The more we think we have a plan figured out, the more
curves life seems to throw at us. A few months ago, we laid out our plans for
the rest of 2013 and our moves in 2014.It was a fine plan, but a number of major problems presented themselves. Our
house in Idaho was severely under-appraised due to a bunch of foreclosures in
the area, making it worth less than we actually owed on it. That's a situation
that will likely improve, eventually, but for the time being, that means my mom
buying it would be a bad move for both her and us. She could get a better house
in the area for less money than our place and find one that would suit her
needs better. We'd end up losing over $30k if we sold now. On top of that, our
Christmas was dramatically worse than we'd predicted. Between the government
shutdown, a late Thanksgiving and a myriad list of other reasons, people
weren't shopping as heavily as predicted. Our shop wasn't doing itself any favors
either. Apart from our soaps, which we'd debuted too late to really get the
full benefit, we didn't have anything new and exciting to draw in shoppers.
After we'd gotten the news of the house, I made a trip out
there and we decided that the best option would be for Lindsay and I to move
back to Idaho, to our old home on Rosewood. That would mean forgoing our plans
to move to Washington, but it wasn't all bad news. We still like the house on
Rosewood, we just never really gave it a chance. The whole time we lived there,
we were looking for plans to move away. Which is really how we've spent the
last... seven years or more, actually.
The initial plan had been to sell the trailer and abandon
Maine as soon as the holidays were over, traveling south to avoid the weather
and get back to Idaho in late January. It would mean us losing money on this
trailer, selling it as fast as we could, just to get out of here, the exact
reasoning that had kept us here before but this time it was compared to how
much we would lose if we sold the house... a number nearly twice as large.
Unfortunately, the holidays underperformance now means that
is delayed. We will have to wait until at least spring, when we can sell the
house at closer to what we owe and in the meantime I can concentrate on the
shop, conventions and possibly a part time job, while Lindsay re-dedicates
herself to writing. (Despite not releasing a book in over a year, her romance
novels are still selling regularly if not in great numbers)
So this is kind of a non-update. But despite the setbacks,
we are actually quite excited about the next few months. It would be more
exciting if we were moving back to Poky and better still if our original plans
of Washington were possible, but we aren't rushing to escape Maine quite as
urgently and that should allow us some time to do it properly. Eat at Red's
Eats one more time, do some sightseeing and photography, I plan to hit a number
of conventions in the area. It should be good stuff.
Every year for Christmas, we get a new ornament. It's a tradition I've been doing since I was a little boy. When Lindsay and I started getting a tree together we started choosing an ornament as a family. I've been lax on updating this blog and as we were trimming the tree this year, it struck us how much we like having a diary of sorts on here. The ability to hop on and read about what we did on a certain day or, in this case, what ornament we bought a certain year. So ROUS is back. I hope. And to start, a rundown of ornaments past.
Our first ornament together was a simple, pretty thing. Just a small glass star with blue glitter. We bought it at Pier One and it hung on a tiny tree in my basement apartment in Pocatello, ID.
2005's ornament was keeping with the theme - a pretty, delicate glass piece with a bit of iridescence. We bought it at Pier One as well. I think we were in Missoula MT for this Christmas.
For 2006, we couldn't find anything at Pier One we liked - they'd gone from delicate pretty things to big gaudy colored stuff. Pink and fuscia, etc. So we found this cute guy, made from porcelain and silver paint at Target. This was our first year in our new house in Pocatello, ID.
We had a hard time finding an ornament we liked in 2007. We looked all over the place but between the trend leaning big and gaudy and the fact that we were pretty broke that year, we struggled. We finally found this goofy little fellow on a side panel tucked away in the back of a Target and though a bit silly, we like him a lot. He's only about an inch tall and made of metal with a glass bead.
2008 was the year we decided to start making the ornaments more meaningful than just being pretty. We had discovered how much we loved the Pacific ocean and found this cute little articulated enamel and metal seahorse to commemorate it. This was also when we started looking into buying a motel in earnest. I have no idea where we bought it... maybe the aquarium in Newport?
