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Author Topic: Mina's Baking and Bunnies  (Read 4093 times)

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Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« on: June 01, 2018, 05:33:51 PM »
Baking and bunnies?  Do those things go together in a way that doesn't make me cry?


Of course they do.  Just look at how cute that is!

Welcome to Mina's Baking and Bunnies Blog, where I'll be discussing my two passions, baking and writing.

For those here for the baking:  I'll be discussing baking projects currently going on in my life, including photos, recipes, tips, tricks, and links to interesting ideas. 

For those here for the writing:  Writing posts will be in the form of plot bunnies.  These may be from a game I'm currently in, or just something that I feel I want to get out of my head.  Obviously, plagiarism is frowned upon, but if something sparks your interest, chances are I'll let you use it for a roleplay.  Just ask!  Writing posts may also include my thoughts on writing certain topics, and links to resources I've found helpful in the past/present. 

Why am I qualified to blog about either of these topics?:  I bake on the side as an addition to my real job, which can be a little soul-sucking at times, as many jobs are.  I am not a professionally trained chef, outside of some college courses I took, so my methods are probably not what a professional would suggest.  Proceed with caution?  As for writing, I have a degree in English with a minor in creative writing.  I'm a published author (nope, not famous) and I've been roleplaying for over seventeen years now.  Yes, I am also old.

Hopefully, you'll find something in my blog to enjoy, so please relax, pull up a chair, and bon appetit!

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2018, 05:52:40 PM »
June 1, 2018 - Baking Blog

The inaugural post!  So today we're going to talk about something near and dear to my heart, cake fillings.

Nothing is more decadent to me than a cake with a really good filling.  Just last weekend, I made a birthday cake for my father, and filled layers of spice cake (not everyone's favorite, I imagine) with cinnamon French vanilla mousse.  I am aware of what a pain real mousse is to make, so I'm going to post my recipe for the world's easiest mousse filling.  This not only sets up beautifully after a bit of fridge time, but is SO easily customized.

Mina's Mousse Filling
Yield:  2 c filling
Time:  Approximately 5 minutes

1 pt (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1 - 3.4oz box of instant pudding, any flavor (Jell-O is my preferred brand, but store brand works just dandy, too!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 - 4 tbsp powdered sugar

Pour whipping cream into a chilled bowl, preferably metal or glass if you have it.  Plastic will work, but it just takes a little longer to whip up.  With a hand mixer or stand mixer with a whip attachment, begin whipping your cream until it's frothy.  Then begin adding your instant pudding mix.  Whip it until the mix is incorporated, and add your vanilla and your powdered sugar, starting with 2 tablespoons.  Now mix the mousse until it almost doubles in size, and has nice high peaks on it.  Taste test, and add more powdered sugar if it doesn't seem sweet enough.  Spread between layers of cake.

Variations:  So I love this, because you can make any flavor of mousse you can think of.  Chocolate?  Butterscotch?  Pistachio?  All possible.  I've even seen some fruit flavored pudding mixes out there so you could get a fruity variation.  I can't wait to try this with pumpkin spice during the holidays.  Also!  Banana mousse?  AMAZING.  Seriously, just trust me on this.  The banana is so good.  But try adding cookie pieces or chocolate chips, there's so much room for experimentation and it always tastes good.

Tips: 
- Fill your cake before you refrigerate this filling.  It can get very thick and hard to spread if you refrigerate it first.
- I've used this in between four layers of cake before and I've had plenty.  Believe me, you'll want to eat the left overs.
- Speaking of which, the leftovers are amazing spread on some graham crackers, or used to dip cookies in.  I'd even make sugar cookie sandwiches with this stuff.
- Always taste test your mousse!  Sometimes you need to taste it to determine if it's sweet enough, or if you've added enough cinnamon or espresso, etc.  Remember, it's easier to add more than to take out.

That's it for today!  Bon Appetit!
« Last Edit: July 21, 2018, 08:39:07 AM by PrincessofHeart »

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2018, 01:58:36 PM »
June 8, 2018 - Bunny Blog

Sing Another Before Dawn - An art deco, urban fantasy, noir plot bunny.

What the hell was he doing there?

Avery took a slow breath and leaned back from the curtain that separated the backstage area from the front of the house, having caught a glimpse of Porter Marx sitting there at a table, sipping brown liquid that she knew had to be whiskey, neat, and chatting with a portly man who she did not recognize. Porter was older now, then again, so was she. Their teenage years had been gone for a decade, and she was still in shock when Miguel touched her shoulder.

"Avery, it's time to go."

"Wait..."

He turned back, fiddling with his ill-fitting tuxedo, and she wrung her hands, "Let's do a different set."

"We gotta go on now! We can't do a different set!"

Reaching into the pocket of her evening gown, she looked at the set list she had called "For a Lonely Heart (Porter, I miss you)" and frowned. There was no way he could possibly know. There was no way he could even dream about the idea that it might have been for him. So she tucked it back into her hidden pocket and nodded to Miguel who looked deeply relieved and went on stage to introduce the featured singer of Club Mokan, the lovely Avery James.

In his seat, Porter looked up at the sound of the name, his heart suddenly in his throat as he saw the curtains on stage part, and there she was, still too beautiful for words. Avery James stood there in front of the rectangular vintage microphone, swathed in black velvet from her shoulders to her feet, her pale skin emerging from the neckline and leaving her shoulders bare. Around her throat was a choker of rhinestones, and all that chestnut brown hair was curled and pinned back on the side by a flower. Her lips were painted red, and he could remember them smeared with lipstick after a night in the back of his car.

The music started, and Porter reached up, idly touching his cheeks, noting his square jaw had a day's worth of stubble on it. That he was considering running to a corner store for a razor, to try and shave so he could possibly talk to her later, was crazy. Still, crazier things had happened to him over the past ten years. Things that had taken him out of Avery's life.

"Porter..."

It was impossible to concentrate with Avery singing. She had always had a sweet voice when they were kids, but now, now it was honed and beautiful, and he was seduced by her siren's song. His whiskey came to his lips, the burn of it rolling over his tongue, making the music even more pleasurable. That she was singing songs that made him want to go up onto the stage and tell her that he still loved her without even knowing it let him know how much trouble he was actually in.

"Porter, for crying out loud, man."

"I hear you, DelVechio."

"What, you taken with the singer? Don't bother, man. This is a vampire syndicate run place, and I can tell you Avery James may not be a blood bagger, but she's definitely under someone's watchful eye. Those ain't rhinestones, my man."

Vampires? No, she was too smart for that. Porter could never see Avery giving herself up to those monsters, even if it was in vogue. But it only made him more certain about his next step. He had to talk to her. He got the details for his next job from DelVechio and then sent the fat lug on his way after paying for the lobster tail he had eaten. Porter stayed after though. He had to talk to her. He had to just see if she was still the same woman.

After her set, which was sweeter and more soulful than she had ever remembered it being, she came out from behind the curtain backstage and went over to the bar, ordering the normal club soda she liked, the bartender putting three cherries in it for her. She sighed and took a sip, feeling a presence at her side before she saw him. Looking up, her violet eyes met dark green, and she was looking Porter Marx in the eyes. If he had pulled her to his chest and kissed her right then, she knew she would have melted into his arms. It was as if ten years had not even happened.

"Hello Avery."

"Hello Porter," she said softly.

"Mind if I sit down?"

"Old friends can always have a seat," she replied.

Porter sat down, and she could smell his cologne, feeling the edge of his long, dark coat rubbing up against her shoulder. She looked him up and down, from his slacks to his white button down shirt and dark green tie, a smile coming to her lips.

"You look good, Porter."

"You're still beautiful, Avery. Imagine my surprise when I saw you there on stage. In a vampire club."

"They're popular and pay well," she replied, sipping her club soda.

"Well enough to afford real diamonds, hmm?"

Her hand went to her throat, "They were a gift."

"Hell of a gift."

Porter turned and put a hand on her arm, "What are you doing here, Avery? Working for vampires? Do you not remember what happened in our neighborhood or do you just don't care?"

"I've moved on from that," she replied, not shaking off his arm. "I had to move on from a lot of things. A lot of people."

The knife he never knew was in his heart twisted suddenly. Of course he was going to suddenly feel like a heel, and she was not wrong. He had run off to fight in the vampire wars and left her at home, had told her to move on without him. His heart had been broken when he came home and found her gone. Still, he squeezed her arm gently.

"Come with me. Let's go get a cup of coffee or something."

Avery looked past his shoulder, and frowned as she saw the club owner making his way over to her. D'mitri had made it clear that he was interested in her, even if she constantly put off his advances. Taking the bartender's pen, she wrote down an address and a time on Porter's hand.

"Meet me here at this time. We'll talk, okay? But now you have to go. You have to know who D'mitri Kostas is if you live in the city."

Porter's eyes narrowed, nodding slightly. D'mitri was one of the most powerful vampires in the city, and had a reputation for ruthlessness. If Avery was the human he wanted to dote upon, Porter would find himself wearing cement shoes at the bottom of the harbor before he could blink if D'mitri found him a threat. He closed his hand and turned, walking away, heading for the door. When he glanced back, he saw the sleek, impressive vampire kissing the top of Avery's hand.

Suddenly seething, he realized he had already decided on two things. One, he was going to meet Avery later that night and two, he was going to kill D'mitri Kostas.​

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2018, 02:38:21 PM »
June 15, 2018 - Baking Blog

Homemade Vanilla Extract

One of my favorite, so-easy-it's-ridiculous items is homemade vanilla extract.



For less than what the equal amount of a store-purchased bottle of vanilla would cost, you can make your own extract in as little as a month, though I admittedly like to let my own mature for at least six months before I use it. 

What you'll need:

7 Grade B vanilla beans
750ml of alcohol of your choice

Cut the vanilla beans into pieces about the size of a tootsie roll.  Drop into the bottle of alcohol and seal the bottle again.  Store in a cool, dry place,  away from sunlight.  Shake your bottle vigorously once a week.  Within a month, you'll have usable vanilla.

Tips:
- You can use any alcohol you like, but my favorites are bourbon or vodka.  Vodka has the most neutral (read: no carry over) flavor, but bourbon gives the vanilla a smoky undertone I really like.
- Grade B vanilla beans are also called extract beans.
- You can use Grade A if that's all you can find, but there are links below so you can buy Grade B online if you'd like.
- This makes a great gift you can start in June or so.  Craft stores sell glass bottles with those spring tops on them that make beautiful homemade gifts that require very little effort.
- Different beans will give you different flavors.  Bourbon or Madagascar vanilla has a classic, "this is vanilla" flavor. Tahitian vanilla can be slightly fruity or floral, and Mexican vanilla tends to have a spice to it.
- Remember to pour your vanilla through a sieve before you bottle or use it.  Bean particulate can get in your vanilla during the shaking process.

Vanilla Beans:

Amazon

Beanilla

Ebay is a good place to search, too.

Bon Appetit!

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2018, 03:18:13 PM »
June 22, 2018 - Bunny Blog

Soul Collection and the Art of Business Management - An urban fantasy plot bunny.

"Well. I'd say I was surprised to find you here, but I'm so glad that I did, I'd much rather say I'm pleased," he said, smirking ever so slightly.
 
Parrish held the file folders to her chest, startled out of her careful scrutiny of the old piles by the very amused masculine voice behind her. She turned, somehow already knowing who was going to be there, blocking the only door out of the rare records room. It was the man from before, the one that she had seen leaving Deitrich's office just before she found him cut open, belly to throat, choking on his own blood in front of her eyes. The same man who she swore had been watching her for days now.
 
She held the files tighter.
 
"Who are you?"
 
"Does it matter?" he asked, stepping forward, closing the gap between them.
 
