Stop, Drop & Roll

Yesterday, I blogged about some of my new writing projects (a contemporary baseball romance and a Regency romance), and shared Burn Story #1: The Incredible Hulk Burn. Today, I have another memorable burn story to share with you, but first, I’d like to present some statistics so we can all be in the right frame of mind for my tale.

  • Odds of being struck by lightning in your life-time: 1 in 3,000*
  • Odds of becoming President of the United States: 1 in 10,000,000*
  • Odds of winning the Powerball jackpot: 1 in 175,000,000*
  • Odds of being badly burned by a rogue popcorn kernel: 1 in 1,000,000,000 (<-I made this up, but it has to be somewhere around there)

And now, I share with you another memorable burn story.

Burn Story #2: The Unfortunate Popcorn Kernel Incident of 2010

It was a Tuesday night in September. I was ready to settle in to watch NCIS, and what better to go with my favorite Naval team of investigators than a nice bowl of fresh-popped popcorn? Exactly.

So, I pulled out my trusty electric popcorn popper–an old model that once belonged to my grandmother, and got to work.

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The Infamous Popcorn Popper

 

The batch started out like any other. I got a bowl. I poured in the kernels. I flipped the switch to ON. There was a whirring noise and things started to happen. Popcorn started popping. But I found out the hard way: snacks can be dangerous.

And then, in the midst of puffy, white clouds, a rogue kernel took flight. It flew out of the popper, bounced off the counter, and landed in a very uncomfortable location under my shirt. Ladies (and maybe some men): I think you know the spot I’m talking about. That V where things tend to fall and get stuck.

This kernel was hot! Piping hot! Skin sizzling hot!

I did one heck of a I-have-a-hot-popcorn-kernel-trapped-in-my-bosom dance. I let out a horror-movie yelp. And I got that bugger out of there as fast as I could..but it was too late. The damage was already done.

And let’s just say it was bad. Not only is that location tricky to bandage, but for those of you who have ever sunburned your chest, you can probably imagine the discomfort. Especially if you’ve blistered.

I’ll be honest, I stuck with microwave popcorn for a long time after that. But there’s just something about fresh popped corn that I love, so I’ve plugged the popper back in, poured in some kernels, and flipped the switch. But these days,  I make sure to wear high-necked shirts and safety goggles, just in case.**

I can laugh about it now. And maybe you will, too.

*Google search results

**Serious about the shirt. Kidding about the safety goggles, but they probably aren’t a bad idea.

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Ooooh, burn!

If you’re here to read about snarky, witty retorts, than I apologize. I’m not about to write about that kind of burn, though I’ll admit there’s nothing quite like snappy banter. I’m going to talk about the painful kind of burn that occurs when heat meets skin.

I’m currently working on drafting two new stories: one is a contemporary romance involving a baseball player; the other is a Regency romance that includes an unfortunate fire that wounds both the hero and heroine. Lately, my Google search terms have been pretty wide-ranging, and include:

  • issues with batting stance
  • dangerous animals in Britain (there was a man-eating hedgehog!!! Say it ain’t so, Sonic!)
  • minor league baseball team front office staff
  • burn treatment in the Regency Era
  • Giggle Noodle Soup (Why, Lipton, why did you stop making this fantastic piece of my childhood?)

Anyhow, back to the subject at hand: burns. I’ve been doing some reading about burns, burn treatment, and how medicine has advanced over the past 300 years. It’s pretty amazing how treatment has gone from dousing the burns with turpentine to doctors being able to use living skin grafts. Go, modern medicine, go!

All this reading about burns got me thinking about some of the more memorable burns I’ve had over the years. I’m pretty sure everyone who’s been around a stove (or at the very least, hot cocoa) has experienced the discomfort of a burn. Mine have ranged from singed hair minor (the worst smell ever) to oopsy-glue gun moderate (yowch) to I probably should have gone to the ER but broke and in grad school major (also a really bad smell). I promise not to get into too much detail here, for those of you who are squeamish, but I thought I’d share two little stories with you.

Burn Story #1: The Incredible Hulk Burn

Grad school. Tiny apartment on the wrong side of town.

There I was, baking chicken parmesan for some friends. I was about to take the casserole dish out of the oven when I was startled by a HUGE bang against the door. Arm met heating coil. Skin sizzled. My dinner guests were right on time.

I didn’t have great insurance, and the local hospital wasn’t exactly known to be a pillar of excellent healthcare. I was subsisting on Ramen and Easy Mac, and frankly, chicken parm was a splurge. The thought of an unexpected co-pay was enough for me to grind my teeth together, open the door, and pretend I hadn’t just branded myself on the oven. It was bad enough that I forced myself not to look until I was sitting down. Retrospectively, I’m pretty proud of the fact that I didn’t drop dinner.

I quickly treated the burn with some Aloe Vera gel and a non-stick gauze bandage I had on hand, and ate dinner. No big deal. Until the next day, when I went to redress my burn.

It was bright green. Incredible hulk green. I was morphing into a super hero!

*sound of a record scratching*

Sadly, no super hero abilities for me. Turns out, wounds in the epidermis and dermis soak up color like a sponge! Which is why it’s important to buy 100% Aloe Vera gel without added color if you plan on treating an open burn. Unless you want to be part Incredible Hulk.

I now have a 2-inch scar on my forearm, which has started to fade *cough, cough* years later. And enough common sense now to advise anyone who gets a burn that’s deep enough to see things that shouldn’t ever see the light of day to seek professional treatment.

Tune back in tomorrow for Burn Story #2: The Unfortunate Popcorn Kernel Incident of 2010.

