Monday, July 31, 2023

Crockpot Monday: Chocolate Pot de Creme

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Chocolate Pot de Creme:


5 egg yolks

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup baker's sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder


ganache topping:

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream



Use a 6-quart slow cooker with an inserted oven-safe dish that fits all the way inside your stoneware. Add water around the dish until reaching the halfway point on the side (about 1/2 to 1 cup of water).

In a mixing bowl, whip together the yolks, cream, sugar, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Pour this mixture into your inserted dish. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 to 4 hours. Your custard should be set in the center and not too jiggly.

Unplug your cooker and let it cool for an hour or so, or until you can safely remove the inserted dish. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, or until fully cool. 

To make the ganache (this is optional)

 Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave (not long---30 seconds or so, then add a few at a time--don't scorch the chocolate!), and whisk in the heavy cream until it's fully incorporated. Pour evenly over the top. Return to the refrigerator for ANOTHER 2-3 hours (this is the hard part) before serving.

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Thursday, July 27, 2023

Another Week, Another Post

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Happy Thursday, everyone! I'm back with my weekly update. Sadly, it's not a great one. Over the past week, I've developed carpal tunnel like symptoms in both of my hands. This makes it really hard to type. I'm also between a rock and a hard place because my doctor's office has stopped taking my insurance and it may take up to two months for my waiver to be approved/denied. If it's denied, I have to find a new doctor and start completely over. No fun. 

But, what did get done this week? Well, just today I completely updated my character guide for the toy store book series. This will help me remember character names and bits of information about them. I've also updated my page count for Holidays at the Toy Store. I'm down to just needing three to four more stories. That's the same as last week, but it's more locked in now which is reassuring to me.

I'm thinking about writing about:
National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
National Juggling Day
Make Music Day
National Scavenger Hunt Day

What do you think?

In other news, the new bedtime is coming along. I've found myself going to bed earlier even on the nights that I don't have to. I'm also sleeping better, I think. Last night I slept for 12 hours straight which wasn't my intention but was clearly needed. 

So, that's it! If you have any tips on the carpal tunnel or anything else, I'd love to hear them.
Have a great week!

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Monday, July 24, 2023

Crockpot Monday: Creme Brulee

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Creme Brulee:


2 cups heavy cream

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1/4 cup raw sugar (for topping)



Find a heat-resistant dish that fits inside of your stoneware insert. Fit it in, and using a cup or pitcher, pour water around the edges so there is water 1/2 - 3/4 of the way up the sides of the dish. Push it down with your hand if it starts to float up. 

Take the dish back out. Whip the 5 egg yolks in a medium-sized bowl. Slowly add the cream and baking sugar while mixing. Add the vanilla. Pour mixture into the dish and carefully lower into the stoneware without splashing water into the dish.


Cover and cook on high for 2-4 hours. Custard should be set with the center still a bit jiggly. Touch lightly with your finger to check.  Very carefully remove dish and let cool completely on counter, then chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.


Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of raw sugar evenly over the top of the custard. Move your oven rack to the top level and broil for 3-10 minutes, checking often. The sugar will boil and brown.


Cool again in the fridge for a few hours.

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Thursday, July 20, 2023


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It's been a week since I last updated you and though the progress has been slow, it's been there! If my estimates are right, I'm only three to four more stories from having the book complete. After that, it will be in the hands of my artists. Max does an incredible job with the interior art and if you've seen the covers of Tales from the Toy Store and Return to the Toy Store, you'll know Eric is one amazing cover artist. I only ever have the vaguest of ideas for covers and he always comes up with these fantastic covers.

In other news, I've been on call for jury duty for the past two weeks and never got called in. It's so hard to schedule things when you're on call like that. I feel for those who live like that all the time. Speaking of time, it was pointed out to me that I might do better if I went back to having some type of bedtime. I've been staying up to crazy hours and then sleeping most of the day away. I'm almost always tired. So, it's time to test this theory and see if this gets me in a better place. Heck, it might even help my creativity levels! You never know.

For now though, I have an open Word document, my headphones on, and some Disney music playing. That means it's time to get back to work on Holidays at the Toy Store! 

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Monday, July 17, 2023

Crockpot Monday: Pumpkin Pie Dip

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Pumpkin Pie Dip:


1 cup canned pumpkin pie mix
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
chopped walnuts, optional


This recipe is perfect for the Little Dipper sized crockpot.

Add the cream cheese to the crockpot. Top with sour cream, then pour in the pumpkin pie filling.

Cover and cook for about an hour, then stir well. If the cream cheese isn't fully melted, cook a bit longer.
Garnish with chopped walnuts, if desired. 

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Thursday, July 13, 2023

Currently Scheduling

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Hey, everyone! I just wanted to give you a little bit of a life update. Some of you know that drama that happened last year with my house. Well, the house is still stressing me out. You see, I have to have $5500 saved up by May 1st so that I can buy the house. If I don't have it, there's a good chance that the cats and I will be homeless. part of me trying to really do what I can to boost the signal, I've decided to really try to post weekly here. I may also put together a GoFundMe in the future as well as sell some things. I really hate to do it, but if the choice is between pride and having a place to live...well, I'm going to go with having a house to live in. 

Now, let's move on to something a bit more cheerful. Holidays at the Toy Store is coming along well. In fact, I would say that it's over halfway done at this point. I can't wait to share it with all of you once it's finished. Heck, there's a good chance that I may put a couple other stories up here between now and when I run the Kickstarter for printing/pre-order. With any luck, that will happen in October or November. 

You may have noticed that this post was titled "Currently Scheduling" and that I haven't mentioned what I'm scheduling. Well, I'm currently scheduling editing jobs for the rest of July and for August. No job is too big or too small. Every penny helps me with day to day living as well as setting aside money for the house. If you'd like more information, check out my Services page. To schedule a slot, just email me at or message me on Facebook. 

That's it from the village! Keep your eyes open for new sneak peeks and maybe even some new recipes!

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Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Sneak Peek: Letter Writing Week

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About once a month, Rhino got something in the mail. It might be a letter or a postcard, but he always got something, and they always came from the same place. Grandpa Rhino used to live in the toy store but had been adopted by a young boy when Rhino was quite young. They loved each other though and to keep in touch, they would write letters to each other.

One day, Sam saw Rhino writing a letter to his grandpa and asked him about it. “Why do you write him letters, Rhino?” he asked.

“It’s a fun way to keep in touch. I can tell him about everything that happens here. I just wrote about the big spaghetti party that Mario threw for us. If I didn’t tell him, he’d never know, and I think that he would miss it. Plus, he always writes me back and I get to hear about the adventures that he goes on with his boy.”

“That’s pretty cool. I think that I would like to write a letter too, but who would I write it too?” asked Sam.

“You could write to me,” answered Rhino. “You have all kinds of adventures, and I would love to read about them. I’ll even write you back!”

“Awesome! I’ll go back to my cubby and work on it right now.”

Sam waved and headed back to his cubby where he got a pencil and some paper and write Rhino a long letter, telling him all about his adventures with Melanie and his other friends. At the end of the letter, he invited Rhino to go on an adventure with him. Then, he put it into an envelope and put it in the toy store mailbox.

As he was walking to the mailbox, Asbestos came up to him and asked what he was doing. Sam explained all about letter writing and how he had written Rhino a letter. Asbestos loved the idea and ran back to his cave to write his own letter.

Before much time had passed, there was a line at the mailbox of toys waiting to drop their letters in. All week long, they had been writing to each other. Now, some of them were writing back and others were mailing out their first letter.

Some of the toys wrote long letters. Others wrote just a little bit on the back of a postcard. They all had one thing in common though. They loved writing to each other. Rhino got so excited about how everyone was writing letters that he wrote a second one to Grandpa Rhino telling him all about it. Grandpa Rhino wrote back telling him that the toys where he lived would love to get letters and postcards.

Rhino couldn’t wait to share this idea with all of his friends. He hurried over to Horace and told him all about what his grandpa had said in his letter. Horace thought it was a great idea so he decided to call all of the toys together to tell them all about it.

Soon, all of the toys were collected together in the reading area. Some had letters in their hands and others were carrying their paper and pencils. Some of the younger toys had crayons. “Hey, everyone, I have something that I want to tell you about!”

Everyone settled down and got quiet so that they could hear Horace.

“I was just talking to Rhino about how great all this letter writing is and he told me that he had gotten a new letter from Grandpa Rhino. As you know, Grandpa Rhino lives across town now with a wonderful boy and his family. It’s because of his letter writing that all of you started writing letters. Now, he has a suggestion!”

The toys whispered among themselves, wondering what the suggestion might be.

“He would love it if you wrote letters to his friends that he lives with! They don’t get letters or postcards now and he knows that they would love them. What do you all think? Can we bring some smiles to other toys? You never know, you might make some new friends!”

The toys all cheered and clapped to show their support. Then, they hurried up to Rhino who had his grandpa’s letter with him. In it, Grandpa Rhino had given a list of toys who would love to receive letters. After everyone had gotten the name of a toy, Rhino went back to his cubby to write his grandpa to tell him that lots of letters should be coming to their playroom very soon.

Across town, Grandpa Rhino smiled as he read his grandson’s letter again. It was good knowing that he was happy, healthy, and surrounded by toys who all took care of each other. He hoped that they would be sending lots of letters their way, but even if they didn’t, he knew that each week there would be one from his grandson, Rhino.

…And that’s how the toy store pen pal program came to be. 

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