Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Happy Vernal Equinox! Welcome, Spring!

Lilacs in the Front YardHappy Vernal Equinox!

Even though I’m bummed I didn’t get one really good snow day this past winter (am I the only adult I know who LOVES sledding?) I’m looking forward to spring.

I want to uncover my fig trees, dig in the dirt and watch the flowers bloom.

(I am now anxiously awaiting those precious few days when the lilac bush under my window is bursting with color and fragrance. Lilacs are my absolute favorite!)

I’m also getting that “spring cleaning” bug. Anyone else?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day – What Are You Up To?

1700s Valentine It’s Tuesday night. So it’s game night in the Harmon Household.

This means that the Husband of Awesome™ and a platoon of his cohorts are in the nether realms of the basement gaming, drinking scotch, and probably acting like neanderthals.

(They probably wouldn’t like me saying that.)

But that’s not hard to believe if you’d hear the laughter rolling up the stairs like thunder every so often. (One wonders what they jabber about. The game should be taking all their attention, right?)

They approached me last week and asked if it were all right to play tonight. I was dumbfounded.

I mean, I knew I wasn’t celebrating tonight. (We’re gearing up for a raucous party Friday night.) But what are the odds that the Husband of Awesome™ and every single one of his gaming buddies is free as well?

I smell a conspiracy.

I told them that I wasn’t the woman they needed to clear this with…after all, every one of them has a wife or fiancée. They should be asking their own women!

But darned if every one of them didn’t show up tonight.

So, I’m writing blog posts…and cleaning off the desk. Looking forward to Friday when I can spend a lot more time in the company of the Husband of Awesome™. What are you all up to tonight?

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Snowy Morning, Beautiful Sunset

Woke up to a snowy morning, just gorgeous. Would have loved to have stayed in and sat by the fire, but it was not to be.

A picture from the road:

How the day ended:

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Completely Off Topic: Jimmies or Sprinkles?

Cake Pops - Made by Kelly A. Harmon!Discussion: who knows what jimmies are? There was much discussion around my kitchen table the other day as we were eating some home-made confections…

Apparently jimmies (sprinkles, for those of you who are unfamiliar) must be a local (or regional) term. Is this actually the case? Please let me know in the comments.

What spurred the discussion was my creation of these little ladybug cake confections.

I received one of those “cake pops” pans for Christmas this year. Totally unexpected. I bake a lot of cookies — mostly Italian style biscotti using my Grandmother’s recipe — but I don’t bake cakes.

Single Ladybug Confection created by Kelly A. HarmonIt’s not that I don’t like cake. It’s just that a cake, even a small one, usually rots on the counter after a few days in this small household. It’s just a waste.

But cake pops on the other hand…are a neat way to economize…

…unless you decorate them, I’ve found. I could have bought a HUGE bakery-made sheet cake — fully themed – for what I paid for candy melts and icing pens, junior mints and confetti and jimmies.

But it was a lot of fun…if not as delicious as I thought they should have been.

Frankly, a slice of cake would have been fine.

But these do look so cute on the counter.

Now… no derisive comments about my decorating skills, okay? I’m a novice.

A plate of Ladybug Confections created by Kelly A. Harmon
Friday, January 6th, 2012

A Bit of a Rosy-Fingered Dawn

Up early as usual, I caught the sunrise over the trees this morning. Before the sun came up, the sky was awash in this gorgeous red. Beautiful morning here.

About a half hour later, the sun peeked out from behind the rise in my backyard.

Rosy Fingered Dawn:  January 6, 2012
 
Sunrise by Kelly A. Harmon - January 6, 2012

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Happy New Year, 2012!

Champagne bottle blowing its cork.Wishing everyone a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

To my writer friends:

May this year bring you more sales than you’ve ever had before. May your story ideas be ever-flowing, and may you not suffer any writers block. May we all be in a best-selling anthology together. 🙂

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

A Big Welcome Home

The presents unwrapped, the (delicious!) Rock and Rye all consumed, we loaded the car and came home from my Mom and Dad’s… the first Christmas we’d spent there in a lot of years.

My little home town sported this big “Welcome Home, Troops” sign and flag at the traffic circle a few miles from my home.

Very cool.

Welcome Home, Troops!






Thursday, December 15th, 2011

How Not to Wrap A Gift

Poorly Used Gift Wrap

So, one of my roommates asked to borrow some wrapping paper to wrap a gift. This is what happened.

Note the strategic placement of granola bars to hold down the corners to commit this atrocity.

The worst part? The gift is apparently for me.

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

My Highly Opinionated Gift Suggestions for the Writer in Your Life

Here’s my highly-opinionated view of gift-giving for writers. In case you’re wondering…and even if you’re not.

What Not to Give

Unless your writer friend mentions or asks for any of these things, stay away from:

  • Pens, pencils and writing implements of any kind. The fact is, we either already have enough, or we’ve got a really expensive favorite which you won’t want to spring for.
     
  • Notebooks, paper, diaries. For the same reasons.
     
  • “Writer” t-shirts, hats, tote bags, plaques, signs, etc. A teacher acquaintance once referred to these types of gifts for teachers – which usually included depictions of apples – as “crapple,” and the phrase has stuck with me ever since. IMO, items like these are like “crapple” for writers… Don’t do it.
     
