Friday, February 27, 2009

Worldwide Ward Cookbook

Several months ago I received an e-mail from an author I had met a time or two, Deanna Buxton, in regard to a new project she was working on. Deanna's previous books have been cookbooks--but with a twist. Instead of your run of mill cookbooks, Deanna's were focused on the concept of freezing meals that could be reheated and served on those days when you just did not have time to cook (which, let's face it, can easily be every day of the week). Her first book, Dinner is Ready, was an inspiration to me. You spend one day cooking, cooking, cooking, and then you freeze it all. She offers complete step by step instructions on how to organize your kitchen and time, then tells you how to convert family favorites to freezable meals--THEN had a whole bunch of tried and tested freezer recipes. I loved it and though I've admittedly fallen off the wagon, I do pick myself up once or twice a year and stock my freezer. It's a really brilliant concept. She's then followed up Dinner is Ready with Lunch is ready and Brunch is Ready, books that follow the same concept but address the specifics of those meals. NOW she also has software to accompany all the books so that you can adjust portions and create shopping lists on your computer.

Soooooo, she e-mailed Me year or so ago, and many other people, asking for recipes--specifically international type recipes. She wanted to put together a ward cookbook, but from people all over the world. For my part, I have never lived anywhere but Utah (carrot-raisin salad anyone?)--however my husband served his mission in the Philippines and I spent many years looking for the perfect Chicken Adobo recipe--not Mexican Adobo, Filipino adobo. We'd found a Filipino restaurant at one time, where I'd tried chicken adobo and liked it, but then the restaurant went out of business (boo hoo) and so I took up the gauntlet and was very happy when I found what we both felt was a pert-near perfect recipe. I submitted it, they accepted it, and now the BOOK IS OUT! I got my complimentary copy yesterday and have the next two weeks of recipes planned out. I am so dang excited to try things like Baked Shrimp and Brunch Rolls.

My contribution to the Worldwide Ward Cookbook is on page 71--so if you are a cook book lover, especially the ward and community type cook books that have everyone's favorites, this is quite likely something you will drool over. Click on the links to be taken to websites where you can order it online, or look for it at your local LDS book retailer.

AND Deanna's now accepting recipes for a Worldwide Ward Christmas cookbook, to submit your favorite recipe and story about how it enhances your Christmas traditions, go HERE.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Leggo my Veggie Burger

I remember the first time I heard the term "Veggie Burger". It was at a friend's house when I was about 11. Her parents were having a BBQ and in addition to the sizzling burgers was this light brown thing that looked like a combination between cardboard and dog food. I asked what it was and she said her cousin was a vegetarian and the weird thing on the grill was a Veggie burger.

A what?

"Basically it's a bunch of veggies and tofu all mushed together."

Um, can you say GROSS!

The GROSS label lasted until last summer, when I was at yet another BBQ. Some more vegetarians were there and they happened to have an extra veggie burger on the grill. I'm the kind of person that finds other people's quirks quite fascinating, and I love to ask about their jobs, the families they come from, how they met their husbands, what brand of toilet paper they like best--you know, the typical get-to-know-you-too-well kind of things. I love talking to vegetarians. It's fascinating to me that people can give up something like that by choice. There is no religious component (at least to those I have talked to) and most of them love the taste of meat--but they have a variety of reasons for not eating it. Most of them have issues in regard to the treatment of animals we later consume on pot-roast-Sunday, some of them have issues with the hormones used on meat production, and some have purely health related concerns which have taken this shift. As a person that can't go a day without serious sugar consumption and imagines a life without sugar to be paramount to going blind, it's amazing to me to see such dedication.

Anyway, so I started grilling (punny!) these vegetarian cousins of mine and they offered me a veggie burger, which I accepted. I then loaded it with so much ketchup and mustard that it was dripping all over the place. I didn't tell them, but I'm sure they guessed, that I expected cardboard. I was very wrong. In fact, it was delicious. The texture was just like hamburger, but there was no grease. It didn't taste at all like pureed green peppers or brown rice.

The next week I bought some veggie burgers at the grocery store and read up on the nutrition information. They are loaded with protein and fiber thanks to soy and veggies, they are low in calories and the fat content is almost non-existent. I grilled them up for my family--only one refuses to eat them, and I'm not surprised, she refuses most of my great ideas.

