Posts tagged with: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Ramblings 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Domino Effect

The Domino Effect.  Every homeowner knows what I’m talking about.  You think you have a small, easy-to-deal-with-problem, that turns into a much larger issue and grows and grows, much like a row of dominos that falls, each knocking the next down in a path of destruction.   This is currently my life.

dominoesIt all started at the end of last year.  My recently retired husband was home and needed something to occupy him during the non-golfing winter months.  I had the solution, I thought.  The wallpaper was peeling in the kitchen and laundry room.  The cat had used the rice paper wallpaper on one of the family room walls as an extension to her scratching post, and the dining room paper looked old and dated.  My friend, the realtor, said wallpaper was out; painting was in.  So I suggested my husband take on the project of removing the wallpaper and painting the room instead.

Now painting a room requires you remove all the china and breakables from the china cabinet and dry sink, and all the Stencilpaintings from the walls – a sizeable project!  But I felt assured that it would take my husband so long to do each piece that I would only have to deal with one room at a time.  WRONG!  After finishing the laundry room in January, he announced that I should hire someone because this was just too hard.  (Photo on the right is a picture of the stenciling in my kitchen that is now gone.)

As luck would have it, one of the companies I had contacted about doing this very thing was having a sale in February.  I contracted them at a good price, but that meant I had to get all the rooms ready at once.  The work would be done quickly as they had six guys working on the project, but it zapped my energy and my time to write.

In the process of painting, the workers pulled the refrigerator out to paint behind and discovered significant damage to the wood floor beneath.  In fact the floor was sagging so bad, the refrigerator was no longer level causing the doors to no longer “fit.”  The seal that kept the door closed no longer worked. (That occurred in March).  But we had taxes, upcoming trips to Branson and NYC to plan for.  We managed to get some quotes on getting the floor fixed but every company was backed up till November.  With two excellant references from trusted friends, we asked to be put on next available date for one company.  That date was Monday, November 16th.

fridgeFixing the small area beneath the refrigerator was a really small area.  However, when the floors were initially installed, we opted to leave them natural and just have a polyurethane finish applied.  Over the years, that finish mellowed to a lovely yellow hue.  We were told that the new sealants did not mellow that way.  Had we applied a  color finish, they could have matched it, but leaving the floors natural was a problem.  We figured we hadn’t done the resurfacing and reseal that had been recommended for hardwood floors, so this would accomplish two things – fix the water damaged wood, and refinish the remaining floor.  Sounds good, right?  Well, refinishing floor means we had to take everything off the bookshelves in the family room, have the sofas, tables and chairs moved so as to be off the floor, roll up the rugs, and remove the pictures on the wall (sound familiar), in general, make the kitchen, eating area, family room and laundry room inhabitable. We did that, plus we shopped for a new refrigerator.  We found one, but it’s taller than the space allowed by an inch or so.(The photo on the left is the small space under the fridge.  This is the new not-quite-finished floor so you can’t see how bad the floor was damaged.  But you can see the nice light floors 🙂  ).

So we hired a moving company to move the furniture into the living room on Friday, and the old refrigerator into the garage.  My husband used the weekend to saw off an inch off the over-the-fridge cabinets.  We made hotel reservations for Tuesday and Wednesday nights as we knew the sealant would be too obnoxious to breathe. Otherwise we spent the weekend living out of the bedroom in anticipation of the floor guys appearing on Monday.

They didn’t show.

Tomorrow, the office said.  They should be there between noon and one.  We moved the hotel reservations back by a day.

They didn’t show.  I called the office.  The scheduler wasn’t aware that they hadn’t shown up, but promised they’d be there in the morning. We moved the hotel reservations back by another day.  We’re still living out of the bedroom and it seems more and more confining.cluttered dining

The workers appeared on Wednesday and went to work.  When they moved the washer and dryer to the garage, they noticed that the water hose for washer was badly corroded and the hose itself was showing stress.  It would have to be replaced.  Of course!  Because the workers started so late, they couldn’t finish by Friday as planned.  We moved back in the house, but once again we’re living out of the bedroom.  The floors are projected to be finished on Tuesday. (Photo on the right is the current state of my dining room and the rest of the house, trying to cram everything into two rooms).

