Zucchini Soup Magic

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This is going to be a banner year for zucchini around here! You see the latest culprit creeping out from under one of the many plants scattered around our garden. Every possible use for this magical summer squash is going to be required.

I tried a zucchini soup recipe the other day that was superb and too good not to share far and wide. My daughter-in-law, Maggie, shared the recipe with me from Skinnytaste. At only sixty calories a cup, the skinny part is right on. If you find yourself in possession of a few medium zucchini, I suggest you make this soup.

Here goes:

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

3 medium zucchini cut into chunks

1 carton chicken broth

2 tbsp. of plain yogurt.

Combine onion, garlic, zucchini and broth in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender – approx. 20 minutes. Remove from heat and puree with one of those nifty hand-held blender things. I don’t have one of those, so used my food processor. Add yogurt and puree some more. Salt and pepper to taste. Presto – delicious. Serve with a smattering of fresh parmesan cheese.

Naturally, I strayed from the recipe slightly by adding ½ a small jalapeno pepper at the cooking stage and a handful of fresh basil leaves at the puree stage.

Zuchinni soup

The picture – taken on my phone so I could share with jealous friends immediately – does not do the soup justice. It was so tasty and so delightfully green.

Oh man, do you see that zucchini in the far planter on the right? Looks like we’ll be making more soup really soon.

Zucchini Magic

Sunny Wind Sculpture Memories for a Rainy Boxing Day

Today’s rain makes me nostalgic for our recent trip to Southern California. Near the pier in Santa Barbara, we purchased a beautiful wind  DSC_0549 (2)sculpture from artist, Lee Coulter. Besides creating the most amazing art, Lee is also an aspiring writer. He and I exchanged plot ideas in the warm sun while Bruce decided which sculpture we would take.

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Our choice now sits in the rain and wind of the North Island spinning gracefully like a dancer and every time I look at it I am reminded of the warm California sun, a delightful morning exploring Santa Barbara, and a wonderful chat with sculpture and writer, Lee Coulter. Go ahead and check out Lee’s work at: www.windsculpturestudio.com

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Editing – Creating – Building a Social Media Platform – All in a Day’s Work

This blog is supposed to be about my self-publishing journey – so I better self-locate – it seems there are multiple things going on right now.

  1. Final edits on Disappearing in Plain Sight – the manuscript goes to FriesenPress  on or before Oct. 10th
  2. Last week I created an entire timeline for the sequel – The Light Never Lies – and I actually began writing the first chapter last night
  3. Building my social media platform – that includes this blog
  4. Reading various books related to writing and building said social media platform
  5. Getting ready for what is shaping up to look like a phenomenal driving trip to Southern California next month
  6. Loving the warmth of September, busy getting this winter’s fire wood in, and enjoying the garden

The final edits for Disappearing in Plain Sight are picky and tedious at times but the way the writing has cleaned up is like a breath of fresh air. When I read through the edited sections the smoothness is enough to make me quiver. Well – there it is – but admit it – you love your own stuff the same way. It’s part of the process.

Reposted from FriesenPress – I love this little comic

Last week I pulled all 200 plus pages of notes I had written for The Light Never Lies into a comprehensive timeline with all the scenes I have envisioned laid out as they would have occurred in real-time. Some of this will play out sequentially and some will end up as back story. That allowed me to see the entry point to the story and I was able to start the real writing last night. My goal now, is to do a minimum of 2000 words per day. I plan to write-through to the end and then in subsequent drafts rearrange the back story pieces and add the details that will be necessary for readers who didn’t read Disappearing in Plain Sight first. Each novel should be able to stand alone – I recently read that somewhere.

Not my timeline – but sort of interesting

The biggest challenge of all these days is building my social media platform. I’ve read Kristen Lamb’s  popular e-book: We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and am beginning to grasp her whole idea of constructing a social media platform over interlocking Facebook, My Space, and Twitter accounts, plus a WordPress Blog. It is daunting, to say the least. I have been able to follow a couple of her suggestions. I always post a link from my Facebook page to my latest blog entry. And she has got me starting on the road to thinking about the whole concept of branding – scary as that sounds.

I am a bit encouraged as I try to build-up the blog following (a big shout of thanks to those who have been reading – don’t be afraid to click the like button if you do like it or even make a comment – I love to hear what people think of the posts) to learn that it is supposed to take a while if you do it right. My strategy has been to check out the freshly pressed blog posts on WordPress – read through until I find a few I like – press the like button and make a comment if I can think of something fresh and interesting to add to the discussion. Then I sometimes mine through the comments other people have made. I’m looking for something that catches my eye and then I check out that person’s blog. It’s all very time-consuming, though quite interesting. By the way – I can’t just like anything to build a following and I don’t follow anyone for the same reason – so if I liked your post it was because I really liked your post and if I’m following you it’s because I’m really interested! Felt I had to say that. Self-promotion, branding, and building my platform makes me feel a bit of a phony at times.

