Thirteen Questions About Our Independence You Should be Able to Answer

I was watching the Sons of Liberty, a wonderful series on the History Channel this holiday weekend and was inspired to put together this little quiz. It’s not hard, or at least it shouldn’t be. These are questions that you should be able to answer. If you’re having problems,  maybe you can flag a fourth grader to help you.

Let’s begin.

1. Who orchestrated the Boston Tea Party?
2. Why were the Minutemen called Minutemen?
3. What famous line from a poem do we attribute to the beginning of the Revolutionary War?
4. What city held the Continental Congress?
5. Who wrote Common Sense?
6 Who did John Adams recommend to write the Declaration of Independence?
7. Who was the King of England in 1776?
8. Who had the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence?
9. Who were the Redcoats?
10. What country were the Hessians from?
11. Which signer of the Declaration was born in the United States?
12. What happened on Christmas night in 1776?
13. What happened on September 3, 1783?

Easy right? I hope you breezed right through this little quiz. I know that you know all the answers, but just in case you want to share the quiz with your fellow Facebook friends or Twitter followers, I recommend you send the answers.

I’m sure not everyone will be as smart as you are.

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And the answers are…

1.Samuel Adams orchestrated the Boston Tea Party.
2. The Minutemen were called that because they could be ready in a minute.
3. The “shot heard round the world” immortalized by Ralph Waldo Emmerson in his poem Concord Hymn was attributed to the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
4. The Continental Congress was held in Philadelphia.
5. Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense.
6. Thomas Jefferson of course. He recommended Jefferson and his fellow patriots took his advice. Did I trick you with this one?
7. George III
8. John Hancock. When asked why he made it so large, he said that he wanted to make sure that King George could read it without his glasses.
9. The British Army
10. Germany. The British hired German soldiers.
11. None. This was a trick question.
12. Washington crossed the Delaware.
13. The Revolutionary War came to an end.

If you had some trouble with my little quiz, I would check out my reference page  and maybe enroll in a refresher course in American history. If you click on the Ralph Waldo Emmerson link above, you’ll find a great website devoted to our Constitution. Be sure to take their quiz.

In the meantime, you can get started with my post from last year, and at the very least, make sure you sign up for my blog, guaranteed to raise your IQ or your money back.

Let me know if you found the quiz too easy, too hard, or just right.

Summer Strawberry Dessert is Simple to Make and Simple to Eat

 

I try to keep things simple if you haven’t already guessed from reading my tagline. I haven’t written anything in this category for a while, so I decided that sharing one of my simple recipes would be a good idea. My strawberry dessert is perfect for summer because it’s easy to make and easy to eat, and since it’s officially summer, it’s simply a perfect time to share.

I must confess right away that I am not a food blogger, nor am I a food photographer, so you’ll have to trust me that this dessert is much more enticing than my photo shows. If you don’t believe me, let me know in the comments, and I’ll round up some testimonials for you as soon as I run to the bank.

Also, this is a recipe that beginning bakers may want to try a couple of times before taking it to their next pot luck. Don’t worry. Your dry runs won’t go to waste. They will still be edible. I just want your dessert to look good in the pan.

I play around with the recipe just about every time I make it. It’s one of my mother’s recipes, and if you have ever gotten a recipe from your mother, you know what I mean. You take a little of this and a little of that, and then mix it together. And when you ask how much, it usually begins with “about.”

This happens to be a recipe that I took down over the phone many years ago before my mother had died. It was one I remember as a child that showed up frequently depending on what fruit was in season. When you take down a recipe over the phone, your recipe looks less like a recipe and more like a bunch of doodles.

Don’t worry, though. Over the years I’ve “stabilized” the recipe so I feel confident that if you’ve baked before, your baking reputation will remain intact.

My mom was a housewife and mother, so she cooked and baked all the time. When I was a child we rarely went out to eat. I don’t remember having store-bought bread for the first seven years of my life. Every week Mom baked bread, rolls and coffee cake. I remember being envious of kids who got to eat Wonder bread.

None of my mother’s recipes are overly indulgent or extravagant. I think her cooking and baking reflected her experience of living through the Depression. Whatever you cooked or baked, you tried to make it stretch, and you never wasted anything. If milk ever soured before we drank it, she would use it for her mahogany cake recipe. With this recipe I tend to add more fruit and use a smaller pan. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe, I have always doubled. Over the years, I continue to modify her recipes depending on how I feel at the moment.

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Refrigerated Strawberry Dessert

(Feel free to name this anything you like.)
You can use raspberries, peaches or nectarines. I would peel the peaches or nectarines.

1 pkg graham cracker (crushed into crumbs, reserving 2 T. For topping)
4 T. melted butter
1 T. sugar

16 large marshmallows
1/4 C. milk

1/2 pint whipping cream

1 pint berries, washed and cut into quarters (more depending on your preference)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put metal bowl and beaters in the refrigerator to cool. (Handy tip before you beat whipping cream is to chill your bowl and beaters.)

Combine the marshmallows and milk in a saucepan over low heat and melt the marshmallows. You can start this before you make the crust because it needs to cool.
Combine first three ingredients (except the 2 T. Reserved crumbs). Press into an 8 x 8 inch pan, spreading up the side a little. My mom used a 6 x 8 pan I think and the dessert was thinner.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Beat the whipping cream in the cooled metal bowl to whipping cream consistency. I guess that would be considered stiff peaks. Fold in the marshmallow mixture. Fold in the berries.
Pour into pan after the crust has cooled. Sprinkle the reserved graham cracker crumbs on top. Refrigerate.

