Dec. 24th, 2012 02:20 pm
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Guess what's sitting in my inbox right now?

A letter from Storm Moon Press, offering me a contract!

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 My short story, An Unexpected Gift, is up at the Speak Its Name Advent calendar!

It's a brief Christmas interlude between Lt. Thorne and Lord Rockingham, and there's food, and peg-dolls.

And if you leave a comment, you're entered to win my giveaway prize:

I don't have a book to give away yet. So I knit.

A pair of hand-knitted coffee cup cozies, meant to protect your hands from hot takeout cups. And, as you can see, one's a naval lieutenant's coat, and one's an army officer's! Or the best I could make them, with bits of gold braid and sequins.

There are other stories and holiday essays from other authors, too, like Charlie Cochrane and Alex Beecroft, among others, and prize giveaways every day, and a bonus quiz question to be submitted at the end, for a bumper prize!

So you should definitely go read.
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 that novel I tend to babble about?

A publisher whose submission guidelines call for a 30% partial manuscript got back to me today.

They want to see the full manuscript!

"Incredibly intrigued" were the words they used. (Those words give me intense hope.)

Cross your fingers for me!


Nov. 8th, 2012 08:02 pm
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The breathing issues aren't really exertion-related.

Reclining at 45 degrees is better than standing or sitting upright.

Dry heat is better than moist heat -- I gasp in the shower, I'm pretty good in the car with the heater cranked. (Cold sucks.)

Booze helps.

Therefore, the ideal solution would be to park myself on a deck lounger at a nice beach, with attentive cabana boys bringing me umbrella drinks.

Think I can get a prescription for that?

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The good news is, the ENT doesn't think there's any need to stick a scope down my nose or my throat. He says that if there was a tumor or anything, it wouldn't be on-and-off the way I'm describing, it'd be constant. He agrees it's anxiety.

The bad news is, he thinks exercise is the answer. This is not exactly what I wanted to hear.

1) Sure, it's going to be a lot of fun exercising when I get these unpredictable gasping fits and feel short of breath.

2) I fucking hate exercise.

I intend to start Monday. This gives me time to hook Breadbox up to the laptop and see if I can sort out my fucking iTunes library, at least enough to make a goddamned playlist for a half-hour jog -- going to start up with that C25K app again. And try to stretch adequately so I don't bugger my knees the way I did last time. Although I swear half the trouble was that I kept turning my ankles on uneven pavement. And, no, there isn't an especially accessible running track close by... I don't think there's one at the park, and their baseball field gave me my worst turned ankles generally, plus, you know, SNOW, and using the one at the high school would mean either adding a mile's walk each way to the running program, or driving a mile to run on a track, which seems perfectly idiotic to me. So, it's back to the sidewalks and hope I'm less of a fucking klutz.

And I don't think it's the shoes, because I let a trained fitter guy pick them out for me and they say "stability." Shouldn't that keep me from turning my ankles?

I should probably see about getting the Wii Fit back on line, so I can use its jogging and yoga programs, for when the weather is crap. And vacuum in the living room, so I can start on the push-ups again, not that THAT is going to be any fun with the gasping, either.

I fucking hate exercise.
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 So, first thing I had to do this morning was get out of bed and spend an hour shoveling the driveway. This is not my idea of a fun way to spend the morning.

On the bright side. while it was wet and heavy snow, it wasn't so deep that I couldn't deal with it mostly by pushing the shovel, and I did get it done before the neighbors drove OVER it in their Jeep, creating ruts that are difficult both to drive over and to shovel.

I have the ENT consult today. No scopes today. Which probably also means no solutions. At least knowing there won't be scopes today is letting my anxiety die back some.

Given that I had very little breathing trouble while shoveling the fucking snow, but the gasping started up again while I was doing the dishes, i think the way to bet is anxiety, not obstructions.

I treated myself to a cheese omelet this morning. Ah, Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar, how I love you. And toasted a couple of chunks of my homemade bread in the oven. The loaf wasn't perfect this time around -- I used the mixer bowl as a cover while it proofed, and the diameter was too small and the loaf stuck and deflated around the edges when I pulled it off, and oven spring didn't fix it, but despite its wide flatness, it was still tasty.

I printed out the forms they want me to fill out (registration, health history, HIPAA). I'll do that after I shower. Oh look, there's another gasp.

