Tis the season to be busy. Wait! That's not how the song goes. But it sure would work as the theme song for my life. When it comes right down to it, though, that's how I like to live. It's been a busy and fun couple of months with a movie to celebrate, a new book (THE SNOW GLOBE) to talk about, and great friends and family to enjoy. This weekend we had back to back parties - my definition of a perfect weekend! In between the parties I had a signing at my local Costco, so thought it would be fun to take some cookies to the hard-working people who keep that place humming. I decided to try making Martha Stewart's snow globe cookies. This was the second time around - the first was, well, let's just say not good. I couldn't find the requisite ginger bread boys and had to try and paint a scene on my snow globe using frosting gel... which never sets up. Ick! But this month I was able to find the cute little gingerbread icing decorations (at my Michael's store, in with the cake decorating supplies - they're made by Wilton). And, the template provided on Martha's site (Google "Snow Globe Cookies" and you'll find it!) was actually pretty big so the first time I made these I put in a lot of work and wound up with very few cookies to show for it. This time I printed out the template and then made it smaller by about an eighth of an inch all the way around and I got a lot more cookies out of the deal. (the site says to transfer the template to cardboard - I used tin foil. It somehow felt more sanitary.) As you can see by the picture, they didn't turn out half bad. No, as perfect as the ones Martha's cookie expert created because I didn't take time to outline before frosting. That meant I didn't stay within the lines when coloring with my frosting. But they still looked cute. I even had enough left over to add to the cookie plate for my dinner party, so that was a nice bonus. Now this week it will be serious cookie baking time. I've held off for most of the month because those melt-in-your-mouth goodies just melt right onto my hips and I figured the longer I kept temptation out of the house the better it would be. But now my son is home and is not going to let me off the hook on making such goodies as fudge melt-aways. So I'll be making those along with my infamous Andes mint cookies, my special brownies with the mint frosting (you can find the recipe for those in ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS) and, of course, cut-out sugar cookies (got to have those frosted green Christmas trees). Oh, man, I can feel the fat cells multiplying even as talk. But, tis the season! Tis also the season to reflect on how blessed we are, and that is my goal for this Christmas when I sit by the tree with my family. With each present I open I'm going to think about the bigger things I've been gifted with: health, family, friends, a great church, a great husband, a warm house, hope for the future. Those are the presents that count. Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas filled with the lasting presents of hope, joy,
We had a fabulous red carpet party to celebrate the Lifetime Movie Network premier of ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS. It was great fun seeing one of my books turned into a movie, and getting to share that experience with friends and family. Wish I could have rented a theater and invited twice as many people! As you can see, guests showed up in their bling. We had everything from vintage furs and pearls to boas. (In looking at the pictures though I think I'm going to stick to basic black from now on. My fabulous designer blouse may be fabulous but it makes me look like a fat, pink toadstool. I think I should have had my stylist buddy Gayle Rich help me. In fact, I know I should have had Gayle help me. What was I thinking trying to fly solo for such a big even?!) Since Bob Humbug is a stickler for making us remove our shoes we decided to have a "hottest feet" contest. Jan won with her black lace foxy socks. Annette, our favorite diva on a dime was definitely in the running with her hot pedi but she had to leave early and lost out. What can I say? Must be present to win. :) Let me tell you, I sure felt like a winner getting to celebrate with friends and family. It was a wonderful, memorable day. Thanks to all who came!
Toasting with Jan and soon to be published Sherril (Uh, where's your glass, Flower? Did Bob Humbug steal it?)
As you can see, a great time was had by all.
Cake & champagne, oh yes!
Well, last night we watched the premier of ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS. How fun to see the characters from my book come to life! We did some serious celebrating with champagne and cake and fancy appetizers provided by our friends Tom & Kathy and Rick & Theresia. (And that on top of the pizza we had and the Peppermint Fizz drinks I made - get the Tums!) Gerhardt devoured two-thirds of the cake single-handed. What a guy. What a pig! This Saturday we'll be hosting our gala chick flick party. Did you enter the contest and tell us what you would wear?
Someone is eating all the cake!
