How to be the Coolest Mom* EVER (three days and counting)

Basic Instructions:

1. Drag your kids to the grocery store because no one else is around and your ten-year old’s theory about the minimum legal age that children can be left at home unsupervised isn’t fooling anyone but your six-year old, who is well aware that her sister can reach the cookies in the high cabinet if she uses the stool.Duff Groovy Cake

2. Find a box of this while in the baking aisle looking for Splenda packets, because coffee without sweeteners tastes like bitter death, using enough real sugar to compensate is not conducive to health, and a morning without caffeine is bitter death.

3. Ask your kids if they want to make a cake that afternoon and show them the box.  Receive one secretly-interested shrug and one excited plea for blue vanilla frosting to match, because it comes with fish-shaped sprinkle thingies—see?  See, Mom? Imagining the potential devastation blue frosting could have in the talented hands of your offspring, negotiate down to chocolate frosting and multicolored sprinkles

4. Get home, put away the groceries, examine the back of the box, decide exactly which steps should be done solo, and do them up to the point where you have to divide the batter between six small bowls.  Decide that Duff and his crew probably wouldn’t be using margarine containers and oblong Gladware, but remember that no one on this earth would pay you $450 for one of your cakes anyway, and leave the pretty cookware for the pros.

5. Have your kids wash their hands.  And again with soap.  Dry them.  Thank you.

6. Using a fourth-cup measure, have the kids count to make sure the batter is evenly distributed.  Carefully open the food coloring packets and have your ten-year old read how much of each goes in each bowl for which color, and have your six-year old count the drops, which she will do with the seriousness of a small bossy child who knows that the entire project is depends on her ability to keep you under strict control.

7.  Stir the color into the batter with great enthusiasm and a separate spoon for each bowl.  Add a bit more color as needed to make the red “redder” and the purple less blue, Mommy.

8. Prepare the pan of your choice.  If you have chosen a bundt pan, because you think the curved shape would be really cool, put it away and use something else.  Seriously.

9. Take turns pouring the different colors in the not-bundt pan in ROYGBV layers, using every rubber spatula you own, ignoring any questions about the absence of indigo, and wondering , with sharp 20/20 hindsight, why you didn’t insist on aprons and plastic sheeting.  What are you, a rookie?

10. Have fun anyway because it’s impossible not to with this stuff.

11. Bake, as the instructions say, until the cake is done.  Ponder that if you were the kind of person who knew even approximately how long that would take, or what the purple-batter-version of “done” might look like, you wouldn’t be the kind of person who needs to use cake mix in the first place.  Decide that this is an adventure, set the timer for twenty-five minutes and find your toothpicks.

12. Clean up the kitchen.

13. When the timer screams, test the cake for doneness, put in for a few more minutes for the sheer paranoia of it, and let cool for twenty-five.

14. Invert the pan.  The cake will release beautifully, because you paid attention to step 8.  If you hadn’t paid attention to step 8, the adjective “beautifully” would hypothetically have been replaced with, “missing most of the red and orange, which is still in the bottom of the pan and will not release in one piece or in any way that can be reattached to the top of the main cake.”**

15. Let the cake cool, carefully brush off the crumbs and ice it while the children are watching tv and no one is around to witness your nonexistent skills at covering a slightly lopsided cake with gooey frosting.

16. Clean up the kitchen.

17. Call the kids in to decorate the entire counter cake with sprinkles.  Swear them to secrecy so their Dad will be completely surprised after dinner.

18. Clean up the kitchen.

19. Run interference between their father and their inability to stop hinting that something amazing is up with the cake  on the counter.

20. After dinner, cut the cake and step back so the kids can take full credit for everything but the bundt pan, which you didn’t use anyway, right? ?????????? 21. Make plans to buy another box and do cupcakes this weekend. With blue vanilla frosting and little fish.

