Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review - The Golden Ashfruit

I know I said I would be off until the new year but I recently read a book that I felt some of you fantasy readers might enjoy.  So here is my review:

The Golden Ashfruit, by AL Harris is a book that takes you by surprise with its depth.  Welcome to the world of the Fae and the Lady of the Lake and the Frost Queen, add in Thor and Fieda and so many, many more.  This book starts out as a love story (to me anyway).  A young queen (Mab) is to be married to an unknown man, not of the Fae, but of something else.  Nothing new there, but instead of balking at the marriage, the two become friends and decide to marry.  Oaths are made and dates are settled.  Then the world goes pear shaped.  The Fae Courts fall apart.  Sides are chosen and a war is waged that encompasses everyone, mortal and immortal alike. 

Wow.  There is a lot going on in the 365 pages of this book.  There is never a moment that I knew what exactly was going to happen next.  I’m not going to pretend it’s not a complicated story, but it is so worth the read.  I highly enjoyed the elements and the power and destruction they left behind.  Along my journey through this book I felt such compassion for so many people, even the ones that were in truth the “bad-guys”.  I understood why they became as they did and even though their methods weren’t quite kosher, I understood the vengeance and hunger that was the cause.  Some people I wished had been killed off and others I wanted to live.  Don’t think just because they are intricate members of the story that they are safe from death within this book.  I really enjoyed the read. 


From her website I found the following BIO:

A.L. Harris lives in Wisconsin but secretly wishes her closet traveled to Middle Earth and Narnia. When she isn't reading or drinking some kind of caffeine, she serves as the Marketing Director for Harris Storefront Realty, blogs regularly, and tweets frequently. She is passionate about literacy, believing no one should be without the power of words, and feels extremely blessed to have a chance to share her work. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Journalism.  


At any rate, if you are interested, look for it on Amazon beginning December 27, 2012.  Merry Christmas all!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Break

Hi everyone!  I know, I am really late in posting.  This is just to let you all know that I will be MIA until January 1, 2013.  I am trying to finish up a huge amount of administrative stuff as well as several long overdue stories before the end of the year. 

My thoughts are, if I can finish up some of the things that are weighing me down, maybe I will feel more the thing with the turning of the New Year.  I have several stories that are sitting not so patiently in my brain but until I complete a few things, there just is not enough creativity to go around.  There really is not.  Plus all the unfinished things are making me feel over whelmed so I procrastinate and then nothing gets done.  So, I am on a mission for a clean start for 2013.

Therefore, the blog has to be put on hold for a few weeks.  Plus, how many of you are really going to be blog hopping in your spare time this month?  No you won’t, you will be hunting for the perfect gift for your third cousin by marriage once removed.  I know this, as I will be right next to you doing the exact same thing. 

As an FYI to anyone interested or needing ideas, I have found a lovely site for The Walking Dead merchandise that I may have to make a significant purchase from.  I think that may take care of several men and women on my list.  That will cut my time quite a bit.  Anything helps some days.

So, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and all that jazz.  I will see you in the new year (unless of course the world comes to a screeching halt on the 21st in that case, this is goodbye).


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kentucky Book Fair

Running a bit behind this week. Things have been so crazy for me lately, that finding time to blog is getting harder and harder.

This past weekend, I was invited to take part in the Kentucky Book Fair.  My husband and I were happily able to take the day and go.  Sometimes its hard to get away but thanks to some much needed help from family I could pull it off this time. 

We made it to the capital of Kentucky (for those that don’t know, this would be Frankfort) although we were directed to the Capital Plaza Hotel, they only had smoking rooms left so we ended up at a Best Western.  Now, I am usually not a Best Western type of gal, but this one was very nice.  A bit older than some, but very well cared for and clean.  The rooms were nice and big too, which is a huge bonus as usually hotels cram you into as little space as possible. Right?

We got up the next day and headed over to the convention center.  Right outside the hotel was a STARBUCKS!  Bonus!  It was a gorgeous day out.  The sun was shining and even better it was not frozen frosty cold as it had been at home.  We found the convention center easily enough and in we went.  My table was all set up for me.  Taaa Daaa. 

