Posts tagged with: Jeanne Adams

The Gravy Games: A Jeanne and Cassondra Fifth Day of Christmas Food Fight

Turkey 2014Have you ever been faced with an unexpected challenge where you’ve gone “Oh sh** can I pull this off?”

That happened to me this Thanksgiving.

We were lucky enough to get asked to Thanksgiving dinner this year at the home of two dear friends. The couple was newly married, and a group of us descended on their house as the final meal preparations were in full swing.

It was a pitch-in dinner, so we had a bit of everything. But the main entre’ was oven-roasted turkey. And contrary to Duchesse Jeanne’s ideology, if you’re having turkey, you must have mashed potatgravy5 mccormickoes and gravy. But that’s a whole nuther story.

Jeanne: Yes! To the mashed potatoes.  A resounding NO WAY to the gravy.  Nope.  Slimy madness, I tell you.  What is this passion people have for pouring fowl grease over everything on their plates??

Cassondra:  Excuse me…it’s about…you know…taste….flavor. And I was trying to tell a story here.

Jeanne:  *looking abashed* Oh.  Sorry.  Pray, continue!

gravy9Cassondra:  Alrighty then.  The cook of this couple is a young man who took on the challenge of a big group for Thanksgiving, and he handled it perfectly. In the final few minutes, with the stand mixer whirring the mashed potatoes into creamy goodness, he pulled the perfectly browned, perfectly moist turkey out of the oven with a flourish, transferred it to a platter to be carved, turned back to the roasting pan and…hesitated.

I was helping wash up the prep dishes because pitch-in dinners are just that way—I can’t sit around and not help if there’s stuff to be done—when I caught the slight panic in his eyes. His gaze landed on me and he said, “Cassondra, can you make the gravy?”

“Absolutely!” I forced confidence into my voice.

Truth? I’ve made gravy a bunch. And I’ve failed a bunch.

Jeanne: *whispers* That’s because good gravy is hard, and bad gravy is awful!  I can make good gravy, but why?

Cassondra: *glares*  For you who aren’t aware, gravy is one of the gravy10pinnacle dishes for the successful southern woman who plans to call herself a cook, because no holiday meal is complete, whether it’s ham or turkey, without a side of mashed potatoes made into a perfect pond, filled with yummy, slurpalicious gravy.

Jeanne:  Ick.

Cassondra:  *squints at Jeanne* Whether it’s white gravy (we call that breakfast gravy around these parts) or brown gravy (that’s dinner gravy), bottom line, it’s the nectar of the gods.

Jeanne: *harrumphs* No matter what you call it, its as nutty as yesterday’s fudge to drown perfectly magnificent biscuits in white gravy, and equally superb potatoes in brown gravy.  But you have to finish the story.  What did you do?

gravy13Cassondra: *rolls eye*  In a minute.  Breakfast gravy is not just for biscuits.  I don’t eat it that way, though I have complete respect for a good plate of hot homemade biscuits smothered in freshly made white gravy.

Anyway…Breakfast gravy, for some of us, is to hide the eggs, so we can get our protein without actually…you know…tasting the bird embryos.

Jeanne: Snork!  Loooooove me some bird embryos.

Cassondra:  *wrinkles nose*  I want so much to like them, but I don’t really. The gravy smooths the way.  *glances at Jeanne’s “ain’t givin’ in” look*  I see we have another food fight brewing here, don’t we?

Jeanne: *looks smug*  Well, it IS our little Evil Twin, holiday tradition!

Cassondra:  Okay fine. Let’s just stop right here and settle this.

Jeanne:  Pistols at dawn?  *grins*

Cassondra:  No. Mashed potatoes at dinner.  *taps foot a few times, contemplating*  How can this be?  You grew up in the south.  I mean, surely your mama made gravy.  How can you not like it?  What’s not to like about gravy?

Jeanne:  I’m totally down with mashed potatoes.  LOVE them.  Any kind of gravy8potato – Irish, Yukon, Sweet, red-skinned – can be mashed in my presence and I will rejoice and sit down to eat.  It’s the drowning in grease that I loathe.

Cassondra:  Noooo–

Jeanne: *holds up hand, stopping the interruption* Gravy is just….what was it you said yesterday?  Ah, yes, *clears throat to produce the perfect sound*  “EWWWWW!”  It’s neither liquid nor solid – a perpetual confusion of form – and it’s frequently too salty and lumpy to be borne.  Mostly, however, it’s the texture for me.  I’m pretty much okay with the salt part, but it’s just…slimy.  Sorry can’t come up with a better word.

sausagegravyCassondra:  *squares shoulders, shakes finger back and forth*  It’s neither liquid nor solid because it’s sauce.  You know…..that stuff that elevates good food to excellent?  Good gravy is sauce, and is neither greasy nor slimy.  That’s bad gravy.  Explain.

Jeanne:  In a minute.  Not only is it greasy AND slimy, people really do put it on everything on their plates.  Seriously!  You know that, right?  OMGosh.  They drown the dressing, the turkey, the potatoes, the casseroles (whatever those may be) and suddenly their plates look like a lake with protruding boulders of meat and veg.  Bleech.

Cassondra:  *considers*  Casseroles are a whole nuther argument.  Okay I’ll give you that a sea of gravy with protruding food lumps is gross.  But that’s not the gravy’s fault.  That’s the error of the user.  Blaming the gravy for that mess is like blaming the pencil for accounting errors! It’s like blaming the spoon when you gain weight!

Jeanne: *ignoring all this*  It’s not just the lumps on the plate.  The gravy boatlumps in the gravy itself…*shudders*

Cassondra:  Give us all a break here.  NOBODY makes lump-free gravy the first time.  It takes good technique and lots of practice.  And even excellent cooks fail now and then.

Jeanne:  Lumpy gravy is gross.  But you’re right.  It takes practice getting that whisk going just right and making sure your flour doesn’t clump.

Cassondra:  Yeah, and about that….you said you make good gravy.  If you don’t like gravy, how do you know you make good gravy? Gravy is an art form. What exactly does “good gravy” mean to a woman who doesn’t eat it?

Jeanne:  Well, good gravy is, like your mama’s fudge, acceptable in one format only.  I think it is only good on stuffing.  Not dressing, which is a solid, usually cube-like mass, but dressing, which is fluffier, breadier, and, well, better.  Grins.  (I do believe we never settled that whole dressing/stuffing thing, did we?)

Cassondra: We settled that one.  We agreed to disagree.  Good stuffing is not *grimaces* cube-like.

Jeanne: *ignoring the cube comment* And as to what good gravy IS, it’s smooth, light, and well blended, having only moderate or minced pieces of meat in it.  These would be from the pan drippings, of course, which you use to make said gravy.  If it’s from a jar?  Bleeech.

Cassondra:  Well at least we agree on that.  I understand busy moms and gravy 1harried cooks feeding their families have to sometimes resort to quicker alternatives.  But gravy is so fundamentally easy

Jeanne: *raises eyebrow*

Cassondra:  It is.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s quicker to make gravy from drippings than it is to make it from some envelope of powder.  And I can taste premix gravies a mile away. Same as I can taste fake mashed potatoes, which are, by the way, abomination. *steps back, takes a moment*

Mikasa gravy boatJeanne:  Well, we definitely agree there, for sure.  *shudders*  Fake mashed potatoes.  Who thought that was a good idea?  Anyway, I guess I don’t know that I DO make good gravy other than that people who’ve been with us at holiday meals where I’ve made it say I do, and then promptly empty the gravy boat.  Grins.

Cassondra:  You own a gravy boat?  *hesitates*  Wait. What am I saying?  You’re almost as much of a dish whore as I am. Of course you own a gravy boat.

