Monday, July 28, 2014

My Life as a Jane Austen Heroine

You really shouldn't compare your life to anything, or anyone. It's something that I'm still trying to learn, but I feel like humans are constantly trying to compare themselves to their neighbors. I compare myself to characters in books. When I was in college, I took numerous "Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You?" quizzes, and always got Lizzie Bennet.

With the move going on, and how our lives are changing so much right now with a recent downsizing. We're going from the house we've spent the last twenty years in (almost to the date, actually), and we'll soon be renting a much smaller house (Going from three bathrooms to one. EEP!). It honestly makes me feel more like the characters in Sense and Sensibility, who had to move when their patriarch died, and their house and money went to their older half-brother. Thankfully, no one has died, we're just downsizing.

We spent today taking boxes over to the new house, followed by my sister and I painting our respective rooms (Incidentally, we both went for different shades of purple). The cutting in process was awful, because our dropcloths were paper, and it was hot and sticky out, so I kept sticking to it when I knelt to get the bottom of the wall.

Here are some progress pictures. I'll post the finished product once I get my room set up.

Looking into the room from the door

Looking at the door

Cutting is evil and necessary

Seriously, cutting is awful

It's going to be worth it, though.

This is only one coat, but I love the richness.

We're working toward making our lives better, and downsizing is a step in the right direction. I think I'm just excited to get a bigger room. I'm going to be so sad to leave, but at least We get to stay on this side of town.

I watched Sense and Sensibility the other night, practically quoting it, since I've watched it so much in my life. Jane Austen didn't marry, so she was the queen of observers. She wrote comedy-of-manners type stories, and I can pinpoint different people in my life who match up to characters in her novels (as I'm sure most Jane Austen fans can). Still have yet to find her heroes, though.

Lizzie Bennet Diaries gifs for the win.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writer's Pen Wednesday: Setting the Unattainable Goal

As you probably read in my last post, I'm terrible at keeping goals once made. There's that old saying that a goal is just a dream until you write it down, so today, I made a decision to have my current Work-In-Progress ready for Beta Readers (Manuscript finished, and looked over for Typos).

That's my 29th birthday, just in case you're curious.

There it is. Written down in my Google Planner. Once I print off my Blogging Calendar (once we're done moving, and I set up some kind of workspace), I'll write it there, as well. I'm looking forward to using that calendar, and hope that it makes me a more organized person (Mama Miss, the designer recently came out with a July 2014-15 calendar that I purchased).

I'm asking my friends and family for accountability. Ask me how the book is coming. Ask me about the word count. I've done so much pre-work for this book, and built the world and characters so much. I only hope I can do it justice.

I'm keeping a running tally of the words in the sidebar, so if you're curious, you can keep track of it there. This is what I want my life to be, and I feel like I discovered too late that it could be a real thing. Time to get my butt in gear, and get this book written.

I've decided that I want to try to get small publishers to look at it, maybe just see what's out there. I've got my sights set on two specific ones, but I'm going to continue to look for ways to get my work to the world. Starting with this blog, The Modern Jane Austen. Jane didn't give up writing, and she's one of the most famous authors in the world. I can do this.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekly Workout Challenge

I'm terrible at making plans or sticking to plans in regards to working out. The first "plan" I tried to do, back in 2010, when I was living in a terrible situation, and opted to take control of my weight, that was the only time I really went deep into a plan. I lost 20 lbs in less than a month (cutting out all processed foods, and doing a combination of weight training and cardio, even when I didn't want to), and felt great. I stopped when I moved back to Iowa, two months later, but with waitressing, I kept the weight off, and got to my lowest weight of my adult life. It was amazing.

At my lowest weight, with my best friend.
I've been trying to get back to that place ever since. Switching to a desk job, sparatic workouts, and an intense love of sausage croissanwiches has made me what I am today.

I think I look to much to the big picture. I know what weight I'd like to be at, to be healthy, and I step on the scale to see how I can get there, only to be really discouraged. Last week, I decided to focus on smaller goals (another thing I focused on back in the Dark Days before I moved back). RIght now, I'm looking to lose 25 lbs. After that, another 20, and so on. 20 is a doable chunk.

That being said, I've been tracking all of my food on My Fitness Pal today, went to the gym to do 30 minutes of lifting, followed by 30 minutes on the elliptical. It's intense, but honestly, it's a good combination that does the best job. If I continue to try to eat as few processed foods as possible, then it'll come off again.

What I need to do is to stop being so paranoid about it. It's just a number, and if I want to be healthy, I CAN be healthy. Simple as that. Even if I'm not as consistent in my blog posts about it, I really hope to be able to stick with it.

That's my motivation for the week: Stick with it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Writer's Pen Wednesday: What are you reading?

I like to consider myself an avid reader, but honestly, I haven't read as much as I used to in a long time. In fact, during college, I took time off reading for pleasure, mostly because I was reading so much for my writing courses. And I can count on one hand how many of the books I was forced to read that I actually enjoyed (Three. Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather, Emma by Jane Austen, and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri).

