Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Gift Givers and Tunisian Hooking

I hope you're enjoying the holiday season and my Christmas Snuggable(s): Miracles and MistletoeThe Pendragon Virus,  The Loving Season. :) 

Books are always great gifts, but sometimes we writers do other stuff.

Like Tunisian Hooking: I'm not a knitter or a crocheter. However, I got this huge bag of stuff at Goodwill, which included probably everything needed--and a big batch of cream yarn.

My mother and sister crocheted everything, from the most delicate to afghans. (Which left me bored, of course.) But then, a few years later--lots of years later--this came along and looked interesting. My books contain things I've done, seen, tried. If YouTube can't explain it, well...  Look for Tunisian Hooking somewhere in my future books. :)
So. Carolin, who knows everything, pitched in to explain the long hooks in the photo. They are Tunisian Crochet Needles, which come in all different sizes, in aluminium/plastic/bamboo etc. Also, there are ones with long plastic strands for longer projects. The bottom effort is a mix of whatever I might know.

To use, you work back and forth and never turn the creation. You crochet one way and knit the other, so back and forth. Thanks to YouTube, I can now crochet a basic Tunisian stitch and the purl knit stitch. I'm learning what size hooks go with what yarn/project and am ordering larger Tunisians. (I'm still on dishcloths and have a mighty stack of them for gift giving.)

So far, I can double crochet enough for a dishcloth--and these are the best stress relievers possible. You can carry a cotton ball in a plastic sack with a crochet hook everywhere. They are great for waiting rooms. I've tried my iPad in waiting rooms, but crocheting does help a lot of tension--like at 3:30 this a.m. when I awoke from the prehistoric giant sloth chasing me.

Tunisian crocheting has a tendency to curl badly when starting, so Carolin advised using a large crochet hook to chain off so many.

While visiting my daughter, we made use of JoAnn's/Michael's etc. coupons and picked up more crochet hooks and yarn. (Neither one of us crocheted at this pt.) Note: the Tunisian needles are not that readily available and Amazon has a great selection. Do check on coupons, which represent big savings, at the craft stores.

With the help of YouTube, our iPads/minis, my daughter and I managed to learn more. She created a beautiful baby blanket. She went on to a basket weave stitch and is trying a shell stitch. I am back at the double crochet starting gate with the 2 Tunisian stitches.

If you're looking for stress relievers, I can highly recommend crocheting simple dishcloths. They make great gifts, rolled and tied with raffia, they are usually much appreciated. (And they can even be used as bath time exfoliators.) If you're a beginner like me, don't start a large project at first, but work your way up.

Also recommended are my Christmas Snuggable(s): Miracles and Mistletoe, The Pendragon Virus,  The Loving Season. :) 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Upcoming & Potstickers

The Ebook of this is out now, but the paperback cover is so gorgeous, I wanted you to see it now. Thank you, NajQamberDesigns.


The Basket Maker's Wife:
 Safely hidden away from her horrifying past, single mother Nora loves her elderly friend, the inituitive owner of The Basket Shop. A young woman on-the-run arrives, and the three women's lives unite, changing Nora forever. Amid a cast of characters who love her, Nora fearfully faces the past, a new full life, and the terror of a shocking gift that has waited for her....
 A Different Kind of Story from Cait London:
 The Basket Maker’s Wife concerns the Celtic trio: The Maiden, The Mother, and The Crone (Elder woman). Those are the three stages of a woman’s life, and I hope you enjoy the women, their lives and loves in The Basket Maker’s Wife.

I usually write about things I know, rather the elements involved and am working on another book in which I'll use the following Freeze Now, Serve Later Recipe. It's great for Brrr Weather.

These are ground pork dumplings, sometimes called potstickers by our family. I usually put these together while watching a movie and freeze for later.

Some of my family likes them browned in sesame oil, but I prefer them in chicken broth. (Broth is usually onions, garlic, some red pepper flakes, parsley or chives, maybe mushrooms.)

The Big Tip is to use plenty of flour on your parchment paper/cookie sheet and to separate them. The Dumpling Wrappers are delicate.

