Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Thought September

He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.

--Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bedroom Makeover Part 2

Click on this link to see Part 1 of the Bedroom Makeover--we've come a long way from plain white walls!

After the walls and trim were finished, it was time for the dressers, the nightstand, and the coatpost.
I had a hand-me-down dresser from my in-laws and another one saved from the donation pile on the side of the road. We put the creative juices to work and changed these into darling works of art for the girl's room.

By this time, my pregnant belly was definitely in the way and I couldn't stand for very long without a lot of pain, so I recruited my over-eager daughters to help paint their dressers. It worked good for the first coat of paint. Since I was using darker, brighter colors everything had to have two coats of paint.
Here's dresser #1 from the side of the road:

And here is the finished makeover of dresser #1



My dad made this coatpost for me and each of my siblings over 20 years ago. This particular one was plain wood, unfinished and so we changed it up a bit.


I didn't get a before picture of dresser #2, but it was a hand-me-down from my in-laws painted white. I loved the color scheme we used and the girls were pretty excited too.



My husband made the little nightstand when he was in high school. It had a light colored wood-veneer which I painted over.

If you look at the bottom of the nightstand, you can barely see the trim--that was the old look--I painted that part too and it's a fun accent piece.


The girls loved helping with the cleanup of the brushes and rollers.

The painting part of this bedroom makeover is done, but there are still a few finishing touches that need to be done. I don't know if I'll be able to get to that before the baby is born, but the girls are loving their room and that is what is most important!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Making Friends Monday

I'd like you to meet one of my favorite people--Tristi Pinkston!
Tristi's blog is out of this world fun and she's created a cool event called Making Friends Monday. Today she is featuring me on her blog as one of her friends and so I wanted to make sure you all know about Tristi as well.

Tristi Pinkston has been blogging since 2006. On her main blog, (http://www.tristipinkston.blogspot.com) she covers everything from writing tips and the life of a published author to kid funnies, spiritual thoughts, and embarrassing moments. She also has a weight loss blog, one for writing challenges, another for her fictional characters … and she lost count of how many others she has. You can find the links for them on her sidebar.


Tristi is the author of five published novels and a whole kit ‘n caboodle of unpublished novels. Right now she’s focusing on cozy mysteries, although she has written historical fiction in the past and plans to write more in that genre. She works as a freelance editor and a virtual book tour coordinator. She loves taking long naps, being charmingly annoying, and watching good movies. She’s a Mormon, a homeschooler, a Cubmaster, and most of the time, a headless chicken.

Tristi's books are so much fun. Her latest, Secret SistersSecret Sisters (Secret Sisters Mysteries), is laugh out loud fun with a great mystery.
I hope you enjoyed meeting her today, now go say hello!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Writing Compelling Characters Blogfest

I visited my one of my writerly friend's blogs and found a fun challenge. Elana Johnson is an amazing writer and Queen of the blog world with a new book coming out. She challenged everyone to write on the topic of "Writing Compelling Characters" to show how diverse each and every person is when they are creating something for their own blog.

It's been a while since I did a writing post, so I thought I'd take her up on the challenge. Thanks for stopping by my blog today and make sure you answer my question at the bottom of this post--I'm eager to read what you think.

Writing a compelling character is as multi-faceted a topic as the character itself can become. There are so many points to concentrate on developing to make your character come to life and compel your reader to continue turning those pages. Here's a few of my ideas.

When I'm writing and reading, I need to see the character--their movement, general appearance, mannerisms. I also need to hear them. How do they talk? What happens when they enter a room?
To write a compelling character, you first need to create the character by answering some of the above questions plus a few more. When I'm working on a novel, I use a character note document where I write the name of each character, age, hair color, eye color, height, striking factors in their appearance, where they live or where they are from, some of their hobbies, what type of work they do. The list can go on and on, but it's important for each character to be different, not cut from the same cloth. I need to have identifiable differences between the characters and so I'll make notes of how I can show that to my readers by certain mannerisms, speech, and specific appearance points.

