Vegetable of the month

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Campbell's sent me an email with a new low-fat recipe; it also happened to mention that butternut squash is the vegetable of the month.

Being that it's March 29, I wonder if it is March or April to which they are referring.

If the month in question is April, then hooray for the soup guys in being so proactive in supplying me with a recipe to take advantage of this fun-filled time. Can't wait to see the recipes for the rest ot the month: extra butternut squash blintzes and burgers for everyone!

Of course, since April is not mentioned, I can only assume that the month in question is the current month of March. Poor butternut squash. This veggie's 15 minutes of fame arrives so late that we didn't even have time to consider the recipes for butternut baklava or corned beef and butternut hash.

What a crime! Not that I'm even fond of this strange-looking member of the squash family, but to only receive promotion regarding your vegetable-of-the-month status with only THREE DAYS LEFT in the month is a total ripoff.

Unless, of course, Brussels sprouts were the vegetable in question, then the whole VOTM thing should just go on without anyone calling attention to it. Those green shrunken heads are totally unworthy. Read this blog post to feel my pain when it comes to the heinous vegetable I refer to as Satan's weed.

As for the poor, unrepresented butternut squash, I'm hoping that someone on Campbell's mailing list will take pity on them and pick a few up at the store by Saturday.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 2:57 PM 5 comments

Coming up for air

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The crocuses are in full bloom in my front garden. I totally missed the initial appearance of greenery and then the development of the colourful petals and opening blossoms.

Why? Because I've been staring at a computer screen in the basement for the past month or so.

Yesterday was balmy; the perfect weather for skipping school or calling in dead and avoiding anything that would make you go inside. I had some work to do, so my outdoor ventures took place after business hours.

The yard and front garden are ideal candidates for one of those "renovate my cesspool" makeover shows. Perhaps the neighbours have recommended our yard to show producers already.

Despite my efforts to help the environment with recycling and composting, my own green areas should have crime scene tape around them. But that can all change with a trip to the garden centre and a pile of elbow grease.

Yeah, just like last year. ;)

The promise of spring (which happens over a three-day period in Toronto) always gives me that false sense of hope that anything is possible. Black thumbs can become green. Seeds found in the junk drawer after a decade will grow. I will pull out the weeds and leave the plants I had purchased last year behind.

At least my intentions are good.

There is a joy that comes from sitting in a pile of dirt with the sun warming your back that can't be found anywhere else. Perhaps gardening is the only time I can connect with my inner pig. While there is the drawback of the inevitable "garden butt" that plagues me on the day after my first bout of power-weeding, it's nice to feel physically tired and sleep like a baby.

And sometimes, when I'm really lucky, the garden looks awesome for a week or two. ;)

I can't wait to start the process all over again in a few weeks.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:40 AM 2 comments

My heart is not golden

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's been a difficult 24 hours... that started well over 6 months ago.

(I told you I was no good at math.)

Anyway, last October was when I thought it would be a really cool idea to enter my WIP into the Romance Writers of America competition for unpublished writers: The Golden Heart. This is a very popular event where the winners are announced at the annual RWA convention and given oodles of attention, some even end up selling those award-winning manuscripts. We try not to call them names. ;)

So yesterday was the day that they would begin calling all of the finalists. Even though this important call would be coming, I decided to meet with Lara and Michelle anyway. The DH was at home and he could take the message, or get them to call back and leave it on the machine so I could listen to their congratulatory message over and over again.

When they hadn't called by the time The Apprentice LA ended, I assumed that they had simply run out of time and I'd have to just see my name on the official finalist list that would be posted on the RWA website in the morning.

I've checked it about 500 times and my name still isn't appearing. ;(

Not that I was expecting to be a contender, but it would have been just the inspiration to hurry up and finish the complete rewrite of the manuscript in question. Oh, maybe the fact that I'm rewriting it has something to do with why it wasn't selected.


posted by Bonnie Staring at 2:11 PM 7 comments

It fits on three floppies

Saturday, March 24, 2007

On any other site, that title would get me arrested. Or increase the hits on My Space. But I digress...

In preparation for the brand new computer that arrived at Casa Staring this week, I had to go over to my ancient Mac (a G3 with the "e doesn't work" keyboard) and get all my personal stuff off the hard drive.

That's when I realized that the CD drive on it is read-only. ;)

So I found a box of floppies (our main computer does have a floppy drive, the DH insisted on it since we hang onto everything) and wondered how many more floppies I'd need for all the awesome stuff that had been sitting there. Most of it dates back to 2001 or so, which is when I regularly used the machine for work and not playing a neat game called Snood.

