Author: Luisa Perkins
•9:15 PM
What's as good as an Advent Calendar full of chocolate? I'm not sure, but how about 25 posts in a row featuring my favorite Christmas art and poetry? Come back every day in December, and I'll try to have something lovely up for you.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•9:09 PM
Police surround the body of Jdimytai Damour, the employee who was trampled to death by Wal-Mart shoppers in Long Island, NY on Friday morning.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.
--William Wordsworth
Author: Luisa Perkins
•7:23 PM
Here's how it happened:

I told Josh, our butcher, back in October that I wanted to be on his list for one of his organic, free-range turkeys, as we have been for the past two years. He took down my name and told me to call to follow up with him in a few weeks.

Josh gets many of his turkeys from 4-H kids. These birds live in the lap of luxury, and are hand fed and given individual attention by devoted (and cash-motivated) children. When the turkeys' numbers are up in late November every year, they are killed quickly and humanely, and Josh takes over from there.

When Hope and I arrived in Kingston for our pick-up, Josh asked me what size bird I wanted; I replied that I was flexible. I needed to feed twenty people and still have ample leftovers, and James really wanted to try a recipe we'd made in our cooking class: a butterflied, stuffed, and bacon-wrapped turkey breast. I was thinking that we'd do a 'smaller' (i.e., 15-pounds or so) turkey and get a large breast as well.

He told me that he had a few smaller turkeys, but no turkey breasts; those had all been snapped up already. He did, however, tell me that he had a couple of larger birds left. I asked, "What, twenty pounds or so?" He laughed and said, "How about thirty-seven?"

After the initial drop of my jaw, I thought quickly. A turkey that size would certainly give us plenty of leftovers--and give us a breast big enough for our new recipe. "Can you cut it up for me?" I asked. "Because no turkey the size of your average four-year-old is going to fit in either one of my ovens."

"Absolutely," he answered, and got right to it. He cut both legs off, then boned both sides of the breast. While we were waiting, Hope and I chose some cheeses and got some other meat to put in the freezer. We lugged our haul out to the car and got moving. Once home, we roasted the carcass for stock and brined the four pieces: both legs and the breasts. Having the turkey cut up made brining infinitely easier; all four sections fit easily in our small cooler.

On Thanksgiving Day, I roasted one leg on a rack early in the morning. I put the other leg and one breast on a rack over a pan full of stuffing and got that going. This was great, since the dark meat cooks faster than the white meat; once the leg was done, I took it out and let the breast keep going.

James and I got busy with the second breast. We skinned it, then butterflied so that the meat was one inch thick. This translated into a rectangle about two feet long! We spread it with a cornbread-sausage stuffing, then rolled it, draped it with bacon, and tied it up.

We had a fabulous meal. The turkey was all delicious--tender, flavorful, and moist--but the bacon-wrapped breast was scrumptious. Also, I can't endorse brining emphatically enough. We've been brining our turkeys for about 10 years now, and I will never go back. For the best directions on the process, visit Cook's Illustrated online; a subscription to this peerless magazine is worth it for their comprehensive Turkey 101 Guide alone.

What's on tap for Christmas Eve? We'll see; Josh put us down for either a goose or a brace of ducks, if available. And if no 4-H kid comes through for us in December, we'll settle for a beef tenderloin.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•10:42 AM
If you've hung around Planet Blog for very long, you've doubtless encountered folks discussing NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, which stand for National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month respectively. The first requires that the participant write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November, while the second requires that one post to one's blog every day in the month of November. Both are rewarded with special blog badges, a sense of accomplishment, and the approbation of peers from around the globe.

I 'did' NaBloPoMo in 2007 and had a blast, but it was exhausting trying to post every single dang day, especially since November is by far my busiest month of the year. I tried to do NaNoWriMo at the same time, but failed pretty spectacularly early on. No matter; I have my own schedule, and I'm cool with that. I think I may do my own version of NaNo in February or March, since those months are relatively uneventful at the Perkins Corral, and I haven't written 50,000 words in one month in a very long time.

