Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 20

Well, I'm 49 now.   We didn't do anything special for either the birthday or the anniversary.  Except I made cake, which you'll see more about later in this post. 

No writing again this week.  No editing either.

The only marketing thing I did was setting up a sale and advertising for the genie books.  The sale will run the 21st through the 27th in the US and the UK.  All four of the Once Upon a Djinn books will be 99c/99p each.  (So under $4 for the series. A $12 savings.) The ad will go out on the 23rd in Bargain Booksy and show Wish in One Hand only.

I did some reading.

I got more active this past week with some hard-target walks, some yard work, and some cleaning.  Still sitting right around 179lbs.  Probably because I can't stop baking and then eating what I bake.

Speaking of which, the baking thing is still ongoing.  This week, I made another batch of Oatmeal Walnut Caramel Chip cookies and I made a chocolate peanut butter marble cake (see below) for our Birthiversary.  Used the Super Fudgy frosting (see below) I had leftover from the last cake.  I had planned on making pizza, but after the cake project, I was pretty wiped out and sick of washing baking implements.  With the temperatures now getting into the 80s and the AC kicking on regularly, I expect the baking thing will come to a close shortly.

We had some more stormy weather.  Once again, they were calling for way worse than we actually got.  (I'm writing this Saturday evening, so if you don't see me after this post, they were right about this next storm.) 

And that's probably it for me.  Other stuff probably happened, but I can't think of it right now, so it must not have been that major.  Have a great week everyone.  Oh, and how did the world treat you last week?


Chocolate/Peanut Butter Marble Cake

Chocolate Cake Batter:

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
¼ cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup margarine
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons baker’s cocoa powder

In a saucepan, combine margarine and oil.  Heat on low until butter is melted.  Stir in cocoa powder.  Remove from heat.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar and baking soda.  Make a well in the center.  Pour in cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.  With an electric mixer, beat the milk, vanilla and eggs into the mixture until just combined.

Peanut Butter Cake Batter:

1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup butter (softened)
1/3 cup milk

In a large bowl, cream together peanut butter, margarine and brown sugar until well combined and smooth.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla.  Mix until smooth.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.  Alternating, gradually beat flour mixture and milk into wet mixture until just combined.

Marbling Your Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9x13” cake pan.  Pour half of the peanut butter batter into the pan.  Pour chocolate batter over the top of the peanut butter batter.  With a large spoon, add remaining peanut butter batter by dollops over the chocolate batter.  Using a standard butter knife, cut strips lengthwise and width-wise through the batter to ‘marble’.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Super Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

1 stick butter (1/2/ cup)
1 cup baker's cocoa (divided 1/3 c and 2/3 c)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
In medium saucepan, melt margarine. Once melted, stir in 1/3 cup of bakers cocoa until smooth and un-lumpy. In large bowl, sift together confectioners' sugar and remaining 2/3 cocoa. With mixer on low, combine melted mixture to dry mixture until thoroughly combined. Beat in vanilla. Beat in whipping cream by tablespoonfuls* until you achieve the consistency you desire. (Should be stiff peaks, but easily spreadable.) If you like a sweeter frosting, add more sugar at the beginning and more cream at the end.
Makes enough frosting to put a thick layer on a 9x13" cake.
*I poured in a little, beat it, poured in more, beat it... until I got what I wanted.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 5/18/19

Well, hello there.  Thanks for stopping by the Reading Wrap-up this week.  It probably won't be as interesting as last week, but here goes nothing...

I picked up two new ebooks this week - a mystery and a suspense.  So, that makes nine ebooks to read - eight once I finish this one.  The oldest two date back to April 18th, so I'm not doing too bad on keeping up.  The two left from April are an UF (my current read) and a romance (up next).  I should finish those this week.  :fingers crossed:

Books read:

42) Silversword by Phyllis Whitney (5/16/19) - Romantic Suspense - 4 stars.  Neither new to me nor underappreciated.  Paid 50c at St. Vinny's.
Review: "Pretty good, but I like her earlier stuff better."

41) Husk by D.P. Prior (5/15/19) - Western SF/UF*# - 4 stars.  New to me and underappreciated.  Picked up for free through Freebooksy.
Review: "Very well-written and gripping read. It's like a Western on another planet with demons. Which I thought was really cool. Definitely a different read. My only issue was where the author chose to go with MC at the end. Despite his flaws, I would've liked a happier outlook for Jeb. Maybe it'll all be redeemed in subsequent books, but I was left feeling a little bummed."

No DNFs.  Woohoo.

Currently reading... the UF leftover from April.  Although, as I'm reading it, I think it might be more paranormal mystery/romance than UF.  :shrug:  Either way, it's been a fun read so far.

What about you?  Read anything good last week?  Anything good on the horizon?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Thursday This n That

Life with an old cat means celebrating when she poops*. 

