"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Baby Love

The two kids had their turn, now we get to Baby.


Baby had a birthday. When we asked her what she wanted for her birthday, her only answer was "cake." While I'm all for giving her mounds and mounds of cake, I thought she ought to have something that won't rot her teeth. Then she saw a commercial for those Lalaloopsy dolls…and became mildly obsessed. Any time she got to write a letter to Santa or meet with him, she was begging for those things. I think they're weird but hey, my baby gets what she wants. And now that she has one, she even more addicted. She asked me to make an outfit for her just like her doll's. I can't really sew that well so that's not going to happen. I'm hoping the additional outfits that Santa brought will satiate her need for more, more, MORE!

Maybe she's more like me than she seems.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

With only one boy child in the house, I am sometimes left confused as just what to do with him. He will join us for a tea party, but only of his Kung Zhu hamster can come, too. Usually, I throw some Legos at him while I fix the girls' hair. When I get the girls hair stuff or jewelry, I can't help but feel that I'm leaving him out, so I tend to give him the larger dessert or He didn't want to take a dance class but I still wanted him to be active, so I put in him soccer over the summer. Once soccer ended, I was stuck. Then, I found something else he would enjoy: Karate.


This is Boy, earning his white belt. After his first class, the instructor thought he was ready to move to a more advanced class, because he already seemed to know the stances and moves. She asked me where he took karate before. I just smiled like a proud momma and said this was his first lesson. There was no need explain that his skills most likely came from watching hours of Power Rangers.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Spirit of Christ(mas)



May your Christmas be filled with joy and happiness as we celebrate the arrival of our Savior here on earth.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Poor Man's Almond Roca

I've been making candy all week. My mom's recipe for caramels. My dad's recipe for fudge. Then my friend Amanda posted about toffee bars. Mmmmm…toffee bars. My mom used to make almond roca that was to die for but I've never attempted it and didn't have her recipe. So I took a look at Amanda's recipe link, made some of my own changes, and came up with this:

Faux Roca
1 pkg graham crackers
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups almonds, ground up in your food processor

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Use aluminum foil to line a 9x13 pan, then spray with cooking spray. 
  • Use graham crackers to line the pan as close to the edges as you can get. You might need to break the crackers into smaller or skinnier pieces.
  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add in brown sugar and stir. 
  • Turn up the heat to medium high and bring the sugar to a nice frothy boil while you keep stirring. This should take about 5 minutes.
  • Pour sugar mixture over crackers. Use a spatula to spread it out to cover all the crackers.
  • Place pan oven for five minutes or until the sugar mixture is bubbling. (Took mine about 7 minutes.)
  • Once it's out of the oven, evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and let them melt. 
  • When melted, spread chocolate so it covers everything, making sure to keep it even.
  • Before the chocolate cools, sprinkle nuts over the top until all chocolate is covered. Press them down into the chocolate. You may have nuts leftover and that's fine.
  • Let cool completely.
  • Break into pieces and enjoy!

The crunch from the crackers mixed with the toffee makes for a very similar roca experience and doesn't require a candy thermometer. And you can't go wrong with something smothered in chocolate and nuts.

What are your favorite Christmas treats?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Boo-tiful

My eldest, da Boo, is quite an interesting girl. When relatives ask what she likes, I say she has strange tastes but she's pretty easy to please. She wears sparkly shirts while hunting for bugs, invites Lego robot creations to her tea parties, and will read anything she gets her hands on (she even read my Twilight "graphic novel").

One thing she's asked Santa for this year is an amulet that will let her turn into an animal. In preparation for her new abilities, she's been practicing.


Here, she sports a tail. It's really the faux fur trim that unzips from her coat hood. But to her, it's an encounter with the wild and magical, as she anticipates roaming the hills as a wolf. Who else would have thought of that? Well, maybe me when I was her age. Sad to admit it but my dorkiness took root in my early years.

Even with all her quirks, she's still pretty wonderful. In fact, her quirks and wild imagination make me love her all the more! And really, how could I not?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

When Gingerbread is Better Than Horoscopes

I like traditions, especially holiday ones. Some times I get a little too focused on keeping them, that I kinda sorta turn into the Traditions Dictator. It's one of the things I'm working on.


