Sunday, June 30, 2013

Various Gluten-Free Reviews

In an attempt to not *bleep* myself to death, I'm trying to go wheat-free again. My body's tolerance of wheat comes and go. Kind of like the rain here in Central New York. "Oh, look! It's a lovely, sunny day out! I think I'll get out the kayak and go for a --- oh crap, it's raining. Nevermind." 

I've tried a few different gluten-free foods in an attempt to find some faves that won't kill me. I post the reviews here mostly so I'll have a record of it. My memory is terrible.

Van's Natural Foods ~ Wheat-Gluten Free, Dairy & Egg Free Waffles
Next to no taste, but they crisped up nicely in the toaster! There's nothing nastier than floppy waffles. Blech!!! They soaked up the maple syrup well too.

Omission Beer ~ Gluten-Free Lager & Gluten-Free Ale
Excellent!!! Not only did it taste like beer, it tasted like good beer. I also love that the bottle doesn't say "gluten-free" on it anywhere. It says, "It isn't just what we took out. It's what we left in." I only know it's gluten-free because it said so on the box and it was in the "gluten-free" section in Beers of the World. (Oh yeah, in case you didn't know, there's a store in Henrietta (near Rochester, NY) called Beers of the World. I want to go there all the time. I want to hang out there and call everyone by their nicknames. I want to move in.) 

Did I finish that with the right number of parentheses? If not, here's some extra along with a couple of periods, just in case.  ( (.) )( (.) )

Redbridge ~ Gluten-Free Sorghum Beer
Not bad. It's got an interesting flavor to it. I can't described it. It's sorghummy. (I admit, I have no idea what that means. I could look it up but it's Sunday. Screw it. No one's paying me to google stuff today.) I couldn't drink a lot of them, but I wouldn't pass it up. A decent substitute in a pinch.

Baker's Choice ~ Gluten-Free Baking Mix
Drew made a fresh cherry cobbler and topped it with GF baking mix that he'd prepared and mixed in chocolate chips. OMG!!!! Amazing!!! The topping was like a biscotti. A good biscotti. Not one of the dried out, hard-as-a-rock, nasty ones. The baking mix came from Aldi's, so I'm afraid they don't have it anymore. It was one of those "BUY IT WHILE WE GOT IT!" items. I bought two at the time and am thankful for it now!

Charcoal Companion - Smoke in a Cup for Barbecue
Ok, this doesn't have a dang thing to do with Gluten-Free, but it's something new Drew tried and it's awesome, so I'm gonna talk about it. You can get these "Smoke in a Cup" tin cups that you put in your grill and it adds smoky flavor to the food you're grilling. It says charcoal on it but Drew tosses it in our gas grill and it works amazing. He put in hickory while grilling hamburgers tonight and they were the bomb! My parents also gave it two thumbs up. 

On the bottom of the Charcoal Companion there's a warning:
COMBUSTION OF WOOD OR CHARCOAL PRODUCTS MAY CONTAIN CHEMICALS KNOWN TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TO CAUSE CANCER, BIRTH DEFECTS, AND /OR REPRODUCTIVE HARM.
Sooooo, we're in NY so we're ok???? Also, what are these mysterious products and why is it only known to California? Hmm. Just makes me want to go combust some questionable wood.

UPDATE: BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!  I just re-read that.

Friday, June 28, 2013

When Good Reviews Go Bad

Soooooo, as some of you may know my book Game Of Hearts was a RomCon 2013 Reader's Crown Finalist. It was really exciting to see my name on their website. I love my book and it's always a huge thrill when you find out that other people do to. Being a finalist is a big achievement for me.

For some stupid reason, I went to Good Reads this morning and saw a bad review for my book. And it was by one of the RomCon readers no less. Luckily, for the Reader's Crown contest they toss the worst review a book gets before tallying your final score. This was, apparently, my bad review. And it's been posted on Good Reads! None of the good ones have been posted anywhere yet (to my knowledge). Probably because good reviewers are busy doing other things --- like saving puppies from house fires, curing cancer, and attending summits on world peace. I don't know, but I'm sure it's far more important things than putting a review on Good Reads, which is the literary equivalent of commenting on YouTube.

Bad reviews are to be expected. Hell, Game Of Hearts came into existence because I hated 50 Shades of Grey so damn much. My review for that book would have been a lot like the one I got except it would have started, "Only three pages in and I wanted everyone in the book to die. Even characters I hadn't met yet." In retrospect someone saying. "Although this book started out promisingly, it quickly degenerated into a hot mess" isn't so bad. Everyone loves a hot mess.

Famous Hot Messes In History: Catherine the Great, Rasputin, Alexander the Great, everyone in that movie who wanted to bang Helen of Troy, anyone with "the Great" at the end of their name, Marilyn Monroe, Lindsey Lohan

Not-So-Famous Hot Messes in History: No one. They're all famous. I think I made my point.