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New Year, New Post

It has been a whirlwind few months since the last time I posted, and I’m just now starting to feel like I have time to breathe again. Moving across the country from the Midwest to the West Coast is not for the faint of heart, and I’ll be the first to tell you that selling a house from afar is a stressful, complicated experience.

We settled into an apartment, keeping most of our stuff in storage, deciding to wait to find a new home until our old home was sold. I juggled mom-ing, consulting, writing, and house hunting.

The house we put on the market in May finally sold at the end of October. It was such a relief to be done with it, but then we decided it was time to find a place of our own again. The apartment was great, but it wasn’t quite enough space for an active 3-year-old, and definitely not big enough for our animals (2 dogs and a cat).

We found the house of our dreams at the beginning of November, and after a month and a half of crazy paperwork and negotiations, we closed on our house. A week before Christmas.

We wanted to be out of the apartment and in the house by 2016, so we had a lot to get done in two weeks: packing, moving, unpacking, more moving, and prepping for the holidays.

We wanted our son to have a festive holiday, so two days before Christmas we showed up at Lowe’s to get a tree. They had already closed down the tree lot, and there weren’t many decorations left to pick from, but I think the staff felt bad for us. They reopened the tree lot so we could pick a tree, and even rustled up a few strands of lights and a tree stand for us (at a very generous discount). So, we ended up with a tree in an otherwise empty house. Despite its barren condition and lack of decorations, our son said it was the “best Christmas tree ever.” After seeing the giant grin on his face, I’d have to agree.

We had most of our stuff moved over on Christmas Eve, and my father-in-law was here to watch the little guy while my husband and I got things as organized as we could. Unpacking was an adventure. I found Chemistry textbooks in a box labeled Christmas, and I’m not entirely sure why a mostly empty box of rice ended up in a box of shoes. While I unpacked, I thought about some of the edits I needed to make on a MS for my agent, and tried to work out some plot issues for another book I’m in the process of writing.

On New Year’s Eve, the “missing vault” of items from our original move arrived, much to my relief, including: the wooden rocking horse my father made me; my hand-me-down Radio Flyer metal tricycle; a box labeled “fax machine” –which has me curious, since we have never actually owned a fax machine. What could it be?

I’ve been steadily working on edits the past few nights, and soon I’ll have to get back into my consulting projects. I figure, if I tackle a few moving boxes a day, it won’t feel so overwhelming.

There are so many exciting things happening this year: settling into our new house; writing projects; consulting projects; and new family memories in the making. I have a feeling 2016 is going to be an incredible year, and I can’t wait to see what it brings!

 

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So, this happened again…

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 7.51.17 AMI wrote another book. It’s still a bit rough around the edges, but there is something wonderful about hitting those two little words. Especially since it’s been a fight to the finish with everything that’s been going on since I started drafting last October.

Even with the cross-country move and all that comes along with it, I was determined to have the first draft done by the end of June, and I hit the self-imposed deadline with only a few hours to spare. But I did it!

As I was packing and unpacking boxes, I spent a lot of time working out the chapters in my head, so when I finally sat down to write, it went pretty quickly. Yesterday, I compiled the entire draft from Scrivener to Word so I can get through the first round of formatting and revisions before sending it off for some second opinions and fresh eyes.

This project (Code name:HOH) marks the 6th book I’ve written that I feel comfortable calling “finished.” I’ve been playing around with some music-inspired formatting, with an Intro, Midtro, and Outro bridging the main story segments. It’s also the first time I’ve written an Asian-American character, so I’ve done my best to accurately and authentically portray him.

And I hope that someday, I’ll be able to share HOH with the world.

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Goodbye Garden, Hello Mint Syrup

This is the first year – in almost a decade- when I won’t have a kitchen garden. My raised bed boxes are, perhaps, one of the things I’ll miss most about our house, now that we’re relocating. I’ll also miss my mint garden.

I planted the mint in a troublesome spot that grew more weeds than anything else, and I figured, mint is practically a weed, why not? The stuff spreads like wildfire and is almost impossible to control. It really should be relegated to pots because it will takeover a garden in a flash. It also holds its own against weeds, needs little-to-no tending, and provides an occasional flower for honey bees.

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Fresh mint

This morning I gathered my last mint cuttings and decided it might be nice to try making a mint sauce for ice cream. What better way to say farewell to my plants than with a little sauce drizzled over a scoop of vanilla? The mint syrup turned out a bit thinner than I wanted, but the taste is divine. Here’s the recipe I came up with, if you want to try it out yourself:

Mint Syrup

(Yield: ~ 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredients

1 cup sugar (or more, depending on how thick you want the syrup)

1 cup water

3/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves

Instructions

1. Mix sugar and water in a small pot, and heat to boiling while stirring. Once the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Sugar Syrup

Sugar Syrup

2. Blanch mint leaves by boiling in water until bright green (~1 minute) and then immediately transfer to an ice bath. Drain leaves.

Boil leaves

Boil leaves

Ice Bath

Ice Bath

3. Add blanched mint leaves and sugar syrup to blender. Puree.

Puree

Puree

 4. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Strain liquid and discard leafy bits. Enjoy!

Strain liquid

Strain liquid

Note: I couldn’t wait for ice cream, so I added a teaspoon of the mint syrup to a cup of hot black tea. Refreshing! I think this syrup would also work well in place of mint jelly for lamb or as a mix-in for a summery drink (think: spritzers or a mojito).

If you use this recipe to make mint sauce or have a different idea for how it can be used, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

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