New Year 2012 Brings New Beginnings, 01/01/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #93)

As we each awaken this morning, a new year greets us–January 1st, 2012.  It is the start of the calendar year and the opportunity for a fresh start and new beginnings.

One thing new that you will notice right away is that I’ve redesigned my blog header/banner.  Since 2012 will be the Year of “The Hobbit” films–and what will surely be an even more amazing year for the exquisitely talented British Actor Richard Armitage–I incorporated Richard Armitage’s current Thorin Oakenshield portrait (from the recent Hobbit movie trailer) as well as portraits of him in several of his past roles.  These roles are (from left to right) John Thornton in North & South (2004), Sir Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood (2006 – 2009), Lucas North in Spooks (2008-2010), and John Porter in Chris Ryan’s Strike Back series 1 (2010).  These are but a small sampling of Mr. Armitage’s prolific character portrayals over the last twelve years or so.

And anyone who uses Photoshop will appreciate the image compositing and image sampling that I did to achieve the desired effect on my new blog header banner.  Whew!  Although a graphics trick of mine is to:  1)  mask, crop, and color correct photos in Photoshop (create a gif file for those images that you have masked out the background of an image so that you can lay it on top of another image’s background), 2) import these modified images into Powerpoint for layering and adding text, 3) then copy the layered images and paste everything back into a new file in Photoshop to create the final jpeg file.  For Photoshop geekettes like me who want to know even more.  The background images of Thorin in my new blog header banner are from the recent Hobbit movie trailer:  image # 12 (the left two thirds of the image that I sampled and extended to the left), and image #17 (the right hand third of the image where I sampled the door and fudged that a bit to create a consistent background.   Then I added the text and the other photos.  And after I was done, this is my new blog header banner.  Et voila!

And because I always say why make just one new banner when I can make two banners–Ha!–I also created a new signature/wallpaper for me to use as an additional graphic on the days that I am sharing one of my love story chapters with you.  Happily the elements in this signature were not as complicated to achieve as the blog header banner was.  The inkwell ( was easy.  The only tricky part was the rose that I masked out from a crush of roses (, saved this new image as a gif file, and then I superimposed the rose onto the black background–layering it in Powerpoint.  So, I hope that you also like this result:

As always, my grateful thanks to RANet ( for their wonderful news, pictures, and other media resources pertaining to Richard Armitage that I used to create parts of the banners above.  Ali is the superb Administrator of RANet–a real one woman extRAvanganza.  Ali, you’re the best!

Lest you think I am stalling about what 2012 holds for me that is new or a beginning, here are a few things on my “to do” list for 2012 (in no particular order):

* Select more clothes to be taken in so they fit me better because of my weight loss.  I like the classic styling of my clothes–they are a little on the prim and girly side with some flower print tea party dresses or feminine dressy business attire (I don’t do office casual, Ha!) for my work at the university.  So it makes sense for me to have them taken in rather than go through the hassle of buying new clothes.  I still have a ways to go on the weight loss that I would like to achieve–slow and steady and healthily.  But as I said in yesterday’s essay,  I plan to “sleep” the weight away.  Ha!  Mind you, I eat sensibly already.  It’s just the exercise part that I have to work on–finding something low impact to do in the Winter time due to my arthritis.  They closed my pool–I like swimming laps–so, I have to find a new pool.   And I should add that I am by no means a svelte girl after losing 70 pounds–nor will I ever be probably with more weight loss.  I was always an “apple”.  So my motto is, power to curvy woman kind!

* I think I mentioned yesterday that I have to get back to starting my dissertation research project.  Starting in January, I’m taking a Saturday class to  flesh out my dissertation research project proposal–basically what will become the first three chapters of my dissertation–and then hopefully conduct my research in the coming year about the recruitment and retention of women in STEM  (science, technology, engineering, and math).  I’ve worked for over twenty years helping with educational outreach programming in this area as well as conducting some pilot studies along the way.  So, wish me luck!

