Jenny Hansen

A Mom’s Day Mashup

A Mom’s Day Mashup

Unless you’ve been living in a cave (without wi-fi), you know that Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Seems like the perfect time for a Mother’s Day post!

But Amazon let me down this year, in terms of its rockin’ Mother’s Day gift suggestions. If you don’t know what I mean, check out the Pole-Dancing Lessons, or the Boudoir Photo Session/Air Duct Cleaning Combo, just a sampling of the out-of-the-box gift ideas the ‘Zon thoughtfully dropped in my email last year. Hey, Mother’s Day isn’t all about flowers and chocolates, you know.

Over the years, I’ve also talked about the history of Mother’s Day, and shared 19th century advice for mothers, by the incomparable lady of all things domestic (no, not Martha Stewart), Mrs. Isabella Beeton.

I’ve related personal anecdotes of me and my mom, such as the time I botched the butterscotch haystacks; I’ve included favorite recipes handed down by my mom, such as butter spritz cookies and sherry chicken mumsey.

So this Mother’s Day, I’ve decided to step outside the Cozy Thrill blog and compile a list of awesome Mother’s Day-themed posts from other folks. Hope you enjoy them!


Mother’s Day posts, in no particular order:

A Judgment Free Letter to a Mom on her iPhone, by RealLifeParenting. This post is written as from one mom to another, and gives us a different perspective about that lady on the playground who’s on her phone as her kids play.

Common Core and Vegan Zombies: Confessions of an ADD Mother, by Kristen Lamb. Kristen shares with us the occasion which strikes terror in the heart of every mom: the parent/teacher meeting, along with the issue of a child’s individuality vs. expectations of conformity.

When Your Baby Scares the Stuffing Out of You, by Jenny Hansen. Jenny’s hysterical post talks about the first time as a new mom her baby fell and hit her head. The dialogue of the visit to the doctor is a hoot, and something that every mom can relate to!

Did Your Mom Give You “the Look”? by Kassandra Lamb at Misterio Press. Kass, a former psychotherapist-turned-mystery author, discusses the significance of “mother guilt” in early childhood, and constructive ways to deal with guilt in adulthood.

The Joy of Embarrassing Your Kids, by Julie Glover. Julie talks about the “embarrassment factor” that shows up in the teen years, and how a parent can use it to her advantage. Way to go, Julie!

…okay, I’ll stop there, just in case you need time to run out for a card or some chocolates before Sunday.


To all you moms out there, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

To my mom: crush hug! I miss you.

Mom and me2Mom and me3

Until next time,


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Concordia joins the More Cowbell posse!

Concordia joins the More Cowbell posse!
1905 Washington Times, via Chronicling America.

1905 Washington Times, via Chronicling America.

Yep, the intrepid 19th century lady professor has dared to step into Jenny Hansen’s “More Cowbell” inner sanctum today, to talk about the popular (and sometimes ridiculous) beauty products of her time.

Not familiar with Jenny Hansen and her “More Cowbell” blog? You’re missing quite a treat! The “More Cowbell” concept is all about exuberance for the big and little joys of life, and participating fully in them. It’s inspired by this Saturday Night Live skit:

Fun clip, right? Notice that Jimmy Fallon’s having a very hard time keeping a straight face. 😉

By the way, this will be the last guest post in my book tour, and all commenters are entered for a chance to win a free ebook copy of my latest novel, Unseemly Pursuits, and a chance at the grand prize: the Unseemly Swag Kit. All of the tour winners will be announced next week!


Click here to join us!

See you there,


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Time to talk about toilets…at Jenny Hansen’s place!

Time to talk about toilets…at Jenny Hansen’s place!

JHansenHappy pi day!

Jenny Hansen is today’s hostess with the Cowbell most-ess!  When coming up with a topic idea for my guest post over at her place, she and I decided that it really wasn’t a book tour until we talked about toilets.

I am happy to oblige.  ‘Cause everyone wants to know what 19th century folks used for a bathroom, right?  Or is that just me? 😉  Anyway, here’s the link: When you gotta go…in the 19th century.

By the way, Jenny has the trivia question which will give you the last letter to the WEAPON!  (Julie, Renee, and Nancy had the other four letter clues).  For more info about the Whodunnit contest giveaway, click here.

See you there!


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Humor for the Tech-Challenged

Humor for the Tech-Challenged

Happy Monday!  With the new theme up, and things running sort-of-smoothly (after a lot of trial and error), this post from last year caught my eye.  Hope it gives you a good laugh.  I’m keeping all of the original marvy comments, too.  Take heart, O Tech-Challenged Ones!