But the weekend gave my husband the chance to fix the hose.  With youtube videos assuring him he could do this, he managed to further stress the hose with no impact on the nozzle.  I’m calling a plumber first thing in the morning.  The hope is that I can get one to fix that problem before the washer and dryer is moved back in place on Tuesday.  Wish me luck.  With our current luck, I’m betting replacing the hose will be a much bigger project than what we anticipate. (sigh).

dinnerMeanwhile, we can’t really celebrate with a big feast on Thanksgiving Day as we have no seats.  I had to turn down my brother’s request to stop for an overnight visit on the Sunday after Thanksgiving because…we have no seats and our guest beds are buried under furniture.  I had to turn down an annual gift of a turkey and ham from one of my clients because I don’t have a refrigerator at the moment (that is to be delivered the Friday after Thanksgiving).  With the floors finished on Tuesday, we can’t put the furniture back till December 8th.

Maddening right?  But you know, once this is all done – it’s done.  The floors will be good for another 25 years at least.  We’ll finally have a nice refrigerator that has the vegetables at eye level where we can easily see if they’re in distress. And we’ll have an opportunity to throw out a lot of the stuff we removed from the shelves 🙂

So this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for a huge project finally completed.  (I keep telling my husband that I hadn’t planned to remove everything from various rooms TWICE in a single year.) I’m grateful that we have the means to celebrate Thanksgiving at a restaurant.  I’m grateful that my turkey and ham will go to a food shelter where they will doCharming the Professor final more good than sitting in my (non-existant) refrigerator.  And I’m hoping, really hoping, that the last domino has fallen.

So tell me about you.  Have you ever had a domino effect?  Tell me there is an end 🙂 .  I’ll give a digital copy of my December release, Charming the Professor, to someone leaving a comment.

And for all the stateside bandits and bandit buddies out there – May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

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)

November Coming Attractions

Can you believe it’s November already?  Where has the year gone!

PrintI hope you’ll join us for an exciting November here in the Lair.

 

The Bluestocking Belles will join us on Monday, November 9th to talk about their new boxed set of Regencies.

 

Scotland Christmas ReunionYou won’t want to miss the blog on November 11th for some early Christmas shopping.  We’ll have a number of Christmas releases from the Banditas and friends for you to browse and enjoy.  Should be fun!

 

 

 

 

Osburn-OurNowandForever-FT-V2-200x300On November 17, Nancy welcomes Terri Osburn to celebrate the release of Our Now and Forever, the first book in Terri’s new Ardent Springs series.

 

 

 

 

 

Charming the Professor finalDonna MacMeans will talk about her upcoming December release, Charming the Professor, on November 23rd.  I guarantee she’s thankful for that one 🙂

 

 

November 26 is Nancy’s regular blog day, but it’s also Thanksgiving Day in the US.  Join Nancy Northcott and chat about the holiday season.

 

 

Forget Me Not_

Don’t miss the Thanksgiving Day release of Caren Crane’s new novella Lakewood Confidential. It’s part of a 10-novella collection called FORGET ME NOT, with all proceeds being donated toward Alzheimer’s and Brain Health research. Great reads and a great cause! Pre-order links up now on Caren’s website!

 

We’ll continue our talk into November 27, when anyone who’s avoiding the whole shopping thing or just needs a break from it can find a refuge in the Lair!

Even Turkeys get a Workout

IMG_1204One thing I’ve learned in this fiction writing journey is that the simplest things are often the most difficult.  Why?  Because a lot of work went into making that item look simple.  When I started writing, I thought one sat at a computer and just told the story.  Then I learned about pacing and how to keep the story moving forward.  I learned about where to place the power words to allow the sentence to make the most impact.  i learned dialogue could be more than dialogue – it could be banter with insight to character and subtext.  The simplest things require prep work and skill, otherwise they fall flat.

The same is true with turkeys!  🙂

Here in the states, every year about this time, the President pardons a turkey and thus saves it from becoming a roasted turkey.  It’s a good public relations move which allows for some joking and a nod to the National Turkey Federation.  The cute event will most likely be on television, so the turkeys have todinner be on their best behavior.