Supercuts has waxing strips back in stock, so I can go get my fucking goatee dealt with. I suppose I should be grateful that hirsutism is my worst (nearly only, at this point) PCOS symptom. But I really really hate it.

Finished The Age of Wonder. Have started Libriomancer. It's cute, and I think it'll be a quick read.

Have to shrink-wrap more windows. DEFINITELY need to finish the Advent-calendar story. Ought to keep knitting the hot-water-bottle cozy. Might make sense to complete a Certain Other Project, but as it's meant as a holiday present, I have time, and it's now officially hot water bottle season, so the cozy is more directly useful.

Should check downstairs to see if that skein of natural-cream wool is still in one of my fabric stash boxes.

Overall: productive, but meh.

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 I'm participating in a charity auction for original short stories to benefit charities doing recovery work for Hurricane Sandy. My auction listing is hererules for the auctions are here. Please come bid! A good cause and a chance to get original fiction tailored to your specifications -- it's a winning combination!

There are a bunch of other folks participating, too; you can check the auction listing label to see who else is around and what they're offering.


Nov. 1st, 2012 06:33 pm
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 James Beard's Basic White Bread, but as a freeform loaf.
The bread.
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 I'm not doing NaNoWriMo. Not really. Not by the rules. But I have a story I'm working on for the Speak Its Name Advent Calendar, and I have a number of other things I want to write (mostly for open calls, but also one short fanfic I got bunnied for last night) -- so I'm sort of wondering if I'll write 50,000 words this month. One of the open calls has a December 20 deadline, after all, and I think the story I have in mind for it might go long.

So what do I decide to do today?

Bake bread.

It's not JUST procrastinating. Or displacement. See, after I ate my lunch today, I was casting about for what to make for dinner, likeyado. And I was working under a couple of constraints: first, while the pantry isn't in dire shape, we did purposely eat down a lot of the perishables before the storm. So no frozen ravioli, no tofu with which to make stir-fry, and we're out of both sausage and buttermilk for pancakes. Second, it's a Thursday, which means the teenager is here, and the teenager doesn't like cottage pie or tacos, which are two things we DO have all the ingredients for.

So the answer looked to be Minestrone. Which is not a full meal to us unless there's bread.

Now, usually, I just get a loaf of Italian bread from the supermarket bakery. Which, in all honesty, is not very GOOD bread, but we like it. But I did not feel much like going out.

But I've been making pizza dough from scratch lately instead of ordering pizza. So, as it happened, we had plenty of flour and yeast. And I have a stand mixer.

Bake bread? Yup.

I did already get 738 words today. On a dedicated day, I can usually get double and often triple that. I wrote a 16K story in two weeks, when I wanted to meet an open call deadline. (Using UFYH 20/10s and liveblogging it on Tumblr the whole time.) And after dinner I might very well get more. The Advent calendar story is approaching done.


Baking bread.
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 Copying this from my [ profile] julian_griffith account for greater visibility. I don't usually do this, but it's in a good cause.

So I found out from [personal profile] laylah  that Piper Vaughn and MJ O'Shea of Babes in Boyland were hosting an original-fiction auction for Red Cross donations in Sandy's wake (the planning and setup post is here). I've volunteered to join the crew of authors who are participating -- I'm going to be offering 5k+ of romance in the setting of my (as yet unpublished novel) Love Continuance and Increasing, tailored to the winner's specifications. Any of the characters and pairings -- any of my three protagonists in pairs or all together, of course, but if you want to see some Marcus/Alexander, or Caroline and Julia's schoolgirl past, or some of Phoebe Craddock's colorful history, or things involving the more minor characters, now's your chance!
Not to mention, there are plenty of other writers to choose from. I've followed [personal profile] laylah since before she was published, and I keep a few of her fanfics on my hard drive to protect them from link rot, since they're among the hottest things I've ever read.

