Monday, May 30, 2011

Southwest Pork Chops

I've been noticing lately all the pork recipes, I've making lately.  Totally unintentional of course, I've just had a fascination with pork loin lately.  I made this recipe because I had some leftovers from a crazy chips and salsa night, and I needed to use it before it went bad. 
Ingredients
6 boneless pork chops
1-15oz. can of kidney beans
1-15oz. can of sweet corn
1-7oz. can of diced green chiles
1-1/4  cups  bottled salsa

Directions
Trim excess fat from chops.
Place chops in the bottom of crockpot.
Top with remaining ingredients.
Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 9-1/2 hours. Turn to high-heat setting.
Plate and serve with hot rice.
Makes 6 servings.

Stay hungry my friend.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Southern California Bead Stores

I am always looking for fun shops to get inspiration from.   I'm not into beading, but you can always fun such fun stuff there.  So many fun shapes and sizes.

I found this list on SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LOCAL BEAD STORE ASSOCIATION be sure to visit them for more information fun classes in your area. 

Downtown L.A.
Athenian Fashions, Inc.
820 S Maple Street Unit #5
Los Angeles, CA 90014
213-489-2237

Bead Factory/Bohemian Crystal (they share the space)
810 Maple Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90014
213-624-2121

413 E. 8th St.
Los Angeles, C.A. 90014
Phone:(213) 627-8783

This one's not downtown, but worth a mention.
7763 1/2 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90036
323-933-7922

Los Angeles County

Beadiak
28853 Agoura Hills, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
818-597-8020

Beadniks of Santa Monica
203 Arizona Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
310-395-0033

Beads of Paradise
13451 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
818-907-7719

Beadtopia
319 Richmond Street, El Segundo, CA 90245
310-322-0077

CT's Beads n Things
43791 15th St, West, Lancaster, CA 93534
661-729-9450
Phebie's Needleart
532 W. First, Claremont, CA 91711
909-624-5250
San Gabriel Bead Company
325 E. Live Oak Ave, Arcadia, CA 91006
626-447-7753
Orange County

The Bead Station
24412 S. Muirlands Blvd #A, Lake Forest, CA 92630
949-859-2323

Beadology
16085 Goldenwest St, Huntington Beach, CA 92647
714-841-8242

Beads Beads
949 N. Tustin St, Orange, CA 92867
714-639-1611

Brea Bead Works
1027 E. Imperial Hwy, D5, Brea, CA 92821
714-671-9976

Riverside County
Bead Island
26145 Jefferson Ave #303 Murrieta, CA 92562
951-461-1071

Monicas Quilt & Bead Creations
77-780 Country Club Drive #C-D, Palm Desert, CA 92211
760-772-2400
San Bernadino County
A Rolling Stone
320 Citrus Ave, Redlands, CA 92373
909-798-2282

Bead It!
13460 Central Ave #E, Chino, CA 91710
909-364-2402

Garden of Beaden
313 N. 2nd Ave Ste J, Upland, CA 91786
909-949-7107

San Diego County

Artists and Craftsman Supply
1911 San Diego Ave. San Diego, CA 92110
Toll Free: 888.761.3934
Phone: 619.688.1911

San Diego Bizmart

Bag Of Beads
12925 El Camino Real, San Diego CA 92130
(858) 509-7668


The Bead Boutique
2676 Fletcher Parkway, La Mesa, CA 92020
619-337-2323

Bead Gallery
9823 Mira Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92131
858-831-9190

Beads & More
4150 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
858-483-4190

Beads Crystals & More
967 S. Coast Highway 101 #B105, Encinitas, CA 92024
760-942-5222

The Black Bead
5003 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
619-222-2115

The Bouncing Bead
8876 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa, CA 91942
619-460-2323

Dancing Bead Indian Trader
135 Broadway, Vista, CA 92084
760-726-2323
Mountain Beadworks
4470 Highway 78, Julian, CA 92036
760-765-3100

