Monday, January 31, 2011

Past Two Lantern Hollow Blog Posts

My last two posts on the Lantern Hollow Press writers' blog have been a bit of writer humor:

Last week on "While We're Paused", I listed fifty symptoms that prove you might be a writer.  Click HERE to read.

Today, I discussed the creative ways in which writers of different genres change a light bulb.  Click HERE to read.

Be sure to visit the Lantern Hollow Press website on February first to see our entirely new website and to download your copy of the inaugural edition of our e-zine, The Gallery of Worlds.  It's full of wordy goodness, featuring the writing talents of Rachel Burkholder, Dr. Brian Melton, Erik Marsh, Dr. Donald Williams, and Melissa Rogers.  If you prefer to be read to, you can download the audio versions of the stories.

Also, be sure to read the writers' blog on February 13 to watch me take on Valentine's Day!

Stephanie's Delicious Creamy Spinach and Cauliflower Cheese Soup

My new gluten-free, sugar-free, low-carb lifestyle may be difficult at times (like when I have to say no to freshly baked apple pie), but it does come with a few perks.  For one thing, a lot less migraines.  For another, an excuse to invent recipes.  And as anyone who knows me knows, I love to invent recipes.

On Saturday, aside from cleaning up after my poor, sick Jasper (see last post), I also created a wonderful new soup:

Stephanie's Creamy Spinach and Cauliflower Cheese Soup
2 quarts half and half
1/2 stick salted butter
1 bag baby spinach
12 slices turkey bacon
2 sweet onions
2 heads cauliflower
4 cups monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan/romano cheese
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/8 cup white cooking wine
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon tarragon
2 tablespoons chives
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper  (don't worry, it will not make the soup spicy)
1 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste (be sure to use sea salt and freshly ground pepper for best flavor)

Pour the half and half into a large pot and place over medium heat.  While this is heating, melt the butter and cook the bacon.  Add the butter as soon as it is melted and stir thoroughly.  Pulverize the bacon, spinach, and onions in an electric chopper, then add each to the pot and stir well.  Next, chop up one head of cauliflower into small pieces and add it as soon as the soup has reached a simmer.  Pulverize the other head in your chopper, then combine it into the soup.  Mix in the wine, herbs, and spices, continuing to stir well.  After letting the soup cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, add the cheeses, then salt and pepper.  Let the soup cook about fifteen minutes longer, still stirring occasionally.  Final step: serve up a big bowl of it and enjoy!

This soup stores well in the refrigerator.  A little bit of separation occurs, but all you need to do is stir it.  It is a wonderful comfort food that is creamy and filling.

For a delicious and healthy dessert, mash up a bowl of frozen raspberries or blackberries, add some splenda or truvia, and pour in some half and half.  Mix it well until it is nice and creamy, like a rather thick sorbet.

Crappiest Saturday Ever (Literally)

Yesterday was . . . absolutely horrible.  Disgusting.  Awful.  Miserable.  Crappy.

For the past four days, Jasper has been sick.  He has the worst diarrhea he's ever experienced.  Oh, the stench!  After getting three sets of carpet stains, I had to lock him in my bathroom.  The result was a floor covered, from wall to wall, in doggie diarrhea.  I gagged every time I checked on Jasper.  I cleaned the floor and him once per day, but Saturday was by far the worst.  It took me over an hour and a half to bleach-clean and mop my floor, then another hour to bathe Jasper.  I had to cut out chunks of his hair that were too matted and poop-covered to come clean.  This by the way, was after I had done the same thing to him on Friday.  Sometimes, life just isn't fair.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

And Work Keeps Pouring In!

Between this nasty cold I've attained and all the work/projects/obligations of the past week, I've been averaging about 2-3 hours of sleep per night. Today, to my dismay, I observed that, thanks to the cold, I've gone through more tissues than pages of reading! My poor nose is starting to feel like a cannon that has been fired to the point that its insides are stripped!

The thesis might eat me. I have a research trip up to Maryland planned for Monday (to save money, I'm doing it all in one day - leaving at 3:00 am, getting back around 11:00 pm). The introduction (about ten pages) is due this Friday, and the first chapter (about 30 pages) is due February 11. My research has so far been interesting, but insufficient (largely the fault of the massive work project I inherited). Work is busy, with multiple things going at once. Those who lament my tendency to avoid the telephone are forewarned: I doubt that I'll pick up that phone more than once in the next month!