Jeanne:  *looks smug yet again*  I have several, actually. The Mikasa one there is the “big” gravy boat I use.  I have a silver and a Limoges and, I think, a plain white one.  Ha!  But I only make gravy because there’s bound to be a mutiny at my table if I don’t, given that my darling husband and I’ll-eat-anything-not-nailed-down son are fans.

Cassondra:  *studies nails*  Gentlemen of refined taste, I’d say.

Jeanne: Snork!  Not disagreeing, but snork! Can I continue?gravy12

Cassondra:  Sorry. I get a little carried away about gravy. *waves hand* Proceed, proceed.

Jeanne:  Ahem.  My youngest, he’s a texture guy, like me.  He steers wide and clear of the gravy.  Now the cranberry sauce, on the other hand….if you want any, get it before my youngest does.  Grins.

Cassondra:  *shakes head*  Likes slimy, ooky cranberry sauce but doesn’t like nice, smooth gravy.

Jeanne: *quirks a smile*  Likes tasty, fruity, tangy delicious cranberry sauce and abjures gravy.  (Have to confess, I think he suspects I will try to hide food he doesn’t like with said gravy, which he already doesn’t like the texture of, even when it’s GOOD gravy.)  And you nearly turned me green with that can of “gluten-free-vegetable-gravy” – As my mother would say, “What in tarnation are they thinking?” Vegetables do NOT make gravy. Furthermore, most gluten-free stuff is like most organic stuff – it isn’t.  SNORK!  (But that’s a fight for another day!)

limoges gravy boatCassondra: Ha!  We have the truth of it!  You gravy haters actually fear what’s hidden UNDERNEATH the gravy! Muahahahaha!  The truth comes out!

Jeanne:  *rolls eyes* You never did tell us how your gravy turned out.

Cassondra:  It actually rocked.  Good homemade drippings plus a little thickening…POOF!  Good gravy!

Now it‘s up to you, Bandits and Buddies. I lost yesterday’s food fight in a terrible rout. 

What about gravy?

Do you like it?

Brown gravy? Or White gravy?

If it’s white gravy for breakfast, do you like sausage in yours? (I don’t, but it’s very popular here in the south)

At the holidays, does your gravy go on your potatoes?  Your turkey or ham? Your dressing?  Do you drink it with a straw? I just about could….ahem.

Can you make your own gravy?  What’s your secret to getting it to come out smooth?

Do you use a mix as a starter base?  Or do you make it from scratch? Share  your gravy secrets!

And do you own a gravy boat?  More than one?

It’s that time of year for savory sauces. Let’s dish on gravy.

One commenter today will receive a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card from Cassondra, plus a copy of DEAD RUN, Jeanne’s latest Faithful Defenders romantic suspense, and a German Shepherd ornament!

photos courtesy of Wikipedia and the authors

Are you NUTS? A 4th Day of Christmas Cassondra and Jeanne Holiday FUDGE Fight!

ChristmastinDo you ever give gift tins at the holidays?  Or get them?  Those cute little round or square tins with holiday motifs that some wonderful friend has filled with home baked goodies.  I LOVE those!!

Cassondra:  *drools*  Oh Yumm!  I love to get foodie presents!

Jeanne:  *smiling pleasantly* My favorite to get – and give – is fudge.

Cassondra:  Ewwwwww.

Jeanne: *ignoring that, still smiling*  It’s one of the best things about the holidays.  Now you can get fudge in the summer, sure, you can, right there at that place at the beach or resort, where they make it in humongous batches.  But there’s nothing better than homemade fudge at the holidays.  I love making fudge as prezzies for people, I like getting the colored wax paper and filling gift tins full of yummy, nutty, slurpy, chocolate fudge.  Yum!!

bc71ff31cb762ad6dcd11d52773b8638Cassondra: Yuck.

Jeanne:  *glaring now*  Will you hush?  I’m having a moment here.

Cassondra:  Fine, fine.  Wax sentimental, why don’t you?

Jeanne:  Thank you.  And it’s wax paper.  (Snork!)

Cassondra:  *rolls eyes*

Jeanne:  Anyway.  My mom used to make fudge, but only at the holidays.  Perhaps that’s why I love it so much this time of year.  I got to cut up the pecans to go in it, but I also got to pick out those perfect pecan halves to put on top.  YUM!

Cassondra:  You already said that “yum” part.

P1100727-32Jeanne: Did I? Yeah, I did!  Still, it bears repeating.

Cassondra: *rolls eyes harder*  Whatever.  Sounds like you should’ve married a tin of fudge, romance girl.

Jeanne:  Hmmm… maybe…WAIT!  Are you telling me you don’t like fudge with nuts on top?

Cassondra:  Oh I love the nuts just fine. In fact, I love nuts period.  In even more fact, the nuts are the only thing about fudge that allows the stuff to be considered actual…you know…food.  I generally don’t like nuts in things, but most especially chocolate fudge. It’s an abomination to put those wonderful nuts in such a disgusting mixture.

Jeanne:  You’ve got to be kidding me. You don’t like fudge?  What happened to our evil twin love fest with food?

Cassondra: It got cooked to soft ball stage.

Jeanne: *snork*

Cassondra: And nope.  I don’t like nuts in or on things as a rule.  There are only two exceptions.

Jeanne:  Ha!  I knew it!!  th

Cassondra:  *holds up hand in STOP motion*  Here’s the thing.  Chocolate fudge is so rich-sweet that I can eat exactly one bite of it before I keel over and start to turn all gooey pink and sicky-sweet like Glinda, that fluffy witch from the Wizard of Oz who flew around in a damn soap bubble waving her sparkle wand.  How sickeningly sweet is that? *makes barfing sounds*

Jeanne: *speechless for a moment at this spew of vitriol…Finally she raises her eyebrow* Sparkle wand?  It turns you into a glitzy blonde with a sparkly crown and sparkly wand??

Cassondra:  I’m much more akin to Elphaba.

glindaJeanne:  Who?  Oh, right.  The other one…

Cassondra: The green one. You know…the one who died so unfortunately. *whispers* Death by melting. *shivers* Ahem.  She was a good person at heart.  Misunderstood.  But she was not sicky sweet.  That’s fudge.  Glinda-sicky-sweet. So sweet you can’t stand it.

Jeanne: *raises other eyebrow* I’ll give you that part about misunderstood.  I mean, seriously, you grow up green it does something to your perspective, you know?

Cassondra:  Totally.  But back to the point.  Let’s get real here.  More often than not, fudge resembles sand. Mixing chocolate with it does not make it viable food. It’s grainy and the sugar is still granulated and just….gross.  You can’t even taste the chocolat-ey-ness of it because it’s so darn rich-sweet that it’s just a big sweet attack (you know…kinda like the pink froo froo witch with the big glittery tin foil crown thing, and the eyelashes out to here and the sparkle wand) The only thing even remotely food-like in said chocolate sugar-sand is the nuts. Sand was made to walk on.  On the BEACH. pecans

God made nuts after all.  The almighty did not mean for sand to be taken as food, and the whole thing is a waste of perfectly good nuts.  Nuts were not meant to be mixed into sandy goo and cooked up into concoctions.

Jeanne:  I love nuts in food.  And fudge is NOT sand, or sandy!  I protest!  Fudge is smooooooooth.  It’s as smooth as a flying monkey’s….uh…flight pattern!  It’s delicious, fudgey, chocolaty goodness wrapped around the most divine nuttiness ever.  Nuts, and chocolate.  It’s a tradition.  Almond Joy. Fudge Snickers.  100,000 dollar bars.  FUDGE!!!  WOOT!!  And it doesn’t have to be that ooogy sickly sweet stuff you get at the fair.  Besides, adding the nuts makes it better and tones down the sweet.

