Posts tagged with: 12 Bandita Days of Christmas

12 Days of Banditas Christmas – GRAND PRIZE WINNER!

BanditBootyThank you to all the wonderful readers who commented during the 12 Days of a Banditas Christmas! We had so much fun, and we hope you did, too. The grand prize winner, selected at random from among everyone who commented on Christmas Day is…

Teresa Hughes!

Congratulations, Teresa! I’m so happy for you!!! Please send your snail mail address to me at email hidden; JavaScript is required so we can get your prizes in the mail.

The grand prize package includes…

  • From Christina Brooke, a signed trade paperback of the Australian edition of London’s Last True Scoundrel
  • From Suzanne Ferrell, Kidnapped plus Godiva Chocolates
  • From Anna Campbell, A Rake’s Midnight Kiss
  • From Trish Milburn, Out of the Night
  • From Donna MacMeans, The Casanova Code
  • From Jeanne Adams, a Rooster Mug and Saucer, plus a download of her brand new novella
  • From Jo Robertson, her Christmas novella, The Perfect Gift
  • From Christie Kelley, Enticing the Earl
  • From Caren Crane, Kick Start
  • From Tawny Weber, Nice & Naughty, Naughty Christmas Nights
  • From Susan Sey, Taste For Trouble (Kindle or paperback) and Talent For Trouble (upon January release, also Kindle or paperback)
  • From Joan Kayse, Kindle download of The Patrician
  • From Nancy Northcott, Renegade, Guardian, or Sentinel as download
  • From Kate Carlisle, A Cookbook Conspiracy and some cool Bibliophile swag
  • From Anna Sugden, A Perfect Distraction plus Cadbury’s chocolate
  • From visiting author Katie McGarry, her latest YA Crash Into You
  • From visiting author Natalie Richards, her latest YA Six Months Later

Merry Christmas, Banditas and Bandita Buddies!

The Romance Bandits want to wish all of you who celebrate Christmas the merriest of days! (And even if you don’t celebrate Christmas… be merry today.) Hope you’re spending the day with people you love. We’ll be popping in and out throughout the day to say hello. Be sure to post a comment below so you’ll have a chance to win today’s Grand Prize in the 12 Bandita Days of Christmas celebration!

The grand prize package includes…

  • From Christina Brooke, a signed trade paperback of the Australian edition of London’s Last True Scoundrel
  • From Suzanne Ferrell, Kidnapped plus Godiva Chocolates
  • From Anna Campbell, A Rake’s Midnight Kiss
  • From Trish Milburn, Out of the Night
  • From Donna MacMeans, The Casanova Code
  • From Jeanne Adams, a Rooster Mug and Saucer, plus a download of her brand new novella
  • From Jo Robertson, her Christmas novella, The Perfect Gift
  • From Christie Kelley, Enticing the Earl
  • From Caren Crane, Kick Start
  • From Tawny Weber, Nice & Naughty, Naughty Christmas Nights
  • From Susan Sey, Taste For Trouble (Kindle or paperback) and Talent For Trouble (upon January release, also Kindle or paperback)
  • From Joan Kayse, Kindle download of The Patrician
  • From Nancy Northcott, Renegade, Guardian, or Sentinel as download
  • From Kate Carlisle, A Cookbook Conspiracy and some cool Bibliophile swag
  • From Anna Sugden, A Perfect Distraction plus Cadbury’s chocolate
  • From visiting author Katie McGarry, her latest YA Crash Into You
  • From visiting author Natalie Richards, her latest YA Six Months Later

wrap1You know that I write a mystery series about a bookbinder, so it probably won’t surprise you to hear that I’m a fan of beautiful wrapping paper. (Understatement!) Sometimes when I get a gift, the paper is so lovely that I open it carefully, delicately, because hurting the paper would hurt my feelings.

