Category Archives: chocolate

The Writer’s Spellbook


by Lillian Csernica on August 1, 2017

AVAILABLE NOW ON SMASHWORDS!

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One of the most important elements of a fantasy novel or a game world is the magic system. A logical and consistent magic system will do a lot to help improve the quality of the story… A better magic system means a better story, and a better story means more readers!

PLENTY OF FORMATS TO CHOOSE FROM!

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Whether you’re a writer or a gamer, a graphic novelist or an historical reenactor, The Writer’s Spellbook will give you step by step guidance in making the crucial decisions that will bring your fantasy world to life.

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Universal Studios: Eating and Drinking


by Lillian Csernica on July 3, 2017

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Lard Lad Donuts. A cardiologist’s nightmare.

When we’re at an amusement park, Chris and I have to make John eat. He gets so excited he just wants to move on to the next ride or show.

The heat was in the 90s, so I made sure we had water bottles that we refilled frequently. Anywhere we saw a restroom sign, there would be a water fountain close by. This was very helpful knowledge when bottled water was selling for $3.49 each.

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I’ve already mentioned the supreme delights of Butterbeer. Available at Honeyduke’s is the magical ice cream that never melts. I’m not sure that we really tested the truth of that “magic.” John ate it rather quickly. Florian Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor also offers many chilly treats.

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The Giant Donut — This is, if anything, an understatement. We’re talking about something roughly the size of the front wheel on a child’s tricycle. The GD is most commonly available with either bright pink frosting dotted with multi-colored sprinkles, or chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles. I’ll give you one guess which one John chose.

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Minion Cupcakes — Red velvet cake with a good inch and a half of blue frosting swirled on top. From there you could choose the Twinkie Minion version, or the round, flat, yellow disc decorated with white eyes and black details. I’m not a fan of Twinkies. Neither is John, thank God. By the time he was halfway through his cupcake, his lips had turned cyanotic blue. When he was finished, he stuck his tongue out at me. One of my nicknames for John is “Puppy Boy.” With that blue tongue he could be a Chow!

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Here we have the Chicken Thumbs meal available at Cletus’ Chicken Shack. The coleslaw is all right. I like a lot of pepper on mine, but that’s just me. French fries aren’t on my diet, and John had already eaten all of his, so I offered the fries to the four Australian gentlemen sitting nearby nursing their pints. They were happy to accept. Throughout the park the French fries are dusted with a seasoning mixture that will make you even more in need of a cold drink. They are tasty!

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The second night we were in the park we had dinner at Luigi’s Pizza.  For a cafeteria-style restaurant the food was quite good. Pasta or pizza or even pizza-by-the-slice, plus a small Caesar salad.  The desserts were what you’d expect in an Italian restaurant, featuring huge slices of a six layer chocolate cake edged with mini chocolate chips and topped with serious whipped cream. You do get your money’s worth at Universal Studios.

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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?

Green Room

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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