Friday, November 28, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things-November 28, 2014


It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

I'm a co-host for this weekly blogging event, and so are these other lovely bloggers:

Diana WilderKatie @ TheCyborg Mom
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse

It's the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States, so I've been focused on the things that I'm thankful for this week.  I had a great meal with my husband's family yesterday, and we're going to have a second Thanksgiving meal with my dad tonight. That's certainly worth celebrating.

I've resurrected a short story I abandoned a few months ago.  I was always happy with the premise, but for some reason, I just wasn't getting anywhere with it.  This week I found myself inspired to dig it up again, and things are going well so far.  Times like this are the reason why I never delete the stories I haven't been able to finish.  You never know when the muse will strike again.

I also want to get back into quilting.  I did some quilting in high school, and I kind of miss it.  If I can get my hands on a sewing machine and the proper materials, I plan to make and sell some things for extra money.  I already have some designs drawn out on graph paper.  Here's one of the many designs I have mapped out.


It never hurts to multiple ways to express yourself, right?

What would you like to celebrate this week?




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Express Yourself: Favorite Recipe


The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The question for this week is: What's your favorite family recipe/meal?

My favorite meal that I make for my family is one that I don't make all that often.  It gets a bit pricey, and it also takes between 2 to 3 hours to cook.  Still, when I do embark on the journey of making this delicious dish, it's well worth it.  What?  You want to know what this wonderful dish is?  Okay, I guess I'll tell you.

Lasagna.

There are numerous ways to make lasagna, but the version I'm going to share with you is the official family favorite.  I don't think my husband would want me to make a different version.  It's the kind of meal he dreams about.

Anyway, I'll share the recipe with you, because I'm nice like that.


Ingredients:

1 package lasagna noodles

Meat Sauce:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 to 2 lbs. Italian sausage (depending on how meaty you want you lasagna to be, can be sweet or spicy-I tend to go the spicy route)
1 medium diced onion
4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
4 tbsp. parsley
salt (to taste)
ground black pepper (to taste)

Cheese Mixture:
16 oz. ricotta cheese
3/4 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 lb. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

Topping:
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, sautee diced onion and garlic.  Add Italian sausage, cook until well browned.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and water.  Simmer, stirring frequently. Season with basil, parsley, salt, and ground black pepper.  Remember, you're adding the salt and pepper to taste.  This means that you have to taste it without eating too much.  Difficult, I know, but it must be done this way.  Let the sauce cook for an hour to an hour and a half.  The longer the sauce cooks, the better the flavors mingle together.  Just don't forget to stir.  Sorry.  No leaving the kitchen for too long. (Note: Sometimes I add mushrooms to the meat sauce.  It just depends on my mood. And really, any vegetable you fancy could totally join the party.)

While the sauce is simmering away, you can pass the time by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil.  Because, hey, why not?  It'll keep you occupied and make it possible to cook your noodles.  Feel free to follow the package directions here.  I'm sure they know what they're talking about.

Then, once the water is boiling away and your arm is about to fall off from stirring the sauce (it'll be worth it, though, trust me!), you can take a break to make the cheese mixture.  Okay, so it's not a break, but it's a change of pace.  In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, egg, salt, and pepper.  Parsley would also work well in the mixture too.  Only if you want it there, of course.  Not forcing you to do anything.  Just make sure it's mixed consistently.

Prior to lasagna assembly, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

When it comes time, take a 9x13 inch baking dish and spread just a bit of meat sauce along the bottom.  Layer some of your scrumptious lasagna noodles on top.  Then spread some of your cheese mixture over that, followed by a layer of your meat sauce. Then more noodles.  Keep layering.  I could go into more detail about this part, but I'm sure you get the idea.  Save a little meat sauce, though.  After the last layer of noodles is down, you'll want to spread the little bit of remaining meat sauce over the top.  Cover your the lasagna with aluminum foil and stick it in the oven for 30 minutes.  Caution: the pan will be extremely heavy.  This is a massive amount of food, after all.  Don't drop it!  You've put in too much work at this point to have it end that way.