Her own feet had her moving backward, Parrish holding the files tighter. Whatever was going on in Garmond Acquisitions Incorporated was so much more than a few old, dusty files in forgotten piles at the back of a room nobody went into. She knew that now. Though, she was certain she had known it before, too. It was not like she had been suddenly aware. Strange things had been going on in the six months since she had taken the job, but every concern was written off, occasionally warned that she needed to go back to work and not bring it up again.
 
Investigating on her own had become a priority when she found Deitrich, sitting in his leather bound chair, office coated in his blood as if someone were emulating Jackson Pollock. There was something terribly wrong and she wanted no part of it. She knew that a whistleblower would probably find themselves out of a job, but she would get by somehow. If she were desperate, she knew she could always turn to her father, even if they were no longer speaking to each other.
 
"Yes," she finally replied. "It does. Because you killed Kyle Deitrich and you've been following me. I've seen you. That's stalking, if you were curious. Oh, and murder."
 
He laughed quietly, and she gasped softly as her back hit the filing cabinets. Nowhere else to go in the small room and nobody knowing where she was. It was stupid, even she could admit that, and Parrish hated admitting when she had done something stupid. Something about feeling like that all the time being exacerbated by admitting such things. The man, devilishly handsome from his long, dark hair that blended into his leather coat, to the odd bruise color of his eyes, moved even closer, so that she could smell the cologne he wore, a combination of musk and other scents that reminded her of the woods when she was all alone.
 
"Nobody cares," he replied. "Nobody cared about Mr. Deitrich, and nobody's going to care about you, Miss Farrow. Now, you've got two options, and I can guarantee one is far more pleasant than the other. The first, and this is the one I recommend you consider strongly, is that you hand those files over to me. You'll go back upstairs, get your things, and I will take you to a nice dinner, and spend a little time in your presence. I didn't think you would be so lovely, so do take this as a compliment."
 
The space between them was now completely gone as his form, broad shouldered and tall, blocked the light from the bare hanging bulbs of the forgotten storage room except for the ambient glow that let her see that his canine teeth were sharper than a normal person's. His fingers came up to slip through her soft, chestnut brown hair slowly, leaving her both wanting more and yet wishing she had put it up that day.
 
"The second is far more unfortunate for you. I will take the files, and because you caused me the effort, I will cut the heart from your chest. And if you have any doubts that I could do this, well, what am I saying? Of course you don't. I can read it in those gorgeous ocean eyes of yours, and I can smell it wafting off you. It's jasmine and lily perfume, and true belief that you are standing in front of something malignant and dark."
 
He leaned over, his lips almost pressed to her ear as he whispered, "And you would be so very, very right."
 
Parrish could barely breathe, trembling as he hovered over her, and she closed her eyes, holding the files tighter, until she felt the blood leaving her wrists and elbows for the effort. She did not want to die, she did not want any of this to be true, but it was. She knew now more than anything that whatever this man was, he was no human being. Nearly crying, she sobbed out just a few words.
 
"But there is something wrong here."
 
The stranger growled deep in his throat, and he grabbed her by the arms, throwing her carelessly away from the file cabinets. Parrish cried out as she hit the uncovered cement floor, the files in her arms spilling everywhere as she did. She looked up and knew without the shadow of any doubts that she was looking up a demon. He turned to stalk toward her, then hissed in pain suddenly, looking down at his hands. She could see them smoking, as if they were on fire, and he howled in pain, then laughed in a way that terrified her further, if that were possible.
 
Getting her hands under her, Parrish scooted away from him, to the old desk that still sat down in the records room, as if they were ever going to hire someone to take care of them again. The demon looked his hands over, shaking his head at the blackened flesh there, and then eyed her up once more, licking his lips with the tip of his tongue.
 
"I lied," he said with amusement. "I won't be cutting it out personally. But I will be eating that pure, sweet heart of yours when it's out."
 
Wrinkling one side of his face, Parrish watched as the demon bit into his own tongue with his fang, and let some of his blood gather in his mouth. He then spit it out, a black blob on the cement floor, and she watched, eyes wide as it began to grow into a puddle, then frothed and churned until it spun into a whirlpool disappearing into nothingness. Out of the open whirlpool clawed a creature that looked as if someone had been born without hips, just legs, a ribcage, long arms, and a featureless head, all wrapped in bone-tight gray leathery skin. It had three fingers, all ending in wickedly sharp black claws two inches long, and toes that looked the same.
 
It reached up, whatever it was, to the blank sheet that was its face, and began tearing into the flesh with those claws. Two holes near the top of the head became eyes, black and soulless, and a third cut, torn all the way across the bottom of its face, was a gaping, bleeding maw full of fangs. It hissed with the first gasp of air, and then turned, cutting two slashes above the mouth into a nose so that it could inhale. That was the only warning she got before it pounced.
 
Parrish screamed, and she was not ashamed of that. It was more than she should have been expected to accept about her world at one time. That demons of all kinds actually existed. She scrambled to her feet, only to be slammed into by the lesser demon and they rolled over the desk onto the floor, dragging with it the cup of pens and pencils that were there. Writing utensils and other office bric-a-brac went skittering across the floor while the demon tried to tear at Parrish, her arms covering her face and chest for now as she tried to curl away from it. It seemed to not have the trouble touching her that the other demon did.
 
Claws tore into her flesh, cutting her pale pink blouse into ribbons on her arms as she tried to defend herself, Parrish crying out in pain and fear. She had to do something or this thing was going to kill her, she had to fight back somehow. Reaching out, she scrambled for something that she could use as a weapon, one heel coming off as the demon tore into her legs with its feet as well. She cried out again, wishing anyone might come down and see what was going on, but she knew it was pointless. Everyone else who might have still been upstairs, that might have heard her through four floors of concrete and iron girders and the sounds of their own lives slipping away with every keystroke were legacies. They would never, ever stop the madness.
 
Her fingers closed around an old, rusting letter opener, and she clenched it tightly in her hand, bringing it up to fight off the demon at least for a moment. It hit leathery skin and bounced off three times before she pierced something soft and malleable without looking, and felt hot blood spill over her hand. The lesser demon screamed, and she opened her eyes, realizing she had stabbed it through one eye. Pulling back, she jerked the letter opener out, and it began thrashing around on the floor.
 
"Just finish her, you idiot!" the other demon yelled.
 
It was all he yelled, considering something splashed over him from behind and he shrieked like a thousand cats boiling alive. It was a sound Parrish would never forget, a sound that would echo in her mind when she was just about to fall asleep and would keep her awake all night, a sound that she would hear again and again even when the sun was out and the wind was kind. It was burned into her ears and her brain and it would haunt her like forsaken love and forgotten songs. The upper demon was burning without flame, and in a flurry of dark flower petals, he was gone.
 
Standing behind him, empty vial in hand, was a young man in a priest's collar, his black sleeves rolled up, cross around his neck. He looked at the other demon, and he pointed to Parrish so that she would know he was talking to her.
 
"Quickly, the other eye!"
 
Without even knowing why, she took the letter opener in her hand already covered in the black ichor that counted as demon blood, and caught the lesser demon as it turned back to her, now ready to tear her chest open. The letter opener went into the other eye smoothly and easily, and the lesser demon froze where it was, dropping to the ground. Trembling, Parrish let go of the letter opener, and she sat there, ashen and shocked, the world pulsing around the periphery of her eyes. Someone touched her arms, and she looked up, the priest hovering over her.
 
"Come. This is no place for someone like you."
 
"They...they were..."
 
"I know. I'm not like them. I promise."
 
He let go of her arm and held his hand out to her. Parrish looked him over, from his dark green eyes to the day's growth of beard on his cheeks, to the white collar of the priesthood around his neck, and decided that perhaps, if she could believe in demons, she could believe in other things as well. She took his hand, and let him help her to her feet.

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2018, 09:31:43 AM »
July 1, 2018 - Baking Blog

Toasted Sugar

One of my baking secrets is toasted sugar.  Believe me, I never thought it was possible to toast sugar, but then I came across an article in one of the cooking blogs I enjoy about it, and I haven't looked back.  I'd tried lavender sugar and vanilla sugar before, but toasted sugar just gives what you're making that extra depth of flavor that regular baked goods sometime lack.

Toasted Sugar

4 lbs of white granulated sugar

Preheat your oven to 300°F, with your rack in the center.  Pour your sugar into an ungreased 9x13 glass pan.  You MUST use glass, as it is imperative to the process.  The glass pan helps insulate the sugar from the oven heat.  Toast your sugar for one hour, until it has gone from white to ivory.  Stir well, and continue roasting for two to four hours, stirring every 30 minutes.  The time limit on the sugar depends on personal preference.  I don't like roasting it beyond a toasty brown, but if you want a darker flavor, toast it all four hours.

Allow to cool for two hours before transferring into an air tight container with a lid and covering.

Tips:

- BE CAREFUL.  When the sugar comes out of the oven, it will be around 211°F!  That's hot enough to give you a very good burn.
- My favorite use for this is for snickerdoodles, or to roll balls of molasses crackle cookie dough in before baking.
- Toasting beyond four hours will just make a liquidy caramel.
- You might get some liquefied sugar around the edges.  Once it cools, you can chop it into powder in a food processor and use it with the rest of the sugar.
- Feel free to do more or less sugar.  The four pounds is just a good standard, as it gives you enough to use for a while, and doesn't overwhelm your pan.

Bon Appetit!

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2018, 05:46:55 PM »
July 6, 2018 - Bunny Blog

Strawberry Jelly Goes With Everything - An urban fantasy plot bunny.

Gray skittered backward as the thing from the dark clamored for him, grabbing at his legs, as the young man had so conveniently fallen to the ground and the demon was coming up through the floor. It was something from a nightmare, something from a dream that he swore he would forget as soon as he woke because it was too terrible, too vicious to exist outside the subconscious. Yet, there it was, long, large jointed fingers ending in black, curved talons wrapping around his ankle.

It jerked on his leg, hard, and Gray was certain it was going to pull his hip out of joint. He had not cried out, but then the razor sharp claws began digging past his jeans, into his leg, and he could not help the scream that came from his mouth, his fingers clenching the door frame so tightly that his knuckles were white and bloodless. He was going to die. He was going to die and there was nothing he could do to change that. Horrors of what the thing might do to him flashed in front of his eyes, and still, he was relieved. It had no mouth, it could not eat him.

Almost as if the demon were reading his thoughts, it reached up with the other wickedly sharp hand, and jammed one of those terrible claws into its own, mouth-less face. Gray had thought the thing already horrible. Nothing but papery brown black flesh wrapped around bone, with slits for eyes and hungry, scrambling hands, it was something that he knew he would see behind his eyelids until the day he died, provided the thing did not just try to eat his eyes now.

The claw tore open the demon's face, revealing now a gaping maw full of two rows of sharp teeth meant for nothing but tearing and swallowing whole. The claws dug in again, and he cried out, certain the thing was going to rip his leg off, or cut his Achilles tendon, the young man not knowing what might have been worse. His arms were getting tired, and it certainly had to be his imagination when heard footsteps coming down the stairs toward him. Nobody knew he had come back to the ancient octagonal house to steal something of worth. Nobody knew he was struggling.

While it seemed like the world was going to remind him that nobody showed up to play hero in real life, Rue was on her way down the steps, taking them two at a time because she had felt the demonic presence. If the demon was making the time to appear, there was someone there, a soul to eat, and it was certainly not her own. She was invisible to lesser demons. Getting down the steps, blue black curls bobbing behind her against the middle of her back, she saw the man struggling to hold on, struggling to escape from the thing that had him dead to rights.