There are several "Korean Mandu" videos on YouTube. Isn't YouTube great? I call it my University. :)

Here's the basic recipe:
1 lb ground fresh pork
tofu if wanted
finely chopped green onions
2 TBS corn starch
2 TBS sesame oil
soy sauce, not much
salt as needed

Use in the proportions you like. I mix this and separate, working with 1/2 and keeping the other cold. Put a teaspoon of meat mixture in the center of the wrapper, smooth water around the edges, and crimp. Freeze.

I've used green chives and white onions in lieu of green onions. I've skipped the tofu at times, and added different available greens, i.e. kale. Be sure to keep everything finely chopped. These dumplings are great to freeze on the cookie sheet and later place into plastic bags. Kids love them fried in sesame oil.

A supply of dumpling wrappers is always at the ready in my freezer.

I hope you have time to enjoy the upcoming holidays, either with family and/or friends, or just settling into a quiet time with dumpling soup and perhaps reading The Basket Maker's Wife Amazon/Nook :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Book Land's Early Christmas

Is it too early to think about Christmas? IMHO it is too early, prior to Thanksgiving.

But in BookLand, authors are busy getting Christmas books out there. And so am I. (Check out my updated Book List)

But the Other Side of me, that homey side is busy gift-making.

I have a whole line-up this year, and beaucoup thanks to a good friend, Carolin. She helped me get down one crochet stitch, which has served me well during lots of stress. After a full day's work, I crochet dishcloths. It's so much fun choosing the colors to suit the person I want to gift. They are great little gifts. So me and my one stitch have been busy. I have no idea how many I've made and gifted. Caro has promised to teach me a new stitch next year.

This is a big flat basket filled with my crocheting stuff. I did just crochet an eternity scarf for someone who needs to cover her nose and mouth during winter chill. And I'm headed toward those Tunisian needles someday. Maybe. :)

I usually bake cookies, and always, always, gingersnaps.

This year, I think I'll make apple butter and homemade laundry soap. Maybe.:)

But those little dishcloths have done wonders for my stress levels, topping off the night with a movie and crocheting.

My current Work in Progress features a heroine who does a lot of this homemade stuff, so I have experienced what I write. Most authors research their topics, but quite a few of us sew, paint, and have creative hobbies, aside from our profession, writing.

Meanwhile, if you're stocking up your Christmas reading, do check out the links to my Christmas "Snuggable" List on my Book List Page, which is growing.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Humor Mystery Novelette Series


**Now on Kindle, available elsewhere soon.

Introducing Sue Kowalski, a Kansas City suburb homicide detective. Recently divorced, Sue holds her own in the all-male force. As the smallest, most agile, Sue has been been hefted up, lowered down, and scrunched into places no woman should enter. She craves good bear-claw pastry, coffee, and Jose Morales, a co-worker. Her chances for the first two are good.

Death by Coupon: A body found outside an alley dumpster has Sue working a new case. The Body was a couponer, desperate enough to climb into the dumpster after them. The scissors found in her throat said someone didn’t like her. But then, as temporary lead detective, Sue finds no one liked Maggie, not even her husband. The question is: Who killed Maggie? And can Sue learn the ins and outs of couponing?

Death by Salsa Dancing: A dead body found in Gino DiMarco’s house sets Detective Sue Kowalski on the run to save her ex-stepfather (Mom’s husband Number Four). Gino, a former mob knee-capper, is distraught: his wife, Hilda’s salsa dancer teacher is dead, Hilda alias the She-Wolf is missing and he’s a likely suspect. Sue has to act fast to protect him.
NOTE: Watch for more of the ex-stepfathers coming up. I had so much fun with Gino.

From Cait: I've been wanting to try a light, first person short story series, but Sue's stories are turning out to be longer than a short story and shorter than a novella, thus: NOVELETTES.

How Sue Because I know a lot of hobbyists, and I am one, my light research is easy. Sue Kowalski's name was difficult to settle into, because I really, really wanted to honor an old wrestler, Killer Kowalski. And Kowalski is the 2nd most popular name in Poland. And finding a common first name slid into Sue. After all, Johnny Cash did that song, you know, about A Boy Named Sue.

I hope you like these light humor mysteries which will be available in other channels soon.
DEATH BY COUPON and DEATH BY SALSA DANCING  Stay Tuned here and at my newsletter. Or you can easily join at the right sidebar.

Sue and I are really busy preparing for the upcoming holidays and hope you are well and happy, too.