• Essay — Cooking with instructions

    • Image source: Dreamstime Stock Photos, ©John Johnson

       

      On Monday, the pair of us donned our Chef and Table Setter hats to sear two steaks on the table grill. Without much fanfare, the grill was set up on a bench on the front porch and plugged into the outlet. As it was heating, the Chef asked, “Where are the papers and notes with temps and times for cooking steaks?”

      The Table Setter said, “I’m not sure. Probably in the box where everything else that goes with the grill is stored. I’ll go look.”

      “I’ll help you while the grill is heating.”

      “Okay.” The Table Setter headed inside.

      After a thorough search of the box, the pantry, and all the other cook books in the house, no pamphlet with notes attached was found.

      By now the grill was hot and since the Chef remembered cook times were about eight minutes and temps should be 400 degrees, she decided to put the steaks on the grill.

      The Table Setter went back inside to do her chores. Eight minutes later, when she returned to the porch, the grill was smoking and the steaks were done.

      Lunch was delicious…though both Chef and Table Setter still wondered where the recipe booklet might be.

      An hour later, the Chef went out to the porch to bring in the cooled grill for cleaning. As the grilling plates were removed, small scraps of paper flew into the air, showering the countertop like black confetti.

      In one voice, we said, “The pamphlet!”

      Yep…the pamphlet was under the top grill plate. We’d grilled the instructions and the notes along with the steaks.

      Luckily, we didn’t burn down the porch.

       

      *****

      ***** ABOUT THE AUTHOR *****

      HL Carpenter is the pen name of a Florida-based mother/daughter duo who writes from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity.

      Also by HL Carpenter:

      Jack and The Fountain of Youth. Some people say the Fountain of Youth is a myth. Jack Ponsi Dileonardo Thomas knows better.

      The SkyHorse. Fourteen year old Tovi thinks finding a flying horse is fabulous luck–until a mysterious stranger says finders aren’t always keepers.

      Dream Stealer. Is stealing a dream better than losing your own?

      Pirate Summer. When her brother disappears, Josey is sure she knows where he’s gone. And the only way to bring him home is to travel two hundred years into the past with a boy she can’t trust.

      A Cause for Murder. Someone at Happy Haven is a killer. Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives to discover who has a cause for murder.

      *****

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      Essay — Crepey, Crepey Images After days of rain, crepey beauty exploded in Carpenter Country this week. Crepe Myrtle - Image Source: HL Carpenter   Mushrooms - Image source: HL Carpenter   ***** ***** ABOUT THE AUTHOR ***** HL Carpenter is the pen name of a Florida-based mother/daughter duo who writes from their studios in ...
      Essay — Lighting New Fires Image source: Robbie Sproule from Montreal, Canada via Wikimedia Commons The other evening when temperatures in Carpenter Country dropped to chilly thirty-nine degrees, we looked at our old fireplace and wondered if we should keep it or replace it. The old wood burner had been providing heat on long winter nights for...
      Essay — The Week in Pictures Here's what fall looks like in Carpenter Country. Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter   Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter Image source:...
      Top Drawer News — Jack and The Video Image source: Screenshot by HL Carpenter Our thanks to friend and fellow author Gina Briganti for taking the time to post a VIDEO REVIEW of Jack! Take a look at Gina's Five Star review, then visit her website and give her some blogging love. Why not visit her book page on Amazon too...we're here to tell you Gi...
  • Essay — Crepey, Crepey Images

    • After days of rain, crepey beauty exploded in Carpenter Country this week.

      Crepe Myrtle – Image Source: HL Carpenter

       

      Mushrooms – Image source: HL Carpenter

       

      *****

      ***** ABOUT THE AUTHOR *****

      HL Carpenter is the pen name of a Florida-based mother/daughter duo who writes from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity.

      Fiction by HL Carpenter:

      Jack and The Fountain of Youth. Some people say the Fountain of Youth is a myth. Jack Ponsi Dileonardo Thomas knows better.

      The SkyHorse. Fourteen year old Tovi thinks finding a flying horse is fabulous luck–until a mysterious stranger says finders aren’t always keepers.

      Dream Stealer. Is stealing a dream better than losing your own?

      Pirate Summer. When her brother disappears, Josey is sure she knows where he’s gone. And the only way to bring him home is to travel two hundred years into the past with a boy she can’t trust.

      A Cause for Murder. Someone at Happy Haven is a killer. Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives to discover who has a cause for murder.

