Research Hopsital would be ideal, but there are few openings there and fewer still for which I'm qualified. Why didn't I get a medical degree?

So that's enough whining for now. Off to the classifieds.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Too much TV, not enough time

I recorded 5-1/2 hours of inauguration coverage and I've only watched about an hour so far. It's strange trying to watch it without Kevin. Yes, I've read the newspaper coverage, but this is something I want to SEE.

Nina is pretty excited and really wants to watch some of it. I think tonight we're going to view the FIRST Oath of Office, the one without "faithfully." We also bought an age-appropriate biography of the 44th president the other day and are reading a little each night. Nina really likes reading about Sasha and Malia, though she jealous that they're the same ages as cousins Lillian and Mary. "Which was was born in 2003, like me?" she wants to know. Nina also wants to know a lot more about The Jonas Brothers, since they've figured so prominently in the First Daughters' inauguration-week activities.

So why haven't we watched the whole thing yet? Because I've been caught up in a "Lost" marathon. The Season Five preview aired last night, and I wanted to refresh my memory about the first four seasons. So while Kevin's been out of town, I've been turning on the tube immediately after getting the kids to bed, watching three or four episodes each night. I've been staying up a little too late and having lots of plane-crash nightmares. I'm up to the beginning of Season Three, but I took a break from the DVDs to watch the new show last night.

SPOILER ALERT: Not quite sure what I think about last night's episode--the whole time travel thing is a little far-fetched for me. Still, I'm hopeful about getting a few more answers to some of the many mysteries this season. And where the heck is Claire?

In other exciting Eason family news, I've had a couple of stories in the paper this week, one on a Jack and Jill-Memphis Chapter tennis mentoring program and one about family movie night.

Happy Thursday.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. We discussed delivering MIFA meals today in honor of the holiday but didn't get things coordinated soon enough. But I will be taking the girls to The Children's Museum of Memphis, which has several events scheduled in conjunction with the holiday. Last year, Nina and Amelia leared a lot about MLK and heard his "I Have A Dream" speech. Today seems especially significant in light of the election of Barack Obama, and like many Americans, I feel that Dr. King's dream has finally come true.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Flight 1549

UPDATE: Phooey! Sully postponed the interview.

I've been a junkie for information on U.S. Airways Flight 1549, and I'll definitely be tuned into the Today show tomorrow to see the interview with Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III. I find the story absolutely fascinating, an almost unbelievable example of everything going right in what could have easily been a tragedy. I imagine the pilots and flight attendants spent untold hours in safety training in their many years in the industry, and all that training served 155 people well that day. The ferry-boat operators and passengers and first responders who sprang into action without even thinking about their own safety--they're all heroes. Not to mention the passengers, who for the most part remined calm-headed in the ordeal, and many of them helped one another to safety. And every one of them I've seen interviewed has expressed much gratitude for the quick thinking. professionalism and selfishness that saved their lives.

This story just gives me faith in humanity, and I can't get enough of it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ha Ha

This is the funniest video I've seen in a long time. Thanks to Kristy Macre for sending. (Warning: includes foul language, alcohol, nicotine and stupidity).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Employee of the Year

Wanted to brag for a minute on the World's Greatest Aunt, who just happens to be MY aunt. Maureen Tice, affectionately known as Pookie by all of her famiy and many of her friends, was named the St. Jude Children's Rsearch Hospital Employee of the Year for 2008. You can read more about her, the hospital and the award in an Employee Spotlight article here.
Man, has it really been almost two months since I posted on my blog?! I can't believe how behind I've been (on everything) over the holidays, but I'm really working to get caught up.

We had a great holiday season. Spent Thanksgiving in Hilton Head at a beach condo, then enjoyed numerous Christmas festivities and family gatherings in December. It went by so fast! Nina and Amelia really enjoyed having two-plus weeks off from school, ballet, scouts, etc., but Mom was really ready for the holidays to end. Don't get me wrong--we had a lot of fun playing games, watching movies, putting together puzzles, etc., but I was glad when it was over and I was no longer their full-time source of entertainment.

I thought things would slow down in January, but we've had a couple of birthday parties already this month plus three more this weekend. I'm getting back into freelancing (I had a story in The Commercial Appeal today on the interesting subject of
permaculture; if I didn't have such a black thumb, I would definitely like to pursue growing some of our own food) after a holiday break, and I hope to soon have a little time for fiction writing. Much of January has been spent trying to get organized so I'll have more time to pursue my writing, and I'm slowly but surely getting there.

And now, much to my chagrin, Kevin has been asked to shift to another company office to help out for a few weeks. He leaves EARLY Sunday morning for the Twin Cities, which experienced a record cold spell this week. He'll be gone for about two weeks, then come home for a week, and probably back to Minnesota for a couple more weeks, though it could take longer. It remains to be seen whether I'll have more or less time for writing while he's out of town, but I have no doubt that the girls and I will really miss him!

Hope the holidays were wonderful for all of you and that your New Year is off to a great start.