After the initial little one-tissue cry and the proclamation that I would never write again (a decision I have since overruled), I decided to do what I do best and what people love.

Be a funny, obnoxious bitch.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

HOW AUTHORS READ BAD REVIEWS

"hot mess" = A multi-layered plotline that the reader lacks the multi-tasking skills to follow. Is easily confused by Green Eggs and Ham. (Do you or do you not prefer them in a box??? I'm lost!!!)

"grammatical errors" = The reader doesn't appreciate the beauty of commas, which writers lovingly plant at random to grow and flourish into baby commas, semicolons and the occasional cluster comma,,,we like 'em; get over it.

"weird capitalization" = WTH??? Absolutely NO clue what your problem is there. Pah-Shah!

"poor grammar" = The reader was raised to believe fragmented sentences are wrong. Fragmented sentences are completely natural. Millions of humans are born with the inclination to use and embrace this form of communication. You see? DON'T JUDGE US!

"misspellings" = Is it really? Maybe where I live we spell fukk with two k's. It could be a matter of cultural differences. Maybe...just maybe...you're racist. Think about it. It's never too late to change.

"unlikable characters" = Ugh! You missed the point!

"unresolved plot" = Spoiler: SEQUEL!!

"should get a professional editor" = My editor went to the School of Mom-Logic and has a degree in "You know what I meant---ism. Meantism? Meantiology? Oh, just go clean your room!"

"I didn't like it." = Look! A punctuation garden! How pretty!
                             .-.
                       __   /   \   __
                      (  `'.\   /.'`  )
                       '-._.(;;;)._.-'
                       .-'  ,`"`,  '-.
                      (__.-'/   \'-.__)/)_
                            \   /\    / / )
                             '-'  |   \/.-')
                             ,    | .'/\'..)
                             |\   |/  | \_)
                             \ |  |   \_/
                              | \ /
                               \|/    _,
                          jgs   /  __/ /
                               | _/ _.'
                               |/__/
                                \
(I stole this from CHRIS. ASCII art is awesome!)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It's not easy putting your hard-worked creativity out for the world to see. It's even harder when someone doesn't like it. Convincing yourself that they just don't "get you" is helpful in getting you through the depression as long as that's really the case. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is as simple as the reader just isn't into your style. Those times you just have to let it go.

Or you can write an entire blog post so you can say, "Michele Harvey is a stinky boo-boo head." I mean, how can I take her review seriously anyway when she can't spell her own name correctly?? Use two L's.

Welcome to the internet. Everything is fair game.

~Steph

P.S. I know I really should get a professional editor but they cost upwards from $500. I don't really have that kind of cash just laying around. Have to write more to sell more to edit more. It's a vicious cycle.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cards & Crafting

Lately I've been inundated with projects. Wedding invites, graduation decorations, bridal shower centerpieces, birthday presents, etc... While I do love doing things for my friends, who are all extremely grateful and genuinely thrilled with the results, I tend to make myself crazy. I used to be a student of the School of getting-Things-Done-At-The-Last-Minute. You know that person. Does homework the night before it's due; gets a 100. Stays up until the wee hours of the morning writing a 15-page paper that's to be handed in the next morning and still manages to get an A+. 

I can't do that anymore. It makes me insane to have an undone project. I have to do it that night. If I don't, I think about it 24/7 and get paranoid about doing it. In some ways this is good because I'm getting things done and out of my house early. No waiting until the last minute! But on the other hand it gives me anxiety attacks now. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with me? I mean, seriously. Dork.

I currently have NO projects that I've promised people. There's no weight on me to do anything for anyone. I do really love the projects I make. Working in my craft room at home is my favorite thing in the whole wide world. (When I'm not vacationing, eating, or having sex.) Ok, working in my craft room at home is my fourth favorite thing in the whole wide world, but it's a wonderful feeling right now that I don't have to be there. Yay! No projects!

Well, except The Great Race. Starting to regret that decision since I'm not in any kind of shape to run a 1/2 mile to the kayak. That's starting to make me nervous. (Not enough to get off my ass, you'll notice.) And my parents are coming to visit next week and the house isn't clean. (Well, as my father would say, it's good enough for them.) Need to take a couple days off work to do something cool with the rents while they're here. (I don't know what I'm doing!!!) There are still about six pictures that Drew hasn't hung yet. Been trying to get those done for three weeks. (DREEEEEW!) People are still waiting for book #2. (Pah!) 

SO GLAD I DON'T HAVE ANYMORE PROJECTS TO DO!!!!  AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!

In the meantime, here's are some cards and crafts that I was able to get done and show you.