A Brief History of Wrapping Paper

Gifts have been wrapped in paper for nineteen centuries in China. Gift paper was popular in Victorian England, but it was much thicker and more cumbersome than what we use today, and it was only affordable for the upper classes.

wrap2Modern gift wrap came into being by a quirk of fate. The year was 1917. Americans at that time mostly wrapped Christmas gifts in red, green, and white tissue paper, but a card store in Kansas City ran out of tissue paper. The quick-thinking owners remembered that they had sheets of French envelope-lining paper in back. They priced the decorative sheets at 10 cents apiece (about $2.35 in today’s money) and watched them fly off the shelves… and an industry was born.

That company is still in business today. Hallmark. And all because of poor inventory control.

Have you opened presents today? What made you smile?

Merry Christmas Quick Five!

ornaments 1Only a couple of sleeps left! Is everyone getting excited? Are you ready for the big day? Presents wrapped, house decorated, food ready?

Here at Chez Sugden, we’re all set – just got to pick up the turkey and dig up the veggies from our allotment, then we’re good to go! 

Now, we couldn’t have Christmas fun without a special Quick Five, so here is your Merry Christmas Quick Five!

1. Go to this site and find out what your Santa elf name is.

2. Favourite Christmas carol and song

3. Favourite Christmas movie

4. Favourite Christmas ornament

5. What you’d like to find under your Christmas tree or in your Christmas stocking


Ornaments 2Christmas Stuffed Mushrooms (makes 1 doz)

1 dozen chestnut or portobello mushrooms (ordinary mushrooms will do – just make sure they all have stalks)

1 heaped tbsp butter

4 heaped tbsp Philadelphia Light cream cheese (works with regular too)

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

If you like garlic, you can also add 1 tsp of chopped garlic

Note: If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can use Philly with the herbs already in it!

Ornaments 3

Preheat oven.

1. Carefully remove mushroom stalks from caps and set caps aside on a baking tray

2. Finely chop mushroom stalks.

3. In a small saucepan, melt butter and gently cook, mushroom stalks, chives and parsley (plus garlic) until softened.

4. Add cream cheese and let it melt and mix, until creamy

5. Using a teaspoon, scoop the mix into the waiting mushroom caps.

6. Cook in oven for 15 mins.

These are delicious hot or cold!

One lucky commenter today will win an A Perfect Distraction mug and some Cadbury’s chocolate.

COME BACK TOMORROW FOR MORE HOLIDAY FUN WITH THE 12 DAYS OF BANDITA CHRISTMAS! LOOK FOR MORE INFO ON OUR BIG CHRISTMAS DAY PRIZE!

 

O Plastic Tree, O Plastic Tree

I need help here. 

I’m going to say it.  Shameful as it may be, yes, I’ll say it, right here in front of God and everybody else.

Christmas treeI have a fake Christmas tree.

My house is 164 years old.  It’s partially restored but a long way from finished.  I’ll never forget the moment when I walked into the front foyer for the first time.  I looked up at the ten-foot ceiling, then I looked at the glass sidelights and transom that wrap around the glass-paneled front door, all original 1800s wavy glass panes, loose enough to rattle in the muntins, uninsulated, and leaky as hell, and I said,  “Think of the Christmas tree I could put in here!”

That’s half the reason I bought this ongoing-project-of-a house.

I love Christmas trees.

I love all of them, from the uber-chic designer trees to the tacky trees with ugly garland piled on a foot thick.

And falling somewhere on the upper middle of the Christmas tree scale, is mine.  I have a really gchristmas tree 6reat tree. 

Of course I can say that, because it’s always the same.  It’s a fake tree.

And okay, yeah.   I know.  That’s not nearly as good as a real tree. I know this because everybody around me has real trees and when I’m talking with somebody and I say I have an artificial tree, there’s a very brief, subtle pause, with just a slight lifting of both eyebrows.  You might not even notice it if you’re not paying attention.

Then they smile and nod, trying to hide the fact that they’ve just judged me.

“Oh,” they’re thinking.  “I thought she had better taste!  Bet she bought it at K-Mart.”

I could have bougchristmas tree7ht it at K-Mart.  Just two days ago I walked through their Christmas department and drooled over their awesome selection of really awesome artificial trees.

But I didn’t buy it there.  I bought it at an upscale Christmas shoppe. 

See?  There’s an extra p and an e on the end of “shop” which proves it’s upscale. 

