Sweet Treat Just for You!

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I’m back already, I come bringing sweet treats – and they’re just for you all.

The recipe for my Best Ever Basic Biscuit (like a cookie, not a fluffy, bread-like treat). It’s okay plain, but I provide several flavouring options so don’t worry.

Best Ever Basic Biscuit

Makes 25

  • 125g/4.4oz butter, softened
  • 0.25C sugar
  • 1t vanilla essence (imitation or genuine – both work)
  • 3T condensed milk (optional)
  • 1.5C white flour (this works well with a gluten-free blend)
  • flavouring (measurement below)
  1. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla, and condensed milk until light, and fluffy.
  2. Sift flour (and flavouring if appropriate).
  3. Mix sifted dry ingredients into creamed mixture.
  4. Roll tablespoonsful of mixture into balls.
  5. Place on a greased oven tray and gently flatten with a floured fork.
  6. Bake at 180C/356F for 20 min.

Cardamom Biscuits: 2.5t ground cardamom

Nutmeg Biscuits: 1.5t ground nutmeg

Chocolate Chip Biscuits: 0.5C chocolate chips, or 1C chocolate chunks (and roll slightly bigger balls – resulting in fewer biscuits)

Chocolate Biscuits: 2.5T good quality, dark cocoa powder, plus a little milk – if the mixture is too dry. Alternatively, you could melt 75g-100g/2.65oz-3.5oz of high percentage dark chocolate in the condensed milk, and cream it with the butter and sugar.

 

If you are wondering how this got filled under Literally Food, I got the idea for the cardamom biscuits from The Good Witch (which is technically TV movies and a TV series, but I won’t hold that against her.)

Call it atonement if you will. I owed you for being radio silent for so long.

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Updates! What’s New. And a huge Apology – with a capital ‘a’.

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Guys, you are all the absolute best! I say this because I am the absolute worst. I don’t even know how long it’s been since I last wrote a post for you, probably about as long as it’s been since I posted a podcast.

It’s all been a bit of an adjustment the last few months. I’ve moved into my forever home, which is very exciting. It’s been about three and a half months since we moved in, and we have mostly stopped unpacking – not that we have finished, we’ve reached the point where we don’t really unpack any more unless we need something that hasn’t found it’s place yet.

Beastie turned ten, and got three fish in a tank for his birthday – a collaborative effort with my parents, Mrs Teddybear, and myself. He loved it. I posted a video of him squeaking his excitement on my instagram (which I’m pretty sure a link can be found in my profile – but I’ll check).

We’ve had a pellet fire installed, in place of the open fire that was original, just in time for the coldest part of winter. It’s almost funny, because despite being the coldest part of winter, it’s behaving like spring outside. I have one of many rhododendrons in full flower, three jonquils in flower, camellias which are just getting started flowering, one tiny yellow rose (though they’ve been pruned fairly hard so I don’t expect any more until much, much later in the year).

I have a proper garden, full of flowers, and Dad built me a raised vegetable garden. If you do follow me on instagram you’ve almost certainly seen pictures of that – it has a reading bench! (Secretly, it’s also a kneeling bench for when I need to reach the middle of the structure – which is the back of the vegetable section, because my Dad knows me so well, in addition to the fact that certain plants prefer not to share their space, that he has sectioned it up for me.) I even have my herbs moved in, except for the parsley, it likes to take over. I did it myself too. I even have four fledgling strawberry plants in their own special section, and a row each of beetroot and carrot – those two are a bit experimental, it is still winter after all. But with any luck the raised bed and sunny position will keep them from freezing and they will germinate in the next couple of weeks. I even have some bok choy sprouting in a little recycled cardboard … thing inside the house.

Considering the fact that I think of myself as more of a black thumb, I’m ridiculously excited about my garden. The roses all got badly over grown, and have been pruned, and there are A LOT of weeds coming up through the white stones, and bark (depending on which individual garden). I’ve taken up composting, which will be great for when we start pulling out the excessive bulbs (most of which are starting to come up) next year after they die down.

I haven’t been doing nearly as much writing as I would like/need to. As I’ve been focusing on getting a number of projects off my bench, so to speak. Two of which are time sensitive, one is somewhat ongoing, and one I need better light (and all four of them are distinct projects). As for time sensitive, one is my party dress for my thirty-second birthday which is just over a month away, and I have made a dress form (with the gleeful help of Mrs Teddybear, and Dad – who built the frame for it which resembles the gallows from the spelling game: hangman).

I’ve been going to Stitch Kitchen sewing bees, helping with the Borrow Bags project. It’s fun, and social, and gets me out of the house once a week.