My blog has been requiring me to stumble around in a lot of tech-y stuff lately.  Not that stumbling around is anything new, unfortunately.  Permalinks, Widgets, RSS, POP3 Access…wow, are you kidding me?  Every time I learn something new, ten more new things pop up.  It’s like trying to cut the head off the Hydra.

Hercules killing the Lernean Hydra. An easier task. Image via

Here’s an idea of the depths of my ignorance.  Laird Sapir, web designer, writer, and helpful web friend extraordinaire, was helping me customize a couple of pages on this blog.  (Check the Gardening page to see the end result. Yay, I didn’t blow up anything!)  After a couple of back-and-forth emails to clarify whether I had an FTP (the meaning of which was only recently made known to me), my theme, and so on, she wrote a template for me and sent it with specific instructions.  Good so far.  I love this gal; she’s keeping it nice and basic.

So I sit down to try it.  Hubby, my usual “help desk” computer oracle, is working late.  But, hey, I can handle transferring a little code, right?  That’s what FileZilla is for.  I opened the zip file Laird sent me, located the php file (another thing I don’t know the meaning of), and opened FileZilla.  I was so proud of myself: I found “wp-content” and “theme” all by myself.

Pause.  Now what? I tried to “drag and drop” the file I was seeing, and get it over to the right place.  Nothing.  I checked the drop-down menus, and saw “Import,” “Export,” and a lot of other perplexing things – mostly dealing with wizards and trees.  Where am I, Middle Earth?

Prithee, good sir, where is the path out of this shire?

Instead of the “One Ring,” I wanted the “one file.”  LOL.

One File to Rule Them All (image via

After an hour of head-desk, keyboard-pounding angst, my knight-in-shining-tech-splendor hubby arrived home.  I had the good grace to let him eat a late dinner first before pouncing on him.

ME:  I don’t get this.  Why can’t I drag this over?

HUBS (inching closer with the caution born of experience):  What’s the problem?

ME:  I can’t get this file that Laird sent me over into this folder.

HUBS:  Show me.

ME:  I want to move THIS over to THERE.

HUBS:  Ooh-kayy, did you extract the file?

ME (imagining my worst tooth extraction):  Huh?  Sounds painful.  She sent it by email and I opened it.  There it is.

HUBS:  Well, it’s not really there.  You have to extract it first.

ME:  But I’m looking right at it!

HUBS (sighing): Just right-click on it.

ME (right-clicking):  Oh!  Extract is one of the choices! Now I remember: I had to do this when Jenny Hansen sent me stuff for the cowbell timeline guest post I was writing!

HUBS (trying not to roll eyes, wondering when I’ll ever retain this stuff): Uh-huh.

…after that, it was smooth-sailing.

For those of you who are like me, or typically help someone like me, this “Medieval Help Desk” video is for you!  (Especially for Laird and Paul – thanks for your coaching this week!).  Enjoy!

What do you find challenging about the “modern” world?  I’d love to hear from you!

Have a great weekend,


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Nineteenth century Winter Holiday – Sledding

For those of you already looking at snow on the ground, or envious of those who have the white stuff, this one’s for you.

Folks in the 19th century had a lot of fun sledding, and doing other winter sports, too.  (Click here for last year’s post on 19thc Ice-Skating in Central Park).

Winter Sports – Coasting in the Country by Granville Perkins, from Harper’s Weekly. February 17,1877

Here’s an excerpt from a January 12, 1896 article in The New York Times that expounds upon the delights of “coasting”:

Love that “manly joy.”  But just in case “blood and vital spirits” aren’t enough to sustain you after a prolonged day of sledding, here’s a remedy:

Advertisement, Dr. Kilmer’s Indian Cough Cure Consumption Oil. Image via NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Considering it contained “10 percent pure grain alcohol,” you wouldn’t care if you had a cough anymore.

But maybe you’d prefer an indoor activity?  If so, I have the perfect one for you!  Today, in a continuation of our Holiday Yum recipe series, writer Jenny Hansen is posting about her legendary Almond Roca recipe.  She has a fun story to go along with it, too, so check it out!

art by Ellen M. Gregg

Do you have a favorite winter activity?  I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,


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Fast Draft, by the numbers

badge created by Rachel Funk Heller

To give you a sense of what Fast Draft is all about, along with the craziness that gets mixed in along the way, I’m going to adopt a tactic by humor writer and blogger Leanne Shirtliffe.  Here is…

Fast Draft, by the numbers:

14 – days of Fast Draft

20 – page goal per day

13 – participants (in no particular order):  Amy KennedyJenny HansenNigel BlackwellKristen LambIngrid SchaffenburgCallene RappJuliana HaygertRachel Funk HellerJess WitkinsKaren McFarlandDawn SticklenGene Lempp, and me (lucky 13).

