Trying to stay on task…again

You would think with the COVID-19 pandemic run rampant in San Antonio, Texas that I would have all the time in the world to write, to finish my first draft of my latest book. We are after all supposed to be staying home…again. Yet, here it is that time is slipping by and I am not getting as much done as I would like on the writing front.

Sigh. This is a typical problem for me. And I am sure it is a problem for many Independent Authors who do not write full-time. It is my other life that is encroaching on my time. As I have said before on this blog, I have a problem saying no when it comes to volunteering. I am involved in four different school related boards – 2 local Parent-Teacher Associations (one in which I am president), our local council (that oversees 56 PTAs in our school district) and the high school orchestra board. Yikes, that is a lot.

And in addition to those volunteering opportunities, I also work part-time for my husband’s law firm and am the mother of two children – ages 12 and 15. (Yeah, and the 15-year-old is learning to drive so that is taking up my time too.)

So instead of being tempted by Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, I am finding these other obligations interfering with my writing time. I feel like every year I write about not having enough time and it looks like this year is no different.

As always, I say that I am going to buckle down and start writing. My plan is to set aside an hour a day for writing with the goal of finishing my first draft by the end of the month.

Whether I will be able to keep up with this and not feel the need to spend my time soliciting donations for an upcoming silent action (though so many companies won’t be in the place to donate) only time will tell.

For the rest of you, here are links to other posts to help you stay on your writing task.

Tips for avoiding internet distraction (including email) – click here

Tips for setting and keeping writing goals – click here

Good luck to us all! And stay safe and healthy!

 

Vacationing during the pandemic

Well, if you have watched the news lately, you know that COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing here in Texas. In fact, San Antonio is in the top 10 COVID hot spots in the U.S. This is not the list you want to be on.

Originally, before this whole mess came about – way before 2020 started my parents, brother and I planned a June trip to New Orleans. That went out the window when New Orleans was listed as a hot bed for COVID 19 cases in April. In May, as things were going well in San Antonio, we planned to replace the New Orleans trip with one to South Padre Island so the kids could enjoy the beach, which had recently opened.

We had no clue when we booked the trip what restaurants would be open. All we knew is that after weeks of staying at home we wanted to get out of the house. We left for the beach on the last Thursday in June.

Hotel

We stayed at the Beach Resort at South Padre. It use to be Schlitterbahn Resort, which I had stayed at before. We opted for a beach-view room. This of course meant our rooms were as far from the lobby as possible. We checked in, learning that because of their COVID-19 rules there would be no daily cleaning of the room. That is fine as we would only be there for 3 days and aren’t that messy. If you needed new towels or trash picked up, you were supposed to just place them in the hall and housekeeping would removed the items and replace the towels. Well, yeah…that towel thing didn’t work out. Nothing dries in that humid environment. So the first day I put out the hand towels but no replacements came. Then on Friday we took a shower after the beach and were officially out of towels. Again, I stuck our towels out but no replacements came. No problem. On Saturday I just picked some up from the front desk. A small hassle but one we wouldn’t have had to deal with if this trip was last summer.

Beach

The rules for the beach were that it was recommended you wear a mask when out of the water and that you maintain the 6 foot separation. If you were putting up a canopy, it should be 10 feet from the next canopy. The first two days (a Thursday and Friday) the crowds were pretty low. As expected, Saturday was more crowded but even then everyone did a pretty good job of avoiding each other. I felt perfectly safe on the beach or even waiting in line for the outdoor shower. And I would say 90% of the people (including our group) didn’t wear a mask to or on the beach.

Restaurants

We ate at 5 different sit down restaurants. Masks were required as you walked to your table (or the bathroom) but were removed the whole time we were sitting at the table. Only one of them had paper menus which I know were required back when they first re-opened restaurants.

Now most of the fast food places had closed dining rooms. We did eat in at Pizza Hut but they only had 4-5 tables open. You ordered at the front and then they would bring you drinks and pizza to an empty table near ours and leave the items there. Odd but it worked out okay. We also picked up KFC and brought it back to an empty reception area at the top of the hotel. The picture of the beach and the one of my son were taken up there.

Stores

Most stores were open with masks required. And of course we bought stuff – new boogie boards, souvenirs and snacks.

Overall, the trip was fun and relaxing.

And then we came back to San Antonio where the positive tests for COVID-19 were rising rapidly. Within a few days the governor had started scaling back places that had recently opened. As the holiday weekend approached, they stressed staying at home. All I can say is I am glad we got our trip in when we did.

Recipe of the Month – Vanilla Slice-and-Bake Cookies

This is an easy cookie recipe. Typically when I make these they are eaten in the first 24 hours. I choose this picture of the cookies as their layout makes the shape of Mickey Mouse. (Disney fans will understand this.)

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 t. vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Cream butter, gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add egg and vanilla, beat well. Combine flour, soda and salt; add to creamed mixture, beating well. Stir in pecans. Shape dough into 2 rolls (about 10 inches long). Wrap in wax paper and chill for at least 2 hours.

Unwrap rolls and cut into 1/4″ slices. (Optional – dip each cookie in cinnamon sugar – see below.) Place slices on cookie sheets sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Cinnamon sugar – mix 1/4 cups sugar with 1-2 t. cinnamon.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Note: Dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Slice dough while frozen and bake as directed.