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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Bricks on Vacation

One of many bricks stamped with the following:"ST. LOUIS V.Argh this is so cool. So I’ve been on vacation in Two Harbors, Minnesota, which is near Duluth and on the shore of Lake Superior. There are some big rocks by the shore my brother, cousins and I were climbing around on, and there was some cement too. Some chunks had metal poles about an inch in diameter. There was one big piece that was in the shape of a corner, sitting so it looked like a roof. My brother noticed a brick in the side that looked like the one pictured, but it was old and hard to read without taking a charcoal rubbing or something (I didn’t have any paper/writing utensils handy), and part of one corner was covered with cement. But I thought it said;
ST LOUIS
V & E BOOK
ST ANDARD
The spacing was kind of weird, and I couldn’t see any of the periods. The S in Louis and the K in what i assumed was Book were covered, and the first O in Book is really a C but it was hard to make out, as was the E (really an F). I did notice the space between B and the rest of what I thought was ‘Book’, though my brother said it was irrelevant. Anyway, I remembered it until I found a pen in the car later that day, and wrote it on my hand (I was in too much of a hurry for paper). I looked it up about 20 minutes ago, and though it took me a few tries and different keywords to try it, I figured it out! I’m proud of myself. I feel all smart and clever C: Also, I didn’t know ‘brick collecting’ was a thing, but apparently it is. Go figure.

Oh, and this is the message that came with the original picture:
“One of many bricks stamped with the following:”ST. LOUIS V. & F. B. CO STANDARD”According to this link, that probably stands for the St. Louis Vitrified & Fire Brick Co. who’s mine was located in St. Louis County at Dorsett and Fee Fee Roads. The company was also an exhibiter at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.”
It’s from a blog in Centaur Mines, Missouri. MISSOURI. And I found the brick in Minnesota. It’d be interesting to find out how it got there! Another mystery for tomorrow. It’s late here and I’ve gotta sleep.

Just thought I’d share my little nugget of knowledge and discovery with you. Hope you found it at least a tiny bit cool 😀

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Miscellaneous

 

ARE YOU AN ARTIST? Then please read this! :)

(Ok, I guess this blog isn’t really going to be limited to writing-related stuff anymore. I’ll still upload writing stuff, don’t worry, but it’ll have other things too 😉 But anyway!)

OKAY. SO. I just had an idea. I would like to think it’s a great idea. I think it’s great, but that might be my ego. But anyway, I’ll tell you and let you decide:

So my friend Abby got me started on the song Wavin’ Flag by Young Artists for Haiti. It’s a really great song, similar in genre to We Are the World 25 (for Haiti). I was listening to it (again) and looking at the title of the youtube video, and then I thought… They mean ‘young artists’ in the sense of young musical artists. But what if young visual artists could do it? Heck, visual artists in general, no matter the age (or skill level ;p). Nothing outrageous, just a video on youtube to that song, accompanied by pictures with the lyrics written on them. And each line of lyrics could be drawn/painted/photographed/whatever by a different artist, similar to MEPs. I think that would be awesome. If anyone would want to do this, please please please leave a comment and I’ll post how I was thinking of dividing the lyrics, and more info 🙂
Thanks for reading! I really hope I can get some people interested in this!

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2012 in Art, Miscellaneous

 

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Writers gotta get out

Writers gotta get out

We can’t just sit inside all day. If we get too pale we’ll get burnt by sunlight through the window. A favorite way of mine to get out and about is to go camping! Truth be told, I don’t actually get the chance to do it that often, but my girl scout troop and I recently went on our first camping trip, so I’m hoping that we’ll go again soon (and I do realize how sad it is that it was our first trip).

Besides the plain awesomeness of camping, camp food is great. Even if you’re only camping in your backyard, you just can’t beat food cooked over an open fire (or maybe one with a grate). So just for anyone interested, I’ll share the menu from my last camping trip (when I heard what we were having I declared that “I would go just for the food!”). Be warned! just about everything will be hot at first. Not like wince-and-clench-your-teeth hot, but more like holy-shoot-did-lightning-just-strike-my-fingers hot.

Supper: Hamburger Tin Foil Dinners

What you will need (all vegetable/fruit toppings are optional):

-A campfire (marshmallow embers style, not a roaring fire)

-A roll of tin foil

-Raw ground beef/hamburger meat (whatever you want to call it)

-Cubed carrots (raw)

-Cubed potatoes (raw)

-Chopped up bell peppers (red, green, yellow, orange; whatever color floats your boat!)

