It’s summertime and the ice cream is easy

One of my earlier memories is when my dad first got his ice cream maker — a huge (it seemed to me) wooden thing that ice and salt went in the outer ring of while the electric motor churned ingredients into ice cream. I think it was a Father’s Day present, and I was younger than my daughter is now. (At least, I’m pretty sure he got it while we were in Tonopah. I’m sure Mom will tell me if I’m wrong.) He had that same ice cream maker for decades; it moved across the state with us. I think it may even have still been around when he died. Strange how I’m less certain of that.

But ice cream was something my dad made, not something I ever did. He made it seem mystical, as if the slightest wrong move would mean no ice cream would result.

When my husband and I got married, among our gifts, we received a Cuisinart ice cream maker — also electric, but much smaller, and with no ice and salt requirement. We also got an ice cream cookbook, Ice Cream! The Whole Scoop That summer, we must have made two or three different flavors a week, and we had one party where we invited friends over for pizza (grilled!) and homemade ice cream. There was nothing magical about ice cream after all. Sort of. Continue reading

You ask, I answer, part four

Nicki asked, “What book would you insist your children not leave for college without?”

Mine! . . . Sort of. I’m working on putting together over time a basic cookbook with their favorites, including shopping lists, estimated costs, about how long the recipe takes, and how much the recipe makes. I would hope by then they’ll have internalized some of the really basic ones like clams in a garlic sauce over noodles (which we have roughly once a week because it’s done in about the amount of time it takes pasta to cook and everyone likes it), but it’s good to have them written down anyway.

Aside from that, I’d like it if they had some other good basic cookbook — Joy of Cooking has wonderful descriptions of what the different kinds of ingredients are (i.e., different kinds of flours, sugars, milks, etc.), as well as thorough discussions on cooking techniques; or Ratio talks about the basic ratios you need when cooking — and a journal and/or sketchbook for them to keep their thoughts in.

Your turn — what do you think kids shouldn’t leave home without?

A busy April day

How’d we get more than two-thirds of the way through April already? Outside, it still looks like late March — forsythia and weeping cherries, magnolia blooms drifting in the wind, but not even a hint of an azalea blooming yet — not even the purple ones down the block that always bloom weeks before our magenta ones flower. The dogwood buds are just starting to lighten up, like they might be thinking of opening, but it’s clear they won’t be blooming before May. Perhaps this year I’ll remember to do a day-by-day shoot of the blooming in progress. (I tend to start and then get distracted about three days in.)

No new pictures yet, though, as all those blooming things are in other people’s yards, and I can’t very well shoot a picture while I’m driving down the street!

The freelance work’s going okay at the moment — I did get an ongoing copyediting gig where I work on journal articles each week, according to how much time I have available. Payment terms aren’t the best; they pay net 60, so I haven’t actually seen any of the income yet. On the plus side, it should be nice and steady. I’m also doing a proofreading job (a book on the Ottoman Empire) for a new client I marketed to earlier this year, and I have a proofreading test I need to finish up for another prospective client.

Writing is mixed, as usual. I have lots of great ideas for deepening projects I’m working on, and I’m making progress on different things, but I’m still working on that making regular time for the writing when the paying work is going well. Currently working on writing a cozy mystery novel (The Corn Maze Murders), an SF novel (working title: Neptune Station), and a fantasy short story (“Ice”); planning another mystery series and an SF novel series; and trying to make time to edit a novelette and a novella that I want to start submitting. Oh! And I have another drabble publication coming up this Friday on SpeckLit.

Family’s busy, too. Daughter’s got dance class, a simple one at the community center that does both ballet and tap. Each Wednesday as it gets to be time to leave, she says she doesn’t want to do it any more — and then she changes her mind when she actually gets to class. (Also, I can’t believe in just about six weeks, she’ll be done with kindergarten!)

The boy’s still playing trumpet in band. Spring concert’s tonight, which means I’m encouraging everyone to eat now. (While I sit at the computer typing, yes.) Should be good.

So that’s life here — busy, well-rounded, fulfilling, and (as always) crazy-making. What’s keeping you busy these days?

Slight delay . . .

