Monday, September 15, 2014


Easy Granola

I don't like store-bought cereal. First of all, I feel like they're unnecessarily processed. Secondly, unless you get bulk cereal, it's a lot of packaging - bags inside boxes. Thirdly, many are either too dry or not substantial enough.

I prefer to make my own granola. It's easy and tastes so much better! You might have a recipe that you like, but if not, here's one you can try. It's my favorite.

3 C rolled oats
1 C sunflower seeds
½ C pumpkin seeds
½ C almonds (or your nut of choice)
½ C coconut flakes
1 T cinnamon
2 T vegetable oil
½ C blue agave syrup or maple syrup
¼ C honey
½ dried cranberries or raisins (optional; I never put any in)

Preheat oven to 350.

Lightly grease a baking sheet. Or, as I've discovered, see photo, using my long neglected Silpat baking sheet is even more perfect as I don't have to grease anything and it prevented the granola from sticking.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, except the cranberries.

Combine all of the wet ingredients in a small measuring cup and add to the dry ingredients. (Rather than washing yet another cup, I eye-ball the wet ingredients and put them in one at a time before stirring it all up.)

Mix well and spread evenly over the baking sheet.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the granola looks brown and crunchy. I often give it a stir half-way through as the coconut flakes tend to burn.

Add cranberries if desired after taking it out of the oven.

Enjoy! Let me know if you try it or if you have a good recipe you'd like to share. :)

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Monday, September 08, 2014

The creative process blog hop

Well, it looks like I've been tagged again. I've not been tagged this often since on the grade school playground! Last time, it by the lovely Catherine Johnson (here's the post). This time, it's my dear friend and critique group buddy, Sylvia Liu.

1. What am I working on?

Right now, I'm 
a) putting finishing touches on two stories for upcoming anthologies for my sci-fi critique group, The Minnows Literary Group. We publish science fiction anthologies of different themes and donate 100% of profits to Doctors Without Borders. So far, with our first two anthologies, Out of Time and In a Land Far Away, we have donated close to $5,000.
In "That Way Madness Lies," to appear in Centauri Station, a space-travel themed collection, I quote Shakespeare and put my poor main character, Nathan, in peril. 

For our second time-travel themed anthology, I'm writing a story called "Occupational Hazard" wherein Bertrand and Alexa face a time travel disease that may end up being a cure for loneliness.

b) finalizing three picture book manuscripts for my agent

c) revising a sci-fi short story that I want to submit to Writers of the Future. 

d) working on illustrations to prepare a portfolio and samples for art directors.

e) editing a middle-grade humorous sci-fi novel

f) doing research for, and writing, a young adult steampunk novel

2. How does my work differ from others in my genre? 

Science and science fiction guide pretty much all my writing (and some of my art).

I had a much better answer last time:
Aside from having a voice that is uniquely my own, as every writer does, I tend to weave science facts into my work. In the adult pieces that I write, I sometimes make people work a little bit to "get" the story. For example, in In a Land Far Away, some of the things I mention in "Three Long Pigs" will make the story much richer if you looked them up.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Because it gives me joy and I hope it gives others joy too to read my stories or to see my artwork.

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

In fits and spurts, between harvesting and processing veggies in the summer, and homeschooling my kids year-round...tucked between my various other creative endeavors, and spurred on by the fires of Hades deadlines.

For writing, when I get an idea, I just open up a new document and do a brain dump. I need to work on being a plotter, though, if I hope to write novels that make sense.

For art,  I think about what it is that I'm trying to draw or convey, and then like with writing, I dive right in, sketching either with graphite, charcoal or digitally (I just started using the ArtStudio app that Sylvia had told me about; it's marvelous for beginning digital artists). After I'm happy with an initial sketch, depending on what kind of art I'm trying to produce, I will either work tight or loose with colors. My favorite are chalk pastels, water-media (either watercolor or tempera), and colored pencils.

