A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Friday, June 24, 2011

Freaky Food Friday - Spinach and Strawberry Salad, Green Grape Salad, Watermelon Sorbet

Hey all!  The FFF is back up and functional.  Yay!

This week three fruit based recipes for those hot summer days.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

  • 2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds. Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.

Green Grape Salad

  • 4 pounds seedless green grapes
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • Wash and dry grapes. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Add grapes and mix until evenly incorporated. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans, mix again and refrigerate until serving.

Watermelon Sorbet

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 4 cups cubed seeded watermelon

  • Heat water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool. Place watermelon in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Whisk watermelon, lime juice and syrup together in a large bowl. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.

  • Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions until it reaches "soft-serve" consistency. Transfer sorbet to a one- or two-quart lidded plastic container; cover surface with plastic wrap and seal. For best results, sorbet should ripen in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writing Wednesday - On writing...and on not writing

It's been no secret - if you're a regular follower of my blog - that I haven't been blogging as regularly as I'd originally set myself up for.  Especially the last two weeks.  I've had a lot of stuff going on that made it so I didn't want to be online.  I'm still having issues, and those issues are preventing me from enjoying what I love most (outside of Himself and Reidar, of course)...my writing.

My writing has suffered as depression, stress, and broken promises have taken their toll on me.  But lately I've felt a need to be writing again that not even my very real issues with my "normal" life can diminish.  I'm not working on anything new right now but I'm revising my Beauty and the Beast rewrite so I can get it e-pubbed as soon as possible.  I'm hoping to help ease a little bit of the financial burden by FINALLY making some kind of profit off of my scrabbles (as I've been known to call my stories).

Usually writing is a release for me.  It's a way for me to escape my reality.  But reality won't let me escape from it.  When I can't escape, writing becomes a burden instead of a blessing.  It's finally becoming a blessing again as I've been able to slip into my imagination and lose myself in a world of my own creation.  Life generally comes crashing back in but I'm able to evade it for a little while.

Not writing has given me plenty of free time, so I've been reading a lot more.  Mostly just old favorites, but I've dabbled in making the acquaintance of a few new books as well.  I finally finished the Hunger Games trilogy.  It rekindled my desire to write in my dystopian world but that project is on hold until I finish my faerie tale rewrites.  Those are what I'm focused on right now.  Those and fixing the world building issues with Aleran.

I discovered that my break from writing gave me what I needed to carry on with my plans.  I came to realize that sometimes I just need to walk away from the writing.  Take a break.  Read.  Crochet.  Play Sims 3.  Do SOMETHING other than write, in order to be able to look at my projects with a fresh, new set of eyes.

What do you do when you feel writer burn out?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni took an internet vacation

Hey all!

Yes, I know.  It's been two weeks since my last post.  A lot has - or rather HASN'T - happened and I've been offline dealing with life.

Himself isn't in California.  Himself isn't going to California.  Himself got screwed over royally by the "friend" who offered him the job.  Himself is now unemployed, unable to get unemployment, and very upset.  I'm overstressed, overworked, and underpaid...and that's at the day job.  Let's not talk about how miserably the writing has been going.  Needless to say, things aren't going very well for us right now.

That seems par for the course, though.  We finally start getting ahead and suddenly the ground drops out from under us.  Every. Bloody. Time.  So now we're forced to take it a day at a time, pray he can find a job in this rotten economy, and trying to pay all of our bills as best as we can.

I'm trying to get my Beauty and the Beast rewrite finished but I've lost interest in it.  The writing is boring me, which means it's really bad.  I've got an idea on how to fix it but I just can't drag up enough energy to care.  But since this is going to be my first e-book I need to get it in gear and fix it all up.

Beta readers still have "Only A Name".  Had a few comments about the opening chapters already and some were even positive comments.  So now I'm waiting on everyone else to weigh in on my book.  I'm also tweaking the world building stuff for Aleran since for some reason I'm missing a rather significant chunk of my world building notes again.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

WSJ has no clue #YASaves

I've dragged my soapbox out again.  And I'm not afraid to use it.  Recently, there was a post in the WSJ that irritated several people.  Such as KD SargeChuck Wendig, and even another author at the WSJ Christopher Farley.  I was curious, so I went looking for the article in question.

This irritates me.

Let me explain why: I'm one of THOSE children.  A child who slipped through the cracks and was pretty much forgotten by everyone except bullies...and my middle school and high school librarians.  Those librarians saved my life by directing me to books that they hoped I'd love.  And not all of those books were sweetness and light.

I talk about my mum and how awesome she was.  And she was awesome, once I became an adult and moved away for a few years.  But when I was growing up, my mum was trying to come to terms with being raised by abusive parents and undiagnosed mental illness.  In plain English, mum was an abusive tyrant.  My dad was never there.  Even when he was there he wasn't THERE.  If not for the librarians and the books they shoved into my hands, I think I'd probably have killed myself.

