Homemade Granola

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Hi all! Thought I’d share a quick post of one of my favorite and easy-to-make snacks – granola. The basic recipe is below but you can change it up with different additions, such as dried fruit or even chocolate chips.

In future posts I’ll include more healthy recipes and tips for refining not so healthy ones. Enjoy! Until next time . . . just love, Collette

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1-2 cups nuts (I used pecans in the pic above but walnuts are great, too.)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1-2 drops vanilla extract
  • dash of salt

Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the oats and nuts in a bowl. In a small pot heat the syrup, molasses, honey, vanilla and salt over a low-medium heat. Once it starts to bubble, remove from heat and pour over the oat mixture. Stir together until mixed well.

Spread evenly in a foil-lined pan and bake for 10 minutes. Stir and bake for another 8-10 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately transfer contents to a container. Let cool and enjoy!

*Granola should be kept in a covered container at room temperature. It will last for a week.*

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Mystery Blogger Award April 2017

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Hi everyone! Another wonderful blogger, The Happiest Pixel, nominated me for a Mystery Blogger Award. Thank you for thinking of me, Silvia. Do check out her site. She posts about all things creative, especially her DIY section.

Here’s a link to the original post.

A little background on what the Mystery Blogger Award is: It is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion. Okota Enigma 

The Rules:

Display Award Logo
List The Rules
Mention Creator Of Award & Provide A Link
Thank The Blogger(s) Who Nominated You & Provide A Link
Say 3 Things About Yourself
Nominate From 10 to 20 Bloggers
Notify Nominated Bloggers By Leaving A Comment On Their Blog
Answer 5 Questions From Nominee
Write 5 Questions For Your Nominees
Share Your Best Post

3 Things About Me:

  1. I love writing and it’s a path I’m passionately pursuing. My blog will take readers along my journey to publication. Hopefully, I’ll be able to provide some tips and humor along the way.
  2. Another passion of mine is food. Who doesn’t love to eat delicious things? From appetizers to meals to dessert – yummy, yummy dessert – I love finding new recipes to try.
  3. One day I want to travel all of Europe for an indefinite amount of time, exploring the scenery, history and culture.

5 Questions For Me:

  1. What or who inspired you to blog? I’d been thinking about creating a blog for a while. One of my friends and I talked about doing one together, but never came up with an idea that we both wanted to do. For me, blogging is another extension of my writing and a way to share, create and express myself. I really enjoy it!
  2. What was the biggest obstacle you overcame last year? Or recently, really? Accepting the fact that we’re going to stay in our current city for a while. I was really looking forward to moving again, but sometimes life takes you in a different direction.
  3. What’s your everyday mantra? Create something!
  4. If you’re allowed one impossible thing only you can do, what would that be? Teleport anywhere in the world
  5. What’s your spiritual mythical creature? Dragon

My Best Post:

Austin Getaway

My Nominees (no particular order):

A Writer’s Path

Live. Eat. Create.

Haylsaway

Booknvolume

Our Nourished Table

Cooking with a Wallflower

Give Me Meatloaf

Mae Travels

Wild About Scotland

Lauren Sapala

5 Questions for my Nominees:

  1. What prompted you to start blogging?
  2. What are your favorite books?
  3. Share one of your favorite quotes
  4. Are you pursuing writing/blogging on a full time basis?
  5. If you could travel to one place in the world, where would it be?

Hope you guys check out the bloggers I mentioned above. They have some really great posts! Until next time . . . just love, Collette

Gardening in a Raised Bed

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Hi guys! I don’t know about you, but with Spring in the air and all these little things coming to life, I was inspired to try something new. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while and finally decided to go for it – a veggie and herb garden. I imagine a lot of you have done this kind of thing before, but for someone like me with a pretty bad track record with any and all plants, it was a risk!

I planted a variety of peppers, tomatoes and basil in late February and they’re blooming beautifully. The tomatoes are now in separate pots since they started to overtake the bed. Romaine lettuce is something I also tried, but after a couple of attempts and no luck I let it go.

I’ve used the basil in a few pasta and pizza dishes and it’s delicious! It’s even nicer to be able to step out into your back yard and pick it fresh from the garden.

Here are a couple of shots:

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Since I’m not known to have a green thumb I’m quite excited for this success. It also ties in well with my writing. You plant a few seeds, water and feed them, nurture them and love them, use what works and let go of what doesn’t, and most importantly, learn how to grow better, healthier, fruitful plants.

I tend to work on multiple projects at once. My main WIP always gets the most attention, but other works are brewing and coming to life. If not on the page, definitely in my mind. For example, right now I’m drafting a YA Fantasy while also working on a screenplay. As thoughts come to me about other ideas, I jot them down in my notebook for future stories.

How are you inspired for new stories or projects? I’d love to hear what spurs your creativity.

Until next time . . . just love, Collette

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Chocolate Chip cookies

Happy Wednesday everyone! Anyone need a pick-me-up to get you through the rest of the week? I do, so I think today calls for something sweet, easy and delicious. Of course, it will include chocolate because chocolate makes everything better.