As many of you know, my novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS has been made into a movie and is going to be showing on the Lifetime Movie Network this December 5th (8 p.m. Eastern) Needless to say, we're excited about this, especially my husband (known as Gerhardt the Gardener thanks to the UTube video we did about LOVE IN BLOOM). Poor Gerhardt. I haven't broken it to him yet that Bob Humbug, the character based on him has undergone a name change and is now Stephen. Well, don't worry Gerhardt. We'll still know it's you! Gerhardt and all the girls as well as my family will be watching the movie on the 5th. Then on December 11th we're going to have a big chick flick "red carpet" party. We're all planning to come dressed in our bling and will be doing red carpet interviews. Providing we don't get snowed out of course. Here in the Pacific Northwest we all tend to freak out at the sign of the first snow flake - especially! - so I'm hoping the white stuff stays away. Until after Christmas would be really nice. Of course, it's more than welcome in the mountains... where it belongs. So, how about you? Are you going to be watching ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS? And if you were at my red carpet party what would you wear? Hop on over to the contest page and tell us all. We'll pick a winner at random (in other words, we'll do like we did with THE SNOW GLOBE contest and pick a name out of a hat.... or maybe in this case a Christmas stocking!). Some lucky person will win a nice holiday reading package consisting of books by my friends Susan Wiggs, Margaret Mallery, and me. So be sure and check it out.
Well, in honor of my new book hitting the shelves, my daughter Rose, my friend Theresia, and I all decided to try our hand at making snow globes. This could have proved to be a big nightmare since I did not inherit the craft gene. My mom had it, my daughter has it -obviously, in my family it skips a generation. But this turned out to be great fun. So, what do you need to make a snow globe? Cute jars (pickle jar, jam jar - anything that will hold a miniature ornament), ornaments for inside the jar (which you can get at craft stores such as Michael's and JoAnne's), glue & glue gun, glycerin, glitter, distilled water, and some ribbon to cover up the jar lid.
We did this in stages, gluing our figurines one day and then filling the jars with water and glue after the decoration inside had time to set up. To make it more visible, we mounted a bottle cap on top of our lid (which served as the base). Vitamin bottle caps work great for this. So, once your decoration is in there and you've filled your jar with water and added glitter, how much glycerin? Well, it depends on how slowly you want your glitter "snow" to fall. The more glycerin the slower the snowfall. I think we used about a quarter teaspoon. Experiment with this. Some sites suggest mineral water instead of glycerin but we found that it made the water cloudy. Some sites called for waterproof glue. We tried that. The figurine fell off its stand with one small tap. Regular old glue gun glue worked like a charm.
One of the globes we used aquarium sealant to make sure our lid stayed on. The other two though, again, good old glue gun glue did the trick. You want to fill your jar as full as possible so you don't wind up with an air bubble at the top. But hey, if you get a bubble, put a decoration on the top and no one will be the wiser. This makes a great project to do with girlfriends or older children. We had a wonderful time together doing this. And our snow globes turned out great. The picture doesn't do them justice. (I didn't inherit the photography gene either!)
Can keep an author from going where she needs to go. Last Friday was great fun. I enjoyed hamming it up at a library event with my friends and fellow writers Susan Wiggs and Kimberly Fisk. (Great women, great conversation, and chocolate - what was not to like about that?) After the event, it was off to Bellevue (lovingly known as the east side to Seattle residents) for a romance writers conference (where there would, of course, be more chocolate). Sheila was at the wheel . . . and Kimberly, who was riding shotgun was wishing she'd had more wine and chocolate before we left. Our timing wasn't the best, going through Seattle when a Mariners game is letting out. Let me just say that a salmon would have an easier time spawning upstream. We encountered the mother of all detours and wound up stuck in traffic waiting for a turn signal to change. This would have not been so stressful if we hadn't been waiting on a train track. Yes, I know. Does that get the stupid award or what? I kept thinking the conga line of cars was going to move forward any second, but nobody was going anywhere. And yes, there were no trains on the track but still... I know I saw SOMETHING waaay down there. A light. The light at the end of the tunnel, as in follow the light to the great beyond. Sure we were going to die any minute, I further risked life and limb and car fenders and squeaked by the car in front of me, went another way that had Kimberly reciting the Lord's Prayer, and, low, and behold, we finally wound our way back to the freeway entrance we needed. I sprouted eighty-two new hairs in the process but we made it to our conference and had a great time. As you can see by the picture of me happily, hamily smiling with authors Cherry Adair and Elizabeth Boyle and my fabulous editor from St. Martin's Press, Rose Hilliard. Now I'm once more safely home and I keep thinking about that old kids' song about the peanut sitting on the railroad track with its heart all aflutter. How does the peanut's story end? "Toot, toot! Peanut butter." Well, when you act like you have the brain of a peanut what can you expect? Thank God I have a very efficient guardian angel!
