Wednesday, August 12, 2015

So I Published a Novel

The last few months have been crazy. Finishing up classes at Clark College, signing up for classes at Washington State University, publishing my first novel. Wait, what?

That’s right, folks. I finally took the plunge and published my first young adult novel. Now, it’s no secret that I love writing. Hell, this blog started out as a way to spark my creativity so that I would write everyday. However, the soul-sucking writer’s block syndrome I had during most of those first thousand posts (yes, check the rosters, kids! I posted EVERY DAY FOR OVER ONE-THOUSAND DAYS STRAIGHT!!!) didn’t remedy itself through daily writing exercises. What gives? In a word: Motivation.

You see, my sole motivation was not to write every day, but to post every day. I found it actually taking my creative brain through the spin cycle and rinsing it off over and over again instead of sparking ideas to explore. This was not writing. This was blogging at it’s worst. So I stopped. Then what happened? I enrolled back in college to finish my degree I started back in [insert mid 1990s date here]. I still have a long way to go, but am on track to become a high school English teacher within a few years. Yay me. But you know what else happened? My creative brain was reenergized.

Now, reenergizing a brain is not unlike what Dr. Frankenstein did with his creation. There are sparks and electricity, sure, but all inside the head; neurons firing solutions to long postponed projects rolling around in my brain. Actually, it was a professor who had us read about and try our hand at Ernest Hemingway’s writing process that started this whole fiasco. I was hesitant at first. I hate Hemingway. His stories are bare bones, stripped down, naked of everything except the heart and force me to use my imagination to fill in the gaps. For some, this is perfectly acceptable. For me, I found it lazy. Then I read his process and why he wrote the way he did and gained a further appreciation for his work. I still hate it, don’t get me wrong, but I recognize his genius. I also will forever be in debt to Hemingway for his writing process which, though I refuse to utilize all of it, has helped me not only rewrite a book I’ve been toying around with since high school when I finished the first draft, but led to better writing and storytelling and not forcing myself to write when I’m not feeling up to it and also, most importantly, not writing until I am empty. His best advice? Stop writing when you know what is going to happen next. Best. Advice. Ever.

So, now that I’ve gone over what has been transpiring over the last few years, I decided to start my own publishing company and finally publish my first young adult novel. Instead of taking classes this summer WSU that would have overlapped with finishing classes at Clark, much to the dismay of my husband who was looking forward to spending his days alone, I decided to focus my energy on my writing and going through all the necessary steps to not only start a publishing company, but actually publish a book. A lot of the skills I learned while I was the Managing Editor for Clark College’s Phoenix, an art and literary magazine published and produced by students, that I only got because I was in a combined Art and English class about publishing that I wouldn’t have even considered had I not taken an American Lit class and that professor practically beg me to be in this class. It’s funny how circumstances lead to new opportunities.

I am ready for this new adventure.







For more information on Cory Blystone’s Deadly Rhymes, visit KwirkPublishing.com.


"Deadly Rhymes" by Cory Blystone on Ganxy

Also available on Amazon.com.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Backyard Beautification

Just because you live in a rental, doesn't mean you have to forgo having a nice backyard space for entertaining. With just a few touches, it can go from fugly to fabulous!

Our backyard in the rental house we live in is, well, rather boring and small. However, though it be tiny, we have managed to squeeze in quite a few dedicated spaces. We have a chicken coop, vegetable garden boxes, a deck with a full-length bench on one side, dining table, intimate seating area, grilling space, outdoor fireplace, and potted plants galore, along with those trendy outdoor string light things.


But there are still areas for improvement. For instance, we had this lone large pot of flowers along a fence that is practically in invisible from the deck even though it is only about eight feet from the edge. To add a little flare, I bought some cheap terra cotta pots, mixed acrylic paint until I got my desire color of aqua, then haphazardly painted them, purposely leaving some of the terra cotta exposed for a rustic touch. Thank you, Pinterest! I then filled them with flowers that will make the area stand out even further, so when you are seated on the deck and look out, your eye catches those pops of color and entices you to explore further. 



