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Links/Videos That Caught My Eye: For Writers, Mind/Body, Food, Business ….

8 Apr

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of ‘stuff.’ I do this in the mornings, over coffee. I’ll be scrolling through my Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn feeds and something will catch my eye. So from time to time, I’m’a gonna share these links or videos with you. Hope you enjoy!


For Writers

Writers, don’t we hate the proofreading process? We’re almost there, almost have that novel DONE, yet there’s the tedious business of proofreading. I not only need to proofread my own novels, but I also proofread in my editing business. Quick and Dirty Tips has 10 Tips to Banish Typos. A nice list, though I ain’t a’reading my work or my client’s work backwards; I just ain’t gonna! I’ll add one to it: I have my Kindle read my book, or my client’s book, to me—believe me, this works!

Am I a Real Writer? Yup, this question is still asked by many writers who may feel they don’t quite measure up, or that their writing is seen as a hobby, or maybe they won’t consider themselves a Real Writer until their book is published. If you’ve ever struggled with this, go ye and read Kristen Lamb’s post Diagnosing a REAL Writer: Do You Have Terminological Inexactitude Syndrome?

Platform. Bleh. Yeah. I don’t have one. How does a writer have one? I dunno. Maybe Jane Friedman can help with that: Building a Platform to Land a Book Deal: Why it Often Fails.

For Your Mind:

Sooooo. I bet we’ve all been there, right? Involved in some way with a Narcissist. Maybe a lover, a friend, a boss. Head on over to Thrive Global and read: How to Know If You or Someone You Know Is a Narcissist, According to a Clinical Psychologist

If we’re happy and we know it, clap our hands! But if we’re sad, meh, let’s don’t beat ourselves up about it! Being happy all the time is weird. There. I said it. So, while rattling around Thrive Global, I found this interesting article on The Upside of Feeling Down: Why It’s Okay Not to Feel Happy All the Time

The World’s Most Relaxing Film: “The World’s Most Relaxing Film will make you relax in just 7-minutes. It has been recorded based on advice of experts from the fields of stress, mindfulness, nature therapy and music therapy. The film was recorded on the West Coast of Zealand (Sjællands Vestkyst), in Denmark.”

I baked these myself! MMMMM!

Food/Health:

I love scones. What I love about the ones that are done correctly is that they aren’t too sweet and they aren’t too moist and they aren’t crumbly dry—the perfect ones are just right! And if you, like me, have a difficult time finding those perfect scones: make your own! I do! And the best, easiest recipe I found that I use every single time is King Arthur Flour Scone Recipe. I have experimented with different additions (like nuts, fruit, lemon zest, peanut butter, oats, etc) to the basic recipe, all with success. The only thing I do differently in the basic recipe is I usually add half a stick more butter–I just like it that way.

Maybe you don’t need to boost your sex drive. I don’t! I swear! Raise your hand if you do *no one raises their hand* – Well, in the case any of you who didn’t raise your hand secretly wants to raise your libido, here are, according to Readers Digest, 9 Vitamins and Herbs That Can Boost Your Sex Drive

Chocolate & Pop Music – Nuff said.

For Business:

Looking for a job? Ugh, right? I haven’t had an interview in yeeeeaaars. I’m lucky to be able to work from home, but should that ever stop *gasp* Ungh! Perhaps these 14 Interview Questions That Are Designed To Trick You will help you with that process.

Looking for a job and you are over 50? Maybe these tips will help: Salary.com’s 10 Tips for Job Hunters Over 50

Wild Card:

When I post these links, I’m going to post at least one “wild card” link. One that I stumbled on while looking for something else, and something about it piqued my interest. The website/blog that I am exploring right now is:  Dave2 from Blogography: “Blogography is a place to learn and grow by exposing yourself to the mind of David Simmer II, a brilliant commentator on world events and popular culture (or so he claims).” (Note from me: HE wrote “or so he claims” -not I. *laugh*)

See y’all later with some more links! Tootles!

 

 

 

 

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In the mood for darkest chocolate cake? My favorite will become your favorite!

1 Oct
gather your ingredients!

gather your ingredients!

I’m a novelist who has discovered a side to me that I almost forgot. I love to bake. I don’t do it often because baking sweets with just Dale and me here means either some is wasted, we eat too much of it, or usually both! I baked this cake for Dale’s birthday when we had guests over, and then again a week or so later at “half recipe” just because he liked it so much. I’ve never had a man rave so much over a cake I baked in my life! It’s a great incentive to do more *laugh*  It’s the best chocolate cake he’s ever had, and that I’ve ever baked: it always turns out delicious–dark, almost black, cake. The frosting for his birthday was a lighter sweeter chocolate, while the second time I added more cocoa and less sugar making it more a “dark bitter chocolate” icing. While he prefers the sweeter, I do the darker more “bitter.”