For a moment, it occurred to her to kill the boy instead of the demon. Leave it hungry. Make its master come out. She was far more interested in wiping out the Fallen than she was their little slave boys. Still, she knew the man had the right to live, and she never killed humans. So she leapt over him, and the ax, the fireman's ax she had sharpened and had someone bless, came down on the demon's arm, severing it right above the elbow. It screamed, and she kicked the arm away, frowning at the demon blood now on her boot.

There were no charming quips, no sweet banter between her and the hissing thing. This was pure business. It was only half formed, obviously thinking it needed no more to deal with an unwitting human. So it was a simple thing to remove the other arm that slashed out at her as she had the first. Armless, helpless, she pounced on the demon, bending it backward onto the floor. She pulled a long piece of broken stained glass from her pocket, the end of it wrapped in leather so that she could hold it safely, and she stabbed the thing in both of its eyes.

The demon's screams were deafening, not because it was in pain, but because the soul inside was finally freed. Rue waited until it stopped thrashing before she got up, and turned to the man who was lying on the floor. He was handsome, she could see that, in a punk rock kind of way with his shoulder length hair and the earrings in his right ear. Walking over to him, she crouched down next to him, touching his cheek gently.

"No, oh god no!" he screamed.

"Shhh," Rue said quietly. "It's okay. It's gone."

Gray opened his eyes to find himself staring into the most vivid violet eyes he had ever seen. They belonged, appropriately, to the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, too. He realized that the monster was gone, liquefying on the floor beyond his feet, and he tried to sit up, the woman helping him lean back against the wall. He was ashen, and Rue was afraid that he was going to pass out on her. He looked way too damn heavy for her to try and carry out of that deep basement on her own.

"What's your name?" she asked him.

"Gray. Gray Braddock."

"Well Gray Braddock, you have just survived a demon attack. Congratulations! Your prize is now to be hunted by all kinds of other demons because that one had a taste of your fear and passed that garbage on."

Gray looked up at her, believing every single thing she said. Mostly because he was certain everything that had just happened was so unbelievable that he had no choice.

"What...what do I do then?"

"Well, you can run all your life," Rue started, putting a finger up to his lips as he began to answer. "Or, you can fight back. I can make it so that they can't smell you anymore."

"How?" he asked.

Rue sloughed off her leather jacket, and reached up to the V-neck of her dark purple t-shirt. She then pulled it down just enough for him to see the cross carved into her left shoulder, healed over with puckered, pink flesh. Rue then took the stained glass knife out of her pocket and showed it to him.

"This will keep them from smelling you, and you can go back to your normal life. But it has to be done with this. It's a hell of a long story, and no, I'm not going to tell it to you before you make up your mind. Consider instead that I just saved your life, and I have interest in keeping you alive."

Gray looked at the glass for a moment, then reached out for it. Rue held it back, shaking her head.

"Sorry cowboy, nobody touches it but me."

He grimace, but nodded, pulling the stained Henley he had been wearing off over his head. There was little light in the basement, just the single hanging bulb he had turned on when he had come down there looking for the rumored treasure of the ancient Victorian house. Still, it was enough for Rue to see that he was a well put together man. Maybe this would not be such a horrible idea.

"This is going to hurt."

She lost no time and began cutting into his shoulder with the glass knife. Gray spouted profanity until she put her free hand over his mouth, but he remained still for the procedure, a long cut vertically, and then another across it horizontally. The least strange part about the evening was that the wound did not bleed. Instead, it left a half healed scar in its wake, and when she was finished, she let his mouth go, Gray dropping back against the wall. He licked his lips after a moment, the glanced at her.

"Your hands taste like...strawberry jam?"

"I was eating. Welcome to the world of demon hunting."


Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2018, 01:34:56 PM »
July 13, 2018 - Baking Blog

Cake Mix Doctoring

So, let's face it, not only are cake mixes convenient, they're cheaper than making cakes at home.  I also find that homemade cakes turn out a little dryer than what I'm used to, and what other people are used to.  They stay moist for a long time, and I'm going to be thrown out of the baking community for admitting this, but I love cake mix cakes.

But using a cake mix doesn't mean you can't doctor one up.  A few easy tips can make a cake mix taste as luscious as a homemade cake, but get all the benefits of using the cake mix.  Doctor up your mixes, and discover how much people end up raving about them.

Cake Mix Doctoring

1.  Use buttermilk instead of water - Use an equal amount of buttermilk instead of the water called for.  This will not only help the leavening react more, giving you a fluffier cake, but it gives your cake that extra richness that comes with homemade cake. 

2.  Butter for oil - Exchange the oil called for with an equal amount of melted butter.  I tend to use salted, and that always turns out lovely.  You get your fat in there, and some extra richness.

3.  Extra flavoring - I always add a teaspoon or so of an extract to any cake mix I'm making.  Is it chocolate?  Use vanilla or almond.  Is it lemon?  Lemon or orange.  Strawberry?  Definitely vanilla.  This punches up the flavor a little bit, and will give your cake that carefully crafted taste.

4.  Pudding - Adding dry instant pudding to a cake mix has been a thing for years, but I think it's fallen to the wayside, and I always do this.  I throw in the box of dry instant pudding to give it the moistness that the butter for oil can rob of your cake mix.

5.  Mix-ins - Mix-ins can give your cake an entirely new dimension.  Try adding freeze-dried strawberries that you've crushed in the food processor to an orange cake mix.  Or some espresso powder to a chocolate cake for a deeper, darker chocolate flavor.  If adding something heavy, like chocolate chips, toss them in some of the dry cake mix before adding them in.  This will help to keep them from sinking to the bottom.

Tips: 
- If using buttermilk AND butter, I always suggest also doing the pudding doctor.  It keeps that moistness.
- If adding pudding, I always try to match pudding flavors to the cake mix.  Sometimes that's not possible, so I use vanilla and do not add any extra extracts.
- Always taste your doctored cake mix before baking.  You might have added almond extract, but if you can't taste it, what's the point?
- Bake your cake mix at 25° less than what the directions call for, and at the lowest time.  Sometimes doctoring with the ingredients messes with the baking time.  You can always bake longer, but an over-baked cake is a dry, unhappy cake.  Don't make the cake sad.
- Don't be afraid to experiment.  Cake is always delicious, so feel brave enough to try something new, like chopped, dried pineapple in a chocolate cake.  You never know what you'll discover that might become your next signature recipe!

That's it for today!  Bon Appetit!

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2018, 02:23:23 PM »
July 20, 2018 - Bunny Blog

Brave as Roses - An AU Disney/fairy tale bunny.

The story of the kingdom’s most famous family did not start and end with Merida turning her mother into a bear.  Yes, it started there, but it ended later.  Much later.  Fourteen years later, after her father had passed during a particularly heroic battle where he fell off a mountain with the warring chieftain of a tribe of invaders and ended the war, but widowed the queen and left four children without a father. 

Fourteen years later, Merida was a woman beyond what her mother thought was a marriageable age, and her horse was taking her to the very edges of the kingdom.  She had considered Hamish to be the least trouble of her brothers, which was undoubtedly why he had gotten into even more trouble than her other two brothers ever could have.  After the events of the failed betrothal and the bears, Hamish had changed a bit.  Oh, he still caused trouble with Harris and Hubert, but he was better at it than them.  He was a studious lad, and when his brothers were more apt to put sword to flesh, Hamish was putting quill to parchment.  Even Elinor was proud at how he could read and write as well as the hired scribes and holy men. 

It was why, when it became obvious that Merida was never going to marry, that they sat down, the five of them, and decided Hamish would become the next king.  It took the pressure off Merida, Harris and Hubert could continue to fight battles and go wenching, and Elinor could finally relax and retire.  As soon as Hamish married, he would be king. 

That was also where the trouble began once again.  The dwarf came to the castle and seemed unpleasant but harmless.  Hamish, as crown prince, invited him in, gave him all the comforts of the castle except the comfortable chair in front of the fire that had been his father’s.  That seemed reason enough for the dwarf.  Before Merida could draw her bow or her brothers could pull out a sword, Hamish was a bear and fleeing the castle, the dwarf disappearing.  So Merida had ridden from the castle on Angus to search for her brother and break the spell.

Her search had been exhaustive.  Every clan had been questioned, every castle searched.  Every cave was explored, every forest combed.  There seemed to be no sign of Hamish and the seasons changed.  It was a relief though that he seemed to have not lost himself in the bear.  No, Hamish seemed to know quite well that he was a human in a bear’s body.  Merida never gave up on him though. 

By the end of the winter, she knew almost every inch of her father’s kingdom.  She knew the lands Fergus had protected and loved and she too loved and wished to protect them.  Merida harbored no thoughts of taking over though.  She knew that nobody would listen to a kingless queen, and she had no interest in the idea of taking a husband even for political reasons.  It would be loveless, and she had no desire for that at all.

It was a brutal night when she saw the little cottage on the very edge of the kingdom, almost over the line but not quite.  Merida let Angus trot into the open barn, and she knocked on the door, more like pounded, because she knew in the cruel wind, she would not be heard.  The door was opened, and what she saw shocked her in more ways than she could have ever imagined.

First was the fact that the young woman who opened the door was the most beautiful woman Merida had ever seen.  Golden curls fell down her back, past her elbows, around a heart-shaped face and lips red as rose petals, her ocean colored eyes cautious but not afraid.  Second was that beyond this rose red beauty, in the warmth of the cottage, was a bear.  A great brown bear with eyes much like Merida’s.

“Hamish?”

That was all she had to say before the bear reacted, before she was pulled inside, into the warmth of the cottage with the two women who had taken in the bear, Snow White with her pale skin like milk, Rose Red with those lips Merida could not stop thinking about.  It was Merida whom knocked the arrow and sent it flying into the dwarf’s heart after Hamish had cornered him when the creature had threatened the sisters.  It was Snow White who had draped a blanket over Hamish’s nude, human form.

The trip back to the castle was a happy one, not just for Merida and Hamish, but for the sisters as well.  For Hamish’s first words, after thanking all three women, were a marriage proposal for the beauty of chestnut hair and white skin that had taken him in, who had shown no fear in the face of a bear at their door at midnight during a blizzard.  There on his knees, wrapped in nothing but a wool blanket, he had asked her, begged her to be his bride.  Hamish had found his queen in a tiny cabin and for that, he could have almost thanked that greedy, ungrateful dwarf.

Merida though, was certain she had the greatest prize.  For Rose Red, her Rose Red, had seemed to be thinking of nothing but running her hands through Merida’s locks of fireshine and sunrise.  While Hamish married and was made king, Merida was happy enough with her companion, who never got tired of making her home comfortable, who was always waiting for Merida to come home with stories of battle or advising King Hamish on not forcing his first born daughter into marriage at all, if she did not feel like it.

And Rose Red ran her hands through Merida’s hair, brighter than her own, and Merida counted every kiss of those rose red lips.

~Fin


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Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2018, 03:49:06 AM »
I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog with my morning coffee.
Thank you. I would never have thought to do the cake mix variations, I normally bake from scratch but when I let my youngest bake I let her use the cake mix as she has little enough patience. I also liked the idea of the baked sugar, again nothing I have tried before but have made a note of it. I like trying new things out, so thank you for these tips and tricks.

Your plot bunnies, well that is a different matter. I quite frankly loved every one of them and would have happily read a full length story for each one if it had been there. Thoroughly enjoyable every single one. I like your writing style,  the imagery you invoked was sharp and clear from the get go. Thank you for a great mornings read, very enjoyable.

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2018, 09:51:56 AM »
Thank you so much for reading, and for your kind words!

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2018, 05:12:36 PM »
August 10, 2018 - Baking Blog

OMG, she hasn't died!

That's right, I'm alive, work has just been very stressful.  I'm here though, for the hundreds, nay, dozens of you that glance past this on occasion.  So today we're going with....

