Posts tagged with: Susan Sey

“Who’s Ben Skrewd?”

A provocative question, wouldn’t you agree? Well, last summer a number of us Red Door Reads authors decided that we all knew “who’s Ben Skrewd,” though the encounter is different for each person. Which gave us the idea of creating a character named Ben Skrewd who could appear in a group of novellas linked by Ben and our iconic Red Door. Launching the novellas on Tax Day (April 15th in the U.S.) was an irony we couldn’t resist!

Cross Springs In Bloom BNMost of us were able to squeeze Ben into a novella in an ongoing series. My novella, Cross Springs In Bloom, takes place in the familiar environs of Cross Springs, NC. Cross Springs is the setting for my debut novel, Kick Start, as well as my next two novels. Baby Steps should be out in May 2014 and the long-awaited Tiara Wars will be out in July. In Cross Springs In Bloom, we spend time with Connie Burns and Katie Warren from Kick Start, but the heroine is Mindy MacPherson, the gossipy receptionist at Cross Springs Dermatology. When she helps Connie and Mindy track down the source of some prize-winning roses, Mindy comes face-to-face with a lover she let go and hoped never to see again.

touch of troubleSusan Sey’s novella, Touch of Trouble, we once again encounter her rowdy, sexy Blake Brothers. This time we are given some insight about the hard road the youngest Blake brother, Drew, and the brainy Meg will have to travel to find true love. It starts right where the second Blake Brothers novel, Talent for Trouble, left off. The two of them tackle a particularly sticky situation involving Meg’s family. Exceptional fun!

liberty and the pursuit of happinessDeb Marlowe’s novella, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, is the next entry in her Half Moon House series. If you love feisty Regency heroines, hedge mazes, epistolary pleas and intrigue, Lierty and the Pursuit of Happiness - heck, the whole Half Moon House series! – is for you. The heroine is an American spitfire who longs to make a real difference in the world and volunteers to help at Hestia Wright’s Half Moon House. In helping a young friend extricate herself from a potentially awkward situation, she becomes entangled with Viscount Brodham, who is trying to save his young nephew…from Liberty’s friend!

_RDR_webEleven of us have brand new novellas available (for a short time) at only 99 cents! Authors in the special collection are Caren Crane, Susan Sey, Deb Marlowe, Claudia Dain, Linda Winstead Jones, Ava Stone, Lori Handeland, Jane Charles, Andris Bear, Tammy Falkner and Susan Gee Heino. The special price won’t last forever, though, so be sure to visit www.RedDoorReads.com to get the scoop on all the novellas and snap them up while the deal is hawt!

#6Since Ben Skrewd is an integral character in each of the novellas, we have an ongoing “Find Ben Skrewd” contest set up at our website. Each of the 11 Red Door Reads authors with a Ben Skrewd novella has “hidden” Ben on her website. When you find Ben, just go to the Red Door Reads site, click the link, and tell us whose site and which page you found him on. A winner will be drawn when the contest closes on April 22nd and the winner will receive an iPad mini!

Meanwhile, enjoy all the novellas and the “Easter egg” of finding Ben Skrewd in each of them.

Speaking of Ben and Easter eggs, have you “Ben Skrewd” by the Easter Bunny? He used to faithfully visit me every year and now I get bupkes in my basket! What is your favorite Easter treat? Tell me all about it, little friends, and I’ll enter you in a drawing for a free copy of my new novella! I’ll admit my favorite is a dark chocolate-covered Russell Stover marshmallow egg. I’ve already had a few this year. Yummm…

Perfect Saturday Morning

This is the first free Saturday morning our family has enjoyed in a long time.  

too-busyI can’t even say what we’ve been doing that’s been so busy.  It’s just a lot of life.  A little of this, a little of that.  Sports, dance, meetings, vacations, work.  But this morning?  Nothing.  

Absolutely nothing. 

Here’s how I plan to enjoy it. 

1) Wake nobody up.  I wake people up all week long & believe me, nobody thanks me for it.  This morning I’m letting those cranky pants stay in bed.

Newspaper2) Read the newspaper.  Most mornings my girls stage a cage match over the comics, but I’m not waking them up today, am I?  And I’m not going to until I’ve savored the whole paper, national news to classifieds, over a nice bowl of yogurt & blueberries. (My favorite breakfast.)

