Friday, July 31, 2009

Love Day Friday: Cookies!

I'ts FRIDAY!! It's been a long, up-and-down week, but we made it. In honor of my good friend Tiffany Schmidt--who generously made 15 DOZEN cookies Wednesday and mailed out cookie SparkleBoxes--I think we need to celebrate with some COOKIES of our own.

What's your favorite cookie recipe? Everyone has at least one. Join the love and share it in the comments, please!

My favorite cookies of all time are Orange Drops, from the 1963 Betty Crocker cookbook. They taste like little orange cakes.

Orange Drop Cookies

2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 egg
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup white sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
  2. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir 1/2 cup orange juice and 1 teaspoon rind into the flour mixture.
  3. Cream shortening and white sugar together. Mix egg into the sugar mixture thoroughly. Slowly blend flour mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Drop by teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Make the icing: Mix confectioner's sugar and 2 tablespoons butter together until smooth. Pour 2 tablespoons orange juice and 1 teaspoon orange rind into the sugar and butter mixture, mix well. When the cookies have cooled spread the icing generously over the tops of the cookies.
I haven't tried substituting butter for shortening (which I don't exactly have on hand), but I think I might. If they turn out right, these melt in your mouth!

What's your recipe? (links are good if you don't want to type it out. Just share, please! I'd love to see your favorites!)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Today I can't decide if I'm this:(from

Or this:

Or this:(from

I just know there's a scream in there somewhere.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Power of Magical Thinking

If I use only the pink pencil, it will be a good day.

If I don't check my email until 9:30, the email I want will be waiting.

If I wear something with flowers, it won't rain.

Ever think like that?

I've been pondering superstitions lately. My new MC is very superstitious--trying, I think, to have some semblance of control where she really has very little. I admit I have a few irrational superstitious thoughts myself. When something awful happened the day I tried a new shampoo, I half-jokingly blamed it on the shampoo (but see if I used that shampoo again for a long time!). Sometimes I wear particular colors for a reason, hoping for good luck about something (hint: each book has a color).

These thoughts can make me feel a little crazy, but I've heard many other writers claim similar superstitions. Maybe, like my MC, we're in a situation we have no way of controlling, a kind of magical voodoo. Bundled with that whole "overactive imagination," it feels valid that if we've done all the WORK we can possibly do, it doesn't hurt to indulge in a few routines or bargains that might help.

Or am I alone in my superstitious insanity? Are you like me, vaguely superstitious--or even like my MC, VERY superstitious?

What kinds of things are you superstitious about?

I'm curious, but I also reserve the right to anonymize your superstitions for fictional purposes. After I hop 3 times and make the toss into the trashcan, of course. :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

A little wisdom from Child

Last night Child was suddenly a fount of wisdom. I couldn't resist transcribing a few sparkly thoughts for your enjoyment:

On reading:

"I like books best where the author writes like "I". You know? It makes it feel like the author is a character. It makes you feel like the character doing stuff."

(this was spontaneous, I SWEAR. I am not coaching her on 1st-person love. Though I admit I grinned wickedly when she said this.)

On Swan Lake, which we were watching on DVD (the ABT version):

"Why do they make boys wear those tights? You can see their bottoms."
Me: "That's just the way they do it. They've done it that way for a long time."
After pause: "When they turn around, you can see their butts. You can even see the shape of their..."
Me (quickly): "Mmmhmmmm."

"I still don't understand why you'd want someone to lift you up and hold you like that (while dancing) if you don't love them."

On our household:

"You know, Daddy is the only one in this house right now who doesn't have red toes."

A riddle, right before bedtime:

"Why are horses like humans? Answer: Because we're both alive."

Yes, we are. And enjoying the hell out of it, thank you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What's going on pictures

Because I KNOW you love pictures. Right?


The weather is like THIS:(from
Sometimes I feel like THIS:(from

But hope for THIS (click to zoom in):

I'm not managing to get much of this done this week:

Because the grandparents are away, and Child is off school. So after morning camp, it's more like this:
(nope, that's not us. From

But in the end:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tiara Day!!

It's Tiara Day!!

Put a tiara on your avatar (or use a picture of a tiara) and join in!!