* That said, I owned up to my dissertation advisors that the past nine months or so I’ve been focusing on my creative writing–and now this blog.  Of course, they wanted met to stop that right away and only focus on the dissertation.   Take heart, I told them I’m a package deal–and the blog and my creative writing stays.  They are my bliss–next to my hubby, of course.  But, I promised to work into my schedule a reasonable portion of  academic task writing ( for my dissertation.  So, Thursdays through Saturdays for me the next six months, I will try to devote to my dissertation–and then the other days of the week I’ll be blogging and writing as usual.  Though, I’m sure I’ll be checking in on my blog and Facebook every day for the unofficial RA fan group I belong to and that I am the Admin on (RAFN)–though I’m hoping some of my gal pals there with help me out a bit.  It’s just that my posts on my dissertation work days will by necessity be “leaner” and shorter.  Ha!  All the while I will continue to work full time at the university and tend to my wonderful hubby.  I’m hoping to have my dissertation research project completed, and the dissertation paper/book written and approved such that I can graduate in 2014 with my Ph.D.  It will be odd to think of myself as Dr._________ (Gratiana Lovelace is my nom de plume).  We’ll see what happens after that.

* Back to my bliss–my creative writing.  As I have mentioned before, I have over 50 script stories now that I work on in rotation.  And everyone has been very kind and encouraging to me about them.  Several of you have been urging me to seek publication for my stories.  That is a lovely dream of mine and I welcome your suggestions about how to go about doing that.   I have shared my “shorter” stories with you here.  But I have several 100 plus pages and even 200 plus pages stories that are too long to serialize here.  And I would really like to find an outlet for them.  So if you’re a published author and can make some suggestions to me–including contacts in the publishing world–I would be ever so grateful.

* I would love to have some time to make a concerted push to purge some more items in our house.  I don’t know about you, but there is no such thing as a paperless society and the mountain of mail that comes in is staggering!  The advertisements alone could fill up a landfill.  But, between our recycling efforts and my hubby’s scrounging/finding activities, more items seem to come into our home than goes out.  Maybe I’ll have to suggest that for every new item–bicycles usually–he brings to our home, two items have to go out.  Ha!  Then, of course, I have to do my bit, too, by shredding old business files and sending them on their merry way.  Ha!

* I hope to look forward to meeting some of my Armitage World gal pals in real life in the coming year.  We have such fun chatting together–we’re a really giggly bunch when everyone gets going and the puns, buns, peaches, and grapes get thrown about.  Ha!  We would love to all go to NYC and The Hobbit premiere–if only to stand far back in the crush of people on the red carpet sidelines, not being able to see anything or anyone because we’re too short (I’m 5 ft 2.5 inches tall).  Although, with some people being quite tall themselves, we might just be able to catch a glimpse of the top of a certain gentleman’s head (  Ha!  And since I’m dreadfully apprehensive about flying, I would take the train–my hubby has promised to help me figure out the Amtrak schedules.  Ha!  So, I have to save my pennies for that one.  And some of us don’t live too far apart from each other.  So even if we don’t get to go to NYC, we might be able to meet up and have a chat over a cuppa, as a gal pal of mine refers to it.

And here are some “general” New Year’s Resolutions.  For 2012, I resolve to (please suggest others):
(image, right, found at

*Forget weight loss fads and focus on being healthy at any weight;
* Plan to quit trying to quit something and instead, plan to start something;
* Recognize that “I” am a wonderful person.  Snap!
* Recognize  in someone else that they are a wonderful person.  John Standring, here I come; (of course, I’m already taken–with my John Standring hubby);
*  Seek to do something that I have never done before, or not lately–you choose;
* “Sing the body electric”–batteries not required, just toot your own horn;

Here’s hoping you have a great  New Year’s Day, a great week, a great month, and a great year in 2012!   New Year’s Cheers!   Grati  ;->

About Gratiana Lovelace

Gratiana Lovelace is my nom de plume for my creative writing and blogging. I write romantic stories in different sub genres. The stories just tumble out of me. My resurgence in creative writing occurred when I viewed the BBC miniseries of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North & South in February 2010. The exquisitely talented British actor portraying the male lead John Thornton in North & South--Richard Crispin Armitage--became my unofficial muse. I have written over 50 script stories about love--some are fan fiction, but most are original stories--that I am just beginning to share with others on private writer sites, and here on my blog. And as you know, my blog here is also relatively new--since August 2011. But, I'm having fun and I hope you enjoy reading my blog essays and my stories. Cheers! Grati ;-> upd 12/18/11
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24 Responses to New Year 2012 Brings New Beginnings, 01/01/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #93)

  1. bccmee says:

    Wow, I’m loving your new banner!


