NaNoWriMo and Classic Gothic Horror

Participant-2014-Square-ButtonIt’s November already! Which means that, as usual, all regular column activity here will cease, while the Waffler keeps her internal editor bound and gagged in the cellar, so she doesn’t meddle with another 50K word draft.

Meanwhile, you will be kept entertained with a daily dose of a classic work of turn-of-the-last-century horror, to match the story the Waffler will be developing: Arthur Machen’s The Three Impostors (1895). It could be called a novel, because there is an overarching narrative, but the bulk of the action happens not to the title characters but to those in the stories they narrate throughout. The length of those stories varies wildly, from a few paragraphs to novella-size – it is actually here that Machen’s most acclaimed novellas (‘The Novel of the Black Seal’ and ‘The Novel of the White Powder’) appear.

Enjoy chills and thrills, and see you in December!

Foodie Friday: Chocolate & Orange Spider Web Cake

Spider_cake(Serves 10)

125g baking spread, softened, plus extra for greasing
125g white caster sugar
2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
2 large eggs
125g self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbsp cocoa powder

To decorate:
250g icing sugar
A few drops orange extract
A few drops red and yellow food colouring
Colour writing icing
Milk chocolate buttons

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Grease and line an 18cm round sandwich tin with baking parchment so that it comes 2cm above the top of the tin.
2. Put the baking spread, sugar and milk in a large bowl. Cream together using a hand-held electric whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then fold in the flour and cocoa powder.
3. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Let cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the icing sugar with 2 tbsp water and the orange extract until you have a smooth, fairly thick icing. Stir in the red and yellow food colouring to create orange.
5. Spoon the icing onto the cake, spreading to the edges and letting it drip down the sides. Draw circles with the black icing, then drag a skewer from the centre to create a web effect. When the icing is set, decorate with a spider made from chocolate buttons and writing icing.

Music Monday: October roundup

I looked at the numbers for a long time before posting them, all the while grinning madly. I don’t think I’ve had a month before where the top artist alone had racked up nearly as many plays as the runners-up together. But then I told you already, last week, the woman in general and the new album in particular are both made of awesome.

1. Stevie Nicks (147)
2. Muse (83)
3. Genesis (78)

Women’s Support

womensupportAs women embrace the fullness of who they are as individuals, they may find themselves supporting other women, helping others to reach the level of inner comfort and outer freedom that they themselves have found. Among those who are less sure of themselves and their place in the world, it may be more common to criticize other women than to seek their help. But there are things that a woman can only learn from another woman, as there are things about being a man that can only be learned from other men. We all recognize that we have much to learn from each other regardless of gender, but sometimes we could use a supportive role model that gives us a more precise example of what and who we can become.

There was a time where women stood together in a bond of sisterhood, women supporting women. It is only natural that the pendulum swings out of balance for a while so that we may have the experience of what we do not want. It is up to women to bring the pendulum back into balance and bring back the sacred sisterhood we yearn for at our core.

If we envision a world where women support each other and help each other find their place in an ever-changing world, then we can become the change we want to see. Jealousy, envy, criticism, and judgment are refuges for the insecure. As we help others to become self-assured, we create a world in which all people help each other, regardless of gender. Only women can make the change in how women are seen and understood, not just by other women but by the world at large. The way we speak about each other to other women and to the men in our lives informs everyone to treat us with the respect that all women, and all people, deserve.


Foodie Friday: Mexican Steak & Bean Burrito

mexican-steak-bean-burrito(Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
300g extra lean beef escalopes, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp Mexican spice blend
410g tin mixed beans in mild chilll sauce
8 soft flour tortillas
4 tbsp soured fresh cream
120g baby leaf sweet bistro salad
200g tub couscous with chargrilled vegetables
50g mature Cheddar, grated

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 2 minutes, until softened. Add the beef strips and the Mexican spice blend, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the mixed beans and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until heated through.
2. Meanwhile, heat the tortillas according to the pack instructions. Put the soured cream, salad, couscous and grated Cheddar into individual bowls. Bring to the table with the beef mix and warmed tortillas so that everyone can make their own burritos. Fold up the base and then the sides to eat.

Month at a Glance

November 2014
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