Presented For Your Consideration: 7 Writing Prompts + 1 Photo Challenge

Another busy week here so I’m going to do something fun & different. I’m using the following back-to-school writing prompts AND I’m snapping my first #bumblebeebookstack photo. Tell me what you think…

Teacher Turned Mommy is hosting a blog hop in which she has provided these 7 prompts. Click HERE to be magically taken to her blog where you can learn more about it.

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ONE

My memories of the first day of school involve two things: ANXIETY about what my new teachers would be like & CURIOSITY about who I’d be sitting by.  People, figuring them out & getting used to them– that’s what I remember from my first days of school.

TWO

My favorite school supply was paper.  Whether it was lined or with grids, plain white or a beautiful color, small size or large, loose or in a spiral notebook– I LIKED PAPER.  [Still do.]

THREE

The teacher who made a difference for me was my freshman high school English teacher, Mrs. L——-,  who believed everyone could be a writer if they followed one simple rule: BE SPECIFIC. [Years ago in response to a prompt I wrote about Mrs. L——- here: The One About My Favorite Public School Teacher.]

FOUR

Here’s the thing about apples, they are my favorite fruit.  I LOVE APPLES, all varieties.  Cooked, baked, raw. In salads. Turned into juice or cider. With peanut butter on each slice. With chunks of cheddar cheese to go with.  With popcorn, even.

FIVE 

Getting a new box of crayons was [and is] a treat.  My mother, who had strong opinions on this topic, felt that one child with 64 crayons was excessive and unnecessary, so I MADE DO WITH 48.  Periwinkle and Cornflower Blue were my favorite colors.  I did not like Raw Umber.

SIX

When I think about new friends I’m reminded that I went to three elementary schools in four years.  I walked into the first two schools only knowing a few kids from church, but the third school was different.

It was a new school with a new building that combined about half the kids from each of the first two schools I went to;  therefore, for the first time, I KNEW ALMOST EVERYONE.  And this made me happy.

SEVEN

Answering what’s in your lunchbox is difficult for me because my mother didn’t believe in packing lunches.  She was all about a HOT MEAL so she made me buy my lunch every stinking day until I got to high school when I was allowed to pack my own lunch, that I put in a brown paper bag.

Some of the cafeteria food wasn’t so bad.  I liked the fish sandwiches and the Spanish rice and the baked beans and the no-bake cookies– but the salmon loaf was beyond bleech.  Subjecting innocent children with their tender taste buds to it was cruel.

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I got this idea from Instagram. This is what is called a Bumblebee Book Stack. Finding the books was easy, but photographing them was more difficult than I thought it’d be. Go figure. 

Three Thoughts Thursday | Laughing. Drinking. Watching.

This is when I tell you stuff and don’t make a story of it.  

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ONE

I think that Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund is hilarious.

When I came upon Crusoe and his brother, Oakley Dokley, I was in puppy dog heaven.  Their YouTube channel, currently featuring their interpretation of Game of Thrones [#GameofBones], is clever and creative and verifiably wacko.

Highly recommended if you’re having a down day or just like to see little dogs in costumes.

TWO

I think that Stella Artois Spritzer is good and I’m surprised.

It’s a light refreshing alcoholic beverage that is a new take on the old concept of a white wine spritzer.  That is, it’s pub cider with carbonated water.  Available in a slim can and described as a blend of apple and hibiscus flavors, we found it refreshing, not too sweet.

I’m sensing this is our house drink for the summer.

THREE

I think that The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a delightful movie based on the novel of the same name.

I watched this movie one lazy afternoon and enjoyed it, not because I was being lazy but because I truly enjoyed the book when I read it and wanted to see the movie.  I won’t address how the book differs from the movie, but will tell you I thought it was worth the time I invested in watching the movie.

Not all movies need be blockbusters, right?

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Questions of the Day

Don’t you wish you were as clever as some of these people who can turn their pets into YouTube and IG stars? Got a suggestion for a summer drink? Do you have issues with movie adaptations of books?

