Monday, November 30, 2009


I wrote a novel in thirty days!  50,000 words, many tears, sleepless nights, nightmares, a lot of distractions and a long illness later, I am an official NaNoWriMo winner!!!  I can't even begin to describe how great it feels to say that out loud.  I think I'm going to cry and laugh and dance all at the same time.  And then I'm going to go run some errands, pick up my husband and child, and have a celebratory dinner of Thanksgiving leftovers.

I wrote a novel, I wrote a novel, I wrote a novel!  Yay me!  I did it and I am still in shock that I managed to come back at the 11th hour and finish it up.  I almost thought I wouldn't make it.  I am torn as to whether or not I'll let anyone read it before I decide to take a hack and edit it up some.   One thing is for sure, though: I don't want to look at that thing for at least a week!

Time to kick back and just enjoy my evenings again.  And then, maybe I'll start to form another novel, lol.

Thanks for all the encouragement and kind words from everyone and for following along on this wild wacky torturous journey I decided to embark on.  I can't wait to see what happens next!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

NaNoWriMo Word Count Update #11

I have a little over 24 hours to finish my novel and I am at 45,037 words!  Only 4,963 more to go!  But I must sleep first...I stayed up way later than I intended anyway and I am still sick.  Onwards and upwards!

Miserably fighting and writing illness,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NaNoWriMo Word Count Update #10

Only 11,906 words to go and three days left!  I just submitted some more words to my word count on and my grand total is now 38,096!!!!  While that is exciting, I am very bummed that I was not able to do more writing since Wednesday evening.  I've only written 2,924 words since then, which is a lot, but time's a ticking.  I'm really hoping that whatever is ailing me won't prevent me from finishing the novel by midnight on Monday.  On our way home from College Station Thursday I felt my throat getting really sore and by 10 pm that night, I was passed out and in pain.  All of us are sick here in the Guerra household and it would appear that the culprit is some sort of sinus infection thing.  

Sybilla's had a runny nose since Monday and it's now coupled with a terrible cough (from all of that drainage) and poor Michael has been ill since Tuesday.  The only good to come of this was that last night we were able to put Billa to bed WITHOUT A PACIFIER.  Her nose is so stopped up that having one has made it hard for her to breathe.  She'll suck suck suck and then spit it out gasping and pop it back in again.  We're hoping that maybe we can use this to start kicking the Bubba once and for all, but we're not pushing too hard as we've been way too lax in letting her have it whenever she wants now that both of us are sick.  [sigh]  Sybilla and I went to Target this morning to restock the medicine cabinet, so hopefully we will all feel right as rain before Monday.  I can't afford to take any more time off!

I am going to continue doing some writing this evening and into tomorrow and try to finish up by Monday night.  12,000 words are all that stands between me and NaNoWriMo glory and I intend on getting that dang purple banner whether it kills me or not!

Happy writing,

Friday, November 27, 2009

A House Divided...

My condolences to my brothers...bummer on that 49-39 score at the game yesterday [evil grin].  Better luck next year!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today we give thanks for many things. 

Personally, I am thankful:

1.  Michael.  When I saw him in the Scarborough Phillips Library at SEU nine years ago and told myself that I was going to marry that cute boy, I didn't know just how self-fulfilling those words would be.  I also didn't know what I was getting into, but I grateful for it nonetheless.  My life would be boring otherwise!

2.  Sybilla.  I never knew what REAL love was until the first time she got hurt and my mama bear claws came out.  She is my heart living outside my chest.  She is willful, independent, clever beyond her year, and stubborn as a mule, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

3.  My family.  I am what I am thanks to them, and whether that's good or bad, it doesn't matter.  Blood is thicker than water and no matter what drama we deal with, I love 'em anyways!

4.  My friends.  I have so many of them, and so many different kinds, but regardless I love them all and my life is richer for them!

5.  My in laws.  Everyone b*itches about their crazy in-laws, but I adore mine.  Seriously.  I have TWO mothers-in-law that are equally amazing that I love about all the luck in the world.  I'm grateful for such a loving and special extended family.

6.  My job.  It may not pay me what I want, but my boss is great, the flexibility and benefits are fantastic and I have made some new very wonderful friends thank to it!

7.  A roof over my head, food in my belly, and clothes on my back.  I have the essentials in my life.  Yes there are things I want very badly, but at the end of the day, I am extremely blessed to be provided with such comfortable basics.  

8.  The gifts and talents God has given me.  I don't care if it sounds narcissistic, but what the hell.  I have an amazing singing voice, an incredibly gifted and intelligent mind, and one helluva knack for baking, arts & crafts, and writing.  To NOT acknowledge the gifts the Old Pawdnuh gave me would be a sin IMHO.

9.  For the sun rising each day.  Because each new day I face means one more chance to chase my dreams, love my family and friends, and live my life to fullest that I can!

