Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

Here are my Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1)  No Traffic - This would really take some magic. Living in L.A., the traffic can make or break your morning (and afternoon and evening). When I have to work south of where we live, it takes me four times longer to get to the school. This week, I got lucky because I was 5.8 miles north of the house. Got there in 10 minutes. Next week? I'm south. 12.3 miles south and west. It usually takes me an hour on a good day. Can you believe that? Sometimes (very, very rarely), I hit this weird little magical pocket of NO cars. Don't know how it happens. Don't know why it happens. Can't recreate it two days in a row if I try. I'm praying for a little pocket next Tuesday. It can be tempting to only book schools that are easy/quick to get to, but we have to go where our lessons are needed most. That means braving the traffic most days.

2)  Healing - This is just going out to hurting families in general. There has been so much loss already this year. In my group of friends, in the world (we lost two men who contributed greatly to the arts over our lifetimes). There are a lot of broken hearts out there. I'm rubbing that cat tree extra hard and asking for comfort in this time of loss, for peace, for memories to bring healing. I wish I could wrap everyone in a huge, warm hug. I wish I was magic and could radiate that healing out into the world. How cool would that be? Just open your arms...wait, I just got a creepy image of Wayne from The Leftovers. Nevermind. Let's just stick with wishing healing, peace, comfort, light.

3) Time - Not much. I just need 3 hours. I binged Jessica Jones when I was down with the stomach flu, but I only got 10 episodes in. I need to watch those last three episodes, but I haven't had time yet. I need time to just stand still for three hours. Long enough to finish the season. (So I can then whine about not having anything to watch because I binged the entire season. Ha!) I don't need them all in the same day. Just in the next few days. Oh, who am I kidding. It's called bingeing for a reason. I need three consecutive hours to finish it!

What about you - any wishes for Wednesday, our Magical cat?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Flexing Those Creative Muscles

Sometimes we get stuck in ruts as writers. Even when we're deep in edits on one book and writing out bits for the next, it's still helpful to step outside of all that. To flex our creative muscle. You never know where an idea will come from - and what it will lead to! That's the exciting part of being a writer, following those little idea fairies through the forest of our minds to see where exactly they will lead.

I'm taking a Fiction Writing Class through Gotham. Part of the reason for taking it was to workshop my current book. But the other part was to continue to learn, to hone my craft (to be cliché), to be creative outside of my current projects.

Each week, we have different homework assignments. They have been fun. They have been frustrating (because, hey, I'm a writer...which means I'm an overthinker - is this what she wanted for the assignment or was it more of this?...and it means I'm insecure about what I'm writing, especially outside of the current book).

I'm doing this!


But really it feels more like I'm doing this sometimes.


It can be frustrating. But it has also been a lot of fun. I definitely recommend Gotham Writers if anyone is considering an online workshop. My instructor has been amazing, engaging, inspiring, and her critiques on both my chapters and my weekly assignments has been invaluable.

There is nothing like flexing that creativity in a safe environment, is there?

What about you - have you ever done a workshop? If so, which one(s) and would you recommend them to others?

Friday, January 8, 2016

FUN Friday

So, my hair is blue.

It's a thing I decided to do last year. I guess I got tired of being blonde.

Right after I had it done, I found out that blue hair is a 'thing.' Oops. If I had known, I would have gone with a different color.

Why don't you change it?

Because it won't come out. For reals. It will fade into a Mermaid color.

But that's as light as it goes. No matter how long I wait it out.

My last day of teaching before the Winter Break, I was leaving the Kinder Bldg and heading out to another classroom in the back to teach 3rd Grade City Wildlife. And I had a shadow. She tiptoed behind me, hiding when I would turn around. When I reached my classroom, I turned around and said, "I know you're there. Come out."

This little Kinder girl tiptoes out with her eyes wide.

Me: Why are you following me?

Her: *whispers* Are you a mermaid?

Me: I am. But you can't tell anyone or I will lose my powers.

Her: I knew it!

As she ran back across the playground, she shouted over her shoulder: I'll never, ever tell!

So adorable. I only felt a little bad about the lie. I can't help it. Childhood is so short. Soon enough, life will come along and take all the magic away. It's good to believe in Mermaids and Fairies and Elves for as long as you can.

