From the Recipe Box: Mushroom Rice.

I love mushrooms. They’re so versatile and taste great fried up with some garlic butter, so I was especially happy to find a recipe for mushroom rice that’s easy to follow. I took one picture and then got so wrapped up in the cooking process that I forgot to document each step.

You can find the original recipe HERE.

I’ve made this twice in the last couple months and there’s not a lot to preparing this dish, but I did change a few things to bring out more flavour as I found the original bland and my mother said the first batch was too salty.

I only changed two ingredients the second time around. I used mushroom stock in place of vegetable/chicken stock, and unsalted butter. I also cooked this in a cast iron pot because it distributes the heat better, but the handles and lid will get just as hot as the pot. Cast iron gets crazy hot, which is what you need to brown the first few ingredients.  

I cooked the mushrooms, garlic, and onions for fifteen minutes instead of five. Caramelizing onions takes a while (45 minutes, without cheating), but even with diced onions you want them nice and brown to add to the flavour. Same with the garlic but keep a close eye on the garlic as it will burn easily. Leaving the garlic and onion to cook longer gives a good base on the bottom of the pot which adds to the deglazing with the mushroom stock. You’ll get a lot of your flavour from the deglazing.

The small amount of rice for this recipe means you will have enough for leftovers, but not for days on end. I find with some recipes, I still have food at the end of a week and because we have an older and smaller fridge, I end up throwing it out to make room. Next time I make this, I’m going to use a mushroom stock I make myself. This dish was perfect for the nights I had to work late and needed to eat something before bed. A few seconds in the microwave on low did the trick and I swear it tasted better as a leftover.

Writing Update: October 2021

Happy Hallowe’en! Blessed Samhain (saw-wen)!

First off, here are the stats for my query.

35 queried,

12 rejects

1 request

That one request has me very excited so cross your fingers! I’ve never had anyone request more pages apart from the original submission, and I’m not sure what to think. They said they liked the five I send and wanted another fifty, that’s a good sign, right? Then my head starts to do me in with thoughts like ‘what if they don’t like anything after that? What if just the first five were good and the rest is shit? I added a bit more since my submission, what if they don’t like that? Did it change the mood? Ugh, someone turn my brain off please.

To keep me and my doubts busy, I began the second book of my Eva & Skye series. Working title is, Eva and Skye and the Dawn Charm. I’ve got a few chapter down now, and I’ll continue to work on it for NaNo, which is what I did last year for the first book. I put a blurb up on the Nano site if you’re interested. You can find it HERE.

This is the continuation story arc that I wanted to write from the beginning. It also shows why I had certain secondary characters appear in the first book, and while their roll was very small and may seem not necessary, but they actually are, and I didn’t want to give them a cold introduction.

I’ve also discovered that making short TikTok videos is easier than making long YouTube ones and have started putting up more content on my page. I’m still working out what I want to do, but I think that because there’s a time limit has a lot to do with why I prefer it. It’s a Twitter form of YouTube.

Have a safe Hallowe’en and save me some candy corn! 

Movie Night: WW84 (Wonder Woman 1984)

INDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7126948/

Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: Diana must contend with a work colleague and businessman, whose desire for extreme wealth sends the world down a path of destruction, after an ancient artifact that grants wishes goes missing.

~~~~

Review:

This seemed like an interesting plot, especially as it takes place a good thirty years prior to Man of Steel/Superman reboot, which set off the whole Justice League series. Having Diana in her second movie is also wonderful too, as most superhero movies of late have all been male characters.

I wish I wasn’t so disappointed with this movie. It’s the same disappointment I had for the female Ghostbusters movie, and for the same reasons. This felt rushed, with a weak plot and the whole thing pushed out to ride the wave of the previous movie. The whole time, I couldn’t figure out the motive for the protagonist, and we never really understand why he was evil, as his motivation seemed to flip-flop throughout the movie.

They brought back her love interest Steve Trevor. Kind of. Honestly, they could have cut out all of that, as it didn’t bring anything to the plot. If they needed someone to fly a damn plane, why couldn’t she have learned to fly as a way of honouring Steve’s memory? Again, little things like this put me off. I don’t know if I’ll watch any more Wonder Woman movies IF they ever make another. There HAD to be a storyline better than this one. Maybe something they could have adapted from the comics?

2 out of 5.

The Green Side of Life: Dragon Plant

Now that gardening season is over, I can turn my attention to my house plants. When my husband and I got married we filled our apartment with house plants. We had around fifty different plants, and yes, I took pictures of all of them. I just can’t remember where they are.

When we had all our plants, our home felt like we lived in a jungle. It felt alive, like the place itself was a living creature. I’m working toward having that atmosphere again by slowly building up my collection. I have some great lighting and a lot more room, so I might be able to expand my collection into more tender species.

I miss the way a home feels with plants in them. Many, like the peace lily and spider plant actually help clean the air inside our house. Mind you, they do it in small increments, but if you’re like us and have to keep windows closed for a good portion of the year, then every little bit helps!

This month, I want to show off my Dragon Plant. As always, pictures are located HERE.

Dragon Plants are one of the easiest plants to grow and are considered tropical. I have mine in a west facing window but as you can see, it’s in dire straits. I bought it a few months back, and the store didn’t keep them well. It’ll take a few years for the bad leaves to fall off, but in the meantime, I’ll keep it going the best I can.

This is my first rescue plant. It’s a broadleaf evergreen that likes full sun to partial shade and will grow up to 20 feet. I keep this plant up because it is TOXIC to animals, and Fluffy is used to munching on the spider plant when ever he wants. Next year I’m going to replant it into something a little bigger with more suitable soil. This was a quick repot because of the crappy store container.

If you’re interested owning this kind of plant, more information can be found HERE.

Five Things Every Writer Should Know About . . . Facebook.

When I thought up this series last year, I had a love hate relationship with Facebook, but over the last little while, between what’s happened with them in the last few months, to the fact that it really doesn’t help writers other than provide a time suck, I no longer suggest Facebook for authors, but it’s still worth a look so here are Five Things Every Writer Should Know About Facebook.

1 – Facebook is a time suck. Unfamiliar with that term? It just means you can waste hours scrolling through posts of your friend’s cat pictures, silly game promos, and the never-ending barrage of meme posts. Facebook, like all other social media platforms, does NOT sell books, and quite frankly, there’s nothing you can do on it that you can’t do on the others. The ONLY reason I’m still on it is because of the friends I’ve made.

2. Facebook does not sell books. There have been numerous posts regarding their paid post promos, but I haven’t heard anything good. Only that they got the author’s money, and the author didn’t get anything in return. I had an author page and was constantly bombarded with requests from Facebook to promote my latest post for a few dollars. I never fell for it because the information I saw from other authors who did, didn’t impress me.

3. Algorithms – Facebook’s algorithms are notorious – good and bad, but it’s the same with any program that uses them. You just have to understand how they work. It takes some time, but you can manipulate them to show you what you want, but you must be vigilant about it. One slip and you can go spiraling down a rabbit hole.   

4. Keeps you connected – the ONLY reason I still have Facebook, is to keep connected with friends. That’s it. I don’t use it for anything else. I had an author page, but I would forget to update it, or my posts weren’t being seen by the amount of people it claimed were following. This is where they make you pay to get your posts ‘seen’ in more places. Personally, if they would just put it up in the feeds of people who followed it, I’d have no problem.

5. Groups: Facebook groups are another plus for this platform. There are groups for just about everything, and it comes with it’s only good/bad points. Social media is about connection and connecting, and at the beginning of its life, Facebook was great at that, but somewhere in the last decade it’s descended into becoming one of Dante’s levels of hell. Which is sad because connection is a cornerstone for authors to sell books.

Facebook groups and connecting with friends is about the only good thing about this program, and I may just write a post on it.

Is there anything you’d like to add to this list? Some aspect about Facebook (good or bad) that I’ve left out?

The Crystal Realm: Crystals for Soween.