The books they suggested gave me hope.  They showed me there was a way to escape my hell.  Not only by reading and vanishing into someone else's reality, but by finding a way out of the darkness.  My parents were ultra religious.  I didn't even understand myself because they expected me to fit into their mold and when I didn't I was punished severely for it.  The books showed me new ways of thinking, of dreaming, of existing.

Many of those books were dark and had a lot of overtones of violence, sexual content, and the darker aspects of human nature.  They were not fluffy books.  Fluffy books didn't appeal to me because they were so unrealistic that they made me angry.  To this day I still can't pick up books that are super fluffy because I'll just chuck them at the wall or something.

I'll admit there are more books on the market that deal with the darker subjects than there were when I was growing up.  To be perfectly honest, I wish these books had been around.  They're more to the point than the books I was reading were.  I'd probably have skipped more classes if I'd been able to read those books though, so it might be a good thing that they WEREN'T around when I was growing up.

The tripe about how adolescents don't need books like this is just disgusting.  These books perform a service that some parents don't have time to: they offer hope.  They show that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that they can find a way out.  They go on to show that there are people who can be trusted.  They help teach empathy, a skill many adults would be better off for learning.

YA literature today is what I wish it had been when I was growing up.  I'm proud to support the YA writers I've met and will continue to support them.  Don't try to sugar coat things for teenagers.  One thing I've learned from helping to raise my niece and nephew (who are well adjusted adults now, for the most part, even though they read a lot of these darker YA stories): teenagers have that uncanny knack of knowing when you're feeding them fluff and for many of them, that's the biggest insult there is.

*climbs off soapbox & goes back to regular blogging activities*

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni has nothing this week

Yeah, I've got nothing.  I'm too keyed up about Himself leaving to be of much use to anyone this week.  I didin't even manage to get my Writing Wednesday blog post done.  I'm surprised I managed my FFF post.

I cracked the Beauty and the Beast rewrite but progress is slow because I'm not focused on writing right now.  Went to the zoo today with Himself as our last major outing.  There's pictures on my Flickr page if you're curious what the Boise Zoo is like.  Animals and plants from the zoo

Ended up leaving work early on Friday because of a headache.  I was almost literally crawling out the door the headache was so bad.  After a rather large dose of caffeine and Tylenol it finally went away...about 4 hours later.

This is going to be a really short post because I'm trying to spend what little time I have left with Himself before he goes to California.  So here's some music videos to close this out with, as always.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Freaky Food Friday - White Enchiladas, Tortilla Soup, and Taco Seasoning

Hey all!  Today I decided, in honor of Himself who LOVES Mexican food, I'd share three of my favorite recipes.  Two are actual food recipes.  The third is the mix of spices I use in my homemade taco seasoning.  I thought I'd share.  *grin*

Nancy's White Enchiladas

2 c. chopped cooked chicken or turkey
2 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 c. Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
1/4 c. milk or heavy cream
2 8 oz. containers sour cream
2 small cans diced smoked green chilies
2 tomatillos, chopped fine
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. chili powder
2 c. cooked rice
12 10" flour tortillas
1/4 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/4 c. Pepper Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease 13x9 baking dish and set to the side.  In a large pan, place 4 c. of cheese and add the milk and sour cream.  Set aside remaining 1/2 c. of cheese.  Heat on medium heat until the cheese starts melting.  Add everything else except for rice and chicken.  Mix together until sauce is thick and smooth.  Set aside 1/2 c. of sauce and then add the rice and turkey.  Take filling and pour into tortillas.  Roll like a burrito and put into the baking dish.  Take remaining sauce and cover the top of the enchiladas.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.

Tortilla Soup

18 c. chicken broth
12 cloves roasted garlic
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 large onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, cleaned and chopped into 1/4" pieces
2 Anaheim peppers, cleaned and chopped into 1/4" pieces
2 tsp dried oregano
1 T chili powder
4 c. chopped or shredded cooked chicken
2 limes, juiced
12 (6 inch) tortillas, cut into strips and toasted

In a large heavy pot, bring chicken stock, roasted garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and spices to a full rolling boil.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, sautee onions until brown and translucent.  Add to pot with chicken and lime juice.  Simmer until chicken is warm.  Put tortilla strips into the bowls and pour the soup in on top.  (This makes 12 good sized servings.  I'm used to feeding a large crowd of people.)

Anni's Taco Seasoning

4 tsp. dried minced onion
3 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder (or 1/8 tsp cayenne, if you prefer spicier stuff)

Mix all dried spices together and store in an air tight container.  Add 1 Tablespoon of mix per pound of ground meat.