Ocean Sky Beads
605 Mission Ave, Oceanside, CA 92054
760-757-3992

Oskadusa
243 N. Highway 101 #6, Solana Beach, CA 92075
858-755-2323

Pause & Play Beads and More
9157 Mission Gorge Rd, Santee, CA 92071
619-561-2323

Ventura County
Beads of Paradise
1792 Callens Road #C, Ventura, CA 93003
805-642-5050

Creative Castle
2321 Michael Drive, Newbury Park, CA 91320
805-499-1377

Be crafty!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Creamy Broccoli Potato Soup

In an effort to eat more vegetables, I got a little over zealous and bought way too many vegetables.  The large head of broccoli kept staring at me everytime I opened the fridge.  Finally it was getting late and I knew too soon it would be going bad, but I couldn't bring myself to just steaming it and eating it plain.  Since I still have a large brick of parmesan cheese, I wanted something creamy and cheesy and this recipe fits the bill.    It's also nice to freeze it and reheating for later, which I did, because of the huge pot of soup I had left over.    This recipe was handy to help me use leftover homemade onion soup (left over from a previous soup making day) and homemade broth that was also frozen.

Ingredients:
6 cups Chicken Broth
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches fresh broccoli, chopped (about 8 cups)
3 large potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 large onion, sliced
1 3/4 cups milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Heat the broth, black pepper, garlic, broccoli, potatoes and onion in a large pot over high heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.
Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Remove the saucepot from the heat.
Place 1/2 of the broth mixture into a blender or food processor.
Cover and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl. Repeat the blending process with the remaining broth mixture.
Return all of the puréed mixture to the saucepot.
Stir in the milk and cheese. Cook over medium heat until mixture is hot.
Ladle into a bowl, sprinkle with some cheese and serve.

Stay hungry my friend.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spinach Crusted Mint-Basil Pesto-Stuffed Pork Loin

Boy is that title a mouthful. I should have the word cheese in it as well, due to the two kinds of cheese used, but I thought that would be overkill. 

Lately, I've been on a pork kick, which is odd for me, so I am embracing it thoroughly. While strolling through the grocery store, I am always fascinated with the pork loin, and finally took the plunge and bought one.  As you can tell by a lot of the recipes lately, there has been a lot of just regular pork chop recipes, but I wanted to try and make a pork roast, and of course I couldn't start with something easy.  I went straight for the butterflied pork loin. 

Only problem, how the heck to do you butterfly a piece of meat? 

Ingredients:
Pesto:
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons of Tahini (I didn't have pine nuts)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil

Pork:
2 (3 pound) pork loins, 10 to 12-inches long
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 cups fresh spinach
3 tablespoons oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pesto:
In a food processor, pulse the basil and mint 3 to 4 times or until chopped, then add some tahini and salt and pulse an additional 2 to 3 times. Add the garlic and cheese, pulse 2 times. With the food processor running, slowly add the oil to blend, this should take 1 minute.
Be careful to not over pulse or puree, or you'll end up with a brown liquid instead of a bright green pesto.

Pork:
Butterfly the pork. (see video and hints below)
Because the meat was still thick for me, I covered to top with plastic wrap and grabbed a mallet and tried to thin it out a bit.
Open the pork loin and season both sides with salt and pepper. 
Even spread the pesto, leaving a 2-inch border on all sides.
Sprinkle with feta and top with spinach. Roll tightly lengthwise.
With butchers twine, tie several knots around the stuffed loins, 4 to 5 times, to ensure even cooking.
Season the outside of the pork loin on all sides with a bit of salt and pepper.
Place your "log" on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for 35-35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Here are some tips on how to butterfly a pork loin from Wiki How.
If you don't know how to butterfly a pork loin, watch this video from the National Pork Board and all will be explained.


Stay hungry my friend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Creamy Avocado Gazpacho

I found this recipe when I was on a raw food eating kick.  It is especially creamy and whenever I have an extra avocado laying around, I definitely make it.  Don't get put off by the color of the final product, just sink your spoon and taste.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
Flesh of 1 medium avocado
2 cups chopped cucumber no seeds
1 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 small red onion (optional)
1/2 to 1 Serrano Chile, with seeds, sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup of lemon or lime juice
Salt to taste
1 t. maple syrup, or agave nectar

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender in the order listed.
Start blender on low speed for a few seconds, then switch to high.
Blend until creamy and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes.
Pour into soup bowls, serve.

