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

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…


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?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Interview with Derrolyn Anderson and a Giveaway!

I got to interview the author of Marina's Tales, a series of stories about a teenage girl dealing with her newly discovered mermaid heritage, Derrolyn Anderson. She let me pester her with all kinds of questions and then didn't seem the least bit annoyed. And? She's offering her ebook as a prize for one of my readers. I think I may just have a new imaginary BFF.

On to the interview!

Me: You are an accomplished artist! What inspired you switch to novels? (And did you design your own covers?)

Derrolyn: Thank you! I’m not exactly sure what inspired me to start writing, but now that I have, it’s become something of an obsession. Art is something I’ve always done, and will continue to do, but for now it’s definitely taken a back seat to writing.

I’m finding the two disciplines have a lot in common, in that you’re trying to create an image – to paint a picture using either words or brushstrokes. They can also be equally frustrating! The picture you hold in your mind can be maddeningly difficult to realize, and you find yourself constantly slamming up against your own limitations. It’s a constant struggle to improve; the very best painting/paragraph is always the elusive “next one”.

My painting style doesn’t really scream YA, so I messed around with some stock photos on Photoshop for the covers. Book #3 is actually a picture of one of my three daughters, taken by her twin!

Me: How did you start writing Marina's tales? What was the first thing you put down on paper/computer screen?

Derrolyn: I’ve always read a lot, but checking out my daughter’s YA books (and revisiting the charms of first love) was probably what triggered me to start thinking about writing my own stories. I lived in the beachy little seaside town of Aptos for the first ten years of my marriage, and the cement ship in the story actually exists. I’m nostalgic for those foggy morning walks along the sand, so it seemed like a perfect setting for a paranormal romance.

I sold a painting and decided to use the money to buy myself a laptop of my own. So, armed with a loose idea and a few pages of notes, I just dove in, writing sequentially, and let the story take me wherever it went. I had absolutely no idea how it would end when I began, so I can’t imagine writing without a word-processing program. I’m in awe of anyone who wrote before the computer came along.

Me: The most terrifying thing to me is a blank page. How do you get past the debilitating paralyses of Writer's Block?

Derrolyn: When I first began writing, I was too stupid to be intimidated, and no one expected anything of me. I’m glad I didn’t give it too much thought, because now that I have a better grasp on how difficult the process really is, I might have found a way to avoid getting started!

Me: My Muse is powered by dark chocolate and Diet Pepsi. What foods tempt your muse?

Derrolyn: Coffee, dark chocolate and red wine. Three things I require pretty much daily, which coincidentally, have now all been deemed as good for you!

Me: Sometimes writers can get as superstitious as baseball players. I simply cannot write without music playing  (absolute silence results in no flow) and it seems like my best work is done when I'm wearing my favorite shoes.  Do you have lucky talismans, special pens, or any other item that you MUST HAVE in order to get to work?

Derrolyn: I like music too, and I’ve got a nice moody mix on my iPod I put on while I curl up on my bed with my laptop and notepads. The only other thing I require is peace and quiet, and that’s not too easy to come by with three teenage girls and a husband banging around the house and barging in on me every ten minutes.

Songs from the playlist include: Nick Drake – From The Morning, Keane - Somewhere Only We Know, John Lennon – Mind Games, and Matt Nathanson – Come On Get Higher.

Me: Some authors have to be in the mood to write, while others can only make progress when on a set schedule, regardless of inspiration. What kind of writer are you?

Derrolyn: I try to steal away when I can, usually after the workday ends and while my husband makes dinner for everyone. I’m a lucky woman- he’s cute and he cooks too!

Me: Do you have an advice you'd like to offer an aspiring writer?

Derrolyn: JUST DO IT! Ignore all the naysayers with their condescension and negativity; the only thing that matters is the feeling you get when you know you’re on the right track. Above all, remember, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself!

Thanks, Derrolyn! And just to show you what an awesome tale of foggy, ocean inspired fantasy she's created, Derrolyn is offering Marina's tales in ebook format to one lucky reader.