Cheater's Dulce De Leche!

I was just given the opportunity to come up with a churro cheesecake recipe, and realized I needed some dulce de leche in it somewhere.  As my stove is older than dirt, I knew I would need to make it some other way, rather than on the stove for four hours. 

This way does take nine hours to overnight, but it's simpler in every other respect, including the most important one:  YOU CANNOT BURN IT THIS WAY!

Ingredients:

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Take your can of sweetened condensed milk, full fat, and remove the label, but do not open the can.  Place this can in a crock pot turned on low.  Cover the can with hot water, put the lid on the crock pot, and leave it alone for nine hours.  After nine hours, turn the crock pot off, and allow the water to cool completely.  Take out the can and open it to reveal your dark golden dulce de leche caramel.  It's delicious, and you didn't burn it.

Tips:

1.  I like to do this overnight.  I put the can in the crock pot at noon, turn it off at 9 pm, then let it sit overnight.  Your dulce de leche will be fine as long as the can has not been breached.

2.  After opening, I suggest refrigerating.  Just take out of the fridge and let come to room temperature before use.

3.  This is good on a multitude of things.  Ice cream, cake, brownies, churros, French toast, pancakes, scones, crumpets, toast, and anything else you think it'd be good on.

That's it for today!  Bon Appetit!

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2018, 01:30:24 PM »
August 17, 2018 - Bunny Blog

Nosy Neighbor - A horror bunny.

Lola worked from home.  It was how she liked it.  The only thing she did not like was her home. 

It was an apartment within an older complex that she had been charmed by when she had first looked at it.  A balcony overlooking a park instead of a parking lot, a walk-in closet, two bathrooms.  It was the kind of apartment she could have never dreamed of affording anywhere else.  It only took her a few nights before she learned the rules of her new home, learned and was trapped by them.

1.  People come and go frequently, so don't make friends.

She had seen a neighbor there one day, and then the complex-hired movers getting rid of his things the next day.  The woman across the hall had simply disappeared after a night of partying.  The man downstairs had, finally, moved out after she had called in a noise complaint.

2.  The complex amenities are for everyone, so be polite.

The young couple who used to do their laundry after the posted hours only did so three times before they stopped.  Lola could admit she appreciated that it was quieter now, despite the fact that she worked from home.

3.  Rent is to be paid on time and in an appropriate manner as decided by the management.

Lola paid her own online.  She had seen other people that went to the main office though on the first of the month, carrying strangely shaped boxes.  Boxes that were darker on the bottom as if they had gotten wet somewhere.  After that, she only watched between her blinds.

4.  No dogs allowed on the premises.

She had only ever seen one dog, and the owners must have moved out immediately after moving in, though she swore she still heard the dog on occasion.  Their names were missing from their mailboxes though not a day later.

5.  Never go into the halls between two and three in the morning.

This rule she had cultivated more seriously than any other.  If only because she had seen it.  She had seen what roamed the halls that late at night, that early in the morning.  The first time Lola had seen it, she heard it before anything else.  The sound of wheels that required some WD-40 or axle grease, the sound of a cart that was both heavily laden and easily pulled along.  It was a sound that sent prickles of fear along her spine to settle in her stomach until she had to flee from the peephole in her door.

Lola thought she had been safe, because she could no longer hear the wheels, so she carefully, as to not make a sound, crept back to the door and pressed her hands against the ivory painted surface, leaning up ever so slightly to look out the peephole to the hallway.  That was when she saw the thing making the vertebra-plucking noises, and the thing that moved it along.

It barely fit in the hallway, standing at a hunched seven feet tall, wide shoulders sloped to make certain it would fit through doorways.  She saw it's back first, the six pairs of rings pierced through the skin on either side of it's backbone threaded with razor wire in a beautiful display of agony.  It's flesh was papery and gray, and clung to thick, ropy muscles beneath the skin.  Dark pants, heavy boots, and the back of what looked like a mask was all she could see currently.

The thing, the man, it looked male at least, moved from the cart and she saw then that it was dragging along with it a cart made of a single shelf and then above it two pieces of peg board, fastened at the top and hung with what she could only call implements that had found their purpose in some dark corner of Hell.  Most of them were made out of a black metal, and had serrated edges, and most of them were caked with a rusty brown filth that she knew without knowing was blood. 

Lola felt her fingers curl into claws against the door in her revulsion toward the thing out in the hallway, her breath coming in panicked, gasping breaths.  If she did not control herself, she would undoubtedly just start hyperventilating and then pass out on the floor.  She did not want to be unconscious with that thing out and about.  As if it could hear her, it swung around, and she got a view of his front, wishing she could go back to a simpler time when she had not.

His chest was crosshatched with scars, as much accident as ritual, and the puckered gray flesh seemed to tell a story of numbers.  A number of something in his life, undoubtedly.  The idea of counting them all made her sick and she did not try, letting herself guess hundreds and letting it go.  It was his face that rather caught her attention, or more so, the lack of it. 

While he stood there, Lola was able to examine his features, though she wished he had never turned around.  He seemed to be wearing a mask, but part of her knew that it was as much a part of his skin as his scars were.  The sack was dirty and darker in places than others, the burlap cut and frayed around the eyes that seemed to be just holes in the darkness, the mouth torn out and unraveled so pieces of burlap fell in between what she saw were long, black teeth on both mandibles. 

An audible sniff, and he moved closer to her door, and while she wanted to flee, Lola could not seem to move.  The maw opened slowly, teeth clicking against each other, and a swollen purple-red tongue moved closer, licking her peephole lens.  She stumbled backward, falling to the floor of her apartment and scrambling backward until her back hit the door of the coat closet, her heart pounding so hard she swore it would shatter her rib cage.

There was a slow, heavy knock at her door, but she did not dare move, just sitting there, wondering if the thing outside was waiting her out as well.  She felt like the sun would rise while she waited there, but eventually the sound of the cart moved again, and she heard the door at the end of the hallway open and shut.  Getting up slowly, her shaking legs refusing to hold her up at first, she went back to her door and looked out the peephole. 

It was gone.

The next day she had written an email to the landlord and only got a single sentence back about her inquiry about the thing:  He likes rib bones, the floating ones.

~Fin


Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2018, 02:36:15 PM »
August 24, 2018 - Baking Blog

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

There is nothing better than a shamelessly easy cookie, and this recipe for chocolate chip shortbread is not only simple, but takes the guesswork out of a rolled cookie.  All you need is a clean gallon freezer bag to get it to the thickness you need.  I also love how simple this is.  Shortbread cookies at their finest.  Rich, crumbly, tender, and that sweetness of chocolate all come together to give you some cookies you just can't stop eating.  I like to make these and take them into work when it's been a particularly stressful week.

Special Tools:
1 gallon freezer bag
rolling pin

Ingredients:

1c salted butter, softened
2/3c powdered sugar
1t vanilla extract
2c all-purpose flour
3/4c mini chocolate chips

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.  Add flour and mix just until the flour disappears, then fold in the mini chocolate chips.  Transfer to the gallon sized freezer bag, and seal the bag, keeping out as much air as possible.  Using your rolling pin, roll until your dough is an even thickness and fills the entire bag.  Place your bag of dough in the fridge on a flat surface until firm, generally one to two hours. 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Cut open the bag, and then slice your dough into equal rectangles or triangles, and place on the pan.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the edges are just ever so slightly brown.  Cool and enjoy!

Tips:

1.  These are rich, so some milk would be a good idea.  Dipping the ends of the cookies in chocolate would make them even more decadent though!

2.  I like to use a pizza cutter to cut my dough.  It slides through it easily and you have a lot less chance of cutting yourself this way.

3.  This is a good, basic shortbread dough, so if you want to make it plain, leave out the chocolate chips.  You could also change the flavoring.  I'd love to try these in the future with an orange blossom flavoring and a dark chocolate dip.

4.  Egg free cookies for someone who can't eat eggs!

That's it for today!  Bon Appetit!

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2018, 01:33:47 PM »
September 1, 2018 - Bunny Blog

Forgotten, Even By the Dead - A somewhat urban fantasy bunny.  WARNING - VERY DRAMATIC

Georgia chose her hill to die on, but it was more a highway overpass than a hill.

The overpass drifted above the older buildings of the downtown area, rising up to meet the interstate and take drivers back across the river.  The bridge had been ruined though, in the last fights.  Azraphael had come to the city, had come looking for the one who was supposed to be the champion of mankind.  He had taken out the bridge and the last champion, and now people only had two ways to leave the city, not that it seemed to matter.  The city itself liked to ignore the downtown area near the river.

She was sitting near a fire, the barrel it was in warm, the fire itself blue and green.  Witchfire always drew the angelic, if only because they hated witches even more than they hated regular human beings.  A witch, easy to procure in that part of the city, had set the fire for her and then fled, afraid of being around when the angel appeared.  Georgia herself was not afraid, simply nervous.  She knew what a trial this would be.

He appeared, not with a great sweeping of wings or a bellowing voice speaking the name of God for the mortals to hear, but with footsteps.  Georgia looked over her shoulder, and he stood there, looking like any other person.  Well, not any other.  Of course Azraphael was a man who surpassed general beauty standards, and made other men jealous, nervous, or lusty.  She herself could appreciate his fine features, his dark hair that was drawn into a ponytail at the nape of his neck, but that was all there was for her.  Life had left her far too disappointed to ever really consider anything else.

“So here you are,” he murmured quietly.  “Earth’s final champion.  The seventh.”

“Here I am,” Georgia replied.

Letting out a soft sigh, she stood up, letting the fire barrel burn.  There was no reason to put out witchfire.  It would never burn through the barrel, and would go out when nobody was there to watch it.  As was the nature of the element.  Georgia herself was a good foot shorter than the 6’4” angel, and what could kindly be called mousy.  Brown hair, a shade of hazel eyes that were not worth looking at, short, too fat, wearing jeans and a Hello Kitty t-shirt.

“Tell me why it is you and not yet another warrior,” Azraphael suggested, his hands behind his back as if he were waiting for a logical explanation.

Georgia shrugged, “There’s no real reason.  I’m here because someone has to be, and it seemed pointless to send anyone of value anymore.  They all died, and they might have been martyred, but they left people behind.  Nobody else could be spared.”

“Won’t there be those who miss you?” the angel asked.  “Won’t there be tears?”

After a moment, she shook her head, “Actually, I don’t think so.  I don’t think anyone will really miss me.  I’ve been invisible most of my life.  Anyone who has ever said they loved me either took it back, or did not mean it.  Anyone who has called me their friend has always forgotten me.  If anyone is sad, and they do cry, it won’t be for long.  I’ll fade in their memories, until my name never falls from their lips.  There will be no history told of me.”

“Doesn’t that anger you?” he prodded.  “How can you stand here, when they get to live on lives that, if you are being truthful, they place as a higher priority than your own?”

“Maybe that’s why I’m here.  Maybe that’s why I have to be the seventh.  At the end of things, isn’t it better to lose someone you don’t really care about than someone who will leave your heart empty?  It’s unfair, that you can have the heart burned out of you, and you survive it, living as a blackened shell.  It’s horrible that you can be ignored by every single person, that your wishes are never important to anyone, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

“You’re a fool, number seven,” the angel mused. 

“Georgia,” she said quietly.  “At least you can know my name, even if you forget it.  I  assume you’ve forgotten every single one of those champions you’ve spoken with and killed.  There had to have been so many.  So many fools.”

“Seven, every millennia we’ve been allowed to judge humanity,” Azraphael stated.  “And you’re right, I don’t remember the names of the first six.  We both know they were never meant to be the champion.  It’s always Number Seven.  Someone always figures it out.”

