Tag Archives: I made this

Little Big Snow

My super big news, is that pen name received a *Recommended Read* review from Dear Author (prominent romance review site).

I knew there was a reason I still hadn’t worked on my best of list for this year and this book is it. Yep, it’s going on it for a number of reasons but I’ll cut to the chase and say it’s one of the best overall books I’ve read this year.

–Jayne at Dear Author.

This is a review site that I am a big fan of, however I’ve backed off romance reviews lately because I was buying 3 books for every 1 I read and I resolved (unsuccessfully, so far!) to catch up on reading what I have before I bought anything new.

I am now more motivated than ever to work on Book 2.

I’m trying to learn to use textures in my endless quest to be better at Photoshop. I don’t think these are excellent examples, but you gotta learn somehow.

We had just enough snow with a lovely coating of ice to make life interesting around here for a few days. It’s supposed to warm up tomorrow and stay above freezing so fingers crossed we’re in good shape for the holidays.

One last thing, the salsa update: I had this weird accumulating liquid issue in the fridge that I kept wiping up without realizing there was a problem. I vaguely remember dropping the salsa container. Must have been enough to crack the container. All that’s left in there now is salsa paste (still tastes good!).

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Updated RED TAPE Stories from Indian Country

This quick little project that was going to be done in August is finally finished. Well, except for the paperback. I’m working on it.

The selected stories have some connection to the people and lands of the Karuk Tribe.

The updated collection has three additional stories:

Lottie v. The Moon Hopper (originally appeared in Future Lovecraft).

The Last Willow Stick on the River and Reservation Jobs (originally appeared in Yellow Medicine Review).

Willow Stick and Jobs have no speculative elements and I gnashed my teeth about including them but in the end decided: it’s my collection, I can do what I want.

Here’s the background on the original nine stories:

The Battle of Little Big Science
(previously appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction) This was my Clarion West week #3 story.

Estelle Makes the Casino Run
(previously appeared in Innsmouth Free Press) I wrote this for a contest with my Clarion West classmates.

Social Security
(previously appeared in The Wordstock Ten) This was my submission story for Clarion West.

Field Work
This was my Clarion West week #2 story. Are you seeing a theme here?

The Medicine Woman of Talking Rock
Yup, Clarion West Week #5.

Repercussions
Clarion West Week #6. This was me trying to do something different since you’re supposed to stretch yourself at the workshop.

Trusted Leader
This was my Week #7 story – the first thing I wrote after I left the workshop. The process was gruesome but I like the way it came out after about 5000 drafts.

Fish Killer
This story has nothing to do with Clarion West. I was upset about the dredge mining situation on the Klamath and needed to work it out.

The Casino Gargoyle
This was another submission story I wrote when I misunderstood the application instructions.

Purchase links:

Kindle | Apple | Kobo | Nook | Paperback coming soon

If you already bought it but want the updated version, drop me a note. We can work something out.

I have a couple of new short stories floating around out there. Hopefully I’ll have some news to share on that soon.

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FIFA World Cup Coverage Interrupted For This Announcement

I have a new story out in the Spring 2014 issue of Yellow Medicine Review. Purchasing information is right here.

My friend Carter Meland edited the issue and I’ve already read it cover to cover and there are some great pieces. Among my favorites are Benjamin Burgess’s The Kennewick Chronicles: 101 Ways to Explain Kennewick Man’s Pelvic Projectile Wound, Hans Carlson’s Strangers Still, and the Land Nearly Devoured, and Carol Miller’s Twilight exile: Elders, Aging, and an American Indian Family.

If you have any interest in contemporary indigenous writing I very strongly encourage you to track it down and support these writers. But if you already know you aren’t going to buy it but you’d like to read my story, here you go: Reservation Jobs. I should point out that this is my submitted version. The editor kindly cleaned up the version in print.

If you can believe it, even with my terrible output lately, I actually have one more story coming out but I’m not sure when. Don’t worry. I’ll tell you all about it when it’s out.