There’s nothing fancy here – just a basic chunk of happiness in the form of a chocolate chip cookie. Recipe follows below.

Enjoy! Until next time . . . just love, Collette

Recipe:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter or margarine softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional – I usually prefer pecans but walnuts are good, too)
  • 1 package semisweet chocolate chips (12 ounces)

Preheat oven to 375. Mix sugars, butter, vanilla and egg in a large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in nuts and chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly and remove from cookie sheet.

Austin Getaway

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Austin-Mural

Happy March everyone! Dare I say it? Spring is just around the corner, which means blue skies, warmer weather and time to start thinking of fun places to go for a quick weekend getaway.

One of my absolute favorite places is Austin – an oasis in Central Texas. I used to live there and loved every second of it. I wouldn’t have left if it hadn’t been for a job transfer. Now, I find myself trying to figure out a way to move back, or at least have a second home in this cool city.

If you’ve never been, it’s this bustling, ever-growing town surrounded by beautiful Texas Hill Country and home to Lake Travis, Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake). Lush greenery, dazzling scenery and all kinds of eateries abound! Food, shopping, festivals, museums, hiking and water activities are endless. It makes a great weekend getaway, or longer if you have the time.

I’ve included a little guide on all things Austin, should you decide to visit. I highly recommend you do!

Food:

Chuy's sign

Chuy’s – yummy Tex Mex

The Oasis

The Oasis – This one comes with an amazing view and spectacular sunsets over Lake Travis.

franklin-barbecue-sign

Franklin Barbecue – Be prepared to wait in line, but it’s worth the wait!

 

Things To Do and See:

Congress Street bats

Congress Street Bats

Alamo Drafthouse sign

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

barton-springs-pool

Barton Springs Pool

LakeTravisMarshallFordLake

Lake Travis

Peter Pan Mini Golf 2

Peter Pan Mini Golf

 

Harry Ransom Center

Blanton Museum of Art

NLand Surf Park

Book People

SXSW

Austin Film Festival

 

Places to Stay:

Driskill Hotel

The Driskill

Lake Austin Spa Resort

Lake Austin Spa Resort

Omni Barton Creek Resort

Omni Barton Creek Resort 

Until next time . . . just love, Collette

 

Mystery Blogger Award February 2017

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Hi everyone! Hope you all are enjoying your weekend. I have a few new posts coming soon, but first some news: I was nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award by Pat at All Day I Eat.  Thank you so much, Pat!

Here’s a link to the original post.

A little background on what the Mystery Blogger Award is: It is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion. Okota Enigma 

The Rules:

Display Award Logo
List The Rules
Mention Creator Of Award & Provide A Link
Thank The Blogger(s) Who Nominated You & Provide A Link
Say 3 Things About Yourself
Nominate From 10 to 20 Bloggers
Notify Nominated Bloggers By Leaving A Comment On Their Blog
Answer 5 Questions From Nominee
Write 5 Questions For Your Nominees
Share Your Best Post

3 Things About Me:

  1. I love writing and it’s a path I’m passionately pursuing. My blog will take readers along my journey to publication. Hopefully, I’ll be able to provide some tips and humor along the way.
  2. Another passion of mine is food. Who doesn’t love to eat delicious things? From appetizers to meals to dessert – yummy, yummy dessert – I love finding new recipes to try.
  3. One day I want to travel all of Europe for an indefinite amount of time, exploring the scenery, history and culture.

5 Questions for me:

  1. What if anything, intimidates you when it comes to cooking/baking and why? I’m always nervous to try complicated or lengthy recipes. I usually gravitate toward quick and easy ones.
  2. What challenges do you have when it comes to writing? Time! Having a day job and a family can create challenges in carving out quiet time for my writing.
  3. Where do you get your inspiration? Early morning when no one else in my house is awake is when I can let my imagination and thoughts soar. The characters are usually in my mind for a while before I’m able to understand their story and write it down.
  4. Where do you see your website going one year from now? I hope to have a well-rounded and interesting blog with regular posts that readers enjoy.
  5. What is your day job? Banking

I’m supposed to include my best post, but being so new to blogging I can’t say that I have a best one yet. However, I’ll share one of my recent ones with a delicious and healthy recipe. Shrimp and Avocado Salad.

5 Questions for the Nominees:

  1. What prompted you to start blogging?
  2. What are your favorite books?
  3. Share one of your favorite quotes
  4. Are you pursuing writing/blogging on a full time basis?
  5. If you could travel to one place in the world, where would it be?

Nominees (in no particular order):

The Purple Almond

The Happiest Pixel

Kate M. Colby

Work Mum Balance

4am Writer

Nature Photography by Urmo Parts

Recipe in a Bottle

Cooking Without Limits

My Dear Kitchen in Helsinki

Mrs. Twinkle My Wonderful Little World

Millie Schmidt Writes

Duri Rolvsson – Stories of Adventure & Friendship

L. A. Lancaster

Jane’s Patisserie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potato Soup

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This is a perfect dish for cold winter nights. Soothing and flavorful, pair it with your favorite book in front of a cozy fireplace and you’re in for a delightful evening.

