Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top This!

            If you’re one of those people who can eat half a piece of fudge and save the other half for tomorrow, I give you permission to stop reading this post right now. But you might want to continue if you’re like me—one of those people who can eat half a pie in one day and still crave the other half. Read on if you’re the type who mixes up a batch of dough that claims to make four dozen chocolate chip cookies, and you end up with two dozen on the cookie sheet. Or if you bake an applesauce loaf cake with the intention of freezing the leftovers and discover the leftovers taste pretty good frozen.
            I admit to my sugar addiction, but I’m not ready to give up my “habit” cold turkey. To even consider such an idea throws me into a state of panic. It makes me want to finish off the can of ready-made frosting tucked way in the back of my fridge. I hid it behind the jar of jalapeno peppers, hoping I’d forget about it, but unfortunately, I haven’t. It’s just a matter of time before—in a moment of frenzied desperation—I attack that can, scraping the sides clean and licking the icing off the spatula. Pathetic, I know. It’s an action that would disgust half-piece-fudge-eaters, while sugarholics are nodding their heads in total sympathy. But take heart, fellow addicts!  I’ve found a recipe that helps me manage my sweet-tooth-on-steroids.
             The solution was sent to me by two friends in two separate emails, so I guess it’s pretty much public domain at this point. Not wanting to take credit for someone else’s great idea, however, I googled “3-2-1 cake” and found that the originator is Kristina Vanni. You can click on the link to get the recipe, but the cake is just the beginning. The secret to great eating is in the toppings.
            For instance, I like to pour a little juice from canned fruit over the cake to lessen the “spongy” texture. My favorites are mandarin oranges or Del Monte Fruit Naturals mixed berries. These can be found in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle. After I’ve moistened the cake with juice, I mix low-fat vanilla yogurt with Cool Whip to a desired consistency, pour it over the cake, and top it with the fruit. If you have an issue with Cool Whip because of the high fructose corn syrup (obviously, most sugarholics don’t), substitute whipped cream or go with just the yogurt. So far, I’ve tried vanilla cake mix and strawberry, flavors which blend well with fruit. The next batch I mix is going to be chocolate, and I’m thinking along the lines of a melted, midgy Hershey bar and a teaspoon or two of peanut butter swirled on top.
            The calorie count of this recipe is less than that of a cupcake or a candy bar, and if you use the fruit and yogurt topping, you can almost claim it’s healthy. The true beauty of it, however, is that it makes ONE SERVING AT A TIME. You can’t eat this cake and have it, too. You can satisfy your sugar craving and not have leftovers crying out to you to slice off “just one tiny piece” every time you pass by the kitchen.
            If you try this recipe, be creative and experiment with toppings and combinations. Be as healthy or decadent as you like. Let me know how you like it, and please share your favorite creations!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Say "Cheese"...and Cross Your Fingers

            Since entering the blogosphere, I’ve noticed that young homemakers—for me, that’s anyone under fifty—are particularly drawn to blogs that offer helpful hints. Hints on anything from interior decorating to housecleaning-made-easy to cooking a gourmet meal in under ten minutes. Unfortunately, you won’t find many of those kinds of suggestions here. Oh, I do have a great recipe for baking a cake in under two minutes that I plan to post later. And I also have a handy tip I’m going to share on keeping cut hydrangeas from wilting. But those kinds of posts will be the exception, not the rule. And I’m certain you will NEVER see a photography how-to post on my blog.

            When I was eight, a neighbor cleaned out her closet and offered me an old box camera she found. From that very moment, I’ve been photography challenged. No matter how diligently I try, something ALWAYS goes wrong. In my family, I’m famous for fuzzy photos, snapshots of the roof of the car, subjects with no heads. I used to claim the line often quoted by children and adults alike, "It’s not my fault,” and in my defense, that's partially true. I do have the genetic disability of not being able to shut one eye at a time. Throughout my formative years—years when all cameras required me to look through a viewfinder with one eye—this handicap not only presented difficulties in picture-taking, it also seriously challenged my ability to flirt. But that’s another post. With the invention of a camera “window,” I thought my problems were solved. Not so. I don’t know why, but I still continue to be haunted by shutterbug goblins. Evidence of this includes a video of my daughter at age two, interrupted by a three-minute segment of grass and unintelligible mumbling. It seems I forgot to turn off the power as I followed her around the yard. When I got my i-phone thirty years later, I was excited because I thought at last I’d found a dummy-proof camera. Exhibit A below bears witness to the contrary.
            But I’m not giving up. With all the blogs out there offering advice, there’s no excuse not to overcome my snapshot snafus. My bucket list includes taking a perfect still-shot of an Oklahoma sunset and making the perfect video of my grandson laughing.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Twinkle, Twinkle, Angie Dee