Every year, we decorate a gingerbread house. Well, not exactly. Last year, we made a train, or rather, they fought over which sections of the train they got to smear with tasteless frosting and cheap candy. It fell apart before the kids could eat all the candy off it when they thought I wasn't looking. 
This year, I found a gingerbread village, with five little houses. I wouldn't have to split my time between defending property lines and dividing the scant candy offerings. This might actually be a fun family moment instead of kids throwing tantrums and parents' heads exploding.


So we opened the bags of candy, kneaded the bags of prepared frosting, and sat down to build memories. Snowman even joined us. And I saw each of my children's personalities manifested in sugar and stale cookies.



On the far right, we have da Boo's creation. Choosing to not follow the suggestions on the box, she did her own thing, borrowing heavily from what I was doing. And just when she thought she might be finished, she dumped a whole lot more sprinkles on the roof. 

The A-frame belonged to the Boy. He got right to work with the icing, barely letting his sisters get time with the bag. And his visions were grand! Big, big plans he had! Sure, he started out copying me but then decided he had better ideas. Alas, his schemes were more complicated than royal icing and gumdrops could provide. Tears were shed but in the end, he was satisfied with his work. 

Then we get to Baby's house on the far left. The Man attempts to remain an observer but she takes over and gets him to do all the work for her, except when it comes to candy placement. And should she decide that mound of sprinkles doesn't quite work in that location, she moves it. To her mouth. In fact, the following morning, I have the nerve to take a shower, thus leaving my toddler unsupervised for fifteen minutes. And that was all the time she needed to finish off the candy she missed the night before, along with most of the frosting. By the time I got back downstairs, she was the one that needed a shower.


The last two houses belong to me and the Snowman. Can you guess which one is whose? The one on the left is called a "red roof inn" and not the type that normal people know as hotels. These red roofs are all over Philmont Scout Ranch. As a bathroom. If you look inside -- and I don't recommend that you do -- you can see the, uh…seats.

And then I got a little too into decorating my house. Maybe it's because I haven't been able to decorate very many cakes lately.



What is your favorite Christmas tradition? 
(The one you'd gotten a bit fanatical about? Come on, people! Help me not feel like such a freak…)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When Saying Nothing Means "Yes"

Victory is mine. Mine! All MINE!

How, you ask?

Because of the newest member of our family.


This is Matilda. She was our rent-to-own dog. And now? She's mine.

I've had a dog for nearly my entire life, along with a hamster, an assortment of birds, and even a lizard. The Man has never had a pet of any kind. Not even a goldfish. So the thought of having a dog is not a pleasant one for him. But I wanted one. The kids wanted one. Then one of my friends had to find a new home for her dog and it seemed the perfect opportunity.


We'd keep the dog for two weeks, long enough for the novelty to wear off and the real responsibility to set in. The kids and I would share the task of taking her outside for walks (we don't have a fenced backyard) a few times a day, always cleaning up after her. Since she's an indoor dog, she'd need a bath once a week. Her food dish and water bowl would need to be filled daily. It was a lot of duties. There was also the condition that if the dog wasn't what we could handle,  she would be sent back, even we only had her a few days.


After the first week, when everything went well and the kids were completely enamored, I started pleading our case to the Man. Matilda is a mini Schnauzer and she doesn't shed. She's pretty good at letting us know if she needs to go outside. When we're not home, she stays in her kennel. At night, she goes to bed shortly after the kids and sleeps in the Boy's room (the Man rarely needs to interact with her). She doesn't chew on things. She doesn't drool or beg. All she asks is that we give her plenty of affection (and that whenever I sit down, she gets first dibs on my lap). Plus, all of her gear and supplies were free. She is a really good dog.

The Man said nothing. As Thanksgiving - and the end of the two weeks - approached, he started walking away whenever the topic of the dog came up. Since he wasn't saying no, I took that as a yes. Matilda now wears a new collar with a new tag, featuring my information as her owner. The kids are very good about taking care of her and she is constantly within a three-foot radius of me (except when the Man gets there first).

