Tuesday, November 29, 2011

American Christmas Shopping

What I have heard a lot lately is others reminding us to buy Christmas gifts from local stores and made in America, so I thought of some ideas that I want pass along this holiday season.

One idea is to buy books for gifts for those people on your list that like to read. You are not only buying local, but also supporting your favorite writers. Another idea is to buy movie tickets, most love to go to the movies and it's also a way to support America, and one more is gift cards to local restaurants. Also, tickets to a play or comedy show, or even a concert, local or big. There are a lot of people out there that can't afford entertainment and these are ways to give them a night out.

I love to share and I love giving gifts, but sometimes people are sick of getting a sweater or scarf. There are lots of ways to give fun gifts this year, my sister is the queen of coming up with awesome ideas!

For kids, how about a seasonal gift card for the Zoo, or Train museum, or a pottery making class? Giving gifts doesn't have to be over the top and can show support of your local businesses and artists, even in your own state.

If you can, take time out to not buy made in China, and give a gift of Fun!

Well, tomorrow is the last day of my contest to name my Orbs, so if you want to put in ideas, you have got two days to do so. They do not have to be looking up the meaning of those elements, they could be made up words, like the one we made up for Earth-Tecton. So if you want to post something you thought of, feel free, other wise, the winner will be posted on the first of December. Good luck, and have a wonderful holiday!

Love, Lisa

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Moment of Thanks

Well, it's that time, Thanksgiving, and time to reflect on what we are thankful for. I have had a good year and I am very grateful. Although platforming my book has not been an easy task, it is getting better, and I do appreciate those of you who have joined my blog and I pray for others to do so.

My book is coming along, with all the changes it has gone through, whoever had read the rough draft will barely recognize it. But, that is the nature of the beast and this book means the world to me and my hope is that one day when it is published, that all of you will enjoy it too.

Back to the things I give thanks for:

First, my husband, Rick. What a wonderful man he is! He is so patient and supportive and is truly my partner in life and love. He will do anything to help me and the others in my family and is always making me laugh, he is absolutely my treasure!

Second, my children. Although there are times I want to scream at them, they are trying their best to make it in this complicated world we are in now. My daughter, who is extremely busy, always finds time for the family and she is a wonderful mother and also my friend. My son, yes he is struggling through life, but I have complete confidence that he will come out of his tunnel with a lot of character and strength. I love them both very much.

Third, my grand baby's. They are my heart and soul. They always seem to make me smile, and tear sometimes from their sweetness, honesty, and love. It is so nice when they come home and immediately come downstairs to see us and tell us what is new in their lives. They draw us beautiful pictures and fill us with joy!

Forth, my sister. Wow, has she really helped me with my book, I don't know what I would do without her. I also love the extra time we have together now and have really gotten to know the wonderful and beautiful woman she is. What a supportive and uplifting person. She deserves everything, and would ask for nothing. She is my best friend, (other than my husband).

Fifth, my book. I am so ecstatic to have my book in my life! It is my saving grace and it really is fun to write. I love building the story and giving it all that I have. I hope and pray that it becomes a novel that everyone will enjoy reading, and that it takes you away, even if for a little while.

Sixth, is my Mom. I have seen some amazing changes in my mom the last few years. It is so nice to spend time with her and her support for me has been overwhelming even with everything she is going through. I miss my father, his friendship and his laughter, but my mother has been there, really been there for me and I appreciate her love and time.

Seventh, are my friends. I have some friends who have stood by me through thick and thin. They are a lot of my strength and I love to spend as much time with them as I can. Thank you for your support and letting me vent when I need too or just visiting for a day. I love you all.

Eighth, is our home. I am so grateful to have a home especially with the struggles other's are facing today. I am also grateful to have a good job, that I do enjoy, and good friends to work with and friends that I am getting to know that I serve everyday.

And last, but not least is my dog Branch. What a sweet gentle spirit she is and a wonderful addition to our family. She is so loving and cute and I appreciate her enthusiasm when you come home. She just wants to be with us and of course get some snacks on the side!

Well, there is my list and as you can see, I have a lot to be thankful for. What are you thankful for this year? Leave me your list so that I can enjoy with you all, the gifts in your life!