2009 was the year our ambition kind of got the better of us. optimistic about the prospect of leasing a motel in Washington, we chose this ornament which we found at a World Market in Boise, ID because well... it was money! haha. Turns out, that plan fell through and we ended up making much larger changes to our lives that coming year. We've yet to see that money, but it's still a pretty ornament.
This ornament was chosen to represent our move to Maine in 2010. We also liked how it went well with our little seahorse guy. Kind of one for each coast. We bought this in a little jewelry store in Brunswick, ME. We were renting a trailer in Topsham, ME that year.
2011 was our year of frugality. We tried to start paying down our debt and figure out what we were doing for our future. We had no idea how much would change in the next year. Lindsay made this ornament from wire and a bead, including the funky hanger. It's a cute little thing.
Deeply Dapper changed our lives in 2012. Lindsay quit her job to run the shop in November and I retired from Walgreens after ten years in January. One of the main reasons we were able to was our tremendous sales of our Harry Potter themed light switch plates. So we designed and I made us this ornament, in the shape of the Harry Potter lightning bolt, cut from an actual switchplate. It's easily our cheapest ornament, but it signifies the largest change for us.
This is our ornament for 2013. It's easily ouyr most expensive ornament, costing nearly $40, but well worth it. It's a Maine leaf, metalized in beautiful red-copper. We chose it because this will be our last year in Maine. Plans are in motion to move back to Idaho in January of 2014. (More on that in a future post.) This big, beautiful ornament will remind us of what we came to love about the east coast.
Now Playing -Don't Forget To Breathe by Bitter:Sweet
I have been bad. Not just at updating this blog, but all of
our blogs, social media sites and in my own writing. It's literally been over a
month since I've written a single word on a novel and apart from some last
edits on the print version of MR PALE, Lindsay and I have been totally out of
the loop on the author end of our lives. There's an okay reason behind some of
it, but I feel bad all the same.
Part of the reason it aggravates me is that I genuinely like
writing, and I like positing on this blog. If nothing else, I actually think it
makes a great little record of our lives and right now our lives are different
than they've ever been.
I've said this before, but I'll say it again now – I'll try
and be better.
So what's been going on? A ton. This year has been amazing
for us in so many ways but in other facets it's actually been one of our
hardest years ever. The opportunity to quit my retail job and for both of us to
concentrate our efforts on Deeply Dapper and our various other pursuits has
been a dream come true. But True Life is never quite as sweet as the dream.
We've had some ROUGH months. Rough estimate, we need about $3000 a month in
income to pay bills, feed the animals and keep the shop going. There were a few
months in late spring/ early summer where we didn't make half that.
When I quit my job I did something somewhat ill-advised – I
cashed in my retirement fund from Walgreens. The simple fact is that if things
go the way we've planned, I could either use it now to work towards our future
or save it and give up our dreams right now. It was a no-brainer to us – we're
So that money has supported us at times and every time we sat
in the red and needed some new item for the shop or a big load of supplies that
had to come out of that savings, it sucked, pure and simple.
So there's that. Money troubles.
In addition, there's the sheer, unadulterated claustrophobia
of two people, two large dogs and two cats going from a 1600 square foot house
with a huge fenced yard, two sheds and a garage in Idaho to an 800 square foot
tin box in the middle of nowhere. Add in the fact that we're both here ALL of
the time and are at heart both very alone-time centric, this has been a Challenge.
We did what we could – we bought Linz a writing cottage and we cordoned off our
place into private zones but we live in a house that takes roughly twenty paces
to reach from one end to the other. It takes the dog less than a second to run
After a few rough months of living here with the shop hitting
a few speed bumps, we made a fateful choice. We needed to get out of Maine.
Neither of us have any friends out here. Linz worked the overnight shift at a
hotel and I was most of my peers' boss at Walgreens. We don't socialize,
especially when we live 40 minutes from any socializing being done. And
naturally, both of our best friends are the types that aren't really functional online. I have a few friends that started as online so I had them and I've
always been rather content in solitude, but it was especially hard for Linz,
especially when it came to writing inspiration and motivation. There are some
things that friends can inspire and move along without ever realizing it.
