Dec 31

Happy New Year!

As I sit here in the last hours of 2016, I look back on a year that continued in the arc that was started in 2015.  I continued to nurture and grow my creativity. I finished my first novel, The Empire, that will be published next week, and had one of the happiest and fulfilling years ever. I feel really lucky. For me, 2016 was a fantastic year!

When I started thinking about my Word for 2017, it occurred to me that I’d forgotten what my 2016 word was. 2015 was Emergent, and it fit perfectly with the year I had in 2015 and really 2016. I’ve continued to learn and grow.  After searching this site and then my entire computer, I found a post I never published. My word for 2016 was RESILIENT and once again it proved to be prophetic. Being resilient has served me well this year, when I started to doubt myself and my path. Staying my course, believing in myself, giving myself the chance to find what makes me happy has paid off.

Below is my lost 2016 Word of the Year post.  Happy New Year! May 2017 bring you lots of love, laughter and happiness!!

My 2016 word of the year is RESILIENT  I picked this word for many reasons, as a reminder, a touchstone, a charm.  After the progress of my emergent year, a year that pushed me, stretched my creative and personal development and began the process of molding me and developing me creatively, and on other levels as well – all the change, progress and growth that I created for myself has in many ways strengthened me but has also left me tender and exposed. I am still emerging. That process will continue on for awhile I hope. I have learned so much about myself, about my creative process, about who I am and who I want to be, that I can’t see that journey, that lesson, ending anytime soon. I am still discovering who I am, where I’m going, what I want.

The word resilient will remind me to stand tough when I feel the sting of rejection, disapproval or doubt about what I am doing, what I am creating, what I am putting out there.

Book Launch

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I’m very excited to announce the launch of my first novel, The Empire!

The Empire is a rural New England fantasy story that takes place in a small quaint coastal Maine town that is struggling to remain relevant in today’s modern world. Darcy Adams returns home to find herself embroiled in the middle of a paranormal clash between the town and it’s past. Can Darcy find a way to satisfy the demands of history while ensuring the survival of her town?

For the latest information about The Empire, click HERE

Feb 25

2015 – Emergent – A Year In Review

 

2015 was a very productive year for me, personally and creatively. The word “emergent” proved to be an accurate choice.  As I had promised myself, I kept my eyes and self open, and let the universe chart my course. I was not disappointed. There were challenges and lessons to be learned, and also a lot of wonderful adventures and opportunities. I pushed myself in directions that were not always comfortable, but usually fulfilling.

I don’t know if it makes sense or not, but I tried very hard to allow myself to just be. I made an effort to strip away the conceived ideas I’ve put upon myself,  or allowed others to put upon me over the years. I worked at sloughing off layers of self-doubt, self-imposed beliefs and conformance so that I could really see just me, and whatever raw potential there might be.

I am a work in progress.  Chipping away at the protective layers is a long process. They weren’t added quickly, and shedding them isn’t a quick task either. What I am learning is that the more I pull myself out of those layers and let go of them, the stronger and more confident I feel.  It’s not always easy or comfortable exposing your true, unguarded self to the world.  Fear and self-doubt always seem to be lurking right there in the shadows, but I have found that the reward of allowing my true self to be seen, even if it sometimes stings a bit, is worth it. It has given me the freedom and space to begin to explore who I am, what the world has to offer and what I have to offer the world.

In the midst of all this self-discovery, or perhaps because of it, my creative side has begun to flourish as well. 2015 was chock full of creative projects. Some are featured on this site as recipes, photo galleries and how-to posts. I’m also in the middle of writing a series of paranormal fiction books centered around a somewhat fictional small New England town. I also realized this year just how much I enjoy photography. I’m still a beginner, but I have loved the experience of exploring the world through the lens of a camera.  Some of what I’ve photographed is on this site, and some I post to Instagram – as @ByCLAlden.

I have emerged in other ways by pushing myself to live in the present, the here and now, not just waiting or planning for some future event. I have made a point to take time out from daily life to have some fun, whether it’s working on a fun project, taking a quick walk outside, meeting a friend for a drink, or by taking day trips to explore the world around my neighborhood.  I have also emerged back into the dating scene by dipping my toes back into the dating pool via online dating sites, but that’s a story for another post! 🙂

I’ll conclude this post by saying that I’m enjoying my new perspective of me, the world, and all that it offers. I’m not finished emerging yet. I’m not sure when I will be, and that’s okay.

