New Year’s Resolutions

New Year Resolution

A New Year’s resolution is a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit. A key element to a New Year’s resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the New Year and new beginnings. People committing themselves to a New Year’s resolution generally plan to do so for the whole following year. This lifestyle change is generally interpreted as advantageous. ~ Wikipedia

It’s that time of the year again.  Making resolutions.  Here are mine:

Write daily.  Finish what I write.  Edit.  Hire editors.  Hire book cover designers.  Format.  Upload new books.  Lose weight.  Read daily.  Read craft on writing.  Exercise daily for 20 minutes or more.  Follow cleaning house schedule.  Lose weight.  Do something new and different every week.  Learn my computer.  Draw.  Photograph.  Create.  Rewrite my bucket list.  Add to bucket list.  Follow up on bucket list.  Lose weight.  Slap a smile on even if it’s hard.  Don’t complain.  Utilize joy in my life.  Be the dog.  Be the dog.  Lose weight.  Be the dog.

I have to explain “be the dog”…

I received one of those emails that told a story about a man coming home from work.  As he stopped his car in the driveway, he could see his children playing in the yard.  They ignored him.  His wife was in the living room and looked out and saw him, and ignored him.  The dog heard his car, came rushing out, jumping up and down on the side of the car until the man stepped out and then couldn’t wag his tail enough to show his pleasure at seeing his master.  He was being a dog.

Shouldn’t we ‘be the dog’ to those we love?  Anyway, after reading this, I decided to ‘be the dog’ and went into the kitchen.  My grandson was standing there with his back to me, so I threw my arms around him and said, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

I couldn’t have done that at a better time in his life.  He needed a hug.  He needed to be ‘loved’ at that moment.  He needed someone on his side.

So ‘being the dog’ is part of the resolution.

I went to “Wordle” and made a tag cloud with all my resolutions, but am clueless on how to post it here without it looking tiny and fuzzy, as it looked horrible.  They need to fix that.  I can see it clear and big on their site, but can’t copy it to post here.  Their htlm doesn’t allow me to increase the size without being a fuzzy copy.  So disappointing.  I tried a few other sites, but wasn’t happy with any of them.

I added, ‘learn my computer’ to my resolutions.  LOL




Christmas is over

Is Christmas over for you?

Not for me. My son and his family are still visiting, so Christmas will last until Sunday when they leave. Then the house will look empty. A big lump will lodge in my throat as I go from room to room and pick up a forgotten toy.

I go through the same feelings, year after year. So happy before they come. Call it expectation. So busy while they are here. Working non stop to cook, set a table, clean, play with the kids, help with the bath, take them to the pool. A dotting grandmother who adores her little ones. They know it. And they come one by one to whisper in my ear: “I’m your favorite, right?” And I always answer, “Of course.”

Once they leave, I spend the day cleaning, putting back everything in place. Only then, when my house is back to its usual shape will I lose the lump and try to breathe better and reassure myself. They are with their parents, with their friends, going back to school, to their games.

Time to go back to my writing, to my life with my husband, my dear companion. Time to continue and finish the sequel of Christmas Babies.

Christmas Babies A heartwarming holiday story, set in South Florida.

Dedicated to her patients, the serious Dr. Madelyn Ramsay never had time for fun. An unexpected health problem jolts her into the realization that there’s more to life than just work. She longs to surrender to the magic of Christmas.

But can she handle the charming and secretive Dr. Nick Preston who carries his own package of  disillusions? Can she allow two newborn twins to worm their way into her

The Day After

Christmas, 2012 is a sweet memory now. The holidays were hectic this year, but as always everything came together and on time. I’m forever amazed when this happens. The tree is still up and I’ll hear my husband tomorrow asking when we’re going to take it down. When my son was small we left the tree up until New Years. I can’t imagine that now.

My family is my biggest blessing and I’m grateful for each one. My grandson was excited to find out I’d made Chicken and Dumplings! For an eleven year old, he has a huge appetite. He ate, but ate fast. ‘Course he wanted to get to the most important event of Christmas Eve and that was the opening of gifts. He loves gathering everyone’s gifts, then getting to open his. It’s a magical few minutes.

After so many people asked for my Southern Potato Salad recipe, I managed to get a recipe together. I don’t use a recipe, I throw everything together, so that was quite a task to pull ingredients together.

I thought I’d share the recipe, so here you go. Enjoy! I’d love to see your favorite recipe!

Southern Potato Salad

Feeds approximately 20

10 lbs. Red Potatoes (large ones are okay to use) diced

1 very large Red Onion (or 2 Med.) Diced small (Buy an extra- small onion, in case you need more.)

4 large stalks celery (including tops) Slice thinly or you can dice very small

2 jars cubed dill pickles (Not sweet) (can use dill relish, but not as tasty) Drain well

3 or tbsp. salt

4 level tbsp. mustard

5 or 6 large boiled eggs (separate yolks from whites after boiling) (chop whites) (mash yolks into about two or three heaping tbsp. of mayo until smooth) Refrigerate to cool.