It's been abut 7 months since that first-time-veggie-burger-experience and since then I have consumed many a veggie burger and I have eaten exactly two actual hamburgers (I will never lose my love for Article Circle's cheapo hamburgers drenched in fry sauce, sigh) I've ordered veggie burgers at a variety of restaurants and am quite thrilled to have found that Burger King has had veggie burgers on the menu for quite some time. So has Chili's. I have a handy-dandy George Foreman grill which makes the cooking of a veggie burger about a 3 minute process. I defrost in the microwave for about 1 minute while the grill heats, then while the veggie burger cooks (heats through, really, since it's already cooked) I slice my tomatoes, tear off my lettuce, mayo and ketchup my whole wheat bun (or regular bread if I have no buns) and Voila, I have a high-protein, low-fat, very filling lunch or dinner.

So, if like me you had suspicions in regard to the whole veggie burger thing--rest assured that it's not so scary--in fact it's quite good. My favorite is the Boca Cheeseburger, but every other one I've had is also good. Happy snarfing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Valentine Meme

I saw this meme on Annette Lyon's blog and thought it was just perfect for Valentines day, so I stole it. We'll be celebrating 16 years in April--I can't believe it and yet having been here for each day of it, it's gone so fast.

1. Where did you and your husband meet? Weight Training class at Olympus High School. I was a Sophomore and he was a Senior. We were also in the same ward but between his work schedule and my rebellious streak and the fact that he was two years older, we didn't know each other beyond recognizing one another from church.

2. How long before you kissed? Um, about a month BEFORE we started dating. We'd been flirting for awhile and then one day in class I just leaned in and kissed him. He was not impressed, and I've been razed about my racy behavior ever since.

3. Who kissed who first? See #2

4. How long from the time you met until you were engaged? Two and a half years. After six months of dating he went on a mission. Within 12 hours of him coming home we were talking marriage, and we were engaged a month or so after that.

5. How did he propose? We went to a Japanese restaurant in downtown Salt Lake and had a private tatami room. He did all the sweet talk but explained he couldn't afford a ring yet, so he gave me one made of tinfoil and promised to replace it, but wondered if I would marry him anyway. I said yes, of course, and then a minute later the waitress brought our food, with a velvet box right there next to the Miso. Weird thing, we've never been back to that restaurant even though we love Japanese--I guess we just don't like down town Salt Lake.

6. Did he pick out the ring or did you? He did, then we went back and had some chips put on the side. It's simple, but perfect.

7. Do you still like the ring? the only thing I didn't like about it was that it was gold. I'm a silver girl but we couldn't afford a non-gold setting. A couple years ago I had it redone in white gold, but it's the exact same style as it was before.

8. Where was your wedding and reception? Married in the Salt Lake Temple, reception at our ward house--orange carpeted basketball court and all.

9. How many bridesmaids did you have, and who was your maid of honor? No bridesmaids or maid of honor. We were given $2500 by our parents for the wedding expenses, anything left over we could spend however we wanted to. I cut every corner possible and we left on our honeymoon with $1100 in our pockets--sweet.

10. What color were your bridesmaid dresses? See #9

11. What was your bouquet made of? Red roses--the $25 special at The Flower Patch

12. Who gave you away? Not applicable for a temple wedding.

13. Did you cry during your wedding? Nope, I was ear to ear grins.

14. What style was your dress? I rented my dress from a lady in Pleasant Grove for $50. It was a shiny fabric with a full skirt and lacy detail. She let me keep it for 2 full weeks. I wouldn't change a thing about it. I was a size 3 when I got married and had a baby a year later--I'd have never fit into that dress again and I'd have never worn it again anyway. I know I'm an odd duck, but I honestly have never understood buying a wedding dress--I mean the guys don't by the tuxes, and wanna know why? Cause they know they will never wear it again, why spent all that $$ when it's a one day event? It simply does not make sense to me to spend soooo much money on a dress you will wear one time and then pay $75 to put in a sealed box--but I respect the fact that I'm the definite minority in this respect.

15. Was your wedding kiss sweet or sexy? It was in the temple, so it was sweet, but lingering sweet.

16. Who caught your bouquet? Nobody. I didn't throw it--are you kidding me? I spent $25 on that thing. I still have it in my trunk.

17. What flavor was your cake? Devil's food cake, with white frosting and black roses--my colors were red, white, and black. My YW president made it for me, and probably swore a couple times. I knew exactly what I wanted, but it was a hard thing to execute. Black icing is hard to make, and white frosting on a chocolate cake is a pain.

18. Did you smash the cake onto each other's faces or feed it to each other nicely? Totally smashed. It was up my nose, in my hair, all over his tux. But, see, it was a rented dress and a rented tux, so big deal :-) Fun memory.

19. What was "your song" that you danced to at your wedding? No dancing. But we always joke that our son is Turbo Lover by Judas Priest.

20. What did you serve your guests to eat? My aunts got together and made a buffet. I don't even know what was served other than my Aunt Sandy's chocolate chip cookies. I think there was punch and ham sandwich things. I didn't eat any of it, obviously.

21. What did your friends do to decorate your car? they use colored Elmer's glue--which was kind a nice cause it peeled right off. And they filled the car with balloons that took a few weeks to slowly fall out here and there--I left balloons all over Salt Lake (I know, bad for the environment and lazy as hell.)

22. What was your favorite wedding gift? I have two of them--one was the $500 check we got from my mom's great aunt. That was awesome. The other was a framed and matted version of our wedding invitation. It's one of the few gifts I still have and I love it. I've done the same type of gift for other weddings and get great reviews on it. It's something I'd have never thought of doing myself, so I'm glad someone else thought of it.

23. What was the worst wedding gift you got? Dress Pant hangers. But we did use them once we figured out what they were for.

24. Where did you go on your honeymoon? To a bed and breakfast in Midway. We went shopping at the outlet stores and just spent two days . . . together. It was awesome.

25. Looking back, is there anything you would have changed about your wedding? I would have worn less eye makeup, had my hair done professionally, and hired a professional photographer. In our goal to make some money off this little union of ours, we went with a friend of my dad who really just wasn't very good. We did get all the negatives, which was nice, and the price was great ($400 for bridals, engagement, and outside the Temple) but it would have been worth getting someone really good since pictures are the one thing that lasts. I also probably wouldn't have done a reception at all, but instead done a nice wedding breakfast for the 70 people that really cared about me--leave out my parent's old neighbors and the guy in the ward that I can't remember his name and the people my dad works with. I'd have sent announcements to all those people, but kept the wedding celebration for just those people that really knew me or Lee.

Almost sixteen years later, we're still going strong. Marrying Lee was the best decision of my entire life, and every good thing since then can be tied back to him and all the goodness he's brought into my life. I'm grateful that he was blinded to my many flaws enough to stick around.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Coraline via The Kilpacks

Dear Movie Maker (##research this),

Last Friday my husband took our two children, ages 10 & 7, to the movie Coraline. Yes, we knew it was not a Disney movie. We also knew it was directed by Henry Selick, the same guy that did The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach (##didn't he also do Corpse Bride?) (both movies that we quite enjoy). We expected dark, we expected edgy. What I didn't expect was for my kids to come home and report on the "Dancing naked fat women". After a few more questions, and a discussion with my husband, I understood that there is a rather long scene (about 2 mintues) comprised of fat circus women dancing and bouncing around. They are wearing bikinis, mostly covered by thier folds of fat, except for the one that likely coudn't find a top in her size and therefore had pasties on instead. At several points in the dance, the pasty woman has to hold up her enormous breasts, likely to keep from hitting herself in the face as she preforms. Occupational hazard, I suppose, and one more reason she ought to have worn proper CLOTHING. My husband, along with most of the theatre watched this in complete silence, punctuated with disgusted groans and looks toward the door wondering if they should leave. For what it's worth, the fourteen year old boys in front of them thought it was hilarious. My daughter covered her eyes.

The movie is PG, but it is also a cartoon and slated as a children's movie. It pushed the envelope plenty with a surly main character and detached parents, adequently making the point that families are horrible and parents don't love their children. Got it, and thanks so much for spending millions to share such lovely sentiments with my children. But I draw the line at bouncing fat women. We watch Biggest Loser, and we've been the the beach, we know what reality is, but it didn't work for the movie and it was not necessary. As a writer I understand the difference between plot and gratuitous scenes--the bouncing breasts we certainly gratuitous, and not well recieved.