“I don’t know that I’ve figured it out,” Georgia admitted.  “I just know that I have nothing to lose compared to everyone else in the city.”

“Your life is nothing to lose?”

“You are the best evidence I’ve ever seen to prove there’s an afterlife.  If I die here, I live on somewhere else.  No, it might not be Heaven or Paradise but it won’t be any different than here.  There, I’ll also be nobody.  I don’t have any fantasies that I’ll be embraced with open arms.  I assume I’ve been forgotten, even by the dead.”

Standing in front of her, having moved so quickly she had not seen his limbs move, his feet take a single step, Azraphael put his hand on her forehead, his palm against her flesh, his fingers in her hair, though not digging.  That close to him, Georgia felt the kind of peace that she could not remember ever feeling.  Life for her had always come with a vague sense of foreboding.  To the point that she was always waiting for the next bad thing to happen, to the point that she feared the good.

It was barely registered with her when the angel came to Earth and stated he was there to judge the human race and decide whether they were fit to continue or not.  Social media, the news, it had been full of his words and the fights, but she had never paid much attention.  She knew that he would find them lacking.  She certainly did.  Georgia had never found her fellow human beings to be particularly enthralling, and when it became very obvious that she was not wanted, not by anyone, she pulled even further into herself.

Georgia had watched her own family slowly ease away from her, had watched them push her from them so that they could be happy without her.  It was so much easier, so much more interesting to dote on her sister and her made up problems and fake illnesses.  She had watched friends find better friends, lovers turn their backs on her.  She had approached long-lost friends and found they did not remember her when she had etched their names in her heart, and she had survived lovers who had revoked their love but were content to allow her to continue to love them so that they were the only ones who benefited.

She had experienced people not caring what she wanted, expecting her to toe the line because in their hearts, they felt themselves and their feelings far more important than her own.  Georgia had been lied to, cheated on, betrayed, brutalized, and in the end, learned that the only person she could rely on was herself.  Nobody would stay with her, not for as long as she would.  Nobody would love her the way she loved others.  Nobody would make room in their heart for her, no matter how empty their own seemed to be.  Unconditional did not seem to exist for her as it did for others.

Now, staring her death in the face, she was at peace.  Granted, she had thought about releasing herself from her mortal coil a number of times, but none of those times she had ever gone through with.  Multiple times had she hoped she would end up in a fatal accident, or just get sick so she could refuse treatment, but she continued on.  Georgia stood there, the angel’s hand against her forehead, and she knew that she was exactly where she needed to be for once.

She would keep anyone else from losing their loved ones.  They would not miss the ones that would leave indelible stains on their hearts.  They would all continue on and not even bat an eye at her loss.  It was the way the world moved around her, and Georgia supposed that was better than leaving behind all kinds of sobbing people and being the thing that turned the world bleak for others.

The hand moved away from her forehead, and Georgia looked up at Azraphael, who was looking down at her as if he had just seen her for the first time, as if she had sprouted a second head and it was speaking an alien language not made up for a television show.

“That was intense, Miss Georgia,” he admitted.

It was then that she realized he knew everything she had been thinking, had been feeling.  She knew that he had read her heart and felt the unending sorrow there, and the thought that if she could give up her own shoddy, unwanted life, then so many more could be preserved and she was okay with that.  A blush warmed her cheeks and she hated how hot it felt.  Georgia turned away from him to hide it.

“And you find me....lacking,” she guessed.  “Like so many others.”

Without a word, Azraphael came up behind her, taking her shoulder in his left hand.  His right hand curled into a fist, and he punched her spine as hard as a celestial creature could, and Georgia watched herself fall forward onto the pavement though she was still standing.  It was her body that dropped, not her soul, and it stood there with the angel while her body lied on the ground and died, taking one or two more breaths before it stopped moving completely, blood leaking from her nose that had hit the broken pavement.

“Let them live,” he sneered.  “Eventually, humanity will run out of those who have kept that fragile light inside them alive.  And then it will all end.”

He took her hand then, “But not now.”

Georgia should have been sad.  She knew she should have wept over her own death, because nobody else would.  Not any that were not crocodile tears.  Her family would use it to gather attention and sympathy.  As would her ex-husband.  Her friends would forget her, the world would go on spinning without her.  Still, she did not mourn herself.  The choice had been her own, and in making it, she had saved the rest of them.

“Love like I wanted, does it exist?” she asked Azraphael as they walked back toward the ruined bridge.

“It does, but only within those of you who have kept the fragile light inside.  The one that all humans are born with and gets extinguished too early.  The light of true love can so easily be blown out by bitter feelings, resentment, need, want, all of the other things that come with free will.  But a few of you still have it.”

He patted her hand as they took a step off the edge of the ruined bridge, and neither of them fell into the river below, but continued on as if there was still pavement there.

“I shall introduce you to some.”

~Fin


Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2018, 03:42:47 PM »
September 7, 2018 - Baking Blog

Meringue Cookies

Gluten free foods are, by and large, disgusting.  I know this for a fact, having an older sibling who requires gluten-free foods.  So I've done my best not to use the fake flours, but to find recipes that she can eat that are meant to be gluten free.  One of those are my favorite meringue cookies.  Airy, light, crispy, and with just a hint of dark cocoa, they satisfy the need for a sweet on top of being gluten free.  There are very few ingredients as well, making these cookies a delight.

Special Tools:
Wide star piping tip
Piping bag (disposable or otherwise, dealer's choice)

Ingredients:

3 egg whites at room temperature
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 superfine sugar (see tips for making your own!)
3 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I like using Hershey's Special Dark)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 225° F, and make certain your rack is in the center of the oven.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the egg whites into a bowl.  Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they get foamy.  Once foamy, add your pinch of salt and then continue to beat until soft peaks form.  Turn down your mixer and add the sugar slowly, scraping down the sides when you've added about half the sugar.  When you've added it all, beat the egg whites into stiff peaks.

Fold in the vanilla and then sift your cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold in.  Carefully spoon your mixture into the piping bag fitted with a wide star tip, and pipe onto the parchment lined pan.  Place meringues in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes, turn off the oven but do not open the door, and allow the meringues to dry inside the oven.  This is how you get those crispy, sweet little cookies.  A good rule of thumb is 4 to 6 hours, but overnight is fine, too.

Store in air-tight containers.  They'll be fragile, so do not overcrowd in your storage.

Tips:

1.  Superfine sugar is simply regular granulated sugar that has been pulsed for a few minutes in the food processor.  Simple enough to make your own!

2.  Make certain your bowls, mixing utensils, and all other equipment you use is clean and grease free or your eggs will never whip up.

3.  Always use a metal or glass bowl to whip egg whites.  Plastic can absorb fats from other things.

4.  These can certainly be made without the chocolate.  Try adding some kool-aid powder for a fun, fruity version!

5.  If you don't have a piping bag and star tip, you can just use a spoon.

That's it for today!  Bon Appetit!

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2018, 02:43:05 PM »
September 21, 2018 - Bunny Blog

Red Coats - An opening post style bunny for an urban fantasy game.

The landlord had told her a number of times that she had too many plants on her fire escape to really be within the legal limit, but as there were rare to practically non-existent checks of the fire escapes and fire detectors, Clover Reinhart was not particularly worried about being told that she had to get rid of her plants.  Not that she would have had any room for them.  The sills of the windows in the bedroom as well as the living room had plants on them as well, and on stands so that a couple more could get the light they needed.

Leaning out the window onto the fire escape, she watered the last of the plants, doing her best not to get any dirt or water on her hands or in her tanzanite colored eyes, and then closed and locked the window.  It was just smart to keep it locked at all times, even with the plants sitting right there.  But humans who would love to break into an apartment were not immune to the garlic, wild rose, wolfsbane, holly, and other plants that were protective against some of the things that roamed the world with human beings. 

Sighing, she went into the bathroom of her small apartment on the fifth floor of the five floor complex and dropped her head over, brushing out her long hair.  When she tossed her head back, she laughed as she got less of a porn star quality, and one more belonging to a bedraggled chicken.  Shaking her head, Clover brushed her hair out again and quickly bound it in a braid that went down the back of her head, trapping the long copper locks away from her face and then fastened it with a black elastic, before changing her lounge pants for a pair of jeans.

The little apartment was nothing spectacular, but she had made it her own.  The galley kitchen was complete with a fridge, stove, and dishwasher, though sticking out from the end of it was a stacking set washer and dryer, paid for out of Carter’s money that he left her.  One wall was made up of shelves covered in books, mostly about gardening, but on other topics too, including a lot of fiction.  One corner of the bookshelves were taken up by several journals, worn leather wrapped around faded pages, all shoved together near the bottom.

A couch and an overstuffed chair sat in front of a television on a stand, and behind the television, the wall had a carefully planned set of frames that were all different shapes and sizes but made one large, symmetrical square on the wall when looked at all at once.  They were pictures of Clover, of friends, of family, all in different stages of life.  The bedroom was down the small hallway, next to the bathroom, and it was there that she had the more ornamental plants, violets and hibiscus and orchids, all there to brighten her mornings.

She stepped into a pair of sneakers and forwent a jacket, because it was not necessary in late August in Port George, Oregon.  The small coastal city was located just north of Port Orford, and located on a piece of land that jutted out into the Pacific Ocean.  At one time it had been a major port when there was more freight done by boat, but now it was just a steadily growing city with a population of about two million people.  Late in the summer, there would be no need for a jacket over her pretty blouse of pale blue with the eyelet lace on the sleeves that hung down to her elbows. 

Heading into the kitchen, she put a few more cookies into the pop-up container she had gotten at the bakery last week, and kept because she knew she was going to use it later.  Clover then pushed the top down and tied it with the attached ribbon, retying it more than once so that the bow was as pretty as it could be.  Smiling a bit, she turned down the hum of her air conditioner just to keep the bill from being too high, and pulled her bag over her head and shoulder.  Normally she would have carried a purse, but when she was on her way to work, she liked to have a place to put a book and her dinner for the evening.

Clover stopped at the apartment two doors away from her own after closing and locking her door.  She had seen the man who went into apartment 5D several times, and several times she had come over, offering small gifts that were signs of attempts to be neighborly.  Clover could even admit, she had kind of learned the tread of his feet on the carpeted hallway outside their doors, and would look out her peephole to watch him walk past her own 5C and unlock his door, tired, or perhaps just preoccupied, and walk inside, closing it behind him.

Today, she had a box of cookies and an offer that she was going to the grocery store after work if he needed anything.  It was no secret that it was hard for Red Coats to keep their identities secret, even if they went out with their distinctive coats.  And it was no secret that most people avoided them because they were not the monsters, but the weirdos who could stand up to those monsters. 

Walking to his door, Clover knocked on it carefully, just loud enough to be heard, but not too loud to be impolite.  It had taken her more than four months to even say hello to him when she first saw him, but it was more out of shyness than anything else.  It was why she loved her job at the florist shop.  People came in, knowing what they wanted.  She required very few people skills to deal with them.  Instead, she just showed them what they had available with the flowers of their choice, or put something together, ran the register, and worked the dreaded evening shifts that nobody wanted.

When there was no answer, she knocked again, just to be certain.  Not that she was worried if he was not home.  She would simply leave the box of cookies outside his door, knowing he would get it.  Nobody in their right minds would steal from the door of a Red Coat. 

“Hello?  It’s your neighbor, Clover,” she said softly, thinking maybe he was waiting for whoever was on the other side of the door to identify themselves.

As she stood at his door, she saw a couple of men coming up the stairs at the opposite end of the hallway.  Clover watched them as she waited to see if her neighbor was going to open up, if only because they were striking in a number of ways.  One of the men was tall and slender, with dark hair that hung down the back of his weather inappropriate white coat that came to the back of his calves.  He wore leather pants with tall boots over them, and a white button down shirt with a narrow black tie.  His hands were clad in black gloves, and he was smirking slightly as he looked her over.

