Magic in The Morning Green Smoothie

Hermione Granger and I have a lot in common.  Big hair, huge intellect, and the ability to make magic.

Her magic is of the wizarding sort.  I make smoothie magic.  My current smoothie obsession, just like Ms. Granger, packs a punch.

Take it Malfoy!

Take it Malfoy!

Ingredients

Ingredients

For 1 Serving

4 Ounces Almond Milk

1/2 Banana

1 Scoop Protein Powder ( I use Perfect Fit Protein Powder)

2 Tbs. Chia Seeds

2 Tbs. Powdered Peanut Butter

1 Shot Espresso

2 Handfuls of Spinach

Cup of Ice

Combine all ingredients and blend!

Drink the Magic!

photo (2)

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How to Write a Novel // Part 2: My Tale of Finding a Character Worth Loving

I read that Stephanie Meyer, author of the runaway bestselling Twilight series, had muses give her ideas, like in a freaking Greek myth: MUSES.  I may have found it on her blog or something.  But, the story goes  like this: Steph wasn’t a professional writer or anything, she was a stay-at-home mom with a background in … I don’t remember (did some research, she studied English at BYU and was a receptionist pre-babies).  Soon after the birth of her second or third child she had an epic dream.  In the dream, a glittery vampire boy lays in a meadow with an average teenage girl, he’s trying not to bite/kill her, and all the while falling in love with her. The next day Ms. Meyer opens a new document on her computer and writes the scene from her dream (ends up being Chapter 13). Thusly, out her fingers in a matter of months flies the Twilight universe with its super moral and yet still bloodsucking vampire boy entwining himself (sometimes literally) with a typical (if not completely mundane) human girl.

This is what solid gold fiction looks like off camera

That time when her dream became a book that became a movie with actors being awkward in a meadow.

She wrote the story as a gift for her sister, who loved it and encouraged Stephanie to send it to publishers. She shopped it around a little bit (15 inquires is a little, seriously, like so very little) and boom bang shamalamadingdong it’s a worldwide bestselling mega-franchise.

Now, I do not want to diminish the work and effort Ms. Meyer did on honing and crafting and editing her books, I just want to share a story that is completely and entirely different from, and does not even reside on the same planet, as my own.

My characters did not come to me from the ether.  And, most of the time they are quite slippery to hold onto  (another way of saying ‘sometimes I have no effing idea what or who I’m writing‘). They are made out of my brain working very hard to craft people worth reading, people worth loving.

So, here’s how I got to my cast of characters:

1.  I spent the lion’s share of the last decade hanging out with real life teenagers pretty regularly. It was not with the expressed purpose of turning them into fiction, it just so happens that I genuinely enjoy almost-adult humans and find their entire selves the most interesting of any other kind of human. I could (and probably will) write more about why teens are the best.

2.  I remembered and rehashed my high school experience with friends (sorry for that guys – you know far too much about 16 year old Erin, but luckily I know a lot more about 16 year old Erin too, and will endeavor to only be the most whole parts of her)

3.  I decided to figure out the type of character I was writing before figuring out what type of story I was writing. (i.e. there is still very little plot in the novel, its more of a setting up the pins and watching them fall kinda situation)

4.  Along the to-plot-or-not-to-plot lines, I wanted a character that was highly relatable and lovable, also flawed, more than I wanted a scenario full of danger & intrigue (those things are not mutually exclusive btw). So, I made a list of qualities, quirks and internal dilemmas of real teen people I know, narrowed the list to my favorites, and then started writing scenes that let me work some of that out. For instance: My girl character loves order, and uses it to cope with chaos, so I wrote a scene where she is doodling a zig-zag pattern around the edge of her beloved mint green day planner on the first day at a new school.

5a.  I wrote out some autobiographical stories in the voice of my main character that seemed very teen – first kisses, best kisses, obsessive crushes, feeling lonely in large crowds, driving a car when I still had to think about what I was doing … you know, the usual.

5b. I deleted a lot of that, but the parts that remain are my very favorite parts.

