Thursday, April 30, 2009

Please Pass the Remote

It’s been ages since I blogged about what I’m watching on TV these days. So evern though this season's shows are wrapping up, here are two I'm tuned into.

Several great laugh-out-loud moments in this week’s episode, “The Vegas Renormalization." I must have missed something, though, because I did not know Howard had hooked up with Leonard’s ex, Leslie. If I had, I certainly would have predicted that it was a doomed relationship. And I would have right.

One of the things I really love about this show is the way the writers bring the story full circle. The opening segment began with our four favorite nerds talking about the concept of “friends with benefits.” As if they’d know. Right away I wondered where the writers were going this, and never would have predicted the tie-in at the end. Brilliant!

Leonard and Raj, good friends that they are, take down-in-the-dumps Howard to Las Vegas and set up a console him. In case you haven’t seen this episode yet, I won’t spoil it for you.

Sheldon’s plans for a quiet weekend alone run amok when he locks himself out of his apartment and has to turn to the long-suffering Penny for help. He ends up spending the night with her. In her bed, actually. With Penny? Well, you’ll just have to watch, won’t you?

Fast-forward to the next morning and the last scene of the episode. Just as Leonard returns from Vegas, Sheldon emerges from Penny’s apartment announces that he now has a much better appreciation for the concept of “friends with benefits.”

Leonard’s reaction? Best laugh I’ve had in a long time.

Sadly, I think we see the season finale of The Big Bang Theory next week. But if this show hasn’t already been picked up for a third season, I’m confident it will be. And I'm still holding out hope for a little Leonard/Penny action.

I am so looking forward to tonight’s new episode. Michael, Pam and Ryan are back at Dunder Mifflin—Michael once again in charge, with Pam now a member of the sales team. Might Pam’s competitive streak create some conflict between her and easy-going Jim? I think so.

And have you noticed that Sheldon and Michael are the same archetypes? Very different characters, but Chiefs to the core. A couple of self-asserting know-it-alls who always get what they want—and we love them in spite of it. Or maybe because of it.

Reaching for the remote.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday News—My Amazing Critique Partners

Anita Birt recently held an elegant afternoon cocktail party to launch the print edition of A Very Difficult Man. Here she is, captivating her friends and family with a reading.

Congratulations, Anita! Thank you so much including me in your special day.

Jo Beverley is on the New York Times Bestseller List with her current release, The Secret Wedding. Bravo, Jo!

Shereen Vedam won 2nd place in the Linda Howard Award of Excellence Ccontest. Beth and the Beaumont Murder is a paranormal historical regency. WTG, Shereen!

I told you they were amazing! And then there's me, basking in everyone's glory!

Until next time,

Monday, April 27, 2009

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

It’s hard to believe April is almost over already. This week the Wet Noodle Posse wraps up this month’s Spring Forward theme and beginning Friday, May 1st it's all about Sisterhood.

Monday: Debra Holland shares tips for “Spring Cleaning Your Closet”

Tuesday: For another approach to closets, join Delle Jacobs on “Closet Cleaning: Get the Skeletons Out”

Wednesday: Maureen Hardegree identifies “Five Signs that Spring Has Sprung”

Thursday: Maureen Hardegree is back to wrap up the month with “Spring Break”

Friday: Noodler New Releases and Introduction to our May topic—Sisterhood.
Until next time,

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Fun—A Trip to the Dollar Store

I like to keep an assortment of greeting cards on hand, and I buy them at the dollar store because I’m...thrifty. Thrifty sounds so much nicer than cheap, don’t you think?

Although it says “Thinking of You” on the front, on the inside it says “...and wishing you all good things on your birthday.”

I can’t decide if a tool purse is a good thing or not, but this is what my husband is getting for his birthday. The card, that is. I wouldn't know where to begin looking for a tool purse.

Do you shop at the dollar store? What’s the zaniest thing you’ve found?

Until next time,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

An “Interesting” Way to Earn Money

My 12-year-old neighbour and a friend came to my door yesterday. They're trying to "earn" money to buy Mother's Day gifts by charging people $1 to throw water balloons at them. They even had water-filled balloons with them.

I gave them $5 and told them it was for the privilege of NOT throwing water balloons at them. Seemed reasonable. Also avoided the risk of having other neighbors call the police when they saw me in the front yard, throwing things at two young girls.

Fifteen minutes later they were back to return the money. I guess it didn't seem reasonable to Mom and Dad.

So I called and left a voice message, saying that if the girls really wanted to earn money, they could come over and I would put them to work for real.

No one has returned my call.

But while I’m on the subject of water balloons, this sounds like a fun game to play at a picnic or child’s summer birthday party.

Until next time,

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—Chicken Cacciatore

Today my author interview is up on the Harlequin American Romance Authors’ blog. If you’ve already seen it, here's the recipe for Chicken Cacciatore I promised. If you haven't been there yet, please drop by. If you leave a comment on my interview post, you'll be eligible to win an eBook copy of With This Ring.

Now let's get cooking.