Love you, Lisa

Monday, November 21, 2011

A new Thanksgiving Recipe

I said I would post some of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving and this one you can also make all year long and it will still be a hit. This is my son's favorite meal. It was passed to me by my son's aunt, and we love it. No, it is not a low calorie meal, but it is delicious!! Yes, it's a casserole, but a good one.

                                                  My Broccoli Casserole

2 pkgs of frozen chopped broccoli-thawed
8 oz jar of cheese whiz
2 eggs beaten well
1 tbls of flour mixed in a 1/2 cup of cold water
1/4 cup of chopped onion
4 tbls of butter or margarine

the topping:
3/4 of a box of wheat thins
4 tbls of butter or margarine

Directions:

Melt 4 tbls of butter in a normal size pot, about a 12 cup pot. Stir in the onion and saute. Add the flour mixture and stir until it thickens and then add the eggs immediately, and continue to stir until all is thick. I usually pull the pot off the stove so it won't burn until it is thick, then add the cheese whiz  and stir until melted. Once melted, add the broccoli and stir together and put on med heat, continuing to stir off and on until heated. About 10 min.

Get a casserole dish, small one and either coat with pam or shortening, and pour mixture in, spreading evenly.

Set aside, and then pour wheat thins in a bowl and crush them to almost crumbs and melt the remaining 4 tbls of butter and pour over cracker crumbs and mix together. Spread the crumb mixture on top of the broccoli  and put in a pre-heated oven of 350 degrees. 45-50 min.

Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

I always double this recipe and bake it in a 13 by 9 casserole dish so that there is plenty. This is always a hit and I am sure your family will love it. If not for Thanksgiving, it is always good served with a salad or a baked potato, and a roll. Try it, you will love it!

Love, Lisa

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Newly transformed chapter one

Those of you that know me, know I have been working hard on revamping my book. Of course chapter one has been worked and re-worked for two weeks now, and that has lead me to sleepless nights, and power editing! Then I receive a book I ordered called the Fire in Fiction and decide I still have work to do. This is the never ending cycle of a writer, especially a new one like me.

I went to a conference, I read about your first page and action, and about your first 50 pages. I talked with family, friends and co-authors, and still I feel I have work to do. No, I know you can't please everybody, but I really want my book to be the best that I can do! So I have decided to add a little more richness to my characters in hopes that it is not to much detail. I would love your thoughts on this. I am going to post a few paragraphs from my new chapter one in hopes for opinions from my blogger friends.


Stevie threw her hands against the dashboard to keep from slamming forward as the Ford truck roared into the driveway, sliding sideways on the gravel and spitting rock behind them. She turned to Jeremy, but he refused to look at her; choosing instead to glare out the windshield. Despite her efforts and the seatbelt, she was still flung forward when he came to a skidding halt.
            “It’s just the way it is, Jeremy,” the athletic blonde said, cautiously releasing her death grip on the dashboard. “I already have plans that night.”
            “You could break them,” he growled between clenched teeth.
            “I don’t want to. The Wild Earth Guardians only have two fundraisers a year and I promised I would run the donations table.”
            Fixing her with a fierce look, his strong jaw tightened. “So a bunch of mangy dogs, smelly hippies, and losers are more important them me?”
            “With that ‘ttude? Yes.” Stevie got out of the truck, slamming the door hard. Without a glance backwards, she stormed up the porch steps. The sounds of squealing tires and engine gunning followed her into the house. Closing the door behind her she said, “Good riddance to bad rubbish.”

Now what I need to know is first, does it have enough action so you want to continue reading and second should I add any more thoughts from her, so you know more about her? That is my dilemma. I need to have the action, but still something about my main character. Please give me your thoughts on this.

Love, Lisa  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Your Favorite Books

Your walking through the aisles of your favorite book store or library, browsing for that book that will take you away...what do you pick? Do you pick that classic that you have always wanted to read, or one that your closest friend recommended? Is it mysteries that you love, or historical fiction? I want to know.

