Saturday, October 25, 2008

My New Brain

So, after my computer crash, I got a new hard drive. Fresh and clean as a newborn baby--and empty of a great deal of information. I found an excel document where I had backed up my address list last February. It took a great deal of hard work on my part to get it into an importable format, but I did it (just don't ask me how because I won't remember). I imported it back into my e-mail program but lost all my group configurations. Today, I am spamming everyone in my address book to see if they want to be re-added to my mailing list. This is also allowing me to get rid of defunct addresses--hey, I'm looking for positives!

However, because this list was only up until last February, if you and I started communicated via e-mail since that time, you no longer exist in my new brain (much like the last 2 years of family pictures I also lost). If you would be so kind, would you e-mail me at You don't have to pat me on the head or tell me dirty jokes to make me smile (name that song!) just an e-mail so I can add you to my address book which will now be backed up regularly along with the five family pictures I have off of my digital camera that I hadn't downloaded yet.

If you were on or would like to be on my mailing list, let me know in the e-mail and I'll add you to that group as well.

Thanks much,

Thursday, October 23, 2008


On Sunday my hard drive crashed. I have a Mac that I fairly worship (as anyone who has heard me pontificate can attest) It's not supposed to crash. It's supposed to be celestial, alas--it is not. I had subscribed to a backup program several months ago, but cheaped out on the storage space and decided I only wanted to back up my documents.

NOT my photos
NOT my financial systems
NOT my e-mails
NOT my address book

Who needs family photos organized into months just waiting to be put into an online 2008 digital scrapbook, right? Who needs the 200 ward photos collected over the last year so that I can put together the ward DVD? Who needs to know what's been paid to whom for the coming tax season? Who needs the fan mail, registration reminders, passwords, recipes, etc that were saved in my numerous e-mail folders? Who needs the 300 email addresses I've spent six years compiling for my newsletter lists?

Apparently, I didn't value these things enough to take care of them. I had made no CD back ups, I had deleted all photos from my digital camera, I had not saved my address book as a document. They are gone unless by some miracle the tech at the store is able to salvage anything for the $80/hour data retrieval I'm taking my hold hard drive into for today. He told me not to hold my breath. I've spent the last 2 days trying to figure out the back up program and have managed to restore my documents. I'm very happy about that, but it doesn't take the pain of losing everything else away.

If it was only my computer that crashed, I'd be okay. I could just pick up and move forward--like I usually do. Mourn a little, rant about my ignorance, and work on getting over it. But someone I love very much emotionally crashed as well. I absolutely hate the feeling of helplessness and I'm being told that I have no responsibility in the personal issues that are pressing against me. I'm told that it's her problem. Well, if I have no responsibility then I'm helpless to help her. Kind of like my computer. I know I was ignorant and lazy in my backup practices--and now I'm paying for that. I'm learning to be more prepared. I can fix it in the future because I know I was irresponsible and I can fix that. However, if this problem she's dealing with isn't because of anything I've done or not done, then how can I do anything about it? I'm either responsible or I'm helpless--give me one of them so I know where I stand! As it is I feel impotent on every front, dependant on other people to help both sides of my melt down while I flutter around in the middle.

I wish I could sleep for the next two years, except that I'm getting old enough to know that though time heals all wounds, it continually brings new ones with it. I'd wake up just as battered.

However, I've learned a few things over the last few days:

1--Even when I yell at God he doesn't yell back, but most everyone else does
2--Having faith in inadequacy results in failure
3--Eye make-up is not for the emotionally unstable
4--Talking about things doesn't always help
5--Talking to therapists sometimes does
6--Home is only a happy place when the people in it are smiling
7--I can pretend to be fine even when I'm screaming inside
8--Alone in the car is the best place to cry
9--There are far worse things than computer crashes
10--Without the gospel none of it would be worth it--and sometimes it's hard to remember that the gospel helps that much. That's where testimony comes in handy--I know I know it even when I don't feel it.