My health hasn’t been super awesome lately. I spent a night in ED, on my son’s birthday – one of very few times I was glad he wasn’t with me that week. I’ve invented a meal replacement shake/smoothie that works for me because whatever is wrong with me (and we still don’t know, even after nearly ten years) affects my appetite, some days, is nonexistent to middling. And liquid calories are better than no calories.

I’ve been reading a lot. The lack of energy from Captain Nemo (Peach has given my unknown condition a name) has left me with a lot of time on my hands. I can’t remember everything that I’ve read, though I have been relatively diligent about adding them to my Goodreads read list, so feel free to follow along. Not that my ‘To Read’ list has gotten any shorter with all the reading. In fact I’ve added books to the shelves, I even found some books that have been in boxes for years. I picked up a pretty good haul at this year’s 24 hour book sale – some of which were even research books for one of my story ideas. Ssshh it’s a secret, so I can’t tell you what it’s about yet.

But I’m super excited for NaNoWriMo this November and getting back to my Ode to Gorgeous Boy, that isn’t really poetry, it’s just poeticising a novel for descriptive purposes. I also have one book, my Vegas wedding one, that I’ve grown to hate, but I have to finish it before I can bury it. I have a lot more open stories on the board than I generally like. And I had hoped to finish at least one of them, but I haven’t had the mental energy.

In saying that, my mental health is pretty damn good. My recent stint as a hermit has more to do with saving money for my birthday bash than not wanting to go out. I want nothing more than to get out, and do things and socialise. But I go to the sewing bee when I can, and Mrs Teddybear comes most weeks.

In more ‘Author-y’ news, I have decided to stop the podcasts – which you may have noticed, if you’ve been following them. I just can’t manage it. And though, if you’ve been following along, it’s probably obvious that I’m no longer updating it; but I felt that you all deserved an explanation.

I’ve also made new friends on Twitter, if your really interested in meeting other writers on Twitter, especially if you’re a new writer, or a writer new to Twitter, the place to start is by searching up #WritersTable. It is a great group of writers, who support each other both on the writing front and holding each other up, in the face of any mental health/anxiety gremlins.

I need to post a lot more often than I have been, but every time I have picked up the laptop to write a post… the words just wouldn’t come. It was like I didn’t know what to say to you since I moved into my new home.

I have plans to write up a post with a couple of recipes, but maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Otherwise, you know as well as I do by now, I don’t post on a schedule, but as inspiration strikes. So I’ll see you in the near future with more ramblings from a writer.

 

A Rant on Bodice Rippers/Smut

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**R18 warning!

Let me begin by saying I like a good bodice ripper or smutty novella. The keyword there is good… which in this genre means:

  • Edited.
  • Not written as though the author was an over-sexed two year old.

When most people think of a bodice ripper, the first things that come to mind are Fabio, and Mills and Boon. That’s fine. It’s not great literature, but it’s not trying to be.

To anyone who reads a great many books (regardless of genre) the fact that I think anything which has been published should be edited – even if only once as is often the case with bodice rippers – will not come as a surprise.

However, I have just finished another ARC (Advanced Review Copy) in which the editor – assuming the manuscript ever saw one – should probably be fired. Which brings me to the second bullet point above. No self-respecting editor should ever allow a manuscript that appears to have been written by an over-sexed two year old go to press!

To clarify what I mean: the English language is always changing and evolving, but there are some words that, well only appear in this genre, and they aren’t words. See it’s cute when toddlers modify words so they can physically say them, but the more they listen to adults use their words properly, the more they learn how to say them properly.
So when writers of bodice rippers and smut use “words” like:

  • cunny, cuny.
  • va-jay-jay
  • meat stick, meat pop
  • kitty

I find it very difficult to take them seriously at all, never mind within the confines of the genre. Granted, the last two bullet points are actually words, but they are not words that should ever be used in reference to genitalia. Frankly, I’m not even a huge fan of the word ‘pussy’ in reference to female genitals; but I seem to be more than a little out voted on this one.

The people who are writing (and god-forbid publishing) bodice rippers and smut using the above “words”, are apparently adults. Predominantly adult women. And the next generation are learning from what is available now, I’m seeing more and more of this coming through the manuscripts that I read which are written by teenagers, who don’t know better, yet. However, there are more than a few teenagers whose manuscripts are already so much better than this – so what does that say about these so called bodice rippers?

Is this trend of using ‘not-words’ to describe genitalia a case of not growing up, or is it a case of puritanical sexual repression resulting in shame-filled acting out? Or rather, in this case writing out.

