A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni is beginning to think that nothing good is going to happen to her

Hey all~

This week's 'fess up is brought to you amidst panic attacks, fights with Himself, and major stress.  I'm having a really bad time of it right now because our financial situation has not improved.  In fact it's gotten worse.  I don't know what to do anymore, other than go back to work - which is a no-no according to my doctor.

Writing is sporadic right now because of my emotional state.  But I did get a story finished that I'm going to polish and then I'll probably post it close to Halloween, since it's a Halloween story.  It's just a short blurb in one of my UF stories, although I'm beginning to think they're more Para Rom stories rather than straight UF stories.

I'm keeping it short this week, so here's the usual music videos.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Freaky Food Friday - Reader Requests

I'm trying to find some new recipes for these posts.  While I'm at it, I'd like to know if you have any favorite recipes you're willing to share.  Or are you looking for a new recipe for something?  Let me know and I'll see if I can oblige you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni's had a good enough week

Hello everyone!

This week has been a remarkably long one but not a bad one on the whole.  It's been long because, oddly enough, I miss being at work.  Days drag on when you don't have something regular to do.  But I've got therapy coming up so I'm looking forward to that, even if it's going to be painful.

Himself has a steady job.  He's working at another call center, which he really hates, but we're in a position where we need steady work more than we need him doing something that doesn't bring in money.  The Kirby job doesn't bring in money if he doesn't sell, and not too many people are buying now.

I finished Cracked World this week, which makes two of my Aleran novels down.  I started a third and I've also started one of my sci fi novels to give myself a break from the fantasy.  I'm having a little more trouble with them, but I expect the fact that I spent a lot of time focused on Cracked World has to do with that.  I took yesterday off and played a video game, something I haven't done in a while.  It was very refreshing.

Today is the ten year anniversary of 9/11.  I can remember precisely what I was doing that day.  I was sleeping.  I'd spent the previous night on a Greyhound bus bound from Seattle to Boise.  I'd just broken up with Himself back when we were still only engaged over something ridiculously silly.  I was absolutely heartbroken because Himself was the first person I loved that dearly, though he wasn't my first boyfriend.  I remember getting in at 2:30 am on 9/11 and walking into my parents' house.

Mum was standing there in her green nightgown with her old red shawl wrapped around her shoulders.  That was soon wrapped around me too as she held me while I cried.  I believe the comment of "It's his loss" was mentioned on more than one occasion by her during the next 4 1/2 hours until I finally passed out around 7:30 in the morning.

I was woken up at 8:30 by my mom arguing with my older sister about turning on the news.  She didn't want to wake me up.  But my mom did turn on the news.  I heard her say, "Oh my god."  I pulled on my glasses just in time to see the second tower get hit.  I didn't go back to sleep after that.

Mum and I just sat and held onto each other, watching as everything happened.  It was probably two hours later, and we were still watching the news, when the phone rang.  It was Himself and his mom and sister.  They wanted to make sure I was all right and that I'd arrived in time.  His sister told me, "It's not like I don't hate you but I also don't want something to happen to you."  (Yes, she's really that spiteful...and yes, I have it written down in my journal so I do remember this.)  This is also what got me and Himself talking again, and ultimately led to him leaving Washington for Idaho.  Which then led to us getting married.

9/11 was a horrible day.  I was blessed that I didn't lose anyone I knew or loved that day.  I was worried about my cousin, who was in Washington DC.  He was off duty Army special forces, and was taking his wife and kids around the DC area.  At least, that's where he was supposed to be.  His car hadn't started that morning, and they were still somewhere in Virginia.

While I do remember that time, and I know that it was a devastating blow to the U.S., September doesn't hold a lot of pain for me because of that.  It holds the pain because on 9/13/03 my mum lost her fight with a brutal form of cancer and died.  She went from diagnosis to death in three weeks.  My mum was a hard woman to live with growing up, but in the last few years of her life she'd really changed and I was growing to love her even more.  I lost her before I ever really got to know the new woman my mum had become.

