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Showing posts from May, 2011

Front Garden: Before and After

Last week I wrote about the sad state of the garden in the front of the house. This weekend, I decided to do something about it. 

 There's nothing that twelve bags of mulch and a handful of flowers can't fix.

Especially when you're starting with something that desperately needed some care and garden love.

Because our summers can be quite dry, I opted to continue with the theme started by the former homeowners, and chose drought tolerant evergreens.

 By the time I'd finished, this sad picture was transformed...

into this.

P.S. I'm also hoping all this hard work will translate into a slimmer figure for the gardener.

Henry's Heart-shaped Bacon Peanut Butter Doggie Cookies

Henry loves doggie cookies. And I love to indulge him. However, buying dog biscuits at the supermarket can cost from $3.50 to 6.00 a box and given Henry's generous appetite for treats, I quickly needed to find an alternative.

Luckily, there are a plethora of simple recipes for dog biscuits that allow you to use everyday ingredients to create treats your dog will love.

For instance, to make Henry's Heart-Shaped Bacon Peanut Butter Doggie Cookies, I found a basic recipe for bacon dog biscuits and then added a few twists to make them even better.

The recipe includes:

3 cups of whole wheat flour1 teaspoon baking powdertwo eggs1 cup of milk1/2 cup of peanut butter1/4 cup bacon greaseten slices fried bacon, chopped

Frying bacon with a dog whose head comes up over the counter means that you will have an avid audience.

Luckily, frying bacon is the most difficult part of the entire process.

The rest of the recipe simply means combining all the ingredients, letting them cool for 30 minut…

Garden? Gardening? Gardener?

Spring is finally on its way.

After a very dry winter, the past few weeks have brought us rain showers and bouts of snow. All of which are dearly needed and have the wonderful effect of causing the bulbs that were planted last year to begin to grow.

I've been told that they are lilies. And that I'm supposed to clear out that dead grass surrounding them from last summer.

And then I really should think about filling out this mass of scraggly bushes and pulling that one bunch of dead branches that used to be a bush of some sort. (Are you impressed by my sophisticated knowledge of plant types?)

Here's another perspective of the planting beds that need to pruned and filled out and tended to.

While they are making the best of growing despite my neglect, I feel that I should try to help them along with a little plant food, some water, some mulch and maybe some new plants to keep them company.

On the other hand, if you recall what happened to the herb garden I planted last summer…

SNOW DAY - May 11 - 12 2011

At this time of year I get excited with each snowfall wondering if this will be the last one of the season.

Last year, I recorded the last snowfall as May 12th. I guess the coincidence of snow on the same day this year should be notable.

Especially since our winter was so dry this year that I didn't hold out much hope after we received a light dusting on April 30th.

But Mother Nature is not one to second guessed.

For the last two days we've enjoyed snow showers that have put six inches of big wet sloppy snow on the ground.

It's lovely and dramatic.

It covers the branches of the trees and the lilies in the front garden that were just beginning to make their entrance.

Of course, some of us are less than thrilled.

And stick to the pathways created by the car's tires.

Mr. Bear steadfastly holds his 'welcome' sign despite the indignity of a snow covered head.

And the UPS man may have a challenge reaching the front door.

But we're celebrating the beauty of the s…

How to Create an Ebook Cover From a Digital Photo

This afternoon I decided that I wanted to try out a new cover for my novel, Mrs. Tuesday's Departure. I've actually been toying with this idea for quite some time because I'm one of those readers who really does judge a book by its cover and have had a long love affair with beautiful or compelling cover art. 

As lovely as this original cover is/was, I felt that it had a few flaws. One aspect of the shortcomings are simply due to the constraints of publishing as an ebook, where the picture of the cover is limited in size and by the graphic arts capabilities of yours truly. With my original cover, I loved the art work but felt that it might have been too dark given the small size and complexity of the picture. Then there was font that I used for the title and author's pretty as they are, they are also difficult to read in the size presented on Amazon's website.
And of course, there's simply the fact that I love to tinker.

To start, I wanted to find new co…

Getting Things Done

I've written a lot about productivity lately because it's something I've struggled with and because I know how much better I feel when I've actually gotten work done.

Today was a wonderful example. Before I got up this morning, I made a mental list of the most important things I wanted to work on today. Then I started with the item that offered the biggest pay-off in feelings of accomplishment. For me, this would be to spend an hour editing my second novel MAP.

Funny enough, two hours later I finally got up from my desk with a wonderful sense of satisfaction. Not only had I doubled the amount of time I'd set out to work on my new project, I got further along than I thought and now have a much better sense of the novel in its entirety. Best of all, I can't wait to get back to it tomorrow.

This positive feeling provided me with the energy to tackle some less glamorous tasks for the rest of the afternoon, such as vacuuming and mopping, clearing out a planter in …

An Unconventional Book Review: Gourmet Rhapsody

Can I seduce you into reading a book by stringing together some memorable excerpts from the book?

In the case of a book like GOURMET RHAPSODY it might just work because the book itself is not so much a story as a meditation on what we value in life. Or in the case of the main character, 'the world's greatest food critic', a desperate search for the most meaningful taste memory of his life. Recollections of family and friends merely get in his way as he scrolls through a lifetime of sensory memories in a race against time.

Perhaps it is this cold, gimlet-eyed view of human relationships that had left so many readers feeling quite lukewarm about this book, especially those readers who came to this book after reading THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG (also written by Muriel Barbery) which has enjoyed such popularity both in the United States and in Europe.

As I mentioned above the plot of GOURMET is rather thin. We meet the protagonist as he lays in his bed having just been infor…

How to Effectively Procrastinate - or - And So It Begins...Again

photo credit: National Geographic News

I'd planned to post a recipe today and later in the week do a book review, but then I finally got around to starting something I've only avoided for the past two months and decided to share a bit of that instead.
This morning after all sorts of nonsensical preparation I finally started editing my second novel, A MAP OF HEAVEN. 
I want to savor that announcement for a moment, so let's review the nonsensical preparation for a moment before discussing the work. 
First I couldn't begin until I got settled in the new house, which would surely included unpacking all my boxes of books and the multiple versions that this novel has taken over the past fifteen years. 
Actually, I didn't even intend to work on this novel. Last winter, I'd thought of writing something along the lines of the many historical romance novels I've been reading. But unpacking all those earlier versions of MAP and then a chance conversation with a former stud…