The other man with him was shorter, though still much taller than Clover’s meager five feet and five inches.  He wore another coat that was seasonably inappropriate, a black leather duster with dark green fur around the neck and wrists.  His blond hair hung down past his ears and framed his lovely face, as well as an ear full of piercings all connected with chains.  He wore no shirt beneath his coat, but he did have on gray slacks and black dress shoes.  His hands were also encased in gloves.

Turning back to her neighbor’s door, she felt something sick land in the pit of her stomach as they walked past her, and came to a stop in front of her own door.  She was going to say something, but she noticed something hanging at out the bottom of the blond man’s coat.  It was the end of a sword blade.  She turned back and knocked again at her neighbor’s door, now far more interested in him being home.

“Hey.”

Clover almost jumped as she realized the blonde man was leaning against the wall, smiling at her.  This close, she could see his pale green eyes, the color of green hydrangeas, and that he was sporting a necklace around his throat, tight against his neck, with a long chain in the center that ended in a charm that she would have to stare at his chest to see clearly.  She was instantly uncomfortable, mostly because he was grinning at her like he knew her panties had happy cherries on them.

“Um, hi.”

“You live here?” he asked.

“No, just visiting my boyfriend,” Clover quickly lied.  “Dropping off cookies.  He said he was home.”

He shook his head a bit, “That’s a shame.  I wouldn’t leave my girl standing outside.  Who knows who might come along and just snap her up.”

“He might just be asleep,” she said, wishing they would just go away. 

The dark haired one came around, leaning his back against the wall, not looking at her, but staring at her door as if he could will it open with just his mind.

“You know the lady that lives in 5C?” the blonde asked.

“Not really.”

She bit her lower lip gently, “I think she moved out a couple of weeks ago.”

Without looking at her, the dark haired one spoke, “Don’t bite your lip.  It makes me want to bite them too.”

Clover quickly stopped the nervous gesture.  There was no way he had known that she was doing that, he had not looked at her once since he stared at the door.  But then he had just gone ahead and said that.  The blonde smiled again.

“No kidding?  Well, I guess we made a trip for nothing.  But I think we’ll just knock again to be sure.”

She shrugged and went back to hoping her neighbor was coming to the door.  She knocked one more time.

“Hey, come on, let me in,” she said, knowing the two were waiting for her to end her bluff either in being let in, or walking away.  And if she walked away, Clover knew they were going to follow her.

Whomever Clover had been knocking for- whatever she’d expected to answer her pleas was not opening its residence to her. As she shouted at the door “let me in” there came a rash of tumbling and loud noises coming from behind the thick, oak door with the rusting ‘5D’ nailed into its wood. The sounds may have come from anything; a pet, a burglar, or to Clover’s hope, the very man who lived within those paper thin walls and yet made no neighbors beyond them.
 
“Coming!” came the voice, already dripping with irritation from beyond. The voice was a lighter tone than Clover could remember, but what burglar would be so eager to answer the door?
 
Much to the woman’s surprise, the man that answered the door was not the resident living in 5D. What Clover was greeted to was a man in his early thirties with tired skin somewhere between grey and olive. The man’s thick, black brows quirked at the three standing at his doorstep, and while he pushed some of his short hair from his forehead, letting it stand up on its own accord, those deep, sunken eyes settled on Clover. The man in 5D was exhausted, judging by the dark circles under his eyes, but it was not an exhaustion that came without anger;
 
“What?! Don’tcha know there’re some people who work nights?!” His fangs; those elongated canines that made a damsel’s neck into a bustling lunch, were out when his eyes prowled about the crowd. The woman was not a part of the group, unless she preferred to hide her army of piercings and sadomasochism beneath some of the most plain clothes the grump had ever seen.
 
This was not the man who lived in 5D.

~Fin


Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2018, 06:12:11 PM »
September 28, 2018 - Baking Blog

Killer Cake

So today's baking blog is about a cake I made recently.  BFF Erica asked me if I would make a cake for her husband Erick's (yeah, I know it's weird.  Even weirder is that her dad is named Eric too.  The hell, guys?) birthday.  She requested a horror birthday cake, and I thought about it before I decided the cake would be impaled by glass shards and be bleeding and industrial and manly. 



Everything on my killer cake is edible except for the cake board.  It's very important to me that the cake and decor all be edible, if only because who wants to guess, right?  This was a huge departure for me because I generally prefer pretty, elegant cakes.

The glass shards are made of poured sugar, which I cooked with water and corn syrup to 300°, then added citric acid and clear apple flavoring to make them sour apple flavored.  I knew the kids would want to eat them.

The frosting is a whipped frosting that I airbrushed an industrial silver gray.  That'd be why the backdrop is newspaper.  I swear it's not CSI: Bakery.

The cake itself is French vanilla and blood red marble.

The filling was blood red strawberry mousse with stroopwafel cookies crushed up inside for texture.


That's it for today!  Bon Appetit!

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2018, 10:08:21 AM »
October 6, 2018 - Bunny Blog

The Witch's Hunter - An opening post style bunny for an urban fantasy game.

If nothing else, the son of a bitch deserved to die just for having every maid under the age of thirty five wearing two different uniforms.  There was the sedate, ankle-length “company” uniform which was meant to show off how respectful and considerate he was of his female employees.  Then there was the short, objectifying outfits he insisted they wear when they were alone in the house. 

Vanessa Lowell was willing to kill him just for that.  It was a ridiculous uniform, and obviously made with the male gaze in mind.  A low cut black uniform with a froth of white lace over the cleavage, making it just this side of decent, and a short skirt made up the main uniform.  Then there were the knee socks and the black heels, which she refused to wear.  Flats or nothing, and she had dared anyone to fight with her.  The worst part about it was that it made it hard to hide a gun.

That had been months ago, when she first got hired, in an interview process that required her to send in a head-shot and her measurements before she was even asked if she knew how to turn on a washing machine.  A friend had helped her put on the bright, girl-next-door makeup for the photograph she sent in, knowing that her normal appearance would have hurt her odds.

Senator Robert Logan had been sitting in his very comfortable senatorial seat for over three decades, and while he had a wife and children, like every good senator should, he kept them in a separate residence, so that he could conduct his various types of business without them being any the wiser to it.  And yet, despite the money and power, the man had little to no charisma.  It was why the Union had been suspicious of him for a long time.

Things always seemed to turn out well for him.  Whether it was an election or a bill referendum, he never seemed to be in the minority, and it had made him one of the power players in the world of politics.  He stood for down home values and traditional families and completely ignored the fact that he was a lecherous old man with a fancy for patting the maids on the ass when he got the chance.

She had come to work for him six months ago, when the Witch Hunter’s Union had sent her the offer of the job, since it seemed she was getting to be a real pain in the ass again.  Like most witch hunters, she worked freelance, and then took occasional jobs thrown her way through the Union.  Waiting on the Union to send you jobs was like waiting for a rainbow.  Sure, it might happen, but you’ll go hungry first.

Accepting the mission to investigate the senator, Vanessa had sent in a head shot, fudged her measurements, because nobody needed to know that, not really, and made up a history for herself that was easily checked out with numbers that would lead right back to the Union.  They would cover for her this time because they were picking up the check.  Whether they wanted to or not.

Six months of a roaming hand on her ass and not-so-subtle offers of material possessions to warm the senator’s bed was quite enough, and she had taken the opportunity afforded to her.  The floors of the massive mansion in the city, fenced off from the world with wrought iron and spikes and electricity, were being steamed, and it meant that most of the maids were allowed to just sit around and wait for them to be finished.  Vanessa took it as an opportunity.

She had slipped from the room where the maids had congregated, telling them something about taking the chance to call her boyfriend, which was strictly forbidden while at work.  Senator Logan did not want to think of his stable of servicing beauties having loved ones who they would be faithful to, but it was the excuse that Vanessa had been using to avoid him.  She had gone down the back steps, and to the cellar door, to the basement that went under the entire mansion.

The house proper was big enough that it was used for storage, and she was picking her way through dust-covered furniture that looked like amorphous ghosts in the semi-darkness, and extra fridges, as well as a corner for a wine rack of expensive wines that were all locked into place to keep the help from having sticky fingers.  She went back and forth across the length and width of the basement twice, but saw nothing out of place.  Though something did feel wrong.  It felt a lot shorter than it should have been.

Vanessa stopped in front of the wine racks, huge and taking up a whole wall on the far side of the basement, and did not touch the bottles but the racks themselves.  With a tug, they began to move out of the way, swinging on carefully hidden hinges, so that they moved out of the way slowly but easily.  It was why the area in front of the wine racks had been so clear.  There needed to be room for the racks to swing out.  But why?

Frowning, she began running her hands along the blank wall, because the light was kind of crappy on that end of the basement.  Intentionally so, it seemed, because she found a rather wide crack in the far side of the wall, near the deep corner, which her fingers fit into.  Slowly, she traced the crack in the wall with the fingers of both hands, and found the button to push near the top, though it was hard for her to reach in flats.  If she had been able to wear her normal boots, it would not have been a problem.

The wall shuddered, then slid open on a track like a closet door, disappearing into the wall.  Vanessa was met with pitch blackness, so she reached under the back of her short skirt, pushing past the annoying-as-hell crinoline, and found the gun she kept at the small of her back under a belly band holster.  Pointing into the darkness, she reached into the dark room and felt along the wall with her left hand, trying to find a light switch.

She could hear something, the sound of metal hitting metal lazily in the dark, and it was conjuring thoughts of slaughterhouses for some reason.  She read too damn much.  Vanessa’s fingers found a plastic panel on the wall, and she pressed the button there, and lights went on, clicking on quietly and filling the room with painful fluorescent lighting that hummed almost enough to cover the growl of whatever she had just illuminated.

Giving her moss green eyes a moment to focus in the sudden light, she looked around the room she had just revealed, feeling revulsion rising in her stomach.  The metal she heard was of chains, the room draped with them in a convoluted web that attached to the walls in impossible places, which she supposed was to keep the thing in the very center of the room from getting away, because even if it got one chain loose, it was connected to a dozen others.

What she was looking at was most definitely a witch.  It looked somewhat humanoid, though not in the traditional sense.  It had no flesh, just gray, papery skin wrapped around bones.  Its arms and legs were too long for its torso, and its head resembled that of a human wearing a crown that had plastic melted around the whole thing.  There was no nose, just a wide maw full of teeth and bruise colored eyes staring at the floor. 

She heard a sniffing noise, and saw the thing move its arm, which must have been excruciating.  The witch was wrapped in barbed wire that dug into its skin, and then over the barbed wire, chain wrapped around it and rubbed raw green patches along its flesh on its torso, upper legs, ankles, all the way down its arms and around its neck.  That was when Vanessa saw the slits in the witch’s palms, and realized that was what it called an excuse for a nose.

“....Dinnertime already?” it rasped at her, lifting its head to reveal a strange totem around its neck.  “Why, it’s only been two weeks.”

“Not bloody likely,” Vanessa replied, her gun still pointed, though now it was pointed at its head.  “What the hell is going on here?”

“Please direct obvious questions to the department of redundancy,” it replied, laughing in a way that made it sound like it had a throat full of razor blades.

“Well thank god you’re witty.  I was afraid I’d be shooting someone austere in the face.”

The witch chuckled again, “So grumpy.  Very well, mighty witch hunter.  I am Senator Logan’s ace in the hole.  His good luck charm.  His insider trading scheme.”

“That son of a bitch,” she muttered.  “I knew he was up to something.”