To prepare myself, I selected a number of CDs to play in the background: RoskstarINXS (performances selected from the show), ABBA Gold (just because) and The Best of Funk (a compilation album with a bit of everything).

What happened next was an electronic journey through a period of my life when I last worked full time for a job I had a true passion for: managing advertising and design projects.

Yeah, you read that correctly: management. Not writing, not creating, but managing. Ugh. What was I thinking?

Then I took a look through the 3,283 documents sitting on the hard drive (I took a lot of work home with me back then) and realized that it might not have been the job itself that loved. It was the fact that this company (that went under in 2001) was the first place that not only accepted me and my wild and wacky ways, they encouraged me to harness that energy and become more productive with it.

Former employers had always insisted that I be "more professional", "more logical" and stick to certain parameters when communicating. (Like don't strangle the account reps and tease designers when they get all whiny.) At ICE, they welcomed laughter, new ideas and would ask for input from the entire team, not just the suits or creative directors. This was the first place where, in a written review, I was instructed to "pay more attention to your gut instincts, as they are right 98% of the time."


This was also a place where working until 9 p.m. was the norm. And where exhaustion was rewarded with meals ordered in, cab chits for rides home and, in my case, an office that had a patio so I could take frequent smoke breaks without losing productivity.

That was when I had a pack-and-a-half-a-day habit. I don't think I ate anything then either.

Just so you know, I've been smoke free for over five years now and, much to my chagrin, I really love food. ;)

So when I had to go through all of these documents from my past, I was nervous. Each document represented a time when my priorities and goals were completely different when compared to the ones I have now. Would I like what I found? Would I recognize myself in any of these items?

The answer was a resounding yes. While the budgets, status reports and paper trails got chucked, the brainstorming session reports, the collaborative project pieces and the fun song parodies I did for fellow employees were copied onto floppies so that I may dig them up and refer to them again...even though I probably won't.

What I thought would take me an entire afternoon lasted only 45 minutes. The over 3,000 files were whittled down to a mere 72--and fit neatly onto 3 little floppies.

It made me miss the good times of the past, but it also made me realize how much fuller the life is that I have today. Working like a dog, no matter how good the money, just doesn't add up in the long run. You need to have time for family, friends and snack foods.


posted by Bonnie Staring at 5:20 PM 3 comments

Pirate Whois

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ahoy there! While waiting for a bus in the rain, it occurred to me that one online group really needs to have its own domain Whois designation (like .com or .org). And that would be the pirate community.

And I have the perfect Whois for them: .arg.

That would be the coolest way to turn any site into a destination of distinction. Just see what happens to my own url:


Pretty darn nifty eh? You have to admit that you'd be inclined to visit barclaysbank.arg, ibm.arg or, my personal favourite, google.arg. Imagine the treasure we'd find there me mateys!

Sell pirated movies and software? Then we have the domain name for you. Just think about all the ways .arg can help you recover from or help with:

A horrible shopping experience: bilgeratsworkatstorename.arg

A bad breakup: bewarethecurseofeddie.arg

Identity thieves: gotyername.arg

Mistresses: gotyermatey.arg

Wicked witches: broomstickedlasses.arg

Connecting with lost friends: wherearemehearties.arg

Dieting tips: avastyeballast.arg

Feel free to add on yer own domain, best one gets to walk the plank!

posted by Bonnie Staring at 6:41 PM 5 comments

Insanity is overrated

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

There was a moment last night while I watched Project Catwalk (not Runway, this is the British one) when I realized that normal behaviour is becoming more and more rare. On last night's episode, the designers had to create a stage-worthy gown for a drag queen. And, when one of the male models didn't show up, one of the designers--who just happened to be a drag queen himself--offered to even out the ranks.

Stuff like that never happened at diabetic camp. The most exciting things were watching our friends blood-sugar levels drop during games of capture the flag, the nightly campfires and learning how to use a bow and arrow without hurting someone.

In high school and college, we'd watch in fascination as others would spread their wings of independence and colour their hair bright purple, wear clothing that would get them sent home and turn in assignments titled "How I Killed My Little Brother on March Break."

Back then, you really had to try to stand out. This was before reality TV, You Tube or shows like What Not To Wear where friends and family can shove you into the spotlight. Getting a cut of your 15 minutes of fame is easier, but finding a hook is growing more and more difficult.