Stay hungry my friend!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chicken Empanadas

Quick food that I can hold in my hand are my perfect food.  I've always wanted to make "hot pocket" type food, but was intimidated by the crust.  That was until I found these empanada wrappers at my local grocery store in the frozen food section.  I've tried using pre-made wrappers before and have never been let down.  I wasn't expecting the stickiness of the dough as they cooked.  These wrappers were a puffed pastry shell and I've never used them before.  Next time I try these I think I'll make my own dough. 


Ingredients:
12 gyoza* wrappers

Filling:
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast
4 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 cup of mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
egg white

Sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tsp srirancha
1 tbs chives

Direction:
Place oil in a medium pan on high heat, place chicken in pan and cook through.  Remove chicken from heat and chop into bite size pieces.
In pan, heat oil and garlic.  Place mushroom and onions until brown.  Add chicken until warm.
Place 1 level tablespoon potsticker filling in the center of a wrapper.
Moisten the edges with water and fold wrapper in half to form a moon shape. Pinch the seam to seal the wrapper shut. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.
Place formed dumplings on a baking sheet and cover loosely with a damp paper towel while you form the remaining dumplings.
Brush each dumpling with egg whites. 
Cook for 10 minutes or until one side is cooked, then turn and repeat.

For the sauce: Place the soy sauce and srirancha in a bowl and whisk together. Garnish with fresh chives.

Here's a different recipe to try: Chicken Potstickers with Chili Mint Sauce.


Stay hungry my friend!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blogger stuff

You've just discovered blogging, gotten the hang of the basic templates that are on the site, but now you want to venture out an create your own. 
First off, your banner, it's like the sign or logo to a store, the first thing people notice when they open your page.  You've found a picture that you want to use and you've saved it to your desktop.  You've uploaded, but now it looks like this:

There's text on your image and there's some funny lines, too. How do you fix this? The first step is easy:
1) Log on to your account and from your Dashboard, click on Layout.
2) On the Page Elements page, click on the Edit link for your Header.
3) Select the option that says you want your new banner "Instead of title and description." This will remove the extra text.

What about the funny lines? Those are borders that used to hold your blog's title. But now you've got a different sized image, so here's what you do to make them go away.
1) From the Page Elements page, click on Edit HTML link.
2) Scroll down until you find the section that's titled Header.
3) Look for this text and remove it: border:1px solid $bordercolor; (you will see that listed under #header-wrapper { and #header { so be sure to remove both).

This will make those border lines invisible. Now your blog banner looks great!



What if you like the border but you want it to actually fit around your banner? Well, you need to know a little math.

1) First, don't remove the border color text (like I mentioned above).
2) You need to know how wide your banner is. You can find this out easily just by hovering over your saved file on your desktop in Windows. For example, when I hover over my file, it says "Dimensions: 500 x 150."
3) Take the width of the file (500) and add 10 px (because of the padding built into the border).
4) Scroll down in the HTML window until you get to #header-wrapper { and enter the width of your banner plus ten (510 in this example).
5) Save your changes and you'll see this:

So, How Do I Change the Width of my Blog?
Okay, get out your calculator. It's time for some math!

Right now, if you have the Minima template installed on your blog, the maximum width of your blog is probably set to 660 px (pixels) wide. If you were to break this down: 410 px have been given to the main body text of your blog, 220 px are set aside for your sidebar and the remaining 30 px serves as the "gutter" separating the text of your blog entries from the sidebar. Playing around with these numbers will change the look of your blog.

One thing to note, however--there are still some people who have 800 x 600 resolution monitors. If you decide to change the dimensions of your blog to 1000 px (because this looks great on your monitor, which is 1280 x 800) then the content of your blog is going to run off the right side of their screen. That's not very professional looking...