I hope that this day finds you celebrating everything you're thankful for!  I leave you to indulge your feasting fancies; the following prayer is what we say with Sybilla every night and I think it sums up everything we're thankful for:

Dear Lord,
Thank you for everything you've given us,
For two arms and two legs,
Ten fingers and ten toes,
Two eyes, two ears, a mouth and a nose.
For food in our belly and a roof over our heads,
for clothes on our backs and a nice warm bed.
For Mama and Daddy and grandparents too,
All our aunties and uncles and cousins who all love you.
We're thankful for the birds and the bees,
The flowers and trees,
the kittens and puppies.
and even the guppies.
We're thankful for this and so much more,
and we continue to pray
that you will bless us
each and every day.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The Guerra Clan

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NaNoWriMo Word Count Update #9

I am headed to bed, but before I go... my official word count is now at 35,172!  Only 14,828 left.  If I were to split it out evenly amongst the remaining days of the month, that would come out to 2965.5 words per day (which is pretty much the same daily word goal as last time.  Dang it!).  I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.  I was surprised to actually get some time to write tonight, which is good, because it most likely won't happen tomorrow what with traveling, eating, napping, more eating, and more traveling.

My spark returned this evening as I listened to my favorite writing song, Owl City's Fireflies.  Michael hates this song because they play it on the radio all the time.  The funny thing is, I still have yet to hear it on the radio and I've been listening to this song since it was featured as the free song of the week on iTunes!  The lyrics are so silly, but the music is hopeful and just happens to hit a certain creative brain wave for me, so I loop it on repeat and turn the volume down low while I write or create and let the magic happen.  And it has happened my friends.  I have a whole new aspect of my novel that I added in tonight that should carry me to 50k and beyond!

I am so excited and so saddened by the fact that I do not own a laptop so that I can continue to write while on the road tomorrow.  [sigh]  Seriously...if I could have anything more than a KitchenAid stand mixer of my very own (in robin's egg blue, natch) it would be my very own laptop.  I know, it's sad.  We don't actually own one and never have!  I will digress slightly and mention that we were looking at netbooks, but that got sidelined when we realized that they would end up costing more than we anticipated and the whole issue with Michael's care being a broken POS right now.  Ah well, such is life.  I'm just thankful we have our trusty Mac...and a deadline that supersedes Michael's Google searches of whatever is floating in his head at the moment, ha!

Anyhoo, I am wiped out and we have an early morning (why did I agree to make breakfast and coffee?  Why!?) and a long car drive to College Station.

Until then, Happy Thanksgiving and Hook 'Em Horns!


It's the day before Thanksgiving, but I know you all are probably baking up a storm, just like I am.  I have the good fortune of having a little help in the kitchen this morning:




Happy Thanksgiving and may you have many little reasons to be thankful!

Happy Baking,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"It's quiet...TOO quiet!"

This evening Michael and I were doing our own thing, me blogtrolling, him washing dishes and chatting back and forth about various random items.  

Suddenly, Michael exclaims, "Oh shit!"
"What?" I ask alarm filling my voice and all sorts of things running through my head.
He points behind me at the dining table.  I look and there is our daughter, quiet as a mouse.
Hmm, nothing wrong with that, I start to think.  Oh wait!  Yes there is...why is she so quiet?

Here's why:

You should definitely try this flavor's really yummy!

Yep, we inadvertently left our dessert from last night on the table and Sybilla thought she would help herself.  Oops!  The bar was originally about the same size as the one on the left, about six squares.  Now it's reduced to two and a little bit.  Ok, now two, since I helped myself to the little bit :o)

Kelly & the Gang

NaNoWriMo Word Count Update #8

I just broke 30,000 words!  Yay me!  I am officially at 30,031 words and I'm not done yet for the day.  I think I am going to try and write at least another 2000 by the time I go to bed tonight.  Gotta get my words in now because tomorrow and Thursday will find me with little writing opportunity. 

We're going to College Station to visit my brothers for Thanksgiving this year, and we'll be joining David's girlfriend's family as well!  Fourteen of us altogether and I am bringing my mashed taters of death, my sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, and chocolate pecan pie.  And of course, my signature sugar cookies!  So with all of that on my plate (bah da bump!) tomorrow, and then being in CS all day Thursday, I gotta get in now what I can!

I have 6.5 days to get 20k words; I can do it!  And my story is coming along quite nicely too!


Monday, November 23, 2009

NaNoWriMo Word Count Update #7

My count as of right now is 27,470.  Only 22,530 to go!  I managed to write 2,952 words today and I hope to pen some more tonight.  I need to average about 3,500 a day for the next seven days if I'm going to make it to the end!

I'll need some iburprofen wrists are beginning to hurt from all this typing!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

NaNoWriMo Word Count Update #6

I had a good laugh at my horoscope today...whether or not it's true, it was very appropriate given my recent issues with my novel:

"Just because you are making plans for what's ahead doesn't mean you are eager today to look too far into your future. You may have thought that you were actually close to reaching an important goal, yet now you can see that you still have some distance to go. But there's no use wasting energy on disappointment or frustration. Get busy and revise your calendar to set yourself up for success."
Ok, Universe, I'm listening! As of right now, my word count is 24,518.  I am just shy of the halfway mark and I have 8.5 days left to get to 50,000!  As it gets closer and closer to the end date, I find myself falling farther and farther behind, wondering how I will ever catch up and feeling even more overwhelmed because my word count is so far below where I projected it be.

