Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cake Mix Brownies

If you loved the recipe for cake mix cookies, you'll appreciate this...

Cake Mix Brownies

1 box chocolate cake mix*
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (like with nut ice cream topping)
1/2 bag chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F. Mix first four ingredients together until just blended.  Spread batter evenly in 9x13" pan.  Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the batter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set. 

They did come out a little crumbly, but they taste perfect.  I can't wait to try them with ice cream later.

*I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix, but I assume any chocolate cake mix would work.  Use what you like best.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Update: Week 43

Hullo, All!

Welcome to Week 43! 

I know, I'm way to exclamation pointy for first thing in the morning, but hey, I wrote this last night, so forgive me.

What happened this past week?  Well, I finally finished the edit notes for Unequal.  I'll be inputting those during November while I... umm... I'm not exactly sure if I'll be doing NaNo after all.  I do have an awful lot of work to do on other manuscripts for me to take a whole month off to write a totally new story.  Hell, I never finished last year's NaNo novel (even if I did get past 50K, so I technically won).  I also have that mystery series I could be finishing, and several other books in varying states of disrepair.

Speaking of novels in disrepair, I edited the first chapter of Wrongful Termination yesterday.  It's tighter, it's cleaner, and I've given more personality to a secondary character who was coming off too much like a current famous personality.  Now Pat's a transplanted Yooper with a nice new last name to fit right in with the Yoopers I knew and loved.

Let's see, what else did I do... I went to the thrift store and found some more art.  One is a lovely print of a mama bluebird and her nest of babies inside an old mailbox.  Very quaint and happy.  Another is a painting of what looks like a stream below the Grand Tetons.  I need to frame it, but I have the frame.  All I need is the hardware.

I also got a couple golf clubs from the thrift store.  6-irons for 75 cents each.  Then Hubs and I went out on the lawn and whacked walnuts into the woods for about an hour.  Man, was I sore afterwards, but we had so much fun.  Even the neighbor across the street shouted that we were having too much fun, so you know it had to sound that way.  Laughing and shouting FORE!  Hubs used to golf, so he was actually hitting the nuts into the woods.  I was missing the nut half the time and when I connected, most of them only went a few feet.  I felt like the old couple on Caddyshack.  "That's a doozy, hon."

Other than that, not much going on here.  What's up in your world?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Scatterbrained Slacker

Ugh, I'm such a slacker.  Or maybe it's just that time seems to be flying by these days.  One day it's Sunday and the next thing I know, it's Friday and I'm wondering where the days in between went.

And I'm scatterbrained.  It's like short-attention-span theater has taken over.

For instance...

I can't type right since I cut my nails.  I had long nails (I can't help it if they grow at twice the rate here as they did in CO) but I wanted to have them at a manageable length for NaNo.  So I cut them short, and now I can't type.  Seems I'd been typing for so long with the claws that it's taking time to get used to typing without them.

I'm debating whether to hit the thrift store today.  I don't need anything.  I just feel the urge to find something old and make it mine. 

Which reminds me... I was watching Rehab Addict last night and she always stages the rooms she renovates with old stuff.  Last night, she used an old typewriter as an accent piece in the refurbished library of a stately old home.  My first thought - my old typewriter is better.  My second thought - she really should've done something to make it look nicer (because several of the keys were stuck down and it looked shoddy compared to the rest of her nice design work.)  I'm not usually that critical of her, but hey, it was a typewriter.

Living in the country has its advantages.  This week, a book I'd ordered never arrived but Amazon was telling me it had been delivered.  So I called the local USPS where our mail comes out of (not my town's post office because they don't actually deliver mail from there) and they hunted down the substitute mailman who was on our route, then talked to the regular guy who was back from vacay.  Logn story short, the sub guy found my book, got it from where he misdelivered it and then hand carried it to my doorstep.  Try to get that kind of service in the big city. 