To enter, leave a comment on this post about your own writing misadventures. Or if you don't write, tell me about the worst or best book you've ever read.
For additional entries:
  • Follow my blog (or let me know if you already do).
  • Visit Derrolyn.com and tell me which of her pieces you like the most.
  • Blog about this interview and contest and include a link back here.
Leave one comment per entry. Contest closes Sunday, Oct. 23rd, at midnight MST.

Good luck!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With Priority Mail Tape

There are days when I suspect the world is just trying to overwhelm me with awesomeness. Yesterday was one of those days. And I totally needed it because it was definitely a "take prescription pills and go back to bed with an ice pack" kind of day. But I'm not gonna whine. I'm totally gonna brag instead.

First, there was a delivery from my favorite floral place:

From the Man. Because he loves me. (And because he didn't give me flowers during my birthday week but hey! NO whining!)

Then came the mailman's visit. Normally, I just get a key tucked in the mailbox for the package box but that day, the package box wasn't big enough. I got three packages!

The first one was from Jell-O:

The brain mold was free (just pay shipping and handling). I already have a brain mold but this one is smaller and you just can't beat free. You can still order the mold up to Halloween so if you want one (and really, who wouldn't?) go sign up! The recipe books that comes with it kept my kids entertained for hours.

The second was from my brand-new buddy, Karen from A Peek At Karen's World. She's my swap partner from Miss Angie and Beth's Swapoween!

Here's what she sent:

  • Cookie cutters (that I had just talked myself out of getting these so this was just meant to be)
  • Sugar cookie mix
  • Halloween frosting (I might let the kids use it…I'm such a frosting snob)
  • Two packages of candy corn tissues (Adorable! Already in my purse!)
  • Candy corn footies (I told her I love candy corn and I think she listened - unlike my children)
  • Bag of candy corns (mix half and half with roasted peanuts and it tastes like a Payday candy bar!)
  • Autumn M&Ms ('cuz I needs me some more chocolate!)
  • DVD of Watcher in the Woods

My favorite thing? The DVD! When I was a kid, we watched this movie and it had me terrified for years. Then, when I was a teenager, I was in charge of bringing the scary movie to a party. I hunted all over town for a copy of this movie. But when my friends watched it, they couldn't get over the dated clothes and overly cheesy acting. Not even the least bit scary now. Can't wait to show it to the kids and maybe scar them into their teenage years.

The third package was from a company that sent me some cool products. I'll be talking about those after I have a chance to play with them. Free stuff is awesome.

* Be sure to check in on Monday! I'll have an interview with author Derrolyn Anderson as well as a giveaway!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Jagged Little Pills

I'm not good with prescription medication. Seems like I never have the expected results or side-effects. When I had a transplant, the doctor gave me an anti-rejection pill that would let my body accept the new addition. There weren't supposed to be any side-effects to speak of. So of course I developed boils. I still get them. And it pretty much sucks as bad as you think it would.

On this blog, I've frequently discussed my experiences with happy pills and how they don't always work like they should. My doctor was rather boggled by recent reactions, insisting that she'd never seen anything like this before. Well, my mother always told me I was special.

And painkillers are rarely as annihilating as their name would suggest, although I do see some pretty freaky light trails...while still writhing in pain. Unfortunately, while I was admiring the whitish beams my fingers were making, Boo picked that moment to come and talk to me. Just like her mother, Boo talks with her hands. Finally, I had to ask her to stop moving her hands so much because the light trails were getting too blurry. As any non-medicated person would be, she was perplexed. I attempted to show the difference by having her watch the light emitted from her little fingertips, then try to find the same reaction in the oscillating fan on the other side of the room.

Me: See? No light trails.
Boo: Uh, Mom? Are you feeling okay?
Me: I think it's because the fan isn't alive.
Boo: …
Me: Would you go catch me a spider? I want to see if it has a light trail.

