Posts tagged with: Holidays

On the 9th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …

9 delicious hockey hunks!

I could just stop there, couldn’t I? 9 delicious hockey hunks … yum! We could all enjoy them. Who needs anything more?

See you all after Christmas ūüėČ

Ahem.

Okay, as I’m getting dirty looks from Sven, who wants a proper Christmas post in the Lair, I suppose I’d better do this properly. Jeez – just because Zach and the other hockey hunks pilfered one or two (or several) of Sven’s stash of festive bubbly after their latest win …

It’s great to be released from my writing cave, so I can spend time with you all. Missed you! In honour of the occasion I thought I’d give you some festive cheer in the form of some hockey teams showing us how to celebrate Christmas, followed by a special Christmas Quick Five.

First up, the Belfast Giants and All I Want for Christmas is You …

Thanks, lads!

Next up, the Sheffield Steelers took a different approach to a favourite English Christmas tune, Merry Christmas, Everyone …

Moving over to the NHL, the defending Stanley Cup champs have released a holiday album you won’t want to miss!

Heading north of the border, we have the Ottawa Senators’ rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas …

Ottawa Senators 12 Days of Christmas

Unfortunately, the Calgary Flames didn’t fare so well …

Calgary Flames Ugly Christmas Sweaters

And finally, that Christmas classic, The Night Before Christmas, from the Dallas Stars …

Dallas Stars The Night Before Christmas

As you might imagine, not all goes smoothly filming these videos …

St Louis Blues Outtakes

(I’m sorry the last four¬†were only available on the NHL console.)

Cover2a-APerfectStorm All of which goes to show that just because these guys are hot on ice, they can’t be good at everything! ūüėČ

 

And now, over to you for a Festive Quick Five. In honour of the season, I’m giving away a New Jersey Ice Cats Christmas Ornament and a complete set of my limited edition, Ice Cats’ short stories to one lucky commenter. Don’t forget, you still have a few days to download A Perfect Storm, my FREE December Ice Cats’ short story, on my website in the For Readers section here.

  1.  Christmas sweaters Рyes or no?
  2. Are you a fancy wrapper, with bows, ribbons and all the bells and whistles or a toss it in a gift-bagger?
  3. Worst Christmas present?
  4. Favourite Christmas ornament?
  5. What would you like Santa to bring you?

 

Oh, I nearly forgot … a Christmas cookie recipe. This is for Lizzie’s Sweet Treats Shortbread Cookies. Lizzie appears in the NJ Ice Cats short story, A Perfect Party (which is still available for download on my website, in the For Readers section here).

Ingredients: (approx 12 cookies)Cover-APerfectParty

150g self-raising flour
150g salted butter
50g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons or any chocolate pieces (optional)
Cling-film or plastic wrap.

 

Preheat oven to 180¬įC/350¬įF

  1. Add flour, sugar and butter (plus vanilla) to food processor or mixer and pulse until mixture is like wet sand.
  2. Lay out a large piece of cling-film on the counter and pour the mixture onto it.
  3. Using the cling-film to help keep the mixture together, press and roll, until you have a long, solid roll of dough, wrapped in plastic.
  4. Store in refrigerator for an hour.
  5. Slice dough into ¬ľ‚ÄĚ or ¬Ĺ‚ÄĚ rounds and put onto a well-greased or sheet-lined baking tray.
  6. Cook for approx 15 mins. Note: timing depends on how thickly you cut the rounds.
  7. When cooked, use a spatula to slide onto a wire rack. Note: the cookies will be very soft when warm, so if they’re too fragile, it’s okay to let them cool on the tray for a few minutes to let them harden a little.
  8. (Optional) While cookies are cooling, add chocolate button to the centre of each cookie.

Note: If you don’t use metric measures, keep the flour, butter and sugar in the ratio of 3:3:1 (eg 6oz, 6oz, 2oz)

However you celebrate the festive season, I hope it is a happy, healthy and fun one for you and yours and that 2016 is a great year.

Thanksgiving Ramblings 2015

Well, delicious aromas are wafting from the Lair kitchen.  The cabana boys have the table set, and the gladiators and hockey hunks are hauling the Christmas decorations down from the attic.  Meanwhile, the banditas have scattered to spend the day in our own ways.