I really need to tidy up my piles of paper and get that stack filed.  (Of course, I said that a while back and it still hasn't been done.)

What's on your short-attention-span theater line up today?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Update - Week 42

10 weeks left in 2014.  OMG, I have so much to do.  In addition, just 2 weeks left until NaNo. 

:panics a little:

This past week, I didn't do much of anything - which is mostly the reason for the mini-panic. 

My edit notes for WT are still sitting right beside me (under the ashtray right now) untouched.  I need to jump on those today if I want to have them done by Halloween night.

I only made a little progress in researching stuff for my NaNo novel.  OMG, I don't remember leMorte d'Arthur being this damn dull.

I did make progress on my next set of edit notes for a dystopian I wrote years ago.  But I could be farther along.

The only place I really made progress was my reading goals.  I read 4 books in the past week.  And they were all awesome.  Always a good thing. 

In other news, I took a walk around the yard yesterday snapping pictures of things I thought were pretty.  Like this:

And this:
And this:

I can't wait for the fall colors to really pop here so I can take more shots.  Nothing like a walk with the camera for relaxation.  Even if sometimes, the shot doesn't turn out the way I want and you can hear me swearing under my breath.  ;o)

So, did you do anything this week?  How's your panic meter for the last 10 weeks of 2014?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

To Memories Past

Yesterday, I was screwing around on FB and saw a link to some page or other having to do with my old alma mater, which led me to a page that was designed to pay tributes to schoolmates that had passed on.  So, I skipped over there and scrolled down through the posts, wondering if I'd see anyone I knew.

And I saw too many names I knew.

I already knew about the twin who committed suicide in his brother's garage, and the girl who got hit crossing a busy highway when she stopped on the yellow line.

Seeing old teachers' and staff names seemed natural enough.  After all, it's been 26 years and most of them weren't spring chickens even then.

The art teacher who called me by my sister's name and got irritated when I didn't answer her.  We finally managed a truce my fourth year in her class. 

The chem teacher I had for advanced biology.  The English teacher.  The lunch lady.  The bus driver.  The middle school principle.

Others were a shock.

There was our class president who became a surgeon.  I kissed him a couple times, but it was for the class play where we played a married couple, so it doesn't count.  He died at 39, leaving behind his model-pretty wife and their three kids.

There was the guy who was one of the trio me and my friends chased around the playground in 3rd grade playing 'catch 'em and kiss 'em.'  I always remember him as being extremely nice.

There was the gal I saw at our 10 year class reunion - the one who had a baby our junior year.  She was a nurse.

And the gal I knew from working on the Arabian horse farm.  Her family raised and trained pintos.

The smartass.

The one guy whose parents owned the local pig farm is gone.  Nice guy.  Very shy.  And because he never seemed to be able to get the smell of the farm out of his clothes, very lonely.

The guy I went to kindergarten with who missed a grade, so he graduated the following year.  I remember more about him from elementary than the other years.  He'll always be young and skinny and kind of a pain.

None of them were close friends, but still...  I dread the day when I hear one of my close friends has gone - even though we lost touch a really long time ago. 

I guess it's not as many as I thought last night.  It was just a blow, because I don't think of any of us as being old enough to die.  And yet, they almost could've added my name to that list.  Accidents happen. 

To those fallen classmates from another life, I'd just like to say: "Bye, guys.  Thanks for the memories - the good ones, the happy ones, the not-so-nice ones.  Those memories all contributed at some point to who I ended up being."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Cat's Garage

Lest you find yourself horrified at the thought that precious Max lives in the garage, and that I am a terrible human being for thrusting his special needs-ness into the filthy wasteland, let me tell you about Max's home.

First off, it's a two car, attached garage.  And we don't put the car in it, except for cases of extreme weather. So no worries about mud, oil, gunk, or what have you touching his furry paws.

The garage floor has that special sealant paint which makes it extremely easy to clean.