Each character must sound like himself. This means if I pull out a string of dialogue from a novel, it should be indicative of the character speaking. If all the dialogue sounds the same, then a reader will not be able to differentiate clearly between the characters. You have to know your characters so well when writing, because your reader will know them and will pick up immediately if the character says something that is out of sync. You don't want your reader thinking, "He wouldn't say that." You also don't want them thinking, "he wouldn't do that."

So, writing compelling characters is all about making the characters REAL, making them come to life and step off the pages of the book. One of my favorite tips that I heard several years ago (sorry, can't remember who said it) was, "You should know your character well enough, that if you passed them on a busy street you would recognize them."

That's just the tip of the iceberg on writing compelling characters, but it's a great starting point.
Think of your favorite books. Are they your favorite because of the plot or the characters? Who are some of your all-time favorite characters?
Some of mine? I love Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Melinda from Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson definitely stays with you. Katniss from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. All of these characters are so well-written, I feel like they are my friends--especially Anne!
Okay, your turn to share. I'd love to hear some of your favorites.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Thought September

A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.

--Maya Angelou

Beautiful! I hope you like this sentiment. It reminds me that I write because I have a story to tell and I live because I love life even though it's hard.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bedroom Makeover Part 1

This summer I've been working on a huge project. I had to clean out my entire guest room/storage room so that we could get ready to move the girls downstairs.
Baby #4 is on the way and so we had to do some room swapping.

I went to the paint store and looked at tons of color chips and project examples and found one that I just loved from Disney. It was a Tinkerbell theme, but I just loved the color scheme because I thought it was something that would work well as my girls grow older. I showed it to my girls and they got all excited.
So.....I started painting. Can I just say how sick I am of painting now, but so glad that it's done!

I have some before and after pictures.
 The walls were stark white and the molding around the window was raw wood.

I used two different shades of aqua or turqouise for the walls.

I started this way back in June, doing the walls first before my pregnant belly got too big and uncomfortable. It took me a long time because I could only do a little bit at a time.

The closet doors went from plain white...

to something a little bit more eye-catching!



The girls loved peeking in the room to see how it was progressing. I had to ban them from the room when they tripped and fell into the wall and got blue paint all over their pajamas!

The trim on the window was a fun accent as well as the lowered portion of the wall just above the doorway.

We think the room looks pretty magical now. Just wait until you see what I did with the dressers--that's next!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Winner of Bundle of Books Giveaway

Yes, we have a winner!
Thank you to everyone who entered the Bundle of Books Giveaway. It was fun to hear about the books you've been reading and enjoying lately.

Thanks for celebrating with me on Wrong Number's success! I also just found out that my book was chosen for a fantastic book website called Squeaky Clean Reads. You can visit my book's review page here and rate the book if you have read it. This is a great resource and I'm happy to be featured on the website because I'm always looking for a great read without all the garbage, which is why I wrote Wrong Number. So hop on over and rate my book so that others can enjoy a clean suspense novel! Wrong Number.

I'll be posting another book review soon, so check back and see what I've been reading.

Okay, since you're dying to find out. . .the winner is. . .

Brandy C

Congrats Brandy! Email me your mailing address within 48 hours and I'll send you this big box of books! Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday Thought

The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.

--Pearl S. Buck

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gestational Diabetes Diet

I developed gestational diabetes with this, my 4th pregnancy, and I've written some about it in a previous post. You can click here to read it.
I told you that I would post some info about the diet that I have to follow to keep my blood sugar levels under control. It's pretty restrictive, but it has helped me feel better even if I have had to feel more hunger pains than I would prefer.
After attending a three-hour instructional class on gestational diabetes, I was given a specific diet plan based on my weight and height (pre-pregnancy). The main thing to watch for is carbohydrates and realize that most desserts are pretty much not an option.

I'm going to type in my meal plan
Main Goal: Distribute the recommended grams or choices of carbohydrates throughout the day in smaller meals and snacks while achieving adequate calories and optimal nutrition.
*The reason why I feel fortunate to have learned about this is because I think that EVERYONE should be eating according to a diabetic meal plan. It's much healthier and it keeps your blood sugar even all day long--no more sky-rocketing and crashing.

