New Website!

Hi All!

Exciting news – I am in the process of revamping Three Hundred Pages!  I am currently working on a brand new and improved website at!  I’m hoping it will be ready to launch by the end of this week.  This shouldn’t affect your subscriptions, but if it does, you may just have to enter your email address again on the new home page (just click on the link above.)  I’m working hard on making the site more user-friendly, adding some more categories, and also creating some fun free printables!

I sincerely hope to see you all over there, and am hoping to make some new friends, as well.  Enjoy the rest of your week!



Whole 30, Day 1

The Whole 30 is something I’ve wanted to try for at least a year. The problem was, no one wanted to do it with me. Not my boyfriend, (who, by the way is supposed to support me more than anyone), not my sister, not my best friend. I tried to convince my four year old it would be good for us, but he insisted that he doesn’t like vegetables (yes he does,) and that he only wants to eat candy (not going to happen.)

I suppose I could have done it alone, but everything I’ve read about the Whole 30 made it seem like a community or a least a single person to be a support system makes the chances of success higher, and success is something I’m definitely hoping for.  So last week, when I was on Pinterest and noticed my friend Jessica pinning healthy recipes, I squealed a little and asked her if she would be interested in doing the Whole 30 with me.

Unlike my boyfriend, sister, and other friends, Jessica said yes, and we decided to start today to give us time to meal plan and shop for food.  And here we are, Day 1.

What I’m eating:

Breakfast was 3 eggs poached in chicken broth with spinach, a handful of blueberries, and hot water with lemon juice

Lunch was a big bowl of chili with extra meat and zucchini instead of beans and noodles.  I made a big pot of it yesterday so I’d have leftovers.

Afternoon snack was going to be cashews but then I noticed on the label it said peanut oil and that is a no-no!  Instead, I had an apple.

Supper is in the crockpot – turkey tenderloins with roasted vegetables.

So far, I feel pretty good and haven’t noticed any uncontrollable cravings, but just to be on the safe side, I’m going to pack up all the “bad” food in my house and sent it to my boyfriend’s so I’m not tempted to eat it.

From what I’ve read, day 2 is much harder, so we’ll see how tomorrow goes!  Have any of you done the Whole 30?  Do you have any tips, tricks, ideas or recipes to make things go smoothly?

Growing Lifelong Readers

Some of my fondest memories as a child involve snuggling up with a good book and reading for hours. I would read everywhere, and any time I could. I loved it so much my parents would have to set a timer and limit my reading so that I would do other things, like my chores, or my homework. When our family went up north to our cottage for a weekend, I would bring a book (or 5,) and sit in the screened-in porch reading for most of the weekend. When I got home from school, I would hide out in my room and read until supper time. Even in college, I would spend a lazy Saturday sprawled out on my twin sized bed in my dorm room, reading.

Reading has always been an enjoyable activity for me – something I looked forward to. But not everyone feels that way. So why do some people spend most of their lives with their nose in a book while others never, ever read? I believe it all comes down to how often a person was read to during their childhood.

My mom used to read to us almost every afternoon when we were small. As soon as we stopped taking naps, that time in the afternoon that used to be dedicated to sleep became filled with books and stories. I looked forward to that time. We read books about everything. Sometimes, my mom picked out a stack of non-fiction books about Christopher Columbus, or the Pilgrims, or slavery, or World War 2, and we would sit and read book after book, and learn so much without even realizing we were learning.

One of my favorite things we read was the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Recently, I started reading them to my four year old son, Liam, and it’s amazing how much he’s come to enjoy reading, too. Every night he begs, “Just one more chapter, Mama, please?” and sometimes I give in, and we stay up past his bedtime. But I’m happy that I can give him the gift of reading, just as my mom gave me when I was small, and I hope that will stay with him his whole life, just as it has for me.

Please consider reading to your children every day. It truly is a lifelong gift.

Plotting a Novel

Something I was not aware of until after I wrote my first draft is that there are ways of plotting a novel before you begin writing that makes the entire process of writing/revising a novel SO MUCH EASIER afterwards. One of the easiest ways of plotting a novel is credited to Michael Crichton. It’s super simple, and it uses 3×5 index cards. Every time you think of an idea for your novel, whether it’s lines of dialogue, a plot point, an interesting fact about a character, you simply write it on an index card and throw it in a shoe box. After you have several cards in the box, you can then go through and arrange them until they’re in the order you want.

