Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh No, NaNo's Over!

I finished my NaNo novel, In Name Only, early on. The book almost wrote itself. The characters were fun to hang around with, the story kept my fingers flying on the keyboard and when it was finished I felt a fabulous sense of satisfaction.

All went well...or so one would think.

Thank goodness Hubby reminded me that today is, in fact, the last day of the month. That's right, NaNo will be over in a few hours.

Me? I just remembered I didn't validate my book when I finished it. Actually the validating thingys weren't open when I hit "the end" so I had to wait until they were.

It's a good thing he reminded me, isn't it? I would've been bummed if I didn't see the little purple banner on my NaNo page. It's a small thing, but it always makes me smile.

Thanks, honey!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Life in the Time of Dinner

She gave the pot on the stove a good stir before putting its lid in place. Hearing his footsteps behind her, she asked, “Do you have any preferences, vegetable-wise?”

“Nope. Whatever you make will be fine.”


She checked the loaf of peasant bread baking in the oven. Almost done. Closing the oven door, she turned, reached into the freezer and grabbed a bag of broccoli. As she opened the bag, ready to dump it into a pot of water, he made a sound. It wasn’t a word, actually. It wasn’t a snort or a sneeze, either. It was…a sound. One she had heard often enough that she knew exactly what it meant. Her hand stilled. She turned, caught his gaze. Silently counted to ten. Then added five.

“Got a problem with broccoli?” A smile, to hopefully mask the sudden urge she had to toss the vegetable across the room at him.


“Just say it. You don’t want broccoli?”

“Didn’t we have that yesterday?”

It was futile, she knew, to point out that they’d had broccoli last weekend, and not since.

“Maybe. So, do you have a preference, vegetable-wise?” She smiled sweetly.

“Nah. Whatever you make will be fine.”

Marriage, the final frontier.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving season is a particularly special one for us.

I won’t go into the details, but I will say this has been a difficult year. We have had many frightening moments, and a number of obstacles to deal with. But do you know what? We’re still standing, and it’s Thanksgiving so we are giving thanks—from the bottom of our hearts.

We are appreciative for the love and support of family and friends, near and far. Without you, this stressful time would have been even more harrowing. Thank you.

We are grateful beyond words to the dedicated medical professionals who work tirelessly on our behalf. You bring our goal within reach, and give us hope for the future. Thank you.

We appreciate all the heartfelt moments, gestures of kindness and gifts of laughter that have found their way to us these past months. They keep us smiling, and make even the rough days easier. Thank you.

We are thankful for so much that if we began a list no one would get to the dinner table on time…and we don’t want that to happen, do we?

Today, as we gather around our Thanksgiving table, our hearts will overflow and we will be truly, deeply, eternally grateful…for so much, and to so many. We hope you will feel some of the joy that graces our table at your own celebration.

From our home to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cookies to Go

Okay, as you’ve probably noticed, it’s officially cookie time around here. November is the month when we try new recipes in anticipation of the big cookie baking madness that most people call “December”. Let’s just say, we eat and give away a ton of cookies before the turkey even hits the Thanksgiving table!

Last night I tried this recipe for the first time. I made the dough early in the day, so the actual baking was a no-brainer. The cookies are good—so good that I’m going to double the recipe next time so there’ll be more leftovers to share with our neighbors. I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Almond Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped almonds
Whole almonds

Cream butter and sugars, then add eggs. In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add dry to wet gradually, then add chopped almonds.

Shape into two rolls. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and stick in fridge for a couple of hours.
Unwrap, slice and place cookies on ungreased baking sheets. Press a whole almond into center of each cookie, then place in a pre-heated 350-degree oven and bake for 14 minutes or until lightly browned.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday, Monday

Ever have one of those days where you hit the floor running and the whole day goes by in a blur? You know how it is...jump in the car, out of the car, into the appointment, out of the appointment, into the car... Yeah, you get it. I know you do. How do I know? Because I cannot be the only one having those kinds of days.

I'm not, am I?

Whew! I'm so glad you understand.

Okay, so Monday's passed like a whirlwind. I'm gearing up for Tuesday to be almost exactly the same. But--just so we're clear here--I'm not complaining. Nope, not one bit.

We got some excellent news today. All's good in the Leone household. I hope it is in yours, too.

Hope you enjoy your Monday...what's left of it, anyway!

Friday, November 20, 2009

What did you do last night?

This is what I did:

Banana Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3 mashed bananas
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine bananas and baking soda. Let rest.

In separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar, then add egg. Then, add banana mixture.