Also, the side of the deck that butts up to the house was just wasted space. We have a whiskey barrel pond on the opposite side to view from the kitchen, but nothing on the other side of the sliding glass door. Well, a recent trip to Target to look at what they had led to a "Buy all the things!" spree. I bought two bright orange metal chairs and aqua cushions and lots of throw pillows to spruce up the dining chairs and bench as well. I also got a side table just large enough to fit a pot of shade plants and drinks for when you sit there. 




Now, if only there was a way to spruce up the black tarps garden stapled into the ground that take up half the backyard?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Broccoli and Ham Quiche

Oh. My. Gawd. I just made the most amazing quiche. Seriously, it was so delicious, I couldn't wait to share it. Considering I've been rather absent from the blogging world for a few months, this is a big deal. 

My time has been focused on work and school as of late. Albeit, this is really a lousy excuse for not blogging the random stuff that I create or discover, it has given me less time to devote to both creating and discovering. So this morning while trying to figure out what to make for breakfast, I really wanted quiche, but also didn't want to make a pastry crust. Enter the crustless quiche, which, no, is not a frittata. A frittata is more eggy like an omelette, where as a quiche is more creamy like a custard, an amazing, savory, custard. To the recipe!




Cory's Broccoli and Ham Quiche
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

3 eggs
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon oregano

Whisk together in a large bowl and set aside. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add:

1 tablespoon bacon grease, butter, or olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup diced ham
1 cup broccoli florets

Cook until broccoli is done and the garlic is a nice, fragrant, golden brown, about five minutes. Butter a 10 inch pie dish and add to the bottom of the pan, spreading evenly:

1 cup grated caramelized onion cheddar cheese

Next, add the rest of the ingredients in the following order: broccoli and ham mixture, salt and pepper, egg mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the eggs are set. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before devouring. 



Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Cousin Brandi

My cousin Brandi needs money. This isn't to say that she is panhandling-on-the-street poor, but rather fourth-year-doctorate-needs-internship-application/interview funds. When I first saw her plea on CrowdFundEDU, I was initially reluctant to give. How much would I be able to give? I mean, what amount could I realistically offer on a barely above minimum wage salary? 

So I reread her plea, and saw the little PayPal button. PayPal. I have a PayPal account I use for my Etsy Shop, and I knew there was some money in it from recent sales. And so I immediately made my initial $25 donation. From there, I looked into where I could find more money I wouldn't miss, and didn't have to look any further. My Etsy Shop. From now until December fifteenth, I will be donating one hundred percent of the sales to her CrowdFund.

Please read her reason for going into the psychology field. Please donate if you can. Please feel free to buy an $8 puppet pattern with step by step instructions and over 120 color pictures knowing that $8 will be going to a good cause.

http://crowdfundedu.com/fundraiser/gradschoolproblems


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Hair Experiment

For the last year or so I’ve been conducting an experiment on my hair, trying to get to the bottom of the various problems it has developed over the years. That is to say, I’ve been dealing with what I could only conclude as the adverse affects of daily shampooing: dandruff; oily hair; frizzy strands, etc. Now, the combination of greasiness and dandruff leads to, well, the dandruff being ever more difficult to get under control as it sticks to oily hair like white cat fur to black pants. I tried all sorts of homemade remedies to neutralize the dandruff from coconut oil to Epsom salt to tea tree oil to whatever else Pinterest and Google had to offer, but it was to no avail. The dandruff continued. The greasy hair persisted. The frizzy strands grew ever more present.

I was left with two options: First, keep my hair short, as in between a half to one inch at all times so the dandruff wasn’t as noticeable; or Second, give in and buy dandruff shampoo. I chose the latter. As much as I wanted to do this without the use of harsh chemicals, the situation brewing since I was a child required, well, to say the least, a strong hand. In the end, I chose to go with Selsun Blue Naturals. I knew going in to this that it would require weeks of my hair looking like crap, but I also wanted a clean slate before I took on the next part of this experiment, going shampoo-less.