The issue I've been struggling with has been the same one I've struggled with for years--namely, every time I think I'm onto something good, I get a significant way through it and then so strongly think it's crap that I give up before I even give it a chance.  I kid you not, I've got at least twenty summaries and proposals laying around of various story lines that I started but never finished.  So why did I bring this torture on myself?  Because writing has been such a strong calling for me, ever since I was a kid and made up stories for me and my brothers to act out, and I believe that if I don't at least use this as a vehicle and motivation to finish a story, I may never find out what I can do.  Not only that, but what kind of example do I set to my daughter if I have a dream but don't give it the chance it deserves?  I gave up on acting and singing and I deeply regret those choices.  I know you shouldn't live your life with regret, but maybe we should sometimes; it just might the inspiration to make a positive change in our lives, that bar by which we set everything else! 

I am not going to live the rest of the my life wondering where this might have gone.  It's been hard, and at this point, it will take a miracle to come up with the other 25,482 words, but I think I can at least come close.  And if I get that far, then who's to say I can't get further on something else?  Maybe I really DO have that great American novel locked up inside my head waiting to come out.

To the voices of self-doubt in my head, I laugh at thee and show you a big metaphorical middle finger...just WATCH me succeed!

Determinedly yours,

Friday, November 20, 2009

Patio Playset

One of the nice things about having kids relatively close in age to your best friends is the money saved by lending and sharing gently used baby and toddler items among them.  90% of Billa's clothing are hand me downs from Madeleine (and 75% of those were hand me downs from her cousin Katherine), and we've inherited toys, baby equipment and more that's been shared between all of our kids.   One of those items in particular is our "new" patio playset!  The Marino kids got a new swing set from their grandparents and the recycling began again.  Billa loves her new playset...she climbs up the slide and back down the ladder and vice versa.  She swings herself and pushes the swing.  All in all, she has a very grand time on it:


Many thanks to Aunt Kellie and Uncle Anthony and our cousins!

The Guerra's

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NaNoWriMo Word Count Update #5

Ok, so I was a bit of a bad girl and didn't write for almost a week...I'm catching up though and I am now at 22,909 words total so far!

Our numbers:

22,909 total written
27,091 total remaining
2,091 words to make up to meet Week 2's goal
14,591 to write to meet Week 3's goal!

Oy...gotta get crackin'!  Things are coming along swimmingly.  And I promised I was going to let you in on what it was about...are you ready?  Promise me you won't laugh?  Or at least laugh to my face, ok?

Ok, here goes... my story is about a mom frustrated with her life who gets turned into a vampire and how she deals with it.

Yeah, kinda corny, I know, but the point of this exercise is to write a freaking novel people!  I'm just running with what I got, and right now, that's what I got.   So there you go.  Now don't go stealing my idea peeps!  It's mine!  My own, my precious...

Happy writing,

Recipe thuRsday: Mashed Potatoes Times Two

Howdy y'all!  If you tuned into last week's post for turkey meatballs, I promised to do a side this week to go with 'em.  Our recipe mag offers up a delightful version of mashed potatoes that uses sweet potatoes and russets, but my bestie Kellie HATES sweet potatoes, so in honor of her I offer my Mashed Taters of Death.  Why the 'of Death'?  'Cause, kiddies, this is a heart attack waiting to happen, that's why!  You can choose to leave skins on or not; in fact, the bulk of a potato's nutrition is just underneath the skin, so we usually leave them on.  Plus they add a nice earthy flavor to the final result.  I DO recommend peeling your sweet potatoes however; those skins are very tough to break down in cooking and they create an unpleasant mouth feel if you ask me.

Now, break out your tater mashers and let's get mashed!

Two Potato Mash
1 lb of russet potatoes
1 lb of sweet potatoes
1/4 cup half and half (or milk or orange juice)
chunks of butter
pinch of kosher salt

1.  Peel and cut your potatoes into one inch chunks and place the russets in a pot of salted boiling water for ten minutes.
2.  Add the sweet potato chunks and cook for another 8-10 minutes until the potatoes are tender and can be cut easily with a spoon/knife/fork.
3.  Drain the potatoes and set them back on the burner to 'dry' for a minute.  Add in the butter and mash the potatoes lightly with your masher.
4.  Add the liquid of your choice and continue to mash until everything is well mashed and you can still see some variation of color.  Voila!

TIPS:  I usually cut my taters into 1/2" chunks instead as it causes them to cook a bit faster.  And don't be afraid to guesstimate with the amounts of potatoes and liquid.  I usually do one large sweet potato and 3 or 4 small russets for this recipe and just eyeball the liquid.  Mashed potatoes ain't rocket science!