I have a few close friends who are having huge success with NaNo this year, and I couldn't be more thrilled for them. To go from aspiring writer to writer-with-a-completed-first-draft in a mere thirty days is a Herculean feat worthy of much celebration. The consistency and momentum that is built with such an event is a fitting reward for the dedication and sacrifice required.

I don't know whether there is a term for words coined by putting the first parts of each word in a title together, as with NaNo and NaBlo, so I'm dubbing them 'fake-ronyms.' This morning, while rocking Anne-the-Fussy-Teether, I thought about creating my own November events and the fake-ronyms to go with them. I could easily earn shiny badges in the following:

CleCaBaDoCo: Cleaning Cat Barf out of Down Comforters Requirements include a neurotic feline, several bed coverings marked 'Dry Clean Only,' a washing machine with a capacious and forgiving lint screen, and a sense of adventure/desperation.

GeHiRuPriShaTi: Getting Hip to Running Primary Sharing Time I've taught Primary twice and served as chorister for a year once long ago, but I have far less experience in the auxiliary than most active LDS women my age. Last week, I got called into our ward's Primary Presidency, so I am surfing Teh Web like a crazy woman, trying to get up to speed.

FaPlaCaCa: Failing at Place Card Calligraphy Yes, we're hosting Thanksgiving again this year. With 20 eaters, the tables will be full and the fun will be plentiful. Every year I aspire to elegant table settings, and every year I settle instead for large quantities of tasty food. Will this be the year my spread looks like Martha's? Doubtful, but one can dream.

SleeDeTeeTo: Sleep Deprivation with Teething Toddlers and EnTaPre: Enduring Tattling Pre-Schoolers Ahh, the fantastic tag team my two youngest children are. Anne stopped sleeping through the night back around my birthday, and every night since then has been a bit dicey. My nights go like this: two or three solid hours of sleep, followed by four or five hours on the couch or in the rocking chair with a restless baby.

My days are dominated by Daniel, who is training for a future position in the CIA by spying on his siblings and reporting their behavior to me in the most annoying self-righteous tones possible. Alternatively, he tattles on me to me: "Mom! The bathroom is a mess. Mom! Anne is all alone in her bouncy seat! How could you leave her? Mom!" Fortunately, KiBaTiSheGi: Kissing Baby Till She Giggles and ReSeuMiTi: Reading Seuss for the Millionth Time go a long way towards mitigating the effects of these first two.

IgGraRooGroFee: Ignoring Gray Roots and Gross Feet Is there any way I can color my hair and get a pedicure before Thursday? Must. Fit. Into. Schedule. Somehow.

NaDaChoTum: National Daily Chocolate-in-the-Tummy I win, I win!
Author: Luisa Perkins
•8:31 PM

My kids are awesome. Their long-distance friend Gary has his birthday today, so they wrote him a song. We'll record the final version on Friday, but they rehearsed hard all afternoon, and they wanted the G-man to know that they were thinking of him on his special day. So, here's Teh Posse singing "The G-man Blues." Christian's on guitar, Tess is on shaker egg, and Hope and James share lead vocals, with Anne as Official Muse. (Daniel was taking an OSHA break from air guitar when I took these photos.)

Author: Luisa Perkins
•9:02 AM

Author: Luisa Perkins
•5:11 PM
"No one is able to enjoy such feast as the one who throws a party in his own mind."--Selma Lagerlöf

Nearly 100 years ago, Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature; her birthday is next week. The above quote of hers perfectly describes the reason why I continue to write despite such distractions as a romantic husband, six adventurous children, a busy church life, and several absorbing hobbies. The party in my mind keeps pulling me back. Here's what's happening in my writing life lately.