Our plan to move was ambitious, no doubt. The real sticking
point was one of the same things pushing us to move in the first place – this
house. We bought it out here with the vague allusion that moving to rural Maine
would be a smart step company ladder-wise and at the time I bit. We got a
decent deal for the place but we still owed a lot on it and unlike a real
house, a mobile home is more like a car when it comes to resale. We were gonna
lose money. Probably a lot. Luckily, we didn't own the land, so we'd just have
to sell the trailer and WEST OR BUST.The plan was to wait for this coming Christmas, stockpile every penny we
could and as soon as the snow receded, get the Hell out of Derry Maine.
One of our home improvement projects, replacing a cracked floor joist.
Unfortunately, once we did the smart thing – Crunch Numbers,
things began to reveal themselves. Assuming we couldn't sell the trailer for
much and factoring the costs associated with the move – rentals, trailers, gas,
tolls, etc., it would cost us approximately $14,000. And that was just back to
Idaho, to say nothing of our ultimate goals of getting past the potato and into
the Pacific Northwest.
On the other hand, we actually had that much, give or take,
between our retirement money and what we forecasted to make over the holiday,
so it was doable.Then things got a bit
crappier out here. Maine seemed to close up over us and things seemed more
oppressive. We had a few trademark issues with the shop and just plain bad
months and we started to get desperate. We had to get out of Vacationland and
back West where our hearts were.
Part of it was that we were starting to crunch the numbers in
regards to this Christmas. Last year was huge for us and our shop was
significantly larger on a day to day basis now. Christmas could be HUGE. And we
knew no one out here. If we were to say.... head to Idaho BEFORE the holiday,
what would be stopping us from setting up shop in Linz's folks' garage and
hiring cheap slave labor under the guise of inviting friends and family over?It sounded so great. Eating Christmas cookies
and packaging switch plates with family and friends.
Enough that the idea seduced any other real logic out of our
heads for a while. We started looking at places to buy post-Christmas, figuring
out which supplies to buy now and have shipped to Idaho ahead of us...
Then, one day, we looked at each other and said “Crap, it's a
good thing we don't run our shop like we run our lives, or we'd be bankrupt.”
For us to get out to Idaho before Christmas, it would not
only take every penny of our savings, but we would likely have had to put all
of our Christmas supplies on the credit card that we had just spent two years
paying off. Additionally, we still owned our house in Idaho. My mom is working
towards buying it, but regardless of how the shop does, there's no way we could
buy a home in OR or WA while it was still in our name, especially with a new –
owner operated business as our sole income. We also had about three months to
sell everything in the house that wouldn't fit in a 5x8 trailer and get to
Idaho with enough time to prep for the holiday sales to start in October.
SO to sum up, we would be living in the In-Laws basement,
have thousands of dollars in debt, not a penny to our name, no way to buy a
house to live in and we would be living in Pocatello Idaho... again.
Despite the obvious, we still almost went for it. The day we
realized what we were doing was a very hard one for us. It was the same day we
realized that if the shop kept having sales the way they were, I'd have to get
a job before we left or our bills would tap out the money we'd need to get out
of the house in the first place and we'd be stuck here anyway.
On the other hand, if we stayed here in Maine, we'd be in a
house that's already being paid on, we'd have enough money in savings to get us
to Christmas, buy a few home stuff we really needed and all of our supplies.
We'd be in a place that we didn't....hate and we'd be better off
financially than we have ever been... Sort of, anyway – at the time, our shop
was still a question, but we figured that if worse came to worse, I could work
part time during the summer to get us comfortably by in the lean months.
So once again, we did what we do best – we changed our plans.
OUR NEW PLAN:
Deeply Dapper - Keep on trucking with Deeply Dapper on Etsy.
