Thursday, September 18, 2014

Safari Birthday Parties!


My girls had birthday parties a few weeks apart. My 6-year-old wanted a Safari Party and my 9-year-old wanted a Horse Roundup Party. My husband, always one to go crazy on anything that spells "party" made a safari vehicle out of his old Chevy S-10 pickup.


For both parties we hid tons of stuffed animals and stuffed horses all over our 1-acre yard for the party-goers to spot from the truck.


Some of the animals had bags of "loot" beside them (little prizes like pencils, stickers, animal related trinkets, etc.) which I handed out to the kids.



The safaris were a success with the added fun of other games and activities.


My husband also rigged up a homemade "horsey ride" from some strong cardboard, 2x4s and stick horses, pulling it behind his ATV. Another popular activity for the kids!


After the horse party ended and all the kids returned home, we surprised both girls with a REAL horsey ride. They'd never been on a horse in their lives, so it was a real treat.


Our sweet neighbors saddled up their horse, Slick, and led the girls around their yard to the girl's ultimate delight.

My husband and our youngest even got to ride. My youngest's shirt, which was too big for her, was giving a little "off the shoulder" look *smile*. The girls said they'd remember these parties forever. That's good, because I don't think I'll be able to do them every year, or even every two years. Too much work for just a 2 hour party! Maybe every 3 years. We'll just have a small family celebration for the years in between *laugh*. GOOD TIMES!




Monday, September 15, 2014

KSL (NBC) Studio 5 Relaxing Reads features SHADOWS OF VALOR!


I was delighted and flattered that Teri Harman (author of the Moonlight contemporary witch trilogy) featured my medieval romance, SHADOWS OF VALOR on her Studio 5 segment as part of her "relaxing reads" lists. Mine was one of 6 titles mentioned. I couldn't be happier with the feature and the tagline for my book that my male character is like a "medieval batman!" Awesome! Here's the link to the short segment. Mine is the second book in the list:
http://studio5.ksl.com/index.php?nid=71&sid=31435892.
Thanks, Teri!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: BLOOD MOON by Teri Harman


BLOOD MOON

Forget all your preconceptions of old witches with warts, pointed hats and flying broomsticks. Teri Harman brings her readers to a modern-day world of witches where the natural elements of the earth hold the key to their power. And not only are there good witches (light witches) who respect the earth and use magic for the good of humanity, but there are opposing bad witches (dark witches) who are only out for world domination and power. These two forces come head to head in this story of a young woman and young man who have just come to grips with the fact that they are witches. They find opposition and rejection from those they love, but love and acceptance from others of their kind as they learn to develop and control their powers. Set in modern-day United States, we learn that witches lead quite normal lives: They marry, have families and carry jobs. But dark witches are ever seeking to destroy the light witches, so they must remain vigilant at all times. When together, the light witches have more power to fight the dark witches, but dark witches are known for their underhanded and shady tactics, at times catching the light witches off guard. Will the light witch covens survive the onslaught of evil unleashed by the dark covens? Find out in BLOOD MOON, Harman’s first installment in her Moonlight Trilogy.

Harman’s beautiful story-telling envelopes readers, bringing them into the story, and allowing them to feel the characters’ pains, difficulties and triumphs. The story ends with a sum up, but also purposeful loose ends that lead right into her second book, BLACK MOON, due out September 16, 2014.


Come join her launch party for BLACK MOON on September 20, 2014 at THE KING’S ENGLISH bookshop, 7-9pm (located at 1511 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84105, United States)

BLOOD MOON and BLACK MOON can be found in paperback and on e-book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and ordered from any other bookstore.













Teri’s website: http://teriharman.com/




Publisher: jollyfishpress.com

Watch the BLOOD MOON book trailer on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3axG-GlAegs

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Easy Creamy Fudge with Variations

With several holidays coming up and occurring one after the other (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas), there will be no shortage of family gatherings and delicious food to celebrate with. One of my favorite treats to bring to parties is fudge, and since my middle name is "make it as easy as possible", this recipe is perfect for me.
Photo Credit: https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/30353/Foolproof-Chocolate-Fudge/detail.aspx
EASY CREAMY FUDGE

3 cups chocolate chips (I use a 50/50 mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Line an 8 or 9-inch square pan with foil, allowing it to reach up the sides. Set aside. In a saucepan, melt chocolate chips with condensed milk and vanilla until chips are completely melted. Remove from heat and add nuts if desired. Stir to coat. Immediately pour into prepared foil-lined pan and then chill in fridge 1-2 hours until firm. Turn over onto cutting board and remove foil. Cut into squares with pizza cutter (or knife). ENJOY!

VARIATIONS:

ANY FLAVOR of baking morsel can be used in this recipe.
- Using all semi-sweet morsels makes a yummy dark chocolate fudge (this is my favorite)
- All milk chocolate makes a softer, creamier fudge (this is my husband's favorite)
- You can use flavored morsels such as white chocolate, vanilla, cherry, mint, peanut butter, cinnamon and butterscotch.

