Saturday, October 25, 2014

Caramel-Covered Apple Slices

All right, so this afternoon I had a bit of a craving for caramel-covered apples. When I looked in the cabinet and discovered that we had no caramel, I decided to make some. Just thought I'd share the recipe with you!

Okay, so for the caramel, you'll need
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 stick of butter or margarine
  • a large saucepan
  • a spoon
Melt the butter on low, then add in the brown sugar. When the sugar has dissolved into the butter completely, pour in the sweetened condensed milk. While stirring, very very slowly raise the temperature to high until the mixture is thick and golden brown. It should take about 15-20 minutes tops.
(Another alternative for easy caramel is just to boil the entire can of sweetened condensed milk for 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours, but I didn't have time for that.)

I then used an apple-cutter to make some apple slices...

And dipped them in the caramel. Then I set the slices on a sheet of wax paper.
When that was done, I put them in the freezer until the caramel was hard. Voila! Caramel-covered apple slices.
My family apparently thought they turned out pretty good because they devoured all of the apples when they were done. :)

(Note: Sorry about the poor quality of the pictures, but the lighting in our kitchen is horrible.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Blog!

Once upon a time, a girl started a blog. Today, she has been posting for a whole year!

Unbelievable! (You can see my first post here. Oh, how much I have changed. And yet, in so many ways, I'm still the same-- if that makes any sense. :)

So, as my 1 year blog-anniversary, I was thinking about doing some sort of writing contest or something... maybe, since y'all liked the six-word-story so much, I could do a six-word-story writing contest? Or maybe just a regular writing contest, or a poetry showcase, or... well, what do you think? Tell me in the comments!

-- xoxo Rebecca

P.S. Sorry this is so short-- we have a guest speaker at church tonight, and we're leaving in just a few minute!

P.P.S. I just felt like writing a second P.S. :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cats, Violins, and Letters

Quick piece I wrote that is part of a novel I've been working on... you like? It's still pretty rough:

    I sat on the porch railing with my violin like I always do. I lifted my bow to the strings and began playing “Greensleeves”, like I always do. And, like always, a curse word rang out from the open door of the kitchen of the next door restaurant.
    I smiled wryly, continuing to serenade the cook. He hates it when I play my violin outside, which is the entire reason I do it. I’m contrary like that. And there's nothing he can do about it.
    “Claire!” came my grandmother’s voice. “Quit harassing Michael. Get in here and finish peeling the potatoes.”
    “In a minute, Mercedes!” I yelled. Meanwhile, I continued to draw the bow across the strings, smiling at the swearing in the background which created a sort of... harmony. Michael hates it when he hears me play. And not because it’s bad-- I’m actually first chair in the high school’s orchestra-- it’s because Michael says all the noise I make scares away his business.
    I say Michael scares away all his business. I mean, a gruff, bald, biker-man with pictures of demons tattooed on his arm isn’t likely to draw in families with little kids. And families with little kids is pretty much the only customers you’re going to get in a town like Jessimon.
    Oh, and another thing Michael doesn’t like: cats.
   Which is why I now have three.
    “Good girl, Topaz,” I murmured, rubbing the slinky black cat fondly under the chin. I’d trained Topaz since kittenhood to catch rodents and birds and lay them at the exits of Michael’s restaurant. My cat had just completed another dirty deed. “Now wait for it. Three… two… one…”
    A man’s scream pierced the air.
    “What the devil!” Michael bellowed. “That d--ned cat of yours! When I get my hands on that--”
    I smiled to myself, patting the feline once more.
.    “Claire!” screeched my grandmother. “I mean it!”
    “Okay, Mercedes, I’ll be in in a minute!”
    But first, I said to myself, to put another Letter in the Tree.
    I stretched my legs slowly towards the ground and lowered myself down. Clomping briskly down the steps, I felt in my pocket for the Letter.
    It was a small, square piece of paper, eight inches by eight inches, folded in half twice. I smiled with satisfaction as I read over my words, which I had written carefully in a sprawling, spidery script.
    I made my way through the hemlocks on the other side of the road. Mr. Strauser is fine with kids playing in the part of his property that’s covered in trees. As long as you stay out of his fields, he won’t shoot you.
    We used to play here, Isaac and me. We were little kids. We didn’t get along with the children our own age-- they were all stupid--  and yet we were still knee-high to all the kids who had brains that didn’t revolve around the latest episode of Spongebob Squarepants.
     All we had was each other.
    We used to leave each other letters in the Letter Tree. But now Isaac’s gone. His mom died in a car wreck and his father killed himself not long after. He got sent away to a foster home when we were twelve. They didn't even let him say goodbye.
    So I just fill up the Letter Tree. Some tiny, foolish part of me keeps thinking maybe-- with some miracle-- he’ll answer someday.

