Holiday eBook Sale Featuring Dog Aliens 1!

The Holiday Book SaleToday's hottest fiction ebooks are on sale for .99 from Dec 28-Dec 31 only! Mystery, romance, young adult - there's something for everyone ...
... including the chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card!
Click here to check out the Indie Book Festival's Holiday Ebook Sale!   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dog Aliens 1 Raffle's Name, my story about how my dog is really a space alien, is featured in Indie Book Festival's Holiday eBook Sale! Woo Hoo! There is a paperback version of my book, too, but the eBook version is on sale for 99 cents until Monday, December 31, 2012. Get it while it's hot! :)

Happy New Year!

Waffle Stompers for Walking on Ice

Merry Christmas! Today I found out that if I wear my waffle stomper boots, I am pretty darn sure footed when crossing the icy streets around here in Spokane, WA. Waffle stompers are what in junior high we used to call hiking boots, or any boots with large tread that resembles waffle irons.

"Give an ant a chance" was the motto we used to have, regarding the tread that boots ought to have. These are my current waffle stompers. I got them at Walmart for about $35, in the boys' section. They are waterproof steel toe Herman Survivors.

I'm a desert girl. Before we moved here to Spokane in 2010, my experience walking on ice and snow was confined to the twenty or so times I had been snow skiing at Mammoth Mountain, Lake Tahoe, Big Bear, Aspen, and one dreamy time in Switzerland. The boots we city slickers brought to the slopes for "apres ski" wear were usually attractive but impractical furry or suede boots with slippery souls that were not at all safe for walking on ice.

The last pair of "snow boots" that I bought were London Fog Eve style boots. They leak water onto my socks, their tread is treacherously slippery on ice, and they were twice as expensive as my awesome waffle stompers from Walmart. I wore my fancy London Fog 'apres ski' boots as house slippers for a few days, but they aren't even warm enough for that.

I have elastic-on cleats for walking on ice, but today on the ice in my waffle stompers, I felt more sure-footed than even when I wear my cleats. I am very pleasantly surprised. To be fair, the ice today is frozen treaded snow that has some texture to it, not slick black ice. I will still put my cleats on when we have slick ice from freshly fallen rain.

The Round Mayan Calendar Has an End?

theilr / Foter / CC BY-SA
The movie 2012 and a bunch of other hype say the world will end this coming Friday, December 21, 2012. When I first heard this nonsense, I remembered the round clay tablet my mother brought home in the early 1970s, from a visit to South America. I thought to myself, "The round Mayan calendar has an end?"

Think about it. Part of the definition of a circle is that it does not have an end.

You have heard of a circular argument, yes? Circular logic? Going round and round the mulberry bush? Coming full circle? The wheel of time? Going round and round and round in the circle game? The endless circle?

While researching the Mayan calendar a few years ago for an article, I discovered that it was constructed of several round clay tablets that interact together like gears in a mechanical clock. This photo shows that, a bit. How cool is that? This Friday, December 21, 2012 may be the end of one of the cycles of the Mayan calendar, but friends, a round calendar cannot come to an end. The definitions in geometry won't allow it.
I weigh 156.4 today, .4 up since my post on Monday. I need to go easier on the Christmas treats. I did walk my mile both yesterday and Monday. 

156 Pink Elephants on Parade!

Scott videoed this pink elephant in one of the yards on his way home this morning. It has wheels for eyes and is made out of metal. Some (Spokanite? Spokanean?) mounted this metal sculpture on a pedestal and gave it a prominent position near the front door.

If they were paying homage to Disney's children's movie, "Dumbo," then I can understand and appreciate the effort. That was one of my favorite movies, as a child. I love that he thinks he needs his magic feather in order to fly, at first. I love all the songs, but especially "I done seen about everything when I see an elephant fly." Because I loved the movie so much, I also loved the Dumbo ride at Disneyland. We lived in the Los Angeles area, so we went every year.

Today I weigh 156, which is .6 up from yesterday, but still 1 pound less than Monday. We got some "pub mix" at Costco, which is similar to Chex mix. It is very salty. Yes, yes. I do need to lose these extra 6 pounds. And I know I will regret it if I put off losing the 6 extra pounds until after Christmas. That is what I sorely want to do, though. Yes, I need to cut way down on the snacks and treats. I walked a mile in the snow yesterday, for exercise, with Oreo. Here is what I ate: 

Special K, organic soy milk, blueberries
Waffle with raspberry syrup
El Monterey beef and bean burrito with salsa
Christmas cookies
Godiva chocolates
Steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots with a three-once flavored cheese from a gift package from Mom and Dad Kelley 
About three servings of pub mix
More cookies

From Airplane: Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, or Mars?

Gazing at the clouds under us while I flew from Spokane to Phoenix last week was so fun! I put my other photos in a video that appears lower down in this post. We were over one of the following states: Idaho, Utah, Nevada, or Arizona.

Sometimes, the landscape looked to me like Mars, minus the clouds and any lakes that happened to appear. It was just dirt, no plants in sight. Of course there were roads, but if you have read Ray Bradbury's Maritan Chronicles, then you expect the Mars landscape to have roads.

The most interesting geological aspects from the air were sculptures the wind had made out of the dirt out here in the desert wilderness. I loved looking at the canyons and the ripples in the sand. Also, some areas were the color of iron, copper, or brass. I can totally see how aircraft help the mining industry.