I like to make LAYERED FUDGE and it's easy to do. Make a half-batch of one flavor, chill it in the fridge, then make a half batch of another flavor and spread it on top of the first layer. Chill until firm. Some of my favorite layered combinations are:
Chocolate-Peanut Butter
Chocolate-Mint
Chocolate-White Chocolate
Chocolate-Cherry
Be creative and have fun!
CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER photo credit: https://peppercandy.net/zencart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=19&zenid=a4c9a573856bf71abb5063e8f28c3d34
CHOCOLATE-MINT photo credit: http://blog.dollhousebakeshoppe.com/2014/03/layered-mint-chocolate-fudge.html
CHOCOLATE-WHITE CHOCOLATE photo credit: http://www.tastebook.com/recipes/678072-White-Chocolate-Layered-Fudge
CHOCOLATE-CHERRY photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/212091463673526736/

Monday, August 11, 2014

ICE CREAM IN A BAG!

Photo Credit: http://sci-toys.com/scitoys/scitoys/thermo/ice_cream/ice_cream.html
ICE CREAM IN A BAG (serves 2, but make as many bags as needed)
(from American Profile – page 10 - year of issue unknown)

3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup half-and-half
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 heavy quart-sized ziptop plastic bag
1 heavy gallon-sized ziptop plastic bag
Ice
Rock salt

Place sugar, half-and-half and vanilla in quart-sized bag and seal. Place that bag inside of the gallon-sized bag. Layer ice and rock salt in the gallon-sized bag so it surrounds the quart-sized bag. Seal shut. Toss bag back and forth about 10 minutes.


Can mix in favorite items such as mini chocolate chips, fresh chopped fruits and berries, crumbled cookies, or chopped candy bars.

Photo credit:
http://food.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474977282465

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Banana Split Dessert - my husband's favorite!

I make this dessert for my husband's birthday every year or on Father's Day! It's his absolute favorite! There are several variations, some that use raw egg in the spread that doesn't get cooked (which I'm always leery about), but this is my easy-peasy version using instant vanilla pudding, instead.

Photo by Elsie Park
Banana Split Dessert

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 (5 ounces each) packages instant vanilla pudding*
4 cups milk
3 bananas sliced thinly (lengthwise or in little rounds)
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (16 ounce) carton frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed in fridge
1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice (peanuts are good, but mixed nuts are too)
1 (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries (without stems), drained
9x13-inch cake pan

Mix softened butter and sugar together in bowl then add graham cracker crumbs. Mix until all crumbs are moistened with butter. Press crumb mixture into cake pan. You DON'T need to bake it, but you can put it in the oven at 350 degrees F. for 5 minutes if you'd like. This melts the butter a little more and helps glue the crumbs together. Do NOT overbake or the crust will be too hard. Cool completely.
Photo by Elsie Park
Prepare vanilla instant pudding with the 4 cups milk (this gives you a firmer, thicker pudding). Mix thoroughly. It set up quickly, so pour over cooled graham cracker crust and allow to set in the pan (this takes only a minute or so).
Photo by Elsie Park
Slice bananas and layer them onto the set pudding, then spread the drained crushed pineapple over the bananas.
Photo by Elsie Park
Spread the whipped topping over everything, sprinkling chopped nuts on it afterwards. Last, put cherries on top, placing them in spaced out rows so that each slice of dessert will have a cherry on top.
Photo by Elsie Park
This dessert can be made the night before. Keep refrigerated.

ENJOY!

*One variation is to use 2 packages of softened cream cheese mixed with 1 cup of confectioner's (powdered) sugar in place of the instant pudding - your preference

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Who would play my characters in the SHADOWS OF VALOR movie?

If my medieval romantic fiction, SHADOWS OF VALOR, was made into a movie, which actors would I choose for the roles?

Lady Elsbeth Rawley would be played by KATE BECKINSALE (I remember her most from 1993's Much Ado About Nothing and Jane Austen's Emma)
Kate Beckinsale picture from
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000295/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Other possible actresses for Elsbeth: Jennifer Connelly, Katie McGrath, Keira Knightley


Sir Calan Beaumont (The Shadow) would be played by STEPHEN AMELL from the TV series Arrow and Hallmark TV movie When Calls The Heart
Picture from http://www.craveonline.com/tv/interviews/197619-stephen-amell-on-arrow
Other possible actors for Sir Calan/The Shadow: Chris Hemsworth


Lady Genevieve Shaufton would be played by Maggie Grace from When Calls the Heart and Lost
Picture from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1192254/?ref_=tt_cl_t1
Other possibilities for Jenna: Kate Hudson, Charlize Theron, Rachel Skarsten


Sir Giles Beaumont would be played by Bradley James who was Arthur in the TV mini series Merlin
Picture from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3010926/?ref_=tt_cl_t3
Other Possible Actors for Sir Giles: Channing TatumThomas Gibson (though he may be a little old for the part :/)


Sir Randall Bolkin would be played by Orlando Bloom from Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
Picture form http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0089217/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
Other possible actors for Sir Randall: Mike Vogel, Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Walker


Lady Cecilia Shaufton would be played by Alice Krige from Thor: The Dark World and Star Trek: First Contact
Picture from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000481/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Other possibilities for Ceclia: Susanna Thompson



Bartram McCaulch would be played by Richard Armitage from The Hobbit and Robin Hood
Picture from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0035514/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Other possible actors for Bartram: Sean Bean or Rufus Sewel



Lord Rupert Shaufton would be played by Sean Bean from The Lord of the Rings 
Picture from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000293/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Other possibilities for Rupert: Richard Armitage

Monday, July 7, 2014

Attending Fantasy Con - AN AWESOME ADVENTURE!


