Reading the Rough Draft

I did it. I finally worked up the nerve to read my NaNoWriMo rough draft.  It’s a young adult novel, and I finished at a little over 60,000 PenandPaperwords.  It’s rough–of course it is, it’s a rough draft. There are adverbs everywhere. I basically must use adverbs every time I quickly write–ha ha.  There’s a few inconsistencies in the story, and a few moments where I was thinking, “Ew! Did I write that?”

But all in all, it’s not too bad! I used the ‘snowflake method’ to outline my novel, and I think I’ve found my outlining method of choice. It works for me. It gives me a destination.

I have chapters to add, things I didn’t know were missing until I read the story start to finish. I see where my pacing is off and the places where my characters are inconsistent. There’s a lot to work on, but I expected my first NaNoWriMo novel to be a complete disaster!

Overall I’m excited. I’ve never reached the revision step. I’ve never finished a rough draft–for a novel, at least.  I must tell you, it feels pretty good!

A Gentle Answer Turns Away Wrath

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1


When I first read this verse, or more likely the first time this verse soaked in, it was on a poster in my aunt and uncle’s laundry room. We were on vacation and staying with them, and I’d just moved some clothes over to the dryer. I remember looking at it, and having this grand epiphany. Of course! These are words to live by.

You know what? They are. Oh my, are they ever. There are also really, really hard to follow.  Easy to remember, hard to follow. 

My son, my sweet son, is like a volcano.  When he’s upset he has massive bursts of anger, and then–just like that–he’s fine. But oh, help me, I have to get past the explosion without losing my cool as well. You see, I’m a volcano too. I think we all are in a way, but some of us are a little more fiery than others.

He’s vocal, and loud, and stubborn, and sometimes it’s really hard not to snap back.  Sometimes he’s just trying to get me to snap back. I know, I see it in his eyes, and I remember doing it to my mother when I was young.

Those times when I keep my cool and answer with a gentle answer, and with prayer those times are becoming much more frequent, he cools a little too.  It’s hard for him, I know. I remember, but he’s growing so much.

God is working in his life, and it’s amazing to watch. Sometimes it’s painful, but in a good way. It’s also scary that imperfect, flawed me is his mother. I’m so grateful we have the Word to guide us, because without it, I’d be completely lost.

Parts of a Story Free Printable Worksheet

Today I want to share with you my Parts of a Story Worksheet for young readers.  I believe reading comprehension is so important, and this is a great way to encourage children to pay attention to both  read alouds and the books they read themselves.  You can either have them draw a picture in each box, or they could write a simple sentence or two.

You can also have them use this printable as an outline for writing their own stories.  I love to encourage writing and creative thinking!

Click the picture and it will take you to the download. Have a great day!


Makin’ it Personal

It’s been almost a year since I started this blog, and I realized the first time I posted a picture of myself was a few weeks ago for a Weekly Photo Challenge.  I don’t think I’m terribly mysterious; I post pictures of my family and pets, but I realized that my readers (hi readers!) might like to know a little more about me. Maybe, I guess. So here we go.

This is me:


1. My name is Shari. It rhymes with starry and, unfortunately, sorry. No one ever pronounces it right. Not ever. Most people skim over it and see ‘ Sherry’. A lot of people read it as ‘Shuh-ree’.  I answer to both of those, and it doesn’t bother me when people say it wrong. I also have a bad habit of turning toward someone when they say a passing ‘sorry’ in the grocery store.

2. I adore crimson red. It’s absolutely my favorite color, and it was the color of the bodice on my wedding dress. A lot of people loved it. A lot of people didn’t. Wedding

3. I love animals, but they must have fur or feathers–no reptiles, fish, or amphibians for me.  I find hairless dogs and cats terrifying. I would really love to have a pet fox, but I don’t think that’s legal…

4. I’m a writer. As of right now, I have three books and one novella published on Amazon. My fourth book will be released in January of 2016. My favorite genre is fantasy, but I also love to lose myself in fun contemporary fiction. You can check out all of my books here.

5. Every couple of months I go in to have my hair highlighted, lowlighted, and layered–and about 95% of my life, it’s twisted up in a bun. Go figure.

6. I start hundreds of vegetable and flower seedlings every single spring. They are happy, healthy, and then they get planted outside and forgotten about. The last couple years were the only years the poor things actually made it through the summer.

This picture is from 2012. It's the first year our garden lived all through the summer!
This picture is from 2012. It’s the first year our garden lived all through the summer!

7. I’m a closet geek. Or nerd, maybe. I don’t know the terminology, but I love fantasy novels, movies, games, and so on. My husband is too.  Most people don’t know this about us; we hide it well.  I also really love to dress up, and I really wish there were a holiday that involved costumes that wasn’t Halloween (which I’m not a fan of). I’m thinking of creating one. Ha ha–I’m joking. No, I’m not.