Now turkeys are a pretty exciteable lot, and not too bright as my acquiantance who once had a turkey farm told me.  They have to be trained to stand quietly on a table and be photographed.  I read an article about a man who does just that.  He chooses his pardon candidates from a selection of 80 turkeys and narrows them down to just two.  He trains them by lifting them from the ground to the table and then lifts them white turkeyfrom the table to the ground, twice a day for two hours each session.  They are isolated in a small training shed where loud music and sports (crowd noises) are played to get them used to strange ambient noises.  The trainer also introduces the turkeys to his dogs as the turkey cages will be checked by the Secret Service dogs when they approach the White House.  He doesn’t want the turkeys to get rattled by that check.  The trainer takes flash photographs of the birds while they’re up on the table so they’ll get used to the flashes and he invites school kids in to pet the turkeys so they’ll become adept at strangers handling them.

It’s a lot of work for 15 minutes of fame!  I have to say, I’ll be watching the film clip of the official pardoning with a better appreciation of the work involved.

And, if nothing else, I read these days looking at how authors make complicated emotions and plot transitions look so easy.  Nothing is ever simple, is it?

So tell me, dear readers, what have you found that looked easy at first but proved difficult on execution?   Was it creating a yule log, or a gingerbread house?  (I find the best cooking disasters involve chocolate.  Even if the project fails, it’s good to eat 🙂 )  Was it putting together a “some-assembly-required” project?  Or how about learning to drive a car?  It does get easy eventually, but seems impossible at the beginning.Tiny Treats

Let’s share accomplishments and I’ll send someone who leaves a comment one of my ebooks – your choice – OR – I have an autographed copy of “LAIRD” by Grace Burrowes.  But we’ll work that out later.

For a really treat,  don’t forget to download your FREE copy of Holiday Treats today!

Thank you Morguefile free photos for providing the photographs for this blog.

 

Anticipating the Holidays

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

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

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

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

Giving Thanks

Happy-Thanksgiving(((Psst, I’m in the kitchen!!)))

You know, it’s Thanksgiving today here in the US. So while you’re taking part of your morning off to check out the antics here in the Lair, I’m in my kitchen cooking. Actually, I’ve been in it most of the week, since our family dinner takes me days to prepare. So, at the moment I’m probably making Oyster stuffing for my turkey, a requirement in this household and I thought I’d tell y’all a few things I’m thankful for.

1. Bad Plumbing.

Yep, bad plumbing. Our house is nearly 50 years old and that means major plumbing issues that we’re saving $$ to repair, but in the meantime we have learned to work around it. In particular the drainpipes from the washing machine to the outside. See, the washing machine functions just fine, until it drains. Then I have to make a mad dash from whatever spot in the house I’m at to stop the washer before the water backs up into the house and all over the laundry room floor. Then I have to wait at least one full minute, two are better, turn it on , watch for the water, turn it off and repeat at least once more. Then we wait through the rinse cycle and repeat the on and off process until it kicks into the final spin.Bad_plumbing_medium

What a major PIA that is! How can I possibly be thankful for it?

Well, I’ve taken this up as extra reading time. See, I’ve set a chair near the laundry room door, and I have a book on it that I read during each time I wash a load of clothes. Of course, those 1-2 minutes wait times seem to be more like 5-10 minutes or 1-2 pages. 🙂 But, I don’t feel guilty about reading during the time I should be writing, because I can’t write when the washer is going anyways!

So, yes, I’m thankful for bad plumbing.

2. Bacon.

Let me say that again. I’m thankful for BACON.

baconAbout five years ago my dear hubby, we’ll call him the Jazzman, went on a restrictive diet of his own making. One of the things he deemed not worth consumption, (along with shrimp, lobster, bread, and anything processed) was pork products. Now, I make a killer pork roast and wonderful ham. I’ve mastered porkchops that aren’t dried out and sausage in various forms, but when bacon went on the do not serve or cook or eat list, I nearly died.

But I was patient. Ordered bacon on food when I went out, occasionally cooked it when he wasn’t home, and waited. 

This past spring, Jazzman was doing some more reading, (always a scary thing around here), and he came to the conclusion that bacon, especially organic bacon, might be okay for us to consume.

HALLELUJAH!!

So, yes, I’m thankful for apple smoked organic bacon grilled outside and the pleasure of having it several days a week!

3. A slightly too small dining table.

Actually if you’ve seen my dining room table, (Joanie has), it’s huge, solid cherry-wood with big thick legs. I LOVE this table! It seats 8 comfortably. The problem is when the whole clan is here it gets a little crowded. 8 adults and 5 growing kids. I did the math the other day, and I think I’m gonna be one chair short. I probably should make a kids table this year, but a couple of those little ones still need to sit with parents in order to see that they eat and no mischief occurs. Well, no mischief that their dads and the Jazzman don’t start! 🙂

I love having this big clan and all the little people here for the holidays. I love the passing of the food, the conversations, the laughter, even the adults wetting the tops of their crystal glasses and making humming sounds with their fingers, (the Jazzman taught them this when they were kids!) 🙂 And at my house, they drink different amounts from their glasses to make harmonious chords in their rim-ringing!

Yes, I’m thankful for the slightly too small table and all the chaos at holidays and family meals!

4. Bad Weather.

Stormy-WeatherNot traumatic weather. I would never wish hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis or earthquakes on anyone, let’s be clear on that. But I do like it when there’s snow or rain in the forecast, the skies are cloudy, grey or dark. I seem to get a lot of writing done during these kind of days. Something about the charged atmosphere seems to lend to my brain’s functioning in a writing sort of way. Of course, due to the dark skies and cold weather I usually require a nap, but hey my subconscious can work out a problem with the books while my eyes rest. Right?

Hehehe, yeah, I don’t really buy that one, either!

Another reason to like cold or stormy weather. I have an excuse to make a big pot of soup. I love making soups. Chopping up a boatload of veggies, searing meat or chicken and tossing it all into the slow cooker with stock and letting it cook for hours and having a hearty meal at the end of the day is wonderful. What’s not to like about a meal that virtually cooks itself? And luckily for me Jazzman loves soups and leftovers! He’ll eat them for lunch for days.

See…bad weather, the sort I like, is another thing to be thankful for.

5. A mother who loved to read.

The four previous reasons were all sort of making the best of bad things, but not this one. 

write-web-copy-your-customers-will-love-reading11I grew up watching my mom take time from her day to read. She read each and every day. Maybe only a page or two, often half a book, but she always read. She taught me my letters and letter sounds and to read simple words before I even hit Kindergarten. When I started reading in school, she let me read to her. My books were Dick & Jane readers with simple 1-2-3 word sentences. But she listened and helped me sound out each and every word. Because of this I was always in the advanced reading classes. She took us to the library and even though there was a four-book limit for kids my age, Mom would always talk the librarian into letting me get seven or eight books, assuring her I’d read them all before I had to return them.

As I grew, I started to read chapter books. When I’d run out of them, I’d find a simple romance novel lying around. Usually a Barbara Cartland. Then I moved into bigger romances, Woodiwiss, Joanna Lindsey, Patricia Matthews. If Mom left it lying around it was fair game. Even after I married and moved out. Whenever I came home I’d see what books Mom had finished, then I’d usually take 5 or 6 of them home with me. She’s yet to forgive me for taking THE GIFT by Julie Garwood home BEFORE she read it. That was the first of Julie’s books I read. Immediately I went to the books store to get her backlist!

Because Mom and I love a lot of the same writers we exchange books and often have long conversations about books, stories and writers. She’s also my biggest supporter.

So, THANKS, MOM! I’m very grateful to have had a mother who reads!

6. Readers, including all our wonderful Bandit buddies.

I’m so thankful for readers. Y’all are wonderful! You keep us charged with the desire to produce more books. You tell us what you like, what you don’t. You challenge us to write tighter, bigger, deeper. (Uhm, let’s not go the erotic route on that last line, okay?)

a3b9af4e55b598b98cebe89a6827a400Here in the Lair we’ve come to know y’all so well. Many of you are our biggest fans. You help us welcome our friends/guests and buy many of the books we introduce to you. When the last of the Banditas launched our first books and fledgling careers we already had fans. YOU GUYS! 

Publishing, and indie publishing in particular, is a very scary step into the unknown. But like Indiana Jones in the third movie, we took a step of faith that looked like a huge chasm leading to our death, but instead, there was this nearly invisible bridge…our Bandit Buddies…to keep us from falling to our doom. The smiling faces we know popping up to chat with us on other blogs so we wouldn’t be Nellie-no-friends. You were the ones who bought our books and chatted them up to your friends, both in person and on line to notch up our sales. You are the ones who read our books and left honest reviews for them at Amazon, B&N and Goodreads. You are the ones who retweet our goofy tweets and sales or like and share our FB posts to all your friends.

YEP! VERY THANKFUL FOR THE BANDIT BUDDIES and ALL OUR READERS!

 So, what are you thankful for today? Have you ever seen the bright side of something like bad plumbing? Are you thankful for bacon? Tell us a great Thanksgiving story or a story that made you thankful for something that surprised you! I’m cleaning out my office and have a bag of books from RWA National this year I think I’ll give to one reader today in thanks for being here.

Thanksgiving Playlist Quick Five

Hi all!

Thanksgiving is next week here in the states and we’ve already started planning the big feast.  Company will be coming and I thought I’d put together a playlist of Thanksgiving songs for a little background music while we’re eating.

The problem is…there are no Thanksgiving songs.  Well, not very many that are purely devoted to Thanksgiving.  Heck, even the song I most associate with Thanksgiving – “Over the River and Through the Woods” (Originally written by Lydia Maria Child in 1844 titled “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day”) has been rewritten to eliminate all mention of Thanksgiving.  

Thanksgiving-turkey-2Adam Sandler recorded a song “The Thanksgiving Song” which I really dislike.  I dislike his voice and the lyrics (it comes with a parental guidance warning) and the lack of a real tune.  It won’t be on my playlist.

I’d forgotten that Alice’s Restaurant Massacre by Arlo Guthrie is set around Thanksgiving.  Love the song but it’s way, way long and doesn’t have a lot of tune to it.  Plus it just doesn’t say “I’m thankful for small blessings,” you know?

So help me out.  Here’s my five downloads for my playlist but I need more.  The song doesn’t have to be about Thanksgiving, just a love-of-family, love-of-life, feel-good songs.

1.  Over the River and Through the Woods because it does say Thanksgiving to me.  I like this version.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZW73Qzju4A

2.  You’ve Got a Friend by James Taylor  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDzNAxpOaYo

3.  We Gather Together – the hymn.  This version is by Celtic Women  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0JVqR8KnF4

4.  We Are Family by Sister Sledge     I’ll be dancing around and singing the lyrics while cooking when this one plays.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBpYgpF1bqQ

5.  Eat it by “Weird Al” Yankovic  because – you’ve got to have a sense of humor 🙂  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcJjMnHoIBI

So what do you think?  Any recommendations?  I send someone leaving a comment “Death in a Turkey Town” by Melanie Jackson.  It seems holiday appropriate 🙂

Bring on the first turkey…

Somewhere it must be written that all holidays MUST be accompanied by a feast of gigantic proportions, and as feasts go – Thanksgiving is one laden-table-mother of a feast…bigger perhaps than even the Christmas eats.  Perhaps it’s the lack of decorations.  Have you noticed that the stores – and I’m speaking American stores as it would do no good to sell Thanksgiving decorations in Australia 🙂  – go straight from Halloween witches to Christmas elves with barely a nod to the Pilgrims?  The few decorations in the stores are generally centerpieces for the table…which brings me back to the ginormous quantity of food that will bestow our table tomorrow.

We’ve already started cooking in preparation for Thursday’s meal.  I’m anticipating eight here for dinner, so not exactly a crowd.  Yet I have a 22 lb. turkey defrosting in the refrigerator, another 21 lb. turkey in the freezer, a small turkey breast in the freezer and a 16 lb. ham in the fridge.  Now I know what you’re thinking.  That’s enough to feed a small army!  My mother, bless her soul, came up for Thanksgiving one year – took one look at all the food and said, “did I starve you when you were little?”   🙄  In my defense, however, I only bought one of the turkeys.  The second turkey and ham were given to us by one of my tax clients.  And just because two turkeys aren’t enough, my husband brought an 18 lb. frozen turkey home from work today.

  This overabundance of frozen fowl seems to occur every year.  I’ll save one turkey for Christmas and cook another sometime in February after we’ve recovered from holiday turkey overload.

Here’s our menu for Thursday.  We start with appetizers which are available for noshing most of the day until the actual meal.  We’ll have a pumpkin cake roll which I made two weeks ago and have kept in the freezer (and can’t stay in the freezer because – well – there’s no more room), little smokies smothered in barbeque sauce, shrimp and cocktail sauce, chips and  french onion dip, a mexican dip, cut vegetables and a dip, and probably a box of chocolates provided by my sister-in-law.  I think the veggies are there mainly to make us think we are eating healthy.  With the exception of the baby carrots, most of the other veggies will go largely untouched.

