Category Archives: chocolate

The A to Z Blog Challenge Theme Reveal!


by Lillian Csernica on March 21, 2017

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Once again I shall be celebrating the arrival of Spring by participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge. This will be my fourth year, and I look forward to even more fun and meeting new friends.

In past years, my themes have included Travel Adventures, Unusual Items Made of Chocolate, and Bad Sword & Sorcery Movies.

This year I will be bringing you eye candy taken from another one of my secret passions:

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Jewelry, housewares, and a few other surprises, at least one for every letter of the alphabet! I’ll be looking forward to your comments!

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Day 14: How’s the Weight Loss Program Working?


by Lillian Csernica on February 2, 2017

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Answer: Fourteen pounds in fourteen days. Yes, that’s right. I’ve lost on average one pound every day since I began the program.

This is not a testimonial or an infomercial. This is a celebration of overcoming a problem I’ve had since I was ten years old.

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I like eating vegetables. I like cooking. I can’t remember how I got into the rut of relying mostly on fast food or microwave dinners. When the kids were little I had to eat fast when I had a free moment, sure. The boys are legal adults now. It’s high time I abandoned the old instant gratification pattern for long term health and well-being.

All this without a specific exercise program. I’m still wearing the knee brace. There’s a communication problem between my doctor and the physical therapy people. I am in the middle, trying to get that sorted out. Until I know what I can and can’t do while my knee recuperates, I have to be careful.

Meanwhile, let me just say that I love Quest protein bars. So many flavors to choose from!

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Five Reasons Why Today Is Wonderful


by Lillian Csernica on January 24, 2017

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One: The rain has stopped. The sun is out! The creek that runs along our property is back to a reasonable level. The wild stormy weekend made the creek rise several feet, biting off chunks of our back yard. All the trees  that fell, fell away from our house.

This is a huge relief.

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Two: Today I saw my cardiologist. Thanks to my brief period of radioactivity during my previous appointment, my doctor is now satisfied that no plaque is lurking in my veins waiting to cause me a serious problem. This means no angiogram!  Another serious relief.

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Three: I’ve been having problems with my CPAP equipment. I stopped by SleepQuest today for some troubleshooting. Turns out the 90 days have passed and my insurance covers a fresh set of equipment. The tech on duty (a delightful lady) set me up with everything I needed.

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Four: By this time hunger pangs set in. On my weight loss program I have to make sure I don’t let myself get too hungry. If my blood sugar drops, I tend to stand around staring at things and I can’t make decisions quickly. Given that my drive home meant going over Hwy 17, lunch became a serious priority. Trader Joe’s to the rescue! I spotted one and discovered a number of tasty items on my You Are Allowed To Eat Very Little Of This list.

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Five: I made it home before the after school rush, thank God. Between the clean up after the latest storm, the road crews filling in all the potholes, and everybody getting out into the sunshine, driving was hectic enough without all the grade school parents picking up their kids and all the teenagers with cars spilling out of the high school.

Here I sit, preparing to edit a fresh short story. The hardest part of this weight loss program is giving up chocolate during the first stage. I sincerely believe chocolate fuels the imagination. Oh well. I seem to be surviving without my usual Mocha Coconut Frappuccino from Starbucks. If I can write without caffeine, I shall be a new woman!

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Breaking up with Ben & Jerry


by Lillian Csernica on January 18, 2017

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Tonight I consumed my last pint of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra.

Tomorrow morning I begin a medically supervised accelerated weight loss program.

When I was ten years old, my parents took me to see a dietician. I was already 5’6″, and already 152 lbs. Not good. Now I’m forty years older and 100 lbs heavier. Time to stop kidding myself about the health problems that are right around the corner if I don’t do something about my weight problem RIGHT NOW.

This is not a New Year’s Resolution. This is me deciding to act like a grown-up and stop indulging myself while blaming the depression, the difficulty of my life, some writing setback, or whatever other chaos afflicts me at that moment.

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I have a plan. I have professionals backing me. I have a guidebook and a journal and a food scale and the necessary supplements. I’m going to do this.