-Chopped garlic

-Chopped celery

-Chopped apple slices (I use Granny Smith apple slices, which are then cut into thirds)

-Salt and pepper

-A1 steak sauce

-Water

What to do:

First, grab a sheet of tin foil. It should be about as long as it is wide. Place however much hamburger meat you want on it; I tend to use about a cup, because I put on tons of toppings. Then just start choosing what veggies you want. The apple slices were an experiment, left over from roasting apples (coming up). They turned out kind of mushy and not really to my taste, but you might like them! You can of course add different toppings, or take away some. After you have added toppings to your liking, sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Now comes the important part: adding the liquid. Because of the cooking method, if you don’t add liquid, everything will get burnt. So put in a dash of steak sauce or water – or both. It doesn’t have to be much, maybe a teaspoon or so (note: you don’t need to actually measure anything while making tin foil dinners – or pretty much any camp food I’m going to show you. Just guesstimate!). I personally added the last dregs of the steak sauce – maybe 1/4 of a teaspoon – and then poured some water from my water bottle over the rest of my food. After you get the liquid on, simply wrap it up. Make sure you get the tin foil completely around the food, you don’t want it getting burnt! After it’s firmly wrapped up, take a serving spoon or tongs or something and insert it into the fire in a nice little nook. The fire should still have some tongues of flame around, not completely embers (this is doubly good because you can roast food at the same time). Leave it in the fire for 15-20 minutes; as long as the meat is cooked and not red when you take it out you’re good.

Snacks: Roast ALL the food!

Roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over a fire is your classic scout scene. But those aren’t the only things delicious when roasted! My troop and I collectively roasted just about everything we brought that we could stick on a marshmallow-roasting steak thing. Here’s what we came up with (note: nothing we roasted was harmful when eaten raw, it’s just a matter of how cooked you like things. Though sometimes it’s sort of important; half-cooked apples are a lot better than half-cooked potatoes):

-Apples (see above). Granny Smith apple slices are nothing short of delicious when roasted. You can roast them until they get fairly burnt (the skin is going to get burnt very quickly, ignore that, I’m talking about the fruit itself), so all the juice is gone and it’s almost like very hot freeze-dried apples, or take them out when they are merely browned.

-Potatoes. Make sure these are thin slices, not chunks like for tin foil dinners, because you don’t want to spend all day waiting for them to cook all the way through. Thin potato slices roasted are remarkably yummy, and taste very similar to store-bought french fries. Make sure to add lots of salt (and maybe some pepper) before sticking it by the embers; it stays on a lot better that way.

-Orange slices. I personally didn’t try this, but a friend did and said it was very messy, but good.

-King’s Hawaiian rolls (which are amazing any way you eat them). It’s very fun to toast these by sweeping them over the flames!

-Brownie Bites. Once again these are awesome anyway, sticking them in the embers makes them warm and melty and downright irresistible.

-Marshmallows (duh). I have a method to getting the chocolate to melt too; I stick the chocolate through the middle of the marshmallow (though if you keep the marshmallow in for too long the chocolate sticking off the ends will melt off!)

-Croissants. They are so good just lightly toasted like the rolls!

-Sausages (pre-cooked ones). Whatever brand our troop leader bought were amazing. Not even joking.

I feel like I’m forgetting something big, but I just can not think of it right now. Ah well, I’ll have to ask my friend (: Maybe she has a better memory. But experiment! That’s how we figured out that the above list tasted so supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. (Oh, and we also had popcorn over the fire with my friend’s popcorn maker! It beats Jiffy Pop in every respect.)

Desert: Banana Boats and more tin foil

Well unfortunately we didn’t actually get the chance to try banana boats, because we didn’t have bananas, so I’m not 100% sure how they work, but I have a basic idea.

Take a banana still in its peel. Cut a slit lengthwise in it, I’m guessing through the top part of the peel and the banana itself but leaving the bottom of the peel intact. Then fill the slit with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. Then wrap the banana in aluminum foil and cook it in the same manner as the tin foil dinners, though for a much shorter amount of time (more like 3-5 minutes).

But that’s not the only tin foil desert. S’mores are nice, but we were craving something more interesting (especially as the majority of us have been hanging out at my friend’s house a lot having campfire cookouts in her back yard), we tried something different.

First, take three or four full-sized marshmallows. Lay them on a piece of tin foil (it should be smaller than the piece used for dinner). Add some chocolate, an orange slice, and two apple slices (or whatever else you want). Wrap it up – extra carefully so no marshmallow bubbles out – and stick it in the fire for 3-4 minutes. Then unwrap and enjoy the sticky goodness!

Breakfast: Stuff I’ve already mentioned

For breakfast we had croissants, pre-cooked sausages, and more brownie bites and Hawaiian rolls over the fire.