How about some funnies?

Guns are such a hot button topic but only for certain people. I thought Jim Jeffries had a humorous take on the issue. And his American accent alone is worth the watch.

This may be funny to me because I live among wildlife.

I love Honest Trailers. (If you haven't checked out Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead, check those out as well)
No big plans here this weekend. Lots of reading and resting. We're recovering from a wicked stomach bug. What about you - any big weekend plans? 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

Here are my Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) Fruit Trees - Don't laugh. We're moving to Washington later this year. I'm giving up my killer farmer's market. Which means I'll be replacing it with a garden of my own. As we look at homes online, my focus is always the property and not the house. I'm wishing for a backyard with a few fruit trees. I can hardly wait to have my own!

2) Health - This is so stupid, but I am desperate so I will try anything! There is a wicked stomach bug going around work. For a MONTH now. It's like we can't get rid of it. We will go one week and someone else will get it. Ugh. Give me a cold for two weeks, but do NOT make me puke for 8 hours. I've had to up my anxiety medication just to get through this time. That sounds so lame to type, but there it is. We were two weeks out and we had someone come down with it Monday. What. The. Heck. Are you kidding me? Four weeks from Patient Zero. Two weeks from the last two people and someone falls. I'm wearing gloves (not even kidding) and sanitizing EVERYTHING with Clorox wipes as soon as I get in. Sweating it.

3) Lily - This poor dog has been through so much in her 8 years on this earth (bells palsy, pancreatitis, spindle cell sarcoma, colitis - to name a few). We were facing liver failure last November and had to switch her medications. Now, the liver is looking GREAT. But the medication was contraindicative with previous cancer. It could suppress the immune system enough that cancer comes through. We just discovered three lumps on her last week that have grown. She sees the vet next Tuesday and we will aspirate them. She and Wednesday are buddies so I'm wishing really hard that these will turn out to be benign lumps.

What about you - any wishes for our magic cat this week?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year


Welcome 2016!

I'm not big on resolutions. I set goals.

More outdoor time.
More writing time.
More reading time.
More blogging time.

Those are obtainable. I'd like to get more experimental in the kitchen this year. I prefer to cook our meals from scratch but when life gets hectic, I fall back on the old standbys. My goal is to try one NEW recipe a week. So if you have any good vegan dinners that make lots of leftovers, hit me up!

Since I vowed more outdoor time, it was fitting to hike today. We hit the PCT out by Vasquez Rocks. We did 8 miles. It wasn't a through hike so it's 4 out and 4 back, which is kind of a bummer for me. I like when we can hike it through a section and see new scenery the entire way. Also, it's SoCal which means a lot of desert hiking. I'm not someone who finds the desert particularly breathtaking like others. I'm a mountain girl! Through and through. But I did find these rocks pretty cool. The smooth surfaces, the varied levels - just fascinating to touch and hike among. And it's the PCT, which I intend to do in full in 2017 or 2018 so it always feels like an old friend when my feet hit the trail.

Ice on the small stream

Rocks jutting into the sky
They're just full of holes and different layers

I really wanted more from my first post back, but there it is. Baby steps. I have missed blogging so much. I can hardly wait to do another year of it - to reconnect with old friends and be a part of community again! It's a 2016 priority.

What about you - any goals for 2016? Or are you a resolution person?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Taste of Magic Blog Hop

It's the 3rd Friday of the month and that means Taste of Magic!

Something literary and something culinary.

You can join in the fun here!

For my literary this week, I decided that I would go with something a little different. I'm going to share the two books that I bought for all my friends as gifts this Holiday Season!

In no particular order, I bring them to you:

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and break the cycle once and for all.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Both debuts and both kept me up ALL NIGHT. If you rob me of sleep, I am going to be sharing your books! So, so very amazing. I had to spread the love and the best way to do that is to gift, gift, gift.

Now, on to culinary.

One of my favorite things about Christmas was the trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house. All the cousins, aunts, and uncles spending the day together. Grandma's cooking and baking.

My grandma has been gone for 15 years now. I still have moments where I miss her so much it's a physical ache. So, every year I pull out her old recipes and try to create a little of that magic.

