Apple Turnover Blessings

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First off, I have to thank you, dear readers, for liking and following my blog after my last post. I felt like you all validated my message by doing so and that made me more motivated than ever. Thank you!

Now to my story…

This weekend I received an invitation to a pre-thanksgiving party, hosted by a co-worker. Every year they celebrate thanksgiving early win friends and then again with family. According to my co-worker, she said it was a tradition, spanning back to her college years (she is in her early 30s).

For a while, people sampled my baking and hyped up to others how great I was at making apple-flavored anything. Not wanting to disappoint, I bought a bag of apples and got started!

For those curious, I used the recipe from One Sweet Appetite, which I found through Pinterest. I only deviated slightly, making them smaller than the recommended size and using a honey glaze.

As I went through the process (and on a high from my “On Persistence” post), I realized how well baking serves as a metaphor for life’s challenges.

Like anything, you need to put in and mix up all the compenents necessary for the endgame.

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Apples, cinnamon, and sugar, oh my!

And then you have to set them up for all the heat they are bound to take.

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…and sometimes they don’t seem quite together before the onslaught.

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What’s worse is they sometimes bust open under presure.

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However, the optimist still finds beauty in everything. Sure they aren’t perfect, but, if you drizzle a little love on top (or honey), they’ll come out just fine.

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These little babies disappeared quickly at the party.

On Persistence

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Goals are always free to own, but expensive to obtain.

I love being a writer. There is something magical in translating my thoughts into coherent stories. However, being a writer is much like being an actress or a singer. There’s more creators than there are people willing to purchase creations. Persistence, it seems, is the word on every writers lips.

I exchanged emails with a freelance writer who makes children’s books. He gave grammatical advice I sorely needed and then pointed me to two websites where I might find work. He also recommended I read a book called Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne.

Through all of his recommendations though, the word he kept repeating, in various synonyms and metaphors, was persistance.

Stay persistent when chasing after your dreams. You will get there.

“Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel” – Napolean Hill

Novel #1 Complete!

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My dream of being a writer just took a step forward. I finally finished my first novel!

Ending at just about 44,000 words, I know I have a long way to go, but I know that I needed to start somewhere.

While surfing the web, I found this funny list of sayings by famous authors about why being an author is so hard. Call me a masochist, but I found it encouraging. Here’s a few:

“The first draft of everything is s**t.” – Ernest Hemingway

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” – Dorothy Parker

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” – Harper Lee

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” – George Orwell

“If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.” – William Zinsser

“Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.” – Lev Grossman

You can find the entire list here: 21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors

The Great Gatsby, Part I

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[image from Wikipedia]

I lived a deprived teen-aged life.

My high school didn’t include The Great Gatsby in its curriculum.

I didn’t read it freshman year.

…Nor Sophomore year.

When I left my lovely high school, I heard they threw it into the reading list for the incoming freshmen class. Those lucky ducks…

After a year of thinking I could be a chemist, I entered my English department with the belief that I was so well learned from high school that I could take anything these professors threw at me.

My professors proved me wrong in so many ways. Grateful as I was for all the things they proved me wrong in, I wish they all didn’t automatically assume every student read The Great Gatsby. I always felt lost during those conversations so I told myself I would read it. One day…

For those of you who forgot what the book was about, here’s a quick refresher thanks to my random search on Google Images:

This about sums it up.

I won’t go into a full-on review because it would seem almost silly to create a review of a classic like this. You either like this book or you don’t. If you don’t like it, you might not want to read any more of this post…

BECAUSE I LOVED IT!

I went to the number one party school in the country where morals were loose and the liquor was easy to obtain. Of course, I didn’t wait until I was 21 to take advantage of these opportunities and then continued on the merriment into my last weeks in Georgia.

Whether it is by luck or mishap, life flew me North. Away from the party scene. Away from insane drinking. Away from the facepalm and mumbling the words, “How much did I drink?”