The place was pretty packed.  There were at least 10 rows of tables set up with about 15 tables per row (3 authors per table).  So as you can see it was a pretty big crowd of authors.  The doors opened at 9:30 and all day long there was a steady stream of people in and out of the festival. 

The day was a nice day.  I sold a handful or two or books, met several authors, and got a lot of book recommendations and finds, that my kindle is now bursting at the seems with new reads. 

Will I go back?  I think I might.  It was actually a nice easy trip and a bit of time away from home.  It was definitely needed. 

Here are a few extra photos of the trip just for fun.  

Have a great week everyone.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Technology and Me

When I was young…er, I was the go to person for electronics.  Get a new stereo?  Get Courtney to set it up.  New VCR?  Having trouble getting the clock to stop flashing 12:00…, Courtney can fix it, set it up, hook it up, whatever. 

Through the years, I have tried and tried to stay abreast of the latest and greatest technology.  I have a facebook and twitter.  I have my blog (as you can see).  I have been “up” with the cell phones as much as I could.  Now however, I find that I am falling further and further behind and frankly just don’t get it anymore.

For Christmas this past year we purchased our first flat screen tv.  Woo hoo, right?  Wrong.  I hate that TV.  It’s a nice one and it’s big, but setting it up was not my idea of fun.  I got the Blueray set up fine.  I got our Wii set up and working.  The cable was next.  I got the cable box hooked up fine, but the tv guide for all the channels said “to be announced”.  I thought maybe it just needed a minute to hook up.  Nope.  I had to physically set up the channels.  Had no idea how to do that.  I read the stupid book for the tv, still no clue.  I called the cable provided to see if they had any insight on what I needed to do.  They were worthless.  I finally gave up and had to ask for help from my teenager.  I hate that!  Now, every time the power goes out I have to do this process all over again.  Seriously, I loathe the tv anymore. 

This past weekend, I was upgraded to a new iphone 5 (not exactly by choice either).  Lord, help me.  I read the little book that came with it.  I have added in my contacts and updated my apps and connected to my itunes for my music.  I am stumbling my way through making a call and getting my voicemail and figuring out where to go to read my texts and email.  Sadly, I find myself feeling old.  I just want my phone to be…a phone.  Oh it’s fancy and it’s new and exciting but iphones are a bit out of my league.  I assume this will change as I get used to it and play with it more, but for now, today, if you text me or email me and I don’t get right back to you, it’s because I have no idea how. I will either need to get to my computer or find one of my kids to tell me how. 

Sad.  Yes, I do believe technology is passing me by.  Sigh…

Anyone know how to get a photo you took on your iphone onto your computer?  Anyone?  

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Day in New York

Last year, this time, I was all set for a trip to New York City.  Due to some unforeseen animal problems, I was unable to go.  The trip was put off until this year, same time, which was this past weekend.  We had a wonderful time.  It was only two days, but we filled it with as much free and fun stuff as we could, along with the paid for must see places.  Day one was spent with just my family.  Day two was spent with a friend and fellow writer, Denise, who graciously and happily accepted my plea to come and spend the day with me, so that I was not alone on my first trek through the big apple.  

Here are a few of things we did and saw.

I find it fascinating that even in the land of concrete, life can find a way to not only grow but will thrive.

As with any tourist, we had to make a jaunt to see the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island.  Was it as wonderful as I thought it would be...eh.  Not so much.  Oh the history of the place is awe inspiring and somewhat interesting, but considering what it offered, the time it took to see it (all flipping day!) and the cost to see it, it wasn't fantastic.  You get to ride a ferry, you get to see the statue, and you get to see the immigration area, complete with photos, but all in all, it was just eh.  I can say I have now seen with my own two eyes, the statute, so that is enough for me.

This is the bird that attacked Seren.  No really.  It came after the poor girl and tried to steal her fries.  That blood curdling scream you heard on Friday afternoon, yeah, that was her.  

A nice family photo of the girls and me with a back drop of the NY skyline.  Aren't we cute...