Mashed Taters of Death
3 pounds of russet potatoes, half peeled, half skins on
1/2 cup milk
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 brick of cream cheese

1.  Peel half of the potatoes and leave the other half with skins on.  Cut them into 1" chunks and place in a large pot of boiling salted water.
2.  Cook until the potatoes are tender enough to be cut with a knife/fork/spoon, about 30 minutes.
3.  Drain the potatoes and place them back on the burner to 'dry' for a minute.  Add the butter and begin to mash coarsely.
4.  Add in the milk, sour cream, and cream cheese to the mix and mash thoroughly, but don't overdo it!
5.  Serve up with your holiday meal and enjoy!

TIPS: You can make these Kicking a Dead Horse Mashed Taters of Death by adding cheese and bacon bits to it.  Mmmm.....bacon!  And really, you CAN cut the amount of fat by using nonfat or lowfat versions of everything and omitting the butter, but then it's just not a treat in my book, although it will still be tasty.  Again, guesstimate on amounts if you want to.  It's all about creating the ultimate creamy mashed potato which is really a matter of taste preference.

Bon apetit!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Time for Some Change

Michael and I had a heart to heart the other night and I came to the conclusion that I have not been doing enough for myself lately.  I've been giving of myself too much and lately I've felt burnt out, tired, uninspired, and just plain ugly.  Well, that's all gonna change!  Since I've been feeling a bit frumpy lately, I decided a boost in some confidence and self esteem was needed--time to get pretty! My first task in my list of items to change was a haircut!

Here's me before:

I know, I know.  You're thinking this isn't really a great before picture, Kelly; we can't see your long hair.  EXACTLY!  My hair is so ridiculously thick that when I grow it out, the only thing I can do (and have time to do) is throw it up in a ponytail or bun.  Not very exciting.  I'd been growing it out mostly at Michael's request and while I would love to keep it long and show off the luxurious shade of red I call my own, Texas is just not a conducive climate to thick, long hair.  It's just too darn hot 11 months out of the year!  You CAN see how long my bangs are in this pic...which kinda makes them not bangs anymore, knowwhatImean?

And now the reveal:

Ta da!  I got a cute angled bob and the gal thinned out some of the thick hair underneath so it lays down better and isn't nearly as hot (or poofy...God bless that girl!).  I realize that may grow out funny as a result, but right now, I don't care.  I look damn good!

Although, there is one bad thing about my new hairdo:

Yeah, check out that awesome cowlick in the back!  It was just soooo awesome I had to take pictures of it to show it to you.  I never knew I had it because well, who ever really looks at the back of their head?  And my hair is so thick and heavy (seriously, I'm not feeling any pain in my neck or back right now...what does THAT tell you?) that the sheer weight of it was pulling it somewhat straight and making it less noticeable.  So, I won't be going au naturel as often.  But that's a good thing.  Because the point of this whole exercise is to take care of myself, so now I'm forced to take time and make myself pretty each day (not that I'm NOT pretty already, but taking a few minutes to look put together goes a long way to helping boost my confidence).

Cowlicks aside though, I am VERY pleased with my new 'do and I am loving how I feel with it.  And it is so easy to maintain and fix!  Just spritz a little thermal spray and flat iron that puppy in about 2 minutes (as opposed to 2 hours) and voila!  Instant Hot Mama!

Now I need to find some other ways to add a little change in my life and make more time for me...any ideas?  I'm thinking I need a regular girl's night outing or tap dancing classes (Christmas gift hint, ahem). 

Here's to change!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NaNoWriMo Word Count Update #4

I spent some time at lunch to write and I didn't realize how much I was able to produce in that short time.  Yay me!  And thank goodness for keyboards because I sure wouldn't be able to write that fast with a pen and paper. 

So the numbers are:
2.666 words today
18,382 words written to date
6,618 left for the week to stay on track
31,618 left overall for the month
19 more days to write!

Happy writing,

Recipe thuRsday: Turkey Meatballs

I usually write these posts a couple of weeks in advance and then schedule them to post and as I was writing and blogtrolling Wednesday evening, I realized I had forgotten to set up the post for this week!  Since Thanksgiving is only two weeks away (yeah, that bit me too), I'm going to share a turkey dish with you.  Next week I'll offer a side to go with it!

Michael and I discovered this dish in a magazine style cookbook we bought at Newflower Farmer's Market.  There are TONS of other recipes in this mag that we will be trying (and have already tried) and this one is a new family favorite.  It could definitely be something different to try instead of the traditional roasted turkey this year!

Turkey Meatballs and Cranberry Gravy
For the meatballs:
1 1/4# of ground turkey
1/2 panko mixed with 1 TBSP of Ana's Herb Mix (or italian seasoned breadcrumbs)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
a few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
pinch crushed red pepper flakes (if you use the Ana's herbs, skip this ingredient)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/4 chicken broth

For the sauce:
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup orange juice
1 cup chicken broth
1/4-1/2 cup sugar

