Wednesday, August 29, 2012
I still can't believe you're gone... :(
You were my musical hero growing up and, no matter what people have to say about your personal life, no one can refute how incredibly talented or influential you were. You were and will always be the King of Pop!
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40-45 minutes
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- Seasoned bread crumbs
- Extra virgin olive oil
- A glass casserole dish or nonstick pan
- Tin foil
- A large Ziplock baggy (Optional)
If you are looking for a delicious dish that's easy to make then this is the meal for you! It's heart healthy too!
We begin by preheating our oven to 425° F... Pour a half an inch of oil in the casserole dish. Take your chicken pieces and roll them in the oil. Make sure the pieces are thoroughly coated.
Now it's time to add the bread crumbs! I like using a Ziplock bag for this because it's cleaner and coats more evenly (in my opinion) than rolling the chicken in bread crumbs in a bowl or dish. I recommend breading each piece of meat separately to avoid a big mess.
For this particular batch of chicken I used 4C 100% Whole Wheat Seasoned Bread Crumbs — which are absolutely delicious! — but the recipe works well with Italian and Japanese Panko bread crumbs too.
Gently lay breaded chicken pieces side-by-side in casserole dish on top of oil. Cover casserole dish with tin foil and place in oven on center rack.
IMPORTANT: I've had a glass casserole dish shatter on me once as I was taking it out of the oven, which resulted in some bad cuts and burns. Try setting glassware on top of a cookie sheet for added security while cooking. Better to be safe than sorry.
Cook chicken for 20 minutes then remove from oven and set someplace stable.
Carefully turn each piece over using a spatula and a fork. Fix any "bald spots" on chicken by patting with more bread crumbs using a spoon. Add more oil to bottom of casserole if needed, but try to keep it under a half an inch as we don't want the chicken to turn out too oily.
Recover with tin foil and cook for an additional 20-25 minutes.
Remove tin foil for the last 5 minutes of cook time to allow breading to brown and crisp.
Shut off oven and let the chicken sit while you set the table and ring the dinner bell! Enjoy!
P.S. Believe it or not, my favorite part of this recipe is the caramelized breadcrumbs and chicken grease at the bottom of the casserole dish! Tastes fabtastic spread on a big hunk of Italian bread or mixed with steamed white rice! ;)
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Someday I want to spend an entire Sunday in bed with the man I love... just cuddling and laughing and kissing... and whatever else... ;)
I am not a hopeless romantic — I'm a hopeful one. Someday I shall be with a man who lives for my smile... and who makes this simple fantasy a beautiful experience.
I know he's out there... It WILL happen!
Sorry for the strange and sappy update, but I had an overwhelming feeling and was compelled to share it...
*Kisses* to my future romance!
Thursday, August 23, 2012
I had a very interesting text conversation last night with a friend and fellow YA writer who just so happens to be pregnant. We were discussing the trials and tribulations of being authors and how mentally/physically exhausting novel writing can be when...
Me: You know, come to think of it, writing a novel is a lot like being pregnant.
Friend: Seriously? Oh, I can't wait to hear this one!
Me: You get inspired by an idea (conception), work on your novel for about 9 months (pregnancy), edit the hell out of it (eat right and exercise), make a list of possible titles (names) then publish (give birth) your book (baby) and brace for the critics (midnight feedings and temper tantrums).
Friend: OMG! I'm rollin! That's awesome! hahahaI'm at the point where I just want to finish this damn book already. By the time DE is published I have a feeling I'm gonna be so sick of editing and rehashing it that I'll need to take mini-mental vacation before writing the sequel!
And yes, there will be a sequel! ;)
So I was talking with a good friend and fellow writer last night about both of our works-in-progress. She has been working on an awesome YA Paranormal involving witches and vampires while I'm writing DE. So far my friend has reached 12 Chapters and 78 manuscript pages. Woohoo! Congratulations!
Now a typical YA novel is suppose to be between 250-350 MS pages and approximately 60,000-85,000 words, but they can go way over that. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer clocked in at 130K words (or 520 MS pages) before an editor got ahold of it and whittled it down to 120K words/475 pgs. Meanwhile, the sequels—New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn—all jumped well above 500 MS pages and 130K words.
