Wildflowers near our home

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has finally arrived in the valley! This past winter has been extremely dry, which isn’t surprising considering California is in a long drought. So it was with great relief that we received a thunderstorm, and quite a bit of water, a few weekends ago. Enough, in fact, to send all the wildflowers into bloom.

We took a nature walk this morning, despite the wind, and marveled at the blanket of yellow that graced the desert floor. It took me a moment, then I realized that the wind was sweet; it had picked up the wildflower scent.

When we returned home, the boys used the watercolor pencils to draw the flowers that we had picked. These flowers will be pressed (once I figure out how to do it!). All in all, a pleasant day indeed!

Happy New Year! by meddygarnet

Hello there, beautiful

Happy New Year! by meddygarnetThis blog has gone through a couple of iterations, and I’ve forgotten how many templates. I keep coming back to it though like a bee to honey. I enjoy writing, but, let’s face it, I’m lazy. I like to think about writing but actually sitting down to do it is draining, which it shouldn’t be. I don’t want to think of blogging or writing as a drag or a burden. It should be invigorating and engrossing and keep me engaged. Which leads me to think that I have been thinking about what blogging is in the wrong way.

You see, I’ve always thought a blog should be about something, have a general theme, or have a tie-in somewhere throughout the posts. I read great bloggers/authors who have a definite blogging theme: she writes about Christianity, she writes about being an author, she writes about homeschooling, etc. And throughout there isn’t any overlap. I rarely read anything other than what the topic of the blog is about. Well, that makes sense, doesn’t it? They’re topical blogs.

My blog isn’t topical, and I think that’s something I need to come to grips with this year. It isn’t a money-making venture, it isn’t a ministry.  I’m comparing myself, my perceived shortcomings, and my abilities against measuring sticks that are meant for something totally different. Therefore, I’m changing the measuring stick to one that measures me in a meaningful way. Writing will be satisfying and enjoyable. What I write will not be nearly as important as the act itself.

2014 will be a banner year for me. I just know it.

Pen Friend by nkzs

How to Teach Writing – Ideas and Resources

How to Teach Writing – Ideas and Resources.

A great resource for a writing workshop or homeschool novel writing class. It’s an entire course about creative fiction writing. Topics covered are:

  1. character development
  2. “showing” vs. “telling”
  3. plot structure
  4. narrative viewpoint
  5. details
  6. dialogue
  7. review and revision
Nuts by Jepthe

20 According to Anne Lamott

Nuts by Jepthe
Image by jepthe @ sxc.hu

So Camp NaNoWriMo is going along pretty well. I’m actually relieved to be able to say that. I admit to myself it isn’t great prose but, and this is a big but, it is words on paper (electronically speaking…err typing…whatever).

I like Anne Lamott‘s term: a shitty first draft*. Because it really is going to be shitty. On the other hand, revising it will be an adventure unto itself. And I’m usually up for an adventure. Usually.

I do have a piece of advice, something you’ve probably heard a million and one times: do NOT, under any circumstances, edit. Period. Nope. Nada. Zilch. Your inner editor will make you crazy. Trust me, you do not want to end June wrapped in a straight jacket and typing with your toes.

Instead, make a note of what changes you want to make at the point you think of them and then write like they’ve already been made. The good thing about this is:

1. You have a note to yourself to make those changes during revision.

2. Your inner editor’s mouth has been duct-taped.

3. The notes can be included in your word count as they are, technically, a part of the story.

4. You can make changes on a moment’s notice without worrying about going back and making all those changes while still trying to keep to a minimum word count for the day.

So, my dears, how goes the writing? Any other pieces of wisdom to add for NaNoWriMo induced shitty first drafts?

* Sorry about the potty mouth. It’s actually the title of the third chapter in Anne Lamott’s book, bird by bird**. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have used foul language. I promise.
** I totally recommend this book.
Y_by_chrisinplymouth

Why, Why, Why, Why, and Why

April Hayman:

The 5 Whys is not your 4 year old asking an endless question. It is, instead, a great strategy for any kind of writing. I think, though, it would be really useful when writing an outline for a chapter or even within a scene.

