Midnight Moonlight – A Short Story

One of the Facebook pages I follow is for our local area and its focus is photography from around our county.  We have some amazing photographers in this area.  One of our local guys, DW, posted the following photo. I contacted him and asked for permission to use his photo (with credit to him) with the short story that the photo inspired. I hope you enjoy.

midnight moonlight inspiration photo - DW Harmon - Pure Lapeer

(Photo by DW Harmon – Michigan. Shared with permission)

 Midnight Moonlight

(by Michelle D.)

Unnatural silence surrounded her. The air so still not a single leaf rustled. Missing also were the normal sounds of wildlife. She should be able to hear the croak of the bullfrogs from the misty swamp ahead, the hoot of an owl, or the skittering of little feet through the dry leaves. Instead there was nothing but pure silence.

The woman took a careful step forward. Gravel moved under her foot, grinding together in a loud crunch. She stopped again, her heart racing, her heartbeat audible in the silence of the woods.

She just needed to follow the tracks, she kept telling herself. They would hopefully lead her to safety. The old cabin with the monster of a man was behind her. She hoped he was still unconscious from the blow she gave him to the back of the head.

The moonlight glinted off the rails of the old abandoned railroad track. She studied the rails. Years had passed since childhood, but she should still be able to balance on the narrow beam that the rail presented. She stepped carefully onto the right rail. The light mist made the rail slightly slick, but she should be able to carefully walk silently along it.

A careful glance over her shoulder showed nothing behind her. He wasn’t using the rails to sneak up on her, but she needed to hurry. He could come to at any moment.

Up ahead she saw a break in the woods. It appeared that the railroad tracks created a small bridge to cross a gap in the earth before the next stretch of woods. Maybe she would be able to figure out where she was, orient herself with the surroundings.

A loud snap broke the silence behind her. She gasped and took off running, carefully balancing as she ran. Years of training came back to her, unfortunately her body was not in the same shape as her gymnastics days. Her feet wobbled as she ran.

Low, rolling laughter came from her right. Another loud snap to her left.

“Leave me alone!” she screamed, abandoning the rail to run full tilt on the gravel next to the tracks.

She slid to a stop just before tumbling down the embankment. The tracks continued across the gap; just a couple of rails and rotted boards stretched between her and the other bank. Laughter came from her right again. Another glance around showed her she was still alone. She tested her weight on the rails.

“You can’t escape,” the words from below whispered over her skin.

“Go away,” she sobbed.

A growl came from behind, “Run!”

She took off across the suspended rails, balancing as carefully as she could on the shaking, slick rails. The other bank loomed, coming closer. If she could make it to the other side maybe she’d be safe.

She jumped the last couple of feet, slipping on the gravel and coming down to her knees. Her eyes wide, breath coming in short pants, she looked around. A light glowed ahead of her, just down a path off the tracks.

“Help!” she screamed before standing and running for the light. The woman burst into a clearing. “No,” she whispered, sinking once again to her battered knees. The old cabin, the same cabin she escaped only an hour ago, stood before her.

“I told you, you can’t escape,” a voice whispered just before pain burst across the back of her head. She rolled over, stared up at the monster, her vision fading.

“Until death do us part, my love,” he grinned as he raised an ax. The last thing she saw before the world went black was the light of the midnight moon shining on the gleaming metal head of the ax.

 

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The “Super” Shopper Totebag

You may have seen a sneak peek of another bag sitting behind my Big Shopper Totebag in my last post.

This one I did not use an actual pattern for, but did use the same concept for putting it together as the Big Shopper. I also didn’t really measure out a certain size first, I just winged it. So the bag ended up quite a bit larger than expected. I call this my “Super” Shopper.

You can see the size difference in the above picture. A little narrower, but taller. It’s actually the perfect size to roll up a quilt and stuff it in without having the top of the quilt hanging out all over. (For those times you are working on hand binding and taking a quilt on the go).

