The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

Fruits and Veggies: When to Buy Organic May 3, 2010

I know food topics are generally Ashley’s purview, but when I saw this article on Simple Organic I thought many of our blog readers would enjoy it! I’m a member of the “wish I could buy organic all the time but can’t afford it” group, and with today’s economy I’m sure many of you are too! So if you’re on a grocery budget like I am but still want to eat healthy, check out this great article about the’ “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” of fruits and veggies! It’s definitely going to change the way I buy produce!

Here’s a direct link to the wallet guide that the Simple Organic post mentions. Take this with you to the store for a quick-reference guide on what to buy organic and what’s okay to save some money on – Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides!


Facebook Fan Pages March 9, 2010

Filed under: Writing — michellehuegel @ 5:21 pm
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I’m quite proud of my most recent technological accomplishment – publishing a Facebook fan page! The page is for published author Patricia Strefling, who I’ve been working with lately on some editing projects as well as computer projects, such as setting up this Facebook fan page and her Etsy shop (she makes and sells beautiful crocheted baby afghans).

Creating the fan page took me back to my days at Davenport U as a marketing major, as we discussed ways to drive traffic to the page, links to other authors and sites, and choosing photos and blurbs for different areas of the page. The fan page is really all about marketing, but on a “grass roots” level – focused on connecting personally with your target market (your “fans”). The end goal, however, is still to drive sales/traffic/readership/etc. I think it’s a great idea and I’m excited to build my editing business to the point where I need a fan page!

I wish Facebook would build more customization capabilities into their fan pages. For example, I’d love to put up a sidebar box with all of Pat’s favorite links – to fellow authors, her publisher, etc. The link box available now will only show 2-3 links and I don’t think there’s a way to choose which ones are displayed (although I could be wrong).

I think the Discussion board area has great potential especially for the creative arts people like Pat. She can create a post for each of her books, and hopefully get some thoughtful discussions going and ideas for future stories! Check her out – her inspirational romance books Edwina and Cecilia are available now!

If you have any sort of business I encourage you to create a Facebook fan page. Seems like everyone is on Facebook nowadays, and it’s a great way to touch base with your friends and clients, and hopefully reach new ones! If you have a page already, would you mind sharing it with us in the comments? I’d love to see how you’re using this great feature!

So now I have a question for our LifeInk readers – do you think LifeInk needs a Facebook fan page? Would you be our fan? If we do launch a page in the future, what would you like to see on it? Besides, of course, blog post updates (because I know you never want to miss an episode :))!! How about additional links and info about posts? Updates on past posts? We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

PS – Of course, you can always find the three of us on Facebook! We are all on pretty frequently posting insightful and witty status updates (HAH!) and we love to chat!


First Hints of Spring March 3, 2010

Filed under: Life in General,Photos — Erin Joy @ 12:14 pm
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The last couple days I’ve been driving home with my window down because it’s felt warm. The sunshine is so bright, something I’ve missed incredibly this year. I don’t even mind that I’m temporarily blinded on my way to work in the morning. I even switched from wearing my wool coat to work.

But I’m in Michigan. So, that means this “warm” weather we’ve been having has only been about 38 degrees. That may account for why I’ve been needing to take some DayQuil in the morning the last two days as well, but I just can’t help it.

There are other signs, too, that say that spring may be just around the corner. I saw a cardinal as I pulled into the parking lot at work this morning. Listening to the radio in the car, people were calling in with different “signs of spring” that they’d seen, including an opossum showing up at a concert last night. I’m not quite sure how that means it’s spring, but that person was convinced.

My favorite sign, however, is the tiny little snowdrop flowers that begin to bloom. When I was a little girl, we had an abundance of these right outside our kitchen door, and I’d pick a handful to put in a dixie cup for my mother. I am not sure which of us enjoyed this tradition more. In fact, some of my favorite memories as a little girl were when I was picking flowers for my mom to put in the kitchen window. Sadly, we don’t have a kitchen window any more, and the flowers we put on the table often get shoved off onto a counter.

Mowie, the photographer of a food photography blog I recently started following, was able to capture a beautiful image of one.

What is your favorite sign of spring?


2009 Books In Review January 5, 2010

Last year, in my own personal blog, I wrote lists of three of this and three of that about 2008. I’ve decided against that this year.

One thing I have continued from 2008 through 2009 was my goal to read 10,000 pages in completed books (excluding children’s books, which have been too numerous to count) within one year.

Inspired by the similar goals of my friend Rachael Clanton, I started at January 1, 2008, and on December 31, 2009, I had reached about 9, 500 pages. I had missed it by one book. How disappointing.

