Thursday, January 31, 2013

Birthdays SUCK

Birthdays sorta suck at my age so I figured why not make the memory a little sweeter.

This is how I made the sucker/flower bouquets for my friend Chris.

Simply use some tootsie roll pops and Mike and Ikes plus it doesn't hurt to have a little flower foam on hand.
Then you slice the Mike and Ike's in half and stick them on the tootsie roll pops. You have to stick them on pretty quickly or the "stickiness" wears off and you want to keep them edible and not have to use glue so do it fast. Only cut a couple at a time.

Then I took a mason jar and filled it with birdseed, since she likes birds and the garden and tied a ribbon on the package. I also made one with a tiny planting pot and just stuck the suckers right into the floral foam. I sprinkled left over Mike and Ike's over the floral foam to cover it up.

Super simple sweet gift for a birthday :D




Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Word for Wednesday

It's time to play a word game. Guess the meaning of this word...


Word: Fussilade  


Do you know what it means?


If not, scroll down to find the meaning....




FURTHER....



FURTHER...



FURTHER . . . 



OKAY IT MEANS:

Part of Speech:
noun
Definition:
barrage
Synonyms:
battery, bombardment, burst, cannonade, crossfire, enfilade, firing, fussilade , gunfire, hail, round, salvo, shelling, shower, storm
     

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lisa Nowak to Speak at Young Willamette Writers

  Lisa Nowak Speaks to Young Willamette Writers

     Lisa Nowak will be the speaker for the February meeting. In addition to being a YA author, Lisa is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smart-aleck. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are.

Lisa Nowak Lisa says that there are many important aspects to writing a great story, but the bottom line is, if the reader doesn't care about your characters, all your clever plotting and amazing prose will lose its impact. Lisa plans to show the YWW's how to use collages, interviews, and their own experience to create characters who come across as real people.

The Young Willamette Writers meet at the same time as the adults, from 7-8pm at the Old Church in downtown Portland. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Movie Review Monday - Hansel & Gretel

Hansel and Gretel was a fun Van Helsing sort of movie. The sets were great and the costumes wonderful and it was a way over-the-top action-packed movie.

Now, the believability was out the window way more than a James Bond sort of film but, come on, it's a fairytale...right?

So, if you're looking for a fun fantasy getaway kind of film and you don't mind a little blood (or maybe a lot of blood), then this might be a good film for you.

I wouldn't say it's a great dramatic film but you wouldn't expect that from Hansel and Gretel, now would you?

It's like reading a dark Grimm's Fairytale and seeing it put to motion in a Van Helsing sort of film.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to recommend seeing it on the big screen because those tickets are expensive but I'd definitely see it when it comes to the little screen - at home - just for the costumes and sets, if nothing more.

So there you have it, Hansel & Gretel comes to life on the big screen :D

Friday, January 25, 2013

OREGON WILD

On Wednesday night I went out to help support Oregon Wild. Oregon Wild was founded in 1974 and it's mission is to protect and restore Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife and waters as an enduring legacy for all Oregonians.

The guest speakers were from Uncage the Soul Video Production. This is the group that did Finding Oregon, Ascending the Giants and Finding Portland.

Finding Portland from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.

It was fun to see the projects they've been working on and to see the helicopter they use for filming time-lapsed video.





Wednesday, January 23, 2013

PITCH WARS AGENT ROUND

WHOO-HOO! It's finally time to see the pitches we've been working on during The Pitch Wars.

Thanks to the wonderful Brenda Drake for putting this entire contest and experience together for all of us writerly wannabes. And thanks to my wonderful mentor Heather Marie! She is a true Wizardress of Wordly Wisdom and has willingly shared her talents with me.

If you want to pop over to YA Misfits to check out the pitches, click this link.

And be sure to check out my Ghost House pitch.

The Ghost House is a story inspired by actual events. My manuscript includes articles, ads and pages out of historical directories. But there is so much more than that. And, if you enjoy stories that weave history together into a modern manuscript, read on. 