6. I wrote a secondary voice and main character for months that I ended up deleting because I was having a hard time empathizing with her and I found her story ultimately un-interesting, or less-interesting – she also happened to be 30+ years old (see #1). Delete Delete Delete

At the end of the day I wanted to create a honest and realistic teenager. I am finding it NOT simple.  It is easy to be cliche or to just write myself – which ends up reading 32 not 16.  At the very least I am doing some pretty solid post-processing 16 years in the making, and that’s good.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald-

Below are two photos of me at 16/17 years old for your enjoyment. You can find Part One: My Tale of Getting Started here.

in a boyfriend's letterman jacket - yeah, I was that girl

in a boyfriend’s letterman jacket  – yeah, that was a thing that happened – as you can see I feel weird about it too **

A little happy and a little uncertain and a little 90's hair-fabulous. That about sums it up.

A little happy and a little uncertain and a little 90’s hair-fabulous. That about sums it up.

** not a reflection on said ex-boyfriend, just that I had lettered in 2 (maybe 3) different sports while in HS and should’ve been wearing my own jacket.

Currently Crushing // JR’s Swaxy September

Oh, yes.  Married women still have crushes (here are Erin’s).  They just look a little different.  Here’s whats got me smitten like a kitten, and feeling a little swaxy this September.

Ear Candy

In 11 years of marriage, Brett Dennen is the only man my husband has ever accussed me of having a crush on.  Which I don’t by the way.  Gingers aren’t my thing.  But I’ve been a fan of Brett’s (we are on a first name basis) music for awhile.  His lyrics are sooo good.  They are either super poignant and thought provoking or really fun. And I must say most of his music has a nice groove to it. Like you can get a really good hip roll or at least a hip wiggle in. Comeback Kid in particular is a great booty shaking song. He is a singer/songwriter and he writes about the best and worst parts of life.  His music reminds me of the music I grew up listening to on drives up to Bear Valley with my parents. If you fancy yourself a folk fan than give him a try.  His just released Wild Child and the album is coming out in October.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.  You’ll be running through fields skipping in no time.

And speaking of gingers and hips….

Weasley is Our King

Weasley is Our King

On the Tele

Delivering Babies by  Bike

Delivering Babies by Bike

It is no secret that I have a deep undying love for the BBC. There is nothing like a good period drama.  Call the Midwife is no exception. I’ve mentioned before that I am obsessed with this show. But i watched all the available episodes. Then Netflix made my day and added Season 2. Rejoice! Rejoice! So now you can currently watch the first two seasons on Netflix.   This show has nuns, rich Brits, poor East Enders, and so many women in labor.    (Side note- 1950’s English midwives had women push laying on their sides.  Genius. Why did this practice ever stop?)   Hmm….rereading my description and thinking that women in labor and nuns doesn’t sound like it would be very interesting.  But it seriously is so good.  I spent my kids nap time yesterday tucked away in my bedroom watching it on my Kindle Fire.  It was a great escape.  Also, systematically exposing yourself to labor decreases the likelihood of actually having to birth anything ever again.

On My Face

Nothing bland about this face wash

Nothing bland about this face wash

Ultrabland.  The lovelies at LUSH make this wonderful product.  You put it on your damp face.  Massage for a bit.  Then wipe off with a wet wash cloth. Don’t try to wash it off.  Doesn’t work.  I promise. Don’t try it.   It removes all of your make up but leaves your natural oil on your face. You don’t even have to use a moistruizer after.  It smells like roses and your face will seriously glow afterwards. I’m in my thirties and somehow this cleanser makes me feel like I am very naturally fighting the aging process. Not sure if that is true. But I believe it.

Yummy Yummy

Magic in Cookie Form

Magic in Cookie Form

I eat Paleoish. No added sugar, no grain, and just little bits of dairy. I can live with this. But I can not and will not live without chocolate chip cookies. While my family watched terrible, terrible football I whipped up these babies, the Best Ever Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Here’s a pro tip: Get your eggs to room temperature. Don’t skip this step. It’s there to help you, not hurt you. And please, please, please refigerate your batter as instructed. You can wait thirty extra minutes for your cookies.