Probably the widest you should go is 780 px. Just divvy this number up between your main body text and your sidebar: 530 px for the text, 220 px for the sidebar and 30 px for the gutter.

Where do you enter these magical numbers? Click on Edit HTML on the Page Elements page and follow these directions:

1) Scroll down to where you see the title Outer-Wrapper. You'll see that here is where the numbers are entered in!

2) Change 660 px to 780 px. Change the "main wrapper" from 410 px to 530 px. The sidebar wrapper and "padding" you can leave as is (220 px and 10 px).

Now, one more thing has to be done so that your pretty banner will be perfectly centered over your text:

3) Scroll up a little to the section entitled Header. Change the width from 660 px to 780 px. Now Blogger knows the right number with which to center your banner and everything will be lined up perfectly!

Um, How do I get a Photo on my Blog?

What's the secret there?

There are two ways you can add an image to your blog posts. Blogger has a built in system for this, where you can upload your photos to Blogger while you're writing. All you do is click on the little photo icon (that you see here) and follow the directions for how you want your text to be formatted around your image.

Also, you can add images that are already uploaded to sites like Flickr and PhotoBucket. These sites will automatically generate the code you need. They will provide you with the text and all you need to do is copy and paste it directly into your post!

Easy. That's all there is to it!

Hey, How Can People Subscribe to my Blog?

I want that little e-mail thingy everyone else has!

You will find what you're looking for at FeedBurner or FeedBlitz. Here's how they work:

FeebBurner and FeedBlitz are websites that will e-mail your posts to your readers who want to sign up for the service. Once you sign up with one of these sites, they will give you a bit of code for you to put on your blog. All you need to do is add a HTML/JavaScript module to your blog's layout (and you can do that on the Page Elements page) and drop the code into this box!

It's as easy as that. And now your readers can subscribe to you via e-mail!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cajun Chicken

At first glance of this recipe, I couldn't imagine cooking this recipe.  The addition of chiles to the cream of chicken soup and a teaspoon of lemon juice didn't sound appealing to me, but I had a can of chiles in the cupboard, so I had to try it.  When cooking with chicken, I usually pound it out to make it thin and it will cook a bit quicker.  No additional salt is required, since the creole seasoning as well as the soup are quite salty.  If you don't creamy soup, substitute water for the milk.  Serve this piping hot!

Simmering chicken and soup mixture

Ingredients:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons Creole or Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
1/2 cup of milk
1 can (7 ounces) chopped green chiles
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup kefir cheese (may substitute with sour cream cheese)

Hot cooked regular long-grain basmati rice
Directions:
Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound the chicken to 1/4" thickness.
Season the chicken with the Creole or Cajun seasoning.
Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the chicken and cook until well browned on both sides.
In a separate bowl, mix soup, water, chiles and lime juice and pour into the skillet and heat to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Stir in the kefir cheese and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling.
Serve the chicken and sauce with the rice.
Creole Chicken
Stay hungry my friend!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Skillet Garlic Chicken

I love, love, love garlic!  So any recipe that has it in it I will try.  I also wanted to try and make this recipe because the use of sage.  I'm always curious with recipes that include Sage, with its smell and texture that to me are reminiscent of dirt.  I know, I know, not a quality you want in your food, but instead of dirt, lets use the word earthy instead.  Surpisingly I really enjoyed this mixture, the blend of thyme and sage took away the the soupy taste of the cream of chicken. 

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup Milk

Hot cooked rice.

Directions:
Place chicken breast between 2 sheets of cling wrap and pound until 1/4 inch thick.
Mix sage and thyme in a small bowl and use 1/2 to season chicken.
Heat olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute.
Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is well browned on both sides and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet, cover and keep warm.
In a separate bowl mix soup, milk and rest of herbs until blended.
Add garlic to skillet and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the soup mixture and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling.
Serve the sauce over the chicken with the rice.

Stay hungry my friend.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What attracts consumers to take part in social media campaigns?