Take that as you will, but I will miss all the memories that came from that place.

With the extra free time I now had, I decided to finally open The Great Gatsby and fulfill the missing piece from my teen years.

After a dedicated weekend, my mind was blown.

I found that the narrator, Nick Carraway, was like me. First, he was almost violently introduced into the party scene with a clear and sudden understanding of just how loose the morals were. Nick stumbles from one event to the other, watching people who seem to know what they’re doing  better than he does. Then, when he finally seems to have control over the issue, he doesn’t.

This is reminiscent of the college lifestyle. As a freshman, you stumble through social gatherings, put together by people who know what they’re doing. In sophomore year, you think you have a better grasp over things, but still use the people around as guidance in determining what’s fun and what’s not. Your last years then become a blur in feeling like you have control over the situation and then losing it…only to gain it back just before finals (to which everything is lost in favor of good grades). Then, you graduate.

Afterwards, you either stay where you are or move away. Nick moved away.

Enter Jay Gatsby.

Many people are dreamers. It is what keeps us moving. We thrive off the dreams we’ve had since we were six and the dreams we created yesterday. However, if our dreams become so much of an obsession that we completely lose our grasps on reality, the results are extreme. I’m not saying that the results are good or bad. Instead, I’m suggesting that obsessions with dreams can lead to the complete end of the spectrum or the other. Success or Failure.

Gatsby focused all of his attention and ambition in winning back the love of a girl he met one night. At a party. Many people sitting in bars now can tell you how poorly that usually turns out. One of my friends thinks he’s in love with every girl he sleeps with, only to watch the girl run away with the next jock look-a-like she meets at the next bar. Sad, really. Gatsby is a hopeless romantic in a sea of materialists. He stoops to their level in hopes of being like them, but they shun him for his obvious notions of the fantastical. When you compare him to one of the most realistic (though grossest) characters, there is nothing between them except the woman they want. However, Gatsby wants Daisy for all the wrong reasons. He wants the idea of her and how she made him feel that first night he kissed her.

We all know that the first kiss can never be replaced. Every kiss afterwards is just a memory of the first one. The excitement ebbs away slowly and replaced with either love or apathy. Then there are the unfortunate times when one walks away from a kiss with a different impression than the other participating party. Then things are just awkward…

The Great Gatsby contains with various moments eerily familiar to our own lives, but set apart between sheets of paper so that those in denial of the truths can tuck the book away. One reviewer for The Great Gatsby said she hated the movie because she didn’t like how the film portrays Gatsby as a man chasing a dream and Daisy as a bauble of a woman. She thought they were star-crossed lovers–obviously she refused to believe that sometimes there aren’t happy endings and not everyone loves everyone.

I’m a hopeless romantic and proud of it, but unfortunately life has a way of squeezing a little realism into me. Sometimes the guy doesn’t get the girl because he or she is meant for something else. Sometimes the hero dies, because that’s what needs to be done in order for the world to keep on.

But sometimes, the sun does shine and that’s the light we can keep hoping for.

Back from the Lovely State of Louisiana!

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A very brief, but definitely worthwhile visit.

 

I went because my mom is there now and for the past few weeks due to job training. Being the loving family that we are, my dad, brother, and I packed up and flew down for Mother’s Day weekend. While my brother and dad turned it into a long weekend, I flew in on Saturday morning and back Sunday afternoon. Still, I support my earlier statement.

Upon arrival, my mom and I went out to a jazz-themed brunch in the French Quarter.

Court of the Two Sisters!

They seated us right next to the jazz band who played songs I loved and songs I fell in love with. Even though I was supposed to be eating, I couldn’t help but takes moments to sway to the music and just wishing for a handsome Cajun to sweep me off my feet. Unfortunately, my handsome Cajun was still in Maryland, working hard and studying for finals.  The musicians served as my amusement, making pointed glances at me during solos and expecting applause specifically from me after songs. It was great fun. My mom and I loved it. The food was also very delicious… not to detract from the true purpose of the Court of the Two Sisters. My mom and I went to town on the buffet line-up, loading our plates with all the Creole/Cajun food that we could find. We were stuffed! If I ate anymore, I would’ve needed new pants while I was down there.

