All posts by Karen Docter

Monday Musings: Stretch for perfection….

Have you ever read a book, watched a video or examined an art piece, completely enthralled, knowing in that one instant you’ve experienced perfection?  It’s exactly how I felt when I watched this video the first time.  All I could do was lean back in my office chair in awe of the beauty these Chinese acrobats were creating with their bodies.  Perfection.  I was so bemused by my visceral response to
this unique interpretation of “Swan Lake” I couldn’t help but share it with you today.

Perfection. It’s what I strive for when I’m working on one of my novels. I’m not saying every word that drips off my fingertips to the keyboard must be rimmed with gold.  I don’t need the angels to weep for the beauty of my prose.  Actually, these kinds of expectations stand in my way if I’m never satisfied with what I’ve written.  No.  What I strive to create is that moment I feel a sense of completion when one sentence, or one paragraph, a scene captures the vision in my head.  It’s when I finish a scene and know, know, I can tweak and tweak and never recapture it just that way again.

I have no illusions I’ll ever achieve true perfection in my novels.  There will always be a different word I can use, another phrase.  My heroes can be hunkier, my heroines more sympathetic.  But, if I’m lucky, there will be one moment in time when one of my readers will sit back and sigh in awe at something I’ve written. It doesn’t have to be because I wrote the perfect story or the perfect hero, or even the perfect murder. I’ll settle for a single line. And another. Then another.

Why?

Because, someday I want someone to turn back the page and reread what I wrote just for the pure pleasure of it.  That is the day I’ll achieve perfection.

Until the next time.

Karen’s Killer Fixin’s…Easy Cheesy Broccoli Chicken & Rice Soup

It’s time for Karen’s Killer Fixin’s!  Over the years, I’ve filled two 4-inch, 3-ring binders with my own creations as well as recipes my family and friends were willing to share with me.  I simply love to cook and want to share that love with my readers here.

So every Friday, I share one recipe I think you and your family might enjoy.  It might be a main course recipe.  A cookie or baked item.  Candy.  Salads.  Whatever strikes my eye and fancy…which today is EASY CHEESY BROCCOLI CHICKEN & RICE SOUP.

We’re heading into the cooler, fall months when we start thinking about making hearty soups to warm up our families. I often have a soup pot on because it allows me to write and read and play with my family and friends without worrying about what to put on the dinner table. I love this recipe for those days when I’ve forgotten to get something started. It really is a quick and easy soup, not to mention scrumptious!  Serve with hot, buttered garlic bread or rolls.

I hope you enjoy today’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy eating!

Karen

P.S.  We’re at 2 recipes and counting with this posting!  Hope you find some recipes you like.  If you don’t want to miss any future recipes, be sure to return to my blog next Friday.  If this is your first visit, check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right hand column of my home page, you can look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, etc.

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EASY CHEESY BROCCOLI CHICKEN & RICE SOUP
[Serves 4]

 

1 skinless chicken or 3-4 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
4 servings cooked rice
1 stalk celery, diced
2 green onions, diced
1 to 1-½ cups broccoli
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup chunked Velveeta or processed cheese

In microwave casserole dish with lid, cook chicken in water [½ filled] until done.  Strip off bones if using whole chicken.  Set meat and water aside.  Cook 4 servings of rice as directed on package.  Set aside.  Chop and sauté in butter…celery, green onions and broccoli.

Combine chicken/water with both cans of soup and cheese.  Microwave until hot and cheese is melted.  Mix with vegetables and rice.  Stir together and serve with hot bread or rolls.

Hints: Keep chicken breasts in freezer for 10-minute thaw in warm water if you need a quick last minute meal.  I also keep packages of frozen broccoli and cans of soup on hand.  You can use any cheese; processed cheese melts easiest.  I’ve even used a bit of PepperJack or Havarti for some zip.

 

Wacky Wednesday: A little humor for your day….

RE:  Shampoo

Check your shampoo bottle label … Read the directions CAREFULLY !!!

I don’t know WHY I didn’t figure this out sooner!!!!  It’s the shampoo I use in the shower!  When I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body and (duh!) printed very clearly on the shampoo label is this warning: FOR EXTRA VOLUME AND BODY! NO wonder I have been gaining weight!!!

