Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The World Has Gone to Helen Back

Dear Helen Hartman,

I'm so sick of people who get angry at the drop of a hat and want to make sure everyone knows it. What happened to civility? To playing well with others? Is it all a thing of the past?

Dear Loved One,

You raise some interesting questions. However, Helen would be remiss if she didn't first ask what kinds of hats are these? 

Because if these hats are FABULOUS I can understand why they'd be so mad. But assuming these are your average ugly-a$$ hats Helen is with you whole heartedly.

(Double checking that sentence because Helen is most generally known for doing things half-a$$edly albeit often wearing a gorgeous hat)

But oh, how Helen does love things of the past. Of all those things, manners and all forms of consideration for others is right up there with cocktail parties and mass produced cakes and rainbow colored cereal called 'wholesome' and 'nutritious' eating.

Sure if she sugared him up he'd run wild for 20 minutes but then he'd crash into a heap and she'd have nearly an hour all to herself. The ability to think ahead... THAT was good parenting.

Helen owes her entire existence to the desire to tell people to knock off the nonsense and act like a better version of themselves.

They knew that those who have worked hard to be themselves would never put down others who only want the same privilege. That's what made them admirable. That and their ridiculously awesome fashion sense.

It seems the idea of creating your own version of reality then expecting others to live up to your expectations is at the root of it all. Entertainment does it. Politicians do it. Social Media rewards it. 

The answer? Helen doesn't have it but now that she's thinking about coming back to blogging every week again, you can trust she isn't going to be quiet about it! 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Much to Helen's surprise it's harder to come up with ways to kill someone that she'd ever imagined. It really is surprising given the number of people Helen has encountered lately that she thinks would make the most darling victims.

Rethinking Murder Mystery in favor of... well, who knows what Helen will get up to next.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Who Done What?

Dear Characters in Helen's Book - 

I know who gets knocked off. There are only so many people who can be the victim in a book I'm currently calling How To Murder a Millionaire.

As Opposed to How to Murder A Woman Who Deserves a Crown - trying to narrow that down would be a real pickle.

At this point everyone, even Helen, may be the perpetrator. 

Helen? Oh, Please, that's just sour grapes... um, pickles... talking. Helen doesn't commit crimes, except of fashion.
I'm new at this mystery thing but I suspect the author needs to know who done it.

Just don't blame the dog, like you do for your other... indiscretions... Helen.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

From Killer Cocktails to Catching Killers?

Dear Helen Hartman,
Where have you been? What have you been up to lately? When can we expect to hear from you again?
I'd love to know you're still out there kicking.

Dear Loved to be Kicked by Helen,

I've been mostly on FaceBook and Twitter but lately I've felt a pull to get back to more extensive writing.

Inspiration comes in many forms. The excuse to gnore my  home and family is just one aspect.

But lately I've had a couple of people ask me why Helen has never made the leap to a bigger format.

That may be the only time the name Helen Hartman and making a leap were ever used in the same sentence. I promise if Helen were ever seen leaping at all it would be a job for YOUTUBE not a Hygenic Tube

So the work has begun for a mystery series - Mid Century Murder is in early, early stages but I do think it's time Helen went from shaking her head over all the people who can't seem to do right in this world to bumping them off on the pages of a cozy mystery. 
Wait, isn't the point to have Helen SOLVE murders, not commit them?
Even better. Starting work on a series set in the mid 50s to mid 60s. And hope to chronicle progress with updates on this blog.

Day One - Here we go. Research began. First came up with clever titles. Because that was fun and Helen always likes to do the fun stuff first.
Next, bought a book on how to commit murder. I mean, how to write a murder mystery.
Turns out it's not all that different from writing romance and general fiction only the body you find in Chapter One isn't breathing heavily. It's not breathing at all. 
Day Two - more reading for me and work on another book I need to finish first then away we go. Stay posted, Helen may need you all for an alibi!

Monday, November 16, 2015

10 Things You Can Do NOW to Have a Merrier Christmas
by Helen Hartman

It's the most wonder-why-we-do-this-to-ourselves time of the year. An experience way too many of you tend to look at it like Santa peering down the narrow, bird's nest infested long, dark plunge that is the modern unkempt chimney. How are you going to get through it with your “jolly” disposition (yeah, I put that in quotes, I may not know you but I know you and jolly is not the first word that springs to mind when describing you), not to mention your derriere (I promise I will try not to mention your derriere again if you try to realize my promises don't mean much) 
in tact?
With the holiday still weeks away there are a few things you can resolve to do right now that, while they can't guarantee to make the season bright, may just keep you from being driven up on the rooftop.

Clean It Up, Clear It Out.