At this time, you can feel free to put your feet up.  You could also start to tackle the enormous pile of dishes now littering your kitchen.  I never do, but you totally could.

After 30 minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle remaining shredded cheese on top.  Put the lasagna, sans foil, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.  Basically, you want to make sure your top cheese layer is melted.

Now you can eat!  Just remember, it's hot!  No one wants to ruin a good meal by being impatient and scalding the roof of your mouth with molten cheese.  Yikes!

What's your favorite recipe?



Friday, November 21, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things-November 21, 2014


It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

I am happy to co-host this weekly blogging event, along with these other wonderful bloggers:

Diana Wilder
Katie @ TheCyborg Mom
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse

There's plenty to celebrate this week.  First of all, next week is Thanksgiving.  I love this holiday!  I'm also celebrating the fact that I am not currently on a diet.  I'm pretty certain I should be, but I'm not.  That's what New Year's resolutions are for!

The weather this weekend is supposed to warm up some.  Instead of the freezing cold temperatures we've been enduring, it's supposed to get up to the mid-40's.  It's not exactly a heat wave, but I'll take it!

I'm also celebrating having the ability to laugh.  Here are a couple of things that made me laugh this week.




What would you like to celebrate?


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Express Yourself: 5 Fictional Characters


The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

This week's prompt is: Name FIVE fictional characters you would want to have in your life.

It'll be tough narrowing it down to five, but I'll do my best.


Neville Longbottom-Harry Potter (book and film series)
     He's adorable.  He's kind.  He's loyal.  And, as it turns out, he can be quite the badass when the need arises.  Who wouldn't want someone like that in their posse?



Captain Jean-Luc Picard-Star Trek: TNG (TV series)
     He's intelligent.  He's logical and diplomatic.  I would also like to see how uncomfortable he gets around my two energetic children.



Marcus Cole-Babylon 5 (TV series)
     He's got great voice (and accent), and he knows how to be really annoying in a delightful way.  Yet he'll also go out of his way to make you happy, and he delivers the perfect amount of snark in tense situations.



Johanna Mason-The Hunger Games (book and film series)
     She's tough, and she says what she thinks regardless of the consequences.  Brave with a good dose of crazy.  She'll definitely keep things interesting.  I also wonder how she would interact with Picard.



Luna Lovegood-Harry Potter (book and film series)
     She's loyal, and she's the kind of person I could happily spend an afternoon with. You never know what she's going to say next, and as off-the-wall as she may sound sometimes, she also offers valuable bits of wisdom at the darkest times.

Which five fictional characters would you like to have in your life?



Friday, November 14, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things-November 14, 2014



It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

I am happy to be a co-host, along with these other lovely bloggers:

Diana Wilder
Katie @ TheCyborg Mom
CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse

I'd like to celebrate the joy of childhood.  We got our first snow of the year this week, though it hardly amounted to anything.  Still, my kids were overjoyed to see it.  I personally am no longer a fan of snow (too cold, too wet, too dangerous to drive in), but I do love to see the way my kids react to it.  My oldest just got a new pair of snow pants and snow boots, and he's eager to try them out.  The snow we have so far is not enough to really play in, but the forecast looks like that's about to change.  They're forecasting 2-3 inches of snow for Saturday, so it looks like my kids will soon get their wish of building a snowman.

I've relocated my writing inspiration.  I found it while sipping on a beer last night. Though I normally find it over a coffee, I am open to the inspiration found in other liquid consumables.  Why is it that I tend to have great ideas (at least in my estimation of them) while relaxing with beverages?  No matter the reason, I'm looking forward to settling back into my writing groove.

What would you like to celebrate?


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Express Yourself:MBTI Personality


The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The prompt for this week is: Do you know your MBTI personality?  If so, please share.  If not, go take the test!  Please.  http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

I took the test, and here are my results.

