Prompt Contest Winner – Samantha Lang

Thanks, all of you who entered our October Prompt Contest
Everyone turned in excellent posts. They were so much fun to read. We hope you’ll stop back by in the months ahead and try again. 

Congratulations, Samantha Lang, winner of the October Prompt Contest. 

Samantha loves reading and writing. For the last seven years, she has worked as a nanny for a family with eight children. She has entered short story and poetry contests and now wants to tackle the challenge of novel writing.

Thanks for entering our contest, Samantha, and may God bless your path toward becoming a published writer.

Here is Samantha’s winning entry, in response to our prompt:

Janie stared at the particles of food which coated her once clean kitchen. Could a Crock Pot explode? Hopelessly, she glanced at her pantry and wondered how her guests felt about bowls of cereal for lunch.

“No good deed goes unpunished,” she muttered. Janie picked up her grandmother’s latest letter and scanned its contents again. 

“Janie, you should meet my new neighbor, Carla, teacher at Larson High School. We’ve had some delightful chats and I would love to introduce you, dear.”

Reading between the lines, Janie knew that was her grandmother’s way of fishing for that elusive invitation to lunch. Surrendering to the hint, she wrote a letter (Gran insisted on snail-mail), inviting both Gran and her neighbor to lunch. How hard could it be to entertain two ladies for a few hours? But as she surveyed her kitchen, Janie wondered if the afternoon was doomed to fail. Her once favorite appliance lay on its side, still plugged into the wall. The makings of Italian wedding soup covered the room, floor to ceiling. 

Janie looked up at the clock. 11:30. She had half an hour to recover her kitchen. Throwing her hair back in a sloppy ponytail and rolling up her sweatpants, she set to work.At exactly noon, Janie lifted Gran’s letter and took one last swipe of the counter with her dishrag. Though she herself was less than presentable, the kitchen looked fantastic, perhaps even cleaner than before the disaster. She grabbed a bottle of air freshener from beneath the sink and squirted a bit into the air. 

At the sound of the doorbell, Janie took a deep breath and forced a smile on her face, hurrying to the door with Gran’s note still in her hand. As she opened the door, however, her smile faded and her heart dropped.There was Gran, in her floral dress and thick sweater. But the arm she gripped for support was not the matronly teacher Janie expected. 

Towering over Gran stood a man. A very handsome man with light brown hair and remarkably blue eyes. His smile revealed perfect teeth and two deep dimples.Words failed Janie. 

Gran tilted her head to one side, studying Janie’s appearance. “Janie, I hope you are still expecting us. This is my new neighbor, Carl.”

Carl? Janie scanned the note in her hand, feeling her face burn red as she realized her mistake. Her grandmother’s frail script didn’t read, “Carla, teacher at Larson High School,” but “Carl, a teacher at Larson High School.” 

Janie looked up, horrified. Gran’s eyes twinkled in amusement. “May we come in?”

Common Household- Sewing

After reading through my co-bloggers posts, I’ve had a certain nostalgia come over me. I grew up in a home where both my parents worked, mom rushed from work to pick us up from daycare, raced to the grocery, then home to make dinner.

I don’t recall helping make meals, cookies or pies. The rolling pin saw the light of day during the holidays, which happened to be the only times I recall watching my mom cook. So things like the turkey baster and candy thermometers were passing curiosities.

Microwaves and VCRs were things that came to be during my childhood. The only thing I noticed was my parents’ excitement. And Top Gun on surround sound vibrating the walls. 😉 I believe that movie propelled my dad into purchasing the VCR. 

Our first computer was a Texas Instrument. I remember standing with my dad in the magazine section as he perused the game codes. We’d then go home and spend hours upon hours inputting data, hoping we didn’t make a mistake.

But the things I remember the most, things that may or may not be consider ‘common household’ items were things that were very common in our household.

One of my first memories is of my dad stepping on one of my mom’s dropped pins. These tiny, shiny sharp objects have been around for thousands of years in various forms.

