Triple Chocolate Scones

OMG these are amazing! I just tried making them and wow! It’s worth the time to shred a Lindt sweet dark chocolate bar.

Tea Party Ideas & Recipes

Triple Chocolate Scones

As mentioned in our previous post, here is the recipe for Triple Chocolate Scones with two “Make Ahead” options. They’re a scrumptious treat for special days or when you need a little chocolate. We hope you enjoy this fresh approach to our favorite tea treat with “lashings of cream” and jam, as our british friends say.

Triple Chocolate Scones
Makes 24 small scones, 1 1/4 inch (our favorite size) or 10-12 scones, 2 inch or 8-12 wedges.

1 3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder (Yes, that is a Tablespoon.)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
6 Tbsp. butter
7-8 Tbsp. milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. chopped or grated dark chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sift together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chocolate chips and dark chocolate.

Make ahead option #1: At this point, you can…

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My first time….

Because I work 3 jobs as well as have stuff going on in my personal life, my best friend decided I needed to get out of the house for something not related to work or errands. He asked me how I’d feel about running around in the woods hunting people. I was pretty sure they hadn’t made that legal in the last legislative session (though in my state you never know….). Turns out he wanted me to go LARPing. For those not in the know this means I would run around with foam weapons hitting people in costume who’d paid very good money to be chased by other people in far less elaborate costume trying to hit them with padded weapons. Those doing the chasing, the NPC’s, interestingly enough, are not charged for their role. But they die. A lot. Because they are, in gamer parlance, the monsters filled with tasty XP. So I said sure, why not, and signed up to be one of the ones dying a lot.

I haven’t had so much fun since I can’t remember when. The LARP was run by two very nice, especially to a newbie, very creative people and the rules were the Accelerant version. Since this is the only one I’ve done, I have no idea what the differences are, I just know this worked great. They provided weapons, costumes, make-up. Though in the future I am so getting my own pair of custom long swords. Being ambidextrous is totally a plus in this world. So Friday night I went out, was in 2 field events, got my ass handed to me repeatedly. And wondered where the hell my reflexes, sparring skills, and general awareness that I used to have when I was doing martial arts back in high school (when the world was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth), had gotten to. It was 3:30 AM before I knew what happened and loved every minute of it.

Because I live conveniently close to where the event was being held, I didn’t bother to stay on site but went home to sleep. Got home with way more energy than expected, fed and watered the cats, and fell into bed. 4 hours later (because the fuzzy alarm clock apparently feels that water that was put out 4 hours ago is no longer fresh after the sun rises), I got up, and went back. This time I could see the people I was fighting and fighting along side. It was still awesome. As an NPC you don’t get much of the plot explained, but you do get plenty of the action sequences. The people at the event were awesome. Nobody was crazy gung-ho and even when trying to kill you there was still respect and a desire to keep everyone safe and respected. One guy couldn’t find my shoulder in the dark to call a search on me as I knelt on the ground dead so settled for patting my head to stay respectful. And slowly, with each encounter, my skills, started to come back to me. Tunnel vision/hyperfocus receded, muscles remembered how to move in combat/sparing situations, the ability to spot openings and strategize on the fly returned, and so did my play acting – everyone enjoys a good death scene. And so I fought, and died, and rose to fight again. Because even if you die a hundred times, and I did, NPC’s always re-spawn, and the PC’s are always ready to go another round.

This morning I ache. I can barely walk down stairs. My arms are limp noodles. I have blisters the size of quarters. I can’t wait for the next event.

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Review of Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

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Night Broken is  the most recent book of the Mercy Thompson series to come out in paperback.* The story picks up with the ex-wife of the alpha coming back to the pack seeking protection and causing chaos as she plays dominance games with our heroine, Mercy. The story is well written with an original villain from outside the classic western mythos. It is a great look at the pack dynamics that are a hallmark of Briggs’ writing. Much as I enjoyed the story I was rather disappointed that, as with the last 2 books, there seems to be no arc carrying from one book to another as there was from Moon Called through Silver Borne. There is a small theme of the fae on their reservations, but it is too quickly passed over to be a true subplot to this story or to really feel like part of a larger whole. Over all Night Broken is a great stand alone book set in a well researched world of urban fantasy.

*I only buy these in paperback because the first half of the series was published as mass market, then the publisher said, ‘hey, look, lots of fans, we can make more money with hardbacks!’ and changed the release format. Now I have to wait longer to get my hands on them because it itches my brain to have half a series in one size and the other half another. It interferes with proper shelving of the hoard, and besides hardbacks and bathtubs don’t mix.