And, the kids didn't understand most of the movie, which again makes me wonder why it was a children's film at all. I'm sure there is a target audience for this film, but it isn't us. We will not be purchasing the DVD to add to our Selick collection and we will not be recommending it to freinds. If Selick wishes to push the envelope to this extent, he can do it without our financial contribution. (## send this to the MPAA as well)


Josi S. Kilpack

(this is my first draft, I fully intend to revise it before I send it out but I wanted all y'all to get the full picture before I talk nice)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Whitney Award Finalists 2008

Wohoooo! The finalists for the 2008 Whitney Awards have been announced. I've served on the Whitney Award committee this year and boy-oh-boy, what a process. I thought I had a good sense of what went into pulling it off last year, but I had no idea. Rob Wells, the president, has literally put in hundreds and hundreds of hours into this program and it's truly a labor of love for all the committee members. Because of my being on the committee, Her Good Name, was not eligible--but I'm totally cool with that. I get to remain a Whitney winner for each time I've been eligible :-) I'm also very excited about some of the books that are finalists as I am so impressed with the talent of so many of these authors. It has been SO hard for me not to post reviews of some of these books--but I have tried hard to keep my personal feelings to myself so that no one is influenced by my opinions which tend to be a little strong at times :) For a complete list as well as the cover graphics, go HERE

And without further adieu, let me present your 2008 Whitney Award Finalists (listed in Alphabetical order by genre)

ROMANCE: Seeking Persephone, by Sarah Eden, Servant to a King, by Sariah Wilson, The Sound of Rain, by Anita Stansfield, Spare Change, by Aubrey Mace, Taking Chances, by Shannon Guymon

Above and Beyond, by Betsy Brannon Green
Do No Harm, by Gregg Luke
Fool Me Twice, by Stephanie Black
Freefall, by Traci Hunter Abramson
Royal Target, by Traci Hunter Abramson

The 13th Reality, by James Dashner
Alcatraz vs. The Scrivner’s Bones, by Brandon Sanderson
Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague (Book 3), by Brandon Mull
Far World: Water Keep, by J. Scott Savage
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, by Jessica Day George

Ender in Exile, by Orson Scott Card
The Great and Terrible: From the End of Heaven, by Chris Stewart
The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, Book 3), by Brandon Sanderson
The Host, by Stephanie Meyer
The Wyrmling Horde: The Seventh Book of the Runelords, by David Farland

Abinadi, by H.B. Moore
Isabelle Webb, Legend of the Jewel, by N.C. Allen
Master, by Toni Sorenson
The Ruby, by Jennie Hansen
Traitor, by Sandra Grey

Bound on Earth, by Angela Hallstrom
The Reckoning, by Tanya Parker Mills
Waiting For the Light to Change, by Annette Hawes
Fields of Home, by Rachel Ann Nunes
Keeping Keller, by Tracy Winegar

Bound on Earth, by Angela Hallstrom
The Reckoning, by Tanya Parker Mills
Spare Change, by Aubrey Mace
Traitor, by Sandra Grey
Waiting For the Light to Change, by Annette Hawes

Bound on Earth, by Angela Hallstrom
Fool Me Twice, by Stephanie Black
The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, Book 3), by Brandon Sanderson
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, by Jessica Day George
Traitor, by Sandra Grey

**I would also like to suggest that, if at all possible, you print off this list and take it to your local library, requesting that they be sure to have all these titles on their shelves. This would not only help those that seek out the titles, but it's also helpful for the academy members (LDS authors, publishers, critics, retailers, etc) so they can find the copies, and it helps the authors get a wider audience for their books. Most libraries in Utah have an LDS section, and many outside of Utah have a limited selection as well. I believe that knowing the book is up for an award would increase their likelihood of stocking it in their library--it's worth a shot, right?

Thank you to everyone who has supported the Whitney Awards through donations, the auction, spreading the word, and reading these books. It truly is our goal to honor those writers who have achieved excellence in their craft.

Happy Reading!

