Monday, November 23, 2015

Blogging Hiatus

I've fought it for the last couple of months, but there's no denying it at this point, my blogging mojo has stalled. Between the stresses of work, home, and family I just don't seem to be finding the time or energy to keep the blog moving at a regular pace. So...I've decided to take a little bit of time off.

I'm not letting go of the blogging world just yet. I still love having this space to be creative in, but without the spark, there isn't quality content to feel worthy of my readers. I will continue to read other blogs and occasionally comment, but for now it's going to be a bit quiet here.

My plan is to take about six weeks off. I'm going to let things mostly go until the end of the year. I will come back to post the signups for the 2015 Book of the Year Bracket Challenge and likely will do a post or two for Shaina's 12 Books of Christmas. Beyond that, this will be a fairly quiet space until after the new year. I just need some time to myself to regroup and refocus. It also won't hurt to get a plan for next year...especially since the schedule between work and school will be just as hectic in the months to come.

Thanks ever so much for your patience the last few months. Have a wonderful holiday season and I will see you more regularly in 2016!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Post-Pumpkin Picture-a-Palooza

Happy day after Halloween! Pumpkin pictures are coming... (This is a photo heavy post, so bear with me...)

Well...what a crazy week it was! I actually meant to post a few more times before Halloween actually got here, but it just wasn't in the cards. I was up to my elbows in pumpkins for far too many days.

There were a few mishaps, resulting in the loss of a few pumpkins (both carved and not). We had a mold outbreak that took a handful before I could get anywhere with them and required a small replacement batch. Ultimately, I got so burnt that I stopped carving before I was really done, leaving two planned pumpkins unfinished -- though I got the critical figures completed before I bailed on the carving knife.

We got everything assembled and ready to go by about 6...just in time for the first trick-or-treaters to start arriving. After that, the night was a batch of craziness, with trick-or-treaters stretching down the front sidewalk and all along the sidewalk at the front yard. It was insanity. plans of uploading and editing photos last night fell by the wayside. But no worries...I'm back today with photos for everyone.

But...before we get to that... for those of you who are new, let's start with a short little back story...

I have a love for weird things. If you've read the blog, you know this to be true. I'm far from ordinary. I also have an intense love for Halloween. It is by far my favorite holiday. Better than Christmas, better than my birthday. If I had my way, it would last a full week instead of just one day. Because of this, I had an epiphany a few years ago that the Calvin and Hobbes snowman sketches would be a great idea to do with pumpkins. At our house, we go big or go home. And thus...a tradition was born. We've now had a total of four completed displays. This year will be our fifth. We do a different theme every year.

This year... Minions!

We couldn't just go with the new movie...we had to bring back a bit of the old fun too.

Of course there were minions...

The necessary bad guys...


...and Scarlet Overkill.

We made sure to include the important three. Kevin (who was a challenge the entire time and a large risk thanks to his squishiness)...

Stuart (who was supposed to be holding a guitar that never materialized)...

...and adorable Bob.

I certainly could't leave out the Queen. I will admit was a bit odd to be carving a real person.

And Norbert was just an adorable addition to the mini-minion army we assembled.

With all of the necessary characters amassed, we took the opportunity to engage in a little bit of throwback to the original... a little bit of Despicable Me.

The good / bad guy Gru...

His (slightly squishy) devil dog, Kyle...

The three girls: Edith...

Margo (my personal favorite)...

and the adorable Agnes.

As usual, we had a blast. I've been exhausted all day and there is still a lovely mess to clean up, but it was well worth it. And a BIG thanks once again to our amazing sponsors this year, Meridian's The Farmstead Corn Maze and Pumpkin Festival! They helped make all of this year's fun possible.

I've already started forming plans for next year's display. We've decided on a new tradition. Each year, we will be dressing up as characters from the next year's plan. So...those of you paying attention to the Instagram feed already know the theme for 2016. Don't spill the beans...

It always goes so favorite time of year. Hard to believe that it's already November. I'll be spurring up a surprise later this month. Darian and I are working on a little something for Thanksgiving week. So stay tuned...we'll be announcing here in the next week or so.

Also...I had a question via email earlier this week, so I wanted to let all of you readers in the know that YES I will be hosting the Book of the Year Bracket Challenge again this/next year. So if you haven't been keeping track, time to figure out all the books you've read this year. Signups will open in December and we'll start taking on the brackets in January!

I hope you've all enjoyed sharing in our Halloween fun! We certainly love seeing the joy on the faces of others when they see our creations.

Happy belated Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy Pumpkin Week!

This Saturday is Halloween. Around here, that only means one thing... PUMPKINS!

Preparation work for the yard display is in full swing over here. I'm drowning in pumpkins. I'm down a gutter this year as Collin will be working out of town until Friday, but Darian has stepped up to help. I'm working with a total of 36 large pumpkins and 4 small pumpkins this time around. Thus far, 21 of the needed 31 guttings are completed. I should be able to wrap up that phase today and then move on to the good stuff.

