It’s crunch time. My parents will be here in a month and a half and there is so much to do. I setup a phone number for the new house yesterday. That was actually pretty easy. Then, after reading the new draft planning & zoning regulations, I spent the morning reading forms and doing research and setting up accounts and generally doing the legwork required to get everything up and running. This will be my life for a while. I’m seeing double already. *another BIG sigh*
On a planning note, in addition to planning this project with my parents, I’m outlining my new book. That’s right, this pantser is doing some experimental outlining to see how I like it. Eep! With so many things swirling around in my head, I think I need the added structure if I want to get this first draft down on paper by June. Fingers crossed.
I spent a fair amount of time pontificating this morning once the panic subsided. I am not comfortable with uncertainty. Thankfully, my husband knows this about me so when I go a little panicky, he steps in with a calm and level head. That being said, I think that local government (and really any governmental body) has a really tough job trying to appease the masses and the special interests and those in positions of power without going completely loony. I’m curious to see what kind of response the draft planning & zoning regs get. The area I’m interested in seems like it would be difficult to enforce, so I’m struggling to understand how the City expects code enforcement to stay on top of things. BUT, I got most of the exasperation out of my system this morning and am ready to move on to more pleasant things.
And more planning.
And less panic.
And maybe some pancakes.
I’ve suffered from migraines since I was in elementary school, and last year around this time, I had a huge flare up, losing 3-4 days a week to debilitating headaches. After six months of treatment with a completely fabulous doctor, I was able to break the cycle, but then we started talking prevention and I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of going the pharmaceutical route (even though I know it’s worked well for many people). So in January I did food sensitivity testing and stated working on a 12-week diet plan to eliminate inflammatory foods, identify triggers, and (hopefully) help prevent migraines without medical intervention. And so far, things are going well. I’m down to 2-3 manageable migraines a month, which is a miracle compared to last year.
So why do I bring this up? Because today is O day and O is for onions, one of my very favorite foods and one that, as it turns out, I am sensitive to. I haven’t eaten onions or anything onion related in 10 weeks. And it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I mean, I grew up in New Mexico. Onions were a staple in my diet and onion powder is found in an awful lot of mixes and sauces. It can be tricky.
And then there are oats. This one shouldn’t have surprised me. Oatmeal has always given me heartburn, but I ignored it because….well, it’s oatmeal. That’s what you eat when you can’t eat spicy things or when you’re wanting to be more healthy, yes? Apparently, no. At least, not for me. Cutting out oats can be a challenge, especially if you are also cutting out gluten. Many gluten free breads and mixes contain oats or oat flour. It’s a bummer. But I’ve managed.
A few suprising things about this diet? My husband and son are enjoying the new foods I’ve been making (not my daughter, but she’s so picky I wasn’t really expecting her to). As a family, our eating habits have gotten much much better. And it’s been interesting having to cook with things that I’m not used to using.
What does this have to do with writing or home improvement? Nothing really. But I will say that I’ve been considering food choices quite a bit for our new family project, and homemade roasted chickpeas have become my favorite writing snack. My next food project is to find a good stir-fry sauce that doesn’t have soy or coconut, neither of which I can have. Any suggestions?
For your entertainment, here’s my list of prohibited foods:
And a couple of food additives
N is for Names #AtoZChallenge
I’m reading Joe Clifford’s third book in the Jay Porter series Give Up The Dead (Joe’s featured on today’s #WhatsYourStory post on my blog – check him out!). Given all the things going on in my life right now, I was struck by a comment in the book about the name of a restaurant – Julie’s – even though there had never been a Julie. That’s the scenario we’re expecting with the new business. “So, who’s Melissa Leigh?” “Er, there’s no such person, but here’s the story…”
The story behind the name is actually really simple. My parent’s wanted to name it Melissa’s, which is my middle name. And I wanted to add my sister, so it became Melissa Leigh’s. It’s a family company and its name is rooted in family. Of course, someone suggested yesterday that I make up a story about a woman who died in one of the rooms and that got me to thinking, maybe I’ll make up several stories and pick the one that seems right for the audience. What Melissa Leigh would you like to hear about?
When I was born, my parents named me Amy Melissa knowing that my initials would spell my name. Of course, when I was learning to write, I wrote my M upside down so they still call me Awy from time to time…even my sister, who wasn’t even born yet!
What’s the point of all of this? Naming is important. Or sometimes it’s totally arbitrary, but we tend to want to see significance in the names people choose. For instance, right now my children go to school with three Tenzins. I certainly wasn’t the only Amy in my age group and Isaac and Lily have both gone to school with their share of kids by the same names. Why do people choose the names they do?