Well! I have gotten rid of that shampoo and I am going to start using Dawn dish soap instead. Their label reads: DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE. Problem Solved!!!

If I don’t answer the phone I’ll be in the shower!!!

(Anonymous)

I hope your day is a good one.  Happy reading!

Karen

Monday Musings: Clutter my world….

Debris plot by NASA
The above graphics are computer generated images of objects in Earth orbit that are currently being tracked. Approximately 95% of the objects in this illustration are…FMI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_junk

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Do you find this image as shocking as I do?  I’ve seen the concept before but it’s just as mystifying to me now as it was then. How can something like this happen?

I’m a geek at heart. I love space. After an astronomy course in college, I considered changing my major.  Given a chance to take my husband and explore the universe with benevolent aliens like some Cocoon movie, I’d seriously think about it. Needless to say, I’m a Trekkie and Star Wars fan, and I’d join the Firefly crew in a heartbeat. I could be their “Neelix” (Star Trek Voyager) and cook up gastronomic delights between jobs and bar brawls. Okay, maybe I’d be more like Inara and watch Mal kick butt from the sidelines.

My point is I love space…its vastness and mystery…the gorgeous colors set against the backdrop of black space…the wide open, spectacular vistas.  Until recently, though, I’d never made any room in my mind for space debris.

I don’t want to get into an environmental discussion here but this image got me thinking about the debris fields that lurk on the edges of our own lives, taking up space, not really hurting anything until it impinges on our world view and we’re forced to deal with it.  Take junk drawers, for instance. We all have one or two or…well, we’re getting into hoarding territory if we take this concept to its natural conclusion.  How many of us have a garage that doesn’t house a car?  Storage sheds packed to the rafters? Sock drawers overflowing with single socks just looking for a mate? TBR book piles that threaten life and limb in the bedroom?

If any of this doesn’t resonate with you and you have a debris-free life, give me a shout. I’m looking for a victim to kill off in my next book.

Um, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah, clutter.  We all have it in our lives because it’s all too easy to tuck the odd item or two out of sight until we find its mate, find a use for it, figure out which key fits which door, etc.  Then suddenly, to our surprise, we wake up one morning and the junk drawer no longer closes, the garage is filled floor to ceiling with boxes and you’re considering a move to a bigger house with a three-car garage and forty-two acres of open space just begging for barns.

Space debris even clutters my writing world.  I hesitate to say it – but acknowledging you have a problem is the first step, I’ve heard – I’m a word hoarder. I’ve never met a word I didn’t like.  I tend to write “long”.  Write a 10-page chapter? Get real!  I’m lucky to stop at 20 pages. I envy writers who can blog in half the space I’m using just for this one blog!

What this means is that I spend an inordinate amount of time culling the space debris in my novels. I can’t move on to the next scene until I’ve cleaned up the one I’m working on. It makes me crazy to focus on daily word counts. A finished scene is the most important benchmark for me. It’s far from a perfect system. But it works for me.  At least, for my writing.

Now, if anyone can help me get my truck in the garage, I’d be most appreciative.

Karen’s Killer Fixin’s…Banana Nut Muffins

It’s time for Karen’s Killer Fixin’s!  Over the years, I’ve filled two 4-inch, 3-ring binders with my own creations as well as recipes my family and friends were willing to share with me.  I simply love to cook and want to share that love with my readers here.

So every Friday, I share one recipe I think you and your family might enjoy.  It might be a main course recipe.  A cookie or baked item.  Candy.  Salads.  Whatever strikes my eye and fancy…which today is BANANA NUT MUFFINS!

Today’s muffin recipe is a great standby muffin.  Don’t know what to do with those old bananas?  Use them after their prime for this great recipe.  If you don’t have time to use them today or tomorrow, and hate to throw them away, throw those bananas in the freezer and pull them out when you DO have time!  Do take time to thaw them before you use them.  (Recommend running frozen bananas under warm water until you can remove peels before thawing.) These muffins are also excellent with a tablespoon or two of peanut butter.  Yeah, yeah, I was a peanut butter banana sandwich lover when I was growing up!