Social media campaigns

Campaigns that ask users to upload videos have fewer entries than those using images or text

 They’re also more likely to go against posting rules so are more likely to get rejected for having inappropriate content, for example copyrighted music playing in the background, or the TV on, as well as the obvious things like nudity or sexual content.
People rarely read the full terms of posting. We’ve found that if you outline the campaign terms using the format you’re asking people to post in (i.e. make a video post of the terms, if you’re asking people to upload video), you get a better response and higher quality video posts. 
It can help to be clear about what is and what isn’t acceptable too so that the community understands the rules and are more likely to flag inappropriate content on your behalf.

If you offer people the choice (video, text or images), video will get the lowest number of entries

People will enter by the easiest means. Interestingly, it used to be the case that you were more likely to get video uploads from a US audience than European, but this has changed as being in front of a camera becomes the norm for most people.

Image-based campaigns get a higher entry rate than video

 They are easy to find or take, and require no editing. But be warned: mobile phone cameras mean that there is a much higher proportion of obscene or abusive photos (things like bullying, firearms and drug use) or images of nudity uploaded. (People even do this from traceable mobile phones, and a number of these lead to arrests).
Don’t just look at the overall image, check for hidden images, titles or text within a picture.

Live uploads attract the worst behaviour 

If content is being uploaded live onto a big screen at an event, or text to TV, for example, it’s more likely to contain inappropriate content like nudity or bad language.
If the brand is unpopular, these sort of incidents increase significantly, as people think it’s funny to get round the system and damage the brand’s reputation. The bigger the potential embarrassment to the brand, the more likely people are to abuse the system.

Check for permissions

 One of the most common issues is whether people have given permission for their images to be used. This can cause problems, particularly in countries with strict privacy laws. 

The best prizes are often things money can’t buy 

Understandably, the better the chance of winning a prize, the more entries you get. The best prizes are often the things money can’t buy, such as ‘behind the scenes’ trips, or a film role as an extra.
But the prize must be relevant to your brand. There’s no point in winning theatre tickets if you’re a shoe manufacturer (unless it’s to see the new musical, ‘Shoes’!). Being part of an experience can work well, such as including uploaded videos or images within a TV ad, or a film project online.
Just getting people to write your TV ad for you isn’t enough. They need something more, for example a chance to win the product advertised, to star in the advert, or recognition for their work.

Prizes mean better behaviour from users 

If there’s an end prize to be won, people tend to behave better, particularly as it often means filling in their real details – name, email address and so on – for notification of the prize to be sent.

Ten is the magic number

 As a rule of thumb:
  • 10% of people who look at the campaign will actively take part (post, like, upload etc).
  • 10% of those people who take part (10% of the 10%) will abuse the system.

Which channel? Consumer behaviour on Facebook vs YouTube vs Twitter

People behave differently on Facebook. They’re angrier, more opinionated, and spammier. Facebook pages get filled with spam very quickly if left unmoderated.
But the most abusive and bullying behaviour is shown on YouTube. Perhaps because there’s more anonymity – you don’t link back to your home profile – but people can be very unpleasant and personal in the video comments. Be prepared for that. You can’t rely on the community to report abuse, it’s just the way YouTube is.
Twitter is, of course, the fastest response channel. People expect an immediate response on Twitter – far faster than on YouTube or Facebook – so put the resource you need behind it. And if you’re feeding Twitter to an un-moderated big public screen, you’re asking for trouble…

No-one reads long Ts & Cs

No-one reads your terms and conditions of entry if they’re full of long legal language. If you want people to read the terms, keep them short and clear, and within the main frame of the community. 
Adding humour often works well if appropriate for your brand.

Character Exercises

You will create many different types of characters in order to flesh out your story. Obviously, the protagonist - hero or anti-hero - is your main character and deserves the most attention. However, most stories also include an antagonist, hopefully a villain that is complex and layered, and then there's the plethora of supporting characters - friends and rivals, even symbolic and nonhuman characters - that are essential to moving the story forward. When creating characters - main and supporting - it's helpful to explore them through writing exercises. These five character exercises are designed to help you develop and strengthen your characters. Give them a try; you never know what treasures you might discover.