Snork!  Ahem….

I don’t get a real tree for two reasons. 

First, I have an unusual attachment to trees. I feel a kinship with them.  I have such a deep love for trees that it’s almost painful for me to see one cut.  It’s a sad weakness.   I can’t enjoy having a cut tree in my house without wondering at what beautiful thing it might have become if I hadn’t cut it.  I just can’t do it.

Second, I like to put my tree up at the winter solstice, December 20th or 21st, and leave it up until  February 2nd, Groundhog Day.  Some of y’all remember a blog I did last January called Waiting For The Light To Come.  I confessed that I get clinical depression in the winter, and February 2nd is the point at which I can feel the season turning, spring coming, and hope renewed. So that’s when I’m ready to take down my tree and unplug its cheerful lights.

No real tree will last that long.

When I was a little girl, Daddy would take me out to the woods and we’d cut down a little cedar tree.  It was christmas tree redusually about six feet tall, and it smelled heavenly. 

Then a few years later we got a fake tree, and it was full and fluffy and perfect.  Every needle was stick-straight and the same shade of fake green.  I hated it.  From about a mile away you could look at it and say, “that’s a plastic tree.”  When I was little, fake trees were awful.

Things have changed.

Artificial trees come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and they’re beautiful.

Now my tree is nine feet tall, slender, and looks like a real evergreen, even up close. 

I wrap several strands of white lights in piles around the center “trunk” then wind many more lights through the branches.  I learned this technique from a book with a title I can’t remember, but it was probably something like “Martha Stewart rocks Christmas” or some such.  When I plug it in, with all those lights in the center, it glows like something from another realm.

But no matter how excellent my tree is, it’s still a plastic tree.

If y’all read the newsletter, you know that Marco, Paulo and some of the other guys on staff had some issues recently when they went out hunting for trees to decorate the various rooms here in the lair.   Christmas tree3

No fake trees here. 

So I did a survey in the lair about what kind of trees the Bandits get for their own homes.

Bandita Suz said, “We’ve always gotten a real tree since we got married. The Jazzman (aka, my hubby) loved them when he was small. Hated helping his mom put up the fake one.”

Bandita Nancy said, “We have a real tree.  We like the smell of it and the texture.

Yeah.  No love for the plastic tree.

Bandita Jo said,  “We generally like a live tree.  There’s something very satisfying and comforting about the smell of pine in the house.”

Yes. Yes, there is. *Heavy sigh*

Bandita Tawny said, “I love real trees, but both of my girls have really bad allergies. After a few sniffly, watery holidays I gave in and got an artificial tree.  Ours is about 8 foot, green and lit with whichristmas tree branchte lights.”

Finally, another artificial tree!

Small consolation though.  Tawny has a plastic tree, but she doesn’t like it.  “I miss having a live tree,” she said.  “The scent and feel of it is always wonderful.  But I do bring in a few boughs to decorate with, and we have a live wreath on the door.  Those don’t seem to send my kids into misery.” 

Okay she’s only doing this for the sake of her children’s health.  Hmmm..

I asked Bandita Trish what she had, and she said, “Fake. I actually have two, the smallish one I’ve had since college and a big one that I got when we bought our house because the front living room has a vaulted ceiling. I don’t like cleaning up after live ones, and knowing my allergies they would make me sneeze anyway.”

Hmmm…once again, allergies are the determining factor.

I’m still feeling like the odd woman out.

Joanie said, “Replica tree…yeah…that’s what I’ll call it…replica.  Don’t recall a real tree growing up as my brother suffered from allergies.”

Once again, it would be a real tree if not for the children’s health—or for the sake of the cats…“The artificial ones HAVE improved over the years, especially in assembly,” Joan said.  “I have a pre-lit one now about 6 feet tall that comes in 3 pieces. And I can tie it to the wall so certain kitty elves don’t topple it.”

Yes, the kitties do love to climb the Christmas tree.  Real or fake. 

Hey, at least Joanie tried to be diplomatic about it.

Christmas tree with white tipsBandita Caren said, “Our tree is fake. It’s a 6-foot Douglas Fir and is, naturally, pine green…We stick with fake because pine is the thing I am most allergic to in the world!”

