We are in the holiday spirit here at the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop! This week, J.J. Devine asks:
What is your favorite holiday cookie recipe?
If you joined me from Jenna Da Sie http://jennadasie.com, welcome!
I’ll say it write off. I’m not much of a baker. If any of my family are reading this, they are now rolling on the floor laughing at this understatement. That’s not to say I never bake. I make chocolate chip cookies and banana bread and zucchini muffins. But when I do, it usually means the planets have aligned in a very rare sighting!
The only time I always make treats is at Christmas, and I have two all-time favourites. Today I’m going to share Chocolate Haystacks (otherwise known as Oat Delights). The irony is they are a non-bake cookie—but that’s party why I like them!
2 cups sugar
6 tbsp. cocoa
½ cup butter
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut
3 cups minute or quick oats
Combine sugar, cocoa, butter and milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.
Add vanilla and stir.
Remove from heat and add coconut and oats.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. Chill.
Make about 4 dozen. I usually double the recipe, as they freeze well.
I hope you've discovered a new to you recipe, and be sure to continue collecting your holiday baking recipes with J.J. Devine! Thanks for stopping by!
The holiday season is upon us! This week on the Romance Writers Weekly blog, C.L. Marcolini asks:
What do you do to get into the holiday spirit?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
The weather is a big influence for me in getting into the holiday spirit. Here in Northern British Columbia, we don’t usually have to worry about having a white Christmas. But winters have been getting warmer over the last several years, and the snow we’ve gotten recently is wet and slushy, like spring snow. Despite that, the clean white covering is the first sign it’s time to get ready for the holidays.
The next influence on me for getting into the spirit are Christmas lights. My husband loves putting up lights, and we tease him that he is the neighbourhood Clark Griswold. But I have to admit, when the days are so short, it is lovely to come home to a brightly lit up house.
And then there’s the music. I am a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas songs. There are few new carols released that I like. I prefer the old standbys, but don’t mind a new version of an old favourite once in a while. I discovered The Pentatonix Christmas album last year, and it’s joined the rotation with Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, John Berry, and others.
What do you do to get in the spirit? I’d love to hear from you! Then, be sure to hop onto the next stop on the blog, Leslie Hachtel!
It’s a tough one this week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop. Leslie Hachtel asks:
What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
I’m sorry, but that’s like asking what my favourite book is. Actually, it might be even harder than asking what my favourite book is. There are so many wonderful places in the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to see quite a few of them. But there are so many more to visit, yet. How do I know what my favourite is if I haven’t seen them all?
That being said, let’s see if I can narrow things down.
Favourite Local Spot
If I only consider vacation spots within an hours drive of my home, I’d have to say Purden Lake. This is a provincial campsite, and we’ve stayed there dozens of times over the years, right from when our children were tiny. If we were to ever buy a cabin that is the lake we would choose.
Favourite Big City
I’ve been to quite a few “big” cities, including London, Paris, and New York. While they all have a unique vibe are well worth the trip, I think I love London the best. It helps that I can read all the signage, but the mix of ancient and modern is undeniably alluring, and the subway system amazingly simple to use.
Favourite Hot Spot
I’ve been to a couple of Hawaiian islands and Mexico three times. I’m a big fan of the Puerto Vallarta area. We love taking the local buses and exploring outside of the tourist areas. The beaches, while rockier and wilder than on the east coast, are beautiful and clean.
Where’s your favourite vacation spot? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. After that, be sure to hop on over to C.L. Marcolini http://clmarcolini.weebly.com/blog and see what her favourite place to visit it.
Whether we like it or not, winter is on it’s way. But there is still plenty of time to enjoy fall first! This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, J.J. Devine asks:
What is your favorite fall activity?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
We had a hot and smoky summer here in Northern BC, with forest fires burning all around our province. So the wet September we had was actually quite welcome. That being said, I am glad the overcast skies are gone and crisp, clear blue fall is here.
If winter didn’t come after fall, I think it might be my favourite season. Spring in Northern BC is often muddy and ugly and depressing, what with melting snow leaving piles of gravel and garbage behind. But despite the shorter days of fall, we are usually blessed with bright sunshine and invigorating temperatures. Walking the dog is no longer a leisurely stroll, but a heart-pumping activity. Yet there is so much to see in the changing colour of the foliage, and once the leaves are gone our regular walks reveal vistas hidden during the greenery of summer.
I also enjoy curling up with a good book and steaming cup of coffee on Sunday mornings in November. For example, this past Sunday, frost glittered on the roofs and lawns, and steam rose from furnace chimneys. It was wonderful to sit all cozy and warm with my dog at my side and simply relax.
How about you? What’s your favourite activity during this season? I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line in the comments and I’ll be sure to reply!
Now it’s time to hop on to the instigator of this topic, J.J. Devine. Check out her blog here!
It’s October 31st, so what else would the blog hop be about than Halloween? This week, Jenna Da Sie asks:
Do you dress up for Halloween, and if so, what are you planning this year? What did (or will) you do to celebrate? Or, tell us a favourite Halloween story from years gone by.
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
I’ve always enjoyed Halloween, although I'm not into haunted houses or scary movies at all. When I was growing up, I always envied those kids I saw on TV and in the movies trick or treating as princesses and witches without having to figure out how to make the costume fit over a snowsuit. Here in Northern British Columbia, we often had a foot of snow and minus degree temperatures at the end of October, necessitating costumes that could accommodate layers of clothing, mittens and toques. I went as a die one year (a cardboard box covered in white paper with large black dots). It was perfect for wearing a snowsuit underneath!
Whether it’s global warming or just the cycle we’re in, my children only had to combat snow a couple of times on Halloween. My oldest daughter still loves dressing up, even though she's on the other side of the door now. And while I seem to remember quite a few Halloweens that involved tears while we got everyone ready, they must have been mine, as the photos I flipped through looking for one to share show happy, smiling children!
What about you? Are you a freak about Halloween? Or can you take it or leave?
Leave me a note in the comments if you like, then be sure to hop on over to Jenna da Sie’s blog. She’s got a little guy just the perfect age for Halloween and I sure has some great stories to share!
I have some news I'd like to share!
My very first published romance, Mountain Fire, has been re-released with a new cover and updated story. I debated a long time on whether I would rewrite it. But I’ve learned a lot in the last five years and it was easy to see where improvements could be made. Nothing dramatic. Tweaking the plot here. Digging deeper into characterization there. Tightening up a slow scene. Those sorts of things. For better or worse, I decided to go ahead with the rewrite. In its substance, it is the same, just some details of the presentation are different.
It is now available for only 99 cents! All the buy links are here if you want to check it out. I hope you do.
Flash Fiction is one of our favourite challenges here on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop. This week, Leslie Hachtel set this assignment:
In 500 words or less using the words trapeze, oranges and sidewalk.
She stretched out her arms and balanced like a trapeze artist. The curb edging the sidewalk was made of crumbly concrete, and she imagined she was on a rocky ledge, one tiny misstep from plunging hundreds of feet to her death. She felt a little dizzy, even though she knew if she did fall, it would only be a little step into a smoothly paved gutter.
“Lizzie, be careful!” her mother scolded. “Come hold my hand.”
Obediently she joined her mother. Lizzie wondered what she would say if Lizzie really did climb a mountaintop. Not that she would be allowed to until she was grown up. Her seventh birthday had been a couple of months ago, so she was almost eight. But she wasn’t even allowed to go to the store by herself, even though it was on the corner of their street and she could see it from her house. Mr. Amir, the owner, was a smiling man with dark skin and white teeth. Sometimes he gave her candy from a bin behind the counter. Lizzie knew she shouldn’t take candy from strangers, but Mr. Amir wasn’t a stranger. He had a granddaughter in the grade above Lizzie. She had the most beautiful straight black hair. Lizzie wound a finger in her own pale strands, scowling.
Mr. Amir’s store smelled of spices and fruit. Her mother let go of her hand to fill a bag with oranges. Lizzie wandered around the corner, exploring. It wasn’t a big store, but it had lots of nooks and crannies, filled with brightly coloured packages covered in lettering that didn’t look like the alphabet on the wall in her classroom.