I mostly follow the recipe on the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa box, but I do add just a couple of things to make it my own. The icing I guess at–while baking is a science where I must be exact, I can play around with the icing without a recipe. Both recipes are below. Enjoy!

This is the lighter sweeter frosting

This is the lighter sweeter frosting

Hershey’s “Especially Dark” Chocolate Cake

Gather all your ingredients together before you begin–the last thing you want is suddenly to realize you are out of an ingredient. As well, some bakers say to take out your eggs so they aren’t “chilled” (but especially do take out the butter/cream cheese for your icing so it can soften while you prepare the cake). Also, the recipe calls for 1 cup of boiling water to be added at the end, so just be prepared to have that going at some point in the recipe–I always read my recipe through before I begin.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease/flour two 9-inch round pans: a Tip for chocolate cakes–I use a little cocoa mixed into my flour so my dark chocolate cake doesn’t have that white flour look to it when I take it from the pans.

Ingredients for the cake:

2 cups sugar (I used ‘raw’ sugar instead of ‘white’ sugar to give it a more “caramel” taste but white sugar is fine)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (for a ‘gluten-free’ cake I made separate for my brother in a ramekin, I used coconut flour but you have to bake it a bit longer and add more liquid-experimenting still on this)

3/4 cups Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa (if you don’t like it so dark, use the regular cocoa -just make sure it’s the UNSWEETENED kind- I’ve done it with regular cocoa and special dark, both with great results)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup of milk (I used Lactose Free milk and it did just as well as “regular” milk)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of vanilla–I added a little more than this, and I used what Ina Garten calls “good vanilla,” for which you can see it in the photos above: Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla.

I add 1-2 teaspoons of espresso powder–the coffee flavor adds a richness to the chocolate.

Also, I added unsweetened cocoa nibs (I used Viva Labs organic cocoa nibs–Viva Labs makes some really good products!) just to add a little extra something (Dale likes these nibs a lot in the cake).

1 cup of boiling water

Tiny cake is the "gluten-free" cake for my brother - the consistency is "grainer" and thicker - almost like a molten chocolate cake

Tiny cake is the “gluten-free” cake for my brother – the consistency is “grainer” and thicker – almost like a molten chocolate cake

Get started:

(You’ve preheated oven to 350; you’ve greased/floured pans). In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the dry mixture the wet ingredients: eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla–not boiling water yet–beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. To this mixture, stir in the boiling water–be careful! Don’t set your mixer on high and splash hot cake mix on yourself! After adding the boiling water and mixing that, the cake batter will be thin: it is supposed to be thin so don’t let this concern you. However, if you are baking a “gluten free” cake, the batter will be thicker and you may have to add some extra oil or milk or both.

Pour batter into your prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes until wooden pick in center of cake comes out *mostly* clean (you want a little cake to come away on the wooden pick-if it’s completely dry, your cake may be overcooked). NOTE! I checked my cake after 25 minutes and it was DONE! Maybe it is the altitude; maybe it was the weather; maybe it is my oven–but I suggest checking your cake after 20-25 minutes, just in case.

Cool at least 10 minutes before you remove from pans. Make sure the cake is completely cooled before you frost it.

As for the icing: I make up my recipe as I go along. I’ve made it dark and bitter, and sweeter and lighter. Cream cheese (as I did recently) or regular butter cream. Chocolate or vanilla or otherwise. I’ve whipped it light and fluffy, and also had it thicker and “stiffer.” Just play with the frosting ingredients and consistency to your taste.

This cake is so dark, it's almost black

This cake is so dark, it’s almost black

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

Room temperature softened unsalted butter (I had salted so I just used it)- at least one stick
Room temperature softened cream cheese – at least 1 8oz package
(I used a whole lot more for Dale’s birthday cake, since he wanted “a lot of frosting”)

Whip or beat (according to how you want your frosting to be: fluffy or stiffer) those two ingredients together — Sometimes I use equal butter and cream cheese, and others I play with the amounts, or use only butter.

Add in powdered sugar, a little milk (sometimes I add no milk-just experiment), cocoa, vanilla: add these ingredients a bit at a time until you have the consistency and chocolatey taste you want.

When the cake is completely cooled, frost away! One tip is to add parchment or waxed paper to the outsides of your cake plate, then put the cooled cake on top of that to frost–when you are done frosting, pull out the paper and your cake plate is clean! (There are a lot of frosting tips out there, like if crumbs mixing in the frosting bothers you, do some googling!)

 

Have fun and happy baking!

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