8.  In real life, I’m an introvert, and sometimes painfully so. In high school, I covered it up with a “diva shield,” but I don’t do that anymore. I’m one of those crazy people that have heart failure when people drop by unannounced. I almost can’t handle it. Home is my refuge from…people. I love to have friends and family over, however. I just need to plan for it. Give me five minutes, at least. I need it.  

9. I have a thing for schedules and lists. They are necessary for breathing. My husband takes the greatest joy in deviating from my schedules and changing my lists. I think it’s why we work so well. He keeps me from running myself ragged, and I keep him…moving. He’s so lovely and mellow. I wish I were mellow–until I actually try it, and then I go crazy.

10. A bunch of fast random facts:

I like coffee better than tea, pie more than cake, and I can’t stand cake and ice cream together. I often have a strong indifference to chocolate chip cookies.

I like books more than movies.

I would much rather go through the drive-thru at Starbucks than inside.

I think every zoo would be complete with a platypus, and I don’t like monkeys. Lemurs are fine.

That’s enough. Probably more than enough! Have a great day!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

This week’s theme is ‘threes’– or more specifically, three photos that together tell a story.

Here’s my story!


Check out the original challenge here.

Quilt in Progress: Pink Owl Quilt

Quilt in Progress: Pink Owl Quilt

I’m finally working on the pink owl quilt! I wanted it to go together fairly quickly, so I did a variation of disappearing nine patch. It’s all pieced, and I’m working on the quilting right now. I’ll post more pictures when it’s all finished!

Quick Gift Idea – Handmade Outfits for Store Bought Stuffed Animal


Chelsea’s friend from ballet is having a birthday party tomorrow. We were shopping for a gift this afternoon, and we were having trouble deciding what to get her. From what I’ve noticed, she and Chelsea have very similar taste in toys, and I was afraid we were going to get her something she already had.

We went to Hobby Lobby to find a fun craft set, but we never found anything we really liked. I was beginning to get discouraged, but then we passed by the Valentine’s stuffed animals on display at the front of the store. Sitting there was the cutest little stuffed dog, and I immediately thought we would buy her and make a little doggy purse. I was getting pretty excited, but then I vaguely remembered Chelsea’s friend might have just gotten one in the last week, and I didn’t want to give her a duplicate gift.

I’m not sure when it hit me, but I was very excited when the idea came to me to make the dog a tutu. Delighted with the idea of turning her into a ballerina poodle, we bought her. Somewhere in the twenty minutes it took to get home, I started daydreaming about a doggy dress up set. Chelsea loves to stuff her animals in doll clothes.

All four outfits took about an hour and half, and that includes digging through my fabric stash and setting everything up. If you’re interested, I explained how I made each piece below. I’m very sorry if the directions are confusing. I rarely use patterns for this sort of thing–I just sort of ‘sew as I go’–but it should give you an idea where to start. If you have questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments and I will do my best to help you along.

Note: I serged all my seams and edges. The projects might take longer if you finish them differently.


1. Ballet Tutu: Measure around the stuffed animal’s middle. Add half an inch to the measurement, and then cut a piece of 2″ wide stretchy knit fabric to that length. Cut two 3″ strips of tulle to about a yard in length(or enough to gather tightly on the waistband), and then gather them. Sew each gathered tulle strip to the long edges of the knit fabric with long zigzag stitches. Sew the band into a circle and then fold in half, hiding the raw edges in the middle. Zigzag the waistband.

2. Summer Dress: Measure the stuffed animal’s middle. Multiply that number by 3, and cut a 3″ wide strip of satin to that length; fold in half lengthwise. Cut a 3″ wide strip of dress fabric to the same length. Set the dress fabric on your work surface, right side up. Sew the satin to the top long edge of the dress fabric (you will be sewing through two layers of satin and one layer of dress fabric). Finger press the seam open. Once stitched, the satin piece becomes the waistband. Cut a piece of elastic to fit the animal’s middle, and insert it into the satin waistband. Gather the fabric over the elastic, and pin the elastic in place on both ends. Match both sides of the dress and stitch together, making sure to catch both ends of the elastic as you sew.

3. Princess Gown: Cut a piece of elastic to fit the stuffed animal’s middle. Cut a 6″ wide piece of material long enough to gather nicely on the elastic. For the poodle, I used about a yard of very lightweight fabric. Finish each long edge (I serged it). Fold in half, and sew about 3/4″ away from the folded edge (or however wide you need to make the casing for your elastic). Insert the elastic into the casing and gather the fabric. Pin the elastic in place on both ends. Match both sides of the dress and stitch together, making sure to catch both ends of the elastic as you sew.

