Monday, December 31, 2007

Saying goodbye to 2007

It seems like an appropriate day to clean up a few 2007 odds and ends. Much the same way as I just cleaned out the fridge. Who wants to start a new year with last's year's mystery containers and mold?

So, in no particular order...

We have decided to do allergy shots for with child #3. The shots will desensitize him to stings from honey bees +white-faced hornets + yellow jackets. (A little weird as he has no allergy to yellow jackets, but it's an all-in-one shot.) Some ridiculously high percentage of people (like 98%) lose their venom allergies following a regimen of shots. So, wish us luck as we embark on the 3-5 YEAR endeavor! Which starts with 2 visits a week for 6 months!!

By accident, I splashed bleach on the black, sequined dress. Goodbye to that chapter in my life!

I never did get around to blogging about the controversial Christmas gift. I'm really happy with them, but apparently not everyone shares the love. Here's the link.

I take New Year's resolutions really, really seriously. I'm still tweaking mine. So, those I'll post tomorrow or the next day.

For now, I'm headed off on a secret mission with Child #3. A New Year's Eve mission. Our last secret mission of the year. And, yes, there will be photos!

Friday, December 28, 2007

allergy testing

On Wednesday, Child #3 and I spent five hours at the allergist's. Child #3 recently had a couple of bad reactions to insect stings. As in, swelling hugely and some trouble breathing. Our pediatrician suggested we see an allergist for venom testing.

So, Child #3 went through skin-pricking testing for: the honey bee, paper wasp, yellow jacket, yellow hornet and white-faced hornet. The results: a major allergy to the honey bee and an allergy to the white-faced hornet (also known as the bald-faced hornet).

Yikes! This spring, Child #3 is off for a week to sixth grade camp where, because of the wildfires, there will be many buzzing bees. The allergist advised he take TWO Epi-pens. And below are additional tips for child #3 from an informative little booklet called Venom Attack Force.

-Wear tight clothing.
-Don't dress in light yellow or light blue. Instead, lean toward a wardrobe of whites and tans.
-Don't drink beer, soft drinks or juice outside.
-Don't wear perfume, sunscreen or hairspray.
-Wear shoes.
-Don't hang out by paint containing isoamyl-acetate. This is a bee-alarming agent.

A wild-and-crazy, needs-a-2nd-cup-of-tea thought: If we follow these directives, we'll recognize each other in the "real" world. A sort of stay-safe-from-stinging-insects AND blogger uniform/ lifestyle. All rolled into one.

(Excuse all the hyphens. I do love a good hyphen.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The galleys have arrived!

The Fed Ex man delivered a very nice gift--the galleys for I So Don't Do Mysteries.

This is the typeset copy of the book--I can see how each page will look, how each chapter will start, what the font is.

Here are my thoughts:

The font is extremely cute. I'll have to ask Editor Wendy which font it is. I like to know fonts in the same way that I like to know the catering company listed in the credits of a movie. Being serious here.

Each chapter begins with an adorable line drawng of a coffee cup with slender wisps of steam. The chapter number is on the cup. Very adorable.

There are 264 pages. I was really curious about this. My computer version (New Courier) has 282 pages (around 55,457 words).

Anyway, anyway, anyway. I have to read through the galleys, mark any changes and have them back to Editor Wendy by mid-January. This is my last chance to make changes. LAST CHANCE, folks. Kind of freaking me out. I'm going to have to trick myself into reading the galleys withOUT thinking it's my LAST CHANCE.

So... La, la, la. I think I'll sit down with a cup of tea and read the cute galleys. Just for fun. La, la, la. No big deal. No particular pressure. La, la, la.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you and yours the absolute best! For which ever holiday you celebrate! And in which ever language you celebrate!

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Happy Hanukkah! Habari gani? Al-Salaamu Aleikum! Pax Vobiscum!

And, in honour of Child #4: Sung Tan Chuk Ha!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Christmas Gift

My husband is giving me a cell phone for Christmas. It has SEVENTY-FOUR buttons! SEVENTY-FOUR! My lap top doesn't even have seventy-four buttons! This is a cell phone with some serious smarts. It could so beat me in an IQ test.

Quite honestly, there's not much this cell can't do. It has blue tooth. Because we all know I don't spend enough time on the phone as it is! Has he forgotten the tres expensive month of October when I somehow used 2000 minutes all by myself?!

This phone also has internet. It has unlimited texting. It has a camera. It plays music. It has bunches of memory. It has GPS.

All I can say is, if you want to wish me a Merry Christmas, don't phone. Email.

(In fact, don't call me till February. I'm sure I'll have the basics figured out by Groundhog Day.)

We've launched!

The Class of 2K8. 28 new voices in Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction. 28 book launches in the offing. And our year is almost here!

We have two January releases: The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher and I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder.

Go see our WEBSITE. It even has a video. And a BLOG. Go meet the Class of 2k8!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday Decorating--So Cal Style

Here in Southern California, we are so filled with the festive spirit that we even decorate our port-a-potties!

These photos are from up my street.