Each day I can have 193 grams of carbs or roughly 13 choices. One choice= 15 grams of carbs. That is for a 2000 calorie diet.

Breakfast: Carb grams: 30 or 2 choices, Protein 1 oz., Fat: 2 servings
The ideal balanced breakfast that keeps my blood sugar low is one egg, one piece of whole wheat toast, and 1/2 a glass of milk.
Cereal is pretty difficult because if you'll take a look at your cereal's nutrition stats you'll see that most cereals have around 25 or more carbs--Raisin Bran has 45 g for one serving!!! And since milk is actually counted as a carb because of the lactose (sugar) it contains, it's difficult to have cereal with milk under 30 carbs and then you still need your protein. I have ate cereal a few times by mixing Fiber One Cereal with a low-carb Special K and then topping it with chopped almonds for proteins--but you have to measure your cereal to make sure you're not eating too much. Yeah, breakfast is tricky!

Mid-morning snack: Carb grams: 15, Protein 1 oz.
A couple crackers and string cheese make the perfect snack for me here.

Lunch: Carb grams: 45 or 3 choices, Protein 2-3 ozs., Fat 2 servings
This meal is much easier to add variety. I can have a sandwich, or a small portion of other types of food with a salad. I like using Wonder's Light Whole Wheat Bread because 2 slices of bread = 1 Carb choice and so then I can still have a handful of grapes (15 grapes= 15 grams of carbs) or maybe 7 Dorito chips if I'm really craving food in that "naughty" category.

Mid-afternoon snack: Carb grams: 30 or 2 choices, Protein 1 oz.
Here I like to have cottage cheese with fruit or if you hate cottage cheese, here's an interesting idea that my hubby told me he found from a different diet book. Mix cottage cheese in with your yogurt and then you have the perfect blend of protein and carbs. It really is good. I've been giving that mixture to my kids to help them have a balanced snack and they gobble it up!

Dinner: Carb Grams: 45 or 3 choices, Protein 3 ozs, Fat: 2-3 servings
Again this does provide a lot of options. The biggest thing for me is that I have to pay attention to serving size and realize how many carbs are in a roll, slice of bread, taco shell, etc. As long as I control my portions then my blood sugar seems to be within range. And green vegetables, non-starchy vegetables are free foods so I can eat as many as those as I want.

PM Snack: Carb grams: 30 or 2 choices, protein 1 oz.

*Let me tell you about the PM snack. If you don't have gestational diabetes you can eat this snack any time in the evening you would like. You could have dessert a little bit more for dinner, whatever as long as it's accounted for. But for gestational diabetes, the evening snack must be delayed until only 10 hours or less exists between the snack and the time of breakfast in the morning. If breakfast the following morning is expected at 8 am, the evening snack should be eaten no earlier than 11pm.
This is all because when you are pregnant you don't want extra ketones in your blood stream because they've been proven to harm development of the baby's brain. You can read more about ketones here and ketoacidosis--although that condition isn't what would be seen with gestational diabetes, it's more just the presence of ketones in the blood stream.

For other people without diabetic problems, it's fine for their body to go into the fasting state and burn fat--you want that to happen. But for me, I need to get my PM snack ready pretty soon!

Oh, and I'll share my favorite PM snack for you here!
One graham cracker, spread with one tablespoon of creamy peanut butter, 2 squares of Dark, Dark chocolate (preferable Dove dark chocolate) broke up in bits over the cracker. 1/2 glass of milk and 1/2 a banana. This is just about 30 grams of carbs and it hits the spot!! The problem is waiting until 10pm to eat it because this baby of mine really tugs on my hunger chords in the evening.

I hope this info helps you if you're suffering from gestational diabetes like me and if you're lucky enough not to have this problem, I hope it still helps you to take another look at your diet and make it a little more balanced and healthy.
Good luck!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bundle of Books Giveaway & Praise for Wrong Number

I love writing, but waiting to hear what people think after they read my book I don't love so much, because it's nerve-wracking.
Today is your lucky though because you get to celebrate with me! I just received some more great feedback on my suspense novel Wrong Number and to celebrate I'm going to host a Bundle of Books Giveaway!