1. THE MONOLOGUE

Objective: Learn a character’s insights, thoughts, and feelings.
Exercise: Write a monologue (1 page) that accurately portrays your character. What is he/she feeling at that moment? What is his/her hopes? His/her fears? What does he/she love? Hate?
Remember: The character is speaking to him/herself.
Hints: Use the character’s speech patterns and vocabulary - their voice.

2. THE SPEECH
Objective: Use exposition to learn a character’s past experiences.
Exercise: Write a speech (1 page) in which your character describes, explains, tells, or preaches about a specific event, experience, or idea. Here are some suggestions:
- Explain his/her FIRST LOVE AFFAIR.
- Recall his/her experience of DISCOVERING A DEAD BODY.
- Describe the BIRTH OF HIS/HER FIRST CHILD.
- Lecture on a situation of INTERNATIONAL MILITARY CONFLICT.
- Preach about the PRACTICAL VALUE OF ATHEISM.
Remember: The character is speaking to someone or even to a group of people. Decide who your character is addressing. The specifics of your character’s audience will affect word choice and presentation.
Hints: Use the character’s speech patterns and vocabulary - their voice.

3. CHARACTER ENVIRONMENT (ROOMMATES)
Objective: Explore the things people surround themselves with that define character.
Exercise: Describe a bedroom where two people live. They can be college roommates, siblings, lovers, husband/wife - it's up to you. You are to describe the room three times in script form (NO DIALOGUE - TWO PAGES MAXIMUM):
1) The first time the two people live in harmony.
2) The second, there has been a fight between the two roommates.
3) The third, one of the roommates has moved out.

Remember: The tricky part is you are to describe only the room. There are no people in any of these scenes. Use objects, furniture, clothes, etc… to differentiate between the two roommates. Don't just list objects. Write with a sense of discovery. The way in which you reveal information is important. It affects our understanding as well as our emotions.

Hints: Subtle, but clear, changes should occur to the room as their relationship dissolves. We should know from the descriptions who these people are, what happened, which one started the fight, what the fight was about and who moved out.

Questions that should be answered: Who are these two people? What are their ages? What do they look like? How long have they lived together? What was the argument about? Who started it? How did they deal with it? Who moved out?

4. CHARACTER BIO: UNABLE TO LOVE
Objective: Dig deep with a character, discovering background history, personality, psychology, and current goals.

Exercise: Write a character biography (1 page) of a person who is unable to love. Base this on someone you know. Know everything about this character: looks, family, religion, childhood, etc. Use the details of real life - the life you know. Then select from what you know, and describe the character in dramatic, cinematic terms - that is, in ways that are of use to a screenwriter.

Remember: Most of all, you must know and articulate the reason why this character is unable to love. What is holding him/her back? What does he or she fear will happen if he/she fear will happen if he/she falls in love? Rejection? Certain disappointment, e.g., was there once someone he loved that no one can ever live up to?Finally, how does he imagine himself at moments when he has a chance to love someone but doesn't? Fragile? Tired? Protective? Noble? Wise?

Schedule: Use the character seven-day schedule to help you fully develop this character.

5. CHARACTER INTRODUCTION

Objective: Make your character stand out.

Exercise: Write a scene (1-3 pages) that introduces your character. Use description, props, wardrobe and dialogue that give your character a unique voice.

Remember: Introduction scenes are often scenes of the “status quo” - the character living his or her everyday life before the inciting incident propels the character into a new conflict.

Hints: Action speak louder than words. If your character is in a group, have them do something specific and unique that makes them memorable and interesting.

Example: COOL HAND LUKE (1967) - The opening scene to the screenplay by Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson originally had two sections of dialogue of Luke talking to himself as he cut off the parking meters. What you will read here is the way we see the final edit of the film. Clearly, dialogue was unnecessary to illustrate Luke’s tragic flaw: defiance.

