Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Take Aim. Chapter Two: Clear Sightlines

I want to welcome you back to our latest Progressive Story Project. Take Aim, our fourth project, is another single cohesive piece of fiction written collaboratively by a number of bloggers. Each writer takes a turn, building on what's been constructed by the authors before them and adding their own voice and perspective to the story. Sound like fun? It is. Both to write and to read.

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

I started this story having no idea where it would go. Each time it returned to me, I read the newest submission with awe. It has taken on a life of its own. With twists and turns the story is coming together. The protagonist is taking on a persona. The story is building.

As always, I've identified the writer and provided a link to their blog before each section. Be sure you stop by their blogs and see more of what they have to share.

Before you start today's chapter, be sure to read Chapter One: You Can Run. And now on to Chapter Two.

Take Aim, a 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

Take Aim.
Chapter Two: Clear Sightlines

"So this is where you are trying to tuck yourself away? he began. "I thought I made myself clear the last time we spoke! You can run, but you can't hide. Time to pay up, honey!"

Holy crap! I honestly thought I'd gotten rid of the mob for good after my plastic surgery last year. My face looks completely different, I have cut and dyed my hair. I lost 20 pounds, and not only did I modify my appearance, I changed my name! How could they have tracked me down this time?

"Let's not do this here" I said. "I was just heading out, so walk with me!"

There was no way I was going to invite that man into my apartment, and I was definitely not getting into a fight in the staircase. Especially not in this building!

Just as I was grabbing my keys, phone and purse, I heard steps approaching from the lower floor. I felt trapped, but something told me the welcome wagon was the least of my problems right now.

Donny Donut walked down a few steps ahead of me so he was the first to encounter my other neighbors, an elderly couple very elegantly dressed, British as it turned out judging by their accent.

"My, our landlord didn't tell us there would be a boyfriend" they started. "We do hope your intentions are serious and you will make an honest woman out of her. We do not approve of ever changing fellows coming to our house!"

If only they knew about Donny and his fellow gangster's intentions . . .

A truck in the alley below backfired and scared the beejesus out of me. I almost jumped completely out of my skin, and did jump off the mattress on the floor. Good land! What a nightmare. So much had happened since moving to this tiny place, add to that the weirdos in the building AND that meatball sub mixed with the 1920's gangster movie late last night had had an adverse effect on my subconscious.

Yes, I had lost weight, cut my hair, changed the color and even changed her name, but owning the mob money?! Never! I was much too frugal and sensible for that nonsense.

I walked through the den of boxes and found a towel and my shampoo and was heading to the shower when my cell rang. Who the heck? No one had this new number . . . oh wait, I had put in some applications so maybe, just maybe, it was a job interview.

I answered the phone, "hello, Rachel speaking." That still sounded so strange. The voice on the other end said, in a much too cheery voice, "HI Rachel, so glad to have caught you, this is Mike over at the local cafe. You came in yesterday, remember, of course you do" he ran on, "so I was wondering since you look like you might be a regular if you'd be interested in a job?

Wait . . . what? "How the hell did you get my number?!" What are you, some kind of creepy stalker?!

The line was silent. Mike cleared his throat. Ugh. I apologize. That, well, no I'm not a stalker, but I am friends with your landlord and I kinda asked a few questions about you. SO the cat's out, I need help, you're new to the area and need a job. With that being said, are you interested?"

I started to hang up, but I really did need a job. I cleared my throat sighed and said "you know what Mike, I'm sorry, I'm a little on edge. I tell you what, I'm about to hit the shower so let's say I'll come over and talk to you about this "job" in . . . let's say an hour?"

Mike responded much too quickly "YES! Ugh I mean that will be fine, thanks and I'll see you in an hour." he hung up.

This may not be a good idea, I thought as I stepped into the shower but I needed something and it was a start.

I walked into the cafe an hour later, fully expecting the worst. I needed this job in the worst way, but I couldn't shake this feeling that something big, something major way about to happen. The feeling of uneasiness is something I've become familiar with, but one I was anxious to kick.

Stepping up to the counter, I asked the young lady if I could speak with Mike. From the kitchen area came a man who looked so familiar I forgot how to breathe. Standing at just over 6 feet, with dark hair and features, he was shockingly handsome. There was something about him, something  . . . mysterious yet familiar.

"Rachel! Thank you so much for coming and I apologize for the confusion," Mike said with a rich, baritone voice that held just a hint of an Italian accent. It sounded so familiar, the memory drifting to my mind from the dream last night. Donny Donut! That must be why I dreamt of an Italian mobster last night! I heard his voice yesterday when I came in or dinner.

Shaking his hand, I felt all of the tension and nerves from earlier drain away from me.

Jenniy of Climaxed

I went through the motions of the interview in a daze, my emotions in chaos. Mike could have passed, at first glance, for the man I was runnning from - the man that I had fallen so hard in love with in my early 20s and who had, over the years almost killed me. Even now I can feel how badly my body aches to feel his arms around me even while knowing that if he had a couple of months, couple of weeks, even just a few days, we would be back in that cycle. Honeymoon phase, abuse, apology, rinse, repeat. Over and over and over for years until I finally got the courage to admit to myself what was happening and, no matter what he said, I deserved better.

Five years ago now. It didn't seem like it, but I figured that was a side effect of always being on the go, of moving, running, changing all the time. I've lived a handful of lives over those years, and I don't imagine I will ever stop running unless Matthias finally gives up. As of yet, he hasn't. Five years and he still searches and chases and gets too close for comfort, forcing me to do it all over again, Five years later and he still controls the direction of my life. So I'm resigned to a life without the degrees I earned, without much work experience, without references and a plan for the future. I live one day at a time, one life at a time, and so far it keeps me safe.

The problem, really, is that even thought I know he will eventually kill me (and I do know that), I don't trust myself to not give in, to not let him. I've given up everyone I have ever known except random contact with family and I am just. so. tired.

All the nutty but well-meaning neighbors and hot, accented bosses can't change the life I'm living, and part of me is absolutely ready for someone to save me from it by any means necessary. I keep telling myself that line of thought is bullshit. But is it?

~  ~  ~  ~  Be sure to come back a week from today for chapter three of Take Aim  ~  ~  ~

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

Grey Hairs and Antacids: 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 | 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: pinch ~ graded ~ fool's gold ~ spit ~ sentimental ~ braided
They were submitted by Jenniy of Climaxed.

I got boys. This is probably not a surprise to you if you read this blog at all (you do . . . religiously . . . right?). It sure was a surprise to me though. I'm not complaining, I went through hell to have these kids: IVF, ectopic twin, pregnancy loss. But I came from a family of girls and I was expecting daughters. At least one. And I would have so much fun. Beautiful clothes, braided hair, I pictured it all. 

My mother had 2 girls. For whatever reason, my sister and I just assumed we'd have girls. Then we started our families. My first child . . . a boy. Five weeks later my sister had . . . a boy. 

A year later I was pregnant with my second child. A girl. I was sure of it. Everyone knew it. I was in the doctor's office having amniocentesis. I was high risk and although I'd refused it with the first pregnancy, I agreed this time. As the doctor ran the xray wand over my belly before the procedure, he stopped for a second between the fetus's legs. Suddenly the room went silent. Everyone, my husband, the nurses, all took a giant step back. The doctor silently keep moving the wand.

"Excuse me" I said, angrily, to the doctor. "My daughter seems to have something between her legs". The doctor didn't say a word, just kept scanning. "Go back" I said. 

Everyone in the silent room took another step back. The doctor, though, turned and bravely looked me in the eye. "I can go back" he stated, "but it's not going to go away."

Yeah, seems the only thing I'd be braiding is a baked treat.

Apricot Cream Cheese Pastry Braid, a sweet cream cheese apricot filling in a flaky puff pastry crust | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #pastry
Apricot Cream Cheese Pastry Braid

Apricot Cream Cheese Pastry Braid, a sweet cream cheese apricot filling in a flaky puff pastry crust | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #pastry


When I finally accepted that I was having only boys, I went to a number of department stores to look at the boys' clothes. I thought I'd feel better if I could find some cute things. I finally did, but I have to say that it wasn't easy. 90% of the kids' section is girls'. Colors and styles and options, hair bows and lacy socks even. The other 10% is boys'. Options are blue or brown, straight leg or cargo. {{sigh}}. Little girl clothing manufacturers would get an "A". Little boy clothing manufacturers . . . lets just say they'd need to be graded on a curve.

Two years later my sister was pregnant again. And she had . . . you see where this is going right? Nope. Two years later my sister had a girl. How COULD she do such a thing like that to me?

Now some would say that thinking girls are more fun than boys, or easier than boys, is like mining fool's gold. Girls aren't all fun and games, especially the teenaged ones. A friend once told me that boys may spit, but girls will scratch your eyes out.

I'm here to tell you that girls may be meaner to each other, but they got nothin' on boys when it comes to supplying moms with an instant head of grey hair and a chronic case of heartburn.

There's the time the school principal called to tell me that there had been a fight at school, and College Boy had videotaped it. And when, after much discussion and consequences, I got the same phone call the following year. The time his skateboard split his face open between the eyes and I could see cartilage.  

Skateboard between the eyes | www.BakingInATornado.com

The time he took his skateboard into class and tail dropped his school desk. And yes, his friend took a picture.