I'll let you know when the auction posts go live!
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 No hurricane damage here at my place. Power stayed on, internet barely flickered. I am attributing this to <lj user="eternaleponine">'s timely reminder to make preparations -- you can bet if we'd been unprepared, we'd have lost power for days. Also, I'm pretty pleased with the governor this time around -- it looks like he <em>learned</em> from last year, and so he got the state of emergency declared beforehand, including approval for a federal state of emergency, which means <em>funding</em>. Because one of the reasons we were out so long last year after the snowstorm was that crews hadn't been paid yet for Irene, so it took them a while to get running. He also closed the highways by midday, so there weren't people out getting themselves into trouble, for the most part. And while there was a hell of a lot of flooding along the shoreline, they <em>shut down</em> the affected power stations before it got critical, so nothing exploded.

I'm very concerned about New York, and also for a friend who lives on an <em>island</em> in the Baltimore area. And heartsick over the <em>HMS Bounty</em>. Sad that she sank, but she's a replica, they can build another one -- but Claudene Christian is irreplaceable, and the chances don't look good for her captain.

Meanwhile, my laundry is all clean and I have clean sheets on my bed, and there's a nice loaf of apple cheddar walnut bread that I baked yesterday. I should probably pretend there's a hurricane coming at least once a week, so I'm motivated to do chores before I lose the hot water, right?

And I got a lot of knitting done.

Hope you're all OK. Check in in the comments, it'll make me feel better.


Oct. 26th, 2012 11:12 am
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OK, so there's a hurricane supposed to be on its way. Normally, in New England, I go "yeah, right, big rainstorm, whatever," and avoid making plans to go anywhere.

But this one will potentially combine with a nor'easter. And could get very big.

And after last year's NINE DAYS WITHOUT POWER after the Hallowe'en snowstorm? Yeah, fuck that shit. I'll take it more seriously.

Actually, I was barely paying attention, being rather caught up with writing and researching and knitting, but [personal profile] eternaleponine WAS paying attention, and, last night, said "You might want to do the storm shopping early tomorrow, before everyone goes crazy." "Good idea," I said.

Last year, between Irene and the Hallowe'en storm, we acquired a fair amount of gear. A big picnic cooler (from CVS's summer clearance, so it was like ten bucks), couple of LED camping lanterns, and a small propane party grill. All of which came in very handy. And my parents got me a hand-crank emergency weather radio. So this year, we just needed fresh batteries, more propane, and a decent stock of canned soups.

So last night I got my grocery list ready (and hey, canned soups were on sale!) and put the shopping bags on the sofa where I wouldn't forget to take them with me when I took the kid to school, so I could go shopping straight after.

Wouldn't you know it, my monthly inconvenience showed up. With cramps bad enough to WAKE ME UP at 5 AM. Ouch.

My usual answer to that is prescription painkillers. The kind that warn you not to operate heavy machinery, OR DRIVE. Yeah.

So I staggered downstairs, had a piece of bread and butter to cushion my stomach, and swallowed four ibuprofen. We have naproxen, but I was scared to take it, because last month it tore my stomach up enough that it took a week to recover.

It worked at least well enough to get me able to walk without too much trouble.

Then I did the round of errands.

Grocery store: All The Food, and a couple of packs of batteries.

CVS: shampoo and conditioner for the kid that don't smell as awful as the current stuff, and Moar Batteries. (And some concealer and mascara. Not hurricane supplies, but a) on sale, b) brought it to $20 so I could use the $4-off-$20 coupon.)

Whole Foods: oatmeal. (Instant oats-and-flax, the only kind [personal profile] eternaleponine eats.)

REI: this was where I was going to look for bottle gas. Whoops, not open until 10AM.

Home to unpack groceries & see if we had any bottle gas LEFT. Nope, and, whoops, we're really low on matches for candles, too.

Out again. Target. Which is already out of propane (or perhaps just not stocked at the moment because this isn't really camping season). Has also clearly been picked over for lanterns, nothing left but the BIG ones. Pick up matches and a couple of butane clicky-lighters anyway.

EMS is on the way home from Target. They ALSO don't open until 10. And it's only 9:30. The plaza has a Starbucks. I buy coffee and wait. Coffee still sucks. Free wifi does not.

10 AM, hit EMS. They have propane! Also, they have Chico Bags, and I have been promising [personal profile] eternaleponine one for a while, so she can have one clipped to her keys just like I do. We are getting REALLY good about I-brought-a-bag, enough so that we're starting to run out of the plastic ones we re-use for bin liners. So, two bottles of propane, and the convenient, environmentally sound shopping bag.