Why it’s good to have a camp stove too

Shameful as it is, we also had some food we didn’t cook over the fire. We had canned corn to add to our tin foil dinners once they were cooked, because the fire wasn’t high enough to use the grate. We also made tea and hot chocolate in the morning, though it took long enough. The camp stove tipped over, so we had to go and get another bucket of water from the faucet down the path. Ugh, work. But the taste of mini marshmallows and those little clumps of still-dry hot chocolate powder in the drink at first was well worth it 🙂

I hope you got some use out of this post (though I’m sorry if it made you hungry)! I’ll get back to writing about writing next time 😉

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Food, Miscellaneous

 

The Wishing Stone Prologue

Drip… drip… drip…

The rain was accompanied by the water dripping from the rooftops. All around him the rain fell, soaking his shirt and hair, sending water coursing in rivulets down his face. He was surrounded by stone cottages, each with the Athian crest carved into the door.

“Cora!” he called in a hiss. Behind him in an alley, a woman peeked out. She was beautiful even though she was soaking, with her long black hair and glittering, royal blue eyes.

“Benjamin!” she whispered, “I shook them off. They think we’re going through the back passage.”

“Good,” the man – Benjamin – said. “Come on this way. You’re sure no one’s following you?”

“Positive.”

“Where did Jared and Lizabell go?”

“Toward Kiyon. With the rest of the servants.”

“And… and the children?” The man’s strong posture dropped a few degrees and he looked worriedly at the woman.

“Ben…” Cora said sadly. “Lizabell took them. They’ll be safe. But I’m not sure we should try to meet back up. It’s too dangerous. If we were being followed, they could get hurt.”

Benjamin looked miserably at Cora. “I know.”

There was silence for a moment, broken only by the pattering of the rain. Then a faint yelling reached their ears. Benjamin looked up. The night sky was orange with the glow of fires from the castle, which even the rain couldn’t put out. “Cora…” he whispered hoarsely, “They’re coming. They’ve realized where we are. We must run!” He reached out and, grabbing her arm, pulled her after him down the perfectly cobbled street.

But before they had gone more than a hundred paces, shadowy figures leapt out. They grabbed Cora and Benjamin and held their hands roughly behind their backs. A few of the many figures held onto a struggling young man; the stable hand at the castle.

“Jared!” Cora gasped.

“Queen!” the boy of about sixteen replied, still struggling against the shadowy men. “Queen, I tried to warn you, I-”

“Shut up!” one of the men growled, shoving Jared into the mud. He landed face first, and the men laughed. Then one of them stepped up and placed his foot heavily on Jared’s back so he couldn’t get away. The boy writhed on the ground, finally pulling his mud-caked face up and gasping for air.

“Jared! Jared, what about Lizab-”

Benjamin cut Cora off with a glance. She understood and clamped her mouth shut. If the shadowy men knew about Lizabell and the rest of the servants, then they would be captured also. But they weren’t. That meant they were safe. The dear maid was safe. Cora’s children were safe. Lizabell will take care of them, she tried to mentally tell Benjamin. But he wouldn’t meet her gaze.

Because he was focused on a tall man that had just stepped out of the crowd of men. This man had uneven stubble covering his chin and dark, scraggly black shoulder-length hair that fell over his coal-black eyes. He wore a scornful grin, and had his cold gaze fixed on Cora. “Ah, hello, Mighty Queen Cora. And this must be King Benjamin. How lovely to see you both.”

Cora suddenly went white. “T-Tero…?” she whispered hoarsely.

Benjamin looked from Cora to the strange man and back again. “Cora…?” he muttered darkly. “Do you know him…?”

“Tero!” Cora whimpered, ignoring Benjamin. “Tero, you wouldn’t do this, would you? Not to me…?”

Benjamin’s dark green eyes suddenly flared. He had no clue who this man was, but obviously Cora knew him, and she was scared. Any man who could make Cora’s face look like that didn’t deserve to live, as far as Benjamin was concerned. He lunged at the man, his expression wild, but the shadowy men held him back. One of their swords flashed out and plunged into Benjamin’s chest. Scarlet blood streamed everywhere; Benjamin’s eyes dulled and he crumpled onto the floor, unmoving.

Cora screamed.

“You fool!” one of Benjamin’s captors snarled at another. “The boss told us to wait till he gave the signal! Now you’ve gone and killed him!”

“Benjamin, Benjamin!” Cora screamed, struggling vainly to get to him. Finally she broke down weeping and the men had to force her to stay standing. Sniffing, she turned to Tero. “Tero…” she whispered, eyes full of sorrow and anger and yet pity all at the same time. “Tero, you can’t do this!”

“Cora, Cora, Cora…” Tero said slowly with his sly smile, unsheathing a sword and pointing it slowly at her neck. She tilted her chin back as far as she could, but the men kept her still. Tero pressed the sword into her neck, and red blossomed from the tip. Cora gasped through gritted teeth. “Cora,” Tero repeated, drew back his sword, and thrust it into her chest. She fell to the ground, eyes closed. Tero’s words seemed to echo, as if there were more than one of him speaking. “I already have.”