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Simple Household Projects Never Are

On Wed I taught my class (kinship and family this week), it came off beautifully and I was so energized I decided that even though it was 9:30 at night when I got home, I’d take on a quick little project to make my life a little nicer. When I bought the house the previous owner had somehow missed the state of the upstairs toilet seat in their process of getting the house ready for sale. I thought it was a little weird, after all they changed the downstairs one and did other things around the house. Though not as far as to put in baseboards upstairs, so I didn’t worry that much about it. Still I’ve been here a year and had said enough was enough. The worn state of the seat brought shame to my house. I would endure this eyesore no more. Went to Home Depot, picked up a very cheap seat (which made me wonder even more – $5 and how hard is swapping really to do?), and left it in the bathroom for when I had time and energy for a quick upgrade.

The cat, who considers all bowls of water as his decided he should also be involved. You can see the enamel was gone around the edge and it just looked ick.

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Since I was feeling energized, I decided to go for it. After all this should take 15 minutes with the proper tools, which I had, a brand new set of vice grips from the parental units.

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I went to work. Naturally, I started on the outside. Got the first nut loosened. Was very surprised to learn that in the 80’s (when the house was built and given the degraded nature of the seat I assume it was original) they used metal bolts and plastic nuts. I don’t know why, but then again it was the 80’s. Then I tried the inside bolt and got nowhere. Some contortions and I managed to get my head around the toilet to find that you can in fact strip a plastic nut. Spent 10 fruitless minutes trying get a grip and turn it from above. Failed. Moved to the floor. Spent considerably longer down there. Then I remembered the existence of WD-40.

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I had bought a small can when I moved in and never touched it. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the makers of WD-40 for creating an effective product that actually smells good. This becomes incredibly important when you have to work in a cramped, confined, though well ventilated, space. Sprayed the area around the nut and waited.  The cat was puzzled by my insistence on spending so much time on the floor by the toilet.

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A few minutes later back I went. One other thing to realize is that in order to access the bolt, and see it, I had to lay on the floor with my back against the radiator and my cheek against the bowl of the toilet. Fortunately I’d just cleaned the toilet a few days ago, and do to an unfortunate incident with a hanging glass soap dish (came with the house, still blaming the 80’s), the floor had been cleaned within an inch of it’s life to remove all traces of glass shards. 10 minutes of it turning now, but due to the angle a 1/8th of a turn at a time, and I decided a new strategy was in order. I was starting to wear through the plastic! If only I could spin the seat from the top maybe that would work. I discover the problem with that plan was the first bolt. It was free but so long I couldn’t turn the seat. So I needed a tool not usually involved in the bathroom:

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I had gotten one as a gift from my parents so I could take care of some chicken wire fencing on the deck. I’ll let you know how that goes when I get around to that project….Went down stairs, got them from the closet, went back upstairs, and went to cut the bolt. At which point I realized you can’t use bolt cutters and hold the seat up to access the bolt without growing a third arm. Mutant powers not being one of my strengths, I grabbed the closest towel, used it as a prop and cut the bolt. This cause the towel to promptly fall into the toilet. Fished it out, hung it up, and will bleach it on laundry day. And at this point I learned that due to the shape and design of the American toilet seat and toilet there is no spinning the seat from any angle. Back under again. More time turning. At this point I’m really losing plastic and really getting nowhere. Then I decided the problem was from the top and sprayed the WD-40 at the top. I’m starting to worry now because this nut isn’t coming loose, and I’ve destroyed the other bolt so I can’t even reattached the icky seat if I wanted to. Now I’m starting to freak out. Back under again. Turning but no progress. So I have a small moment of madness. I grab the seat and start pulling. Suddenly the bolt pulls free of the nut and I’m staring in shock at the freed toilet seat. Clearly, I had been continuing to use proper tools after the point where brute force had become the answer.

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Finally! I could put the new seat on. It was late and I was more than ready to be finished with the almost 2 hours long ’15 minute’ project. Turns out since the 80’s, the toilet seat making people got smart. Plastic screws and bolts. 20150701_231214

The new toilet seat went on in less than 5 minutes and I crashed into bed with a valuable lesson learned: No matter how easy or short a project is supposed to be, don’t start it at 9:30 at night.

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I am officially a domestic goddess. With bolt cutters. And a shiny new toilet seat that does not shame my house.