A Post That is Actually About Flutes! (I've Got the Badinerie Blues)

I haven't posted much this week! But good news-- the PSAT test is finally over, so I can start posting on a regular schedule! Yay! I am so sick of studying. And it was all pointless, since what I studied wasn't even on the test. Seriously, the math section was all Greek to me.

Something else, though, has come up and it may interfere with my blogging as much as the PSAT did. It's called all-state band. I got the music yesterday and, well--

(Sorry it's sideways.
My computer is being stubborn today and won't fix it.)

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! Help. It's a level five. The highest level of music you can possibly play is a six, I believe. I did a quick Youtube search of the song-- Badinerie, a very famous piece by Bach-- because my head was spinning and I couldn't make sense of it and, well, this is what I found:

After watching that amazing display of talent, I just sat there for about thirty minutes, not moving. How. On. Earth... no. No way. No way! How am I supposed to do that!? In less than a month!? If anyone needs me, I'll be curled up in a fetal position on the floor....

I did eventually snap out of it and start trying to make sense of the sheet music. It's starting to make a little more sense, and I can play the first three measures. I know most of my readers aren't flute players, but do any of you have any advice?

So, in summary, I may be practicing every spare moment for the next few weeks! In fact, that's what I'm off to do right now! Cheerio!

--xoxo Rebecca

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Six Word Story

When Jonathyn plays, the world listens.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Chocolate Book Tag

Clara tagged me for this wonderful Chocolate Book Tag. Before we begin, I'll hand out some imaginary internet chocolate for you all to enjoy while you're reading this. *gives out chocolate* Okay, is that everyone? Good. Let's get started!

1. Dark Chocolate (a book that covers a dark topic)
The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb

This is an old book with a dark, creepy setting. It's told in a sort of ballad-like form, with no quotation marks. I was very impressed with the way Mr. Grubb wrote the character's dialogue. He got the West Virginia accents down to a tee. There were, however, a few words I don't exactly approve of. Definitely a book for mature readers.
Poverty-stricken Mr. Harper kills a clerk and robs a store in a moment of desperation, and hides the money before the police catch up to him. He goes to jail and is executed for his crimes. A murderous ex-convict, Harry Powell, knows about the hidden treasure and has come after Mr. Harper's two children. He calls himself "Reverend Powell" and cons their mother into marrying him, hoping they will tell him where their father hid the money. When they fail to share the secret, he does something terrible to their mother and the two children flee to the countryside. "Preacher" comes after them, hunting them like a fox stalks its prey.
The creepiest part? This book was based on the true story of Harry Powers, who was hanged in the 1930's for killing three widows and two children. (I apologize if I've just given you all nightmares.) Recommended for people who like thriller novels, Southern Gothic, and realistic dialogue.

2. White Chocolate (a light-hearted and humorous read)
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry

The Willoughbys

A newer book by one of my favorite authors. Very upbeat and funny. I laughed out loud several times while reading it.
Tim, the twins-- Barnaby A and Barnaby B-- and their sister Jane are not a normal family. One day their parents decide they don't want to be burdened with children anymore and leave them in the care of a nanny. The four have many adventures, including encounters with an abandoned baby, a candy magnate, and a mother and son who were thought to be lost long ago.
Recommended for anyone who likes humor, references to classic works of children's literature, and parodies.