Friday, February 06, 2009

My Issues

First--thank you to everyone that came out or offered 'wish I were there' vibes for the signing last night. I appreciate it. I loved visiting with everyone that came--it really is a fun moment to have your friends around you and saying how cute the cover is and how excited they are to read it. I have the best support!

Now, back to my issues.

Because so many of my books deal with contemporary issues, people sometimes think that I have dealt with some of those particular challenges in my own life. Thankfully, no. That's not to say that I don't love a couple addicts, that there isn't mental illness in my family tree, or that I'm always nice to my husband--but overall, no, I've never been sexually abused, addicted to pain pills, married for convenience, had my identity stolen or my daughter kidnapped. I've never been divorced, or held at gun point or so sick with my pregnancy that I might die. But that's not to say I don't have issues.

One of them has reared it's ugly head today and I am trying very hard to stay calm, filling myself with positive affirmations, and keeping things in perspective.

Alas, I might lose the battle.

So, here's the thing. A couple weeks ago, Northern Utah (where I live) got drenched with rain. We already had a bunch of snow on the ground and then it rained for almost 3 full days, turning us into a cold soggy mess. But, a mess that stayed outside so it was okay. A week later I went into our spare bedroom downstairs and found the carpet was wet. Apparently, the rain gutter had been draining into the window well of that room during all that rain, and the water had come through the window, drenching the floor. We called a disaster clean up place who sucked out the water, pulled back the carpet, and put blowers on it all to dry it out. That's all good--well, okay, it's not GOOD as in wonderful, but I can handle minor household disasters like that from time to time. It's good for my blood pressure to spike under the "This is so not fair!" dramas of such things. I can handle it and move on. The plan was to dry it all out, replace the sheet rock affected, and then re-stretch the carpet.

And then Lee says "Maybe we should just replace the carpet."
"In the whole basement?" I ask, wondering where he came up with five thousand dollars.
"No, just that room."
My mouth goes dry and I clench my teeth. "We can't do that," I say.
"Sure we can, that carpet is crap anyway."
"Yes, and if you put good carpet in one room, the rest of the basement will look even crappier."
"No, it won't."
"Yes, it will! You know how I feel about floor covering, Lee, don't push me."

See, I believe all floor coverings should be the same. Since carpet is impractical in kitchens and bathrooms, I've accepted that it's usually necessary to have two types of floor covering in a house--but they should all match and all the carpet should be the same and all the tile or linoleum or hard wood should be the same--and only one of those options! Yes, the basement carpet is really lousy--but it matches! It's hard enough for me to accept that upstairs and downstairs doesn't have the same carpet, that we have TWO types of tile, and that we, gulp, re-carpeted the living room a few years ago because off white right off the kitchen is just no good. Luckily, the new carpet only touches tile, but just because it's not as bad as it could be doesn't make it right!

Do you see it? Three types of floor covering in four square feet. I know, it's horrible, isn't it?

Here is the current carpet in the basement--it's a commercial grade, very tight Berber.

The seams are coming apart, there are a few spots that are totally unraveling but I prefer it to the nauseating aspect of carpet clash--you know, where two different types of carpet touch each other. Shudder. I just hate that. I mean, I really, really hate it.

And yet, I might not have any choice--Lee's afraid the carpet won't be salvageable after we finish the repairs. So I must pull on the fortitude inspired in me through my faithful ancestors, I must absorb into my soul that life will go on. I'm sure I'll grow from the suffering, but that doesn't mean I'll like it.

And so, you can see why, when it comes to fiction, I choose those things that are detached from my personal pain. Sadly, there are some things, such as carpet clashes, that I hit a little too close to home to write a story about. Every author has to draw the line somewhere.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Book Signing TONIGHT!