First I'll tell you about the reviews though.
Wrong Number was recently reviewed by a prominent book reviewer on AML, Jeff Needle. Here's a quote from his review:

"Here's the exact way to turn an improbable plot into a rollicking
suspense novel, full of surprises and twists, and wonderful
characterizations." AND
"Christensen does a wonderful job of developing her characters. As
happens so rarely, I was able to close my eyes and imagine what each
character looked like. This is amazingly good writing. And you begin
to care about so many of the characters, without ever fully knowing who
you can trust. Christensen keeps you on the edge of your seat."


I also received some nice praise from another writer I admire, Gregg Luke. Check out his website here to see his award-winning novels. Here's what Gregg had to say about Wrong Number:
  "Wow! For your first suspense/thriller you smacked this one out of the park! I was very impressed with your storyline, your pacing, your characters, your attention to detail and accuracy,and your prose. I loved it! I read several books a year, and there are very few I can't put down when it's time for dinner or bed. Wrong Number is one of the few I HAD to finish. It was one of the few books I've read where afterword, I thought, dang, I wish I had written that! Congratulations."

Wrong NumberIf you haven't had a chance to read Wrong Number yet, go pick up a copy. It's available wherever books are sold and also on Amazon. I'd love to hear what you think. You can read more of what people have said about Wrong Number on my left sidebar.

In the meantime, let's celebrate with a Bundle of Books Giveaway!
I love books--unfortunately my bookshelves are sagging with the love--so from time to time I select a few to lighten the load and pass them on to my happy readers.

Here's what you can win in this Book Bundle (These are not new books, but in very good condition) Yes, ONE lucky person will win ALL of these books! Click on the image to learn more about the book:
Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie MorgensternTime Management from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule -- and Your Life
Julie Morgenstern Organizing System notebooks
Tempest Tossed by Josi S. Kilpack
Ordinary People Extraordinary WealthOrdinary People, Extraordinary Wealth: The 8 Secrets of How 5,000 Ordinary Americans Became Successful Investors--and How You Can Too by Ric Edelman
No Way Out by Christine Kersey
On Writing by Eudora Welty
By Love or By SeaBy Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager
It's Okay to Take a NapIt's Okay to Take a Nap and Other Reassuring Truths for Mothers Everywhere by Debra Sansing Woods
The Forgotten WarriorThe Forgotten Warrior by Kathi Oram Peterson
Low Profile SellingTom Hopkins' Low Profile Selling by Tom Hopkins book and Video
Saving Your Marriage Before It StartsSaving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before and After You Marry by Dr. Les Parrott III

Illusions of Spring by Annabelle Corrick Beach


 You can enter to win from Friday, September 10th to Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 11:59pm MST. I'll use Random.org to select a winner and the winner must respond within 48 hours with their name and US stateside address or I will select another winner.
Here's how to enter: Leave just ONE comment telling me all you've done to enter

  • Leave me a comment and tell me the best book you've read recently or one of your favorite books
  • Subscribe to my newsletter- email Rachellethewriter AT gmail.com with subscribe in subject line
  • Blog about the Book Bundle Giveaway with a linkback to this post 
You must have a United States, stateside address to be eligible for this giveaway. *And people, this didn't even make a dent in my bookshelves, so I'm going to have to do this again soon!
Winner will be randomly selected and entries must follow above entry guidelines. (Just in case, pregnancy disclaimer) I will send out the shipment of books as quickly as I can to the winner, but there may be a delay based on health issues.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday Thought September

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

--Pablo Picasso

I love this thought! What a wonderful shot in the arm for motivation to keep on trying, dreaming, and setting goals to achieve new things.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Featured Guest Blogger Today

Today I'm over at Anne Bradshaw's place as her guest blogger. Please come and see my Notes from a Writing Junkie AKA "Author" and say hello!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gestational Diabetes & Me

Gestational Diabetes: That is a term I didn't think I'd ever have to worry about. I'm expecting my fourth baby soon and I've never had any problems with the yucky glucose test they make you do when you're between 24-28 weeks pregnant.

