Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Harvest Time

Since I missed posting a Mid-Month Make something in August, I'm combining it with my end of the month rhyme. I love to garden and give gifts from my garden at Christmas time. This year I tried something new: pickled green beans. I tried them a few months ago at a friends house. She served them with cheese and crackers and other finger foods. I loved them and decided to grow and make some for myself. I'll share her recipe with you. But first I want to share my rhyme for August.

I love to garden come summer time

I grow some food to save a dime.

I plant some seeds in my yard

Then work all season, long and hard.

When I came to harvest in the fall,

My corn was sparse, my spuds were small.

So this year, despite the late May frosts,

I decide to tally all of my costs.

I figured my salary at minimum wage,

adding costs of plant food and a tomato cage.

I’d discovered I’d done my wallet a big disfavor.

But when I sat down to supper, I savored the flavor.

4 lbs of gresh green beans, snipped and cleaned
8-16 heads of fress dill
8 cloves garlic
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt (non-iodized)
4 c whiet vinegar (5%)
4 c water
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
Place beans, 1 clove garlic, and 2 heads of dill in pint jars, leaving 1/2 " head space.
Combine salt, vinegar, water and peppers in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Add hot solution to beans, leaving 1/2" headspace. Adjust lids and process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Yeild: 8 pints

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Book Review: ALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean

It has been years since I've read non-fiction. I was not disappointed this time. Alone is a true story about an 11-year old girl who goes on a sailing trip in 1961 with her family and becomes the sole survior of a gruesome crime at sea. The skipper has killed everyone else on board the boat, has sabotaged the boat, leaving it to sink with young Terry Jo aboard, and escapes in a small motorized dingy. Terry Jo manages to retrieve a flimsy cork-and-canvas float from the ship right before it sinks. She floats upon the vast Carribean Sea for four days and nights without food or waters. A Greek frieghter miraculously sights her and pulls her aboard, tettering on the verge of death. She survives, but the skipper commits suicide when he discovers that she has survived.
The story is a facinating tale of good and bad and survival. It took me several pages to fall into the book. I knew it was non-fiction, but at the first of the book the author spent some pages describing  the beautiful sea life, the wind swept waves, etc.and inserting them into the thoughts of the characters. I knew this was fictionalized, because he could have never known what these deceased people were thinking of at that moment in time. I know he was just trying to add color to this real life story, but it distracted me. It also bored me--I wanted to get to the meat of the story, not read about the colorful streaks of blue upon the fish by the side of the boat, or whatever.
Once the story got underway, or he delved into the personal backgrounds of the characters, I liked it.
It was a facinating tale. I would recommend this book to those who love to sail, or just like tragic true stories that are hard to comprehend how they could ever happen

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm a Guest Blogger on LDSwritersblogck

Today I'm a guest blogger on the awesome blog: LDSwritersblogck.On the blog I shared one of my passions: the need for YA authors to keep their writing clean and uplifting. Come on over and check it out. (And if you're wondering what George Washington has to do with my article, well, you'll just have to read it and find out.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Book Review: Brass Dragon Codex

I won a copy of Brass Dragon Codex last April at the LDS Storymakers conference and just barely got a chance to read it this pas week.
It is a clever story, definately written to appeal to a younger audience. The writing was clean, never distracting and the story contained elements that I found charming.
Hector is a gnome whose life quest is to build a communication devise. All gnomes are inventive and have a life quest. I loved this feature of the story. Hector has a friend who happens to be a girl and an gnome, named Amber. Hector also becomes friends with a baby brass dragon, named Tumbleweed. The story is basically about how Hector builds a fantasy-story version of a telegraph machine and his quest to set it up across the desert to prove to Shem the communication divise really works. (Shem is.a human who banished Hector because he believed Hector's inventions were dangerous).
The author shifted within the POV of Hector, Amber and Tumbleweed through out the story. I felt this weakened an already conflict-poor story. Many points along the way, I felt the tension could have been heightened if I, the reader, were allowed to beleive that Amber could be in danger, or even dead, but when the author shifts POV and a semi-tense point from Hector to Amber's thoughts, I know immediately that Amber is okay. It's like poking a taut ballon with a pin.
If you don't mind predictable outcomes, and watered down tension, the book was good. I would recommend this book for young readers 8 to 12.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Liven Things up with New Handles for Cupboards and Main Characters


The past two weeks I haven't done much in the way of reading, writing or blogging. I have been buried deep in the process of giving my familyroom and kitchen a facelift. After painting, steaming cleaning the grout in my kitchen tile, and shampooing the carpet, I looked at my kitchen cabinents and they needed something to freshen them up. My daughter suggested that I replace all of the handles with something more updated, something that would tie them in with the refreshened decor of the rest of the room. I did it. I loved it.

As I replaced just one of the handles, already my cabinets began to transform. I put on more handles. The eleven year old cabinets took on new life. During this process, I thought about other kinds of handles. Back in the days of CB radios, the truckers each had a handle. They identified themselves via their handles, and you could tell a lot about an individual trucker by their handle.

I a tired-looking cupboard could be transformed, made more interesting, by replacing its handle, perhaps the same thing would work for my WIP. In my critique group, my fellow writers have told me that my main character is not interesting, weak, lacks color, etc. Perhaps its time to give him a new handle. Even though I had cleaned up my writing, it wasn't enough to make the story shine. Just like with my kitchen, painting and scrubbing the grout was not enough--the cabinets needed new handles.

A few days ago I started livining up my MC, giving him more flaws, giving him a passion that he was determined to make happen, even it was impossible. I hadn't done it before because my story is based on a real person's life, and he had failed to tell me any of his flaws, only the story of his life. Straight story, I have discovered is not enough. My main character needed a handle--a unique personality that would liven up my story.