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Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thursday Recipe - Easy Biscuits

These lovely basic biscuits are made with oil instead of butter so no cutting in the fats, just stir the oil in with the milk. If you want a butter flavor, you could use half melted butter and half oil.

Baking Powder Biscuits

1 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. milk
3 T. oil

Heat oven to 425° F.

Grease a cookie sheet, set it aside.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add milk and oil. Stir just until it forms a soft dough.

Sprinkle 1/4 c. flour on a counter top. Scoop the dough out of the bowl onto the flour. The flour is just to keep it from sticking. Don't try to work all the flour into the dough.

Knead the dough 10 or 12 times.

Pat the dough out flat, until it's about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut the dough into 4-6 biscuits.

Place biscuits at least 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve hot with butter and jam.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday Musings

I asked my 14yo daughter what I should post about. She said, "Cats." Isn't that what the internet is for? Cats? Invented by Whiskers R. Pussington, so everyone could bask in the beauty, grace, and intelligence of cats.

So here you go. Cats.

(I don't take any credit for these. I posted them from various sites. Click on the image if you want to visit the site yourself. Have fun, but don't blame me when you realize you've just spent the last four hours looking at cat memes.)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Thursday Recipe - Dairy-free Lemon Pudding

I got my hands on some Meyer lemons recently. These are dark yellow, sweet lemons. They are also extremely juicy. Three of them gave me a full cup of lemon juice. They still have that lemon tang. This pudding is delicious with Meyer lemons. If you can't get them or you have regular lemons, you may have to add some extra sugar to sweeten it to your taste.

Dairy-free Lemon Pudding

1/3 c. sugar (up to 2/3 c. depending on how sweet you like your pudding)
3 T. cornstarch
1/8 t. salt
2 c. coconut milk (the drinking kind, not the cans)
2 egg yolks
1 T. fresh lemon zest
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
Optional for a creamier pudding - 3 T. coconut oil or butter if you don't mind a little dairy

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Add coconut milk, egg yolks, and lemon zest. Stir until smooth.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. You won't need to bring it all the way to a boil, but don't stop too soon or it will stay really runny. You want a thin pudding or thicker custard consistency.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and butter. Let it cool for 20-30 minutes. Stir the pudding until it is smooth and glossy.

Pour it into a serving bowl. Place plastic wrap over the top, gently pressing it onto the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate until completely cold and set, about 2 hours.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Bubble Wrap Kids

Personal rant warning...

What is it with eating laundry detergent? How did this become cool? Don't these kids realize the harm they're doing to themselves when they eat those things? Maybe not.

It's a natural instinct to protect our babies, to keep them safe from anything that might harm them. I think we've gone too far, though. It's also natural for our babies to grow up and start finding out for themselves what will harm them and what is safe. The problem is that we're not letting them experiment while the stakes are low and the dangers are small. We wrap our kids in bubble wrap to the point that they never experience the thrill of danger. They expect everything in their world to be safe. They expect words to never hurt. They expect to never fail.

And then we wonder why teens and young adults are eating laundry detergent.

Kids need to be able to experience danger. They need to explore, to leave the nest and stretch their wings. We, as their parents and the adults in their lives, should provide guidance, but we should also let them experience the consequences of their actions and choices. I'm not talking about "toddlers playing in traffic" danger, that would be stupid, short-sighted, and definitely wrong. I'm talking about letting kids climb trees and venture out of our narrow little safe zones. I'm talking about letting them explore. I'm talking about letting them fail on an assignment because they forgot to do it or being tardy to school because they didn't make it to the bus stop on time. I'm talking about letting them suffer when the consequences are small and their mistakes are small. How are they going to learn to handle the large things if we never let them experiment with the small things?

My 17yo son has a hard time waking up in the morning. I was stressing out because he was perpetually late. I had to call him multiple times every morning. And then one day I realized he's old enough to deal with the consequences. He has an alarm clock. He doesn't need me to wake him up. So I didn't. I warned him the night before. And then I didn't wake him up. I didn't call him down for breakfast. I sat and read a book and let the minutes slip by. His sister finally woke him up because she was worried about being late to her school. I assured her that if she was ready on time, I'd take her to school. She wouldn't be punished because her brother couldn't get himself out of bed on time. He was a half hour late to school that morning. And it wasn't my problem. It was his. I let him own it and suffer the consequences. He had to call his teacher and explain why he was late. Was it easy for me? No, but I decided to let go. It's good for both of us. I should have done it years earlier.

So maybe it's time to remove some of that bubble wrap. Kids don't magically become responsible adults on their 18th birthday. They have to be taught. They have to experience decision making. They have to deal with consequences. So let them wear mismatched clothes. Let them leave their jacket home on a rainy day. Let them get an F. Let them suffer a little.