1.  Preheat your oven to 450F and place a skillet (NOT a non-stick skillet) with some olive oil in it to heat.
2.  In a large bowl, combine the panko, cheese, and spices and mix together.  Add in the turkey and mix with your hands until they are combined well.
3.  Add the milk and 1/4 cup broth, stir to combine (or just use your fingers).
4.  Shape into 1"-2" balls and set onto wax paper.  I typically make about 24 with a pound of meat.
5.  Pull out a cookie sheet and spray with non-stick spray.
6.  Working in small batches, brown the meatballs on all sides in the skillet.  Once they're seared (but not cooked all the way through) remove them and place on the cookie sheet.  Continue to do this until all the meatballs are browned.  DON'T turn off the skillet yet or clean it yet!
7.  Place the cookie sheet in the oven for 10-12 minutes to finish cooking the meatballs.
8.  In the skillet, combine the cranberries, orange juice, remaining broth, and sugar.  Yes, on top of and in with the brown bits and oil from the pan.  You want to savory brown bits to mix with this gravy.
9.  Simmer the mixture over high heat until the mixture has reduced by half and the berries have popped.  This usually takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes.
10.  Serve up your meatballs and gravy and enjoy!

TIPS:  I actually use a mini muffin tin for my meatballs (hence the 24 count!) and it works really well with controlling the grease that leeches off during the baking.  Also, it's ok if you don't use all of the milk and broth in the meatballs. When I made these Tuesday night, I seemed to have too much liquid for the amount of meat, so I had to add more panko.  If you cannot find Ana's Herbs and don't want to use Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, mix together rosemary, crushed red pepper flake, a little kosher salt and pepper, oregano, basil, parsley, and garlic (those are the ingredients off the side of the bottle, I swear!).   And if you're not sure what panko is, it's Japanese bread crumbs and can be found in the Asian foods or baking aisle of your grocery store.  They last forever and can be used for many different things.

Next week, TWO different versions of mashed potatoes to serve with this dish!

Bon apetit,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NaNoWriMo Word Count Update #3

15,716 words as of this moment, 11:20 on 11/11!  Only 9,284 more to reach my weekly goal and 34,284 to go until I hit the big 50k!  And now, I am going to go fall into bed and get some sleep!


Billa Babble: Bird, Pig, This, Cereal, Mine, & I STUCK MAMA!

This is an animal filled edition of Billa Babble!

BIRD: The Friday before Halloween, daycare had to close unexpectedly which meant Billa had to stay home. Michael usually has Fridays off so it became a Daddy-Daughter Day! Michael took BK up to Cowboy Harley to visit with his co-workers and while there, a customer came in with a parrot on their shoulder. Billa was so excited about petting and playing with "Ba burr!" (translation: the bird). She's going to be very excited when we next visit Gramma Bobbe's house and see Taco, her green parrot!

PIG: On Saturday, I took Billa to make our weekly Target trip and we had to grab some items from the baby aisles. While I'm in that section, I like to peruse all the cute baby items and look at stuff. We passed by the kiddie harnesses which are little animal shaped backpacks that have a leash so you can keep your kid close to you (I am really thinking about getting one of these; one of our friends had one for her son and it was great!). There was a monkey, a brown puppy, and a pink puppy. Billa saw the pink puppy and cried out "Pih! Pih!" She thought it was a pig! I corrected her and then let her look at it, but she opted for the brown puppy instead. Honestly, I was surprised she even knew the word pig, but maybe I shouldn't be considering she has a puzzle with a pig piece that we've pointed out before.

THIS: Billa has successfully mastered "that" and now she has mastered "this"–she was so excited about something that she stacked up and when I asked her what she had done, she pointed to it and said simply, "This!"  Huh.  That wasn't quite what I meant, but...that'll do pig (ha!). 

CEREAL: The other morning I was having some cereal for breakfast and Billa pointed at my bowl and clearly stated: "Sarl!"  Then she signed "more/please" and we enjoyed a yummy bowl of "sarl" together.

MINE: She's actually been saying this for some time, but we haven't reported it until now, mostly because it was sounding more like "Ma!"  It now sounds like a cross between a "ma" and "my" with a drawl. "Maaaai!" can typically be heard when we try to take her cup and refill it, or her blankie, or her George, or her bubba, or anything else she has decided is now hers.  Which is everything.  [sigh]  And more of my identity slips away...

And last but not least, a real sentence: "I STUCK, MAMA!"  This is uttered a LOT, usually when we make her sit someplace she doesn't want to be.  These places include her booster seat, our laps, or her car seat.  On these occasions, I will gently remind her that she is not using the word in it's correct sense, but still she persists.  "I STUCK, Mama!" And she says it in the most pitiful whiny voice too which makes it all the more hilarious.  Occasionally, she does actually use this sentence in the correct sense, like when her feet get all crisscrossed in a high chair (because she was squirming and trying to get out of it when she wasn't supposed to be).

Understanding Sybilla is getting a little bit easier, but her enunciation is still difficult at best and a lot of times she still grunts or points at what she wants which is really frustrating for us.  She understands a lot of what we're saying.  How can I tell?  Well, I am not exactly proud of this, but if she's misbehaving and I ask her if she wants a spanking, she tells me 'no' and stops the bad behaviour ASAP.  So we know she understands what we're saying, but because she's still learning words, it's difficult at best to have a conversation with her.   One of our other beefs is that she refuses to say please and thank you, instead choosing to sign "more" and wave 'bye bye' respectively.  [eye roll]  Really, I have no idea where this pigheadedness (ha again!) comes from.