But this time I failed! I told my husband it's the only test I've ever failed in my life.
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes scared me to death. Yes, I was a bawling basketcase and yes, I can blame it all on the pregnancy hormones.

I really can blame in on that because the pregnancy hormones are what causes the problems that develop into gestational diabetes. Here's a link to more info, but in a nutshell, this is how it works: you eat food, the food turns into glucose in your bloodstream, your pancreas produces insulin which unlocks your cells and opens the doors so they can gobble up all that glucose. But the pregnancy hormones go and shut the doors to your cells so they can't get the glucose/energy they need. Your pancreas produces more insulin to try to make up for this problem, but if it just can't keep up then you develop what is called gestational diabetes.

Your blood is full of excess glucose which the baby can use because his cells aren't blocked by any nasty pregnancy hormones and so he can keep eating and eating and grow too large among other problems.
The big eye-opener for me is that EVERY woman who is pregnant experiences some difficulty with this process which causes their pancreas to work harder. This explains a lot of the fatigue in the third trimester. But only about 10% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes.

 So I was freaked out about all the potential problems that could occur. I was spitting mad because I do not even have ONE can of soda in my whole house. We don't drink soda, we don't eat lots of junk, I make homemade whole-wheat bread, we try to eat healthy. I just couldn't understand how this could happen to ME! The only common criteria for gestational diabetes that I fell under was---over age 25.

But now I'm okay.

I understand that it doesn't matter how healthy you are, you can still develop gestational diabetes. It's not your fault if you develop it, but you can do a lot to control it after you're diagnosed.

My husband and I went to a three-hour class where we learned all about gestational diabetes, the risks, and what happens to your body. We learned about the proper foods to eat and I was given a specific diet plan to follow. I was also given a diabetes blood tester--which was another source of my freak-out.

I've always been a wimp about needles and blood. You're looking at the girl who used to pass out every time she had to have her blood drawn. I'm much better now--I think having three kids does that to you--but I still did NOT want to poke myself and squeeze out blood for the tester. But I did it anyway and the instructor showed us how if we poked the side of our finger instead of the tip, it didn't hurt quite as bad.

So I have been a good girl, testing my blood sugar level six times a day and following a strict diet. My levels have been very good so now I only have to test every other day, four times a day. I'm very aware of carbohydrates and protein. I'm hungry and sometimes cranky because I can't think of what to eat that will fit in my diet, but I'm getting better at it. I'm going to post another segment which will tell you exactly what my diet is and why I'm grateful for what I've learned because it's something I'm going to try to follow for the rest of my life. It's important! I feel much better, I've lost weight which scared me, but the doctor said it's okay as long as the baby is growing. Today I feel like I can handle this right now.

Of course that feeling could change at any time and I WILL blame it on the pregnancy hormones, but I'll keep you posted!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Birthday Celebration Care-Bear Style

We just celebrated Maggie's 5th birthday! What a big day! I can't believe how much my little girl has grown.

She loves Care Bears. A few years ago, we picked up a Share Bear at a yard sale for one dollar and she sleeps with it every night. Share Bear is often sitting in front of her dinner plate as well and goes with us everywhere. I have had to re-sew nearly every seam on this stuffed animal!

So the cake for this special birthday definitely needed to honor this Care-Bear friend.




I found a cake pan on eBay and was elated that it included instructions for Share Bear. I think it turned out pretty good and Maggie was thrilled!

For her little birthday party we played some simple games that Steve and I created to match the Care Bear theme

*Pin the tail on the Care Bear

*Ring Toss--throw the Hula Hoop around the Care Bear

*We let the girls decorate paper placemats with cutouts and stickers of Care Bears

The party was a success because everyone had fun and it was simple, short, and sweet!
I've mentioned before I'm quite nostalgic so one of the special presents we gave Maggie for her birthday was my old Cheer Bear from my childhood and Steve's Friend Bear from his childhood. So now she has three Care Bears and has been having lots of Care Bear parties the past few days!

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