And now I am DONE. And I can take my painkillers. I will do the breakfast dishes, and then I don't have to do a damn thing except knit until it's time to make dinner.

Um. Well. And I should fill our spare sport bottles with water and stick them in the freezer to be convenient ice packs if we have to load the cooler. I didn't buy any frozen foods this time on purpose, so as not to LOSE them if the power went out, but that doesn't mean we don't already have stuff in the freezer.

[personal profile] matociquala is buying whiskey. I don't have to buy whiskey. I have plenty on hand already.

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 Yesterday we went to the Big E and ate ourselves silly. Maine baked potatoes, maple cotton candy, little cones of maple cream (and I bought a small jar of maple cream for us to have on toast), Rhode Island chowder, a lobster roll, a cream puff (Milo and I split that), and maple bacon ice cream. We didn't go on the rides -- the Zipper terrifies me because, in the 1970s, there were some deaths on it due to improperly latching doors, and I still don't trust it -- but Milo and [personal profile] eternaleponine  each played a game of skeeball, and we looked at the farm animals, and took a bunch of pictures of the plushie Avengers, and generally had a good time.

Then we got home around 4:30 and were DONE. Pajamas, I retired to my room and didn't come down except to watch Criminal Minds, it was an effort to stay up until 11 to take my meds.

It was NOT fun to wake up at 5AM with stomachache and nausea, but I brought it on myself, really. Found some Zantac in the cupboard, took it and some powdered aspirin, managed to go back to sleep until 9AM.

Today I will try to balance chores and writing. Wish me luck.
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 That's what [personal profile] matociquala calls it.

I didn't start the Christmas story today, despite it being a tight deadline. Instead I was very very busy with other things, most of which were not writing-related.

One thing was. I sent a query to Storm Moon Press -- letter with <300-word blurb and a "marketing plan" -- which intimidated me until I got their clarification that it only needed to be a paragraph about what social media platforms I was on and whether I was willing to do things like blog tours and interviews (What? You want me to talk about my book? Go on, twist my arm!); a >500-word synopsis; and a partial manuscript. 30% only takes it through Alexander's return -- Caroline doesn't show up until about the halfway mark. While this makes sense tome -- the first half of the book is about Thorne and Rockingham, the second half of the book is about how Caroline changes that -- I'm hoping it's not a problem for someone reading a partial.

However, most of the day was spent testing out the combined capabilities of the Unfuck Your Habitat app and the new Reminders feature on my iPod Touch. In other words: housework.

Now, I am NOT good at housework. I used to brush it off with "I have better things to think about" while actually feeling guilty about not being able to keep things clean and tidy. A couple of years ago, I learned that it was more fundamental than that: I got diagnosed bipolar II and ADHD-inattentive. It was a huge relief, really, because it meant that most of the things I'd been viewing as character flaws were treatable. But it also explained my permanently messy environment: between how easily I get distracted and wander away from projects without cleaning them up, and the depressive troughs that, in bipolar II, are so much more disabling than the manic episodes, during which I can't be arsed to do any housework at all, and then the fact that marathon cleaning to try to overcome the chaos tends to tip me over into hypomania -- yeah, I default to living in a somewhat grubby Pile Of Stuff.And getting the right medications meant I had a better chance of keeping things tidy, but it still didn't teach me HOW to do it.

 So much for the mental health aspects. Anyway, I've discovered that the principles in Unfuck Your Habitat work
really well for me. If you have no idea where to start, you can tap the "Random Unfucking Challenge" and choose whether you want a five-, ten-, or 20-minute challenge. Or you can tell it which room you want to work in, and it'll suggest a task. But the best thing for me? You can make a master task list, and you tell the app what room it belongs to and assign a priority. Then you can sort the list by room or by priority. And when you start a task, it says "ready, set. unfuck!" and beeps at you after 20 minutes and tells you to take a break, and then it beeps again after ten minutes to tell you to get back to work. You can skip the break, but it asks you if you're sure.

And it claims that if you finish everything on your To-Unfuck List, you unlock an achievement.