Once you have the basic outline, it’s easy to go in and make new cards to fill in spaces, or add depth to the story. When you can’t think of anything else to add, it’s time to start writing. What makes this easy is that every time you sit down to write, you can grab a card and know exactly what you need to accomplish that day. Simple and easy. I wish someone had told me about this years ago! It almost makes me want to go back and start all over from the beginning. Almost.

Has anyone tried this? How does it work?

Writing a Book


As some of you may or may not know, I am writing a book. It’s very hard work. Before I began this process, I thought the hardest part would be writing the story. You know – figuring out what was going to happen and writing it down.

As it turns out, that is the easy part. It’s fun making up characters and deciding what’s going to happen to them. It’s fun making them say funny things, and serious things, and angry things, and happy things. It’s fun making them do brave things, and stupid things, and fall in and out of love, and make new friends, and lose friends, and experience new things. What’s hard is after the story is written – reading it and realizing that it needs A LOT OF WORK. It needs structure, and conflict, and all kinds of stuff that you never even thought about when you were writing it. Passages need to be rearranged and reworded. Sometimes whole chapters and characters need to be cut from the story. It’s hard, tedious work. And. it. takes. forever.

The hardest part, I’ve found, it finding time to do it. When I was writing my first draft, I was great at making the time. I couldn’t wait to write. As soon as I shut my son’s bedroom door at night after putting him to bed, I’d race off to my laptop and would spend hours writing. I’d often stay up until 1 am or later without even realizing how late it had gotten. But housework cannot be ignored forever. Friends, either. Most will be patient with you for a few months while you’re writing a first draft, but when it’s finished, you’re expected to be a good friend again. You’ll need to eat, also, and sleep, and at some point, you will run out of clean underwear. And that’s when you realize that you have to find some sort of a balance.

Revising has definitely been the hardest part for me. I’ve lost count, but I think I’m on my 14th set of revisions. That means going through and re-writing and editing the whole book 14 times!!!! Sometimes I think I’m getting somewhere; sometimes I think I should just delete the whole thing and start over. At some point, (hopefully), I’ll be okay enough with it to say I’m done. But it’s going to be awhile yet.

Getting Back Into Reading


Being a single mother means that by the time I get around to reading a book I really want to read, one of three things usually happens:

1.) I stay up way too late reading – to the the point that no amount of green tea will make me feel like a normal human being the next day; 2.) I listen to the audiobook version so that I can clean at the same time, and end up missing major plot points because the vacuum or the running water was too loud, or 3.) I’m too tired to read and end up watching several minutes/hours of whichever TV series I’m currently obsessed with (right now it’s Sons of Anarchy. I’m on Season 2.)

I was thinking today, after one of my library patrons mentioned that she didn’t want the audiobook version of a book, because she’s trying to “get back into reading,” that maybe I should do that, too. There’s something about reading words on a page that creates a different kind of experience than is possible through any other format. I never enjoy audiobooks the way I enjoy reading a book. Audiobooks are awesome, especially for busy people, or people with long commutes, or people who, like me, feel guilty sitting around reading a book when there are things to be done. But maybe we all could benefit from taking a few minutes (or hours) out of our day to sit down with an actual book. What do you think?

Break from Blogging

I know I’ve been terrible about updating the last couple of weeks and I apologize for that.  I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life.  My son and I moved out of our family home due to some major problems that my husband and I have been having, so the last week or so, we’ve been staying with a friend until we can get our own place.  It’s been really hard on my 9 month old son, having to adjust to new surroundings, and for me, too.

I’ve decided to take a small break from blogging – probably for the rest of the month – so that Liam and I can get settled and figure stuff out.  I promise I’ll be back soon, and will post all of the fun projects I’ve done in the meantime.

I hope you and your families enjoy the holiday season!


Thanksgiving and Stuff

Wow! Time flies by when you’re busy with the holidays! I promise I haven’t forgotten about you, in fact, I have several new projects to post in the coming days, including a dining room chair reupholstery project, a holiday banner, a clock, and some yummy recipes.

I had an amazing Thanksgiving.  This year, I had a moment of temporary insanity, and decided to host Thanksgiving at our house, not just for my family, but also for my husband’s family.  It was pure craziness.  We have a tiny house (here is a picture of my tiny kitchen – try cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 17 in it without freaking out!) so it was a bit of a challenge, and we had to set up an extra table and chairs in the front room so that everyone would have room to sit and eat.

My mother in law brought Brussels sprouts.  Now, I haven’t had Brussels sprouts since I was about 9 years old, and I’m pretty sure I hated them, and ate only what was necessary in order to be excused from the table.  I was a little bit nervous about trying them, but they were amazing!  She made them with bacon, walnuts and pomegranate seeds.