  2. Kitty says:

    Whew! When do you rest? You are the educated bomb, Grati! I wish you to have all you need for your dissertation. Embrace your beautiful self! Enjoy health & the happiness that comes by just being you.


    • Hi Kitty,
      Giggles! I know. I was up way past my “bed time” last night. Ha! Thanks for your kind words about my hoping to work on my dissertation in earnest this next year. I feel that if I talk about it enough, everyone will know it is on my agenda and not let me slack off about it. Ha!
      Wishing you health and happiness in 2012, too!
      Happy New Year’s Cheers! Grati ;->


  3. Jonia says:

    Happy New Year :) Wonderful Blog :)
    Wishing you a year of health,
    wealth, happiness, luck, warmth…
    And loads of love of your dear ones!
    Hope the New Year
    showers you with…
    All that is beautiful!
    Happy New Year!


  4. Christianne Bailey says:

    Your new Banner is brilliant! Thanks for the explanation of how you created it as well – I mostly do illustrations in Adobe Illustrator and am still trying to get my head around Photoshop. I agree with Kitty though, do you ever get any rest? I know I have ME/CFS and that my energy levels are quite random at best, but even before I contracted that I would have struggled with your schedule! Give us a shout if you need any help with RAFN – I love that group & am sure I can fit in some small task to help out.

    I like your NYs resolutions – very positive! I’m with you on the weight loss one too. I’m only a stone or so overweight but as diabetes runs in our family (and I’m glucose intolerant) I’ve been told to loose that little extra flab. Diets are not the answer, I think you need to change the way you think about food in general and your own attitudes towards food. In other words, a sensible diet and a bit of regular exercise. I’ve got the sensible diet pegged (we get a weekly vegetable box so that forces you to cook healthy meals anyway) but the exercise is somewhat tricky with the ME/CFS. My NY resolution is to get that sorted, with a little help from a physiotherapist and a ‘pacing programme’. Hope you find a new pool soon. Swimming is really good for your health, as long as the pool is clean.

    Best of luck with your dissertation too. Hard work methinks but if anyone can do it, it’s you! ‘Dr Gratiana Lovelace’ sounds wonderful. I’d adopt it as your real name if I were you :-)


    • Hi Christianne,
      Thank you so much for your kind words about my new banner. If there were one thing I would wish for to aid in my graphics work it would be a drawing tablet with a pen for when I’m trying to “cut out” images from a graphic when the background and foreground are too similar in color to make the wand tool useful. My thumbs are not as accurate with the lasso tool. Ha!

      Sometimes, I am quite fatigued as well due to my own health issues. I’m sorry to hear about your health issues and I’m sending healing thoughts your way. I just plug along–getting more sleep some days than others. But, my story writing really energizes me and sometimes I just can’t stop writing because the ideas are flowing. Ha!

      I’m a fruits and vegetables girl, and I don’t eat much meat out of necessity–since they took out my gall bladder in 1999. You see, my digestive system has been “out of whack” since then. I really can’t eat beef or pork much at all since they are so dense. Though I do enjoy them on occassion. Chicken and fish are my best options–and they tend to be the healthier ones. But I don’t deny myself treats–only 25 calories for each candy kiss. Yumm!

      Thanks also for your nice note about my dissertation and my appelation. I’m rather keen on it as well.

      Hoping you have a wonderful 2012! New Year’s Cheers! Grati ;->

      P.S. I welcome your offer to help with RAFN. I put up a survey poll Friday asking if people would like to help be discussion leader on the different theme days that I’ll have to locate again and pop it to the top of the window. People can share the more popular RA character theme days of Sir Guy for Guy Day Friday (we imitate RAC in using that label), and John Porter for Strike Back Saturday–not to mention John Thornton for John Day Monday and Lucas North for Lucas/Kruger Tuesday. And I’m sure as more footage of Thorin is shared, our Thorin Thursdays will also have to be shared. Ha!