Some of my current digital art can be found at

I normally don't tag people, but there are some folks whose creative processes I'd love to know more about. So, Steve Long, if you are up to the challenge, I'd like to see a blog post from you. No pressure! ;)

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Monday, September 01, 2014

A few more gratuitous vacation photos

I know: it's the first Monday of the month and I don't have a video of anything. I've been busy playing catch-up, doing laundry, and hosting out-of-town friends since we got back from vacation. So, you've been spared! 

Instead, I'll continue to show you pretty pictures...prettier than I am, anyway...of Vancouver. Not too many more because I only took a total of around 25 photos there. I am #pathetic.

 My sister is currently working at...
Crescent Beach
Before we picked her up at work one day, we took a walk along the more touristy section:
Crescent Beach proper
 One place we'd not been to before...
Deas Island...more of a peninsula
 An area close to my alma mater is the always pretty
Spanish Banks
Took my Dad on a ride and stopped...
on Burnaby Mountain, by my alma mater's rival, Simon Fraser University
 We got The Best salmon at...
farmers market at Trout Lake close to where my Dad lives
Don't those photos make you want to visit Vancouver too? :) Have a great week!

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Monday, August 25, 2014

My alma mater, how I miss thee

I spent 6 amazing years of my life at the University of British Columbia - 4 spent getting a B.A. in linguistics, and 2 more trying to get a B.Sc. in climatology. I also met some of my favorite people there, including hubby. It's no wonder, then, that I'm filled with nostalgia and longing whenever we're in Vancouver and I get to see my old campus.

Here's the Main Mall where I walked into a lot of dangling caterpillars every fall (my sister is yelling "yes!" in an annoyed voice as she reads this because she, too, experienced this).
A lot of construction has been going on at UBC, so there were many new additions to campus that have sprung up since I was last there a couple of years ago, such as this fountain at the intersection of West Mall and Main Mall, outside the Biological Sciences, Education, Commerce, and Chemistry buildings:
But some things remain the same, like Buchanan, the general faculty of arts building where many classes are held. 70s flashback, anyone?
West of Buchanan is the Rose Garden where I spent many hours with friends enjoying the breath-taking view at this end of campus - water, mountains, flowers...ahhhh.
Rose Garden
While chem was never my favorite subject at university, I have fond memories of being trapped in this building until well into the evening. By trapped, I mean having to do the Chem 100 labs. And by labs, I mean torture. My long-time friend Francesca will back me up on this.
Dept of Chemistry
The Astronomy/Geophysics department now has a new home. Back when I was attending UBC, the joke was that the only seismometer in Vancouver was housed in the least earthquake proof building (which was the old building of the A/G dept). I wish I'd been smart enough to major in astronomy. I love that this building reminds me of my failure and biggest regret. #sarcasm
Astronomy & Geophysics
Behind the Astronomy/Geophysics building is the old Geological Sciences building. (Geological Sciences has since been renamed Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, or something like that.) Back in the days of yore, we had to physically show up at this building to pick up computer punch cards to sign up for science and math courses; computer punch cards for arts courses were at Buchanan. Wow, primitive.

The best thing about this building is that it houses a giant slab of the Burgess Shale. Absolutely awesome piece of rock it is too.
the building formerly known as Geological Sciences
Last, but not least, is a well-known UBC landmark: the clock tower in front of the Main Library. In an episode of The X-Files, a sniper shot at people from up there.
I dropped by the Math Department too to see if my favorite calculus prof was still around, but he no longer had an office. I figured he was long retired, though I wanted to tell him again how much I learned in his class. I loved his Math 200 course...along with my geophysics, sociolinguistics, and sensation and perception courses.

You probably couldn't tell I miss my alma mater, could you? Heh.

What about you? Do you miss yours? Where did you attend university or high school and do you go to visit whenever you can?