Cassondra: *shakes head, taps foot, waiting for the end of the happy dancing* Ick.  Nine times out of ten, fudge is a sandy, sicky-sweet, so-rich-you-can’t-taste-it, gross waste of perfectly good nuts.  I bet you like nuts on your ice cream too.

Jeanne:  *smug*  Yep!  CHOCOLATE ice cream.  Like fudge, everything is improved with nuts.   Bread (as in banana bread, pumpkin bread, etc), dairy products (you know, like ice cream) and I’ve even been known to add walNUT oil to other baking to improve the flavor.  So there!ice cream

Cassondra: Oil doesn’t count. It never did have any inherent crunchiness.  But as to the rest? Ewwww.

Jeanne:  Wait.  How can you not like nuts on ice cream, at least?  I know it makes them cold…SNORK…wait, cold nuts.  SNORK!  Okay, so while that’s not good in a partner, it IS good on ice cream!!

Cassondra:  What can I say?  I’m picky about nuts.

Jeanne: Snork!!!!

Cassondra: On ice cream they’re waaaaaaay too much of a contrast. Ice cream is supposed to be smooth. Smooth is part of ice cream’s nature. Same with peanut butter.  Putting nuts on it–or in it–is just wrong.  Ruins the ice cream. Ruins the nuts.  It’s wrong I tell you.

03-jif-crunchy-peanut-butter-lgn-jpg_001036Jeanne:  Nuh-uh.  It gives that smooth, cool goodness an extra boost of texture and warm, nutty deliciousness.  Kinda like crunchy peanut butter.

Cassondra: OMG!  Even the photo of that JAR of crunchy peanut butter makes me ooog out.  EWWWWWW!

Jeanne:  *tapping foot* You said there were two exceptions.

Cassondra:  Yes.  My mom made this stuff that’s technically called fudge, but has no similarity to any fudge I’ve ever eaten.

Jeanne: Ha!  Your mom made fudge and you liked it!

Cassondra: No!  This stuff was an island amid other disgusting fudgey-ness.

Jeanne:  Okay Miss “my fudge is an island” fudge hater.  How was it different?33608

Cassondra:  Look, I’ve had all kinds of fudge.  The chocolate kinds are all just disgusting disgraces to everything that is chocolate.  I can’t even look at that ring thing you posted on the right.  What’s worse than fruitcake? One made of fudge.  It’s basically mud disguised as dessert. Gah!

I can tolerate the peanut butter fudges a little better because they generally have a very high ratio of peanut buttery-ness.  Even so I would never choose those over, say, a shortbread cookie, which is a far more subtle, gently textured, perfectly balanced bit of yum–

Jeanne: Ha! You used the word yum!

Cassondra:  *closes eyes, reaches for Zen*  My mom’s recipe is for sour cream black walnut fudge.  It’s incredibly mild.  Really subtle and not at all overpowering.  Because of this, the flavor of the black walnuts really shines. It’s the most prominent flavor in the candy, with the semi-sweet sour cream base as a backdrop.  It’s amazing.  It’s…yum.

Jeanne: *sing-songs* Cassondra likes fuuu-dge, Cassondra likes fuuuu-dge!  With NUTS.  WALL nuts.  BWAHAHAHAHAH!!!  Gotcha!!!  So, since you’ve made the concession of saying that there is ONE – albeit ONLY one – type of fudge that will willingly pass your lips, WITH NUTS, I’ll concede that I cannot STAND crunchy peanut butter.  Grins.  Peanut butter needs to be smooth.  But anything else?  Bring on the nuts!  What’s your second exception?

Cassondra:  Ha!  And yet you posted that jar of vile crunchy peanut butter just to taunt me!

Jeanne:  *looks smug, bats eyelashes*

Cassondra *sigh* My second exception is MotherGrant’s German Chocolate Cake, made from the recipe on the actual label from a bar of Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate from the 1920s. Takes 18 eggs.  *looks smug right back*

Jeanne:  German chocolate cake icing is total goo. With nuts.

Cassondra: Yes. Yes, it is.  But it has coconut too, which doesn’t actually COUNT as a nut cuz it isn’t crunchy, and homemade German Chocolate Cake icing is not just good.  It’s Goo from God. And I love it.  But that’s the ONLY nutty goo I like.  Chocolate fudge is disgusting and just out.

Jeanne:  Goo from God. The title is perfect. You are nuts.

So what about you Bandits and Buddies?  Do you like foodie gifts?  Towers of snacks, tins of cookies or fudge WITH NUTS?

What about fudge in general?

Chocolate fudge or flavored fudge?

Nuts or no nuts?  Ever?  In anything?  Or just in some things?

Cold nuts? (On ice cream, you perverts!)

Crunchy peanut butter or smooooooooooth only?

Here’s my favorite fudge recipe to date, I’ve made it several years running (WITH NUTS) and love it: Aunt Teens Chocolate Fudge

(Photos are the authors, Wikimedia commons, and Yahoo Images. )

Jeanne will be giving away a signed copy of Dead Run and a German Shepard ornament!  Cassondra will give away a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card to the same winner!

 

A Few of My Favorite Things….

photoWell, another year older! Wow, 2015 just flew by.  So I got to thinking about what have been my favorite things this year.  Lots of fun stuff this summer – swimming, baseball, a little travel.  Gorgeous fall leaves.  Winter’s coming on so I’m even happier, because as you all know I adore Winter and cold weather.

It’s time for sweaters and scarves and the best stuff ever, in my opinion – SNOW!  And FOOTBALL!  And sweatshirts.  Fuzzy sweaters.  Snow Creme.  Sledding.  Yay!!!

Can you tell that I love the Winter?

And the holidays are here.  Hanukkah started on Sunday.  Yule and Kwanzaa are coming and Christmas too.  I already have lonnnng Christmas lists from my sons.  I’m trying to drag a Christmas list out of my husband.  Me?  I’ve got one too.  Bwahahah.  IMG_3649

It’s always weird to have a birthday in December, though.  It gets all mixed up with the Holidays and holiday parties and the bruhahah of celebrations that have nothing to do with birthdays.  Some people with December birthdays have a “half-birthday” in a summer month, just so it can be about them.  Grins.  I’ve never done that, but it does have some merit.

My boys brought me cards and prezzies in bed this morning before they left for school.  I got books – YES! – from the Hubs and my Sister.  These aren’t just any books, either.  These are RESEARCH books.  Ahhhhhhh!!  The delicious “rabbit hole” of research!  This is Genealogy IMG_3648research.  The never-ending story of family going back into the dimly lit corridors of history.  Sweeeeet!!  It’s a lure I can hardly resist.  And I have to say that the New England Genealogical and Historical Society has the BEST research libraries and book selections evah!!

Then there’s my brother and his lady-love who showered me with absolutely fantastic Carolina Panthers gear.  I’m SO loving that my Beloved Panthers are 12-0!  WOOHOOO!!!  Cam Newton for MVP!!  WOOT!!  (I know PJ Audensmore will be shouting that with me.  Ha!  And probably Banditas Nancy and Caren too, my NC gal-pals.  Go Panthers!  #KeepPounding is their hastag on Twitter, so go on and celebrate that, ladies and gents because I’m thinkin’ you’ll be seeing a LOT of it for the next month or so!

What do you think of my seriously bling-ed out hat?  Pretty cool, right?  And the scarves are just my thing!

I want to go ahead, too, and thank all of you who’ve already lit up my FB pages with birthday wishes!  Y’all rock!!

It surely does make a woman feel special to have people remember a birthday.  It really does.  000syz26

Now for the Christmas decorating.  I like to wait until today to do it.  It kinda makes the birthday festive to decorate the house, so I add that to my birthday repertoire.  We’re going to go tonight and get a tree, yay!  (After my boys take me to dinner…)

So how’s your holiday going?  Are you getting prepared and geared up for the 12 Bandita Days of Christmas????  That starts on the 14th!!  WOOHOO!!