HotCoffeeCupbypixbox77

 

3) Settle down in a sunny corner of the couch in my bathrobe, with a book & a cup of coffee & wait for the first kid to wander down the stairs.  And then I shall make waffles.  Because I like to make waffles more than eat them.  Weird?  Probably.  But this is my perfect Saturday morning, & I make no excuses.

So what about you?  What’s your perfect Saturday morning in three steps or less?

Because I said so…

HappyStPatricksDaybyGubGibSo it was St. Patrick’s Day recently.  This was always a big deal in our house when I was a kid.   My mom emigrated from Ireland when she was almost ten, & has always been proud of her heritage. We didn’t go all shamrock-crazy on March 17th, but we definitely all wore our green every year, and proudly. 

But we were Irish all year long, too, and in many ways.  For example, my oldest sister is named Maureen, & my next oldest sister is named Kathleen.  My dad put his foot down when I came along & insisted on an “American” name.  This is how I came to be named Susan, which is what they named every other little girl in the 50s.  (I was born in the 70s, of course, when every other little girl was named Jennifer, but my folks have never been much for fashion.  I feel this explains a great deal about my persistent lack of ability to march in step with my generation.)

GreenHatbyLamneeI was in elementary school before I realized that here in America, you pronounce the letter H like “aitch”, not “haitch” as my mother insisted.  I still pronounce the H in “wh” words like “what” and “where.”  Back in Dublin, my mother’s teachers used to hold up a piece of paper to children’s lips to make sure it moved when they said “wh” words.  If it didn’t move, you weren’t blowing hard enough.  Evidently, that’s a personal preference thing here in America, so my teachers couldn’t technically say I was wrong to do so.  My mother smirked & continued making sure that her children, anyway, would be speaking properly.       

My two older sisters began Irish dancing lessons at about five or six, at a bar in Detroit on Saturday mornings.  This is where they often teach Irish dancing, for the big, wooden floor space.  Also, going to the bar is more of a family thing over in Ireland, so nobody blinks at taking the kids there for dance class.  I remember sitting on the swivel seats up high at the bar, watching my sisters do their thing.  I couldn’t wait for my turn.  

danceshoesUnfortunately, we moved when I was about six, so far outside the city that a Saturday morning trip to the bar–even for dance class–became impractical.  I had to settle for ballet, like any other kid.  But when I found myself planted here in St. Paul, MN, as an adult–a very Irish city, indeed–Irish dance again became a possibility.  

So I signed up for classes shortly after finishing up my MBA as a young married.  Within six months, I was pregnant with child #1.  I stopped bouncing for a while.  When Child #1 was three, I signed her up for her first step class, & signed myself up as well.  I immediately became pregnant with child #2.  Child #1 wasn’t crazy about the noise of Irish step dancing anyway, so we both quit.

WaitingWhen child #2 was maybe 4, I found a new school & signed us all up again.  We all hung in there for a year or two, but then Mr. Sey’s work schedule became insane (it still is) and my class had to fall by the way side.  I concentrated on just getting the girls to and from their Irish dance class, plus all the other extracurriculars that came along.  I figured I’d get back to my own dancing in good time.  I was at the studio all the time anyway, right? 

Fast forward three more years & I’m still not dancing.  My girls, however, just did their first St. Patrick’s Day show with their dance school’s performance team, & both of them are crazy hooked on Irish dancing.  They’ve moved far beyond what I’d managed to learn before I quit class yet again, & I have to admit it:  when I saw them performing on St. Patrick’s Day I was jealous.  I was incredibly proud of them, yes, but I also realized that I was deeply jealous.  The whole reason they began taking Irish dance wasn’t because they’d expressed a huge interest.  It was because I wanted to take Irish dance.  And now they’ve blown by me & I still want to learn how to do what they now know in their sleep.  

Feis--C reelSo I have resolved that this summer I’m going to sign up for my dance class again.  The slow, beginner, mommy version of the reels & jigs, the hornpipes & treble jigs that my girls rip off like nobody’s business.  I’m going to do it just for me, for the pleasure of learning something I always wanted to learn.  And also to teach my girls that it’s never too late to try something new, even if it makes you look ridiculous.  Maybe even because it makes you look ridiculous.  Dignity is overrated.  If you love it, you should try it.  