So, I have decided to renew the goal. This isn’t a New Year’s “resolution”, just a goal to accomplish by next New Year’s.

This year, I was not nearly as successful, but I have enjoyed the books I read. One way to motivate myself has been to always read a book before seeing a movie based on it. As a result, I’m sure you’ll recognize a lot of the books I’ve read this year as major movies that have been released.

Another way I’ve managed to motivate myself to read new books is by following along with the Schindlers’ book club. While I might not drive all the way to Chicago every month to attend, I’ve attempted to read many of the books. (That was probably a good thing, as it took me two months to read October’s book.)

As 2009 came to a close, I must admit: I only read about 2/3 of my goal this year, 6,179 pages. I’ve read many more incomplete books and magazines, but I only included completed books.

Considering I haven’t yet met my goal, I am going to try again this year. Perhaps I’ll manage 10,000 in 2010? Who knows? I’ve already completed my first book.

Maybe this next year I should require that they are all in large print so that I can multiply pages faster. Hmmm.

I’ve also recently discovered the BBC book club. (My dear friend Katie sent me a link letting me know that John Irving would be on and discussing my favorite of his books, A Prayer for Owen Meany.) I might try to follow along with that book club as well, but that might be a bigger stretch.

Please suggest any for this following year if you know of any I might like in particular. Thanks to anyone who may have suggested one I’ve read this year.

Here is the list of the books I completed in 2009:

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
  • He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo
  • New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
  • The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
  • Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  • A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth
  • Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  • Blind Dates Can Be Murder by Mindy Starns Clark
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Crazy Love by Francis Chan
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  • The World as I Remember It: Through the Eyes of a Ragamuffin by Rich Mullins

My list from 2008:

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Crooked Little Heart by Anne Lamott
  • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
  • The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
  • Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Baudolini by Umberto Eco
  • Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (twice)
  • Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Pirsoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
  • REVEAL by the WCA
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Madeleine L’Engle November 16, 2009

Filed under: Writing — ashleybarrett @ 11:18 am
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Read this wonderful post where Novel Journey blogger Noel De Vries share some fantastic insight from Madeleine L’Engle.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


Writing Prompt November 9, 2009

Filed under: Writing — ashleybarrett @ 1:58 pm
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I’ve been participating (sporadically) in the November poem a day chapbook challenge on Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer. I wanted to share my favorite prompt from this week.

I want you to take the phrase “Maybe (blank),” replace the (blank) with a word or phrase, and write a poem using that new phrase as your title. Some example titles: “Maybe we really did need a bigger boat,” “Maybe next time you’ll listen to me,” “Maybe never,” “Maybe baby,” and so on.

Here’s what I came up with:

Maybe Someone Else Should Cut His Hair

As the cat bats dirty-blonde tufts across the floor
soft tumbleweeds
My brother rubs his scalp
surveying the damage
Mom stands with her hands on her hips,
“That was not what I had in mind.”

I’d love to see what you come up with! What do you think of this writing prompt and writing prompts in general?


Writing Gems from Annie Dillard October 27, 2009

Filed under: Writing — michellehuegel @ 3:02 pm
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Novelist Alexander Chee recently wrote a beautiful, thoughtful essay about the time he studied writing under Annie Dillard. The essay is sprinkled with Dillard’s insightful little gems about the art and craft of writing, like this one:

  • Don’t worry about being original … Yes, everything’s been written, but also, the thing you want to write, before you wrote it, was impossible to write. Otherwise it would already exist. You writing it makes it possible.

Okay, so they’re the sort of gems that make you scratch your head, lose yourself in confused contemplation for several minutes, and still think that maybe the idea is too advanced for a lowly mortal to comprehend. But still, the essay is certainly worth some head-scratching.

Apart from the writing insights he learned from Dillard, Alexander Chee offers yummy descriptive sentences all his own, like this one about revising:

  • You could think that your voice as a writer would just emerge naturally, all on its own, with no help whatsoever, but you’d be wrong. What I saw on the page was that the voice is in fact trapped, nervous, lazy. Even, and in my case, most especially, amnesiac. And that it had to be cut free.

To me, this says that just writing a lot isn’t enough to find my voice. I must write consistently, with discipline, then cut out the bad bits, the lazy, nervous, and “trapped” bits, and what is left over after I’ve filled in these now-empty spaces may be my “voice.”

I’ll leave you with a final quote from the essay, something Annie Dillard said in her class:

  • Talent isn’t enough … Writing is work. Anyone can do this, anyone can learn to do this. It’s not rocket science, it’s habits of mind and habits of work.