Have you gotten a tree yet?  Or are you about to light the third light on the Menorah?

What are you hoping to get for the holidays?  A new XBox for that game system you secretly want to play? Grins.  World of Warcraft, anyone?  Or a new book by a favorite author?How are you going to fill that new Kindle?

If you have a December birthday, do you do a half-birthday in the summer?

Does your birthday get lost, if you’ve got one at a major holiday, like Christmas or Thanksgiving or Fourth of July?  Or does your family work to make it special?

PS – I threw in the gratuitous beefcake picture just because…well, just because.  Slurp!

 

 

Rivalry Football and Looking Forward to Thanksgiving…

SNew-turkeyso y’all know that I love Football, right?  SERIOUSLY love football.  I won the chance to kick a field goal at halftime at an NFL football game, and was one of the only women willing to do it.  When they called me, they were hesitant…did I want to do it?  Attempt a field goal ON the field?

I had three words for them:  I’m SO THERE.  (I didn’t win the car, but I got some great Carolina Panther gear and had a BLAST! And I made it from 25 yards, just couldn’t make it from 35)

That was a Carolina Panthers game a few years ago.  Last time they were playing so well, in fact.  Grins.  Did you know they were STILL UNDEFEATED???  Yep.  Shouting.  I know.  I’ll try to tone it down, buy I’m passionate about my football.

Now, that’s pro ball.  NFL.  The Big Show.

But I have to confess that local, high school football is among the best entertainment around.  My Eldest goes to a Catholic High School in Washington, DC.  Now, we’re not Catholic and he was recruited to go there for baseball, not football.  That notwithstanding, it’s fall and football season, so of course, being a teenager, he usually wants to hang out with his pals at the football games.635787711457884668-rain

Tonight (Saturday) was the enormous Rivalry Game between St. Johns College High School (SJC) and Gonzaga College High School.  Both were aiming for the WCAC championship game.  We (SJC) had a chance to get there, but we had to beat…you guessed it…arch-rivals, Gonzaga.

I must say that field conditions were NOT great today.  It rained yesterday.  It rained this morning.  It rained as I drove over to Paint Branch High School and their lovely new turf-field stadium in Maryland.  It wasn’t quite as bad as that picture to the left, from Yahoo Images, but first thing Saturday morning it would have been that way.

StadiumStJohnsI was helping to set up the School Store.  You see, this rivalry game draws so many people, from 100+ years of tradition in sports, that alumni from all over the country on both sides of the game, young and old, come to THIS game.  This rivalry game.  So both schools bring their “store” to the game.  They have sweatshirts, t-shirts, blankets (much beloved this cold November day!), jackets, hats, you name it.

This year’s game was particularly well attended.  Why? Well, last night was the Cadet Corps Centennial – 100 years of JROTC – and SJC is a HUGE JROTC school.  So there were a lot of alumni and donors and supporters in town anyway.  That meant an even BIGGER crowd for the big game.  This game is so big that we play in neutral territory – Maryland – at a field that can actually hold all of our parents, students and guests because neither of OUR schools have big enough stadiums.

Now, we have a sizable field as you can see by that pic on the left.  And it too, is turf.  BUT, parking is a nightmare because the school’s got a construction project going.  There’s also that little problem of not stjohns-copyhaving opposing team bleachers.  That’s usually not a problem unless it’s THIS game.  The Rivalry Game.  These two sides definitely need to be separated. There are so many stories of the pranks…omgosh.  I heard some tonight.  Evidently, one year, many years ago, thankfully, the Gonzaga pranksters bought hundreds of white mice, painted them purple, and turned them loose in the SJC Cafeteria.  Major health code violation, not to mention a hell of a problem catching that many whit…Purple mice.  Yikes!  Also, evidently one unnamed team – neither one of ours, according to the tale teller – painted their bright, bright logo on the opposing team’s brand new turf field.  On a regular field, no big deal because the grass grows out.  A turf field doesn’t.  That cost the school many thousands of dollars for a patch.  OUCH!  Not such an innocent prank!

This year, the prank by the SJC’ers was pretty innocuous, but darn funny, if you ask me.  Some wiseacre managed to steal the Gonzaga team flag.  You know, the one that someone runs on the field with prior to the players taking the field?  So, at the beginning of the game as the players from Gonzaga came on, sans flag, the chant went up from the SJC students: “WHERE’S YOUR FLAG?  WHERE’S YOUR FLAG?”  There was much milling about and dismay on the Gonzaga side (sorry, folks, but there was!)  Then from somewhere…who knows where?…the flag American-football-on-grassappeared on the SJC side of the field and was waved about to much laughter.

Security retrieved it and returned it, but it was fun.

(Yes, that IS a horse riding on with the SJC Team.  They are the Cadets.  Like I said, LONG JROTC tradition, and the Cadet on the horse leads the way…but not today.  Too wet, expensive turf field…yeah.  No horse)

I didn’t go to a school where there was this kind of tradition, either for high school or college.  Where I went to college, football was popular, but there were no big rivalries, no deep abiding passions for or against anyone we played.  I recognize now, going to these kind of games, just what I missed.  There was a lot of good-natured ribbing on both sides, and, as I said, some mild pranks, but mostly it was good fun and major giggles were had by all.  They even do something called the Fifth Quarter – an after party for parents and students of both schools – after the game.  Thanksgiving-Day-Football

Eldest and I didn’t go to this party last year, but we did this year.  At first, I felt a bit like the dorky-tag-a-long parent with the popular kid.  I didn’t know anyone, and even as an extrovert, I was feeling a bit lost.

Then, in a saving grace moment, I saw someone from my other “Tribe” of people.  A woman in an SJC sweatshirt had her enormous Labrador with her.  Yay!  Someone to talk to.  If it involves football or a dog, I can talk to anyone if I can just find a place to start.  So, I struck up a conversation with her about the dog.  Turns out Mr. Enormous Dog is a Lab/German Shepherd cross.  He must have weighed in at 135 lbs, at least.  He was my ice breaker.  Grins.  From that, I met other people, talked, laughed and enjoyed a nice post-game party.  Oh, and it turns out that Ms. Labrador Owner’s daughter and my son, both sophomores, know one another.  Hmmmm.  Small world. (Actually, small school…)

thNow, on to the next game.  I get to look forward to Thanksgiving and even MORE football.  I will be up early cooking, with my wonderful new flat screen TV in the kitchen.  I made the DH buy it so I could watch football (and, yes, baseball) while I cook.   I’m SO looking forward to it.  I think there are great college rivalries to be had that day, and now, I know a little bit about how fun and exciting those games are.  Even if there aren’t rivalry games, there will definitely be great football, great food and great fellowship.  What more could a gal want?

What about you, Bandits and Buddies?  I know football is beloved to some of you!  But if not football, what’s your sport?CapitolDangerfinalrevised

Does your high school, or college/university have a rivalry like this?  Ever go to the big rivalry games?

I know that rugby and cricket are more popular in other parts of the world, are there rivalries there?  Who’s team do you root for?  

(Did anyone else see the All Blacks win the 2015 Rugby World Championship?  OMGosh what a great game!!)

If you’re in the US, are you looking forward to Thanksgiving for the food, the football, or both?

Do you have a “Tribe”?  Baseball fans, football fans, dog-lovers, readers, writers – those are my main tribes.  What’s yours?

I hope that November’s a great month for you all!  I’m planning to get another book in before the end of the year.  DEADLY DELIVERY, my Thanksgiving story is available now too.  But in the meantime, look for a special price on CAPITOL DANGER starting tomorrow!!

(Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Yahoo Free Images, and the author.  No copyright infringement intended and any image will be taken down upon request)

All Hallows, Samhain, and the Joys of Trick or Treat!