Discussing wordcount and MS pages got me wondering where my stats rank for my YA novel right now, so I pulled up the DE folder on my PC and did a little math...
I'm currently on Chapter 10 (almost midway towards a projected 24 chapters) and so far I've written a total of 153 MS pages or 33,718 words!!!!!!!
Yay! Can you believe it?! I know I can't. That means I only have 150-200 MS pages to go. Ironic, since there was a point around Chapter 4 or 5 that I doubted my ability to finish this project. Now I'm halfway done! :)
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
So apparently my blog post yesterday Writing Waffles: The Idea Fairy Is A Harsh Mistress about my Idea Fairy Stan dropping an all night writing marathon into my lap went POoF! last night...erm, meaning I accidentally deleted it after a double post. *Blush* Sorry about that, guys!
Unfortunately, there's no way to undelete or recover it (Gee, thanks a lot, Blogger!) so I'll just repost what I have saved from my Tumblog and hope I get the same URL.
Wish me luck!
UPDATE: Stan is back! A little hungover from partying all night in Vegas (I found him passed out in a pool of pixie dust in a motel tub) but he's back and ready to work his fairy magic! Well, as soon as he sobers up with a few mugs of black coffee... :)
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
WRITING WAFFLES: Character Assassination...or, "No! Stop! Don't Open That Door Or Go Into That House!"
It's not that he/she is being stubborn or stupid and deserves whatever fate he/she gets, it's that this particular character knows that his/her death will be a catalyst that ushers in my main heroine Penny's departure from her mundane life into the fantastical Faery Realm--a transition that absolutely must happen and from which there's no turning back once it occurs. Thus, my character valiantly accepts his/her roll as a metaphysical Gatekeeper in this particular tale.
This self-sacrifice on my doomed character's part just makes writing the next couple of scenes even harder for me. I mourn his/her loss already even though I haven't written his/her grisly demise yet. (And it will be grisly!) It has to be shocking in order to convince Penny, much like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, that she isn't in Kansas anymore...or, in Penny's case, Sleepy Hollow, NY! (Yes, that's as much of a hint as you're going to get! LOL)
Honestly, I think I'll still be looking for a way out of this up until the moment when my ill-fated friend takes his/her final breath...
Oh well! At least I can say I tried to save them! It's not my fault if he/she refuses to listen! Right? Right...Then why do I feel so guilty right now?
I guess there's no point in stalling anymore. My character's mind is set. He/she even put on clean underwear for this particularly morbid "special occasion"...Looks like it's a long slow march to the gallows!
Wish me luck! I'm gonna need it plus a whole box of tissues when this is all said and done. Just call me Mia the Undertaker!
Holy Hogwarts! Astrocenter is really on target today! In fact, I'm so astounded by how eerily accurate it is that I'm gonna share my Daily Aries Horoscope with all of you....
My horoscope for August 21, 2012:
Today you can expect your mind to be quick, insightful, and inspired, Mia. Your creative impulses should be going a thousand miles an hour, and ideas should be popping in and out of your head like crazy. Most likely you want to drop everything else and get all your ideas down. Make use of this fit of inspiration while you can, as it may come and go in fits and starts. You might be surprised at what you can produce!YOWZA!! This ties right into the writing kick I've been on all week! How cool is that?
And I'm definitely very pleasantly surprised by what I've produced so far! Time to follow the stars' advice and take advantage of this unusually creative period while I can! *Crossing fingers, eyes, and toes* Come on future multimillion dollar bestseller! :D
Proofreading pages from my not-so-fast but furious (grr!) write-a-thon last night when I stumble across this particularly melancholy gem...
YOLO—You Only Live Once... An acronym my generation tends to toss around a little too cavalierly, indifferent to the concept of death and almost completely oblivious to the very real existance of our own mortality. Ironic since most teenagers are capable of developing several full-blown existential crises a day, the majority of them before lunch.W-O-W. Dayum. I know I'm tired when I wax all philosophical like this—at 4 in the morning!—in a book meant for Young Adults.
