Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Lists of Christmas

The Lists of Christmas

I’ll admit it, I’m Christmas crazy. There is something about this particular holiday season (I’m not much into Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving) that puts me in the mood to experience and do everything Christmassy. Fortunately, I only put myself on the doer of the lists of must dos and my family can either benefit from or ignore all my Christmas giddiness preparations. I’m the crazy Christmas person in our home and I learned early on it made for a more pleasant holiday season (for all) when everyone’s enthusiasm for the holiday was respected.

To get the most out of the season, I have a few lists. Now, this won’t work for everyone but I’m a planner. I like plans. I thrive on order. And I like to know I won’t miss out on my favorites so I have a Christmas planner and have the following lists:

      1.  Handcrafted Gifts – I like to make each family member one item for Christmas. I need to get started if I’m going to get them all done.

      2.  Cookie Baking – I always do three favorites and one new recipe. My family helps decide on the three and I pick the new one. (Favorites: chocolate chip, spritz, and peanut butter and jelly)

      3.  Wish List – I have learned to include where I’ve hidden the gift as some years it’s such a great spot, I can’t find it until spring.

      4.  Holiday Movies – I have quite a collection of Christmas/Holiday movies and now that we have the Hallmark Channel again (YAY!), I have more movies to watch. I create my own holiday programming guide so I can fit in all my favorites and catch all the new ones on the Hallmark Channel.

      5.  Holiday Reading – I start putting together a list of books I’d like to read. I write mini-reviews on my blog

      6.  Christmas Eve Dinner – I do an appetizer meal on Christmas Eve. I put out the trays in the late afternoon as we finish up any Christmas day preps (like putting together items for the little ones who’ll be over the next day), wrap presents, watch movies and talk about past Christmases. I have about three tried and true appetizers everyone loves and then two new recipes (or 1 recipe and 1 frozen option). It’s one of our favorite dinners of the year.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Lots of Books

I found out this week that I'll have four books published next year.  It's not a total surprise, of course, since I've been writing them.  But I didn't know for sure that one of them would be a 2018 release.

What are they?  Well, my first K-9 Ranch Rescue story for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Second Chance Soldier, will be published in March, and I just found out the second in the series will be an October 2018 release.  I already knew that my fourth Barkery & Biscuits Mystery, Pick and Chews, would come out in May, and that my ninth, and last, Alpha Force paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne would be a November release.

Another fun thing to note about that is that the fourth novel next year will be my 50th published novel!

And I just learned today that I'll be able to provide a sort of Black Friday/Cyber Monday on my most recent Barkery & Biscuits Mystery.  Bad to the Bone will be on sale on Amazon on Saturday, Nov. 17,  from 10:35 AM to 4:35 PM.  Is there a special name for a sale Saturday? I don't know yet what that discount is, but feel free to check it out.  I will!

Do you get the sense that I like to write?  I'd better, or I'm certainly spending a lot of time on something I don't care for.  Nah.  I enjoy it.  And I'd better get back to work now on my current writing project.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Okay, it’s officially the Christmas Season.  I just heard that tv commercial in which Hershey kisses are being rung like handbells playing, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”

My surgeon told me a few days ago that I am his “star patient” because I am healing so swiftly.  My knee goes almost straight out front and I can bend it about 117 degrees.   But I still can’t kneel in church. I've been treated by a "Healer," a woman in my building who lays her hands on me.  I think it's helping.

I hope all of you have a very pleasant Thanksgiving and, if you take a minute or two to name the things you’re grateful for, I hope that’s not enough time to list them all.

Meanwhile, this: It was about this time of year in 1962.  I had survived boot camp and a few months of “General Duty” (cleaning the barracks) every new WAVE was assigned to, and was just settling in to work in the Public Affairs office, striking for the job of journalist at Naval Air Station Alameda, California, when the phone rang.  The chief grabbed it and he listened so intently a silence fell as we waited to hear what news he was getting.  He threw the receiver into its cradle and announced, “They just shot the president!”

Another silence fell, this one shocked and alarmed.  The president, we knew, was in Texas.  Out in the open, not safe in the White House.  There was tension between the US and Russia over Cuba.  Were we at war?  Suddenly the fact that I was in the military became exceedingly relevant to me.

The president was alive, he was in a hospital, he was seriously wounded, there were others also shot, Mrs. Kennedy was not injured, it happened during a parade – we turned on the radio to listen as meager facts came dribbling in.  I was sent to lunch.  The talk there was excited, sad, frightened, full of rumors.  He was dead, he was only wounded, it was the Russians, it was the Cubans, we were going to bomb them back to the stone age, they were going to bomb us.  I don’t remember what I ate.  I was walking back when a loudspeaker blew the trumpet call for Attention.  It was a pretty day, cool and sunny.  I and the other sailors out of doors halted where we were and faced the Admin Building, where the flag was.  Taps began to blow, we saluted, and one solid fact was known: the president was dead.  A young sailor near me began speaking softly, obscenities, over and over.  I was nineteen years old and too scared to cry. 

It was November 22, 1962.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Cranberry-Orange Relish

My mother always made a raw Cranberry-Orange Relish for Thanksgiving. She cooked a whole-berry cranberry sauce, and we'd also have jellied cranberry sauce. Everyone had their favorite - I loved them all.

Husband and I are having a quiet Thanksgiving dinner, with all the traditional dishes. I made the Cranberry-Orange Relish Sunday, so the flavors would have a chance to meld by Thanksgiving.

I used my new zester, which makes long, thin strips or wider strips, and made the relish in my food processor. In previous years I've made it in the blender; this was much faster and easier!

Cranberry-Orange Relish

1 bag fresh cranberries, rinsed, dried, and picked through (I toss the mushy cranberries)
2 navel oranges, zested, rind removed, and cut into chunks
1/4 sugar, or more to taste if the oranges are not sweet and juicy
1 t salt

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender. Pulse until everything is combined; you can make it as chunky or as finely chopped as you prefer.

Store in airtight container, stirring daily. The sugar and salt should draw out moisture from the orange and cranberries, making the relish a little saucy.

I've posted the raw ingredients before processing; I'll post another photo next week of the finished product.

This is terrific on turkey, alongside turkey, or stirred into mayo for turkey sandwiches :)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!