Okay I’m getting a complex here.

Even my evil twin, Duchesse Jeanne, stands against me in this question.. “We always get a fresh tree, usually on my birthday,” she said.  “We’ve bought the kind you can plant before, but I’m running out of places in the yard to put them, so fresh cut it is.” 

Hmmmm.

Bandita Christina said, “We do a fake tree. Not many people have real ones where I live. It’s getting on in years now, probably needs replacing, It’s plastic, with dark green needles and it’s decorated with all the loChristmas tree2ve and tackiness we can manage.”

Yes, yes, YES!  Finally!  Apparently I would fit in better if I moved to Australia.  Ahem.

Bandita Anna Sugden, who lives in England now, said, “These days, a real tree – we always get a special “non-drop” tree (A Nordmann or a Norwegian Spruce, she says, which I’m assuming will not drop its needles) so that it’s safe for the cats…Have always preferred a real tree, but when we lived in NJ we couldn’t get non-drop trees, so bought a fab fake tree (which we still have in the loft), which looked very realistic!”

Yeah.  You can tell she’s just trying to make me feel better, can’t you? That’s the thing about the Bandits.  We always have each others’ backs, even if one of us is off in left field with regard to Christmas trees.  *heavy sigh*

Bandita Susan Sey said, “I Christmas tree fiber opticprefer real…In our on-the-road-for-Christmas years, we sometimes will buy a really small real tree (think Charlie Brown’s Christmas).”

I found a ray of hope, though.  She went on to say, “Sometimes, we just decorate my extremely tacky fake tree from Target.  It’s about two feet tall and comes complete with LED color-shifting lights built into the end of each needle.  It’s wicked awesome.  Like a disco ball/Christmas tree mashup.”

That’s the kind of tree that both my mom and my father-in-law have now.  Very space efficient.  And I’ve gotta say, they do rock. 

I remember a couple of years when my mom had a retro silver aluminum tree.  I hated those when I was little (when they were NOT retro) but now I think they’re kind of cool.  They reflect any colors around them and are Christmas tree vintage silver foiljust straight up fun.

Disco trees notwithstanding, artificial trees of all kinds  have come a long way.  I have to get up close to some of them–even touch them–to know whether they’re real or not.  

Still, it’s obvious that I’m outnumbered.  I’m thinking of applying for minority status.

My squeamishness about cutting down a live tree (or buying one that’s been cut down) is definitely in the minority.   With a fake tree, there’s no magical smell of evergreen that says “Christmas” any time you breathe it in.  There’s no “real tree in the house” energy about it.

But you don’t have to water an artificial tree.  And it doesn’t drop needles or turn brown. 

Just sayin.

Christmas tree purpleBandit Buddies, what do you do?

Is your tree real?  Or fake?

If it’s fake, what color is it?  How tall?  And do you miss the touch and scent of the real thing?

If it’s a real tree, where do you get it?  Do you cut your own?  If not, where do you buy it?

When do you put it up? Is there a special day each year?  Or is it whenever you manage to get to it?

If you don’t celebrate Christmas, do you participate in another festival or holiday this time of year? 

 

Watch for our annual 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, with fun and so many prizes Santa can’t carry them, coming in just a few days!

Season’s Greetings

Only a few days left till Christmas Day, so how ‘re you doing?

Tree up and decorated?  check

Christmas gifts purchased?  check

Presents wrapped?  check

Cookies, candies, cakes made?  check

Christmas cards mailed?  oh crap…

Of all the Christmas preparations, signing and mailing Christmas cards is one of my least favorite things.  I love to receive Christmas cards but sending them out is something else.  First, there’s the choosing of the card.  Should one go religious, cute, sparkly…?  Have to admit, I like the sparkly  :-P  .  Then there’s signing them all and tracking down mailing addresses.  It’s a wonder any go out.