FADE IN:
EXT. SOUTHERN CITY STREET EXTREME CLOSEUP PARKING METER (NIGHT)
Its irritating head opens a glaring red eye: the red flag pops across the entire screen:
VIOLATION
INSERT: PARKING METER SUPPORT (NIGHT)
CLOSEUP of a pipe cutter attached to the meter neck, metal slivers curling out.
CLOSEUP PARKING METER (NIGHT)
as the meter head falls out of FRAME.
NEW ANGLE ON METER (NIGHT)
as it falls to the ground amidst a forest of meter stands and Luke's hand comes into the FRAME to pick it up and we see LUCAS JACKSON in CLOSEUP for the first time. He is cheerful, drunk, wearing a faded GI Field jacket. A bottle opener hangs on a silver chain around his neck.
Suddenly the beam of headlights crashes in, FLARING the SCREEN.
ANGLE ON PROWL CAR (NIGHT)
sliding up to us, headlights glaring, red toplight revolving menacingly. TWO OFFICERS, black shapes, get out and start warily toward Luke.
ON LUKE (NIGHT)
illuminated by the headlights. He grins as the Officers approach, lifts a bottle of beer, opens it and drinks, smiling. On his smile, FREEZE FRAME. ON THE FRAME SUPER-IMPOSE MAIN TITLE.

6. PLAY THE PART OF YOUR CHARACTER

Objective: Discover details about your character by playing the part.

Exercise: Go to a location and make decisions as your character.

Remember: Truly be the character. Even the cold-blooded assassin needs to eat. Everybody goes to the grocery store, but not everybody shops the same. Choice – the act of selecting or making a decision – marks the difference between people. And how a person goes about making the choice is incredibly revealing.
Hints: Clearly, this exercise can be applied in any location: order a burger as your character would, pick up some books in the library that only your character would read, walk through the mall and go into stores that your character would shop in.

Ten Steps to Completing Your Screenplay

I have been working on my one person show now, for what feels like an eternity.  Sometimes, I just need to stopand make sure I'm on the right track. Here's a list of 10 things to take a moment to think about.  Try not to get bogged down in them, or like me you'll never finish the script. 

1. Choosing Your Material
2. Getting Started: The Idea
3. Character Development
4. Story Development
5. Learning the Genre
6. Understanding Your Audience
7. Planning Your Foundation
8. Building Your Structure
9. Applying Your Detail
10. Completing Your Script

Go to The Script Lab for more about this article.

Keep on keeping on!
B.

Character Questionnaire

1. How does your character think of their father? What do they hate and love about him? What influence - literal or imagined - did the father have?