I attended the 2014 Fantasy Convention in Salt Lake City on the 3-5th of July, and although I was a vendor and didn't get to walk around as much as I would have liked, the experience was still a wonderful one. I shared a booth with two fellow authors from Jolly Fish Press: Adrienne Monson with her vampire/immortal trilogy and Teri Harman with her contemporary witch trilogy. We helped promote each other's books as we sat together for 9 hours each day for three days in a row. Aside from being tired and my bum getting a little sore from sitting so long, I met so many wonderful and interesting people. 

I got to attend a one hour panel for actor Billy Boyd from The Lord of the Rings. Hilarious  and uber talented man! What a treat to see him in person.

My brothers, Kit and Nathan Rees, co-owners of their animation company Squishy Animation, part of the Fantasy Con staff, were busy making sure the convention ran smoothly, but stopped by to say hello once in a while. Fellow authors Lehua Parker (MG books: One Boy, No Water and One Shark, No Swim) and Johnny Worthen (books: Eleanor the Unseen and Beatrysel) also swung by to say hello before they were off to speak on a panel with Teri and Adrienne. Always good to see Lehua and Johnny!



This is a picture of my brothers, Nathan Rees (dark red shirt in back) and Kit Rees (dark red shirt in front), with The Hobbit dwarf actors Jed Brophy (Nori), Peter Hambleton (Gloin), Graham McTavish (Dwalin), John Callen (Oin) and Adam Brown (Ori) - AWESOME!!! But I'm so jealous!!! 
My father was so wonderful. He drove me to and from the convention all three days (my being 7 weeks pregnant, nauseous, and feeling unable to drive the long distance myself). Here's a picture of my tall dad standing next to an even taller sentinel.
My sweet mother, not only watched my kids one of the days while I was at the convention, but also helped me make my 1300s medieval-style kirtle and surcoat out of two bedsheets. Thanks mom!

I was delighted to see our old family friend, Chance Thomas, approach my table after he did a panel. He's an inspiration to me, being called "the composer's composer." So talented and knowledgeable in music and video/animation scores. Thanks for stopping by to chat, Chance!

Our dear friend, Rebekah Grow, visited briefly in her ring wraith costume from The Lord of the Rings. She was accompanied by two adorable Disney princesses (her little girls) plus her baby only a few months old.
One of the best surprises was the arrival of one of my cover models, Brady Knighton, decked out in the full leather armor he wore for the Shadows of Valor photo shoot. Can I just say AWESOME! His photo appears on the back of my book. He was at Fantasy Con helping another booth by the name of "Heroic", a wonderful group who has super heroes show up at charity events for children and others. Brady usually plays Captain America at these events (he has to shave his face for that, of course). I was pleased to find that the leather armor company, Rose and Thorn Armory, who made Brady's outfit, was at the convention as well. They displayed my book with Brady's picture and had my business cards at their booth. I, in turn, gave out their business cards to anyone interested in their armor. Win-Win!

Another surprise was a knight in chainmail who walked up to my booth, pointed at my book and said, "That's my wife on your cover." I thought he was joking, but then he told me her name (Paulina Baykova) and what she was studying at school. He bought her a book and I signed it, dedicating it to her. COOL! Paulina's husband is on the left with the headgear. Too fun!

Paulina's sister, Yelena Baykova, also visited our booth. Yelena was the film director who did my book trailer on Youtube for Shadows of Valor and who took the photos of Paulina and Brady for my cover. I'd never met her in person before the convention, so it was a real treat to finally see her. SO GREAT!

I was able to take pictures of the giant dragon, fountain, sentinels and a few other things the day before the convention kicked off. I hope Fantasy Con returns to Salt Lake next year and that I'll be able to be a vendor there again.
Front view of the smoke-breathing dragon designed by my brother, Nathan Rees
Side view of the smoke-breathing dragon designed by my brother, Nathan Rees
My brothers Kit (right), Nathan (center) and Nathan's wife, Heidi (left) in front of dragon
Banner designed by my brother, Kit Rees
Fountain designed by my brothers Kit and Nathan Rees which will be enlarged and placed in Las Vegas.
Here are more pictures of some of the great costumes I caught on camera as the different characters passed my booth (Jaba didn't pass my booth. I had to go to him - the lazy blob - haha :)