As the end of October is the celebration of Soween, I thought I would post this list of crystals that may be useful to you. A few of these stones I use all year long, so they can be utilized for any time you need their energy. If you plan on doing any metaphysical work on the 31st, you might look into using a few of these, depending on what you wish to do.

Soween is the time to communicate with spirits, divination, to honour the ancestors, and to reflect on the past year. There are many crystals whose energy can help, but the list below are ones that I have either used or have a strong connection to the Soween activities.

I’m not sure if I’ll be doing anything extra for this celebration. I just may sit outside and listen to the night with a candle and a few crystals. At this time of year, I find that sometimes, the simpler rites are easier. Especially if I’ve had to work that day as somedays, it can take a few hours to decompress.

Fluorite – Connected to the energies of Neptune, Fluorite is useful in developing psychic abilities. Soween is the perfect time for as this is one of two dates on the wheel where the veil between worlds is at its thinnest.

Obsidian – Obsidian is one of three crystals I use to protect my personal energy. Not only is it a protective stone (actually, its volcanic glass, not a stone), but it also absorbs negative energy.

Smokey Quartz – This crystal is helpful with grounding and meditation. You will need a calm mind for whatever work you plan to do.

Hematite – Another stone is good for focus and grounding.

Labradorite – This crystal is useful for Full moon magic, intuition, divination and help with communicating with the spirit world.

Howlite – This stone is very particular with what it can do. It is connected to and helps with connection to past lives.

Some of the other stones that I researched were:

Amethyst, Lapis Lazuli, and Azurite are all helpful with when asking for psychic insights.

I suggest some meditation prior to attempting any spiritual work. You need to be in the right mindset to understand any information that may be given you.

Citrine can help with enhancing concentration and can help cleanse the negative aspects and doubt of the mind. This is very useful for focusing or with meditation.

Don’t forget to include scents with your work. It will enhance and help you focus on your task. Good luck and have a Blessed Soween!

A Wiccan Journey: Soween

The moment October started; it became Spooky Season. There’s something about this month, and maybe it’s because Halloween is at the end of the month, or maybe it’s because Halloween is at the end of the month, but everything feels different. Like we’re descending into some unknown place, and we have to be ready.

Soween ( saw-win, saw-vane, or sahven, and not pronounced sam-hayne) or Halloween is one of two points in the year when the veil between this world and the next is at it’s thinnest. Think of it as the waxing and waning of spiritual energy, but the atmosphere this time of year drips of spookiness. Maybe it’s the longer nights, the cooler evenings, the sight of colourful leaves and the expectation of winter, that lends itself to this interpretation. I know I am always grateful when October arrives. I am, and always will be an autumn person.

Traditionally, Soween marked the end of growing season and the festivals and celebrations reflected that. HERE is a great article written by Selena Fox on the subject. There are websites dedicated to all the different celebrations and how they were done, but for me, because I am a solitary, I like to do a simple celebration.

Two things about this time of year stand out for me: food and reflection. I love cooking for this season with so many simple comfort foods I’m surprised if I don’t gain weight. The other part is more personal; reflecting not only on the past year but remembering friends and family that are no longer with us. These last few years has been hard on the CatPack, and I miss them dearly. When I set up my altar this year, I think I’ll have pictures of them and remember the fun times.

When remembering those who have crossed over, it’s hard not to be sad, but remember that they can see us, and do visit us. You can feel their presence if you are open to them. It can be a very spiritual time, personally, but that doesn’t mean it has to be somber. I love the decorations and seeing kids dressed up, not to mention the candy, and I think that it’s a wonderful tradition to keep going.

In recent years, there’s been controversy about holding Halloween celebrations on a Sunday. Which, ironically enough, happens to be this year. Keep in mind that those of us who celebrate Soween see it as a completely different event from Halloween, so cancelling Halloween has nothing to do with our celebrations, and they’re just stripping a night of fun from kids, and who wants to be that person?

So, when the end of October finally arrives, remember to honour the dead, reflect on the past year, have some candy, and keep an eye on the shadows. After all the veil between this world and the spirit world is at it’s thinnest, and you never know who or what might cross your path.

Random Question of the Month: What’s something in your fridge right now that should probably be thrown out?

Probably everything in the back half of the fridge.

There are three people living in this house with a small fridge, and each one has different eating habits. My mother tends to buy a lot of fresh food in packages, while I prefer whole foods and make my own stuff. Unfortunately, this means that things get pushed to the back. Once a week I try to go through the fridge, especially on garbage day, but some weeks that’s not always the case.

Because I work short shifts, I tend to bring finger food items to snack on. I don’t know how many old packages of cheese and meat I’ve had to throw out. I’ve gotten smarter though, only buying in smaller quantities and forcing myself to make it last.

I’ve never been a big fan of leftovers, and I don’t know why. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve forced myself eat them. They’re good, and sometimes even more flavourful the second time around, but still things get forgotten. Especially after the holidays. There’s only so much turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes one can eat.

