Friday, February 27, 2009

Update on ze writings

I wrote 1,200 words yesterday on the Dark Book, what I've decided will be my next focus. But I also saw this today and think I might consider writing some more short fiction. What to do...

Regardless, I need to get back on an agressive writing scheduale. I think I'll aim for Monday as the start. Back to the NaNoWriMo style goal of 1,600 words per day. Should give me plenty of time to knock out this book before I get my HOUND IN BLACK AND BLOOD back from the editor I hired. Because once that's back in my hands I'll need to devote some hard time to query letters and the like.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

For those who didn't know...

...I have an unhealthy obsession with the platypus.

This just made me squeal like a little girl.

Socks for cats?

Seemed like a good idea. Well, as in, a good idea for me. I was at Petsmart and the animal attire was 75% off. I saw these cute little socks and decided I needed to put them on kitteh feetz.

Amazingly, Kyra was very cooperative. At least until I set her down on her paws.

Freak out, you can has it! I thought she was going to face plant into a wall. Evetually, she got one sock off and ran upstairs at a full sprint. No worries, I have another cat, Chunky, as you know. I also had a second pair of socks.

Chunk was much less pleased with the putting on process.

But I got the same kitty dance from Chunky!

Chunk says: "Mypawsmypaws! WTF ERIN!"

Then "Ppptttthhhhbbtttt. I got sock off."

She wouldn't even look at me when I took the other socks off for her. Princess is much too cool for this sort of nonesense, you see.

Finding Kyra wasn't too hard. Just followed the trail of socks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New short story update

I'm still working on a new short story about Klaret - a character mentioned briefly in HOUND IN BLACK AND BLOOD. Just got done my second draft and zoomed it off to a friend for reading. Plenty of time left to get it right.

Still no title, as is par for the course.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chronicles of the Calamitous Kitchen: Sweet Success

So this weekend I hit the pinnacle of my cooking career. I made yummies. Super yummies. And cake, too!

This is what I made for dinner on Saturday night. Is your mouth watering yet? Well, if not, it should be!

First, we have an orzo pasta salad. Tasty, without being overwhelming - both Erik and I think that artichokes have a habit of taking over any dish they're included in, so I put in less of the usurpers than the recipe called for.

Second, I made asparagus and zucchini steamed with lemon juice and white wine. Sounds much more epic than it actually was. Erik liked it, but I wasn't so much of a fan. I think I put too much lemon in or something.

But that's okay. You want to know why?

Because my chicken was made of amazing. Super. Amazing. Deliciousness.




The crust is bread crumbs and Parmesan, and the chicken is stuffed with Borsin cheese (a garlic cream cheese spread. If you've never had it, you're missing out on everything wonderful in life.) and coated in melted butter. Yum. YUM!!!!! I think this is hands down the best thing I've made. Erik actually whimpered when I left some on my plate to throw away, and then he gobbled it right up!

Here's a close up of my salad. I really need to start paying attention to the number of servings I'm making at any given time. This could feed a small army for a few days...

I also made a cake. Red Velvet Cake...mmmmm. With homemade frosting...mmmmmm! Here's a shot of the batter. It looks a little pink...but that's only because I only had 1/3 of an ounce of food coloring instead of a whole one.

And the finished product.

Nice and red velvety in there.

Very yummy. Have I mention the word yummy enough in this post? I took half of the cake to work and fed it to my co-workers. I figured my butt isn't the only one that should be suffering for my entertainment.
Guppy Cooking Tip #16: Borsin is the only garlic cheese spread.
Guppy Cooking Tip #17: Ensure that you are only making mass quantities if you intend to consume them.
Guppy Cooking Tip #18: Cake is best when shared with your buddies!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chronicles of the Calamitous Kitchen: Catching up

Since I did a time warp about the V-Day weekend cooking extravaganza, I figured I should just catch up on the rest of the mess I created in the week before. This way I'll be blogging about current events, instead of the yesterday's leftovers.

Kung Pao Chicken

The first lesson I learned during this cooking session is red chili peppers will try to kill you, even before you're ready to eat them. No joke. I was cutting them open and de-seeding them over the sink (Erik was standing by doing dishes) and we both started choking on the spice. Maybe it was the oil from the pepper getting airborne? I don't know. Erik had a sore throat for the rest of the night, and I was coughing the entire time I was cooking them.

Oh, this is me deep frying cashews and stir frying the chicken. I have to say, I was surprised that the nuts takes different after they were cooked like that. Nice touch.

And the finished product! Since there were no chili pepper seeds in this, it wasn't too terribly spicy. Turned out pretty good. And I need a bigger wok.
Guppy Cooking Tip #12: Don't inhale.

The Mystery Dessert

This is a cherry pastry thing. Um...I don't remember what it was called and I don't feel like looking it up right now. It was kind of made of fail.
First, I started having paranoia that I didn't have enough batter for the pan - rather, that my pan was too big for the recipe. So I made a double batch, which was completely unnecessary. One batch was plenty. My batter judgement is just flawed.

And I made a mess, but that's par for the course.

Here's the finished thing. Well, it looks okay, right? I don't know if I didn't cook it long enough or what. It wasn't getting firm, it was just gooey in the middle, so I kept cooking it. And as soon as I set it on the counter to cool, it deflated completely. Maybe it was supposed to? I really couldn't tell you. When we ate it though, it was a very semi-sweet for a dessert, kind of more like a coffee cake or something. Not on the top ten list.
Guppy Cooking Tip #13: WTF is your problem, cake-pie-thing!?!

Zucchini Fritata

Slap another one down in the not so good category. Basicly, it was like eatting a big egg. Not enough cheese, barely enough veggies, and the seasoning was completely bland. Even with the heavy cream the recipe called for, this was just not exciting at all.
Guppy Cooking Tip #14: Eggs with heavy cream still taste like eggs.
Guppy Cooking Tip #15: When it says add cheese, repeat this step at least two more times. Just to be sure, you know, you have enough cheese.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wordhawkers and Editing Services

My writing group, Wordhawkers, is done critiquing HOUND IN BLACK AND BLOOD. I have to say it went well. I got a number of helpful suggestions. I was concerned with not having enough information about a certain "thing" (so to be vague, but it is a very important plot point I don't want to spoil) and my guess was correct. Hopefully, it's an easy fix. I think it will be.

I sent off the first half of my payment for the editor this week. My manuscript will be returned to me by the middle of April. And I really, really, hope that the editor can find my typos for me and send them to the fiery belly of hell. Also, I'll be getting a critique from this editor as part of the service.

So by the end of April, I plan to be querying. Can't come soon enough. I keep getting this feeling of dread that the entire world is going to end, and I'll never have published a book. You know, all the layoffs at publishing houses, closure of imprints, agents changing polices to "if you don't hear from us in 60 days, you won't" instead of sending even a form rejection because queries are at an all time high, and the growth of the Kindle - which, while remarkable, makes me depressed. I want a tangible book to hold in my hands that has my name on it. I can look at a computer screen with my name on it any time. And then there's the general suck of the economy resulting in people buying, oh, food instead of books.

I wish I would have been ready a year ago. At least then I'd only have to deal with the normal difficulties of seeking an agent and a publisher, and not all this other crap because banks are jerks and give people loans they can't afford, and people are dumb and take the loans they can't afford.


Don't worry though, I'm not giving up!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More pictures of cat - the stupid one

I have two cats, as most of you know already. One of them is the sweet and wonderful Chunky Butt, the epitome of feline perfection. Then there's Kyra - known as Monster, Sausage, Bear Kitty, and any combination of three. She's loud, annoying, and sub-par on the cuteness. She bites sometimes, hisses often and will use her back claws to stab you whenever possible. But she wiggles her way into your heart with neck nuzzles, an abnormally loud purr, drooling when you scratch her because she loves it so much, and being incredibly cute and pathetic.

She also has the incredible knack for blinking whenever we flash the camera in her direction.

Nothing short of this will keep her eyes open for a picture.

And then there's her obsession with twisty ties. I've never seen a cat so happy as this one is when she's chasing the twisties around the house. If you hold one out for her, she chirps at you, begging you to toss it for her. And sometimes, she even plays fetch with it.

Or just nom nom noms it.
Of course, her bad behavior is partially my own fault. When she's being dumb and you know she'll make a hilarious noise - snorting, meowing, whimpering, purring, whatever - I can't help but poke and harass her.
We even tried a experiment, and made a devoted effort to not pick on the kitten for a week to see if her temperament improved - and believe it or not, it did. Apparently her crabby nature is at least in part my own damn fault. That and I think she was taken from her mother too early. I've never seen a full grown cat be so dumb and act so much like a baby.
On the up and up, Kyra is down from 20 lbs to 16 lbs - impressive for a kitty. The diet is working well.

And that's my cat.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chronicles of the Calamitous Kitchen: V- Day Weekend Special

So I've been trying to backlog and catch you up on all my cooking endeavours, but in the light of the holiday weekend, I'm going to jump ahead in time to...the present. How very magical power-like am I right?