Tail dropping the desk at school | www.BakingInATornado.com

The phone call from someone at the art museum who was objecting to College Boy skateboarding on the marble bench out front. And we all know about the time College Boy and his friends lit my car on fire (got a picture of this one too). Yeah, I talk about it a lot, I'm still traumatized.

PurDude? Yeah, there are grey hairs with his name on them too. Like the time he got pulled over for suspicion of theft (he was innocent, I swear), and the time he was learning to drive and almost got run off the road by a cop. I haven't forgotten seeing him drive down the street and pull into the driveway at night without his lights on. And, of course, two months into his freshman year of college when he called on my birthday to say he's fallen outside his frat at 2 am and broken his leg. 

Broken leg | www.BakingInATornado.com

And let me tell you, I cleared the drug store shelf of antacids when he was home months later and I finally got the true story of what happened.

Awwwww, now here I go getting all sentimental. NOT!

So yeah, I wanted a girl. But in a pinch I'll take these two boys. And the truth is, I have to admit I've gotten used to I adore them. Spit and all.

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

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

Apricot Cream Cheese Pastry Braid

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup apricot pie filling
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP water
1 tsp white sugar

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
*Beat the cream cheese until it starts to get fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and pie filling and beat until all ingredients are incorporated. 
*Place the pastry puff sheet onto a baking pan or cookie sheet. Unfold the pastry puff sheet and roll out to about 13 inches long (width is fine as is).
*Working with the dough facing you so it is longer than wide cut a 1 inch slit along each of the folds at the top and bottom of the pastry. Starting at the top and working down each side panel, cut both into 10 slits horizontally, evenly spaced.
*Spread the cream cheese filling into the center panel, leaving 1 inch at the top and bottom. 
*Fold the top and bottom inch of the center panel up. Alternating sides, fold the side slits over the filling.
*Paint with the egg wash, sprinkle with white sugar and bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Beginnings: January Poetry

It's January. Bet you knew that. We've all made it through the holiday season; the good, the bad, the ugly and the beauty of it all is but a memory. New Year's Eve has come and gone. It's a fresh new year. A clean slate. Time for new beginnings. 

And that's our theme for this month's poetry, Beginnings.

Beginnings, the theme for the monthly poetry group's January posts | www.BakingInATornado.com | #poem #poetry #MyGraphics

New Beginnings

Another year has bit the dust,
twenty sixteen was a bust.
filled with anger and mistrust,
made it through, but barely just.
Another year has bought the farm,
twenty sixteen, short on charm.
Too much fear and full of harm,
'twas the year of the firearm.

Another year has kicked the bucket.
Close the book, then go chuck it.
Don't know about you but I say f**k it.
Twenty sixteen . . . you can suck it.

Another year's gone up in smoke,
thinkin' this past year got broke.
Good thing we can take a joke
cause only blogging (and recipes) were dope.

No Bake White Russian Cheesecake, flavors of a White Russian cocktail in a no bake cheesecake filling sandwiched between a chocolate cookie crust and a chocolate glaze | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert
No Bake White Russian Cheesecake

No Bake White Russian Cheesecake, flavors of a White Russian cocktail in a no bake cheesecake filling sandwiched between a chocolate cookie crust and a chocolate glaze | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert

Another year's gone belly up,
more poison ivy than buttercup.
Twenty sixteen . . . yourself go schtup.
Hey twenty seventeen . . . sup.

Glad that twenty sixteen's done,
seems we lost more than we won.
Finally twenty seventeen's begun,
New beginnings, lets have fun!

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

Lydia of Cluttered Genius shares Beginning . . . Again

Diane of On the Border shares The New Job

Dawn of Spatulas on Parade shares (New) Beginnings

Jules of The Bergham Chronicles shares Begin Again.

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

No Bake White Russian Cheesecake
Printable Recipe
20 chocolate creme Oreos
3 TBSP melted butter
2 tsp instant coffee granules

2 8 oz blocks of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
6 TBSP Irish Cream liqueur
2 TBSP coffee liqueur
2 TBSP brewed coffee, cooled 

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 TBSP whipped cream flavored vodka
2 TBSP coffee liqueur

2 TBSP butter
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

OPT: whipped cream for garnish

*Place the Oreos and instant coffee granules into a food processor and process to crumbs. Mix with the 3 TBSP melted butter. Press into and partially up the sides of a springform pan
*Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the Irish Cream liqueur, 2 TBSP coffee liqueur and the cooled brewed coffee. Beat just until incorporated.
*In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar, vodka and the rest of the coffee liqueur and beat until stiff peaks hold. 
*Fold the whipped cream mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Pour into prepared crust. Even out and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
*Melt the remaining 2 TBSP butter with the chocolate chips until smooth when mixed. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
*Drizzle the chocolate glaze onto the cheesecake and twirl the pan so the chocolate covers the top. Refrigerate at least an hour before removing the side of the pan to serve.