3. Milk Chocolate (a book with a lot of hype that you're dying to read)
If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I know you chose this one for Milk Chocolate, too, Clara, but I've been dying to read this book for so long! I haven't seen the movie, but I've heard it's amazing. I've also heard equally positive reviews about the book. I cannot wait to read it!

4. Caramel-filled chocolate (a book that made you feel all gooey inside)
Girls of Lighthouse Lane #4: Amanda's Story by Erika Tamar


A Victorian-era twist on Romeo and Juliet, but with a happy ending. This was the first "romance" book I really read, and it's just so sweet. Recommended for preteen girls, people who like happy endings, and people who like Victorian settings.

5. Wafer-less Kit-Kat (a book that surprised you)
Book Three in the Divergent Trilogy: Allegiant

Caution: Do not read unless you have several boxes of tissues. I can't tell you why this book was so sad and surprising without spoiling it for you.
Recommended for anyone who likes dystopian novels, The Hunger Games, and books with lots of action.

6. Snickers (a book you're going nuts about)
I would say The Fault in Our Stars, but I'm afraid I'd end up fangirling too hard and embarrass myself. So I'll say The Giver by Lois Lowry.

The Giver Cover.gif

I just read this book two weeks ago, after hearing about the movie which Taylor Swift plays in, and decided to read the book. AMAZING. Definitely a very original book.
Jonas lives in a society that has converted to "Sameness". Sameness got rid of all pain and strife, but also did away with all emotional depth and personality in people's lives. When Jonas turns twelve, he is chosen to be the Receiver of Memories, the person who stores all the past memories of the times before Sameness. He meets the Giver, who transmits these painful memories to him, and Jonas learns the truth about his dystopian society.
I didn't realize until halfway through the book that the people in Jonas's community couldn't see in color. Only he and the Giver could. This I thought very creative thinking on Ms. Lowry's part. Recommended for anyone who likes dystopian novels, futuristic settings, and different novels.
7. Hot Chocolate with Mini-Marshmallows (a book you turn to for comfort)
The Bible. God's word is my refuge and my comfort.
8. A Box of Chocolates (a series you feel has something for everyone)
The Dragons in Our Midst series by Bryan Davis. (Also Oracles of Fire and Children of the Bard, which are continuations of Dragons in Our Midst.)
This series is wonderful because it has something for all ages. It was written for teenagers, but kids and adults would enjoy it as well. It has believable characters, tons of action, a little romance, a complex plot, some laugh-out-loud moments, and-- most importantly-- it's a Christian series that is based around biblical stories.
Recommended for anyone who likes fantasy, knights and dragons, Christian books series, and humor.
I tag:
And the first person to comment "I love chocolate!"
--Rebecca Jane

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Autumn Stories-- Day 5

Just a quick something I wrote about the change of the seasons: 

I watched her leave tonight. She proudly gathered up her things and gave me a sweet breeze of a kiss on my forehead. She smelled of roses and sweet dry grass. As she spoke, her voice was like a bubbling spring.
"Remember me," she said. "I'll be back before you know it." Her smile was like a warm beam of sunshine. I suddenly felt sleepy.
As she drew away, I felt a sharp pain along the back of my neck, an unpleasant pins and needles sensation that I had not felt for some time: cold. The cold meant only one thing.
Autumn was coming.
Sure enough, there he was-- majestic and glorious, yet gruff and stern, garbed in a bright array of colors. He hustled her along, leading her away. She turned and waved to me over her shoulder, and already I felt an ache of longing. I missed her already. But I must be brave.
Forcing a smile, I waved goodbye to Summer.

Autumn Stories-- Day 3 and Day 4

Day three:

I love this poem and the picture it paints. I also adore the author.

An Autumn Evening
L.M. Montgomery

Dark hills against a hollow crocus sky
Scarfed with its crimson pennons, and below 
The dome of sunset long, hushed valleys lie
Cradling the twilight, where the lone winds blow 
And wake among the harps of leafless trees 
Fantastic runes and mournful melodies. 