Is truly another woman's treasure. As our "Something from nothing" gang proved this week. We gathered at our friend Annette's place and swapped housey things. We had everything from kitchen utensils to espresso makers. Let me tell you, I snagged that espresso maker instantly - I always like to have a back-up. (BTW, Kimberly, this doesn't get you off the hook for giving me your old one - if one back-up is good, two is even better!) So, what else did we have? Bottles of wine, garlic, kitchen utensils, a dish towel, decorations, and even some Pampered Chef. What a treasure trove! This is such a fun thing to do with your girlfriends or neighbors. Everyone bring what she no longer wants or likes and everyone is free to take what she falls in love with. Leftovers go to the Goodwill - a win, win, win situation! If you're looking for a fun fall party I highly recommend it.
All of you who are city peeps have the advantage of theater, activity, shops, and great restaurants. Sometimes that sounds attractive, I must admit. But, when it comes right down to it, I like living on the edge of the sticks because we have access to free food. And food scrounging makes for a fun weekend. Last Saturday we went into the woods with friends. Fortunately, we didn't encounter the big, bad wolf or (more likely) a bear or (even more likely) hunters. We did find a field full or huckleberry bushes and some chanterelle mushrooms. Yum! Wild huckleberries make the best pies on the planet. They also make wonderful jam, coffee cake and liquor. (Try adapting the blackberry cordial recipe from "Small Change".) Mushroom hunting is like Easter Egg hunting for grown-ups. No, now that I think about it, at the price of those things in the store, well, it's more like panning for gold. Even better than the money savings is the time in the great outdoors, a chance to be with friends, and the memories made. That's priceless. Mushroom season is right now, so if you do live near woods this is the time to go hunting. (Check out the various on-line sites to be sure you know what you're looking for. Even better, if you have a friend like my buddy Kimberly who is a expert on the 'shroom, take a guided expedition to make sure you're not picking something that will make you sick. God's bounty is everywhere. Let's enjoy it!
Oh, the fun of making pretty things! My friend Theresia, the culinary artist, showed me how to turn fruits and veggies into flowers. If you're having a fancy dinner party... don't start this an hour before the guests arrive. This is an art, a time consuming art. And you need patience, grasshopper. Something I don't have a lot of, so, needless to say, what you see in the picture is mostly Theresia's work. She used carrots, radishes, green onions, and strawberries for her artwork. The less than perfect specimens are mine! If you're looking for a fun afternoon activity to do with your girlfriends this fall, this might be it. Check out the how-to videos on Utube (search by typing in "fruit and vegetable carving") and you'll be in business. All you need are your veggies or fruit, a sharp paring knife, and patience. Did I mention patience?!
Oh, the joys of finding goodies right in your own back yard! Just like our grandmas used to do. For a while there, I think many of us sneered at those simple things Grandma spent so much time on: picking berries, growing veggies, canning - in general putting food up for winter. But now, with many of us facing financial challenges a lot of women are thinking it's not so bad to grow your own organic food, or scrounge something free from that tangle of vines down the street. Which is what I did today. Labor Day weekend - perfect for laboring for free food! Later today we have friends coming out to try their hand at catching some fish in our little lake. (I have a Plan B for dinner - call me a pessimist, but I believe in being prepared.) Anyway, as you can see by the picture, I returned from my berry expedition with a full haul. That will make a couple of pies this winter. Or maybe I'll keep some out and make blackberry cobbler. (Posted on the recipe page.) I already have berries in the freezer (thanks Annette!) to make my blackberry cordial for Christmas presents. (You can find the recipe for this yummy treat in my novel "Small Change".) I've also been harvesting zucchini from my garden, which has given us many a wonderful meal... and has resulted in several loaves of zucchini bread in the freezer (also for winter). So, jam and canned peaches in the pantry, goodies in the freezer - and maybe later we'll round out the food supply with some fish. Also, I'm going to try my hand at making rose hip tea. I'll harvest the rose hips right after the first frost. (If you're wondering what the heck rose hips are, they're those little reddish globes hanging from your rose bush about this time of year - and they contain Vitamin A more Vitamin C than an orange.) So, I'm feeling pretty good. I may not be saving a fortune, but I'm saving something and we're eating well. And I'm enjoying the thrill of the hunt. And that, as the Mastercard people say, is priceless!