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Archive for May, 2011

Of course if you make a list of your favourite things, you’re going to keep thinking of even more things you love after you hit “publish.” Here are a few more that came to me in a flash of “oh, of course, I love that, too!”:

high tea
Eureka moments
moccasins
airplanes
post-apocalyptic/dystopic themes and stories
homeopathy
treehouses
the military alphabet
midwifery
things with feathers

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So, I’ve been experiencing some writer’s block lately. I have what I feel are some great ideas for three different books I want to write, but I keep getting stuck. Fortunately, there are loads of great writing blogs out there with lots of fabulous and reassuring posts on breaking through blocks – like Laini Taylor’s post today and Libba Bray’s recent post – but I had an idea beyond my usual freewriting-solves-everything trick. I remembered something that I read (I think it was on the wonderful Pipedreaming children’s lit review blog), that if you put all of your favourite things into your book, you can’t really go wrong. Well, I guess you could – I could just turn into an unfocused mishmash of all your beloved influences and things – but I was inspired by the idea to create a list of, well, my favourite things, of course. This isn’t a place for my favourite movies or my favourite bands or my favourite books. It might be aspects of those things, but really, it’s all about the details of life. I guess it’s like my personalized version of that book about 10,000 things that make you happy. But that’s coo.

So here we go:

artichokes

scarves
morning coffee
wacky old ladies
kitchen dance parties
dance parties of any kind, really
shoulders
deciduous forests
makeovers/before & afters
springtime
having a favourite part in a song (as in “Oooh, I love this part! Listen, wait for it..,” like the bass solo in Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’ or Cyndi Lauper’s long note at the end of ‘Money Changes Everything’)
home canned peaches
midnight
crackling fires
pomp and circumstance; ritual and ceremony
baseball
French braids

antique shops
sci-fi boys
Olympic women’s gymnastics
British things
sing-alongs
Twix bars
the English language
Mennonite culture and history
crushes
secret hiding places
Strongbow cider
fresh new school supplies
Archie comics
costumes
Vienna
sleepovers
Christmas
school stories
Dutch light
the landscape of childhood
Tilt-A-Whirls
country drives
daydreams
bags/totes/purses
lip balm
punctuation
Converse sneakers
scented felts
pastries
furry friends
drollery
grand, ramshackle old houses (with tower bedrooms)
farmers markets
dangly earrings

banana splits and pretty much any dessert featuring bananas
pubs
laughing uproariously
faeries and magic
antique roses
dinner parties
spunky heroines a la Pippy Longstocking, Harriet the Spy and Jodie Foster in Freaky Friday
autumn
used bookstores
sticker books
red velvet stage curtains
naps
the library
ribbed tights
the coffee-and-cookies smell of church basements
putting up photos in your high school locker
national anthems

Before I published this, I left this draft post open on my desktop for a couple of days, just to let all the favourite things come to me. It’s a fun thing to do – I’d recommend it. I also found it to be a reminder, in this crazy, fast-moving world of ours, to enjoy the details of the everyday. Will it help lift my writer’s block? I’ll keep you posted.

And so I just have to ask – what are some of your favourite things?

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In the midst of end-of-term busy-ness and much freelance work (which is a good thing, I’m not complaining!) last week, I dug out my mum’s good old recipe for homemade playdough, and Keats and I made some. He especially enjoyed dumping the flour into the big bowl and stirring it.

Play Dough Recipe:

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoon cream of tartar (find it in the spice section)
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
food colouring

Mix first 4 ingredients in a pan. Add water and mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 – 5 minutes. Dough will soon form a clump.  Remove from stove and knead for 5 minutes–add food colouring during kneading process.

Next time I want to experiment with natural dyes/colorings (boiling onions and cabbage and such – let’s see if I actually do that), but this time I just used regular old food colouring, which Keats found utterly fascinating.

I read somewhere about adding essential oils to it as you’re kneading it, so I did (lavender and mint), but I wish I hadn’t, because that trademark smell of homemade playdough is one of the best things ever. And tasting that salt on your fingers after you’ve played with it? Just awesome.

Needless to say, it was a hit.

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