Posted by Anna Sugden Oct 26 2013, 1:18 am in Anna Sugden, quick five, zombies
Anna: (peers out from deep in the writing cave, blinking at the light) It’s me again? Already? What happened to September? What do you mean it’s almost Halloween? *unearthly shriek!*
Paolo: (rushes up) Don’t panic, Vrai Anna! I have supplies to help you through this.
Paolo holds up a tray laden with green-tinged mojitoa, a pumpkin-shaped bowl filled with a variety of coloured tortilla chips and mini-pumkin bowl brimming with sour-cream dip.
Anna: (drains one mojito, snatches tray and starts to retreat into the cave). Thanks, Paolo. See you on the 31st!
Paolo: Uhh … hold on. You have to write a post for the BB’s.
Anna: I do? *thinks* Oh yes. Hmm. Better get on that.
Paolo: (hands over cocktail napkin from lap-dancing club, covered with lipstick marks) The hockey hunks jotted down some ideas for your Quick Five on this. They thought it might help.
Anna: (holds napkin by corner and squints at it) All it says is Zombie Fun! … and a phone number for Luscious Lucy. *sighs* That must have been some road trip to Winnipeg.
Paolo: Can’t you work with Zombie Fun?
Anna: I’m sure I can. (bats eyelashes at Paolo) But I’ll need another round of mojitos!
Okay everyone, here is the Zombie Fun Quick Five.
1. What is your Zombie Name? Go to this Zombie Name Generator and find out what your Zombie Name is.
2. Borrowed this from a Facebook meme – The zombies are attacking. Quick grab the thing to your left to kill them. What did you kill the zombies with?
3. What is your Zombie Feature? Look at the picture at the top of the post and choose the number that corresponds to your birthday month.
4. What’s your favourite Zombie Snack? Look at the second picture and choose the number that corresponds to your birthday day.
5. Complete the sentence – I’ll be okay when the zombies attack, because …
Posted by Anna Sugden Oct 8 2013, 11:44 pm in A Perfect Distraction, Anna Sugden, Bandita Booty, quick five, reading fun
Apologies for the delay in posting the winner of the Quick Five – Reading Fun prize – been head down, in the deadline cave, trying to get my next book finished.
So, without further ado, here is the lucky winner of a signed copy of A Perfect Distraction and a special commemorative pack of Jane Austen stamps. Congratulations to …
Please send your snail mail details to anna at annasugden.com without the spaces, or use the website contact form.
Posted by Susan Sey Sep 29 2013, 12:43 am in Pizza, quick five, Susan Sey
Happy Sunday, everybody!
It’s been such a busy weekend chez Sey. We kicked it off with a random meeting on Friday night (what a weird time for a meeting!), then followed it up with an all-day dance competition on Saturday. Saturday evening we had dinner guests, so there was a frantic hour or two of house cleaning between the dancing & the dining. It’s almost midnight on Saturday as I write this blog, & I still have to plan a quick lesson for the Sunday school class I’m teaching in the morning.
(Did you know they let *me* teach Sunday school? They do! Believe me, I’m as astonished as you are.)
As you can imagine, jamming all this into one little weekend didn’t leave me a lot of prep time for our dinner guests. So I’ll admit it: I didn’t even try to produce something fancy or impressive. I just fell back on a Saturday night favorite–build your own pizza night.
I love build-your-own pizza night. It’s so much fun to watch everybody execute their vision, and believe me, when it comes to pizza, everybody has a vision. A vision which is only rarely shared by their spouse. So build your own pizza night is a fun way to kick off a dinner party.
It essentially comes down to a Pizza Quick Five:
1) Crust: Thick or thin?
2) Sauce: Red or non-traditional? (Think pesto, alfredo, bbq, etc.)
3) Toppings: Under the cheese or on top of it? (This is deeply contentious. I had no idea.)
4) Source: Restaurant? Take & bake? Home made?
5) Beverage of choice: Beer? Wine? Soda?
I think we can all agree that pizza is the perfect food. But what is the perfect pizza? Let’s hear your version!
All images courtesy of Free Digital Photos. Mouse over image for artist attribution.