Hey everyo06burning-choir-1ne!  Its my favorite time of the year again!  WOOHOOO!!!  Love me some HALLOWEEN!  Now, most of you know this about me and have been enduring my Halloween posts for the last 8 years.  Ha!  This year will be no exception.  Everything orange and black for me, ladies!  Its just delicious, you know!

Did you know they made Halloween Crispie M&Ms this year?  OMGOSH!  Fabulous.

Just one more thing to make me love Fall.

My sons and I will carve the last of the pumpkins tomorrow, yay!  The house has been decorated for a few weeks now, which has lurchbeen huge fun.  My youngest son and I love to do the decorating.

The front yard is lit in orange, green and purple.  Lots of tombstones.  Lots of skeletons.  Just lovely.

Alas, however, Eldest Son is planning to NOT go trick or treating this year.  Sigh.  Given that he’s 6’3″ (but only 15), it’s probably for the best.  Most people would see him as an adult-ish type of person going trick-or-treating with the little ones.  I haven’t yet suggested that he go as Lurch, but the thought crossed my mind when he topped 6′ this early.  (Photo of the fab Ted Cassidy as Lurch is from Wikimedia Commons)

But for Oh no, he liveshim to not go hunting candy?  It’s the passing of an era in our household.  Double sigh.  Only one trick-or-treater left.

Youngest son, however, is still a child after my own heart.  He’s going out as the Grim Reaper.  Bwahahahahah!!!

Now, don’t think Eldest Son has left the Halloween fun behind.  Oh, no.  He’s planning to put on a Batman suit and cape and scare the bejezus out of the whole neighborhood.  Snork!

Yes, yes, I DID raise them right.  (Me and Morticia….just raising the boys right! Photo from Pinterest, no copyright infringement intended)

gomez and morticiaBut this is a Romance Blog.  All about love and devotion.  Nick and Nora.  Eve and Roarke.  Grace and Sheene.  Ben and Kate.  Val and Griff.

Gomez and Morticia.  Wednesday thanksgiving

Seriously.

What devotion!  What intertwined souls!  What weird and wonderful perfection!

There’s nothing like the Addams family for fanatical devotion, right?  The dancing, the roses.  The quips, the banter.  The smokin’ hot glances.  Even Fester has the hotness in the second movie – and wasn’t Debbie (Joan Cusack) perfect in the movie?  Bwahahahah!!  And then, young love, Wednesday and her beau…SNORK!!

iconosquareNothing in moviedom compares to the moment when Wednesday takes over the Thanksgiving play at camp.  OMGosh.  Who DIDN’T want to scalp that girl?  Hahahah!!

Oh, and the line from the first movie with the Girl Scout Cookies.  That….oh, yes.  That.  Anyone but me remember it?

You know, I never dreamed I’d grow up to marry and Adams, but when I was a little girl, I SO wanted to be Morticia.  I mean, c’mon!  She’s strong, capable, brilliant and mysterious.  Who doesn’t want to be that?  And then there’s the killer bod, and the equally mysterious smile.  And Gomez is ALL about her.  She rules his heart, the roost, the bat, the belfry – hell, the whole damn spooky, fabulous house is totally focused on Morticia.  The eerie, amazing centerpiece of it all.

What’s not to love about THAT? (Photo from Iconosquare)Do it again Gomez

And I adored spooky, mysterious stuff.  That was my stock in trade as a young girl and teen.  Alas, I’m blonde.  No one took me seriously as a Morticia-spook-a-like until MUCH later in life.  And only after I started having the Annual Halloween Bash.  Yes, that DOES pre-date my Mr. Adams.  However, as a mark of his true devotion, my darling DH jumped right in with the festivities, and helps me start planning the event pretty much as soon as the last one ends.  Grins.

This year’s event was sidelined by family events – a death in the family of my co-host and fellow Halloween fanatic BFF, and an illness in my family – but never fear, we’ll be back in FULL form next year.  In the meantime I’ll be working on my eyebrow arching exercises, my sultry dark looks and my killer bod.  Ha!  (“Do it again” pic from Pinterest – no copyright infringement intended)

AfteTattoo boyr all, I am blessed to have a love like Gomez and Morticia.  My DH knows just how weird I am, and although he frequently teases me about having made the children weird, he’s right there with me in that.  Snork!  So, he knows my weird and loves me anyway.  Isn’t that the best thing ever?  So, what we want, what we write, what we read and enjoy, is really all there in the Addams family.

Love.  Devotion.  Weirdness.  Special inside jokes.  Odd relatives.  Odd employees.  All the things you need to make a perfect life….oh, and an even better HALLOWEEN!

Happy Samhain, Blessed All Hallows and a candy-fun-and-spook filled HALLOWEEN to you all!!

 

What about you, Bandits and Buddies?  Do you have a love like Gomez and Morticia?

Did you ever see the movies?

What about the TV show, did you watch and like that?  

What about the Munsters?  Lily and Fred rocked.  

What would you dress up as this year, for Halloween?  I’m sure I’ll see a lot of Elsa and Anna’s, and a ton of Star Wars characters.  

Batman, the Grim Reaper, Gomez and I will be happily handing out candy, what about you?  

I know our continental and Aus neighbors don’t do Trick-or-treat, but is there another holiday where you are, where people dress up?

 

 

 

The de Wolfe Pack Invades!!

lone-wolfe-kw-500WELCOME!!  Come one, come all to the Wolfe’s Lair, home of the legendary de Wolfe family.  Men who’ll make your heart beat a little faster, women with grit and determination despite their circumstances, and heat and action galore!

This is the world of the de Wolfe men and women, created by Kathryn LeVeque, and expanded upon by fifteen different authors who’ve had a blast playing in Kathryn’s rich, imaginative world.

When our frequent Bandit guest Barbara Devlin told me about this intriguing de Wolfe Pack Kindle Worlds project, I was thrilled for her to be going back to writing in the medieval period.Arucard-Kindle

For those of you who are fans or have found Barb through the Bandit Blog, she’s got some FAB new books since the last time she was with us!  Her amazing prequels to her Brethren of the Coast series, starts with ARUCARD, (which is one of the best reads of the year).  These books are all set in medieval times, as the Templar knights flee France and persecution.  I LOVED Arucard’s story and am eagerly awaiting the next in The Brethren’s Origin Novels!!

And now… DRUM ROLL PLEASE….. this is the official cover reveal for the SECOND book in the origins series:

Demetrius-smDEMETRIUS!!

(OMGosh, I loved Arucard, but gotta say y’all are going to totally ADORE this story!!!!!)

And if you’re dying for more Brethren of the Coast, you’ll only have to wait another couple of weeks for LOVE WITH AN IMPROPER STRANGER (November 16)

So, from all that exciting news, and great new stories coming down the pike, I was even more excited when Barb told me about the de Wolfe project.  I love how Barb’s author “voice” suits the medieval, I was delighted to find out about LONE WOLFE.

Here’s the blurb for this exciting tale….

LONE WOLFE by Barbara Devlin (A de Wolfe Pack Kindle Worlds novella)LoveWithanImproperStrangerfinal

It is the tempestuous time of the Wars of the Roses and, as the Lancasters and the Yorks battle for the Crown, Lady Desiderata de Mandeviel is
caught in the games men play in their lust for power and privilege.  Contracted to wed from birth, she welcomes a union with the love of her life, the greatest lancer in England, Titus Saint-Germain.  When her father delivers news of her betrothed’s untimely demise, and demands she marry another, Desi must choose between her heart’s desire and family loyalty.  Will Desi trust her instincts or yield to paternal authority?

