Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Skin Deep. Chapter Four: Outside and In

As always, I have such mixed emotions when these Progressive Stories come to an end. They are so much fun to coordinate, to participate in, and just as much fun to share.

Progressive Story Project, one piece of fiction written by a group of bloggers, each contributing to but not controlling the story | Presented by www.BakingInATornado.com | #blogging #collaboration #MyGraphics

Sadly, today we're closing out our latest collaborative piece of fiction, but it's with anticipation and pride that I get to share it with you. Of course, before you read the end of the story, be sure you're caught up. It all starts with Skin Deep. Chapter One: Secrets.

Skin Deep, a Progressive Story Project. One piece of fiction written by multiple bloggers | Presented by BakingInATornado.com | #fiction #writers

Skin Deep
Chapter Four: Outside and In

Jenniy of Climaxed:

"You're not going to like this, Jack."

"That's a hell of a way to open up while I'm watching the love of my life suffer due to my own life choices and callousness, Dave. What could possibly be worse?"

"Oh, it's worse. We managed to remove the remainder of the explosives before the police arrived and had them tested. The Masters are involved and they left a distinct signature. They want you to know it's them, and they're making moves to topple your control on this city. They want your head dragged through downtown, Jack. And they'll stop at nothing to get it."

" . . . "

"Sir? Your daughter is in danger. We need to make a move. You can't sit in that hospital room and pretend everything you've built is invincible. You . . .  Jack, sacrifice the Queen to protect your hold if you have to, but you can't hold her hand and stroke her hair and pretend you're a regular guy."

Jack was silent for a long time, rage threatening to boil over before he quietly and forcefully spoke. "I. Will. Never. Sacrifice. My Girls. Never. There's no business deal, no amount of holdings, no back channels worth risking the two people who keep me grounded, even at a distance for all these years. Never! DO YOU HEAR ME?"

His shouting stirred Isabelle who looked at him in confusion as he hung up the phone. "What's going on? Is it Cat? Oh G-d, is Cat hurt?"

"Shhhh. Everything is and will be okay. I promise you. Nothing will ever happen to your or my . . . to Cat. Even if I'm not around, you will always be safe."

She smiled groggily in her pain-med haze and drifted back off. He watched her sleep for a while, determined to make this work. He wanted a life with her and his daughter more than he had ever wanted anything.

Pacing, thinking and frantic with worry about the next step, he finally made up his mind as night lightened to dawn and stepped out to call Dave when the nurse made her final check of her shift.

Before Dave could say a word, Jack rushed out his thoughts, "buy a building with that laundered stash I have in the Panamanian account. Spare no expense to erase all ties to me or the girls. Set up the best sterile environment money can buy with everything Isabelle's going to need to recover. Call our surgeon friend and get a recommendation for who might want to make a few extra million doing whatever she needs. I'm sure he has enough pull here to get access to her records. Lock that building down. I want zero risk for them. Furnish part of that building into living space for family. Move Cat and her grandma in and whoever else might be in danger. I don't care about cost. At all. Convince them it's necessary for her recovery, and it is - she won't stay if anything happens to any of them. I know it. Security details are necessary around the clock. Oh, and make sure whoever is responsible for this is done. Mail whatever is left of them back to their boss. I want my message clear as well. If they want war, they've got it."

"But Jack . . . sir . . . please. War? Is that necessary? We can manage this . . . "

Jack interrupted, "No one threatens or hurts my girls. I will not stand for it."

In days, Dave did his part. Despite protests from the hospital staff, Isabelle moved to the new facility. It was amazing really, how state-of-the-art the place was. Isabelle was speechless. But she loved having Cat and her family so close by and comfortable, so she didn't ask too many hows or whys. She settled into things easily with Jack, forever grateful for his help. She would never have made it through all this alone. She didn't have any idea how he was paying for it all while expecting so little from her. It was like they were never apart.

Even through the dazed state of mind from her pain medication, though, she started to pick up on a vibe. The security guards, the tension, Jack's hushed phone calls and other men being brought into the facility's OR with serious injuries. Every time she felt like she could finally tell him Cat was his daughter, something happened to make her think his life was much too dangerous. She yearned to be honest and knew after all the time he spent taking care of her, the laughs they shared, the years she spent wishing things were different, she had fallen head over heels.

But she had no idea how to reconcile the man who rubbed her cold toes in her hospital bed and painted her nails for her with the man she heard screaming "execute every last one of them" from the hallway one night when he thought she was sleeping.


Days went by. Then weeks. It was torture and bliss. Isabelle went through surgeries, therapy, recovery. And they lived under one roof, almost like a family. They loved and laughed and cried and bonded.

Isabelle never came clean about Cat, something that disturbed Jack. It was time to take things into his own hands. If there was going to be a future, there were some hard truths she needed to know. Jack closed the ring box, hid it away and went to her.

"I love you, Isabelle, and I want a future with you. There are things I need to say, and I'm going to ask you to hear me out."

He started with having found her all those years ago, knowing Cat is his, helping her financially and making sure they were taken care of in every way. "And there's more," he went on, "about my profession . . ."

"Jack." Isabelle interrupted in a more stern tone than he'd have thought her capable of. "No." 

"You, Jack, it seems you have manipulated me my entire adult life. You had no right. You may have done it thinking you were protecting me because you're a dangerous person - yes, I hear things - but that doesn't make it any more palatable. You had my child tested? How dare you?"

"I love you too, Jack, in a bubble. This bubble. But I'm not living a life constricted and constructed by you inside your bubble. I need friends, a job where my achievements are my own, Cat needs to go to school and on play dates."

"I'm well enough now, Jack. Mom, Cat and I are going to leave. I still have much work to do on the outside. But you? You have far more work to do. On the inside." 

Jack walked out of the room deflated. He should have known she'd come to conclusions, Isabelle is both intelligent and observant. But what she thinks of him is almost more than he can bear.

And yet, if he wants a future with her, she's right. He needs to look inside and make some choices, make hard decisions about his priorities. Because being in the life of a criminal is dangerous.

And being in the life of a deeply undercover federal agent is dangerous as well. 

I'd like, once again, to thank the talented bloggers who worked so hard to craft this amazing piece of fiction. I highly recommend you visit their blogs and see what else they have to share:

Lydia of Cluttered Genius
Sarah of Not That Sarah Michelle
Tamara of Part-time Working Hockey Mom
Diane of On the Border 
Kimberly of When I Grow Up
Dawn of Cognitive Script
Rena of The Blogging 911 and 
Jules of The Bergham Chronicles
Jenniy of Climaxed

Oh, and don't forget today's Halloween recipe: 

Chocolate Coffin Cookies, a cunchy chocolate cookie cut into the shape of a coffin. Happy Halloween! | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chocolate #Halloween

Chocolate Coffin Cookies
Chocolate Coffin Cookies, a cunchy chocolate cookie cut into the shape of a coffin. Happy Halloween! | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chocolate #Halloween

Chocolate Coffin Cookies, a cunchy chocolate cookie cut into the shape of a coffin. Happy Halloween! | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chocolate #Halloween

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Chocolate Coffin Cookies

Printable Recipe

NOTE: If you do not have a coffin shaped cookie cutter, and I don't, make a coffin template out of cardstock. Using a ruler, raw a horizontal line 1 inch long. 3 1/4 inches below that line, draw another line 1 inch long. From each end of the top line, draw a line going out at an angle one inch long. Connect the bottom of each of these side lines to the ends of the 1 inch line below them. Cut the coffin template out.

Ingredients (makes about 45):
1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup baking cocoa
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

baking cocoa for rolling

2 oz white candy melts, white chocolate chips or white almond bark

*Cream the butter, margarine and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. 
*Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Carefully beat into the butter mixture. 
*Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a day.
*Place parchment paper onto 3 baking sheets.
*Lightly dust a piece of wax paper with baking cocoa. Place 1/3 of the dough onto the wax paper, cover with another piece of wax paper and roll out to about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thickness. 
*Lightly dust the top of the dough with baking cocoa and spread around with a pastry brush. Place your coffin template onto the dough and use a sharp knife to cut out the shape. Each 1/3 of the dough should make about 15 cookies.
*Peel away the excess dough and refrigerate to use again. Using a spatula, place the cookie coffins onto the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough. 
*Place the baking sheets into the refrigerator for 1/2 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
*Remove the baking sheets from the refrigerator and place into the oven. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the cookies are completely set. Carefully remove the parchment paper from the baking sheets and allow the cookies to cool completely.
*Melt the white candy melts, white chocolate chips or white almond bark in the microwave in 10 second increments, stirring in between, until completely smooth. Place into a plastic sandwich bag and seal. 
*Snip a very small piece from the corner of the bag and pipe the letters "R", "I", and "P" onto the top portion of each cookie. Allow the letters to set before moving.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Hockey Masks and Machetes and Ghost Pops, Oh My: Use Your Words

Today’s post is a monthly writing challenge. If you’re new here, this is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once. All of the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the recipient will take them. Until now.

Use Your Words, a multiblogger writing challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.
I'm using: poetry ~ music to my ears ~ jackpot ~ institution ~ heartthrob ~ heated
They were submitted by Jules of The Bergham Chronicles.

There is not much that's more appropriate in the month of October than when the 13th falls on a Friday. Like today! It's the spooky jackpot. Monster Mash, Thriller, Black Magic Woman, Purple People Eater, music to my ears. What makes my evil, black heart throb? The sound of a chainsaw. Eleven months a year Friday the 13th is bad luck, but not in October. In this month we are not worried about lions and tigers and bears. It's hockey masks and machetes and ghost pops . . . oh my! And me? I love it.

I know, you're thinking I belong in an institution. Fair enough. In fact, I'll go willingly . . . if you'll just wait till after the 31st. 

First, I get to do one of my favorite Halloween activities, playing with my food. One of the things I love about these silly Halloween themed recipes is that they are more a fun craft to do with kids than an actual recipe. Today I'm sharing one of those, my Peanut Butter and Jelly Ghost Pops.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Ghost Pops, a fun Halloween craft/treat | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #Halloween #Snack
Peanut Butter and Jelly Ghost Pops
Peanut Butter and Jelly Ghost Pops

Wait, we're not done just yet. Since Friday the 13th brings bad luck, I guess that's held true for this post as well. Yes, one of my words is "poetry". And I gotta tell you (although if you're one of my beloved regular readers you already know), there's not much that's scarier than my attempts at poetry. I participate in a monthly poetry group, and we just posted our October selections two days ago. But I'm following the rules here and I have one more word to use, so here we go:

With machetes you'll be greeted.
On this day, evil won't be cheated.
Witch's cauldrons gleefully heated,
naughty kids will all be eat-ed.

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! Watch out for killers wearing hockey masks and carrying machetes.

Here are links to all the other Use Your Words posts:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Ghost Pops

Printable Recipe

NOTE: Lollipop sticks are used for this recipe.

12 Nutter Butter cookies
12 Swedish Fish candies
3 oz Vanilla Bark, divided
black or any dark food coloring
24 candy eyes, mini M&Ms or mini nonpareils 

*Place a small piece of parchment paper onto your counter. *To make the mouths: melt a small corner of vanilla bark and add food coloring. Place into a plastic bag. Snip a tiny corner of the bag and pipe 12 small ovals onto the parchment paper. Allow to set.
*Gently, inserting a knife into the center, open the cookies. *Place a larger piece of parchment paper onto your working area. 
*Holding each swedish fish tightly in your hand, start at the bottom of the candy and push a lollipop stick up 3/4 of the way into the center of the candy.
*Melt  vanilla bark until smooth. Using a knife, spread a thin layer of bark onto the peanut butter side of a cookie half. Place on parchment paper.
*Holding a candy by the lollipop stick, dip both sides of the candy into the bark and place in the center of the cookie. Press another cookie half, peanut butter side down onto the candy. Using the knife, spread a layer of bark onto this cookie half. Immediately press in 2 "eyes" and 1 "mouth".
*Allow to set completely. Gently run a knife around the edges to highlight the shape.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

You Scream: October Poetry

I'm writing poetry with some friends again this month. It's been 2 years now since I started doing these monthly poetry posts so I have no sympathy for you, you should have built up an immunity to them by now. If not, we can always see if there's a shot for that.

I'm excited to be writing this October poem because, as many of you know, I love Halloween. It was a Halloween poem 2 years ago that started this whole idea of choosing a theme each month and taking the challenge to come up with poetry based on that theme.

And there's the recipe of course. Nothing gives you permission to play with your food more than Halloween.  

Today's theme is Scream. Be sure to watch for my recipe at the end of the post, too. 

Monthly Poetry Group, multiple bloggers posting poems based on a theme. This month's theme is Scream. | Presented on www.BakingInATornado.com | #poem #poetry #Halloween

You Scream

"You can't do it", he said to me,
pretty bold for only three.
"It's October, you will see"
I CAN make you scream, said me.

As each passing day went by,
tried and tried, oh did I try,
he'd just look at me and sigh,
shake his head and roll his eye.

Bloody knives and Freddie masks,
bubbling liquids served in casks,
baking black bats, daily tasks,
"when you scaring me?" he asks.

Spooky music . . . not a peep.
Jump from hiding . . . didn't leap.
Dare I wake him from his sleep?
Nary a scream could I reap.

Cleaning up the house next day,
put his favorite toy away.
Couldn't find it where it'd lay,
terrified he screamed "you'll pay".
Who'd have thought I'd win this way?

As promised, today's Halloween recipe:

Black and White Brownie Bats, thin chocolate and white chocolate brownies decorated for Halloween. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chocolate #Halloween
Black and White Brownie Bats
Black and White Brownie Bats, thin chocolate and white chocolate brownies decorated for Halloween. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chocolate #Halloween

Before you go, click on these links to more poetry by some of my friends: 

Dawn of Cognitive Script shares A Bootiful Scream

Diane of On the Border shares Scream.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Black and White Brownie Bats        


NOTE: For this recipe you will need a bat shaped cookie cutter. You can use any cookie cutter for different shapes

3/4 cups white chocolate chips
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks margarine, divided
1 stick butter, divided
3 1/4 cups sugar, divided
6 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla, divided 
3 1/2 cups flour, divided
candy for "eyes" decoration

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper onto 2 half-sheet baking pans (about 18 X 13). Press in the corners but allow the paper to hang over the edges of the pans, this will help you to remove the brownies. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
*In a microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate chips with 1 stick of margarine and 1/2 stick of butter until completely smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar. Once incorporated, stir in 3/4 tsp vanilla, then whisk in 3 eggs and last 2 cups flour. Spread evenly into one of the prepared pans.
*In a second bowl, melt the unsweetened chocolate, remaining stick of margarine and remaining 1/2 stick butter in microwave. Stir until completely smooth. Stir in 1 3/4 cups sugar. Once incorporated, stir in 3/4 tsp vanilla, then whisk in 3 eggs and the remaining 1 cup flour. Spread evenly into the remaining prepared pan.
*Place both pans into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the center is completely set. Remove from oven and cool for an hour.
*Cut each pan of brownies into 9 rectangles. NOTE: The size and number of your rectangles will depend on the size of your cookie cutter. My bat cookie cutter allowed for 9 rectangles per sheet. 
*Grease your cookie cutter and press firmly into the center of each of the rectangles. Gently remove the cookie cutter leaving the shape cut out but inside the brownie.
*Once cut, refrigerate for 30 minutes. Carefully, using the parchment paper, slide the brownies from their pans.  Place the cookie cutter back over each bat cut out and press down hard. Remove the bat. If it doesn't come out, use the tip of a knife to trace the shape, then try again.
*Place the chocolate bats into the white brownies and the white bats into the chocolate brownies. Decorate with candy "eyes" if desired.