For me, Thanksgiving and Christmas are about family and friends.  This year fits that pattern. The boy is home from school, and some friends are joining us for dinner this evening.

Barcelona_LSF3Last year was different, though. ¬†Last year, the boy was studying in Barcelona, Spain,¬†where there is no Thanksgiving break. He wasn’t going to be able to come home. The dh had research he needed to do there, however, along with a grant to subsidize his travel, so he opted for taking his research trip¬†during our Thanksgiving holiday. We flew to Barcelona and spent the holiday with our boy.

Here are my guys enjoying Antoni Gaudi’s magnificent (and yet unfinished) cathedral, La Sagrada Familia. Way back behind them is the altar. ¬†Until we took this trip, I had no idea the dh had wanted to see this church as much as I wanted to see Westminster Hall. ¬†Watching him marvel at it was one of the highlights of my holiday.

Barcelona_TvgDessertThe biggest thing for him and me, of course, was spending time¬†with the boy, whom we hadn’t seen since September. ¬†He’d checked with some of his professors about restaurants and found a nice one for us to have our Thanksgiving meal. ¬†Turkey, naturally, was not on the menu. ¬†I had yummy bluefish risotto and this really fabulous apple tart with cinnamon ice cream. ¬†That’s the most un-traditional Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever had.

All of us look back fondly on spending that holiday together. ¬†And just by the way, those are wing-to-wing TIE fighters on the boy’s shirt in the photo above. *g*

We had a great time, but I wouldn’t want to be away every holiday. ¬†I know people, though, who head out every year to some interesting place. ¬†They don’t have large families, and they welcome the chance to take a break.

Barcelona_LSF1Holidays are a time for remembering, too. ¬†A time for thinking of people who’re no longer with us and places we’ve left behind and the good things that happened around them. ¬†My family had 17 to Thanksgiving dinner when I was growing up–my grandfather, my mom’s siblings and their families, and our family. ¬†I loved those big gatherings, but I also enjoy our small, low-key celebrations.

We’ve reached the stage in life now where our friends’ parents are passing away and, unfortunately, so are some of our friends. ¬†Losing people makes us conscious of the parts of our lives¬†they took with them and of how much the people who are still with us mean. ¬†Today we’ll be grateful for all them, those who’re with us and those who used to be.

And of course there will be football. ¬†I’ve heard mutterings from the guys in the Lair about the Green Bay Packers, but our family team is the Carolina Panthers, who play the Cowboys this afternoon. I figure I’ll probably have to go home to watch that since none of the Lair’s resident guys will¬†likely vote for it.

The dragon is happily snoozing in her cave, and the Golden Rooster is, for once, making trouble elsewhere. ¬†I’m sure he’ll be back in time for dinner, though.

Is Thanksgiving a holiday where you are? How do you like to spend your holidays, and has there been one that breaks your usual pattern? Are you watching any sports competition today?

Don’t forget, we’re hanging out here again tomorrow. ¬†We’ll share shopping adventures, shopping aversion (that would be my style) and thoughts on the rest of the year.¬†

Gelati I Have Known…

IMG_9393Hello all! Happy New Year! I hope your 2015 is jam-packed with excitement and joy.

I’m back from a series of beach holidays–first to our usual stomping ground, a place called Coolum¬†to the north of my home town of Brisbane, Australia.¬†Gorgeous beaches, not too crowded, laid-back easy lifestyle. I could easily live up there if the sea air didn’t make my hair feel like it belonged on a Barbie doll.

The best gelato, too–Ferrero Rocher–Yum!

1242971316-oracle-33303Then we went to the Gold Coast¬†south of Brisbane. The Gold Coast has a totally different vibe from Coolum. Lots of high-rises, lots of glitz, lots of tourists who have no idea about proper sun protection, or that you really are risking your life if you don’t swim between the flags on a patrolled beach!

We played tennis, swam in the pool, went to the beach as well as to my favourite art gallery for a window shop.

Also, there was gelato. Mango, another favourite! Mmmm. (Sensing a theme here?)

IMG_1241Lastly, we went camping on Stradbroke Island, which is the second largest sand island in the world. We had a ball, camping with four families. The kids went feral, the whole tribe of them running wild from dawn till dusk, attacking the waves and each other, climbing rocks, playing hide-and-seek and card games. Not an electronic device in sight. At night, the men would take them crab spotting on the beach and the female contingent would savour our G&Ts and gossip.