Harboring a secret, the truth of his parentage, imparted by his mother on her deathbed, Titus Saint-Germain finds himself trapped between two warring factions with no escape.  A loyal Yorkist, the warrior knight serves with distinction and valor, until his own men, in the heat of battle, betray him.  It is a scene eerily similar to the one that claimed the life of his father, the great Titus de Wolfe, at Towton, with a singular exception.  Help arrives in the form of an unlikely ally—an uncle unaware of his brother’s progeny.  Will Titus resist fate and deny his destiny, or will the Lone Wolfe, at long last, journey home to the Lair

What’s more, Barb is giving away a Kindle Fire and 3 copies of LONE WOLFE – we’ll chose from among our commenters and winners will be posted on Barb Devlin’s Facebook Page.  Grins.

As I said, I think it’s totally cool that all these wonderful authors came together to play in Kathryn’s beloved world.  Here are a few of the other authors who are playing in the de Wolfe world….

BRETONWOLFE BRETON WOLFE by Victoria Vane

She swore to defy him to her dying breath… But passion blurs the line between love and hate…
The bluest blood and the hardest heart… at least when it comes to marriage… The daughter of a duke and granddaughter of a king, Adele of Vannes was bartered at birth in a marriage treaty for the sole purpose of producing a royal heir. When her philandering husband is slain by Norse marauders, she is coerced to wed again in order to protect her home and her people. Adele knows that her beloved Brittany needs a strong hand to survive, but how can she ever reconcile her bitterness and hatred with the desire she feels for her mortal enemy?
She’s the jewel he seeks for his Breton crown…A Barbarian bent on building a dynasty, Valdrik Vargr, ‘the Norse Wolf,’ is renowned for both his bravery in battle and shrewdness in statecraft. Setting his sights on claiming the kingdom of Brittany, he knows that siring sons from royal blood would solidify his hold, but the woman he would claim as his queen refuses to have him. Will he fuel her hatred by taking her to his bed, or will the man who strikes terror in the hearts of men be reduced to wooing his bride?

Victoria will be giving away ……  Her winners will be posted on her website, and here on Romance Bandits!

LanaWilliams_TrustingTheWolfe_200px

TRUSTING THE WOLFE  by Lana Williams

Stabbed and left for dead in one of London’s most dangerous neighborhoods, Marcus de Wolfe is astounded when a woman resembling the angel from the famous family legend saves him. Once recovered, he shoves aside his angel’s captivating image and focuses on his goal of stopping whoever is smuggling cargo on his ships.

Left penniless by her wastrel father, seamstress Tessa Maycroft doesn’t trust men, especially not the handsome earl with the golden eyes she saved. To keep others from facing the fate she barely escaped, she offers seamstress apprenticeships for impoverished girls, giving them a chance for a better life.

But when Marcus appears in her shop and insists there’s a terrible connection between her girls and his ships, she agrees to help him once more. He tempts her to believe there might be more to life than she’s dared to hope.

Marcus soon realizes Tessa is anything but a simple seamstress. His angel shows him he’s not as dead inside as he believed. Can the passion they find in each other’s arms unite these lonely souls or will the plot they uncover threaten not only their new-found love but their lives?

Lana will be giving away 2 ebook copies (Kindle only, obviously) of Trusting The Wolfe, the novella featured and part of the world. 

 

LovesLegacynewcover

LOVES LEGACY by Amanda Mariel

Can love’s legacy bring two war weary souls together?

Drawn by a flicker of light coming from the ruins of Babylon Castle, Rebecca Sumerfield is driven to investigate. The last thing she expects to find is the castle’s owner, a Captain in the British Army. Still devastated from her brother’s death in battle, she despises all things military.

Having survived Waterloo, Captain Camden Le Bec isn’t in the market for romance. He stops at Babylon Castle, the perfect place to gather his thoughts, only for the spirited Rebecca to storm his castle and demand he leave at once. Her fearless defiance and selfless heart awaken a desire Camden has never known. He’s determined to possess her, but Rebecca refuses to risk another broken heart.CatherineKean_AKnightsDesire down sized

Will they find solace in each other’s arms, or has war pushed them both beyond any hope?

 

 

A KNIGHT’S DESIRE by Catherine Kean

Lady Rosetta Montgomery, a descendant of the fierce Norman de Wolfe warriors who subdued England alongside William the Conqueror, is on her way to her wedding when she’s kidnapped by a rider dressed all in black. She discovers her abductor is Lord Ashton Blakeley, her first and only true love, who left her to go on Crusade. Ash is a changed man now, with disfiguring scars and agonizing secrets. As rumors of lost Anglo-Saxon gold and treachery unfold, and Rosetta grows to understand the man Ash has become, will she help him fight for their love, or will the danger surrounding the hidden riches cost them all that they treasure?

Catherine will be giving away a Kindle copy of her Knight’s Series boxed set (the first four novels in her series) plus a Kindle copy of Dance of Desire – her winners will be posted here and on her Facebook page!

Wolfe500WOLFE OF THE WEST by Elizabeth Rose

Billy de Wolfe is a loner and bounty hunter who has no ties to anyone. But when his

ancestor, a medieval knight named Sir William de Wolfe, appears as a ghost to set him straight and remind him of the importance of family – his life takes a twist. He finds himself returning to his family’s ranch, having to face not only his siblings but his best friend from childhood – the woman he’s loved and lost – Lexi Marquardt. Can a ghost help a lost soul realize his mistakes of the past before he loses his family and the woman he loves forever? And can a lone wolf learn that the De Wolfe Pack always runs together?

Elizabeth will be giving away an ebook copy of Sapphire – Book 2 of her Daughters of the Dagger Series! Her winner will be posted here and on her Facebook Page 

So, this is just a small sampling of the fab fifteen who joined Kathryn in her wonderful de Wolfe World.  :>  I hope you’ll check them ALL out!

 

Now…Banditas and Bandita Buddies, all these books are set in different time frames.  Even though they all involve the fabulous de WolfedeWolfe family, some are westerns, some are medieval, some are Regency.

What time period would YOU want to live in?

If you lived in the medieval period, and were a man, would you be a knight or a tradesman, or the king?

If you lived in the Western US, would you be a cowboy, a rancher, or a Lady Outlaw?

If you could try any profession, other than the one you’ve already done, what would you like to try doing?  (Me?  I’d like to be an orchestra conductor.)

Let’s Chat!!

 

Homecoming, Pumpkin Flavoring, Football Mums, and Fall!

Fall autumn road by quantico liveHey y’all!  It’s FALL!!!  WOOT!!  The temperatures may not be getting any cooler in DC (other than on the  rainy days), but it’s definitely Fall.  First of all, the kids are back in school.

That deserves a reverent pause and a chorus of Hallelujahs.  Grins.  Isn’t that a great Fall road shot? (courtesy of Quanticolive.com)

Second, its FOOTBALL SEASON!!  WOOHOOO!!!  Now, as you know, I love sports, especially baseball and football.  While my Atlanta Braves have NOT had a good season, my darling husband’s Chicago Cubs are really doing pretty well, especially for the Cubbies.  Grins.  So my household is kinda happy about that.

And hey, the Carolina Carolina panthers helmetPanthers are off to a great start in the NFL season and are living up to their Twitter hashtag of #KeepPounding.  Love me some Panther FOOTBALL!! (photo courtesy of PoughkeepsieJournal.com)

Everything has gone pumpkin spice-y and fallish in the stores.  Ice cream.  Coffee drinks.  Pie.  Even yogurt is all pumpkin-spice-nutmeg-cinnamon-y for fall.  I blame Starbucks for starting this nonsense.  They seriously started a trend – more like an avalanche – when it comes to fall flavorings. chobani_pumpkin-spice-yogurt Not that I totally object, but when it’s pumpkin-flavored Greek yogurt…we may have gone a bit too far.

