May 13, 2022 - Blog, Inspiration, Style    8 Comments

The Kiss

My sister was recently married in London, England and decided to have a reception in the States. We were ecstatic, and got right to work on preparations.

I was in charge of the cake.

Being that it was to be a small venue of close southern Californian friends and immediate family, I didn’t think the multi-layer cake was in order.

Since the art business is where my sister ‘calls home’, it seemed fitting that the cake should reflect that, and the romantic Gustav Klimt came to mind. His 1908 painting, “The Kiss” portrays a newly wed couple in a loving embrace of gentle affection. No other image would do.

Fondant City
I surrounded myself with coloured fondant icing – every inch of the rainbow, expanding it by making my own colours, working the dough-like frosting as if it were clay. It might have been more fun without the plastic cloves, but it was important to me that the cake be suitable for the pickiest eater. Accents of edible gold leaf pulled the image together. (The ‘glow’ around the couple is a gold leaf covered rib of fondant, as are a few areas of the garment designs in the photo detail, above.)

When the thing was presented to the newly-weds and guests, no one was willing to cut into the artwork – not even the bride and groom! Cake maker Alex Kent (aka Niki Chanel) had to do it amidst hisses and boos and gasps of disbelief… but they all had a piece.

Originally posted 2012-07-14 00:51:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

May 12, 2022 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

Wine in the Desert

I’m in Vegas this weekend with friends, and we’ve been out on the town (in the heat) and eaten our fill of restaurant fare, so tonight we stayed in the condo.

Trebbiano Pinot Grigio I made a faux Chicken Marsala – which was pretty tasty. Either that, or we were really hungry!

Normally, this dish is served with a bottle of wine. We drank three… three different kinds. (Is that ok?) All were inexpensive – an unbelievable $1.99 from the Las Vegas Trader Joe’s (though not marked TJ’s), and all were good! Products of Umbria, Italy. We started with a 2010 Vola Trebbiano Pinot Grigio before the table was set, had a 2010 Vola Sangiovese with dinner, and drank Cupcake Chardonnay for dessert, also from TJ’s which I brought from Los Angeles, and goes for $9.99. My mom liked it and got me a bottle, bless her heart. The label says citrus-y with a hint of vanilla. While I could tell there was something sweet-ish in the flavour, to me it came across as a sweet bark flavour, like cinnamon but not cinnamon. While I was deciding, up came that Chardonnay oak that I love. Nice.

For background music and entertainment, I put on a travel video of Southern France and all were happy. Don’t worry, it’s alright to mix cultures. I’m American with a European upbringing and I say it’s okay.

But I’m thinking you might be wondering, “What exactly is faux Chicken Marsala?” Before we get into that, I want to tell you a cooking secret: whatever you cook, the food always tastes better if the chef has a glass of wine first.

Having no idea what I’m going to make, I check the fridge for supplies. We had boneless, skinless chicken and some grapes – three colours, in fact. I found a box of raisins, and thankfully there were onions.

I sauté at least three loosely chopped onions in olive oil and butter in a pot while browning the chicken in a skillet, also with a bit of olive oil and butter. To the onions, I added grapes, raisins, bit of pepper and any other seasoning salt I could find (I found Lawry’s) but not much or it will toughen the meat and taste commercial. When the chicken begins to stick to the pan, add enough white wine to sizzle the chicken loose and make a bit of sauce – about two glasses of white wine. Reduce by half, for taste and thickening. Add the chicken and juices to the onion mixture and lower the heat to medium. Add a bit more wine to the skillet and gently dissolve the brownings into the wine and add it to the main mixture. I thought it needed a bit of sweet and was lucky to find some syrup. About 3 or 4 tablespoons did the trick. So far, so good, but it lacked colour. Aw, hell, add some red wine until it looks right – a glass of that Sangiovese, please.

It was getting hot in the kitchen so I let it simmer while we hung out on the balcony overlooking the inviting swimming pool and talked about why it’s closed for the summer.

Time to eat. We lit the candles and served the chicken with potatoes and veggies. Oh yeah, and the wine.

Luxury.

A few hours of Fringe reruns in anticipation of the new season and my friends are off to bed. Not me, though. I’m staying up to enjoy the storm, watching the jagged bolts arc the sky reflected in the pool and listening to the deep sounds of boulders falling from heaven roll about the open desert. The bit a rain that was squeezed from the clouds evaporated in minutes.

The end of a perfect Vegas day.

