I may chat about my books, what I'm writing or reading, or just general thoughts. You may read posts about my cats or just my crazy life in general. Comments are welcome, if anyone wants to interact with me. Maybe we can share war stories, whether it's writing related or just about life in general.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!



A big thank you to all of you have followed me and read my blog posts over the last year.  I love all your comments and try to reciprocate by visiting your blogs as well.  As a result, I’ve met a lot of nice people out there and read some interesting posts.  I hope to do better about dropping by more often, but I always run out of time.

Many of my followers have come from participating in the A to Z challenge every April.  The idea for this challenge started with Lee Bird at this link.  The idea is to blog every day for the month of April (with Sundays off).  It’s quite a test to blog daily with all that goes on in life at any given time, but you should think about putting this on your calendar for 2015.  It’s a lot of fun.

I’m not a big one for making new year’s resolutions because it’s hard to keep any resolution and I don’t like to commit to something I probably won’t do consistently, however, I will say that I’m trying to do better with that way of thinking.

I do what I can daily whether it’s cleaning house, writing, cooking, exercising, reading, watching wildlife and taking pictures, or a combination of all of them.  My days fly by.  I don’t have as much time to read or sew as I used to.

So here goes with something I think I can manage (maybe). 

I will stop emailing myself things to read later.  I’m very bad about doing this.  It fills my inbox so fast because I do it daily several dozen times.  We’ll see how long this lasts.

I’m going to try to eat better and exercise more.  It’s not that I don’t do that already, but I’m not getting any younger and I could also do better in almost any area of my life.

I’m going to try to write more than I do now.  I’d like to finish the three books I have started and get one of them published this year.  It seems I’m always writing now, if you could hear my husband talk, but sometimes it’s just email and blog posts.

I will be doing the ABNA again in Jan or Feb, the A to Z Challenge in April and the NaNo in November because I can’t let any writing challenge pass me by without giving it a go.

I’m going to try and do better about organizing things as I go because in the end I have a big mess to take care of and I have to organize it anyway.  I’ve been doing that with my pictures for the last six months and it sure helps to label them and file them as soon as I download my camera card.  It saves time when I want to find things later, even though it takes time to do all the work in the beginning.  Of course I still have 20,000+ pics on my computer that I took before I started this practice that I have to deal with eventually.

I’m going to try and live a quieter and more peaceful life, but I don’t know if that will ever happen in my house.

I’m going to read more books.  I love to read but have really drifted far from reading my sixty books a year.

I would like to learn to do something new once a month.  I love learning.  There are many things about Photoshop I still need to learn.  Other things on the net catch my interest all the time.  I could probably set a record for my daily use of Google because I have a curious mind and will research things of interest.

I hope to see my family more if I’m able to move closer once we sell the house.  Time flies so fast and all of us are getting older.  It would be nice to do some things with my sisters while all of us can still get around.

I want to find a PT job somehow someway so I can make a little extra money; however, this would ideally be an afternoon or night shift, as anything before noon just isn’t me at this stage of my life.  This one might not happen either, unless I want to be a greeter at Walmart.

I’d like to live like a cat, sleep when I’m tired and eat when I’m hungry, but this will never happen in my house either where everything has to be on a schedule.

The following are things that will never happen:

I’ll never stop taking in stray cats.  I can’t help myself if I see a poor little fur darling that some careless person abandoned outside all alone, starving and perhaps hurt.  I’ll at least make sure it gets to a no-kill shelter, or an organization like PAWS.  Right now, I have three and that’s probably my limit.

I will probably never stop drinking a glass of wine now and then in the evening when I need to relax and chill out.

Please don’t ask me to ever get to bed before midnight.  I’m a born night owl and this is just not going to happen, no matter how hard I try.  It causes constant friction in my house, but I hate to stop writing if I’m on a role.  I also hate to stop reading when I have two pages left to finish the book, or finish the chapter.  Or to stop sewing when all I left is the hem.  This stuff really burns my butt.

I will never be a clock watcher.  It drives me crazy and I look forward to the day I can throw all the clocks out the window.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.  Keep that positive attitude and be realistic about your goals.  It’s easier to find satisfaction that way and not disappoint yourself because you will get there eventually.

If you’re celebrating, be careful on the road and get a designated driver if you’re drinking.  Have fun and make merry with friends and family.  Tomorrow’s a brand new day.  Happy New Year from me and the cats.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

What can I say?



My cats are my life and they make things so worthwhile.  I really don’t know what I’d do without them in my life.  If you’re a cat and end up in my house, you have it made.

Tootie  

Koki teaching the boy bad habits 

 Raven snuggled up in the clean clothes -a favorite for the cats

 Things are turning colder and we live in the desert where we see temp extremes.  We did have a few flakes of snow that didn’t stick during Xmas dinner.  It’s taking a turn to that time of year I simply despise.  I can’t help myself.  I’m a warm weather gal, what can I say?  I know it is what it is.  But thank God we only have a little more than a month of winter left. 

English Trifle - what a great desert!

I’m trying to keep up on the house and also write as these dark winter days go by. 

I'm proud to finish the NaNo and write 50,000 words in Nov.  Here's my amazing T-shirt

We had to buy a new microwave because, as luck would have it, the old one decided to go out and we have to have things working when we sell the house.  I guess a microwave lasts about ten years for any of you wondering about this.



 Bird of Prey looking for food

Roadrunner trying to make itself look smaller
 
We have the usual animals coming by looking for winter food and birds on the suet we put out.  I only hope the new owners will fill the water pans and put out food for the critters.  I would hope they’re nature lovers like us.

Until next time.  Grasp the moment everyone because you never know when it will be your last.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Everyone

My cats - Koki - Tootie - Raven


Thank you for following me, reading my posts and leaving comments.  I enjoy hearing from all of you.

Wishes for a great holiday season with family and friends and a new year blessed with health and all you enjoy.  May your writing endeavors be many and you stay inspired so the well never runs dry.

And the Last Recipe is a Rich one




Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies



This sounds like Christmas, is easy to make, and is probably all the sweets we need before it’s time to break out the treadmill.  LOL  Have a great holiday everyone!


Overview

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 24 cookies

Ingredients

1 box (18.25 oz) Red Velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines®)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the cake mix and baking powder. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, and vanilla together by hand. Add the egg mixture to the cake mixture and stir to form a dough - stir and fold vigorously until all of the pockets of dry cake mix are gone. The dough will be oily. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop 9 rounded balls of dough, about 1.5 Tablespoons of dough each, onto prepared baking sheet. Stick a few more white chocolate chips on top of the cookie dough balls for looks, if desired.

Bake each batch for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle each cookie with confectioners’ sugar. Allow to cool completely on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

This recipe and pictures from Bed, Bath and Beyond



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Indulge yourself in this one. Wow, another killer!


White Chocolate Cranberry Coconut Macaroons


Overview

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Yield: 15 cookies

Ingredients

Macaroons

2 and 3/4 cups shredded coconut (sweetened)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries

 

White Chocolate Glaze

3 ounces pure white chocolate
1/4 teaspoon shortening

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

 

Make the macaroons:

In a large bowl, combine the coconut, sugar, flour, and salt. Add the egg whites and stir with a large rubber spatula until combined. Stir in the almond and vanilla extracts, then the chopped dried cranberries.

Measure one heaping tablespoon of mixture for each and drop into a mound on the prepared cookie sheet, making sure they are nicely round and 2 inches apart.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Make the white chocolate glaze:

Melt the white chocolate and shortening together in a small microwave safe bowl in 20 second intervals until melted, stirring well after each increment. Drizzle over cookies. 