1 – new business is launched, to serve the needs of artists: WANA International, “Connecting the Hearts” (ushered into the world by Kristen Lamb and Ingrid Schaffenburg).  Click here to learn more.

3 – craft classes prepared/taught

52 – blog posts written

1– writer who kept insisting she really wasn’t part of Fast Draft (but she totally was, not only as our biggest cheerleader, but as someone who kept plugging away at her writing every day, and pushed herself.  Yes, Karen, I’m talking about YOU).

1 – eardrum rupture (ouch, Jenny!)

2 – instances of Fast Draft Good Karma (ask Amy Kennedy and Juliana Haygert!)

305 (and counting) – emails sent between members

2 – completed first-drafts

? – days of lapsed hygiene (no one’s fessing up, LOL)

300,000 (approx) – words written by the group


But we got even more than new pages from the process.  Each writer gained an understanding of him/herself, and what could be accomplished through dedication, enormous quantities of caffeine, hard work, sour patch kids, planning, and badgering encouragement.

Lessons learned, as contributed by some of the participants:

Amy (who came away with 32 more pages):

Lessons learned:
Gertrude Stein was right — “To write is to write is to write is to write…is to write.”
It’s okay to keep writing even if you don’t know the herione’s best friend’s last name.
When in doubt (or writer’s block), blow-up something.  (KBO: love this, Amy!)

Nigel (who came away with 51,ooo words):

1) Write less. Don’t wax lyrical, just get plenty of dialog and simple statements for narrative.

2) Dialog is the most important thing.

3) When you don’t know what to do, have your characters talk to each other. Even if it’s crap you will eventually hit on the right direction. Throw the crap out later.

4) Update your list of characters attributes as you go along. Mine have changed and when I revise I’ll have a list of what I thought they should be like at the end.

5) Write every day, whether you feel motivated or not. It is easier to keep going than to start over

Rachel (who wrote 21,346 words in the first 5 days, to finish her WIP):

For me, the best part of this is having had the opportunity to check in with everyone to see how they are doing, to see how EVERYONE has pitched in to help boost morale. It helps us keep each other honest and makes the process so much more fun than just slogging away alone.


These are all fab take-aways, don’t you think?  I would add that, for me, advance preparation made a huge difference (including, strangely, re-caulking the tub…yeah, I don’t know why I felt I had to do that, either).

Simple things – menu-planning (hubby had valiantly stepped up to cook the dinners), knocking out errands, having the plot outline set, going over with the family what I’d be doing – were not only practical, but also put me in the right mindset.  Let’s face it, it’s daunting to sit down to write 20 pages per day for 14 days in a row – with no whining, no excuses, and no days off, except for something awful and life-altering.  I especially missed the whining, LOL. 😉

So, how did I do?

I wrote 138 pages.  *happy dance*

What did I learn?

I learned that when you put writing first and set your goals high, amazing things can happen.  But only if you silence your Inner Critic – you know, the one who’s always looking over your shoulder, saying: “this stinks; youre not seriously going to put that in there, are you?”  Keep her busy matching your socks or something; gag her if you have to.  She’ll get her turn during the revision process.  For the first draft, she’s a Debbie Downer.

I also learned that the support of other writers going through the same process at the same time really helps keep you going.  No matter who’s already published and who’s not, we’re all grappling with the same obstacles as we push ourselves to turn over fresh pages.  These writers were a fabulous, supportive bunch!

If you’re a writer, working on a first draft, why not give Fast Draft a try?  All you have to lose are your inhibitions (no, not the toga-party kind).  Romance writer Candace Havens is offering a workshop, starting July 7th, called Fast Draft and Revision Hell, which several of our group will be taking (’cause one round of Fast Draft just wasn’t fun enough for them, LOL).

One more thing…

With all that writing, who has time to be checking to see if the kids have gotten off the computer when they were supposed to?  Well, your PC can take care of that for you!  If you haven’t had enough of me yet today, check out my guest video at Jenny Hansen’s place.  In a quick 4-minute clip, I’ll show you how to use your Windows 7 computer to set time limits for your munchkins, using a nifty parental control feature.  The computer kicks them off, not you!  It’s super easy, so I hope you’ll stop by and take a look!

Congrats to all the Fast Drafters, and good luck to the ones to come!

Until next time,



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Techie Tues – Jenny Hansen’s Top Ten OneNote Tips

Welcome to Tuesday Terrific, where we celebrate getting over the Monday hump and picking up speed for the rest of the week.