The purpose of this post is to, well, throw a little self-pity and rediculous emotion into the universe I guess. The world always needs a little more of that, right?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Movie Reviews~The Duchess & Forever Strong

Lee and I went to the Duchess last night. It's rated PG 13, based on a true story, and stars Kiera Knightly (who I quite like). It's the story of Georgiana Something-or-other who became the Duchess of Devonshire in the last 1700's. The catch phrase I had heard was that "She could seduce everyone in England except her husband" this did not turn out to be the case. She was not a seductress or woman of questionable character, she was instead very bright, very engaging, and very admirable in many ways. The whole point of making a movie about her is because she was so remarkable, especially for that period of time. I happen to love Regency England, and so I loved many things about the movie--the dress, the cultural views, the intrigue of social class and I felt it was all very well portrayed and meshed well with the things I know of this time period. However, this is an adult movie. There are several bedroom scenes that, although not graphic, are very 'clear' on what is happening. There are adult themes of mistresses, infidelity, illegitimate children and all such things you can pretty much expect of a marriage based on nothing more than power, inheritance, and social standing. There were several very gripping and heartbreaking scenes as you watch a young woman of ideal and optimism realize that she does not live in a fairy tale and she never will. It was a powerful reminder of how grateful I am to live in the day and time and circumstance I do. Equality is an amazing thing and although I wouldn't call myself a feminist, perhaps it took women of that kind of aggressive zeal to save the rest of us from the powerless existance so many women lived in without chance of recourse. There was on scene that had me grinding my teeth--reminding me very well that Hollywood (or BBC films) is still behind this story. It's a scene about 1/3 way through the movie where the Duchess's freind is trying to show the Duchess that intimacy can be pleasurable. It didn't too too far, but it was too far in my opinion. Nothing graphic, but sensual between two women and completely gratuitous since it was not necessary to make the point. Scenes like this really chap me--and I'll be writing someone a letter to tell them so. They will probably laugh at me, but the film itself was so well done and powerful--to have thrown that in was like an onion in my fruit salad! There is also female back nudity where a maid is running from the Duke's bedchamber--also unnecessary but without the sensuality of the other scene. All in all, in case you can't tell, I really liked this film but I will probably never own it because it's not one I'd want my kids to watch. It's very much about sex and how it related to adult relationships of this era.

Forever Strong is also based on a true story, is very different from The Duchess, and a great family movie. I believe it's rated PG. It's about a young man who plays rugby on his high-school team in Arizona where his dad is coach. He is on a bad path and ends up sent to Juvenile Detention in Utah where the head of the Detention center realizes his skill at Rugby and gets him on the Highland High School team, the ongoing national champion and nemesis of his old team and his father. The Highland High Rugby team is coached an amazing coach whose name I can't remember. The story follows the transition of this troubled boy as he is coached in Rugby, and life, by the high ideals and genuine compassion of this coach. This is, I believe, a local film and yet you would never, ever guess it. It was very well scripted, very well acted, and wonderfully filmed. They have fabulously done rugby shots, and it is one of, if not, the best filmed 'local' movies I've ever seen. Not only that, the filming and acting beat the socks off many sports based movies that have been released nationally. We took our kids to see this for family night and we all really liked it. It has a great message, but you don't lose the story in it. If it's showing in your area (Utah) please take the chance to see it so it can be well supported. It hasn't had a lot of marketing and such but is really really well done. Unlike some other local films, this isn't something you would do as a favor to the film maker, to support local companies, you would be doing to get a great experience. Believe me, it will be worth the $$ and the time. This is one I will definitely buy as soon as it's released. You can watch a trailer about it here. I believe it's been in theaters a couple weeks so it might not be there much longer. It was directed by Ryan Little, who I think I went to high-school with if he had a twin brother named Chad (I think). That would be a cool little coincidence if it was true so if you know whether Ryan Little attended Olympus high-school and graduated in 91, let me know.

Anyway, there's my thoughts. Have a great weekend.

