Posted in Mondays

Merry Christmas!!!

Hiya, Welcome back to PEP! Merry Christmas!!!

a-very-merry-christmas-tree-design-Stock-Vector

I hope ya’ll are having a wonderful holiday and that it’s going the way ya’ll desired. If ya’ll have family to spend it with, I hope ya’ll are all together. This is the season for family and giving. But I realize some people are loners or don’t enjoy Christmas; for whatever reason(s); so I hope ya’ll are also enjoying yourselves however you’re celebrating, (or not celebrating). I celebrate the reason for the season, Jesus Christ’s birth so happy birthday, Jesus and Hallelujah. I enjoy family time as well as giving. I actually love picking out gifts and giving them to friends and family more than I do receiving, though I won’t lie, I do enjoy getting gifts. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t and anyone that says they don’t- is lying-in my opinion.

This week’s question: What are your Christmas Eve traditions? Are there things you do every year, no matter what?

My answer: Yes, there are! Every year, on Christmas Eve, we cook up the Christmas Eve feast. The feast is appetizer after appetizer. This year, we’re having mozzarella sticks, homemade onion rings, homemade Mac n Cheese cups, and homemade pigs in a blanket, meatballs followed by all of the desserts that I’ve baked. We eat the feast while watching It’s A Wonderful Life. While watching, we also open the Christmas pajamas; we get a new pair every year that we wear that night and one gift that’s not the pajamas. After the movie’s over, we read the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible before filling up stockings and setting out last gifts and heading to bed.

What’s your answer?  Also: Does your family celebrate any holiday traditions from other countries-or are you from another country other than USA? If so, I’d love to know what they are so please, comment below.

This week’s baking: I was very busy. I made fudge, one batch with nuts and one batch without nuts as I’m a purist-fudge should not have nuts. I also baked lemon bars and gingerbread cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. I figured out the secret to fluffy cupcakes! These cupcakes, though still slightly dense due to being gingerbread, were fluffier than any other cupcakes I’ve ever made. I still have the cherry pie to bake tomorrow, I’m writing this on the 23rd to post on Christmas as I’ll be busy with family. I’ve also made homemade turtles for my mom as a Christmas gift, though she doesn’t know it yet, as she loves turtles. I also made eggnog cinnamon rolls for Christmas Eve breakfast, they’re in the fridge waiting to be baked off in the morning.  Is there any special holiday baking you do? I still have more to do next week; I’ll be making red velvet cake and chocolate mint cookies for New Year’s. But I love baking so it’s fun for me, though the kitchen does get warm after a while.

This week’s writing:

“I have 50 boxes of cake mix, we need to start making cakes ASAP, where are you?”

“I think you got the wrong number but count me in anyway, it sounds like fun!”

There was dead silence on the other end for a moment before, “Really?”

“Sure! I’m not doing anything anyway and this founds fun!”

“Alright. Meet us at 5050 West Green Briar, just knock on the red door.”

“Okay! I’ll be the blond with purple highlights.”

“I’ll answer, with red curly hair.”

Liza hung up before turning to Max, “Do you have another number for Kane? That’s one no good, it’s for someone else.”

“That’s the only one I have, did you dial it right?”

They checked the number and realized she’d transposed the last two numbers and Max calls Kane.

“I did get a volunteer, though. She doesn’t know hwy we’re baking all of the cakes but it sounded like fun so she said she’d join us.”

“Oh. Well, the more hands the better.”

Soon enough, there was a knock on the door as they were mixing up the first of the cake mixes.

Liza answered to find both Kane and the blond with purple highlights as promised.

Kane waved briefly before heading into the kitchen and Liza introduced herself to their new volunteer.

“I’m Liza Brown. We’re from the Giving club at Adeline University.”

“Oh, I’ve heard of ya’ll! I’m a sophomore at AU. I’m Gina Watson.”

“Cool. I’m a junior. Come on in, we’re baking chocolate and red velvet cakes for the homeless shelter for Christmas.”

“Cool. I did wonder what anyone would need 50 cake mixes for.”

“That’s it.” © Paula Crofoot

Monday Motivation: I’ve got a few for today for Christmas-found online-regardless of who originally stated them, I like the messages:

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. –Norman Vincent Peale

The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things- Thomas S. Monson

Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values. – Thomas S. Monson.

Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate the love of God and family and to create memories that will last forever. Jesus is God’s perfect, indescribable gift. The amazing thing is that not only are we able to receive this gift, but we are able to share it with others on Christmas and every other day of the year. – Joel Osteen.