At the same time, explore alternate avenues of revenue with the brand – www.deeplydapper.com as well as shops on
Zibbet, Goodsmiths and eBay. Finally get DD.com up and running, including the
Octopress branch, offering eBook formatting and cover work. Start prepping for
Christmas '13 in earnest. Tighten up books and records, become an official
business entity. Possibly hire a part time assistant to help out.
Writing – Still write, but let it take a back burner to an
extent. We were trying to push it too much and our love of the craft was
suffering. Our planned books for 2013 have been pushed back. Unfortunately.
Location – Stay here in the tin can in Maine. Not the best
choice, but we've been working on making it more comfortable for us, doing some
improvements we've put off, decorating and the like. We've also started
exploring the area we live in slightly more.
The Crew – We found the boys a Day Care we could take them to
for trips and the like – the person we did have caring for them moved further
away and it wasn't fair to them or the dogs. More on that in a later post. On
Lindsay and my end, we aren't doing much to change our situation... not yet.
The simple fact is that we don't have time to find friends this time of year
-XMAS is upon us. We have visits from family this fall too! Linz's folks will
be here in about a week for 8 days and my brother makes his first trip to Maine
at the end of September.
Addendum – My brother's trip had originally been designed as
a bookend to the first leg of our move out West. The plan had been for him to
come out, spend a week then he and I would load up Linz's car and drive it
cross country with as much of our house as we could do without until the full
move. We were looking forward to the cross country trip too. With our move
cancelled, we're now planning to take the train back to Idaho, where I'll spend
a bit of time. (Hopefully completing the sale of the house.)
Obviously, a lot of these plans are tentative, based largely
on how our shop does over Christmas.
Deeply Dapper – DD goes CON! 2014 will see our shop
represented in Comic Cons! We aren’t sure how many, but our first con is this
November – in addition to our switch plates and stickers, we'll be selling our
new line of geeky soaps. Along the way, I'll also be hitting up comic, game and
video stores to see if they would be interested in selling our soaps at a
retail level. My plans this year are to expand the brand on a wholesale level.
Doing so could stabilize our shop to a tremendous extent. More on this to come!
If it doesn't pan out, I'll likely try out a few part time jobs over the summer
to supplement our income. There have always been jobs I've been vaguely curious
about – this would be the ultimate chance to try them out.
Writing – Hopefully, Linz will be able to continue plugging
away at her romance novels – despite no new releases or promotions, her novels
keep selling, so we want to add to it. We also plan to release them in
paperback. She's also working on a top secret novel series that she's been
planning for a long time. We're also looking into writing groups in the area, both
from an editorial assistance point of view and for that sweet, sweet human
contact. I hope to release GRAVES and write the second MR PALE and MOONSTONE
BAY novels. I HOPE. Ha-ha
Location – Here still. Keep calm and carry on. And pay off
some of Linz's oppressive student loans. Mow the lawn.
We also hope to find time to start e3njoying the area the way
a young work at home couple should be able to – Sex in the forest! Oh, I mean
exploring the hundreds of old graveyards out here!Our wholesale and conventions should be a
help here, allowing us to phase out some of the extremely time intensive
products from the shop.
The other thing is to pay off the house if possible so that
when the move does come, it comes much, much cheaper.
The Crew – Our two main goals here are to free our minds from
the stress of moving and where we'll be in a month, etc... And concentrate on
enjoying our lives. We're finally making money off our interests and talents –
we should be overjoyed! Linz will look for some friends; I'll be better about
talking with mine. We'll get out more, be healthier, cook even better food, and
The one event we are over the moon about in 2014 is that we
are finally planning to take our belated honeymoon to Ireland. Aww yeah. That
alone makes not moving a little sweeter.
Beyond that, the real plan is to make as much money from the
shop and our writing as humanly possible so that in 2015, after the snows melt
and while the air is still cool enough for a long road trip to be pleasant, we
head west. For reals this time.
Yesterday, my sister in law asked me for some suggestions for books. This is an awesome thing, because I've never thought of her as a reader. However, when asked what kind of book, she was unclear. That makes it hard, because there are so many different genres and so many great books in each and all very different.