About 4 cups mayo. You may need more mayo, depends on how dry the mix is once you fold into potatoes, celery, onion and pickles.

(I use Hellman’s and believe it makes a difference in the taste. You don’t want a thin or sweet mayo.)

Step 1: After peeling potatoes, cover with water, add 3 or 4 tbsp. salt. Bring to a boil, turn down to low to simmer for about 15 or 20 min. Check potato with fork, if getting soft, take off heat and drain. Do not rinse. In a 2 gal. bowl, refrigerate to cool. Takes about 30 minutes or so. If some are a little warm, that’s okay. Fold potatoes over a couple of  times with extra large spoon to help cool. Do not stir. They will be too much like mashed potatoes. You can still use, but won’t have the potato texture.

Step 2:  While potatoes are cooking, boil eggs, peel and separate whites from yolks. Dice or chop egg whites. Mash yolks into about 2 or 3 heaping tbsp. of mayo until smooth. (Like you would for deviled eggs) Stir in 3 or 4 level tsp. mustard into mixture. In bowl, mix 4 cups mayo with the mustard mix, add egg yolks, then fold in egg whites. Refrigerate.

Step 3: Drain 2 jars cubed Dill Pickles. Dice onions, and celery. Add all ingredients to mayo and mustard mixture. Refrigerate.

Step 4: After potatoes are cooled, remove from refrigerator. Using a spatula to get all the mixture from bowl, fold in mayo mixture to potatoes. Do not stir too hard, you’ll have mashed potato salad.

If you’re going to add more salt, add it to the mayo mix, so you won’t need to stir potatoes more than necessary. Do not add more than a tbsp. of salt to mayo, it’s salty, plus the pickles are salty. Add more to taste though, if needed.

To each of you, I hope your Christmas was Merry and all you ever dreamed of. May the New Year bring joy, blessings and prosperity into your lives.

I wish you love, butterflies and music

Sugar Plum Fairies Dancing in My Head – Stephanie Queen

Sugar plumsI’m not sure what a sugar plum is, but if they dance in people’s heads this time of year that would explain a few things. It’s the day before Christmas and I’ve been feeling a little crazy–well maybe not crazy. (Although Myren my chauffeur has been insisting that I must be crazy with increasing frequency lately.) Maybe I’m feeling a little odd. No. Odd isn’t the right word. How about out of sorts?

Let me give you an example. kmart blue light

The other night I had an irresistible urge to finally find out what a blue light special at KMart is all about. At midnight. And Saturday we went to the mall and I was totally undaunted by the fact that the only parking space  Myren could find was at the Sears Auto Center. I said, “Myren, since we’re here, have them throw some flashing lights on the sleigh–I mean car.” (That was one of those times Myren referred to me as crazy.) Do you think this suggestion was a little odd or merely out of sorts?

Scrawny treeThen there’s the fact that I have that giant dead evergreen tree standing in the middle of my house–except it’s not so green anymore. On the bright side, my floor is carpeted in lovely greenish needles and the place smells like a forest.

Is this normal behavior?

Let me rephrase that–is this sane behavior? After all, maybe a lot of us go a little crazy at Christmas time. Let’s call it the Sugar Plum Effect. Since we’re all doing it, it must be normal. Even Myren has taken to wearing ties with flashing lights. But that’s okay. I have my special holiday sunglasses at the ready.

A pair in my Holiday Sunglasses Collection (displayed on a manequin head of course)

Remember these?

The day before Christmas and all through my house, quiet sane people have turned into giddy children and can’t wait for a fat man in red to climb down our chimney.

I love this season and wish you all whatever your sugar plum-addled heads dream about all year long to come true on this night.

Merry Christmas!

Let’s Celebrate Christmas With Candy by Joan Reeves

Nobody's Cinderella by Joan ReevesSeason’s Greetings! I love the holidays — the music, the decorations, the Salvation Army  bell ringer, wrapping presents, the food — everything! I’m feeling particularly festive despite being afflicted with a miserable cold which has thrown a monkey wrench into most of my plans.

I swear, next year, I’m not scheduling anything from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day so I can be “off,” or as off as a self-employed person can ever be. That way I can concentrate on all the fun stuff instead of driving myself — and my husband crazy — trying to finish a book that should have been finished months ago.

At least my holiday romance Nobody’s Cinderella is available for those who like a side order of Holiday Magic with their romance. (Available at most ebook sellers like Kindle eBook and Nook eBook. Audio Edition.)

Eat, Drink, Be Merry

Christmas is the time of year when I allow myself to cook —  and eat — foods I normally avoid. One of these high fat/carb/sugar concoctions are those sweet morsels of southern temptation known as pralines.

Now, if you’re not from the South, you may not know about pralines. First, they’re pronounced praw-leens, not pray-leens. Whatever you call it, a praline by any other name is still delicious, fattening, and irresistible. As long as it’s made with butter, caramelized brown sugar, and tons of pecans. Oh, and that particular nut is pronounced puh-cahn. Not pee-cann. (I always tell non-southerners that the latter is a vessel in which to collect urine.)