So that's you edition of Billa Babble!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One Last Thing...OOHRAH!

Happy Birthday Marine Corp...Thank you for your service and dedication to America!

And to Billa's Aunt Debi, who is a Marine, we love you!

the Guerra Clan

NaNoWriMo Word Count Update

As of 11:59pm on Sunday evening (yes I really did stop writing at that time and do a word count) I was at 12,024 words for my novel!  Yay me! 
Earlier in the weekend I broke it down and realized that in order to reach 50,000 words by midnight on November 30, I need to write 12,500 words per week.  Seeing as how I was 476 words short of my Week 1 goal, I've had to tack it on to Week 2's goal and now I am gunning for 13,000 this week!  Of course my grand total for words written this week has thus far been 0, but I plan to rectify that tonight.  I only wrote 4 days last week anyway, so as long as I pick 4 days a week and get 3,250 words each day, I should be ok.  That's about an average of two hours on those four days.  Not bad!  Conversely, I could also write 3 days a week and pump out a little over 4,300 words, but that's pushing it with my busy lifestyle.
It feels really good to finally get the words flowing and stuff written.  I have a bad habit of trying to edit as I go, so I need to back off and just let it flow.  I already have made some notes for myself on where I want to edit in December and I just have to keep reminding myself that it's ok to just let it be.  I know some of you are probably dying to know what my story is about, but I'm not ready to share that yet.  Give me another week to get some more down and I'll share a little bit with you, I promise.
So here's to 12,024 down...37,976 to go! 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend Recap

Today I decided that I would switch from coffee to black tea since it had been upsetting my stomach lately. I bought a box of Celestial Seasoning's Nutcracker Sweet which is a delightful black tea blend with vanilla and cinnamon. I was doing pretty good until about 10 am when my head started to ache a bit. I got up and fixed myself a snack and that seemed to help. But alas, an hour later when I went to run errands during lunch, I felt like I was having a migraine. Of course, it didn't help that I happened to see an article in the Statesman about how Harvard Medical School just released info on how coffee is NOT bad for you. Argh!

In other news, yesterday marked a huge milestone for us. It was the first time that Michael and I had to purchase a "I'm sorry my kid broke this let me pay for it" item. Hopefully this will also be the last time we have to do that, but I know that's very optimistic thinking and all the experienced parents of small children out there are laughing their butts off at me. I partly blame Michael for this, because it never would have happened if he'd just let me go to the craft store by myself and stayed home with Sybilla instead. But nooooo, he didn't want to be stuck at home on a rainy day with her, so off we went. Fortunately, the item in question was a $7 resin snowman figurine from Michael's, but still. That $7 could have gone towards two gallons of milk, or 4# of butter from Costco, or as my friend John pointed out, a bag of Starbucks coffee from the grocery store. Grrrr!

And lastly, Michael and I have given in to the dark side and bought a fake Christmas tree this weekend. There were some really killer sales this past week and the more we talked it over, we decided that right now, aa fake tree fit our lifestyle a lot better than trying to deal with a real one. We both grew up with real trees and we love them dearly, but couple that with a toddler and a very full holiday schedule and it just wasn't worth it. Not to mention that neither of us really likes to string lights on a tree! In a few years when Sybilla is older, we'll make it into a tradition where we take a day to go to a local Chrsitmas tree farm and pick one out, cut it down ourselves and then spend the rest of the day decorating, singing songs, and lounging by the fireside. In fact, I wish we were doing that right now. [sigh]
So that's what's happening with us right now!

Friday, November 6, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update

A few days ago I blogged about my joining National Novel Writing Month. At that time, I had about 1290 words. Today, I am happy to report that I am now at 8,345! Woo hoo! Only 41,655 more to go!

I also discovered that the winners (which is basically anyone who actually accomplished the 50k word count) can get their finished manuscript bound in book cool is that? Although I think I might want to do some editing before I do that, because it's pretty bad what I've written so far. Not to detract from my writing skills, but every first draft is crap. I don't care who you are, they are all in need of editing after completion. In fact, some of them still need editing once they make it to publication, but that's another story altogether!

Write on, friends!

ATX Notebookery Project

I've been particularly crafty lately and I will be sharing with you soon some of the things I've been doing with what little free time I have. Something that I am looking forward to soon is the ATX Notebookery project.

A college buddy of mine, the ever talented Bern Klinke, participated in something similar on a global level this past year and decided to start one up here in Austin. The notebook is just now going into circulation and there are many of my fellow artist colleagues that will be contributing to this project and I can only imagine what it will look like upon it's completion! I plan on contributing some of my recipes and photos of said recipes to the book, and I know that many others will be contributing poems, artwork, short stories and other forms of creativity. Once the book is complete it will be donated to a local arts based charity in which it will be auctioned off to raise funds. If you are interested in participating in this project, please click on the logo above to read more about the project and contact Bern. You can also read here for a really cool writeup about the project from a similar organization here in Austi

Until then!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Recipe thuRsday: Pork Tenderloin

I've actually posted this before, but I figured that a re-post wouldn't hurt, especially since pork tenderloin done right is melt in your mouth good.