On the plus side, she's also kind of a blank slate. I know she's read books and recently read all six of the books my wife and I have released, which are three radically divergent genres, so that made up my mind for me:
I would write my definitive list of Gateway Books. This is my list of the first book I would want a neophyte to read in each of the genres I love. (Or the first few... I'm not good at being completely definitive...)
In most cases, these might not be the best book of it's kind in the genre, or completely representative of it. But I think they're books that, when read, would give the reader a good idea of what the genre is about and whether they want to move on to more like it. I also chose ones that were relatively easy reads to the modern reader. As much as I adore Ray Bradbury, HP Lovecraft, Poe and the like, a modern reader has a hard time truly enjoying the reading process with books like that.
Middle Grade Fantasy
Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling.
Easy to read, incorporating elements of mythology and fantasy, this will work.
Additional reading:The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents - Terry Pratchett
Middle Grade Adventure
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Clever little noir fantasy adventure, this book incorporates detective, fantasy, humor and action and it a hell of a lot of fun to read. (Technically quite a fantasy novel, but I felt it was more of an adventure.)
Middle Grade Mystery/Horror
The House With A Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs
My favorite Gothic horror novel growing up, this book is a spooky little tale of a young boy trying to defeat a house ticking its way to doomsday.
In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
This is a tricky category for me. I love reading non-fiction but it took a really long time to get into it and I have a hard time finding ones I like. This humorous travel book by the hilarious Bill Bryson is a fantastic read and will make you want to travel. And read more.
The Misenchanted Sword by Lawrence Watt-Evans
This was the first "Adult" book I read as a child and I fell in love. Watt-Evans is still one of my top two favorite authors and this novel, about a simple soldier and his magic sword is the perfect intro to the genre. Different worlds, strange spells and ideas, but easy to read and very light-hearted.
Further Reading - Anything by Terry Pratchett. I wouldn't recommend starting with the first book however. The humor is a little rougher, and more British. Harder to get into right away. Maybe start with Guards, Guards!
Touched By The Gods by Lawrence Watt-Evans
I know, repeat author, but Epic Fantasy, stuff like Lord Of The Rings, A Song Of Ice And Fire (The Game Of Thrones) The Wheel Of Time Series, can be VERY hard to get into. They're Epic, after all. This single novel by Watt-Evans has a lot of the elements in one great novel.
Further Reading - The Runelords Books by David Farland are a good place to start with a larger series.
Light Science Fiction
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Non-stop hilarious and full of the bizarre worlds that Sci-Fi is made of, I think this should be one of the first ten books every person alive reads.
Further Reading - Possibly The Hunger Games series. It's quite readable. Might even be a better choice for a first foray into Science Fiction. Dystopian worlds, high tech, pining for boys....
Hard Science Fiction
Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Honestly, I wouldn't recommend starting with Hard Sci-Fi until you have a lot of other sci fi and fantasy under your belt. A lot of it can be indecipherable at first glance or maddening even. But if you try this and like it, there's a LOT of great stuff out there.
Horror - Supernatural
The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
An odd choice, perhaps but The Strain features a great adventure and a hardcore take on vampires that's very accessible to newbies.
After that, some Stephen King maybe or if his slow burn supernatural stuff is a little hard, hit up Jonathan Maberry for one of his action-y zombie novels.
Horror - Non-Supernatural
Trapped by Jack Kilborn
My 13 year old nephew introduced this to me. It's gory and crazy and very over the top. Not for the faint of hearted but features everything this kind of book needs. A horror where people are the horrors.
Further Reading - Psycho by Robert Bloch. The original.
