Mini Post Monday – The First 6 Months

We’re almost half way through this year already (I know, right?) and I’ve set out to accomplish many tasks for myself. Here is how I’m doing so far.

  • Expand my editing business. (Check out my post from Friday for the latest on what I’m editing.) I wanted to take on more jobs and increase my business. So far, I’m doing a good job. I’m also learning a lot as I go and my editing is getting stronger and stronger. (I even took a grammar refresher course!) Plus, my clients seem to love me – always a bonus.
  • Write more words. My YA is slowly coming together. A friend even said the other day, “You write so fast!” Is she joking? This book is taking me forever! I started it about a year ago and only have 30,000 words written. Then again, I’m a pantser and she’s a plotter. (Don’t know the difference? Check out this explanation.) Her book is taking her a long time, too, but it’s much more structured than mine at this point. I just keep writing and hope it’ll come together – she had an actually plot in mind when she started. But I told myself I wanted to be done with the first draft by the end of this year and hope to have it published by next. I’m on track to do that.
  • Keep being creative. Last Saturday I organized and participated in a painting event at our church. A friend of mine is an artist and holds painting classes for small groups so I got her together with some of the ladies of our church and we painted the picture below. It reminded me of my high school art class with Mrs. Paul. She was my favorite and I was hers (or at least I like to think so). I really got into the zen of painting that day and think I should find some time to do more of it.        wp-1463592629379.jpg
  • Ancestry research. My friend, Amy, and I am delving into our family history’s together. We signed up for an account with Ancestry.com and are hoping to beef up both of our family trees within the next six months. In addition, it gives me an excuse to hang out with her on nights that John is busy studying for his doctorate.
  • Getting my fit on. I sit A LOT during the day and I’ve gained weight. Recently, I’ve taken on a personal trainer to help get me in shape again. What I’ve found is that not only am I doing pretty well by myself, but I also am enjoying the interaction with my trainer. God led me to a Christian trainer and she is such an encouraging person in my life now. I have to write down my eating and exercise so it’s kept me on track as well. Every time I don’t want to do it, I think, “But I have to let my trainer see that I didn’t do it!” That pushes me to get up out of my chair and DO SOMETHING. I even bought a Zumba Wii video from a friend so I can get my groove on in the comfort of my home. No excuses now!

All too often we make plans for ourselves (resolutions, if you will) and we often feel like we fail at them. As I wrote out this list, I realized that I’m actually doing pretty good at my list this year! I’ve set reasonable goals for myself and am on the way to achieving or, at least, making a dent in them.

What about you? Have you been actively pursuing your goals the first six months of this year? Tell me all about it! Toot your own horn! (And keep going – even if you haven’t made a dent – you can still start today.)

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What’s new and in the que

I’ve been knee deep in editing for clients over the last few weeks. When I sat down to write this post I thought, “What will I write about?” My own life seems to have been a blur of editing marks and I can’t think of one good thing to write here.

So here’s what I’m going to do instead: I’m going to tell you about what I’m editing (and have edited) and invite you to check out these authors!

  1. Do you love thrillers? Then check out Red on the Run by K.M. Hodge. (Book One in this series – I’m editing Book Two now and it’s a good one as well!)                                   In search of redemption from his sordid past, FBI Special Agent Alex Bailey takes on a new partner, Katherine Mitchel… and a new secret mission.Before being assigned their first joint case, Katherine uncovers damning evidence against a major crime ring known as The Syndicate. The group controls key members of the D.C. Metropolitan Area Police, the U.S. Congress, even the FBI, and they will stop at nothing to protect their interests. With her life on the line, Katherine is forced to put her faith in Alex as she flees from Washington D.C. and enters the Witness Protection Program.Yet there’s no hiding from The Syndicate.In the most dangerous investigation of his career, Alex must decide how far he is willing to go to keep Katherine safe, and to stop The Syndicate.
  2. Love a good romance? Check out the series of books by Shannyn Leah. Start with Lakeshore Secrets. Shannyn’s books start out with the McAdams sisters and then extend to the Caliendo family. Each is a pretty easy read, but each family member has their share of baggage to overcome before love can triumph. *Note: These are NOT Christian romances. Consider yourself forewarned. BUT, I wouldn’t edit them if they were raunchy, so if you don’t mind a little sex, feel free to check these out! (And PS – Shannyn is thinking about doing some Christian ones too, so get on this author’s bandwagon now!)
  3. Looking for some good children’s or Christian materials? Check out Michelle Lazurek’s blog and line of books. Daddy, am I beautiful? and Mommy, am I strong? are particularly wonderful books for your kids. I had both and passed them on to friends for their children and grandchildren simply because of the exceptional story-telling. Keep Michelle on your radar, I know for a fact that there is more in store coming from her! (PS – I didn’t edit these books, but I did review them and helped work on a book that, I hope, Michelle will be releasing soon!)
  4. How about some fantasy mixed with spiritual for all ages? Then check out Eternal Abe by Hedva Federman. One of the first full-length novels I helped edit, this one has stuck with me and I would read it again. There is so much to experience in this and Ms. Federman is one of the sweetest people you’d ever wish to know. (I’m even thanked on the acknowledgements page of this one!)(And PS, my friend Tonya did the cover!)                                                                                                                                            ABE, a lonely and quiet boy, is drawn to a mysterious and forbidden castle nestled deep in the forest. Though ABE has never understood the reason behind this peculiar attraction, his desire to explore the fortress urges him onward. Soon ABE embarks on an adventure brimming with fascinating twists and turns, where he ultimately discovers the unexpected and hidden meanings of life. This page-turner is packed with adventures, mystery, and life lessons, certain to captivate and inspire readers of all ages.