A few minutes later, she headed to the front of the store, expecting to see her mother at the till. But no one was there. She frowned. “Mommy!” she called. “Mr. Amir?”
Her heart started to pound. Where were they? Maybe out front? She pulled the glass door. It didn’t open. She pulled again, as hard as she could, but it didn’t budge. It was locked.
“Mommy!” she called again. Her belly felt cold and hard, like the time she’d eaten too much cotton candy. This is an adventure, she told herself, like climbing a mountain. Don’t be afraid. At yet she was more afraid than she’d ever been. A sob punched out of her chest and tears spilled down her cheeks.
Then she heard her mother’s voice. “Mommy!”
“Lizzie!” Her mother appeared at the end of the aisle, and Lizzie sprinted toward her.
“You were gone! You and Mr. Amir were gone!” She clung to her mother’s waist, breathing in the scent of laundry and peanut butter. “The door was locked! I couldn’t get out!”
“Mr. Amir locked it because he wanted to show me his garden out back.”
“I thought you’d left me.” Lizzie’s shoulders lifted and lowered in a sigh.
“Oh, baby. Mommy would never leave you.” She wiped the tears from Lizzie’s face. “Let’s go home.”
Lizzie held her mother’s hand all the way home, and didn’t once wish she was older.
I'd love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below, and then hop on to the creator of this challenge, Leslie Hachtel!
Here in Northern BC, September is often one of our most beautiful months. We usually enjoy bright skies, colourful leaves, and warm daytime temperatures. This year it wasn’t quite as nice as we expect, so this week’s topic on Romance Writers Weekly is appropriate: Jenna Da Sie challenges us to write a poem about summer ending.
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel welcome! Here’s my attempt (it’s been a long time since I wrote poetry!).
September tears mourn summer sunshine,
Clear heralds of the whiteness to come.
Blue skies give way to a flat, grey ceiling
That presses down our spirits.
A pall of red and gold drowns the hills,
Until battling winds blow it away.
Thin, twisted skeletons wait in silence
For the frigid chill of winter dark.
Hmmm – I seem to be in a bit of a morbid mood today. I forgot how poetry makes you look inside yourself and search for what you truly feel.
Leslie Hachtel Is up next. Keep on hopping by clicking here.
It’s great to have good days, where everything goes exactly the way we planned. But the bad days make for the best stories. This week on Romance Writers Weekly, I challenged our members to tell a real life story about something that went horribly awry, but now makes everyone laugh.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
First off, I'd like to wish my Mom a very happy birthday today! She's a woman of many talents (most of which I didn't get) with an adventurous spirit. And just because it is her birthday, I'm going to share one story about her that is legend in our family, before I get to my own. Sorry, Mom!
Winter in Northern BC usually involves lots of snow and bright, clear days. Snowshoeing is a favourite pastime for my parents. One day a number of years ago they were trekking along a trail that ran next to a road. There had been a big snowfall the day before, and up ahead a snowplow was making its way toward them. For those of you not blessed (or cursed) with snowy winters, snowplows can be huge monsters of vehicles, and they travel quickly, pushing plumes of snow ten feet high or more onto the shoulders of the road as they roar past. My mom figured she would just stand under this plume, as it looked light and fluffy. My dad, at little further away from the road, turned his back and pulled his hood up over his head. When the plow had gone by and he faced forward again, all he could see was a figure lying flat on her back, snowshoes pointing to the sky, completely covered in snow. After he stopped laughing, he helped her up (it's very tricky to get to your feet wearing snowshoes!) and then they spent the next several minutes shaking snow out of everywhere – behind her glasses, down her coat, inside her boots. Upon reflection, they both realized how lucky she had been. There could have been rocks or other debris inside that plume that could have hurt her badly. But that doesn't stop us from laughing every time we think of this story!
As for myself, one of the most humiliating events occurred when I was in Grade 12. It was the end of the year and we were having a pool party at a friend's house. I dove off the diving board, climbed out of the pool and stood back on the board to dive again. That was when I noticed various fingers pointing and heard shouts of laughter—and realized my bathing suit top had slipped down during my first dive and one boob was hanging out. I've never gotten into a pool faster than that moment. In hindsight, of course, this isn't nearly as awful as I thought as a seventeen-year old! But it still makes me squirm to think of it.
The other bad-but-funny experience I had was when I had a severe allergic reaction to codeine. For years I had codeine for severe headaches. But this time, shortly after I'd taken the pills, my face started to tingle, my lips started to itch, and by the time we reached the hospital emergency my whole face was so swollen I couldn’t see. They hooked me to an IV full of Benedryl and my husband and I waited for it to take affect. The doctor—who I couldn't see, remember—had the most lovely Australian accent. I pictured a young, handsome surfer dude, and couldn't believe that he was seeing me with a head like a pumpkin. Talk about worst first impressions! It took hours for the swelling to go down, but when I could finally see again, the doctor came back to release me. I'm still not sure if I was relieved or disappointed to discover he was a short, balding man, and not the hunk I'd envisioned. He still had a lovely voice, though!
Do you have any stories about bad days that you know look back on and laugh? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Jenna Da Sie is next! I hope you hop on over and visit her here.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a GIF worth? This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Jenna Da Sie challenges us to make a post about our day, but in GIF form!
If you joined me from Dani Jace wasn't that fun?
Here's my attempt at describing my Sunday (which is when I write my blog):
The dog wakes me up at 7am – half an hour later than yesterday, thank goodness.
I brave the grocery store.
Unfortunately, I forgot my list at home,
which means when I get back and check it, I've forgotten a few things. So, I walk the dog to the corner store and pick up what I need.
While the dog recovers from our not so strenuous walk,
I do some editing.
Dinner is at my in-laws, which means I eat too much,
And spend the rest of the evening dopey and sleepy.
Well, that was kind of fun! Next in line is Kathryn Renard. Be sure to keep on hopping!
Anyone else have the Barenaked Ladies song playing in their head? No? Well, here you go:
You're welcome. :)
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, we get to dream – and dream big! Leslie Hachtel asks:
If someone handed you a million dollars, what would you do with it?
Did you join me from J.J. Devine? I hope you left a comment on your thoughts of how she'd spend her money!
My mom calls extra money that happens to fall into your lap "mad money." You're not supposed to spend it on essentials – you're supposed to splurge, or buy something utterly ridiculous. Once she found a twenty-dollar bill, and bought this amazingly ugly jumpsuit with big baggy pants and a florid print. It made us all smile to see her in it. I guess that was the point!
I wish I could be as creative as the BNL with their million dollars, but I'm too boring for that. I'd probably do what most people would – pay off debts, make sure some was invested wisely, shared with family and charities.
But then? The rest would be mad money. And that might be the hardest to spend of all.
The thing is, I'm not much of a shopper. Retail therapy is not something I engage in. If I need something, I shop around, then buy the best I can at the best price. But I've never been the type to go to the mall on the weekend just to by things. And I've always been torn over "need" and "want." Yes, I "want" nice clothes and sexy shoes and elegant bags (LOTS of shoes and bag!) but do I "need" them? No.
So, the first thing I'd do is take a certain amount of mad money and hire a personal shopper (maybe Stacy or Clinton from What Not to Wear? I used to love that show) and have them outfit me with a complete wardrobe. That would take the stress out of it for me!
You might wonder why I didn't pick buying books as my first mad money spend. That's because, while I'm getting that new wardrobe, I'm also building a sunroom onto my house, and I am outfitting that sunroom with shelves. Then I will be buying books to fill those shelves. I'd buy first editions of my favourites, because I'd love to be able to collect valuable books, and be sure to fill the holes in series I already own but don't have a complete set of. I'd search for the bindings that match the ones I already have, even if the ones I own are in paperback, because I like sets to be seamless, and the books I already own I love, even if they are tattered and torn.
Travel would be in there somewhere, too. I'm very luck to have already visited many wonderful places in the world, but there are so many more to discover.
Now all I need is someone to give me that million dollars!
I wonder what Jenna Da Sie would spend her money on! Hop on over and see!