Why? Because there's only room for one media whore in any given category. Just see if you can name these people to see what I mean:

1. Naked Survivor player
2. Reality-TV power couple
3. Any Apprentice winner
4. Bounty hunter
5. Red-headed American Idol runner-up
6. Ryan Seacrest's co-host of American Idol Season 1
7. One of the Gotti brothers
8. Even concrete falling on her head couldn't slow down this Apprentice
9. Reality-TV's first pirate
10. Any America's Next Top Model winner

How'd you do? Well, if a name popped into your head right away, that "celebrity" owns the category. If not, consider the category wide open for your big break or supersaturated with too many candidates.

Your best bets? Try out for an entirely new show or sit back and make fun of all those freaky people.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:33 PM 3 comments

A kick in the pants

Monday, March 19, 2007

A kick in the pants was delivered to an online critique group I recently joined and it totally stressed me out. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you already know that my experience with critique groups has been kind of...unsavoury.

When I was invited to join a newly developed group, I was terrified and excited at the same time. For me, that's a sure sign of something very cool. So I signed up, not even realizing that the commitments I already had lined up were neatly balanced and this latest addition would bring that glorious pyramid of duties tumbling down.

It crashed, I burned.

Through no fault of its own, this new commitment simply freaked me out. Even though the guidelines were well thought out and the online system rocked, my heart sank when I saw the "maximum of three submissions a week" line item.

Three submissions a week? Who did they think we were? Writers or something?

After employing the technique of breathing into a paper bag before checking my email, I tried to keep up. It only took a week for me to realize I didn't even qualify for a copy of the home game.

Then the activity on the loop slowed right down. To my speed.

That's when the "kick in the pants" message came around, urging us to get back on our horses and submit, critique and submit some more. My paper bag had already been placed into the recycling bin and breathing into my cupped hands just couldn't make the pressure go away.

So I caved. Backed out faster than Thelma and Louise.

Hopefully I'll be able to return, but right now I have to get all those other projects up off the floor again. :::searches frantically for duct tape:::

posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:58 PM 4 comments

Gonna lose big time

Friday, March 16, 2007

As a member of Toronto Romance Writers, I was invited to participate in a show called Test the Nation: Mind Your Language. It's a sub-group of the Test the Nation television machine (originally from the UK) that pegs different types against each other in a battle of spelling, grammar and other things I have long since forgotten since my scholarship English classes.

I was excited at first, and then I took a sample test on the UK web site. My results (40/70) didn't have me feeling confident. Terrified yes, ready for a game-show close up? Not particularly.

Of course, I'm a regular game show losere (that's loser with a French accent). On CBC radio I lost to a singer with an impossible-to-beat knowledge of great music on Grooveshinny (click here and select "Performances" if you want to hear parts of it). On You Bet Your Ass, I totally blew it in the final round - on a "game show host" question no less.

But you never know, maybe this language quiz is just the arena I need to show off my stuff.

Did I mention that the prize is basically being on the show? (A loot bag has been mentioned, but I'm not holding my breath--it's painful with these particular sweatpants on.) And if you wanna know when you can bear witness to this media event, it's scheduled for the fall. Probably up against America's Next Top Gherkin or Who Wants to Sleep with My Sister.

Heck, maybe I can use it in my next novel or something.

Wish all 36 of us luck! We're from across Canada, all romantics at heart. GO TEAM!

posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:13 PM 3 comments

Keeping a low profile

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Three days a week I work in an office doing proofreading and editing for a branch of the government involved in education. It's taught me a lot about what I should have learned while I was in school. ;)

As I'm a freelancer, there is no name plate at my desk. I also share this desk with the woman who works the other two days a week. She is also blond, yet not as attracted to 80s tunes and bad David Hasselhoff videos as I am. Her name is Monica.

Our supervisor has nicknamed us Bonica. We think it's pretty darn cool.

Since Monica has worked there longer than I have, people outside of our department do everything in their power to refer to me as "hey you," "editor" or, when they are really desperate, "Monica."

This is also the perfect environment to remain invisible, as I have witnessed some pretty strange things happening to people who stand out in a government office. You see it on TV all the time, especially on shows like 24.

But, as a media whore, I can't just blend in. That goes against my natural instinct to work a crowd and discover some form of fame to make the drudgery of work go by a lot faster. Snack foods help, but laughter is less taxing on my blood sugar levels.

Oh, I'm not saying that the work in question is drudgery. Okay, maybe the past few weeks have been evil, but this too shall pass.

Having to be a cog in the wheel for three days a week is a small price to pay for the rest of the week when I can write magazine articles, appear in videos and work on the WIP. Sure, sometimes my work week is seven days long, but I'd much rather do this than be doing the same thing for 40 hours a week.