The chilly purple air is threaded through
With silver from the rising moon afar, 
And from a gulf of clear, unfathomed blue
In the southwest glimmers a great gold star 
Above the darkening druid glens of fir 
Where beckoning boughs and elfin voices stir. 

And so I wander through the shadows still,
And look and listen with a rapt delight, 
Pausing again and yet again at will
To drink the elusive beauty of the night, 
Until my soul is filled, as some deep cup, 
That with divine enchantment is brimmed up.


Day Four
This is more of a journal entry than fiction. This happened yesterday at lunch:
Like many autumn mornings, it was a sleepy day. It was forty-five minutes past ten, and most of us had already been up for five hours. We were drooping over our lunches before us on the table. The cafeteria buzzed with conversation, but it was nowhere near as loud as usual. We were all too sleepy to be loud.
"It must be Monday," sighed my friend beside me.
"It is," I replied, playing with the button on my sweater. I gazed out the window. It was peaceful outside, with a sky bluer than I've ever seen before. Leaves fluttered by in the breeze. Inside, it was pretty quiet, too. The sign-ups for different clubs-- the chess club, the karate club, etc.-- was going on in the corner. All the club members were standing by their table with displays, practically begging for new members.
Suddenly two boys who had been standing near the table gave a shout. One was a lanky boy with blonde hair and dark, thick eyebrows. He had been shoved in the chest by the other, a thicker boy with a crew cut. The blonde one lunged back at him, knocking him to the ground. They rolled across the floor, snarling and clawing at each other like dogs. Fists and feet flew, and didn't seem like they were even touching the ground as they both struggled to gain the upper hand. My friends and I watched wide-eyed.
At first I thought it was acting-- probably they were part of the theatre club, looking to attract new members. Wait-- there's blood-- that's not acting-- there's no blood when there's acting--
"Hey!" It was Coach T., bellowing and running at the same time. "Break it up, boys, break it up!" They did not "break it up." Coach pulled them apart with some difficulty, shoving the blonde one backward and yanking the other up by his shirt collar.
"John!" a girl screamed, rushing between them. I learned later that she was the reason they were fighting-- it was ex-boyfriend drama, or something of the sort. She had been standing over them while they were attacking each other, yelling for them to stop. Now she ran to the darker, shorter one and stood facing Blondie with a glare.
"What happened here?" asked Coach.
"It was him-- he shoved him first-- it was all him!" she pointed at the blonde one, who gazed back defiantly. His dark eyes flashed like lightning, moving back and forth between the coach and his opponent.
"To the office, all of you." Blondie turned and stalked out, unashamed. The other two followed. The silent cafeteria became abuzz with conversation once again. Three of my friends returned to our table with their lunch tables.
"Did you see that?" I asked.
"No, what'd we miss!?"
So. I've seen my first real fight. It was very exciting!
Got to go. I'll do Day 5 tonight!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Autumn Stories-- Day Two

Phew! I got down to the bus stop just in time. :)

All right, here is day two-- a short, fractured fairytale:

We had been counting the days since the first leaf on the Great Maple had turned orange. Twenty days after the first leaf meant the official start of the season of Leafchange, which was the quick breath between Leafgreen and Tree-bare. This year, it was also the day my friends and I would gather in the town square and be shown the Secret Door.
The Secret Door was something spoken of in hushed tones by elders around campfires. Many would try their luck at entering, but only the one with the Pure Heart-- the one destined since before birth-- could go through the door. Whoever could enter through the door would be the next King or Queen.
We had been training for months now, ever since the coming of age ceremony last year when the Queen fainted and fell down the steps. She had been unwell ever since, and the search for a new Leader has been being prepared. On the first official day of Leafchange, all the young men and women aged sixteen must come to the Town Square, regardless or rank, gender, or race.
The anticipation throughout the city made the very air tremble. By this time tonight, we would know the new Leader.
Magic Mirror..I sighed deeply as my cousin finished twisting my hair up on top of my head. It was a pretty hairstyle, I thought, turning this way and that to see myself in the mirror. The looking glass was small, the kind of mirror that you can't see your whole face in at once unless you tilt your head just right. I looked at my reflection, unsatisfied at the pale, grey-eyed, freckled face that stared back to me. My hair was red, carrot-red, lightened by many years spent out-of-doors.
"What is it, Marigold?" asked my cousin. I looked up into her face earnestly. I loved my cousin. We had grown up side by side, closer than sisters.
"Nothing. It's just that... I don't want to be the next Queen," I said, gazing out through the shutters. It was a beautiful autumn day, with chilly breezes sweeping the leaves past and the last traces of yesterdays fog rolling away. It was just right for the opening of the Secret Door. It hadn't been disturbed since the Queen herself had stepped through many years ago. I wondered what it was like inside. Was everything covered in a layer of dust, untouched since the Queen's Choosing Day? Was time inside the Secret Door the same as it was here? Was it another world, or merely a hallucination? I was full of questions, and unanswered questions can make a person uneasy.
"Nonsense," said Mabel, putting her hand on my shoulder. "You must go. It's the law. And besides-- it's an honor to be Chosen."
"I'd rather be reading," I muttered, shaking her hand away.
"Hush, Marigold! Someone might hear you! You know it's not legal for a girl to read," Mabel's voice was sharp. But then she softened. "I would gladly go in your place, Marigold, but I'm a year too old." She sighed. Suddenly I realized how much Mabel must have wanted to have a chance at being the Leader. But the Queen's illness had come just after Mabel's sixteenth year,
"I don't know what to do," I said. Part of me shrunk back from the thought of being the Chosen One. My freedom would be gone-- no more horseback riding, no more reading in secret, no more running free. But another part of me knew the shame and embarrassment of those who were not the Chosen. They would have to go home ordinary, just as they'd come. "I don't know." I said again.
"Just believe," said Mabel. "Like we used to do as children. You were good at make-believe. You had a better imagination than any of us. Just trust that you can do it, and if it doesn't happen, know that we're waiting for you here at home." She smiled brightly at me. I hugged her tightly. I knew-- for Mabel's sake-- I must attend the ceremony.
My turn came. The door was more like a big mirror. There was no handle, it was simply a large looking glass in an intricately carved silver frame.
Drawing a deep breath, I pressed my hand against the mirror. I imagined my hand pushing through the glass the way I would the surface of a still pond. I believe, I believe, I believe.
And I stepped through.

Autumn Stories-- Day 1

Day 1: A simple paragraph about the time of year

"I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." ~ L.M. Montgomery  October Challenge http://namasteinspired.comThe leaves grew brighter at the top of the mountain, developing fiery hues of red and russet and gold. The change of color swept down the mountain like a fire, changing everything in its path, until the entire ridge is enveloped in the flames. Branches bend and sway as passionate winds sweep through the trees. A pixie perching on a branch shivers, pulling on her dainty leaf coat. "It's autumn," she whispers, a smile spreading across her lips. "It's finally here."
I will do day 2 and 3 tonight, as I have just realized the school has changed its schedule to start nine minutes earlier and if I don't run right now, I will miss the bus! Gotta run!
-- xx Rebecca

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Autumn Stories Blog Event Giveaway!

In celebration of Autumn and all things writerly, Jess over at The Diaries of Mannerbee Mansions has created a blog event! I think it looks like lots of fun, so I'm doing it. You should check it out, too! All you have to do is follow her blog, post something autumn-ly and link back to her, and comment to let her know you're participating!

Day 1: A simple paragraph about the time of year
Day 2: A short fractured fairy tale set in Autumn.
Day 3: Share a favorite poem, along with a few inspiring pictures of Fall-ish things
Day 4: Anything! A story, a poem, a character profile, anything!
Day 5: Make it count, share something amazing!

If you'd like to participate, head on over to Jess's blog!

I'll be posting Day 1 and Day 2 tomorrow morning. Cheerio for now!
--Rebecca Jane