            If you gaze into the sky tonight, know that somewhere around coordinates RA: 6h 52m 21.9s and DEC: +1° 16’ 34.4”, the newly named star ANGIE DEE is shining down on you and waiting to grant you your fondest wish. Since its magnitude is 14.0, in all likelihood you’ll be able to see it only with an instrument with a power range halfway between that of the naked eye and the Hubble Space Telescope. But aren’t you excited just knowing it’s there? I know I am!
            As I posted a few weeks ago, my fellow Inklings—who shine in their own ways—presented me with a star. I don’t own it in the sense that I can re-sell it (not that I would want to) or build a house on it or re-decorate it. But I did get to name it. And since I’d never named a star before, I asked for help. Many of you made excellent suggestions, but after much deliberation, I settled on the name Angie Dee, submitted by Nicci Francis. Nicci’s first suggestion was Angele Dei which is Latin for angel of God.  I thought that was beautiful and tied in nicely to my novel. But then she added that I could name it Angie Dee for an Okie feel. I think she was joking, but I liked it. I’m proud to be an Okie (“naturalized,” not from Muskogee), and I’m just vain enough to want my star to be at least partially named after me. So thank you, Nicci, for a name that does me and the state of Oklahoma proud!
            You will recall that in that same post, I explained I was conducting a drawing for a bracelet with a star charm from The Vintage Pearl. Anyone who already followed my blog, who joined my blog, or who made a comment on it would be eligible for the drawing. The winner of the bracelet is Heather of Minivan Momma fame. Thanks, Heather, for joining my blog and for making a comment. I’ll be contacting you soon.
Twinkle, twinkle, Angie Dee,
Shining brightly, though I can't see.
In the night sky, you are stellar.
Please make my novel a best-seller.
(Now you know why I don't write poetry!)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Such a Thrill!

            Don’t know how closely you’ve studied my homepage, but if you’ll direct your eyes to the book cover on the left, you’ll see there’s a new heading: Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc.  2012 Best Juvenile Book.
            That’s right, I won! The award was presented this past weekend at the annual OWFI Conference and Banquet. Many of you already know this, but it’s difficult to describe the thrill that comes with such recognition. At every stage of writing this novel, I felt it was an entertaining story with a needed message. And when the good folks at God is Good Heavenly Publications believed in it enough to publish it, I was elated. But it’s always nice to receive further affirmation—to know readers are enjoying my work and others in the writing field see merit in it. To everyone who has bought my book, told me how much she likes it, or recommended it to others, thank you, thank you, thank you!  
My trophy! My photography doesn't do it justice, but isn't it beautiful?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Master Brooks's Bookses

Today Brooks reviews Things that go by Roger Priddy.

            Lots of folks like to snuggle up with a good book before going to sleep. I, however, often like to snuggle with one as I sleep. Because I enjoy Things that go so much, last night I chose to cuddle with it  all night long. At one point I grew restless and would have loved to look at the pictures some more, but sadly my glasses were out of reach on my chest of drawers and my night light was too dim. So I did the next best thing. I drifted back to sleep thinking of the bold and colorful illustrations. I must have dreamed about the extensive collection of vehicles and equipment presented in this book because when I awoke this morning, they were fresh on my mind and I was able to imitate the sounds many of them make.
            On her last trip to my house, Grammy Dee and I walked down the street to a construction site. Because I have repeatedly studied Things that go, I was able to point out (btw I love to point) the concrete truck and the backhoe loader. I love it when I can turn Grammy Dee’s visits into educational experiences for her.
            I give this book five goldfish. (Actually, I would give it a couple more, but I was hungry and ate them.)