A little trivia, according to Wikipedia (Yeah, I know how reliable it is but still, it’s fun) the term ‘pin money’ used back in the Middle Ages came from the fact that pins were expensive to purchase. A husband would give his wife money to by one. How thoughtful. 🙂

Mom lost a few pins throughout my childhood, and of course, Dad usually found them.

Scissors, an item that dates back to Mesopotamia, were another common item. One piece of advice I can give to all husbands if they wish to keep the peace in their households; DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT use your wife’s good scissors as tin snips or wire cutters.

Some of my fondest memories are of my mother staying up the night before Christmas finishing all the projects she was working on for us.

I’m sure she thinks I hated having homemade clothes when the rest of the kids had designer, and I’m sure there was a time that I did, but I will never forget the time and love spent over the cutting table, at the sewing machine, or sitting in her chair crocheting a scarf or knitting a sweater.

Writing prompt:

Flames blazed in the fireplace. The rocker creaked a staccato. Tonya’s needles tapped . . .

Common Household Items – Modern and Future

Confession time – I have a favorite appliance in my kitchen. I know you shouldn’t show favoritism, but it’s my Tassimo single-cup coffeemaker. I know it’s an extravagance, but I love coffee and I always hated throwing coffee away when I made too much. So now I make a single cup and I can even make lattes and specialty coffees if I have them on hand. Other than that, my kitchen is ordinary. We are not really high tech in other areas of the house either. If it works, why replace it? 

I do have dreams. When I began researching this article, those dreams expanded. Yes, I would like this television set and that beautiful modern lighting. If you watch HGTV, you see so many new and innovative additions to kitchens and bathrooms it’s difficult to keep up. But writers must stay up with the new gadgets if our writing is going to be modern for the next couple of years. 

For your convenience, I have inserted links in this article. Just click on the item to see the original article and/or photo.

Appliances & Gadgets – Among my favorites, advanced lighting, a self-cleaning, restocking refrigerator, a “green” glass, robot security and what I like to call the “super” bed. Just imagine a bed that does everything for you. But there are many more gadgets out there, designed to make our lives easier. However, some of them are costly and are not energy efficient right now, like the Kohler Numi toilet.
We already have music that follows us everywhere, electronic books, ipods, ipads, iphones, and laptops. These are constantly evolving to keep up with the ever-changing technology. Even our automobiles are evolving into highly technical machines with touchscreens that allow us to route our journey, raise and lower the heat and sound and even talk on the telephone. 
& Televisions – Our present-day television boasts high-density picture quality that is at times unsettling, if the screen is a large one. You almost feel you’re there. Anyone remember the old color TV’s? Those first ones to hit the market? We’ve come a long way. The screens of the future look a little different. There are holographic TVs in the works and the solid glass screens are already out there. You think you’re looking at a mirror or a glass panel until you touch the remote and turn it on. Cool.
These new gadgets will be powered by solar, wind, biodiesel and nuclear energy, according to several articles I found, especially one from National Geographic. But that’s another subject for another day.
There is a wealth of information out there to help you populate your futuristic novel with cool gadgets and appliances. If you have deep pockets, you can even invest in a few to add that touch of realism to your story. If your work in progress is set in the present, just be aware that your cutting-edge technology will be out of date by the time your book is published. 
Thank you for reading our posts this month on Common Household Items. I hope we have helped fuel your imaginations. Please join our blog or follow our facebook page to keep up with future posts on interesting writer-inspiring subjects. And take a few minutes to finish one of our story prompts. Enter the monthly contest to win a $10 Amazon gift card and be featured in our last post of the month. Hey, it’s free advertising. 
This week’s prompt: Lucy was awakened by a trilling alarm. Bimbo, her security robot, had detected something. She pushed a button in the headboard to activate the security channel on the TV. Her heart nearly stopped as the screen revealed the intruder…