Using Selsun Blue seemed to strip my hair of all life the first few times I used it, but my dandruff issues were becoming less and less apparent. And so for a couple months I washed my hair once a week with this shampoo and nothing else. The rest of the week I simply did the motions of shampooing to rinse out the fruit pectin based styling product I use. After the dandruff seemed to subside, I stopped using shampoo all together. For the first few weeks my hair seemed a little bit greasier than normal, but my scalp was no longer itchy. The hardest part was to resist the urge to simply wash out the extra oils and allow my scalp to figure out the right balance on its own. And now it has. The once frizzy fragile white hairs that were slowly taking over my dark brown tresses are now just as straight and healthy looking as the rest. It’d be great if they weren’t white and were, perhaps, silver or something in the gray tones, but alas, genetics.


It has now been six weeks since I’ve washed my hair in anything but water, and it has never looked better. The dandruff has been eradicated, it feels incredibly soft and touchable, and all of the scalp issues I’ve dealt with since hitting puberty have been vanquished. It makes me question, if going soapless on my head has yielded such great results, I wonder if I should think about finding a soap-free cleanser for my skin to see if it will clear up the patches of eczema,sections of oily skin, and that damned acne problem. I smell another experiment in the not-so-distant future.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blueberry Buttermilk Buckle

Most Saturdays during the summer, my aunt and uncle invite the extended family over to go swimming in their saltwater pool at their house overlooking the Columbia River. We eat lots of food, imbibe lots of drinks, and talk about lots of stuff. Last weekend was no different, with the exception of one thing: blueberries. For years, the three blueberry bushes at their house produced, well, quite pitiful amounts of berries. However, with one of the trees falling over during a storm, it has opened up the sunlight to these bushes and now they are covered! My uncle practically made me go pick some, and so I did. I only managed to gather about a pound and a half before I figured I had enough to do whatever I was going to do with these particularly juicy sweet morsels.

Now that I had a plethora of blueberries, I had to decide just what I was going to make with them. It just so happened that we were having a church picnic the next day and, well, we needed to bring a dessert. Blueberry Pie? Blueberry Crisp? Blueberry Tart? My aunt offered up making a buckle, and me being me, realized this would definitely be the easiest! For those unfamiliar with buckles, they are somewhere between a cake, a muffin, and a biscuit, and usually topped with a buttery cinnamon sugar crumb. You can mark me in the unfamiliar category in making one, as this was my first attempt, and oh! do I love trying out new recipes on large groups of people at potlucks!


Cory’s Blueberry Buttermilk Buckle

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 to 3 cups blueberries

Topping
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup butter, softened


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat on low until well combined. With the mixer or beaters on low, alternate the flour mixture and buttermilk until there are no more dry streaks in the batter. Using a 9x13 glass or metal baking dish, spray generously with non-stick cooking spray or rub butter all over that bad boy. I’ve never had luck with flouring, but if it works for you, do it. Carefully spread or drop the batter evenly into the pan. It will be sticky like drop biscuit dough, so this is easier said than done. Add the blueberries so they practically cover the dough. Next, mix together the topping and spoon or sprinkle it all over. Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until the center just barely springs back upon pressing it with your finger. Cool on a rack before slicing it into squares and devouring.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Update on Porch Rail Box

It has been a couple months since I made the porch rail box and filled it with flowers. Who knew something so simple could make such a huge difference?

When I first thought about making a rail box for the front porch, I wasn’t sure if it would even work. There were logistical issues to figure out; how to actually attach said box or boxes; where to place the box or boxes; whether or not to work with or around the trellises attached to the porch rail, etc. Anyway, once I decided to simply make one large box, I didn’t know if you would be able to see the flowers very well from the street. To my surprise, even behind the trellises, the boxes overflowed with flowery abundance! It totally distracts the eye from all of the weeds in the front yard.



Mission accomplished.