Posted by Anna Sugden Sep 22 2013, 1:27 am in A Perfect Distraction, Anna Sugden, books, New Jersey Ice Cats, quick five, reading fun
Welcome to another Quick Five Sunday. Hope you’re all having a great weekend, wherever you are. I’m stuck in my deadline cave, writing the second book of my New Jersey Ice Cats series – working title, Rescuing Jenny. The hockey hunks are busy practising, because it’s not long until the hockey season starts! Paolo is on snacks and drinks duty, bringing me cups of hot tea or glasses of cold lemonade and nacho cheese tortilla chips with sour cream dip or hot, buttered popcorn for when I’m flagging. He also refills the bowl of treat-size Cadbury’s chocolate, as necessary.
For today’s fun, I thought I’d make things easy for you and do a Quick Five based around the book you’re currently reading. Now, I know you’re all busy reading A Perfect Distraction – although some of you, like Helen, have already finished! Sorry – I’m going to post answers from A Perfect Distraction, so you’ll have to pick another book.
Are you ready? Then let’s get to it:
1. Which novel, other than A Perfect Distraction, are you currently reading?
2. What is the opening line of the book?
3. What the hero and heroine’s names? (If you’re not reading a romance, give the name of the main character).
4. Turn to Chapter 9 and give us the sentence that starts on or about the 22nd line.
5. What’s next on your TBR pile?
So, my answers are:
1. RaeAnne Thayne’s Currant Creek Valley (from her Hope’s Crossing series – I’m reading all five, one after the other) and Lorraine Heath’s Passions of a Wicked Earl (from her London’s Greatest Lovers series – I’m reading all three, one after the other)
2. From A Perfect Distraction – “You didn’t tell me there would be paparazzi!”
3. Jake ‘Bad Boy’ Badoletti and Maggie Goodman
4. “Bad Boy has come home and he’s taking no prisoners,” the voice-over intoned as Jake’s picture faded to a video montage.
5. Lisa Gardner’s Touch and Go.
Since one of my prize packages from my recent blog tour wasn’t claimed, I’m offering it up to our loyal BBs instead. So, if you take part in the Quick Five fun today, you will be eligible to win a signed copy of A Perfect Distraction and a special commemorative pack of the Royal Mail’s Jane Austen stamps.
Posted by Susan Sey Aug 29 2013, 12:28 am in birthday, quick five, Susan Sey
It’s my birthday today & I have a confession:
It’s been a busy summer. I’ve gotten so little writing done, I can’t even confess the word count out loud. It’s too demoralizing. My house is falling down around my ears, & not just in term of cleanliness. Currently, we’re down to one working bathroom, & of the three sinks in the house, only one drains properly. I dropped $5,000 on car repairs this summer, a couple hundred on the washer, & another couple hundred just last week on replacement parts for the grill. And the check engine light on the van STILL comes on whenever it wants to.
When I was young (read: in my thirties) this stuff didn’t bother me. I was too busy with diapers & preschool & play dates. Anything I managed to get done on the side (house keeping, home repairs, writing the occasional novel) was above & beyond expectations.
But I’m in my forties now. In September, I’ll start my second year of both kids going to all-day school. This is the promised land for stay-at-home moms who continue to stay at home. We think longingly of these years & all the things we’re going to get done when we don’t have kids in every single minute of every day. We dream of all the things we’ll do, the places we’ll go, the successes we’ll have when we’re able to rub two thoughts together more than once or twice a week.
But I’m living in that uptopia now, & it’s not exactly how I envisioned it. I guess I just thought that I’d be farther ahead by now. Farther down the road to success, to accomplishment, to at least having a reliable van. Instead I have my in-laws staying with us for a week, & am mortified that I can’t offer them a shower that works properly, let alone a guest room with a door on it.
So, as you can see, I’ve been digging myself pretty darn deep into the pit of despair. And we can’t have that. It’s my birthday! So in honor of making it through this past year, I’m going to come up with five things I’m grateful for.
1) Health. We all got a miserable cold while camping in Yellowstone earlier this month & coughing my lungs out has given me a renewed appreciation for the excellent health I usually enjoy. I know a lot of people my age who suffer with chronic illness, injury & pain. I’ve been blessed with a sturdy little body & a tough constitution. I rarely get sick & when I do, it’s not for long. I’m a lucky duck & it’s good to remind myself of that every now & then.
