Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday 13: 13 Reasons I'm Excited Dexter's Back

13 Reasons I'm Excited Dexter's Back
Everyone's favorite serial killer, Dexter Morgan from the Darkly Dreaming Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay, is back on Showtime for another season. Here are some reasons why the family and I snuggle up on the couch to watch every Sunday night.

1. Michael C. Hall is creepy and sexy at the same time.

2. Even my die-hard football fans will forego the big game for one hour with Dexter.
3. The Ice Truck Killer still makes appearances, which is pretty neat when you consider he died at the end of Season One.

4. Poor Debra: engaged to a serial killer last year, hunting a new killer this year. And this one's her brother!

5. A serial killer in a program for addicts? Oh, my God, how much fun is that?!

6. Keith Carradine has joined the cast as star FBI Agent Lundy.

7. Will Sgt. Doakes ever figure out
Dexter's secret? Or does he think he knows it already?

8. Being a true fan of the books, I have to know how far the series will take the characters.
9. While Lt. Pascal is falling apart, Lt. LaGuerta is showing great strength of character. She's a lady to admire!

10. This week, Dexter began to consider (with the help of one of his victims) the possibility he might actually love his girlfriend, Rita. A serial killer with a warm, gushy side. What's not to like?

11. Dexter's bowling shirt: "Bowl 'Til You Bleed."
12. God, the writing is so clever! I aspire...
13. The first season's available on DVD. If you haven't seen it yet, put it on your Netflix queue, or rent it from your favorite place. I guarantee you'll be hooked, too!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm In...How About You?

It's that time of year again. November 1st is just a couple of weeks away. And while November 1st ushers in the holiday season, it also ushers in NaNoWriMo 2007. What is NaNoWriMo, you ask? National Novel Writing Month, of course! I, along with thousands of other suckers, have promised to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, beginning on November 1, tracking my progress and commiserating with other writers who've temporarily lost sanity and decided to give this challenge a try. Thinking about it? Look for me there; I'm listed as GinVix. Be my buddy and we'll pull through together!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Movies I Should Be Ashamed to Admit I Love

13 Movies I Should Be Ashamed to Admit I Love

(But I Really Do Love Them...)

You know those movies you watch when there's no one else around and nothing else on television? Those movies you've seen a dozen or a hundred times and still watch? The ones you know are Godawful, but you love 'em anyway? The ones that critics panned? The ones your friends claim are just plain stupid, gross, or downright bizarre?

Here are a few of mine:

1. Drop Dead Fred: When Lizzie's (Phoebe Cates) life starts to unravel, her childhood imaginary friend Drop Dead Fred (Rik Mayall) appears to make things better. Don't ask me why, but it's like a train wreck I can't turn away from. Favorite scene: The gaggle of imaginary friends in the psychologist's office.

2. Eurotrip: It's crude, it's rude, it's obnoxious and I cannot get enough of this movie. After breaking up with his Internet girlfriend, Scott (Scott Mechlowicz) heads to Europe to win her back--with the help of his friends. Favorite scene: Too many to count, but maybe...Cooper's sexual escapade in Amsterdam. Or Scott imitating the robot outside the Louvre. Or the nude beach. Take your pick.

3. Ice Princess: Talk about extremes! Michele Trachtenberg of Eurotrip does Disney in this story about Casey, a physics nerd with a passion for figure skating. Sucker that I am, I get weepy every time I watch it. Favorite scene: Casey's final performance at Sectionals.

4. Good Advice: A very unknown film starring Charlie Sheen as a weasel of a guy who loses his job and girlfriend in one fell swoop. In an effort to stay financially afloat, he takes over his ex's job as an advice columnist and learns to be a better man in the process. Favorite scene: Cindy's press conference.

5. Dodgeball: The ultimate true underdog story about gym owner, Peter (Vince Vaughn), and a group of misfits entering a dodgeball competition to keep their fitness club afloat. Favorite scene: Patches O'Houlihan training the guys with wrenches.

6. Accepted: On the heels of Dodgeball, Justin Long stars as Bartleby Gaines, who inadvertently starts his own university when he's rejected by every college he applies to. Favorite scene: Bartleby listing the courses he's taking while on the phone with his parents.

7. John Tucker Must Die: New girl in town, Kate (Brittany Snow) hooks up with three girls who've been jilted by the school heart-throb to teach him a lesson. Favorite scene: The g-string. Oh, God, the g-string!

8. What a Girl Wants: Rambunctious American (Amanda Bynes) heads to London to find her father, who's in the middle of a campaign run for Parliament. Okay, so Colin Firth plays her father. Do you need another reason to watch? He wears leather pants in one scene. Favorite scene: Colin Firth in leather pants, dancing to Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo.