So what about you?  Is there something you’ve always wanted to try or learn or do?  Or is there something you gave your kids–lessons, experiences, classes–simply because you always wanted a chance but never got it?  Or is this something your parents did to you–forced a class or a sport on you that you hated, because they loved it?  Tell us about it! 

I will survive….

…February.  As God is my witness, I will survive February.   But, darn it, I hate this month.

Why?  Let me explain.

No. Is too much.  Let me sum up.  (Thank you, Princess Bride.  Best. Movie. Ever.)

1)  The winter wear is wearing out.  Coats don’t zip, mittens have gone missing, our scarves smell like dog, and our boots are blowing out.  We only have maybe two more months to hang in there, so you don’t really want to splash out on replacement gear.  You’d rather buy a bikini. Which is convenient, because that’s all the stores are carrying anyway.  Just try to find a pair of mittens at Target today.  I dare you.

2) The cold is making me desperate & messing with my judgment.  For example, today after lunch I sat down to write with my “not water bottle.”  (Shaped like a hot water bottle, but actually one of those bean-or-seed-filled, heat-it-up-in-the-microwave deals.)  I like to stick it under my sweater & let it warm my belly while I type. I was so desperate for heat that I made it too hot & actually burned myself.  Seriously.  The metal button on my jeans must have concentrated & conducted the heat & now I have a blister on my belly.  And I didn’t even notice while it was happening because I was so focused on soaking up the delicious warmth.  Damn you, winter!

3)  There is nowhere left to put the snow.  Today while we were waiting for the school bus, the kids were playing on the mountains of snow on either side of the drive that we affectionately refer to as the Twin Towers.  And I realized that I could no longer see my mailbox.  I pointed toward where I thought it might be & had the kids start digging.  Sure enough, the mailbox was buried.  My children’s boots were  above the mailbox.  It’s gotten to that point, people.  And March is historically our snowiest month.  I don’t know where we’re going to put the rest of it.

4)    Mr. Sey is in Florida.  It’s for work, he’s probably spending 12-16 hours a day inside a generic hotel, not having any fun at all but…he’s doing it in Florida.  And it’s going to be minus 13 degrees tonight with windchills in the minus thirties.  I know it’s not his fault but…(Susan struggles for objectivity & maturity, fails dismally)…IT’S JUST NOT FAIR!    

1beach_reading_cAll I want is to be warm.  All I want is a vacation.  All I want is a tropical drink & a warm sandy beach.  Is that too much to ask?  I think not. 

So, let’s take a virtual vacation.  If you could jet off to anywhere in the world tomorrow, & stay for no more than two days–just enough to tide you over–where would you go & why?

 Mouse over images for artist attribution & link.

It’s that time…

Yeah, it’s Girl Scout Cookie time.  And I’m the proud mama of two Girl Scouts. 

BoxGroup5B_Shadow Now I’m not going to get into whether or not Girl Scout cookies are a Good Thing or a Bad Thing.   They are simply a thing.  A fact of my life as a mom of girls.  They are also a relatively tasty thing.  And if there’s no escaping it (there’s not–just try to evade the Girl Scouts when cookie sales are happening), it might as well be tasty.

I have a particular appreciation for their tastiness as I usually end up buying everything my kids can’t sell.  I’ll probably end up eating at least three boxes of each flavor, so let’s cut straight to the chase.  Exactly how tasty are these babies?

I’m so glad you asked.  Here they are, ranked (in my humble, road-tested opinion) from worst to best: 

ThinMints2Thin Mints.  These are essentially a chocolate-dipped mint-flavored chocolate cracker. People love these with a burning passion but I just don’t get it.  I mean, I respect others’ right to dissent but speaking for myself personally?  If it smacks of toothpaste, I don’t want it for dessert. I just don’t.  I don’t care how much chocolate you throw at it.

Savannah_SmilesSavannah Smiles. Okay, so these aren’t  bad.  There’s nothing wrong with them.  They’re lemon-shortbread crescents dusted with powdered sugar.  They’re fine.  But they’re new in the past couple of years & I like my cookies with a little tradition on them.  But I’ll be honest–without chocolate OR caramel, they’re starting at a disadvantage.  

