Posts tagged ‘questions and answers’

2018, July 6

Things I won’t achieve by 31

With my birthday in mind, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on a couple of things that I haven’t achieved. The blog post won’t be a bummer though, I promise.

While the things listed below are definitely things I haven’t achieved, they are also things that I figured I would achieve or thought that I should achieve like anyone who has their life figured out at 30, let alone by the time they reach 31.

  1. Live with a friend – I’ve only ever lived at home with my mom/grandparents, with my ex boyfriend for a while, and with my current boyfriend for the past 4 years. Thinking back to my childhood however, I recall playing house with my friends and with several of them along the years, depending who I was closer with, discussing with how when we’d grow up, we’d get a place of our own and be roommates. We’d plan for what our apartment would look like from furniture to the pet we’d own, and even the plants on our window sills.
  2. Work as a teacher, veterinarian, stewardess, interior designer – These were the top ideas I had for what I would become when I grew up/finished school. Now, I don’t want to be any of these things.
  3. Live abroad – This one might still be in the cards, since it’s not necessarily age-related, but I’m including it here, because I was actively searching for a job and trying to move abroad around eight years ago. I don’t regret it now, yet, had I not taken the job at the curtain shop in 2012, I could currently be living in the UK where the family whose little girl I was babysitting moved and where they took their nanny who came after me.
  4. Get married – Nine years ago, I was engaged. Before I broke things off, I figured I’d be married within two years time. Well, I’m glad I wasn’t, because in hindsight, it probably would’ve ended in divorce, like a lot of my high school friends’ marriages who got married before they turned 25.
  5. Have kids – I imagined I’d have kids one day. Goes almost hand in hand with the above one since I wouldn’t want kids before I got married. But honestly? It is such an expectation from society that one gets married and has kids, that until recent years I didn’t even stop to think if it’s only outside influences or my own wish. I’ve discovered that I probably don’t actually want to have kids.
  6. Write this blog post on time – I started the draft in March. My birthday was in May. My regular posting schedule is Friday and I am hitting publish on Monday, so on top the previously mentioned, this is also back-dated.

We make assumptions, we expect things to go a certain way, but Life doesn’t work like that. On the other hand, let me see a show of hands – have you had your life all figured out by the time you reached 30 or 31, or are you still working on it at insert current age here? What are some of the things you didn’t get to do/accomplish that you don’t regret?

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2018, June 1

Awkward money questions

I read The Financial Diet (TFD) on a regular basis, and when I noticed one of their “awkward money questions” interview, I figured I’d try to answer the questions myself.

  1. What’s the worst money you’ve ever spent in the name of romance?
    A weekend trip. Even though it resulted in a fun weekend and I enjoyed spending time with the guy, and exploring a new city I’ve never been to… I should not have spent that much while I was basically broke, had debt, and needed to borrow money just so I could go.
  2. What is a misguided purchase you’ve made to “upgrade” yourself?
    The Color Run, last year in my city. I needed motivation to keep running and training, and entering running races was the perfect way for me to do just that. All other races I entered were great and helped me keep in shape and training while also being fun. The Color Run however, was anything but a professionally organized race, and admission was steep for all that it ended up being (the happiest 5K in the World only summed up to 3,5K).
  3. What’s one guilty pleasure you spend on that you know you absolutely shouldn’t?
    Mugs. I love any kind of fun and interesting coffee cup, tea mug or drinking jug in all shapes and sizes. I have more than I could probably use up in a lifetime. I have gotten way better and refrain from buying new ones, but the occasional mug purchase still happens even though I really don’t need any new ones.
  4. What’s one thing you’re really cheap about that you know you should spend more money on?
    Self-care. I think of the cat, the BF, family and friends before I think of spending money on myself. I try to cut my own hair, do my own hair, make-up and nails as much as possible – going as far as borrowing a dress to wear at a wedding, because I don’t wear dresses often enough to justify buying a new one.
    I’m better at it when the BF nudges me to spend money on myself also and at least for special occasions I started getting manicures, and invested in a couple of dresses to have for weddings. However, I will probably cut my own hair until I can still hold scissors with a steady-enough hand.
  5. What is something that 2018 Estrella does that 2008 Estrella would have never thought possible?
    Wiring money into my savings account, and into private pension account every month.

Now I’m curious. What would your replies be to the above questions? Feel free to leave your answers in a comment below.