I am SO excited (somebody pinch me!) to have the ever-fabulous blogger/tech guru/writer/overall-great-gal Jenny Hansen here today!  This Tuesday really is terrific, LOL.  Jenny and I are doing a post swap in honor of her one-year blogiversary at More Cowbell, and I’m so thankful that she’s here to explain the great features of Microsoft’s OneNote as a writer resource.  Take it away, Jenny!


Techie Tuesday has moved over here to K.B. Owen’s site for the day.

I promised Kathy a post on her new writing BFF – Microsoft OneNote (electronic notebook extraordinaire). In return for that, she put her history muscle to work on the Cowbell and I’m SO FREAKING OVER THE MOON about her post. It rocks! You’ve got to go peek…  OneNote about the World Famous Cowbell

I’m a software trainer by day so I have several “true loves” in the software realm. But as a writer, my hands down favorite lately is OneNote 2010.

I. Heart. OneNote.

What is it, and where do I find it?

OneNote is a planner and note taking software. Capture text, images, video and audio notes, and keep important information readily available. If you’re the organized type, it’s likely that you have a binder with all of the research information and pictures for your book.  You’ll find OneNote in your START menu.

OneNote allows you to keep this information in the same format electronically so it’s searchable.

I could do several posts on the topic (and I probably will) but when I stopped to think about what I use the MOST in the program, it was pretty easy to come up with my Top Ten fave features.

#10 – ToDo Lists

OneNote allows you to insert handy checklists. You just check off the item when you’re done and you can keep it for posterity or edit the list as you move to a new day.

How to do a check list:

Click to type in your OneNote notebooks page (top tabs are sections, right side tabs are pages) and type “Ctrl+1”

  • In the top middle of your Home ribbon in OneNote, there is a “To Do” button
  • Type your To Do
  • Hit Enter
  • Use the Ctrl+1 shortcut key again to add more checkboxes

Note: You’ll see lots of keyboard shortcuts through this document and for once, the Mac users are out of luck. OneNote is a PC only product. Incidentally, my favorite shortcut is Ctrl +PageDown to “flip thru” the pages in any section of your notebook.

Some bigger gurus than I have recommended that Mac users try using Office Web Apps as a OneNote solution:


#9 – Tag and Find Important Items

Why is this exciting? One Note has a series of Tags that you can add to any page that are easy to search by with the “Find Tags” button on the ribbon. I’m copying and pasting a screen shot of the Tags drop down to the right but there are even more than are listed. This feature makes me SQUEE!



#8 – Sync up OneNote between your phone and computer

Yes, you heard me! If you have a smart phone, it can synchronize with the OneNote on your computer. Sign me up!!

Note: You need to first set up the app on your smart phone and you must also set up your SkyDrive, which is helpful to do anyway. Note: SkyDrive is only available with OneNote 2010! It will not work with the older versions.

Tips on setting up your SkyDrive in OneNote and getting the iPhone app are here (along with a ton of other amazing OneNote answers).

#7 – Tables and Charts (which can be sent to Word or Outlook!)

Who doesn’t love a good table…perhaps you need one listing scene elements? You can create tables and charts directly on a OneNote page and then:

  • Copy and paste it to Word
  • Email it.
  • Right click on your OneNote table and choose “Copy Link to Paragraph” to embed it in a document anywhere else on your computer. (If you haven’t set up SkyDrive, the One Note file and the file where you pasted the link must be on the same computer!)

#6 – Hyperlinks to anywhere

You can copy or create hyperlinks from any page, anywhere, and put it in your notebook page. I’m thinking of keeping an active writing notebook with tabs for each topic to store the amazing links that I run across in my web surfing. My bookmarks tend to get lost because there’s so many.

#5 – Print to OneNote

When researching, you can send a whole page or part of a page directly to OneNote. Click Ctrl +P on your keyboard (or you can choose File à Print) and your page is sent to an unfiled note in OneNote, which can be moved to any section or page. Note: You’ll see your “Unfiled Notes” tab at the top of your OneNote screen.

#4 – Send whole or part of any page to OneNote

When researching, you can send a whole page or part of a page directly to OneNote. Ctl +P and your page is sent to an unfiled note in OneNote, which you can move to any section or page.

Imagine surfing the web and pulling up a side note by either pressing the Windows logo button + N or clicking the N(OneNote) icon button in the task bar (down by the time) and being able to jot down your notes to keep in your book’s OneNote binder. This shortcut automatically files it in the Unfiled Tab in OneNote, which you can move around.

#3 – Audio and Video Files

OneNote will also add audio or video files to your notebook pages. It can even record the same right into a page! Now that we’re in conference season, I’ve made the goal of adding my meeting and class notes into OneNote, and then recording those extras things that I didn’t get down in my notes.

#2 – You can attach files to any page in OneNote.

Can you writers say character charts? Photos? I thought of moving this higher on the list, it’s so sublimely amazing.

From your Windows Explorer, click and drag any file onto a OneNote Page. You will get the following dialog box:

You can insert a hyperlink, or choose the second option to have an icon on your page that you double-click on to open the file. But the last choice (to insert the file as a printout)? LOVE IT! I used this with a conference handout to make my notes next to the speakers content. It saved me a ton of time.

And my #1 FAVORITE thing in OneNote is:

OneNote doesn’t have a Save button. OneNote automatically saves your work on an almost constant basis in the background. This means I don’t lose work, even if forget to save.

p.s. If you want to save your notebook with a new name you can use the Save As feature located under the File menu. Also, if you’re using the SkyDrive sync feature, you need to be sure to sync before you go on the road. OneNote auto-saves, but it doesn’t auto-sync!

Helpful Links:

My favorite OneNote tutorial from How-To Geek

Microsoft OneNote – An Author’s Best Friend from Self-Publishing Review

For those of you who like to handwrite your notes, there is a product called Capturx for OneNote – It’s a digital pen that’s compatible with the app. AwesomeSauce!!

Does OneNote sound like it would be helpful to you? Do you have questions, or shortcuts you’d like to share? We’d love to chat with you in the comments!


About Jenny Hansen

Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after her toddler Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.

When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at jhansenwrites and at her group blog, Writers In The Storm. Every Saturday, she writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.


Thanks so much, Jenny!  I had a feeling a ton of cool OneNote features were passing me by.  Now I have to go figure out what SkyDrive is…sort of sounds like the futuristic cyber system responsible for Arnold Schwarzenegger terrorizing human beings in the future…no, wait, that’s SkyNet, LOL.  Hey, if it will help me write my book, who cares? 

Show Jenny some love and appreciation for all her great OneNote tips!  What questions or comments do you have for the super-fab techie gal?  We’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,



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Taxes, Allergies, & Fri the 13th: a typical ROW80 week

It’s ROW80 check-in time!  In the Owen household this week, we’re celebrating not only goals semi-fulfilled, but the successful navigation of  killer allergies, Friday the 13th, and tax preparation.

I can’t say I suffered through the tax preparation end of things; I was spectator/sympathetic ear/sandwich preparer for He-Who-Braves-the-1040.  In other words, my spectacular hubby, Paul.

cartoon via

So, how did I do this week?

My goals:


1. post ROW80 updates on Sundays


2. blog on Tuesdays and Fridays

This past week, I posted about The Chocolate Diet on Tuesday, and about a classic Master of Mystery, Ellery Queen, on Friday.

I’m really excited about the upcoming week: this Tuesday, the ever-fabulous Jenny Hansen and I are going to swap guest posts.  Squee!  (I promise not to break anything while I’m over there, Jenny).  She and I have wanted to swap posts for a long time, but now that she is celebrating her one-year blog-a-versary, it seemed the perfect opportunity.  I will be posting on her site about the History of the Cowbell (and Jenny’s role in it), while she will be posting here about the cool features (with how-to instructions for the tech-challenged) of OneNote, a Microsoft program that I am stumbling through using to organize my novel.  Be sure to check it out this Tuesday!

3. Write one chapter per week on my work-in-progress (WIP).  I am well into Chapter 8, but not finished with it yet, unfortunately.   unexpected characters entered the scene, including one cantankerous old lady with whom I’ve dealt before.  Dialogue scenes usually take a bit longer with her in them.  That’s my excuse, at least.

Personal and Social Goals:

1. support fellow bloggers and writers through Facebook and Twitter.  I hit all the bloggers I usually read, plus I spent a few late-night and early-morning sessions this week just browsing the twitter stream for things to read and RT.  The WANA1011 Facebook group has also been a great source for posts I don’t check out regularly.  Stop by sometime; it’s a great group!

2. re-vamp my blog.  I’m nearly finished with this; there are just a couple of pages on my site where I haven’t figured out how to load posts relevant to the category right on to the page.  I’ll still be tweaking things over the next couple of weeks.  Nothing dramatic, though – the overall look will be the way it is now.

3. exercise 3x per week.  With allergies were kicking my keester, I only got two walks done (near the end of the week, when I was prescribed additional allergy meds).  But today’s walk was the Burke Lake loop – 4.6 miles.  Woot!

How has your week been?  I’d love to hear from you!

Have a great week,



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