Sometimes, it's just better to ask forgiveness instead of permission.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Once There Was A Snowman...

So, I should probably blog...or something…

We've had a few changes around the G. household, in that we've added two new members. (And no, I AM NOT PREGNANT! Stopping asking! Geesh…rude.) Shall we meet the first one?

This is the Snowman…


…with his adorable girlfriend (who shall be known as Snowgirl). In all fairness, he was fighting off bronchitis when he fell asleep during a movie. And snored. Really loud. So we just had to take a picture. And post it on Facebook.

The Snowman is my nephew. He moved out here to Utah to live with us while working and saving before he goes on his mission (not LDS? Go here.) next summer. So why do I call him the Snowman, other than his utter lack of skin pigment? Because he works at a local ski resort and will freeze his skinny bum off. (And just between you and me? Another reason he's here is so I can fatten him up because that boy has no body fat. Poor thing lacks an insulating layer.)

Per his mother's instructions, Snowman has one night a week when he makes dinner. It's rather nice…I might have to let more people move in just so I can give them a night to cook, too. Among his other talents are his ability to be so quiet we forget he's here, communicating with the outside world purely by text, speed-reading all my books, and giving Baby someone to blame whenever anything goes wrong.

Any words of advice for the Snowman?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Stardust

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give away too much. You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
I didn't even know that Stardust was a book before it was a movie! How pathetic is that? Also, I seem to be on a Neil Gaiman kick. Currently, there are three of his books on the top of my To Be Read pile. And I really loved this movie (and Robert Deniro's character).

Tristan Thorn isn't exactly a stud with the ladies, so when the beautiful Victoria promises her hand in marriage if he will find her a fallen star, the poor shop boy sets off on a journey that will take him across the Wall and into the mythical land of Faerie, where feuding royalty and greedy witches complicate Tristan's quest.

Here's the Teaser:
"He looked back and fancied that he could see the lights of Wall behind him, wavering and glimmering as if in a heat-haze, but still inviting.And he knew that if he turned around and went back, no one would think any less of him for it--not his father, nor his mother; and even Victoria Forester would likely as not merely smile at him the next time she saw him, call him "shop-boy," and add that stars, once fallen often proved difficult in finding." 
- pg. 72, Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview with James Hutchings and a Giveaway!

Since I'm currently writing away like a madwoman (see my flagging word count??? ARRGGGG!!!), I've been talking to different authors and experiences writers, picking their brains about the writing process. My latest victim subject is James Hutchings, author of The New Death and others.

Me: What does your favorite writing spot look like? Completely bare desk or one cluttered with inspiration objects? Comfy couch with your laptop? On a beach with only a bottle of sunscreen and your notepad?

J.H.: I'm pretty indifferent to my surroundings when I write. I carry a notebook around with me when I leave the house, but I do most of my writing on the computer using Notepad.


Me: Are you one of the lucky few who focuses on writing as your full-time job or do you have a mild-mannered alter-ego and a day job?
J.H.: I make some extra money from acting, using the stage name 'Brad Pitt'.

Me: I once pulled an interesting storyline from an encounter in a fast food 
drive-thru. Where's the oddest place or moment where inspiration hit you?

J.H.: A while ago I found three injured birds in the space of a few weeks. I took all of them to the local vet. As I was carrying one of them, I thought that the woman at reception might wonder where I was finding all these injured birds, and that was the inspiration for my story 'Lost, Feral or Stray'.

Me: With a serious case of writer's block, I've been baking cookies all 
evening and I think I finally have an idea that will work out. What do you do to overcome a blank page?

J.H.: I usually have several things that I'm working on at the same time. This helps with running out of ideas, because I can leave what I'm working on and do something else instead. The danger with this is that starting something can be more fun than finishing it, and so you run the risk of having lots of half-written pieces that you never finish.

I also make a point of writing every day, even when I don't feel like it. This helps get through temporary slumps. I think if you wait for inspiration to strike it never will. Often I start with the attitude that "I'm really tired and I can't think of anything. I'll just write a token amount so I can say I did something today," and actually end up having a good idea and getting a lot done.