And then, there’s homecoming.  When I was in high school, the boys asked the girls to go to homecoming, bought them a “football mum” – big yellow puffball mums with a little gold football wired into the flower – and off they went to the game, and then to the homecoming dance.  I went all four years in high school because I was dating a tight end from the football team.  (Mike Smardz, if you’re out there, thanks for the memories!  And no, that ISN’T me, but that’s the kind of simple mum I remember)jeannehomecomingoldphotoladywithmum

So, my Eldest went to Homecoming this year – he went to the game his freshman year, last year, but not the dance.  This year, he announced he was going to the dance.

“Are you taking a date?” I asked.

“Nah, a bunch of us are going as a group.”

This was NOT what we did.  We had dates.  If we didn’t have a date, we didn’t go.  My son and his friends didn’t want the pressure of asking a date, and some of the girls wanted to be sure they could dance with all their guy-friends without pissing off a date, so they went solo too.  A big ‘ol pack of sophomores jeannefootballoneofakindwreathsbymichelleand juniors hangin’ out at the dance together, dancing when they felt like it, hanging out when they didn’t, just having a good time.

But no football mums.

I looked this up online, googling “Football mums” only to come up with things like this concoction on the left.  This is supposed to pass for a flower, I guess.  Some of the ones I saw were so gaudy I had to look away.  Snork!  Long gone are the simple, if fluffy, mums.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be caught dead with one of these concoctions, and I wouldn’t let my son buy something this awful for a girl he liked.  Its like a ribbon from a really out-there horse or dog show and, no offense to Michelle, whoever she may be, but it’s WAAAAY over the top! (Photo from Wikimedia commons)

Eeek!

Anyway.  So, back to Eldest Son.  Evidently, lot of the upperclassmen took this homecoming dance very Gotham seriously and it was very much a Date-Night-Event where the gals got very dressed up and the guys wore very nice suits.  Eldest Son dressed nicely – nice pants, dress shirt, tie – but just didn’t take it that seriously.  No steady girlfriend, so I guess he didn’t feel the pressure to dress to REALLY impress.  Grins.  But he does take after me in that he spent the evening dancing and having a great time.  They had a theme – A Night in Gotham – which was right up Eldest Son’s alley because he really likes Batman in the movies, the New 52 Comics, and in the new series, Gotham.

So, on one hand, I was really pleased that the boy had a great time with no pressure to be uber-presentable for a date, and no anxiety about whether the girl he asked would say yes or no, or whatever.  On the other hand, I was nostalgic for football mums and little football charms.

All that said, I’m overwhelmingly happy because it’s FALL.  I love fall.  I love pumpkin spice anything.  I love cooking and making great, filling fall favorites without making my kitchen so unbearably hot I can’t breathe.  I love the regular mums you put out for fall, as well as the football mums, and gourds and pumpkins and the Pot Pieleaves turning gorgeous colors.  I love high school football, professional ball, and the Boys of October.

I love Fall.

What about you, Bandits and Buddies?

Do you like Pumpkin Spice Lattes?  Do you wait for them to be available?

What about pumpkin pie and pumpkin ice cream?

Do you remember football mums – the non-gaudy kind?

Did you have a date for Homecoming, or go to the dance in a pack of friends?

Which NFL team – or Rugby or Footie – team do you root for?Dini Cup

If you live in a non-football country where it’s heading into Spring about now, was there a homecoming kind of thing at your high school?

Have you watched Gotham, the TV show?  What did you think?

Does your Barrista at Starbucks ever get your name right?  This was what I got when I said my name was Jeannie….

Let’s talk Fall!!

WOOT! Back to School and Schedules!

smileysun2It’s still hot in DC.  I know it’s September, but it’s still “summer weather” here.  I know our Aussie pals are wishing we’d send it their way.  They’ve had a long soggy winter down under.  They could use some of this unrelenting sunshine.  Grins.

The best news though is that it’s time for our kids, here in the States, to go back to school.  Hallelujah!!!Attic blog 2 011

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy summer.  Barbeques.  Beach vacations.  Pool time.  And in our case, lots, and lots, and LOTS of baseball.  My son, as you can see, has now topped me by a considerable amount.

(In that picture on the left, he’s measuring himself against a picture of one of the Washington Nationals’ players, Max Scherzer, who’s 6’3″ – eek!  Eldest Son is only 15!)

Cooper in front of Max SherzerWe also got some time at a water park, wherein I got a new pair of Wolf Ears.  The pic down at the very bottom is of me in said Wolf Ears.  It’s from Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA, which I highly recommed for everyone, regardless of whether you have kids.  There is something so exhilarating about slinging down a tornadic water ride….well, at least there is for me.  Ha!

All that said, however, I haven’t gotten near as much writing done as I wanted and needed to do this summer.  I had goals, people.  Page goals, word goals, please-just-get-some-time-to-write goals.

Ah, but no joy here in Mudville, as the old story goes, because my time in the chair with my hands on the writing keyboard were not many.

But WAIT!!!!  It’s September!  Wonderful wonderful September!   Schooooooool started last week.  YEEEEEHA!!!  I have a SCHEDULE again!

*Cue the happy chorus of klited singing Scotsmen!!*  What, you didn’t know about the Singing Scotsmen?  Well, heck, y’all, it’s my celebration, right? So sing on, Kilties, sing on!securedownload3-2-1

Anyway, I keep a Daybook – a big fat paper calendar.  It sits on my desk.  The binder is from what used to be called a “DayTimer”system.  Good leather, it’s lasted for years.  But, alas, that company is no more.  They were swallowed up by the Franklin-Covey planner people.

That’s okay, they make good stuff too.  And I like Covey’s idea of putting the big stuff in first, then letting the other mess fill in around it, if it has to.

calendar-deAs I turned the pages of the calendar to SEPTEMBER, I breathed a great sigh of relief.  I know how and when I can arrange my writing time, because my boys are in school.  Again, I say, Sing HALLELUJAH!!!

I know, I know, most of you are probably thinking that I’m a total Luddite and asking yourselves WHY I would keep a paper calendar rather than keeping everything online?  Online is so easy! And with several programs, everyone in the family can access it and add to it.  Then all you have to do is check it and see where everyone is supposed to be, right?

Uh-huh, yep, it is.  Except when you can’t get a cell signal on your phone and you need to schedule a doctor or hair appointment.  Or you can’t get into the program because their server is down.  Or they got hacked.  Or you did.  Or you’re so tired and the print is so tiny, you just give up and end up triple booking yourself.

*sigh*  I adore the CONCEPT of those online calendar systems, I really do.  But each one of those things has happened to me when I tried to switch to a paperless, computer driven calendar.  The fallout for missed meetings and appointments – not to mention the cost when they charge you for missing at the doctor’s! – sent me right back to the good old-fashioned calendar on my desk.

Nats ParkFrankly, if it gets into the book, it gets done.  If it doesn’t, well, it doesn’t.

Simple.

My latest insert for the guts of the thing is a mish-mosh of different company’s products.  I have some things from the Franklin-Covey system.  The heart of it though is from a company called PlannerPads.com  I like their layout and it has a ton of places for planning and making sure my to-do-list is accessible.  I’ve also got some wonderful pages from a cool website called The Scattered Squirrel.  A friend turned me onto this website because it has meal planners.  It has calendar planning pages too, but I wanted it for meal planning.  I’m actually TRYING to be more organized with the whole food thing so that I can get more writing time.

It’s ALLLLLLL about the writing time, you know?

(And playoff baseball, too, of course.  That picture on the left is Nationals Stadium in DC.  Off in the blue haze is the Washington Monument.  Isn’t that cool?) DeadReconingfinal

And now that Fall is upon us, and planning for the Annual A(d)dams Family Halloween Party has begun in earnest, I need all the time I can get.  Thankfully, with school back in session, I can plan great swaths of time in my seat working on tremendously exciting stuff that I’m going to share with YOU, my darling Bandits and Bandit Buddies.  DEAD RECKONING, the second in the Faithful Defenders series is almost done. DEAD WRONG, the third book, is drafted.  I’ve begun the second SLIP TRAVELER novel, set in Savannah, GA.  Planning and plotting are underway for things for next
year.  Woohoo!  I feel the energy of Fall coming to my aid, I’m ready to rock and write and roll!