Originally posted 2012-01-27 23:39:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

May 12, 2022 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Hotel Pastis

I have loved everyone of Peter Mayle’s works that I have read, so it was a bit of a nail-biter when it seemed this might be a depressing story. That characters weren’t getting along, deadlines weren’t being met, lives were teetering on this edge, and that. Then something amazing happened; the protagonist did what they wanted to, not what they thought they should.

It is true I normally read about murder or beyond the grave, but once in a while a glass-of-wine book is needed. This one should be at the top of the pile.

As I said on Good read:

Better than a vacation! You can smell the fabulous foods, hear the click, click, click of that woman’s heels on the marble floor, feel the tension of those thieves.. whoa, I’m getting carried away – giving it away. It’s enough to say: Peter Mayle never disappoints.

I love the characters, and wish I could be one of them.

 

 

Originally posted 2018-11-30 00:31:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

May 11, 2022 - Blog    No Comments

NaNoWriMo 2021

Last year I added a list of music to listen to while I wrote my novel. I invited others to come have a listen, and it was well received, plus it turned up the inspiration for me; so I thought… why not do it again?! Keep in mind most of it is low-key electronic, or foreign. There’s a reason for that; most of my stories occur in Europe, and, well… I write supernatural, so the quasi-spooky sounds are appropriate. Throw in a little love and angst, and the music shapes the story. [All are from YouTube,  no ads. Consider buying a piece or two, if you like it. I have. <3]

This year my title is “Mister Go Away”. It’s a bit of a push-me-pull-you sort of idea, which is sort of where I am at the moment, waiting for completed things to engage and live on their own, so I can get on with other projects, new and half baked.

Speaking of half baked… I mentioned to a friend that I might make some Hallowe’en cookies – you know, the kind that are shaped like bats, ghosts, and pumpkins? She said she was rethinking her Christmas tree for this year. We cooked up a Hallowe’en tree idea… a leafless  branch bedecked with cookie cutters for ornaments (after I use them to cut our yummy nibbles, of course). What do you think? Want some?

Originally posted 2021-10-28 04:42:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

May 11, 2022 - Blog, Just for Writer's    No Comments

NaNoWriMo 2013

If you would like to join me in the NaNoWriMo race this year, I invite you to meet here, and let’s cheer each other on! Plus, you can show off your awards [see 2012 here]. 

To participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), go to nanowrimo.org and fill out an account form. To choose Buddies, you need to start with one participant – you can use mine : nikichanel. Then go to My NaNoWriMo / Author Info / Writing Buddies or Buddy of (I don’t think it much matters which… heck, try both!), and click on a few more authors that have participated in the past. They won’t mind – they joined just for this reason – to share.

If you like human company to talk to while you listen to characters in your head, bookmark nikichanel.com/just for writers and leave a cheer or groan in the comment section. Feel free to visit often for inspiration to carry on. I’ll have cookies and milk : )

*   *   *

Hi there; this is a new section for me, but I’m trying something different this year for NaNoWriMo; I will be attempting two projects. 

Yeah, I have gotten bitten by inspiration pretty badly. One is fiction, the other, not. Funny, though… the non-fiction inspired the new story in the Niki Chanel series. This first in the series was “The Ghost Club”, sub-titled ‘A Spirited Wine’. The second was “The Coma Club”, sub-titled ‘Death’s Door’. This, the third one is called “The Key Club”, sub-titled ‘One Man’s Treasure’. I’m still waiting for “The Wine Club” to gel. Maybe after NaNo…

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Dennis Yang httpflickr.comphotosdennis3256153555

Getting on with the task approaching… if you join me, I’ll join you!

 

 

 

Originally posted 2013-10-28 16:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

May 11, 2022 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

The Crowded Grave

Death in the French Countryside

by Martin Walker

Martin Walker does not disappoint his followers with this, the fourth book about Bruno, the small-town Chief of Police who cooks (extravagant dishes), is open to new experiences (learns to ride a horse), is a quick thinker on his feet (always saving someone), and great in bed (but we already knew that:)

A recently dead body is found in an archaeological dig in the midst of a Green Party vs traditionalists fois gras protest. The Crowded Grave embraces spy’s, secrets and Sauternes, just the way I like it.

Originally posted 2012-12-10 00:36:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

May 10, 2022 - Blog    No Comments

What Makes Something Scary?

frightened boy looks through his hands over his faceEvery child knows what it is to be afraid, but when we are small, we don’t have many experiences and the lack of knowing what to expect can illicit great fear. As we grow up we realize that some things that used to scare us, are no longer troubling, like thunder and lightning. You have lived through it before – that’s just the way things are; no evil intent. Then we grow older, become wiser, more experienced. Now, things scare us because we DO know what comes next, and we don’t like it.