2) Stability. Mr. Sey has been the sole bread-winner in this family since we had our babies. We knew that depending on one income was risky, but I wanted to stay home with my babies, & Mr. Sey wanted that, too. So we jumped. And in spite of the rocky economy, Mr. Sey has taken care of us. We don’t have fancy cars or a lot of functional plumbing, but we have a roof over our heads, food on the table & the luxury of never having to flip a coin to see whose career takes the hit when the kids get sick. It’s a blessing.
3) Love. This kind of goes along with stability, but when I decided to stay home, Mr. Sey & I made a bargain: He’d make the money, I’d raise the kids. We’d both parent, of course, but I’d take care of the kids & the house, & in return he would take care of us. And I’ve never for a single instant doubted his word. He said he’d take care of us, and he does. Every single day. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
4) Career. This is a funny one since I just got through telling you that I’m a happy stay-at-home mom, but I actually do have a career. I’m a writer. (Surprise!) I’ve published two books traditionally, two more by myself, & have another one coming along. So it’s not a huge career, but it’s a career, & it’s more than a lot of people have after they’ve been out of the traditional workforce for ten years. I call that a blessing, if not a miracle.
5) Cake. Because it’s my birthday & I love cake. With ice cream. A lot of ice cream. Okay, maybe ice cream with a side dish of cake. Maybe I’m just grateful for ice cream. I think I am. I’m deeply grateful for the existence of ice cream & the fact that my knees still allow thrice weekly runs that keep all the ice cream I eat off my butt. Or at least most of it.
So how about you? What are you particularly grateful for today?
Posted by Anna Sugden Jul 22 2013, 2:01 am in Anna Sugden, fancies, foibles, quick five
Greetings from my plane seat, high above the Atlantic! Although I’m writing this in my sunny office, before I leave, by the time you read this post, I’ll be flying back from what I know will be a wonderful, but exhausting conference in Atlanta. In fact, I may even be asleep – I can’t generally sleep on planes, but I’ll be so worn out, you never know.
As I’ll be travelling all day, I won’t be able to reply to your posts, but I know my fellow Banditas will keep the conversation going and I’ll be able to catch up when I get home … in-between doing the laundry, making it up to the sulky cats and writing my grocery list.
Anyway, on to the topic for today’s Quick Five. In preparation for conference, I’ve been polishing shoes, washing clothes and wishing I’d managed to lose that extra stone I swore I’d get rid of. I was hanging out the umpteenth load of washing when it occurred to me that I’ve developed a bit of a foible. I like to hang things up with pairs of matching pegs. I’m not sure how this started, other than we have special pegs which are supposed to not leave a crease, for shirts and blouses and delicates. I suspect what began as making sure I used the right ones for the right piece of clothing, turned into matching clothes pegs!
I mentioned this to a friend, who laughed and said she’d noticed a foible of hers recently. At some point she started putting her glasses and cups in the cupboard upside-down. We think that’s because growing up, she travelled a lot and learned to do that so the creepy crawlies wouldn’t get into them! A few years back, she had an ant invasion in her kitchen and that must have triggered the behaviour.
Another friend had an argument with her boyfriend, when he started living with her, because they put paired socks away differently. She folded the tops of the pair over, while he rolled one inside the other.
I’ve heard of people who alphabetise their food cupboards, arrange their wardrobes according to colour and their shoes according to heel height and water their plants in a certain order – clockwise, I believe!
Many of you know that another foible I have is how I eat sweets like Smarties or Dolly Mixtures or M&Ms or Skittles – I split the candies into piles of each colour, then take out the extra ones so that each pile has exactly the same number in it. I eat those first *g*. If I’m being good, I’ll then split the piles into two and save half for later. Of course, if the piles aren’t equal – I have to take away the extras and eat those!
And while we’re on the subject of numbers, I like even numbers – whether it’s mushrooms going into the spaghetti sauce or a handful of nuts for a snack. I also like things in a series or a set to match – nothing more frustrating than having one that doesn’t look the same!
Perhaps it’s a good thing I’m flying, so I won’t be able to hear you all laughing at my craziness!
Over to you – share your foibles and fancies!