  • The same goes for bookmarks, literary “action figures”, writing-related jewelry, bookends, etc. Um…yeah. Just don’t.
     
  • Printer paper, ink cartridges, toner or miscellaneous office supplies, and even stamps. These are rudimentary business items required by many writers who actively submit their manuscripts to agents, magazines and publishers.

    Giving these items is like giving a vacuum cleaner to your wife for her birthday. Don’t do it.
     

Think About Giving:

  • Books. Really. You can’t give a writer too many books…but not just any books. Buy the latest books available in the genre your writer friend specializes in. Writers need to be widely read in their field in order to keep up with trends. It’s impossible to buy all the books published in a given year in a particular category. You can help.
     
  • A Magazine or Journal Subscription. Ditto above. Get something in the writer’s field. I frankly don’t want a subscription to The New Yorker even though it’s highly respected. Give me Asimov’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog…

    Does your writer friend write poetry or literary fiction? Then a sampling of several different literary magazines might be on target. (It gets expensive ordering copies of litmags just to see if you want to submit.)

    Note: If your writer friend is anywhere beyond the beginning stages of writing, stay away from “how to” magazines such as Writer’s Digest, The Writer and Poets & Writers Magazine. (Unless they ask, of course.) Ditto how-to books.

  • A gift certificate to a book store.
     
  • An E-reader, like the Kindle, the Kindle Fire or Nook. (There are others… and as with all these suggestions, do your research before purchasing!)
     
  • A portable hard drive to back up all their manuscripts.
     
  • A small digital recorder he or she can carry to record story ideas and thoughts.
     
  • The new Asus Transformer Prime (quad core) tablet with keyboard accessory, available December 19. (To be sure, a gift to be given by a really close friend or perhaps a Husband of Awesome™.)
     

Gifts that “Go Away”

I’m a big fan of gifts that get consumed (so the house remains uncluttered):

  • Good coffee. (And don’t just go to Starbucks, not everyone — ahem — enjoys their over-roasted, burned up beans.)
     
  • A nice bottle of wine or spirits.
     
  • Chocolate. And do make certain it’s fine chocolate. You don’t have to buy a lot when you buy the good stuff: a little goes a long way.
     
  • A gift certificate for a massage (to help relieve that deadline stress and endless hours sitting at a desk) or for a manicure (because typing is hard on the hands).
     

Inexpensive Gifts, or Gifts from the Self

Every writer I know can use a little more time in their day to get their writing stuff done. Since the time machine hasn’t been invented yet, you really can’t lengthen their day…but you can give gifts that will save your favorite writer some time.

Of everything mentioned on this list, these are my favorites:

  • Coupons or gift certificates (that you can easily make yourself) for:
    • running to the store to pick up a few things
    • baby sitting or child care (especially useful on deadline days)
    • researching their next project
    • updating their web site (or building a new one)
    • taking digital pictures they can use on their blog or Web site, (or)
    • taking their portrait (every writer needs a good photo for their Web site and book jackets!)

  • Read what they’ve written, and write a thoughtful, honest review at:
    • amazon.com
    • goodreads
    • library thing
    • shelfari
    • your own blog, or any other review sites you’re familiar with.

  • Help with their marketing by:
    • “friending” them on Facebook, Google and other similar sites
    • following them on Twitter – and re-tweeting their clever and witty tweets
    • “liking”, digging, stumbling upon, +1-ing and “whatever else-ing” their blog posts on all the appropriate social media channels (super mondo bonus points if you go through your writer friend’s entire blog and do this for every appropriate post)
    • “tagging” all their books at amazon.com
    • adding their blog to your ‘blogroll’
    • linking to their Web site from your own
  • Bake a casserole, make a lasagna or some other kind of “toss it in the oven, crockpot or microwave” meal that can be put together in minutes. If you can’t cook, there are lots of ready to serve items in the grocery store!
     
  • Better yet: come over and make dinner (and stay. Writers are notorious for spending too much time alone.)
     

A Final Note

It’s nice that you think of your writer friends, and want to give a gift to highlight that fact, but, writers are people, too. Writing might suck up their entire life, but they’re not all about writing. They have interests outside the written word. (Would you buy your construction-worker friend a new pair of steel-toed boots for Christmas?)

In short: you don’t have to give a writer a gift related to writing.

And if you have no clue: ask! If you’re close enough to give a gift to someone, they’ll appreciate that you want to give them something they’ll like.

Which also means: if you don’t know them well enough to ask, maybe you shouldn’t be buying a gift. That would be like stalking. Ick.

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Harpist Extraordinaire

Harp Check out my latest acquisition!

A very good friend, with whom I work, is retiring and moving away. As a consequence, she’s bequeathed this beauty to me.

She gave me a lesson on Saturday, and now I’m a harpist extraordinaire. Well, not quite…but soon, soon! It helped that I already play several instruments.

The reading music bit wasn’t hard at all. The getting two hands to coordinate on multiple strings: a bit tricky.

By the end of the weekend, however, I was able to pluck out a recognizable version of “Stille Nacht” (chosen both for its simplicity and for the season).

I’ve never played a string instrument before. I can’t believe the way this thing resonates. The floor beneath my feet vibrates when I play. It’s delightful.

And playing brought on a whole spurt of creativity. I may have to consider a character who plays a harp…