Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Letters From Camp: Rainy Days And Ice Cream

Cinnamon Ice Cream with Hot Fudge

Dear Mom and Dad,
It's raining today. Rainy days at camp seem like they would be a bummer, but we always manage to make the best of it. Sometimes rainy days are the disguises for resting days or just plain play days. Today, we made it a play day, which worked out well for everyone.

The kids took our their Legos, made a tent, and then watched a movie. This of course after a little reading comprehension and math work book time- no television until the work's done, right? See, I'm repeating some of your parenting strategies.

I, on the other hand, took out my ice cream maker and decided to play in my kitchen. With the kids busy there was no one to say, "you're putting that in ice cream?" So fabulous! I tried out a batch of what I can only call Mexican Red Velvet. It's more pink than red, but it's a spicy chocolate too, kind of like Mexican Hot Chocolate. It isn't quite right, but with one or two more rainy days, I should be much closer.

With summer fruit at it's peak, I also delved into Black Raspberry. Dad, you know Abby loves this as much as you do, and let me just say that I'm trying really hard to save you some for when you visit. It's awesome, and one of my best creations, along with Coffee.

Don't you wish you had a spoon?


Love from my kitchen on a rainy day,
Tracy

Why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Letters From Camp: If My Mini Van Was A Convertible

Doesn't that sky just make you want to take the top down????

Dear Mom and Dad,

Agh! I had the best idea!

Okay, so it's summer and we seem to finally be past that hot, sticky, nastiness called July. How am I celebrating? My windows are finally open again without wilting every potato chip and piece of paper in the house. How are others celebrating? They are taking the tops down. Of their cars.

I have a sunroof, but let's face it, that's just not the same. So, I got to thinking: What if my mini-van was a convertible? Can't you see it?

The top smoothly slides back into my mostly unused third row. The wind in my hair, my music blasting, yes I love to share it with others on the road, and the papers, wrappers, french fries, pieces of pretzel, pencils, markers, and about 35 Lego guys all flying from the top of my car.

Okay, so it might not be so safe for others on the road, but it could be a great way to clean out my car.

Summer is almost over, and my letters will end soon, as camp will be over. School will start, and I'll once again be able to talk on the phone without three inquisitive angels wanting to know who I'm talking to and what I'm talking about.

Wishing I could drive with the top down.
Love,
Tracy

Monday, August 20, 2012

Letters From Camp: Pardon My French


Dear Mom and Dad,
Okay. This is the part where I hope you don't get mad at me but Holy Crab! my phone's a kindle. Well, not really. My phone is my phone, but it has a Kindle app and of all the android phones I've had, this is the best one.
Why am I so excited? Well, you know I've been reading a lot this summer. Dad, I'm like you-- I prefer paper books. Yes, its the old-fashioned thing, but I know you know where I'm coming from on this. And, oddly enough, I am sometimes against change, unless of course it's a change that I want. Hmmm I wonder where I get that from......
Well, this summer I decided to experiment with a change I was ready for and it involves that fabulous Kindle app on my phone. I decided to try reading a book on my phone.
I know, I know. The screen is small. It isn't great in the sun. God forbid my kids decide to curl up next to me with wet bathing suits from the pool while I'm reading (which is totally likely by the way). And what about all those wonderful bookmarks you have given me over the years??? Legitimate questions, and don't worry, those bookmarks are still well used and adored. But I've been all over the blogosphere and so many people have these great books that are available on Amazon, and I wanted to read them.
Where to start? Well, I really went for it on this one.
I downloaded a copy of Burnt Offerings by Roland Yeomans. Roland and I have crossed paths in the blogosphere and it seems like every other week he's got a new book available. He's a writing a machine. In an effort to both read his work and try out my Kindle app, this seemed like a good place to start. So, I one-clicked my way to an urban fantasy on an e-reader. Talk about a summer trip!
The stories were nothing like I've read before, and I was hooked. But I had questions. Enter: Twitter. (It was like picking up the phone and calling, but not exactly) I started following Roland, and then he followed me.  I asked him questions about the book. I was confused and didn't realized it was a collection of short stories and without a hard copy, I was a bit lost. This is all new to me, remember? Roland was awesome enough to write back and explain and give me a bit of background. I read his book within a few days. Yes, at the pool and before bed. I didn't even need a light at night! Don't you just love technology?!?!?
So, that's my latest summer experiment. I've since downloaded a few more of his books to my Kindle app, and have to say that I'm getting used to the smaller screen. I love that I don't need an extra light for reading at night and that I can get directly to the author with questions. How often does that happen? I won't give up paper books entirely (I just picked up two today), but I'm feeling a bit more open to the whole e-reading thing.
That's all for today. Summer is drawing to a close, as will my letters, soon, but not quite yet.
Love,
Tracy