Our fridge is an old one. Pretty sure it was purchased in the late 80’s. I don’t think food items have gotten bigger, but I don’t understand how a fridge that once housed food for a family of six, can barely hold food for a family of three. We have tall, plastic cannisters we use for leftovers, and whenever we run short, I go rooting through the fridge to find the food no one has eaten in a while to throw out. Good thing we have a dishwasher too. Sometimes those containers are like science experiments.

I can’t be the only one that this happens too? Anyone else have this problem? Anyone?

From the Recipe Box: Chicken and Corn Chowder.

It seems the first day of autumn ended summer on all levels. Goodbye hot, muggy, humid weather, and hello dull, cloudy and cooler day! Hell, it rained on the first full day, and I didn’t complain a bit.

Cooler weather means it’s time for comfort food, and I found a new one that I’m adding to my list. The recipe can be found HERE, which is a variation on the recipe found HERE. I’m not a fan of spicy, so I kept the jalapeño’s out of it and used the bacon to give it a bit more flavour.

I cooked the chicken in the oven at 425 with a layer of olive oil and herbs. This added a bit more taste. Overall, I was going for a nice, mild flavour and along with the bay leaves, I think I accomplished that.

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded (3 cups)

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled*

1/4 cup butter

1 large red bell pepper, diced (1 1/2 cups)

1 medium yellow onion, diced (1 1/4 cups)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup all-purpose flour**

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced slightly less than 1/2-inch thick (3 cups)

2 bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn

1 1/2 cups half and half

Green onions and seeded, finely chopped jalapenos (optional), for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.
  2. Add red bell pepper, onions, jalapenos and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer.
  4. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes stirring constantly. While stirring, slowly add in chicken broth and whisk until well blended.
  5. Add potatoes, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture to a boil stirring frequently, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes or just until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add in cooked chicken, corn and half and half and simmer, uncovered 10 – 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Serve warm topped bacon, green onions, and optional jalapeno peppers.

((* cut the bacon ahead and cook in the pot before adding butter))

**((to make this recipe gluten free, substitute potato starch for flour. Just remember that you add less potato starch.))

Of Writers and Prose: Ten years as a published writer.

September marked a full decade that I have been published. So much has changed in the last ten years, and yet a lot has not.

I self-published The Watchtower in September of 2011 because it was too short of a story for agents or publishers. I knew that from the beginning, and I thought it would be an interesting experience to do it all myself. Self-publishing was still quite new and there were a bunch of us who decided not to go the Trad route. It felt oddly liberating to be a part of such a big change in the industry. Authors did well, some even made enough that they could write full time. Maybe that was the lure, but it seemed as though over-night the self-publishing world exploded, and everyone was publishing books.

I put out six books in five years. I experimented with paperback and distribution channels. I have publishing accounts with three different places so I could cover the most ground, and I NEVER, NOT ONCE, put all my books solely in one place. I’ve never seen it as a smart move. Why limit yourself to one market? Yes, I know there’s a Kindle app for Android, but why not just put your book in as many different places as you can? Especially when it’s free to do so?

I experimented with promotions and advertising. I remember when anyone could get into BookBub, but now you have to offer your first born to get a spot. There was the ‘first book in a series for free’ craze, bundle craze, blog hops, rafflcopter, just to name a few. There were a few nefarious schemes like ‘I’ll give you a good review if you give my book a good review’, and downright nasty practices by authors who would get their followers to gang up on another author. It’s the main reason why I don’t go onto Goodreads anymore.

I saw Traditional Publishers scoff at ebooks, then embrace them. Articles about how print books were dying off, then coming back, then dying off again. Same articles were written for ebooks as well. Ten years ago, there were the Big Five publishing houses – Random House, Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon and Shuster, Hatchet, and Macmillan. There were few indie publishers’ and self-publishing was seen by many as ‘vanity’. There are a lot more indie publishers now, many geared toward specific genres, which makes it easier for reads and authors alike to find their audience, and self-publishing is seen as a legitimate career path.

A cottage industry has blossomed around publishing. There are so many editors offering their service, graphic designers doing cover art, and with audio books, voice actors are lending their talent to the author. With an influx of hopeful authors and the possibility of making good money, there were a lot of book scams too. A few scammers would create ebooks so when you got to a certain page (usually the second or third page) it would jump to the end and count as read. These and other scams took a lot of potential money away from real authors, and that’s when I decided to step back for a while.

This is where I am now. Six years after my last release and I feel the need to put something new out. I keep talking about my novels, but I never seem to really do anything with them. I believe it’s time to change that.

%d bloggers like this: