The Adventures of a Freelance Writer and Editor

Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

Thrifty Tuesday: Homemade Vegetable Broth

One of my favorite books about saving money is Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less by Pia Catton and Califia Suntree. The book covers everything from pets to grocery bills. This past winter I started making my own chicken stock after finding instructions in this book. Yesterday, I made homemade vegetable broth for the first time. It was super easy. All you need is vegetable scrapes and water. You simply boil the vegetables and water in a giant pot for about an hour and a half. Then, voila. You have vegetable broth.

Reading is Working

So far this week, I’ve had a hard time focusing. My personal life is demanding all of my attention, and I’m lacking the motivation to get much work done. Luckily, my writing to-do list is fairly short this week, but I still feel guilty for not concentrating hard enough. I should be sending out emails to potential clients, pitching articles to magazines, working on projects that are due in the upcoming weeks, and organizing my growing pile of expense receipts. Instead, I’ve spent most of the week reading books, browsing Barnes and Noble, and “researching” online. Luckily, as a writer, I can consider reading in the middle of the afternoon productive. After all, they say the best writers are avid readers, since reading is the best way to study the craft of writing. Unfortunately, reading and creative writing don’t pay well, so I’ve also been “productive” by registering for a grant writing webinar and flipping through marketing books.

Yesterday, I finished reading a great book called Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom (Hardcover) by Real Simple Editor Kristin van Ogtrop. It a memoir about life as a working mother and is written in dictionary form. Even though, I am not a “working mother,” I am a working woman who cooks, cleans, cares for a husband, and hopes to one day have children, so I could relate to many of the stories and terms. Here are a few of my favorites.

“Technological bipolarism: When you wake up in the morning and can’t imagine how you would get through life without your BlackBerry, but by bedtime you want to strap a bomb to it and blow it to smithereens.” Even though I refuse to buy a phone that allows me to be connected to the internet all day, I have the same love/hate relationship with my computer, Facebook, email ,and the internet in general.

“To-do haiku: The list of tasks or semi-important things to remember that replay like a song stuck in your head until you finally find a pen and write it down… To-do haiku are also useful for some of life’s bigger issues: How is my marriage?/Do I even like my job?/Does my ass look fat?” This is pretty much the story of my life. If you think I’m ignoring you because I’m not responding while you’re talking to me, it is probably because I’m mentally repeating something I don’t want to forget. I’m not good enough of a multi-tasker to talk to myself and you at the same time.

“Flamethrower e-mail: The incendiary message you don’t expect that promptly ruins an otherwise lovely day. The e-mail may be from a boss, an annoying coworker, a difficult friend, a teenage daughter. Regardless of who send s it, suddenly your whole world is on fire.” I seriously feel like Ogtrop was spying on when she wrote this.

“Usual suspects: The panel of forces you must consider before you commit to having a full-blown working-mother existential crisis. Before you allow yourself to question your entire life and any decision you have ever made, check: hormones, sleep deprivation level, messiness of house, whining level of children, ridiculousness of colleagues. If none these is the guilty party responsible for your unhappiness, then you may indeed have bigger problems.” This is definitely true for all women, whether or not you  have children.

“Homeward bound: The powerful drive you feel to get back into your house at the end of the day. The drive is so powerful, in fact, that sometimes it makes you do things that are irrational or completely out of character.” I’m glad to know I am not the only person who feels a magnetic pull between my body and the couch at the end of the day.

“Stress test: The self-analysis you must undergo when you are acting like a completely unbearable person. The test consists of one question: Is there something deeply wrong with me, or has stress taken over?”

If these terms describe your life, I suggest you go to the library or the book store and find a copy of Just Let Me Lie Down. By the end of the book, you will realize you are not the only crazy woman in America. In fact, you can rest assured that at least 90% of the people around you are probably just as crazy, or maybe even more, as you are.



My Trip to Maine

A few months ago, I read an article in Writer’s Digest about the importance of work/life balance. It suggested that freelance writers (and other self-employed professionals) take one to two weeks vacation every year. It makes sense, but when you are trying to start and operate a business, it is scary to take time off.

When my husband and I got invited to a cabin in Maine, I was a little nervous about leaving behind my work. I’m starting to feel confident in my ability to grow a successful business, and I finally have a handful of regular clients. I was scared that I would get behind or miss an opportunity, but then I remembered that article. I’d been working really hard and I deserved a break, so I gave myself permission to take an impromptu vacation. I’m glad a did.

For the past week, I’ve been waking up to a beautiful view of a lake and mountains. I’ve lounged around reading, and I’ve gone fishing. For  first time in a long time, I spent a whole week relaxing, and as a result, I came home refreshed.

Though not writing related, here are some highlights from my week.

1) I saw a moose. A real life moose in the wild.

2) I read a really good book (One Day (Movie Tie-in Edition) by David Nicholls).

3) I tried (keyword) bass and eggs for breakfast.

4) I went for a canoe ride.

5) I got to spend the week my husband and one of my best friends.

6) I ate fresh Maine lobster.

