Summer Writing Challenge: Day Six

Beautiful tropical beach with the word summer written on the sanDon’t mess with me today. I know I’m late in posting this, but it has been THAT kind of day.

That is why today’s prompt is…


John Bull taking a Luncheon: – or – British Co...

John Bull taking a Luncheon: – or – British Cooks, cramming Old Grumble-Gizzard, with Bonne-Chere, hand-coloured etching (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do with it what you will people.

Summer Writing Challenge: Day Five

Beautiful tropical beach with the word summer written on the sanSorry to be so late in posting today’s prompt, I was a very busy little beaver…

As for today’s prompt… how about…


Summer Writing Challenge: Day Four

Beautiful tropical beach with the word summer written on the sanHappy July Fourth every one.

I know that every one has a Fourth of July on their calendar, but that we here in America look at the date a little differently than those of you in other parts of the world do.

So today I’m honoring one of my favorite American Heroes, Founding Father,  John Adams.

Today’s prompt is a word that describes Adams’ attitude during the First and Second Continental Congresses:


John Adams

John Adams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Summer Writing Challenge: Day Three

Beautiful tropical beach with the word summer written on the sanWelcome to day three of our Summer Writing Challenge.

Hope your writing / creating is going well.

Today’s prompt is…


wooden figures

Summer Writing Challenge: Day Two

Beautiful tropical beach with the word summer written on the san
How did you do with the first Summer Writing Prompt? Did you find time to create?

Before we get to today’s prompt, a programming note: The prompts are just that “Prompts”. They are to spark your creative stirrings and get you started. You don’t have to use the word literally in what you do. It is far more important THAT you WRITE than that you write PLANK. (“Plank” was yesterdays word btw.)

OK the prompt for Day Two is…


Yeah, I couldn't find any clip art for "Sincerity" so I made my own.  BAM.

Yeah, I couldn’t find any clip art for “Sincerity” so I made my own. BAM.

Summer Writing Challenge: Day One

Beautiful tropical beach with the word summer written on the san
Welcome back my friends to the annual ritaLOVEStoWRITE Summer WRITING Challenge. Each day for the month of July I’ll present you with a word prompt.

It is up to you how much or how little you wish to write for the day (Maggie and I have set our goal at 1 hour a day.)

You don’t have to WRITE. This can be a CREATIVE challenge.  You can use the prompts to set you off on other creative journeys if you like. Last year Emily W. took an artistic approach and did some great photo essays. I’m wondering if some of my chief friends could whip up some menu items based on our prompts?

And you can share (or not) by leaving a comment below or sending me an email at

Beautiful tropical beach with the word summer written on the sanOK here it is… Today’s prompt is…


So whether is it a plank like the exercise…

English: an exercise of abs

English: an exercise of abs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

or cedar plank you are going to cook your salmon on, or…

English: Wooden plank with nailed aluminum she...

English: Wooden plank with nailed aluminum sheet. Building facade close-up. Français : Planche avec une lame d’aluminium clouée dessus. Gros plan d’une facade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the plank in a political platform… get nailing people, you’ve got a lot of creating to do.


Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(NOT my actual hand.)

Also: Quick reminder… don’t forget to keep up with “A Year of READING Dangerously” lots more books to get through on the 100 most banned and challenged book list. Please stop by and help us get through them all before Banned Book Week!

The Summer Writing Challenge is coming

Left hand writing the German word "Linksh...

Left hand writing the German word “Linkshänder” (left handed). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s right, the Summer Writing Challenge is almost here!

  • So sharpen your pencils…
  • Pull out our notebooks…
  • Charge your laptops…
  • Dust off those typewriters…

We are t-minus one day until we start the creative process.

English: An example of the hand-writing of Chr...

English: An example of the hand-writing of Christiane Vulpius. From: Hans Gerhard Gräf: Goethes Ehe in Briefen, Literarische Anstalt / Rütten & Loening, Frankfurt am Main 1922, p. 96 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hope you’ll join us for the journey.

English: my typewriter

English: my typewriter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MICROWAVEABLE Pecan Sandie Strawberry Shortcakes

“Summer” has hit with a vengeance here in Northern Baltimore County. The thermometer has been hovering in a hazy upper 80’s for several days. There was no way I was going to turn on the oven in my non – air conditioned kitchen to bake… but man… I really wanted to make some strawberry shortcake.

I thought about the microwave, but quickly dismissed the idea. Previous attempts at microwave baking had produced cakes that were both gummy and unappetizing.

Then in a fit of heat related insanity I convinced myself that “Maybe this time will be different!!!” And you know what? I was right!

So dear readers I bring you:

Pecan Sandie Shortcake 3

Photo Credit: Maggie


Pecan Sandie

Strawberry Shortcakes

(Microwave style)



  • 1/2 c melted Butter
  • 1/2 c Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 c Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of Almond Milk
  • 1 teaspoon of Almond Extract
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Pecans
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Cooking Spray

Butter Cream Icing —

  • 1/4 c Butter
  • 3/4 c Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
  • Milk as desired for texture

Strawberries —

  • 1 cup of Strawberries cleaned and sliced


1. Prepare 5 large silicone muffin cups by spraying liberally with cooking spray. Set aside

2. Combine the melted Butter and the Sugar in a medium-sized bowl.

3. Add the Eggs and beat throughly.

4. Add the Flour, Baking Powder, Almond Milk and Almond Extract and beat or whisk until well combined and batter forms a bubble when it is folded upon itself.

5. Fold in the Pecans.

6. Divide the batter into the baking cups. They will be about 1/3rd filled. Give each one a little tap against the table to let out any air bubbles. Cover each with Plastic Wrap, but leave a little opening, so the steam can get out.

7. ONE AT A TIME put a muffin cup in the Microwave and heat on HIGH for 60-70 seconds. I did this for the full 70 seconds and it worked perfectly. Remove the plastic wrap CAREFULLY ( remember the steam? ) and place upside down on a plate to cool.

8. Repeat for the other Shortcakes.



1. Melt the butter to soften it (but don’t completely melt it.)

2. Add the Powdered Sugar and Almond Extract. Mix til smooth.

3. Add Milk one tablespoon at a time until icing is smooth and spreadable.

4. Spread on the tops of the cooled Shortcakes.

5. Top with Strawberries, and add additional Strawberries between cakes.

6. TRY to wait until after dinner to eat this yummy dessert.


Here are all five shortcakes assembled on the cake dish. They taunted us all through dinner.

Here are all five shortcakes assembled on the cake dish. They taunted us all through dinner.


I got comments like “Restaurant worthy” and “5 stars” and “You can make this anytime!” for this little dessert. It was really good. The mini-cakes alone are terrific. They didn’t come out gummy or too moist. The cake consistency is just right. They really did taste like a cake version of a Pecan Sandie.


Absolutely worth a try.


Look inside that shortcake. Look at that delicious flakiness.

Look inside that shortcake. Look at that delicious flakiness.


This recipe was inspired by one on You should totes go visit them and see what they’ve got cooking.


[To my VEGAN readers — These obviously don’t fit the Vegan bill, but I’d be interested in how you think we might be able to adapt this recipe to something that would work your table.]

A Year of READING Dangerously: #50 The Kite Runner

Reading Dangerously Logo 2Dear next book I read,


I’m sorry. You poor thing, there is no way you are going to be as good as The Kite Runner. It isn’t your fault that I’ve picked you randomly from my pile after reading this amazing piece of fiction. I know I shouldn’t pre-judge, and I wish you good luck, but Honey, you just don’t stand a chance.


First paperback edition book cover

First paperback edition book cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Kite Runner, Kaled Hosseini’s 2003 novel about Afghanistan, sits smack dab in the middle of our Banned Book List. It is the story of Amir, the privileged Aghani who acts as first person narrator. But it is also the story of Afghanistan and the country is certainly a major character in the novel.


The Kite Runner, which derives its name from the Afghan custom of kite fighting, focuses on the relationship between two boys of different social classes and religious backgrounds and the lasting effect that one boy’s moment of cowardice has on their lives. [120 Banned Books, pg 506]


The book is roughly in three parts:


  • Amir’s childhood in the idyllic streets of Kabul. It is here that he struggles to define his relationship with his closest companion, his friend / servant, Hussan.
  • his life as an adult — living as an expat in California. In America Amir comes to terms with is sometimes distant and demanding, but ultimately loving father, Baba.
  • and lastly his time back in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Amir returns to his homeland to aid Hassan’s son and to try to redeem himself.


The book was critically lauded:


  • Book Sense Bestseller List Sensation
  • Boeke Prize
  • Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award
  • ALA Notable Book
  • Alex Award
  • Borders Original Voices Award, 2003
  • San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, 2003
  • Literature to Life Award
  • Paperback – on the bestseller list for over 240 weeks (#1 for 4 of those weeks) [Book Facts,]

The censors largely ignored the novel until it was turned into a major motion picture in 2007.  In 2008 the book was challenged by several school districts in North Carolina and Florida.

This beautifully written book is not an easy book to read as it does contain difficult material, (including the rape scene of Hassan, a stoning scene at a football, and the horrors of life under the Taliban.) On our matrix of banned books The Kite Runner includes: Offensive Language, Smoking, Sexually Explicit material, and a lot of Violence. That said I can not recommend this book enough, and I can’t wait to read Kaled Hosseini’s other novels, A Thousand Splendid Suns and  And The Mountains Echoed.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns (Photo credit: Wikipedia)







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