Boo left the room but she didn't go hunt down a spider. I muttered at her lack of faith.
Instead, she brought me her hamster, Peanut.

(And yes, he had light trails.)

* Make sure you come back to see me on Monday. I'm interviewing a fabulous YA author and offering her books in a giveaway!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

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!
This book has been floating around on my TBR pile but with it soaring up the NYTime's Bestseller list, it was not easy to track down a reasonably priced copy. Either more of my friends need to read weird books or I need weirder friends. 

As a young boy, Jacob listened to his grandfather's fantastic stories of a nearly-magical orphanage on a secluded island, where special children gathered. A devastating tragedy has taken everything from Jacob but he still remembers the stories, but as he seeks out the orphanage, he learns that there was more to his grandfather's stories and the children's abilities may not have been figments of an old man's imagination.

Here's the Teaser:
"It wasn't until a few years later that my dad explained it to me: Grandpa had told him the same stories when he was a kid, and they weren't lies, exactly, but exaggerated versions of the truth -- because the story of Grandpa Portman's childhood wasn't a fairy tale at all. It was a horror story. 
- pg. 17, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Instead of asking my usual question of "What are you reading?" (although feel free to answer that if you'd like!), I want to know if you plan on participating in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, for those that know) this year! I'm up for my eighth year. 

Who is in this with me?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mothering Moments: You'll Never Pee Alone

Most people would adore the idea of an admiring crowd following them everywhere. Those people obviously aren't mothers.

Moms are used to the masses of small ones shadowing their every move, back and forth between rooms and laundry area, up and down stairs, all while keeping up a breathlessly running commentary on the mother's actions. Even a trip to the bathroom does not go unattended. And should the mother attempt to close the door between them, her offspring will loudly protest being cut off from their idol, punctuating this injustice with pounding fists and feet. The more timid little ones might decide that if they can't be entirely in the same room with her, then perhaps just a portion of themselves might suffice, and will content themselves with sticking their fingers, toes, and noses under the door, ever questioning if they are seen.

Now, a word of warning. Should you decide that your time in the bathroom is better spent not yelling at your kids to be quiet or insisting that those fingers can be seen just as easily when you're done, you might leave the door open. This might become such a regular event that you soon think nothing of leaving the bathroom door open during all your visits. But be careful about getting too lax in your attention to details here. It's too easy to fall into a habit, regardless of the situation.

Leaving the door open every time you use the restroom is not advisable.

Because you might not think about it and find yourself leaving the door ajar during a trip to the bathroom in the middle of Sunday dinner...

…when you have company over.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Between the Land and the Sea

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!
Do you know why I prefer reading young adult fiction? Not only is it very popular right now so there's plenty to choose from but for the most part, they're clean. I don't have my eye twitching at excessive use of expletives and I'm not skipping paragraphs as clothes are shed whilst beds/couches/dining-room tables are used for lascivious purposes. I still get the best parts of romance: the tension and breathless moments. 

So a lot of my current reads are young adult. Usually, they involve the supernatural in some manner. Werewolves, vampires (and not just the sparkly ones), fallen angels, re-incarnated goddesses, dystopian possibilities (with zombies and without). However, I'd never read a mermaid book. That's where the lovely Derrolyn Anderson comes in. She's written a series called Marina's Tales that features Marina, a globe-trotting city girl who finds herself in a small, slow-paced oceanside town where the hottest guy in school isn't the only one at the beach that gets her attention. 

Ms. Anderson has agreed to let me interview about her writing process. Since NaNoWriMo is fast approaching, I know I need all the help/encouragement/butt-kicking I can get. Keep an eye out for the interview, which may also contain a giveaway!

Here's the Teaser:
"Over a cup of hot tea with honey I told her about how I was blindsided by the massive wave, skipping over the mermaid part. As shocked and dazed as I was, I had enough wits about me to realize that no one would take my story seriously."
- pg. 54, Between the Land and the Sea by Derrolyn Anderson
What are you reading?

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