I hope you'll look forward to reading a pitch about a story that will send chills running up your spine:

The Ghost House pitch.

Then after reading my pitch, keep your fingers crossed for me so that Literary Agents will request the manuscript. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pineapple Right-Side-Up Cake - Cupcake

This is a super simple way to make a pineapple upside down cake, I mean, a pineapple right-side-up cupcake. And this cupcake will be moist and delicious - thanks to the pineapple.

There is one main trick to making this pineapple cupcake.

TIP: You can't put the pineapple at the bottom of the cupcake paper. It will be sticky and wet and will not work out well.

TRICK: What you need to do is simply put a little piece of pineapple directly into the batter.

Then put a 1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar on top of the pineapple and a tiny dab of butter on top of that.
Then bake your cupcake as usual.

After the cupcake is baked, frost with whipped cream and decorate with a maraschino cherry.

Wah-Lah! Pineapple Right-side-up Cupcake :D




Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK Day

Hope you all have a wonderful peaceful day honoring the Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Friday, January 18, 2013

MLK Day - Giving Back

In honor of MLK Day we can all do something to give back to our communities. There is even an organization that helps people do just that. It's called the MLK Day of Service and it helps people find volunteer programs in their community.

If you live in Portland, check out this link to see if there's something that fits your schedule and ability. If you're on Twitter, you can follow the input using the hashtag @MLKDay. 

If you aren't able to volunteer, you can donate money to your favorite cause or charity.

But whatever you do, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Super-Simple EZ Bake Bread or SSEZBB





Home baked bread is the easiest thing to make. No. Really. All it takes is a little time. I know, that’s something none of us have but if you use an early morning, one weekend, you’ll never regret it.

This bread will have no additives, no chemicals, preservatives or high-fructose corn syrup. All great to go without. And your family will thank you for it. Maybe not today, but one day.

I only want healthy food around my house. You know organic, locally grown, Omega 3 type food and I absolutely love Dave's Killer Bread (which if you can't bake is a great option) but at four loaves for $32.00, which includes shipping, I'm thinking I can save a little money by baking a few loaves on the weekend.

Baking over the years, I’ve learned a couple of tips and tricks and I’m going to share them so “Shoosh” don’t tell anyone my secrets.

TRICK #1: Tweak to your own taste

Most bakers stick strictly to their recipes . . . NOT I, like the little red hen. I have to tweak and twist everything a little. I’m always hoping to perfect my pastries and sometimes. . .I get really close. So tweak your recipes to your own taste.

TRICK #2: Factor in the temperature of the house.

Temperature makes a big difference. No. Not the temperature of the oven. The temperature of your house makes a HUGE difference.

I can use the same recipe in the winter as I do in the summer, but it has to be tweaked. In cold weather I don’t need to use as much flour. But in the summer, I need to add an additional ¼ to ½ cup…depending.

TRICK #3: Cover your dough while it bakes.

Cover your bread dough with aluminum foil so it won’t burn on the top as it cooks in the middle. No one wants doughy bread or burnt bread…well, to be honest I like the edges of my bread burnt (a little). I love crispy, crunchy textures. Not my family though. So, if your family is like mine, cover with foil while the bread cooks.

So I pull out my rolling pin, flour and a casserole dish with a lid so I can cover my bread dough while it rises - but you can use foil just as easily or plastic wrap, or even a warm wet towel.


Anyway, here’s the recipe for this super-simple EZ bake bread.

3 ½ cups flour
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons (melted) butter (salted-that way you don’t have to buy unsalted butter-and who keeps that on hand, and you don’t have to measure out a tablespoon of salt-EZ tip)
1 package of active dry yeast

Take the warm water and add the active yeast. Let it sit while you melt your butter in the microwave. Then pour the yeast-water and melted butter into a bowl and mix, slowly adding in the flour until you have a ball of dough. Then take your ball of dough and put it in a pre-greased bowl and cover for ½ hour to let rise.

