I love apples! Not just during the fall and winter, but all year long, apples are my favorite fruit. So, naturally, I love applesauce, but I do not love what applesauce does to my waistline, thanks to all of the sugar.

Well, one day I was looking around some blogs and found a great recipe for skinny-ish applesauce!

I made it while staying with my parents, and I had my dad try it. His first question was, “how much sugar did you add?” I was happy to report NONE… sort of.

All of the sugar comes from the honey and the dried fruits. This also makes it extremely affordable to make, and it’s easy too!

applesauce 2

SKINNY APPLESAUCE

(adapted recipe from HERE)

What You Need:

3 apples (peeled, chopped)

honey

cinnamon

raisins, or whatever dried fruit you have

What You Do:

Preheat the over to 350 degrees

Add chopped apples to a glass baking pan

Lightly coat them in a sprinkling of cinnamon (use your judgement based on how much you like cinnamon)

Add your dried fruit

Drizzle honey all over it

Cover with foil, and bake for 35-45 minutes, or longer if you like your apples softer. Mix them up every 15 minutes or so while they’re cooking.

Mush with a fork and enjoy!

applesauce 1

 



applesauce 3

 

Messiness – Surprisingly, this isn’t that messy. I made it on my lunch break while I was working and the cook time gives you the opportunity to clean off all of the tools you used.

Simplicity – This may be the easiest recipe for applesauce I’ve found, in addition to being one of the healthiest.

Budget – All of these ingredients can be found at the 99cent store, and if not, they’re still pretty cheap. In fact, my parents happened to have everything I needed, which was why this was a perfect chance to try it.

Delicious Factor - 5/5. Easy! And while I’m not a big fan of ice cream, I can see that making this even better. Who doesn’t want a warm dessert fresh out of the over to go with some ice cream?!

You ever have those days where you bit off  a little — okay, a lot! — more than you can chew? Welcome to my Wednesday!

And I know I’m not alone out there, so how could I recommend ONE drink for all of us? You’re right, I couldn’t. The good news is that I found this gem of a graphic. Or you can always go with a shot of whiskey too.

So, cheers, my friends! Let me know which one you tried in the comments :)

 

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Before I even start, let me say that I understand how horribly cliche this all is, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

Lately in my life, the theme of love has come up a lot lately. Whether it’s the incredible amount of love and support I’ve received from my novel, or the love I’ve given to people, even when it was difficult. I’ve had some hurtful things said to me recently, and dealt with some rough issues, but through it all I’ve realized something: I can either choose to love the people who are mean to me, or just avoid them, but I’ve been given so much grace and love it doesn’t seem right to do the latter.

And of course, it all starts with how we feel about ourselves. We’re all flawed. We have to accept that and get over it. Once we can learn to love ourselves and our purpose in life, it makes it easier to pour out the love to others.

If I ever come across someone who makes me mad, I’ve been challenging myself to, instead of getting angry and stewing over it, remind myself that we don’t know what’s going on in another person’s life, and maybe that person just needs some compassion. I recently heard a story of an employee who was rude to someone, but instead of reacting, the woman showed compassion. Later, the employee contacted the woman to thank her for her kind words, explaining that her daughter had died and she’d been mad at everyone.

It’s amazing what a kind response, even to people who we may not think deserve it, can do.

I hope this wasn’t too heavy for a Monday, because love is actually an amazingly happy thing, and I wish lots of love for all of you! So much love that you can’t help but spread it to everyone you meet!

Okay, here it is. Everything I learned from self-publishing my first book, Stalker.

 

First of all, I read online about tons of other people’s experiences, and while I’m hoping to put all of my learnings here, I highly recommend you look around for the sake of thoroughness. That said, I hope you feel more informed about how to make your own decision going forward.

 

To start things off, I decided early on to work with Amazon. Yes, I know, they’re big and corporate and that makes them semi-evil. But to be honest, as an unknown writer on a budget, I need all of the tools they can give me. So, if you’re looking at LuLu (who doesn’t let you retain the rights to your work), then this probably won’t be much use.

 

The first tip is regarding the ISBN number. Fact: You need a different number for both your physical copy and your ebook, and these run $125 each, or $250 for 5 (something like that). So, Amazon makes it easy. Through their publishing subsidiary CreateSpace.com, you can use a number from them for free for the physical copy. The catch is that they’ll remain the publisher, etc. Also, by going through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, they’ll distribute your ebook for free, by using a distinctive KDP number, which saves you $125.

 

You retain the rights to your book in both circumstances, which was very important to me.

 

There’s another $99 ISBN number where the number is registered to you, but Create Space is still registered as the publisher. I chose to spend the money, and quickly set up my only little company, Natalie Saar Publishing. Honestly, it’s just a matter of filing paperwork, and is fairly simple. Also, you keep more of the royalties this way too.

 

Another benefit of going through Amazon is that they print the books for people as they order them. So, you never have to deal with printing or shipping EVER. Also, by using KDP, they give you two types of promos every 90 days. One allows your book to be free for five days, and the other allows your price to “countdown” which offers it at a discount for people as well. Both of these options allow the book to be featured in their respective sections on Amazon.

 

Now, the tricky part: uploading your book and designing your cover. I was given a very valuable piece of information about the cover by a friend of mine who is an agent: it’s going to be a thumbnail, so there’s no need for it to be elaborate. That said, it’s much harder than I thought it would be to make the cover you probably have in your head. You’ll need some kind of program that can not only make it look the way you want, but also save it as a PDF (do most programs do that? I don’t know. Apologies if they do and this sounds ridiculous!). Don’t forget to make the back cover as well. I made that mistake, and your book has to be taken down for 24 hours to approve the revised one. (If you are one of the 12-15 people who got the blank white cover, then lets just hope this book becomes famous and you’re all millionaires!)