Lately, I've had a hard time focusing on just one book, and because of Kindle, I can play Rory Gilmore, without the back pain.

I read a lot more nonfiction than I used to, which is surprising. When I was in high school, you couldn't pay me to read a nonfiction book! I'd gotten enough of that in school!

Without further ado, my Currently Reading file from

  • Divergent Series Complete Box Set by Veronica Roth
    • I loved Divergent, thought Insurgent was dull as watching paint dry, and that's making it hard to get into Allegiant.
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    • I'd tried to read this in high school, but it was a really thick book, which made it hard to hold. Kindle is making it easier. 
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
    • I've never read anything by Michael Crichton, but I've been a fan of the Jurassic Park movies for years. I'm enjoying it so far.
  • Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge
    • My college Bible study read this, but I didn't have the money to get it at the time, so I didn't join in. It's really a fitting study for where I am right now: Trying to find my place in this world.
Also, my Recently Finished list.
  • Have Your Cake and Lose Weight Too by DaNelle Wolford
    • I follow DaNelle's blog, Weed 'Em and Reap, and saw that her book was only $1.99 last week. It was an easy read, talking about the specifics of a Traditional, Whole Foods Diet. 
  • Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
    • I believe in supporting Christian films (especially since they're not as bad as they used to be), and after seeing the film version of this book, my dad loaned me his copy of the book. It was thought provoking.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
    • I wanted to be ready to see the movie (which I haven't done yet), but suffice it to say, I won't be able to visit Amsterdam without sobbing uncontrollably now. 
These are the books that have captured my interest. It's been a long time since I've read and finished something, which is horrible, and slightly discouraging as an author. I don't want people to think of my writing as difficult to read. I want to be the writer like John Green, where you just start reading, and the next time you look up, you're 3/4 done with it.

That's why I opted to remove Sugar & Spies from Amazon and Smashwords. It wasn't anywhere near where it should've been. I hope to actually find a small publisher to help me through my current mystery, once it's done.

  • What books do you like to read?
  • What can you recommend?
  • Could YOU make it through the Divergent series?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Weekly Workout Challenge: Cousin Chronicles

So, I didn't post a work out post last week. Working out wasn't really a priority for me. I was exhausted (missed an ENTIRE night of sleep due to a caffeine overdose. Can't drink soda like I used to!), and it just wasn't a good week.

My mom was also down in KC with her sisters for their annual sewing weekend, so my dad and I lived like Frat boys, er, what I prefer to think Frat Boys do: Watch movies, eat junk food, drink hard lemonade (er, beer! I mean beer!). When mom came back, she brought my darling mini-me, Laura, with her, and Laura wanted to go to the gym with me. Motivation, there you are!

Laura wanted to do some lifting, so I decided to take her through the first day of my favorite trainer: LiveFit (Maybe, I can actually finish one day).

We started off by spending 15 minutes on the Planet Fitness Gliders (which I rarely use, and my legs are jell-o today!), before going into the little room off the regular room to do push ups and lifts. Afterward, we did five minutes on the stair stepper. No joke!

Today, we were both complaining about slightly sore muscles (but not as sore as the last time I tried LiveFit!).

After lunch today, we took a break to let it digest before hitting the gym at four (and it was DEAD!), before doing 20 minutes of a warm up on the treadmill with varying inclines and speeds (and I finally finished the episode of Private Practice I was watching on Netflix, thank you gym wi-fi!). Afterward, we did LiveFit day 2, Back and Biceps, sharing machines and dumbbells, making sure we got our breaks. It was good, but I'm definitely going to be sore tomorrow.

Tomorrow, we're meeting our aunt at the zoo, which will be awesome, and afterward, legs. We'll Finish LiveFit week 1 on Wednesday, when neither of us has plans. Thursday, my mom has cruise directed most of us out to Mahoney State Park to go swimming and water sliding. I'll be taking a half day, and making up for it on Saturday (Lord, help me!).

There you have it. The tale of how my teenage cousin's enthusiasm for wanting to go to the gym prompted me to try to finish LiveFit again. She said she's enjoying it, so maybe she'll keep it up when she gets home, too.

  • What are you working on?
  • How do you find motivation to keep working out?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Foodie Friday: Scallop Stir Fry

So, this is a little dish I made because we had some seafood in the freezer that needed to get used up, and I gotta tell you, I am STUFFED! This was pretty good.

I was thinking that a stir fry would be best, because who doesn't like stir fry?

I threw some rice in the rice cooker.
1 Cup Rice, 2 Cups water, 35 minutes
And while that cooked, I got started on the sauce (I also threw some chicken into the microwave to thaw, since my dad and sis aren't crazy about seafood. I tried it on the cruise, and now I like it).