Trefoils3Trefoils:  These are your shortbread classics, shaped like the girl scout seal.  If I had a big bowl of ice cream & nothing to put on it, I’d settle for trefoils but I wouldn’t be excited about it.  

do-si-doDo-Si-Dos:  Your peanut butter sandwich cookie.  Definitely a contender.  Love that nutty, granola-y texture, & peanut butter is a big favorite of mine.  Crumble these over a bowl of vanilla ice cream & now you’re talking. 

Samoas1Samoas:  Now these are truly a treat.  It’s a shortbread ring, covered in caramel & coconut, then drizzled with chocolate.  That’s the holy trinity of Cs right there, people–chocolate, coconut AND caramel.  Please, thank you, amen.  So why aren’t these at the top of my list?  Because in my perfect world, dessert is frozen.  And when you freeze caramel it turns into a tooth-chipping heart break.  So, sorry, Samoas.  You get the silver.  Next?

Tagalongs1Tagalongs:  Now this is the perfect cookie.  It’s a shortbread patty, covered in a layer of peanut butter.  Then the whole thing is dipped in chocolate.  They’re delightful on their own, of course, but throw these babies in the freezer?  They get exponentially better.  Now chop ‘em up & throw them on a big bowl of vanilla ice cream & you’ve just scooped yourself a dish of heaven. 

And guess what ONE VARIETY of cookie my girls managed to sell every single box of? 

That’s right.  Tagalongs.  

You know what we’re up to our eyeballs in?  

Thin Mints. 

I could just cry.

So tell me, are you a fan of Girl Scout cookies?  What’s your favorite & why?

February’s Dark Promises

snowy-dayAs we know from yesterday’s amazing Coming Attractions post, it is now officially February. I’ll admit I have some seriously conflicted views of this short, endless month. My view has changed since I was a little girl, but not to any appreciable degree. So here are my major points about February. Please feel free to pile on:

snowy-night-wallpaper1. Endless Nights – Here in North America, even at the middling latitude North Carolina enjoys, the nights in February are loooong and daaaark. And this year, especially, cooooold. I hate that it is dark when I get home from work and, once inside, I never want to leave the house. I also might be part bear, because I generally want to go to bed around 8:30 pm and stay there until long after the alarm at 5:45 am. Somehow, magically, once it’s March I notice the days have become astonishingly longer and there is much more evening than, say, the last day in February. I have no idea how that happens, but it is a thing. For real, though!

winter sunshine2. Thin Sunshine – Okay, the sun does shine in North Carolina an egregious amount of the time. Even in February. Still, it’s a thin, watery sort of sunshine that is so puny it barely penetrates the gray haze of my February Funk. Yes, it has a name. Try it on for size, you’ll like it. “Got the February Funk. This sunshine isn’t cutting it, man!” I need some real sunshine which, again, March will provide. I don’t know why, but the divide between February and March is sharp and thick and tangible. Like the Berlin Wall. I’d love to tear that mother down! Where is U2 with a protest song about Febrile February Sunshine? Bono could totally rock that.

Valentines_Day_Chocolates_from_20053. Valentine’s Day – I know, I know. We’re romance writers, so we should adore a day that celebrates love, right? Right?!? *sigh* I am terribly conflicted about Valentine’s Day. I love to show my love to my family and gift them with funny/mushy/sweet cards and tasty confections, but neither my husband nor I are really sold on it. We love each other every day and try not to take it for granted, so spending money on this holiday (in February!) seems a bit shallow and forced. We do it, but it’s not really a big thing. Also, while I Love (with a capital L) chocolates with cream centers, my husband never remembers that. And if he does, he usually can’t find them at the one drugstore he stops into at the last minute on his way home from work. Seriously, this is a thing every year. Some men would overcome this or plan for it, but not my man. He is incredibly good at so many things, but remembering to get chocolates I love to celebrate a Hallmark holiday ain’t one of them.

Augustus Caesar4. Brevity – On a happy note, February is short. Whoever mapped out the Gregorian calendar gets extra snaps for that one. Actually it was and Italian doctor, astronomer and philosopher named Luigi Lilio (I totally looked that up on Wikipedia). Really, though, that was just a revision of the old Julian calendar, which was designed by an Alexandrian astronomer named Sosigenes. So, high five, Sosigenes! Way to maintain the brevity of February, Luigi! Of course, it’s commonly held that we owe the short month to Augustus Caesar. He was jealous that Julius Caesar’s month (July) had 31 days and his (August) only had 29. So he totally pinched two days off February! Smooth move, Augustus. Totally set it up for March to come in like lion! That seems Roman-like to me. 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00036]Besides brevity, February has little to recommend itself, in my (stubbornly held) opinion. Long nights are great for reading books, though, so I am not complaining too loudly. I just finished Susan Sey’s Talent For Trouble and I cannot recommend it highly—or urgentlyenough. It is funny, heart-wrenching and incredibly satisfying. I’m just whining now, but I have been sick for about a month with the most annoying series of colds and viruses imaginable. When the latest one hit (Thursday), I felt very sorry for myself. (Plus, if you’re a Facebook friend, you may have seen the cat stuck in a tree trauma. Ack!) So yesterday, feverish and miserable, I treated myself to Susan’s book. Gobbled it up. It was delicious and delightful and made me crave both toast and pizza! (Which I totally ate.) I was so sad when it ended, because I wanted more, more, more! Y’all, Talent For Trouble was the best thing to happen to me in February in a looooong time. Do yourself a favor and gobble it up!

So, are you as conflicted about February as I am? Is it a bone-chillingly cold or insanely hot month for you? Tell me your least favorite—or most!—about this long, dark month of the soul. I will eat chocolate in your honor. :D

I didn’t mean to

My youngest child has a catch phrase:  ”I didn’t mean to.”

It’s become sort of her signature song.  Break something?  ”I didn’t mean to!”  Forget something?  ”I didn’t mean to!”  Tackle her older sister to the ground under the guise of giving her a hug?   “But I didn’t mean to!”

What she’s saying (as I understand it) is that she didn’t intend to hurt her sister.  But, yes, she fully intended to tackle her.  In her seven-year-old mind, these events are completely unconnected.  A hug is fun! Affectionate!  A flying tackle of a hug is only more so. But, wait, somebody got hurt?  Whoa. Didn’t see that coming.

This, as you can imagine, frustrates me.  (Her sister is equally frustrated, though more bruised.)  But I gained new insight–sympathy, even–when I recently found myself in a similar situation.  

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00036]

You see, I have just today released the second book in my Blake Brothers trilogy, TALENT FOR TROUBLE. Now this trilogy was originally conceived of as a trio of straight-up contemporary romances about three brothers.  The first book, TASTE FOR TROUBLE, was the middle brother’s story.  (Imagine David Beckham, if dear ol’ Becks came up dirt poor in West Texas.  Now imagine a hot, young Mary Poppins who reluctantly takes him (ahem) in hand.  Throw in a bunch of pie, & you’ve pretty much got it.)  

TALENT FOR TROUBLE, the follow up I have just released, is the oldest brother’s story.  This would be Will.  He’s a super-smart, super-arrogant uber-alpha male who’s been brought low.  (Book one was rough on him.)  He’s rebuilding himself into the man he was always meant to be before tragedy threw a wrench in his works.  

And I accidentally made it a paranormal romance. 

But I didn’t mean to.

Honest, I didn’t.  

Taste For TroubleHere’s the way it went down:  In book one (TASTE) I had to kill off a secondary character I really loved.  Really, really loved.  It hurt, but you have to do what the story demands, & I’m a big girl.  There’s no crying in baseball.  I got over it.  Or thought I did.

So then I was writing along on book two (TALENT) and that character’s voice–his very distinctive voice–turned up in my hero’s head.  Only this voice?  It wasn’t exactly the same as it had been in book one when that character was alive.  He was recognizable still, but exaggerated.  A little more unhinged.  A little more honest.  He was..oh, let’s be real:  he was foul-mouthed, abusive & hilarious, & I couldn’t give him up again.  So I let him stay.  And now I have a…ghost story.  Sort of. 

Except that everything else about this story–everything you’d expect from a straight-up contemporary romance–is still there!  You have a complicated family situation, you have witty repartee, you have a blistering love story between two reluctant, damaged souls.  