Funny aside – I made a comment on a very popular blog a while back – broadsideblog – and at the end I said how great the blog name was but instead of broadsideblog I wrote broadstreetblog – cue the video of me shoving a paper bag over my head. I quickly posted an additional comment to apologize. I wrote the correct name of the blog and said it was an example of how one could never proof read enough. This was as good a recovery as I could come up with. Thanks so much broadsideblog for you’re happy face emoticon in response.

I have been reading a couple of Bob Mayer’s  books on writing: The Novel Writer’s Toolkit and Write it Forward: From Writer to Successful Author. He is a very successful author; he’s published in both the world of traditional publishing and self-publishing. He’s written successful novels in a number of genres. His background is in US Special Forces and the Green Berets. His books on writing are a bit like a self-help boot-camp. I’ve picked up a couple of interesting tidbits for sure and I’ve had some really good belly laughs, too. I am always fascinated to encounter interesting juxtapositions. Special Forces training as a model for going from a writer to a successful author are certainly a new set of linkages for me.

The trip to Southern California is shaping up in an exciting way. Blog followers – you can look forward to at least three posts per week with a couple of great photos and as much interesting commentary as I can manage. Travelling with Bruce is a bit like going to boot camp – he is the type of person who wants to squeeze as much out of every single day on the road as can be managed. This  means getting up and out by 6:00am at the latest, jam-packing as much into each day as is humanly possible, and then falling into bed in a stupor by 10:00pm at the latest. Sometimes I don’t make it past 9:30pm! But I will endeavour to make notes as the days go by so I have something to post.

 

This September has been lovely here – we haven’t had a drop of rain the entire month and the garden is beautiful. We’re eating our own beans practically every day and loving it. Bruce has been busy splitting out the last of this winter’s firewood and baking it out in the driveway. Life is good.

So that self-locates me for the moment. What about you? Where are you at in the journey? Let me know – I’d love to hear and I promise to reply.

 

 

 

Gardening in the Wilderness

I’m going to shift gears a bit today and write about my garden. This is partly due to separation anxiety. I love my garden and I’m going to leave it for three weeks. I’m leaving at a time when there will be many wonderful and appealing things happening! Well – I love my kids and my grandkids more.Image

Gardening in the wilderness presents lots of challenges among the many, many rewards. Clearing for garden space is labour intensive – the ground is uneven and filled with roots and stumps. We aren’t immune to visitors who can cause havoc.

Billy Bob the bear wandering the garden paths

Every garden space has to be regularly augmented with soil we either need to provide through composting or bring in by the truckload. Building garden structures to set off the limits between garden and wilderness takes time. Perennial plants are far more expensive now than they used to be and forget about buying flats and flats of annuals like the old days. Way too costly. We also don’t have the time we used to have to grow all our annuals for the vegetable garden and flower baskets from scratch.       

Ahh – but the rewards and how we go about addressing these issues is worth noting. We have become very tolerant of working around stumps – they provide a nice contrast to tended beds and when we consider how hard it is to remove a stump – we pat ourselves on the back and tell each other how really great that old stump looks! The visitors may cause havoc but they sure did lend themselves to great pics.

Looks like a guy in a bear suit but it’s Billy Bob going after the huckleberries

Composting is good for the soul so it’s good to be motivated to actually do it. We love every single garden structure to such a degree that we immediately forget the work involved. Not buying so many perennials really has its advantages. Sometimes we have ended up with a backlog of plants in pots and no cleared areas to put them in. Not the best way to go about clearing – though that has advantages too – we’ve ended up concentrating on gardening when we didn’t think we had the time and loving the results. Lately we have been dividing our own perennials and asking for bits of things from other people’s gardens. Ask and you shall receive is a pretty good bet with most people who love gardening – they also love sharing! We’ve really become adept at looking around for bargains – this time of year you can find perennial prices just slashed. Annuals may be showy and nice but they are a lot of work for the amount of time you get to enjoy them – we concentrate more on the perennials that give quite the pay back year after year as they mature.

A garden in the wilderness has to look a bit wild so the contrast between the borders of the true wilderness and the cultivated areas blend and blur. Though we sure don’t want to see deer wandering  through the garden – it can be picturesque.

My garden is the template for Izzy’s garden(check out my board – Izzy’s garden –  on Pinterest  http://pinterest.com/francisguenette/ )  in Disappearing in Plain Sight – though I was able to make her garden at least three times the size! Oh – the freedom of fiction. But fiction can cross the line into reality just as truly as reality can cross the line into fiction. After reading about Izzy’s garden we wanted garden art for our own garden.  

I’ll miss this garden over the next three weeks. At the same time one of the great things about gardening in the wilderness with a partner is that someone will keep an eye on things. I look forward to the changes I will see from the perspective of not looking for a while.

(Bloggers note: I use the word “we” pretty loosely in this blog – the hard labour work in the garden as well as the actual building falls, almost exclusively, to my husband Bruce – I am the partner who wanders the garden trails enjoying what I see and pointing out what needs to be done – not a bad gig – I don’t think I’ll trade spots with him! But I do want to thank him!)

A husband and a granddaughter – pretty cute