Even though I spent the week relaxing, I do have some writing updates. Here are my most recent blog posts.

To DIY or not to DIY (Mita Productions)

2011 Flower Trends (Mita Productions)

How to Choose a Wedding Theme (Music by Design)

Mumford & Sons (Music by Design)

A Garden Party Interview: Tina Jay Photography

After my rejuvenating vacation, I am ready to get back to work. I have a lot of writing and editing work to do this week, so I will keep you updated.




5 Reasons I Love My Job

Well, my writing and editing work has been keeping me very busy the last couple of week, but I’ve still managed to find time to enjoy the perks of working from home. Here are five reasons I love my job.

1) I can bake cookies on my lunch hour.

2) My commute equals a short walk down the hall, a stop in the bathroom, a few minutes at the coffee pot, a right into the living room, and just a few more feet to my desk.

3) This morning, I got to listen to the rain and feel the cool morning breeze. Much better than being stuck in an office building.

4) Permission to take an afternoon nap when I can’t keep my eyelids open.

5) Working bare foot. Bye-bye uncomfortable heels.

Now that I made myself sound like a hippy who loves to eat and sleep, here is what I’ve actually been working.

I finished writing web copy for Mita Productions, and Mita posted my wedding planning blog. Every week, I will be writing a post about wedding planning. Stay tuned for my next post about current flower trends.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Virgina Tran, the editor for Hamptons Chef Society. The finished post should be up soon.

Music by Design posted two of my blogs (Something Blue and Something Old…). I also wrote two other posts that will be posted soon.

Most of the week has been spent editing a crime mystery novel. It is a very captivating story. Best of luck to Bill Riveron. I hope to see the book in print one day.

I’m very excited to announce that I have started a new series on A Garden Party blog. Every week, I am featuring a vendor that A Garden Party frequently works with. This week I had the pleasure of talking to Stephan from The Sweet Life Bakery. He and his wife are very inspiring. Click here to check it out.

Well, I better get back to work. I have about 30 pages of the crime novel left to edit, and I am hoping to finish it tonight so I can work on grants and blogs tomorrow. Toodles.

If You Love What You Do, You Will Never Work a Day in Your Life

When I was in high school, I didn’t believe the cliché “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” Instead, I was convinced that unless you were Oprah or some other superstar, you were destined to hate your job. I wasn’t excited about college because I didn’t want a stuffy, grown up job. I hate driving, so I didn’t want to commute. I work best barefoot and half-dressed, so I didnt’ want to wear a suit. And, while I love to socialize and I get some of my best ideas from others, I do my best work alone.

When I was in high school, I didn’t realize that people could make a living writing, and I definitely didn’t know that people could work from home. After a lot of independent research, I finally stumbled upon my dream career— freelance writing and editing. Every since I was a little girl, I have loved to write. I use to “publish” fake magazines, and I was always writing in my journal. Some days I was writing short stories. Other days I was writing poetry, and plenty of days I just wrote down observations. It didn’t matter what I was writing; I just loved to write.

I started freelancing last spring. I wasn’t sure I could make it work. I read plenty of books and articles by people who make a decent living as freelancers, but I doubted that I could do it. Why would anyone want to hire me? Yet, I am one of those people who when I set a goal for myself, I do whatever I have to to achieve it. So I started small. While I am nowhere near my goal yet, everyday I get a little closer. Six months ago, I would have never guessed that I would be writing grants as well as guest blogging for three clients.

This week, I wrote three posts for Music by Design (Wedding Butterfly Release,Butterfly Themed Weddings, and Wedding Wishing Lanterns). When I wrote the three posts, I didn’t feel like I was working. I was getting paid to do what I love — write. Plus, I was lucky to be able to write on a topic that interests me. (I am a little obsessed with weddings.)

So, here is my thought of the day: whatever you love, do it. You will be a happier person everyday.

Nonprofits Can Make You Happier

Over the past month, I have had the opportunity to work with Cystic Fibrosis Worldwide (CFW) and Gloucester County Habitat for Humanity.

I am currently working on several grant projects with both organizations. Grants are a major source  of funding for most nonprofit organizations. Without the support of foundations, governments, and corporations, nonprofits are unable to fulfill their missions, which usually benefit society as a whole regardless of target populations.

Although grants are a major source of funding , individuals can also help support nonprofits through donations and volunteerism. Research shows that charity work has a variety of personal benefits. According to Gretchen Rice, author of The Happiness Project, “Those who work to further causes they value tend to be happier and healthier, experience fewer aches and pains, and even live longer.”

After a month of working with two nonprofits, I agree with Rice. Not only am doing work I love (aka writing), but I am helping society at the same time. It is difficult to have a bad day at work when I know that  my services are going to help build a home for a struggling family or provide medical support to a sick patient. At the end of the day, I am proud of the work I’ve done.

Even if you don’t work for a nonprofit, everyone can feel this same sense of pride by volunteering or donating. I would love to hear what organizations you support and why. Do you think working with, donating to, or volunteering for nonprofits makes you happier?

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