Christmas to do list #2 – Wreath

I can’t have a traditional spruce wreath because I don’t have the space between my front and storm doors. This year, I saw a photo of a wreath that would fit and instead of just saying, “I could make that” I went ahead and made it.

This was the inspiration:

Christmas Decorations for the Unique! - Beautifully BellaFaith

And this was my version:

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If I ever make another one, I will cut smaller cardboard rectangles/packages to wrap, but aside from that, I’m quite happy with it. Another wise crafter (okay, it was my dad) suggested this might work with Christmas cards too, so save yours for next year.) It is as simple as it looks. Start with a heavy cardboard base cut in a circle, cut squares and other shapes and wrap them with holiday paper and ribbons, and glue on the circle. I used plain old white Elmer’s glue and pressed down my packages with weights (and the Globe Illustrated Shakespeare – Complete and Annotated Works hardcover) to ensure a good bond. I was also advised by a florist never to use a glue gun if the craft will be hung outside because the glue will freeze and it will fall apart. Listen to the professionals, people.

Christmas to do list #1 – Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

010_IMG_1554Christmas isn’t Christmas without holiday baking, so let’s start with something very popular and very easy to make – Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares.

Unfortunately, these probably can’t be sent to school with the kids because they do contain nuts, but they are fine for home and work potlucks. My sister was looking at doing a version with Wow-Butter (it’s a soy peanut butter replacement that kids can take to school) but we don’t have a verdict on that version yet.

These are very easy to make and a good way to get the kids involved in baking.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

1/2 cup butter

1 cup peanut butter

1-300 gram bag of butterscotch chips

1-200 gram bag of mutli-coloured mini-marshmallows (you can use white but why be plain?)

Melt the butter, peanut butter and butterscotch chips over a low heat. Remove and let cool a little as to not melt the marshmallows. Pour in marshmallows. Coat thoroughly. Press into a 9″x13″ pan. Chill in fridge for 1 hour. (You can line the pan with parchment paper for easier removal.) Cut and serve.

Upgrade in Progress

Blue screen of deathAs my friends and family can attest, I am not technologically inclined. Skynet (look it up, young’uns) and I have a long-term relationship wherein it stalks me online and messes with all of my electronics. But I, like John Connor  (The Terminator, people!), am learning how to fight back.

My computer died this fall. On the first day of a ten-day trip, of course. I came home and immediately bought a new laptop – the full version of a netbook I already owned. Then I decided that it was ridiculous for me to call my friends and family for help before I even tried to set it up myself.

So I buckled down and brute-forced my way through the set up. I got my laptop up and running. I got my wi-fi set up and running. I got my printer up and running on my new machine. I got Microsoft Office installed. I got anti-virus stuff downloaded and running. I downloaded Firefox. That was a huge accomplishment. For me, at least.

After I got everything running, I wanted to keep my roll going. I decided to put my e-books into print. Here’s where everything came to a screeching halt. I don’t do cover design and I certainly don’t do manuscript formatting. I’m not nearly that advanced. I can code italics and bold and underlining and, if I’m very lucky, a link. I know my limits.

But I persevered and I am thrilled to report that, with minimal outsourcing, I will have actual, physical, paper books available in the new year for Screen Idol and Drama Queen. It only took about a month to set up, so go me.

Next up – converting from one like this to a smart phone. With apps. And stuff.

Shoot me now.

Why Ian Ziering would be a better friend to have than Jason Priestley

Spooky hands © Scott Patterson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Spooky hands © Scott Patterson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Last night I was in [city not identified but it looked a lot like Fargo, ND] and I was coming out of the [possibly West Acres] mall when the “Zombies!” cries started. Those and the “Flicker!” warnings were the only notice we had.

Then the dead showed up.

These zombies weren’t your lurch-to-the-beat Sean of the Dead zombies. They weren’t your hive-mind, superfast World War Z zombies either. These guys were slower than the ones Brad Pitt fought but they were  sneakier. These zombies came at you… from under the ground.

You know the scene in the movies where the zombies crawl out of their graves? Apparently, digging through dirt is a skill that they all have. Forget shambling along streets and congregating in alleys before packs of the undead start roving for fresh meat sources. That is so last year. Now, zombies sense their prey on the surface and tunnel through the ground so they can come at you from below. Those monsters can dig and chew through asphalt and pull you under almost as fast as you can blink.

The “Flicker!” warnings I mentioned? They aren’t foolproof but they help. You see, when zombies travel underground, the vibrations set off car alarms. Smart people have wired their alarms so the headlights flash, or “flicker”, when zombies set the alarms off. Of course, they’ve disabled the sound because there’s no use in drawing the zombies to you.

Anyway, there I was, minding my own business coming out of the mall when the latest zombie attack occurred. And Jason Priestley was in the parking lot too. We had to escape. Because the zombies could pop out of the earth at any time, there was a lot of jumping from bumper to bumper and pausing in truck beds to see if we could spot any newly forming cracks in the concrete.

For some reason, we decided to share a ride out of the parking lot and, can I say, Mr. Priestley was definitely not the stereotypical “here, let me hold the door for you” polite Canadian. He’s more of a “get your ass in the car so we can get out of here” kind of guy. No heroics, just fleeing the scene as quickly as humanly possible. At least we got away.

I guess the “Mr. Charisma I can convince people to do what I want with my mind” character Mr. Priestley played on Haven was not much use when it came to defeating the zombie apocalypse. Mr. Ziering’s chainsaw-wielding, Macgyver-bomb-making Sharknado hero would have provided a much better practical background for surviving the situation.

The moral of this story is two-fold.

1. When attacked by zombies, join forces with an actor who has been in a movie where he or she was victorious over a monster attack and survived. (Heroically sacrificing himself/herself so others may live is not going to get you through the second wave.) The movie’s writer was paid so there are at least a few people who thought the screenwriter might have been on the right track. Obviously, ideally you want to be on Bruce Campbell’s team.

2. Don’t fall asleep in bed after watching Jason Priestley appear in the commercials for the Canadian Walk of Fame awards while emailing your friend about Sharknado, especially if you set you electric blanket to “high” and accidentally fall asleep, cooking your brain so you get the worst dreams ever, causing you to wake up in a sweat at 2 am going “what the hell was that, and what do you mean I have to put my foot on the floor to get to the kitchen to have a drink of water – the zombies can come through the floor!”

It’s BOGO for books!

Happy Cyber Monday!  My fantastic publisher Liquid Silver Books has a killer deal on e-reads today (Monday, December 1st) on their website - they are all 50% off.  That’s like buy one, get one free!

So feel free to check out their whole offering, but feel free to start with Screen Idol and Drama Queen.  If you like your books a little hotter, Private Encore would be a good one. Or, for my take on shifters, Beneath a Spring Moon

Happy shopping. Have fun, and remember to follow all electronic security features when using your credit card number online.