I hope you enjoy today’s Killer Fixin’s.

Happy eating!

Karen

P.S.  We’re at 1 recipe and counting with this posting!  Hope you find some recipes you like.  If you don’t want to miss any future recipes, be sure to return to my blog next Friday.  If this is your first visit, check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s.

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BANANA NUT MUFFINS

[12 Muffins]

2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup mashed banana
½ cup chopped walnuts

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 12-muffin pan.  Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.  Make well in center.  Mix milk, egg, water, oil, banana and walnuts in small bowl.  Pour mixture into well.  Mix batter just until moistened; do not over-mix.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or until muffins are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

NOTE:  To ensure round muffin tops, grease only the bottom and halfway up the sides of each muffin cup.

My everyday life in a nutshell…

Like many authors I’d rather write stories about other people who have more exciting lives but since you’ve come to visit, I thought you might be a bit curious about me.

I live atop a hill overlooking some of the best scenery you can imagine, the majestic Rocky Mountains to the west, the open prairie to the east, and the downtown Denver skyline to the south.  On a clear day, I can look out my living room window and see Pikes Peak ninety miles away.  I never understood the appeal of living in one place forty or fifty years…until now.  It’s the house I never dreamed I wanted.  Full of character and life.

It cultivates my vision and creativity.

I’ve been happily married 31 years to the one and only blind date I ever agreed to–well, my boss at that time who set us up did strong-arm me.  I had planned a three-day fishing weekend in the mountains with my family and I really didn’t want to pack up my favorite pole and cut it short.  What can I say?  I love to fish!  Of course, my mother convinced me to drive back down the mountain.  She pointed out, as good mothers with unmarried daughters tend to do, that if I didn’t like the guy it was only an hour drive to get back to the campsite.  I could be back on the river by dawn.  Too bad she never saw me again.  At least, that’s her version.

He cultivates my belief in romance and a happily-ever-after.

I have three wonderful children who make me proud on a regular basis and, at last count, I’m the doting grandma of six beautiful grandchildren with another one on the way.  I revel in the noise and chaos that ensues when we’re all together at the dining room table or on the back lawn catching up and simply enjoying each other’s company.  Add two demanding dogs, one lonely canary, about twenty noisy zebra finches — silly things just won’t stand in a line and be counted! — you’ve captured my everyday life in a nutshell.

They remind me of what’s important in life.

I’ve been in the business world more than thirty years, the last twenty as my own boss.  I love to fish and camp, but I also live for reading, gardening, crafts and cooking.  I wrap all of this around my writing career, speaking engagements, and sharing of the craft of writing.

And this is where I live…in the world of complex characters that become as real to me as my friends and storylines that may contain more than a little bit of murder and mayhem.

Welcome

Welcome to my official blog on WordPress! For those of you who’ve joined me from MySpace or read my newsletter Musings where I’ve shared my thoughts for years, thanks for following me here so we can continue our chats. If you’re joining me for the first time, I hope you enjoy your visit.

Please visit regularly as I share bits and pieces about reading, writing, and anything else that strikes my fancy. In other words, I don’t intend to bore you with the litany of “me”. I’m interested in a number of things and would like to share those interests. I want to get to know you, too.

I will post at least three times a week.

• Monday Musings – Let’s talk reading and writing! In addition to my thoughts and musings, I’ll occasionally host guest authors and professionals with their own insights into the book industry.

• Wacky Wednesdays – Articles, fun trivia, photos, whatever catches my eye. It’s a big world out there and I love to share my interests with my readers.

• Friday Fixin’s – Looking for something new to make for your family? Want to cook from scratch and save money? Each week, I’ll share a new recipe from my extensive personal cookbooks with you. A little help in the kitchen gives us all time to read more of the books we love!

If you have a recipe you’re willing to share, give me a shout at kldocter@yahoo.com. Feel free to send articles of interest, too. No guarantees I’ll post all of them but I’m interested in hearing from you, my readers, and will post what I can.

Looking forward to chatting with you. Have a great day!

Karen