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Books and Great Cooks

The first part of this blog is an announcement of my next book. It's something totally different from anything I've done before; one viewpoint character (Sadie Hoffmiller), no LDS themes, not set in Utah, and brimming with some of my favorite recipes. Yes, after eight LDS novels, I've tried my hand at a Culinary Mystery--Lemon Tart. The story is about Sadie Hoffmiller, a retired teacher, widow, mother of two, and neighborhood busibody who takes the case when her neighbor, Anne Lemmon, is found dead in her back yard. Anne's 2 year old son, Trevor, is no where to be found and when the police start treating Sadie like a suspect, she determines she has no choice but to prove her own innocence. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to figure out who killed Anne in the first place, rescue Trevor, and restore order to the world she's always known. In addition to a great story (if I do say so myself) the book includes five of my favorite recipes guaranteed to put a smile on any readers face. Never underestimate the power of baked goods.

Lemon Tart will be published by Deseret Book in the spring of 2009, to be followed a few months later by the second book in the series, English Trifle, which I'm currently working on, and which brings me to the second part of this post.

I'm looking for cooks, bakers, people who, like me, love getting lost in cream of tarter and finding themselves up to their elbows in chocolate ganache. With Lemon Tart, I baked ferociously and then with the help of a Deseret Book employee (and fabulous cook), figured out the final details for each recipe. This time, I want to perfect the recipes as I go, but I need the help of fellow goddesses (and gods) of the kitchen to make it work. I'm looking for half a dozen people that are willing to cook up a recipe to make sure it works in their kitchen. Any tricks, additions, step-saving practices, etc, will be welcome. Each recipe will be an experience of creation and I need bakers commited to the cause of culinary perfection. Some points to consider:

*Participants will be added to a private blog for Sadie's Test Kitchen
*A new recipe will be posted about every two weeks
*Recipes will be simple enough to be executed in a household kitchen, but will be fun enough to be new and different.
*Participants will agree to cook up each recipe at least twice.
*Test cooks will recieve two copies of each book they participate in and get mention as one of the Test Kitchen Bakers in the acknowledgements section of said book.
*Participants will sign a contract promising to keep the details of each recipe a secret until the book is released.
*If at any time being one of Sadie's bakers interferes with life as you know it, participants may quit at any time with no hard feelings from me.

If you're interested in joining Sadie's Test Kitchen, please reply as such to this blog or contact me at


Friday, October 10, 2008

Looking for Music for the Ward DVD

In the name of masochistic insanity, about five years ago I volunteered to put together a video montage (still pictures set to music) for my ward. I was activity leader back then and had heard the idea from a friend who at that time had 15 years of videos for her ward. I thought it was a great idea and my bishop agreed with me. The only problem was that I had no clue how to do it, no software, and no real direction. The first year was a big learning experience and the final result ended up being due a friend of a friend who bailed us out at the last minute. The next summer I took a class so that I could do it myself. Each year since has shown a little more improvement over the last one to the point where I now feel proud of what I've learned to do. I enjoy doing it and I have 5 years of our ward history that shows my own kids and many friends. However, I have a problem every single year that is only getting worse.


I know many people love music, always have it playing, and often use it to set a mood or fill the background or whatever. I'm not one of those people. My favorite groups are Queen and the Scorpions. My husband's and my song is "Turbo Lover" by Judas Preist--not quite the type to use on a church DVD. At home, the TV fills the background for me and I choose talk radio over music stations most of the time (especially if Dr. Laura or Dave Ramsey are on). So, each year I try to keep my ears open for good music. Things I've used in the past are:

Somewhere over the Rainbow (Iz)
100 years to live (Five for Fighting--I absolutely LOVED this one, it was a great fit)
I'm from the Country (Tracy Byrd)
Better Together (Jack Johnson)
Small Town (John Melloncamp)
Simple things (Jim Brickman)
My heart to yours (John Denver)
Warriors of Light (Afterglow--can't find the lyrics)
Where I come from (Alan Jackson)
Proud of The House we built (Brooks and Dunn (I think))
Shine (newsboys)
Be Thou Near to Me (Jim Brickman)

There are others but I can't think of them. I try to get ones that fit the part of the montage--so upbeat country music for the July 4th and ward parties, cute family things for the family photos, upbeat stuff for the kids, etc. But every single year it's a job to try and find things that work. Because I'm not a music person, I don't even know where to look and most of what I come up with is chance or friend recommendations. This year has been a particular challenge because anything I already owned and knew has been used--in other words, I have depleted my personal music supply which makes me that much more dependent on other people. So, I'm asking you guys to help me out. I will buy the CD's I need, so I'm not asking anyone to burn me something, but I'm just drawing a blank on several portions of the DVD. The ideas I've come up with so far:

*Jesus (Jim Brickman piano only) for "In memory of" section
*Dream Big (Ryan Shupe) for youth or primary
Two of the following for family:
*It's good to be Us--Bucky Covington (I haven't actually heard this one although I've read the lyrics)
*You're gunna miss this--Trace Atkins (not sure I like this one, seems a bit preachy/sappy)
*Roll with me--Montgomery Gentry (this one talks about an early death and I'm not sure that's what I want to do)
*If I only had Today--Hilary Weeks (I love this song, but I worry it's a little bit sad, but I'm not sure--it's probably the one I want the most. It's brand new and I couldn't find the lyrics although I already bought the CD)
**One thing about the family music is I try not to use anything too romantic, since it's families more than it is couples. I'm okay with a little bit, but want it more general 'togetherness' than romantic love.

I need something upbeat for the youth and considered doing Crazy but it might be a little too psychadelic. I also need something churchy, but not preachy, for sunday school/primary classes. And I still need a good ward activity one similar to Small Town and I'm from the Country. They have to clean, no talk about what happens in the dark, no words like 'lover' or any swear words either. They need to have a good message but not pointedly religious. Probably the biggest goal of this project is that it's fun--I don't want it to be boring and 'churchy' I want it to be something the youth and kids can enjoy, without crossing the line.

So, anyhow, I very much appreciate any help you guys can give me. Whether it's agreeing that some of my suggestiosn are good ones, or giving me more ideas--I'm all over. I'll start putting this together in a couple weeks and can use all the help I can get.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

HELP ME, the google reader idiot

So I've heard people talking about google reader and I want to love it. I really, really, really want to love it. But so far I don't. I've been working on it all dang day and it's got to be easier than I'm making it to be. I added my blogs to my blogger dashboard but now I can't figure out how to import them into the reader thing. I mean, I know there are horrible things like a crumbling economy and world hunger going on, but I am dang annoyed I can't figure this out. I want to read all my blogs in one place like everyone else and it's making me swear.

So, someone much smarter than me (uh, that would be everyone) help me out here. Is there no easier way of doing it other than typing in the url on the reader page? I'm a horrible speller and I keep going to blogs and exiting before I note how they are spelled. And can I put it as a feed in my toolbar like I have some of my other favoritist blogs. I want to! And if I can't, I'm gunna be even madder!

Here's what I need to know:
*Can I put it in my toolbar like an RSS feed. If so, how, if not, why the $%#@!! not, this is America!
*Can I reply on the actual reader page or do I have to go to the blog every time?
*Can I import my 'blogs I'm following' or do I seriously have to type them all out?
*Is this really worth it?

Thanks in advance, and my apologies for my unnecessary emotional state about this. I can't explain my state of mind in a way that will make sense so I'll stop here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Farewell Canning Season 08

Though I'm a zealot now, I was far from converted to the gospel of home canning when I entered adulthood. Quite frankly, I thought canning was a hideous waste of time AND that the only people that did it, did it because they were poor. Yes, my mother often talked about the high quality, how much better it was for you, blah, blah, blah, but I hated canning, let me say that again, I HATED canning.

I grew up as one of nine children. My mother stayed home and my dad taught school. Canning was a necessity. We had a HUGE garden and numerous fruit trees. In addition to our own stuff, because we had nine kids, people often called us to finish off their fruit trees. Every summer we bottled hundreds and hundreds of quart jars full of all kinds of things--cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, tomatoes, pickles beets, apples, applesauce, grape juice and a variety of jams and jellies. However, I use the term 'we' rather loosely since the kids never did that much. I remember many times promising my mother I wouldn't eat any peaches or anything made with the tomatoes, therefore I shouldn't have to can them. It never worked and so as I skinned peaches and packed tomatoes I swore I would never, ever, ever can anything once I was an adult. (I swore the same thing about taking my kids to church, making them do chores, sewing their clothes, making my own bread, planting a garden, and painting a bedroom by myself--I've gone back on all of those ones too)

