Friday, October 20, 2017

The Sand and the Witch: Fly on the Wall

Welcome to a monthly Fly on the Wall group post. Today 7 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house. At the end of my post you’ll find links to this month’s other participants’ posts.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | | #MyGraphics

Sometimes I just wanted to be appreciated for who I am, not what I can do for others.

College Boy: What's for dinner?
Me: I'm not telling you.
College Boy: You won't tell me?
Me: Are you staying for dinner?
College Boy: That depends, what's for dinner?
Me: Exactly.
College Boy: Is that made with chicken?

Smart ass.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | | #MyGraphics

Hubs knows how much I love sitting in the living room and looking out on the woods. The other day he came home and was surprised at what he saw.
Fly on the Wall, humorous snippets of day to day life | | #humor #funny #family

Hubs: Why do you have one of the windows blocked?
Me: There's a giant spider who had built his web on that window. I can't stand looking out and seeing it, gives me the creeps.
Hubs: You know that if you close the shade he's still there.
Me: No he's not.
Hubs: Yes he . . .
Me (interrupting): NO. HE'S. NOT.
Hubs: Of course not. But just in case, do you want me to go get him down?
Me: You can't reach.
Hubs: I can with a broom on a ladder.
Me: OK. But throw the broom in the woods, burn the ladder and don't ever come in my house again. No telling where he'd land and I'm not taking any chances.
Hubs: On second thought, you're right, he's not there any more.  

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | | #MyGraphics

College Boy: Are you watching another crime show?
Me: Yup. A woman was killed. The son found her and called the police. He did it.

College Boy: The show just started, you're pretty quick to make a judgement.
Me: He did it.
College Boy: Wow, if I see a crime I'm not calling it in, I don't want to be accused.
Me: Well if I'm the one who's dead it doesn't matter who calls it in, I've left notes all over the place saying you did it.
College Boy (laughing): You did? Really.
Me: Yes, you haven't found any?

That should keep him busy for a while. 

And me alive for a while.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | | #MyGraphics

I was in the kitchen last Sunday evening prepping dinner when the doorbell rang. I answered the door to see a bicycle in my driveway and a boy standing at my door. Young, but not little, maybe 10 years old or so. He was holding a small rock, maybe 2 inches by one inch. Exactly the kind of river rock I have all around my house.

He holds up the rock and asks me if I'd like to buy "this paperweight slash rock." I thanked him and told him that I wasn't interested.

He got on his bike and rode away. I expected it would be just to my neighbor's house figuring he was trying us all.

But no, I watched him ride past my neighbor's house, and the next one and the next one. Watched him, in fact, till I couldn't see him any more.

I guess I'm the only one on this street who looks like I need a rock?

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | | #MyGraphics

It was lunch time when I was working at the kitchen counter when College Boy came in with a foot long sandwich, sat down at the table and started to eat. 

College Boy: Mom, do you want a piece of my sandwich?
Me: It's up to you, if you're really hungry, eat it. If not you can break me off just a bite.
College Boy (walking over with a corner of his lunch): Here you go, Mom, a piece of my sand. . .
Me: Sand?
College Boy: I brought the sand, you bring the witch.

And let me tell you, from the big smile on his face it was clear that he was very impressed with himself.

Brownie Brittle Monster Pops, fun Halloween treats made with caramel candies and brownie brittle | Recipe developed by | #Halloween #recipe

Brownie Brittle Monster Pops
Brownie Brittle Monster Pops, fun Halloween treats made with caramel candies and brownie brittle | Recipe developed by | #Halloween #recipe

I had thought I was alone in the house when I came down the stairs, but when I got to the kitchen, College Boy was there. He let out a scream, then started to laugh.

College Boy: Nice Halloween costume, Mom, you caught me off guard.
Me: This isn't a Halloween costume, it's a facial mask, it makes my skin beautiful.
College Boy: Ummm, Mom? You may want to get your money back.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | | #MyGraphics

I come down later, after having removed the mask and College Boy is standing at the counter eating a sandwich.

Me: See, doesn't my skin look great?
College Boy doesn't answer, just stands there chewing his sandwich.
Me: No answer?
College Boy points to his mouth and exaggerates his chewing.

College Boy swallows and I ask again.
Me: See, doesn't my skin just glow?
College Boy quickly shoves another giant bite of sandwich into his mouth, then points to his mouth and exaggerates his chewing.
Me: Fine, I'll go ask your dad. He'll say "yes". If he knows what's good for him.
College Boy (quickly swallows and yells): Dad! Run! Hide!

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | | #MyGraphics

Still later that day I was sitting on the couch when College Boy was leaving the house. 

Me (holding up my fingers and wiggling my toes): Now look how beautiful I am, all of my nails are painted green.
College Boy (laughing): Well that changes everything.

 Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | | #MyGraphics

College Boy comes in another day and asks what's for dinner (he does that a lot, doesn't he?).

Me: We're having Shrimp Pot Pie.
College Boy: Oh, I like that.
Me: You know, you could cook dinner sometime.
College Boy (laughing): No, you're the woman.
Me: Did you really just say that?
College Boy: It's not me, Mom, it's genetic. You got the cooking gene.
Me: Then why do you complain about so many of my meals?
College Boy: It's not you, Mom, your gene is partly defective.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | | #MyGraphics

I was talking through a Halloween recipe with my muse who, unfortunately, is College Boy.

Me: I want to make a ghost. I don't think I've done any ghost recipes before.
College Boy: OK, let me think about it.
Me: I have the body part worked out. I just need something white to cover it with. I don't want to just do fondant and I also don't want to just dunk the whole thing in white chocolate.
College Boy: A paper towel.
Me: A paper towel isn't edible.
College Boy: Neither is most of your cooking.
        {{ba um dum}}

In all fairness I do not blame College boy for this one at all. He set it up perfectly and I walked right into it. Well played, son, well played.

For more Baking In A Tornado, check out my piece on the Huffington Post: Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Shmata by any Other Name.

Now click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Menopausal Mother 
Searching for Sanity
Spatulas on Parade
Never Ever Give Up Hope 
Bookworm in the Kitchen 
The Blogging 911

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Brownie Brittle Monster Pops

Printable Recipe

NOTE: I used craft sticks in this recipe. You can easily make them without the sticks.

1 package (5 - 6 oz) Brownie Brittle Squares (you'll need 24 of them)
12 mini chocolate caramel cups candies
1/2 cup colored sugar 
8 oz colored candy melts (I used half light blue and half green) 
24 candy "eyes" (you can use mini nonpareils or mini M&Ms)
black or red edible writing gel

*Cover a small metal baking pan with tin foil. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put a piece of parchment paper on your counter.
*Place 12 brownie brittle squares onto the baking pan. Place a mini chocolate caramel cup candy onto the center of each.
*Place the colored sugar in a small bowl. Place the candy melts on a plate and melt in the microwave for about 1 minute or until smooth when stirred.
*Using a knife, spread the flat side of a remaining brownie brittle square with the melted candy melts. Dip the top in the colored sugar and place onto parchment paper. Continue with the remaining brittle squares. 
*Dip the backs of the candy "eyes" into the melted candy melts and attach to each brittle on the parchment paper. Allow to set.
*Place the baking pan into the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Gently move them to the parchment paper. Push a craft stick up into the melted chocolate caramel candy. Top each with one of the prepared monster faces. Press down very gently.
*Using the writing gel, draw a mouth on each of the monsters. Allow to set until the chocolate caramel candy has hardened.

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 | #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 | #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 | #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 | #recipe #chocolate #Halloween

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

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #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 | | #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 | #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.