FYI: Still plan to have the cozy mystery finished by the 15th. The e-book may be available by then. The print version will probably be another week or so behind.

Recent comments I’ve made on Twitter or Facebook, which is where I usually do my brief updates and one-liners:



. . . I think I’ve found my writing motivation!

A client just e-mailed to ask if I can start work on a proofreading project early.


Boy just asked me who Baba Yaga is. So I gave him an abbreviated (and possibly not completely accurate, as I said “Russian” rather than “Slavic”) version, then (being me) went to YouTube and pulled up Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.


Oooooh. I discovered today that AQS [American Quilter’s Society] takes fiction submissions. “Whether they are mysteries, romances, or humorous tales, books that show how much quilts mean in the lives of others speak to quilters everywhere, and AQS strives to produce the best of these.” (They’re not interested in quilts in science fiction or fantasy, however.)


So how’s your Wednesday treating you?

In the balance

Balance — a topic near and dear not just to every writer’s heart, or anyone who has a day job and a creative pursuit, or any person with a family and a job and interests of her own — well, okay, that probably includes all of us. Yes, it’s time to talk about how I balance everything I have to do: wife, mother, daughter, freelance worker, writer, blogger, friend, person . . . Continue reading

Happy Memorial Day

This Memorial Day, I have a lot to be grateful for: my mom, time with my family, those who’ve served our country whether or not they died in her service (including my dad, my older brother, my dad’s brothers, my mother’s father — Civil Service, cousins, and friends), and being here to appreciate all of them.

On a Memorial Day holiday 15 years ago, I was on a boat with my fiancĂ© (now husband), his brother, the brother’s roommate, and the roommate’s girlfriend. That was the day I learned how sharp motorboat propellers are. (Oddly enough, my husband and I don’t go boating for Memorial Day.) That’s 15 years to appreciate.

What are you grateful for today?

Time to recharge

I have workaholic tendencies. When I have a job to do and a deadline, I’m perfectly willing to work through the weekends to make sure I beat the deadline. I want to be doing something.

(This is also evidenced by the fact that when watching a movie on DVD or watching my husband or son play on the XBox, I want my hands to be busy doing something — knitting, crocheting, mending, something. That’s not as antisocial, however, as ignoring my family and staring at the computer or a stack of proofs or galleys all weekend long.)

However, I know I actually work better and am in a better mood if I’m not trying to work all the time. So when my friend Nicki arranged a get-together for local WriMos this weekend, I knew I should go, even though it always feels like work to go somewhere.

And I went. And I had a great time and laughed and talked and remembered that I enjoy spending time with people. Oh, and got a fun idea for a NaNo novel — NaNoWriMo fanfic.

Which means that this Monday, I’m grateful for friends, for time to relax, and especially for Nicki, who has done a wonderful job as Municipal Liaison.

What are you grateful for today?

Time with my kids

(If you’re here for the A to Z Challenge, scroll down for today’s post. This is my regular Monday post about things I’m grateful for.)

This year, I ran across some very clever Easter egg ideas online. I showed a couple of them to my son, and he agreed that the geode eggs were cool. We had to hunt for alum powder (for future reference, check pickling supplies), and it took longer than we expected. I’ll post some pictures after I either find the charger for our camera or locate my son’s camera. The colors of the shells are intense, and the crystals are lovely. Continue reading

Viruses and videos

Today, I’m grateful for something small — really small. A virus. Sounds like a weird thing to be grateful for, doesn’t it? My daughter’s been coughing and complaining that her ears and throat hurt, so I took her to the doctor this morning. (I’m also grateful that she likes going to the doctor. And that we have insurance.) The diagnosis was just a virus, not strep, no bacterial infection, and no inflammation at all in her ears. Yes, this means a few more days — maybe as much as a week — of her having a sore throat and coughing and being just a bit cranky, but it also means that she’ll be fine.

On a related note: I’m also grateful for VCRs, DVD players, and Netflix. It’s nice to be able to let her chill with preschooler-friendly entertainment when she’s home sick, rather than the game shows and soap operas that were on, say, when my older brother and I spent two weeks home with chicken pox.