Pork Tenderloin
1-2# of pork tenderloin
1 quart of ice cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
Fredricksburg Farms Pomegranate Mango Chipotle Sauce
olive oil

oven safe non-stick skillet
meat thermometer
large 2 quart lidded container
pastry brush

1. In a large lidded container, combine the salt, sugar, and ice water. This will become your brine. Place the pork tenderloin in the mixture and leave it there for a minimum of 45 minutes. I usually do this first thing when I get home, then go pick up the baby, run an errand or two and by the time I come home, we're ready to cook!
2. Once you're pork is done brining, preheat the oven to 425F.
3. Heat up the skillet over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil.
4. Sear the pork tenderloin on all sides for about a minute per side
5. Using the pastry brush, coat the tenderloin with the spicy fruit sauce and then pop it (skillet and all) in the oven for 15 minutes.
6. At the fifteen minute mark, pull out your meat thermometer and stick your tenderloin to check the temp. If it reads a minimum of 145F, you are good to go. If not, pop it back in for another 3-5 minutes.
7. Once you've reached the internal temperature, remove the meat from the skillet and plate it, covering loosely with foil for five minutes. DON'T TOUCH THE MEAT DURING THAT TIME!!
8. When five minutes are up, eat up!

TIPS: This recipe calls for pork TENDERLOIN. Regular loin is actually a slightly different cut of meat, so I can't guarantee the results. Get yourself a meat thermometer; a friend of mine tried this without it and it really helped make the difference with this recipe. And lastly, you can use any fruit type sauce for the glaze, the one I mentioned is our favorite flavor to use. FF has a whole line of great flavors, give them all a try and support local commerce!

Bon apetit,

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The first time I understood what long term goals were, I was a freshman in high school and my English class had been tasked with coming up with some. I think the point of the exercise was to get to us to start thinking about what we were going to do post high school, but in my usual way, I took it to a whole new level. Once the twenty minutes were up, we went around the room and all 25 or 30 of us read off our goals. By the time they got to me, I was pumped. I read my goals with gusto, finishing with "By the time I graduate, I'm going to have a written and published a novel." [Cue crickets chirping] My level of popularity amongst my classmates probably also wasn't helped by the fact that we were later given a "short" creative writing assignment and I submitted a 12 page single spaced novella which my teacher was so impressed by (or just incredulous at my naivete at the assignment) that she showed it to the class as a prime example of what she wanted. And people wonder why I am the way I am...

Years later, I'm still trying to write that great American novel and this month, I joined the National Novel Writing Month competition, which occurs every November. There is no grand prize with this contest, it's simply a snarky and fun accountability tool to get the creative juices going for professional and amateur writers. The only person you're accountable to is yourself and you can track how close you are to the 50k word goal. They strongly encourage writers to just write and not worry about editing or whether your story makes sense. As their welcome letter states, "Editing is for December." I started a novel and hopefully I'll see it through to completion this year. I actually did this a couple of years ago and never made it past Week 1, but I am committed to actually doing it this time. I don't care if the story is crap, I just want to be able to say that I actually finished one. And the cool thing about this whole thing is that it's a great networking tool too; you get the opportunity to connect with readers across the globe and make new writing buddies and who knows, you might even get published! There is a long list of previous winners who have gone on to have their stories published (after much editing of course!)

If you're interested in joining, you still have 27 days to write 50,000+ words! Click on the banner in my sidebar and write away!

Happy Birthday Kari!

Today is my cousin Kari's birthday...happy birthday Kari! Hope you had a great day!

The Guerra Clan

Monday, November 2, 2009

Announcing the Adventures of Baby Hayden

Almost 5 months ago I blogged about the complications that arose from the birth of my best friend's son Hayden. He was born with a cleft palate (no cleft lip, thankfully) and endured a bout of severe neutropenia that warranted a two week stay in Dell Children's NICU.

Since raising a child with birth abnormalities is never dull, Hayden's folks have decided to blog about their own battles with parenting. If you're interested in following their adventures (and believe me, there is no lack of excitement between either of our families!) you can check it out here. You can also check out Anthony's photography biz as well; this man is incredibly talented with just about everything he touches and he's decided to make a career out of it, so check that out too!

Welcome to the blogosphere my friends!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009 Recap

As Cameron so succinctly put it, "Happy Halloween Day!" Below is a photo recap of our big night. We all met up at Casa del Marino and then went trick or treating in the neighborhood with them, their neighbors, and their neighbors' friends. The kids ranged in age from 2-5 with Billa being the youngest (ok, so she's really 20 months, but it's close enough to 2!) and they had a blast. Michael and I were the only adults to actually dress in costume–I was a black widow and Michael was a zombie hunter (he got off work late and there was no time for Tony Montana). We went around the block which took us about an hour; it didn't take Billa that long to figure out what was going on! Everyone loved her outfit and how cute she was. She didn't say a word (no Twick or Tweet this year)and opted instead for a 'bye bye' wave instead of saying thank you. Everyone loved it nonetheless, which made me feel a bit less guilty about her manners.