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Monday, August 18, 2014

A lesson in neuropsychology

It's not always fun and games around here, you know; sometimes, you have to learn something. Oh, who am I kidding: learning IS fun and games and it's the best part of being alive! I have to read about at least one new thing a day (and why I keep trying to pick up new hobbies like some people pick up stray beats picking up bad habits).

So, today, I'm going to share a couple of interesting links with you. And I'm compelled to do it because people harbor false "facts," e.g. humans only use 10% of their brains (WRONG!).
Another myth that gets perpetuated is one about a person being either left-brain/right brain. So, if you're one of those who believe this, head over to NeuroLogica's blog and read why it's not true.

I guess part of the problem is that our brains aren't very reliable.

For a fun course about memory, what it is (and it's not a single, specific thing), what our misconceptions are about it, and how to improve it, I highly recommend The Great Course's series, "Memory and the Human Lifespan."

Okay, that's the lesson for the day; now go and have a great week! :)

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Monday, August 11, 2014

July's Doodle Day

I have good intentions to doodle daily, especially since Alison Hertz's Doodle Day group on Facebook is such a fun place to hang out. But, most months, I don't get around to sketching regularly. *hanging head in shame*
July's prompts were all about animals, which is a favorite topic of mine, so I made an effort to play along. Here are my quick (most of them taking 5 to 10 minutes) drawings.

I started out with graphite...
dog - large breed

 But then, I noticed my box of charcoals...and remembered how in love I was with them once upon a time. And you know what, I'm still in love with them.

dog - small breed
cat - long-haired
cat - short-haired
fish - moray eel; I hope I put that song in your head!
squirrel - flying (a.k.a. Super Squirrel)
when I got too busy, I combined the next two topics: deer and rabbit
Right after that last piece, I bought the Art Studio app for the iPad on Sylvia Liu's recommendation. I've never done digital art before, so took the opportunity to play with it, doing quick gestural sketches:
another mash-up from not having enough time - snake and chipmunk
I cheated on July 13, and used this panda I did back in 1988
I didn't do a new doodle for July 14th either, but substituted this kakapo pastel piece for the "parrot" theme
Compared to the more traditional pieces like the two previous ones, my digital drawings are "quick and dirty" but I think they convey a lot anyway.

l'éléphant dansant
Which inspired a little limerick:

There once was a young dandy elephant
Who fancied himself trés suave and elegant.
’Til one day, by chance
He was invited to a dance,
And found he was quite out of his element.

giraffes are weird, weird looking beasts and their spots are a pain to draw

I tried combing two prompts, giraffe and octopus, but I wasn't pleased with the octopus, so I tried my hand at a seahorse (next)

the theme of the day was aquarium animal
in honor of the first moon landing of July 20, 1969

have never drawn a griffin before; may never draw another again
chimera - some depict it with a lion and goat head and a serpent on the tail, but I prefer the equal footing creation with all three heads on the shoulders
For the owl prompt, I did a sketch of a Barn Owl cocking its head...
but I really didn't like it, so I drew a second one, which I liked slightly better even though it's creepier:
Barn Owl, take 2
jaguar, reaching for something...
comedian in training
also a funny guy
I need to fix the shadow on this; makes him look like he's floating
a little coquettish, no?
third time cheating this month: for the theme of mouse today, I used this sketch I did back in the mid 1990s
baby chameleon
Hope you've enjoyed this art post today as much as I enjoyed participating in Alison Hertz's July Doodle Day!

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Monday, August 04, 2014

My Favorite Scene - You Want Proof? I'll Give You Proof!

Slacker and flake that I am, I still haven't bought a microphone yet, so I hope I spoke loudly enough to be audible this time.

The book I featured today is You Want Proof? I'll Give You Proof! by Sidney Harris. It is such a hilarious book that even re-reading the one page that I show you in the video was enough to make me giggle. See if you can tell that I'm suppressing laughter during the clip. :)
Have you read any of Mr. Harris's cartoons in The New Yorker?

----edited to add----
Since it was hard to see the cartoon in the video, I'm putting the image below:

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams