Posted by Cassondra Murray Dec 5 2013, 1:04 am in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, Artificial trees, Cassondra Murray, Cassondra's blogs, Christmas, Christmas tree, Traditions
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.
I 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 great 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 bought 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.
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 usually 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.
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 white 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.
Bandita 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.”
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 love 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 prefer 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 just 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.
Bandit 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!
Posted by Donna MacMeans Dec 23 2012, 1:56 am in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, Christmas cards, Donna MacMeans
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 . 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
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.
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 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.
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
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).
Posted by Beth Andrews Dec 22 2012, 11:30 pm in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, Bandit Booty
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.
Posted by Kate Carlisle Dec 22 2012, 12:05 am in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, bibliophile mystery, Kate Carlisle, recipes
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!
Of 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.
Shortly 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?
Posted by Beth Andrews Dec 21 2012, 11:30 pm in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, Bandit Booty, Beth Andrews
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:
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!
Posted by Beth Andrews Dec 21 2012, 4:00 am in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, Beth Andrews, history, Jeannie Watt, Sewing
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:
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!
Posted by Caren Crane Dec 20 2012, 11:46 pm in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, Caren Crane, Kimberly Hope, prize winner, prizes, The Billionaire Bachelor's Revenge
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!
Posted by Beth Andrews Dec 20 2012, 2:00 am in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, A Marine For Christmas, Beth Andrews, Christmas cards, Christmas don'ts, Christmas movies, eggnog, gift wrapping, prizes, recipes, tinsel
So many people have holiday traditions, things they do each and every year, and while we definitely have more than our fair share of Dos, today I’d like to talk about a few of my Don’ts.
Use tinsel. Not one sparkly strand. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-tinsel – as a matter of fact, growing up, we always had tinsel (or what we called “icicles”) on our tree. We’d grab the glittery stuff and toss it willy nilly all over that beautiful evergreen. It was so ingrained in me that during the first few years of marriage, my husband and kids and I repeated the tradition. Until I actually had to clean up all that shiny stuff – from the floors, the furniture, our clothes…so, yeah. No tinsel. Not even the garland kind. I’m now used to a less sparkly tree. *g* (I’ve also outlawed any and all Easter grass during Easter but that’s a whole ‘nother post) The tree pictured here is my mom’s, hence the sparkle.
Make or drink eggnog. I know it’s traditional and all and I love eggs as part of a meal but the idea of drinking them just gives me the heebie jeebies *shudder*. So…no eggnog even though Big Sis (older daughter) loves it. This year I’m making apple brandy. Hey, that can be traditional, right?
Watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas or The Year Without a Santa Claus. They (and a few others) freak out my children (who, I might add, are 21, 18 and 15 but still…) It’s the artwork for some reason *shrug* It’s such a deep-seated fear that the other night when I found The Year Without a Santa Claus on TV, Big Sis wouldn’t come into the living room until I’d turned the channel. I tried to talk her into watching the part where Heat Miser sings but she’d have none of it.
Send Christmas cards early. Ever. I always plan on having them done weeks ahead of time but it never happens. Some years I’ve barely made it On Time. Oh, and I always save my kids’ school pictures to include in the cards but I don’t always remember to actually put them in the envelopes.
Put ribbons or bows on wrapped presents. I used to. I used to spend hours wrapping presents, curling ribbons and making perfect bows (I even got a wooden bow-maker one year – you wrapped the ribbon around it somehow…wonder if I still have that?) and being creative with my wrapping. Now I’m lucky if I don’t run out of wrapping paper, tape and/or gift tags. Seriously. I’ve been known to use the Sunday comics for wrapping paper, stickers (yes, stickers) in place of tape and folded pieces of scrap paper for tags. It’s not pretty.
Let my kids step one foot into the living room on Christmas morning until my husband and I have coffee in hand, Bing playing on the CD player and the camera ready to snap a picture of their reactions at seeing all the presents Santa left. As I mentioned, two of them are now legally adults and yes, we still do this. And yes, Santa still leaves presents AFTER they’ve gone to bed Christmas Eve.
Hey, I can’t spend all that time wrapping presents. I have goodies to make! Here’s a super easy one that also happens to be my husband’s favorite:
2 – 12 oz packages of white chips
1 – 12 oz package of milk chocolate chips
1 – 12 oz package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
5 cups Spanish peanuts.
Combine chips in a large bowl. Melt. (Can melt over low heat of a double boiler – I use a glass or metal bowl over a saucepan of an inch or so of simmering water) or in the microwave (med heat for 2 minutes, stir, then microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth).
Add Spanish peanuts, stir until coated. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto wax paper lined cookie sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes. (We love a salty/sweet treat so I sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top of half of these *g*)
What are some of your Christmas Don’ts? I’ll draw one name to win a set of The Diamond Dust trilogy which kicked off with A MARINE FOR CHRISTMAS!
And you DON’T want to miss out on 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! Tomorrow’s guest, Jeannie Watt, is giving away THREE copies of her latest release for SuperRomance, CROSSING NEVADA!