Cookin' With Kris JOE'S SPECIAL: BEEF AND SPINACH SAN FRANCISCAN STYLE
The Uncommon Cook Book, pg95
by Ruth Mellinkoff, 1968
1lb lean ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 package frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
1/4lb fresh mushrooms, finely sliced
salt, pepper & garlic salt
4 or 5 tablespoons butter
6 beaten eggs
Saute sliced mushrooms and onions in the butter until lightly browned, then add beef and cook until it has browned. Stir in the spinach and seasonings to taste. Pour in the eggs and stir until lightly set. Turn over once with spatula and cook a minute or so longer. Serve very hot with sour dough bread and butter.
I removed the mushrooms and onions from the pan prior to browning the beef so that I could drain it after cooking, then added them back in, along with a bit of butter to compensate. We added a sprinkle of grated Parmesan on the top of the finished recipe.
Rating (Out of 5)
Kris - 2.5
Linz - 2
Review: Both of us had actually rated this recipe higher upon our initial tastes. It has a nice flavor and the browned eggs made a nice strata for everything. But as the meal progressed, we realized exactly how greasy it was, despite draining the beef fat. It might in part be due to us cutting ground beef from our diets - we used to have Hamburger Helper style meals regularly, but haven't for months, but the meal felt heavy and greasy. The sheer number of eggs and meat makes it a fairly unhealthy feeling meal as well. We will be unlikely to try this one again. Interestingly, the leftovers actually cooked up with a better feel and taste than the original meal.
Notes & Tips: I don't know how I ever cooked with frozen spinach before I snagged my salad spinner. It eliminates that incredibly annoying process of draining the stuff with a couple of quick spins.
About a month ago, I found a few old cookbooks at Goodwill to go with my beloved Mexican cookbook. I have become a total sucker for cookbooks from the fifties and sixties. Not just their recipes but the way they did things and the little comments and intros are fantastic.But above all else, the recipes themselves take center stage. Food back then was made from scratch. None of these recipes in my other books where the bulk of the soup or the sauce is a can of super-salty, over processed Campbell's Soup. The cookbooks with a focus on crockpot cooking have been especially notorious for that and as we get healthier, I really want to get away from it in my cooking.
Of course, on the flip side is the prevalence of daring, odd or hard to find ingredients that were somewhat commonplace back then. Some I'll never find out here, some I could find, but would end up paying too much, and some of them, like Cracked Pig's Feet.... well.... I'll never cook that.
So we've decided in addition to working through our regular books and reviewing them here, we'll pick a recipe from one of our four "Old" cookbooks every once in a while. (And as I come across them, I'll post the Uncookable Recipes here) To start out with a bang we have chosen one from all four to make this coming week.
I'll do a proper focus on each of these books later but in short...The cookbooks we currently have are:
THE UNCOMMON COOK BOOK by Ruth Mellinkoff 
I'm excited about this book. Not only are they simple, unique recipes with fantastic titles (Like Divine Chicken Divan) but she makes note about how well each freezes and whether you can make it ahead.
The Recipe we have chosen to make this week from it is: Joe's Special: Beef And Spinach San Francisco Style
THE COMPLETE BOOK OF MEXICAN COOKING by Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz 
I've had this book for almost a year and though we've only made a few recipes out of it so far, all of them have been fantastic and the Enchilada's are the best we've had since we moved to Maine.
The Recipe we have chosen to make this week from it is: Otro Pollo Verde (Another Green Chicken) THE ART OF SOUTH AMERICAN COOKERY by Myra Waldo 
I haven't investigated this book much yet, but it looks like a nice compliment to the Mexican one.
The Recipe we have chosen to make this week from it is: Canja (Chicken And Rice Cream)
OLD WARSAW COOK BOOK by Rysia (That's right, just Rysia) 
This is subtitled "Hundreds of Polish Specialties with many additions from Cuisines the World Over" It doesn't lie. There are fifteen recipes just for cold soups alone and an entire chapter on mushroom dishes. Most have 5-7 ingredients and a brief paragraph of prep. Simple but very intriguing.
The Recipe we have chosen to make this week from it is: Chicken With Tomatoes
My lovely bride and my slightly less lovely best friend Rob, at our annual Brain Eaters party, back in 2009. Rob always has the best costumes, even when he does something as simple as this. Gotta love it.