We've had one interesting and fantastic development this year. We have got ourselves a sponsor! How awesome is that? I'm lucky enough to know the wife of the team that owns The Farmstead Corn Maze & Pumpkin Festival in Meridian. They have been amazingly generous this year and helped to supply us with some great pumpkins. 

We retrieved our bounty last Saturday with the help of two particularly adorable little pumpkin wranglers. It took us four carts and three trips, but we managed to get everything out to the truck relatively smoothly. The girls loved being able to pull a wagon together and were pretty darned great despite the air that got chillier towards the end.

The pumpkins are now all safely tucked in the garage. Gutting started Monday and I've just been picking away at it. All of the gear is out and ready and our best tools are being put to the test once again. (For the record...tried the mixer this year with completely failing results. If you want a good gutting instrument, stick with the ice cream scoop.)

We're excited to put on another fun display this year. It's going to be a crazy week, but I'm determined to make this happen!

To keep up with all the pumpkin fun, be sure to follow over on my Instagram. You'll get all the good sneak peeks there as the week rolls along. Happy pumpkin week everyone!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: Wrap Up

Read-a-Thon Hour : 24+++
Local Time : 10:30am (Sunday)

Made it to hour 21 last night (early this morning) and then the dreaded "I'll just take a little nap" thoughts hit. And so I curled up and took my nap. And then I reset my alarm. Repeat nap. Repeat alarm... You see where this is going. Yes. No more reading. No more read-a-thon...just nighty night. 

The good news is that it was a lovely sleep. It is currently overcast here, which is making it even more difficult for me to remove myself from my delightful tent bed, but the sun is threatening to make an appearance at some point during the day.

Let's hit the stats and then do some closing reflections!

Minutes Read Since Last Update: 1 hour 17 minutes
Total Time Spent Reading : 7 hours 20 minutes

Not my best read-a-thon showing, but I allowed myself quite a few distractions without any concern. Meh. I just needed a nice relaxing day with a book and I got it. Read-a-thon success.

Pages Read Since Last Update : 65 pages
Total Pages Read : 250 pages

I actually find it hilarious that this is my total. I typically read about 50 or so pages an hour. This means that I should have rightly been at somewhere around 350 pages. I am such a dawdler. I'm pretty sure I've read more pages in one of my late-night-have-to-work-tomorrow-but-this-book-is-so-wonderful sessions.

Books Completed Since Last Update : 1
Total Books Finished : 2

YES! I finally finished another book. Well...technically it was the second half to the book I was already reading, but what are you going to do. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll are complete. And they were just as good as I was hoping. Alice never disappoints.

Currently Reading :

The Color of Water in July by Nora Carroll

My original plan for a follow-up read to Alice was Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. But...I have a hardcover and I was in a tent illuminated only by what we at the house refer to as Ye Olde Lantern. I was relegated to e-books. And so...without too much thought (red flag), I chose the next ARC in my pile. Granted, it's probably going to be a perfectly wonderful book, but it's a bit more of a calm and languid read at the moment, which suitably lulled me to sleep at a bit after 3am. Oh laid plans.

As a side note, I find it quite interesting now that I picked two authors with the last name Carroll back to back. Funny things happen on read-a-thon days.

How I'm Feeling :

Very well rested actually. :) I'm not wanting to leave the tent at this point, but it has to happen some time. There are things to be done today. Though I will admit that the list of "to do's" is going to remain somewhat influenced by the fact that I have this cozy abode available for the next 24-48 hours.

I have an English paper on Othello that will likely be fully written from here. Finance homework and studying for a management exam? Yes. Also planned to occur here. My poor family may be on their own to figure out meals. I refuse to leave my tent until I have to (with the exception of the obvious needs for bathroom and shower...perhaps some food that is not contained solely of sugar).

Other Things to Say :

All in all, another successful read-a-thon. Thank you to everyone over at the Dewey's crew for putting on yet another fantastic event. I always love when this read-a-thon rolls through internet town.

I hope you all had a wonderful time as well. to have a mildly productive Sunday!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: Hour 18 Update

Read-a-Thon Hour : 18
Local Time : 12:00am (Sunday)

For being a teenager with the permission to stay up all night long, Darian certainly didn't fare well. He peeled off and went to bed at 11. Pathetic showing. 

I'm doing fairly well over here myself. The rain has quit after a pretty steady 3 hour downpour. It's now nice and quiet out in the tent.

Minutes Read Since Last Update: 1 hour 27 minutes
Total Time Spent Reading : 6 hours 3 minutes

It's only an hour and a half, but proportionately I did a lot better this time. With the 3 hours I had available in this section, I read for nearly half of it. I'm calling that a solid win.