I'll be 49 on Saturday.  Who woulda thunk I'd make it to 49?  I sure as hell didn't when I was younger.  Hell, I didn't think I'd make 30.  So, woohoo.  No prezzies this year.  I'm going to try something different as a birfday dessert - brownies with peanut butter and chocolate frosting.

I just finished a total genre-bending book.  A Western set on another planet with demon hunters.  I think before I read it, I was calling it a SF with a F twist, but it really read more like a Western than anything else, so I'm running with that as the main genre.  Good stuff with a less than satisfying end. 

Lately, I've been playing this online word game.  It's totally addictive.  I've made it as far as level 31.  I could probably go farther, but it resets every time I shut it down, so I have to start over from the beginning.  :shrug:

Yesterday, I was talking with a gal from the next neighborhood over and she told me she'd killed a packrat.  Here's hoping it was our packrat.  Probably wasn't.  Still, ours hasn't returned since I put the peppermint oil down.  :fingers crossed:

Speaking of local goings-on, some numbnuts broke into my favorite convenience store.  Backed his pickup truck up and pulled the front doors right the hell off so he could steal the ATM machine.  They finally caught him, but sheesh.  Some people.  They have new doors, but the building was damaged in such a way, they could probably easy be pulled off, too.  I hope they string the guy up by his thumbs.

Did you see the news story about the old guy who told a woman on a bus that she ought to try to be nicer and so she pushed him off the bus?  He died and she's charged with murder of an elderly person.  Maybe she should've taken his advice.  I'm thinking there's a lot of people who should take his advice, eh?

And on that note, I'm out of here.  Have a great day, folks, and try to avoid them what can't be nice. 

*Which she does almost every day.  It's the days she doesn't that worry us.  And then I break out the vegetable oil (a tablespoon worth in her wet food) and stand by the litterbox rooting for her.  But she turned 16 last week, so it's kind of expected.  I don't even want to think about what I'll be like when I'm 80.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Nothing Tuesday

I'm up to my passel in spreadsheets this morning, so I don't have a whole lot of time or branpower to spare on blogging right now.  Need about a tanker-truck's worth of coffee because the brain don't want to brain much at all.

I was going to give y'all my new focaccia bread recipe, but it needs some tweaking before I offer it up to the blogiverse.  Hubs loves it, but I'm not quite satisfied.  I can make it better.  But not today.  My hands need recovery time before I knead again.  Plus we still have 4 more pieces of the last batch.  It makes great sandwiches.  Yesterday morning I made breakfast sandwiches and then we had chicken salad focaccia sandwiches for dinner.  Good stuffs.

So, basically, I got nothing today.  What's up with you?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 19

Hello again.  Welcome to another Sunday Update.  Oh, and Happy Mother's Day.

Still no writing.  And this week ain't lookin' good neither.  Editing?  Umm...

I did do some marketing, cuz like Blink is on sale and junk.  I also set up a sale and advertising for the genie books later this month.  Fingers crossed that keeps my May from tanking entirely because so far, May has tanked.

Reading this week was interesting.  I DNF'd like 4 books.  Bleh.  I finished three good ones, though, so it wasn't a total wash.

I was active 5 out of 7 days last week.  The scale said I was at 178.4.  Not great, but I'll take it.  And as long I remember that the scale used to say 194, it's all good.  Now that summer's coming, I'll be eating more fruit and salad.  Right now, though, I'm less worried about what I'm eating than whether I'm moving my body more often than walking from the office to the living room and back.  In positive news, I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a while and she asked me if I'd lost weight, so that's a good thing.

Part of the activity last week was fishing.  They opened the park for the summer.  Yay!  Unfortunately, they closed off one part of it because of the rising lake level.  But it meant more walking while carrying fishing equipment which upped my activity level a bit.  Sometimes fishing is just standing in a spot and casting.  Not exactly a calorie burning thing.  Oh, and I actually caught some fish.  Didn't keep any, but it was nice to get a few on the line.

Speaking of the rising lake level, it rained damned near every day this past week.  The week ahead looks drier.  That'll be nice.

No baking occurred.  Whew, I think my baking-spree has come to an end.  Maybe.  Who knows when the mad baker will strike again.  Probably after I go to the store and pick up more pizza sauce.  Or when Hubs runs out of cookies.

The deer are getting fatter by the day.  I can't wait for fawns!

And I think that's it.  If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.  In the meantime, how was your week?

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 5/11/19

Not the best of weeks for finishing books.  But I did knock down some of the unread books on my Kindle, so I guess that's a good thing.  ANd I did finish three, so not the worst week either.

I picked up 4 new ebooks this week - a paranormal romantic suspense, a fantasy, a fantasy suspense, and a mystery.  So I was back at 10 unread ebooks.  Except I read one already.  Then I DNF'd one.  Eight left to read.  I also stopped by the thrift store and got 4 paperbacks - a romantic suspense (Allison Brennan), a suspense (Helen McInnes), a kid's lit (The Secret Garden), and an old writing book (How to Write and Speak Effective English 1966) for my collection.