Apparently I didn't get many photos of Denise and I.  Only this one.  How sad is that?  Here we are at the start of day two in front of the NY Library.  We made our way through this awesome place.  Couldn't find any books...but it was still a great stop.  The children's section at least is filled and over flowing, just don't sit down to rest at the computers in this area as you will be scolded that those computers are for the CHILDREN!  Yikes all mighty.  


These are photos to prove that I am a SUCKER.  These little guys came running up to my girls and I of course being the mama that I am, quickly snapped several photos.  It was then that a bag labeled TIPS was thrust under my nose from not just one but all the critters that I had taken a photo of.  I ended up paying a total of $3 ($1 each) for the opportunity to have these photos.  So you must enjoy them.  At least $3 worth please so that I can get my moneys worth.  Thanks!

We stopped at St. Patrick's Cathedral.  It was HUGE.  Now I am not Catholic, so I don't understand a lot of the Catholic doings, but what is the point of all the pomp?  This is a serious question by the way, I am not being insulting at all.  I really don't get it.  Also, I was always raised to believe that God wants our prays and that prayers are free. Not so in this Cathedral.  If you wanted to pray and light a candle...well that would be $2 please.  Yes, really.  So even though the place was lovely to see, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and the lingering questions of why?  

 What trip to New York would be complete without a stop over at the Empire State Building? This is another one of those must see places to mark off your list but after marking it off, wondering if it was worth the $25 a head to do it.  The place is HUGE and the architecture grand.  I admit it.  The building itself was cool.  The line wasn't too bad (no thanks to the rude skyride people that accosted us outside) only about 45 minutes to an hour total.  That includes all lines.  The line to get tickets, the line to wait for the elevator, the line to have your photo taken (everyone was herded into the photo line), and the line to get outside.  The ride up was ear popping and crowded but we were all excited.  

The view outside was breathtaking and beautiful.  This is as close to central park as I got though.  Maybe next trip.  I could have stayed up there in the warm sunshine for a long time, but our time to play in the city was dwindling.  We needed to head out after taking time to oooh and aaaah over each side.  It was a worth it event btw, even at $25.  Surprised?  So was I.  

All in all we had a lovely trip.  It was good to come home though.  Yes there is always laundry to do and clean up to complete, but the trip was worth it. I am sorry it was so short but we will go back.  Not till next year but, we will go back.  

It was wonderful to see and spend time with my friend Denise.  Thank you Denise for coming out with us. I don't think I would have made it out of the bus terminal without you.  Okay I dont think, I KNOW.  I was daunted by the idea and the size of the city.  Having another adult and one that had been there before was a Godsend. 

Have a great week everyone!  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review and Interview - K J. Dahlen

Today I have a new review and interview with fellow author, K.J. Dahlen and her book, Blood Memories. 

Blood Memories
By K.J. Dahlen

K. J. Dahlen lives in a small Wisconsin town with her husband and dog. She can see the Mississippi river on one side and the bluffs where eagles fly on the other. She has two kids and two grandkids. Kim loves to people watch and she uses what she sees in her books. She loves to create intense situations for her characters and sit back and see what they do to get to get themselves out of trouble. Sometimes her characters even surprise her. Her characters come alive for her, and what starts out as just an idea becomes a story with unusual twists and turns. She loves to keep her readers guessing until the very last page.

First a bit about this book:
When an accident turns out to be not an accident but murder, Savannah must solve a double murder that happened over twenty years ago to find the truth. She was the only witness to her parents' murders and now their killer is after her. She puts her trust into a man her aunt has known for all these years, but evidence soon points to him being involved with the man she thinks killed her parents. Will she prove him innocent or fall prey to his intent? Her life and over two million dollars in diamonds is at stake.

My Review:

I am a fan of thriller/mysteries.  I like trying to figure out who did what and how it all fits together and why.  This book gives you all that and more.  The main character, Savannah, you can immediately connect with.  After the death of her parents, she was raised by her aunt, and on the run for most of her life.  Her world is not all roses and sunshine.  Then upon the death of her beloved aunt, her life turns upside-down once again.  She is thrust into the world of smuggling and with it, death and deception.  Who can she really trust?  Who is the bad guy?  What does Savannah need to remember in order to find the people responsible for her parents’ murders? 