      *****

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      Essay — Cooking with instructions Image source: Dreamstime Stock Photos, ©John Johnson   On Monday, the pair of us donned our Chef and Table Setter hats to sear two steaks on the table grill. Without much fanfare, the grill was set up on a bench on the front porch and plugged into the outlet. As it was heating, the Chef asked, "Where are the pap...
      Top Drawer News — Goodbye, Louise In memory of a long-time subscriber, neighbor, and friend who loved beaches, gardening, and flowers. Goodbye, Louise. You will be missed.   Image source: Pixabay   Image source: HL Carpenter   Image source: HL Carpenter   *****
      Top Drawer News — A colorful week This has been a colorful week in Carpenter Country, with blossoms, birds, and a small, sticky-footed friend keeping us company and brightening our days. Hibiscus Periwinkle Plumbago Sago palm Hummingbird Lizard We hope your week has been colorful too! ***** ***** ABOUT THE AUTHOR ***** HL Carpe...
      Essay — Lighting New Fires Image source: Robbie Sproule from Montreal, Canada via Wikimedia Commons The other evening when temperatures in Carpenter Country dropped to chilly thirty-nine degrees, we looked at our old fireplace and wondered if we should keep it or replace it. The old wood burner had been providing heat on long winter nights for...
  • Essay — Lighting New Fires

    • Fireplace

      Image source: Robbie Sproule from Montreal, Canada via Wikimedia Commons

      The other evening when temperatures in Carpenter Country dropped to chilly thirty-nine degrees, we looked at our old fireplace and wondered if we should keep it or replace it.

      The old wood burner had been providing heat on long winter nights for years. It also provided smoke, fumes, dust, dirt, and ashes, all of which caused sneezing. Then there was the work of felling trees, splitting logs, storing wood, and hauling the finished product into the house.

      While looking at the flames was relaxing and the heat certainly pushed back the chill in the room, we wondered if there was a way to have the good without the bad.

      A shopping trip was in order.

      After visiting several big box stores, we chose an electric model that would heat a 400 square foot room. The unit came with sidelights in various colors, flames in several heights, a timer, and a thermostat, and it all worked with the heater on or off.

      The carpenter in the family grabbed hammer and saw and soon the new fireplace covered the front of the old fireplace. Last night, we gave it a tryout. Though it wasn’t quite like the real thing—no snap, crackle or the flinging of sparks up the chimney—flames danced in the firebox and the heater warmed the room.

      So is the new fireplace an improvement? Well, no one is sneezing or jumping up every few minutes to haul in firewood…

      …on the other hand, we haven’t received an electric bill yet.

      ***

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      Essay — The Week in Pictures Here's what fall looks like in Carpenter Country. Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter   Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter Image source: HL Carpenter Image source:...
      Top Drawer News — Jack and The Video Image source: Screenshot by HL Carpenter Our thanks to friend and fellow author Gina Briganti for taking the time to post a VIDEO REVIEW of Jack! Take a look at Gina's Five Star review, then visit her website and give her some blogging love. Why not visit her book page on Amazon too...we're here to tell you Gi...
  • Essay — The Week in Pictures

    • Here’s what fall looks like in Carpenter Country.

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

       

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      ***

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  • Essay — Going Places

    • Image source: openclipart.org

      Image source: openclipart.org

      Here in Carpenter Country we’ve discovered adventure awaits if we leave the GPS, smart phone, ipad, and other electronic devices at home and travel the “old fashioned” way—using a map and our ingenuity.

      Before venturing forth, we stash a few emergency bottles of water in the cooler along with a several packs of snack crackers. We check our vehicle’s tires and oil, and of course, the window washer, since most byways are buggy places. Lastly, we grab our atlas or an up-to-date map, and–

      Ready, set, go!

      As soon as we’re out of our comfort zone, we choose the path less traveled. That means avoiding interstates and toll highways. We find the name of a town or a state or county road (preferably one we’ve never heard of before) on the map and head for it.

      Once on our way, we enjoy the scenery, check out farm stands, small mom-and-pop restaurants, and the local attractions. We stop for lunch or gas and mosey around the town square. We’ve come across craft shows, health fairs, and carnivals with merry-go-rounds. Chowing down on hot dogs, cotton candy, and ice cream—whatever suits our fancy–is part of the fun.

      Locating a place to stay overnight can turn into an adventure of its own. Hotels and motels are great, but if we pass a bed and breakfast that looks inviting we stop in to ask if beautifully decorated rooms with those wonderful high beds and goose down quilts are available.

      We’ve thought about what to do if we find ourselves in a scary situation too.

      Our rule: Should that unlikely event occur, don’t panic! Reach into the glove compartment for the phone (yes, you knew we hid it there 🙂 ), and call for help.

      But we try to remember we’re traveling the old fashioned way—

      So getting lost is not an emergency.

      ***

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  • Essay — Summer Weather Forecasting is for the Birds

    • Weather forecasting is for the birds—bluebirds, that is.