INTJ


Introvert (67%) Intuitive (88%) Thinking (25%) Judging (33%)

*You have a distinct preference of Introversion over Extraversion (67%)
*You have a strong preference of Intuition over Sensing (88%)
*You have moderate preference of Thinking over Feeling (25%)
*You have moderate preference of Judging over Perceiving (33%)

I do make it a point to be logical whenever I can.  I'm a science buff.  I can even be overly logical about my writing, even though that is the area in my life where I tend to channel most of my emotions.  Therefore, I'm not surprised by this result.  Apparently people like me are also easy to misread or misunderstand.  All I can say is that I've been there and done that. Especially in high school.  Eek!


Fortunately for all, I tend to be more tactful than House.  

It's also interesting to note that another test also pegged me as an INFJ.  Given that the first test showed me having only a moderate preference of thinking over feeling, this doesn't seem that surprising.  I guess I may walk on the line a bit between the two, but I don't see that as a bad thing.  Either way, if you look at the percentages of people who score as either of those (1-3% for INFJ and 2-4% for INTJ according to Wikipedia), you can conclude that I'm weird.  I'm just fine with that.

What is your MBTI personality?



Friday, November 7, 2014

Resurrection Blogfest III

For those of you who are here to read my weekly Celebrate the Small Things post, you can find that HERE.


Watch out!  The dead are rising from the grave!  Today marks the third blogging anniversary for the wonderful Mina Lobo, and she's celebrating the occasion with the third annual Resurrection Blogfest!

Here are the requirements:
  1. Sign up by entering your blog's name and URL on the linky-list, below.The linky-list will close after 11:59pm EST* on Friday, November 7, 2014.
  2. Upload the blogfest badge in this post to the sidebar of your blog and link it back to this announcement post, to help spread the word. (It's not a "button" and there isn't a code for it; you'll have to download the image, upload to your blog's sidebar, and manually link it back to this post.)
  3. Follow me on the Twitter (@GothMomLite) and re-tweet anything with this tag: #ResurrectionBlogfestIII. (Folks without Twitter accounts are welcome to participate, but must promote the blogfest on some other social media platform.)
  4. On November 7, your blog post must feature the blogfest badge as well as your resurrected blog post. Be sure to include the date on which it was originally posted. (Do give the title of the original blog post but please do not make readers have to click back to the original post—copy/paste it into your November 7, 2014 post.)
  5. I'll review all entries to make sure they fit the above criteria. Failure to have the badge on your sidebar, in your post, the resurrected post, and/or the date and title of the original post will disqualify you from the drawing (see #6 below).
  6. Three qualifying participants (see #5 above) will be selected at random to win EITHER A) a $20 Amazon gift card OR B) a print copy of my book and some book swag (see image below). The three winners can take their pick of either prize A or B (and I won't be hurt if you opt for A). (Probably.)
  7. Winners should be announced on or around Monday, November 10. (God willing.)

This resurrected post first went live on Friday, February 14, 2014.  (If you don't believe me, you can find it here, but I promise I'm not lying to you!)  It's a piece of flash fiction that I chose to resurrect due to its wonderfully wicked nature.  I had a great time writing it, and I just felt like sharing it again.  Enjoy!  Or not.  I mean, I can't force you to like it or anything.  Either way, here it is.

The Bloody Valentine Blog Hop


Happy Valentine's Day!  Today I'm marking the occasion by participating in A.F. Stewart's The Bloody Valentine Blog Hop!  It's a hop to showcase love gone wrong.

I decided to write a piece of flash fiction.  It's definitely lacking the normal warm and fuzzy feelings that many people associate with this particular holiday.  I hope you enjoy it!



Until Death

Steph’s eyes traveled across the ceiling, noting the way the soft moonlight played across the hills and valleys in the plaster.  The digital display from the alarm clock cast a faint red hue over the bed, and Steph’s thoughts darkened when she was reminded of the time.

4 AM.

Nothing good can ever happen at 4 AM, she thought bitterly.