This author does a great job of connecting you with the characters in this book.  Not just the main character either, but all of them. The dialogue seems genuine and flows with easy.  The suspense never stops from the moment you begin all the way to the very last sentence. 

I can’t find one thing that I didn’t like about this book.  It was fast paced, full of suspense and mystery, and just a good fun book to ready. 

I give this book 5 stars.  I loved it.

Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Suspense
Length: 318KB
Rating: 5.0
Reviewed by:  Courtney Rene


For a bit of extra fun, I like to find out a bit more about the authors I review. So, here is a short interview with Author, K.J. Dahlen:

1.         Can you tell us a little about yourself?   I have 18 books out at the moment with a couple more still coming. I am a mother and grandmother and wife. I live in a small town and love it and I have a very good imagination, or so I’m told.
My books are all suspense, because I love putting the characters I create into intense situations and seeing how they get out of them. Sometimes what happens next even surprises me!
2.         What are you currently working on? I just finished a book I call, The Guardian’s Key, the first book in a series I have planned dealing with angels, demons, white lighters and time travelers. It’s different than my normal suspense but with some interesting twists and turns.
            I am also starting new edits on my book Phoenix Rising- which will more than likely be under a different title by the time it comes out. I have a feeling the book itself will be completely different as well. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I kinda like the story as it is, but I’m sure the editor won’t.

3.         If you could be any character from any book, who would you want to be and why? I’m comfortable just being who I am. If I were to become a character in a book I would have to become someone else, a person someone else created and I would behave differently and I don’t think I’d like that.

4.         Do you remember the very first story you ever wrote? What was it about? The first story I wrote was a romance I called, The Ghost in the Valley. Let me be the first to tell you I absolute suck at writing romance. I finished the book and put it away for twenty years. I switched over to suspense and when I found my book again I reread it and laughed at my first attempt. Maybe if I rework it I can change it to a mystery romance, but I would have to do a lot of work!

5.         What is next for you?  The contract for one of my books, The Prophet, is up and I have plans to rewrite the book. I want to add the rest of the story. I was going to make it into a trilogy but other ideas came up and there were other stories to be written, between then and now. Also I’m looking into making a sequel to my book, The Bradbury Inn. Jillian and Seth get involved in another mystery in New Orleans. This one has to do with Jillian’s long lost family and a curse over a hundred years old.

6.         What resource has been most influential in helping you become a published writer and why? How often do you refer back to it? I love reading. I have always been a reader and the more I read the more I understand the craft. I often write the way I and everyone around me talks and thinks. While it may not always be grammatically correct, it’s the way people know now days. I usually have a ton a edits to redo in the end but that’s ok too.

7.         What is the thing you enjoy the most about writing.  I love taking an idea and creating a complete story from it. I love adding twists and turns to my story and leaving my readers to guess what’s coming next.

8.         What are you doing when you are not writing? I love reading and spending time with my family. Not necessarily in that order. My family comes first in my world, they always have and always will.

9.         Who is your favorite author? I don’t have just one favorite author I have several and I’m always on the lookout for more. I have read some very good books from my author friends and I’m sure I’ll read more in the future.

10.       What is your absolutely favorite movie of all time? I would have to say National Treasure, both movies are the best. I love the intrigue and puzzle solving that leads the characters to the treasure. If only it were real…

11.       What are your thoughts on ebooks vs. print books? I can see the allure of an ebook. It seems to be the way we are headed, but I have to say I love the feeling a print book has. You can actually hold the book in your hand while you’re curling up on the couch. There is nothing better than that in my book. Sorry but that’s how I feel…

Thanks for stopping over everyone.  Have a great week!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Shadow's End

Happy Release Day!  Yes, today is the release of my latest book, Shadow's End.  This is the 3rd book in the Shadow Dancer seriers. 


The adventure and the struggle contines for Sunny, as the fight for control of Acadia is near. Battle lines have been drawn, not just by King Gideon, but also by the rebels that were once Sunny’s allies.
Due to unexpected trips to the ice realm and the fire realm, new allies are found to help build the Army of the Sun. There are new worlds explored. New friends and new enemies made. Ready or not, Sunny must prepare for what is coming as well as decide where she belongs within it all.
But…what about prom? What about Leif? What about home? How can she, just a seventeen year old girl, rule a whole world? She’s not even sure if she can get through finals.