Pages Read Since Last Update : 42 pages
Total Pages Read : 185 pages

I have realized a fatal flaw in my read-a-thon plan. I failed to utilize my spreadsheet this time. I don't know how it took me this long to realize it, but now it's becoming a challenge to keep track of things as simply as usual. Rats.

Books Completed Since Last Update : 0
Total Books Finished : 1

Currently Reading :

Nearly finished with this one. Should be wrapping it up within the next hour or so and then moving on to something new. Though my original plan for next book won't work out for now since lighting is limited out here and it is not an e-book. I suppose I'll have to randomly select a replacement. 

How I'm Feeling :

Happy and comfy and ready to keep pushing forward. It's been a really nice relaxing read-a-thon thus far.

Snacks Eaten :

The snack bowl has been refilled. There is sugar ready for the rest of the night. I've just been picking on a little here and there. There is also a nice box of Girl Scout Cookies hanging out waiting to be opened. That makes me quite happy.

It's been a very different read-a-thon this time around. I think I'm settling into a pretty decent groove. I'm also happy to report that I appear to have figured out the odd screeching sound I hear every time I hang out in the tent for read-a-thon. It seems we have a barn owl somewhere nearby. I'm just relieved to know it's not bats (though I'm sure we have those too...they can just keep it to themselves).

Until the wee hours of the morning...happy reading!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: Hour 12 (Ahem...Hour 15) Update

Read-a-Thon Hour : 15
Local Time : 9:00pm (Saturday)

A little late is better than never! Made it back from my dinner engagement and have ensconced myself back in the tent. It is now pouring rain, making it quite delightful out here. I suppose I'm going to test the sea worthiness of this vessel over the next few hours. So far I am warm and dry, but a few internal drops have been spotted. The location of their origin is still a mystery, but I suspect my rain fly has a small hole. If this is the worst of it I will certainly not complain. It's coming down in buckets and the tent is still cozy. I call that a win.

Minutes Read Since Last Update: 2 hours 14 minutes
Total Time Spent Reading : 4 hours 36 minutes

I seem to be staying steady at about 2 hours per 6 hour interval. This is not okay. Let's hope that the next couple of runs are a better showing. I'd like to finish a bit more.

Pages Read Since Last Update : 63 pages
Total Pages Read : 143 pages

Likewise, the pages showing has been lackluster. I will say though, I'm having a fabulous time, so apparently the numbers don't matter as much to me anymore. I'm evolving...

Books Completed Since Last Update : 1
Total Books Finished : 1
I'm totally counting Adventures in Wonderland as a completed book even though the one I'm reading is paired with Through the Looking Glass. They were published separately, so I'm counting them separately, that's just how this shindig is going to go.

Currently Reading :

Adventures in Wonderland has been completed. Now reading Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

How I'm Feeling : Re-energized after an amazing dinner with some great people and a wonderful night out with the husband. Ready to see how long I can keep this thing rolling through the night.

Snacks Eaten : Not gonna lie, I ate a LOT of sugar this afternoon. I had some chewy Sprees, some Good N' Plentys (Plenties?), some Mike & Ike's, and a couple of my traditional read-a-thon energy bites. Collin made me a lovely grilled cheese for lunch and I had a bombtastic plate of lamb chops and white truffle risotto along with a couple of glasses of delightful Malbec for dinner. It's been a fantastic food day. There is a bowl of sugary sustenance next to me for the night shift. It should help minimize the number of runs through the rain to the inside. Though I am bound to need at least one bathroom sprint through the spill at some point...

How are you all faring? Everyone hanging in there for the nighttime hours? Let's DO THIS!!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: Hour 6 Update

Read-a-Thon Hour : 6
Local Time : 12:00pm (Saturday)

The time is already flying by and I haven't yet accomplished much. But I'm about ready to get into a bit of a groove. There will be steady reading for a while in this next stretch!

The plan today is to update about every 6 hours. My second update will either be slightly early or slightly delayed (depending on how I'm feeling) due to a dinner engagement. Who knows...maybe I'll just do one before AND one after.

I'm cozy in the tent and have the snack table arranged. Darian has decided to join in today as well...he's taking on a Stephen King novel. Me...I'm going for a little lighter fare...

Time Read Since Last Update: 2 hours, 21 minutes
Total Time Spent Reading : 2 hours 21 minutes

Pages Read Since Last Update : 80 pages
Total Pages Read : 80 pages

Books Completed Since Last Update : 0
Total Books Finished : 0

Mini-Challenges Completed:

Reading Rainbow Readathon Mini Challenge

Currently Reading :

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

How I'm Feeling :

I need to get the show on the road. It's been a pretty pathetic showing.

Snacks Eaten :

I had a nice breakfast of PopTarts so I'm right on track with sugary snacks.

Other Things Accomplished :

Got up, got showered, got dressed. Did a lot of internet goofing. Now..let's get serious about this! Back to the reading!

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