1. Do you have any laundry or clothing foibles?
2. Do you like particular numbers of things – odd, even, round?
3. How is your wardrobe arranged, if at all?
4.Any other foibles or fancies you can share? Come on, let me know I’m not alone!
5. How do you eat your sweeties?
Posted by Anna Sugden Jun 22 2013, 1:38 am in Anna Sugden, Ely cathedral, flowers, quick five
Lovely hubby and I took a day off yesterday and headed to the nearby city of Ely. Now, when we say ‘city’, that is a royal conferment, rather than meaning Ely is a big, bustling metropolis. In fact, it is a quaint town with cute buildings and a gorgeous cathedral.
What does this have to do with flowers, you may ask? Well, it was the Ely Cathedral Flower Festival and the blurb had promised us that the wonderful medieval cathedral would be awash with wonderful flower arrangements.
And it was! We were amazed and impressed; every part of the cathedral was filled with displays, created by garden clubs and local floral arranging groups from through the Cambridgeshire and Suffolk counties.
Every tomb, windowsill, archway, chapel and altar had an arrangement. Even the heaters were decorated. They ran the gamut from modern to whimsical to traditional, with plants and flowers of many varieties.
There were tropical arrangements, nautical themes and country garden style displays, even an assortment of crowns – presumably to reflect and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. Up the centre of the nave, they’d even managed to create a stream!
Some displays were stunning and intricate, while others were impressive because of their simplicity. Some were spectacularly beautiful, while others were … let’s just say they weren’t my taste!
It was a lovely way to see the cathedral and to see what can be done with flowers. You can see why I was inspired to do a Quick Five on fabulous flowers.
So, onto the Quick Five:
1. What are your favourite flowers?
2. What are your favourite colours of flowers?
3. Formal arrangement or hand-tied or tossed in a vase (with fingers crossed!)
4. If you are married – what was your wedding bouquet like? If not, what is the nicest flower bouquet or arrangement you’ve received.
5. When was the last time someone bought/brought you flowers?
PS Look who I found lurking behind an arrangement!!
Posted by Caren Crane Jun 2 2013, 12:23 am in Barbra Streisand, Bing Crosby, Caren Crane, Danny Kaye, Dolly!, favorite musicals, Fiddler On the Roof, Hello, Howard Keel, Jane Powell, movie musicals, Oklahoma, quick five, Rosemary Clooney, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, Topol, Vera-Ellen, White Christmas
…musicals! Anna got me thinking yesterday with her “June is bustin’ out all over” blog title. I haven’t indulged in a musical in a good, long while. Granted, my husband has a limited tolerance for musicals and it was just the two of us all winter long. So it isn’t surprising that they fell off my radar. Still, I watched an excellent psychological thriller/horror movie yesterday, which I hadn’t done in a long time, and it occurred to me that I might be missing out on other genres, as well.
So in deference to it being June and summer being just around the corner, I’m going to take yet another page from Anna’s book and do a Quick Five of my favorite musicals. I’m pretty sure I’ve done one before, but it’s been a long while. My favorites have probably changed since then!
1. Oklahoma — I absolutely cannot say enough good things about Oklahoma—the musical, not the state. I may love the state, but I have no idea since I’ve never been there. However, I have seen the musical many times and I assure you it is sheer pleasure from beginning to end. I love Laurey and Curly and especially Laurey’s friend Ado Annie. Her number I Cain’t Say No is simply divine! (Plus, I know Anna Campbell will sing it with me! ) I love that it has big, sweeping songs, singing cowboys, men on horses (and in boots!), a ne’er-do-well farm hand and a barn dance. I even love the crazy Agnes de Mille-choreographed ballet sequence (though that one grew on me as I aged). Something for everyone!
2. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers — I have no idea when I saw this for the first time. It seems it was on the weekend movies on TV several times a year. Every time it was, my sisters and I would plop down and watch it. Something about all those unruly men caught our attention. All those cowboys and boots and singing men. And there’s a barn raising! Plus, Howard Keel had an amazing, deep voice. I could listen to him talk (or sing) all day long! They really needed Jane Powell to come civilize them and she did a great job. The scene where she makes them pray before eating is hilarious. So much to love as the boys get tamed and find true love. *sigh*
3. White Christmas — Even though it’s almost summer, I would sit down right now and watch this movie. It’s Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Seriously, it doesn’t get much better than that. I do love Bing’s voice, but I’ll admit that I love Danny Kaye far more than Bing. Danny was so athletic, such a great dancer and singer, so well-rounded as an entertainer. Plus, he was funny and kind of dorky. My kind of guy! The love interests in the movie were Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen (the most awesome dancer ever!). The film has amazing musical productions and I adore the songs in this one, especially Snow. I don’t know what it is about this little number they sing on the train from Florida to the unseasonably warm Vermont, but it was just perfect.
4. Hello, Dolly! — This one was not on my list of favorites until a few years ago, when the animated movie Wall*E came out. I the movie, Wall*E is obsessed by an old videotape of Hello, Dolly! he found in the endless piles of rubbish he is cleaning up on Earth. The musical models for this robot what human relationships are like. As all the other disposal units have broken down and left Wall*E alone, he eventually realizes his solitude and longs for company (besides his cockroach friend, of course). Once I saw Wall*E, I knew I had to see Hello, Dolly! again. It was wonderful! Much more entertaining and engaging than I recalled. And it’s Barbra freaking Streisand! What’s not to love? Now it’s on my Top Five list and I have a feeling it will stay there a long time.
5. Fiddler On the Roof — I’ll admit, this was not one I saw until recent years. I made my daughters watch it with me and we all loved it. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become a bit obsessed with stories of oppression, especially among the Jewish peoples in Europe. Since Fiddler On the Roof is basically a combination of pre-Revolutionary Russian Jewish oppression, a love story and a family saga all rolled into one and topped with musical numbers, it was destined to make my Top Five list. Topol playing Tevye and singing If I Were a Rich Man is simply classic. Of course, ever since Mrs. Doubtfire, I’ve had a soft spot for the song Matchmaker, as well. My heart broke for the poor villagers packing up all their possessions and being forced to leave their village and the only home they have ever known. Headed for the wilds of New York, they were! Fiddler is definitely worth another view, if you haven’t seen it lately. Make sure you have tissues handy!
Time to confess. What are your favorite musicals of all time? And what movie genre have you been missing out on lately? I’ll admit, I am getting a backlog of thrillers and mysteries. It’s about time for another round!
Posted by Anna Sugden May 22 2013, 1:27 am in Anna Sugden, Cambridge, quick five
As many regular visitors to our Lair know, I’m the Brit Bandita because I live in England. More specifically, I live on the outskirts of a beautiful, old city called Cambridge.
I’m sure most of you have heard of our famous university, founded in 1209, and seen pictures like the ones in this post of its wonderful buildings. Walking through the cobbled, narrow streets of the city is still like stepping back in time. You really feel you’re in a special place – as if the air is filled with learning. Everywhere you look, there is awe-inspiring architecture and around every corner, there are impressive features that take your breath away.
There is also a sense of fun. There are gargoyles and whimsical carvings. There is the Mathematical Bridge – famed for its self-supporting construction (something complicated to do with tangents!) The apocryphal story is that it was designed by Sir Isaac Newton and was built without using nuts and bolts. The story continues that students eager to find out how it worked, disassembled it and tried to reassemble it unsuccessfully, having to resort to using nuts and bolts. Sadly, much as the romance of this tale appeals to me, it isn’t the truth at all!
Then there is the famous Corpus Christi clock – which we call the Locust Clock. Personally, I think it’s the ugliest thing ever, but it’s supposed to be a wonder of chronography!
You can’t look at the drainpipes and spires without thinking of the ‘Night Climbers’ – undergraduates, postgraduates and even dons who scale the buildings and wander the roofs under the cloak of darkness. If you want to read more about the Night Climbers – there is a fascinating book about the practice called THE NIGHT CLIMBERS OF CAMBRIDGE.
In preparation for today’s post, I did some research about Cambridge – so I could give you the answers to my Quick Five questions! I thought I knew the answer to where Cambridge got its name. Kind of obvious – bridge over the River Cam. But, in reality, the earliest name for the settlement here was Grantabrycge – bridge over the Granta. The River Cam was originally the River Granta and the name later changed to match the town. There has been a bridge there since at least 875!