Shadow's End RPP Link
Shadow's End Amazon
Shadow's End Review

Is this the end of Acadia?  No.  I have been hinting about a story line for Leif.  I have begun this continuation.  Maybe I shouldn't call it a continuation.  It is more of a branch-off.  So far it is going well.  Stay tuned for more on this later. 

As for today, go out and get your copy of Shadow's End.  Let me know what you think.  Or stop by my Facebook Fan Page to share your thoughts.  Either works for me. 

Have a great one!  See you next week.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Author, Edward T. Keller: Interview and Review

This week I am happy to announce that I have Author, Edward T. Keller, with me on my blog. 

Bio: Ted Keller used to be a journalist, metal lead guitar, and a pretty wild one. Now he’s a husband, a dad, and a story teller. Back as a kid he would swallow books whole, without chewing. Now he’s returning the favor. Eat up.

First, a little about his new release, Brain Storm:

Twins Alex and Sasha are in the small town of Maple Junction and their summer vacation quickly turns into a summer nightmare. Everyone is being controlled by an unknown sinister force. A primitive sinister force. On the streets it's back to the Stone Age. Calling for help is not an option. The only allies are a group of small children. The twins can trust no adult, not even their own father, and at times--not even themselves. But someone must stop the madness.

My review:  Brain Storm was one of those fun easy reads, that you sit down and open up only to find yourself a few hours later closing the last page and thinking, “WOW, that was quite the ride.”  I was expecting brain eating zombies and instead I got a wonderful story about zombies but with quite an unexpected twist.  Who is controlling who?  Who is in charge? 

The fact that the human race is reduced to animals in our most primitive form was such an in your face idea.  I loved it.  No sex, thank goodness.  Oh there are hints of the sexual nature of humans, but not anything more than that.  It was all horror and gore and just grand. 

What was one thing I liked the most?  The fact that children were the ones that had to find a way to save the day.  Not only did they do it themselves, but they found an explosive and ingenious way to get there. 

What was one thing I liked the least?  There were so many great sidelines going on.  I think they could have been flushed out a bit more.  Not because they weren’t complete, but because I am greedy and just wanted more.

This is a great read.  You truly can sit down and simply enjoy. I will definitely be keeping an eye on this author and looking forward to what else he can create. 

Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press

Genre: Sci-Fi

Length: 229KB

Rating: 4.5

Reviewed by: Courtney Rene


For a bit of extra fun, I decided to find out a bit more about this author.  So, here is a short, but fun interview with Author, Edward T. Keller:

1.         Can you tell us a little about yourself?  

A:        Upon reaching thirty I realized why grown men keep sucking their bellies in. Because they have bellies. An astounding development. But I can still pose for covers of paranormal romances aimed at balding plump dudes.

2.         What are you currently working on?

A:        I’m doing a final edit of an end of the world epic. It took only five times longer than planned. Now that it’s almost finished it no longer looks like it will be the most awesome book ever, but seducing a good agent with it is quite possible.

3.         If you could be any character from any book, who would you want to be and why?

A:        The Saint, of course. The cultivated and good-humored version of Bond.

4.         Do you remember the very first story you ever wrote? What was it about?

A:        My very first story was for a university magazine, and was about a village of survivors after a nuclear holocaust. It wasn’t very popular.

5.         What is next for you? 

A:        The future is awash in potential. I hope to fulfill at least part of it. Becoming a professional successful author is one goal I’m very much focused on. Possibly I’ll try my hand at teaching next year as well. If nothing works out I’ll fall back on TV scriptwriting, but I hope to avoid that. Too grueling.

6.         What resource has been most influential in helping you become a published writer and why? How often do you refer back to it?

A:        The Duotrope and Ralan websites. Best places to find the right indie publisher to submit too. These days I’m exploring Absolute Write, sifting for agents.

7.         What is the thing you enjoy the most about writing. 

A:        The initial conceptualization and outlining – this is when the world and the characters populating it take shape, and it feels so awesome. Then comes the drafting, the fleshing out, and the editing, and they are all sooo demanding.

8.         What are you doing when you are not writing?

A:        Reading, listening to music, and everyday family guy activities. Periodically I pick up the guitar, plunk a few riffs, and promise myself to play more often.

9.         Who is your favorite author?

A:        Possibly the Arkadii and Boris Strugatski combo. Stanislaw Lem, Leo Tolstoy, Michael Moorcock, Robert Howard, Victor Pelevin and Leslie Charteris, all share the honorary second place.

10.       What is your absolutely favorite movie of all time?

A:        Impossible to say. Blade Runner, Tideland, The Holy Mountain, Dune – they are all awesome.

11.       What are your thoughts on ebooks vs. print books?

A:        When traveling, having an e-reader with a whole library inside is very handy. When relaxing at home, or choosing a present for someone, a printed book is my first choice.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cheese - Queso Blanc

So, if you are following my blog, you know that I have taken on a new learning.  That of cheese making.  My first attempt at the dairy product occured this past weekend.  I choose to make Queso Blanc.  This means, White Cheese.  To me the name says even more than that.  It is a BLANK cheese.  More on that in a moment. 

Queso Blanc is a beginner cheese and actually only takes a few ingrediants. 

1 Gallon Milk
1/4 Cup Apple Cidar Vinegar

Items you should also have on hand. 
Cheese cloth
Cooking Thermometer.

The directions are pretty simple.  Pour the entire gallon of milk into a big pot.  (Duh).  Slowly heat the milk to 185-190 F. DO NOT BOIL.  Stiring often to prevent scorching the milk.  This step took FOREVER!  I mean forever.  I was watching the thermometer and waiting and waiting and waiting!  I didn't think it was every going to get hot enough. 

Finally, after about 1/2 an hour it was finally the correct temp.  Then you have to slowly pour in the vinegar, until the milk starts to seperate and form the curd and whey.  Whey is the by-product, the milk like substance that is not the curds. 

It does this part pretty quickly, but then the directions didn't say whether or not to keep the milk on the burner.  Was I supposed to keep cooking it?  I didn't know, so I left it to cook a few minutes after the curds formed. 

Then I poured the whole mess into a cheese cloth lined collander.  This seperates the whey from the curds.  Now, if you are like me, you hate waste.  I wanted to know what the heck to do with almost a gallon of whey.  I didn't feel right just tossing it out.  It had to be good for something right?  Well yes, in fact it is!  You can use this as a milk substitute is almost anything.  Cremed soup anyone? It is a great source of protein, apparently.  I didn't have anything to cook with it right away, so I put it in a container in the fridge and have been adding it my dog's food.  He loves it.  Weird.  Apparently this is not as strange as it may sound, as farmers have been adding it to livestock feed forever.  Who knew?

At any rate, back to the cheese.  After you seperate the curds from the whey, you need to tie up the corners of the cheese cloth, and hang it up to drip for several hours.  I only let it hang and drip about two hours.  I couldn't stand seeing it hanging there any longer than that.  After I took it down, this is what it looked liked.

 Cheese.  I didn't actually like this cheese.  It had absolutely no flavor what so ever.  None.  This is why I said the name BLANC made such great sense.  It was kinda like rocatta cheese in that it was soft and crumbly and no taste.  Seren and Sidney however, liked it.  They added a bit of salt to it and said it tasted like eggyolk. 

I have saved it and put in in the fridge in an air tight ziplock bag.  I think I will make pasta later this week and use it in that.  The book says this cheese is great if cut into cubes and fried or grilled.  It takes on the spices you cook with it.  It holds it shape and will not melt.  I dont know, isn't the point of cheese to get all melty and gooey?  How can a cheese not melt? 

All in all this was an easy cheese to make.  We will be trying a new cheese in the near future.  After we use up this glop of nothing, that is.  I'll keep you posted. 


Monday, September 10, 2012


A while ago (years) a friend of mine gave me a book about cheese.  I read it.  I put it aside for when I had time to really look at it, and then I promptly forgot about it.  This weekend while cleaning out a closet for Goodwill, I came upon the book again.  It is called, Home Cheese Making. 