149On a visit to Noreen’s Seaside Shop¬†we ladies all bought flowery¬†mu-mus¬†and wore them proudly. One well-prepared friend¬†brought her espresso machine and milk frother and made us coffee every morning. We did the gorge walk and saw kangaroos, dolphins, manta rays, turtles. It’s a breath-taking place.

Not to mention that every day we went to an INCREDIBLE gelato shop. ūüôā The queue was 30 deep whenever we went but it was worth it. They change their flavours every few hours. There was Tiramisu, Nectarine, Strawberry pavlova, Hazelnut, Pina Colada,¬†Boysenberry, Plum,¬†everything you could imagine. The trick was eating them fast enough before they melted in the hot summer sun!

How was your holiday season? What’s your idea of paradise? Is there any particular food you associate with being on holiday?

The Year Jazzman Was In Charge Of Present Disbursal…

TreeWhen we lived in Florida, I was scheduled to work Christmas Eve night, something every nurse has faced during holidays. Now that meant I’d be gone when the kids were asleep and I’d have to leave the “scattering” of presents under the tree to the Jazzman. I’d made three piles in our bedroom of wrapped presents with the stockings stuffed for each child on top of them. I gave Jazzman strict instructions on waiting until the kids (all in elementary and middle school) had gone to bed, then he was to mix up the presents under the tree, and lay the stockings to one side. (We didn’t have a fireplace, so that’s as good as it got.)

Well, the next morning, I got an interesting story from the kids.

Apparently Jazzman went to sleep before putting out the presents. OH NO!

So my youngest daughter and son woke up at around 5 am and imagine this…NO PRESENTS UNDER THE TREE!!

Well, being the smart kids they were, they quickly figured out Jazzman hadn’t done his bit. So they knocked on the bedroom door to wake him, saying, “Dad, you forgot to put our presents under the tree.”

So, Jazzman hauls out the 3 piles and puts them under the tree. In 3 piles.

The kids: No Dad, you have to mess them up like this.

And they proceed to make a huge mess of the presents, mixing them all up. In the mean time, Jazzman has decided he was awake and started making coffee. The kids put a big kabosh on that.

The kids: No Dad, you have to go back to bed now.

Jazzman: Why?

The kids: Because we have to find our presents and try to figure out what they are.20131224_011416-1

Jazzman: What do you mean find your presents?

The kids: Every year while you and Mom sleep, we get up early and find all our presents. We make a pile, then try to figure out what each one is. Then we put them back in a mess under the tree.

Jazzman, looking sleepy and confused: But they were in neat piles. You two just made the mess.

The kids: Daddy, this is our tradition!

Jazzman gave up and crawled back in bed. He said he layed there with the door cracked, listening to the two of them giggle and rattle the wrapped packages. Finally, they went back to bed, too. When I came home, I had to wake everyone up to open their presents, unaware of their little tradition.

ūüôā

Close to the Fire final for Barnes and NobleI love that story. It’s amazing the traditions our kids pick up that we don’t even start, while others are intentional. I must make Buckeye candy every year, as well as chocolate mint cookies, peanut blossoms, coconut jam thumbprints and m&m cookies. I have to decorate cookie cutter cookies with the kids and now grandkids. We have to go to church on Christmas Eve just to hear my daughter sing O Holy Night. Everyone must get a stocking full of fun things and everyone gets warm socks. Oh yes, I also have to have a homemade cheeseball on Christmas Day for them to munch on while dinner is cooking.

So, dear readers, what is your favorite family tradition? Is there a food item you must have? Do you presents in a certain order? Does your family have something you must do every year in order to make the holiday a success? Since it’s holiday time, I think I’ll give away a copy of my newest book, CLOSE TO THE FIRE to one reader who posts a tradition today.

 

Holiday Recipe Share

Betty Lewis, 1950I always think of my mother, Betty Lewis, at this time of the year because she was such a traditional, old-fashioned cook, and I like using the recipes she handed down to me over the years.

One Christmas gift I cherish came from my sister-in-law who copied and framed one of my mom’s recipes in her own handwriting. ¬†It’s a lovely idea and a special gift.