I don't supposed anyone is surprised when I tell you Erik and I got each other food for V-day. For me, fried pickles. For him, an eclair cake. We also went to see a chick flick on Sunday. Now, I know you would normally expect my version of a chick flick to be something with an amazon butt-kicker with big guns, but I went for the more standard girl thing this time. You know, I had the green light, so I just couldn't pass it up. We saw He's Just Not That Into You. It was entertaining and cute. We both enjoyed it.

Now, back tracking a bit. Friday started with a trip to our favorite place in the world: Freddies.

There's the mini-deep fryer we bought for the pickles, complete with pickle catching thing and pickle scooping device. I also picked up a pan for the V-day pie and a sifter - because I wanted it.

Being that I'm the next Iron Chef America, we decided to dine in this V-Day weekend. So while Erik did a test run of pickle frying, I got to work on Friday's dinner: Turmeric Fried Rice and Sweet and Sour Pork.

We learned very quickly why Kitchen stadium is HUGE! I mean, look at this mess. And this was before we even got half way through cooking!

We also learned a very valuable lesson: deep fry in moderation. Here I am deep frying the pork, while Erik is still working on the pickle test run. Needless to say, by the end of the evening the whole house smelled like the inside of a french fry frying machine.

More mess. You can see Mr. Cooking Trainer there, keeping me in check. Right next to the spoons.

Please ignore the fallout zone. You see, when I do things, I do it right. I do it with flare, I do it with pizazz, and I do it with the standard bull in the china shop cliche firmly in place.

Oh, and the pickles were doing pretty good. We forgot to take a picture until...well, all but the last end of the last pickle was devoured. Opps.

And here's the final product for Friday's meal. Erik and I both agreed this is one of the best things I've made yet. It was excellent. Even with the deep frying after-aroma that permeated the pores in the paint on the walls.

Here's the nice spread. I love how the yellow in the rice brings out the sensual, happy feeling of a dinner for two.....Right. Bright yellow rice is cool.

So I had to feed the monsters, who were now pretty hungry. Who wouldn't be after smelling all that fine cuisine? Since the camera was out, I figured I'd share what I deal with every night. This is Sausage, and that would be the horrid noise she makes - constantly - while I'm filling the food bowl. Yes, it sounds just as annoying as it looks.

She can even blink at the flash, and still keep going.

Sausage Bear is most displeased with the delay in her dinner.

So Saturday morning started great. We had to go back to Freddies. Why? Because I forgot half the stuff I needed for the cake. WTF, you ask? Yeah, I'm right there with you.
Anyway, Erik stayed upstairs while I made surprise happy eclair cake. What I really don't understand about my cooking experience thus far is my insistence on doing something wrong - even though I know something has to be wrong - the first time. So I'm making the frosting (from scratch, go me! Corn syrup is very sticky.) and I get to the part where I need to add the baker's chocolate squares. I look at the squares, look at the bowl, look at my mixer. Now, I'm fairly certain my $25 hand mixer is not going to liquefy the chocolate I can't even cut with a knife. So what do I do? I put them in anyway and try to blend them. Sigh. Satisfied that I was right - after doing it wrong anyway - I dumped the bowl and started over. And melted the chocolate first.

The results were much better.

I finished the cake and chucked it in the fridge, as per directions. It needed to chill for about 10 hours. We spent the rest of the day doing what is pretty standard business for us. Playing video games, goofing around, etc.
Then it was time for dinner and more fried pickles! Yay!

Here they are, in all their glory! Yum, yum, yum - even if they weren't perfect. We think two things were amiss - first, the pickles seemed to be too seasoned. We want to try a different brand next time. And second, the batter mix came pre-seasoned. We're going to make it from scratch when we try this again. And we will try this again. And again, and again, and again...

For dinner, I stretched my limitations. How in the hell people cook four different things and have them all hot on the table at the same time is beyond me. I did okay. V-day dinner: steak, cheesy potato goodness, lemon and herb asparagus, and hollindaise sauce.
Above you can see my prepped asparagi - heh, like fungi? get it? - and the cheese and back for the potatoes.

My potato masterpiece. Bacon, cheese, potatoes, onions, white wine, salt and pepper.

And here's the full spread. The hollandaise was sub par, only because I cooked it too long to try and keep it warm. Also, the steak was meh - the afterthought of the meal. I was so excited about my side dishes, that the steak just wasn't my prime directive. All and all, I think the potatoes made up for it.

Another shot of my mad plating skills.

And here's a picture of my ghetto fabulous cake. Now, it tasted pretty good, but man. This thing looks a hot mess, don't you think?

Guppy Cooking Tip #11: When you deep fry, shut your bedroom door, least you smell like fried goodness in the morning.