Me: After reading The New Death and others with all the different stories and poems, I certainly have my favorites. Which one(s) are your favorite?

J.H.: I like 'The God of the Poor'. I also like one particular part from 'Under the Pyramids':

Down in the dark, down in the dark
down through the rock and slime
away from light and human sight
and sanity and time.

Me: Have you begun your next project? Can you give us any hints?



J.H.: I'm working on a verse version of 'A Princess of Mars'. This is a science fiction adventure story, now in the public domain, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who's more famous for Tarzan. Disney is also doing a movie of it, called 'John Carter', but that's not why I chose it. I generally work on several things at the same time, so I'm also in the middle of a few short stories and poems. I've been encouraged to write a novel set in the fantasy city of Telelee, which is the setting of a few of the stories in 'The New Death and others'. I have a lot of background for this world, because I blog every day and most of it is setting detail. I also have a half-finished novel called 'All-American Detectives', which is a combination of a detective story and a story about superheroes, which I'll probably come back to in the future.

Me: Finally, what advice do you have for new writers? Did anyone ever give you completely awesome (or spectacularly awful) advice? 



J.H.: Nowdays anyone can self-publish. If you can make a Word document, you can have an ebook on Smashwords or Amazon. However that means that if your work is no good, no one's going to stop you. I'd recommend that people get onto Critique Circle and/or Scribophile, put their work up, and listen to what people tell you. Don't 'defend' your work against people's 'attacks'. They aren't attacks, they're helping you. I've found that the people who defend their work have a strong tendency to have the worst writing, I suppose because they're not making the changes they need to make.

My next point doesn't matter if you're going to self-publish, but it is important if you want to be published by a regular publisher, or if you want to submit stories to magazines. Most places won't publish work that's already been published. And most places count putting a story on the internet as publishing it. In my opinion that's silly, but that's what they do. Scribophile and Critique Circle are exceptions, because google doesn't index them and you can't see any stories without logging on. However there are writing group websites out there where, if you put a story on the site, that counts as the story being published. That seems like a really terrible way to set things up, but they're out there.

I'd also say that getting a book out isn't the final step. It's just the start of the work of self-promotion. This is true even if you're not  self-publishing: I'm told that authors are expected to pretty much arrange their own book signings and so on (if you just want to have a book out to show family and friends then this doesn't matter, of course).

There are a lot of sharks out there, who make their money from authors and not from readers. They will make all sorts of promises about how they're going to promote you and help you, but these are lies. Authors do not pay publishers, ever, and if they're asking you to pay then it's a scam. Of course if you're self-publishing you might end up paying someone to design a cover for you, or you might pay for internet advertising, but those are different things. You might also pay a printer to print your books if you want to get physical books rather than ebooks - but in this age of the kindle and print-on-demand I don't know why you'd want to. Preditors and Editors is a good website to look at, and you can get good advice at the forums of Critique Circle.

Finally, I'd suggest learning to touch-type if you can't already. You're going to be doing a lot of typing, and every hour you spend getting faster at typing will save you ten in the long run.

Me: Also, if you have a preferred playlist, I'd love to include a few of the songs and artists. 



J.H.: My favourite bands are probably The Smiths and The Cure. Of bands that are roughly around now I like The Dresden Dolls and The Killers.
________________


Thanks to James Hutchings for the excellent advice and tips! Now for the fun part: enter to win a free copy of The New Death and others!


This book is available through Smashwords, so you won't be receiving a printed book, but access to an ebook. These can be read on your Kindle, Nook, or on your computer. 

To enter, leave a comment about your preferred writing space (or if you don't write, then your favorite reading spot).

For additional entries:

  • Follow DuckDuckCow.
  • Post about this contest on Facebook.
  • Post about this interview and contest on your blog, including a link back here.

Please leave me one comment per entry. Contest closes at Sunday, Dec. 4th at midnight MDT.



Good luck!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wait…When Was Halloween?

Ummm…so…I kinda sorta didn't remember to not forget about posting Halloween pictures on this here blog thingy.

Sorry.

Just pretend that it's a month ago, okay?