The holiday season is creeping up on us all too fast. ¬†I’m not one of those who shops a little all year long, so at the last minute I have tons of crafts and gifts, decorations and food preparation.

One of the great treasures of this time of the year is sharing favorite recipes. ¬†In remembrance of my mother and as a nod to my family, I’d like to share a few recipes from my¬†files.

My husband’s mother was a meat-and-potatoes woman who overcooked everything, but no one could beat her in the homemade candy-making department. ¬†Every Christmas she mailed us a package of her assorted candies: ¬†fudge, divinity, caramels with nuts, and her famous penuche, Dr. Big’s¬†favorite:

MABEL’S PENUCHEpenuche

Butter an8x 8×2 inch pan. ¬†Coarsely chop and set aside 3/4 cup pecans. ¬†Mix together in a heavy ¬†2 quart saucepan 3 cups firmly packed brown sugar, 1 cup plus 2 TB milk, 1/2 t. salt.

Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. ¬†Increase heat and bring mixture to boiling, stirring frequently. ¬†Put candy thermometer in place. ¬†Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until mixture reaches 234 degrees F. (soft ball stage — remove from heat while testing). ¬†During cooking, wash crystals from sides of pan. ¬†Remove from heat. ¬†Set aside until just cool enough to hold pan on hand. ¬†Do not jar pan or stir.

When cool, add 3 TB butter, 1 1/2 t. vanilla.  Beat vigorously until mixture loses its gloss.  With a few strokes stir in the chopped nuts.  Quickly candy #1turn into the buttered pan without scraping bottom and sides of saucepan and spread evenly.  Set aside to cool.

Note: ¬†I love how Mabel gives these little added tips which are helpful for new candy-makers! ¬†Also, I like a richer candy, so I use half and half or evaporated milk instead of regular milk. ¬†I don’t think 1 and 2¬†percent milk was available back in the day.

 

 

BETTY’S SOUR CREAM CASSEROLE

  • 1 pkg frozen hash browns, thawed
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 8-oz. carton sour cream
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 can cream of chicken souppotato casserole
  • 2 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 c. corn flakes

Mix all ingredients together, except 1/2 stick butter and corn flakes.  Pour into 9 by 13 pan.  Melt 1/2 stick butter with corn flakes and sprinkle on potato mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Note:  This is a great side-dish and super easy to make ahead.

cookiesWhat are your favorite, go-to recipes for the holiday season?  Any ideas of what to make with the left-over turkey or ham?  I need some additions to my recipe file, so please share!

 

Letting Go

My daughter called me the other day to inform me she’d finally gotten to the ugly job of cleaning her kitchen cabinets.  That’s one of those tasks you swipe at when you’re doing dishes or cooking, promising yourself you’ll tackle the deep cleaning later.

kitchen cabinetOf course, like most of us, you wait until the job becomes THE NASTY CHORE.

While I listened to her complain about the cleaning job, how long it took, and how much elbow grease she invested into it, I took a quick look at my own kitchen cabinets.

For maybe a second or two I thought about tackling the same chore in my 30-year old house and concluded … nah, I‚Äôd rather spend my limited time doing something else.

I decided I can live with a lot of things that I categorize broadly as ‚Äúletting go.‚ÄĚ

I have a long list of things I have let go of; here are a few:mopping floor

          1.     I no longer mop floors on my hands and knees. If I can’t con someone (like Dr. Big) into doing it for me, I spray cleaner on the flooring and maneuver my foot wrapped in a rag to wipe up the dirt.

          2.     I no longer cook dried beans. Seriously, that’s what canned beans are for, and I promise you no one can tell the difference in your recipe.  My perennially favorite chili takes about thirty minutes to make instead of hours.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 3. ¬† ¬†¬†I no longer wear eye makeup. This was a hard one to let go of ‚Äď vanity pushed me for a long time until I realized that wearing eyeglasses covers up most of my eyes anyway.¬† My ‚Äúmakeup,‚ÄĚ when and if I use it, takes 20 seconds to apply.

eye makeup          4.     I don’t wash my sheets every week. This is not a nod to conservation (although I always pretend it is), but honestly, how dirty can sheets get when a person showers before bedtime?  Every two weeks is fine.  Oddly, the hard part of this chore is not the washing and drying of the items, but putting them BACK ON the bed!