See, we know that when they use ‘not-words’ like “cunny” that they mean ‘cunt’, and are either unwilling to stand by this ‘dirty’ word. But at least it is a word. Yes, I even understand that ‘dirty’ words like: shit, fuck, and cunt; can make a piece less attractive to publishers – regardless of the context. If that is the case, and you feel yourself drawn to a ‘not-word’, or replacing the vowel with an asterisk, please, please, please, just invest in (or google) a thesaurus!

Please don’t use ‘not-words’ to describe genitalia, or sex. To do so, is disrespecting your audience. In five minutes of googling I have discovered: “The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries.”
It is quick and dirty research (not university calibre at all), but if you can’t find real words in a language of nearly 200,000 words, maybe you shouldn’t be a writer.

Bad Day.

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Today has been a day.

Strictly speaking, it has been neither good nor bad. But, we may have found me a home (Caveat – don’t get hopes up); and a dear family friend has finally died, peacefully, and surrounded by family after a truly long battle with cancer.

I even got some work done on a novel I have been neglecting – but, had this run down as not being actually productive, because peoples feelings are all over the place.

I understand; to a point. I understand feeling all over the place, that’s okay. But taking it out on other people is not. Even if you do find my vocation to be a waste of time, and consider it to be a hobby.

Words have power.
This is why I’m a writer.

So to writers out there: don’t conform to what other people think you should be. You are working, if you are writing, planning, researching. What you are doing has value! Even if you never publish. It has value. So what if I’m not the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King? I don’t write to make money, I write for me, and for the people who do read my work.

And if you are having a bad day, it does get better. I promise. Blast some music and drift for a while, make a pot of good tea/coffee, dig up your favourite comfort food, read a book that takes you out of your head, pick up a hand craft, have a hot bath/shower, go for a walk/run/hit the gym.
Do something for you!

My Scattered Mind: Episode 3 – Martin Chizzlewit.

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A new podcast episode has just gone up, it has a near matching title. It’s a day late and a dollar short, as the saying goes – but it’s a fairly accurate description, I’m not at the top of my snark game in this episode.

I’ve been home alone for roughly half a week, I’ll try to remember to update you on how that is going in the morning.

‘Prohibitive’

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I know what you’re thinking. “That mad woman is writing another post, she just finished the first one!”

Well, in my first one I used a word. A very specific word. Prohibitive. It’s a tiny bit sexy. A description which has nothing whatsoever to do with the meaning.

I used the word ‘prohibitive’ several times today, not incorrectly, nor in fact with the intention of over using it. Simply because it was the right word at the time. Three topics come to mind: international shipping, the price of housing, and taxiing home for the vehicularly challenged.

So I had looked at buying a gift for Mrs TeddyBear’s birthday online… but the shipping was going to cost $30NZ for a small parcel (less than the size and weight of a standard 300page 5×8 paperback), then in my search for Santa Olivia by one of my all time favourite authors (Jacqueline Carey) they told me that the shipping would add about $10NZ to the cost of the book, and then the ‘oh dear’ moment when it was out of print. And the only reason it was going to be that cheap on shipping is that they would have it added to their supply shipment – were it available.

I spoke about the state of housing in the previous post, so I’ll say no more here.

Taxis. So as previously stated, and repeated for those just joining us. I’m currently between homes, and living out of a suitcase in my parents spare room (and yes I have a child who is here as well – it’s just so much fun…). But what you may not know (I’ve no idea whether I have mentioned this before or not, though likely I have; is that they live in a village adjacent to the city. I works for them. It’s our on the harbour, only 10 minutes walk to the boating club and a 15 minute drive into the city for work. I don’t drive, so I’m reliant on the public transport service – aka the bus. It runs once an hour, with additional runs at the start and close of business hours. It’s expensive ($10 each way for both me and my kid), more reliable than it was, and it doesn’t run over night – though none of them run past 11pm). So if I want to support my friend, who is in a band (and she’s really good, though it’s a new band she’s in and I’ve never heard them before) I have to make a lot of arrangements. No one. No one ever suggest that I get a taxi home to my parents house. $45-50 depending on traffic. Back when I lived in town, finding an extra $10-15 to set aside for the taxi home was a non-issue. Now, it’s a big issue. I don’t spend that much on the rest of my night out. Prohibitive is definitely the right word.

General Update…[I dislike that title]

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It’s been a while since I last wrote… pretty much at all.

I wrote a short little blog post a month ago, and I, sporadically, keep a journal. That’s it.