I don't know if I'll ever get there, because I can see myself adding things to the bottom of the list as the top ones get knocked off. But it's a lot of fun to use. I made a big list Sunday night when I was stuck with insomnia. Since then, I've done about five loads of laundry, which gets me caught up, and I finally got on top of the dishes to the point where I CAN clean as I go. Today? Put my storage crates back under my bed instead of having them stacked next to it, made all my DVDs vertical because it was driving [personal profile] eternaleponine up a wall, cleared off the kitchen table, put all my plastic-sheet-protected recipes back in their zipper binder, and CLEANED THE KITCHEN FLOOR. 

And the Reminders feature? It's sort of a hybrid between a to-do list and a calendar. I didn't set any reminders for future days, but I made a list today, and it lets you put a time on it and it'll beep at you to do it. I didn't do the things in the order I'd put them down, because I had gotten my first good night's sleep in DAYS last night, and I was slow getting started this morning. But I made a necessary phone call, and sent the query, and did the initial test for the 100 Push-Ups Challenge (I'm trying again -- third time's the charm?); cleaned the kitchen floor, made an apple crisp, and made dinner; and I looked up how to make a functional rather than a chronological resume and bookmarked the page. The only things I'd put on today's list that I didn't get done? Sorting the clothes on my chair (the sort of stuff that doesn't necessarily get washed every time, so if you're a messy person like me you put it on a chair instead of hanging it up in the closet again) -- and STARTING THE CHRISTMAS STORY.

I'm probably not starting it tomorrow, either, because we're going to the Big E. My mother would make a disapproving face at me for that -- she deals with the fact that I'm never going to go to services on Yom Kippur again, but she'd probably think that eating my way through a multi-state fair was a bit much. 

Depends how long we stay there. I might take a crack at it when we get home. I won't have to cook or do dishes, after all.
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 snagged from [personal profile] cluegirl 

Bold the ones you have and use at least once a year, italicize the ones you have and don't use, strike through the ones you have had but got ridof:
I wonder how many pasta machines, breadmakers, juicers, blenders, deep fat fryers, egg boilers, melon ballers, sandwich makers, pastrybrushes, cheese knives, electric woks, miniature salad spinners, griddle pans, jam funnels, meat thermometers, filleting knives, eggpoachers, cake stands, garlic crushers, martini glasses, tea strainers, bamboo steamers, pizza stones, coffee grinders, milk frothers, piping bags, banana stands, fluted pastry wheels, tagine dishes, conical strainers, rice cookers, steam cookers, pressure cookers, slowcookers, spaetzle makers, cookie presses, gravy strainers, double boilers (bains marie), sukiyaki stoves, ice cream makers, and fonduesets languish dustily at the back of the nation's cupboards.
Annotations: pasta machine, took friend's cast-off, never used, Freecycled. Had a mechanical juicer, it broke. Which is a pity because I ONLY like fresh orange juice, even the snitziest not-from-concentrate tastes bad to me. I drink V8 in the mornings anyway. The melon baller is part of my culinary school garnishing kit. I need new pastry brushes! I'm going to get silicone so they don't shed bristles. Cheese knife came from some housemate's stash of gadgets, they left it behind, probably because it didn't work any better than a regular knife, and we don't do the cheese-board entertaining so we don't need the front serving times, so I Freecycled that too. Meat thermometer - we went vegetarian! I've still got an instant-read around. Don't use it much since I can caramelize sugar by sight now. Fluted pastry wheel -- again, student kit, and I just haven't made a lattice crust pie at home in roughly forever, in no small part because [personal profile] eternaleponine 's favorite pie is pumpkin and I like lemon icebox pie. If I'm baking a fruit thing, I make a crisp. Rice cooker -- too big for counter space, and I know how to make rice in a pot. The ice cream maker... I really should ditch it, but it was a wedding present from someone I like, and I do KNOW how to make ice cream. But the local supermarket stocks tons of Ben & Jerry's, and it's usually on sale, and so why bother? If I really decide to get serious about making my own. I'd rather have the one designed to work with my KitchenAid.

Oh, and as for the double boiler, two of the saucepans in my set were designed to work together as one, as well as individual pans, and I HAVE used them that way, but I really prefer to set a stainless steel mixing bowl on a saucepan, the way one does in most professional kitchens. The rounded bottom is better for stirring than a flat one! But I certainly do that more than once a year.
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Why haven't I been around?

This time, it was the car.