According to, my cookbook Comfortably Yum will be ready to order in 6-8 weeks. After I completed the manuscript, I was disappointed to find that it wouldn't be available more quickly--i.e. in time for Christmas--but I'll let you know the minute it comes out.

I'm waiting to hear from a couple of different magazines regarding short stories I've submitted to them. Submitting short stories to magazines is much less painful than submitting novels to publishing houses; my theory is that I'm less invested in short stories because they take so much less time and energy to write. I've successfully weathered many rejections in the past several months. So cross your fingers for this latest round! I would be so thrilled to be published by Strange Horizons, for example.

After the holidays, I'll probably dust off my fantasy novels The Holly Place and ZF-360 and try submitting them to agents again. I am thinking about re-titling both of them.

I got a card from a woman who recently read Shannon's Mirror and loved it. Fan correspondence is pure gold; I keep a file of things like this to pull out and review when I'm feeling discouraged and talentless.

I've started a new novel called Thrice Liam. It's the story of a grieving young widow who gradually becomes convinced that her new neighbor is actually her husband. Ghost story or portrait of a psychological breakdown? You'll have to read and see....

Last and almost as exciting as starting a new novel--I got accepted to Dave Farland's annual Professional Novel Writing Workshop, to be held next April in Saint George, Utah. Dave Farland, who also writes under his real name, David Wolverton, is a hugely successful writer. Apparently he's a terrific teacher as well; past workshop students of his include Brandon Sanderson and Jessica Day George. I am really looking forward to five days of fabulous instruction and growth next spring.

Obviously, one area of writing upon which I am not concentrating is ye olde blog. I only have so many WEUs at any given time, so be patient with me and keep coming back to visit.

Author: Luisa Perkins
•5:05 PM

For information on hair donation to those in need, visit Locks of Love.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•8:20 AM

Yes, it's the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. It also happens to be my age as of today. It's a special day for more than one reason.

It's not the first time that Election Day in the U.S. has fallen on my birthday in my lifetime; I turned 18 on November 4, 1984, and got to vote in my first presidential election that day. It, too, was a historic race; it was the first time a woman had been nominated as a vice-presidential candidate. I remember my grandmother marveling at that, since she could recall the time when women did not have the right to vote in this country.

Unfortunately, my candidate, Walter Mondale, did not win that year; I'm hoping America comes through with a better gift for me this time around.

The other day, Hope was anxious that I might be feeling old. She told me that I could just say that I'm 21 from now on. I told her I wouldn't be 21 again for anything. I have a wonderful life, and it has only gotten better as I've aged. I have no reason to believe this trend won't continue!

If you are a U.S. citizen and wondering what to get me for my birthday, get out and vote today, no matter how long the lines are, and no matter who your candidate is. If you're not a U.S. citizen, well...there's always chocolate.
Author: Luisa Perkins
•9:18 PM

Well, what a blast I had today. For the past couple of years, we've been giving the big kids events instead of stuff for their birthdays, and today James and I enjoyed his most recent gift. We spent six hours at the New York City branch of the Culinary Institute of America enjoying the semi-private tutelage of a team of chefs. It was a class for parents and teens--twelve students in all--with the theme "Thanksgiving Favorites," and it was fantastic.

We had a workshop on knife skills; I've always wanted to learn how to dice, chop, and mince like the pros! We made apple pie, duchesse potatoes, green beans in a butter pistachio sauce, and the central jewel in the crown: a turkey breast that we boned, butterflied, stuffed, rolled, wrapped in bacon, and roasted. Afterwards we got to eat the products of our labors: heaven!

James soaked it all in and was a terrific student. Near the end of our cooking time, the chefs were counting down the minutes until we had to plate our creations, and it felt just like we were in Kitchen Stadium. Some of the other kids got a bit snippy under stress, but not James. He stayed calm and cool as he piped the last few of his potato rosettes and finished the pistachio sauce. I was and am immensely proud. We're both excited to try some new things at Thanksgiving this year!