9. Addams Family Values: The rare case of a sequel being better than the original has the Addams clan hiring a new nanny (Joan Cusack) who woos Uncle Fester for his fortune. Favorite scene: The First Thanksgiving play.

10. White Chicks: Two FBI agents (Shawn and Marlon Wayans) go waaay undercover, becoming the blond, white Wilson sisters to avert a planned kidnapping. Of course it's ridiculous, but it's also funny and never takes itself seriously. Favorite scene: The dance-off in the nightclub.

11. Freaky Friday: The 2003 version pairs Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan as the mother/daughter who wind up switching bodies until they can learn to appreciate each other for who they truly are. Favorite scene: The parent teacher conference always makes me cry. (I know; I'm way too sentimental for my own good.)

12. The Brady Bunch Movie/A Very Brady Sequel: The cast is amazing, nailing each of their characters to perfection! And the sequel is equally funny. Go figya. Favorite scene: In BBM, when Jan and Marcia try to become fashion models to earn money. In AVBS, Carol going to a new hairstylist.

13. Legally Blonde: Fashion major Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) heads to Harvard Law School to regain the heart of her ex-boyfriend. Favorite scene: Elle's friends showing up to see her first trial.

I could go on and on, but really...that's enough to get you started. Maybe I'll do another list next week. How many of these are on your list? How many have you never seen? How many would you not be caught dead watching? (It's okay, you can tell me.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wanna Be a Published Author?

According to the email I received from Writers Digest, all I need is the price of a cup of coffee. Of course, that money is going not for java, but for a subscription to Writers Digest. Well, no offense to Writers Digest, but in my humble opinion, it takes a lot more than a subscription to reach "published author" status. You need a good story, an inordinate amount of faith in yourself, buckets full of patience, and the drive to keep trying when the rejections pour in (and they do pour in!)
Now, Writers Digest might help by providing information, but the subscription is simply that: payment toward a periodical that will regularly give you tools to build your dream. The building, however, is up to you. So if you've got the great story, the faith in yourself, the patience, and the drive, go ahead. Sign up for your subscription. Just remember: it's only a magazine, not a publishing house.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sandra's Big Day

Another author friend, Sandra Cormier, is celebrating her print release today. Stop on by The Wild Rose Press and pick up your copy of The Space Between. I'm so proud! Another "baby" in the world.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Favorite Fall Recipes

13 Favorite Fall Recipes

It's Autumn--a time for football, pumpkin picking, and raking leaves. It's also when I pull out the unusual spices and flavors that keep the family's hungry tummies satisfied. Here are some of my favorite recipes for those cooler days and nights!

1. Cranberry Pork Roast:

Place 1 boneless rolled pork loin (approx. 2-1/2 to 3 lbs) in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mash one 16 oz. can of jellied cranberry sauce, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup cranberry juice, 1 tsp dry mustard and 1/4 tsp ground cloves. Pour over roast. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

For gravy, remove roast and keep warm. Skim fat from juices, measure 2 cups, and pour into saucepan. Combine 2 tbsp cornstarch with 2 tbsp water to make a thick paste. Stir into gravy. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.

2. Cinnamon Fried Chicken:

Using a skillet at least 12 inches in diameter (with a good-fitting cover!), add enough oil to the pan to come up about 1/2 inch and set on medium-high heat. In a plastic zipper bag, mix together 2 cups flour, 1 tbsp coarse salt, 2 tbsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Toss one cut-up chicken into bag, a few pieces at a time, until all pieces are well coated. Slowly add chicken pieces to hot oil in skillet. Cover and cook for 7 minutes. Uncover, turn chicken, continue to cook about 5 minutes more until all pieces are golden brown. Remove chicken from skillet and drain on paper towels.

3. Green Bean Casserole (not the kind your mother made!):

Steam approximately 1-1/2 lbs of fresh green beans or use 3 cups canned or frozen green beans. Meanwhile, in a saucepan heat one 10-3/4 oz can of cream of mushroom soup, undiluted. When heated through, add 1/2 cup of shredded sharp white cheddar cheese. Mix thoroughly until cheese melts in soup. In a greased casserole dish, combine beans and soup mixture. Top with an additional 1/2 cup of grated sharp white cheddar and dust with dry breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and bubbling--approximately 30 minutes.

4. Linguine with White Clam Sauce:

Boil 12 oz linguine according to package directions. Meanwhile in a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter with 2 tbsp olive oil. Add 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic and cook 'til fragrant. Pour the liquid drained from two 10 oz cans of whole baby clams into garlic and oil. Add 1/4 cup white wine and one grated carrot. Simmer until liquid decreases by about 1/3. Add 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tbsp oregano, 1 tbsp parsley and the clams from the two drained cans. Stir until heated through. Toss over cooked pasta.