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 5. ¬† ¬†¬†I don‚Äôt send out Christmas greetings. This is a new ‚Äúletting go” for my family. ¬†Those folks I know and love most dearly keep in contact via phone, email, or text nearly every day ‚Äď Banditas included, of course! ¬†Why pressure myself with a tradition I no longer enjoy doing?

What about you?¬† In this terribly busy holiday season, what are you ‚Äúletting go‚ÄĚ of?¬† Xmas cardWhat shortcuts can you share with our readers?¬† How are you streamlining your life so you have more time for the activities you really enjoy?

 

TPG Final cover
I’d love to send a free download of my Christmas novella “The Perfect Gift,” to one commenter whose ingenuity about “letting go” tickles my fancy.

Holidays and Reading – Quick Five!

It’s a busy time of year. For the US Banditas and BBs, you have Thanksgiving next week. For the rest of us, who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, we edge ever closer to the big Christmas holiday!

I don’t about where you are, but the Christmas ads started appearing in late September and Christmas in the shops was around that time too! Now, I love Christmas, but really? It gets earlier and earlier every year and the sales even start before Christmas now! I went into one well-known shop and they were already playing Christmas music in September! I said to the check-out girl that she’d be sick of it by the time Christmas rolled around and she said she was already channeling Scrooge and ‘Bah, humbug’!

We’re traditionalists in the Sugden household and wait until December 1st to start decorating – though now that Doc Cambridge is retired, we do tend to get the decs up as soon after the 1st as possible. Also, we’re very strict about taking them down again before Twelfth Night — it’s considered bad luck to have them up after that — so I like to be able to enjoy the lights and baubles and Christmas spirit.

As for getting the presents, my friends and family fall into two camps – the ‘organised and have it all finished¬†before the decorations even go up’ crew and ‘where can I buy that on Christmas Eve’ gang! As everyone has got older, it has become harder to find presents, so we’re definitely ‘buy it when you find it’ shoppers. We also try to be organised, because we have so many parcels that have to be posted overseas and the last posting dates are getting earlier and earlier! For our friends Down Under, it’s December 3rd! *gulp*

Tiny TreatsOne thing it’s never too early for is holiday reading! I can buy holiday reads all year round! This year, with writing A Perfect Party for Tiny Treats: A Holiday Collection, I went on a holiday read spending spree. I can see I’m going to have lots of nice reads for the next couple of months! Of course, I’m always on the look out for recommendations, so feel free to tell me about great holiday reads.

That said, the holidays are also a time when I get long periods where I can just sit and read – such a luxury! So I often save up books by my favourite authors to read then. Especially the ones I still by in hardback! They’re very rarely holiday themed, but I enjoy curling up in front of the fire and getting lost in their worlds. (Though since some of them are romantic suspense – not too lost!)

So, over to you

1. What kind of Christmas shopper are you? Are you a ‘buy it when you see it’ or a ‘last minute panicker’ or a ‘start on Black Friday and get it all done by Dec 1st’ or something else?

2. When do you put your decorations up? ASAP, after Thanksgiving, Dec 1st, as late as possible, Christmas Eve?

3. When you do start reading holiday stories? As soon as possible, any time, after Thanksgiving, after Dec 1st, just over the Christmas to New Year period?

4. Favourite all-time holiday read?

5. What are you looking forward to reading this holiday season? Any recommendations?

And don’t forget to download your copy of Tiny Treats – it’s FREE! Just click on the cover and it will take you through to Amazon.

 

Christmas with the Earl!

Earl low resIt’s a launch party in the lair!

But first, an apology!

I know it’s far too early to be talking Christmas – even when it’s only Christmas books. Please don’t take this post as a signal to run off and give your list to Santa! It’s still a bit over six weeks until the fat, jolly bloke with the facial hair squeezes down your chimney!

So having got that off my chest, let me tell you about my latest release, HER CHRISTMAS EARL: A REGENCY NOVELLA!

While it mightn’t be the time yet to wrap the gifts for under the tree, it’s definitely the time of year when it’s nice to have something romantic and short to read while the world goes crazy around us. I think novellas are really great when there’s Holidays everywhere and all the other end of the year madness. You get your romance fix and still have time and attention to deal with any crises that pop up!

