Saturday, September 29, 2012

London - The Magic of Harry Potter

Drew & I have been back a week from London and I'm still fishing through the 1,000+ combined photos that my mother and I took.  I started with the pics from the tour that we took at Warner Bros Studios.  The exhibit was The Magic of Harry Potter.  That was over 500 photos and I weeded it down to 300.  I just loved that tour!  I find moviemaking fascinating!

Below is a link to the photos.  You can take your own tour from what I shot.

London 2012 - Harry Potter Tour

Please note that I am not a photographer.  I take pics to retain the memory and that's about it.  Nothing I've shot is getting framed.  I gave up photography as a hobby a long time ago when it became obvious it wasn't my forte.

I hope to have the rest of the photos up this week.  But don't count on it.  I was also hoping to be a bestselling author by now too.  My poor estimation of workloads and time-frames is astounding.  Ask my boss.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Local Farmers Thank You For Buying My Book

On Friday the first box of 20 paperback Game of Hearts books arrived.  Much to my dismay, the cover was terrible.  It looked good on the digital proof.  It looked good on the Kindle version.  On the paperback it was dark and a little fuzzy.  I was not pleased.

UPDATE: I re-did the cover.  It's the same pics & layout, but it's a lot brighter.  Lesson learned.  Use 300 dpi for the pics, not 96.  Oopsie.

All of the books had been pre-ordered by my co-workers and I told them if they didn't want to buy them they could wait for the next batch as I was determined to fix this issue.  To my delight I received a resounding, "NO!  WE'RE NOT WAITING!  WE WANT THIS NOW!!"  Most added, "This is even better because someday it will be a rare collector's item."  I don't often love my co-workers, but on Friday they were the best friends and fans a nervous writer could want.  I still choke up thinking about how supportive and awesome they have been.  These people have had to listen to me talk about this book for months and they're still excited about it.  I love them all*!!!

* Except Jason, whose job it is to kick my exercise ball and crush my ego if he thinks it's getting too big.  He falls in the category of "a tool with a purpose."  It's a good thing he's kidding (although probably not) and kind of funny or I might kick his ball.  I'd even let him pick which one...

With the money I made Friday from book sales I went to the Farmer's Market Saturday morning and bought A LOT of veggies.  A huge basket of tomatoes.  A huge basket of "second" peppers.  (Second should be re-labelled as "homegrown" because they taste the same but look like something you grew in the backyard.  I never understood why people needed perfect looking produce.  Are you gonna cut it up and eat it, or use it as decor.  Stupid humans.)  A bag of onions.  Eggplants.  Squash.  Geode zucchini.  (So freaking cute!!!!)

For those of you from Auburn, NY who have been living in a cave, the Farmer's Market is located in the large parking lot across from the YMCA.  It's a small market but the vendors there produce the most tasty and beautiful veggies and fruit in the world.  Please support them.

I came home and went about making a healthy, super-yummy soup.  I will probably make three batches of this before I'm done and freeze it up for winter.  You can use whatever veggies you like in it.

Rare Ugly 1st Edition Chunky Tomato & Chicken Soup

10 huge beefsteak-sized tomatoes, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 small onions (3" in diameter), diced
1 heaping tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup olive oil (I use F. Oliver's Smoky Chipolte)
1 heaping tsp dried oregano
1 heaping tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Throw everything  in a huge crock pot.  Cook on Low at least 10 hours.  More is recommended.  The longer, the better.

After you've cooked your chunky tomato base to damn-near death...

4 hot poultry sausage links
2 large grilled Italian-marinated chicken breasts, cubed or shredded
1 bag frozen cauliflower, nuked & drained (Somehow missed the fresh stuff at the market. Tsk tsk tsk.)
1 eggplant, diced
2-16 oz packages mushrooms, cubed or sliced
2 cups cooked Basmati rice
1 cup chicken broth (optional)

Squeeze the innards out of the sausage links and fry it up.  Crumble it up and toss it into the crock pot.  Throw in the remaining ingredients as well.  Stir it all up and cook another 2 hours.

Feeds a crapload!  Freezes excellently!

A note about chicken broth:  I prefer to use chicken broth leftover from Crock Pot Chicken.  Use as much as you want.  I like a chunky soup with less broth.  Feel free to use more and stretch this recipe even further.  

Crock Pot Chicken

Put a whole chicken in a crock pot.  Add a cup of water.  Season at will.  Cook on Low for 8 hours.  The chicken will fall apart but will be super-moist and amazingly yummy.  Strain the liquid for the best chicken broth!  The leftover breast meat is great for chicken salad sandwiches.  Or you can use it in the soup!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Cardmaking with Rifftrax

Made another Halloween card today!  This one a little on the creepy side.  Love it!

In the room-formerly-known-as-the-dining-room, I have a laptop setup on the far corner of the table so I can play movies while making cards.  Most of the time I play "Mystery Science Theater 3000" shows.  I have my faves --- Giant Spider Invasion, Horror at Party Beach, Deathstalker & the Warriors From Hell, Deadly Mantis, Space Mutiny, etc.  Once in a while I pick up a Rifftrax and play that.  Plan 9 From Outer Space and Night of the Living Dead crack me up every time.

Today I watched a new one.  

Oh my god.  It is without a doubt one of the worst movies I've ever seen.  But Mike, Bill & Kevin at Rifftrax make it one of the funniest.

I have so many issues with the script for this terrible, terrible movie that the list is way too long.  My biggest one is that the birds mentioned in the title show up about halfway through the movie.  Now, The Mummy could get away with that strategy because of a great cast and story.  (Honestly, I could watch Brendon Fraser as Rick O'Connell just walking around for 2 hours and I'd be happy.)  If the first half of the movie was a build-up to the suspense of Birdemic, it might be forgivable.  It wasn't.  It was all about this guy trying to get into this girl's pants.  Seriously.  That's what it was about.

Even the movie knows just how badly it sucks.  It listed Tippi Hedren third in the credits.  She appeared in the movie in archive footage only.  Yep.  I bet she's thrilled about it too.

In the end, it made me laugh.  Hysterically at times.  So it served an entertainment purpose.  I will probably add it to the list of movies I like to watch while making cards.  At least until Birdemic 2: The Resurection comes out!!!  Woo hoo!!

Abingdon Boys School is back!

My fave Japanese rock band is back with a new song.  The lyrics are part English-part Japanese.  I understand zero, but that doesn't stop me from loving it and listening to it over and over again.  When someone puts out the karaoke version of the video I'll check it out and probably memorize it, like I did for their songs Howling and Innocent Sorrow.  Yeah, I even memorized the Japanese lyrics.

Why Japanese Rock?  I like just about all music.  (Exceptions: Gospel, Country w/ Twang, most Gangsta Rap & Hip-Hop, anything by Taylor Swift)  I also appreciate different people & cultures.  (Exceptions:  anyone from Assholetania or Doucheburg or Quebec)  I first heard Abingdon Boys School while watching the anime series Darker Than Black.  They did the title song.  Love it!  So, I looked 'em up and now I'm a fan of all their work.

~ Steph

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Halloween Ornament & Card

Yesterday fave hobby #1 took a backseat to fave hobby #2.  I neglected my cardmaking room a lot in the past few months while I was writing and decided I needed to go play.

This adorable Halloween card uses a number of Stampin' Up sets.
(Kitty - Out On A Limb; Window, Pumpkin & Spider - Cottage Window; Boo! - Tiny Tags)

And I got really ambitious and made a Halloween ornament...

It's inspired by the Christmas Ornament that Stampin' Up featured on the cover of their 2012 Holiday Catalog.

It wasn't that hard.  And there's dozens of tutorials online of how to make it.  Just search youtube.  I watched Frenchie's because she's one of my favorite cardmakers.  Her blog is full of fantastic cards and ideas.

Frenchie lives in Wyoming now, but she's from Canadian. English isn't her first language, so you have to forgive her typos and slip-ups.  I think it just adds to the awesome and makes me love her even more!

Blog:  Stamp & Scrap with Frenchie

~ Steph