The Radarange

Need to boil water? Melt butter, chocolate, or marshmallows? How about warm a snack? My second favorite kitchen appliance can do this and more, the microwave.
A microwave oven, often colloquially shortened to microwave, is a kitchen appliance that heats food by dielectric heating accomplished with radiation used to heat polarized molecules in food. Microwave ovens heat foods quickly and efficiently because excitation is fairly uniform in the outer 25–38 mm of a dense (high water content) food item; food is more evenly heated throughout (except in thick, dense objects) than generally occurs in other cooking techniques.
Dr. Percy Spencer invented the first microwave oven after World War II from radar technology developed during the war. Named the “Radarange”, it was first sold in 1947. Raytheon later licensed its patents for a home-use microwave oven that was first introduced by Tappan in 1955, but these units were still too large and expensive for general home use. The countertop microwave oven was first introduced in 1967 by the Amana Corporation, which had been acquired in 1965 by Raytheon.
From what I’ve read, how a microwave actually works is difficult to explain and scientific. My untrained mind helped me to decide instead to give you several facts I found interesting about the microwave…
(1)    The heating effects of high power microwave beams were discovered by accident when Dr. Percy Spencer’s candy bar [a Mr. Goodbar] he had in his pocket melted.
(2)   The first commercially available microwave oven was almost 6 feet high and weighed 750 pounds. In 1947, it cost $5000, [$52,042 in today’s dollars.]
(3)   Current estimates hold that over 90% of American households own a microwave oven.
(4)   Microwave ovens heat food without getting hot themselves.
(5)   Closed containers, such as eggs, can explode when heated in a microwave oven due to the increased pressure from steam.
My own microwave is used to warm up all sorts of food, cook frozen meals, and melt certain foods. I also might heat a cup of water for hot tea or coffee. My crock pot for slow cooking and my microwave for those busy days keep this writer writing…
This week’s writing prompt: Belinda’s hand trembled as she set the chipped mug of water into the microwave. The word on the faded cup mocked her. Peace. A concept long forgotten when…

Common Household Items – Beyond the Kitchen

1970’s – 1980’s 

There are other items in our households outside the kitchen that should be included in our inventory of common items. As I move into the 1970’s – 1980’s era, I’m in more familiar territory, because now I’m looking at my personal history. But I’d like to move beyond the harvest gold and avocado appliances of the era and take a glance at some of the other rooms in our houses. 
Some of our readers are intimately acquainted with the unique fashions of the eighties (oh, the big hair). One thing we needed most to achieve the big hair―hot curlers and curling irons. 
Okay, some of you probably still use both of those items. I have gotten away from using the curlers, but I still own a set. Wonder where I put those? And remember the “bubble-head” portable hairdryers of the sixties? These were thankfully replaced by handheld hairdryers and brushes. Yes, I’m certain some of you still use those old hairdryers. If you have any humorous or comical pictures of these, please feel free to send them to us on our facebook page @
As health-consciousness erupted on the American public, we added juicers and blenders to our kitchen roster of appliances. And who can forget the lovely workout clothes of the eighties? Spandex, lycra, warm-up suits, leg warmers and sweatbands on your wrists and head. Classic.

Confession: I kept several pairs of legwarmers, hoping they’d come back. I’m prepared, folks. 
Another common household item that made major improvements during this era was the television set. The cranky old buttons and dials disappeared, replaced by the remote control. No more jumping up to change the channel or raise/lower the volume. 
VCR’s burst on the scene, changing our lives and making it possible for us to watch movies in the comfort of our own home. Transistor radios, cassette tape recorders, Sony Walkmans and boomboxes added theme music to our lives. We could literally listen to our favorite music wherever we were (even in the shower) and much to the chagrin of some of our parents and neighbors.
Atari and Nintendo – two common names from the late eighties as the television game devices crept in and took over our children’s minds. I’ll never forget the Christmas Day my sons and their dad (who bought the game for them, of course) spent the entire day playing Mario Brothers. I still cringe when I hear that theme music. 

While this is not an extensive list of items, I hope I’ve spurred your memories and maybe even tickled your funny bones. Now I challenge you to choose one of our weekly prompts to write a short, short story (under 500 wds please) and enter our monthly contest. You can win a $10 Amazon gift card if your entry is our chosen winner. Not only that, but we’ll post your picture and a short bio with your winning entry as our blogpost on the final Tuesday of October. Happy Writing!

Today’s Prompt: Lindsey tugged her hot-pink legwarmers over burgundy tights, tucked a walkman in her belt and . . .