Here's why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Letters From Camp: My To Do List


Dear Mom and Dad,
It's been busy for the past couple of weeks and while I feel I've been productive, my To Do  list seems to be glaring at me and not getting any smaller. I actually got an email from Twitter saying they missed me. I miss Twitter too and have not been in the Twittersphere, or blogoshere, much this summer. Which brings me back to my To Do list.
If it were simple tasks like laundry (folded, but not put away), grocery shopping (not done with even a bit of the efficiency I have during the school year), and putting toys away (I seem to do this more often in the summer) that would be easy.
Instead, my To Do list looks more like this:
Learn how to use Pinterest
Learn how to use my camera better
Find a food photography course
Organize the pictures on my computer
Update Linked In
Send out queries for book
Work on MyVerona Cook Book
Learn how to use Google+

There is no easy way around these things, I really need to do them all in order to get from point A to point B. Somewhere in the balance of enjoying summer and swimming with the kids lies continuing to build a career. I'm determined. The list will get done, it may just take a little longer, and that's ok, because it's summer. Besides, I like writing letters to you and that's easier than figuring out everything on my list.
Love,
Tracy

Here's why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Monday, August 13, 2012

What If The Little Red Hen Had Help?

I have truly come to love writing flash fiction, but playing around with fairy tales that have been in my head for years was a tough one. But! What a great exercise! So, hat's off to Cassie, Mark, Leigh, and Morgan for putting this blogfest together and making me really think outside the fairy tale box! Click here to see the other entries.


"Phfft!" The Little Red Hen blew feathers away from her face and stepped toward her mixing bowl.
"Ouch!  That was my paw!" said Cat.
Thump! The sack of flour fell and Hen found herself in a cloudy, floury mess.
"Cat, I didn't know you were there."
"I came to help, and brought some salt with me. I hope 3lbs. is enough."
"Oh. Thank you. Usually, I make bread alone."
Hen went to cleaning up the flour.
"Are you ready for some salt?
"Not yet. First, I need some eggs."
"Oh good! Because I have two dozen of them," said Goose, bursting through the door.
"What? Eggs?” A startled Hen tripped over her broom and went flying and flapping into the sink, as two eggs slipped from Goose's wings.
 “Thanks, but I already have some eggs because I usually make bread alone." Hen said climbing out of the sink.
"Ooops. I guess you can't use the broken ones, can you?"
“No,” said Hen reaching for a mop.
 “Time for salt yet?” Cat asked.
“Not yet.” Hen sighed, mopping up the eggy mess.
"I'm really quite used to doing this alone. Where was I? Right. Flour. One cup. Two cups. Thr..."
Cow came plowing through the door. "Am I late? Did I make it on time?" 
Hen's measuring cup flew out of her wing, hit the ceiling and landed spilling more flour.
"Cow?"
"Milk. I've got your milk," she panted. "Super fresh and warm. Been holding it all morning. Just need you to collect it, thereby relieving a little, ahem, pressure," Cow said with a smile somewhere between happy-to-help and I'm-getting-really-uncomfortable.
The Little Red Hen smiled at her friends quietly wishing she hadn't asked for help in the first place.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ice Cream and the Dog Days of Summer

Mexican Chocolate with Cinnamon Chocolate Chip
(drizzled with dark chocolate sea salt caramel sauce)

Jeremy Bates is hosting a Dog Days of Summer Blogfest and I'm so in! The rules are to write about:

1) Describe your favorite summer activity thus far.
2) What activities do you plan before summer is over?
3) If you could have the ultimate vacation ever, where and what would it be?

So hop on over to Jeremy's site and check out all the summer fun happening over there for these couple of days.

This summer has been busier than usual for me. All filled with great and fantastic activities for my kids, learning new things, meeting new people and all things that summer is for, including at least one lemonade stand. But, my favorite summer activity so far has been anything involving my ice cream maker. I got it for Mother's Day and my freezer has been full ever since. I've always been an ice cream girl, but this summer that little activity has expanded exponentially. And it's been delicious! Maybe next summer I'll learn how to make the chocolate sauce too!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Letters From Camp: Heirloom Tomatoes


Dear Mom and Dad,
I'm not a food blogger, but as you both know, I love food. Eating as well as cooking and I know exactly where I got it from! Growing up a Jersey Girl, I remember summers of delicious Jersey beefsteak tomatoes. In the past few years, Heirloom Tomatoes have been making their way to more and more shelves and baskets at grocery stores and farmer's markets. I fell in love with their flavor and colors last summer, so this summer, I've been playing with them some more.
In honor of Fresh Produce Tuesday from the 2 Sisters 2 Cities blog, I'm sending you this recipe for Heirloom Tomatoes which is an adaptation from my mother in law's Ecuadorian Salsa. Dad, I know you love her ceviche (the salsa is the base for this) so if you can get heirloom tomatoes, I'd definitely try this one out!