I want to know what you love, and who your favorite authors are. Do you like all kinds of different genres, or just one? Do you like series or trilogy's, or prefer the story to end? These are the questions I want answered by my friends and family who have joined my blog. I would love to hear what moves you, what you can't wait to get back home to read! It's okay what ever it is, and don't be shy!

I will list my favorite, although some of you already know. My favorite genre is sci-fi/fantasy, but I do love historical fiction and the occasional murder mystery. I love a book that grabs me and usually I don't want it to end, so I tend to pick the trilogy's or series. I do love details though, not so much that it takes two pages to describe a room, but enough that I see the room.

I just want to hear from all of you so I can see what runs through readers minds, so I can think of those thoughts of yours as I write my own book. I want my book to be the best that it can be and through your support and critiques, I hope to reach that goal. Okay, my list...

The most recent series I've read is the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, and they have now become my favorite books-ever!

After that, Harry Potter series, Dan Brown's series, Angel and Demons, Da Vinci Code, Lost symbol
I like Nora Robert"s trilogy's, John Sandford's Prey series, Lizzie T. Leaf's Beyond Magic series, Amy Tan, the Bonesetter's Daughter, Jeri Smith Ready's trilogy, The Eye of Crow (by the way, that is a really good trilogy)

I also like, Ray Khoury, Brad Meltzer, Steve Berry, Lisa Jackson and Logan Hawkes.

Those are my favorites, and as you can see, I do like action, but different genres.

So now it's your turn, I can't wait to see what you all like! One more thing, don't forget my contest to name my Orbs. It ends the end of this month!

Love, Lisa

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Stuffing Recipe

With Thanksgiving around the corner I thought it might be appropriate to do a recipe that all with taste-buds will love! I have made this stuffing for 25 years and it is always a hit. Although, I do not have any pictures since I won't be mixing it up until thanksgiving morning, I am sure you will be able to follow the directions with ease, and if you give it a try, you will love it! One more thing, it is not a recipe for dieters, but I don't think it is over the top in fat content.

1 package of Pepperidge Farm Country style cubed stuffing 12oz

1 roll of Bob Evans sausage 16oz

2 or 3 celery stalks

2 red apples

1/2 medium yellow or white onion

4 tbls. of butter or margarine

Make the stuffing according to the directions on the bag and set aside. Take a good sized skillet and brown the sausage, breaking it up as if you were cooking hamburger. After stuffing has absorbed all the water, switch it to a good sized mixing bowl and add browned sausage. Cut up the celery, apples, and onions in about 1/2 inch pieces.

Wash out skillet then add 4 tablespoons of butter of margarine to pan and melt until starting to sizzle then add the celery, onion and apples together in the skillet and saute until they are soft. You should be able to cut them with ease. After the saute is done, mix it into the stuffing mix, tossing lightly so as not to turn it to mush.

After the stuffing is complete, put it into the refrigerator over night so it will be the same temperature as the Turkey. The next morning after you have prepared your Turkey for the oven (I cook mine upside down. The white meat is more juicy) you stuff the neck and butt of the bird, wrap it up in an oven bag and slit the bag. Cook according to the directions on the oven bag box.

The left over stuffing put in a casserole dish and brown in the oven after you pull out the Turkey, for about 15 or 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it so you don't over brown.

That's it! Now you have stuffing for those who like it inside the bird and for those who like it cooked on the side, either way, it is delicious!!

I hope you try my recipe, I am certain your family will love it! Let me know if you do and if you enjoyed it!

Love, Lisa

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Support Class

After 3 weeks of no writing class, we met last night, and for the first time I realized what a support they all are! I know I have mentioned (in passing) that I have to rearrange the first quarter of my book and my frustrations rang out last night. All of the ladies were so caring and helped me to understand that it is my book and although I know I have to change things around, it will be perfect in the end.

They laughed at my antics about being nervous at the conference, they inputted ideas for my first chapter, and let me know that they are there for me, I appreciate their support. I realize sometimes that when you feel like you don't have support, people will surprise you! Even on Saturday my sister and mother came over to help me decide how to re-layout my first chapter, what wonderful people I have in my life!

Those of you that have been with me through thick and thin on this book project, I love you all! Thanks for being there for me, thanks for putting up with my panic phone calls (Tanya and Janet) and thanks for reading excerpts from my book so I know if it sounds good.

Believe me, your support is well documented and needed, probably more than you thought, and I love you all!

Keep up the good work!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

My 5 Orbs

I had a hard time deciding what to blog about this morning. My first initial thought was about the dilemma that I was having with the layout of my book...which I am sure none of you want to hear about, or something fun!

Then the thought dawned on me, what about a contest? Those are always fun right?! So here is my contest:

I have 5 Orbs in my book and I have had a hard time coming up with names for them. Right now the biggest one in the center, which represents the "Eternal Life Force" is named Spirit. I don't like it.

The other 4 represent the 4 elements...Water, Fire, Earth, and Air.

Their names are, Storm, which I like, Brimstone, Which I don't like, Tecton, which I really like and will keep, and Breath, which, I guess is okay but I want a better one.

So my challenge is whoever can come up with better names for the Orb for Eternal life force, and fire and air, will win a Visa gift certificate from me and a prize, which will depend on if you are a male or female on the prize.

So there is my contest. The winner will be announced at the end of the month. Good luck and I hope you can come up with some good names for me that will be in my book!

Lots of Love, Lisa

PS Make sure when you post your ideas that you leave me your email so I can get in touch with you in case you win!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Fun Recipe

Time for me to finally add my first recipe to my blog. I wanted it to be a special one and I searched through many, but I thought this one is unusual and delicious!! Apple Butter- that's right, you heard me, Apple Butter!

Remember when you were little and grandma would spread it on your toast, well, it is still good today and not only on toast, as the quarter master at the VFW where I work says, try it on pork chops, it's so good!

This recipe came from one of the ladies at the VFW, Tammy, who's Apple Butter was a big hit! It tastes just like apple pie filling and I am going to buy a jar of it to share with my family and I think I am going to make a batch for Thanksgiving! Try it, it's a fun recipe and all will enjoy!


Apple Butter Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 lbs of good cooking apples (we use Granny Smith or Gravenstein)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sugar (about 4 cups, see cooking instructions)
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

Equipment Needed

  • 1 wide 8-quart pan (Stainless steel or copper with stainless steel lining)
  • food mill or a chinois sieve
  • A large (8 cup) measuring cup pourer
  • 6-8 8-ounce canning jars

METHOD

Preparing the Fruit

1 Cut the apples into quarters, without peeling or coring them (much of the pectin is in the cores and flavor in the peels), cut out damaged parts.

First Stage of Cooking

2 Put them into large pot, add the vinegar and water, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cook until apples are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Measure out the purée and add the sugar and spices

3 Ladle apple mixture into a chinois sieve (or foodmill) and using a pestle force pulp from the chinois into a large bowl below. Measure resulting puree. Add 1/2 cup of sugar for each cup of apple pulp. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add a dash of salt, and the cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice, lemon rind and juice. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Second Stage of Cooking

4 Cook uncovered in a large, wide, thick-bottomed pot on medium low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Scrape the bottom of the pot while you stir to make sure a crust is not forming at the bottom. Cook until thick and smooth (about 1 to 2 hours). A small bit spooned onto a chilled (in the freezer) plate will be thick, not runny. You can also cook the purée on low heat, stirring only occasionally, but this will take much longer as stirring encourages evaporation. (Note the wider the pan the better, as there is more surface for evaporation.)

Canning

5 There are several ways to sterilize your jars for canning. You can run them through a short cycle on your dishwasher. You can place them in a large pot (12 quart) of water on top of a steaming rack (so they don't touch the bottom of the pan), and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Or you can rinse out the jars, dry them, and place them, without lids, in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.
6 Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal. If you plan to store the apple butter un-refrigerated, make sure to follow proper canning procedures. Before applying the lids, sterilize the lids by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. Wipe the rims of the jars clean before applying the lids. I use a hot water bath for 10 minutes to ensure a good seal.
As an alternative to stove cooking the puree you can cook uncovered in a microwave, on medium heat to simmer, for around 30 minutes.
Makes a little more than 3 pint jars.