In the garage, Max has a special chair with a pillow and a blanket.  He also has a pillow on the work bench.  And he still has the house I made for him when he was an outdoor cat in Colorado.  It's just inside now, in the farthest corner from the windows and the doors, so if it gets cold, he has his own igloo.  On top of the house, he has a comforter he likes to sleep on sometimes, too.

We've equipped the garage with an air conditioner and a space heater - so he'll never get too hot or too cold.  Hubs also went to the trouble of adding insulation to the ceiling and the walls - which helps Max AND saves us a ton on electric bills.  (You do not want to know what it costs to use a space heater to keep an uninsulated garage warm in the icy cold winter.) 

He has his own litter box that Hubs diligently cleans every day.  He has rugs laying all over for him to lay on, scratch, etc.  Also, there's an area rug under his food and water dishes, so he doesn't have to stand on the cold floor while he eats. 

We go out there several times a day to feed him, play with him, pet him, and brush him.  So, even though he's not in the house proper, he gets plenty of attention.  Plus, he gets walked once a day when the weather isn't totally crappy. 

Additionally, he has a kitty condo he likes to scratch and sit on, plenty of toys, and every once in a while, live prey.  (He killed a mouse this morning.)

So, Max - who spent however many years on the street, starving and being abused - is living the high life.  And now that he's not drooling as much, he gets to spend more time in the house itself.  (Much to Queen Kira's dismay.)

What outrageous things do you do for your pets?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Update - Week 41

Man, this week flew by and looking back, I don't feel like I have a whole lot to show for it.  Then I looked to my right and saw the notebook with my edit notes for Wrongful Termination sitting there all shiny and bleeding red. 

So, yeah, I finished the edit notes for WT and they're ready to input. 

I also finished the proofing stage of WIOH, and have begun working on the submission materials for that.  (Yes, I went through and got rid of a lot of the ellipsis... ellipses? Okay, so I'm a closet ellipsis junkie. So shoot me.)

I took Friday off as a reading day to begin catching up.  According to Goodreads, I was 9 books behind.  Now after reading 3 books, I'm only 7 behind.  (Go figger.)  Then I got sick of reading other people's books and started re-reading a dystopian I never finished editing - and making edit notes on that sucker.  Later in the day yesterday, I saw something on FB about Mickey Spillane's military career, which led to talking about Spillane with hubs, which led to me grabbing a Mickey Spillane I hadn't read yet off my bookshelves.  I'm halfway through that as of last night.

Yesterday I had planned to finish getting those submission materials ready so I can submit tomorrow, but I procrastinated.  What is it about submission materials that makes me want to drag my feet and find something else to do??  Ugh.  I mean, they're already done.  I just have to tweak them to make them fit a particular set of guidelines.  But it's like eating Brussels sprouts.  I know they're good for but damned if I can make myself sit down to eat them.  Well, if I want my manuscripts to grow up to be pushed novels, I damn well better sit my ass down and eat my veggies on this.  So, that's what I'll be doing today.  Damn it. 

In the garden, all my mums are finally blooming.  Huge bushes of hundreds of purple, maroon, and white blooms.  And one light purple that used to be white.  (Sometimes mums do that, I guess.)  I'll get pictures once it stops raining.

In pet news, Max is nearly back to his old self again - minus the angry red gums.  Unfortunately, he's also minus eating a whole lot in one sitting so I'm feeding him like every couple hours, and of course, he doesn't want to eat food that was opened a couple hours before (even if I refrigerate and reheat it), so we're going through a lot of cans and throwing out a lot of leftovers.  I told him cats in China are starving, but he doesn't care anymore than I cared about starving kids in Asia when I didn't want to eat liver.  His reaction resembles a cat pantomime of 'they're starving, send them this crap'.

Also, whatever stomach bug Hubs got is over, too.  We're back to almost totally normal here again.  (Well, as normal as we ever were.) 

So, how are things in your world?