“Indeed.  He feeds me, I gain a little power, he siphons it off with this little charm, and I’m left to starve so I can’t escape.  It’s a vicious cycle.”

“It’s a dickish cycle,” Vanessa replied.

“You have no idea,” he replied with another painful laugh.  “Of course...I wouldn’t object to being freed.”

“Yeah, I bet you wouldn’t,” Vanessa replied, stepping into the room.  It was frigidly cold inside, and for some reason, she felt pity for this thing, left to starve and freeze, bound like a madman.  Which only meant it was damn dangerous.

“It could be mutually beneficial,” he continued, sniffing once again with his palms.  “You’re young...fresh...virginal?  No, not virginal.  Not by a long shot.”

At that, Vanessa just cocked the gun and he laughed, “Nothing wrong with that.  Virgins have gone out of style anyway.  But...hmm, interesting.”

“Do tell me more, Miss Cleo.  I’ve apparently got time to waste.”

“Not pure of body, but pure of heart.  That’s much more rare,” the witch almost purred.  “I prefer it to a fumble-fingered virgin.”

“I’m sure you do.”

The witch shuddered and then began to change.  The limbs shrank, the body filled out, the skin paled.  The eyes stayed bruise colored, but got wider, filled out with whites, watched her as he became a he in more than just the respect of his voice.  Dark hair sprouted from his head, in soft tendrils that fell to his shoulder on one side, and got longer on the other side, a few pieces hanging to his waist. 

A nose formed, and his mouth became lush, warm, though the totem remained around his throat, his head taking on a more normal shape.  His ears remained slightly pointed, and his long fingers had claws on the end of them, but by the time he was done, he was a very beautiful, very masculine man.  Vanessa was only a little put out, but had seen witches who looked like supermodels and witches who looked like accountants.  This was nothing new.

“Free me,” he said, his voice now a purr.  “Pull the amulet from around my neck and stop Logan.  You’ll be fulfilling your contract, right?  I assume you’ve been sent here to see what he’s up to and stop him because someone suspected he was using a witch, or was a witch, correct?”

“Yeah, but I could just shoot you in the head and be done with it,” Vanessa replied.  “Actually, that sounds like a hell of a lot better idea than freeing a witch.”

“Well...not exactly free,” he said with a slight smile.  “I’d be bound to the person who freed me until his or her life extinguished.”

His eyes ran up and down her body and she felt naked for a moment, which only made her put two pounds of pressure on the five pound trigger.  He grinned at her a little bit, tilting his head to the side, though it must have hurt with the wire wrapped around it.  Somehow, the chains had tightened in just the right places when he changed, and now greenish blood oozed from a dozen little cuts.

“If this form does not please you, I could change it.  Do you like blond hair, perhaps?  A more muscled man?  A woman?”

“No, a man’s fine, I mean, crap!  Stop that!” Vanessa spouted.

Her pity for this tortured figure was crossing into dangerous territory.  She was actually thinking of going over there and freeing him.  Actually, it would be poetic justice to let him loose on Logan and his people, as long as he left the innocent house maids alone.  He was grinning at her, his tone wheedling, his expression admitting it was probably a bad idea to free him but he knew she wanted to.

“I’ll call you Mistress if you like,” he murmured softly, his voice velvet down her spine.  “I’ll even enjoy it.”

Vanessa hated the fact that things were coming to mind like how long he had probably been there, and how nobody deserved that and she lowered the gun ever so slightly, so it was not quite pointed at his head.  She was not particularly weak willed, but she was also not a monster.  Any witch she had hunted down, she had killed mercifully.  At least in her later years as a hunter.  She did not like to think about the early years with the fire and the rage.

“You need to kind of think about where I’m coming from here,” she said with a frown.  “I haven’t particularly made a living out of letting witches live.  I could kill you and then have my proof, get paid, go home and get drunk on my own dime.  If I let you go, sure, you can kill Logan and all of his cronies, as long as you leave the servants alone, since they’re innocent of all this, but then I’m responsible for you.  And I’m not even responsible for myself!”

“Would it help if I told you what goes on at feeding time?” he asked quietly, his voice losing that sensual quality.  “I’m starved for three, four weeks at a time.  Then Logan has his thugs bring someone down here.  Usually a woman, often in a uniform just like the one you’re wearing.  And I can tell from the way she smells that she used to be Logan’s favorite.  Until she got pregnant.”

He lifted his head, “And they’ve all been pregnant.”

The witch let his head drop to the side again, “They’ll commit atrocities before it happens, all so I get a taste of her fear.  And then she’s shoved into the room with me, and they free one arm.  I tried to resist.  At first, I went six, sometimes two months without eating before I became a mindless animal.  Now it’s impossible when they push her into my arms, screaming, throbbing with sweet, sweet terror.  It’s over before she realizes it.  And I’m chained and tortured again for another four weeks, never sated.  Out of the two of us, the dead girl always gets the better part of the deal.”

“...Balls, you’re not even lying, are you?” Vanessa asked, realizing that the witch was indeed telling the truth.

“Why lie?  The truth is almost always so much more deliciously cruel.”

“Because sometimes your friends just need to feel their ass doesn’t look big in their hideous jeans,” Vanessa replied.

He chuckled, and she walked forward, reaching up to grab the totem around his neck.  It was an amulet, made of gold as far as she could tell, and the ends of it were driven into his flesh directly with long, thick needles.  The witch’s head moved down toward her hand and her gun moved up to press against his cheek, but all he did was lean down to kiss the fingers wrapped around the totem with gentle lips.

“Yours, beautiful witch hunter, until the day you die.”

“Rule number one is that it’s your job to make sure I die of old age and nothing else,” she replied.

“I already like you, Mistress.”

“Vanessa,” she said, shaking her head as she worked out one of the needles, frowning as he winced in pain.  “Sorry.”

“What must be done must be done,” he replied through clenched teeth.  “Vanessa what?”

Vanessa drew out the other needle, listening to him hiss, “Vanessa Lowell.”

“How disappointing,” said a fresh voice behind her.  “I rather liked you as Michelle.”

Vanessa turned around and instantly pointed her gun at Robert Logan, whose bodyguards were already pointing guns at her own head.  He was attractive for a man in his sixties, an example of those men who aged gracefully.  His gunmetal hair was smoothed away from his face which was tanned but had a fair share of wrinkles.  His dark eyes were cold, like a snake’s, and he was watching her with a mixture of anger and lust.

“It didn’t suit me.”

“So the Witch Hunter’s Union must have been very suspicious of me for some time.  How long were you with the staff, Miss Lowell?  Six months?”

“What can I say, I love the misogynistic uniforms,” she said with a grimace.

Logan nodded and all of the thugs moved into the room, seven in all, but Vanessa kept her sights on Logan’s head.

“I was just thinking I needed to be surrounded by assholes,” she muttered.

“I’ll give you two options,” he began with a smug smirk.  “One, you put the gun down and we go upstairs and have a nice talk.  We can come to some kind of agreement, I’m sure, and who knows, you might even enjoy it.  The other option is that I have one of my boys put a bullet each of your legs, and I take what I want from you anyway.  Option one guarantees that you’ll probably leave here with more than what the bounty on Seff is.”

“I do have a modicum of professional pride.  Also, I’m tempted to shoot you just for requiring the house maids to shave their legs every day.  You’re a dick just on principle, aren’t you?”

Logan sneered at her, “I respect that, but you are running out of options, Miss Lowell.  I don’t want the Union on me for killing one of their own.  But I can’t leave you alive, unless I have your cooperation.  I’ll give you a moment to make your decision.”

“...Problem with things like ultimatums,” Vanessa said softly.  “Is that I already let your wolf off his leash.”

She dropped the totem to the ground, under the sight of the seven men around her.

“And he belongs to me now.  So any minute now, your little tribe of jerks here is going to start pissing their pants.”

Vanessa knew she was bluffing on that last part, but it was a pretty good guess that the bodyguards knew what Seff was capable of, and for that purpose would be feeling some fear.  She heard him inhaling behind her, and the chains rattled, a hand closing on her shoulder.  Vanessa was jerked back so hard that she hit the wall behind her, a metal ring thumping against the back of her head.  She was dizzy as she tried to get up and fell back to the floor.

Not that she was needed.  Seff had gotten a whiff of fear, and it had not only fed him, but stayed with him.  The chains fell off his body as he flexed, and the gunfire started, flashes in the sickly light, but only for a moment.  He was faster than they were, and they were firing into each other while he was snapping necks.  Each death made the fear brighter in the room, and each moment out of the chains made him stronger.

The marks on his flesh disappeared after the first few died, and he took a couple of bullet wounds, but nothing that did not heal when he got the last one backed up against the wall, bleeding him free of fear and his spirit, which was all he had going on for the moment.  So when the witch was done, the man dropped to the ground, dead.  A gun was cocked, and he looked up to see Logan standing there with a 9mm pointed at his head.

“I’m not like those idiots,” he spat.  “I know where to shoot you to get you to stay down.”

“Can you shoot straight enough to hit my eyes with how hard your hands are shaking?” Seff asked with an amused grin that revealed slightly sharper than normal canine teeth.

Logan tried to squeeze off a round, but it went wide and missed the witch completely.  It was the only shot he would get.  Seff fed well on the politician, who was more scared of him than he ever wanted to admit.  He dropped him when the light went out of Logan’s eyes.  Turning, he walked over to where Vanessa was trying to get up, and knelt down in front of her.

“Forgive me for being rough with you, I was only pulling you out of harm’s way, and knew you would not be harmed by it,” he said quietly, though his lips curled into a pleased smile.  “Unless you like that kind of thing.”

“I’m already regretting this,” Vanessa groused, sitting up.

He helped her get into a sitting position and bowed his head to her, “Seff, at your service, my lady.”

“As I said before, Vanessa’s fine.”

“What are your orders?”

She looked him over, “No killing innocents.  You want to feed, you feed on the scum of the planet.  Drug dealers.  Pimps.  Assholes like Logan.  But you leave innocent people alone, got it?”

“I live to service.”

“Yeah, I bet you do.  Now put on some damn pants.  I want to go home.”

~Fin


Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2018, 10:32:05 AM »
October 20, 2018 - Baking Blog

Rainbow Jello

Wow, life has been BUSY.  As such, I've been away, but now I'm back!  Today's baking blog isn't quite baking, but it's still a fun little dessert for anyone who likes the idea of a fancy dessert.

Recently, we had a retro foods potluck at work, and since I thought candle salad was inappropriate (seriously, go look up the most inappropriate 60's food ever), I decided to bring an old favorite, the rainbow jello mold. 



It takes some time, but it's worth it.  The payoff is definitely worth it, and I like to use the left overs to be cut into cubes and layered with whipped cream for a different yet colorful and fruity dessert.

Ingredients:
7 - 3 oz boxes of jello, any flavors or colors you like.  To get the above rainbow you'll need one each of: raspberry, orange, lime, blue raspberry, and peach, and two of grape.
2 - 6 oz containers vanilla yogurt
8 1/2 c boiling water

Equipment:
Bundt pan or jello mold pan
Pam or nonstick spray
Mixing bowls
Wire wisk

Instructions:
If you have enough bowls, set out six bowls, one twice as large as the others, and open all the jello, pouring one flavor into each bowl, with both of the grape going into the largest bowl.  To each of the single packet bowls, add 1 1/4 c boiling water and mix to dissolve.  To the grape bowl, add 2 1/2 c boiling water.  Spray your bundt pan or jello mold with the nonstick spray, then wipe it out.  This will REALLY help in unmolding later.  Begin by pouring 3/4 c of the color you want on the top of the jello into the pan and set in the fridge.

