Fall Porch - Major Struggle

So one big major struggle I've had in this new house (which is very minor on the any scale of home decorating) is that fall colors simply do not work. I've collected a lovely selection of autumn colors like oranges, greens and reds and it does not go well with aquas, whites and creams. I simply cannot not fall decorate, so while I conjure up some indoor decorating ideas, I took some of my regular fall decor to the porch. I can do no wrong out there! Last years harvest pillow is still kickin' around! This vintage aqua glass water bottle I scored (for free) from our last city's freestore. I've talked about freestores before (also known in some cities as "freecycle") be sure to google it for your area, it's simply a group where things are posted, like craigslist or kiji but all free. My fall wreath trickery. Because I simply added a dollarstore candle ring to the center of the wreath. Genius, I know it. Now, as I said, indoors is kinda sucky right now. Not fallish at all. All I have that is slightly working for the fall would be my Silly Mama Quilts mat, As for the rest of the indoor decorating, I imagine I have a few orange pumpkins to spray paint white. Fingers crossed for warm weather in the next couple days so I can!

Lemon Pancakes

I came home today and wanted pancakes. Actually, I'd wanted a chocolate chip cookie. I went out at lunch to buy my sister something, and almost went to the closest bakery to buy a chocolate chip cookie. But the thought of walking up the hill (the store is third up the hill, and it's a small hill but when you're exhausted, it's enormous), through the throngs of tourists... the thought made me want to collapse in a heap on the sidewalk. Which wouldn't be a good thing, because the throngs of tourists would then just crush me. But I came home and wanted pancakes. Unfortunately I'd finished off my gingerbread pancakes, so I couldn't eat those. And I was too tired to make more, and asking my husband to do it was too much, as I'd already coaxed him through making buffalo turkey burgers for dinner. So I flipped through my Joy of cooking. All About Breakfast & Brunch book (which I stupidly swapped on a book swap site after I'd purchased The Joy of Cooking from a cookbook club, I so don't pay attention to what I do), and found a recipe for lemon pancakes. I figured after a good night's sleep I'd be able to make them. So this morning, with my husband off at the gym (this is the first day I've not gone to the gym since we returned from our trip), I whipped these up. I was slightly short on sour cream, and slightly short on lemon juice, and had no fresh lemons to zest, but these still came out great. Light and fluffy with a hint of lemon, if it's a hint to me, it'll probably be a bit of a brighter flavor to those who can smell, they're warm in my tummy and make me feel a bit less sick. The recipe says the batter will be thick, like cake batter, and it was, so they don't spread out much at all when you slap them on the griddle. They also don't bubble up much, so I just flipped mine after about 3-4 minutes. I cooked mine on the electric griddle, at 400F.

Total Calories: 1650; Yield: 12 4 inch cakes (or 25 small, I used an ice cream scoop to make mine); Whisks: 3. Dry Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour; 1/3 cup sugar; 1 1/2 tsp baking powder; 1/2 tsp baking soda; 1/4 tsp salt. Wet Ingredients: 3/4 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat); 1/3 cup milk (I used fat-free); 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice; 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted; 1 large egg; 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract; Finely grated zest of 2 lemons.

Prepare and preheat griddle. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients except for lemon zest. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and gently whisk until just combined. Fold in lemon zest. The batter will be thick and bubbly, similar to cake batter. Spoon 1/4 cup onto prepared griddle, nudging batter into rounds. Cook until the top of each pancake is speckled with bubbles and begin to pop, then turn and cook until underside is lightly browned. Serve immediately or keep warm in 200F oven while you finish cooking.

Author Reading - Rebecca Maizel

Well, I was doing some home improvement projects and I got it into my head to toss out (aka sell) some of my books and manga. So I went to the website of a local bookstore and saw a book signing/reading! How fun! I have never been to one before. I need to go! Rebecca Maizel, a RI resident (I assume, at least I know she does hang out in my neighborhood), is the author of the book Infinite Days. Title: Infinite Days (Vampire Queen, Book 1). Author: Rebecca Maizel. Genre: YA Fantasy. Paperback: 336 pages. Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 edition (August 3, 2010). Book Description: "Throughout all my histories, I found no one I loved more than you... no one". Those were some of Rhode's last words to me. The last time he would pronounce his love. The last time I would see his face. It was the first time in 592 years I could take a breath. Lay in the sun. Taste. Rhode sacrificed himself so I, Lenah Beaudonte, could be human again. So I could stop the blood lust. I never expected to fall in love with someone else that wasn't Rhode. But Justin was... daring. Exciting. More beautiful than I could dream. I never expected to be sixteen again... then again, I never expected my past to come back and haunt me... I plan to go, go, go and def take some pics and record some video. I also plan to drag my friends along with me. They may hate me. Haha, but I need someone reliable (oh wait they may be angry and resentful, that equals a questionable picture) to take my picture with Maizel, yeah?