Additionally, the job hunt is on yet again, since it is my goal to graduate with a job in hand. I'm keeping my options very wide, indeed; I'm looking at online adjunct positions, teaching positions, government agencies, and historical sites. Today I've resolved to send out at least ten resumes and applications before this evening, while also working on reading some of my newest thesis materials.

On the bright side, ever since I switched to the Atkin's diet, my daytime migraines have ceased. So, it looks like wheat was the culprit behind all those months of misery. I do miss things like noodles and pretzels, but the lack of migraines make it all worth it.

Whew! Hopefully the massive amounts of cold medicine will inspire me to greatness; otherwise, it's going to be a very long weekend!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Heroic Rescue

Tonight, I let Eowyn play in my empty soda box while I restocked the refrigerator. Being a very unique little puppy, she promptly got stuck inside the box! I couldn't find my camera, so I grabbed my computer and used it to snap pictures, while laughing hysterically.

While I was busy laughing, Jasper took pity on his little sister and decided to play the hero! He grabbed hold of the box, pulled it (and her) across the room, and then began to chew his way through the box, clearly intent on rescuing Eowyn! He managed to dig her out, then the two of them shared a tender bonding moment by tearing what was left of the box into smithereens. There's a big cardboard mess now, but I'm too amused to care!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Proposal Accepted!

Huzzah! Despite my own doubts, my thesis chair apparently found my thesis proposal legible and believes that I have a solid argument. Now I have to set out and actually pull it off. Oy. Why did I choose such an ambitious topic that no one has written on yet? Sure I've found a niche, but what was I thinking?! It's overwhelming every time that I look at the stack of research or think of all those blank pages I've got to fill with legible thoughts.

It's very odd not having classes this semester. Tonight, my roommate had her first class of the semester, and I felt a bittersweet pang. I'm actually jealous of her! I would love to have taken a class or two just for fun this semester, but my thesis chair forbid it (he tends to know what's good for me much more than I do). I feel a bit like a boat that's been let loose from its moorings and given free reign on a windy day. It's going to be tricky to self-motivate enough to stay ahead. And as stressful and terrifying as this final hurdle is, I'm saddened by the fact that it's all going to be over so soon. I'll finish writing at the end of March, defend in April, and graduate in May. I honestly wish I could just stay in the cocoon of academia, even though I know I need to metamorphose, spread my new wings, and launch into bigger and better things.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I ♥ Kindle

Have I mentioned how much I love this Kindle?

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes" (Erasmus)

In the past two days, I have purchased more than 350 books. Nope, that's not a typo. Yes, they're full-length books. How much did I spend on this largesse of literary stimulants? About $12.

Oh, did I mention that I finally broke down and BOUGHT A KINDLE? I cannot imagine how I ever lived a happy life without it! I did some figuring and realized that if I bought one, it would actually pay for itself just in terms of the money I would save on thesis-related books (not to mention the books I need in order to stay abreast of developments in my field, and the books I "need" for frivolous enjoyment). So, last week, I ordered "my precious" (my roommate said if she finds me huddled in a corner stroking it and murmuring in a Gollum voice, she's going to be concerned). It arrived yesterday, and life became ten times more glorious than ever before.

I hit the classics in a big way, since most are available for free. My Kindle, which holds up to 3,500 books, now houses such luminaries as Aristophanes (brilliant playwright from the 5th century), Thucydides, Herodotus, Machiavelli, Tacitus, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Le Fanu, Bronte, Sheridan, Wilde, Hugo, Tolstoy, Goethe, and a host of obscure Victorian and Edwardian authors that I adore. My Kindle has probably earned the award of geekiest Kindle ever! I was up until ridiculous hours last night reading on it, and tonight is going the same way. I just can't get over how great the screen is; it really is exactly like reading from a page. My eyes are fine, even after two straight hours of reading on it.

In other recent news, Lantern Hollow Press is gearing up for our "Official" launch on February 1. We're debuting an awesome new website, our inaugural e-zine (entitled The Gallery of Worlds), and we're making some exciting changes to our blog. Tonight, I set up our first ad campaign on Facebook, which was a nerve-wracking experience for me.

Click HERE to read my most recent post to the LHP blog.
"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"