The first commercial Christmas card was produced in England in 1843.  That’s it on the right.  Commercially produced cards didn’t take hold in America till 1875.  They’ve varied in popularity over the years but I think the current trend is heading down.  According to Wikipedia, American households received an estimated 29 Christmas cards in 1987.  This number dropped to 20 in 2004.  I’d bet it’s even lower now.  Postage costs and lack of time have taken a toll.  Sometimes, just signing one’s name over and over is a bit of a chore. (sigh)  

But receiving them is pure joy!

I’ve seen fancy boxes in which to keep Christmas cards, but I like to hang mine on the doors in the kitchen.  That way I get to look at them frequently, rereading the messages inside, revisiting the pictures of the newest family members again and again.  (I must be doing better that the average Joe as I’ve recieved 33 cards thus far this year.  This number doesn’t include the number of cards that will show up AFTER Christmas  :-P

I like the photo cards.  Sometimes this is the only way I get to see how the kids are growing each year.  Have you noticed how photo cards generally only come from people with small kids?  I don’t get many from seniors with a “see how we’ve aged” photo. :-D

Let me give a shout out to my international friends who sent season’s greetings over such a far distance.  Although I don’t save stamps, I like to see the postal stamps from different countries and how different countries depict Christmas.  Here’s a card from Australia where the temperatures are decidedly different from the snow and ice here.  If this card was to represent the climate in Columbus, Santa would be blue and the wave would be white.

Hats off to all those who sent handmade Christmas cards.  Those are indeed the most creative.  Heck, I have difficulty getting the storebought cards signed, addressed and mailed to family, friends, and clients.  But I do appreciate that someone took the time to make the card to send to me.

By far, the most unique card I receive each year comes from my best friend in high school.  She’s a talented artist who has traveled extensively in India.  Every year she has Christmas cards made from her artwork.  Hmmm….maybe I should do this with my book covers?  After all, the heroine on the cover of Redeeming the Rogue is wearing a green dress.  And what conveys the spirit of peace and love than a torrid kiss :-) .  My friend’s painting this year is titled “Miss Ohio.”

Have you noticed an increase in computer cards this year?  Some of those are really impressive and I love the animation.   I certainly can understand the convenience and postage savings of a digital card, but I can’t put them up on my door :cry:   Bummer.

So how about you?  Are you a Christmas card person?  My niece from Oklahoma is here with me and she’s shaking her head no.  With two little ones she says she doesn’t have the time to send them out.  I think I’d probably live in a year round world of guilt if I received cards and didn’t send any out.  But that’s me.  :-D

Do you have a preference for traditional or digital cards either sent or received?  Do you prefer religious cards or just festive ones?  Are you one to read a long Christmas letter?  I like to read them but I’ve never written one.  Let’s chat and share some season’s greetings.

As we’re approaching the end of our 12 Days of Bandita Christmas celebration, be sure to comment to be eligible for our daily Bandita prize as well as our SUPER-DUPER GRAND prize giveaway Christmas Day. There’s enough books in that prize package to fill Santa’s sleigh!  For today’s giveaway, I’ll add a Celtic Christmas ornament and a copy of The Casanova Code to the 12 days prize of a rooster ornament or a dragon cookie cutter and a sugar cookie mix.

Speaking of munchies – here’s an easy appetizer to make for your holiday celebration

Roll-ups

2 (8 0z) cream cheese

1 pkg. dry Ranch dressing (I use the Buttermilk package)

2-3 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup diced red pepper

1 small can sliced black olives (diced)

4 to 6 – 12″ soft flour tortillas

Mix the first three ingredients and then spread on the tortilla shells.  Sprinkle the other ingredients on top.  Roll the tortilla up into a cylinder.  Wrap in saran wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight.  Slice and serve  (the ends I sacrifice to the chef).

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Bandita Day of Christmas Prize Winner

Our Ninth Bandita Day of Christmas Prize winner is:

Sandyg265! You’ve won a copy of Jeannie Watt’s CROSSING NEVADA plus either a rooster ornament or a dragon cookie cutter and sugar mix.

But wait! There’s more :-)

Hellion and Fedora you’ve both won copies of CROSSING NEVADA as well!

Ladies, please use the Mail Room link above to send me your snail mail info and we’ll get your prizes out to you as soon as possible.

Congrats!