A Wickedly Wonderful Writing Program

Confession: I'm a #selfdisciplinefail kind of gal. People who know me in real life might gag at that statement and remind me that I've earned enough college degrees to be a professor, have completed four manuscripts, and can execute some cool hula hoop tricks. True, but here's the thing. All of those achievements have come loaded with procrastination, false starts and distractions. (Okay, not the hooping.) And when it comes to the important stuff such as eating right, paying bills and being a patient and nurturing parent, let's just say it's a daily challenge. So imagine my delight in discovering a writing tool that gets beyond my procrastinating, which has been fueled to new records with the advent of web-surfing. It's called Write or Die and is the kick in the pants I've needed. The premise is simple. You set a word count target and and time limit along with a punishment level, and then you write or die! For my first experiment, I set it to 500 words in an hour. Since I didn't think the 'gentle' punishment level of pop-up warnings would be enough, and I didn't want the evil noises produced by the intermediate mode...

(I was in a coffee shop, plus evil noises aren't good for productivity), I chose Kamikaze mode. Then I was off! For a couple hundred words, I was good. Until I stopped to ponder. After about ten seconds, the screen turned pink, then red. And then it started eating my words! I wrote with abandon, never looking back. In twenty minutes I had my 500, announced with a trumpet blare that startled everyone around me in the coffee shop. I was amazed, but could I do it again? I set my next goal for 1000 words in an hour (and muted the sound on my computer). 40 minnutes later, voila! Okay, not the best thousand words I've ever written, but that's what revisions are for. I've used the program many times since then and those thousand word chunks pop out like magic. It's a great way to get past my inner editor. No time to scold myself until after it's written. For someone who's modus operandi is to write a few sentences, check my email, write a few more sentences, find a cookie, etc. This program isn't evil, it's a miracle worker.

Raw Food Diet an Alternative Health Lifestyle

A raw food diet is an alternative health lifestyle that restricts the consumption food to raw or uncooked foods. It also prohibits foods that processed. Organically grown fruits and vegetables are preferred by people who choose this alternative health lifestyle. The organic foods are much safer for the body since they were not treated with fertilizers that contain toxins. These toxins are harmful to the body. People who follow this program believe that foods which are cooked lose much of their nutritional value. Here is a great source of information, and you can find it at weight loss diet plans for men and women. As a lifestyle, people who practice the raw food diet treat it as permanent change in the type of food they eat, and not as temporary solution for their health problems. There different degrees of doing a raw food diet.

1. Raw veganism
A person who is a raw vegan only eats unprocessed and raw plant foods. This is the strictest form of raw food diet. They eat only plant based foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Raw vegans are further divided into three groups. These are:
a. Fruitarians - These people exclusively consume fruits.
b. Juicearians - They usually turn their food into juices.
c. Sproutarians -They eat only sprouted foods. Example of which is bean sprouts.

2. Raw vegetarianism
Raw vegetarians also consume raw plant based food. They also exclude any forms of meat such as fish, poultry, beef, and pork. But unlike the raw vegans, they allow themselves to eat dairy products and eggs. They typically get most of their proteins and calcium from eggs and dairy products.

3. Raw animal food diets
These are people who primarily eat raw animal food. These include, raw and unprocessed meat, meat organs, eggs, dairy, aged century eggs, and fermented meat. They also eat raw plant based food but to a lesser proportion to raw meats. One of the famous raw meats is Sashimi or raw seafood. In order to prevent food poisoning, they often follow a careful procedure in preparing for their foods. Most of them usually buy their meats from free-range and grass-fed sources. They can be picky on how the animals were raised. Different people follow different types of raw food diets. However, there are some common benefits that most of the "raw foodists" will agree to. The benefits of raw food diets are:

The digestive enzymes found only raw foods are good for the digestive system. Foods that are stripped of these enzymes make digestion difficult and lead to the buildup of toxins; Good bacteria and some microorganism that can be found on raw food. It strengthens the immune system; In general, raw foods contain more nutrients than the cooked variation of it; Cooked foods can increase pH level of your stomach which can lead to acidosis; Raw food diet practitioner claims that they noticed changes in their energy level. It can help people lose weight; There is a better appearance on skin tone. It makes the skin healthier. They prevent harmful toxins found in cooked and processed foods from entering their system. These toxins can cause chronic disease and other health problems.