You just also have…a ghost.  Or two.  I don’t know.  It got crazy in there for a little while.  

I gave it to a few reviewers & one of them said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “You could never have gotten this story published in NYC.”  She meant it as a compliment, & I took it as one. This story goes unexpected places, & in ways you didn’t see coming.  And while I think that’s a good thing, it does make it hard to figure out which shelf it belongs on in the bookstore. But at the same time, it still delivers every ounce of the romance & the community you expect from a contemporary. It’s a genre-bending mash-up, & I’m a little worried about it.  I didn’t intend to break any rules.  I didn’t intend to freak anybody out.  I just wanted to write Will’s story.  And I ended up writing ghosts.  

But I didn’t mean to. 

Honest.

How about you?  Have you come across anything lately that surprised you?  In a good way?  In a bad way?  How did you respond?  I’d be happy to gift one lucky commenter with a copy of TALENT FOR TROUBLE of their very own, & you can make up your own mind about how/if my little accident is working out.  Would love to hear what you think!

Interested in an excerpt?  Click here!

Hearts and Sorry images courtesy of Free Digital Photos.  Mouse over for artist attribution.

It’s the most wonderful time…

ellen poster

…of the year!

Ladies & gentlemen, it’s awards season!

We kicked things off with the Golden Globes last weekend (Tina Fey & Rachel Poehler were amazing, as usual).  We had Oscar nominations come out on Friday.  The Screen Actor’s Guild awards are tonight.  And so it goes until we wrap things up with the Oscars on March 2nd.

For the next couple of months you won’t be able to throw a stone without hitting a fashion disaster, an ill-considered speech or a priceless reaction shot from a loser while the winner takes the stage.  

celineIt’s a scandal a minute this time of year, folks, & I for one am delighted. 

I’m not a mean-spirited person, but come on.  What else does one do with January & February?  (I already shoveled.  Now what?  Celebrity gossip?  Don’t mind if I do!)

So…what are we thinking about the Oscar nominations?  Is this the year Leonardo DiCaprio finally wins one?  Or is the Wolf of Wall Street too reprehensible?  

What about Barkhad Abdi for Best Supporting Actor?  He was the first-time actor who played the pirate in Captain Phillips.  I have a soft spot for him, seeing as he’s a home town boy.  (I’m not from Somalia, he’s from Minneapolis.) 

Leo

What are we thinking about Tom Hanks’ shocking failure to get a nod either for Best Actor (Captain Phillips) or Best Supporting Actor (Saving Mr. Banks)?  He’s such a pillar of the community, & I love seeing him up there with his wife of a gazillion years.  How often do we see that in Hollywood, huh?  There should be an Oscar for that.

How about Best Picture?  Of the nine nominees, I’ve only seen three: TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, AMERICAN HUSTLE, and GRAVITY.  I’m hitting THE WOLF OF WALL STREET tonight.  That leave me about a month & a half to hit HER, NEBRASKA, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, PHILOMENA,  & DALLAS BUYERS CLUB.

Barkhad

But based on what I’ve seen, I’m voting for AMERICAN HUSTLE.  I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it, but I will say this–the story telling was exquisite.  And unlike so many movies where they serve up reprehensible characters & expect you to just go along with it, they made every single character sympathetic.  You felt for each & every one of this hugely talented ensemble cast.  The one guy with his heart in the right place, who was genuinely trying to make the world a better place?  He was the one who went to jail.  And I still left the movie feeling awesome.   It was a great story, and told by master artists. 

American Hustle Poster

That said?  I still have five movies to see.  I might change my mind.  I’ll get back to you. 

So…are you an awards show kind of person?  Will you be following the action straight up to the Oscars this year?  Do you have an opinion on who should get which award?  Share!  

For those of you who are really into it, here’s a webpage where you can download a ballot, or do a thing where you post your predictions on Facebook!

The Ghost of Christmas Past…a

Ah, Christmas.  It’s a season heavy with tradition–the songs, the decorations, the food.  

IMG_2747

Oh, yeah, the food.  

Now I’m a pretty traditional girl–it’s not Christmas for me without a big ol’ hunk of my mom’s Dutch apple pie.  It’s not the day after Christmas without a hunk of that same pie posing as breakfast, either.  