Toss dry ingredients into bowl. Stir. Drop onto lightly greased baking sheet and place in over for 12 minutes.

Easy, fast and yummy. Easy on the tummy, too. Oh, and this is a great way to use over-ripe bananas. I baked a batch of these last night and they’re almost gone this morning. It’s a good thing I’ve still got a few bananas left…

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Writing...Or Not?

It’s funny how even when I’m technically “not writing” I’m still writing. You would think I’d take time off from the computer screen, just back away and do something else. Honestly, that’s pretty much what I try to do—but only to an extent. The truth is, even when I’m not in full writing mode, I’m still writing.

I’ll fiddle with something I’m working on (but not technically “writing”…I know, it doesn’t make sense but bear with me, please) or I’ll write part of a chapter of a little something else I’m working on. That one? Not a “real” project, either.

I guess what’s going on is that even when I’m not focused on a particular book I’ve got several irons in the fire, any one of which I can open, mess around with, and then close until the mood strikes again. So even when I’m technically not moving from Point A to Point Z on Project Whatever, I always have something to work on.

Hmm…I guess that’s why I fumble for an answer when I’m asked, “What do you do when you’re not writing?”

Now I know the answer. I’m always writing, even if it’s just a few hours every morning. Oh, right…like this morning, I’m technically not writing but I’ve been “dabbling” for the past two hours on something that’s just been hanging around…

Nuts. It’s just nuts, I know, but it’s probably too late to change my bad habits, don’t you think?

Hope you have a nice day!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good Thoughts, Please

I'm on the run this morning so I just want to wish you a lovely Monday. I hope all is well in your corner of the world, and that you and yours are healthy, happy and enjoying life.

If you get a moment, any good thought or small prayer you might send our way today would be especially appreciated. Thanks so much!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sunday Morning

My husband loves these waffles. They’re easy to make, and the house smells heavenly long after the breakfast dishes are cleared. A perfect fall breakfast—although we’ve been known to whip up a batch on chilly evenings for dinner, too! We are having these this morning. YUM!

Pumpkin Waffles

2 cups flour
1 stick melted butter
3 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1/3 cup brown sugar
16 oz. canned pumpkin
2 ½ cups milk

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Combine eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin, milk and butter until smooth. Add dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.

Heat a waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions and bake accordingly.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Oh, I’ve got a big confession to make…

I don’t get to the bookstore as often as I’d like. But really, who does, right? We book lovers could probably live at the bookstore if anyone offered us the chance, don’t you think? Seriously, though, life here has been so scrambled that I hardly ever get to the store to choose my own books. I’m grateful that my mom, godmother and a few good friends send books they think I might enjoy. It is fun to read whatever shows up, and allows me to experience genres and authors I might not have chosen on my own. I’ve gained a number of favorite authors this way!

This past week I got lucky, and found the time to dash into the bookstore. I had two books in mind to buy, and snagged the last copy of each! Whew!

Oh, what did I buy? Both books had been on my want-to-read list, but when they were recommended by two women whose reading tastes are similar to mine the titles went to the must-read list. Okay, the first book is Soulless by Gail Carriger. Marianne mentioned she read it. The second book is Mischief in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon. I read the first book in the Mudbug series when it came out, and have been waiting (it seems like forever!) for this one to hit the bookshelves. Dru recommended it which was no surprise! Dru’s reading tastes coincide with my own it often amazes me! Anyhow, I was hugely relieved to pluck the last copy of the ne w Mudbug from the shelf at our local bookstore.

I meant to pick up a Robyn Carr while I was there, because Melissa reminded me with her comment a few days back just how much I love Ms. Carr's writing, but I forgot that one. Oh, gives me a first name on my new want-to-read list!

Ah…it doesn’t get much better than this. I’m in heaven, and now that my NaNo novel is done I’m so much looking forward to reading something someone else has written! The only dilemma is—you guessed it!—which book to read first? Decisions, decisions…

So, what are you reading? Anything you’d care to share?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

China Bound

When I was a kid I thought that if I dug a deep enough hole I’d end up on the other side of the world. Namely, that I’d find myself in China. Every kid thinks that, don’t they?

Well, I dug a lot of holes, some deeper than I was tall, but I never did get to China. I never got anywhere, to tell the truth. And my dad? He always made me fill in the holes, so after a while I gave up trying to dig my way to the other side of the world.

These past few days I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about those younger digging days. Why? Because I’ve got a shovel in my hand again. And I’m digging. And digging. And digging some more.