Another thing that hits me when I fly is just how empty most of the land is, out here in the Western regions of the United States. We have settled nowhere near all the inhabitable land. There is still plenty of room to expand civilization.

Spectacular Leap

OK, I don't know much about horses or dressage at all, but I was blown away by this horse I saw my sister ride last Saturday. Not only is Spectacular Leap a beautiful horse, but he does what the rider tells him to without fussing, and he carries himself well, if that doesn't sound too stupid.

See how the top of the photo is in focus and clear, yet the horse's feet are blurry? That was how it looked with my naked eye, too. It's like the horse has a Cadillac suspension system. There is a video, if you scroll down the page. Watch it and see this movement. The horse is trotting! When I was a kid, my mom and my sister dragged me along when they went trail riding, and I always hated it when my horse trotted. It was like riding a bike with wooden wheels on a cobblestone road. Yuck! But this horse makes it look almost comfortable. I marveled at that.

Owner Carole Francis-Swayze says Spectacular Leap is descended from a famous race horse named Spectacular Bid. She offered to show me the pedigree, but I took her word for it. She says her horse is a thoroughbred, but that his build harkens back to the Arabian origins of the breed. He is a 16-year-old gelding. I said her horse reminds me of my dog, Raffle, who is so eager to please us that he does everything we say and many things we don't say but that we want him to do. She agrees and says horse people call that having a good mind.

That's my sister riding Spectacular Leap, both in this photo and in the video. She says horseback riding is very strenuous exercise because a rider has a moving being underneath and has to anticipate its every move. After discussion, she thought maybe surfing in the ocean on a surf board might be as strenuous.

How do we teach children about clean healthy eating?

Here is my friend Janet Michelson's guest post about her illustrated book Chew Chew the Food Chain Train, which teaches nutrition to children. The eBook will be a free download at Amazon on Fr and Sat the 7th and 8th of December, 2012.
I am a licensed, registered occupational therapist with a special interest in clean eating and nutrition. Working in long term care, I saw the effects of processed food and inadequate nutrition. Patients had long lists of chronic diseases and even longer lists of medications, which all had side effects. It became clear that they were not getting better with all these medications. Watching the patients eat food laden with pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, preservatives, genetic modification, and processed with more chemicals, sugars, and fats seemed to make matters worse. The lack of healthy fruits and vegetables was discouraging. 

How could I help in this tragic situation? I contacted a state senator, and we are working to change the laws regarding nutrition in long term care, but this was not enough. People need to eat clean, healthy food throughout their lifetimes in order to avoid chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which occur with increased frequency in young people and even in children. Some parents are unaware of the level of contamination in food and the long term consequences of an unhealthy diet. 

How do we teach children and parents to make good choices when they are surrounded by and bombarded with bad choices? Chew Chew the Food Chain Train is ready to help. She is a train made entirely of fruits and vegetables, and she makes learning fun! Come along to see how children are given choices of foods to eat and encouraged to choose the healthy foods from the train car buffet that comes right to the table! 

Future adventures will have Chew Chew and children enjoying a farmer’s market where they learn about truck farming, Community Based Agriculture, and Non-GMO farming; planting an organic garden; making natural compost; learning about plate recommendations and school lunches; cooking whole food; finding out about special diets such as gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free; and going to the grocery store to learn about processed foods. 

The first of this fun and educational series of books is now available on at Amazon as eBooks and in print. Costs are kept to a minimum to offer the books at affordable prices in order to be available to as many children as possible. This is a mission, perhaps a calling, to help children live a healthy lifestyle. Each book includes the children engaging in physical activity as they interact with Chew Chew and learn to make better food choices.

153 Easy Turkey Pie

I am dangerous now that I know how easy it is to make pie crust, or pastry! I am three pounds overweight after Thanksgiving, and working now to lose that before I attend a party next weekend. This turkey pie is partly to blame, along with the pumpkin pie, apple pie, stuffing, potatoes, cream of chicken soup instead of gravy, and yams I ate at Thanksgiving, not to mention the rice, corn, and salty enchilada sauce I ate with the leftover turkey the rest of last week.

It's time for me to stop, and yes Mom, I froze the rest of the turkey. But I made up this recipe for turkey pie, and it came out really good! I just had to brag on how good it was, and how easy it was to make. I used:

1 cup leftover Thanksgiving turkey, de-boned and shredded
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 12 once can green beans
1 12 once can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup refrigerated turkey fat, butter, Crisco, lard, or other solid fat
3 tablespoons iced water
dash of salt

Turn the oven on to 350 so it heats up while you assemble the pie.

Mix the salt and flour in a mixing bowl with a fork.
Add the fat.
Stab the fat into the flour over and over with the end of a wire wisk and then stir it around and then stab it some more until all the flour is moistened with fat and it all is little crumbs in the bowl.
Sprinkle the iced water over the flour and fat
Stir the water into the flour and fat with a fork until it all rolls up into a ball. Add a little more water if it doesn't all stick together within a few minutes.
Roll the ball between your hands for a few seconds to get it to all stick together, and then press it into the un-greased pie pan.

Line the uncooked crust with the mashed potatoes so that the soup does not make the crust too moist.

Layer the turkey over the mashed potatoes, and the green beans over the turkey, and then use a rubber spatula to spread the undiluted can of cream of chicken soup over the top of the meat and vegetables.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Enjoy!