(So, since this blog is about my adventures in writing, I guess I should actually post my writing, huh? Well, this is the prologue of The Wishing Stone, the longest story I currently have going. I’m in the process of re-writing what I have, though, so updates won’t be in quick succession. Any and all feedback whatsoever is greatly appreciated! Oh, and sorry for killing people off right off the bat; don’t worry, most of the story isn’t this bloody! ;))

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Stories, The Wishing Stone

 

CIA Teachers and One Republic: How to come up with Inspiration

I think a good post to start off with would be inspiration for a plot. It’s something lots of people struggle with, though I haven’t really been one of them. I will, however, lend a hand to people who are.

There are obviously billions upon trillions of ways to come up with a new plot, but I’ll share with you a few of my favorites.

Method 1 – “What if?”

This is a common method that is sure to bring you an interesting idea or two. You simply fill in the blank; “What if…”. What if I lost my dog? What if I forgot my big line in the school play? What if my mom called me an embarrassing nickname in front of the cutest guy in school? But while those kinds of “what if”s are all well and good, they seem a little bland, don’t they? What happens if we add some spice? “What if my teacher was a spy for the CIA?” There! Now we’re getting more interesting. Stories that are possible – probable, even – in every day life are fine, and maybe this is just my personal taste, but things really get fresh and exciting when you add that larger-than-life element. You know what you would do if your mom called you her little snuggle-poo in front of Joe Cool (in my case, I would run and hide under my bed), and it’s a very easy situation to imagine. However, if Mrs. Bower was an undercover operative trying to find a rouge janitor with top secret government information, the story becomes less of a classroom drama and more of an adventure. Wouldn’t you rather be rappelling down the tallest building in town than doing your homework? Well, so would your characters. And the best part is, you can still have your characters’ lives retain some normality. It doesn’t have to be all Middle Earth and fairies and magic wands. However, you can ditch life as we know it completely and do a “What if” about a wizard living on the planet of Avgad. It gives you more freedom as a writer, and you can let your imagination run wild. So when playing “What if”, the bigger, the better.

Method 2 – Music

I love listening to music while I do anything. Drawing, writing, even eating; if I have music, it automatically becomes 85% better. Often I’m inspired by the lyrics or tone of the music. For instance; the song All We Are by One Republic. If you haven’t already, look it up to listen to it (or at least look up the lyrics). While listening to it, I got a story idea; let’s say there was a normal teenage boy going to a new school. He immediately develops a huge crush on the most popular girl in school, even though she already had a boyfriend. She also happens to live on his street. One night he sees her go through a tunnel in the woods and disappear, so he follows her the next night. They emerge in another world, where the girl moonlights as the leader of a band of Earth children trapped in this other realm. She turns out to be a lot tougher than her clique persona lets on. The boy joins with them despite the girl’s protests and they slowly become friends. Then come threats from a group in the other world who want to capture children from Earth. The boy and girl and their friends go through a lot trying to get away, the girl temporarily getting captured. That’s a nice big start to a good storyline, and though it has pretty much nothing to do with the song at all, the song inspired me. My imagination did the rest. Music is also a vital part of actually writing, especially inspiring songs (Oh, and don’t steal that story idea, I might build on it ;D).

Method 3 – Real Life

Real life is also a great source of ideas. I’m not talking about “writing what you know”, because otherwise I would be stuck writing about the very boring life of a very boring girl, rather, look for inspiration in what happens or has happened around you. J K Rowling came up with Harry Potter on a train, watching kids play around (or something like that). If you’re going to a foreign country, write about an exchange student who gets lost in a big strange city and gets captured by that country’s mafia. You can also be inspired by memories; when I was littler my family and I stayed a week at a cabin on Lake Superior. I could write about a girl who lives with her grandmother by a lake and meets a strange girl in the woods. Things that happen to others are also sources of inspiration! Friends, family, even celebrities. Don’t be afraid to obsessively stalk someone to find some interesting ideas! And as you can see, the plot doesn’t have to be exactly like it’s real-life equivalent.

Obviously there are more methods, these are just the major ones I use. If I find some more good ones I will post them 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in On Writing

 

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Arrrrrgggghhhhhhhh

That’s the sound my brain is making right now, because it knows that I have a tendency to make blogs like this one and, after a few posts, abandon them. It’s not as if they ever get views, so what’s the point? But, I’ll try with this one, because frankly I have nothing better to do.

Anywho. This, as the title implies, is a site about my strange ventures into the realm of writing, specifically during the teen years, but mostly general writing. And I don’t even have a compass. Wish me luck.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Miscellaneous