Blogging Lounge – Prompt #6 – March 22, 2014

Basic Instructions:
Your mission should you choose to accept it. Blog, vlog, sing or dance about the prompt. Interpret it how you wish. Post it in a blog and share. Include “The Blogging Lounge” and “Ariana Browning” in the post. Or just use the image provided. All links posted within Facebook Group are shared on Twitter profile for the group. Join the Twitter group, use the hashtag, and I will RT all. (Includes anything except promotions.) I try to share all prompts on my sites.

Read below for full information and links.

When you’ve posted, you’re welcome to come back here and share those links in the comments below. I will participate the same way and link my post (if I do one for the prompt) in the comments below.
Feel free to save and share the image above. It’s a square, which makes sharing on Instagram much easier. 
Want to join, and don’t have a place to blog? www.arianabrowning.proboards.com I do frequent the forum, even if I’m not posting. If you use the forum, I’ll share the links through the Twitter profile below.
Join the Twitter group!  www.twitter.com/blogginglounge and read the perks of following and joining us there – https://kimberlysueiverson.com/2014/03/the-blogging-lounge-to-take-over-twitter.html

What is The Blogging Loungehttps://kimberlysueiverson.com/2014/01/spring-cleaning-except-its-not-and.html

Facebook pinned post – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=283066665194427&set=gm.1416869091905091&type=1&theater

I can’t wait to see how this inspires you!

What do you want more of?

I’m open to suggestions of things you would like to see more of on my site. I’m busy redesigning a new theme and site design, so I would like to know what you want to see.

No suggestions are bad. I’ll take in everything told and try to accommodate what you want to see more of!

Some of the things I know you love are the quotes and recipes, or bits about the gremlin gang. What else?

I also plan to make a new tutorial on working with the CS templates since that one was such a huge hit for you. That includes a part for Lulu since I now use that for my hard covers. 🙂

Special offer – buy one get one – 4 left

Dark Illusions: The Next Chapter

The paperback is officially available! See link: https://www.createspace.com/4583957?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026

I have a special offer, just for you. This is for Dark Illusions: The Next Chapter only. Please read carefully, and if you have questions, feel free to ask.

Buy One, Get One:
If you purchase a copy of the paperback book through me personally, the first FOUR (one offer has been claimed so it’s down to four) people who do, will receive a signed paperback copy. And you can also receive one signed paperback for free. Which means two books for one price.

Choose to either get two free signed copies for yourself to give away, or you can receive one for you, and I will send another directly to a friend of your choosing. Again, this is reserved for the first FOUR people who take advantage of this offer. As soon as I’ve reached five, I will send out a notice and let you know in a special note.

How to redeem.

Either reply to this (if you receive it in email), or send me a separate email to ariana@arianabrowning.com, subject: buy one get one.

If you want both books for yourself (both signed for free), I only need your mailing address and your email so I can send you a PayPal invoice. Your privacy is my main concern and I will only use your address for that purpose. The paperbacks will be purchased and when I receive them, I will sign them, then send out. That could take up to a month because of the weather. I will email you once I’ve put them in the mail.

If you want one book for you (both signed for free), and one for a friend, then I need your mailing address and your email to send a PayPal invoice to you, and then the mailing address of your friend, if you want the book sent directly from me to them. Otherwise if you plan to send/give the book to your friend, just send me your address and the email alone. The paperbacks will be purchased and when I receive them, I will sign them, then send out. That could take up to a month because of the weather. I will email you once I’ve put them in the mail.

Special Note: With all my print books

If you purchase the print book, you’re entitled to the digital eBook on Amazon for free. It’s a Kindle MatchBook program. I could have chosen any price, but since my physical copies are already priced high (I price as low as I can), I thought I’d stick with the eBook being free. So at any time, you’re welcome to purchase the print copy (I believe you have to purchase it through Amazon strictly to receive the offer), and receive the digital eBook (again, only with Amazon) for free.

If you use a different digital reader, feel free to contact me if you purchase the paperback, and I’ll honor the same deal and email you the eBook for free.

The price is $13.99 for the book and $4.99 for the shipping. So the total is $18.98 and you get the second book absolutely free, which includes the shipping, and the autographs on both!