A faint gurgling sound disrupted the brief quiet, marking the beginning of another cycle of torment.  Steph glanced at the sleeping form beside her.  Martin’s mouth hung wide open in his slumber, a trail of drool leaking out of the corner of his mouth.  She suppressed a shudder as she surveyed the disgusting sight.

He used to be so handsome, so charming.  What the hell happened?

The answer to this question was, of course, obvious.  Once she had a wedding ring on her finger, his entire demeanor changed.  It wasn’t an immediate change.  Oh no.  It snuck up on her bit by bit.  He stopped complimenting the way she looked when they went out for date night.  Then their date nights became increasingly infrequent.

He forgot their anniversary.  I was so sure he’d remember my birthday at least, Steph thought as she clenched her hands together until her knuckles were as white as a skeleton.  What I didn’t anticipate was him remembering, only to buy me a waffle iron so I could have the great honor of cooking his breakfast.

The gurgling had grown much louder, rising like a wave about to break against the beach.  This fact was made more irritating by the fact that Martin always insisted that he didn’t snore.  Steph often wondered how he didn’t wake himself up with his cacophonous nocturnal nasal symphony.   

At the crescendo, Martin choked mid gurgle.  For one blessed moment, he was silent.  That was, until his breathing passage cleared once more, allowing the horrendous sounds to resume.

If he keeps it up, he’s eventually going to drown in his own fluids!

Steph pondered this for a moment.  For the life of her, she couldn’t remember why this would be an undesirable thing.

He complains about my cooking.  He insists I don’t clean thoroughly enough, but he won’t help me either.  He never tells me happy Valentine’s Day, let alone gets me a gift.

That woeful thought brought Steph’s eyes back to the table.  Beside the clock, bathed in red light, was the half-eaten bag of candy hearts.  She’d purchased them in the hopes that Martin would see them, and that he might think to make some kind of romantic gesture.  A small gift.  Or a compliment.  Anything would have done, really.

No.  Instead I get to lie here sleeplessly, listening to you snore and wait for the ‘until death do you part’ section of the vows to become a reality.

Rage began to burn in her veins.  I deserve better than this!  I wanted so much more out of life, and this is all I get?

The decision wasn’t a conscious one.  Before Steph knew what she was doing, the bag of candy hearts was in her hands, and she was straddling the sleeping form.  “Good night, sweetie,” she declared as she clamped one hand roughly over his nose.  The other hand tipped the bag so the little chalky candies poured into Martin’s gaping cavern of a mouth.

His eyes flew open immediately.

“Oh, so this is the way to wake you up,” Steph said thoughtfully, more to herself than anyone else.  “That’s good to know.”

The gurgling had turned into full on choking as the candy completely blocked his airway.  Candy hearts filled his mouth to the brink, spilling out everywhere, tumbling over his lips and onto the bedspread.  His nails raked at her wrists as she firmly held him in place, one hand atop his throat, the other still covering his nose.  Blood oozed out from beneath her fingers, indicating the she must have damaged his nose in her fervor.

Interesting.

His eyes bulged, both terrified and pleading, but this only fascinated her.  She hadn’t seen any kind of strong emotion from this man in a long time, and she fixated on his horrified expression with an almost childlike wonderment.

She continued to watch as his attempts to dislodge her grip weakened.  Then he ceased struggling altogether.  His eyes were still wide, but they no longer saw her.  They were vacant, even more vacant than they had been while he vegged out in front of a football game.

Steph sat back for a moment, looking down at the candy hearts that rested near Martin’s blue lips.  Smiling faintly, she selected two white ones (the kind Martin hated most of all) and went to the bedside table to get a pen.  A red pen.

On the blank side of each heart, she carefully wrote in her own little message.  When she was satisfied with her results, she placed a heart atop each lifeless iris.  The first read UNTIL DEATH, and the second completed the familiar phrase with DO US PART.

Steph sighed before collapsing back onto her side of the bed, hoping that she’d be able to fall asleep before dawn.