Boo wanted to be a witch. She was sorely disappointed that most of the witch costumes had short skirts (yeah, that makes two of us!) because it gets cold here and most costumes are designed to fit a parka underneath. We finally found one she liked and that I was willing to pay for:


And just because I'm awesome (not because I was feeling guilty over not making her a costume from scratch…), I made her broom. I started with a dowel, painted it black, then used packages of black feathers glued together in little clusters to fill in the rest.

Then, because Boo was a witch, Baby decided/was told she would be a black cat. Hey, at least this one was homemade. For Boo when she was two. And Baby was way better about wearing the ears.


The Boy was still deciding between costumes two days before Halloween, when I actually started putting his together. I was so excited about making him a Lego that I didn't care about the effort involved. And boy howdy, did it take a lot of effort…


Here are the instructions if you're thinking of trying this next year. And read the comments after the instructions! There are some helpful hints in there.

As for me…well, I once again got a little obsessed with an idea. I saw it online and just HAD to make one. Of course, it's designed for a child so I had to adapt the materials.


And I thought being a jellyfish was a pretty original idea! There were two others at the kids' school. Also? Because I am a mega dork, whenever anyone wasn't sure what I was, I would sway slowly from side to side to let the tentacles move, to see if they could figure it out from that.

As for the Man, well…he was a stick in the mud. Or a nudist on strike. Whichever.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful for Tuesdays

Sorry, no Teaser Tuesday this week…I'm not reading books right now as I frantically try to write one. Instead, I'm going to share the results of our annual tradition for the FHE the week of Thanksgiving: Alphabet Blessings.

As a family, we go through the alphabet, one person at a time, and say something that we are grateful for. We start with the oldest and end with the youngest. (And the youngest usually needs some help…) I love it because although some things are the same from year to year, there's always new blessings that show how the kids are growing. This year it was slightly different in that my nephew was here to participate.

Apple pie (mmmm…)
Boo and books
Chocolate (mmmm…again)
Dogs
Eggs (as in the ones that made the birds angry)
Flowers
G. family (they're all pretty awesome)
House
Intelligence
Jump roping
Karate (the Boy just started taking lessons and is mildly obsessed)
Lollipops (Baby didn't need any help picking this one)
Mom (awww, shucks…)
Nachos
Ostriches
Playing
Quentin
Ruby and Max (I hate that show…)
Son
Tilly (our rent-to-own dog; she'll be getting her own post soon enough)
Underwear
Villains (when I asked Boo why she picked this, she said it was because bad guys make the story more interesting)
Water to drink right after karate (see? obsessed!)
Xylophones (because they make music)
You
Zumba!

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Is It Time To Panic Yet?


Currently, I am only halfway to where I need to be at this point in the month. I don't even want to know what my word count is going to be by the end of today...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Missing the Middle…and the Point

The Man travels for business quite a bit. While I am not terribly high maintenance, always calling and texting and posting cutesy messages on his Facebook wall, I do insist on one thing: he needs to bring me back a souvenier. It's how I've gotten chocolates from many states and countries.

Every now and then, the Man comes across something particularly unique and brings it home. Once, he brought me soap. But not just any soap, "environmentally conscience" soap. Here, have a look for yourself.


The explanation for their "hole"-ier than thou soap was simple enough: it's always that last little wedge of soap from the middle that gets thrown away because it's too small, so they just took out the middle. Hey, I'm all for conservation and going green. Since hippies aren't actually known for their soap usage, I guess maybe they didn't quite get it. But really? Taking a chunk out of the center is going to fix that wasted soap sliver problem, is it?

Not likely.

The way I see it, the gutted bar is still going to shrink, growing more and more brittle until it finally breaks up - into four smallish slivers of soap. All of which will probably be left in the soapdish to melt away.

And really, how hard is it to just do this:


What do you do with your soap slivers?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Autumn Awesomeness

If you've read my blog for any amount of time, then you've probably seen a post or two about swaps. What can I say? I am pretty addicted! And Mamarazzi put together another fun one; this one with an autumn theme.


Photobucket


It's my favorite time of year! And with my favorite swap hostess. I think Mamarazzi has a crystal ball, chicken bones, or some other sort of divination in order to make such great matches. She hooked me with with becca from Everyday Life. And becca took everything I said in our conversation and managed to turn words into an awesome package.