A Personal Note to All of You

I shared this on Facebook the other day, but thought to myself, I really need to share it again for those that missed it. And all over. So here you go.

I consider myself a very fortunate human being. Getting to know such an exceptional group of people, fans, and individuals, has been an amazing experience in the past year, and longer. Every day you deserve to be told how great you are and how much I adore you all. I am impressed by, and absolutely love the creativity everyone shows, especially those who are a part of The Blogging Lounge. I enjoy reading the incredible things they come up with in general, but especially for the prompts. That is why you have seen me sharing their links on my profiles when they share the prompts in the group. I am so proud of them. It takes great courage to write and share your thoughts. Let’s never forget that. To do so in any form online is a brave feat. I don’t think we realize sometimes that we are so much stronger than we may believe. We all do mini acts of courage every day without realizing it, or receiving credit for it.

I come online every day to read stories, and get to know everyone, and we are all fighting battles, but I see so many people who hold their heads high and never allow that to bring them down for long. It is incredible. It’s beautiful. You are beautiful. There are always people out there who may be silent, but they are privately rooting for you every step of the way, and hoping all those dreams and wishes of yours come true. You can count me as one of them. I eagerly look forward to continuing to get to know you, and seeing all the accomplishments you achieve. Everyone possesses their own wonderful gifts and talents that they bring to the posts that it’s fun to learn things from you that I may have never known before. So many people complain about Facebook, I understand that, but at the end of the day it’s a great place to meet and talk with some fascinating individuals.

I also understand that when you may see me share where you can find me online, that it’s just another person sharing their sites and it’s about numbers, but to me, it’s about connection. I truly love to chat with you between everything I do. Even if I had millions of followers, I can guarantee you would each continue to have a face, a name, and a story to me, not just a number. And despite my weird brain who forgets, I remember the small details you share whether you know it or not. Between all the things I have to do every day, it can get lonely during certain periods. So even on days where it may not seem like I am fully engaged, I AM paying attention and hearing you. You are always, always heard by me and accepted. No matter who you are. I enjoy talking to everyone, even on the days I am exhausted and it may not seem so. If nothing else, know how much I appreciate having such amazing people to talk to. How much I appreciate getting to know everyone around me, and how damn amazing you are. ♥

Can you tell she smells baked pancake?

Lucy in the midst of her haircut. I paused to make baked pancake for lunch. 
I told her that I would be making a baked pancake and she should bug my mom for some. This is what she did. She went to the kitchen, smelled it cooking, and wouldn’t stop looking at the oven. 
Too smart for her own good.
That’s Cheyenne looking at me. “What are you doing?”

Vanilla Granola

I would love to take complete credit for this granola, but I’m afraid I can’t. I mix and match parts of it (i.e. to use walnuts in place of mixed nuts, pancake syrup in place of real maple syrup [only because we never have real maple syrup]) but I found this recipe online somewhere years ago and I’ve been addicted ever since to it. It’s very simple to make. I usually make a double batch (just double every single item) and use 2 cookie sheets so that I can make an extra bunch of it. I usually go through it within one month, more if I don’t cook dinner at night some times and use this for my dinner. 
 
It’s also great to top oatmeal with this granola, or ice cream. Some times you can even use it on top of yogurt, or anything else you may enjoy using this with! The best part of this granola? Is how your house smells during and after you’ve made it!
 
Now since I always end up with needing to use substitutions, I’ll asterisk a lot of the items and tell you what I use to substitute. This is a very flexible recipe! You can even change the vanilla extract (base flavor) to orange, almond, or lemon flavoring. Even maple! 
 
ETA (5-2014): Another recipe at the bottom. This is one that I use all the time.
 