      Image Source: HL Carpenter

      Image Source: HL Carpenter

      Here in Carpenter Country, the magical place where we write, we offer room and board to local avians in exchange for the pleasure of their company. We built two of our community birdhouses especially for bluebirds, and they’ve been continually occupied over the years.

      During that time, the bluebirds-in-residence have followed the same routine. In spring, for warmth, they raise chicks in the box that sits in full sun. In summer, to keep the nestlings cooler, they use the quarters that occupy a shady spot close to a leafy Sycamore.

      Last month, Mr. and Mrs. Blue reversed the procedure and built a summer nest at their spring address.

      We’re pretty sure bluebirds don’t move house because the kitchen in the new place is equipped with great appliances or the bathroom has a hot tub. We think they’re more into the realtor’s creed of location, location, location. They decide—in advance—which location will offer the best conditions for the survival of their chicks.

      So, are bluebirds better at long range forecasting than human meteorologists?

      Turns out they are. Every day during the month of July, the weather people predicted an occasional shower and lots of sunshine. But the birds knew July would be cloud-covered and rain-soaked.

      Perhaps forecasters should watch birds instead of computer models. How about putting bluebirds on the air? A live-stream webcam of bluebird activity would be more interesting than swirling maps of radar simulations. And, given the accuracy of recent forecasts, Mr. and Mrs. Blue would earn their salary of insects and berries.

      What do you think? Is employing bluebirds as forecasters an idea whose time has come? Or could it only happen in Carpenter Country, a place that, like our stories, is unreal but not untrue?

      ***

      Image Source: LongandShortReviews.com

      Image Source: LongandShortReviews.com

      This post is part of the Long and Short Reviews 7th Anniversary Bash taking place August 25 to 29, 2014. Marianne and Judy, who operate Long and Short Reviews, are giving away Amazon and Barnes & Noble gift cards, along with books and other prizes offered by participating authors. Long and Short Reviews features and reviews romance, erotic romance, YA/Middle Grade, Mystery/Suspense, SFF and mainstream fiction, so you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.

      **HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN WIN BY ENTERING RIGHT HERE ON OUR SITE**

      **We’re offering one copy of our e-novel, Walled In, to a lucky reader.**

      Vandy 3D Cover small

      Walled In is the story of Vandy Spencer,
      who discovers her entire life has been built on a
      heart-shattering deception when her father is accused of fraud.

      Click here to read the first chapter of Walled In.

      For your chance to win one electronic copy of Walled In, log onto the Rafflecopter entry form below and make a comment on this post.

      *Giveaway Details*

      Prize: One winner will receive one copy of the e-book, Walled In by HL Carpenter

      Contest ends: August 29, 11:59 pm, 2014

      Open: Internationally (The e-book is only available in English and will be delivered via email)

      How to enter: To win a free copy of the e-book, Walled In by HL Carpenter, sign into the Rafflecopter widget below and make a comment on this post.

      Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.

      If you have questions, email HL_Carpenter(at)HLCarpenter(dot)com.

      Good luck, and happy reading!

      a Rafflecopter giveaway

      ***

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  • Essay — This Week in Carpenter Country

    • Wondering what’s been going on in Carpenter Country lately?

      This week, the English heritage rose started out like this:

      Image by HL Carpenter

      Image by HL Carpenter

      and ended up like this:

      Image by HL Carpenter

      Image by HL Carpenter

      and hosted this visitor:

      Image by HL Carpenter

      Image by HL Carpenter

      We clicked on these links:

      Anatomy of a Credit Card

      Hidden Hotel Fees

      How to Protect Your ATM card

      Audio Artist Interview

      Power Up Your Summer

      These words and phrases caught our attention:

      Wanderlust of the mind (from a Wall Street Journal article Monday 7/28/2014)

      Ohnosecond (from How-To Geek) – An Ohnosecond (short for Oh no! Second) is the very short moment of time it takes you to realize that  you just messed up in a big way while working on your computer.

      We learned that:

      July 31 is the birthday of JK Rowling, the author of Harry Potter. She doesn’t have a middle name and the “K” is for Kathleen, which is her grandmother’s name. She received an advance of $2,500 for the first Harry Potter book, which was published in 1997.

      We revisited a poem by our favorite author, Anonymous:

      Early one morning, late at night,
      Two dead boys went out for a fight.
      Back to back they faced each other,
      Drew their swords and shot each other.
      A deaf policeman heard their noise,
      And came and shot the two dead boys.
      If you don’t believe this lie is true,
      Go ask the blind man, he saw it, too.

      How was your week?

      ***

  • Essay — Time to Edit

    • Last week we mentioned we’ve been busy here in Carpenter Country. Here’s the proof.