Here it is, with a link in case you want to check it out.  

I have decided that I now have absolutely no time to spare for myself, so it seems like the perfect time to try out cheese making.  (Can you hear the sarcasm?)  Even though I don’t have any time to myself, I find that I haven’t tried to learn something new in a while now and I am itching for something to try.  I usually find something new to learn at least once a year.  For instance in the last decade or so I have learned to quilt, cross-stitch, crochet, knit (this one not very well), I have learned glass bead making, cake decorating, yoga, vegetable gardening, fruit orchard gardening, pond plants and fish care, wine making, and many, many more.  Why not cheese? 

There was one cheese recipe that almost halted me right in my tracks, where it said I needed to slowly increase the heat to a pot of cheese in the making every five minutes for 2-3 hours.  Every five minutes?  For two to three hours?  WHAT!  Do these people not have lives other than cheese?  Well the towel was almost tossed before I had even gotten started.  Then I took a deep breath and continued to read. 

I have decided to give it a whirl this weekend when I try Fromage Blanc, AKA white cheese.  This is a beginner cheese.  No five-minute checks. Just cook, set, drain, and done.  Well that’s about it anyway.  I’m sure I will find a way (whey?) to screw it up.  At least once.  It can’t be that easy, can it?

So, are there any cheese makers out there?  Have any tips?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Labor Day, Turtles, and Smores

Happy Labor Day!  Labor day…ahhhhh.  A day of lazy.  No work.  No School.  Even…no dance.  It’s a great day.  We do a lot of different things here in ole Ohio on Labor Day.  We cook out.  We go to Swapper’s Day.  We make smores.  This year was a bit different, as Hurricane Isaac came into town from the South, which means, rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  So, we have had to do a few things a little bit different than usual. 

We made it out to a few garage sales and found this awesome piece of deco.

(Yes, those are sea shells)
Eh, Seren loved it.  Had to have it. So…
Then headed out to Swapper’s Day, in Johnstown.  This is a GIANT outdoor flea market with so much crap, you can’t believe all the things you see.  There’s a food court, a potty section all on its own, an animal section where you can buy all sorts of different animals, and a pond where they hold water races for raccoon type dogs.  If you don’t know what this is, here’s the quickie explanation.  A dead raccoon is affixed to a board attached to a zip line.  They line the pooches up on one side of the pond, with the dead raccoon.  At the starting gun, the raccoon is pulled across the pond and up a pole.  The raccoon hunter dogs, dash into the water, where there swim swim swim across the pond and the first one to reach the other side and the pole, wins.  It’s kinda fun to watch.  Those dogs look so happy it’s not even right.  They are barking and dancing around and waiting for the fun to start.  After a few races though, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, and off we went to see what else we could find. 

We found the honey station.  I love this table.  Sticks of honey in different flavors are 5/$1.00.  I grab a handful and Seren grabs a handful and we are happy as clams, sucking out honey all through the market. Then right before we left, you will never believe what we found!  TURTLES!  Yes, really and we had to buy not just one, but two of them.  See!  We have them set up fat and sassy in my kitchen for the moment.  I have been reading up on the care and keeping of turtles today.  Ooooo fun. 

The next part of our day would include smores.  Now, as I said there is rain and water everywhere, so there is no chance at starting a fire.  So, we city folk, smore’d it.  What is that?  Well here, I’ll show you.
First, here are your ingredients (as if you didn’t know):  Grahams.  Chocolate.  Marshmallows.  Skewers.

Set up your grahams with the chocolate.  I like more marshmallow than chocolate, so I only use two squares, whereas Seren likes more chocolate, so she uses three.
Next you put your marshmallows on the skewers, and:


Yup, toast them right over the stove burner.  Yes, it works.  See?

Then you squish them off onto the grahams and chocolate and enjoy.  Mmmmm, taste just as good as outdoor fires, just minus the ash and char.  There you have it.  Indoor, city folk, smores. 


So that’s my Labor Day.  Hope you all have a wonderful break, and if you are one of the few that is stuck working today, my condolences.  Maybe next year…