Since Billa was the youngest, Michael and I were the 'thank you'/safety patrol; we made sure each kid made it to the door in one piece and that they said thank you to each homeowner. Madeleine and Sidney were VERY proud of this whole process as they would continually announce to the group of parents: "Mommy! I said 'trick or treat' and 'thank you' and I got candy!!!" We did have several kid and candy spills, but we ended the night with a huge haul and no huge mishaps. Billa's bucket was so overflowing that Michael and I had to carry candy in our hands at the end. Her haul was somewhat depleted after a thorough inspection as we discarded anything that was open, a choking hazard, or just not palatable to Michael and I. Hey, we're gonna have to do most of the eating, might as well make it something we like!

Post inspection, the kids carved a pumpkin while the daddies sat by the firepit and smoked some cigars. We gave Billa a bath while we were there and borrowed some outgrown Halloween jammies for her before we all said our good nights and headed home. She didn't get to bed until ten which made for and ugly bedtime when we got home, but she slept in this morning, which was nice for us!

We hope you all had a safe and wonderful Halloween...enjoy the photo recap and a speedy sugar rush recovery!

Billa and Daddy are ready to go!

Madeleine, Cameron, and Sybilla in their Halloween get up...
no one could sit still or look at the same camera and smile at the same time!

The trick or treat pack of 2009: Jacob, Sydney, Blake, Madeleine, Cameron, and Sybilla

Bat Girl jams out to Thriller and the Ghostbusters theme!

Baby Hayden in his pumpkin bunting which was a little too big!

His lovely mama, Kellie, models the rest of it!

And we're off!

Trick or treat! Billa is still trying to figure out what all of the fuss is about.

Daddy takes a picture break with Billa in front of one house.
Hunting zombies is hard work!

Mama and Billa, such a pretty pair!

Mama's black widow costume...get it?

The back view...the red bow is meant to symbolize the red hourglass...
clever, yes? I thought so too!

Daddy makes sure it's a zombie free zone and that the kiddos don't forget to say thank you!

The take...AFTER candy inspection and removal of all candies that were not Billa appropriate...or to Mama and Daddy's liking ;o)

Pumpkin carving time!

Billa tries her hand at pumpkin carving

Batter up! Billa takes a break from pumpkin carving to go zombie killing!

Trick or treating is rough on daddies...a nice cigar and a sit by the fire pit are in order!

The finished pumpkin..he's a happy fella thanks to Madeleine!

Sybilla and Madeleine check out Cameron's Bumblebee action figure before bedtime...
check out BK's borrowed Halloween jammies!

Happy Halloween Day!
The Guerra Gang

Sunday Stealing: Strange Questions!

A friend of ours had these posted on her blog this morning and I thought I would play along too!

1. What is the color of your toothbrush? Pink and white

2. Name one person who made you smile today. Billa and Michael; they woke me up with a Mama Sammich today. They snuggled up on each side of me and hugged me. Best way to wake up!

3. What were you doing at 8 am this morning? SLEEPING! Victory is mine!

4. What were you doing 45 minutes ago? Posting photos to Facebook

5. What is your favorite candy bar? Oh lord...I have to pick only onw? My top faves are Milky Way Midnight and Almond Joy...and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups...and just about anything with chili and dark chocolate!

6. Have you ever been to a strip club? Nope, although I almost went with a high school classmate for our 18th birthdays which were on the same day. But prom was the same night so we did that instead.

7. What is the last thing you said aloud? "The Cars cups are brand new if you want to rinse those out instead." (This was in answer to Michael's query about cups for Billa)

8. What is your favorite ice cream? Hmmm...B&J's Brownie Batter or Everything But The...

9. What was the last thing you had to drink? Dr. Pepper mixed with Coke

10. Do you like your wallet? LOVE it. It's a silver cigarette case I bought from Black|White.

11. What was the last thing you ate? Chicken burrito bol from Chipotle.

12. Have you bought any new clothing items this week? Yes! Two pairs of jeans, a pair of khakis, a berry colored skirt, and three tees: eggplant, brown, and white.

13. The last sporting event you watched? Ummm...bits of the UT game last week.

14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn? Butter

15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to? Hmmm...Michael? I don't remember, I don't feel like getting up to get my phone.

16. Ever go camping? All the time, not so much now though.

17. Do you take vitamins daily? No, but I prolly should.

18. Do you go to church every Sunday? I plead the fifth.

19. Do you have a tan? Hell no! I'm red-headed, fair skinned, and there's been skin cancer in my family. Tanning is not for me, thanks!

20. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza? No.

21. Do you drink your soda with a straw? As much as possible. Straws make everything better!

22. What did your last text message say? Dammit, now I have to go get my phone to look at that...Ok, so it was actually to my friend Beth and it said "of course! c u then!"

23. What are you doing tomorrow? Working

24. Favorite color? Red

25. Look to your left; what do you see? My living room, splashed with sunlight!

Happy Sunday, ya'll! I'll post some pics from Halloween by tonight.



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