Twas weeks before Christmas and all through the house everybody was cleaning, even your spouse (at least if he knows what's good for him)

Let's face it, gingerbread houses are not the only homes around that other people think are tasteless, covered in crumbs, and have mysterious sticky patches from the doors to dormers. Dwelling on the all the things that can and have gone wrong or need to be done only detracts from your ability to enjoy the season. So get your behind up out of that comfy chair right now and dust, vacuum (or are you supposed to vacuum then dust?) polish, pack away, de-cobweb and so on. A deep cleaning now will make it easier to stay on top of things later as you put up a tree, bring in gifts and things and company arrives. Clearing out closets will give you a place to hang guests's tacky coats where you don't have to look at them or throw them on the bed where they will be returned covered in dog hair (even if you don't have a dog, this will happen, no one knows why). Making space in cupboards and shelves will provide ample room to hide presents – and more importantly allow you to FIND those presents again!
Plus, donating old clothes and household goods may make someone else's holiday happier.

Do Not Open Until After Christmas

Fake books, they can hold more than contraband! Who knew?

If you can't get rid of it, hide it. It worked for those collectible NASCAR plates your mother in law gave you as a wedding gift. It worked (as far as you know) when you tied that sweatshirt around your waist when you realized your yoga pants were see through.
The point is the list of things you've tucked out of sight, disguised and outright ignored in to keep up appearances or literally cover that part of you I said I wouldn't mention, could go on and on. So go with your strong suit, especially in times of undue pressure. Clutter plus Christmas equals stress for most of us.
Baskets, bins and even bags can conceal a multitude of sins, not to mention all that crap that ends up out in the open around the house. When I take things off a shelf or table to make room for a Christmas do dad, I place it in a basket or bin tucked under a bench or on a lower bookshelf. Cute boxes and fake books sit on counters and tables can hold phone chargers, mail, all sort of things that usually clutter up the surfaces of your home.

Make a List, Check it Twice.

If wadding up my To Do List and spit balling it at a know it all elf is naughty, I don't want to be nice.

Make TWO lists right now, one of the things you must get done (buy gifts, put up the tree, office obligations) and a second one of what you want to do (bake cookies, send cards). Assign dates to each. If the date passes on a 'want to do', reassign it. If it passes twice, put those lyrics from Frozen you've been trying to get out of your head for the last six month to use finally and Let it go, let it go....

Don't Just Believe in Santa, Get On His Team
Yes, Virginia and the rest of you, (even the ones who thought, hey, I'm not Virginia, I'm skipping this) there is a Santa Claus and he's inside YOU. I don't know if THAT's the reason you crave cookies and have a belly like a bowl full of jelly but I do know that nothing lifts your holiday spirit more than giving. Small (or big) gestures done throughout the season make someone's day merry and bright. So keep change in your pocket to give to bell ringers. Give toys to programs like Toys for Tots. Volunteer. Smile at others. Santa is real and YOU are on his team.

There's No Place Like Home for the Holiday... Shopping
If you haven't started your shopping (I haven't even started complaining about having to shop yet, so I'm way behind my usual schedule!) order something online today. Some people say if you don't get off your behind and go out there and shop that's taking the easy way out and to that Helen says – what's your point? Regardless of what your gym teacher told you in that lecture on being a lady, being easy isn't always naughty.
Go ahead. Click to check out. Knowing you've made the first step lightens your load.

Rock Around Whatever is Handy
Get moving now. Sure, you're going to start eating right and exercising after New Years. I'm right there with you (probably in the same buffet line, piling sticky buns and sausage balls on my plate). Eating more? Then move more. Eat a healthy breakfast to counteract empty calorie treats. Walk those extra steps, dance like no one is watching (please, Helen really needs some new things to laugh at on YouTube and Elf in see-through yoga pants rocks to 'All About the Base' has your name all over it). You know this, don't over think it, just do it.

Like Christmas stars and Christmas Lights, the seasons isn't meant to be sustained, it's meant to shine.

Twinkle, baby, twinkle. Christmas comes in glimpses and gasps. It comes in wearing a red hat with a vintage pin that makes other people smile when they see you. It comes in a sweet string of sights, sounds and moments, in a shared secret, in being taken by surprise by laughter, or kindness or even sadness. Accept now that the time leading up to and surrounding the holidays will have ups and downs and probably sideways and even a few arse over teakettle moments.
Stop, look and listen and be open so you don't miss the flashes of insight and inspiration that are the heart of the holiday.