Now for my usual music videos.  So until next week, my most wonderful friends.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Freaky Food Friday - Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, Pomegranate Jelly, Apple Butter

Hey everyone.  With fall approaching the fruit harvests are coming in.  So I thought I'd share a few of my favorite recipes of what to do with that fruit.  The first is two variations on my mom's Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.  The second is a recipe I heard about recently that I hope to try very soon.  The third is something my mom used to make regularly as well.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

11/2 cups crushed strawberries
13/4 cups ground rhubarb
¼ cup lemon juice
1 box MCP Pectin
1 cup Karo Corn Syrup  (Momma used the white Karo syrup)
41/2 cups Sugar
Prepare Fruit.  Add pectin and stir to dissolve completely.  Let set
30 minutes stirring frequently.  Add corn syrup and stir.
Add sugar slowly, stir well to dissolve, box & freeze. 
Recipe says freeze and use within 6 months.  (We frequently kept the jam for over a year without noticing any deterioration in the jam. )
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam made with SUREJELL
Smash Strawberries and grind Rhubarb 1 cup of each
2 cups of prepared fruit
4 cups of Sugar
¾ cup water
1 box SUREJELL Pectin
Thoroughly mix sugar into fruit, let stand for 10 minutes.
Mix water and pectin in small pan, bring to full boil and
boil 1 minute stirring constantly.  Stir into fruit.  Stir for three minutes. 
Some sugar crystals may remain.  Ladle into scalded containers. 
Lid and let stand on counter for 24 hours; then store in freezer.

Pomegranate Jelly

4 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 package powdered pectin
5 cups white cane sugar
You'll also need:

6-7 Eight ounce canning jars


1 Make the Juice. There are two basic ways to make pomegranate juice from fresh pomegranates. The first is to cut open a pomegranate and submerge it in a large bowl filled with water. Remove the seeds underwater; they will sink to the bottom while the white membrane holding them together will float. Discard the peel and membranes. Strain the seeds and put them in a blender. Pulse the blender only a few times so that the seeds are broken up. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the seed mixture through the strainer. Use a rubber spatula to help press the pulp against the strainer as to extract as much juice as possible.
The second way to juice a pomegranate is to use a juice press. I have an old fashioned press that I use. I wash the pomegranate and cut it into quarters or halves, depending on how big the pomegranate is. I then crush the sections with a press and strain the juice through a mesh strainer. I have found that this method takes half the time or less of the first method, but the flavor can be a little more bitter because you are squeezing the peel as well.
2 Prepare canning jars. Seep the clean, empty canning jars in boiling water for several minutes. Boil a few cups of water in a separate kettle and pour over the lids in a small bowl to sterilize.
3 Measure pomegranate juice and lemon juice in a 6-quart pan. Add pectin, stir and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Reach a full rolling boil, that cannot be stirred down, and add sugar. Boil hard for exactly 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand for a minute and skim off foam.
4 Fill jars to 1/2" of the top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids.
5 Finish canning. This step you need to take if you plan to keep the jelly unrefrigerated. Place the jelly jars, not touching, on a rack in a tall pot of boiling water. The water should cover the top of the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 5 minutes and then remove from the water. Let the jars cool. Check seals, the lids should be sucked down (you'll hear a popping noise as the jelly cools). Once the jars reach room temperature, put them in the refrigerator for a few hours to complete the jellying. Lasts about 3 weeks once opened.
Yield - 6-7 cups.
(My friend who introduced me to this uses pomegranate juice from the store rather than juicing the pomegranates herself. I intend to try this once I'm in my own place.)

Apple Butter
  • 5 1/2 pounds apples - peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples in the slow cooker and mix well.
  2. Cover and cook on high 1 hour.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
  4. Uncover and continue cooking on low 1 hour. Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness.
  5. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Sad scenes in your books

Last night I had to do the hardest thing I've done with this manuscript - I had to kill a character.  She's technically a minor character but she'd become as beloved to me as the main characters.  I nurtured her through her rough childhood, suffered with her when she struggled with magic, and ultimately rejoiced with her when she married and had her first child.  And then, when she was at her happiest, I killed her.