Books Read:

40) Crash & Burn by Silver James (5/10/19) - Paranormal Romantic Suspense* - 5 stars.  Not new to me, and a new release of sorts so definitely not appreciated yet.  Mine was the first review on Goodreads.  I hope there are tons more to follow.  Paid the limited time release price of $1.99
Review: " I read this when it first came out, and it was awesome then. This new version is awesome to the next degree. I love Derek and Kit so much, and I'm so glad Ms. James got a chance to expand on their story. Took it to a whole other level. SQUEE!"

39) Singing in the Shrouds by Ngaio Marsh (5/9/19) - Mystery - 5 stars.  Neither new to me nor underappreciated.  Got this at the thrift store for 50c.
Review: "I've loved every Roderick Alleyn novel I've stumbled across so far. This is no exception."

38) The Devil's Pets by Alex Siegel (5/5/19) - UF*# - 5-stars.  New to me and underappreciated.  Picked this up for free off the Reading Deals newsletter.
Review: " Wow, that was totally awesome. Urban fantasy meets serial killer thriller. Definitely not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, but totally badass. I'd say more, but then I'd be dropping spoilers and I hate that. Suffice it to say, it was a wild ride."


5/10/19 - ?.  Despite being billed as a historical suspense/thriller, it hopped between back then and today - neither of which were either suspenseful or thrilling.  The first 10% seemed like all backstory and I wasn't in the mood to wade through it all to get to the suspenseful and thrilling part.  DNF'ing this one was too bad because I was really looking forward to this one based on the blurb.  Bummer.  Paid $0.

5/7/19 - SF.  Meh.  I was kind of into it and then some things occurred and I realized I didn't really care what was going to happen anymore. It did read like several other books I've already read all mushed together.  Not the author's intent, I'm sure, but that's the way it goes sometimes.  Paid $0.

5/6/19 - Chick Lit Suspense.  If you're going to write in present tense, don't litter it with so many flashbacks.  The tense changes were giving me whiplash.  Paid: $0.

5/6/19 - Suspense.  Ugh.  Does everything have to have a brand name?  I don't care which device he was recording the witness statement on, what type of shoes he was wearing, what kind of tea she drank...  I'm with Joe Friday - just the facts.  And how could anyone write "...he left the scene, his head shaking like a top heavy blancmange*."?  Let alone leave it in the final draft.  Someone should've flicked the author in the back of the head during editing.  My editor would throttle me soundly for even trying to keep a line like that.  I tried to keep going but when I got to that line, I shook my head and gave up.  Paid: $0

Currently reading...  I started a historical suspense last night.  Not far enough into it to know whether it'll be a keeper yet.  (ETA: It wasn't.  I DNF'd it and forgot to update this part before it went live.)

What things did you read last week?  I hope not as many DNFs crossed your reading paths as did mine. 

* it's a French dessert, by the way.  If I didn't watch cooking shows, I would never have had a clue what the hell the author was trying to say there.  And, I still have no clue how a top heavy one would shake.  It put me in mind of a shivering chihuahua and that's not a look you want for the MC of a suspense novel.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Thursday This n That

Rain rain rain... Ugh.  Lusty month of May my aunt's fanny.  Drippy month of May is more like it.  Almost 6 inches already this month.  Blerg.

And according to last night's radar, we've got another round of crap headed our way today.  Oh, joy.

The other day while I was out for a walk, I saw a turtle.  Not unusual as all that, except the turtles I usually see are box turtles.  I think this one was a cooter, but I've never seen a cooter outside the water, so you got me.  I think it was laying eggs about 8 feet off the road where the neighbor's yard meets the woods.  Or it was about to lay eggs.  All I know is it was sitting over a hole filled with water.  I may have disturbed it because it was gone when I walked back.  Either I disturbed it or it wasn't laying eggs after all and decided it wanted to take a walk, too.  Or the ground is so wet here, she didn't want to lay eggs in a flooded hole.

I've been trying to walk more often, but with all this rain, it's kind of hard to get out there.  I should use the exercise bike... or as I called it the other day, the coat holder... more often.  Or at all.  Yeah, we aren't exactly exercise equipment people.  Not sure what I was thinking when I bought it.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie crumbled over vanilla ice cream with caramel drizzled over it all.  Jus' sayin'.

I kind of collect old writing books, I guess.  At this point, I only have three.  And that was after buying one at the thrift store last week.  Three makes a collection, right?

It's hard work trying to find new to me, underappreciated authors to read and write reviews about.  It's become kind of a mission.  I know good books are out there because I've found a bunch of them.  Some weeks, though, are better than others.  And if I get disheartened, I can always go back to an old favorite author and refresh myself.

That's all I've got for you today.  What have you got for me?