2017, April 21

Seasonal must-haves: Spring

Thought I’d try something different this year, and talk about a few things that made my seasonal must-haves list this Spring:

  1. Hoodies – The weather is getting warmer, but it is still quite chilly in the mornings, so I’ve been reaching for my hoodies more often these past few weeks.
  2. Hiking shoes – The boyfriend and I decided to aim for as many weekend road trips as possible when the weather is nice and warm, since we might not be able to go on a longer vacation this year. But even if we will, it’s still a great idea to spend half the weekend outside being active, instead of indoors.
  3. Sunglasses – One of the best decisions I’ve made was getting prescription sunglasses last summer. Even with the photochromic lenses of my everyday glasses, the light still bothers me sometimes, so the wide and darker lenses of the sunglasses are great to have with me.
  4. Tote bags or light backpacks – Especially for road trips, I love throwing my sunglasses case, wallet, water, napkins, sandwiches and some snacks into a tote bag or light backpack. Makes reaching for things easier, and also isn’t too heavy to carry while hiking.
  5. My Nivea Aqua Sensation cream – I bought it during Winter when I forgot to take face cream with me on a trip, and love it even more now in Spring because it’s moisturizing yet doesn’t leave my skin feeling sticky or oily. I think it might just be the perfect year-round cream.

Have you ever thought about your seasonal must-haves? What is your list for Spring?

2016, November 11

5 Quick Ways to Minimize Distractions and Get Writing

Today we have a guest post from Alexis MacDonald for your reading pleasure. Her excitement to write a guest post and the wonderful content she provided have quickly sealed the deal for her guest post on FFDO when the #fridayflash community website was still up and running. Since the website closed last year, I really wanted to share this article again, with as many people as possible.

It’s November, NaNoWriMo is well into its second week, most of my readers here are also writers and let’s face it – we all need to read this advice. Maybe even more than once.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I have, and happy NaNoWriMo writing!

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5 Quick Ways to Minimize Distractions and Get Writing

There are times in our lives that no matter how diligent we are about setting aside private time to write, life insists on getting in the way. Here are a few tips to help writers roll with the metaphorical punches and get some words down!

  1. Self-discipline

Make writing a habit. Write at the same time every day. Write throughout the day. Read a page about writing and then write a paragraph.

  1. Disengagement

As writers, we do not need to be connected to others every minute of the day. We know that in order to focus, we need to disengage ourselves from our social life.

  • Install a door. There are limits to what a door can do. In spite of their best intentions, family members tend to neglect to respect this impediment and will knock and open it anyway. But the door will diminish the recent movie rental or stereo playing in the family room.
  • Telephones. Ring tones and vibrations are extremely distracting. If you have a mobile phone, arrange it so that it does not ring, a light merely flashes. Set it off to one side and in either case, merely glance at the caller ID and unless it is an emergency, ignore it. As long as someone else is at home who can answer it, do not answer the phone at your writing desk.
  • The Social Internet. It should not have to be said that in order to better focus, a writer should be self-disciplined enough to have turned off all their social applications that would vie for attention. There are programs to download that help writer’s monitor their time and block out social sites but why would a disciplined writer resort to using these programs? On the other hand, having the Internet up is important for research.
  1. Nutrition and hydration

It is important to be energetic yet be calm enough to focus. Did you know that the lack of calcium causes mental depression or that iodine is a mental energizer? Besides salt, iodine is found in peppers, kelp, and raw goat milk. Although coffee and alcohol are commonly connected to writers, water, green tea, and organic fruit juices help maintain hydration and energize the mind. There are also over-the-counter eye drops that help moisturize dry, weary eyeballs.

  1. Music

Because writers are creative people, many are also musicians and artists. Some writers cannot work while listening to music with lyrics because they tend to concentrate on the lyrics while others who play instruments cannot listen to music at all. Some need white noise in the background in order to write. Be aware of this and use whatever helps you get the job done. Ear plugs can help but, some people strain to listen to the outside world even more when they use them.

If the above tips failed to help, this next one – while seemingly a detractor, might actually remedy the situation.

  1. Be in a noisy, busy environment

Going to a place like a mall or a coffee shop where there are people and noise all around you can be freeing. There are times when an overly busy environment actually helps one block out individual distractions and concentrate better. Along those lines, being around other writers who are engaged in their writing can really get you cracking on your own project.

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More about the author:

Alexis MacDonald is a stay at home mom, midnight scribbler and a freelance pregnancy writer. She answers questions such as “how do you get pregnant” (hint, it’s more complex than you think – for instance: there’s a fertility calendar…)

2016, October 21

The “I Am the Reader” book tag

There is a book tag floating around among YouTube channels, called “I Am the Reader” and people get all chatty answering the questions.
I’m not sure who started the tag, and I’m not going to go search for them either, but the questions did sound interesting when I happened upon a vlog this past weekend.

i-am-the-reader

Here are the “I Am the Reader” book tag questions and my answers:

  1. Choose one word that describes being a reader.
    – Magical.
  2. What’s the very first book you fell in love with?
    – For Christmas when I was in second grade my mom gifted me the book called “Me and My Sister Clara”, by Dimitar Inkiow, which is the only book I’ve read as many times as I’ve read the HP series. I recall that I even colored in the drawings in my Hungarian version of the little book.
  3. Hardcover or paperback?
    – I love a good hardcover, but usually I buy paperback books for the simple reason that they’re cheaper. And along those lines, I have a lot of e-books which I either won, found for free or bought when they were on sale.
    As long as the book is good though, it really doesn’t matter what form it comes in. I just want to read.
  4. How has reading shaped your identity?
    – Reading the Harry Potter series and a question from a friend prompted quite an interesting list of what my seven Horcruxes are, because, I now believe we all have horcruxes in real life.
  5. What book do you read when you need to be comforted?
    – Lately I don’t have a go-to book to read when in the need to be comforted so I just pick up a book from my TBR pile. But if I had all of my books living with me instead of in my old room at mom’s, it’d most likely be the HP books.
  6. Who taught you to be a reader? (Or did you do it all on your own?)
    – I read books since I learned how to read, but mostly off the Required Reading Lists for school. I usually didn’t like them.
    The reply to this question coincides more with what I call My Harry Potter Story:
    one of my friends hasn’t shut up for months and made me watch the first Harry Potter movie with her. I loved it and when I got home my first question to my mom was: when can we buy the book?
    This was right before the beginning of the 9th grade when I went to high school, and my new Hungarian literature teacher’s first request was for the class to read the first Harry Potter novel. So the next day, I got the book and read it in a heart beat. For Christmas and birthdays I got the rest of them as presents over the years, and I bought the last four myself.
    I started reading more and more while waiting for which ever happened to be the next book in the HP series to get written/published and haven’t stopped ever since. That is also when I started reading more in English.
  7. Describe your dream reading lounge.
    – One of these chairs in the corner of a quiet room, next to a fireplace, with a warm knitted blanket, an endless supply of Toblerone and tea, and my Pixel kitty purring in my lap.
  8. What book changed the way you act or see the world?
    – I loved the reality  “The Fault in Our Stars”, by John Green, presents. I’ve talked about it before, if you want to have a look.

That completes the tag. If you feel like sharing, go ahead and answer the questions in the comments below. Or if so inclined, write a blog post of your own and let me know where I can find it – I’d love to hear all about your reader’s experiences!

2016, October 14

Creativity Vitamin: Clean the Clutter

Cleaning clutter is one of my favorite things. Just a couple of months ago, I cleaned our closet, the kitchen cabinets and with my boyfriend tackled the balcony as well. We donated about six bags of clothes, some dishes, threw out seven or eight bags of trash overall and took an old, heavy printer to the recycling center.

I’ve talked about clearing the clutter before. So this time around, I’m calling my writer friend Janel Gradowski for backup to talk to us about clearing the clutter from our writing spaces.

Her article, “Creativity Vitamin: Clean the Clutter”, also appeared on FFDO when the #fridayflash community website was still up and running, but since it closed last year, I really wanted to share this article again, with as many people as possible.
Hope you enjoy this as much as I have!

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A messy work space leads to a messy mind. You have heard some version of that phrase, haven’t you? Clearing the clutter from my writing space is something I make a point to do on a regular basis. I am really not a neat freak, I can happily ignore stacks of mail on the kitchen table or precariously stacked video game boxes on the entertainment center. The reason I regularly clean up my writing space is simple. I’m more productive. That is good enough for me to spend some quality time doing clutter control on a regular basis. A clean work space leads to a less-cluttered mind.

Don’t believe me? Imagine this scenario.

You are in the middle of writing a scene. You pause for a few seconds to ponder the perfect detail to add to your villain’s appearance. Your gaze wanders from your computer screen to a stack of unopened mail. Yes, most of it is junk mail, but there are bills in the pile that could be overdue. You abandon your writing to sort through mail. Clutter has claimed more victims. You and your WIP.

Have you ever written down notes for a project and then lost them? However, in your search through the mountains of paper on your desk you did discover some notes for another story. Notes that would’ve made that story much better, but it’s too late because it has already been published. Now you’re frustrated about two stories.

Maybe you have a favorite pen that you like to edit hard copies with. What happens if you sit down with a stack of pages to edit and you can’t find the pen? You could grab another one, but there’s also a good chance you’ll waste time searching for the coveted pen. There went a nice chunk of editing time.

So how do you get your writing space clean? If your desk is a huge mess, you can tackle your clean up in stages.

  • Throughout the work day when you need to take a break, clean up a few things.
  • Sort through one pile or area at a time.
  • Set up files to keep necessary items and always have your garbage can nearby.
  • Maybe buy, or make, some nice pen holders or boxes to organize notepads, paperclips, sticky notes, etc.
  • If you tend to keep your space neat anyway, make sure to set aside some time each week to do a clutter control sweep.
  • Don’t view the process as a household chore…think of it as a benefit to your writing life.