See, I’m itching to write. Really write, not just a blog post – though I do enjoy writing these for y’all. But of all stupid things, I packed (all together for once) all of my novel/story notes into one box. It’s probably the only box in a 20 foot storage unit that has the name ‘Talia’ scrawled across the top, but what can you do? And everything is in there, all the paperwork and empty bank statements, the novel notes, the quotes that I collated for FTGU, random ideas (alternately scrawled in various notebooks and on loose sheets of paper), an entire short story that I hand wrote (at the metaphorical speed of light) at stupid o’clock in the morning and still haven’t transcribed, the NaNo Box (cleared of all candy except for one king size block of chocolate…). And it’s all, somewhere, down the right-hand side of my storage unit, which I didn’t pack, and thus can’t find anything. I may have to take up a story that I have started, but that is never going to be published. (Yes, the plot line is that bad – but I write it for me) I don’t even think it’s on Wattpad… but if I look I’ll definitely find it there. I’ve been pretty remiss in updating my stories on Wattpad. I might need to look into that again. I have ideas, things that need writing. My fingers long for the sensation of tapping away at a keyboard for 8 or more hours a day… okay that one says I miss uni, but it’s still writing even if it is an assessed essay.

I’ve taken to writing a little bit of poetry. I am not a huge fan of poetry. I have a few poets that I like (the first to mind is Blake), but as a rule I have no patience for it. I see it’s merit, I just don’t enjoy it. But I used to write a lot of poetry (as an angst ridden teen), I almost liken it to the image of the heart as a drawer, that one removes, tips out and then stirs through to see what’s there. It turns out that occasionally writing poetry is good for the mental health. I have a friend who runs a small indie literary magazine. Frankly, I have a couple of poems that I’m thinking about sending. I just need to dig out my ‘bio’, and dust it off to send along with them.

The House Situation…
Imagine a string of frustrated noises issuing from a human trying to behave in a manner at least resembling civilised when they feel anything but… and you might be coming close to how I have been the last few days.
The state of housing in this city (I can’t speak for the rest of the country) is such that I can’t afford to rent anything that is actually habitable, but I could pay the mortgage on something twice as nice (or bigger and average, c’est la vie)… of course I can’t get a mortgage because I’m unemployed and have no deposit… so there goes that option.
Which leaves me still at my parents house, with most of my clothes in storage as I only brought a suitcase, and little hope in sight.
I found a great place, literally the house of my dreams, and I missed out – weirdly it was in budget… but apparently location is everything, and that drove the price way down.

In this month’s podcast we’ll have book two of the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel’s Chosen) – On a related note, I tried to find Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey, which is apparently out of print, super sad face, but really at this point I’m not very sure why I bother trying, Ms Carey (one of my all time favourite authors might I add) is just ‘too obscure’ for New Zealand booksellers, and even if you can convince one of them to bring it in there is the prohibitive cost of shipping.
The content review will be a movie (single part this time): Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
I have no clue what I’m going to snark… very possibly more ‘my immortal’ [you’ll notice that I deny it the courtesy of capitals and italics… it does not deserve them]; but I may yet do another plot line. If anyone has anything that they feel I should snark the daylights out of please do email it to the podcast at myscatteredmindpodcast@gmail.com

If you have any freelance editing that needs done, feel free to email me at talianyx.author@gmail.com, if you want me to beta read something for you; this is also the address that you want.

Yes, multiple email addresses. But they go to different devices, and also allow me to keep everything organised.

Let’s get down to business!

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Did you know that today is my four year anniversary with WordPress.com? I had no clue until my notifications told me.

Wow, four years of boring you all to tears with my incessant rambling…

Episode 2 of my Podcast went live five or ten minutes ago, so here is the link to that. Give it a listen – and do let me know what you think of it. I can’t improve it if I don’t know what y’all love and hate about it. This month I reviewed the first book in Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series, setting the tone for the next five months as well. By all means do send me content to review – websites, movies, YouTube channels or videos, articles… you get the idea. And if you have something for me to snark/rip to pieces that I can handle reading more of a paragraph of before I run away and hide (or worse detour to Rant Town), that would save us all from my continued reading of My Immortal which is apparently the worst fan-fiction in the world. And I can’t say that I disagree after reading the first chapter/paragraph.

I am still looking for a home, so if anyone feels like donating a house I would be super appreciative. In other news on the home front… I am trying to get myself into an organised frame of mind. Let’s just say that moving was a nightmare (but really when isn’t it), but I am attempting to make a schedule of when I move the furniture to clean under and behind it.

The school holidays are nearly over (Southern Hemisphere, so it’s summer now), and honestly school can’t come soon enough. I love my kid, but we are starting to really annoy each other.
On the plus side, I have taught him to eat like a civilised human being (read that as proper table manners, and correct cutlery use). He is now learning how to behave when eating in restaurants, to practice I took him to the local La Porchetta. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Until next time.