Which brings me to writing. As writers, we have to name characters. I personally hate having to come up with names and I think I’m pretty horrible at it. I ask my husband and my writing group and even my children to help me come up with names for my characters. If a character was inspired by a real person, I invariably name the character using the same initials and don’t even notice until someone who knows me well points it out. (Now you’re wondering if you’re in one of those books, eh?)
In a craft class several years ago, the speaker talked at length about the use of symbolism and theme in naming, stressing the importance of choosing strong names that reflect our characters traits, desires and/or needs.
Well, suffice it to say, this is not my strong point. Though I did enjoy naming my children (one after a Bible story and one after a Smashing Pumpkins song…go figure).
I’m reading the Harry Potter books with my daughter and so magic and muggles come up regularly in conversation. This is my fourth time through the series, and it’s amazing to me how seeing the stories through a set of fresh eyes changes it for me. The last time I read it, I was more concerned about how my son would handle the emotional situations (he’s very sensitive). This time through, I’m marveling at how Rowling crafted her adventures and enjoying the heck out of watching my daughter make the inferences that Rowling clearly intended her to make. It’s fun reading books as a writer.
My muggle concerns today include more work toward getting the new house setup, finishing up edits on a short story so I can submit before April 30 and starting my new manuscript. I attended a book launch today (that’s where the murder comes in – congratulations to Becky Clark on her book baby!). I’m going to head into my office first thing tomorrow morning (that’s Monday while we’re on the M thread) and start putting all the pieces together. It’s always an exciting (and something manic time), starting a new manuscript., so here’s to some ccreativity and endurance.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! The #AtoZChallenge is on the downward slope to the finish. Glad you’re here with me
Logo design can be a soul-sucking process. Often the cost is high, and there is a necessary back and forth between the client and the designer, which can lead to frustration on both ends. When I was running a marketing company over a decade ago, I remember having a serious falling-out over a logo. Of course, my partner and I were about as stubborn as two human beings can get!
Luckily, the multimedia company I worked with on the logo for Melissa Leigh, LLC is the best! Leona St. Louis (wasn’t it lucky that today is L day!) is creative and patient and pays attention to detail. The finished logo arrived today via email. So, I’m going to show you the logo and do a little backstory on the company.
Let’s start with the backstory.
My mother often mentioned the idea of renting out the back room of her house in New Mexico as a bed and breakfast. Last fall, I stayed at a B&B in Georgia that had me daydreaming too. And like most amazing things in my life, I was struck by a crazy and wonderful idea. Why not start a bed and breakfast in Colorado? Mom and dad could move closer and we’d have a project that would bring us all together—one that my mother and I had both been daydreaming about.
There have been about a million decisions, lots of plans, and a few compromises between that fateful day when my parents agreed to my scheme and today. But the result is Melissa Leigh, LLC and our upcoming short-term rental project. We bought a gorgeous house in a neighboring town—a place where my parents will be comfortable and connected to the community. We’ve been working tirelessly on setting up the business end of things, but also on helping my parents make a big BIG move.
At the foundation of Melissa Leigh, LLC is family. I come from an extremely close-knit family and living apart from them has been an unfortunate, but sometimes necessary part of life. I’m thrilled that in a few short months, my mom and I will be able to get together for coffee and it won’t involve plane tickets and hours in the car. My dad and I will be able to do work together again (something that he says he enjoys—making me a little teary-eyed). And I’m thankful to be in a place in my life where I can dream big and live those dreams.
Here’s the new logo. Keep an eye out for more information and updates about Melissa Leigh’s, including the continuing saga as chronicled here for the #AtoZChallenge.
My first purchase for the new house was an easy choice: a Keurig. Because if I’m going to work, there needs to be easy access to coffee. I’ve been on a strict elimination diet for the past 9 weeks and I’m fairly particular about my coffee. I have to make it myself and it has to be just so. I’m especially fond of the almond milk I have at home (coffee shop almond milk isn’t my favorite), so making my own coffee is key. AND, I don’t drink a lot of coffee—usually just one cup a day—so the Keurig is ideal for me.
For the purposes of the new house, I ordered a fancy new Keurig that does single cups and carafes. That’s a clue, by the way.
