Friday, January 29, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Tanya's Trail Mix...just add merlot

Current read: Daniel's Bride, by Linda Lael Miller

On a cruise some years back, I traded in my California blush wine sensibilities for the regal richness of merlot. This classic, the backbone of some of France's finest Bordeaux, has risen to fame also due to California's Napa and Sonoma valleys where the grape performs wonderfully. Merlot is the third-best selling varietal wine in the U.S., so I'm not alone in my love for flavors of black cherry and oak with a hint of chocolate.

And here's something that indeed tastes great on its own, but chased down by a fine merlot is ooh-la-la.

Tanya's Trail Mix

1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries.

Pretty simple. Just mix together in a bowl, pour yourself a glass of merlot, and enjoy.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fun Stuff: The Best Singles Ad Ever

Current read: Daniel's Bride, Linda Lael Miller (it's terrific but I have been head-over-heels in edits for my next two books...)

This ad is reported to have been listed in the Atlanta Journal.

SINGLE BLACK FEMALE seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I'm a very good girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your pickup truck, hunting, camping and fishing trips, cozy winter nights lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me. Call (800) 765-4321 and ask for Daisy, I'll be waiting...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Poem: Symphony in D Minor

Every month or so, my friend Nancy and I attend a symphony concert. We have season tickets and make it a true girls-day out with lunch and shopping. Last Sunday, the "Ooh La La..." French tribute featured Mathieu and Franck, with a breathtaking encore by pianist Alain Lefevre that he composed to honor his wife, saying it was because of her he is the pianist he is. Sigh.

And Santa Barbara's poet laureate came on stage to read his lovely poem. It was a glorious day of perfect winter weather, California-style, with blue sky and crisp air and snowy mountains ringing the coastal plain...our favorite eggplant quesadillas, and fabulous finds at our favorite boutique.

All in all, a day to remember. I don't think Mr. Starkey would mind a bit, my sharing his poem with you.

Symphony in D Minor

There is no sadness that cannot be softened by music.
At night, alone before the fireplace, shadows flickering

their insistent Nothing will save you, the pizzicato
strings suggest otherwise. Though the whole

complex apparatus of living tip over in a tangle
of gears and wire, the bass clarinet's regal

molto crescendo recommends an alternative
to silent brooding and a tumbler of single malt

Scotch. Even the English horn, that doleful
instrument, reminds us that the dutiful

sun will eventually pierce the fog-laden morning.
Happiness nearly always comes without warning:

we suddenly recall the bucket of dahlias
somewhere in the house-vermillion and fuchsia

and shocking pink-the dog wags her tail.
Success is mere abstraction, and failure

needn't harm us. What we seek is what will last,
as long as we heed the tempo: fast, but not too fast.

~David Starkey
Santa Barbara Poet Laureate
January 2010

(Mr. Starkey has published several books of poetry and more than 400 poems in
literary journals around the world. He directs the Creative Writing Program at Santa
Barbara City College and currently serves as Santa Barbara's third Poet Laureate, with a term running from 2009-2011

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cruisin'...tasting the grape in Ensenada

Current read: Daniel's Bride, by Linda Lael Miller

Such a fun time, four days at sea with my gal-pals. No worries, no cares, good wine and too much food. We took a shore tour of the wine country outside Ensenada, Mexico and found a little piece of Tuscany...mild weather, olive groves and vineyards.

I came home to four days of plunging rain, a weekend with my grandbaby, and a plethora of final edits. Yay! This all means I have books coming up and friends and family who love me.

What could be better than that?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Crunchy Romaine Toss

CRUNCHY ROMAINE TOSS (and some non edible sunflowers to brighten your day!

Mix together: (Use a cup with lid and shake)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1 package Ramen noodles (discard seasoning packet or use some other way)
in 2 TBLS butter

Add the above to salad just before tossing:
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 small bunch Romaine lettuce, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Hint: Smash the noodles with a hammer inside the package before browning. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Marrying Mattie...and mammatus clouds

Current read: Daniel's Bride, by Linda Lael Miller

My pal Nancy is a Nebraska native who often fills my head with family lore or local color. When she described "boob clouds" during a summer visit to her homeland, I knew I had to include such a weather phenomena somewhere in a romance.