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The Secrets of Bread Making (Part 2)

Just to review what we’ve done so far: Thursday we fed the sourdough. Total time: 5 minutes.

Friday we made the dough. Total time: 10 minutes.

Now it’s Saturday and we’re going to bake. You have to organize your time for baking day. There is no way to phone it in. I sometimes realize that I will be gone in the afternoon and then scramble to get the baking done before I go.

Here is the bread dough after 18+ hours. All bubbly. This is the only scary part if you’re not a regular bread baker. It can be very sticky. I put a bunch of flour on the counter and my hands and scrape the dough onto the counter. I re-flour my hands as necessary.

I pat the dough out into flat circle. Not like pizza flat. More like the size of a dinner plate. Fold in half and then fold in half again, tucking the folds underneath and trying to make the top smooth. Just do your best. Cover with the plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, I do the same thing: pat into a circle, fold, fold and form into a ball.

I have my towel from earlier and spread on sheet pan. I sprinkle a handful of oat bran the towel. Totally optional. I like the way it looks on the finished loaf.

I put my ball on it, sprinkle flour on the top and cover with more towel. You want the flour and/or bran to keep the towel from sticking.

Then put in a warm-ish place and set a timer for 75 minutes. The no knead bread recipe calls for baking in a Dutch oven. I did not have a Dutch oven when I started making this recipe and I tried out this pyrex instead. I have since acquired a Dutch oven but I still like the results better when I use this.

Set your oven for 475-ish and put the pyrex or Dutch oven in there. Set your timer for 15 minutes.

When your timer goes off your oven and baking container should be heated and you are ready for business. Now you have to figure out how to get your dough from its towel to the cooking instrument. Good luck!

I pull out the oven rack and remove the lid. Don’t space out and forget that the lid has been pre-heating in the oven. Pot holder. I pick up my bread ball in its towel in one hand and shake out the towel with the excess oat bran over the sink because I am fussy that way. Then I gently overhand it into the pan. Hopefully your pan isn’t sliding around or off the rack. Caution here.

You can see it doesn’t look pretty. Also note that now the oat bran is on the top.

I shake the pyrex if the dough needs settling, replace the lid and shut the oven.

Set the timer for 25 minutes.

Here’s where you need to get to know your oven. The actual baking time for step 1 is 30 minutes. I have an electric oven with a mind of its own but generally runs hot (except when it doesn’t …). When we buy an oven we’re going gas but until then, this is what I’ve got.

At about 25-30 minutes it should be puffed up and pale.

Remove the lid, turn the oven to 450 and set your timer for 12 minutes. Actual baking time is 15 minutes.

I use a Thermapen to check the bread. You’re aiming for 210 degrees. At this point mine is almost always around 207 and I call it good.

Finished loaf, beautiful! It lasts all week but is especially delicious the day of baking. We have hunks with dinner and Bob carves it up to make sandwiches for his lunch.

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The Secrets of Bread Making (Part 1)

Just kidding! I don’t know the secrets of bread baking. But I’ve been making consistently good bread all winter so I am sharing my recipe.

On Thursday night when I get home I feed my sourdough. My sourdough starter came from Aunt Janet. It lives in this jar in the back of the fridge. I pour it into a bowl, add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour and stir and cover with a towel.

Our kitchen is the coldest part of the house so I put the bowl in my room. I love the doughy smell.

If you don’t have an Aunt Janet, maybe you can get a sourdough starter from a local bakery. Or use the Internet. I think you can make your own starter. Do the homework.

Sometimes the liquid on the top looks dark. I just pour it off. Aunt Janet says it’s pretty tough to ruin it. So unless you’ve neglected it for so long that it has hair and a deep voice, you’re probably okay. If you boil potatoes, save the water and use that to feed your sourdough. Maybe that’s an old wives’ tale. Can’t hurt.

The next day it looks bubbly and is ready for action.

I use 1/4 cup for my recipe and put the rest back in the jar for next time.

