It's the final day of the A-Z Challenge!  I wanted to depart with some words of wisdom about God, life, love, loss, etc etc.  However, I chose a more practical subject matter.
Here are some helpful hints to surviving the Zombie apocalypse.  At the bottom of the page is a very thorough quiz to test the odds of your survival and a map of your location to aid you in finding resources. (You might want to print that)

Good Luck!
This post is for You guys.  The new people I’ve met, the dozens of blogs I’m now addicted to.  I’ve even finally succumbed to the allure of tumblr all because of you!  This whole month of A-Z Challenge has been fun and I’ve learned so much from everyone who has participated. 

YOU are all awesome, and I love you for it!

 (also if we are being honest, less words begin with Y than you think.)

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and science."
Albert Einstein
I have always been enamored with the supernatural.  It all began when I was eight and found this book among my mother’s things.  I poured over it as if it held the secrets to the universe. 

When I was nine the most amazing thing happened, I stumbled upon The X-Files.  From ghosts to vampires, chupacabras to the Loch Ness Monster.  I was hooked.  It was as if my book had come to life.

For those who don’t know, The X-Files is an American sci-fi, horror, television series.  It premiered in 1993 and ran for nine seasons. (Carrying me well into adulthood) The X-Files follows the careers and personal lives of FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Mulder is a talented profiler and a firm believer in the supernatural. He is also adamant about the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life and its presence on Earth. This set of beliefs earns him the nickname "Spooky" and an assignment to a little-known department that deals with unsolved cases, known as the X-Files. His belief in the paranormal springs from the claimed abduction of his sister Samantha  by extraterrestrials when Mulder was 12. Her abduction drives Mulder throughout most of the series. Because of this, Mulder struggles to maintain objectivity in his investigations. Agent Scully is the opposite of Mulder in this regard. As a medical doctor and natural skeptic, Scully approaches cases with complete detachment even when Mulder, despite his considerable training, loses his objectivity. Her initial task is to debunk Mulder's theories, supplying logical, scientific explanations for the cases' apparently unexplainable phenomena. Although she is frequently able to offer scientific alternatives to Mulder's deductions, she is rarely able to refute them completely. Over the course of the series, she becomes increasingly dissatisfied with her own ability to approach the cases scientifically.

Every week was like a dark fairytale and I only wanted to know more about the lore and legends used in the show.  I became obsessed with every supernatural book I could get my hands on from the library. Eighteen years after I’d first sought such books out, my library had a large book fair, to my dismay and excitement my education in the paranormal was for sale.  I bought all the books I could, although it makes me sad no one else will get to borrow them anymore.

I now write Urban Fantasy, and I’ve created my own monsters with their own lore.  I still drink in the supernatural like cold water on a hot day. However, I’ll never forget the show that made me feel like I was normal for wanting to believe in what everyone else didn’t.

After all...
Come on. Who doesn't love waffles?! Do be sad and waffleless when you're out of Bisquick! Homemade waffles are easier to make than you think!

What You'll Need

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 3/4 cups milk

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon white sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat waffle iron. Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy. Beat in flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla, just until smooth.
  2. Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve hot.
Bon Appetit!
In the series of young adult novels The Vampire Diaries, author L. J. Smith uses vervain to protect humans from vampires.  Humans can ingest the herb to protect their blood or wear it to ward off compulsion. In the television adaptation vervain not only protects a human from compulsion by vampires, it also physically harms vampires.  When applied directly to their skin it burns similar in effect to holy water on a demon. L.J. Smith however didn't make this herb and its supernatural effects up, it has long been used in folklore.
Vervain, also called Verbena is a genus in the family Verbenaceae.
The leaves are usually opposite, simple, and in many species hairy, often densely so. The flowers are small, with five petals, and borne in dense spikes. Typically some shade of blue, they may also be white, pink, or purple.
Vervain has long been associated with divine and other supernatural forces. It was called "tears of Isis" in ancient Egypt, and later on as "Juno's tears". In ancient Greece it was dedicated to Eos Erigineia.
In the early Christian era, folk legend stated that Verbena was used to staunch Jesus' wounds after his removal from the cross. It was consequently called "holy herb" or "Devil's bane".

Vervain flowers are engraved on cimaruta, Italian anti-bewitching charms. In the 1870 The History and Practice of Magic by "Paul Christian" it is employed in the preparation of protective charms.
What is it to be unique? 

The dictionary defines being unique as:

1. Existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics
2. Having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable

To be unique is to be special.  It is to be irreplaceable.  In my opinion, to be unique is to truly live as you wish, without fear of rejection.

Epictetus was a Greek philosopher.  He felt the same way. He stood up to those who wanted him to change the way he acted, and the large ideas he shared so openly...
“You consider yourself to be only one thread, of those which are in the tunic. Well then it was fitting for you to take care, how you should be like the rest of men. Just as the thread has no design to be superior to the other threads.

But I wish to be purple.

That small part which is bright, and makes all the rest appear graceful and beautiful.

Why then do you tell me to make myself like the many?

And if I do, how shall I still be purple?”