Writing a novella at this time of year is almost a public service!

Haddon 2So given how chaotic things get in the lair in the lead up to the festive season, I thought we’d have a practice run so the cabana boys have everything down to a T when the real time comes.

But before I introduce your Yuletide entertainment, let me introduce HER CHRISTMAS EARL. Firstly, here’s the blurb:

No good deed goes unpunished…
To save her hen-witted sister from scandal, Philippa Sanders ventures into a rake’s bedroom – and into his power. Now her reputation hangs by a thread and only a hurried marriage can rescue her. Is the Earl of Erskine the heartless libertine the world believes? Or will Philippa discover unexpected honor in a man notorious for his wild ways?
haddon 1Blair Hume, the dissolute Earl of Erskine, has had his eye on the intriguing Miss Sanders since he arrived at this deadly dull house party. Now a reckless act delivers this beguiling woman into his hands as a delightful Christmas gift. Does fate offer him a fleeting Yuletide diversion? Or will this Christmas Eve encounter spark a passion to last a lifetime?You can read an excerpt on my website here: http://annacampbell.info/xmasearl.html

And all of that Christmassy Earlish goodness for the measly price of 99 cents!

Goodness, I think you should go and buy 10! Well, I would think that, wouldn’t I?

If you click on that pretty red cover at the top of this piece, it will take you right to Amazon (we like to make things easy for you!).

You can also buy HER CHRISTMAS EARL from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/486725christmas 2

The story starts on Christmas Eve during a country house party in Wiltshire – a good excuse for me to share a couple of favorite photos from beautiful Haddon Hall which is in Derbyshire but was very much on my mind when I wrote this.

So I asked the cabana boys to turn the lair into a stately home in Regency England at Christmas. But I fear they didn’t get quite the right idea!

Plastic Christmas trees in lovely Hartley Manor in 1823? Sacre bleu as the French chef there is fond of saying!
christmas 1And what about the¬† plastic reindeers that light up? It’s enough to send Wellington back to Waterloo in disgust! And Napoleon off for a nap!

So if you were arranging a lovely Christmas party in snowy Wiltshire for an Earl and his new bride, what would you do to make the house atmospheric and lovely? Mince pies? Carol singers? Roaring log fires? Lots of mistletoe for the earl and his bride to kiss under – not that they need much encouragement!

BanditBootyI have three downloads of HER CHRISTMAS EARL: A REGENCY NOVELLA up for grabs today to people who comment so get talking Christmas decorations! Good luck!

Anticipating the Holidays

…and not in a good way. A friend of mine was hosting a Halloween party this year. Awesome! Her party, however, fell the day¬†after¬†Halloween, on November 1. This was actually perfect, since it was a Saturday night and we “fell back” an hour last night/this morning as we left off Daylight Savings Time. A fun party plus¬†an extra hour of sleep?¬†Woo hoo!

pot brownieThis was a costume party, mind you. A costume¬†optional¬†party, but my husband and I thought it would be fun to go in costume for once. We are not “costume people.” Still, we were making an effort. Yesterday (the day of the party), I went to a craft store to look for a couple of things I needed to complete my costume (I was a pot brownie, he was Tim the Enchanter). While there, I noticed there was a lot of Anticipating the Holidays going on. Not only was all the Halloween stuff at least 75% off, but the¬†Thanksgiving¬†stuff was at least 50% off. Thanksgiving isn’t for another 25 days, people! For the mathy among us, that is 3 weeks and 4 days away. Practically a month! Yet they are so desperate to commit fully and completely to Christmas that Thanksgiving has already been pushed into one side of a single aisle and priced to move.

Tim the EnchanterI don’t care to anticipate the holidays quite that much. Heck, I have Veteran’s Day to celebrate and a 7-night cruise to enjoy before we even get to Thanksgiving! After that is my mother’s birthday, a sister’s birthday, a brother-in-law’s birthday, my sister-in-law’s birthday¬†and¬†my father’s birthday (he would have been 78 this year) before we get to Christmas. I don’t need to jump straight from Halloween to Christmas, craft store people. Thanks anyway!