Seasons Greetings to all!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


No Christmas shopping for me today. I have a sick seven year old. She was up most of the night with a stomach bug. I've got her on the living room couch (chesterfield!), snuggled in an afghan with some dry toast on the end table and A Christmas Without a Santa Claus on TV.

I'm next to her with my lap top and trusty outline for book #2, ready to write. Because the potato is calling. Maybe even screaming. (That would be the potato progress meter on the sidebar.)

If there's such a thing as the perfect time for the stomach flu, this child has nailed it. She's sick AFTER her dance recital (yes, she was brilliant!) and BEFORE Christmas.

Ahhh. Child #4 has fallen asleep, one little hand escaped from the blanket and cupping her cheek.

So, now I'm watching A Christmas Without A Santa Claus all by myself?

I think not. Click. Off goes the TV. Click. Publish the post. Click. Head over to Word.

Happy Wednesday to you all. And may your house be safe from the dreaded stomach virus.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Spooky Launch Postcard with Discount

Raffle Flyer for Yellow Book Road Drawing 12/19/09

Win the Happy Holidays gift drawing
from The Yellow Book Road!

The prize is a gift basket that includes books, gifts
and a gift card to The Yellow Book Road (the entire
prize is valued at over $200).

Here's how to enter:
Print this page, fill in the information and bring in your filled out form to
The Yellow Book Road and place in the silver drop box.

Name: _________________________________________

Phone number: _____________________________

No purchase necessary. No entries will be accepted by mail, email or fax. The
Yellow Book Road employees and family members of employees are not elgible
to participate. One entry per customer. Entires must be received no later than
3:00 pm on Saturday, December 19, 2008. The drawing will take place during
our book release party on Saturday, December 19, and the winner will be called
that day.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Complicated Kindness

I'm reading a really, really wonderful book: A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews.

It is beautifully written. Told from the point of view of a teen (although the book was marketed as adult fiction, I can see where it could easily cross over to young adult), it is both humorous and poignant.

From the fly:

"We're Mennonites. As far as I know, we are the most embarrassing sub-sect of people to belong to if you're a teenager. Five hundred years ago in Europe a man called Menno Simons set off to do his own peculiar religious thing...Imagine the least well-adjusted kid in your school starting a breakaway clique of people whose manifesto includes a ban on the media, dancing, smoking, temperate climates, movies, drinking, rock'n'roll, having sex for fun, swimming, make-up, jewellery, playing pool, going to cities or staying up past nine o'clock. That was Menno all over. Thanks a lot, Menno."

In A Complicated Kindness, Nomi Nickel is stuck in a small Russian Mennonite town in Manitoba with her father. She's trying to make sense of the fact that her mother and sister have disappeared. She's trying to make sense of her life in general. She would love to escape Manitoba and live in New York City with Lou Reed. Apparently, she figures out what happened to her mother and sister, but I haven't gotten that far in the book. So, fear not, there's no spoiler!

A Complicated Kindness won the Governor General's Award and was nominated for the Giller Prize.

A little trivia about the author: She lives in Manitoba and is of Mennonite descent. She debuted in a Mexican film this year, Luz silenciosa. It screened at Cannes.

Nothing beats a good book. Except, perhaps, a good book, a hot cup of tea and a runny butter tart!

P.S. I read Miriam Toews' other two novels: Summer of My Amazing Luck and A Boy of Good Breeding. They were both

P.P.S. I can't wait to get to my hair appointment tomorrow so I can continue reading.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Butter Tarts!

The butter tarts worked! Especially the second batch. I had some great help from Child #4 (no long-handled wooden spoon was involved this time) who is, apparently, a talented baker. Who knew?

First, I started with a tart shell. Here's the recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook:

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound cold butter, in small pieces
1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoons ice water

In a food processor, process the flour, salt and butter quickly. Through the funnel, add the egg yolk and ice water and process until the dough balls up. Wrap in foil and place in fridge for 20 min. Then roll out, cut circles with a cup and press into mold. Prick bottom of tarts with a fork and bake unfilled at 425 for 7 min. (The recipe says 12 min., but that was too long.)

These are the molds that worked best. I tried a muffin tin, but the tarts ended up being just that little bit too shallow. These silicone molds were the perfect deepness to get a slightly runny tart.

And now (drum roll) for the buttertart recipe. The one I used is from a Mennonite cookbook: Food That Really Schmecks.

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1 egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons butter (not margarine!), melted
1 Tablespoon water (or less if you use a large egg)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg. Add brown sugar. Beat again. Add remaining ingredients. Fill shells 1/2 full. Bake at 450 for 15 min. (I only baked for 12 min., so start checking the tarts early).

Here is a photo of the finished product. On the left is the drier, muffin-tin tart. On the right is the deliciously runny, perfect-with-a-cup-of-tea-or-coffee-or-even-hot-chocolate tart. Yummy!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Sorry I'm been MIA a lot of this week. I had to do some shopping so my children wouldn't all cry on Christmas morning. DH/Ex-Hernia Boy either. :)

I'll be back later this weekend (or even today, depending on how the baking goes!) to offer up one last Christmas gift suggestion. Although I'm sure you've all finished your holiday shopping. Ha!