Writing Prompt: Pretend that you are a wiggly, wriggly, roly-poly puppy, and you have been chosen as a Christmas present for a boy or girl. First, tell how you feel saying goodbye to your family, then being placed in a box under the Christmas tree, finally, write about what it’s like meeting your new friend and owner.

Music I’m listening to as I’m posting this: Once in Royal David’s City-Carlyle Frasier: Celtic Christmas

Posted in Mondays

7 Days ’til Christmas!

Hiya, Welcome back to PEP! Not much to talk about today, being the last week before Christmas, I’m in a crunch to finish my last Christmas gifts. Most of them are done and everything is purchased, though I’m still waiting on four of them from Amazon and JCPenny’s in three separate packages. I just have a bit of sewing and some baking to do for the last few and then a lot of wrapping. There’s just two of us in my family and I don’t have any friends that I buy gifts for and this year, I don’t have any work-obligations that I have to buy gifts for out of non-existent money so all of my gifts are for one person. Posted below is a picture of one of them. I also have a couple of gifts for my two cats. Last year, I made them little houses out of boxes and fabric with a pillow inside and a toy dangling from the top for them to play with. This year, I’m making them blankets to go in the houses as Lucy loves burrowing herself into anything she can. But she is quite skinny and even with all of her fur; I imagine she probably gets cold. Lily simply likes soft surfaces and makes a bed out of anything she can get.

First knit-loom hat

If you’re making a gift for someone, let me know? I’m always looking for inspiration and enjoy seeing what other people come up with.

This week’s question: Name 10 things that delight you.

My answer: Top ten things that delight me, or in my mind, make me happy: Writing, baking, animals, tea, books, music, cold weather outside, scent of cinnamon, knit-looming, and photography-on the shooting end of the camera-not the focus or the picture. Any combo of those ten things and I am very happy.

What’s your answer?

This week’s baking: I made a Chocolate Cherry crumble that was really good as well as a new candy-I’m experimenting with candy currently alongside the more ‘normal’ baking recipes. It’s called Georgia Goober Creams, really, really strange name but it’s actually really good though I would actually call it something similar to peanut brittle but really sweet and not as hard. I’m doing a lot of baking this next week-it’s Christmas. I’ll be baking cherry pie, fudge, gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, chocolate mint cookies, red velvet cake. Like I said, a lot of baking-from scratch.

This week’s writing:

“You can’t keep kissing strangers and pretending that it’s him.”

Brianna studiously ignored her friend.

“I mean it, Bri. They’re not him and he’s gone.”

She still ignored her but she wouldn’t let up.

“Seriously, he’s gone and isn’t coming back.”

Finally, “You don’t think I don’t know that. I know he’s not coming back and I’m not pretending they’re him.”

“You could’ve fooled me.”

“I’m trying to find someone better than him! Someone that won’t leave me like he did.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize.”

“Of course not, you were quick to judge me, just like everyone else. And to think, I actually believed you were my friend.”

“W-wha… I am your friend.”

But her plea fell on deaf ears as Brianna left her behind, finally done with the fakes and ready to seek a new reality.  © Paula Crofoot

Monday Motivation: Christmas isn’t just a season; it’s a feeling. A feeling we really should keep going all year long.

Writing Prompt: Angel face; Devil thoughts.

Just a quick pic of the girls as well as the first two cats-Sponge and Sparkle- several years ago:

Music I’m listening to as I’m posting this: Sun Goes Down: David Jordan-Set the Mood

Posted in Mondays

Let’s all Come Together

Hiya, Welcome back to PEP! One week closer to Christmas! It is my favorite holiday. Usually, I decorate my house the Sunday after Thanksgiving but this year, as ya’ll learned last week, I wasn’t even in the country at the time so I decorated the Sunday after I got back, after the first of December. This last week, I decorated the outside. I like the way my home is decorated for Christmas but I know some would say it looks like Santa’s magical bag blew up. Just an example of one DIY decoration:

Christmas Flower Pot '16 2Christmas Flower Pot '16

But I love the giving spirit of Christmas more than anything, the sense of brotherhood and joy that permeates the air this time of year. This is actually the first year in 20 years that I haven’t done a Salvation Army Angel. But between the family trip and being out of town without enough time to shop before the deadline but also finances being tight, I just couldn’t afford it. But I’ll pick it back up next year as I expect other changes in my life that will make it affordable again. My life is good and I know how hard it can be so I want to give back to those that are in need, that have fallen on hard times. Honestly, that shouldn’t be reserved for only this time of year but as the year goes on, everyone; I’ll be honest-even myself, forgets about caring about others and just moves on with their lives as they are. Perhaps, that something we can all come together to resolve to do better about this next year?