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      That’s the print-out of our soon-to-be-released e-book, Walled In, with lots of pink and blue ink decorating the pages.

      We confess, the ink is ours. The actual editing suggestions were in the digital copy. What? You mean our stories are…ummm…less than perfect when we submit them?

      Welllllll…yes and no. That is, we think they’re perfect—and then someone reads the submitted draft and says, “Hey, this IS a good story. And it can be even better, if you…”

      When the someone who offers suggestions for improvement is an editor we respect, we listen, and then we get busy. We went through Walled In, changing and revising, tightening sentences, and making our hero more heroic.

      That part of the process is the substantive first edit, or as we call it, a LOT of work.

      And it’s only part of the process. Next comes the cover art, the tag, the blurb, the excerpt, the line edits and the galley proofs. Then the publicity tour, which needs to be planned in advance (meaning now), since the release date for Walled In is May 2.

      So we’ve been busy, and we’ll be busy, and we’re not complaining about any of it. Well, all right, there was some complaining about the edits. Those were OUR MARVELOUS WONDERFUL PERFECT WORDS!

      But we’re over that now, because after we re-worked our MARVELOUS WONDERFUL PERFECT WORDS, the  story got even marvelous-er wonderful-er perfect-er. Maybe even marvelous-est wonderful-est perfect-est.

      Of course, you’ll be the final judge.

      In the meantime, we’re getting started on line edits for Walled In and gearing up for another round of substantive editing on a novella that will be released in June. We’re also starting a new story, revising another already-written book, and writing four upcoming guest blog posts.

      Did we mention we’ve been busy here in Carpenter Country? We hope you’re busy with work you enjoy too.

      ***

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  • Essay — Fall into Spring

    • Spring arrives in five days, but the garden is already a palette of pink, red, and white thanks to the azaleas, dogwoods, and camellias. And on top of all that color, the oak trees are raining brown leaves.

      Yes, in Carpenter Country’s mystical part of the world, oaks drop their leaves in spring instead of fall.

      What kind of oaks?, you ask. Well, for years, I’ve called them Live Oaks, but I was wrong. The oaks dropping tons of leaves all over the yard are actually Laurel Oaks.

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      According to a 2006 study done by the University of Florida, Laurel Oaks grow tall, have a compact, oval top and usually live fifty to seventy years.

      In contrast, the branches of a Live Oak can spread into a canopy of over 100 feet and the trees often live as long as 300 years.

      Avenues of Live Oaks, decorated in Spanish moss, festoon a street in our county. They’ve also beautified photos, movies, and books. It’s hard to imagine how many snowbirds these magnificent shade trees have welcomed to the Sunshine State.

      If you have a Live Oak in your yard, consider yourself lucky. A study done in 2003 found that a single Live Oak can add as much as $30,000 to the value of a home.

      Darn, I wish I had at least one of them growing in my yard.

      Two would be even better.

      ***

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      Jack and The Fountain of Youth — Audio Installment 46 JACK AND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH by HL Carpenter ISBN: 978-0-9884095-1-4 Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9884095-0-7 Copyright (c) 2012 by Top Drawer Ink Corp. ***** Continued from Audio Installment 45 (New here? Choose an installment or start at the beginning)   Jack and The Fountain of Youth -- Audio Installment 46 *...
      Jack and The Fountain of Youth — Installment 103 JACK AND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH by HL Carpenter ISBN: 978-0-9884095-1-4 Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9884095-0-7 Copyright (c) 2012 by Top Drawer Ink Corp. ***** Continued from Installment 102 (New here? Choose an installment or start at the beginning)   He could only stand and stare at the swaying colgante. Slow-mo...
  • Essay — Listening to the Flowers

    • Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Hot, cold, rainy, sunny—what will it be today?

      Last week, Carpenter Country ushered in spring highs of eighty degrees. Pansies, delphiniums and azaleas bloomed beside a hibiscus. This week icicles festooned our fountain and temps dropped into the twenties.

      And while Florida shivered, relatives across the pond said their weather was spring-like.

      Today’s erratic weather patterns are called global warming and climate change. Yet historical records show extreme swings in temperature are nothing new. Fifty years ago, before a series of deep freezes, orange groves blanketed North Florida, legacy of the citrus first brought to the state by Spanish conquistadors five centuries ago.

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Image source: HL Carpenter

      Which makes me wonder what the early residents of St. Augustine and Jacksonville thought of the ups and downs of temperature. Probably they pulled on their woolies, kept their bathing suits close at hand, and hoped for the best.

      So I’m going to ignore the icicles and listen to the flowers.

      They may be shivering, but they already have a jump on the next heat wave.

      ***

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