I had to.  It was needed to move the story forward, and will spur the main character (since this is his only daughter) to the much needed point of wanting revenge against the people who murdered her.  It burns and festers in his mind until those people act again.  That second time, when they wipe out what he thinks is what's left of his people, he loses it.  He'll try to kill all of those who had anything to do with the massacre.  His actions are what changes things to lead up to the third book in the loosely connected series.

But I cried when I killed her.  I didn't want to do it.  I felt like a heartless monster when I did it.  I put on my saddest song that I have access to (Who Wants To Live Forever by Queen) and I burned through that scene.  I cried along with her father and her husband as she was laid to rest.

That got me to thinking.  Is it a good idea to get so involved in your story that you grieve over the loss of a character?  Or that you laugh with your characters when something fun happens?  Is it normal or necessary to get that deeply involved in your characters' lives?

I think it is.  I love feeling what my characters are feeling, because I think it helps me portray those feelings better as I'm writing them.  I think it's better for my readers because if I'm that connected hopefully they'll be as connected by the time I'm done.  I'm investing my time and my emotions into these characters.  I want a reader to do the same.

I don't know if I've succeeded, but I do know I wrote one hell of a depressing scene last night.  I only hope that when I go back in edits I can make it punch a reader in the gut even more.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...Anni has a soapbox and isn't afraid to use it this week

Hey all!

Sorry about the blog absence last week, but I was in the hospital and didn't have access to my laptop.  I spent 9 days in the hospital, and now I'm on a month long hiatus from my day job until I get some therapy out of the way.  My doctor practically ordered me to keep writing though, so that's what I'm going to do.

Himself is still working for Kirby but he's looking for something with a steadier income so we can get out of Twitchy's house sooner.  He's got a couple interviews lined up for next week, so send good thoughts his way.  One is almost the same hourly wage as I get ($11/hr), so we'd have a lot more to work with and that would be lovely.  Instead of living from my paycheck to my next paycheck.

Writing is going well.  I've put in almost 15k on the novel this week since I got home, and hope to finish it by the end of the month.  I've got some other projects that need to be finished, and I've got some side stories I want to write because the side characters interest me as much as the main characters.  The side stories probably won't ever see publication but they're going to be fun to write.  I may save them until November, when I do NaNoWriMo again though.

I'm going to deviate from my usual SFU for a moment.  I want to talk to you about a subject that is both serious and very important to me: mental illnesses.  I myself am bipolar.  I suffer from depression, mania, and anxiety - mostly depression and anxiety.  My mental illness was part of what got me hospitalized.  It, along with unattended health issues, knocked me off my feet.

NAMI has a great definition for mental illness.  My favorite part of the definition is: "Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing."  It also mentions that it's treatable, which it is through therapy, counseling, and medication.  Coping skills can be taught and medication can help stabilize moods.

There's even an institute to deal with mental health issues (NIMH).  Now, aside from the terrifying portrayal of them in "The Secret of NIMH", the National Institute for Mental Health has a lot of good information available to those who either suffer from mental illnesses or the families of those who have to live with those who suffer from mental illnesses.

One thing I've seen which breaks my heart is a lack of support from friends and family members.  Friends abandon individuals with mental health issues.  Family members go after them to "get their head on straight" and to "get over it".  You can't get over it.  It's treatable but not curable.

If you know someone with a mental illness, don't turn away from them.  Offer them love and support even if it seems like they don't want it.  Mental illness can make people do strange things, and one of them is isolate themselves to avoid any further pain.  Don't let them.  Isolation and a feeling of being alone is often what leads to suicide among those with mental illnesses.  Let them know you're always there for them no matter how often they tell you they don't need help.

Now, for a lighter note...this week we're going to have some Simon's Cat videos instead of my usual music videos.