So what about you, friends?  Are you ready for Fall?  (Or in the case of our friends in Oz and other down-under places, are you ready for Spring and Summer?)

Do you keep a calendar?  Do you live by it, or is it just an afterthought?

Do you keep it on your computer/phone, or paper?

If you’reJeanne with wolf ears working in the corporate world, does your company keep a universal calendar on their server?  Something you each have to put your meetings on, and time in and out of the office?

I joyfully finished Nalini Singh’s latest – Shards of Hope – at the last day of the pool being open.  Now I have to wait for 2016 for the 15th Psy-Changling novel.  Yikes!  

What are you looking forward to this fall?  Which Author’s books are coming out that you’re just dying to read?

Happy Fall, y’all!!

It’s A Fine Day for Capitol Danger!

Hello everyone! First of all, thank you for being here! The Romance Bandits blog got hacked and we’ve had no way to let you know and no way to answer comments or post blogs.(Jeanne actually wrote this post but couldn’t get in to put it up, so Nancy did that for her.)You may get lighter responses today because of that, but nevertheless, please know that we’re here and reading!

CapitolDangerfinalrevisedAs you may have seen from the newsletter, Banditas Nancy Northcott, Suz Ferrell and our fabulous frequent guess, J.D. Tyler got together for a very cool anthology!

The world is changing and new things are happening – the idea of a woman president is on our doorstep, right? So we thought that we’d cook up some danger for that historic figure before she even is a twinkle in the eye of the voters. Grins.

 

Ground floo floor plan Capitol Danger

We started with “What if…” my two favorite words. What if a woman was elected president and a whooooole group of people didn’t like it? We all have met those Neanderthals who think women should stay “in their place,” right? So, what if those people were organized?

They would be the Red Mantle. A home grown terrorist organization who doesn’t want women in power. Oh, boy….(so to speak!)

So what if they wanted to cause the most havoc, the most disruption possible? What would be more havoc-inducing than to take over an inaugural ball?

Voila! Capitol Danger!

I wrote the prologue, introducing both the plot and the plotters, the Red Mantle. Suz wrote the opening of the ball and the first signs of trouble. Then it switched back to me for the next phase, then to Nancy, then to J.D. who also wrote the wrap-up. So here’s the blurb:

Capitol Danger

A romantic suspense anthology like no other! Four stories, one event and four dangerous missions on the same night.

It’s Inauguration Night. Glamorous balls throughout the nation’s capital celebrate a landmark event. The town and nation are in the mood to celebrate. But not everyone is so pleased.

A home-grown sect known as the Red Mantle plan to make it an event to remember for their reasons. As their assault succeeds it will be up to those attending the ball to step up and face the fanatics, or die trying.

UNMASKED: An Edgars Family Novella by Suzanne Ferrell

Abigail Whitson and Luke Edgars are working an undercover operation during the inaugural ball in an attempt to discover who has stolen land to air missiles before they can be sold to a broker—their target for the night. When the playboy arms dealer arrives at the ball, his bodyguard turns out to be someone from Luke’s past.

That isn’t the only surprise of the night. When the ball is invaded by terrorists, Abby and Luke find themselves trying to extract the arms dealer from the fray to protect their mission, while they also risk their lives to protect innocents from the carnage.

DEATH UNDER GLASS: a Deadly Charms Novella by Jeanne Adams

Edward Millner and his girlfriend Retta Geminous, are celebrating a glittering inaugural. When Red Mantle terrorists take the ballroom, both bullets and glass start flying. Edward and Retta help the agents still standing retake the ballroom, but casualties are high. Can Edward face his demons and use his former Special Forces medical skills to save the night? Can Retta and Edward overcome their troubled hearts in the face of certain death?

DANGER’S EDGE: An Arachnid Files Novella by Nancy Northcott

When terrorists disrupt the inaugural ball, new Arachnid Agency operative Kelsey Mitchell tables her planned undercover operation and works to bring help into the hotel. Her only ally is Greg Reed, an FBI agent on medical leave after being shot during a robbery. Kelsey dreads making a novice mistake, and Greg is afraid he’s lost his edge.

Attraction flares between them though Kelsey knows the Feds disapprove of people who work for her freewheeling agency. Together, she and Greg must fight their demons and the terrorists to gather intel for the FBI and create a safe landing zone for a rescue force. Can they succeed against overwhelming odds, or will the battle cost one or both their lives—or their hearts?

LETHAL TARGET: An Armed & Deadly Novella by J.D. Tyler

FBI Special Agent Dalton McCoy is playing a deadly game, working undercover for Methan, leader of the extremist terrorist group, the Red Mantle. He’ll stop at nothing to keep Methan and his men from achieving their goal of bringing down key members of the government. When Dalton’s plans come to an unexpected head at the glittering inaugural ball, he doesn’t count on tenacious reporter Jolie Montfort placing herself in Methan’s line of fire as well. Now the agent must take out the terrorist leader and get them both to safety before it’s too late…

It was a blast! (And fun too, because we blew a lot of things up!)

Nemesis_finalWriting together like this was an amazing new adventure as well. Each of us used characters from our own works, although this is the first readers and fans will have seen of Nancy’s spies. You are SO going to love all the characters from the Arachnid Files, folks. Such fabulously sneaky people!

Meanwhile, she’s about to bring out the next mage book.

kidnapped-revamped-finalSuz’s Edgars are all family, by now, for most of us who read Romantic Suspense. I’m sure many of you Bandita Buddies will have read those Edgars men and their trials and tribulations.

DeadRunfinalMy characters are from forthcoming books. If you read Dead Run (or its original incarnation, Dark and Dangerous), one of the secondary characters of this story, Burke Chapman, is the hero of the forthcoming Dead Reckoning. That is part of the Faithful Defenders series. (Dead Wrong, the third book, will be out in late fall) And Edward, Retta and many of the other characters will reappear in my “yes, it’s finally coming out” Deadly Charms series, again, later this fall.

9780451466921_p0_v3_s118x184J.D.’s characters are from her fabulous new Armed and Deadly series. The first book of that series, One Last Kiss, will be out soon. If you’ve not read J.D.’s Alpha Pack series, you’re missing something hot, dark and gripping, so check that out if you haven’t already. Her latest Alpha Pack novel, Chase the Darkness is just now out!

So that’s the dangerous news from the Bandit Lair! So good to see all of you! Sven and the boys have been enjoying their much-needed and various vacations, but they’re back to serve your every whim! Champagne, morning, afternoon and evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Have some icicle and snowflake cookies, some capitol shaped cookies (watch out for the ones shaped like the Washington Monument…). There’s food and drink a-plenty, so let’s have some LAUNCH IN THE LAIR fun!!

Have you ever been to an inaugural or swearing in for a politician?

What about a big Gala? Don’t you just love black-tie-events?

If you COULD go, either for the first time, or again, would you want to?

Tell us what you’d wear and what hero or Hollywood star you’d take as your hunky date for the night!

It’s AUGUST! Coming Attractions….

Hey everyone!  How’s your summer going?? How can it possibly be AUGUST already???

I hope you’ll join me and Banditas Suz and Nancy as we have a LAUNCH in the LAIR on August 8!  We’ll be joined by the always awesome J.D. Tyler because the four of us collaborated on a really cool anthology.

In the meantime, the book is up on all the platforms, so if you’re interested, take a look!  We’ll see you on the 8th!

CapitolDangerfinalrevised

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