For books past I have done rather elaborate opening night parties where I have prize drawings, refreshments, door prizes, and other kinds of hoopla. They really are a lot of fun--but they are also rather labor intensive to put together. Lemon Tart was released early, which means I didn't have time for much labor intensive shanagins--and life is crazy enough that I'm actually a bit relieved :-)

BUT, I am having a local book signing tonight and though it won't be as big as others have been in the past, there will be discounts and Lemon Tarts. I cleared my day so that I have nothing else to do but bake and bake and bake today. Honestly, I'm quite looking forward to it. I love to cook and I love this particular recipe and so it's happy smiles all the way around. Here's a look at my kitchen so far:

So, if you are in northern Utah and would like to come to the opening night--I would LOVE to have you. If we don't get a lot of people showing up, you can bet the sisters I visit teach are going to have lemon tarts coming out their ears :-)

Here are the specifics:

Date: Thursday, February 5
Time: 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Place: Reflections of Utah Bookstore
47 So. Main St.
Brigham City, Utah

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Mom Jeans

I have clothing issues every day of my life. Things are constantly too tight or too loose or too short or too long or too plain or too busy or too complicated or too low or or too whatever. This is why you can usually find me in my scrub bottoms that I've owned for over 15 years and a sweatshirt. I swore when I got married that I would not turn into the sweat-pants-mom, and I suppose I haven't, I'm just the scrubs-and-a-sweatshirt mom. It really annoys me because I want to be the cute mom but results show that I go for comfy more than cute.

My current dilemma is Jeans. Back in the good old days, Jeans came to my actual waist, I didn't have an extra ten pounds on my derriere (that's french for butt) and I had no problem feeling both cute and comfy in a pair of jeans.

That, however, has faded. Now a days I feel neither cute or comfy and I am tired--tired of constantly pulling my shirts down, tired of not being able to bend over, tired of sitting on the floor only to realize I'm preaching my religion by showing off my garments to the whole world. And, for short waisted people like myself, low-rise jeans hit at the wrong spot--they are too high to rest on my hips which leaves a gap in the waistband, and when you sit they catch on those hips they can't rest on and puuuuuuull. I actually went almost a year without wearing jeans at all because I had . . . issues which I truly believe were brought on by the crotch on these dang-fungled jeans. In addition, my thirties has brought with it what I affectionately call my 'gob' which is a roll of 'love' located below my belly botton, but inevitably ABOVE the waistband of my pants, often catching the shirt I've chosen to wear that is long enough to overlap the pants so long as I don't sit, bend, or reach.

I've been watching too much What Not to Wear and they constantly point out that a wider leg jean slims the leg and hip whereas 'shaped' jeans make the hip and thigh area look bigger . I now see this every time I look in the mirror--they DO make my hips and thighs look wider in addition to the Gob squeezed over the top, and the gap in the waistband, and then there's the line where my garmets disect the gob etc. I need wide leg jeans that come to my waist and fit there. Problem--where the heck to do you find these magical jeans?

Last saturday as a salve to yet another blonde issue (posted later this week) I went to Kohl's. They were having a one day sale and I decided I deserved a new pair of jeans. I really do not like to shop, but I spent forty-five minutes trying on about 30 pair of jeans. Mind you, these were twenty pair of 'women's' jeans. I'd already determined that Misses jeans were not going to work because they are all hippy-low-rise-flair jeans. I instead tried on Gloria Vandervilt, Lee, Levi, and all the other jeans in the Women's section--which did have a benifit in that I wear a smaller size in Womens jeans than in Misses jeans. Out of those thirty pair I found one that was acceptable. It has a hiiiiiigh waist--remember I'm short waisted so while it would hit most women at their waist, for me it comes up to my rib cage, but it held in my gob and I could wear it with more modesty than most of the other pants I own. I liked the leg which is a boot cut--loose with a slight flair, but not super-shaped, and they were comfortable. I could actually imagine wearing them and NOT taking them off as soon as I got home (I rarely wear other jeans at home--only when I'm going out and have to look presentable)

So, yesturday I took Lou-lou to the mall. She suggested that I ought to buy a pair of Jeans, since she was getting a pair. I smiled smugly and said, "No, I just bought these."

She takes a long look at me and her eyes narrow. "Are those Mom Jeans?"

"What do you mean?" I ask, feigning that I don't know what she means.

"Oh my gosh," she says as only a 12 year old. "You did, you're actually wearing mom jeans--those pants that go aaaaaaall the way up and look weird." She shakes her head sadly and let's herself out of the car, leaving me to scrape what's left of my dignity and cuteness into my poor little hands.

So, help me out here, ladies, have you found the solution? If so, share it.

If you wear Mom Jeans and you are offended by this post, I sincerely apologize. That was not my intent.