Drinky Drinky

Go for the vanilla one, it's way better.

Go for the vanilla one, it’s way better.

Did you know that you can milk an almond?  Seriously, go to your pantry and pick up an almond.  If you look really closely, right by the pointy end, you’ll find the udder.  Cow’s milk is so overrated.  Jack Lelane once said something like…”Humans are the only animals that drink the milk of another animal”.  Actually I think he said something about suckling and teets, but regardless of the semantics Jack was on to something.  Try some almond milk .  It is delish!  I adore it in my iced Americanos.
And while you are at it, get a quick workout in with Jack.

Collard Wrapped Enchiladas

I’m a  Californian.  Nature and nurture dictate that I love Mexican food.  

See how happy I am.  My tacos haven't even showed up yet and I'm smiling.

See how happy I am. My tacos haven’t even showed up yet and I’m smiling.


And I love Enchiladas!  But I don’t eat tortillas so we’ve got a problem.  Or maybe we don’t.  Enter collard greens.  These giant leafs are a favorite of mine .  I always keep a bunch of them in my fridge.  I mostly use them as wraps.  But Erin’s sister, Rocket, made Collard Wrapped Enchiladas  last week and they were sooooo good.  She doesn’t really do recipes.  So I recreated them using my own recipe.  These are not Paleo.  More Paleoish.  They have beans and use premade enchilada sauce.  But they are  Muy delicioso!

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 Bunch of Whole Leaf Collard Greens

1  Jar of Enchilada Sauce ( I like Trader Joes)

I  Can of Black Beans

1 Pound  Spicy Italian Sausage (casings removed)

Diced Onions, Celery, and Carrots

*I threw in some diced bell peppers because I had them in the fridge.

*Also, you could use any ground meat you want.  You will need to season it thought.  Some cumin would be lovely.

 

 

1.  Steam collards for 7-8 minutes.  I used a large stock pot with a vegetable steamer.  Set Aside.

2.  Brown meat in pan.  Seat aside.

3.  Saute onions, celery and carrots.

4.  Drain beans and add to vegetables.  Warm in pan.

5.  Combine vegetables, beans and meat.

6.  Pour some of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a baking dish.

7.  Begin rolling up meat and vegetable mixture inside of collard greens.  Then place in baking dish.  Pro tip: Wrap them up tiny and tight.  Otherwise they are very hard to cut through.

8.   Pour enchilada sauce over the wraps.

9.  Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

10.  Serve with guacamole.

Currently Crushing // Erin’s Swaxy September

Here at 230somethings our favorite thing is favoritism. We’ve all got it, we just gotta own it. I have a favorite day of the week (wednesday, always and forever), some favorite people (husband, besties, the vlogbrothers), more than a few favorite foods, a couple favorite bands (john mayer, U2, jason mraz), at least two favorite colors (mustard, cobalt blue) … we (humans) love preference. So, in the name of picking favorites here are mine this month (check out JR’s here):

BOOK

Eleanor & Park by: Rainbow Rowell

this book gave me all the feels

Like so much in my life recently, what I want to say has already been said by epic YA novelist and internet guru John Green. He says, “If you read a lot, you can get jaded. You can forget how a reader has to be generous to a book as much as a book has to be generous to its reader. You feel like maybe everything worth doing has been done, and nothing will ever blow you away ever again. And then you read a book like Eleanor and Park, and you are shocked out of your complacency and grateful to be alive.”

So, yeah, that. Read it. No really, go right now to Amazon and purchase this book. (ProTip: Rainbow  released another novel called FANGIRL this past week – it is getting great reviews and is already on my shelf waiting to be read immediately following the JG book I’m reading now)

FOODthing

Pop it. Lock it. Make it a double.
Pop it. Lock it. Make it a double.

I cannot stop drinking espresso, over ice, in my own kitchen. It’s called Nespresso and I am in love with a machine … hold a sec, I’ll be right back … ok, I had to make one and its frothy aroma is captivating. Delicious.