Optional:

21. Pack a piece each in your kids’ lunches the next day.

22. Come home from work to hear that all the other kids were amazed at the cake—and that the mean girl whose daily goal, until very recently, was to make your gorgeous older daughter feel like a loser,  begged her to ask you to tell her mother the name of the bakery because it’s the coolest cake she has ever seen and her mother would totally buy one—a bigger one—for her birthday party.  To which your daughter shrugged and said, “We made it ourselves—because my Mom’s really cool like that.”

Boo-ya.

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*Or Dad,  ’cause we’re all about the equal opportunity around here.

**The scraps, however, which you would have hypothetically eaten in frustration, would be hypothetically  delicious.

Book Review: Blood Moon

He moved on to the next aisle and found himself in front of a wall hung with sculptures, a theme of hearts: two blackened hearts bound together with rusted chain link, another pair of hearts twisted in barbed wire.

He felt something in his own chest twist at the sight.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Alexandra Sokoloff is one hell of a writer.

The first book in her Huntress/FBI thriller series, Huntress Moon, blew me away, as you can tell from my review.  An eerie merging of the logic and legwork of a police procedural and the intuition and symbolism of magical thinking—something at which the author has always excelled—it unearthed a fundamental connection between an unlikely serial killer and the man charged with tracking her down.

In the second book, that connection is becoming a serious problem.

Blood_Moon_7The last time FBI Special Agent Roarke encountered the Huntress, he not only allowed her to escape, he used the information she supplied to take down her targeted prey.  At odds with his partner, who believes Roarke is becoming far too sympathetic to his quarry, he himself wonders if he’s losing all objectivity when it comes to the woman whose victims are the worst kinds of predator.

But as he and his team design the perfect trap for the Huntress, they find evidence that an old evil has returned after twenty-five years of dormancy, and may strike again during the next full moon—the Blood Moon.  And Roarke must decide whether to arrest the Huntress or work with her to take down the killer whose heinous crimes led Roarke into law enforcement and sent the Huntress into a life controlled by signs, portents, and ruthless murder.

Honestly, it was nearly impossible to set this book aside for mundane things like eating, driving,  and work and if I hadn’t misplaced the charger for my eReader (it’s been a heck of a week all ’round), I wouldn’t have tried to sneak it under the dinner table, too.  As it was, that virus actually came in handy, and I read the last hundred or so pages all at once—whew, what a ride!

This book is so tightly written that I can’t share much without spoiling it further than I have, but I think I can mention an extremely effective technique that I marveled at in the first book:  the switch between Roarke’s past tense and the Huntress’s present tense.  This helped delineate the two characters—his logical piecing together of the past versus her living from moment to intense moment .

This continues in Blood Moon, with one addition: Roarke experiences recurring dreams which are also shown to us in first person.  This not only intensifies those scenes, but brings his viewpoint that much closer to hers.  It’s subtle, but the impact is undeniable . . . and possibly inevitable.

If you haven’t read Huntress Moon—and if not, why not?—I recommend reading that one first.  Though Blood Moon does a good job of dropping information from the first book, it won’t be the same as experiencing it; in my opinion, you need to earn the Huntress’s real name with Roarke and his team and you’d be cheating yourself if you skip.

And I highly recommend reading the first two before the third comes out—because I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen next and I desperately want to know.

That’s a deliciously frustrating place for a reader to be.  Come enjoy it with me.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Full Metal Librarian (Overwhelmed)

We WriWa bannerHave a WIP, an EIP, an MS, or a published work you want to share on your blog, eight sentences at a time?

Want to sample other people’s WIPs, EIPs, MSs, or published works, eight sentences at a time?

Be a Weekend Writing Warrior!

Rules are here!

List of participants is here!

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I’m skipping over what the data pocket held, because that’s kind of the point of the story, and going straight to Clyota’s reaction.    

I’m sure Charlie’s really glad he followed her to the bathroom . . .  