For me and friends I communicate with, 2020 was frightening. January 2021 was terrifying. We were holding our breath to see what February 2021 would bring – hoping for the best, getting prepared for the worst – stocking freezers, digging holes in the back yard…

2 kids screamingI, for one, am not afraid until I can see ‘it’ coming, whatever ‘it’ is. Lately, I have noticed others freaking out because they suspect something is coming, that frightens them. They don’t need to see it to get scared. “What if ?!!” That’s the worst, because you already know what you’re afraid of, so those are the things you will obsess over. It’s pretty hard to get away from yourself… maybe we should just run!

I will admit that no amount of experience could have prepared me for this past year. In a way, it was like being a child again – not knowing what to expect. Every single day, with the lies – that was scary for me because I COULD see “it” coming – I COULD see where we were going. The only way I knew to prepare was to hold my breath and hope it took too long for obvious events to unfold, giving Superman time to swoop in and save the day… (I’m still waiting for Superman.) While I wait, I wonder if I SHOULD be afraid. Then I answer myself “What good would that do? It is a waste of time.” But then I think, if I could go through all the possible things that could go wrong, I could prepare for all of them. When I hear that kind of brain talk, I have a sit-down with self. Self says: “While you prepare for things that may not happen (and there are more things that won’t happen, than things that will), you are not living a fulfilling life. You are not finishing projects, starting new ones, doing all the daily chore stuff that keeps the dirt from the door, and you’re scaring others.”

Oh. Right.

Self added that the only things to properly fear are death (of which we know nothing), and getting too damaged or sick to participate in life, which brings me back to the concept of carrying on in the face of very strange stuff, knowing that if it is really dangerous, fear will find a way, then I can be scared with everyone else.

 

Originally posted 2021-01-18 04:38:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

May 10, 2022 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Bruno, Chief of Police

Bruno, Chief of Police

by Martin Walker

What a delight this book was… is! The well-loved police chief of St. Denis, France is such a real character I felt I was reading fact instead of fiction. His policing techniques are bendable when it comes to the best outcome for his town and district, his friends and lovers. His talent for cooking is well known, and I have even tried some of his dishes, though don’t expect any recipes. (I had to read between the lines:) Through his eyes one can see the vistas and valleys from his house, or the trouble brewing in the market. Martin Walker has done a fabulous job, and as a writer, I envy him. Well done.

As a post script: I have to admit, I was leery, at first. The title didn’t do it, nor the cover. It was several reviews from readers that did it. So, Goodreads, take a bow.

Originally posted 2012-09-20 01:21:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

May 9, 2022 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Who Do, Voodoo?

A Quick, Fast Paced, Absorbing & Fun Murder Mystery

by Rochelle Staab
If you like magic of any kind you’ll love this wonderful romp around the underworld of hexes and spells.

Author Rochelle Staab (what a great name for mystery!) weaves old movies, restaurants and key streets of Hollywood into her story to make you feel like you are in the limelight; it made me want to get in my car and go see for myself.

The story revolves around a self-sufficient, non-believing psychologist, Liz Cooper, who is swept up in the world of magical mayhem when she tries to clear her best friend Robin Bloom, of murder. It seems everyone she meets in this well rounded cast becomes involved in the deadly game of getting to the source of the danger first, before another life is lost. In the process our snarky, sexy female-lead meets up with Nick Garfield, a witty college professor and occult specialist, to get to the truth – fast! And, yes; he’s sexy, too!

This supernatural suspense is a fascinating insight into the realm of unseen forces – forces that will have you turning its pages to the unforeseeable end.

I loved it!

Originally posted 2012-03-24 15:09:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

May 9, 2022 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

The Osiris Ritual

A Thick, Twisting , Multi-layered Suspense

by George Mann

For those readers with delicate stomachs, be warned. Several murder scenes are particularly gruesome. Aside from that, fans of detective adventure with a touch of supernatural, will be thrilled.

George Mann’s view of the past is a mixture of both historically correct technology, like the first automobiles, and cybernetic things that go bump in the night, rightfully scaring the crap out of us. His characters have similarities to other beloved stories from Sherlock Holmes to the Etherman of Hell Boy. Like most Steampunk tales, this one takes place in London at the end of the 1800s, and yet it is as fresh and original as any new science that must be gotten to on the shoulders of sciences that went before. I couldn’t put it down.

Best of all, the ending is ripe for a sequel!

Originally posted 2012-12-31 21:23:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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