*image credit: Y by ChrisInPlymouth

Originally posted on The Daily Post:

Photo by Flickr user chrisinplymouth

Often we hear that a writer should keep in mind the Five Ws, questions that answer who, what when, where, and why. A colleague reminded me this week of another set of Ws, a problem solving strategy known as the Five Whys. I’m bad about remembering this strategy as I solve coding problems as part of my day job, and the result is often that I solve a symptom of the problem at hand rather than the root cause. As a programmer, I should strive always to solve the root cause. So, on to the method.

Given a problem that needs solving, you first ask why it’s happening. Then you ask why again. And again. And at least twice more. And yet more times if needed. The idea is that by imposing on yourself the rule that you must ask…

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Iguana by Memoossa

9 Milk and Oatmeal Bath

My son asked me if he was turning into a lizard the other day. I stopped briefly to ponder the question before answering, “No,” because you really never know in our house. Anyway, I asked why he thought he was turning into a reptile and he replied that his skin was scaly. After close inspection, I determined 1) that no, indeed, he was not turning into a lizard, and 2) he did, however, have a seriously bad case of dry skin. So, I told him to put some Aquifor on it and left it at that.

Today, though, he didn’t think he was turning into a lizard. Instead, he was pretty sure his skin was being flayed off his body. Apparently, the dry skin combined with a new found allergy to our laundry detergent (Tide, not the home-made laundry detergent) and his poor skin is completely out of control, dry and inflamed. Poor kid!

To help him, and his brothers, I whipped up a bath powder made with milk and oatmeal to help soothe their skin and thought I’d share my recipe with you. Continue reading

Gluten-free seitan

Gluten Free Seitan

I have been gluten-free for a while now and have been vegan since March, or thereabouts. I don’t really miss meat but in the spirit of getting my family off of it, I have searched for an alternative that does not include soy or wheat.

We’ve tried lentils, which are good but at least one person in the family can’t stand the lentil-y taste. And I must be doing something wrong because the kids keep asking if we are having meat this week. They nearly cry with joy when I say, “Yes, you’re having chicken.”

So to satisfy everyone with a meat alternative that is both gluten-free, soy free, nut free and vegan, I had to do a little digging. Okay, a lot of digging. What I found was surprising. There are at least two different base recipes for gluten-free seitan. Who’d a thunk it, right?!

You can view them here and here. A similar recipe to the one on Bob’s Red Mill blog can be found here.

Anyway, I chose the recipe from Bob’s Red Mill blog because a) it’s cheaper, and b) I had all the ingredients on hand. For a busy mom on a budget, that makes a big difference.

The one thing I don’t have is a food processor. I desperately need one but in the mean time I used my trusty, if somewhat old, blender. It worked just fine but I had to pull it apart to get the rest of the dough from under the blade.

And, since I did use a blender, I added a 1/3 cup of water to the mix so it wouldn’t burn out the motor. The comments on the recipe also show that it might be too dry as is, so adding a bit of water probably isn’t going to hurt anything.

I let it set on the counter for 10 minutes while I got the rest of dinner going. I didn’t see the dough rise appreciably but it might needed a lot more time, kind of like bread dough, I guess.

Gluten free seitan dough

I used an ice cream scoop and wet hands to shape the dough. Most look like little sausage patties but at least two came out bigger and more “pork chop” shaped.

The recipe says to bake the seitan after searing it in the pan but does not say at what temperature or for how long. I did a bit of research and decided that, in general, 350 degrees Farenheit at 10 minutes a side would be good enough. I did cover the seitan with some tin foil to keep it from burning and keep the moisture in.

Here’s what they look like on the cookie sheet, ready to get baked:

Gluten free seitan shaped and on cookie sheet

After I pulled it out of the oven I glazed them a bit with some ketchup. They turned out quite tasty. One boy said he couldn’t tell the difference between the seitan and meatloaf. Mission accomplished.

24/7

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