This is my personal blog, on which I talk about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy. Some topics are serious, others whimsical. I love comments and questions so don't be shy, just courteous, even if you don't agree with me. I have another blog, The Story Template, on which I post writing-related topics on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Let's see, a bit about me... I'm married with two children, and spend much time taking care of our family. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research. I am a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. I also have written a nonfiction book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This book is a programmed learner-type book that helps you, the writer, develop a complete compelling story (novel or screenplay) from a vague idea.

YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

EMail Hijacks

OK, this is about the 5th message I've gotten like this in two months, in which I'm told my yahoo email account will be closed if I don't verify something. Puhleeze.

Um, I don't think I'm going to bite. Notice:

1. return email is att, not yahoo.

2. poor punctuation and English phrasing.

3. I'm still trying to figure out how signed name "David McDowell" translates to email handle "jimkat218".

Sorry, I don't want my own emailing list hijacked for my friends to receive stupid (or worse) websites and desperate requests from me in Singapore asking to wire me money. I just get really irritated with this stuff.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

What to do when your family is at home and raiding the cabinets and refrigerator for snacks to eat? Snacks are expensive! For something salty, instead of chips (which I refuse on principle to buy) I love to make air-popped popcorn and toss it with extra-light olive oil and salt. For something sweet, I've been tweaking this cookie recipe for years, and think this version is pretty darn good!


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

3 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup extra-light olive oil *

3/4 cup milk

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 oz toffee pieces

*NOTE: Although it sounds surprising, I love using extra-light olive oil for baking. It has no unpleasant taste, even for the most delicate substances such as frostings.

Oven 350F. Mix together the brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, olive oil, and milk. Sift and add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in oatmeal. Stir in chocolate chips and toffee pieces. Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls onto greased trays (I use parchment paper) and bake about 8-10 minutes or until golden. Cool and eat.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Filled Bundt Cake

My son loves cake, but complains because when his sister ices it she puts on such a thin layer of icing he can barely taste it. (He gets around this problem by making the cake and icing himself, although still prefers someone else to do it for him).

I wanted to try something that would solve this problem. And here it is: a Filled Bundt Cake.

Preheat oven to 350F.

yellow cake recipe (below), or
yellow cake mix
3/4 cup water or milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

mix batter and pour into greased/floured Bundt pan.


1/3 cup sugar
1 T cornstarch
2 T butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
1 egg

Melt chocolate over low heat until smooth. Blend in rest of ingredients. Drop by small spoonfuls onto cake batter in pan, being careful that filling doesn't touch sides of pan.

Bake cake 45-55 minutes, cool in pan for a few minutes before removing it onto cake plate.

Frost with chocolate frosting (below).


8 T (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed or Hershey's Special Dark
4 T (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
milk added about 1-2 T at a time
powdered sugar added about 1/4 cup at a time

Mix cocoa, butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add some powdered sugar. Alternately add milk and sugar until icing consistency and quantity. Do not add much milk at a time unless you want soup for icing. Add more cocoa if icing is too sweet.


2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups sugar, divided
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

Prepare cake pan(s) by greasing and flouring. Sift dry ingredients and set aside. Mix egg yolks, 1 3/4 cups sugar, butter and vanilla, then add to dry ingredients. Slowly blend in milk. In grease-free bowl with clean beaters, and adding 1/4 cup sugar 1 T at a time, whip egg whites until stiff. With a spatula gently fold egg whites into batter. Pour into one Bundt or two layer prepared cake pans. Or makes about 24 cupcakes.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Glurg in my Inbox: Why Dogs Matter

I received this in an email. For all of us who love dogs, it's a "warm and fuzzy" for today.


Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure as they felt that Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him.

Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why. People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right? Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

* When loved ones come home, always run to greet them; 

* Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride;  

* Allow the experience of  fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy; 

* Take naps; 

* Stretch before rising; 

* Run, romp, and play daily; 

* Thrive on attention and let people touch you; 

* Avoid biting when a simple growl will do; 

* On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass; 

* On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree;  

* When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body;  

* Delight in the simple joy of a long walk; 

* Be loyal; 

* Never pretend to be something you're not; 

* If what you lost something that is buried, dig until you find it;  

* When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently;

There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good, so, love the people who treat you right.

Think good thoughts for the ones who don't ~ life is too short to be anything but happy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Duct Tape

During a private "fly-in" fishing excursion in the Alaskan wilderness, the chartered pilot and fishermen left a cooler and bait in the plane. And a bear smelled it. This is what he did to the plane.

The pilot used his radio and had another pilot bring him 2 new tires, 3 cases of duct tape, and a supply of sheet plastic. He patched the plane together, and flew it home.

Duct Tape – Never Leave Home Without It.

Monday, January 7, 2013

John Oxenham

"To every man there openeth a way and ways and a way
and the high souls tread the highway and the low souls grope the low.
And in between on the misty flats the rest drift to and fro.
But to every man there openeth a highway and a low,
and every man decideth the way his soul should go." 


Life moves quickly, doesn't it? You always hear that as a kid, but it isn't until you're at the point of looking back that you realize you won't have endless amounts of time. I hope you live as if it matters, because it does. Not just now, but for eternity.

Poem by William Dunkerley (John Oxenham)

(from Wikipedia)
William Arthur Dunkerley (November 12, 1852 - January 23, 1941) was a prolific English journalist, novelist and poet. He was born in Manchester, spent a short time after his marriage in America before moving to Ealing, west London, where he served as deacon and teacher at the Ealing Congregational Church from the 1880s, and he then moved to Worthing in Sussex in 1922, where he became the town's mayor.

He wrote under his own name, and also as John Oxenham for his poetry, hymn-writing, and novels. His poetry includes Bees in Amber: a little book of thoughtful verse (1913) which became a bestseller. He also wrote the poem Greatheart. He used another pseudonym, Julian Ross, for journalism. Dunkerley was a major contributor to Jerome K. Jerome's The Idler magazine.

He had two sons and four daughters, of whom the eldest, and eldest child, Elsie Jeanette, became well known as a children's writer, particularly through her Abbey Series of girls' school stories. Another daughter, Erica, also used the Oxenham pen-name. The elder son, Roderic Dunkerley, had several titles published under his own name.