I did become an adult eventually. I got married, had a baby, took over custody of a neice, did elderly care in our home so I could stay with my kids, and got pregnant again. I was about 4 months pregnant when one day Lee's aunt showed up at my house with a tub of blackberries. She'd been at the wet pack cannery and they had extra blackberries they were selling for $5. She bought them and brought them to me because "I know you love to can." How the heck she knew I loved to can when I most certainly did NOT love to can is beyond me. I was far more annoyed than gracious and after she left I glared at those blackberries with absolute abhorance (anyone that knows the value of a 10 gallon tub of blackberries wants to slap me upside the head about now). But, I was cheap and couldn't let them go to waste so I first put several gallon bags of blackberries in my apartment sized freezer and then decided to make some jam. Christmas was a couple months away and I figured I could give the jam for neighbor gifts.

So I did.

And the result was about 60 pints of the most beautiful jam I'd ever seen. I finished and just stared at what I had done. I made jam! I rescued 10 gallons of blackberries from spoiling and I preserved them until my family and freinds. I was mighty impressed with myself and a few months later was even MORE impressed with myself when my neighbors responded with astonished excitement when they got my jam instead of more candy. A switch was flipped, however, I lived in an apartment and soon had 2 little kids and a pre-teen, and a grandmother--so I didn't can again for several years. Then, we moved to Willard also known as the Famous Fruit HighWay. Whereas I felt like some kind of Martha Stewart when I lived in the city, up here I'm just like everyone else--they ALL can, but it's turned into a great resource for me in those ways as well.

I found a water bath canner at DI for $3. I planted beets and tomatoes, bought peaches and pears and apricots--I learned how to make mustard pickles. Now, some twenty years after my cursings about canning, I am so converted it's almost disgusting. I absolutly love to can. The feeling of accomplishment as I look at food I put up is almost hard to discribe. I think it ties back to an anciet female desire to create--and do I ever create! This year was actually a bit thinner than others because of time issues, but I still managed to can the following:

14 quarts of peach pie filling
20 quarts of peaches
12 pints and 4 quarts of mustard pickles
24 quarts and 4 pints of tomatoes

I only do jam every other year and this was an off year as I'm trying to use through the stuff in the freezer, and apples and grapes are yet to be dealt with--but most of the season is over for me. I finally figured out how to clean my stove (easy off, with a bowl placed over the sprayed burner to keep the fumes from knocking me out) and I had a great year for tomatoes. I had a couple friends ask me for tips when they decided to try their hand at canning for the first time in a few years, and that was a huge boon to me because they then get to feel that feeling of success, preservation, and accomplishment. I'm certainly no expert, and I've never yet attempted canning with a pressure cooker, but I'll get there and I'm sure I'll love it :-)

Now, I'm off to make an apricot cobbler--come on over this afternoon if you'd like some.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Show Me the Money--Again!

Last year I posted about the money published authors really make called Really Show the Money. It was fun to get a cross section of many authors and see the range of spectrum in the financial lucre. Recently, LDSpublisher had a blog post about the LDS market and the comments trailed into the $$ we make in this market. It's a question people ask A LOT, and are often surprised when I answer them without hesitating. I know our society is supposed to be all close mouthed about money issues, but I figure that's only because people are judgemental. You wanna judge me because I make a certain amount of $$, fine with me. If it destracts you from other things like bad hygeine and poor social skills, I'll take judgements over money any day.

Soooooo, being as I'm a total copy cat and since I'm cleaning my stove after canning season and therefore have nothing of interest to post about, I thought I'd ask the same question I did last year--How much money are you authors making?

Here's the format:
What Market are you published in?
Do you have a traditional publisher or are you self-published or both?
How much $$ have you recieved in ROYALTIES or ADVANCES in the last 12 months?
How many books do you have published? 1, 2-6, 6-10, more than 10

What did you do with your last royalty check?

And despite my 'open and free' comments in regard to $$, please post anonymously if you're sharing finances--no need to tempt me since I've recently learned just how easy it can be to hack into bank accounts :-) Also, my answer will be anonymous also, I'm fine having an in depth discussion with anyone on a one on one basis, but would rather not put it out into blogland.

Any other comments along this trail are welcome