With this bag I did not put pockets on the inside, just one on each side on the outside.

Since the strip was wider as well I did mirror images on the decorative stitching.

I think I could get addicted to making Totebags. How about you?

Big Shopper Totebag

I’m finally replacing the Wal-Mart and Meijer reusable grocery bags that I’ve been using to cart around craft projects. The Big Shopper bag by Whistlepig Creek is a great totebag.

I made mine according to the pattern for the larger size. I did add decorative stitching in the thin strip of green because I love doing decorative stitching. I add it to pillowcases as well.

The circle with the MD initials was made by my friend JK. Some day I’m going to go play with her embroidery machine.

The bag has a good amount of pockets inside. You can make them the size you want. So you could have a bunch of skinny pockets for holding scissors and pens and such, or a few wider pockets. It’s up to you.

I love making bags. And they are usually quick enough to actually finish the project in a decent amount of time.

Have you made any Totebags lately?

Caulipower Pizza

Disclaimer: I was not paid or compensated for reviewing this product. I just wanted to share my experience with a new product as we adjust our lifestyle to get healthier.

I was skeptical of trying a cauliflower type pizza crust, but you don’t find new things you like without trying them out.

I have not tried making my own crust yet, but that’s on the list. It’s time-consuming from what I’ve seen on various recipes, so I need to make sure I have the time for it. And buying cauliflower crust around here means ordering online. I’m not paying $20+ per crust!

At our local Meijer though I found Caulipower Pizza crust ($7.99 for two crusts). It does have brown rice flour in it, so it’s not quite the same. But it was worth checking out.

This is amazing! Honestly, it is. I could not taste a difference between this and a regular thin crust wheat-based pizza. And the best part is no bad after effects from the pizza crust.

We like different toppings, so I customize each one to fit what we each like.

Thin layer of pizza sauce, some shredded cheese, toppings such as pepperoni, ham, onion, mushroom, olives, etc., sprinkle of cheese on top. Then bake at 425 according to the instructions on the box. I do add about 1 minute to the recommended time to compensate for our oven’s temperature not being 100% on the money.

If you love pizza, but the crust doesn’t love you, check out this brand of crust. They also have a Facebook page: Caulipower Pizza

We also experimented with cutting the crust into 4, baking it, then use it as hamburger buns.

While the hamburgers were cooking I used a little olive oil on a cookie sheet, put two crusts on it, heated the oven to 425, and baked the crusts for approximately 9 minutes. Enough to get them cooked and crispy without burning them to a crisp. One crust cut into four pieces to make two hamburger “buns”.

Result? A decent hamburger on a crispy bun. Slightly bland, but I didn’t have all the toppings I would normally use, so those would have helped.

I paired it with asparagus cooked with garlic parmesan butter. Yum!

If you try these crusts out let me know what you think.

Life After 65 – Check it out

Whether you are 65, older, or even younger you may enjoy this new blog that just started up last month.  It’s called: Life After 65

The blog plans to focus on family, life, investing for your future both financially for your retirement and for what you’ll leave your family in the end (wills, trusts, etc.), health topics such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s, being a caregiver for both an elderly parent and for a disabled family member, and more.

If you look to the right sidebar you’ll also see a link to the blog listed in My Favorite Blogs.

Check it out!   (the site is still being fine-tuned on the theme and layout, so you may see some things change over the next couple weeks as they get everything set up the way they want)

Conquering My Fear

This is a little off topic as it doesn’t pertain to anything crafty, cooking, or cats, but I wanted to share this with you.

As humans we all have fears. Some are based upon experiences in our lives, some from the media, and some for absolutely no discernible reason at all.

An experience from my life: I have a slight fear, or maybe just revulsion, of turkey vultures. Not because they are an ugly bird (which they are), but because of a bad experience involving a flock of them.

When I was growing up we had about 5 acres of land on a private road out in the country. Lots of woods, very few neighbors, so us neighborhood kids had a lot of acreage to play on.

We also had a pond back behind the pole barn a ways. I was walking along the drive to the pond when several humongous turkey vultures shot out of the trees right above my head! I felt the wind from their wings as they passed inches above my head.

I think anyone would have a slight shudder at seeing those birds after that.

Fear based on media: everything is bad. The world is going to hell. Nothing is good anymore. More and more idiots are appearing. (Tide pod, anyone?). I think I have more of a fear of idiots than anything else because of the media.

Fear for no understandable reason: as mentioned above, I grew up in the country. I grew up around hunters, both bow and gun. I watched deer get gutted and cleaned in our barn. I even love shooting a bow and arrow.

But for some unexplainable reason as I got older I developed a fear of guns. Mostly handguns. Shotguns and rifles don’t bother me that much. But the thought of having a handgun in the house made me nauseous and very anxious.

My husband, however, is former military and knows how to handle a gun from his military days. He has wanted to get a gun for quite a while now. He understood my fear and talked to me about different safety precautions. He also gave me the time I needed to process and think about why I was afraid and how I could get past the fear. I could not think of any reason why I would have that fear, it was just there.

We talked multiple times about taking a shooting class together even though he is experienced. I went to a family friend’s place and handled an unloaded gun to get a feel for it.

I spent time thinking about what could have caused this fear. I still cannot figure out a reason. I spent time going over it in my mind. I told myself I could do it. I kept telling myself that I could do it. That I was strong enough.

I finally got to the point where I felt that I could accept it, having a gun in the house.

So, for Christmas I got my husband gift cards to a local gun shop and shooting range.

This weekend we (my hubby, his mom, and myself) went to the gun shop pick out a gun. We went into the indoor shooting range and took turns shooting the gun, with my husband giving me a lot of tips and talking about safety.

Overall for my very first time shooting I did not do too shabby. The gun was a little big for my hand so it was not all that comfortable.

We are going to go back again another time so I can try out a gun with a smaller grip. My mom-in-law and I are going to set up a shooting date as well, as she has several guns that have smaller grips.

I am also going to take some classes and work on fully conquering this fear. Because even after holding and shooting the gun, the fear is still lingering. But nowhere near what it used to be.

What fear are you dealing with? Have you been able to conquer any fear? How did you do it? Or how will you? Set your mind to it, think about the reasons, and work your way through the fear. And sometimes you just have to pick up that gun, point it at the paper target, and pull the trigger.

Dinner Experiment – Chicken and Veggies

Tonight I decided to experiment a little bit with a basic chicken and veggie recipe. (Ingredient list at bottom of post)

I put a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep skillet and started heating it up on medium heat (to prevent burning I heat it on medium). While it was doing that I diced up 3 chicken breasts into small pieces.

Once the oil was hot I added 2 chopped garlic cloves (I get frozen ones from Wal-Mart that I just pop them out of the tray into the pan), diced white onion, and diced green pepper. Let them saute a minute or two until the onion starts to become translucent) then added the chicken. Seasoned it all with black pepper and poultry seasoning.

I kept the heat on medium and stirred fairly often to keep things from burning.

When the chicken was almost done I steamed a bag of broccoli florets and then steamed a bag of riced cauliflower with Italian cheese.

Once the chicken was done I dumped in the broccoli and sauted a minute, chopping some of the larger florets up in the pan, then added the riced cauliflower and about a tablespoon of butter (we use Land O Lakes butter with olive oil).

It turned out much better than I expected! Very flavorful and filling, even without starchy rice or potato.

Ingredient list:

  1. 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  3. Diced onion (as much as desired)
  4. Diced green pepper (as much as desired)
  5. 3 chicken breasts, diced into bite size pieces
  6. Bag of steamable broccoli
  7. Bag of steamable riced cauliflower with Italian cheese
  8. 1 tbsp butter
  9. Black pepper, to personal taste
  10. Poultry seasoning, to personal taste

Let me know if you try it!