Last spring we ordered six dozen flower bulbs. They were delivered earlier this week. Now I’ve got to dig six dozen holes. To tell the truth, I don’t mind doing it. Gives me lots of time to think, and I don’t have to go to the gym if I exercise with a shovel in my own backyard.

Still, I find myself wondering why digging holes seemed so much more fun when I was seven than it does now. Any ideas?

What about you? Did you dig in the dirt when you were small? If you did, where do you think you were headed?

And a word of advice, if I may. If you ever think that ordering six dozen bulbs is a good idea, maybe you should close the catalog and take a walk. With a shovel. Get some perspective, you know? That way you’ll know exactly what digging to the other side of the world entails.

Have a great day! And remember, if you need me I’ll be outside…with the shovel.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When Writing a Book...

...the first line is the most exhilirating.

The last is the most satisfying.

My NaNo novel?

I've written both lines!

Yes, NaNo 2009 is officially over for me. Now, I can sit back, relax and cheer everyone else on!

Monday, November 09, 2009

November Notes...

To Self:

1. Leaving wet bathing suit hanging over deck railing “to dry” is not a good idea. Frozen, stiff suit is difficult to toss into washing machine.
2. Make a Spring Note, and place it prominently so there is no forgetting that beet and turnip seeds yield MANY more vegetables than two adults can comfortably eat.
3. All requests to “make a little something” for the holidays should be denied. Juggling fall garden chores, household issues and NaNo book is more than enough for any sane woman to deal with.

Oh… “Any sane woman”…

Hmmph. Now that might explain a lot of things!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Na No-ing

I have been hard at work on m NaNo novel, a Regency romance called In Name Only. It’s going well, each chapter following the idea I’ve got for it in my mind right onto the paper like magic. It’s a good thing, too, that the chapters are cooperating. Why? Because I’m trying to get the book done by November 13th.

I know, I know…I can hear you, and you’re right. It’s National Novel Writing Month, isn’t it? I’ve technically got until the end of November to finish In Name Only. So why am I writing at break-neck speed?

Actually, we have a prior commitment that begins on Monday the sixteenth. It will take all our time and energy, and is infinitely more pressing and vital than any novel could ever, ever be. All my attention will be on our commitment; I probably won’t even remember I write books until sometime in early December! Yes, life is strange, isn’t it?

By the way, if you’ve got a good thought or small prayer to spare anytime during the last half of the month, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!

So…the book. As I said, it is fortunately coming along well, thank goodness! I love the characters and their dilemma. Lucie has a strong sense of family commitment, and has no problem arranging her priorities. She is intelligent, good-hearted and funny. When she meets the man who makes her heart flutter she is so involved with family issues she hardly notices the flip-flopping inside her chest. They deserve happiness, even if it pretty much does come as the icing on the cake they’re so busy trying to bake they forget to pay attention to romance…

My fingers are crossed that by next Friday I’ll have the last chapter written. And if I don’t, the world certainly won’t end but I will be bummed not to have completed the November challenge. But if I’m lucky, I’ll get to try again next November, right? By that time, I’m sure to have my characters firmly in hand and headed in the right direction!

I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


I'm finally finding some time to read. I know that sounds weird, given the fact that I've always got my nose in a book. Maybe what I should say is that I'm finally finding time to read in a leisurely manner. There, that's better.

October was such a breakneck-speed month that I felt like I inhaled a few books, in fits and starts and mostly in waiting rooms or doctors' offices. Not exactly the most pleasurable of reading situations.

But so far this month I've managed to carve out a chunk of time each day to sit by the fire while Hubby carves and just sit and read. It's been fabulous!

Yesterday I finished reading Murder With All the Trimmings by Elaine Viets. I laughed so hard! I loved it! The perfect way to begin the month! When I next get to the bookstore, I'm going to pick up a few more of her books. She's got a great sense of humor, and tells a hilarious story.

By the way, I've taken to leaving books I've just finished in the waiting rooms at doctors' offices or the hospital. I figure someone else might need a little pick-me-up moment, so I just leave them on the side tables or in the magazine holders (you know, the ones filled with practically shredded, older-than-Moses magazines. Sorry, Doc!). Not a bad idea, is it?

So, what are you reading? I've got an enquiring mind, and am on the hunt for a few good titles to add to my TBR stack. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

In Name Only

My NaNo novel is a Regency romance called In Name Only. I'm having a blast writing it, so I thought I'd share the first few paragraphs with you. I hope you enjoy it!

“Straighten your shoulders, Lucinda Jane. You don’t want some impudent man peeking down the front of your gown when he asks for a dance, do you? Gracious, my dear, sometimes you have less sense than a goose!”