  5. Fabi says:

    Happy New Year’s Morning, Grati!
    Good heavens, your new banner and signature are two things of beauty! You talented girl! Well, let’s say that Richard helped a little, LOL.
    I’m glad for your decision about the PhD graduation, it’s very reasonable. Of course, I’m extra glad that it don’t stop you of mantaining the blog and sharing your heart-warming tales with us, your eager readers. Just one question: does your day have more than 24 hours? :)
    My great resolutions for 2012 are: improve my English and organize the closet!


    • Happy New Year’s Morning to you, too Fabi!
      Thank you so much for your kind praise about my new blog banner. And most definitely, Richard Armitage is the reason it is beautiful! Sighhhhh!

      Creative writing is my bliss and joy. I just also have to get back into the groove of academic/scholarly writing. But, I hope to infuse my scholarly writing with an accessibility to readers of more disciplines than just my own, that is sometimes lacking–I feel–when terminology is thrown about. Yes, it is shorter to use the word epistemology–instead of saying what we know and how we know it. But, why make people look words up in a dictionary all the time? Ha!

      I do so wish there were more than 24 hours in a day. It would help tremendously. Or if I could clone myself to have a Gratiana domestic diva to tend to my closet and other household details would be wonderful. As it is, my hubby is a wonderful partner in that regard. He knows the way to my heart–loading the dishwasher. Ha! And he does it so well these days that I don’t even have to go back and wash things by hand too often anymore. Though he still hasn’t quite grasped the concept that our dishwasher doesn’t have a scrubber tool in it for the casserole dishes. Ha!

      By the way, I think your English is excellent! I hope that through my many international friends such as you that I will pick up a bit of each of your languages, too–in addition to my rusty French.
      New Year’s Cheers! Grati ;->


  6. Meryl says:

    Happy 2012, hope it’s a good year for you. The new banner is great, I am rubbish at computer stuff but love to see other people do their thing!
    Am sure the gorgeous Mr A will continue to inspire you~guess that’s a given!~ we miss having him here in England but must learn to share him as he has most surely “gone global”!
    Having lined up for hours to get to see him at the 2010 BAFTA’S with some lovely, and equally bonkers friends, I can tell you that it’s so worth doing!!!
    I am resolved to getting myself organised~yes I’ve said that before!~ and to stop fretting about things I just can’t fix~we’ll see how it goes!
    with my very best wishes Meryl


    • Hi Meryl,
      Thanks for visiting and commenting! I also appreciate your kind remarks about my new blog banner. I just hope I don’t get too mesmirized by gazing at the candle lit Thorin portrait and forget what I’m doing. Sighhhh!

      And then there is always Bccmee’s wonderful music video of the extended Misty Mountain song (the link is in my Hobbit media resources links in the right hand sidebar) that she set beautiful imagery to. RA’s amazingly timberous velvety baritone voice–singing or speaking–just sends me into bliss. Okay, I’ll stop gushing now. Ha!

      Ooh! You went to the 2010 BAFTA’s! Richard Armitage looked so handsome in his tux from the pictures that I’ve seen. *Swoon* *Thud* I fear that I might have problems staying “vertical” in his presence–even if I’m way back in the crowd 200 feet away from him since I would be too shy to get any closer. Ha! So I would have to lean on my gal pals to maintain my dignity. Of course if we all swoon, then it’s “curtains” and we all fall down. Ha!

      Wishing you success on your 2012 to do list.

      New Year’s Cheers! Grati ;->


  7. alfie says:

    Looooovely banners/headers. Love them both. Hoping you had a gReAt new years eve – and that all your resulutions will come true.

    *SIGH* – Think NYC and the Hobbit premiere is to far away from me :-( – but it would be FAB *another SIGH*

    Happy new year
    RA hugs


    • Hi Alfie,
      Thanks for your kind note about my banner and your well wishes.