Are you ready to start cleaning up your writing space, or do you always keep it clean?

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janelMore about the author:

Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications.

You can find her via her Website, sign up for her Newsletter, or follow her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Goodreads.

2016, August 19

My first time

Usually on weekends while cooking and cleaning, or in the evenings while tidying up I watch (ok, more like listen to, and glance up at) TED Talks, music and YouTube videos. DIY ideas, home organization, cooking, and sometimes even makeup channels on the latter.
There is a tag floating around on there among beauty channels, called “My first time” and people get all chatty answering the questions.
I’m not sure who started the tag, and I’m not going to go search for them either, but the questions did sound interesting when I happened upon a vlog this past weekend. In 2010 I wrote a blog post regarding multiple firsts during my trip to Sicily, and in 2011 a shorter list of firsts after a weekend trip to Paris, so figured it’d be fun to give this tag a go.

Here are the “My first time” tag questions and my answers:

  1. What was your FIRST job?
    –  Introducing data sets into a database using a custom made interface application.
    Sounds fancy, right? In translation, it means I received in between 500-2000 handwritten ads and worked day and night over the weekends to introduce them into a local newspaper’s database.
    I started working there in July after finishing high school. I liked the writing. I hated losing my weekends, the Monday morning deadline, and deciphering everyone’s weird handwriting made worse by grammar errors. I lasted about four months.
  2. What was your FIRST car?
    – I don’t own a car. However, the very first car I drove was a friend’s BMW, and I drove it on a village dirt road, in the dark, during my trip to Sicily.
  3. Who was the FIRST person to text you today?
    – One of my friends.
  4. Who was your FIRST grade teacher?
    – I can not for the life of me recall her name, but my first grade teacher was in her first year ever of teaching and wasn’t any good at it unfortunately. She left the school at the end of the school year and starting second grade we got a man teacher who was awesome, Mr. Terebesi!
  5. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
    – My parents took me to the Romanian seaside, to Constanta. I was around three years old though, so don’t remember the flight at all.
  6. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?
    – A girl who lived next door to us while I was growing up. We kind of lost touch when I moved at the end of fourth grade. There was no internet or cell phones at our every step back then!
  7. Where was your FIRST sleep over?
    – In the summer of either fifth or sixth grade, when I went to Aghiresu village with two friends to their grandparent’s place for a weekend.
  8. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today?
    The cat. My boyfriend.
  9. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time?
    – I was flower girl in the wedding of close family friends, in the summer of 1998.
  10. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning?
    – Coaxed Pixel kitten off of me so I could get out of bed.
  11. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to?
    – My mom joined the church choir in 1996, so probably some kind of choir concert – when ever they went on concerts I was taken along. I later joined myself, so I was “in” the concerts. Same with the high school choir I was in.
    The first non-church-related concert I went to was in the summer of 2005, when I visited a friend of mine in Hungary. We just happened to be in Tiszaujvaros right when the concert started. We saw REPUBLIC, and I even got an autograph from the lead singer on the only piece of paper I had on me: a slip from school which my pastor needed to sign, proving I went to church all summer. I still feel pretty badass about that!
  12. FIRST broken bone?
    – Haven’t had any broken bones, just turned my ankle one evening four years ago. I don’t even want to know what a broken bone feels like, since the turned ankle hurt quite a lot!
  13. FIRST piercing?
    – My mom got my ears pierced right after I was born.
    I wanted a third earring, which I pierced my ear for in the summer of 2002 before starting high school.
  14. FIRST movie you remember seeing?
    – I’ll assume this means at the cinema, and not at home.
    The Bodyguard. My mom took me because she wanted to see the movie, but has never been to the cinema it was playing at. When we got there, it turned out to be a restaurant with a cinema (like Foreign Cinema, in San Francisco.) I was the happiest and enjoyed being waited on. Too bad that cinema closed and nothing like it opened here ever since… it’s a fun idea, I think.
  15. When was your FIRST detention?
    – We didn’t really have detention at my school, but if I recall correctly, we all got a time-out in first grade and had to stay after school for like ten extra minutes.
  16. Who was your FIRST roommate?
    – My second boyfriend. We lived together for a few years, until 2010.
  17. What were the FIRST lessons you ever took?
    – I did Aerobics in fifth grade if that counts; and had English lessons at church with Bruce, a pastor from the Netherlands who was in Cluj-Napoca for about a year.
  18. Who was the FIRST person “beauty-related” on Youtube you ever watched?
    – I used to watch Ingrid Nilsen when I first started watching YouTube videos/channels around 2008.

That completes the tag. If you feel like sharing, go ahead and answer the questions in the comments below. Or if so inclined, write a blog post of your own and let me know where I can find it – I’d love to read about your first time(s)!

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