Wish me luck. I'm trying my hand at....buttertarts!!! (from a Mennonite recipe)

I leave you with this buttertart thought from

"Consider the butter tart’s singular place in our history combined with its 'typically Canadian' appeal; sturdy yet sensitive; reliable and adaptable; at home in the lunch bucket, the boardroom, or on a doily."

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Office Christmas Party OR The Unworn Dress

Last Saturday was DH's office party.

I had plans to get tarted up in my black, sequined dress with the help of Child #3 and Child #4. I had brand-new thigh-height stockings (which, for the record, don't stay up) and a new Neutrogena lipstick and matching lip pencil.

Then DH (AKA ex-Hernia Boy) made a very wild, off-the-wall request: "Please don't wear the black, sequined dress."


Hmpf. I ended up in a purplish dress I'd picked up last year during the post-season sales. And which I had never worn before. Child #3 said I still looked beautiful, but the dress was a weird color. In vain, I tried to convince him that aubergine was the new black. Child #4 described me as "a smush of eggplant and prune juice." While unflattering, you must admit this is pretty creative for a seven year old. A sign of brilliance even. (Please take note, teacher of Child #4.)

To make matters worse, Child #4 had used up all my blush when last playing Makeup. And my slip had somehow been relegated to the dress-up bin from where it had leapt into a black hole. DH assured me you could only see through my dress in certain lights. And I'd probably be okay at the Marriott).

So, wan of cheek, lacking in the undergarment department, and dressed in a smush of eggplant + prune juice, I left for the party. In the pouring rain. Thank goodness I managed to dredge up a happy-face umbrella from Walmart. My stylish, six-ounce Totes has spent most of the first semester in Child #2's locker.

Despite all this, I had a TERRIFIC time. Because we were seated at the funnest table. Of the ten guests at Fun Table Seven, five were American, two were Bulgarian, one was Chinese and two of us were Canadian.

I enjoyed the goodnatured Toronto-Montreal rivalry with P. Of course, I could afford to be goodnatured; we have the CN Tour. And thank you, T., for saying I could pass for sixteen years old. The lighting was, apparently, good for something. Thank you, I., for the entertaining haircut. Thank you A., L. and R. for the great conversations. Congrats to P. and A. and W on the new babies. And a huge, huge shout-out to W. for gushing about my book.

P.S. I tried to post a pic of the black, sequined dress, but could only get it t show up sideways. Which truly doesn't do it justice!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Child #2!!!!

Child #2 is a high school FRESHMAN. As in GRADE 9! As in 14 years old!

At tonight's high school water polo banquet, he was named MOST VALUABLE PLAYER for the Novice team! And he was named MOST INSPIRATIONAL PLAYER for the Junior Varsity team! And he LETTERED!

I cried. And jiggled the video camera.

Isn't it amazing what our kids accomplish?

(Sorry for the abundance of exclamation marks and uppercase letters, but he really deserves them!)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Potato Updated!

People! Check out the spud on the sidebar!


I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES will hit the shelves!

Seems pretty far off, but you know how that goes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

some free advice

Here's some free advice.

One day you might find yourself in a position to help a child with a science project involving a disposable camera. Do not open said disposable camera and touch things willy nilly. You might get an electric shock. That shoots up both your arms. Apparently, there's some magic going on in there between a capacitor and some electric charge. 'Nuff said.

I'll update the potato tomorrow. Probably.

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The dreaded progress meter

I couldn't figure out how to fit this extremely cute progress meter in my sidebar. So, here he is as a post. I'll update the plain Jane meter on a regular basis and post this guy every so often (weekly, every other week?)

To be honest, I'm still somewhat weirded out by the whole progress meter thing. So, we'll see...

Just so that you can all sleep soundly tonight, the parent-teacher conferences went well. I had the sense that one teacher really wasn't getting the total picture of brilliance of one of my children. No worries. I set her straight. Sort of only kidding. :)

Off to write. Because now I've got that progress meter thing hanging over my head. Not to mention Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, laundry, pool algae, dinner... Ack!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

To word meter or not to word meter. Do I put a little graphic on the sidebar so we can all measure the progress of Book #2? Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I lean towards not adding a word meter. It just feels too invasive. Then again, it could be very motivating. And some of the graphics are quite cute. I don't know what to do. Anyone out there using one/has used one? Any thoughts, people?

Yesterday, Child #4 and I made a cinnamon streusal loaf. Child #4 is very fun to bake with. And baking lends itself well to so many discussions. Like why check the loaf at the earlier time? What's the point of baking soda? And then there are all those yummy fractions!

That said, Child #4 is a zealous stirrer and almost took my eye out.

STOCKING STUFFER NOTE to Ex Hernia Boy: please consider getting me a wooden spoon with a SHORT handle. Or safety goggles.

Today is parent-teacher conferences. I'm off to discuss the brilliance of Child #3 and Child #4. (Not saying that Child #1 and Child #2 aren't brilliant. They just aren't up for conferences.)

Happy Monday to you all!