Gratitude Writing Exercise and a Casserole Recipe to Save Time

Heya! I want to blog a bit more. As I mentioned in my newsletter, I have NO idea what that means or what form that will take, in part because all of my sage advice can be summed up thusly: Do what works for you. I trust you will figure it out. If you don’t know what works for you, experiment to find those results. (I write this with no irony whatsoever… None at all…) It is the way. There may be a lot of discussion about the “right” way to make art, but there isn’t one singular process that works for everyone.

Today, as I embark on a new manuscript, I am reminded why I did not start this particular story before. Two reasons. First, I wasn’t ready to. And second? I have no idea what is going to happen after it’s done. I don’t mean this in a “Oh, that’s just how the business works!” sort of a way. I mean there’s a good possibility it might not find a home and it shall gather dust on a shelf and be forgotten. Or, the exact opposite could happen. It’s a crap shoot. Experienced novelists used to writing for themselves will likely read this and know exactly where I am right now with respect to my personal storytelling. I’ve been here before, multiple times, but never like this. This story requires the kind of trust I didn’t have before. The faith that this story needs to be told even if it’s never read by another living soul.

I have what I need now, because eventually I figured out I had to make peace with the unknown. My current status allows me to carve time out of my day to work on something for myself and it’s uncomfortable as f***. TRUTH BOMB!

Gratitude Writing Exercise

To help me remain focused, my friend Shveta Thakrar has a wonderful writing exercise we use to ground ourselves before writing.

Simply, list five things you’re grateful for. It’s quick and takes far less time than an A-to-Z gratitude exercise would. Having those five things in writing really crystallizes things you’re happy about and it does help when venturing off into the unknown.

Ham and Green Chili Casserole

Winter is a great time to make casseroles. They are also good for another reason–they help carve out time so you can write. The prep for this mega-Midwestern casserole takes about ten minutes. You can make this for breakfast or have it for dinner.

Ingredients

1 pound cubed ham
1 pound sour cream
1 16oz container fried onions
1 pound shredded cheddar
1 4oz can diced green chiles
Large bag frozen potatoes (cubed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the ham, sour cream, cheddar, and chiles together in a bowl. Spray nonstick cooking oil in a 9 x 13 pan. Spread the potatoes down first in a layer. Then, take your goop (that’s a professional term, by the way) and spread the mixture evenly across the potatoes.

Bake the casserole for thirty minutes uncovered on the middle rack. Remove, then spread the fried onions across the top. Place back in the oven for twenty minutes.

Serves an army.

Coming Together

Firefly Avatar

Tons to tell you about today, so I better get started!

gaming-in-the-verseThe preview for the Firefly RPG line, Gaming in the ‘Verse: Gen Con 2013 Exclusive, will no longer be available at the end of this month. You can order print copies from www.margaretweis.com and a digital version from DriveThruRPG.com.

I just had a fantastic meeting with our Systems Lead, Mark Diaz Truman, to wrap up the corebook. We were talking about the overwhelmingly positive response to the Exclusive and how some folk’d be happy just with that. I said that the Exclusive sets expectations by giving them what they need, but the corebook? Gives them what they didn’t even know they needed. Will there be new material? How ’bout over 100,000 words worth?

Today, I’m developing the Episode for the corebook, which was written by Jack Norris. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m incredibly sensitive to sound. Sometimes, I can’t listen to anything with words in it when I need to concentrate because it slows my progress down considerably. Other projects, I go the opposite route and have an audiobook on in the background (I happen to adore the Terry Pratchett’s Discworld performances) or I have a movie on that I’ve seen a 1,000 times so I can tune it out. Music with words, though? Can’t do it. Not sure if the fresh air and open windows have something to do with it. Guess I’m just weird that way.

I try to stick to a theme when I’m listening to instrumental music and, for Firefly, it’s all about the Chinese traditional compositions — which is great because it’s something I’d listen to anyway. Lately, I’ve been putting the theme song for a fun, very relaxing puzzle game called Entanglement on in the background on repeat. I’m putting dueling banjos and old west-inspired fiddles on my list of tunes to research.