And so I did. In the upcoming Marrying Mattie, undulating clouds make an appearance in a tornado scene...when Mattie and Call take shelter in an abandoned shack. Aw, ya'll know what happens next. Sigh.

(No. They don't end up in Kansas.)

Thought you might like to see some. I think they are most aptly named...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Finding New Hampshire

Current read: Daniel's Bride, by Linda Lael Miller.
Just finished: The Vampire Diaries/The Struggle, by L.J. Smith, A

Here I am at Serenity Falls at Castle of the Clouds, eccentric bazillionaire Thomas Plant's summer estate built around 1914 above Lake Winnepasaukee on an ancient volcanic caldera. You get a 270 degree view of lake and mountains.

Not long after our dream trip to New England in 2007, I needed all the serenity I could get. Two years ago this very day my hubby's battle against testicular cancer began.

I still get shivers.

I often used pictures and memories from those lovely days on the East Coast to ease my mind during his harrowing ordeal.

Praise to our dear and generous Lord. My sweetheart is 21 months cancer free!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Weekend Recipe: My Aunt Grace's Killer Banana Bread

Current read: The Vampire Diaries/The Struggle, by L.J. Smith
This past Christmas, as gifts for our neighbors, I baked up batches of this delish bread in loaf pans I got at the dollar store, then wrapped it up in sparkly plaid dish towels also from said store. You can make boy bread (with nuts) if you want.

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 medium mashed bananas
2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda

Cream shortening and sugar and add eggs, and cream together well. Sift flour and soda together. Fold flour and bananas into mixture. (Optional: add 1/4 cup nuts.)

Bake in greased loaf pan 1 hour at 325 degrees F.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

News and Notes...

I have been busy, and I love it. A major excitement happened in November when I was selected to contribute to the 2010 Christmas Anthology, Lawmen and Outlaws. It was terrific fun writing a Christmas romance during the holidays.

We've just done the first-round edits and I admit, I enjoy re-reading it. "Canyon Jack" Ransom is such a bad boy. And Eliza Willows, no rule-followin' female herself, tames him just fine in Christmas for Ransom. I'll be posting an excerpt soon.

Even with all that excitement going on, I had heartbreaking news that my incredible editor is leaving the profession to concentrate on her own writing career. I wish her well but will miss her terribly. We're still together while we finish Marrying Mattie, but that's almost in the can. Sigh.

For a pre-quel to Marrying Mattie, why not download my 2008 Christmas story, His Christmas Angel, " This short story introduced Mattie and shows how she met the love of her life. It's free! You see now how they get together. Later, the longer novel will show you just what calamities keep them apart. Come on! It's free!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Flutter by...Pismo Beach

Current read: The Vampire Diaries: The Struggle, by L.J. Smith
Just finished: The Twilight Before Christmas, by Christine Feehan, B

Today in our garden, a monarch butterfly flitted around so quick I couldn't get much of a look. I wasn't at all surprised. Hundreds of Lepidoptera just like him/her, which can't survive in harsh weather, migrate to the California coast during the late fall, and "overwinter" in the gentler climes.

At a park near my home, a barranca filled with silvery green eucalyptus wears dim, homely brown clusters of closed-up butterflies all night. They actually look like clumps of dead leaves. Until the morning temperature gets to about 55 degrees. Then the beauties warm up, wake up, and party on.

I saw thousands of my butterfly's relatives recently at their main stomping ground, the Pismo Beach eucalyptus groves. The trees offer shelter from wind and provide foliage that's easy for the butterflies to grasp. And when the morning warms up, it's kinda like big orange snowflakes.

A piece of heaven on earth for a brief space of time.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's 70 degrees at my homestead....

Current read: Twilight before Christmas, Christine Feehan
Just finished: Vampire Diaries: The Awakening, LJ. Smith, A

Here's an ode to all my Nebraska friends, freezing and buried in the white stuff...thank you, Mary Conneally.

It's winter in Nebraska
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love Nebraska
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave Nebraska
I'm frozen to the ground!

Author Unknown