I'd thawed the scallops this morning by putting them in a bowl of water for a few hours, and placing them in the fridge until I was ready for them.

Remember to drain
My mom, bless her heart, prepped all the veggies for me. She claims to have needed to get out some aggression by chopping. That's fine by me! She did a great job.

Clockwise from top left: Onion, Mushrooms, carrots, broccoli
I heated a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a skillet, and heated to medium high heat and added some frozen peppers. After they thawed I added the rest of the veggies, except the mushrooms.

I added snow peas along with the
mushrooms at the end.
While the veggies were working, I cooked the chicken in another teaspoon of vegetable oil until done.

Stir the veggies to coat and cook. I added a bit of the sauce, made with Rice Vinegar, Soy sauce, Sesame oil, Ground Ginger and Corn Starch.

Once the chicken was done, I moved it to a plate to rest until I shredded it, and added the scallops to the skillet. They only need to cook about 2-3 minutes, until opaque.

I then split the sauce between the chicken and the scallops and served with the rice, a bit more soy sauce, and Chow Mein Noodles.

  • 1 lb Bay Scallops
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 lb snow peas
  • 1 small can mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced bell pepper (I used an assorment, that had been frozen previously)
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Add rice with 2 cups water to the rice cooker, and cook for 30-35 minutes.
  2. Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ground ginger, and cornstarch to a bowl and mix. Set aside.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil into two skillets (each). Add the vegetables, except peas and mushrooms to one, and the scallops to the other. Split the sauce between the two skillets, and stir to coat. Allow scallops to cook for 2-3 minutes until opaque. Cook the vegetables until crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes. 
  4. Serve with rice and chow mein noodles for added crunch.
Easy Peasy, delicious. Enjoy!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Foodie Friday: Garlic Scape Pesto

Continuing with my plan of having scheduled articles, I wanted to share my love of cooking in an organized manner, in a way that can make recipes easily accessible.

Today, I bring you Garlic Scape Pesto with Spinach.

I'd never heard of Garlic Scapes until I started reading Angela's Blog a few years ago, she got some in her CSA box, and made pesto. Garlic Scape pestos are all over Pinterest, so I played around, and used what I had to make my own.

  • 1 lb box of short cut pasta (Garden Rotini is my favorite)
  • Handful of basil (I got some huge leaves, the first of my garden harvest!)
  • 1 cup of spinach, washed
  • 3 Garlic Scapes
  • 1 Cup Parmesan
  • Olive Oil
  • Juice of One Lemon
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Add all other ingredients, except Olive Oil to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped finely. 
  3. Drizzle in Olive Oil until a thick sauce.
  4. Drain pasta and add pesto. Stir to combine.
There was a bit more bite to the Garlic Scapes than I'd thought, so I ended up adding a lot more cheese to cut the spice, but the pasta also helped. 

My family all gave rave reviews, and I'm a big fan of pesto anyway. I can't wait until I get more basil in my garden. It smelled fantastic. 

To go with my pesto, I also grabbed some mint sprigs from my garden, chopped them up, and added it to Crystal Light Lemonade. It was VERY refreshing, and got even more refreshing as it sat overnight. Score!

Have a safe, Happy Independence Day! Keep your pets in doors, and have plenty of water handy for extinguishing sparklers!
  • What are your favorite summer recipes?
  • Growing anything fun in your garden?
  • Any big Independence Day Plans?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Writer's Pen Wednesday! Scheduling Your Time

Hi! Today, I'm going to be working on what is currently called Writer's Pen Wednesday, where I discuss my curren WIP (Work-in-progress), as well as anything else I'm doing involving writing or reading (I've got some Blog Tours that I'm participating in August coming up, so stay tuned!).

So, this week has been all about the scheduled writing time. So far, I was able to write a decent chunk of my lated manuscript, because I got away from the computer, and wrote at my kitchen table instead. Without the TV to distract me, I was able to get a lot more done, than I normally would've (who knew that parents telling you to not study with the TV on would be right? LOL

Anyway, I was doing pretty well until I got a visit from the three Good-ish Kitties. Jane started out by sitting next to me, and then on the back of the chair, and my shouders, before settling in on the kitchen counter. Henry followed soon after, and wanted attention so badly, so I finally had to kick him off the table. Tris, feeling left out, settled herself beside me, and wasn't too much of a nuissance. Except she kept turning in circles. 

Regardless, I've gotten all three blog posts written for the week, as well as some stuff written on the book, just because I ignored Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, the TV, etc, and wrote. So far, so good, and I can now see why people frequent coffee shops to get work done. When I get my computer back from my uncle, I hope to start doing that, too.

In the coming weeks, I hope to share a little of how I write (music I use to get in the mood, how I keep track of characters, etc), and maybe even some insight into the book I'm actually working on. I'm a little leery of sharing too much, though, for fear it could get stolen. It's a valid concern.

Until Friday, people! I've got a delicious recipe for Independence Day!