Last time I went up to Boston, the weekend before Labor Day, as I was coming home, my clutch and transmission went kablooie. Yes, that's a technical term. Now, I have AAA Plus, so I was able to get home without laying out any money, but there was still the problem of a totally non-functional car.

The ride home was great, though. The tow truck driver had enough flamboyantly gay mannerisms that, when we were making initial small-talk chitchat, I deliberately didn't conceal some of the queer elements in MY life, and when he reacted happily, I said "I kinda thought you were family." And we had a perfectly cheerful two hours, which distracted me from Heinous Car Death.

The time since then has been involved in wrangling between the dealership where I bought the car which is no longer a GM dealership, a dealership in Middletown which IS, the GM warranty people, and the extended warranty people. Apparently the question of whether it was covered hinged on what broke first, the clutch or the transmission.

The upshot is, the warranty is covering the $2300 transmission, the $300 clutch is my responsibility, and it should probably be fixed this week.

I have an unexpected semester off, because the next courses in my sequence aren't offered until NEXT semester. Well, more time to work on submitting Love Continuance and Increasing, and more time to research and write its sequel.

Also on the agenda: make a proper updated resume, so I can maybe get at least some temp jobs during the semester.

So that's me. At least here. Stuff about the novel is at [personal profile] julian_griffith, DW/LJ.

I'm trying to keep up on LJ again, and comment.

About the only way NOT to reach me is Facebook. I still kinda hate it.

Let me know what's up with you?
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Image should be clickable link

This looks amazing. I've bookmarked the Pride & Prejudice prompts, hoping to take a crack at filling them, and I submitted one for Lady Sarah from Garrow's Law. Go prompt! Go write!

rikibeth: (Default)
Since he has so much confidence in the medieval medical opinion that a woman cannot get pregnant as a result of rape?

Next time he's unwell, he should find someone to treat him with bleeding, cupping, purges, antimony emetics, and mercury compounds.

That'll rectify his humours right quick.
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First of all, if you like the Avengers at ALL, and you need a good laugh, you need to read this fic, by scifigirl47:

Phil Coulson Does Not Bake (and The Avengers Do Not Shop At IKEA Anymore)


Sometimes Tony Stark makes poor choices. Sometimes Tony pushes his teasing of Steve Rogers just a little too far. Sometimes Steve decides he's had enough.

Phil Coulson's the one who's got to write this nonsense up, and he does not bake.

I can pretty much guarantee you that by the end of the fic, you will be craving cookies.

Here is how you go about solving that:

7 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp baking soda
4 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves

3/4# (3 sticks) unsalted butter
4 cups brown sugar (packed)
4 eggs
1 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla

1 14.5 oz jar lingonberry jam

About a cup of granulated sugar in a little bowl

(I know the story says loganberry. IKEA sells lingonberry jam, not loganberry. I got mine at Whole Foods, though.)

You know how to make cookie dough, right? Preheat the oven to 350F. You sift everything in that first batch of ingredients together. You take the butter and sugar and cream them together (stand mixer, handheld mixer, a wooden spoon if you're really dedicated and you don't have some sort of electric mixer) and then mix in the eggs and vanilla and molasses. Then you mix in the dry stuff.

This recipe is for thumbprint cookies. 8 dozen of them. Adjust your recipe accordingly if you don't need eight dozen cookies right now.

If you really don't know how to make thumbprint cookies: roll some of the dough into a little ball. Smaller than a golf ball, smaller than a ping-pong ball -- a Superball is about right. Then, and this is important for this flavor, roll that Superball in granulated sugar and put it on your cookie sheet. (Use your favorite method of making cookies not stick. I use baking parchment.) Leave plenty of space between the cookies -- they spread. A LOT. When your baking sheet is full (expect to only fit a dozen) poke a depression in each cookie with your thumb. Fill that depression with jam. A piping bag doesn't really give much advantage over a spoon, in this case -- I did both.

Bake 12 minutes at 350F. Let the cookies cool for about two minutes on the sheets, then slide the paper or foil off the hot sheets and get it onto a cooler surface, and then after another few minutes lift the cookies off with a spatula and get them onto a wire rack. You DO NOT want these cookies to overbake or have too much carryover cooking from the hot cookie sheets, because you want them chewy, and if they go too long they will be crunchy.

Here is Plush Team Delta re-enacting a scene from the story:

Go forth, read, and bake!


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