See, what I love most about this season is the cooler weather. It's too cold to go anywhere so I just curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book. And when I'm not reading, I'm baking. Or eating chocolate. So here is what she sent:

  • Drinking Chocolate - Thicker, richer than your average hot chocolate
  • Holly by Jude Deveraux - Oooo…this one looks good!
  • Pumpkin Bread Kit - This is my favorite snack when the leaves turn colors.
  • Hot Pads - For when the bread is done baking!
  • Autumn dishtowel - Already hanging on the oven handle.
  • Chocolates - Need I say more?
  • Mug - It's too girly for any of the guys to use so it's perfect for me. (Sorry…I left it out of the picture!)

I love swapping! Not just for the fun of receiving presents in the mail but also because I get to meet really great people. Thanks, becca and Mamarazzi!

What's your favorite part of Autumn?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The New Death

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give away too much. You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
I started reading another ebook that's only online, so when it look like I'm just staring at my computer, stalking people on Facebook, I'm actually reading a book.

The New Death and others is an interesting collection of short stories and poems, some satirical and other straight from James Hutchings' imagination. I'm about half-way through it and so far, it's pretty interesting! Some of the stories seem too short, leaving me wanting more, which is probably a good thing. And luckily, several of the characters reappear in other vignettes. I've never been a big fan of poetry (other than Shel Silverstein) but I gotta say, there are some rather good ones in here, especially one about how Love's phone calls are now being answered by Commerce, who suggests that would-be romantics need more beauty products or a fancier car to find true love. And then there's the short story that details how goddess of Fame talked with the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, named Lawyers, and created reality television. The teaser I chose is from a short story about a thoroughly modern love affair.


Also, I'll be interviewing the author, James Hutchings, on his writing process. Just trying to help out my fellow NaNo-ers in their continuing efforts for manuscript perfection. (And he'll be offering one reader his online ebook for free so be sure to check back!)


Here's the Teaser:

" Finally Simon's friend showed him his new phone.
"They have an app for everything. There's probably one for love," the friend said.  
Simon did some investigation, and found that there was indeed an app for love. It was called iYearn. He bought the phone, and downloaded the app. "
- pg 64, "When Love Calls" excerpted from The New Death and others by James Hutchings.

What are you reading? 

Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-11

Have you met Erin? She's one of those gorgeous, multi-talented people that I would totally hate if she weren't so darn sweet. The only thing I've got on her is that my NaNoWriMo word count is higher than hers. And since copying is a form of flattery, I'm going to copy Erin's idea for today's unusual date.

11 Things I'm Grateful For:

  1. Hot Chocolate on cold days. Warms the body and the soul.
  2. Chubby-armed hugs and sloppy kisses. Nothing can turn my mood around faster.
  3. Being able to be here to send the kids off to school and when they get home. A lot of my friends don't have this opportunity and I admit that some days, I take it for granted.
  4. Friends that are equally as a dorky as I am. It's much more fun to let my freak flag fly when I'm in good company. (And when they get all my Doctor Who references…)
  5. Zumba. I don't like exercise but this is more like getting in touch with my inner sexy Latina dancer. Sure, I look like a drunken monkey but I don't care! It's fun!
  6. The Nephew. I'll have to write a post introducing him but he's only been here a short while and already has made himself indispensable.
  7. Naptime. It's a nice break when the kids are sleeping (and I can eat my chocolate without having to share) but even better when I get to lay down, too. My pillow has it's own irresistible siren song.
  8. Parents, including in-laws. They're such great examples and help me whenever I ask. Sometimes my big, huge problems can easily be brought down to perspective with just one phone conversation.
  9. The Kiddos. There was a time when I was told I'd never be a mother. Each one of my three little ones is a miracle. And not just because they're here, but because they seem to actually like me and laugh at my jokes.
  10. The Man. Not only is he basically my perfect match, but he supports me every November when I get the urge to abandon home and family in order to write a book, even when I refuse to let him read it.
  11. Jesus Christ, my Savior. Too often I let it go unsaid, but I am so very grateful for His example and sacrifice.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Takin' Care of Business

My family enjoys a good camping trip. And although we'd much prefer to camp during an unexpected blizzard (it's called making memories, people!) occasionally, we actually have fun. In fact, camping is very much a part of our summer plans. However, now that it's getting chilly, I'm packing away the gear. While cleaning out a bag, I found this list. My scrawled and shaky notes (possibly written in the car or while on a pit toilet) were supposed to become a blog post but must have gotten lost in the unpacking and showering and de-ticking and trying to get the smell of bug spray out of our cooler.

