Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book Review: Scorch Trials.

I just finished reading James Dashner's, Scorch Trials, and, whew, I think I need a nap. The action never let up. James had me on the edge of my seat almost throughout the whole book. His use of short chapters and cliffhangers at the end of each was very effective in maintaining the tension.

Thomas, who had been a maze runner in the first book, and responsible for getting he and his friends out of the Glade, is immediately dropped into a pot of problems at the onset of the book. Now he has to endure the Scorch Trials. He and his friends have to endure scorching deserts, deadly lightning storms, abandoned disease riden cities full of crazy people, and betrayal, as he battles to make it to the "save haven" in the alotted time. He barely makes it. But the tension is not over.

The book leaves me dangling at the end. To me there wasn't enough resolution. I realize that there is another book still to go in the series. But I needed a little more of a breather, a touch of something warm and fuzzy. Especially if I am to dive into another book and another round of sitting on the edge of my seat.

 My tastes usually go for something more mellow, but overall, I did like the book. I would heartily reccomend it to one who likes to chew their nails while they read.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies: Mid-month Make somthing Madness

Tis the season for turkey and pumpkin pie. But for lazy days inbetween, when you want a seasonal treat without too much work, here is the perfect recipe: Pumpkin cookies. I created this recipe to use up left-over squash (butternut, accorn, banana, etc.,) from a meal, but you can use packed pumpkin from a can, the results are the same.


In a blender or food processor add:
1 1/2 cup pumpkin or squash
2 med eggs
1-2 TB milk (just enough to blend)

In a separate bowl add and then mix:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 t cinnamin
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t cloves
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter

Add the liquid from the blender; 1 cup chopped walnuts and 1 to 2 cups chocolate chips (to taste)
Mix together and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

NPR article on Utah's Teen Writers

I just wanted to share an interesting article that Sydney Salter (director of the UT/ID chapter of SCBWI) brought to my attention. The reporter mentions several famous Utah children's authors as well as the apparent concentration of children's authors flowing from within the state and from our universities.

A year or so ago, I remember a comment made at the annual SCBWI fall workshop. One of the aspiring authors had attended a workshop on the east coast. When others attendees discovered that she was from Utah, one of them asked her, "What do they put in the water back there in Utah? That state seems to produce more than their fair share of good children's writers." As one who is aspiring to be one of those "good children's writers," I would have responded to that person's comments as follows.

I think it is due to our firm family and religious values, values that are based on truths that transcend the ages and speak to one's inner soul, whether child or adult. And these values carry forth in our writing, making great heros and realistic villians. After all, the LDS belief in the pre-mortal war in heaven gives us the best example ever to be had of the perfect protaganist and antagonist.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eating can be a pain--or not

Are you tired of aches and pains, especially when you haven’t even done the work to earn them?

I know I was. Two years ago I had a simple knee surgery, repairing a torn meniscus in my left knee. The original problem with my knee was taken care of, but I was left with an on-again, off-again pain in that knee that the doctor chalked up to my age and arthritis. His recommendation was to take pain pills. The odd thing was, the pain was worse at night. Sometimes it got so bad it would wake me up. At times it got so bad I couldn’t sleep all night because of the pain. Ibuprofen didn’t cut it. I had to move on to Lortab. I had to up my dosage. I became allergic to Lortab. I put up with the pain and thus lack of sleep.

This past summer I went on the HCG diet. Losing my goal of ten pounds was nice, but the side effect of my diet was priceless. While on the diet I ate only freshly cooked lean meat and fresh vegetables and drank lots of water—only water, no sugary or chemically sweetened soft drinks etc. I realized that while I was on that diet, and for sometime afterward while on a maintenance plan, I was without knee pain. I thought maybe my knee was finally all healed up.

Like with most diets, in quick fashion I had slipped back into my busy rut of grabbing garbage on the go. My knee started hurting again. I finally put the pieces together and confirmed my prognosis with research:

*Pain is associated with inflammation

*Foods that cause inflammation are sugar, refined foods, hydrogenated oils and inadequate consumption of water

*Foods that are anti-inflammatory are fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D and hydration (drinking lots of water)

The past week or so I have cut out all traces of junk in my diet and forced myself to drink more water. Finally, yesterday I was able to sleep without pain in my knee. I feel good, I have more energy, and funny thing—that frosted sugar cookie doesn’t tempt me anymore. Threat of knee pain is a much better motivation to skip the sweets than any promise of shedding a pound or two ever was.

Now, my turn to preach. If you suffer from arthritis, or headaches, or anything that requires constant consumption of pain pills, try cutting out all inflammatory foods. Yes, that means no more fast food, prepackaged prepared foods, anything convenient. “What will I eat for lunch?” you ask. Try making my favorite. It actually takes less time than running into town to McDonalds. It is a spinach, avocado, pomegranate salad. (See the photo up top). I just fill a bowl with pre-washed spinach, add a few chunks of cauliflower, a quarter of a pomegranate (seeds pulled out and separated), a quarter to a half of an avocado sliced up, and a handful of raw cashews. I drizzle it with my homemade vinaigrette dressing. (The recipe was my mid-month make something madness for the month of June). I like to eat this salad with a handful of whole wheat crackers or toast.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Review: Octavian Nothing; The Pox Party

This was a thought provoking book that took me on a different sort of ride compared to most of the YA books I have read as of late. It was definately literary-type fiction, rather than a quick read of commerical fiction. Still, I enjoyed it. The descriptions of the author, M.T. Anderson, at times were almost poetic. He captured the dialogs of 1776 early Americans with an accuracy that transported me into the story and back in time with ease.

Octavian, a slave boy raised as aristocrat as part of an experiment by some excentric philosopher/scientists, wins my heart easily. He is a main character I shall never forget. I immediately cared about him. He pulled me into the story about the injustice of slavery, the revolutionary war, and a young black boy who had been raised like a prince and then lowered back into the depths of slavery, simply because of the color of his skin. A must read for lovers of history and the injustice of slavery/prejudice.