No-Bake Chocolate Pie

Or Snettisham's Down and I Really Shouldn't be Turning on my Stove Pie, which is how I will present it to my co-workers when I bring it in to work on Monday. Last month an avalanche knocked down our hydro-electric towers. We are now running on diesel. For the next three to four months, our electric bills are going to be five times higher than normal. We've made national news. We're a model of energy efficiency, apparently. For an entire town to cut it's energy usage that quickly is unprecedented, the energy experts say. You'd live in the dark too, if turning on a light to use the bathroom was going to cost $10. Thankfully the days are getting longer, lightwise, so it's okay that we keep all of the lights off. I really shouldn't be baking. I didn't much care, for awhile. But it costs us 50 cents for each kilowatt hour of electricy we use. According to the wonderful chart the city put out, if I use my oven an hour a day, it's going to cost me $48. I get squeamish at the thought of paying $15 for a dinner entree. I'm not spending $48 just to cook a pie. For my co-workers, no less. But I really need to bake. So Friday night I did an internet search for "no bake" recipes. Hmm. There are lots of gelatin desserts, which I hate. Lots of no bake cookies using oatmeal, which I've had once and thought were nasty. There were lots of variations on buckeyes, the peanut butter candies. Lots and lots of those. The girl at work who doesn't like peanut butter and chocolate will not be amused when I bring those in. I settled on this Easy No-Bake Chocolate Pie I found on Better Recipes. How much clearer can it be, that it won't cost $50 to make. Plus, I could use up a graham cracker pie crust that had been sitting my cabinet for more than a year. I think another good name for this pie would be Sugared Butter Pie or Buttery Sugar Pie, or even Save Yourself Some Time and Eat a Stick of Butter Instead Pie. Because it tasted just like a stick of butter. With some sugar sprinkled on top. And a few chocolate chips tossed in as well for good measure. I feel like this pie is either a very regional recipe, or something you love, love, love if your mom made it while you were growing up. So that you didn't know that pies shouldn't taste only of butter. Or because you're a kid, and you just love eating butter (I was never that kid). It falls into that weird category of food, am I the only person who has this category, somewhere between immediately toss it in the trash and this is not going into the office, it's that good and I want it all for me. You take a bite, think, this isn't so great, but it has an odd something that makes you keep eating it, trying to figure out if you like it or not. Or maybe I just misinterpreted the shrieks of my arteries as they died a slow, buttery death, and thought my mouth wanted more. So, if you happen to find yourself in the middle of a summer-long electrical crisis and just need to bake, I offer this pie. I would omit the chocolate chips mixed in, if you decide to make it. I added peanut butter chips, and couldn't taste them, and it was kind of weird biting into an otherwise creamy filling, only to be met with a jarring chip.

Total Calories: 4336; Servings: 8; Whisks: 1.5. Ingredients: 1 9 inch graham cracker pie crust; 1 cup granulated sugar; 3/4 cup butter, softened; 3 ounces semisweet baking chocolate; 3 eggs; 1 ounce semisweet baking chocolate, grated (I used mini chocolate chips); 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used peanut butter chips, but really omit them); whipped cream (I didn't use, because this pie was totally not worth it, plus it would've cost $4.16 to whip the cream).

Combine sugar and butter. Beat until fluffy. Melt chocolate in a small saucepan on low heat (I melted in the microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds, much cheaper). Add to butter/sugar mixture. Beat until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour mixture into crust. Top with grated chocolate. Refrigerate pie at least 6 hours before serving. Top with dollops of whipped cream, if you wish.

Chocolate Loaf Cake

As I've said before, I'm not much for chocolate. Still, that doesn't stop me from wanting to like chocolate. I'm as entranced as anybody by the sight of tall chocolate layer cake or a small, perfectly egg-shaped truffle. Flipping through Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess, a Christmas gift from the same co-worker who brought me the macadamia nuts (and she says she's not trying to drop hints), I kept resting on the photo of this cake again and again until I gave in and made it the other evening after work.

Total Calories: 4045; Yield: 8-10 slices; Whisks: 3. Ingredients: 1 cup soft unsalted butter; 1 2/3 cup dark brown sugar; 2 large eggs, beaten; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled; 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour; 1 tsp baking soda; 1 cup plus 2 tbs boiling water; 9x5 inch loaf pan.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease and line the loaf pan, (seriously, grease and line. It's a sticky cake, you can see how much of it stuck to the greased parchment paper). Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla, beating well. Fold in the melted chocolate; blend well but do not overbeat. Mix the baking soda and flour and alternately add to chocolate mixture with boiling water until you have a smooth, fairly liquid batter. Pour into greased pan and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 F and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes. The cake will still be slightly damp, so a cake tester won't come out entirely clean. Place on rack and let cool completely before removing cake from pan. Tips/Comments: Nigella used the word "squidgy" to describe how the completed cake will look, which I can only take to mean damp, which my cake was. I had to cook it for an additional 15 minutes at 325, but that may just have been my oven, which is slightly off. The cake will collapse in the center because it's so dense. I removed it from the pan the next morning, having left it to cool on the counter, completely uncovered, overnight. It is a very damp cake; it wasn't uncooked, as there was no chocolate ooze, but it was extremely moist. It reminded me a bit of an old cake recipe I used to make in college, where you mixed all the dry ingredients in the pan, then poured boiling water all over it, it'd never come out spring like regular cakes. Fudgy, a co-worker called it. The photo in Nigella's cookbook didn't have it looking as fudgy, hers looked decidedly soft. Regardless, it didn't affect the taste, as everybody in the office munched on it all day. One person cut a slice in thirds, stacked it with sliced strawberries and poured some half-and-half over it. It looked heavenly, though I'd rather opt for sweetened whipped cream if you have it.