It’s a Conspiracy, I Tell Ya!

I hesitate to tell you this in case “they” lurk around this blog. You know who I’m talking about. Them. The cookbook writers who are out to get me. For years now, I’ve been convinced that they conspire to make me feel inept. Although they look sweet and unassuming, mischievous intent lurks behind those fake, friendly smiles. They claim something is foolproof… but I fool them!

Smiling Cookbook AuthorOf course, as a mystery writer, I love a good conspiracy theory – and I simply had to find a way to use it in a book. The next Bibliophile Mystery is titled A COOKBOOK CONSPIRACY, and now you’re in on the private joke. It stems from my irrational fear of recipes, a fear shared by heroine Brooklyn Wainwright.

A COOKBOOK CONSPIRACY will be out in hardcover and ebook in June – my hardcover debut! –but it’s available now for pre-order on Amazon and BN.com. What’s equally thrilling to me is that the book’s blurb is posted on both sites, and I really love it! If I hadn’t written this book, I’d want to read it!

It’s a recipe for disaster when bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright is asked to restore an antique cookbook…

Brooklyn has always been a little obsessed with food, but it was her sister Savannah who became a chef, graduating from the prestigious Cordon Bleu school in Paris. She and her classmates all went on to successful careers, but none of them achieved culinary superstardom like Savannah’s ex-boyfriend Baxter Cromwell.

When Baxter invites the old gang to participate in his new restaurant’s gala opening in San Francisco, Savannah looks forward to seeing her friends, and even asks Brooklyn to restore a tattered cookbook—an old gift from Baxter—as a present for him. But Brooklyn immediately recognizes that the book, which has strange notes and symbols scrawled in the margins, is at least two hundred years old. She thinks that it probably belongs in a museum, but Savannah insists on returning it to Baxter.

Antique cookbookShortly after receiving the gift, Baxter is found dead, with Savannah kneeling over him, bloody knife in hand, and the rare cookbook has disappeared. Brooklyn knows her sister didn’t kill him, and she suspects the missing cookbook might lead to the real villain. Now Brooklyn will have to turn up the heat on the investigation before Chef Savannah finds herself slinging hash in a prison cafeteria.

A COOKBOOK CONSPIRACY on Amazon
A COOKBOOK CONSPIRACY on BN.com

To celebrate the blurby awesomeness of my latest blurb, I share with you a recipe that is better than foolproof – it’s Kateproof. And it’s perfect for those holiday potlucks you’ll be attending over Christmas and New Year’s.

Kate’s Black Bean Party Dip

2 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C of your favorite jarred salsa
8 oz. Monterrey Jack cheese, cut into chunks

Warm the olive oil in a pan, and sauté the diced onion for about a minute. Add the black beans and mash them up in the pan. Add the salsa and the chunks of cheese and warm it all up together until the cheese gets nice and melty. Serve warm with tortilla chips. (Fake-gourmet cooking tip: If you warm the store-bought tortilla chips in the oven – in a bowl, not in the plastic bag – your guests might think they’re homemade. It makes a big difference!)

And don’t forget, we’re nearing the end of our 12 Days of Bandita Christmas celebration! Be sure to comment to be eligible for our daily Bandita prize as well as our SUPER-DUPER GRAND prize giveaway Christmas Day. For today’s giveaway, I’m also including a signed copy of PERIL IN PAPERBACK and some cool Bibliophile swag!

Are you attending – or hosting – any holiday parties? What food do you like to bring to a potluck?

Eight Bandita Day of Christmas Prize Winner

Thanks for sharing your Christmas Don’ts with me! The winner of The Diamond Dust trilogy plus either a rooster ornament or a dragon cookie cutter and sugar mix is:

Amy Conley!

Congrats, Amy! Please use the Mail Room link above to send me your snail mail address and I’ll get the books out to you right away!

Stepping Back in Time with Jeannie Watt

Today I’m thrilled to welcome fellow SuperRomance author Jeannie Watt to the lair! Jeannie is one talented lady and I highly recommend you all check out her books including her latest reelease, CROSSING NEVADA! Here’s Jeannie…

I can’t say that I’ve always loved to sew, but my mom made certain that I knew how to sew, which came in very handy when  I immersed myself in Gone With the Wind at the age of fifteen and decided that I simply had to have some southern belle gear.