      I know that it is such a long wait until the December 14, 2012 Hobbit premiere. According to the countdown link Icreated and put in the Hobbit resources in the side bar:

      347 days
      8346 hours
      500819 minutes
      300491645x seconds

      Sighhhhh! New Year’s Cheers! Grati ;->


  8. Love the new banner! I certainly won’t object to looking at those pictures every time I open your blog. :) Your post is inspiring, which is most fitting on today of all days. First of all, congratulations on the weight loss. I am determined to see the needle go down this year, so maybe this time next year I can join you and post my own success story! As for all the other achievements you listed, I’m so happy for you! I’d say in 2012 you probably can take it easy on yourself and just coast through it – ha!
    Have a wonderful year, and I look forward to reading your blog as we get through almost twelve months of waiting for THE movie premiere in December!!!


    • Hi Joan,
      Thanks for your lovely note about my new banner and your well wishes!

      I don’t know if I’m a girl who can coast. Though, I would like to be now and then. Ha! But, I’m afraid that I’m always seeing something that needs to be done, or feeling that there is something that I want to do. But I don’t beat myself up if I don’t get to the dusting and vacuuming–especially since that’s my hubby’s job. Ha! Life is never dull–to me, anyway. Ha!

      I know that I am nauseatingly cheerful, but that’s just me. *I write with an impish grin on my face.* It’s not that my life is perfect and things have always gone smoothly. It’s just that I find that I can “control” my response to events and people–and therefore how they impact me. I let no one rain on my parade and I always try to see the bright side of things. And sometimes, if I have to “force” myself to have a cheerful attitude about something or someone, I find that my spirits soon resume their soaring by thinking positively. Of course, looking at a lovely smiling picture of Richard Armitage always achieves that for me as well. From Mr. Armitage’s interviews and messages, he seems like such a delightful gentleman and a gentle man–my highest recommendation for anyone–on top of his exquisite talent as an actor, storyteller, and filmmaker. Who wouldn’t smile right back at him?

      You also have a wonderful 2012. I look forward to hearing more about your book coming out. Be sure to check back in and let us know where we can find it to read it.

      New Year’s Cheers! Grati ;->


  9. Ania says:

    Happy New Year!
    I wish you that all your plans come true. Frankly I admire you, your decision to take the dissertation research project. Oh, your new banner is really beautiful. :-)
    My resolutions for 2012 to improve my English, and stop worry about the things which I can not influence.


    • Hi Ania,
      Thanks for your thoughtful note about my banner and your kind wishes. We’ll see how it goes with my dissertation research project. Whew!

      Good luck with your own New Year’s resolutions. I wholeheartedly agree with you about not worrying about that which we can not change.

      New Year’s Cheers! Grati ;->


  10. Musa/Fabo says:

    Happy New Year!
    Beautiful Banner! Love also the pic of the back of his head you posted- even the back of his head is gorgeous – how does he do it!
    Would be great to all meet up in NYC for The Hobbit premiere.


    • Hi Musa/Fabo,
      Thanks for your kind note about my banner. I am thrilled that so many people are so favorably disposed toward it.

      Yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly! Richard Armitage is “more handsome and charming than any man as a right to be”, I always say–from every angle, 360 degrees, coming or going, etc. And whether it is Mr. Armitage’s visceral appeal as a passionate man with a fierceness and intensity of his gaze with his sapphire blue eyes that would melt the polar ice caps, or his blindingly bright and joyous smile, or if it is the refined elegance of him in a suit or tux that appeals to us so, he is definitely the epitome of masculinity. Sighhhhh!

      But I also think that we would all agree that were Richard Armitage “merely” a beautiful man–and there are dozens of actors who are also quite studly–we probably wouldn’t take much notice of him after the initial rush. Because it is Richard Armitage’s gentlemanliness, kindness, compassion, and talent that shine through–especially when he is being himself in interviews–and the reason why we have come to regard him so highly. Mr. Armitage’s searing, fearless, and transformative character portrayals touch our minds and hearts like few actors of his generation can. Richard Armitage possesses a gifted talent for storytelling–transporting we his audience into other times and places as we experience the story that he is sharing with us. Those of us who are privileged to have experienced his other character portrayals to date can certainly predict that Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit will help him become better known upon the world stage–and hopefully see him recognized as one of the esteemed actors of his generation–thereby allowing others to enjoy his story telling, as well as providing expanded and enhanced future artistic opportunities for him. And I think I am quite safe in stating that Richard Armitage’s current fans are quite thrilled for him.