I’m a high-maintenance coffee drinker on the best of days. I like a little bit of coffee with my milk and sweetener. In college, my friend Becca and I used to have mocha Tuesdays. If it’s swimming in cream and chocolate and there’s just a hint of a coffee flavor, I’m there. When I gave up dairy, I settled on almond milk as the best alternative. When I had to give up Splenda, I settled on Sugar in the Raw as my favorite sweetener (I tried Monkfruit but it was a fail and I can’t stand Stevia). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to take my coffee slightly less creamy and sugary, but not much. And an after lunch coffee is my favorite afternoon treat, especially when I’m writing.
When I’m in the middle of writing a book, my coffee consumption goes way up. I try to stick with decaf after my first cup of fully caffeinated coffee, and I try to keep total number of cups below 3 so I’m not a jittery mess all night. BUT, when I’m in the middle of a project, I get absorbed. When I finish off a cup, I often get up to make another as an excuse to stretch. But my brain is so wrapped up in what I’m working on that I don’t always keep track of how many “stretch” breaks I take in one day. My body reminds me later when I can’t get to sleep.
So, coffee is both an essential part of my creative process, and a crutch. My Keurig is my best friend and my dealer, depending on the day. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I start spending more time in the new house in May, my cup of coffee will be ready for me.
J is for Jill #AtoZChallenge
Today, I went shopping for party supplies with my friend Crissy and her sister Jill. Crissy tells me that Jill is a favorite at her school because she is a ball of sunshine, and I agree. Jill is silly and sweet and a fun girl to visit the craft store with. Now, my friend Crissy is an artist and she may have a teeny addiction to art/craft supplies (and honestly, she knows what to do with them so more power to her). What I learned today is that Jill can give Crissy a run for her money anyday. Jill loves to paint and one of her projects while visiting with her parents is to do stencil designs outside the art studio Crissy is working on. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.
Spending the afternoon with Crissy and Jill was a nice reminder to look for the joy in everyday life. Jill’s spirit is so bright and shiny, it’s impossible to hang out with her and not feel happy. It was fun to watch her shop—to see what she found interesting and hear her opinions on the things we found. It reminds me a little bit of watching a movie you’ve already seen with someone who hasn’t. I don’t know about you but I LOVE doing that! I will happily watch the same movie over and over if I get to see your reaction to it. At the end of our shopping trip, I was rewarded with a big bear hug from my sweet new friend.
As I look back over my day, I can make you a long list of all the things I accomplished. And that’s awesome! Yay! But my favorite part of the day was my outing with Jill. And by some twist of fate, today is J day so this post is for you Jill!
There is a business component to our home improvement project. In addition to bringing my parents closer to us, the project will involve a business venture that will mean a shift in career path for my mother and a management and marketing challenge for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about business plans, contingency plans, and diversification.
Part of my overall plan has led be down a path I hadn’t considered before. About a year ago, I signed up to be a consultant for Perfectly Posh, a direct sale line of pampering products. My entire motivation for signing up was to receive a percentage off of products I was already buying (I was using some off-the-shelf lotions until one of them turned my daughter into a lobster and I decided to shift to more natural products…but that’s a whole different story). I never planned to sell the products myself since my plate is already overloaded and I’m not in a position to go out and do parties.
Then, this new project with my parents came about and I realized that if I sold Posh on the side, it could help support the new business. So, today is H and H is for hosting parties. This Saturday I’m hosting a Posh party at my house. I’m not a hardcore saleswoman, but I do love the products, so we’ll see how this goes. One thing I do like about Posh as a business is that it doesn’t require any inventory, so it’s not a bad choice for people looking for an easy added income. This may very well be the one and only non-virtual party I host.
And because I’m working on building this business, here’s the website: https://amyrivers.po.sh.
Anyway, throwing this party gave me an excellent excuse to hit one of my favorite home décor stores and do a little shopping. I purchased a few items that I can use this weekend and then save for the new house and all the exciting events that may be taking place there in the future.
I realize that I’m being vague about the new business and I apologize, but it is intentional. I promise I’ll have more details for you over the course of the next few weeks but for now I’m taking things slow.
Last week was hectic, so I decided to give myself the day off on Saturday. My G post is a day late and I’m not feeling guilty (despite it fitting the G theme).
Before lounging, we spent time looking at freestanding bathtubs and opening bank accounts. We were at the bank for two hours due to glitches (see that, G again) but Melissa Leigh, LLC is all set up and ready to go. Pretty exciting stuff in the works and I’ll be sharing more as we move toward the summer.
In the meantime, my self-imposed day of relaxation has left me with a to-do list a mile long so, for now, let me say goodbye and I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.