2. Their mother? How do they think of her? What do they hate? Love? What influence - literal or imagined - did the mother have?
3. Brothers, sisters? Who do they like? Why? What do they despise about their siblings?
4. What type of discipline was your character subjected to at home? Strict? Lenient?
5. Were they overprotected as a child? Sheltered?
6. Did they feel rejection or affection as a child?
7. What was the economic status of their family?
8. How does your character feel about religion?
9. What about political beliefs?
10. Is your character street-smart, book-smart, intelligent, intellectual, slow-witted?
11. How do they see themselves: as smart, as intelligent, uneducated?
12. How does their education and intelligence – or lack thereof - reflect in their speech pattern, vocabulary, and pronunciations?
13. Did they like school? Teachers? Schoolmates?
14. Were they involved at school? Sports? Clubs? Debate? Were they unconnected?
15. Did they graduate? High-School? College? Do they have a PHD? A GED?
16. What does your character do for a living? How do they see their profession? What do they like about it? Dislike?
17. Did they travel? Where? Why? When?
18. What did they find abroad, and what did they remember?
19. What were your character's deepest disillusions? In life? What are they now?
20. What were the most deeply impressive political or social, national or international, events that they experienced?
21. What are your character's manners like? What is their type of hero? Whom do they hate?
22. Who are their friends? Lovers? 'Type' or 'ideal' partner?
23. What do they want from a partner? What do they think and feel of sex?
24. What social groups and activities does your character attend? What role do they like to play? What role do they actually play, usually?
25. What are their hobbies and interests?
26. What does your character's home look like? Personal taste? Clothing? Hair? Appearance?
27. How do they relate to their appearance? How do they wear their clothing? Style? Quality?
28. Who is your character's mate? How do they relate to him or her? How did they make their choice?
29. What is your character's weaknesses? Hubris? Pride? Controlling?
30. Are they holding on to something in the past? Can he or she forgive?
31. Does your character have children? How do they feel about their parental role? About the children? How do the children relate?
32. How does your character react to stress situations? Defensively? Aggressively? Evasively?
33. Do they drink? Take drugs? What about their health?
34. Does your character feel self-righteous? Revengeful? Contemptuous?
35. Do they always rationalize errors? How do they accept disasters and failures?
36. Do they like to suffer? Like to see other people suffering?
37. How is your character's imagination? Daydreaming a lot? Worried most of the time? Living in memories?
38. Are they basically negative when facing new things? Suspicious? Hostile? Scared? Enthusiastic?
39. What do they like to ridicule? What do they find stupid?
40. How is their sense of humor? Do they have one?
41. Is your character aware of who they are? Strengths? Weaknesses? Idiosyncrasies? Capable of self-irony?
42. What does your character want most? What do they need really badly, compulsively? What are they willing to do, to sacrifice, to obtain?
43. Does your character have any secrets? If so, are they holding them back?
44. How badly do they want to obtain their life objectives? How do they pursue them?
45. Is your character pragmatic? Think first? Responsible? All action? A visionary? Passionate? Quixotic?
46. Is your character tall? Short? What about size? Weight? Posture? How do they feel about their physical body?
47. Do they want to project an image of a younger, older, more important person? Does they want to be visible or invisible?
48. How are your character's gestures? Vigorous? Weak? Controlled? Compulsive? Energetic? Sluggish?
49. What about voice? Pitch? Strength? Tempo and rhythm of speech? Pronunciation? Accent?
50. What are the prevailing facial expressions? Sour? Cheerful? Dominating?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cheesy Brussel Sprouts

While on a recent trip to Costco, looking for celery, I came upon a 2 pound bag of Brussel Sprouts in the refrigerated section.   Since I was trying to increase my greens intake, I couldn't resist.  Full of vitamin C, protein and fiber, I wondered what to make with these tiny heads.  Since Piggy2 is not a fan of brussel sprouts, I needed to find a recipe that included cheese, since no one can resist cheese.

Ingredients:
2 lb Brussel sprouts
1 small white onion
3 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
1/4 cup of fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Place sprouts in pot and cover with water.  Bring to boil and sprouts are tender.  Drain water.
In a separate pan, melt butter and add garlic and onions.  Saute 2-3 minutes  (I like my onions still al dente, so I cook them until warm and fragrant)
Add sprouts to pan and cook for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and sprinkle cheese over sprouts.
Cover pan with lid for a few minutes to melt cheese.
Remove cover, stir and serve immediately.
Stay hungry my friend!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Everyday I feel like I'm in the movie Groundhog Day.  Although fully aware that this is a new day and I have a ton of new plans, I usually end up reliving the previous day.  Trying to eat well, but losing will power and giving in to a chocolate craving, and going to the gym but then having all hours there being defeated by said chocolate bar.
 
On this particular day, I found an old acquaintance's new blog Fat Girl Gets Dressed and was inspired to eat well, yet still enjoying myself and indulging my sweet tooth.  You should look at her blog for successful results, mine were less than stellar, that is if you enjoy your chips a little darker and are partial to burnt.

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Chili spice
Garlic Salt


Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Clean and dry sweet potatoes and cut into thin slices.

Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Top with Chili spice (I made one batch of chili, and another with garlic salt) to taste, and mix until potatoes well coated.
Place coated sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes (or until they're cooked to your taste).
Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!


It was the cooking part the messed me up.  I wanted chips, so I left them in the oven a bit too long (see the blackened chips on the right).  I'd love to know how yours turned out.

Stay hungry my friend!