You are unique in every part of your life.  The way you love, the way you harm, your touch, your anger, your fear, hope, dreams, nightmares, everything about you is unique. 

Be different.  Be the person who stands when everyone else is sitting down.  Become the type to rush toward something when others hesitate.  Be free of the fear that who you are is not good enough.

What is it to be unique?

Unique is beautiful, good, strong.  Unique is indestructible.

So next time you’re doing something purely because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do or wearing the latest clothing craze because it’s popular, think twice.

You can always trade it in for something purple.

Some Quotes About Being Yourself

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
Marilyn Monroe

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
Dolly Parton

Are we a body with a soul?  Are we a soul with a body?  The idea of the soul itself evolves constantly within religious, philosophical, and purely fictional texts. However, the belief that every person is born with a soul is practically universal to every religion.  Yet few have ever sought out to prove this allegedly priceless part of us, actually exists.

In the early 20th century, a doctor named Duncan MacDougall of Massachusetts set out to do just that.  Not only did want to prove we all had a soul. MacDougall wanted to prove how much a soul added to our body.

How much did our souls weigh on us?

He sought to measure the actual mass lost by the human body immediately upon death.  That sudden loss would equal the weight of the human soul.

In 1901, MacDougall weighed six patients while they were in the process of dying from tuberculosis. It was relatively easy to determine when death was only a few hours away.   At this point, the entire bed was placed on an industrial sized scale, which was sensitive to the gram. He took his results (a varying amount of perceived mass lost in the six cases) to support his hypothesis that the soul had mass, and when the soul departed the body, so did this mass.

The determination of the soul weighing 21 grams was based on the average loss of mass in the six patients within moments after death.

Being a cautious man, MacDougall allotted for many other explanations.  The loss of breath and bodily fluids that often accompany death were taken into account.

The doctor wished to continue his work, to prove the weight of the soul for dozens of patients.  However, the Catholic hospitals he was working through did not approve of his meddling with a person’s death, let alone the arrogance of a man who claimed to know so much about the human soul. 
He wasn’t permitted to continue.

The next part gets a little tough to take, but I’ll share it nonetheless.

With no more human patients, the doctor turned to dogs for his experiments.  Despite his claim that he only experimented on dogs already near death, it soon became apparent that was not the case.

After the premature deaths of 15 dogs, McDougall could note no change upon their mass.  These deductions lead him to believe, along with the church, that animals are without souls.

With no further methods of study, McDougall abandoned the experiment. 
As to date, no one has attempted to replicate it.

What do you think?  Medical coincidence?
Or the measurement of one of our most precious commodities?
Steam is the second short story from yours truly!  It is a mishmash of science-fiction, steampunk, and romance.  Check out the synopsis below and grab your copy for only .99!

Kindle ~~Barnes&Noble

Charlotte Amelia Caprice may seem like an ordinary girl. She has a job she hates, a boss she despises, and zero romantic prospects. Her friends call her Charlie, when she can keep one for more than a few weeks. Though Charlie may seem ordinary, she is anything but. Charlie doesn’t have a heart. Instead, she has a steam driven machine in her chest, always making her feel less than human. Gears and pistons have been using her own body heat to pump her blood for over a decade. There is one small problem. Her heart is beginning to break. When Charlie meets a brilliant man, one who could save her life, she must choose between being heartless and being alive. A simple choice for some, but for Charlie living on steam isn’t easy.
Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, published in 1845 is a well regarded classic.  It is referenced in every avenue of pop culture from books, music, movies, graphic novels, television, to clothes.  Most recently it was inspiration for the FOX television show, The Following.

Yet many will admit they have never read the poem in its entirety.
Here is your chance.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!
Quiche Lorraine

This dish is so easy.  It’s the slut of brunches all around.  Serve this up and people will be in awe of your culinary ability!

What you will need:

A Blender (or Cuisinart)

10-12 Eggs

Two Pillsbury pie crusts (you can use the ones in the pan, I use the ones I unroll)

1 block (8oz) of Cream Cheese (softened)

1 pint of whipping cream

3-5 Green Onions (depending on your taste)

Salt and Pepper

2-cup bag of shredded Swiss Cheese

1 pkg. of already cooked bacon

Make the Magic Happen:

Begin by cutting the onions into inch long segments and tossing them in the blender. Set your blender to chop and chop them for about a minute so they aren’t huge chunks.

Next, add the block of cream cheese to the blender, blend for another minute.

Add 10-12 eggs depending on size of eggs

Add Salt and Pepper

Now blend all of those ingredients until they are incorporated together.

Finally add the whipping cream, set blender to whip (if you lack that setting, blending is fine)

Whip for another minute to two minutes.  Set aside.

Place pie crusts in pie plates. 

Crumble the bacon and divide it between the two crusts

Then divide the bag of Swiss between the two crusts as well.

Finally pour the contents of your blender into the pie crusts. 
Be sure not to overfill.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for at least a half an hour.  When a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, your Quiche is done.  If the edges of the crust seem to be getting too brown, place a piece of foil over top.

Mix up some Mimosa’s and Enjoy!