Perhaps these?

 

This food outing marked the beginning of my weekend’s obsession with crawfish.

On most vacations I take, there is a food item I eat consistently throughout the trip. In my tour around New England, I had lobster (sandwich, steamed, ravioli). In my tour around the United Kingdom, it was potatoes (mashed, fried, steamed, baked). In the Philippines, rice was the trend (grain and noodles).

New Orléans was crawfish:

Crawfish Etoufee

Steamed Crawfish

Crawfish Remoulade

Crawfish Po-Boy

Yea…I have a weird vacation quirk, but my tummy was happy!

We decided the best way to work off all this food was to wander through the streets of the French Quarter where there were obvious signs of its time when the Spanish and French owned Louisiana. I could see how so many stories are set in this town. There’s an eerie charm about the locale. Each building, alleyway, and road looks like a setting straight out a thriller/supernatural/mystery tale. The cracks on the floor and the decaying walls, worn away to show the brick behind, show the city’s age and hint at all the trials its inhabitants suffered. The beads hanging from the trees and the paintings staring at you through gallery windows reveal the celebratory nature of this city while the tall white churches and old Spanish architecture show the city’s resilience. It wasn’t very difficult to see why so much artwork, songs, and stories come out of New Orléans. This city has no limits as to what it can do…what it can withstand.

I texted my boyfriend, a native Louisianan, “Interested and charming” when he asked what I thought in my first impression. I left with the same thought.

Definitely worth a weekend getaway.

And definitely worth every penny to spend it with my family on Mother’s Day.

But it’s good to be home.

[All images were found on the first page of Google Images. Thank you, Google!]

Flying to NO, LA

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Greetings, All!

I am writing to you from the mystical land of the Baltimore-Washington International Airport (though I believe the locals refer to it as BWI). My fight to New Orleans is for 8:30 so I figured now would be as good a time as any to update my blog.

— As a quick sidenote, I’m tapping into my hipster-self today. I’m handwriting this post on my iPad (thanks to a handy app called 7 Notes) while drinking an iced coffee from Starbucks. I’m also in pastel, purple skinny jeans, a long, white. polka dot shirt, and a black fedora hat. Oh! And my glasses are thick-rimmed and purple with sparkles. I didn’t join the Hipster movement. The Hipster movement joined me. 😛

Aaanyway!

I’m so sorry for falling off the radar these past weeks. Life has a funny way of kidnapping me like that. However, it gave me a lot of writing material !

And once I get back from New Orleans I will share it all with you! I hate to dip out on you all like this, but I promise I didn’t forget about this blog!

TTFN!

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon Mini-Challenge 11

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I am a slower reader than a I thought, but still trucking along. I really like Emma so far even if Emma is a little odd in what she likes to do for fun. I got kick out of the conversation between Mrs. Weston and Mr. Knightley about how peculiar Emma is with her new plaything, Harriet. I love how Mr. Knightley can see right through Emma and Harriet and see their faults without abandon. I hope he takes on a bigger role than just observing.

[btw, I haven’t seen Clueless so really I have no idea what to expect]

Anyway, I’m taking a break to accept Mini-Challenge 11 by The Book Monsters (http://www.thebookmonsters.com)

The challenge: “Take a picture of the place and/or book you are reading currently and post it somewhere – twitter, your blog, your choice.”

So here is me, with my book, in a comfy red chair. That’s pretty much where I’ve been for the past week, actually. They put me under quarantine because I had Pink Eye 😦 So if my eyes look a little funny in the photo, that’s because they’re still healing up!

I love the cover of this book!

I love the cover of this book!

Back to Reading!