 
 Vanilla Granola
 
 
 Preheat oven to 375*
Ingredients:
          3 1/2 cup oats (old-fashioned)
          1/2 sweetened shredded coconut
          3 Tbsp Sesame Seeds*
          1/4 cup Sunflower/Pumpkin Seeds*
          1/2 cup toasted mixed nuts**, chopped (just slightly, depends on how big you’d like the pieces)
          2 tsp. cinnamon
          1 tsp. sea salt
          1/4 cup light brown sugar***
          1/4 cup oil
          2 Tbsp honey****
          1 Tbsp pure maple syrup*****
          2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (regular imitation is fine)
          2 cup dried fruits bits (cut up to your size you wish) and/or chocolate bits (I usually don’t use either, but if you do wait until after you’ve cooked the granola to mix these)
*I rarely have these on hand, so I choose the sesame seeds to use, but you can omit these both if you don’t have them, or double the amounts. All about your personal preference.
**I usually only have, and like, walnuts, and prefer a little more than this recipe calls for. Sometimes ‘ll even toast them before placing in the granola to cook. Lends different flavors.
***Substitute for the light brown sugar is the same amount in white sugar plus 1 1/2 Tbsp molasses (or in my case, maple pancake syrup)
****Substitute for the honey, I will just use the same amount in corn syrup as well if I absolutely have to
*****Substitute as I never usually have real maple syrup is using maple pancake syrup (my typical on hand is Mrs. Butterworth’s) Still fine!
Directions:
Get a large bowl (really large if you double the recipe). Mix all ingredients in bowl. I’ve found it best to simply follow the recipe from top to bottom and then to mix it up, I get my hands in there and knead it all together. That way it just ensures all the syrups are mixed throughout really well so that there aren’t any areas with more syrup and others not so much.
(Remember: don’t add the chocolate and fruit if you plan on using it until after cooking.)
Line a 13×9 cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and if inclined, spray lightly with oil spray (just helps you remove granola after cooking, but I rarely remember to do it and have had no problems removing the granola because of the oil in recipe prevents it from sticking if you remove it soon enough) and pour granola onto foil. Try to even it out. If you’ve doubled the recipe you’ll just need to do the same to another cookie sheet and divide the granola in half.
 
 
Place in the 375* oven for just about 20 minutes. Since I usually have twice the amount, I will lower one of the oven racks (so they are both nearly in the center) and then simply place both cookie sheets in the oven, switching the one on top with the one on bottom 10 minutes through the cooking for more even cooking of the granola.
 
 
Cool. Add chocolate and fruit if you’ve decided to include it. Place into a airtight jar and use as you wish.
 
 
Enjoy!
 
 
 

Old World Charm – Modern Living Cinnamon Roll Bread

Cinnamon Roll Bread
This recipe is derived from The Pioneer Woman cinnamon roll recipe – http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/cinammon_rolls_/
 
 
INGREDIENTS:

1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp yeast (I use quick rise)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup flour
1/4 heaping tsp baking powder
1/4 almost tsp baking soda
1/4 heaping teaspoon salt
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup sugar (I prefer 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, but either works)
cinnamon to sprinkle over top
*optional chopped nuts of your choice (if you choose to use nuts, know that the bread will fall apart very easy)

Pan used is an 8×4″ loaf pan

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup oil, and 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. Stick in microwave for about 1 minute. The time varies. You want it warm enough you can add the yeast without scorching, but not cool enough that the yeast won’t react. I have found 1 minute works great for my microwave.

Mix in 3 teaspoons yeast, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp cinnamon (you can leave out, but I like the bread to also include the cinnamon), and 2 cups all-purpose flour.

Set it aside for one hour. I cover it with some plastic to keep warm and activate the yeast further like above.

After an hour, add in 1/4 cup flour (bowl change = magic! and not that this took a few batches to perfect), 1/4 heaping teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 almost teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/4 heaping teaspoon salt.
Mix up, cover with plastic wrap, and set bowl in the fridge overnight. You can make it now, but the bread has such a better flavor and texture if you can set it overnight. Also then helps you not to have to do a thousand steps at once. You can forget it for a few days in the fridge and the texture will be delicious.
(Bowl change magic! I’m mad in love with this stoneware. Signature Housewares Sorrento.)
The second day, take it out of the fridge and pat out. I prefer to pat versus roll because I feel like I’m smooshing all the nummies out of the bread. Also I’m more of a rustic cook who prefers limiting usage of modern items. Just the way I am when I cook. Unless my hands hurt.
I pat/press out to maybe 1/4-1/2″ thick. I don’t really calculate. No science to this as far as I’m concerned. I just want it flat and semi-rectangular.  Slightly thicker will just give you more bread between the layers, versus butter and cinnamon layers. I think it may cook better with a little thicker. Personal choice here. We don’t need no rules!
Take your 1/4 cup softened butter (I didn’t measure this round, just generously smothered it on) and spread out to the very edge. Not too thin, not too thick. Goldilocks would be proud of you. Just. so.
Then add your 1/4 cup sugar. You can see I used brown this round and decided I like that best. White or a substitute sugar can be used. If I had baking Truvia, I would’ve tried that for my mom’s benefit.
Finally sprinkle your cinnamon. Amount depends entirely on you, but don’t be too generous. You’ll gag. We don’t want gagging.