So here it is for your viewing -- and probably gagging -- enjoyment!

Why Pit Toilets Are The Worst Life Experience Ever Inflicted Upon Civilized Cultures

  1. You never want to use them unless you really gotta go. Inevitably, there will be someone in line ahead of you and that someone will take a very, very loooooooooong time.
  2. Do I really need to mention the smell? You might pretend it doesn't bother you but really, that's just keeping a brave face in front of the kids, like you do when comforting them after they've puked all over the bathroom, pretending that their vomity breath isn't making you want to hurl.
  3. You will inevitably have an audience, although it will be of the insect variety. Once, there was a frog in there with me. I couldn't pee and opted for remote bushes instead. (You're welcome.)
  4. The height on these things? Ridiculous! Are the makers prejudiced against short-legged folk? Because picnic tables are the same way…it's pretty embarrassing when your feet don't touch. But because of the height, using a germaphobe's "hover" technique is out of the question. Only option is a full-cheek press.
  5. Ain't nothing like that "cool breeze" on your nethers to really keep you focused on the task at hand.
  6. Couldn't they at least add some sound proofing? I don't need a "reassuring" echo of my business.
  7. You might want to consider bringing your own toilet paper. Sometimes, there are four rolls on the locked metal bar and sometimes, you don't even get a full sheet. Do you really want to take that gamble?
  8. Don't. Look. Down. If you're not careful, you could lose your sunglasses or camera or small child. My dad once lost a flashlight. I wonder what that next person thought of that.
  9. Maybe it's just me, but somehow, I just don't feel done without a flush. So unsatisfying.
  10. No sinks. Seriously. NO SINKS. At least now they're putting in hand sanitizer stations.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Good Omens

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give away too much. You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
Tarnishing souls takes a certain level of craftsmanship and perhaps the demon Crowley has gotten a little too good on at it because he's been given the task of delivering the newborn Antichrist to a local hospital. Sure, being noticed by the big powers Downstairs is a cool thing but the Apocalypse? Now? Really? After six centuries of watching humanity with his angel counterpart, Aziraphale, and just when things were going so well. 

Good Omens: the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch is written by Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman, the same guy who wrote Stardust. I've read a couple of his books and I've gotta say, he's an entertaining writer! One of the reviews for this book is from Clive Barker, where he says "The Apocalypse has never been funnier."

Here's the Teaser:
"The time would come soon enough when sleep would be right out of the question. When those Below found out that he, personally, had lost the Antichrist, they'd probably dig up all those reports he'd done on the Spanish Inquisition and try them out on him, one at a time and then all together."
- pg. 112, Good Omens: the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Every Thing On It

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give away too much. You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
Maybe because it's Halloween and I have such fond childhood memories of this time of year but I've been waxing nostalgic. Hence, this week's Teaser Tuesday: the new Shel Silverstein book. I hope that one day I will be as loved and cherished as this man so that when I die, they still crave my books and continue publishing even years after. And I can still recite most of the "Sick" poem.

Here's the Teaser:
"Good Idea
Try to get Dad
To walk on his hands,
Then clap and cheer,
"Oh, do some more!"
So there he goes proudly,
And now's your chance
To pick up the change  
That fell out on the floor." 
-pg. 75, Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein

What are you reading?
What is your favorite Shel Silverstein poem?

Monday, October 31, 2011

If I Were A Zombie...

The "Out of Candy" sign went on the door a little early this tear. The bucket still has some goodies but I'm hanging on to the last of the Kit Kats. The kids have collapsed from their sugar-induced frenzy. I've already "inspected" a few pieces of candy (you can never be too careful…especially when it comes to chocolate). Pictures are coming later. Maybe.