5. Greek Lemon Soup:

Bring 3 c chicken stock to boil over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup orzo and reduce heat to low-medium. Cook 15-20 minutes. Add the meat of one boneless chicken breast, diced. In separate bowl, whisk 3 eggs one at a time. Slowly pour in 1/3 cup lemon juice. Slowly pour 1 ladleful of hot stock into egg mixture. Reduce heat on stock to low. While whisking stock, add egg mixture. Season to taste.

6. Quick Stromboli:

Unroll a 13.2 oz can of Pillsbury Italian Loaf (or French bread) and spread out flat. Layer an assortment of cold cuts and cheeses (ham, pepperoni, and shredded mozzarella; turkey, chicken, and shredded cheddar; etc.) evenly across flattened loaf. Roll jelly-roll style and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown.

7. Simmer All Day Chicken Soup (pairs great with the quick stromboli for a speedy meal!):

Place one whole rotisserie chicken in stock pot along with 1 gallon of water and 6 bouillon cubes. Simmer on low for 4-6 hours. Remove chicken, let cool, and strip meat off frame. Place all stripped meat into simmering broth along with several carrots, sliced; chopped celery stalks; one whole onion, chopped; 2 tbsp grated Parmesan; and a dash of sage. (Additional spices and vegetables may be added to taste.) Simmer until vegetables are tender. Store in refrigerator and/or freezer in sealed containers. When ready to serve add cooked noodles, pasta or rice to heated soup.

8. English Beef:

Place 1-1/2 lbs stew beef cut into bite sized pieces into slow cooker. Add one medium onion, chopped. Stir to combine. In a bowl, combine one 10-3/4 oz can beef broth, 1 tbsp steak sauce, 1 tbsp ketchup, 1 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Pour over meat and onion. Cover and cook on high for 4-1/2 - 5 hours or on low for 9-10 hours, until meat is tender. In another small bowl, stir 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tbsp prepared horseradish, and 1-1/2 tbsp cornstarch. Stir into liquid around meat. Cover and cook on high for an additional 15 minutes or until thickened. Serve over cooked noodles with parsley and/or chopped chives.

9. Break-the-rules Apple Pie (Since most pies call for Granny Smith apples and lemon juice, I broke the rules when I started using this recipe, which requires neither!):

Spread one ready crust into a deep dish pie plate. Peel and thinly slice approximately eight medium apples (for best flavor, use different varieties of apples.) Pour slices into large bowl. Add 1 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp flour, 3/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 ground nutmeg, and 3 tbsp heavy cream. Stir well, then pour into prepared crust. Top with second crust, cutting slits in top to allow steam to escape. Brush crust with an additional 1 tbsp heavy cream. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes until juice bubbles through slits and crust is golden brown.

10. Mulled Cider:

Pour one gallon apple cider into crock pot. Stir in 1/2 cup brown sugar. Combine 1 tsp whole cloves, 3 cinnamon sticks, and the zest of one orange in a cheesecloth. Tie cloth to form a small bag (bouquet garni). Add to cider. Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low. Remove garni before serving.

11. Orange Glazed Carrots:

Slice 1 lb of carrots into coin-sized pieces. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter with 3 tbsp brown sugar. Stir in 1/3 cup orange juice, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Add carrots, cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

12. Black Bean Soup:

Soak one pound dry black beans overnight or use "quick soak" method on package. In slow cooker, combine beans; 2 onions, chopped; 4 garlic cloves, minced; 3/4 cup cubed ham; 1 tbsp oil; 1 tbsp cumin; 2 tbsp hot pepper sauce; and 3 cups water. Stir well. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low 8-10 hours. One hour prior to completion, remove 1-1/2 cups bean mixture. Allow to cool slightly, then puree until smooth in blender. Return to slow cooker for remainder of cooking time, along with 6 carrots, sliced thin. Hot sauce can be adjusted to taste.

13. Fudgy Mint Brownies:

In small bowl, combine 1-1/4 cup flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside. In medium saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, and 3 tbsp water. Bring to a boil. Add 10 oz of mint chocolate chips and 1-1/2 tsp vanilla. Stir until chips melt and mixture is smooth. Transfer to large bowl. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually blend in flour mixture. Spread into greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool; cut into squares.

Want more? Check out the recipes section of my website for a few other favorites! Have a few of your own? I'd love to read about them.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Is the Writing Bug Hereditary?

I wonder because today my son was given the option to do anything he liked during free time at school. He chose to write a story. And not just any story: a story where he dies and comes back to life as The Grim Reaper.

I swear, I didn't put any ideas in his head! 'Cuz if I had, he'd have come back as some kind of handsome prince who swept the love of his life away to the heavens... Nah, forget it. The kid just might be on to something. Who am I to critique his story?