Set a timer for 15-25 minutes, until the jello is semi-set, and still tacky (you should get some on your finger and it should leave a fingerprint).  This level of semi-set is VERY important.  Without it, your layers will not stick together and will come apart after unmolded.  Take the remaining half cup of jello from your first color and mix in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vanilla yogurt.  Then place this in your pan, spooning it in very carefully.  Pouring it in will mix your layers and you won't get the pretty gradient we're going for.  Stick back in the fridge, for 15 minutes, and remember to check it for the right level of semi-set before adding the next color.  Repeat this until you get to the grape layer, where you'll add 1 1/2 cups of the jello, then mix 5 tablespoons of the yogurt into the remaining cup of jello and use that as your last layer.  If measured correctly, it will come right up to the top of the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To unmold:  Fill a bowl bigger than your pan or a sink with hot water.  Set the pan in the water (but not under the water!) and give it 10 -15 slow seconds.  It should  look a little watery around the edges.  Turn out onto a plate.  Gravity, the warmth, and the nonstick spray should all work together to unmold your jello.  Clean any liquid off the plate with paper towels, and refrigerate until serving.  Look at the jiggle.  This dessert has a high jiggle factor and it's really fun. 

My layers:

Raspberry
Orange
Lime
Blue raspberry
Peach
Grape

Tips:

1.  I used an electric kettle to boil the water and it was very efficient.  Moreso than heating water in the microwave.  I highly recommend it if you have a kettle or electric kettle.

2.  Watch your time!  Every layer is thinner than the last, so I start checking for semi-set after 10 minutes, and giving it two more minutes at a time.

3.  You don't have to make this a rainbow.  Cherry and lime alternated are beautiful for Christmas (and taste like cherry limeade!), while grape and orange would be fun for Halloween.

That's it for today!  Bon Appetit!

Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #20 on: October 28, 2018, 05:04:58 PM »
October 28, 2018 - Bunny Blog

A Reflection Of Reality - An opening post style bunny for an urban fantasy game.

It had been a long day.  The kind of day where you work eight hours and it feels like eighteen.  Her feet ached, and she still had a mile and half walk home.  The bus only took her to the gravel road that her little house sat on.  Ava had to walk the rest of the way on her own, and did so on tired feet that had been running back and forth all day.  A new pair of work shoes would have been a good investment, but she wondered where she would get the extra fifty to a hundred dollars from.

The rent, utilities, and keeping something other than ramen noodles in her cupboards usually cost her everything she had.  It was the occasional successful trip to the used clothing store on the day that they had everything half price that replenished her meager wardrobe.  There were never good, unused runners in her size.  Ava tried to determine if new shoes were worth eating ramen for two months solid.

She was a lone figure walking down the empty road, not expecting anyone to come along.  Even the farmer that owned the property where her little house was seated did not come down the road too often.  When he did, it was during the day and on his tractor or some other farm equipment that he was moving from one end of the farm to the other.  So when she heard the car coming down the road behind her, she was surprised.  Then again, it was easy to get lost in the little town just outside the major suburbs of Charleston, SC.  They probably needed directions.

That was exactly what Ava thought when the car pulled up next to her and slowed, the window rolling down.  She glanced over at the people inside, expecting a husband and wife, or maybe some college students.  Instead, she was slightly alarmed to see a number of men inside the car, all of their attentions on her.  She stopped, but did not get any closer to them than she already was.  The car stopped as well, one of the windows rolling down.

“Hey there, you look like you could use a ride.”

“No thanks,” Ava replied.  “Not too much further.”

“But you worked all day.  You’ve got to be tired,” he said with a reassuring smile.

It took a moment, but she did recognize the group of them.  They had come into the diner where she waited tables and sat in her section on purpose.  She assumed it was because she was the only waitress under the age of fifty in the entire place.  Jay’s Diner did not boast a massive amount of younger people, nor did the little town of Lakewood.  In fact Ava had chosen it for its distinct reputation as a retirement town.  She did not want to be near anyone her own age.

“I’m fine, thanks,” she said, turning to head back to walking.

One of the car doors opened, and Ava turned into the fields on the side of the road and took off running.  These men obviously did not want to be nice to her, they had been watching her, though she had no idea why.  Her bag bounced against her side and she lifted the long strap over her head, toppling her copper hair out of its bun in the process, not that she cared.  Across the field, into the tree line that was on the property.  She hoped to lose them there.

Gasping softly for air as she ran, she could hear people behind her.  From her fear-aching ears, it sounded like an army of strange men.  In truth, it was three from the vehicle, the fourth staying behind the wheel.  They were chasing her through the trees now, which was harder, it was darker.  It gave her a better chance of escape.  She stopped behind a large tree and gasped for air, not particularly unhealthy, but Ava was not in shape.  Even slender women needed to work out to be in shape.

“We’re not going to hurt you…” she heard one of them call.

“Come on out, Miss Reilly.  We just want you to take a ride with us.”

None of that sounded the least bit reassuring.  Not the promise to not harm her, or the suggestion they were going to take a ride.  Certainly not the fact that they knew her maiden name and not her married one.  All of it made the knot of terror in her stomach clench even tighter.  She waited until she was certain the coast was clear and she began to run again, looking for a way through the trees, either to the farmer’s massive house on the other side of the property, or a way to her own where she had a phone. 

The attack came not from in front of her but the side.  Her peripheral vision only picked up the movement when he was almost on her.  She turned, only to get tackled to the ground, the air knocked out of her.  Ava had her keys in her hand though, and as she gasped, she flicked the safety off the pepper spray she had hanging from it and sprayed it in his face.  She got a mouth of pepper spray, but it was better than the man wailing because his face was full of it.

Struggling to her feet, she only made it a little way away from him before another one tackled her, this time wrapping his arms around her own so she could not get the pepper spray up.  Now she just tried to fight, kicking, struggling, screaming at the top of her lungs.

“No!  Let me go!  Let go!”

He slapped the pepper spray away from her, and ignored the fact that she was sobbing as she tried to escape him.  Instead, he forced her onto her stomach and pinned her down, fastening Ava's hands behind her back with a zip tie.  She screamed for help until he put duct tape over her mouth, and then wrapped more of it around her ankles so she was completely incapacitated.  Trying to make sounds behind the gag, he left her lying on the forest floor, breathing hard from the struggle.

The three of them ignored her for moment while they asked the one who had gotten pepper sprayed if he was okay.  They then picked her up, shoulders and ankles, blatantly not looking at the tears slipping down her cheeks as they carried her back to the car.  The man in the front seat popped the trunk, and she was dropped inside, the trunk cleaned out for the especial purpose of transporting their cargo. 

Ava had no idea how long she was in that trunk, or where they were taking her.  She knew that they had turned around on the main road, but she quickly lost herself in their turns and speeding down the highway and the shock that she was in.  A thousand horrible fates went through her mind.  She was being taken to be sold into sexual slavery.  To be chopped up into organs for the black market.  To be dumped into the river or into a shallow grave after they did whatever they wanted with her.

She exhausted herself sobbing, and when the car finally stopped, she realized she had been asleep.  There were now four of them, and they plucked her out of the trunk, not that she was enlightened about anything.  They were in a garage, a regular house garage though there were a dozen cars inside it, all in pristine condition.  They carried her past the cars to an elevator and stepped inside.

Riding up two floors, they got out in what looked like a cellar or a basement, and her eyes opened wide when she saw what was waiting.  There was a mirror, full sized, leaning up against one wall.  On the cement floor was a pentagram drawn in a dark red liquid she hoped was paint, but knowing that there was a scent of copper in the air, it certainly could not have been.  Surrounded by braziers that were burning, there was very little other light available.

A man in a suit was chatting with an elderly man in a wheelchair, and they turned to glance at the four who had brought Ava into the room.  The man in the suit was quite handsome, his dark hair held away from his face in a ponytail.  The man in the wheelchair was obviously at the end of his life.  Hands gnarled with arthritis, eyes milky from cataracts that could not be removed, he more hunched in the wheelchair than sat in it.  The younger man kissed the old man in his thinning corn silk hair and then turned to the four.

He approached them and grabbed Ava’s chin with bruisingly tight fingers, looking into her honey colored eyes, as if he could see right through her.  A smile touched his lips, and he nodded slightly, obviously pleased with what he had seen.  Dropping her chin, he gestured to the pentagram on the floor.

“In the center.  And make sure they’re good and tight.”

Ava was set down in the center of the pentagram with its runes, and the zip ties were cut, only to be replaced with heavy handcuffs that were chained to O rings drilled into the cement floor.  They tightened them around her wrists until they bruised the flesh, and were at least kind enough to cut the tape around her ankles.  That across her lips was left in place and she could not reach up with the chains to tear it off herself.

She did manage to turn, to see what was going on behind her.  Ava witnessed the men donning robes, anointing themselves and the old man with oil.  One of them came toward her with a straight razor, and she tried to cringe away, not that he let her.  He destroyed her worn, faded green work polo with the razor, leaving her in just the simple underwear she chose to wear out of necessity, usually purchased in six packs from Wal-Mart and the tank top she wore under everything over her bra.

The handsome man nodded his approval, and she shivered on the cold ground while they prepared themselves.  Then a book was brought out, wrapped in some kind of leather, and they began to read from it.  The fire in the braziers got bigger without them adding to them, and she shivered with cold despite the warmth building in the room.  The one with the straight razor approached her again, and she screamed behind the gag as he cut her arm open, squeezing so blood welled up in the cut. 

Smearing his fingers in her blood, he began drawing on the surface of the mirror, making a replica of the marks on the floor.  He came back twice for more blood, and by then Ava was ready to just drop right there.  Whatever they wanted, they needed to just kill her.  She was ready, she would just give up.

“The gateway is open,” the handsome one said, closing the book.  “Now we wait for him to accept the invitation.”

~Fin


Offline PrincessofHeartTopic starter

Re: Mina's Baking and Bunnies
« Reply #21 on: November 08, 2018, 05:27:18 PM »
November 8, 2018 - Baking Blog

Pumpkin Lasagna

I'm back!  I've been fighting walking pneumonia, so there hasn't been much writing or baking recently.  But today we'll discuss one of my favorite things to bring to Thanksgiving - Pumpkin Lasagna.  This recipe is adapted from the chocolate lasagna recipe that is so popular right now.  I just adapted it to be an alternative to pumpkin pie (which nobody eats but me).

Crust:

40-50 gingersnap cookies
6T melted butter

Filling:

2 - 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4c sugar
2T cold milk
2 - 12oz containers Cool Whip (store brand is fine)
2t pumpkin pie spice
2 - 3 oz packages of Jell-o pumpkin spice pudding
3 1/4c cold whole milk

Recipe:

Crush your gingersnaps in the food processor, and keep aside 1/3c for garnish later.  Mix the rest with the melted butter, and press into a 9x13 pan.  Set this in the fridge to chill and work on the next layer.  In a bowl, mix the cream cheese with the sugar, 2T of cold milk, and pumpkin pie spice.  Add one of the containers of whipped topping and spread into the pan, letting it chill.  Mix the pudding with the remaining milk, and let it firm up a few minutes, then spread over the cream cheese layer and chill again.  When thoroughly chilled, top with more of the whipped topping and sprinkle with the remaining ground up gingersnaps.  Cover and chill overnight, serve chilled.

Tips:

1.  Store brand of the cream cheese, whipped topping, and milk are fine.

2.  Buy full fat of all your dairy products.  This is not a recipe that translates well to skim milk and low fat cream cheese.

3.  Get your pumpkin pudding mix as soon as you see it.  I have a hard time finding it after October.

4.  You could replace the gingersnaps with cinnamon graham crackers or golden oreos if you don't like gingersnaps.

That's it for today!  Bon Appetit!