I’m also working on a Christian devotional book and a YA Fantasy (That you all are going to LOVE – I can’t wait to promote it!) In the lineup is another one of Shannyn’s novels as well as another Christian work. PLUS, I’m working on a coming-of-age YA edit AND my own YA novel! Which, by the way, has now exceeded 30,000 words (in my attempt to get 50,000) and I finally think it has some life. When I worked on it this past Tuesday, my fingers just kept typing and typing. I may have gotten the hang of this writing thing after all…

Stay tuned for more – coming soon!

**If you’d like me to edit your work, please go to my contact page and send me a note. I’d love to work with you to make your words shine!**

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Blessings from Strangers

On May 4, I had a devotion published in The Upper Room magazine. (You can read it here.) This is my second devotion for the magazine and I’m amazed, once again, the impact it has had.

I’ve heard from numerous people, including quite a few on the companion blog post I wrote. In a time when so often all we hear are negative comments, hateful speech and “I’m so offended,” it’s a breath of fresh air to hear:

Thank you Sue for your testimony and the scripture readings. I am keeping them in my heart and have recorded them in a note book. May the Lord bless you and your family and your work, to use you to reach out to many. Enjoy a blissful day.

and

Sue, your blog is a treasure trove. I just bookmarked it so I can visit often. Your gym rat piece is priceless! Good luck with the trainer.

My heart swelled as I read these comments! God is so good!

In addition, I received three personal messages through my blog. One was an offer that I couldn’t refuse (be sure to check back on this blog soon for more on that) and one was from a wonderful lady named Kylie who suffers from a traumatic brain injury and whose daughter also suffered an accident and now has a cyst that covers 1/3 of her brain. She writes on her blog:

It’s said tragedy hunts me, I shouldn’t be able to live and smile as I do, and bad things shouldn’t happen to someone like me. All I know, is I’m in desperate need of a Savior. There’s no better place to be. Jesus has become more than the God-man who died all those years ago to span the distance to Holy God. He saves me every day, day after day…if only from myself.  

And then this, too, about her accident: 

The timing of the accident was too perfect. God can take months and even years to answer my prayers, but He must have been in heaven lining up cars, waiting for my final word.

What a blessing these words are! Are you living that way – believing that God saves you every day, day after day? That He is lining up events – good and bad – for the betterment of your life? I bet, for the most part, many of us have not suffered the tragedy Kylie has, yet we do not hold on to those promises from God. Her blog is a reminder. Check it out here.

I was so blessed by all of these comments and stories. I see God working in my life in new and exciting ways – I can’t wait to keep moving forward! What a blessing He is in my life every, single day. I never want to forget it. I never want to lose sight of it.

I pray you do not either. Seek out His word for your life today. Get to know Him, let Him lead, hand over the keys… He really will work it out. He promises.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:26-28 NLT)

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Pushing My Creative Limits

Recently, I’ve been judging writing contests for an online group called Ink & Insights. At first, I was concerned it would take up too much of my valuable editing and writing time, but as I do more and more of them, I realized two things.

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The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio by Sam Howzit (Flickr)

  1. Reading a variety of novels has helped me as a writer and an editor. As I read through each selection, I have to read it as a reader – not an editor. That is sometimes hard for me. What’s worse, these are words that have not yet been completely edited and, sometimes, NEED my editing skills. (In fact, I may have already picked up a new client thanks to this work.) But when I read as a reader, I can get into the story, pick up the nuances and appreciate each writer’s unique style. It doesn’t have to be my style – I can appreciate them for their style alone. It also has shown me that even with editing issues, a story can still shine.
  2. Reading a variety of novels has increased my worldview. This is so important. Typically, in my editing work, I deal mostly with Christian works. On rare occasions, I get the chance to edit something secular. I rarely read Christian works in my spare time, but are almost always secular fiction (Dystopian is currently my favorite genre.). But judging so many different types of work has broadened my worldview even more. I am learning dialects and views of people in different countries. (Be sure though, my Christianity is still intact. I do not read works that encourage practices that are far out of line with God’s word. It is equally important to align yourself always with God first.)

As I continue this work, I’m encouraged by the amount of writers out there – many of them who are very decent writers, too. This work has also stimulated me to step out of my comfort zone in my writing as well. I’ve written much more since starting with Ink & Insights. I think it’s because I see that even a rough piece of work can have potential.

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So this week, as I try to put more words down on paper, I’m hoping to take what I’ve learned from these other writers and put it into practice. One that I know I need practice with? Getting words down on paper. They can’t help, encourage, inspire, or stimulate someone else if I don’t write them first.

How about you? What are your goals this week? Do you find ways to stretch yourself and seek out new ways to learn your craft? If so, what works for you?

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My Husband Will Hate This Post

So here is a post my husband will probably hate. Today is our anniversary and I could not possibly write about anything else other than our love and marriage. I’m sure many of you that know us personally get sick of our happiness, maybe even jealous at times. But let me reassure you – we fight and argue, too. Today is not going to be that day though. Today is a day to celebrate seven married years to my best friend. Here is a inside look into what makes us… us.

From day one, we’ve email each other up to 15 times a day. When we first met, we lived several hundred miles apart and the most cost effective way to communicate was by email.

John’s first email to me:

Sue,

Hey there – great to hear from you. And no problem with the email – Aunt Dawn asked, and I said fine, fine – so it’s good to see you took her up on it. :o)

It was very nice meeting you, too. And I’m not just saying that to be polite – it really was interesting, and you’re really funny and intelligent (two things I find so many people lack these days.) It was definitely nice to have someone to trade innuendos with – although the fact that we were on the same wavelength most of the time was… um… interesting. :o)

It started from there. We were, and still mostly are, on the same wavelength. From day one, we finished each other’s sentences. It was… freaky.

We just couldn’t seem to stop with the emails either. But he did ask a lot of questions at the beginning. Trying to get to know me and all that jazz. After one particularly long set of questions, I lambasted him back with my own and got this in response:

OK, OK, I get the point… no more Guantanamo Bay style inquisition… otherwise we won’t have anything to talk about when we meet and, Lord, wouldn’t that be awkward! 

I knew from “Guantanamo Bay” that he was both funny and smart – two things I wanted in a guy.

When John moved to PA, we kept up the email habit and still do it now – even though we live together and chat constantly. Now we only email about 4 times back and forth each day, but I look forward to each one, especially the first one in the morning. It always starts my day off on a good note. John makes a point to say little things to make me feel special – like his salutations every day: Beloved, My love, Beloved Sue, and, sometimes, Hey Beautiful.

I truly think our email habit has strengthened our marriage. We keep in constant contact, which, to some, might be too much, but for me – it’s everything. We have learned that there are some things not suitable for email – some concerns have to be discussed in person – but overall we talk about it all. Some things are romantic and some, like this, are not.

Yes, you can use everything else in the upstairs bathroom – just not the toilet. The water is off to the toilet only. I believe I know the solution – it is a leaking seal between the tank and bowl. I will stop at Home Depot after the bank run at lunch and pick up the seal replacement kit. I will then come home after work and replace it. Hopefully shouldn’t take too long. 

Romantic, don’t you think? (See, it isn’t all fairy tales, kittens, and rainbows.)

So on this, our 7th Wedding Anniversary, I want to say to my beloved: Your words make me smile, always, and I love you. Happy Anniversary baby.

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Fitness Friday

Today will be my third trip to the personal trainer. I’m so anxious to get there it isn’t funny. On Monday, I used my bike to travel to the studio (because it’s only several blocks away) and felt so empowered with accomplishing both the bike ride and a more intense workout. The best part? I wasn’t all that sore on Tuesday!