Heirloom Tomato Ecuadorian Salsa (with Shrimp)

Ingredients:
1/2 of a red onion, sliced thin
sea salt or kosher salt
2 heirloom tomatoes chopped in large chunks
2 mini seedless cucumbers chopped small
1/2 cup cilantro chopped
juice of one lime and half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

What's Next:
Place sliced onion in a glass bowl.
Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of salt over onion. Fill to top with cold water.
Mix onion in salt water and let sit covered 6 hours or overnight. This dilutes the strength of the onion flavor, and adds salt flavor to the finished product.
Next, mix remaining ingredients together and add drained onions.
The longer it sits, the more the flavors blend. This is delicious on top of fish, or anything grilled. I added some cooked shrimp to it and ate it for lunch. YUM, and here's the picture:

Here's why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Alligators Under My Bed

Christine Rains is hosting a blog fest for a couple of days in honor of FEARLESS, her paranormal romance novella. 
So, I ask you : What Was Your Childhood Monster?
I'm quite sure there were alligators under my bed....
Click on the link to check out the other fabulous entries!
I think I had at least three or four monsters I battled, but I can tell you for sure that there was an alligator living under my bed. Forget the fact that I lived in NJ and not in a warmer climate like Florida. Completely disregard the fact there was carpeting under my bed and no water whatsoever. None of that mattered. I was sure without a doubt that there was an alligator living under my bed. Of course it was never there during the day; it only showed up after the lights went out, but it was there. Just ask me.
If, God forbid, I needed to get out of my bed once I was safely tucked in, kissed good night, and lights were out, this was a daunting task. It required talking myself into actually getting out of bed, throwing back the covers, and then making a giant leap from my bed directly to the hallway all in about 3.2 seconds. Lucky for me, it was probably only a 4 foot span, but it felt more like 7 feet. Alas, I made it every time and am even here to tell the tale.

Better than that, it gives me empathy when my kids tell me that they are sure, without a doubt, absolutely positive that there is an alligator/shark/monster/whatever hiding under the bed.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Letters From Camp: Reading And Writing


Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, you'll be happy to know that I've been keeping up with my reading this summer! My writing too, but more on that in a minute. Of course I had to indulge in the Fifty Shades series (I held out as long as I could but temptation and hype finally got the best of me), We Need to Talk About Kevin (I think every mother should read this one), I just finished 11/22/63 (Mom, I'm glad I talked you into that one), I just finished The Thirteenth Tale, and am starting on Gone Girl. I was going to try to read a book on the kindle app on my phone, but again, I'm sucked in by the hype of Gone Girl.
During one of our (expensive) forays in the book store, Abby spotted the book, Food in Jars. I've already made Blueberry Butter and have all kinds of ideas for future experimentation. Thanks to the two of you and all those years canning tomatoes and pickles, I do love "putting up" foods in the summer. If only it weren't so hot in my kitchen.
The kids have been reading too, and  a lot more than I did as a kid. Why is that? Did we not have the right books? Was there no time? Was I just not a reader then?
As for the writing, this is the fun part. Blogfest time is here, so I've signed up for Jeremy Bates' The Dog Days of Summer, Christine Rains' What Was Your Childhood Monster?, and Cassie Mae's What If? These are bound to be fun and great practice for writing: removing the cobwebs in my brain for my best summer memory, facing my fears and having fun with a fairy tale (Mom, this one was inspired by you).
Ooooh. Rest hour's over!
More later.
Love,
Me

Why I am writing Letters From Camp to my parents.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Letters From Camp: Wings Wednesday


Dear Mom and Dad,
Things must be getting boring in my kitchen because now the kids are coming up with dinner ideas! The plan was for these to be our summer meals, but I haven't been home to cook! Seriously, we're doing the camp to pool thing and until Alice shows up, it's just not happening. What I haven't decided yet is if I miss cooking.
Experimenting and playing in my kitchen, yes. A hot messy kitchen in 90+ degree weather, definitely not.

I have to say I admire their creativity though, just look at these ideas:
Meatball Monday
Taco Tuesday
Wings Wednesday (anything chicken)
Turkey Thursday (stuff that's related to turkey, like chicken)
Fun Filled Food Friday (I think this means filled foods, like tacos)

It seems like tacos and chicken fill up most of the week, with the exception of Monday. Clearly I need to get a bit more creative, but perhaps I should just feel lucky that they aren't requesting Chicken Cordon Bleu or Boeuf Bourginon (my French is rusty and I'm not even sure if I spelled those correctly!) Ah, the dilemma of dinner.
Rest hour is over. Talk soon!
Love,
Tracy

Here's why I'm writing Letters From Camp to my parents.