For my husband, it’s not Christmas without a giant pan of mac-and-cheese on the table.  (My mind boggles at the idea of mac-and-cheese for Christmas dinner, but whatever.  You marry a guy, you marry his traditions.)  

But on the very first high holiday we spent together as a couple, just the two of us, we went outside the box.  We made pasta.  

IMG_2756

Yeah, pasta.  By hand.  

Don’t ask me what we were thinking.  We were giddy with love & having an adventure.  We had no idea we were even getting married someday, let alone hatching a life-long tradition.   We just happened to both be family free for the holiday & decided to do something crazy.

Like make pasta.

By hand.

So, fast forward about fifteen years.  Throw a kitchen aid mixer with the pasta attachments into the mix.  Throw in a couple of kids & a few in-laws.  Cover the whole thing in flour, & you’ve pretty much got the pasta adventure we staged last Christmas chez Sey.   The pictures really do say it all, but here’s the basic recipe & procedure: 

IMG_2765

Basic Egg Pasta:

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon water

3 1⁄2 cups sifted all-purpose flour 

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Place eggs, water, flour, and salt in mixer bowl.

Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 30 seconds.

IMG_2777Exchange flat beater for dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and knead 2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Let it rest for 20 minutes.

Divide dough into 4 pieces before processing with Pasta Sheet Roller attachment.

Okay, at this point, you’ll have four balls of dough.  When they say “process with the pasta sheet roller,” they mean to run it through the attachment on your mixer that essentially squeezes each ball between a couple of rollers that look like a mini-laundry mangle.  (Anybody old enough–or read enough historical fiction–to know what a mangle is?  I know I do!)

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This will get to you the point you see in the first picture where I’m dealing with an incredibly long, flat sheet of pasta.  At this point, I flour a bunch of parchment paper & cut the sheet of dough into noodle-sized lengths–maybe a foot?  I let them sit between layers of floured parchment while I switch out my pasta roller for my pasta cutter.  I like the fettuccine one.  I feel like this width cooks nicely.

So then you run the sheets through the cutter (as seen in picture #2) & you end up with…fettuccine!  It truly is like magic.  (Picture #3 shows some of the sheets waiting to be run through the fettuccine cutter, & some that have already been through.)

Drop each little coil of fresh pasta into boiling water, cook for about 6-7 minutes, & voila!  You have actual, honest-to-goodness, edible pasta.  

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It might look like a flour bomb went off in your kitchen, but you can deal with that after dinner.  

Just drain that gorgeous pasta, top with your favorite sauce–we went with pesto, though at least one of my girls went with just straight up olive oil & salt–and eat that deliciousness right up. 

And if you lick your plate, I’m not going to judge you.  

So how about you?  Have you ever done anything strange for the holidays, & had it turn into a tradition on you?  Share!

And to reward you for swinging by the Bandit’s 12 Day of Christmas, we’ll be gifting one lucky commenter with a copy of Susan’s last release TASTE FOR TROUBLE, kindle or paperback, winner’s choice!  (And you’ll want to read it soon as the follow up TALENT FOR TROUBLE is coming out in January!) You’ll also receive a fabulous Rooster ornament for whatever you choose to decorate this time of year!

I did it!

Hey, so remember last time we talked & I told you I was ready to get my hair cut off? 

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I did it!

I really did.  

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So here on the left is all the hair I’d been wadding into a bun or a braid for the last five years or so.

Over here on the right is me sitting in a beauty shop for the first time in five years.  I think I might’ve just remembered that somebody was going to wash my hair for me, & how much I like that.  I REALLY like that part.  How did I forget that they do that?

IMG_5732Okay, so back to to the left, here’s where they section off your hair into ponytails for donation.  (I donated my outgrown hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for kids who lose their hair to cancer.)   I think I donated something like 10 inches of hair.  It was certainly more than I needed.

IMG_5757 And there on the right is the end result.  A cute little bob that isn’t QUITE wash & wear, but right next to it.  And I’m delighted.  I usually have to digest large changes for a while before I’m at peace with the new normal but I don’t miss my old hair at all.

 

How about you?  Have you made a dramatic change to your look?  Did you have to stew about it for a while, or did you just go for it?   How did it turn out? 

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