      And oh yeah. If I can swing it, I am definitely meeting up with my Armitage World gal pals in December 2012 for The Hobbit premiere in NYC. I may not get a chance to glimpse Richard Armitage–because I will be standing way at the back of the crowd out of shyness–but I will know that he is there and smile at his accomplishment.

      New Year’s Cheers! Grati ;->


  11. Kate Patrick says:

    You are quite the busy woman! I’m so proud of you determining to complete the work for your Ph.D. That is a HUGE accomplishment. You sound like you have a good plan for wriitng academically and creatively. You’ll do it. As for clearing out the house, I’ll be with you in spirit. My biggest goal in that area is to clear out a small room downstairs that has become a graveyard for “What the heck do we do with this?!” items. I want to turn it into a home office for my writing. Maybe my beloved family will be able to ignore a closed door. We shall see. I am thrilled that you are thinking about publishing your work. It is good. I began submitting manuscripts, not for any financial gain, but for a personal sense of accomplishment. It was on my “Bucket List” now that I’ve reached the “5-0” milestone. I pursued it and someone said they wanted it, so I am oh so happy. It may be one of their “FREE” reads, but I don’t even care. It was being a published author that was my goal. I can say that now. I will be happy to share with you what I’ve learned this past year. My romance stories may be a lot spicier than what you would write ( the pages almost burn up before your eyes! Gives a whole new meaning to scorcher!), but the companies have all levels of “spiciness” and you just choose the one that best suits your story. By the way, I’m a curvy girl, too. I’m not an apple. More of a watermelon on a stick!! Have a wonderful year!


    • Hi Kate,
      Thanks for your nice note and your words of encouragement.

      I’m past my doctoral coursework and “comps”–three very long research papers totaling over 120 pages–but I still have the dissertation to complete. So I very much understand Richard Armitage’s statement in his Holiday Message about miles yet to go: “I think next year will be like that last turn of the corner when you think you have reached the summit, only to find you are miles from the top and the climb is even steeper …” But I like having challenging goals.

      Congrats on fulfilling one of your dreams–that of being a published author. And I am collecting people’s suggestions on publishing outlets and resources. So I welcome you sharing your experiences with me. And as to your described “scorching” quotient of your love story writing, now you have me intrigued. I know that I am a bit tamer than others in my sensuously describing love scenes. But love is about passion and heat and lust and tenderness and joy and fulfillment, etc.–which I also hope is conveyed in my writing. Ha!

      [Facetious and sauciness Alert! Ha!] And it just amusingly occurrs to me that we women tend to refer to our bodies’ shapes like luscious fruits–apples, peaches, pears, watermelons, and tomatoes (it is a fruit, believe it or not), etc. So I impishly wonder if that means that men’s bodies’ shapes might be described as vegetables? The imagery abounds with euphemisms–carrots, brussel sprouts, corn on the cob, mushrooms, and broccoli stalks, etc. I will leave you to your imaginations. Ha! *Grati writes primly with a blushing smile curling up at her lips.*

      New Year’s Cheers! Grati ;->


  12. servetus says:

    I was together with a “bicycle repairman” for over a decade and watching the parts accumulate was frustrating. Good luck with that part of the goals!


  13. Hi Serv,
    I think I’ve resigned myself to my hubby’s scrounging avocation. Ha! Most of the time, he’s quite practical–such as the $20 garage sale laptop that he uses. Snap! Our solution was to make our unfinished basement his “man cave”. I only go down there in tornadoes–and even then, he has to clear a path for me. Happily they don’t occur too often. Ha! Our compromise is that what I don’t have to look at daily doesn’t bother me.
    Cheers! Grati.


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