I love this recipe because the ingredients are simple, you use the fruit that’s in season, and the dessert is cold and light which is perfect for summer. We need to take our daily ten minutes and enjoy our simple pleasures or life will overwhelm us.

Let me know if you have a favorite recipe that’s easy to make and delicious to share.

 

 

 

The Shocking Truth About the Bestseller List

I’ve noticed that “bestselling” seems to be describing any book that crosses my path these days. I own a Kindle Fire and use it every day. I pretty much use Amazon every day too. I also subscribe to a number of Kindle book clubs. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t get offered a bestseller for $1.99. Hard to believe, isn’t it.

Has the moniker of a bestseller lost its luster? I know that I gloss over those words these days as meaningless. When I was researching for my book I found a “bestselling” author who wrote and sold a lot of books about blogging and selling books. And I’m sure he made a lot of money. I read a couple of his books and then vowed to never read another one. I think we have to remember that bestselling doesn’t mean best quality.

What does bestselling mean and how does the aspiring writer achieve this holy grail, this pie in the sky, this award to end all awards?
My findings were startling. You’d think I was living in the middle of a corn field in Iowa for not knowing about this scam. Rest assured that the number one thing you don’t need to make the bestseller list is talent. It may help, but it’s definitely at the bottom of the list.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal lists use a metric based on the Nielsen BookScan. But they only use sales from print, not from digital, and not from Wal-mart or Sam’s Club. As an author wouldn’t this make you crazy? What difference does it make in what format someone buys your book. The NY Times will also use only a select group of sellers, secret to their committee. I’ve also read that they weigh a book’s purchasing differently. A book bought at Amazon “weighs” less than one bought at independent book dealer X. Talk about subjective.

Want to buy your way to the top?

 

I also discovered that you can buy your way to the top by book laundering. There are a number of marketing firms, ResultSource being one of the top, who will guarantee you a place on one of these lists. You give them their fee, and then you give them money to buy enough books to put your sales in consideration for the bestseller list. Again, no regards for talent. It’s about marketing.

Now that I’ve assuredly convinced you that using the bestseller list as the worst gauge to finding your next tome, what should you use? How do you find the gem among the costume jewelry?

I remember the days of wandering the bookstore gazing over the table of books that the owners picked out just for me. I scanned the outside description to see if it piqued my interest and then the back cover to get a little more taste. Before I left the store, I made sure to peruse the discount rack to see if there were some special books that I had to clear a space for on my already over crowded book shelf.

When I was low on cash, I used to do the same at the library, wandering up and down the stacks reading various book jackets in the mystery section. Once my library got a drive thru those days were gone! Then it was reserve online and pick it up. My wandering days were over.

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To say that Amazon has changed the book buying market is an understatement. Amazon also has a bestseller list, and I put no more stock in this list than I do the other two. I can say that Amazon refuses to do business with ResultSource which is a plus, and of course they will consider digital sales, but there are far too many poorly written books that have the bestseller status.

Bestseller status is based on books bought, period. That’s why authors have to spend so much time on marketing.
But I digress. How do we judge a book these days when the market is flooded with junk?

I must admit that I am one to read reviews on Amazon. I know what you’re are going to say. Those can be manufactured, blah blah blah. Believe, me I know.

I read the negative reviews first. Someone is more likely to provide a negative review than a positive, and I can see if the same thing that irritates one reader applies to me. What I’m looking for is any review that tells me the writer has poor grammar. This tells me right away that they were not serious about their work and just wanted to get a book up on Amazon to see if they could make some money. This especially applies to eBooks.

I’ll also scan the positive reviews looking for what the book covers to see if the information is what I’m looking for. I should tell you that this process only applies to non-fiction books. I only buy non-fiction. And that’s only after I check it out from the library to see if it’s worth buying. Lately, I’ve cut my book budget even further by buying used books on Amazon and so far I’m very satisfied with the book quality.

You could judge a book by its cover. I used to do this in my perusing days. This was the first step. It helps if you’re looking for a specific genre. My favorite was mystery/suspense/espionage so if the cover had a picture of the United States Capitol or a Nazi symbol, I would check out the description. Did you know that librarians also consider jacket art in their purchase?

Finally, I would check out your library system. The system has a limited budget and will probably purchase books they’ve done some research on. The story or subject may not appeal to you, but the book is probably well written because a publishing house took a chance and published it.

Anyone can write a book these days and self publish which is a double-edged sword. It provides a chance for good writers who wouldn’t normally get published to get published, but it also lets anyone who can type something resembling a book try to sell it. Being the capitalist that I am, I don’t begrudge anyone from doing this, buying or selling. It does make it more inconvenient for the rest of us because we now have more to wade through to find what we’re looking for, but it’s all in the name of capitalism.

 

Ignore the word “bestseller,” dear reader.

 

The bestseller list is only important to the writer because it means more sales. To the reader, it should mean absolutely nothing. Ignore it dear reader. It has nothing to do with you.

I have found a few good fiction eBooks on rare occasions. Let me know if you have a method to finding a great read and share what you have found. Until then, I’ll stick to the list of authors that I’ve compiled over the years, branching out when I get bored. If the author makes the bestseller list it only means he’s making more money. Fortunately, it’s not on my dime. I went to the library.

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