 

 

NaNo and New Projects – It’s All About Balance

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As November approaches, and my calendar is on the verge of being jam packed with NaNo, and all things writing for thirty days, I find myself seeking some balance.This is when I feel compelled to add some non-writing related projects. I find this usually helps my writing projects too. Creativity in different formats, but at their core, all connected to me and how my creative process works.  

During gardening season, part of my creative focus is on turning the bounty of my harvest into something. This September, as I harvested grapes, I decided to make wine. This is my second attempt. We’ll see what happens. Every year, as Fall approaches,  I find myself automatically thinking about alcohol based projects. In past years, in addition to wine, I’ve made hard apple cider, kahlua, bourbon creme to name a few. Maybe it’s instinctual – preparations for the long, cold winter ahead, or maybe it’s my love of entertaining, especially around the holidays. Either way, I’ve started a new project.

This project is all about cranberries. The other day, on impulse, I bought two bags of fresh cranberries. I had in my mind that I wanted to make cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and a cranberry apple chutney. Somewhere in the middle of all that I went a little cranberry crazy and decided to add a cranberry beverage, and here we are. I’m making a cranberry infused vodka. After doing a little research I decided to try it using two different processes – one using raw cranberries, some of which have been crushed, and some that I chopped up. The other was to cook the cranberries until they popped. Equal amounts of sugar were added to both. Vodka was added and voila! Below is what I’ve started. 

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Check back at the beginning of December to check out the results and get the review.

Damn Good Crock-Pot Chili

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This is a chili recipe with beans. Every time I make chili I do it slightly differently. It’s one of those things that is wide open for interpretation. You can’t really mess it up. I’ve made many types of chili including white chili with chicken or turkey, green pork chili and various types or red beef chili. This time I wanted to make a chili that was a little more subtle, and less acidic. I focused on the flavor of the meat, chiles and spices which is why I used very little tomato. I made this up as I went along, and was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. It’s a little spicier than I usually make – I may have accidentally grabbed jalapenos, instead of the milder poblanos when I was shopping, but over rice or with crackers or bread, it’s perfect.

If you’re looking for different take on chili, check it out. As with most of my recipes, the ingredient amounts are just a suggestion. Flavor to your tastes. If I were to make this again, I might add a little more cumin. Other than that, I think the flavors are well rounded. Let me know what you think!

 

Damn Good Crock-Pot Chili

1lb of dried beans (I used small white beans)

1t kosher salt

Pepper to taste

1t oregano

1t onion powder

2 cans of beef or chicken broth + enough water to make 6 cups total

2T minced garlic

½ large yellow onion diced

Approx 1lb beef steak (I used Chuck London broil steak), sliced and cut into small chunks

2T flour

Fresh chiles, roasted, skinned and de-seeded (I used 2 poblano & 2 anaheim)

2T water

2t paprika

1t cumin powder

2T chili powder

1T unsweetened cocoa powder

1 small can of tomato paste

½ bag (approx 8oz) frozen corn

Clean, sort and soak beans in water over night, or use the fast method of soaking beans*.

Drain beans and pour into crockpot, add salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, oregano, broth + enough water to make 6 cups of liquid total. Cook on high for 3hours.

Place chiles on tinfoil and roast until most of the skin is black, remove from oven and wrap chiles in tinfoil so that they will continue to cook in the steam. Once cool, unwrap, skin and de-seed chiles and place in a mini-chopper or food processor. Add 2T water, paprika, chili powder, ½ can of tomato paste, cocoa powder. Process into thick paste and set aside.

Add a little oil to a frying pan and brown chunks of steak. Once the steak is brown add flour and toss to coat steak.

Add steak, diced onions, remaining tomato paste and prepared chile paste to crock-pot, stirring occasionally. Cook an additional 3 hours or until beans are done.  Add frozen corn at the end.

 

Microwave Fast Soak Process:

*Place cleaned beans in a microwave safe bowl, cover with a couple inches of water and microwave until water starts to boil. For the white beans, in my microwave, that was about 20 minutes. Remove from the microwave, stir a couple times and then let the beans cool in the water.