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

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Audio Book Journey

I finally dipped my toe into the audio book world last fall. I personally don't listen to them because my brain doesn't work that way. Two minutes into the book and I'm off in lala land and have no idea what's going on in the story. My hubby, on the other hand, loves audio books. So do a lot of other people I know. So I checked into ACX, which is the production side of Audible. Not that painful. It is time consuming, but once you get a good narrator, everything is pretty easy.

Right now, I have two titles out - Second Chances, a short story, and Soul Windows, a short story collection. Next up - Nexus Point, book 1 in my space opera series. Look for that sometime in late summer or early fall.

Want to win a free audible code? Tell me what you like in a narrator, what makes an audio book good. I'll reward your opinion with a free audible code, until I run out. You can leave the comment here, post it on FB, message me with it, whatever you are comfortable with. I will need an email address to give you your code, but I promise not to spam you with anything else. Unless you want me to.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday Recipe - Raspberry Blueberry Sauce

We had a really good dessert at a church meeting the other night. It was a cheesecake type thing with a berry sauce over the top. It was loaded with dairy and wheat. My daughter was very disappointed she couldn't have any. I did give her the white chocolate heart on top of mine. She licked the berry sauce off and told me if she couldn't eat the dessert, she wanted the berry sauce. It was that good.

We tried to create a version that she could eat. I used a vanilla mousse mix* and Simple Truth Coconut Milk** to make a base and then cooked up a berry sauce to spoon over the top. It wasn't the same, but it was tasty. This is my version of that sauce.

*Found the mousse mix online - Southern Gourmet. I just used the coconut milk instead of cow milk. It turned out great. It does need to refrigerate for a while to cut the coconut taste, though.

**You can find this at a Kroger brand store. We used to buy it at Smith's but they aren't here in Washington so we found it at Fred Meyer's. My daughter prefers this for pouring over cereal or drinking straight.

Raspberry Blueberry Sauce

1 c. raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 c. sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. cornstarch

Mix everything together in a small saucepan. Cook over med-low heat, stirring often, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat, set aside and let it cool. Stir well before serving.

Goes great over vanilla pudding, cheesecake, pancakes, waffles, cake, or anything else you can think of that might go with a sweet berry sauce.

Mix it up and try other berries like blackberries or strawberries.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Movie Review - Sharknado 3

Yes, I was desperate. I needed something that required no brain cells. Sharknado 3 was on Netflix. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

This trainwreck of a poster for it pretty much sums up what you can expect from the movie itself. A total trainwreck of bad ideas. But SHARKS! Falling from tornadoes! Eating people! And CHAINSAWS!

It was enjoyable. We got a few good laughs. But yeah, it was beyond stupid. Much more watchable than the other two Sharknado movies, though. I tried the first one and couldn't make it through more than fifteen minutes. This one was such an over-the-top satire of just about every monster/action movie ever made that I think I've found a new favorite bad movie to add to my list.

Giant tornadoes of angry sharks are eating people all over the place - New York, Washington DC, DisneyWorld... And they are merging into a mega-Shark-icane. Like a hurricane but with sharks. And the only way to stop it is - wait for it! - to go into space. Yep. You heard it right. We have to go into space to stop a hurricane of angry sharks. And we stop them - SPOILER ALERT! but not really - punching them in the head. With a chainsaw. Then letting the giant one eat you so that as it falls to earth like a shark-meteor, you will be protected and survive the impact. And cut your way out with your chainsaw.

The science is non-existent. The plot is barely there. The gore is everywhere. Chainsaws abound. But I enjoyed it thoroughly. If you have no expectations, or very low ones, you might be pleasantly surprised. The movie isn't for everyone, but it was definitely my kind of movie.

Rating: PG-13+ for the amount of blood spatter and shark devouring people scenes

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday Recipe - Chicken Gravy

We showed up home late the other night. And hungry. I needed something I could throw together in a hurry that wouldn't take much thought. I came up with this creamy chicken gravy. I did a non-dairy version a while back; this is the full dairy and flour version. It turned out very satisfying. We served it over bread, but you could use rice or mashed potatoes or waffles.

Chicken Gravy

2 T. oil
1/2 c. sweet onion, sliced thin
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. dried marjoram or basil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
3 c. milk

Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the chicken breasts. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until the chicken is mostly done, anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on how big the chicken pieces are and if they are frozen or not. Remove the chicken and cut up into bite-size pieces. Add chicken and onions back to the pan. Add flour and spices. Stir around until the chicken is coated.

Turn heat to low. Add 1 c. of the milk. Stir around until the flour is mostly mixed into the liquid, the better you mix them, the fewer lumps you'll have. Add the rest of the milk. Cook and stir until it comes to a boil.

Serve over toast or rice or mashed potatoes or ...

Monday, February 15, 2016

Not Quite Ready

I think I jumped the gun saying I was settled in the new house and ready to resume blogging. Truth is that I'm exhausted most days. Moving requires lots of decisions ranging from minor to huge. That takes mental energy. Writing also requires mental energy.

So, for the next while, posts may be sporadic and random.

If anyone wants to write a book review or interview an author or write a guest post or share a favorite recipe, I'm more than happy to share the space.

Otherwise, you might get subjected to our new family tradition - bad music video wars. Whoops! Already posted this a few weeks back. Have to share this instead.

Stay tuned next week for a review of Sharknado 3...

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thursday Recipe - Basic Cookies

This is my go-to recipe. I had no idea where my cookbooks were so I guesstimated everything. Nailed it. They turn out great and you can personalize them however you want.

Basic Cookies

1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
1/4 c. shortening, if you've got it otherwise skip it (I dump in a glob on a mixing spoon)
2/3 c. brown sugar (or use all white)
2/3 c. white sugar (or use all brown)
1 t. vanilla (or use other flavorings like rum or pineapple or whatever you want to try. Some day I will figure out how to make root beer flavored cookies)
1 t. baking soda/baking powder (either one or use half and half)
1 t. salt
2 eggs (3 if you want more of a cake-like cookie)
2 1/2 c. flour (use part whole wheat if you want) OR 1 c. oatmeal and 2 c. flour
1-2 c. chocolate chips, dried fruit like craisins or cherries or currants, nuts, coconut, sprinkles, or whatever combination you like
1 t. spices like cinnamon, ginger, anise seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds
1/4-1/2 t. spices like nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ground black pepper, chili powder

Cream butter and shortening with sugar until well mixed. Add vanilla, baking soda/powder, salt, and eggs. Beat for 3-4 minutes until fluffy and creamy and smooth. Make sure you scrape the sides once or twice during the mixing. Add flour/oatmeal and whatever stir-ins you like. Mix together.

Scoop by generous tablespoonfuls onto a greased or lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 8-11 minutes, until lightly browned and set. Longer baking times will give you crunchier cookies, shorter ones will give you softer gooier cookies. Makes about 36 cookies.

Some combos I like:

Dark chocolate and craisins with a little cinnamon in the dough, use oatmeal/flour and half-and-half sugar
white chocolate, chopped almonds, and coconut, use all brown sugar. Use either all flour (half whole wheat) or part oatmeal.
sprinkles (only about 1/3 c.), use all white sugar and all white flour
gingersnaps - 1 t. ginger, all brown sugar, all whole wheat flour

Experiment and see what you like. Please share your versions in the comments.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Shiny New Same Old

It's weird. I know I'm living in a totally different state, but it's the same old same old 99% of the time. The people are different. The street names are different. The house is different. But I may as well be back in my old town. The stores are the same. Unless I really look at the horizon or drive near the river, the neighborhood is the same. The weather is similar, not as cold and rain a lot more than snow. So why did I move? The air is cleaner. The traffic is lighter. Our yard is much flatter.

I tell people we moved for my health, which is true, but it isn't the full truth. We moved because we felt it was the right thing to do. It's scary because my husband is quitting his job soon and doesn't have a new one yet, but we have faith that something will work out. We're in a good place financially so that isn't too much of a worry. Health insurance is a concern, but we'll figure that out, too.

My husband and I both believe in personal revelation, that God has a plan for us. We don't know the plan, but we trust His guidance. We have faith that this move will be good for us.

Meanwhile, I'm gaining mad skills at assembling mail order furniture. I've put together bookshelves, cabinets, lamps, and chairs so far. I'm getting good at connecting all our electronics and getting them set up. My boys put together the desks so I can't claim that one. Now to get the art hung, including my lovely hunting trophy. I rolled a natural 20 to behead this beastie. You can get your own at monsterhedz. I need to get me a dragon skull...