So I must tip my hat to the writers out there who are working their novels on top of a day job and/or motherhood and/or caring for an elderly parent. You are the superheroes.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:47 PM 3 comments

March break memes...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thanks to Sara for having this one on her blog.

You Are Dr. Bunsen Honeydew

You take the title "mad scientist" to the extreme -with very scary things coming out of your lab.
And you've invented some pretty cool things, from a banana sharpener to a robot politician.
But while you're busy turning gold into cottage cheese, you need to watch out for poor little Beaker!
"Oh, that's very naughty, Beaker! Now you eat these paper clips this minute."

Oh, and try this one too:

Your Vocabulary Score: A-

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.


posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:35 PM 4 comments

If you're happy and you know it

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Okay, I've spent the past couple days reading The Secret and I think I've done myself a brain injury.

The concept is very cool, but it's the need to change a few decade's worth of bad thinking habits that gives me pause. Why? Because at times thinking positive thoughts and sending happy vibes out to the Universe is really hard to do. Especially if you're riding on overcrowded public transit or dealing with a telemarketer who just won't get off the phone. But I digress.

The thing that really has me stuck is the whole "asking for what you want" part. I now know that I'm being way too general when I ask the Universe for something. Here are just a few examples (with their appropriate course corrections):

I want more work. (I'm glad I have more paying work.)

I want to be able to finish my novel. (I feel so great because I've finished my novel.)

I wish I had more time. (It's very cool that I have so much time to get things done.)

I hate my wardrobe. (I'm thankful to have such beautiful clothes in my closet.)

I never win any contests. (I'm so fortunate to win all of these contests.)

See what I mean? You have to pretend that what it is that you need has already arrived, which totally goes against what I usually do: spot the flaws and serve them up with a fine whine. Well, those days are over.

Seriously. This isn't like all those other self-help books on my shelf. This one is totally going to make a difference. I can feel it already, can't you? Oh, that could be the nice spring weather we're having. ;)

Hey, you never know if something's going to work until you try it, right? Right.

I'll keep you posted.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 8:13 AM 4 comments

Shashoomba approval

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Today I spent part of the day in terror as I waited for five members of a critique group to read my synopsis for Suds and then provide me with their comments. In case you weren't aware, I've had some pretty heinous critique-group situations in the past. I even joked with the women today by mentioning that I had pepper spray in my handbag just in case things turned nasty.

Calories burned in the few minutes waiting for them to read must have added up to over 4,000. Luckily Michelle Rowen bought me a cookie. One woman kept on laughing out loud as she read, and I prayed that it was with my words, and not at them.

The feedback on this synopsis was my final test for my new non-murderous ending. The mighty shashoomba. Although one beta told me it was a terrific idea, I needed to hear it from someone who wasn't familiar with the RIP. Not that I didn't like her opinion. ;)

Turns out I had nothing to fear. They liked it, hey Mikey! I even had the author running our group tell me that I had a great voice and a very interesting idea! How cool is that?

Now I have all the motivation I need to finish this darn thing and get it sold. If only I still had that time machine so I could make it all happen in just a few hours.

Wish me luck!

posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:27 AM 3 comments

Moving forward

Thursday, March 8, 2007

I have discovered that as I've gotten older, the less tolerant I have become of certain types of behaviour. Namely the hurry-up-and-wait method and those who just don't "get" anything. For the past little while I have allowed myself to become quite angry at why some people were making me wait (after hurrying up) and others were just not getting it. To say that it was driving me nuts would be an understatement.

The DH even started wearing headphones. All the time.

He said that my aura spelled out the words "DEATH TO THE UNACCEPTED" in three languages. Though he might have been exaggerating; I think it was only in English and Pig Latin.
Then that little golden rule came to mind. The one about what when others make us angry it's usually because it reminds us about something we don't like about ourselves. Rats. The voice of reason was freaking right again. I hate it when that happens.

And I must admit that I have fallen into the trap of taking on way too much for a cranky crazy person. Oh, that would be me. The one in the paint-stained yoga pants with the Turbie Twist wrapped around her head, waiting for the ideas to come so that I can complete the two magazine articles I have due tomorrow. And then I'll finish the synopsis of my reworked novel for a critique session on Saturday that I'm ill-prepared for. Hopefully they won't rip it to shreds, but I'm bringing pepper spray just in case.

All in all, it's been a very busy March already, and it's only the 8th. Happy International Women's Day everyone!

posted by Bonnie Staring at 7:56 PM 0 comments

Tunnel vision

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

There have been a number of things keeping me busy lately, which I try not to whine about too much on this blog since friends and family then start to call me names and throw rocks at me. Metaphorically, of course. Well, with the rocks anyway.