This week’s question: I couldn’t imagine living without…

My answer: I figure this question probably actually refers to something physical, something tangible but that’s not my answer off the top of my head. My answer is, I couldn’t imagine living without imagination. Everything stems from imagination of some sort. Those in the science field may say that they’re aren’t imaginative but thinking about their experiments, theorizing about the possible results, that is a form of imagination. The results that they’re looking for have never happened, making it something only in their imagination that they choose to make real The same goes for any field that you’re in. Imagination is the base of anything, especially the fields that I’ve chosen of writing and food creation.

What’s your answer? What’s something you couldn’t imagine living without?

This week’s baking: This week, I tried something completely new. I tried my hand at yeast-free donuts. My housemate loves donuts so I made easy glazed donut holes. They were actually really easy an are delicious. This week, I’ll be trying another candy as well as a form of pie. I do something fun in the kitchen, this is my third year going. I try a new recipe every week, each month is a different theme. For the last three months, I’ve tried a new baking recipe in addition to the cooking recipe. However, December’s theme is baking-it being Christmas time and all. So I’ll be trying a lot of new baking recipes as well as some old traditions, like the family fudge. I think, starting in January, if ya’ll are interested, I might start talking about the new weekly cooking recipe as well as the baking recipe. I love experimenting in the kitchen, whether it’s with savory or sweet.

This week’s writing: First, she realized she was pregnant and made an appointment to have it confirmed. Then, the doctor shocked her when she informed her that her baby would only be half-human. Now, the young woman sat in the park, watching families play, wondering what she was going to do now.

She knew she’d have the baby, that was never in any doubt. But, to raise a child half-human and half-supernatural, how could she care for the babe? She was fully human and had had no idea the babe’s father wasn’t. Oh, she knew another realm existed, the Gifted, they’d been exposed a generation before and while there had been battles, hate, ignorance as there was for anything new, they were all accepted for the most part.

But for one human and one Gifted to come together, that was rare, unheard of and now, now she was having a child of one such union and she had no idea how to reach out to the father. She hadn’t seen him since that night, their lives not crossing very often with him just circling the fringes of her group of friends.

Oh well, there was several months before the child would be born, she would find him at some point before then and tell him of the baby’s existence, everything would be just fine.

If only she knew just how wrong she was… © Paula Crofoot

Monday Motivation: Thousands of candles can be lighted from one single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. -Buddha

Writing Prompt: You are a tattoo artist that has the ability to give people powers from the tattoos you give, by using special inks.

Let’s not forget about the Writing Chain Story from the first of this month…

Music I’m listening to as I’m posting this: See You Again: Carrie Underwood-Blown Away

Posted in Mondays

The Caribbean and Let’s all Write Together!

Hiya, Welcome back to PEP! I am back from my vacation! This post is a little later than usual as I’m still working on getting back into the normal swing of things but didn’t want to just throw a post together yesterday for today. I want to tell ya’ll about my trip. It was my 3rd cruise but my first Carnival cruise. The ports were Roatan, Belize and Cozumel. I’ve been to Cozumel, sailing out of Galveston, most cruises make a stop at Cozumel regardless of line. But Roatan and Belize were new. The ship itself was good, it’s was the Freedom-one of the older ships in Carnival’s fleet. Honestly, if I compare it to the line I’ve taken previously, which was, for those that know me won’t be surprise, was Disney. I am a Disney fanatic. But even taking the Disney connection out, I favor Disney over Carnival. The food was satisfactory but not as good as Disney nor with as much variety. The ports were good but that’s on the excursion choices more than necessarily the actual cruise line. Disney had so much to do every at sea day and Carnival was significantly lacking. Not only did I do some writing, which I did want to do and planned to do, but I read 2 books, one of which was from Carnival’s library, started a puzzle book and watched way more Spike than I have in a long time. I discovered I like Auction Hunters, Lip Sync Battle and rediscovered Bar Rescue. They had very limited channels, 6 news channel, two cartoon channels, and 3 miscellaneous channels along with their 12 Carnival Cruise channels. Understandably so since you’re not supposed to need to watch much TV on a cruise. But if you didn’t drink, gamble or want to lay by the pool all day, there wasn’t a lot to do. Plus, everyone always talks about all the kids that there’ll be on the Disney Cruise line. However, I actually saw more kids on Carnival running all over the place than I did on either Disney cruise. However, Carnival isn’t a bad line and for short cruises, 5-7 days, it would be satisfactory and I do intend to give them another chance on a different ship that has all of the amenities. But I already know what my next cruise will be, more information on that later as I don’t like to jinx my trips talking too much about it too far in advance and it’ll be mid-late 2018 before my next trip-cruise or not.