You can see by the above picture, I do a semi-rectangular piece. And you’ll also note that I have plenty of flour all over the place. I don’t mind being generous to keep it from sticking on the bottom. If you want to add some nuts, go for it. Just make sure they aren’t too big, or too much. The bread separates very easy when cooking with too many, and then you have a huge mess on your hands. But it’s still good!

Ask me how I found that out.

Roll it up. See? No perfection there!
I took this to show you how you’re going to roll the ends up. This is an upside down view. This is how you’re going to put it into the pan (8×4″ loaf pan).
When you’re done rolling, have your seam on the bottom, then roll/tuck the two ends underneath the main roll. Just almost until touching. Doesn’t have to be perfect, but if they are too far apart, you’ll end up with bread that is tall on the outside and then short on the very center.
Ask me how I learned that lesson.
Then place the roll into the pan. Try to have it in the center just to help it rise evenly.

Optional, smother top with butter as I did above.

Here is a trick to how I rise, then cook. Put oven on warm (or 120*) and let it warm up while you’re rolling the dough out. Then turn off oven once warmed a little. Place dough as the above picture, into oven and set for 30 minutes to rise. Without removing the dough, after 30 minutes, turn oven on to 400*. Easy!

Or just set dough aside 30 minutes to rise, then cook.

Cook for 15 minutes-20 minutes until the top is a brown you like, I think darker brown is the best flavor, but at least do it until past the golden stage or you’ll have to cook longer in your second step. Cover loosely with foil, cook 20-30 minutes more.

You want to cook long enough that the center cooks, but because it’s got butter, the center may still remain a little uncooked looking in spots even when cooked. I’ve found 20 minutes, top with foil (doesn’t have to be tight, just so oven doesn’t brown top anymore) then 20 minutes again works for me.

Set aside to cool (hard part!)

Pause to point out this little lovely item. Because I try to not spend ALL day (as much as I love it) in the kitchen, I do the above when I have to work with dough, breads, etc. It’s also because we have limited space and dinner usually needs to go there right after. I will cover the cutting board with plastic wrap before I start. I use a few pieces of tape to seal it down underneath. Then when I’m done all I have to do is take the plastic wrap off and it’s clean. Lovely. Just lovely.

This is the most delicious snack.

If you try it, let me know. There are a lot of steps, but this is actually a really easy bread to make. I have made it a bunch of times and it doesn’t last but a few days.

You can also cut out the part with the cinnamon, butter, and sugar, then just have it rolled up plain. Still delicious.

Trust your instincts, even when you’re afraid they’re wrong

There are times when we do things that we often regret, analyze too much over, worry that it wasn’t the correct decision. I know I face that one a lot. The over-analyzing. I do it with decisions I make, with things I do, things I don’t do. Everything and anything is over-analyzed to a bazillionth degree. I don’t allow myself to feel bad, I just naturally am inclined to thinking too much. I have a scientists brain. I study and analyze myself, and others, for fun. As odd as that sounds.

But honestly I have always believed that even though my mind becomes filled with a lot of fear based reactions and thoughts of should I have done that?, that yes. The answer to that question is yes, you should have. You should have made that decision. You should have said those words. You should have reacted that way.

Because you were meant to.

Now, I’m not this overtly religious human being. I’m not this destiny and fate girl. I do believe in some things, I don’t in others, but it’s always changing. Always shifting with the tides of life. Everything I do changes constantly. What I believe, what I think, how I behave.