Apologies to the person who posted this recipe because did not keep a record of where it came from. I put no-knead bread and sourdough into my search engine and this came up somewhere.

I use 5 oz. of wheat flour and 11 oz. of regular flour. Both from Bob’s Red Mill. I have no idea how to do it without a scale. I add 1 1/2 t. salt, my sourdough and 12 oz. of tap water. Stir it all around. It won’t look pretty.

Cover with plastic wrap. I put it in my room where it’s not so cold. But I read somewhere that the no-knead stuff doesn’t need coddling so use your own judgment.

Set aside for at least 18 hours. I leave it longer and have found the recipe to be forgiving. Obviously, or I couldn’t do it.

Stay tuned for part 2.

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Precipitation

It is a mess out there. We haven’t had snow like this since the great Christmas snowpocalypse of 2008. It’s raining now. There’s a good chance we’re going to lose the gutters again. We’ve already been out there twice to try to knock snow off them.

I am grateful we don’t have to go anywhere and we have lots of food in the cupboard.

Tonight I’m making this pot roast with mushrooms thing. The house smells amazing.

How about this one? This is midterm exam quality. I had to use all sorts of tricks, many of which took me forever.

The before side I took when I got home from work on Thursday. There were just a few wispy flakes. The after side I took this evening. Hopefully this is cleared up by the Monday commute.

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Snow Day

Super busy week. I’ve barely had time to pull up my socks.

Sleep situation is improving. Not rock star quality yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I just did a long lesson on filters which is the best part. It’s hard to resist the urge to add a gnarly filter to everything.

Weather is crap so maybe I can finish this class this weekend.

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Flower Photos Are Easy to Make Look Good

Sorry to be a boring broken record, but little improvement on the sleepless front. Slept like the dead until 3:30a – so improving, but still falling short of our goals. I’m not giving up.

This was in my scan folder and the original scan has the photos side-by-side like we got those sheets of school photos when we were kids. But the photos were mis-aligned and one was blurrier. Not sure what that was all about. I practiced all kinds of things with this one.

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The Unicorn Hair

Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon thinking I was 30 minutes away from being able to Photoshop. Didn’t happen so I did extra today.

I’m lucky in the gray hair department in that I don’t have very many. I’m not opposed to the idea of dyeing but I don’t want to have to deal with touch ups all the time. It’s not an issue now. We’ll see how I feel in a few years.

I have a single gray hair in the exact middle-front of my head, where my horn would be if I was a unicorn. Do you know those stories like where the purse has coin and they spend it and then the next day the purse has a coin? Or they chop down the tree and then the next morning they look out the window and the tree is back out there?

That is my unicorn gray hair. I yank that sucker out and it’s back the next time I look. I’m afraid if I keep yanking it I’m going to have a bald spot where my unicorn horn would be.

At least the other gray hairs have the good sense to grow in the back of my head where I hardly notice them.

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The Gratitude Plant

I didn’t want to make any formal declaration that I would post a project photo every day but that’s my aim. It’s not totally realistic because some of my weekdays are endlessly long (like today) so this one is pretty phoned in.

Co-worker gave me the gratitude plant back in March on the day designated for office people to give the people who keep everything running a plant-based gift and take them to lunch. This plant said minimal maintenance which I thought, Yay. I know I present myself like I’m good with plants but actually my skill is picking out plants that are difficult to kill or otherwise ruin.

The gratitude plant sat on my desk for months and pieces of it kept shriveling up and falling off. Was I watering too much or not enough? The directions said 4-6 weeks but I stuck with a straight 4 weeks. I set up a reminder on my calendar and every 4 weeks I get a note that says, “Water Gratitude Plant, Location: lobby chairs.”

I finally went to the plant website and looked it up and it said it needs a lot of sunlight and if anything, err on the side of too little water. That would have been good information to include next to “minimal maintenance.” There are no windows by my desk so I stuck it in colleague’s office for a couple of weeks but more bits shriveled and fell off so I just brought it home yesterday and put it on a very sunny windowsill.

I can hear it yodeling with joy from here.

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