INTERNET THINGAMAJIG

SPOTIFY

spotify-logo

It’s like a love letter to music and those who listen to lots of it. It is a paid service if you want it on your phone or without ads. I’ve been subscribed for almost six months and I’ll never go back. I don’t buy music any more, but am still suporting the artists who make the musak I love. I am a little obsessed. Click here to hear my favorite recent playlist (spoiler: it is a working playlist of my main male character currently named Bryan)

ON MY FACE

Outlast Lipstain in Wild Berry Wink

it’s a winking berry, a beautiful berry who’s winking at you. what the what does that mean?

Photo on 9-11-13 at 4.55 PM

you know what’s awk? taking a selfie in red lipstick, that’s what.

It works like a marker and doesn’t bleed into my newly acquired lip lines (thanks aging, you’re a gem). While my mister doesn’t like red lips, I think they are super swaxy and make a normal greasy mommy day feel fancy. The mauve one is also worth the $$

MUSIC

Watsky. Watsky. Watsky.

If you are an internet human, particularly a YouTube internet human, you already know Watsky. But, for everyone else he is pretty unknown. George Watsky, to his mother, is a spoken word poet-slash-rapper kid from the Bay and is on every one of my current mixes from workout to contemplative. If talent had a name it would be Watsky.

Also, Imagine Dragons.

SCREEN TIME

I am tempted to say Friday Night Lights (because I always say FNL), but instead I will recommend Teen Wolf for highest honors (you weren’t expecting something highbrow were you? for shame).

You may be aware that the Netflix homepage gives categorical suggestions. After scrolling through “Talking Animal Cartoons” and “Movies based on Children’s Books” and “Because you watching Dragon Tales” I get to two consecutive categories just for me: “Teen Drama” and “Shows about Teens”. It is a subtle but important difference (no, really, it isn’t though).

my heart beats only for teen wolf gifs

Since the passing of The O.C. I’ve been waiting for a replacement. Gossip Girl: same writers, NYC-Love, couldn’t hold a candle. Hart of Dixie: the same writers, great feel, but wrong again. Then I stumbled upon Teen Wolf, an MTV creation about boys who are wolves, and BAM! there it was:  a well written, self-aware, teen drama with lore and, total bonus, a Seth Cohen redux in the character of Stiles.

his vicious rhetoric too

So, there it is: My Swaxy September list. That was fun, right? Let’s do it again next month with Obsession October, wherein I will geek-out about all things YouTube and quote the Vlogbrother’s some more.

Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we are quoting

– John Green

How to write a novel // Part 1: My Tale of Getting Started

By: Erin

moleskine

at starbucks taking selfies of my writing process today

There are so many excellent blogs and articles and books on this topic. As someone who has not finished even one manuscript I cannot tote myself an expert – not even a little bit. But, I assume if you are reading this you are curious about the novel writing process, or maybe just mine. So, here goes…

How I got started…

When I was six my first grade teacher asked our class what we wanted to be when we grew up. A lot of boys said Firefighters or Policemen or Pilots (not the lawyers or store managers or electrical engineers they would become) and a lot of the girls said Nurses, Mommies, and also, Firefighters (maybe the girls were a little more reality-based than they boys, but that’s a blog for another time).

I said “I want to be an Author when I grow up.”

You should know that in 1st grade my favorite foods were camembert cheese and abalone. So yeah, I was a weird kid.

Once I learned to read I loved stories about fairies, fantasy and magic. Teachers were instructed to turn me away from windows, particularly windows with trees, because I would spend class time making up stories in my head about all the little people who skipped between branches and stole kisses behind green leaves, instead of listening to directions on how to fill out grammar worksheets.  I can think of much worse ways to spend one’s easily distracted childhood. For nothing came as close to touching the magic in stories as the making of the stories themselves.  Though, in retrospect I could have used the grammar lessons.

I spent years trying to reign in the ole’ imagination so I could, you know, learn how to do the simple math my phone now does for me. But, all joking aside, somewhere along the line I forgot that I wanted to write. Going through years of higher education with too much required reading and even more required writing distracted me. I learned a trade. I became an intellectual expert in sitting down with people who are suffering, called myself a therapist. I would get good at it, I would work, and then, maybe, with enough street-cred, I would retire as a writer. Become a memoirist, or something.