The one thing that I always come back to though is that you were meant to do that. It doesn’t matter what the situation. If I did something that I worry over later on (who doesn’t, right?), that fills me with turmoil, and I tend to do the human based “oh my god, I made the wrong decision!” reaction, I have to remind myself of that. I truly believe that everything we do, we do it for a reason.

For a long time now, I’ve been living based on gut reactions, instincts, and those feelings. Ever since the day I was raped because I didn’t listen. They have led me to where I am now. I have never been at a better place. In some ways, there are struggles that I don’t speak of, and maybe eventually I will. But the main idea is always that I shouldn’t regret anything I do. I had to do A to get to B. I had to face B to get to C. I trust my heart and soul. When my heart tells me to back off, I do. When my soul tells me to venture forth, I do. I have found that every little step, no matter how minor I take, is important. It has led me to the people I know, the places I’ve gone, where I’m headed. I am here right now because of every small minute detail of the past.

I’m also grateful for every experience, every person I’ve come across. I don’t regret friendships that have dissolved, or men that have gone away. I have learned that regret is something that eats you up. I know. The one regret that slips in and haunts me is the one that I didn’t listen to my gut. Then I feel shame, humiliation, anger. I ignore it until it goes away once more. I’m grateful for every experience whether good or bad because it teaches me to trust my gut more. I learn from the situations. I go on to a better place because of them. A better mindset.

I wouldn’t be here now had I held back when I was too scared to be open. Or when I walked away when every part of me said not to. When I didn’t take that job that paid a lot, and instead chose this route. Everything led me here. As much as I begin to regret certain decisions, I stop myself. I then remind myself. I am here now because of all those choices. Those choices and the choices I make right this second, are leading me to better and greater things. To the dream I want.

Because a funny thing happens when you make up your mind. Life will do everything in its power to fulfill your dreams. But it will also make sure that you rid yourself of anything holding back from that. Even if it means say walking away from a job or friendship that may later on come back and be better than ever. Or not.

Don’t regret decisions you make. For every small thing you do, is leading you to the path that will fulfill what your heart desires. Even if it doesn’t seem that way right this second. You are on that path. You may not see it because you may have to build it yourself, so it’s not laid out already ahead of you, but it is there.

Trust yourself. Trust your heart. Trust your soul.
Trust Life.
Don’t be so afraid of what you don’t know.
We are in this together.

The Blogging Lounge
Prompt 5 – Turmoil

Blogging Lounge – Prompt #5 – March 8, 2014

When you’ve posted, you’re welcome to come back here and share those links in the comments below. I will participate the same way and link my post (if I do one for the prompt) in the comments below.
Feel free to save and share the image above. It’s a square, which makes sharing on Instagram much easier. 
Want to join, and don’t have a place to blog? www.arianabrowning.proboards.com I do frequent the forum, even if I’m not posting. If you use the Forum, I’ll share the links through the Twitter profile below.
Access the archives by clicking the picture.
I can’t wait to see how this inspires you!

Embrace the fear

The other day, or rather night, I had a moment that I thought I would share with you. It’s very easy to look upon people who live in the public eye and believe they must be the most confident, fearless people on the planet. I know that’s something that people have always believed about me.

Either I’m assumed to be extremely confident, or well . . . a bitch.

I can’t remember what set it off exactly. I was in the midst of reading some material about authors, reading a book, and studying grammar and writing. Somewhere in there, in the midst of the evening hours, I remember reading a random sentence and then I was struck with this “oh my god, millions of people around the world may one day know my name, and read my books,” realization.

I understand that it’s an obvious thought. I write, I publish, people will see the books. I will receive the attention. But I don’t know. I was just hit with the realization that sometimes occurs in the most random of moments. And the truth? I wasn’t just scared. I felt petrified.

Then the thoughts began rolling. I can’t do this. I’m not good enough. They’ll hate my work. Oh my god what am I DOING? The thoughts went off the deep end into solid dark deep fear. Anyone who has ever placed themselves in this sort of position will know exactly the type of moment I experienced.