Given how old the university is, I assumed there had been a settlement here from at least the Roman times. Indeed, there is evidence of a 3500 year old farmstead and an Iron Age settlement! By the time the Romans got here, there was already a decent-sized settlement. Cambridge was an important trading centre at the time of the Domesday Survey and has thrived to this day.
Cambridge has so many famous sons and daughters, either by birth or who have adopted Cambridge through having been here to study. The most recent ‘adoptees’, other than me *g*, are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
There are many things that Cambridge is famous for – punting, scientific discoveries, being more likely to be run over by a cyclist than a car – a fun one is that the rules for the modern game of football (soccer) were drawn up here in Cambridge in 1848! And, of course, Cambridge has been the setting for many books, including the medieval murder mystery series by Susanna Gregory.
So, here is today’s Quick Five:
What is the name of your town/city/village? Do you know how it got its name?
How old is the town/city/village?
Are there any famous sons or daughters?
What do you love about your town/city/village?
Tell us one fun fact or ‘did you know’ about your town/city/village. Or, is it famous for anything?
One lucky commenter will win a Cambridge souvenir!
Posted by Anna Sugden Mar 22 2013, 1:12 am in Anna Sugden, desserts, quick five
As many of our long-time BB’s know, I don’t have a hugely sweet tooth. You’re more likely to tempt me with a savoury snack than a sweet one – well, most of the time!
Except when it’s a special occasion, or when I’m out for dinner. Then, my normally dormant sweet tooth wakes up and gets excited! In fact, if I’m honest, I’d be happy to eat just starters (appetizers) and desserts and forego a main course altogether. *g* Of course, if I have to behave and eat the main course, I always check the dessert menu first to see if I’m tempted by anything. That way I can decide which to sacrifice – starter or dessert.
And, I’m not always tempted by chocolate (but that’s the topic for next month’s post!). I often find chocolate desserts too sweet or too … chocolate-y! That said, there used to be a chocolate mousse to die for at a restaurant in London called Smolensky’s Balloon. I don’t know if it’s still around or if they still make it – but yummmy!
So what does catch my eye on a dessert menu? Any of my favourites – trifle, creme caramel, banoffee pie, Eton Mess, tiramisu and zabaglione. If I’m feeling cold and in need of comfort food, I love rice pudding, blackberry and apple crumble with custard or apple pie and custard. Okay, so I love custard! Banana custard is another fave! I also love cream!
As an aside, Lovely Hubby is an excellent cook and makes me one of my faves whenever we have a special occasion! The trifle in the picture is one of his.
For those who don’t know what some of the desserts are:
Trifle – a triple layer dessert – bottom layer is jelly with sherry soaked fruit (I love strawberries and bananas). Traditionally, there should be pieces of cake in this layer too, but I’m not too fussed about that! The second layer is custard and the top layer is cream.
Creme Caramel – I think those of you Stateside call this flan. It’s basically a caramel custard pudding. (Did I mention I love custard?)
Banoffee Pie – also known as banoffee tart – a tart/pie or biscuit base with a layer of toffee pudding (made from condensed milk) and topped with slices of banana and cream.
Eton Mess – as in the famous boys’ school – a delicious combination of strawberries, meringue, cream and ice cream, all in a mess. The apocryphal story for how this was invented is that a golden retriever ran amuck at the annual Eton College cricket game and messed up the dessert at one of the family picnics.
Tiramisu – the Italian coffee and marscapone dessert.
Zabaglione – yes, another custard dessert, this time with Marsala wine mixed in!
What turns me off dessert – pears (can’t stand the texture), rhubarb (allergic to it), any kind of citrus peel, Turkish Delight and rose or any other type of flower water.
Over to you! Here’s today’s Dessert Quick Five:
1. Savoury or sweet tooth?
2. Appetizer or dessert – or would you rather have those two and forego the main?
3. Favourite desserts?
4. Least favourite desserts?
5. Do you, your other half or anyone else in your family have a signature dessert?
In case you haven’t seen it yet, my new author page is up on Facebook. Feel free to pop across and ‘like’ it. It would be awesome if we could get my page up to 100 likes today! Many thanks to those of you who have already stopped by.