As with all my recipes, feel free to play with it and make it your own. Details and pic below. Enjoy!

Until next time . . . just love, Collette

potato-soup

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 medium red potatoes
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion
  • extra virgin olive oil (approximately 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s or salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
  • 13 ounces chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sweet basil
  • 1/3 cup instant potato flakes (baby reds) – you can add more to create the consistency you desire
  • 1 pint 1/2 & 1/2
  • toppings: chopped green onions, grated Cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon

Recipe:

Peel and dice potatoes into small cubes. Slice onion and sauté in olive oil until soft. Add the diced potatoes and cook until potatoes are almost tender (about 5-7 minutes). Season with onion salt, Tony’s (or salt and pepper). Add chicken broth and sweet basil. Simmer covered until potatoes are tender. Mash the potatoes as you like and add the instant flakes. Stir well until blended. Add the 1/2 & 1/2 and heat over low heat until hot. Do not boil.

Garnish each bowl with toppings and serve. Enjoy!

Organization 101

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It’s that time of the year. Out with the old, in with the new. 

To be honest, I started on the path of clearing out and reorganizing in late 2016, but I still have a few things left on my to-do list. The feeling of starting over fresh with a clean space and a new set of goals is, well, refreshing and something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Starting was the hardest part. Knowing what I wanted to accomplish was only part one. I had to outline a plan with an end goal in mind.

One of my big areas was creating not only a space, but defined goals I wanted to achieve with my writing. I don’t know about you but I’m a big fan of organizational tools. Calendars, planners, storage boxes. All of these things make me happy. Of course, I’d also like to say that I use them to their full advantage, making my life easier and more productive, but I’d be lying. Don’t get me wrong. I have a calendar above my desk that I use regularly. It keeps me on track with appointments, school/extracurricular activities for my child and this blog schedule. However, I felt like my writing and goal-setting could use revamping.

I did some searching and came across this planner and fell in love! It’s portable, customizable and and just too cute. I started using it about two weeks ago and I’m already experiencing the benefits. I’ve used it to map out plot points, flesh out characters and set daily/weekly/monthly word goals. It’s great!

This designer also has one geared for meal prep and kitchen planning, which I plan on purchasing soon.

Decluttering is another hot topic for me right now. I’ve been cleaning out my house, room by room, and find that so freeing. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve gone full force with the KonMari Method, but I have refocused my way of thinking, keeping only what is necessary and truly important. It’s amazing what an impact a clean, organized closet can have on your life!

With only one room to go and my goals in place, I’m ready to take on 2017. Have any of you made changes this year? Please share your tips and tricks below. I’d love to hear about them.

Until next time . . . just love, Collette

 

Shrimp and Avocado Salad

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Sunday Fun Day!

Today I thought I’d share one of my favorite quick and light recipes that just happens to contain one of my favorite ingredients – avocado. Healthy, versatile and good for you. I use sliced avocado in my wraps daily that I bring to work for lunch. And please, don’t get me started on guacamole!

The salad itself consists of three ingredients: shrimp, avocado and red onion. Add the delicious and simple dressing I include below and you’ve got a tasty and healthful salad.

Light doesn’t have to mean bland. I promise you’ll love this one. Give it a try.

Enjoy! Until next time . . . just love, Collette

shrimp-avocado-salad

Recipe:

  • 1 pound cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (I saute mine in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and Tony Chachere’s seasoning. Boiled or steamed shrimp can be used, if you prefer.)
  • 1 avocado, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 tablespoon diced red onion
  • Dressing:
    • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon parsley, chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • Tony Chachere’s seasoning or salt and pepper to taste
  • Once you’ve cooked the shrimp, toss with the avocado and red onion in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing then add to the shrimp mixture. Toss together and enjoy!

Write. Rewrite. Repeat.

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Hi Lovelies! Hope that wherever you are, you’re enjoying your writing.

I thought it was time to give you all an agent update. No, I don’t have news to share, just a tally of my querying so far.

  • 11 agents queried
  • 1 partial request (ultimately a rejection)
  • 3 rejections
  • 8 no response

And so it goes. I’ll keep plugging away while starting on something new. Onward and upward.

My current WIP is a YA Paranormal. It’s quite different from my previous story, which is a MG Fantasy, but I’m enjoying it. YA is my preferred age range to write in; fantasy and magical realism are my preferred genres.

In my last post I talked about outlining. It’s a structure I’m learning my way around, but I can see the benefits. Having a guideline with the different plot points along the way is proving to be more useful than I expected. It’s like having small goals to work toward with each chapter – each scene – and baby steps tend to work well with me. Who knew?

Now, I’m not saying I’ve completely abandoned letting the writing muse take me wherever she wishes, but I think giving her a hint of what I want to accomplish is not such a bad idea. And I also find having a map for my story helps with writers block, something I’ve experienced more than once and know that no writer likes.

With that thought in mind and being new to blogging, I’ve been checking out other bloggers and their posts and found several I like. I’ve included a link from one blogger I recently discovered with her post about how to handle writers block. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

May your words and ideas flow freely! Until next time . . . just love, Collette