Although, in my defense, my heroine just stumbled across the Headless Horseman (FINALLY!) and really hopes to escape the encounter in one piece. I'd like to think anyone would get a little morose at a moment like this, even a 15 year old... :)
Speaking of the Horseman, he's much more fearsome and badass than I originally pictured in my mind. I can't wait for you all to meet him and his nightmarish steed.
When I meet Mr. Right and settle down someday he's gonna have to understand that if I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and don't return for 2-3 hours it's not because I'm cheating on him, it's because the Idea Fairy hit me over the head while I was walking back upstairs, dragged me over to my computer, chained me to my desk and made me add something to whatever novel I'm currently working on before it would let me go back to sleep! LOL
Hey, what else can I say? My Idea Fairy is a fickle, crossdressing bitch with a 5 o'clock shadow named Stan who wears tutus and has a penchant for smoking Cuban cigars... Yeah, I realize how effed up that sounds but it's true.
That said, I just started Chapter 10 of DE with my eyes half-closed! Gotta love when inspiration strikes! But that's one of the reasons why we writers worship our Muses so much. We are, after all, creatures of habit and gluttons for punishment.
Writing, writing, writing... I didn't anticipate a visit from Stan the Man tonight but he creeped up behind me wearing a hot pink tutu and wacked me over the head with his cigar anyway...3 hours and 7 not-so-fast but furious (Grrr...) manuscript pages later and I'm mentally exhausted. Whew!
Gonna wrap up these last two paragraphs and snuggle in my nice comfy bed. Those cean sheets are calling my name dammit! LOL
Monday, August 20, 2012
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-45 minutes
- 4-8 peppers (depends on size and variety)
- 1 lb. of ground meat, bread stuffing, or other Vegetarian filling
- Your choice of sauce
- 1 cup of cooked rice (Optional)
- Italian bread
- A square microwave safe bowl or casserole dish with a lid
The best thing about this recipe is that it's quick and easy — and extremely versatile! You can use any variety of pepper and ground meat, bread stuffing, or Vegetarian filling you desire. You can even switch up the sauce and try creamy butter-garlic or cheesy alfredo instead of marinara. The possibilities are almost limitless!
I started with sweet peppers fresh from our garden...
Cut the tops of each pepper in a circular motion close to the stem, carefully remove the seeds, and rinse with warm water.
Once again, you can sub any type of filling you desire. Your options are only limited by your imagination.
I used turkeyburger mixed with chopped mushrooms, Italian seasoning, a tablespoon of minced garlic, salt and pepper, and a cup of cooked long grain wild rice as my filling.
After each pepper is stuffed, tear off a small piece of Italian bread and place it on top to "plug in" the filling like so...
Pour an inch of sauce in a square microwave safe bowl or casserole dish and gently lay the stuffed peppers inside.
Don't be afraid to add a second layer of peppers (if you made a lot of them and have enough room) then pour the remaining sauce on top.
Cover loosely with a lid and microwave on HIGH (100% Power) for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, check the tenderness of your peppers by poking them with a fork. If the fork doesn't break the skin and slide in easily, turn the peppers over, cover them with more sauce from the container, and microwave again on HIGH for about 10-15 more minutes until peppers are tender.
Serve with a big hulking piece of Italian bread on the side and enjoy! ;)
You don't have to spend $45 at a professional salon to get gorgeous nails. Everything you really need you can find at your local Dollar Tree or Dollar General for under $10! It's so easy to do, you may never step inside a nail salon again!
First off, you'll need to head down to the dollar store in your area and pick up the following:
- A bottle of Dawn or Palmolive liquid dishwashing detergent
- L.A. Colors Clear Base Coat-Topcoat Nail Treatment
- L.A. Colors #BCC659 Energy Source Color Craze Nail Polish
- L.A. Colors #BCC656 Megawatt Color Craze Nail Polish (or a shade that closely matches your nail bed)
- A mini nail care kit that includes nail clippers, a cuticle trimmer, a wooden cuticle wand and an emery board.
- A pack of flat rubber bands or round white binder reinforcement stickers (Optional)
- Fake plastic tips (Optional)
You'll also need:
- A shallow bowl
- Warm water
- A towel or paper towels
- Petroleum jelly or Vaseline (Optional)
- Your favorite hand lotion
Believe it or not, the first step to beautiful nails is soaking them in soapy water! This moisturizes your cuticles and makes it easier to trim them or push them back.