Sugar Skull_Liz MieraNot sure if I mentioned this yet or not, but I’m modifying a dress I already own (it’s a pink A-line) for Halloween with this patch and some beadwork. So, Etsy can yield some pretty awesome things and I have to say: Liz Miera Embroidery is phenomenal. The quality is great and the design is spot on. It can be REALLY hard to find sugar skull designs that aren’t…well, awful. Here’s a link to her Etsy store if you want to check out her inventory.

Heading out to my salon and will be asking for recommendations on hair. (They’re used to my crazy-ass requests by now. Hah.) I got a black wedding sash to take care of the girly bow problem. I may design jewelry for the overall costume, too, but if I do it’ll likely be a bracelet of some sort. Already have the rest of it. Now, if I can just get back into painting I’ll be shiny. I have a few I need to work on, but have to finish converting my office into a studio. Let’s just say moving our extraordinarily spoiled frog required some shifting — in a good way.

In domestic news, we watched The Gift last night with Cate Blanchett. What a fantastic film. ‘Course, I get Ryan Gosling confused with Giovanni Ribisi (BAD WRITER) but one of the things that I really loved about this, is the very realistic way certain townsfolk got addicted to Annabelle’s readings. She used what are known as “zener cards” which are cards scientists use to test psychic abilities. (You can follow that link to test yourself.) Anyway, I really dug this one because the psychic aspect, when combined with the small town aspect, added a lot of conflict to an already unique and very memorable cast of characters.

Making a buffalo chicken pizza today. Figured you might be interested in the recipe, because it’s SUPER EASY. And this is where I’ll leave you… With the NOM NOM NOMs…

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

(1) tube refrigerator pizza dough
4-5 Frozen buffalo chicken tenders
1-2 Carrots
1-2 stalks Celery
1/4 to 1/2 cup Bleu Cheese dressing
1 cup cheddar cheese
Fresh cilantro, chives, or parsley for garnish

Cook buffalo chicken tenders according to instructions and set aside. When cool, cut up into smaller pieces. Roll out the pizza dough. Spread bleu cheese dressing across the bottom of it. Add the chicken pieces and scatter cheese across the top. Bake according to the crust’s directions. While the pizza’s in the oven, chop up the celery and use a potato peeler to make ribbons of carrots. When the pizza is done, top with your veggies and garnish.

Voila! A tasty pizza!

    Mood: I am a grasshopper who is focusing.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Hit it really hard yesterday. Tired.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Walked!
    In My Ears: Entanglement soundtrack
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age II
    Book Last Read: Amphigorey
    Movie Last Viewed: The Gift
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Serenity Crew, Wedding Planners Cortex Plus, and Shooting Fish
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels. Added an online writing workshop, too!


Glorious Nachos. A Buffalicious Recipe.

The Tick Weapons Lab Avatar

Been a ton of serious-minded posts lately, and I’d like to make up for that by admitting something shameful.

I have a love affair with nachos. GOOD nachos. And, I have found the perfect summer recipe. Cheese in a can is an abomination, a thing to be feared. Powder? UNNATURAL. You truly need to have the right cheese, REAL cheese, and fresh vegetables in order to get your nacho on. Chips must not be soggy or over-salted, either.

(You can see I’ve put a lot of thought into this. Hee.)

With that, comes a summer recipe I’ve created, a concoction of flavors so ridiculously mouth-watering that I could have this for dinner several days straight. I give you…

BUFFALICIOUS NACHOS

White or Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
1 pound chicken breasts
Romaine lettuce (strips)
1/4 c. Buffalo Sauce
Blue Cheese
Carrots (Shavings)
Celery Pieces (small)
Blue Cheese Dressing

Cut chicken up into small pieces and grill. Add buffalo sauce and, while that’s heating up, continue separating the chicken into smaller pieces. You want enough buffalo sauce to coat the chicken, but not so much it’s drowning in it.

On a plate add nachos, then your lettuce. Then drizzle blue cheese dressing across the entire plate. After that, then add the chicken. Sprinkle with your carrot shavings, celery pieces, and blue cheese crumbles. Enjoy!