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The First Day

Today I started my new job as a customer service rep at the oil company. I did a retail office at a furniture store about 7 years ago but this was very different. Much more advanced computer work and more clerical than retail. It’s been a long time since I was a newbie at work. It felt so weird to realize I didn’t know where things were in the computer program, or what to do with any of the paper work. It was a challenge, the first time in a long time I’ve had to learn on the job. The woman training me is excellent, it’s just weird to not know what I’m doing at work. I tend to stay at a job a long time so I have time to get good at what I do. Usually I’m the one who trains others. But it’s also fun. I’m learning new things and that means I’m not bored. Bored at work is really terrible for me. I have an overactive brain that should not be left to its own devices. Plans for world domination, or if science can clone me a dragon, or how I can get a cabana boy to do housework for me (I hate dishes). None of this is productive or likely to keep me out of trouble, especially since after watching the new Jurassic World movie I firmly believe science owes me a dragon.

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The harvest is in!!

Last year I planted everbearing strawberries. The plants grew, the squirrels ate most of the berries (until the red shouldered hawk moved in) and I didn’t know if they’d survive the winter. We they came back with a vengeance. I wandered out to the patch early this morning and had to rush back to grab a big bowl.

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And there are at least as many more out there that just need a day or two to ripen. I’m thinking strawberry shortcake, but substituting brownies for the biscuits.

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End of an Era

Today was the last day of school for the Middle School, and at the same time was the last day for ME at the Middle School. It was bittersweet. I’ve been there for 4 years, and, while I know it’s time for something new, I’m going to miss all my colleagues and the antics of the students. So there was the end of year cookout, the goodbyes, and I am now the proud owner of a broad leaf bonsai. I’ve never seen one like this, which makes it fitting for my time there, I suppose. Monday I start my new job at the Oil Company. I’m looking forward to trying my hand at something new. I’m also really looking forward to not having to get up to an alarm for the next 4 days. Good night.

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Review: Magic Breaks By Ilona Andrews

Magic Breaks is book 7 of the series. I won’t recap the first 6 books, I’ll just say you can’t pick up the series from here and you wouldn’t want to skip the others, anyways. The book opens with a nice twist on the usual run down of what’s happened up to this point and why the world shifts from magic to tech to back again. Barabas is definitely one of my favorite side characters and it was fun to read his take on the situation. Magic Breaks is well paced with a good mix of character interactions, action sequences and very steamy scenes. It closes out the arc started in book 5 in a truly satisfying manner, and leaves me insanely eager to see what happens next (Hey, Ilona Andrews, if you have a an ARC with nothing else to do with it, feel free to send it my way!). Kate’s rather macabre sense of humor is alive and well and we finally get a proper look at the mysterious, malevolent Roland. This installment fleshes out some of the side characters as well. Julie is noticeably absent for most of the book, which is a shame, as I’d have liked to see more of her growth as a character. I’m hopeful, given how the book ended, we will be seeing more of her. The sequel, Magic Shifts, releases in August. I can’t wait.

BONUS REVIEW! Curran POV:

This is a fun collection of several scenes from the series as told from Curran’s point of view. These were an absolute blast to read. His take on Kate and her actions, especially at the beginning of their relationship, is frequently hilarious. Sadly only available in e-format, I highly recommend downloading it.

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Successful Conclusion to the Hunt

For a while now I have been looking to get a new job. Not another job, but one that would replace my Middle School position with a full time, year round position. This week that hunt came to an end. I interviewed with an oil company and I wore the +10 Jacket of Persuasion:

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It’s red not pink (silly camera). A major find on the clearance rack. And a size 6, my size is double that so I think labeling issues are why something so nice was on the clearance rack in the first place. I love Calvin Klein but I am not paying full price for the man. So far this jacket is 3-0 for getting a positive response in an interview. I wouldn’t be teaching at the college this semester with out this jacket.

Anyway, the jacket was worn, the interview was a success, and today I received the offer. So I will be starting a new career as a customer service rep in a growing family business. New stuff to learn, people to help, and co-workers to meet. This is going to be a blast. And the pay bump will be nice too.

And the good news kept coming today. The college is going to have me teach another class in the fall. I will be very busy but it should keep me out of trouble, at least a little bit…..

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Between the Sheets

The last two days have reached new heights of crowded scheduling. Out with the sunrise not back ’til well after the sunset. Waking in the morning and needing a full 3 minutes to remember what day of the week it is. But the crazy serves to highlight the one perfect moment in the day. Most days it passes unnoticed but when the workload gets out of hand it becomes all the sweeter. When there is no more that can be done, and all is put away the moment comes. I slide between the sheets and I let go of my muscles and gravity takes over, pulling me down into the mattress. Tension leaves from fingers and toes. The world takes my weight and I am set free to drift through the night…

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