How about you? Do you like to jump ahead and get an extra-early start on the holidays or are you content to let one pass before anticipating the next? (Confession, I have bought a couple of Christmas presents already.) I would love to know who is carefully crafting for Christmas and who still has turkey on her mind! ūüôā

A Lovely Haze

champagne meI’m going to channel my grumpy hero Jonas Merrick here. Those of you who have read SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED will know that Jonas spent a lot of his childhood in Italy and tends to break into Italian at moments when he’s moved – as he is quite often when he’s pursuing Sidonie!

Jonas would know well the wonderful Italian saying of il dolce fa niente which basically means the lovely art of doing absolutely nothing.

By the way, here’s a health warning for people currently suffering the awful cold temperatures that are afflicting those in the Northern Hemisphere. This program is rated HW (hot weather). There will be pictures of people basking in sun and enjoying warm temperatures. But I warn you no champagne cocktails were harmed in the creation of this blog.

Huh? Who am I kidding?

Of course champagne cocktails were harmed in great numbers! 

BD rogue2013 was such a flat out year for me and I reached the end of it feeling utterly exhausted. I usually try to take the week between Christmas and New Year off. It’s the middle of the Australian summer, nothing is happening (my father always said not entirely as a joke that if anyone wanted to invade Australia, they’d get from Cape York to Tasmania without striking an ounce of opposition if they decided to come on 27th December). The world seems to be made up of steamy weather, afternoon snoozes and crickets scratching their lungs out. Perfect break weather.

In 2011 and 2012, sadly I got hit with book revisions right on top of Christmas so my hopes of a decent bit of time off went completely west. This year, thanks to a very speedy response from my editor, I managed to get the revisions for Cam’s story WHAT A DUKE DARES, in before Christmas.

Which meant…downtime!

So much downtime that I renamed my house Downtime Abbey!

So for one delicious week, I just pottered around doing what I felt like. Surprisingly, while I did a lot of reading, I didn’t get through nearly as much of the TBR pile as I thought I would. Instead I seemed to be hooked on watching hours and hours of quite uneducational TV (OK, a hint of education snuck in now and again, but it was very much under the cover of darkness!).¬†

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy parents had cable installed in the house before I moved up here and now I’m addicted to it. There’s something wonderfully comforting about watching LAW AND ORDER from back when Jerry Orbach was still investigating. Makes me feel immortal – clearly nobody ever dies in cable TV land. Apart from the victim in LAW AND ORDER, obviously! And even then, they have the comfort of knowing that the tecs of NYPD always get their man. At least on TV!

So I had a lovely time watching stuff on the Criminal Investigation Network. Strangely relaxing hearing about the pursuit of nasty people, no idea why. And a myriad of antique shows on Lifestyle. As some of you know, I’m addicted to people talking about secondhand stuff. Just give me ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, FLOG IT!, ANTIQUES ROADTRIP, CASH IN THE ATTIC, ANTIQUES MASTER, you name it!

Now I think of it, there’s a kind of immortality in Great Aunty Edna’s dining table. It kind of goes on forever too!

And a few other shows I just love. One of my guilty pleasures is JUDGE JUDY. I tell myself it’s research for my books – after all, life’s rich tapestry is displayed with all its clashing colors on JJ.

If I’m not working – as you’ve probably gathered by now, I wasn’t – I’ll also watch THE PEOPLE’S COURT too. I’ve no idea why other people’s loans to their boyfriends and nasty fights with their housemates are so compelling. But somehow they are!

header_judyAnd joy of joys, the Lifestyle Network had new ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY episodes. I’m not sure if this BBC show is on in the States, but it features U.K. city dwellers who enlist the help of a presenter to help them find a wonderful place in the gorgeous British countryside.

The only real downside (rather than downtime!) of ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY is that it makes me desperate to own a thatched country cottage in Somerset. Sigh. But nonetheless, it’s perfect lunchtime viewing.

So now I’m back at work, in spite of the fact that the weather is still horrifically hot and the crickets are still carolling in the new year and most other people I know are also having a break. Started a new book on Monday. Wish me luck. And those hours of guilty pleasure TV are but a memory.

EscapeSo what’s you must-watch TV show? Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to TV? Do you take¬† the week between Christmas and New Year off? If so, what did you do this year?

And it bears saying again, may you all have a wonderful 2014!

 

 

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