There are so many stories waiting to be written.

There are so many birthdays and Christmases and personal triumphs ahead for both Michael and John.

There are so many places in the world I have yet to see, just in Japan alone!

There may be setbacks. That’s OK. I know how to deal with setbacks. You just take a deep breath, focus on the next indicated action, and start moving forward again.

I can do this. I will do this. For me, for the kids, for my writing.

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Trip Report: Con-Volution 2016


by Lillian Csernica on October 6, 2016

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I had a wonderful time! As always, I was sharing a room with my usual traveling companion and parter in crime, Patricia H. MacEwen. There was a lot to see and do, between the panels and BoFs and the evening events and the hands-on workshops. Big kudos to Con Chair Jason and his Mighty Minions! (My apologies for not getting these links put in sooner. Last week included five appointments, two meetings, plus all the usual chaos.)

It’s Shirley Been 100 Years

I’m very happy to have been appointed moderator for this panel. I had to catch up on some background reading, which brought to my attention just how prolific Shirley Jackson really was. As primary breadwinner for the family, she had to keep the work going out and the money coming in.  At the same time she had to shoulder the load expected of a ’50s housewife. All four children were her responsibility, along with every household chore.  What an inspiration!

Kaiju, As Far As The Eye Could See!

This panel brought me the best of both worlds. I got to participate, drawing on my fascination with Japanese culture. Then I had the pleasure of listening to my fellow panelists and learn from their amazing expertise. Wanda Kurtcu made an excellent moderator, keeping us all in line when the synergy of ideas got too rowdy!

Fear of the Other

The diversity of panelists made for a variety of perspectives on this topic. We were happy to welcome Garrett Calcaterra to his very first con! He got thrown in at the deep end, and he acquitted himself very well. Keep an eye out for his YA fantasy series, The Dreamwielder Chronicles. The first two books are available now!

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I managed to catch the last thirty minutes. Lively and intelligent discussion of our favorite characters. Debates about their true motivations and upcoming loyalties or desertions. Much love for the Christmas lights as a communications device! Many thanks to Mark Gelineau, our host and moderator.

DIY Room: Monster Pop-Up Cards

It’s not often I have time at cons to go indulge myself in a programming event just for fun. Trish Henry displayed her amazing skills at paper sculpture by walking us through the basics of making a pop-up card. We started with a heart. From there people made butterflies, a dragon, even a house! Trish provided plenty of colored paper, glitter pens, other decorative supplies, and chocolate eyeballs! Does it get any better than that?

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Minions #1, #2, and #3 provided simple, hearty fare that was ready and waiting no matter what time I wandered in. Chili over potatoes both baked and quartered, veggie pasta with an excellent sauce, and much to my utter screaming delight, my absolute favorite: homemade biscuits with sausage gravy. Snack baggies held a choice of popcorn, M&Ms, and even wasabi peas!

The Party Floor!

When I first got off the elevators on my way to my hotel room, I all but walked into a sign that proclaimed the hotel’s policy of keeping things quiet between nine p.m. and seven a.m. That made me burst out laughing. I was on Three, where the Quiet Zone started. The Party Floor was on Two, and it was crowded! Walking the big circle brought me to a new sign every three or four doors, heralding another party with another theme. On Friday night I spent most of the evening hanging out in Kevin and Andy’s ’60s themed bash. On Saturday night the ConJose party was the place to be. Gorgeous lighting effects, lots of comfy furniture, and some salted dark chocolate caramels that were divine!

I’m looking forward to Con-Volution 2017, at the San Ramon Marriott!

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Orthodox Easter


by Lillian Csernica on May 1, 2016

Christ is Risen!  Indeed He is Risen!

Khristos voskres! Voistinnu voskres!

Christos Anesti! Alethos Anesti!

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The Icon of the Resurrection

 

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The white pyramid is pascha, a traditional dessert that makes cheesecake look like nothing!

 

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Kulich, an egg bread, baked in coffee cans to get that cylindrical shape.