Step #1: Squirt a dime-sized amount of Dawn or Palmolive dish washing liquid into a bowl, add warm water, swish to make some suds, and soak nails for about 5-10 minutes.
Make sure you set the bowl on top of a clean towel or paper towels to avoid spills and dry your fingers on when you're done.
Step #2a: Using the wooden cuticle wand, gently push your cuticles back along your nail bed.
Step #2b: Using a clean cuticle cutter, carefully trim back your cuticles. I highly recommend dipping your cuticle cutter in a cup of warm hydrogen peroxide first and continuing to do so between cuticles to avoid infection.
Trimming your cuticles/pushing them back, makes your nails look neater and longer. If you already have neat cuticles (or simply don't care) feel free to skip this step. It really isn't necessary for a nice overall result.
At this point you can clip and file your nails or apply plastic tips. You can also add a small amount of Petroleum Jelly (aka Vaseline) to your fingertips with a Q-tip to catch excess paint.
Step #3: Apply a coat of L.A. Colors (from here on referred to as L.A.C.) Base Coat-Top coat to all of your nails and let dry. This will act as a primer for the polish and keep the color from staining your nails.
Step #4: Apply a single coat of L.A.C. #BCC656 Megawatt Color Crazy Nail Polish to your nails and let dry.
Now it's time to do your tips!
Step #5: Apply L.A.C. #BCC659 Energy Source to just the tip of each nail. There are several ways you can do this: (1) You can carefully paint them freehand (2) Use a flat rubberband wrapped around your finger as your guide (3) Cut round white binder reinforcements in half and stick them on dry nails to use as guides.
Example of rubber band tipping
I prefer painting each tip freehand with the brushes included in the nail polish bottles but doing that requires a steady hand, a little bit of artistic skill, and a whole lot of patience. The other two options will work in a pinch for those of you who don't have the time or inclination.
Step #6:Make sure your nails are almost dry then apply a final clear topcoat to seal in your work and protect it. Let dry for at least 15-20 minutes.
Wallah! An easy, natural, elegant looking French manicure for pennies on the dollar of what you'd usually pay for in a salon!
Now you can spend that extra money you saved on something truly important...like new shoes! ;)
I just wanted to officially congratulate my little sister plus-sized model Daniela Durante for winning the 2012 Wilkes Productions Big Beautiful Woman Pageant this year!
I am so very happy for you, sweetie! You are such a beautiful person inside and out. You have come so far and worked so hard for this moment, you deserve every last inch of that crown!
Here's another photo of the 2012 BBW Queen with Make-up Artist, and close personal friend, Yuri Rentas of Pretty Faces by Yuri...
Two of my favorite bishes in the world! ♥
*Sniffles* Don't they both look radiant? :)
Durante Divas: Dani (Left) & Me (Right)
¡FELICIDADES, CHICABELLA! I love you always and am proud to be your big sis! May all the wishes that you wish come true!
Muah! ¡Mil besos y abrazos! xoxo
Friday, August 17, 2012
Guess who finished Chapter 9 of DE today?! Woohoo! And I did it without needing to introduce the Headless Horseman too early. Double woohoo!
To top it off, I just realized that I've written 2½ chapters in 1 week! That's 36 manuscript pages—a personal best for me. (My Chapters tend to run between 13 and 18 MS pages long.) Considering this is my first novel, I'd say that's pretty damn good.
I'm so happy! I can't believe I'm on Chapter 10 already! I'll be honest, there was a point around Chapter 4/5 that I doubted I'd actually be able to finish this project. I thought I'd never get this far along. Now I'm almost halfway through my novel with an overall target of 22-24 chapters, 350 MS pages, and approximately 85K wordcount.
As a size reference, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer clocked in at 475 MS pages or 125K words (with sequels that all jumped well above the 500 page 130K word mark) so my DE should fit right in.
Alright! It's time to celebrate with some fried dumplings and chicken chow mai fun from Hing San—my favorite Chinese restaurant! :) Writing is mentally exhausting work and I feel like I just ran a marathon in a snow suit on a hot summer day! Gonna need my strength for the final lap! ;)
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Even the Death Star needs coverage! :)
Haha THIS is why I love my friends...
Me: *Swats hand* For the last time, they don't honk if you squeeze them!
Isaac: On my planet they do. *honk hoonk ah ooooogah*
How can I possibly argue with that?! *Shakeshead*
P.S. I'm kinda scared to ask what sound a penis makes when you squeeze it! LMAO ;)
Friday, August 10, 2012
*Shakeshead* Fate and car mechanics are both fickle foes, aren't they? You spend hundreds (if not thousands!) of dollars getting your car fixed by a professional, wait
impatiently for hours to hear back from the garage, exalt in the way the car purrs like a kitten when you finally do get the chance to drive it again, and then...something completely absurd happens!
There's always a pothole you don't see, a curb that's just an inch too high, a rusty nail or broken bottle in the road...and you're right back at the mechanic pacing like a mofo while your car undergoes "emergency surgery"!
In my case it was a very unusual car accident blocking my normal route home, a forced detour, and a small bump that popped up out of nowhere and socked my muffler right in the kisser! Thuddt!
Well, technically it's the pipe to my muffler that came apart, but who cares about "technicalities" when your passenger floor is vibrating like a jet engine and your car sounds like it's about to devour a baby dinosaur?
Forget purr, purr, purr! Try garr, garr, GARRL!
Needless to say, I—AM—PISSED!! My first reaction was to blame the city for that damn bump in the road but then I thought, No, because if it wasn't for the detour I would've never gone over Niagara Falls to begin with! Which means the real culprit to my current muffler mayhem isn't the bump or the detour, it's THE LADY WHO CRASHED HER CAR INTO ARGENTO'S PIZZA that started this whole mess!
You heard me right! A woman trying to park her Toyota Corolla at the super busy intersection of High and Hanover Streets (both main roads in the middle of Pottstown, PA) jumped the curb, injured 4 pedestrians, and rammed straight through the display window of the pizza joint on the corner!
The Aftermath: outside Argento's the day of the crash...
Exactly how she managed such a dumbass fete no one really knows. She claims she was cut off by another driver while she attempted to re-enter traffic, but that doesn't really explain how she wound up mowing down 4 people on the sidewalk let alone shattering a storefront window. That, my lovelies, requires a real special kind of stupidity!
You know, I've sat at the same intersection on countless occasions since I was a teenager and I've never once worried about hitting the side of one of those big buildings. Not even a few years ago when I tried to stop at the traffic light there and spun out in the middle of High Street due to extremely icy winter road conditions.
You would literally have to aim your car at Argento's and slam your foot down on the excelerator in order to achieve the foward momentum needed to do something that catastrophic. After all, curbs were created for a reason!
So yes, a car accident that I wasn't even involved in (Praise God!) killed my muffler! Hello irony!
Thankfully, we have a very dependable friend — who just so happens to love working on older cars — to bring it to for repairs. The pipe took five minutes to fix...the new brakes, coolant leak, and upholstry cleaning took another 5 hours!!!!! LOL All of which would've cost me a month's rent at almost any other garage so thank you once again for saving our car, C.H.! We don't know what we would've fine without you!
Belle watching I Love Lucy on my portable DVD player
Our friend Sandi has the cutest little kitty cat (named Belle) that she rescued via the Cat Angel Network — a no-kill organization (located in Stowe, Pennsylvania) that I highly recommend to all potential furmommies looking for feline furbabies!
Belle the Beautiful is eight months old now and absolutely delightful! In fact, she's one of the friendliest, most well-adjusted adoptees I've ever seen! Extremely loving and playful!
Anyway, Sandi was nervous about going on a week-long cruise with her brother and his family (it's the first time she and Belle have been separated for more than a few hours since the adoption) so she asked us to stop in once a day to feed and play with her.
As usual, I couldn't resist snapping a few photos to commemorate the occasion... :-)
Miss Belle on her blanky
Belle wants to pay with the birdy!
"Get it, Belly! Get it!"