My trainer is encouraging me to now also keep track of my food and the other exercising I do in a journal. (Wait… I have to exercise other days?) This is a struggle for me due to my past relationship where a boyfriend forced me to go to the gym and regulated my food intake. (Yes, this really happened and no, I didn’t really understand what was happening at the time.) But, with her encouragement (and promise that it was my choice and I could NOT do it), I’ve written down my food intake and have endeavored to exercise every day.

It’s been easier than I expected. Add to that my new found program of Plexus products (want to know more – just ask me!), and I seem to have more energy and a better outlook about the future. I know I can do this. I’m remembering how fun certain amounts of exercise can be. It also helps that my trainer is a really sweet and fun person.

Do you understand the sense of accomplishment that comes from getting up and moving? My personal trainer workouts are a half hour long. At first, I thought, “I’ll be wiped!” but the half hour goes very quickly and I don’t even notice that I’ve been working out. I think the key is my partner (and the fact that we chat the whole time!)

I’m not sure I’ll be able to bike or ride to my appointment today – our weather has been kind of sketchy with rain showers off and on – but I’m hoping to make that a regular habit to get there. Last Friday, it made me feel like those cool hipsters in New York City that bike to every appointment, dodging traffic and thumbing their noses at those gas guzzling car drivers.

I have God, my trainer and Plexus to thank for this new path of health, energy and happiness. It’s truly an exciting time and I’m thrilled that today, in my forties, I’m feeling stronger and more centered than I have in my entire life.

So what are you doing today to change your path, find a new way to health or experience a new outlook on life? If you haven’t started yet… what’s stopping you?

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Being a Writer

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Wait… I do? Where are they? And how do I get them to come out onto the paper?

Just write

Have you been told “Just write” by someone? It’s not that easy, is it? I struggle with writing – it doesn’t come that easy to me. I’ve also heard people say, “I just HAVE to write.” Well, okay, I do, too. That’s why I have this blog, but when it comes to other stuff – like novels – it’s not that easy. I don’t see stories in my head, I don’t envision different worlds… am I a bad writer? Am I … broken?

Writing prompts

I’ve tried writing prompts on a number of occasions. I don’t get anymore out of them than I do with that “just write” bit. Yes, I can sometimes piece together a story, but it’s often not something I feel I can share anywhere. Or it takes on a really weird vibe and I think, “Who would want to read that?

Here’s one:

Imagine a world where sharks can swim in the forest and you are somehow lost in the woods.

What?! So some of you might think, that’s cool! You’d totally write that story. I would not. I wouldn’t even read that story so keep it to yourself. Writing prompts are too often very obscure, weird and made only for speculative fiction writers – of which, I am not. Sharks in the forest. Sheesh, now I’ll have nightmares.

Just write the first line

An addendum to the “just write” Nike-esque theme. I’ve been told this time and again, too. Write the first line, scene, chapter and you’ll build from there. Uh, nope. I have a pretty decent beginning chapter of my YA… alas, it isn’t fitting in with the rest of the story as I go along. It’s probably the best part of the story, but it isn’t the story I want to write. What then? Start a whole new book? Scrap the first chapter all together? “Just write ANOTHER first line, scene, chapter?”

Could I make a book of all first scenes…

As writers, we’re poked and prodded with inane encouragements and prompts, but I think you should just write what’s on your heart. Simply write…(okay a variation of the other) and write what’s in your heart. Maybe it is about sharks in the forest. Maybe it’s about God. Maybe it’s about God attacking sharks in the forest. (Because he would…by not putting them there! Sheesh.) For me, I truly want to write a heartwarming novel about a girl coming of age. I’ve been trying to get it out for more than a year and it just won’t come. Maybe it’s not time yet. Maybe I’m just not a novel writer or I simply don’t have a good enough story.

Perhaps my character is still working it out.

Or, perhaps, this blog is her story.

 

 

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Fitness Friday

Today I am starting a new routine with a personal trainer. I’ve never really had a personal trainer before so I’m not sure what to expect. It conjures up all sorts of gruesome images of drill sergeants screaming at new recruits. (In fact, she’s already told me some of her recruits, er… clients, call her drill sergeant.)

Years ago, my boyfriend was a die hard gym rat. He lifted weights, took supplements and compared muscles with other gym rats. Unfortunately, he didn’t keep this obsession/hobby to himself. He wanted me to be “fit” (Read: SKINNY), too.  Over time, I realized that his hobby was a bit unhealthy and completely unrealistic for me. I’ve never been a size two and I’ll never be a size two. I’m built bigger. For my then boyfriend, that was not a reasonable answer. I had to strive for that size two (or, even better in his eyes, size zero.)

Instead of, “How was your day honey?” I got, “Did you go to the gym today?” If I had, the next question was often, “For how long? What did you do? Did you break a sweat?” I began to dread his arrival home from work each day. My workouts were never enough for him. I ate like a bird around him and pigged out on candy and snacks when he wasn’t around. I began to hide food. He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t losing weight. Once, he even went out for wings with friends and left me behind because I “didn’t need to eat unhealthy foods.”

The gym became a war zone for me. I loathed every person there – associated them, even if I didn’t know them – with my boyfriend. I considered them all fanatics, haters of fat people,and judgmental Judy’s of the gym.

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When I met my now husband, we discussed going to the gym. I agreed, knowing he is much different than my gym-loving boyfriend. The first time I went… the smell of sweat and testosterone stirred up a wicked range of emotions. I almost didn’t stay to even step on the treadmill. When I heard the grunts of the weight-lifters, I cringed. Changing in the locker room set off my low self-esteem indicators and I kept my eyes on the floor the entire time – making it very hard to change into my gym clothes. A trip to the gym often resulted in more depression than success for me. (Why does everyone look like they don’t NEED to be at the gym? Where are all the fat people? I felt like the only one on most days.)

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Courtesy of Planet Fitness

But as time as moved on, it did not become easier, so I quit going to the gym. I opted to try Zumba classes and my own workouts instead to try and stay fit. It’s worked for the most part, but I’ve slacked off some and need that push from someone else. So I’m trying the trainer. I’ve already warned her I’m skittish so I pray she’ll go a bit easy on me at first, but for years I’ve been an unhealthy weight and I want to change. My hips hurt. My feet ache. Pants don’t fit. It’s been 42 years of the same. My dad’s heart surgery really pushed me to make this decision. Almost everyone on his side of the family has died of heart attacks. I don’t want that. I want to live. I do need this trainer to push me, to give me a routine that works, but also to do it in a caring way – something my boyfriend never did.

So, here I go. On another adventure. I don’t think there will be an “lunks” at this gym, God has directed me to a Christian trainer so I pray we’ll be able to avoid the stress that I remember about workouts. I want to be thinner, to be healthier, and to get some pretty new clothes that fit! Wish me luck and come back often to see my progress!

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Goodnight Sweet Prince

Last Thursday, a music legend (and I don’t use that term loosely) died. Prince Rogers Nelson died at his home at the age of 57. I’m sure most of my readers know him so I won’t go into details about who he was and the accolades he achieved. (But if you don’t know much about him – like just that he liked purple – then check him out.) What is on my heart today, is the lasting legacy he’s had on my life.

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Purple Rain, both the movie and the soundtrack came out in 1984. I was ten. Because of its “raunchy” material and themes, I was not allowed to see it until later, when my friend acquired it on laser disc (remember those? Think gigantic CDs for movies.) and we watched it in her basement. Of course, our first thoughts were to watch it because it was Prince and it contained his (raunchy) songs. We felt like we were getting away with something (and we kind of were.) As we watched, it became so much more.

You see, Purple Rain, is more than a movie about Prince’s music. In fact, I truly believe it is one of the most enduring stories about a plethora of themes – that most people aren’t even aware. If you haven’t seen Purple Rain, despite any feelings you may have about his music, I encourage you to watch it. It’s not simply about his music, but his music connects the story in such a fascinating way. I’ll be clear: the music is the best part, the acting is not Oscar worthy and the filming seems very… well, 80s. Get over it. Because, you see, the movie moved me when I was eleven and still until this day because of its themes and, I think, it’ll move you, too.

Domestic abuse, bullying, depression and suicide are major themes throughout this movie. Prince’s character struggles with how to cope with every single one. He does it mainly through music. Now, as a writer, I realize that this connected to me because I seek to express myself through my creativity, too. I’ve not overcome the things Prince’s character had to overcome, but we all have something. In addition, before you point to Prince’s “raunchy” music as a reason NOT to watch… I’ll say this: Yes. A lot of the music is… raw. But the character Prince plays does not do drugs, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink (in fact encourages his girlfriend not to) and rarely swears throughout the film (although he does struggle with domestic abuse because it’s what he knows). Can we say that of many of our movie characters today? He is a tortured soul, trying to find his way in the world against pretty crappy odds. But he has a talent. He excels at it, in fact. And he uses that talent, that life purpose, to make his way and to get out of the life mess he is in.

Guess what? It’s 8 Mile before Eminem. (In fact, this movie may have inspired Eminem, too, since he’s my age.)

In his lifetime, Prince donated millions of dollars to charities that were dear to his heart, but we’ve not heard about it until now. Now, after his death, people are coming forward to say how he changed their lives, and businesses, with his generosity. This is a man people ridiculed for his purple attire, his flamboyant costumes and his small stature. But now as the world grieves over the loss of this man, I am amazed that now, only after he’s dead, do we finally see the true, and deep, humanitarian that he was. There is no more name calling, no lewd comments about his love life, no more snickering at his outfits – in fact, I’m wearing purple today as are many others, his music and his movies are being played continuously on MTV, and even NASA colored a nebula purple in his honor.

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For me, it started when I was ten. I saw him from day one as the creative being he was not just some guy in purple clothes. I recognized the God-given talent that he exuded and I admired his dedication to his craft. He often spoke in interviews about being an “artist” (in fact, it was part of the reason he changed his name at one point) and that many “singers” today are not. I love that. It’s what has made me cry over his death – something I rarely do for someone I don’t even know. He wasn’t a god – he was just a man – but his words and his life touched me. He was real – no auto tune, no gimmicks, just music. And I want to be like him. I want to stand firm in my convictions, understand and hone my craft, and be a light onto others – no faking it.

Thank you, Prince, for your life and your legacy. I pray it will go on as you would have it go on, it would not be tarnished by anything and your light would continue to shine.

My favorite Prince songs, it was hard to choose just one and this list is not even complete, are I Would Die 4 U, Purple Rain, Diamonds and Pearls, and Take Me With U.

What are yours?

Prince

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I’m Not A Gardener… or am I?

Recently, I’ve been conversing with a fellow writer who is also big on gardening. She started her own blog about it and it’s inspired me to finally get that garden of my own growing. The problems are: 1) I live in town; 2) I don’t have a huge yard; 3) my husband hates when I come up with these ideas.

But, we have a little bit of decking material leftover that I’ve been trying to DIY into something else for awhile. I saw on Pinterest (that devil of a website) that you can use this leftover decking to build raised beds for gardens.

“Oh honey!”

Quite easily, my hubby took it and ran with it. Now we have a garden bed standing in our garage all ready for me to obtain dirt and plants to start. Then the problem becomes: I can’t haul dirt because I have no truck. “No worries,” another friend advised me, “You can buy dirt in bags, just like potting soil.”

Who knew?

But they are still too heavy for me to obtain so I must wait for this weekend when hubs can help me again. I’m sure he’s beginning to think this is his project and not mine, but I promise to cultivate it myself once it’s all up and running, Honey.

I’ve been also considering what to grow for some time. The real impetus of this whole thing started when we traveled to Texas and friends introduced us to homemade jalapeno poppers using jarred peppers. The jarred version, as opposed to the fresh, are a bit less spicy, which appeals to me and are already pitted so you just remove them from the jar, stuff, cook and eat. Yum. The problem? In Pennsylvania, where we live, you cannot obtain jarred, whole jalapenos. No kidding. We searched several grocery stores and every aisle imaginable. Apparently, folks in PA just do not understand the yumminess of stuffed jalapeno peppers.

So, I reasoned, I’d just grow my own. How hard can it be? Then I could prepare and can them for my own use throughout the year. (Including, maybe, some hot pepper jelly!) No more trips to the store for the non-existent peppers. I don’t want to grow hundreds of these little things though, so I decided I’d grow other things, too. I’ve decided on basil, pole beans (maybe) and some sort of lettuce. Beans can be canned, too and we love salads in the summer so we’ll use up the lettuce for sure. I don’t want to grow anything that I can’t use after all – that seems wasteful.

So this weekend is all about getting my garden set up. I’ve hoarded cardboard for weeks for the bottom of the thing – determining just recently that I had enough cardboard for about three beds. No matter, at least I had enough for the one I needed. And, who knows, maybe this endeavor will be a fruitful one (although no fruit is actually being grown) and I’ll decide to do more in the future (Sorry Hubby. Hold on to that decking…)

How about you? Are you a gardener? What do you grow? Any tips and suggestions for me?

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