 

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Pysanky eggs, mainly for Easter but also given at Christmastime.

Glory to God!

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S is for Snacks


by Lillian Csernica on April 22, 2016

When you’re traveling, especially long distances, you want to keep a munchie stash with you because odds are good you will get stuck somewhere waiting for longer than you expect.  Low blood sugar makes the trials of traveling even more irritating.  These are my favorite snacks from all the places I’ve visited:

France

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Pain au chocolat (Chocolate croissant)

Germany

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Sausage (bratwurst)

Pretzels

Japan

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Daifuku mochi — Depending on the characters used, this treat is called either “big belly rice cake” or “great luck rice cake.”  The traditional filling is anko, or red bean paste.  Crushed melon is also used, and in the springtime strawberries are popular.

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Anmitsu: It’s a traditional Japanese dessert that has cubes of agar agar jelly, fresh fruit slices, red bean paste, and a dollop of ice cream.  In this case, green tea ice cream.  Looks really weird, doesn’t it?  Pat and I had this at the Haneda Airport during our twelve hour layover.  Not nearly as sweet as an American ice cream sundae, anmitsu combines flavors and textures into a unique and tasty dish.

Mexico

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Galletas (Cookies)

The Netherlands

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Stroopwafels are two large, thin cookies with syrup in the middle.  The size of stroopwafels vary, and you can get them dipped in chocolate, topped with whipped cream, etc.  A small package of these is just right for a snack.

United States

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Northern — Potatoes.  Baked, fried, or scalloped, I do love the starchy little devils.

Southern — Hush puppies and corn bread.  I love hushpuppies.  I would live on them if it weren’t for the fact that by the end of the first week I’d be able to actually hear my arteries hardening!

Eastern — New England clam chowder.  With lots of black pepper.  I do not eat the red stuff.

Western — San Francisco sourdough bread.  Whenever I order breakfast in a restaurant, I get sourdough toast.  No matter where in the U.S. I might be, the yeast starter probably came from San Francisco.

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Central — Cheese.  I love cheese, really I do.  String cheese, cheddar on my burger, grilled cheese sandwiches, alfredo sauce, you name it.  Can’t have bleu cheese because I’m allergic to mold.

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R is for Road Trip


by Lillian Csernica on April 21, 2016

I love a good road trip.  The fact that I usually take them with my best friend, collaborator, and partner in crime Pat MacEwen does help.  Here are my Top Five Reasons Why I Love Road Trips.

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Staying in hotels — Air conditioning, big beds, and maid service.  What’s not to love?  Of course, there was that one haunted hotel….

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You see life in detail — Little jukeboxes at every table in a Utah diner.  Entering the city of St. Louis, Missouri.  Black Butte, the cinder cone near Mt. Shasta.  Traveling down the California coast on Hwy 101 and stopping to see the waves crashing against the cliffs.  All the stars you can see at night out in the middle of nowhere in Arizona.

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Plenty of time to work out story ideas and/or problems — Pat and I have discussed many of our works-in-progress while on the road.  It’s usually up to me to take notes.  Now that I’ve started doing my share of the driving, she’ll have to play scribe.  I don’t think we’ve ever had a story conference quite like the Night of the Lavender Oreos, at least not while we were on the road.  Safety first!

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The variety of food is great — The Black Bear Diner.  That BBQ place Pat and I stopped at on the way home from RadCon. The Mongolian BBQ in Stockton, CA.  The reliably low-cost comfort food at various Denny’s locations all over the Pacific Northwest.

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The people I meet:

The Man From Glasgow.  I met him on the casino floor of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.  He was trying to find his way to the elevators.  Suddenly we were arm in arm, laughing and chatting.  He wouldn’t believe me when I told him I wanted to see Glasgow more than Edinburgh.

The nurse on duty with us when Chris, Michael and I had to spend the night in a Red Cross Shelter because it rained so hard that winter our house was in danger of being flooded.  Turned out she was regional director for the Red Cross with NICU experience.  She got stuck where we did by the landslides, so we all huddled together.