At that time, there were no readily available patterns for such things as corsets and hoop skirts, but there was the library. I checked out many books, studied pictures and made a plan. I would start from the inside and work out, since corsets took less fabric than hoop skirts. My mother is the sensible sort and had I asked her for nine yards of fabric so that I could indulge in a fantasy, I don’t know that she would have been in favor. Not when that same nine yards of fabric could have made me three school outfits.

I found some sturdy floral fabric that I believe was originally intended to upholster something and began working on my corset. I had no idea what whalebone was, but it seemed to me that baling wire should be a suitable substitute.  I’m pleased to say that my baling wire/upholstery fabric corset actually turned out pretty well, although I never got the chance to wear it. I couldn’t find enough fabric to make a dress to go over it. My baling wire hoops didn’t work quite so well and before I got the design flaws worked out, I started reading Regency romance and abandoned hoops and corsets. From that point on, I was all about empire waists—which also happened to be in style, so I could indulge.

Fast forward a couple of boring, non-costumed decades to December 2011 to when I found out that a friend of my husband sang at Dicken’s Fair.

Dicken’s Fair…hoop skirts…

The seed was planted. The sewing began—for the entire family. It took about six months but I got everyone outfitted. Do you have idea how much more comfortable actual store-bought boning is compared to baling wire? There is no comparison. I still haven’t got to wear real hoops, though. My daughter and I settled for stiff crinolines, which worked, but next year we’re wearing hoops for sure. I have plans for a new dress and my husband, the non-costume guy, wants a fancier vest.

The most wonderful part of preparing for Dicken’s Fair is that, despite a rather hectic schedule, I had an excuse to sew. I became so involved with sewing that when I wrote my December SuperRomance, Crossing Nevada, it was natural to have my heroine learn to sew as a way to deal with the trauma of being attacked and permanently scarred. She never made a hoop skirt, but she did find confidence learning a new skill.

Have you ever made anything comparable to a baling wire corset? Indulged in a little costume mania? Learned to sew? Tell me your secret costume fantasy or what you love to do in your spare time and I’ll give away copies of Crossing Nevada to three respondents.

It’s been great being here. Thanks for having me!

Thanks for being with us, Jeannie! Don’t forget to check out Jeannie’s website:

www.jeanniewatt.com

Lime Muffins

Jeannie Watt

These are a wonderful Sunday breakfast muffin. They have a lovely crunch on the outside and are deliciously moist on the inside.

 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

2 eggs lightly beaten

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

1/4 cup lime juice

Preheat over to 400°F. Grease twelve 2 ½ inch muffin pan cups.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into large bowl.

Mix milk, eggs, oil, lime rind and lime juice in a two-cup measure. Add all at once to flour mixture; stir lightly with fork until just moist. (Batter will be lumpy.) Spoon into prepared muffin-pan cups, filling each three quarters full.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove muffins from cups to wire rack. Serve warm with butter.

Note—these muffins are a bit flat on top, but the taste makes it totally worthwhile not to have a mini-mountain muffin.

It’s the 12 Bandita Days of Christmas! From now until December 25th we’re celebrating the holidays with daily recipes and PRIZES! It’s all leading up to a HUGE Prize bundle of books and goodies on Christmas Day so make sure you stop back each day!

Seventh Bandita Day Of Christmas Prize Winner!

Thank you all for joining in the conversation about Kimberly Hope’s fantastic new novel The Billionaire Bachelor’s Revenge. The winner today receives a Kindle download of Kimberly’s book plus either a rooster ornament (embracing the spirit of the Golden Rooster) or a dragon-shaped cookie cutter (rather like dear Ermingarde) and sugar cookie mix. Whew!

 

And without further ado, the winner of this Christmas bundle of Bandita Bounty is…leahluvsmedieval!!

 

Congratulations, LEAH! Please send me your mailing address to caren AT carencrane DOT com so we can get your prizes out to you forthwith!

Next Page »