4. Capelet: Cut a rectangular piece of fabric to fit over the back of your stuffed animal. Cut a U shape neck opening in the middle of one of the long sides (large enough so the fabric drapes over and around the animal nicely). With scissors, round the edges of the capelet. Finish the edges and add a ribbon to both top front edges of the capelet. 

Oh my, I’m afraid I didn’t make much sense. Just look at the pictures. If you’ve sewn much at all, I think you’ll see what I did. If you’re new to sewing, this is still a great little project. Even if you completely botch it up, you’ll have wasted the tiniest amount of fabric!

Just think of all the fun things you could make! Leashes, collars, vests, jackets, raincoats, holiday outfits, career-themed outfits, fairy tale characters, and so much more! I’m definitely going to be making more clothing and accessories for Chelsea’s animals.

Draw a Story

Draw a Story

Snow is only exciting for so long, and then it’s just cold and wet. My kiddos are good at entertaining themselves, but sometimes they need a little inspiration when they’ve been trapped inside so long. I told them to ‘pretend they were someone or something else, and draw me a story about yourself’. Worked like a charm. They were busy for at least thirty minutes, and even better–they were thinking like writers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Self Portrait

Weekly Photo Challenge: Self Portrait

This week’s theme was ‘selfie’ (goodness, I sure hate that term). It was a hard challenge. I didn’t want to take a random picture of myself, and I certainly didn’t want to do a post about it. Then yesterday, I remembered this picture I took while we were camping the Memorial Day after Chelsea was born. She’s about nine months here. Jake, Weston, and all my in-laws were outside, I had just gotten her all ready to join everyone at the campfire, and I was showing her our reflection in the camper mirror. She was so sweet, and I really wanted a picture of it. It ended up being one of my favorite pictures of the two of us together.

Sew an Orthopedic Dog Bed!

A few weeks ago we went to one of our local pet stores to look for a dog bed for Dudley. We weren’t too impressed. Most everything was way too small, and the beds that came close to large enough were crazy expensive. I’m not paying $80.00 for a dog bed. I’m just not. And since we’re getting our Pyrenees puppy in a few weeks, we knew we were going to want a couple of them.

He didn’t want his picture taken. I snapped two pictures, and then he wouldn’t even look at me!

Instead, I decided to make a couple dog beds. The bed we liked most at the pet store was labeled orthopedic. After a little inspection, we saw it was filled with a couple layers of egg crate foam. Joann sells this foam in sizes twin to king. We picked up the full size knowing that it would be enough for a large bed for Dudley and a medium size puppy bed for our baby girl. We took advantage of a 40% off coupon, and it dropped the price down to about fifteen dollars for the foam.


We bought two colors of canvas, maroon for Dudley and pink for the puppy, and then we bought some super soft minky fabric in white. I figured Dudley leaves white hair everywhere, so a white top would be best. That was a bad idea. Dudley, in fact, does shed white hair, but he tracks in tons of mud this time of year. If I had it to do again, I would definitely buy tan minky. We also picked up a couple long robe zippers so I could make the covers washable.


The materials cost about sixty five dollars, which is a lot, but it’s still cheaper than one bed.

I made Dudley’s bed first. I measured out the size I wanted and cut two layers of foam. After that, I laid my foam out on the canvas and cut 3 1/2 inches around it. Then I moved the foam to my minky and cut 1/2 an inch around it.

After the fabric was cut, I cut 3 1/2 inch squares out of each corner of the canvas.


Once each corner was cut, I stitched the cut squares together, forming the sides of the dog bed. After that, I added the zipper, and then sewed the minky to the canvas.

I serged all my edges so that it wouldn’t fray when washing, but you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. After that, I stuffed the foam inside the cover, and I was done! The foam is a little tricky to work with. It sticks to itself and the fabric, but eventually I got it.

Dudley loves his bed. If he’s inside, he’s on it. I gotta tell ya, it makes me pretty happy to see him love it so much. I  probably would have cried if he’d snubbed it…

He really didn’t want his picture taken. And please forgive the floor. It needs a good mopping; as I mentioned earlier, he’s been tracking in copious quantities of mud.

A few notes:

I did not pre-wash the canvas for Dudley’s bed, and I definitely should have. It shrunk a bit the first time I washed it. Not cool. I pre-washed the fabric for the puppy bed, and I would recommend it.

Dudley’s foam pieces are just stacked on top of each other. With the puppy’s bed, I decided to tie the foam together in the corners and in a few spots down the middle to keep it from shifting while I stuffed her bed (just like tying a quilt). This worked great.

Puppy Bed!