Posted by Caren Crane Dec 19 2012, 11:36 pm in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, Caren Crane, Christmas tree toppers, prize winner
I am pleased as punch to announce that a winner has been selected from the commenters on my blog about Christmas tree toppers (and my lack thereof). Thank you all for your participation and excellent suggestions for a new tree topper!
The winner of the Sixth Day prize, which is either a rooster Christmas tree ornament (reminiscent of the Golden Rooster) or a dragon cookie cutter (reminiscent of dear Ermingarde) and sugar cookie mix is KAELEE.
Congratulations, Kaelee! Please send your mailing address to me at caren AT carencrane DOT com and we’ll get your prize right out to you, lucky girl. Merry Christmas!
Posted by Caren Crane Dec 19 2012, 12:26 am in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, billionaire bachelor, Caren Crane, Category Romance, free book, Kimberly Hope, prizes, reunion romance, second chance at love
Banditas and Buddies, I am thrilled to welcome my dear friend Kimberly Hope back to the Lair today for the 6th Bandita Day Of Christmas! You may recall she was with us on Dec. 2 as one of four authors from the eclectic holiday anthology A Season For Romance. Well, today Kimberly is here to talk to use about her new romance The Billionaire Bachelor’s Revenge. I was lucky enough to be a beta reader for this book, so I have known for a while now how fabulous it is. I insisted Kimberly come tell you all about it so you can enjoy it, as well.
Kimberly, welcome back to the Lair! Pull up a chair by the fire. Cookie? We are awash in them these days. Really, take three, they’re small. Sven, can we get some eggnog over here? Thank you. So, we’re talking billionaires and cookies today instead of Disney princesses?
I am so excited to be back with you guys again this month! I had a lot of fun considering everyone’s choices for which Disney character they’d be when we released A Season For Romance. So, pralines and something that goes well with pralines (vodka tonic, maybe?) to you, Caren, for letting me come hang with you guys twice this month. Thanks!
Sven, cancel the eggnog! Looks like we’re having vodka tonics – olives, no lime, please. That should be divine with pralines! Well, maybe not, but it is my go-to drink. Anywho, back to the cookies and billionaires!
When Caren told me we’d be celebrating the 12 Bandita Days of Christmas with holiday recipes, the only thing going through my mind was 11 pipers piping. OK, well, I was humming it anyway, while wondering what recipe I could share, because I love to bake. And baking over Christmas is the best! Some of my favorite memories are of baking gingerbread cookies with my grandmother.
But what recipe? Irish Cream Truffles take 3 days (and about as long to explain the process). Pralines, as I rediscovered this morning while testing the recipe for you, are not easy. Butterscotch Shortbread…ooh, my favorite cookie this year!
My favorite thing about this cookie dough is that, unlike sugar cookie dough you have to refrigerate for half your life before you can struggle to roll it out and cut it, you can work with this dough immediately.
Now that’s my kind of cookie!
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (Yes, butter. It’s Christmas. It’s Shortbread. It needs butter.)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 Tbls white sugar
2 cups, plus 4 Tbls flour
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 300° F. Cream the butter and sugars together. Mix in flour and salt. When it’s done you’ll have well-mixed clumps of dough. You should be able to form a ball with it.
Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment or wax paper to 1/4 inch thick. I’m guessing on that. Roll it until it’s cookie thickness because these guys don’t spread. Cut with your favorite cookie cutters. My kids like to decorate the cookies with sugar and stuff at this point, but this cookie tastes fantastic without the added sugar.
Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 15 minutes or until set. You need to be careful with these guys because they don’t like over-baking. At all. The original recipe called for them to bake longer, but for my over, it’s 15 minutes. It could be as many as 25 minutes depending on how thick you roll the dough. Keep an eye on them because due to the color of the dough, it may be hard to tell that they’re browning.
This ends the cookie portion of our presentation. Now, Kimberly, let’s move on to the billionaire bachelor!!
What better to go with a cookie, than some reading material? So here’s the opening to The Billionaire Bachelor’s Revenge. It’s my second book, and the first in a Northern California trilogy I began one day when I was homesick. It’s a reunion story because I’m a sucker for a reunion. Not sure what that says about the men in my past. Here’s the opening scene, my Christmas gift to you.
Meg looked up at the man who hated her almost as much as her father did, and said the four words that would change her life forever. “I need your help.”
Evan Alton’s slate blue eyes flashed like a cat who just received a mouse for Christmas. But he didn’t slam the door in her face. Which was either a really good sign, or the end of her peace on earth. Guessing which was more likely, she plowed on. “May I come in?”
She brushed her wet hair off her forehead. “Because it’s raining and you’re a nice guy.”
Evan let out a grim laugh. “I haven’t been a nice guy for a long time. And I don’t have meetings at home on Friday nights.” He shot her a pointed look, which she completely ignored. She’d passed proud months ago.
“I can’t imagine you have many at the office since you won’t take phone calls.”
“Most people would take that as a hint.”
She didn’t say a word. Nothing she could say would change anything.
“Give me one reason why I should listen.”
“Because you loved me once and I did the right thing.”