Sobbing

“This is going to sound stupid, but are you okay?” His voice was gentle, and kind, and exactly what I didn’t need right then.

I shook my head. “No,” I said, as the lights went bright through the hot, unshed tears that were suddenly glazing my eyes. “No, I’m not okay. I haven’t been okay for so—” I buried my face in the towel and, to my horror, began to cry. Not pretty tears, but great wrenching bursts that hurt like hell.

Immediately, Charlie was there, and I was sobbing so hard, so loudly, that I couldn’t do anything but hang onto him as three years of packed-down misery and twenty-nine years of resentment, pride, betrayal, and love welled up and had their say.

Libraries (and Librarians) are All That Poetry Contest Winner!

I’m still sneezing hard enough to peel an esophagus and generally feeling like the virus that hit me was driving a cement truck, but I’m lucid enough to know that I’ve been remiss in not declaring a winner sooner than this—I’m sorry again for the delay!

Librarian!There were eight entries in this particular Contest—four by comments and four via e-mail—which is a terrific turnout and I thank you all for both playing along and for the lovely compliments you made to libraries and those who run ’em on your behalf.

I couldn’t find the Pink Cowgirl Hat of Win—sadly, it may have passed out of our lives during the last Cleaning of Playroom—but Sunny’s Cubs Hat of Maybe Next Year worked just fine.

Special Recognition goes to Mike A., whose poem was a huge hit with our library pages; indyclause, who was put int the Hat twice because she managed to include Nantucket in a seemly manner; Kev, who was almost taken out of the hat for not managing the seemly; lilligriff, because she’s awesome; Lisa Blackman for making me cry (again, sheesh); Wandarer for working that rhyme scheme; ; senojeiram, whose poem contains everything  I love about libraries; and anonymice for a terrific sonnet that I wish s/he’d let me share.

But there can only be one winner because I run these things on a librarian’s budget, so—

The winner of the $20 gift certificate to Amazon  is

senojeiram!

Let me know where to send it, and I’ll do so!

Random Thursday: “HIchop!” “Gesundheit!”

I’m home sick today with a sore throat and the general muscle aches and fever that have been going around the library, so if things get even more surreal around here than the usual Thursday oeuvre, that’s my excuse.

I’ll probably be fine by tomorrow, but just in case, does anyone know if the burning of sage wards off strep throat?  

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First, a Poll

If you read this blog through a feed, could I ask you to drop in and take a look at what I’ve done with the place?

While I loved the old theme, it simply wasn’t wide enough for some of the things I wanted to do, so I searched for a couple of days until I found this one.  It has most of the features I wanted, but it might be a little . . . too much?

Whaddaya think?

Be honest—I can take it.

Suggestions are also welcome, though mean ones will be severely mocked.

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I See a Scary Silhoutte of a Hut

Bohemian Cantina

Oola-girl, Oola-girl, better dance the fandango!
Rancor hatch is widening—very very frightening  me . .  .

No, seriously, if you’re secure enough in your love of Star Wars to embrace intelligent parodies—as opposed to my sad efforts—check out Blue Milk Special.

They know what they’re doing and they snark with such love.

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Separated by Uncommon Language

Separated by a Common Langauge

Hey, Downith? What do Canadians say?

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The Federation has Mondays, too

Worth it for the Red Shirts alone . . . 

The Bad Days series is part of Stan Lee’s World of Heroes, which explains the cameo . . . sort of.

(psst, Mike: try Superman—the bit around 1:08 reminded me of you)

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Brief Actual News

The winner of the Libraries are Awesome poetry contest will be announced tomorrow!

Sorry for the delay—it’s been a heck of a week.

Whatever Clock

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Trekkies, represent

Dude . . . there are no words.  ‘Cause I can’t speak Klingon.

But Jen Usellis can:

As Jane said, “It’s a very [scurfing up a giant loogey sound] language, isn’t it?”

Yes. Yes, it is.