Belle doing a backflip! Whoa!
I think its safe to say that we had a great time together!
P.S. I just had to add that Belle looks almost exactly like my kitty Tinkers, who died suddenly while under anesthesia last year at age 15. She even has the same mannerisms as Mr. Tink sometimes. It's heartwarming and surreal being around her... Mommy still misses you, Tink! ♥
Sandi (Left) and Cindy (Right)
Well, we had a delightful time with the incomparable Ms. Sandra K. tonight! (Sandi and my mother Cindy worked together for quite a few years and have been close friends ever since.) We laughed, opened a bottle of Merlot, ate a delicious dinner that our hostess made for us herself...
Breaded chicken thighs baked in extra virgin olive oil
How yummy does that look?
...played with Sandi's adorable cat Belle...
Belle about to attack Mom's cherry red hairclip! LOL
...wished Sandi a happy birthday an entire month early (because Mom got the dates mixed up! LOL)...
...and watched Julia Roberts sparkle as the wicked queen in Mirror, Mirror on DVD. OK so Mom and Sandi watched Julia Roberts, I was a little too preoccupied drooling over Armie Hammer as Prince Charming to notice anyone else...but come on! Can you really blame me?
Well, hello there, sexy! Is that a sword in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? (teehee)
That man is so gorgeous it hurts! He's the living embodiment of the word "dreamy"! Especially when he's shirtless...
Woo! *Fansself* For me? Yes please!
All in all, it was a perfect night! Or, as Belle would say...purrfect! ;)
P.S. If Sandi looks familiar to you at all, it may be because you saw her in one of the hilarious "Shit Jewish Mothers Say" parodies on YouTube, which were written and directed by drcoolsex2 (Sandi's grandson Alex).
**NOTE: Sandi's brother — Tom Sherak — also happens to be the President of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences (think the Academy Awards!) so you may have seen her on TV with him too.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
I'm loving all of the exciting new developments happening in Chapter 8 of DE right now but...UGH! Writing these flashback sequences are killing me.
You see, I originally wrote this entire scene as one looong flashback. That flashback turned into a short story, half of which became the Prologue while I cut the rest and saved it for later. Now I'm trying to piece together segments from the Prologue (the first half of the flashback) with scenes I've purposefully left out (the last half of the flashback that turned into a short story) and weave them into this chapter as sudden jumbled mini-flashes of consciousness that are actual memories for my young heroine Penny.
The key is in the pacing... I have to space these "mini-flashes" just right to make them confusing yet coherent, all while trying not to give too much information away...which isn't as easy as it sounds. In fact, it's proving to be rather tricky because I like the flashback as a whole and really wish I could include it in its entirety — the way it was originally meant to be read.
I think after DE is published I may offer the full unabridged Prologue as a free short story for fans to download via the official web site. (Launching in January 2013 so stay tuned!!)
Yep! That seems to be the best compromise! :) Now...back to writing! Wish me luck!
After almost a year of financial fiascos and false starts, I am happy to announce that our faltering Ford Taurus is almost completely fixed now! (How's that for alliteration? LOL)
Yessiree, Bobcat! Old Seabiscuit (the car, not the champion racehorse) is finally off life support after a series of extensive "surgeries" [read: repairs] and recovering as you read this! Whew!
So far Seabiscuit has had the following done or repaired:
✔ Complete tune-up
✔ Head gasket
✔ Lock on door
✔ Oil leak
✔ Rearview mirror
✔ Sideview mirror
He even power-washed the engine! Check out these spark plugs:
All shine, no grime, baby!
...and a brand new battery!
No more jump-starts needed! Yay!
The old battery was so bad it could no longer hold a charge. It got to the point where we actually had to connect it to our trusty old emergency DieHard Platinum Portable Power 1150 Jumpstarter/Power Source every time we needed to start the car! Talk about a stressful situation...that is now a thing of the PAST! :)
Thanks so very, very much to C.H. for all your hard work and junkyard diving! I know this is just a fun hobby for you but it means the world to us!!!
- Replacing the front and rear bumpers
- Overhaul the A/C
- Install a new ceiling cloth
- Repair a tiny leak in the water pump