Remember that bridal shower I did the centerpieces for? If not, see HERE. This is a little centerpiece I made for the cookie tray that Lou made for the party. She asked if I had something to decorate it with that might match the table centerpieces. This took about ten minutes to make and I thought it was adorable! As always, a lot prettier in person.



And here's the bridal shower card I made that followed the same theme. This one is actually from me to the bride & groom. Loved it!!!



Cupcake picks and gift bag tags for Julie. The occasion was her niece's Sweet 16 party. Wicked pleased with how these came out! The cupcake picks are dual-sided; the tags are not. The pink and black animal print on the cupcake picks is actually duct tape! Only $1 a sheet at ACMoore. Amazing bargain, especially as I couldn't find any paper this color.



These are cupcake picks I made for Laurie. Again, dual-sided. 35 of each color. I told her it'd only take an hour. It took two days. It's the only project I completely underestimated the time it took. It only took me an hour to make the ones for Julie though! I forgot that was only 10 picks, not 70. Doh! Still, I love the design on this one. I made it myself since I couldn't find one like this to steal swipe pirate borrow from the internet.


If you're into Halloween Seeing Things That Aren't Really There is one of the coolest websites on the web. This recipe box is based on an idea from her website. It's just something I had to make. Stacey made one too and I wish I'd gotten a picture of hers as she did it in this really cool creepy green paper that was just stunning when it was finished.



This is a birthday card for my yogini Theresa. Her sister actually commissioned this one. Tee turned 50 this past week. I hated this card when I was done with it, but in retrospect, it's actually quite nice. I sponge-painted Buddha with the colors of the chakras.



Just another dress card I made.

Yesterday was Shirley's Stampin' Up workshop. Shirley always has the "new catalog" party. It's one of the most anticipated parties of the year. She picked "masculine card" for the card swap theme.



(L to R) Christie, Stacey, Karen, Me (mine wasn't so much masculine as it was just not feminine)


(L to R) Teresa (That's an embossed deer scene that wouldn't photograph for poop), Terrie, Shirley (with a real golf tee on the front!), Jessica, and joining in on her first swap --- LAURIE!!


And these are the cards we made at the workshop. In each of the two designs, mine is the left card. I make my cards EXACTLY as Jess shows us. Drew's is on the right and he's always gotta be different.

And finally, here's the Infinity Scarf.



My "work daughter" Jessica told me about these. It's the same as the other scarves I make but the ends are joined together. I tried it out and she liked it. This one will be for her mother Nancy, who could use a present after last Friday night. (Stop fighting with the bouncers at Curley's Jess!!! You're barely over five feet tall and  you weigh about ninety pounds! You're not gonna win, you little ankle-biter!)

And finally, if I ever get bored, there's always more scarves to be made.



What color do you want???

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tortellini Bacon Broccoli Salad


Another awesome recipe. So simple to make. I had a request to post this after I served it at a party recently. I put my little notes in ( ).

Tortellini Bacon Broccoli Salad

20 oz package refrigerated cheese tortellini (Wegman's brand is amazing!)
1 lb bacon, cooked and chopped into ½” pieces
4 cups chopped broccoli (2 broccoli crown bunches)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup bottle coleslaw dressing (Again, Wegmans brand is the bomb! And I use the whole bottle.)

1. Cook the tortellini according to the package directions, drain, rinse with cold water, and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes. (I dump mine in a bowl and toss with about a cup of white vinegar. It helps keep it separated and the pasta absorbs some of it, giving it extra zing.)

2. Once the tortellini is chilled, put all ingredients together in a huge bowl. (I don’t drain any of the extra vinegar from the pasta. It works well with this recipe, so just dump the entire pasta & vinegar mix into the bowl.)  Toss until the dressing has coated the ingredients. Chill.

Note: This salad will keep excellently in the refrigerator for several days.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

THE ULTIMATE 30 DAY CHALLENGE - THE FIRST BONUS CHALLENGE SUNDAY!!

THE ULTIMATE 30 DAY CHALLENGE

The response on Facebook about challengers to join in creating their own Ultimate 30 Day Challenges has been fantastic! I love when I have people to play with!

It's only Day 2, but I've decided to add something new to mix things up.

BONUS CHALLENGE SUNDAY

This will be something fun. Something good for the heart and soul. It won't be too difficult. Unless you think getting off your butt and doing something that probably shouldn't take more than ten minutes is too difficult. (Yes, I am referring mostly to myself there.)

Today's Bonus Challenge is something just about every home needs. Space. Space and organization. If your home doesn't, then kudos to you because that's a healthy accomplishment. Maybe help a friend organize theirs. Clutter is deadly. Have you seen Hoarders? You'll either walk away feeling better about your home or you'll have an insatiable desire to throw everything in it out. Don't wait for the Fire Code Enforcement Officer to find that dead cat carcass under a pile of newspapers from 1982. Start clearing stuff out! If you're one step away from A&E showing up at your doorstep with a camera crew, a psychotherapist, and a member of your family you haven't seen in five years who is sobbing uncontrollably for you to get help, you should probably start hauling entire rooms to the dump. Or check yourself into detox. One or the other because Intervention is on A&E too.

Um, where was I going with this? Oh yeah!

Today's Bonus Challenge --- Go to your kitchen and root out something you don't want or will never use then offer it up to a new home. I'm not talking about leftovers! (Unless it's last night's lasagna, then I am and you should bring it to me.) I'm talking about gadgets, pans and doo-hickeys. You can either post it up for grabs on Facebook or give it to someone you know would want it. Take it in to work and toss it on the "Free Table" in the office lunchroom! I often give my unused & unloved "junk" to my co-workers. Steph's Free Stuff Days are the bomb! So much fun! So go find something! You know you have something. If not, find something that really is junk and recycle it. (Then in July you can come to my Pampered Chef party and buy something new. Haha! No joke though, I am having one. Love that stuff!)

Ok. That's it. Go do something fun.

* * * * * 

For the original information on The Ultimate 30 Day Challenge, see THIS POST.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Adventures of Butterball: JUNE!!!

* The Adventures of Butterball are true stories about my *
* trials and tribulations as a stupid fat girl.  Enjoy! *

Everyone knows by now that I'm a huge fan of "fresh starts." I love to purge. I can have a "Spring Cleaning Day" anytime of the year. Instead of just one day though, I want a whole month. A whole month of purging and starting over and working on bad habits and being just happy me doing weird things.

I've decided to make my month JUNE!!! Why June? It has 30 days. There are a buttload of 30 day challenges out there. Most of them aren't what I'm interested in. I could care less about posting pictures on Facebook for 30 days. In fact, I might avoid Facebook for 30 days. I've done a decent job of ignoring it for the past week already.

Ok. So here's the challenges I've decided to do in June. Note I said challengessssss. I'm not just doing one. Oh know. That's not stupid enough. I'm doing my own personalized buttload. I encourage people to join me! Make your own buttload.

THE ULTIMATE 30 DAY CHALLENGE

CHALLENGE #1 - THE WORKOUT CHALLENGE
Workout at least once a day. It must be a legitimate workout. Legitimate to me is:
  1. Kayaking
  2. TapouT XT
  3. Walking/Jogging on the treadmill/outside
  4. Yoga
  5. Some other exercise that is in some way a benefit to me physically and gets me out of my chair
Not included are the additional workout challenges below or walking on my 15 minute breaks at work. I will count it if I walk at least a half-hour at lunch. Why that? Because I hate it. This is about getting me to do something that's not routine. Something I will likely complain about but will be grateful for when it's done.

CHALLENGE #2 - THE SQUAT CHALLENGE
I am not jazzed with how the 30 Day Squat Challenges I've seen online work. They have a rest day. Squats only take 5 minutes. Why do you need a rest day? It just makes things confusing, so I made up my own challenge.

CHALLENGE #3 - THE CRUNCH CHALLENGE
Same thing as the Squat Challenge, but with Crunches. Again, made my own. No rest for people who don't need more excuses to do so.

CHALLENGE #4 - THE HEALTHY EATING CHALLENGE
Do not order any take-out or get any fast-food or eat out for the month.
Exceptions: Any parties we are scheduled to attend (ie. bridal shower, graduation party, Zom-Prom), Friday lunch with the homies.
The purpose of this challenge is to get us to cook more at home and prepare lunches for work. I have been uber-lazy about this and it needs to stop. Even if I'm not cooking something particularly healthy it's still better than fast-food. And cheaper. There is the money factor to consider here too.

CHALLENGE #5 - THE WRITING CHALLENGE
Write everyday. Novels/Short Stories: 1,000 words. Screenplays: 10 pages. Whatever I feel like writing that day. I'm gonna give myself some leeway on this too because some nights there is no time for this but if I can make it up on the following night/weekend then huzzah. Success.

CHALLENGE #69 - THE SEX CHALLENGE
Haha! I'm just kidding. There is none. I asked Drewbert about it (sort of as a joke) and he was like, "Ok!" But I realize that Challenge #5 will probably keep me up later than him sometimes and if I have to stop writing just to go bang him for a challenge then it's gonna make me cranky. And I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone that Drewbert was still ok with that.
Then again, there is the laughably awkward factor to consider when addressing friends/co-workers who have read this. Because someone's gonna wanna ask how the challenge is going. Hmm... Might reconsider actually doing this. *snicker*

So, that's the plan for June. It's only 10:45 am on 6/1/13 I'm already starting to regret it. HAHA! Such stupid fun!!