Let them learn that not everyone is going to speak kindly. And that's okay. They aren't going to die from a few harsh words. Teach them compassion instead. Maybe that rude clerk was having a rough week. Maybe that teacher was right and they did a sloppy job and could have done better. Maybe their friend isn't really their friend.

Let them fail when they make bad decisions. Do it when the consequences are small. Let them spend their three dollars on a cheap toy that breaks before you get home. And don't replace it no matter how upset they are. Let them learn from the experience. Don't wrap them in bubble wrap.

Trust your instincts as your child's parent. You know them best. You know when they need support and when you need to pull back. Tears won't hurt them. They will help them grow. That doesn't mean turn your back and let them suffer alone. Offer sympathy and encouragement. Help them learn to acknowledge their mistakes and then give them the support they need to move on and do better.

And then maybe we won't need safe spots at colleges. Maybe our kids will learn to create their own safe spots inside themselves. Or maybe they'll develop the resilience and maturity to move beyond those moments.

And maybe they'll quit eating laundry soap.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Thursday Recipe - GF DF Hot Fudge Sundae Slow-Cooker Cake

So, I was bored the other day and wanted hot fudge cake, but wanted to make some my daughter could eat, too. This turned out so delicious, and it was so easy. Just dump into the crockpot and let it cook. Serve it with ice cream, whatever your choice.

It's ugly, but oh so tasty.

GF DF Hot Fudge Sundae Slow-Cooker Cake

1 box Betty Crocker GF chocolate cake mix
1 c. milk, I used coconut drinking milk
1/4 c. oil
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. cocoa powder
2 c. boiling water

Turn the crockpot to high. Dump dry cake mix into a 3 or 4 quart crockpot. Add milk and oil, stir until smooth. Spread out into the crockpot. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cocoa over the top. Pour the boiling water over that. Slap a lid on it and let it cook on high for 3-4 hours, until the cake is done. There will be a thick fudge sauce underneath, that's the hot fudge part of the recipe. Serve hot with ice cream.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review - Save Our Souls by Leighton Dean

Disclaimer - I read an uncorrected advance copy. The book is coming soon... Check it out here.

This was explained to me as a light-hearted space adventure. Yes, it was adventurous with plenty of action, but light-hearted? Not really. People die constantly in the story. And the space pirates are very brutal. Not quite the light-hearted lark I was hoping for.

But the story rolled along at a good clip. There were aliens and explosions and pirates. Overall, it was an enjoyable story that kept me reading. I did get bogged down with an excess of editing, proofing, grammar, and spelling problems, but I was assured they would be fixed in editing. I was reading an unedited advance copy.

So if you're looking for a fast-paced adventure set in space, Save Our Souls will fit the bill. As long as you can handle lots and lots of violence and death.

I give the book a solid three stars. Was it a book I fell in love with and want to read it over and over? No. Do I regret reading it? No. There was enough of a larger story forming that I'm curious to see where it goes. So if a sequel shows up, I'll probably read it.

3 stars
PG-13 for violence, brutality, swearing, and lots of dead bodies

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thursday Recipe - Ruane Irish Soda Bread

I was at RadCon last weekend. I chose to participate in the teacher visits at the local schools. I love working with children. We had a blast brainstorming a story beginning. I walked them through my process and let them go to town dreaming up their own story. One class came up with a thriller set in Seattle. Another one had a talking turtle, unicorn, and the usual teen love story. The third class went a totally different direction with a Bigfoot story at an isolated gas station. It was fun to see them get so excited. It's like a light goes on and the creativity just explodes.

One of the teachers, Mr. Ruane, took the time to look me up online. He found my blog and gave me a recipe to thank me for my time. I sent him one of my stories for his classes to read and enjoy. So this is his recipe that he was gracious enough to allow me to share. He says it's his grandmother's secret recipe. And it's delicious.

Thanks to McLoughlin Middle School for letting me visit!

Ruane Irish Soda Bread

3 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
2/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. seedless raisins (more or less)
1 3/4 c. whole-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
2 T. vegetable or olive oil

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Stir in raisins, adding more if you want them.

In another bowl, mix buttermilk, eggs, and oil.

Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients until mixture is moistened; no clumps of dry flour remain. Don't overmix it, though, or it gets tough.

"Grease" a 5x9 loaf pan with butter. Or use a 2-qt casserole dish.

Turn batter into pan. Make a cut down the middle to guide the rise. On the round dish, make a cross on the top.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for about 1 hour, until done.

Remove from pan immediately. Allow to cool thoroughly before eating.

From Mr. Ruane: I serve it slathered with plenty of sweet butter. Toasts well, too!