Meanwhile, enjoy this seasonally suitable video:



Thanks to Just SO for the link. And Tipi? This one's for you!

What candy do you steal inspect from your kids' bags?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Envelope, Please...

Thanks to everyone the entered to win the books by Derrolyn Anderson! Using Random.org, I selected a winner:

Comment #4 from Miss Angie from My So-Called Chaos!

Congrats, Angie! I'll pass along your info to Derrolyn and she'll tell you how to access those books. If you didn't win but still want to take a look at Marina's Tales, check out her listings on Smashwords.

And one more thing…


Photobucket


I entered another swap! It's one hosted by the absolutely fabulous Mamarazzi from Dandelion Wishes. She's a got a lot of rules to follow but I've yet to be disappointed with the partners I've gotten. The lady knows her stuff! Also? Autumn is my favorite time year.

What would you include in an Autumn package?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes

Yes, they really are perfect.

Since I make cupcakes fairly regularly, I'm always on the hunt for better recipes that will provide the best possible results. That was when I stumbled across a discussion about how to get perfectly domed tops on your cupcakes. Finally! Others were disappointed with flat or peaked cupcakes and knew how to fix it. Apparently, it's all in the way the cupcakes are mixed.


Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

  • Heat your oven to 350 and make sure the rack is set in the middle. 
  • Use those really cute liners that you have stashed in the back of the cabinet - you know, the ones you've kept for a special occasion - because these cupcakes are worth it! Place liners in a 12-count muffin tin. 
  • Now for the weird part: Pour milk into a small saucepan with the chunks of butter. Turn to medium heat and stir until the heated milk melts the butter. Set this aside to cool. You don't want it too hot when you add it in later.
  • Whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Kept working at it until it's thick and creamy (but be careful that you don't get too many air bubbles).
  • Now you're ready for the butter/milk. Mix that in nice and gentle.
  • Dump in the rest of the ingredients. Be careful not to over-mix here. Stirring too much will wear out your baking powder and then perfection is unobtainable.
  • Next, we need to fill up the liners to 3/4 full. My preferred method of dispensing batter is an ice cream scoop that has the scrapper-thingy (because I'm all technical) that wipes out the inside with the press of the lever. Less messy than using your finger.
  • Bake these future beauties for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.
  • Stand back in awe of your mad kitchen skillz.
  • And in the off-chance that you get one of the pesky peaks, use the back of a clean spoon to gently flatten the top back down to domed-ness.

Now you're ready to frost these gorgeous cups of love!
But that's an entirely different post...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Foreign Relations

The Man recently spent some time overseas. He's used to not getting out to see the sights because by the time he's done with work, it's usually the middle of the night. So he watches television (if I'm not available on iChat).

America is pretty obsessed with their television, hence the hundreds of channels of virtual nonsense that runs constantly. Europeans? Not so much. When the Man was staying, there were only four channels available, none of which were in English. So needing to unwind from a busy day and having nothing better , he found himself watching what he thought was a brown sponge.



He's actually a loaf of bread; the German equivalent of Moose A. Moose from Nick Jr.. I've never met carbohydrates with such mad rapping skillz. There are a couple good ones with English subtitles here and here but they didn't allow embedding.

Did you enjoy the cultural lesson for today?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Moon and the Tide

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give away too much. You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
I started the second book in Derrolyn Anderson's Marina's Tales series. It's called The Moon and the Tide. Marina seems to finally have happiness, as do those around her, when a terrible accident happens and Marina's heritage is splashed all over the internet. It's not just reporters that want the full story. I'm about halfway through it and I must say, there's a lot more action in this one! 

Here's the Teaser:
"I could tell that he wanted me to cower, to be afraid; I wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction. I had no respect at all for bullies, and I wanted him to know it."
- pg 135, The Moon and The Tide by Derrolyn Anderson
And just in case you missed it, I'm giving away Derrolyn Anderson's Marina's Tales series in ebook format! Go here to enter. Forget sparkly vampires and heart-broken werewolves; mermaids are the new hot thing!

What are you reading?

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