Cookies stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

This recipe and pictures from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Monday, December 22, 2014

This is always a nice Standby



One thing good about these is that they can be dressed up for any occasion.
Holiday Sugar Cookies







Overview

Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Yield: 16 cookies

Ingredients

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar (can not be omitted)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sprinkles, plus more for sprinkling on top before baking

Instructions

Toss the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together in a medium bowl until combined. Set aside.

Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed.

Switch the mixer to medium speed and beat in the granulated sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Turn the mixer off and pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a dough is formed. Once mixed, beat in the sprinkles. The dough will be very thick. Cover the dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
Scoop a large sections of dough (about 2 Tablespoons of dough each) and roll into balls. Place 8 balls onto each baking sheet and add a few more sprinkles on top of each.
Bake each batch for 8-9 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The cookies will look very soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

This recipe and pictures from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recipe Number Nine Sounds Festive




Ginger Sparkles Cookies




Overview

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 34 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 large egg
1/3 cup granulated sugar for rolling

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

Toss the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on high speed until combined and creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. Once mixed, add the brown sugar and molasses and beat on medium speed until combined. Beat in the egg, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Turn the mixer off and pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a soft dough is formed.

Roll the dough into balls, about 1 Tablespoon of dough each. Roll each ball in the granulated sugar and place 8 balls of dough onto cookie sheet. Bake each batch for 11-12 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and under baked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

This recipe and pictures from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Here’s killer recipe number 8




Double Chocolate Chip Swirl Cookies


Overview

Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Yield: 2.5 dozen cookies

Ingredients

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

White Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk
1 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions

Make the chocolate chip cookie dough:

Toss the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl until combined. Set aside.
Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed.
Switch the mixer to medium speed and beat in the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Turn the mixer off and pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a dough is formed.
Once mixed, beat in the chocolate chips. The dough will be very thick.

Make the white chocolate chip cookie dough:

Toss the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed.
Switch the mixer to medium speed and beat in the granulated sugar and brown sugar until combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Turn the mixer off and pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a very soft dough is formed.
Beat in the milk on medium speed, then the white chocolate chips. The dough will be very sticky.
Cover both cookie doughs tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes so it is not rock hard.

Bake the Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
Measure 1.5 Tablespoons of chocolate chip cookie dough and roll into a ball.
Take 1.5 Tablespoons of white chocolate chip cookie dough and roll into a ball.
Smoosh the two balls together and roll them into 1 large ball. Repeat for each cookie.
The chocolate cookie dough will get onto your hands, so wash/wipe them after you roll each cookie.
Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes. The cookies will look very soft, puffy, and almost undone.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

This recipe and pictures from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Friday, December 19, 2014

Oh goody! More chocolate!




Chocolate Crinkles


Overview

Prep Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Yield: 16 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

Toss the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed.
Switch the mixer to medium speed and beat in the granulated sugar and brown sugar until combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Turn the mixer off and pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a very soft dough is formed.
Beat in the milk on medium speed. The dough will be very sticky.
Cover the dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes so it is not rock hard.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
Scoop 1.5 Tablespoons of dough, mold into a ball, and roll into the confectioners’ sugar.
Repeat for each cookie.
Place 8 balls onto each baking sheet. Bake each batch for 10-12 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

This recipe and pictures from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Now here’s an interesting one for number 6





Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies


Overview

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Yield: 16 cookies

Ingredients

1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk
¾ cup pretzel pieces
¾ cup REESE’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped (about 12-14 REESE’s miniatures)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
Toss the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. Switch the mixer to medium speed and beat in the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and peanut butter until combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Turn the mixer off and pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a soft dough is formed. Beat in the milk on medium speed. Once mixed, beat in the pretzels and peanut butter cups until evenly disbursed. The dough will be very thick and sticky. Cover the dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 30-45 minutes.
Drop 8 rounded balls of dough, about 1.5 Tablespoons of dough each, onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake each batch for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven. The cookies will not have spread much, so gently press down on them with the back of a fork or spoon. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

This recipe and pictures from Bed, Bath and Beyond