My Ohio cousins.  There are more than a few.  The first time we met, they ganged up on me, tied me to a tree, and blasted me with Spiderman squirt guns.  My family is so scattered that I haven’t had a lot of that kind of group family mayhem in my life.  Now I’m old enough to know how precious it really is.

To say nothing of the wide and wonderful variety of folks I meet at science fiction conventions….

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Norwescon: Fun Fun Fun!


by Lillian Csernica on March 31, 2016

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I’m home now, but there’s so much left of Norwescon that ought to be mentioned.  To all the people included in the events mentioned below, allow me to offer you my most sincere thanks for your hospitality, your generosity, and your wonderful senses of humor.

The Fukushima at 5 panel — Some very insightful and useful information.

The gracious lady who pointed out to me that I was wearing one ribbon I probably didn’t understand the meaning of, so I might want to understand it.  She explained, I was enlightened, and I kept on wearing the ribbon.

More ribbons than I have ever seen on one person at one time!

Owen — Some day I have to see that bow of yours up close and in action.

The Vikings two doors down — You folks were great neighbors.  Noisy, yes, but highly entertaining as well.

Cajun and his party crew — I have now tasted R’lyeh Punch, and I like it!  Also, thanks for the super-cool Mardi Gras beads.

Rand the Vampire — Thank you so much for your explanation of balloon burlesque.  I must look into the biography of Sally Rand.  She sounds like a most fascinating woman.

The crew for the Hospitality Suite — Good food and friendly smiles always available.  The book swap was a cool idea.  Loved your chili!  Hot but not too hot, especially with the guacamole.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport registration desk staff — They were cordial, helpful, and the cookies were always warm!  Thank you for making our stay that much more delightful.

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Everybody who got me pointed in the right direction every time I got lost, which happened a lot on Thursday and Friday.

The fabulous group of dedicated geniuses who make up the Norweson Con Com.  You people really know how to throw one hell of a convention.  I can’t wait to be there in 2017 for the 40th anniversary!

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North By Norwescon


by Lillian Csernica on March 24, 2016

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Hi there!  I come to you from Seattle, Washington, home of Norwescon, the finest science fiction convention in the Pacific Northwest.  We’re here at the DoubleTree Inn by Hilton at SeaTac.  Lovely hotel, somewhat confusing at first, given that there are 7 wings and plenty of event spaces.  Yes, the hotel does still give out chocolate chip cookies when you check in.  That’s my kind of welcome!

This adventure began on Tuesday at 1 p.m. when I hit the road for Stockton.  That’s a two hour drive from my house over the Altamont Pass.  I haven’t driven that far all at once in almost 30 years.  Neither have I driven on Interstate 5 North since late August of 1987 when I was in the car accident that left me for dead on I-5 South.  Was I jittery?  Oh yeah.

Pat and I have made many a road trip together.  Stockton to Eugene, 6 hours’ sleep, then Eugene to Seattle saw us arrive here at the hotel an hour or so before Pat’s first Programming item.  There was joyful chaos all over the place as people checked in, other conventions passed out ribbons and promo materials, plenty of folks were already in costume, and we were clearly ready to party like the book-loving fan boys and girls that we all are.

Tonight’s highlights:

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Lots of fun on the Alien Communication panel.  Did you know giraffes can hum?

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Crossed paths with Dean Wells, one of my favorite people. I met him many years ago when I was a pro in his section of a writer’s workshop.  He’s gone on to publish in markets such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  I am very proud of him.

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The Art Show reception was a total blast.  Gorgeous paintings and sculpture and jewelry and housewares.  Pat and I went nuts over the Tarot of Brass & Steam.  Oh my stars and garters!  I would LOVE to have those artists illustrate my steampunk stories from Twelve Hours Later and Thirty Days Later!

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Now it’s after midnight.  I’ve been up for 18 hours and I haven’t gotten a whole lot of sleep in the past few days, so it’s time to take advantage of my queen size bed and call it a night.

Tomorrow:  More adventures from Norwescon 39!

 

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