 

You’ll also need to resize your document to fit the page size you want. To me, these are tedious, horrible things that I seriously hate doing… but I didn’t have the $250 to spend on Amazon’s design services. Since I didn’t go that route, I can’t tell you personally how helpful they are. What I CAN tell you is that even if you don’t pay for their services, the customer/publisher support is fantastic! They literally walked me through re-uploading the cover, step-by-step, for as long as it took. You can choose to look at your proofs online or have a physical one shipped to you as well.

 

As far as pricing goes, you just need to be realistic. Of course, I think my book is worth the $25 that other books in Barnes and Noble get, but that’s not how things work. I’m a new author, and my book comes in at around 70,000 words (it still comes in at over 300 pages). Normally, a new author needs 90,000-120,000 to get a deal because people want to feel like they got their money’s worth (or at least this is what I’ve read and been told). So, I chose to price my physical copy at between $11 and $12 (depending on if you get it off CreateSpace or Amazon). My ebook is priced at $2.99 because — and this is where you get your hopes up — if a publishing company sees really good sales numbers at $2.99 and higher, they’re likely to be more intrigued.

 

And CreateSpace has great prices for publishers to buy their own books for distribution!

 

So, the things you need to consider are:

Do you want to buy your own ISBN?

Is it important to you that you’re the publisher as well as the author?

Do you need help with your cover, and can you afford it design services?

What do you think is a fair and intriguing price for potential readers?

I hope you found this info helpful in your journey to self-publish. I’ve found it immensely rewarding, and am happy to help anyone who has questions. You can either comment, send me an email (natsaar at gmail dot com), or find me on Twitter (@nataliesaar).


Marketing my book will be the next phase, and I look forward to sharing my learnings with you then as well.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to write. I almost don’t even care what it’s about; as long as I’m writing, I’m happy. Thankfully, along the way I’ve been blessed enough to have friends and family who have supported me, and a life crazy enough to keep me inspired.

27 years later, I decided to publish my very first novel.

best-thing-ever

It’s called Stalker, but it’s probably not what you think. In fact, the first Amazon review on it labels it as a love story, which I didn’t anticipate happening, but hey, if people like it, that’s all I care about.

Anyways, I hope that explains my recent absence from this blog, after I just began regularly updating it again!

Luckily, I hope I can make it up to you!

Stalker is available in ebook form for two more days (until Friday) in the Kindle store (HERE) or if you want the paperback version, that’s available too (HERE).

Again, I can’t thank all of you enough! Even if you’ve only ever read one post on this blog, it gave me the encouragement to continue writing and moving toward my dream of publishing a book!

A quick note, I chose to self-publish using Amazon, and spent months researching the process. As a result, I learned a lot that I hope can help other writers as well, and I will be doing an entire post on that soon. I promise!

Thank you again! You’re all my heroes!

This weekend flew by, and now I’m in the throes of full-on Halloween prep mode. So, I was looking for a drink to help fuel me through, and I happened upon this drink, the moradita.

I wanted something with tequila, because while the calendar says it’s fall, the weather still thinks it’s summer, and to me, tequila is the greatest summer liquor. And, there are a ton of other great fall drink recipes HERE too.

This is what Saveur had to say about this delicious drink:

A jalapeño-infused, blood-colored tequila and beet cocktail, the Moradita (“Little Death”), is a fresh, nearly healthy-tasting drink with some real body and a balancing hint of elegant richness.

Cheers!

I love Greek food! It always tastes so healthy and fresh, and of course a lot of it is vegetarian. But for some reason when I was growing up, I always thought it was sooo gross when my mom would get Greek salads. I’m not sure why I couldn’t get onboard with that concept, but I couldn’t… until now.

I’m not sure what possessed me to make a Greek salad one day, but I did, and I’ve been in love ever since.

The original recipe I used has since been lost, so I found a different one and adapted it!

The last time I made it was for my Nana, so you know it’s good, because I only make the best of my recipes for the family!

This recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa, who I love, but her recipes end up being pretty pricey. However, this one stuck with almost all of the original ingredients I used, especially when it comes to the dressing, which is amazing!

What You Need:

1 cucumber (sliced and quartered)

1 red bell pepper(diced)

1 yellow bell pepper (diced)

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, or a cup of your favorite chopped tomatoes

1/2 red onion (diced)

4oz (one container) feta cheese

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives

1 head romaine lettuce (roughly chopped)

1 bunch kale (roughly chopped, optional)

 

For the vinaigrette:

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup good red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup good olive oil

What You Do:

Combine all of the ingredients for the salad in one bowl

Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar or something else you can shake… then shake it up!

Mix the two and serve!

 

Messiness – There’s a lot of chopping and mixing, so as far as salads go, this isn’t the most low maintenance, but its totally worth it!

Simplicity – It’s salad, not rocket science, so that’s the good news. The bad news is that you need a lot of different ingredients. But you may already have a lot of them in your home. To make this vegan-friendly, just don’t add the feta!

Budget – When in season, you can find the majority of these ingredients on sale. The only thing you’ll need to budget in are the olives and feta. But those shouldn’t be too much, and the olives will last for awhile.

Delicious Factor - I could eat this every single day of my life, and I basically hate salad.

P.S. You can find my lettuce-free Greek salad recipe HERE, for a slightly less healthy, but no less delicious option.

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