I used to eat these until my stomach hurt because she only made them once a year. (I'm trying to sub coconut oil for paraffin wax this year because it doesn't seem healthy to consume that wax - even though I've been doing it for decades.)

Grandma’s Buttercreams

1 lb. confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
½ stick of butter
¼ c. cream (scant)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt

Knead until creamy. Make balls and chill until hard.

Melt together ½ lb semi-sweet baker’s chocolate and 1 inch off box of paraffin wax.

Dip balls in mix while hot and put on wax paper. Refrigerate to harden.

One of the best things about Grandma's old recipes: simplicity. You just cannot beat simple and tasty!

Hop on over to Alexia here and B.E. Sanderson here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Taste of Magic Blog Hop

I'm participating once a month in Alexia Chamberlynn's Taste of Magic blog hop!

Something literary and something tasty (okay, culinary).

Click the link above to join in on the FUN.

For my literary, I decided to share one of my favorite quotes. It's from The King's Buccaneer by Raymond Feist.

"Fear holds us and binds us and keeps us from growing. It kills a small piece of us each day. It holds us to what we know and keeps us from what's possible, and that is our worst enemy. Fear doesn't announce itself; it's disguised, and it's subtle. It's choosing the safe course; most of us feel we have rational reasons to avoid taking risks. The brave man is not the one without fear but the one who does what he must despite being afraid. To succeed, you must be willing to risk total failure..."

When I read this, I was at a crossroads in my life and fear was holding me back. These words resonated deep in me. I left the safe path, leaping out into an uncertain fate. It paid off in ways that I didn't even think were possible.

The quote hangs on my fridge as a reminder to always be brave; in life, in love, in friendships, in writing.

And now for my culinary! I went back and forth on which recipe to share. I'm vegetarian and I cook a minimum of four nights a week. It's still HOT here in SoCal so we haven't been able to make soup. I think I made soup three times last "winter" because we never did breakout the sweaters, sweatshirts, or jackets. So I've decided to live vicariously through all of you who are living where it is cold enough to make yummy soup!

The great thing about this soup (aside from the flavor) is the versatility. Swap out vegetables you don't like for ones that you do! Make your own broth from scrap vegetables if you're inspired (Thug Kitchen has an excellent recipe for it!)

Jenn's Veggie Bean Soup (eat your vegetables!)
olive oil, 1-2 T
shallots, 4
sweet onion
garlic, 4 to 6 cloves
crushed tomatoes (throw two or three ripe in the blender or just use canned)
carrots, chopped
vegetable broth, 4-8 cups depending on how much soup you want
kale, 1/2 bunch
broccoli, 1 head chopped
delicata squash (works just as good with butternut! or both!)
zucchini, 2 medium chopped
yellow squash, 2 chopped
green beans (if you use fresh, two handfuls; if canned, one can)
cannellini beans (or any bean you like the taste of)
2 bay leaves
any fresh herbs you have around (I usually add thyme, sometimes rosemary; marjoram works well)

Pro Tip: if you are low on time, chop/slice thin because everything will cook faster.

Throw the shallots, sweet onion, and garlic cloves in the food processor while you chop the carrot. Toss the carrot in a large soup pot with the olive oil. Cook for five minutes, then add your shallots/sweet onion/garlic. Sautee that for another five. Add the fresh herbs if you have any (it tastes phenom without as well so don't sweat it if you don't have anything). Then, deglaze the soup pot with just a little bit of veggie broth, scraping the bottom of the pot.

Pour the veggie broth in. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, and delicata squash. Medium high heat for 30 minutes.

Add the broccoli and kale, cook for another 5 minutes.

Toss in the green beans, cannellini beans, and a pinch of salt. (Your house should smell amazing by now) Let that simmer for another 5 minutes while you're heating up some bread to serve with it.

This should serve 8-10 people. There is only two of us so we eat it for two nights, then I freeze it and we have leftovers for another night or two. It's a great soup to load up on the vitamins if you feel a cold coming on!

Do you have any favorite quotes or recipes?

Be sure to hop on over to Alexia's entry here. And B.E. Sanderson's entry here.