What’s truly interesting is that I’ve been at this a few years. I’m always thinking in the back of my mind about all the people who will read my books or I wouldn’t work so hard to improve my writing and grammar. I am always conscious of just what I’m facing, what’s involved, and the future aspects. I am far too self aware not to.

So that idea wasn’t really a surprising one and yet . . . it was. I felt the cold depth of fear hit me. For an instant.

Then . . . I went right back to writing and editing. My day went on.

I still fear what may come. But as Anne Rice mentioned in her video I watched on YouTube the other day. Every single one of her books has received someone mentioning that it’s the worst writing they have ever read, that she doesn’t know how to write, you name it. And even Stephen King has faced it.

So even the most confident seeming among us face those fears. The difference between you pursuing that dream and the others who aren’t? It isn’t that fear that may sweep you up and tumble you end over end. It’s not that you keep facing the fear. It’s simply that you keep going. No matter what you say to yourself, someone else says to you: keep. going.

That’s it.

Just keep going. Fear and all.

http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=ulowcAGAbrA&u=/watch?v=Q946sfGLxm4&feature=share

I haven’t ever seen this video before for this, but this machine is fabulous. Wouldn’t it be great to own one in your own home?

http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=ulowcAGAbrA&u=/watch?v=Q946sfGLxm4&feature=share

The Blogging Lounge to take over Twitter!

With your help, that is. Well, maybe not take over Twitter. Maybe . . . the world! 

If you missed the post the other day on Facebook or Twitter, I created a group Twitter account for The Blogging Lounge at www.twitter.com/blogginglounge

If you’re a writer who would enjoy increasing your readership and want to meet like minds, a reader who’d like to read some wonderful blogs (trust me, I don’t pimp out blah sort of reads, lol), and overall want to join in, feel free to follow and come by.

Every day I RT [almost] anything that is tagged @blogginglounge or #theblogginglounge. If you are part of the group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1377737912484876/), I pop in, grab links shared that day and tweet them. If you tag, you may end up earning two tweets a day. This isn’t a competition sort of thing, it’s just that I may overlook, or do it accidentally. Which is all right because you get more views! Just no playing with my mind you meanies, because I will limit how much I share a particular link per day. I can see which ones I have done. Thank you Twittah! ha-ha

I set the account up so that others can use that tag, follow your great posts, but also as a great way to increase viewership. If you help me get the word out, that increases how many people will see your links when shared. As long as you don’t promote “buy this!” links, and you do want to be a part of that group, you CAN tag quotes from your books, fun quotes, interesting things you find, blog posts, etc. Again, as long as they are not links to buy your products, promotional links, or similar. A quote from your book is fine if you do the quote, and the book name, but no link. Then it’s not technically promotional. This is to increase readership, participation, connection with others like you. And overall fun times!

And because I do have such high standards (they are higher for myself) I will check a link to a blog, or make sure it isn’t something grotesque. I won’t limit based on personal issues I have with anything, but only from what I deem inappropriate for readership. As in, I’m not sharing sexual posts with a lot of nudity, or things that I feel promote hate. If you’re unsure, you can always just ask. You can tweet me at that account and I will respond. If a link is overlooked, I may just have done it by accident, but again, feel free to tweet me, or DM me to ask. I follow back all that follow that account.

Note: Vlogs are also permitted.

Because this is also a blogger group, if you have a blogging question, you’re also welcome to tag #theblogginglounge or @blogginglounge and I’ll still RT it. Get a lot of help with Blogger, WP, or other issues. Ask a question of the group in general. This is all about connecting, connecting, connnnnnecting. 🙂

Book Review – Dean Koontz – Intensity

Thought I would scream

Okay, as with the title, this is an intense read. I’m not sure what is is/was about it that makes it that intense, but my heart definitely was pounding while I read it. I got too into the book.

The only “off” thing for me, if you can call it that (I’m brutally honest with reviews) was the over usage of “honey” from Chyna near the end. Not saying more than that because I don’t want to give the book away, but for me, I get bothered by too many terms of endearment. Which is funny considering I write them into my own books at times, but it just began to feel a bit fake.

Other than that really minor nitpick, no cons from me for this book. LOVED it. I found myself relating well to Chyna’s personality. Maybe that’s also why I could connect with this book so well.