Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Writing Desk


Just for fun, because my friend Susan, who has a wonderfully personable and long-running website, asked if there is a particular place I like to write, I thought I’d post a pic of my desk. We have a full house, so I write in a corner of my bedroom upstairs. This is what my monitor looks like when I’m writing. I use a software program called Scrivener, for plotting and planning scenes and compiling character photos for inspiration, that has become indispensable to me. I could write a whole blog post on Scrivener alone. I write actual chapters in Microsoft Word.

This story I’m working on, the rough draft is about a third of the way finished. Not sure I want to share the storyline yet. I love the characters and have an older couple as well as a younger couple, and maybe even a little suspense which is quite a departure from what I usually write, so this has been a lot of fun to work on.

My first book is simply a labor of love, something I’d been working on for many years. They say, write the story you want to read, and I did. I know for certain it has many flaws. It’s greatest offense is “head-hopping” where the points of view of both characters is shown in a single scene. I’m not entirely sure but I think I learned this by reading very old romances, and though I didn’t know any better when I wrote this story, even if I had, I think I simply couldn’t bear not to. There are lots of sparks between the main characters, Mac and Carly, and I wanted to be able to show both their thoughts during an argument, for instance. Or a kiss. Smile

Since my writing is very character driven and what I like best about writing, it is hard for me to limit myself to one point of view per scene, but I am learning and working hard to do that from the outset this time around even though I still sometimes include both POVs during a scene with clear line breaks between. It makes me wonder if readers notice head-hopping quite as much as the rule keepers insist they will. I’ve never noticed it as a reader, or tossed a book away because of it, but that’s a whole other discussion. Smile

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Love All the Oils!


You know how on Pinterest there is this funny comic that says “Pin all the things!” That is the way I feel about essential oils. I want to buy them all!

I bought some years ago but didn’t really know what to do with them so they sat in a drawer. Last winter, the winter that would not end which segued into the oddest, coolest summer I’ve ever lived, my mom and I delved heavily into essential oils, and I’m so glad we did. I’ve had so much going on in the last months, I haven’t devoted time like I wish I would have, but I am learning slowly as I go. Usually out of necessity.

Recently I’ve been struggling with neck, shoulder, and back pain, which is I am sure exacerbated by computer use and fusses with the use of my fingers as well. I have found lavender and peppermint to be indispensable. I think now I would panic just a tiny bit if I was out of either of them. Also, I love Blue Tansy and am using Marjoram and Helichrysum. The combination of all of these has been very comforting.

I just plain love using and learning about oils. And especially love how they smell and the benefits you receive as they enter your blood stream and even cross through the blood-brain barrier. Molly and I each diffuse oils when we write, for creativity. Smile Grapefruit and Cinnamon Leaf, Rosemary and others. We use lavender for ease of sleeping which produces a lovely drowsy effect. Molly diffuses lavender, geranium, and sweet orange during the night.

These days it’s becoming more and more important to take charge of our own health. And there aren’t many more wonderful things than finding you have been able fix something that is wrong, on your own, with something God-given like essential oils. In fact, that’s what they’re for.

Monday, August 12, 2013

TheCountryHomemaker’s Gluten-Free Bread



Quite some time ago, I mentioned a bread recipe in this post that I hoped would become a staple, my go-to bread recipe, and it has. I make it repeatedly, at least a couple of times a week, and unless I do something out of the ordinary, it bakes up consistently. Not to mention, once you’ve made it as many times as I have, it is a very simple, quick recipe I can have ready to go into the pan in just a very few minutes.

I’ve tweaked it some to suit our needs, so I’ll post the recipe I use with weight measures, but I have adapted it from this recipe, by Jeanine Friesen. The changes are primarily because I make this often and didn’t want to be finding a use for leftover egg yokes, so I use three eggs instead of a combination of four, and I use millet flour added in instead of so much flax seed. So try this if you’d like but be sure to check out Jeanine’s site and this post in particular as there is much information also in the comments, especially about raising too long which was my initial problem. The sides and bottom of the loaf would always cave in and give me a very hour-glass looking loaf. Smile

(I’ve added Amazon links only for you to see what I use - they are not linked to an associate account.)

Pam’s Adaptation of Jeanine’s Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread

Mix the wet ingredients with a fork in your mixer bowl:
   3 eggs
   2 tablespoons oil
   2 teaspoons vinegar

Whisk dry ingredients in a separate bowl:
   168g brown rice flour (1 ¼ cup)
   76g potato starch (½ cup) [different from potato flour]
   30g tapioca flour/starch (¼ cup)
   32g millet flour (¼ cup)
   ¼ cup powdered milk
   ¼ cup ground flax seed
   2 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
   1 ¼ teaspoon salt
   2 tablespoons sugar
   2 teaspoons yeast


1. Add 1 cup warm water to the wet ingredients in your mixer bowl. (Warm is 105-115° F.)

2. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. (Be sure though that your yeast is good. I don’t take time to proof my yeast. I just add into my dry ingredients.)

3. Mix slowly using a paddle attachment or the whisk attachment if you don’t have one. Take time to scrap the sides down and then mix on medium for 4 minutes.

4. Spoon the dough into a greased bread pan, smoothing the dough a little on top. I use a 4 ½ x 8 ½” glass loaf pan. Depending on weather temps, I raise for 20-25 minutes and then preheat the oven to 350° F. (For me, the loaf needs to have risen to the top of the pan or just a touch over. Any more than that and it proves to be too much and the loaf caves after it comes out of the oven. If you need, preheat sooner so the oven is ready when the loaf is.) Bake for 50 minutes and then turn out on a wire rack to cool.

. . .

If needing to bake gluten-free bread is a way of life for you, like it is for us, trial and error is necessary. I hope this recipe works for you as well as it does for me. I made the original recipe maybe 10-12 times before I finally tweaked it enough and quit raising it too long. Smile