He glared at her again, but didn’t misread her reference. The way she left him eight years ago had been completely unforgivable. She could only hope her recent actions would count for something.
“If that’s the case, why are you standing on my doorstep?”
“Because you won’t let me in.” She gave him a weak smile, and for once was rewarded with one from him as well. Butterflies erupted in her stomach. She should have eaten lunch, but the thought of this meeting had ruined her appetite. The butterflies were not because of his grim smile.
“Evan, please.” Her gaze locked with his and didn’t waver. She couldn’t afford to back down. There was too much at stake. “If you’re the devil you’re claiming, making me stand in the rain is hardly payback. It’s just frustrating for me and costly for you to keep the door open.”
”Currently it’s money well spent.”
Meg blew out a harsh breath. This was going worse than she’d imagined in the thousand possible scenarios she’d run through over the past week. She’d counted on his curiosity, but apparently that had disappeared over the years.
”You’re the only one I can turn to,” she blurted.
He raised an eyebrow. Just one. The glint in his eyes told her he remembered how much it irked her. He was playing with her. Fine. She could play too. She stood quietly, matching his gaze, and waited. It was like playing chicken with a lion. She just prayed he didn’t extend his claws before she begged for help. She didn’t kid herself. It was going to take begging. And from his vantage point, after the way she’d left him, she deserved it.
His other eyebrow joined the first, and he stepped aside to let her in. A small victory, but she took it. Meg gave a mental sigh of relief before walking into the lion’s San Francisco County lair.
Stepping into the foyer, she brushed her wet locks off her face again, and tried to ignore the puddle she was making on the hard wood floor. Evan walked towards the living room, then paused. “Aren’t you coming?”
She could see the gleaming white carpet from where she stood. “I’ll make a mess of your floors.”
“I’ve got a service. If you want to talk to me, you’re going to do it where I’m comfortable. It’s been a long day.”
Meg watched him walk away and swallowed hard. The man was as sinfully built as she remembered, especially in the suit pants and crisp, white shirt. His black hair grazed his pristine collar. He’d shed his tie and undone a few buttons, teasing her with a hint of his strong chest. And now, looking like a drenched rat, she was facing down the one man she’d hoped never to have to see again in her life. Wonderful.
She grumbled to herself about not bringing a raincoat with her. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t heard the weather report this morning. But as usual, she ignored common sense and rushed out the door. She hadn’t planned on having to track Evan down at home.
Coming here was crazy, but he was the only person who had both the money and a reason to help her now. No one else would take her calls. Not that he had either. Her name was tainted and no one wanted a Taylor anywhere near their business. She didn’t blame them.
She slipped out of her heels, as much for her own safety on the slick floor as for the floor itself. The Celtic design of light and dark woods had clearly been hand-laid by a master and she couldn’t bear to leave wet footprints across it. Not that her wet stocking feet were doing much better.
Meg followed the path Evan had taken into the living room that was three times the size she’d thought from the entryway. The walls were stark white, and blank, except for a Chagall in one corner. It was as if the house had recently been purchased and the owner didn’t know what to do with the room yet. But she knew he moved in several years ago. The only thing breaking up the room was a wall of solid windows, giving her a phenomenal view of the rocky California coast and Pacific Ocean below. From here you couldn’t tell the city was fifteen minutes away.
That wasn’t what she was here for. She shook her head and tried to get her thoughts in order. Evan’s interior decorating –or lack thereof – wasn’t her problem.
She turned and jumped. While her mind had been wandering, so had he. From the bar to her. His eyebrow floated again. “Nervous?” he asked as he handed her a glass.
Irish whiskey. He remembered? She only drank it with him. Only when she was worried. This was never going to work if she was that transparent.
She took a sip. “Thank you. You’ve got a beautiful home.”
“You didn’t come here to talk about the house, so get on with it so I can say no and get back to the game.”
Meg glanced at the black TV screen, but didn’t contradict him. All the words she’d practiced left her and she was unsure how to begin. She’d already said what needed saying. And, years ago, a lot of things that didn’t. That bridge was toast, but there was nothing she could do about it now. “I need you to buy into Jennings.”
Ooh, I love that part! This really is a fantastic book. The conflict and stakes are so high. I was rooting big-time for these two strong-willed people to get together, but they had all those darned ethics forcing them to live by their individual codes of honor! You’ll love them, too. Promise! Oh…back to Kimberly.
Happy Holidays, everyone! Tell me your favorite thing about the holiday season and you’ll be entered to win a free Kindle copy of The Billionaire Bachelor’s Revenge. Even if your favorite thing is Christmas carols in October (that would be Snarky Daughter’s answer)!
And don’t forget to come back tomorrow for more of the 12 Bandita Days Of Christmas! (Plus, you need to check the Treasure Chest to see if you are a winner from one of the previous days.) We are building up to our Christmas Day giveaway of a huge bundle of books and goodies from Banditas and friends like Lydia Dare, Dianna Love, Liz Carlyle, Annie West, Deb Marlowe, JD Tyler, Addison Fox, Sabrina Jeffries, Miranda Neville, Marquita Valentine and Sandy Blair. This is big, people!