Here is a link to the recipe I think she used, except she added walnuts, too.  Delicious!

How was your Thanksgiving?  Any new or unusual recipes this year?

Writing a Novel – What to Avoid

State of Being Verbs

Avoid using the “to be” verbs which are: am, is, are, was, were, be, been and being. Any sentence that uses these verbs is “telling,” rather than “showing,” which is what we want. For example, instead of saying: “Sally is a funny girl,” you could say “I like Sally’s sense of humor,” or “Sally makes me laugh.” Even better, you could portray her being funny – maybe have her telling jokes, or making witty comments, which will completely negate the need to say she is funny in the first place, because the reader will already know.

Excessive Adverbs

Try to avoid using adverbs in your writing, especially after dialogue. An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, adjective, other adverbs, or various other types of words, phrases, and clauses, and typically are just adjectives that end with the suffix -ly. They will distract the reader from your story. There are too many instances of “he said incredulously,” or “she said sarcastically.” A good story or dialogue will convey the tone you’re trying to create without the use of an additional descriptor. The reason adverbs are bad, is that they draw attention outside of your story. It’s important that the reader does not feel the author’s presence but instead, should be able to absorb the story without distraction.

Excessive Description

Description is very different from specific details, which are necessary in a good novel. Description, however, can slow down your narrative. Use this rule of thumb to decide whether to provide a description in your writing – Does it relate to the plot and advance the story? If the answer is no, cut it. Writing is all about moving the plot along, and if you pause to provide a two page description of a building, no matter how lovely, you are stopping the action and taking the reader out of your story. Pace is everything. Stick with the action.

Avoid Generalizing

In contrast to excessive description, specific details are very important to a story. Taking a moment to name a street, or a restaurant, or to briefly describe a dress, makes all the difference to your readers. I recently read a book, which I won’t name, that didn’t provide any details. It made me so mad! She talked about a dress she had chosen to wear out that evening, but didn’t say a thing about it! She could have said it was a little black dress, or a slinky red evening gown, or a floral sundress. The fact that she neglected to provide such important details really took away from her story. It made it less believable. Most readers do have some imagination, but you have to give them something to work with. Expecting them to come up with all the details themselves is unprofessional, and frankly, a bit lazy.

Spice Boil

Here in Wisconsin, it’s very humid in the summer and very dry in the winter.  This can cause dozens of problems come November – itchy, flaky skin, stuffy/runny noses, dry, cracked lips and hands, etc.  I’ve found that the best way to lessen these irritations is to add moisture.  Some people use humidifiers to accomplish this, but because I’ve never found one that isn’t a pain to use/clean/refill constantly, and because I’m too cheap to purchase one of the expensive ones, I’ve found the easiest alternative ever – boil water!

For the last two or three years, I’ve been simply boiling water on my stove to steam up my house.  Around the holidays, it’s fun to add a few spices and let it fill the entire house with its delicious aroma.   It’s wonderful.  (Note: please only do this if you’re going to be home.  It probably isn’t a good idea to leave your stove on all day while you’re at work.)

Another way to do this, if you’re uncomfortable with leaving your stove on ALL DAY, even if you are home, is to use a crockpot.  Plug it in, turn it on high, and put the cover on for an hour or so until it starts to boil.  Then, remove the cover to let the steam fill your house (and skin).  When the water gets low, just add more water.

Here are some delicious scent combinations to add to your water:

Apple Cinnamon – Just add a few sliced up apples and a few cinnamon sticks to your water. You can also use a tablespoon or so of ground cinnamon if you don’t have cinnamon sticks handy.

Christmas – Add some pine needles or pine cones, a handful of cranberries and a few cloves to your boiling water.

Winter Spice – Add a sliced orange, a dash of cinnamon, some cloves and a few sprinkles of nutmeg.

Chai – A vanilla bean, a dash each of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and a few cloves.  You can also toss in a bag of black tea for good measure if it suits you.

For a Cold – Add a few drops of Vicks VapoSteam, just like you would to a humidifier.

Clean – For a fresh, clean scent, and to remove odors from your home, add a few cut up lemons and a few tablespoons of baking soda.

Calm – Add a vanilla bean and a few drops of lavender essential oil or a few sprigs of lavender.

Vanilla Bean – Simply add vanilla beans to your boiling water.

Coffee Shop – Add your choice of coffee beans to the water.

Clean Laundry – Add a splash of your laundry detergent to fill your home with that clean laundry smell.

Does anyone have any other ideas?