All Your Words And Sriracha Belong To Us

hobbes avatar

I am boogie-ing in my chair. Just handed in the last chapter for [redacted]. Exciting! However, I looked at the calendar. I have three major conventions coming up, past-due revisions, and deadlines looming. Though I’ve gotten through 100 pressing e-mails today and am wrapping up a major project, I’ve got more to do. Ergo, social media has got to be cut way back until I achieve my 2013 goals. It just has to happen.

Yesterday I was at sort of a crossroads, but today? Everything sort of crystallized and reaffirmed itself. The thing that’s not valuable to me right now is the news poisoning and I have had it up to ¯ with my governor. I mean, the insanity is beyond ridiculous now, because some old white men who are total strangers to me are legislating my lady bits. Naturally, I am expecting them to be the first in the country to volunteer new laws related to their man parts. What brave heroes are these that they have such an interest in my body.

Anyhoo… Rant over. Well, maybe one more. (You know you love it.) Watched Oz the Great and Powerful. Wow, what a terrible movie. It was marginally related to the books, which I can forgive, but the CGI was obvious, which is hard for me to forgive, and the moral of the story is — doesn’t matter if you’re an asshole or not. Deep down inside, you’re still a “good” guy and you can “change.” Oh, by the way… Women deep down inside are bad. And if you burn them, they’ll only get worse. But if you love them? They’ll stay good. Huzzah! I’m SO relieved!

I’m off to try to watch another movie. Cloud Atlas. Hopefully this one is better. BUT! Before I go! I have a recipe for you that is so incredibly awesome you will wonder if it is a sin to eat it.

I give you… A new/old concoction… That I forgot but made again… And now has a fancy new name…

HELL’S BELLS PASTA BOWL

(3) Fresh Green Onions, thinly-sliced
(1) Orange Pepper, thinly-sliced
Cilantro
Garlic
Ground Peanuts
Sriracha
Lt. soy sauce
Smooth, creamy peanut butter
Shaved parmesan/romano
Whole wheat spaghetti

Boil pasta al dente. Drain. In the hot pan, add enough peanut butter to coat the bottom. Shake 2 to 3 soy sauceness and a few scribbles of Sriracha or however much you can tolerate. Add cilantro and garlic. Toss with the spaghetti and sprinkle the cheese and peanuts over the top.

Oh, and add more Sriracha.

ENJOY!

.

My DIY Recipe for Thai Peanut Butter Stir Fry

peanut butterHi everyone! This week’s recipe is my concoction for a do-it-yourself Thai peanut butter stir-fry. I call it DIY because it’s never tastes the same twice! This recipe’s instructions are cooked in a wok, so keep that in mind if you want to cook it in a different pot.

Primary ingredients:

(a) Package frozen veggies (any will do)
(b) Choose your meat or protein (I prefer pork with this particular recipe)
(c) Choose your grain (I prefer whole wheat egg noodles)

To brown your meat, you’ll need:

Garlic
Onions (I prefer scallops)
Sesame Oil

Heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in a wok on medium heat. Add your meat and toss frequently. (If you’re using tofu, recommend cooking it according to its instructions and then adding that last so it doesn’t get too gushy.) If your meat starts sticking to sides of pan, toss in a little bit of broth or apple cider vinegar. Once meat is fully cooked, add veggies and cover.

Sauce:

1/2 to 3/4 cup of any peanut butter (HIGHLY recommend the Asian Peanut Curry Spice from www.pbloco.com)
1/3 cup of low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons chili paste

Stir the sauce thoroughly. It will be thick, almost like the consistency of a frosting, but that’s okay. After the veggies have had the chance to cook a little bit, add the sauce and stir. There will be some juices in the wok from your cooking, but that helps spread the consistency of the sauce. The more chili paste you use, the spicier the sauce will be. If it’s too spicy, tone down with cinnamon or honey. The grains will help ease a sensitive palate; I recommend not adding the grains to the wok for that reason.

Typically, I also crush peanuts and scatter them over the top. Lots of variations and different ways to make this recipe, but the sauce is pretty simple.

Remember, the secret sauce is the best part but you can spice it up (or down) as needed. I’ve also tried this recipe with cashew and almond butter; so far, peanut butter spreads the best. If you’re sensitive to peppers, just take it down a notch and add something a little sweet to balance the spice.

Hope you enjoy this spicy concoction!

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