Expand Your Vocabulary
It's okay to pick and chose the things that will make your holiday lighter, happier, less stressful.
Helen finds creative cursing effective but if that's not fitting with your holiday customs, try: “Not this year” or “We're overbooked as it is.” In a pinch, if asked, say to participate in a gift exchange, proclaim a bit too brightly: “Great. We're making all our presents this year, do you have any allergies to dog or cat hair yarn?” That should shut them up.
But if they seem enthusiastic, don't panic, buy a cheap scarf and lay it on your bed, as noted above, it will collect pet hair even in homes with nothing but goldfish.
Start now before the pressure gets its grip on you, by telling people you're cutting back this year. You might find out that turning some things down actually comes as a relief to others, or that it helps you to understand what really matters to you. (for me it's not having to do other people's stuff and be nice about it)

Have Yourself Some Merry Little ME Time
Sometimes when I say I need a little me time, I really mean I need a lot less YOU time.
It's not just the glass of wine, eggnog, hot chocolate, latte or soda, it's the time out you take for yourself that recharges you during hectic times. Why is it in the time set aside for giving we most need a kick in the rear to remind us to be kind to ourselves?
Plan now for those little breaks, buy yourself some good chocolate, brandy, a gift card to a coffee shop to treat yourself during the harried holiday and a stack of books that will heighten your holiday mood and/or take you away to a warm and happy place, make you laugh or think or touch your heart. Its time well spent.
Yes, my books WOULD make some nice holiday reading, but so would my son's and the anthology Ten Christmas Brides!

Practice Grace
way of moving with purpose and elegance. Behaving pleasantly in social situations. Charm, forgiveness, compassion, gratitude. A prayer of humility and thanks.
Practice grace however it applies best to you and your life and grace will become like muscle memory. Exercise it daily, starting now and it will be your fall back and your foundation. Decide right now that you will seek what is good, what is kind, what is lovely, what gives you peace and fills you with gratitude. 
A season of grace. It's possible and within your power.

If all else fails -
Don't Be Afraid to Wing It

If we've learned anything at all from Christmas movies and holiday-themed TV episodes it's that sometimes the messiest mix-ups bring the most memorable moments.
For us it's the year we got stranded in Memphis by a freak ice storm and we had Christmas dinner out of the vending machine. Or the time we were in the hot tub drinking wine and someone suggested we go to midnight church and we did, wet hair and all and had an amazing time (no, it was NOT the wine, it was the message and the moment). Or last year when we got tickets to what was a spectacularly awful Christmas concert that we sat through because we all thought everyone else was enjoying it until I finally just stood up and announced I was leaving and we fled like criminals into the night. Or... actually every Christmas I can think of is like this, y'all, and I am ever so glad they were. Embrace the grace, cut the clutter, get through to what matters and have the merriest Christmas ever!

(Only 8 mentions of your derrier – that calls for some rump cake! I mean rumcake)  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Well Red!

Dear Helen Hartman 
Someone just told me that as people get fed up with Twitter and Facebook being filled with self promotion and sales pitches that people are reading blogs again. I see you are blogging with a little more regularity and would love to know if you've noticed this too?

Dear Loves to Ask About Helen's Regularity One,

Obviously that's why she locked them outside!

Helen has noticed she has blogged more lately but does that mean Helen is read more?

Great straight? You mean straight from the bottle, right? 
That's not what you meant? Hey, read more or more red, Helen is all for both.

I'm wearing red this season, inside and out!
I honestly don't know if people are reading blogs more these days but have noticed too many social media platforms have gotten to be way more about media and completely forgotten the social! 

But it's called social MEdia,because it's all about ME, right?

And you can just imagine how Helen feels about people who neglect the social graces! 

(Um, the way she feels about most people?)

Sometimes if it wasn't for answering the voices in my head I wouldn't have an intelligent conversation all day

Seems like everywhere I go lately people are looking for a shortcut into my wallet and it certainly has made me avoid those places and people.

But enough about my rotten kids

I can't say if advertising overload had lead people back to blogs but it certainly makes me long for other avenues of social interaction. They say that everything old is new again. So who knows, the next big thing may just be the coffee klatch!

If everything old is new again, then Helen must be the newest thing around!
See what I mean about the conversations in my head?

What do you think, are people reading blogs more lately?
Have a great week!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Caroling with Helen

Jangled Belles!
A day or two a go, my Honda took a slide and soon my family ride was looking quite a fright,
Ins. check was in the bank, I went to the car lot,
I thought about that drifting wreck 
And this is what I got.

Oh, Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way...

I don't think of it as a mini van, I think of it as a junk gypsy woodie wagon in disguise! 

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas... Exploded at Helen's House

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere I have an open space

There's a tree in the not so grand window

One in the great room too

A flocking mess the cat can sleep below....

Drinking Behind the Christmas Tree.
That's the only thing that can explain some of Helen's decorating choices this year.

You don't have to be a dummy to love a great Christmas sweater, do you?

Making a list, checkin' it twice... oh who am I kidding, we all know Helen is both naughty AND nice! 

Hope your holidays are merry and bright, y'all! 


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