Along the way, I also forgot how much I loved to read. I was that kid that would come home from school, sit down with a book in the den, and read until mom had to come by and turn on a light. Sometimes I would skip dinner.   I don’t know when I stopped doing this.  I figured I had a hard time reading as much as I used to because I harbored a secret fear that I would love the world of my books more than my real life. Either that or it was because my real life was pretty damn busy and I had no time for reading like a child. Whatever it was, I had forgotten something intrinsically me.

Then, exactly a year ago our little family went to Hawaii for a month. (I know. I know. Hawaii. For. A. Month!!! It’s crazy and you can be jealous. Hell, I am jealous of 2012 Erin right now. I could tell you that leading up to the trip we had a total sh*t year and we deserved it, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. We did have a horribly stressful year, but no one deserves luxury. We are lucky and blessed and insanely grateful. That’s it.).  I made a single goal for the trip: to read 10 books.

2 of the books I read were written by friends of mine (both worth a read, by the way).   It was in their reading that I realized something terrible about myself over the last decade. I was a pissed-off cranky reader.  I had stopped being generous, I had stopped enjoying the process.  It was because my friends were so like me that I was sent into a tailspin of insane jealousy. Like, so out-of-mind covetous. And it wasn’t just Megan and Anne, it was every author I ever read. I was, so effing sick with envy that I had suppressed my childhood insatiable desire for books. It wasn’t that I had been busy. It wasn’t the fear of real life being less real that fictional life. It wasn’t even the pages upon pages of research paper writing. It was pure raging, green as jade, gouge out my eyeballs, jealousy.

While reading a entirely different YA fiction and after the hundredth audible groan/sigh/growl by me, Mr. Man said, “Erin, what is your problem?” only kinder (he is always kinder than I report).

I responded, “I think I need to write a book.”

To which, he said, “Ok. Then why don’t you do it already.”

So, I started writing my thoughts in a moleskine journal. They were all over the place.  I knew I wanted to write about a teenager. I knew I didn’t want to write a dystopian novel (though i heart them muchos). And, that was about it.

I wrote at night and kept a google-doc open on multiple devices around the house, adding sentences here and there. In February I started writing one full day a week, thanks to my sister watching my kiddos. I made headway. I picked up more books to read. I feel back in love with reading.

And, frankly, if I never finish this novel, if it never makes its way into a stranger’s hands, if it just sits in my computer title-less, I will still be grateful. Because, I am trying, and I am writing, and it feels like breathing.

I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them

.Anne Rice

Stay tuned for How to Write a Novel // Part 2: My Tale of Finding a Character Worth Loving

I’m Not “Ready for some Football”

Ah, football season is upon us and I could care less. I can’t believe I spent a decade of my life cheering for a sport I don’t even enjoy watching. Obviously that is why I was always facing the other direction and shaking my booty to the beats. But my cheerleading days are behind me and my husband loves watching football. Most of our Sundays will now look like this: My hubby managing his fantasy team, my kids bopping around asking for snacks and me feeling a little cray cray. So I must find a way to survive the season.

Here is the game plan:

1. Watch Musicals and Period Dramas

Our living room has our computer in it. Perfect location to sneak off to and stream something wonderful. Call the Midwife is my current obsession.

2. Get Crafty

If I feel like i want to be fairly present and be in the same room as the game, I can save myself from total boredom by keeping my hands and brain mostly occupied. Perfect opportunity to whip up a beanie.

3. Become a Domestic Goddess

People love to eat when they watch football. I love to bake. Great time to try out a new recipe. This Fall I will create the ultimate Paleo Pumpkin Bread.

4. Invite the Besties

Misery loves company. Hubbies can watch the games together. Kidlets entertain eachother. Mommies sneak onto the front porch with a glass of vino.

So I’m hoping this will work and I will somehow survive to the Superbowl. I love the Superbowl. Seriously, Madonna, Beyonce, Britney….doesn’t matter. I live for the Halftime Show.

So do you love or loathe football?

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