Cookbook author Nathalie Dupree wrote in Southern Memories: “I can’t imagine a world without pralines.”

Me either! You just can’t grow up in the south without learning how to make pralines. Today, I’m going to share my secret family recipe for those yummy melt-in-your-mouth confections.

Joan’s Christmas Pralines

You need: heavy flat-bottomed saucepan, candy thermometer, cream or Pet Evaporated Milk, brown sugar, butter, pecans, something to spoon them onto like parchment paper, foil, or a silicone mat already spread on the counter and ready to go.

In the saucepan, combine:

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup cream (or 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup Pet Milk)

Clip the candy thermometer to the side of the pan so that the bulb rests in the liquid. Turn the heat on and bring mixture to a boil. Cook on medium heat to 238 degrees on the candy thermometer.

When 238 is reached, add:

1 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped (Some people use pecan halves, but I find when they are broken into big pieces, you get more pecans per candy.)

Keep on the heat, and stir until butter melts and pecans are coated. Continue cooking until candy thermometer reaches 245 degrees.

At 245, remove immediately from heat. Quickly — before mixture seizes —  spoon dollops of the mixture onto a silicone mat or parchment paper. The pralines will spread so try to use small spoonfuls until you get the hang of it and can make the size you want.

They crystallize as they cool. When completely cool, wrap each praline in a small paper doily or wax paper and store in airtight container. These make a wonderful gift, and they are simply scrumptious.

Post Script

If you’re looking for some entertainment during the holidays, try one of my romantic comedies for a sweet treat with ZERO calories: Joan’s Ebooks or Joan’s Audio Books.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romances. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers and in audio at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks , a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Info? Visit SlingWords by Joan Reeves or Joan’s Website.

Winter Solstice~Harbinger of Growth to Come

goddessThis time of year is magical for me in many ways and grey in others. The waning light is always hard for me. I don’t always feel merry and bright when it’s dark and, well, just icky outside. That’s why I look forward to Winter Solstice like a Green-Woman waiting for Spring. I love the woman

No matter what your spiritual persuasion, Christmastime is a time of celebration. For me, it’s a promise of brighter days to come and thankfulness for the harvest life has blessed me with in the previous months. I love the presents and the candle-making (which I do in my grandmother’s double-boiler so I feel closer to her and her traditions) and the card-writing, and every moment spent enjoying communing with those I love, those I really like a lot and those I’d like to know better.

This time of year for me is about people, love, light and tradition. It is a glorious time because we want to love and relate to others and become better people.

So, I feel like I should start with tradition. Yule is the celebration of the longest night, relinquishing itself to the light half of the year. Yule varies according to the Gregorian calendar from December 20~23rd . Traditionally bonfires are lit, crops and trees are “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider and cheers to wish health upon one’s crops, especially apple trees. stock-photo-evergreen-bough-with-red-bow-5922727Evergreen boughs symbolize immortality and are connected to the Divine. Evergreens symbolize the ever-green spirit in all of us, even in our darkest moments.

Wheat is used to symbolize prosperity, plenty, the culmination of the harvest spent during the cold-winter’s-night, triumph, light and life. The pagans may have used this symbol first, but isn’t it interesting that WATERFORD CRYSTAL has used it in their toasting flutes and Christmas ornaments in time immemorial. millennium ballflutes

Often, as a child, I received an orange, actually lots of oranges, in my stocking. I didn’t realize what a gift this was for Scandinavian people and all people of the North who would have treasured citrus at this time of year. I thought it was weird and cheap. Now….?… I think it’s really cool. oranges

So, what are the traditions for celebration in your family? Do you have a favorite food or decoration or tradition that symbolizes the season for you? Please share. I’d love to hear it! Happy Yule, Merry Christmas and May Your Celebrations bring Light and Love into your Life.IMG_7781

My Favourite Christmas Book – Susan R. Hughes

As much as I adore classics like A Christmas Carol (and holiday romances as well!), my HowtheGrinchStoleChristmasall-time favourite Christmas book has to be How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss. Like Scrooge, the curmudgeonly Grinch has become a symbol of the transformative power of the Christmas spirit. Since it was first published in 1957, it’s been an essential traditional holiday read for generations of children (and adults). I read it to my oldest daughter so many times in years past, I almost had it memorized.

My affection for the story began in my childhood, when everything about Christmas was magical. The Grinch hated everything I loved about the holiday – the presents, the food, the decorations. But like any good villain, he had a certain charm; there was a mischievous appeal to his evil plotting, and Dr. Seuss’ unique poetic style made the story enchanting and memorable.

GrinchBookSS03The book’s message is a simple one, reminding us that “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!” During a season when it’s easy to get caught up in stockpiling presents, the Grinch reminds us that spreading cheer among family and friends is what really matters.

What’s your favourite Christmas book?