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An Old Joke Repurposed: A Squirrel Named Chaz Walks Into A Bar…

What is this, you ask? This is my entry into evilsquirrel13’s annual Contest of Whatever. Details here. You, too, can join in the fun until February 28, 2019.

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Chaz the Squirrel, our mutual friend, was sitting outside on the deck staring into the woods, pondering what to do next.  

Behind him was a bleak house, empty at the moment because since Christmas, Carol, the owner, had been away.  

In fact, truth be known, Chaz was a little sad, having fallen on hard times.

With nothing much to do Chaz decided to go to a bar that was a much of the old curiosity shop as it was a place to get a fine cocktail.

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He didn’t have great expectations as he walked into the bar, but was delighted when he saw his favorite bartender, a petite woman, some would say little, Dorrit.

Upon seeing Chaz, Dorrit exclaimed, “Hey there you little dickens!  What’ll you have?”

To which Chaz replied, “A martini, if you please.”

“Sure enough,” she said. “Will that be with an olive ‘r twist?”

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THE END

Rambling Thoughts: Hand Me A Doughnut, It’s Time To Celebrate Valentine’s Day

I WASN’T GOING TO POST ANYTHING today because I know many of you dislike Valentine’s Day with a red-hot passion that burns deep within your very souls.

You, my gentle readers, mentioned this in the comment section of my post, Just Curious: Tell Me, What’s Your Least Favorite Holiday?

From your comments I discerned, because I am a woman who can discern, that many people have issues with Valentine’s Day.  Issues that remind me that I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes by being happy about this day.  Nope, crazy lurks everywhere, causing issues until there’s medical intervention.

Or doughnuts.

Which are just like time spent with a therapist but more accessible and less expensive.

Quote me, if you like.

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WHICH, OF COURSE, BRINGS ME TO the quote I’ve shared at the top of this post.  It’s a quote from Tom Robbin’s novel, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues.  I read this novel in college.  I majored in English Literature, and this novel is an example of a subculture hippy novel, well-written, descriptive, not based in reality.

Yada, yada, yada.

So here’s the thing, the above quote is what I remember the most from the novel.  As I recall the quote means that in life, love is what you use to fill the space so that there’s no emptiness.

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OR AT LEAST THAT’S WHAT I think it means, and considering how long ago I studied that novel, I want some credit for even remembering the quote… about love… on Valentine’s Day.

And with that glimpse into my addled brain I’ll end this post.  You may choose to believe that I’ve wished you a Happy Valentine’s Day OR if you hate this holiday you may choose to believe I have not wished you a Happy Valentine’s Day.

As with most things, it’s all in how you look at it.

It Was A Jammies Day, Meant For Bookworms

Dear Diary,

We never got the predicted deep snow, but we did get the frigid temps.  And because we could, Zen-Den and I spent Sunday at home going nowhere.

He watched football on TV.

I read.

In fact, I finished one novel, The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn.

[I don’t do book reviews on this blog.  Instead I’ll tell you that I enjoyed this historical fiction novel because it had unique characters, a predictable but interesting plot, and explained the history of women spies during WWI, something I knew nothing about.]

Then I pulled out an Agatha Raisin mystery by M.C. Beaton because I wanted a lightweight British cozy mystery to while away the rest of the day.

As one does when one is me.

I admit I looked outside and contemplated walking into the screened-in porch to brush off the snow from the winter furniture, but that seemed like too. much. effort. for a woman in her jammies all day.

[Plus, that furniture is teak which is supposed to weather the elements so that it can develop a rich gray patina and show a little character.]  

And that, Dear Diary, is about all there is to say about Sunday instant.

I’m hoping that the temps will get up into the 20s today so I can comfortably go for a walk outside, but if not I’ll keep reading.

Up next in my TBR stack is Beartown by Fredrik Backman, so you know I’ll be enjoying the book in front of me.  Thus I say fear not, for I shall keep myself entertained while avoiding inclement weather.