But there's one very cool thing that has driven me absolutely crazy for the past six weeks or so and it's finally arrived:

We've relaunched the site and it's FABULOUS! Of course, I'm completely biased since I'm working on the site (with some groovy articles, be sure to check 'em out).

Okay, now back to the RIP...

posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:43 PM 0 comments

Why ignoring your WIP works

Monday, March 5, 2007

Okay, I have received some flack for not working on my WIP (or RIP) from a fellow writer who shall remain nameless--her initials could be used by Meg Ryan--I do protest, as it seems to have been for a good reason.

I figured out the climax.

Remember, I'm talking about writing. A-hem. Now where was I? Oh yeah, ignoring the heinous RIP.

Suds (the working title), as my lovely betas can tell you, required an extreme makeover. Most of the changes (remove half of the cast of thousands, stop my heroine from eating in each scene and, perhaps, giving her more motivation than "because Bonnie thought it was a good idea") were fairly straightforward and I made them easily. But then there was the end.

You see, this book started out as a really crappy comedic murder mystery. The only problem was that you could have sworn it was chic lit until you reached page 245. Oops. And the betas gently reminded me that a hero and heroine should meet sometime before the tenth chapter. Whatevs.

So as I happily stared at the screen and made all kinds of changes, I couldn't help but notice the dark cloud on the horizon. The one that ended up being my need to turn a murder into something that wasn't a murder but still had a similar result in order to have the same groovy-cool happily-ever-after ending.

Whaddya mean most HEA endings don't need a murder to happen first? Sheesh.

So two weeks ago I realized that I needed to figure that out before I could proceed with any more changes so I could do that "foreshadowing" or what I like to call "making it sound like I know what the heck's going on" well before the big shashoomba happens.

Having a ton of paying work to do also may have taken my mind off of things.

Then, late Saturday night, my subconscious sent my conscious self a text message:

figured out shashoomba. think in showbiz terms. ttyl

Then it hit me: a very cool way to have the same effect as a murder without requiring a death. And no, it's not a coma or evil twin or anything like that, but it's close--and allows me to maintain the non-mystery nature of the revised text.

For me, this is huge. It gives me all the reason I need to push through to the end of this darn draft, create a synopsis for it and shove it out the door. Oh, maybe after getting another beta reading or two, of course.

Don't deny the power of procrastination! In this case, it totally worked for me.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:20 AM 5 comments

Dear Lost: it's over

Friday, March 2, 2007

As I have not watched the past three shows, there is no need for a spoiler alert. A-hem...

Dear Lost,

Thank you for Season One and most of Season Two. Never before had a show hooked me so well before I even had a chance to figure out what the hell was going on. Unfortunately the "what the hell" part wore out its welcome sometime in the spring of 2006.

In all honesty, I loved the way we met the characters, made all kinds of crazy assumptions and then--WHAM--you did that cool back story thing and we learned that Locke was even freakier before the crash, Hurley was a cool dude with too much taco money and Sawyer was HOT.

You totally had me at the first wisps of black smoke. When you introduced the crazy French babe, I didn't mind. Then you killed off Boone and brought over the annoying Anna Lucia. The only thing that kept me going was the introduction to Eko and you kept on giving Sawyer reasons to take of his shirt.

When Ben was captured and all hell broke loose on way too many levels, that was mighty fine. I was at the edge of my seat, knowing that some answers would filter down through the great big flash of light in the sky.


Nope, you just had to keep on adding to an already overwhelming recipe, didn't you? You just had to suddenly add in 50 more characters who probably all have their own amazing back stories involving the Mickey Mouse Club, chinchillas and a psychic expo. That will take us into Season 17, I'm sure. It turned into a seven-layer dip gone horribly wrong.

But it's too late; I'm spent. Why? Because I really don't care anymore. Heck, I'm ready to go dig up those drug-filled religious figurines Charlie dropped into the ocean just to take my mind off of all the WTF action you guys have been feeding me since November.

The two-month break did little to rekindle the flames of hope. They were doused when Jack successfully removed the tumor from Ben's spine and he still couldn't get back to WTF island. You know, the one filled with happy couples and the band member Desmond believes is destined to die very soon despite his upcoming marriage in real life to the actress playing Kate, the rotten slimy slut.

But no more. I just can't take the addition of more questions without any satisfying answers. Did you notice that one word back there: I said satisfying. As in, this program is NO LONGER SATISFYING.

It blows.

Well, that's my opinion anyway.

Have a nice day,


posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:19 AM 4 comments