Roatan and Belize were beautiful. I have pictures which you can see below, though I won’t post pictures of it all as they aren’t all just me and there are a lot of pictures, as well as iCloud was being a pain and didn’t let me get all of them downloaded just yet. It was my mom and myself and we went to the Gulimba Reservation on the Pirates, Monkeys and Birds excursion. I definitely recommend it. We actually got to hold macaws and parrots as well as white-faced capuchin monkeys. One liked petting my hair and then, I’m either average or tall for a female, depending on your point of view, and one decided I’d be a great platform up into the tree. In Belize, we took the city bus and airboat swamp tour. I’ve white-water rafted-twice actually, parasailed; snorkeling with stingrays and ridden a jet-ski, climbed Dunn’s Waterfall in Jamaica, (I have an extensive bucket list) but I hadn’t ridden an airboat before this. It was awesome! We didn’t see any manatees or alligators but we did see a lot of birds. I enjoy bird-watching so it was fun for me. Cozumel, I’d been to so I just went to the port, Carnival has their own exclusive port there, and did some shopping.

 

This week’s question: Best book you’ve read this year.

My answer: That actually just changed. I read a really good book on the cruise, #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso. I had never heard of Sophia Amoruso or her company, Nasty Gal before as I’m just recently really taking a liking to fashion, but the book was really inspirational. Especially for the point of my life I’m at right now.

What’s your answer? I’m a bookworm, reading multiple books each year, so I’m always looking for recommendations.

This week’s baking: I didn’t actually do any this last week as I was on a cruise ship. But I did have some delicious desserts. My favorites would have to be a chocolate cake with what I think was a pistachio cream filling and a Grand Marnier Soufflé. They were both delicious and not something I would either bake-never considered pistachio- or have tried my hand at such as the soufflé. But I do have plans for this next week in terms of my own baking experiments.

This week’s writing: I’m actually going to share a little something I wrote on my cruise instead of writing something brand new this week.

The yellow deck chair moves on its own. Instead of shrinking back, Maya smiled, “Back for the sunset, Ellie.”

No words, simply a breeze scented with cinnamon, not a common scent on a island. Footsteps sounded behind Maya, clear human steps. She turned  and spotted the brunette head of her roommate, Leila.

“Ellie here?”

“Yep. Daily sunset visit.”

“I wonder what holds her here.”

“I think she’s looking for something.”

“Or someone.”

“Hm.”

Leila smiled sadly as Maya simply gazed at the gulf. Maya still wasn’t over the a-hole of an ex-fiancé back in the metroplex. She used to be the more romantic of the two of them. © Paula Crofoot

I have plans to continue this as well as two other little pieces I jotted out. I’m currently doing a 1000 writing prompts book and I gave myself a challenge. 1000 days, even if I miss one or two, I need to catch up before continuing with the current day. So far, due primarily to the vacation, I haven’t been able to keep up with every day but I’ve stayed caught up. It’s something to kind of keep my imagination rolling alongside any novel I’m working on. Currently, I’m working on editing. This one was completely freeform but the other two pieces are inspired by one of the prompts.

Monday Motivation: What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.

Writing Prompt: I’m actually doing something a little different this week. I want to try this once a month as I think it’ll be fun for us as a community. As such, I think it’ll be the first Monday of each month.

I’m going to give a writing prompt, then write on it myself. Afterwards, I’d love it if ya’ll want to contribute and continue the story. A bit of a writing chain, I think it could be fun to see what we all come up with together. It can continue until the next month’s prompt while I’ll continue giving a weekly for ya’ll to use yourselves.

This month’s chain prompt: Chat deleted. Photos deleted. Memories? Not so much.

Matthew gazed at his phone solemnly. He’d deleted their chat box and texts. Every photo involving her were gone. The memories, though? Not so much. He was still swallowed in memories involving her everywhere he turned. Every room of his home still smelled of her, every place in this city he was a regular of, had an image of her overriding it. His hair was constantly a mess now due to running his fingers through it to keep the tears back, to try to rid himself of the unwanted, unnecessary memories.

Anyone want to take it from here? Just comment below.

Music I’m listening to as I’m posting this: Bang a Drum-Selena Gomez: A Cinderella Story