Dutifully Lucie pulled her shoulders back slightly so her gown’s low-cut, yet oh-so fashionable pearl-trimmed bodice lay snugly against her chest, exactly where its dressmaker, as well as Aunt Lucinda, believed it ought to be.

Had Lucie realized how wholly involved Aunt Lucinda, the Dowager Countess of Waltham, would become in every facet of her dress and behavior, she might not have agreed so readily when her aunt offered to sponsor her for the Season. But she hadn’t known, so she had accepted the proposal. Now, she had to take the sour with the sweet, and smile when she might have otherwise wished to stamp one dainty, slippered foot.

As the crowd inside the ballroom at Cresthill, the Earl of Gloucester’s London home, grew, so did the heat. The air would have been utterly stifling had it not been for the staff of frond-waving servants placed strategically around the huge room. Still, as the dancing progressed, breathing easily grew increasingly difficult.

Lucie snapped open the delicate, handmade silk fan that hung from a ribbon at her right wrist. The fan matched her gown perfectly, its aquamarine hue chosen by Aunt Lucinda to show Lucie’s creamy complexion to its best advantage.

At the moment, Lucie doubted her complexion was creamy at all, or even the tiniest bit becoming. She felt soaked in perspiration, and, even though she knew her aunt would be vexed by the request, she couldn’t hold off any longer.

Turning slowly, not wishing to appear indelicate and further displease her aunt, she gently waved her fan in front of her lips and said, “Aunt, I am nearly wrung out with the heat. I fear I must take a breath of fresh air, and quickly.”

The older woman cast a dubious gaze at her, the heavily powdered skin around her eyes wrinkling disapprovingly. Her expression spoke volumes; Lucie had no doubt that “back in the day” neither Aunt Lucinda nor any of her friends would ever have been so frail they required air—fresh or otherwise.

“Really? Why, I rather feel the touch of a chill.” With a dramatic shiver designed, Lucie knew, to squelch her request, Aunt Lucinda pulled the fine silk georgette shawl at her shoulders tight with one gloved hand. Its dark green edging and fringe matched the feathers on the dowager’s headdress.

Lucie stood her ground. “Be that as it may, I could nearly swoon from the heat. Either that or the boned corset you and your modiste insisted I wear is far too tight. My lungs feel deprived of air, and unless they are refreshed in all haste, I am sure I will fall to the ground. Just think…if I swoon here and now, and crumple helplessly at your feet, all kinds of improper peeks down my bodice might—and most likely will—be stolen.”

She slapped her fan closed, leaned in close to her aunt’s ear and whispered, “Oh! Imagine the scandal!”

Monday, November 02, 2009

Feeding an Addiction

Yes, I, too, have an addiction. Doesn't everyone?

The object of my craving, my must-have-or-I'll-scream lust is Oreos. Yes, the cookie. I love 'em.

And you know what? Oreos really, really help get the words flowing well during Na No. Trust me, I know.

If you're feeling really decadent, try the following recipe. It's fast, easy and oh-so yummy.

And I figure the cream cheese brings the Oreo addiction into the healthy-eating range. Hey, there's calcium in that cheese, isn't there? Gotta watch those bones...

One word of warning, though. These balls may bring on an addiction in your life, too. They're that good. Enjoy!

Oreo Balls

1 package Oreo cookies
8 oz. package of softened cream cheese
melted chocolate--chips, semi-sweet, dark, white--your choice.

Crush the cookies into fine crumbs. Add cheese and mix.

Roll mixture into balls. Chill balls on baking sheet for 30 minutes.

Dip balls in melted chocolate. Chill until firm.

Store any leftover balls in fridge. *

* I just put that in for the purposes of recipe maintenance, not because I actually believe you'll have leftover balls.

And if you do? Have leftover balls? Well, then maybe you should rethink your personal addiction, because it'll mean that Oreos definitely aren't your top lust item.

Kit Kats, anyone? Or Goobers--now there's an addiction-worthy item...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

And We're Off!

Happy November! And for all of you who are as wacky as I am and are taking the November challenge, Happy First Day of National Novel Writing Month!

It's hard to believe it's already here. October sure did fly by...

I've got to admit, I love NaNo. I've participated for the past few years, and have had a blast every time. This year I expect the challenge to be a bit more...well, a bit more challenging, given what's going on in our lives at this point, but I'm confident I'll manage my 50,00 words. If I don't have faith in myself, who will?

This year's November novel is a Regency romance called In Name Only. If you'd like to see how I'm doing, and eventually read an excerpt, please visit me here at my NaNo page.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a novel to begin...

Happy Sunday!