TRICK #4: Let dough rise in heat.

Set your dough bowl on top of the oven while it preheats, the warmth will help your dough rise and make it so much fluffier.

Then knead your dough a bit, right in the bowl, recover and let rise again for another ½ hour.

Then take a bread pan or two and grease them with oil and flour or a non-stick spray. Put your dough in the pan and bake at 400 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes, then pull off your foil and drizzle with a couple tablespoons of melted butter mixed with 1 tablespoon of melted honey. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. I like to pour honey into the cracks when I pull it out of the oven for a little added sweetness. 

Another Tip is to bake in a cooking stone if you have one. It will make sure the temperature is even all the way around. Here's mine, it doesn't look pretty but the food comes out almost perfect every time.

Tip 2: Never Bake Just One Loaf.

I also have a glass bread pan that I use because you can never have too many loaves of bread and baking stones are expensive.



But as you can see, it isn't as pretty when it pops out as the bread from the cooking stone.

Tip #3: This tip is to flip.

I always like to flip my bread over just to make sure the bottom is done the way I want it.

Then I flip it back over and put it on a pretty plate.


Wah-lah! 

EAT while warm – it is sooooo delish!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Word for Wednesday

Word: Argil

Do you know what it means?


If you do, guess now.



If you don't scroll down for the answer...



Further




Further



It is clay - especially potter's clay - if you want to read more about it, check it out here.




Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Treasures Worth More than their Weight in Gold

When I was growing up in the house with nine kids and grandma living in the back bedroom, Mom used to have an ugly old, dented tin. That metal tin was her secret "treasure" chest and it held so many itty-bitty beautiful bits-and-pieces she called "treasures".

But those treasures of hers weren't worth any money.

Still, I used to love to pull out that old tin and rummage through it. I don't remember what I was looking for because it was only filled with old buttons. But I believed it was a treasure chest, filled with pirates gold of colored glass and make-believe doubloons.

See, Mom didn't believe in throwing anything away. I guess she would have been one of the original hoarders only she never had much to hoard. So it wasn't a problem.

I mean, when all you're hoarding is an old tin of buttons, it doesn't take up much room in a house.



Some days, when I came home from school, Mom used to call me out to the kitchen table to talk with her while she made dinner.

She'd cut, chop and dice while I'd sit beside her cutting buttons off our old worn-out clothing. Then I'd slip those little beauties into our "treasure chest". When I'd "saved" all the buttons then I'd cut the fabric into scraps for quilting. Grandma used those quilting blocks to make blankets.

Our rescued buttons went into that old tin to be used at a later date, when a button popped off and rolled away, never to be found again.Then Mom would call me out to the kitchen again and I'd pull out the treasure tin. It was easy to spend hours searching through the treasures for just the "right" button to replace the renegade runaway...or rollaway.

That old tin gave me a love for re-purposing, recycling and reusing...buttons.

Even today, I still love to walk down the aisles at the fabric store and gaze at the beautiful buttons (I know I live an exciting life) and sometimes I buy a few--buttons I might never find a purpose for.

"Sew" crafting friends aren't surprised, at Christmas, if they find a gift of beautiful buttons, fabric and/or yarn tucked away inside their gift.

Maybe that seems odd to most people, but I still think of those beautiful buttons as tiny treasures. Little beautiful baubles, to me they look like gemstones or charms and I love them all.

Tomorrow, I'm thinking of working on a button wreath for Valentine's Day. See the one above. I found it on Pinterest and fell in love.

If you want to see the instructions for this Cute as a Button Wreath, just pop over to this site to check it out.
The estimated cost of making this Button Wreath, if you don't have a tin to hunt through, is $10.00. But I can guarantee you, if you sit with your sons and daughters and make this wreath, together, the memories you'll create will be worth more than their weight in gold. They'll be PRICELESS :D

How 'bout you do you have any secret "treasures" worth more than their weight in gold? I sure do. And aren't these the little things that LOVE is all about.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Homemade Baklava

I spent the morning baking with my friend Roz. She was teaching me how to make the best homemade baklava.

Here's the recipe:

6 cups ground walnuts
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup of honey
1 package of fillo dough
2 sticks of butter (melted)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare fillo dough layers by spreading butter between each sheet and adding walnut, sugar, cinnamon mixture after every five to six sheets of stacked fillo dough.

Then cover baklava with foil and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Pull off aluminum foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the top is a golden brown. Pour honey between the cracks and edges.

Start by buttering your baking dish, the bottom and sides. Then layer six sheets of fillo dough on the bottom of your pan, be sure to spread a thin layer of butter between each sheet.

After you have six sheets buttered, put three heaping scoops of your walnut/sugar/cinnamon mixture on the top and then layer five sheets of fillo dough on top (laying with butter again between each sheet), add another three scoops of your walnut mixture and cover with five more sheets of buttered fillo dough, (repeat four times).

Spread the walnut, cinnamon, sugar mixture around to make sure it covers the fillo dough. Warm your honey so that it pours easily.

After you have baked the baklava, pour your warmed honey between the cracks and over the edges.
Ready to serve :D




Friday, January 11, 2013

LOVE



Valentine's Day is just around the corner. So I decided to bake some test cupcakes. Well these are actually brownie cupcakes that turned out yummilicious.

I used some black sugar sheets to put over the brownies so that the flowers, hearts and decorations would POP.

Then I made some fondant hearts and flowers to put on the top. I think this top really does pop!

I want to make some cupcakes and use conversation hearts to decorate the tops too.


Some cupcakes I make for fun and just want them to be cute or make my family smile.

This is an easy way to give flowers for that special day. And to make my hubby's extra-special, I put it on display in this little cake stand.


I love to bake, make and create. How 'bout you?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Book Club

I'm not just in one book club--I'm in two. How 'bout you? Are you in a book club?

I've been reading since I was a little girl. Growing up in a house with nine kids and one t.v., I never got to pick the programs we watched. So, I took up reading. And I read everything I could get my hands on. The library was my friend.

I even read the dictionary, the encyclopedia and reference manuals.

But I grew up loving Stephen King and my favorite book of all time was/is Salem's Lot. SK has a way of making the impossible seem plausible. I know, horror, it's strange for a soccer mom. But that's me - full of dichotomies.

Now, I'm reading books I never would have read. Action/adventure, nonfiction, yep, everything and anything is coming up in the book club.

And I'll keep you posted on what I'm liking--or not.




Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Project

Sew, I was making, baking and creating presents all during November and December. I was "sew" busy I was getting up at 4:00 a.m. to finish my projects and I say NOT AGAIN. I've decided to start early. I'm pulling out my projects now for next year.

This is going to be a cushion for one of my relatives.

Now all I have to do is "sew" it and put it all together. But, at least I have a year to get it done. :D

How 'bout you? Are you going to start any projects for the holidays today? It will take all the stress out of the holidays of 2013, well at least it will take out some of the stress. :D

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

SCBWI - The Great Critique is coming January 19th



Here’s a chance for writers to be critiqued by a professional and their peers.

Location: TaborSpace, 5441 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215

Time: 9:30 to noon.

Never been in a critique group? Wish you could be critiqued by someone who is ahead of you in the publishing game? Want to strengthen your work? Need a fresh set of eyes and ears on that oft-revised piece? Want to have your manuscript ready for the May conference? This is your chance. A published writer will lead each small group and critique your manuscript. You'll also hear others' work and get feedback from those writers too. Plus you'll learn from the comments by the critique leader about the work of others.

Cost:

SCBWI members - $10.00 (That's less than the price of a Friday night movie!)

Nonmembers - $15.00 (If you bought any refreshments, your movie night would cost way more!)

No refunds after January 11th.

How it will work:

    Sign up now with the kind of manuscript you'll be bringing. You may bring a maximum of five double-spaced pages or 1200 words. DO NOT bring more. Use standard manuscript format, which means your first page will not be a full page. For picture books, we suggest you bring no more than 750 words.
    We will do our best to place you in a group of 5 or 6 peers who write in the same genre and with a published author who writes in that genre.
    We'll let you know how many copies of your manuscript to bring to the meeting.
    We'll also send you some basic critique group guidelines.
    At the meeting each of you will have a chance to pass your work around to your group and read it aloud.
    Each person in the group will make notes on your manuscript as you read. They'll write down what they like, mark errors they see, indicate where they are confused or what doesn't work for them.
    The professional writer will verbally critique your work. If time, other participants may comment.
    You'll receive your copies with written comments from each one in your group. Take them home and let the ideas simmer.
    You might even make some new friends or find those to form a critique group.

"Can’t imagine sitting with a group of strangers and reading your manuscript aloud? It should be harder to imagine sending an untried, unedited, unrevised bit of your soul out on submission!" – Jenn Bailey, children's writer and social media expert

PAL AUTHORS CRITIQUING include Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Cidney Swanson, Gretchen McLellan, Rosanne Parry, Ruth Musgrave, Stephanie Shaw, and Teresa Klepinger. We have other authors standing by and will add more as our registration numbers grow.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Progress on the Room

This project has taken longer than I expected. When we were younger, we could remodel a room in no time. But, nowadays, things always seem to take longer.

Gutting the room was no problem, ripping up, tearing out...EZ-Smeazy but putting it all back together . . .  that's been a much longer process.

At least this weekend we got the french doors put in. Now we need to build the deck off the back and sheetrock the room, oh yeah, after we put all the insulation in.

So, we're still a ways off. But, like I said, progress . . .

Friday, January 4, 2013

Anna Dressed in Blood

This book was recommended to me by a cyber buddy. And I'm so glad I read it.

I've been working on a novel about a haunted house and was trying to keep the story "real" but real can also be boring. After reading Anna DIB, I was able to see that my story was mundane. It might have true facts and bits and pieces that are truly horrifying but most of the everyday life is dull.

No one wants to read about what we ate for breakfast . . . over and over again.

Reading Anna DIB helped me see that fiction can be so freeing.

I loved how this book stepped outside reality and made fantasy fun...well, if you don't mind people dying and dealing with ghosts ;D

I would totally recommend Anna Dressed in Blood to all young adults and even to adults who feel young ;D

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fiscal Cliff Averted

Looks like 2013 is off to a grand start! I'm glad we didn't fall over any cliffs as we raced into the New Year. It's not easy to recover from a fall like that. So, although they say it's just a delay, I have a more positive perspective. I'm thinking these brilliant politicians are going to figure out a way to work together and put those synapses on hot-firing mode so that they can come up with a solution to these financial woes of ours.

But, no matter what, it's gotten the year off to a better start!

I'm still in the Happy New Year mode, how 'bout you?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Movie Review - Les Miserables

Okay, we all know the story. It's sad so I'm not sure it's really a holiday show. But, then again, it's a musical. And, except for Sweeney Todd musicals are all generally family shows...right?


Well, I think this one was beautifully acted, the songs were moving and although a few of the actors had to strain their talents to be musical, I think they all did a good job.

I especially loved Anne Hathaway's performance. She was awesome. Of course Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe weren't bad and what a cast!

The real problem with this show is that it is just so loooooong. I have trouble sitting still for that much time. I think shows that are over two hours should have intermissions. Just so we can stand up, go to the restroom, stretch or whatever. I'm not ADHD or anything but over 2 and 1/2 hours is a serious time commitment.

I would still recommend the show but would downgrade it for the length and no intermission. That might just be me though.

So, I'd give the show Les Miserables a:

How 'bout you? Have you seen it? What did you think? What would you rate it?