Most of the fun is on twitter, at #tiaraday.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sucks Rocks

Announcement: Tomorrow is Tiara Day!! Slap a tiara on your avatar and join in the celebration!

This weekend I was thinking about a few things that I really suck at. I mean REALLY suck--I just can't seem to wrap my brain around these things in a way that works, no matter how I try. But that's thinking negatively to focus just on those things--and I don't like that--so I thought it would be fun to do a balanced post. Things I can't do, but also things I do well. And how about you?

Three things that I absolutely suck at:
  1. Judging distances. Seriously, if you tell me something is 300 yards away or 10 feet away or 3 miles away, I will NOT KNOW HOW FAR THAT IS. I know empirically what these things mean, and *maybe* I could judge one foot. Other than that my brain doesn't understand. My husband asked me this weekend to pull out 14 inches of fishing line for him. I just looked at him, looked at the line, and said "you tell me when to stop, mmm-kay?" :)
  2. Directions. I do fine if I have a map right there in front of me while I'm navigating. But I cannot navigate on the fly like some people can, and end up at the right place. I can't hold a map in my head. And I seriously *will* get lost going places I've been a zillion times. At my age I've realized this is just the way I am. GPS helps, though!
  3. Driving. Based on (1) and (2) above, you can probably see how this makes sense. Would you want to ride with someone who constantly got lost and couldn't judge distances? Yeah. I thought so.
So that's the bad news. But really, that's not awful. My husband does almost all of the driving on trips, and I'm good. I can survive pretty well without understanding how far 300 yards is.

So what's my good side? Well, let's see (I admit, these are harder to come up with):
  1. Editing. Yep, that's what they pay me for, so I sure hope I'm good at it. But it's more than just editing scientific text, shifting sentences around and being able to spell obscure scientific terminology. It usually works in reading mss and query letters, etc., too: being able to read something and see what's wrong, how it can be shifted to be much BETTER. It doesn't always work with my own writing, but I think I've been able to help a few friends out.
  2. Um. *thinks* I know! Losing myself in a fantasy world. This works in writing, acting, dancing (long ago when I was a ballet dancer), and reading. I can completely immerse myself in the character/world and shut everything else out. Yes, I'm counting this as a good thing. :)
  3. Enthusiasm. Whether for Tiara Day or my friends or Child, I really ENJOY things. I see the world mostly in a positive way, and I try to spread that. I love.
Do those count?

How about you? Can you list 3 things you suck at AND 3 things you rock at, in the comments?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Raising a Reader

I love that I caught Child twice in the past day sneaking reading when she was supposed to be doing something else.

I love that we just got back from the library, and though going in she said she still had too many to read and didn't need more, she walked out with 3 new ones. "Because they look so interesting."

I love that I just asked Child what her favorite book was, and she couldn't answer. There were "too many books that I love because I love books." She ended up settling on the whole mystery category.

I love that she's currently reading TALES OF A 4TH GRADE NOTHING and a Betsy-Tacy-Tib book, both of which I adored at her age. I love that they both make her laugh. Some books endure through generations--they capture experience, and story, so well it doesn't matter when they were written. They are magical.

This is why I write, trying to create this kind of magic.

And watch out, publishing world. I'm raising a reader. You're gonna have to work hard to keep up with her. :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fabulosity and First Drafts

The Folk Festival was fabulous.* My favorite moments were dancing with Child and Hubby rightupfront for the Chicago blues band and the New Orleans jazz band. Those people know how to make your bones want to DANCE. I also loved lying out on the grass singing along to gospel while we made grass anklets.

Sometimes Life is just cool.

This weekend we're going to head west to the Choral Festival in Missoula. Did I say it was festival season??

In other news, I finished HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins at lunch today. Y'all were not lying. It ate my brain while I was reading it. I dreamt about it, pondered it, wanted to sneak moments to read it on the sly. I was also MAD at it when I finished, because I wasn't ready for it to end, especially like THAT. Thank God for friends who are smuggling the ARC of Catching Fire to me, because it is necessary. Unfortunately they tell me it won't be any better when I finish that one...*sigh*

I'm also going full gangbusters on my new WIP, working title FRINGE. It's a little odd writing all-new stuff shortly after doing so many soul-pounding revisions. On the one hand it's sometimes sparkly and shiny...and on the other the back of my brain is informing me (quite often) that all of this pretty new will probably eventually be cut. All. This is what I have learned--I shouldn't get too attached to any bit of it, because it will shift and need to change.

Yeah, I get attached to it anyway. It wouldn't mean anything if I didn't. So I am doing my Very Best to shut off the "this too will be cut" brain and just play. I think you have to play on first draft, or readers will be able to tell--it will be too stiff or something. Lacking spark. Yes?

Anyway, I've got quite a bit of work work I'm doing--just taking a breather. Will try to pop in a bit more often, in spite of the summer crazies!!

*I have noticed that I use the word "fabulous" too much lately. This is a good sign that I want to describe so many things as fabulous, but I think I need a new favorite word.

Friday, July 10, 2009


So I've been keeping busy.

I always think summer is going to be relaxing, but it's actually the busiest time of the year. It makes sense, since we *finally* have perfect weather, so everybody's outside doing stuff every minute of the day. Yard maintenance (ha), hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing, and festivals.

Butte has four festivals this summer--3rd/4th of July, the National Folk Festival (in its 2nd of 3 years here), Evel Knievel days (not my thing, but cool) and An Ri Ra, a big Irish celebration. Tonight is the kickoff of the Folk Festival, and I'm excited.

It's really fabulous to have this here in my town. It's a full weekend of FUN music--everything from Blues to Cajun to country to gospel--all outdoors, with multicultural food, dancing, and fun stuff for kids. I'll probably be outdoors just about all weekend, like last year.

Last night we also went to the street carnival that popped up down the block from us. Damn, those things are expensive now--but we got the all-ride passes and USED them. And Child won 2 fish (Danios, I think), who are still living in spite of Psycho. May you keep living, little fish!

To celebrate, this morning she drew this:

Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Child's poem and picture of the day

Child's blue dotted octopus sloth poem and picture, created this morning for YOU!

The Blue Dotted Octopus Sloth Poem

The blue dotted octopus
hangs from a tree
while eating a snack,
he gives some to me!

His snack is bananas,
he likes them a lot.
Although I'm a monkey,
I don't like them a lot.

So I said to the octopus,
"No thank you for now,"
and I walked off to
go eat some chow.

The end!

Thursday, July 02, 2009


My Topics of Thought right now, in picture code. Because isn't picture code more fun sometimes?

(photo from

(photo from
(photo from

(photo from

What? Oh, whoops. That last one snuck in there. :)

I bet most of you can guess the rest anyway!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Playing with boxes

It's a well-known parentism that when you give a toddler an expensive toy, they'd rather play with the box.

Sometimes I want to be like that.

Because you know what that is? That's honesty, free and clear of societal expectations.

I know, we need societal norms and customs and traditions for lots of things--they smooth out rough situations, they give people something to pull from, a known way to react. When Grandma gives you an ugly-ass shirt she knitted herself, if you're over 8 or so you'll smile (falsely) and say "Thank You, Grandma, I love it!" and her feelings won't be hurt. People who don't handle social things well can be difficult to be around. You want to nudge them or something.

But learning that--how to instantly drop a mask on and pretend something you don't feel--must take something REAL out of you. Kids will just wrinkle their noses and play with the tissue paper instead, and everyone will laugh. Grown-ups aren't always allowed the luxury of being honest.

The bit I like best about playing-with-the-box syndrome, though, is the pure joy and wonder of it. How cool is that, to have a world so ripe with newness and possibilities and imagination that a box is awesome? That it can instantly be a rocket or a train or a playhouse or a turtle, or ANYTHING.

That is what I envy most. I want to remember more often how cool a box can be.

Or playing catch outside in the summer, or blowing bubbles on the porch, or stopping for surprise ice cream. Enjoying, without worrying about what's going to happen next or what's right or what so-and-so will think about it. Enjoying.

Hey, writing is like that box too, isn't it? It's possibility. Creating a story, a world, from a page.

Excuse me. I'm going to go play with my box now. And I'm not going to worry about what anybody thinks.