I’ll roast one turkey and cook the ham (and give away the meat as we’re not big ham devotees here).  Side dishes will include stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy – with a button in the gravy for good luck.  It’s a tradition from when I cooked my first Thanksgiving meal for my husband.  Our kitchen was so tiny, a button fell off the fridge and plopped into the gravy without my knowing.  Naturally, while my husband was oohing and ahhing over the meal, he ladled the button out of the gravy boat.  Quick thinker that I was, I told him the button was for luck – and we’ve tossed a button in the gravy ever since…but I digress…  Continuing on, we’ll have  sweet potatoes, sauerkraut and pork, green bean casserole, a sweet corn souffle, cranberry sauce  (the jellied kind.  We actually prefer to see the ridges of the can on the slices :-P.   We tried making a fresh cranberry sauce once and it did not go over well), fresh rolls and a festive fruit-filled jello mold…because there’s always room for jello, right?

For dessert, we bake three different pies.  In fact, we’re baking them today as it’ll free up some oven demands.  My daughter has an amazing way with pie crust, so everything is handmade – no store bought pies for us.  We’ll have pumpkin pie (of course), my bourbon pecan pie (a staple), and a cranberry pie that’s become my son’s favorite.  Pie is accompanied by ice cream and several cans of aerosol whipped cream.

Even with sending containers of ham and turkey home with our guests, there’ll still be enough food to carry us through the weekend without additional cooking.  Let’s face it, there’s something almost sacred about a good turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving.

And somewhere, for a few moments before the forks fly in wild abandonment right after the anticipated AMEN, we’ll pause and reflect on those things for which we’re most thankful.   For me that includes not only the companionship and good health of my family and guests, but that of my bandita family as well. I’m grateful we were able to add little Coco, a kitten rescued from a hoarder’s home, into our family this year.  And I’m grateful that I’m immersed in an industry of strong, supportive women, and that I get to create and tell fun stories with guaranteed happily-ever-afters.  In that vein, I’m especially thankful that I get to share my new cover with you all.  Isn’t it a beauty?  THE CASANOVA CODE won’t be out till June 2012, but seeing the cover means it won’t be long now.

So tell me about eating traditions in your household.  If not Thanksgiving, some other holiday should suffice.  I thought I’d put one of the side dish recipes in the recipe section of the Members Only den – is there a particular one you’d like to see?  How do you like the new cover?  Pink seems to be a hot trend in historicals right now.  I wonder why?  I’ll give a copy of REDEEMING THE ROGUE, which includes the first chapter of THE CASANOVA CODE in the back to someone leaving a comment today. So come’on.  Let’s talk turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

By Kate

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the USA and many of us are looking forward to celebrating the day by cooking, watching football, and eating too much.

Oh, and we also give thanks for that which we’ve been blessed. 😉

Now, as some of you may know, I am officially known as the worst cook in the world. No, really. I burn things. All the time. Our smoke alarm gets a real workout whenever I step into the kitchen.

And yet, for my family, I took a chance and cooked several side dishes for the holiday. So what do I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I didn’t burn anything! Hallelujah!!

Yeah, it was a shock for me, too. 🙂

Okay, now let’s talk about what I’m really thankful for this time of year. I’m especially thankful for my dear family and for so many wonderful friends here in the Lair and elsewhere. I’m thankful that I’m able to write books for a living and I’m doubly thankful for all the fabulous readers, booksellers and librarians I’ve met all over the country. Thank you!!

So now, just for fun … here’s a snack to enjoy at a holiday party or a small gathering with friends. It’s an old family recipe and so simple to make, even I can do it—without burning anything!

Be careful with these – they’re addictive! They only take 5 minutes to mix, then 20 minutes baking time.

Kate’s Crazy Mixed-Up Nuts

¼ cup butter
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp each: seasoned salt, celery salt and garlic powder
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp. each cayenne pepper and pepper
1 c. shelled walnuts
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup whole almonds, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 325 F. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Simmer over low heat for several minutes for flavors to blend. Stir in nuts and transfer to a shallow baking pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Makes 3 cups. (Great with cocktails. And they can also be tossed on salads.)

Wishing everyone in the States a very Happy Thanksgiving! And to our friends in other parts of the world, a very Happy Thursday!!

I’m enjoying a cool, sunny day here in Palm Desert, California. Where are you today? How’s the weather? And what are you thankful for today? For sharing with us on Thanksgiving, I’ve got a signed copy of THE LIES THAT BIND and some fun promo goodies for one random commenter!

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