Yours truly,

Ally Bean

A Cautionary Tale About Socks: One Woman’s Experience With KonMari

YOU MAY REMEMBER last fall I organized my section of our walk-in closet [discussed here].  What I didn’t tell you, my gentle readers, is that when I did that organization I adopted, sort of, the KonMari approach to tidying up said closet space.

Oh yes I did.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been 100% convinced her approach to organizing stuff is for me, but I’m open-minded so I gave it a go in our closet wherein I have a chest of drawers + a rod for hanging clothes + some shelves on which to put things.

Please note that in keeping with my experimental mindset I went full-out joy-sparking in that closet.

Uh huh.

SO LAST WEEKEND Zen-Den and I were going to dinner with friends at a nice restaurant in a swanky part of town.  I was wearing black pants, intending to wear a new pair of black leather + leopard print loafers with socks.

Black socks, obviously. Because winter is finally here and for the first time since last winter I needed to wear dark socks.

All was good in my uber-organized sock drawer, or so I thought, until I realized that during my Marie Kondo organizational purge last fall I’d saved 5 dark socks.

Five. Individual. Socks.

They are: 2 textured brown socks, 1 plain navy blue sock, 1 plain black sock, and 1 tone-on-tone patterned black sock.

APPARENTLY I GOT a little too joyful, and a trifle distracted, when I sorted through my dark socks last fall, giving the ones I didn’t want to the Salvation Army.

I think we can agree on that.

But be that as it may this situation created an interesting problem in the moment for which I had no immediate logical solution.  Thus I’ll share with you what turned out to be my four choices– and ask you to contemplate what you’d do in this situation.

My solution is in the comments below.

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HERE IS THE SOCK CONUNDRUM I FACED

1) I could wear the matching brown socks that didn’t go with the black pants and cute black leather + leopard print loafers;  or

2) I could be an outlaw a la Agnes and wear many possible mismatched sock combinations;  or

3) I could go sockless on a cold winter’s night;  or

4) I could give up wearing my cute loafers and wear black boots instead, knowing no one would see my socks that way.

WHAT DO YOU THINK I DID? WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

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Blogging: When Nagging Doubts Take Over Your Mind

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Would you like to know a secret? Something about me, as a blogger, that I’ve never told anyone before?

Well lean in closer, my gentle readers, here goes…

I’m spending way too much time worrying about what to write here.

I mean, if I learned one thing from my blogging break it is that when I’m not blogging I wake up in the morning with a mind filled with mellow thoughts.

And I start my day with a sense of clarity and purpose that’d make Covey [and his Seven Habits] happy.

But when I’m actively doing the bloggy thing I wake up in the morning uncertain, with confused ideas about what to write here and low-level anxiety about whether or not what I published earlier in the week was a good idea.

Doubts fill me in a way that only the Devil [and his Seven Mortal Sins] could take joy in.

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So you know what I did? How I handled these nagging doubts that worry me?

I conducted a study on my bloggy self and my writing behavior wherein: 1) I tracked the time I spent blogging during October;  2) I reviewed my following/commenting process looking for a better way to do it; and 3) I evaluated my categories with an eye to revision.

Here are my findings + changes:

1) I put in about 3 hours per day on all things blogging, such as researching, writing, editing, publishing, reading other blogs, and commenting;

2) I follow a variety of bloggers and to do this more easily I’ve ditched WP Reader entirely, choosing to upgrade my Feedly account wherein I can have everyone filed away, all orderly like;  and

3) I need to have fewer categories, well-defined in my head, so that when I sit down to write I’m focused and unworried, thus I’ve re-envisioned my blog with 7 categories.

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So has my little foray into personal blogging self-awareness helped me feel more in control of what I’m doing here?

In a word, YES.  Most definitely.

And maybe the message of this blog post is that once a year I need to revisit what I’m doing on this blog and how I want to keep on doing it, so that writing my personal blog doesn’t cause me to worry.

Seems obvious as I say it here, but sometimes the obvious doesn’t come so easily to me.

No secret about that, now is there?