Chicken Cacciatore

2 to 3 pounds of chicken pieces
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 to 8 large fresh mushroom, sliced
1 batch of Lee’s Favorite Tomato Sauce
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Coat the chicken pieces with flour and set them aside. I usually use skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut in half or in thirds.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Lightly saute the onion for several minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, chili and oregano, and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove the onion mixture from the pan and set aside.

If the pan looks dry, add a little more olive oil and brown the chicken pieces, about 5 minutes per side. Some cooks brown the chicken first, but I prefer to do this when the oil in the pan is already seasoned with the onion mixture.

Add the sliced mushrooms to the chicken, cook for several minutes, and then return the onion mixture to the pan. Stir in the tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces.

Serve over pasta. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

This is a family favorite at my house. I hope you enjoy it!

Until next time,

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The 1960s—A Study in How Not to Decorate

The '60s were a time like no other. The clothes we wore and the way we decorated our homes were a little (or a lot!) outlandish. Today I’m blogging with the Wet Noodle Posse about '60s home decorating. If you’re looking for as stroll down memory land, or even just your daily smile, please drop by!

And how cute are these earrings? I saw them at the ButtonDivas shop on Etsy. I don’t know the ButtonDivas but they make some fun stuff.

Peace and love.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday News—This Week Is All About Blogging

Blogging will keep me busy this week.

On Thursday, April 23, please join me with the Wet Noodle Posse, where I’ll be talking about Spring DIY projects.

On Friday, April 24, I really hope you’ll check out my author interview on the Harlequin American Romance Authors’ blog. There’ll be surprise, maybe two, that you won’t want to miss!

Also on Friday, my semi-regular Friday Food for Thought will be posted right here on The Writer Side.

Until next time,

Monday, April 20, 2009

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

The Wet Noodle Posse continues its exploration of Spring Forward month with these blogs:

Monday: Join Diane Gaston for W”riter’s Block: What Does It Really Mean?”

Tuesday: Theresa Ragan’s topic is TBA

Wednesday: Priscilla Kissinger tells us to “Accentuate the Positive to Avoid Writer’s Block”

Thursday: Lee McKenzie shares ideas for “Spring DIY" decorating projects

Friday: Q&A Day

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Until next time,

Saturday, April 18, 2009

K-9 Demo

Have you ever attended a K-9 demonstration? I’ve been to several. Hey, it’s research. And I’m always amazed by the beauty and intelligence of these dogs, and especially by what they’re trained to do—tracking, sniffing for things like explosives, and search and rescue.

Today, my local courthouse held an open house geared toward families with children. I wouldn’t have attended, except I saw there’d be a canine demonstration. If you’d been there, you'd have seen me standing between a scout troop and a group of little girls in princess dresses. I felt right at home!

Two police officers, whose names I didn’t catch, and Endo the police dog put on quite a show. They began with an obedience demonstration to show how amazingly well-trained these dogs really are. No matter how often I see this, I am always surprised and impressed.

Then Endo showed us how fast he can run, and I think it’s safe to say no one on two legs could outrun him.

The "kids" in the audience seemed to like the biting demonstration best. Here’s Endo with his handler (on the left) barking and pulling on the leash. The officer on the right is holding a biting sleeve, which is used in police dog training. The dog gets to practice biting, and the bitee doesn’t get hurt. Endo clearly wants to practice!

And here’s Endo, in full biting mode. Again, safe to say that if he clamped his jaw onto someone’s arm, that person would not be getting away.

Apparently police dogs know the difference between training and real police work, and Endo made using the biting sleeve look more like a game. When the demonstration was over, he proudly carried the biting sleeve back to the police vehicle.

Thanks for the demo, Endo! Keep up the good work!

Until next time,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—A Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

Yes, I know. This is so not food.

But today on the Wet Noodle Posse Maureen Hardegree posted her favorite springtime dessert, and the next thing I knew I was thinking, springtime? Hm, maybe it’s time for a cosmopolitan—my favorite springtime cocktail.

Actually, a cosmopolitan is my only favorite cocktail, regardless of the season. Not a big fan of cocktails.

For years I thought it would be terribly elegant to go someplace and order a martini.

A real martini.

The kind with gin and an olive.

Finally, I did.


But I digress. It’s getting to be that time of year when I can dream about sitting on the patio with a couple of friends and sipping cosmopolitans. And that day will come, or so the meteorologists strive to assure.

Back to cosmopolitans.

A traditional cosmo is made with cranberry juice, but I prefer pomegranate because it gives the drink a deeper, richer pink color. Some mixologist say to use a good quality (aka expensive) vodka, but I can’t tell the difference. Some use regular lime juice, but it’s too tart for my taste.

So here’s my recipe.

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

2 parts vodka
1 part Cointreau or Triple Sec
1 part Rose’s Lime Cordial
1 part pomegranate juice
slice of lime for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with crushed ice.



If you have a favorite cocktail, please post a comment and share the recipe. Much as I enjoy a good cosmo, I think it's time to expand my repertoire.

Until next time,

Warning: Please don’t drink and drive. If you’re pregnant, please don’t drink at all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday News—It's Harlequin American Romance Release Day!

Four wonderful new reads arrive in stores today but before I get to those, I want to let you know that I’m being interviewed next Friday, April 24 on the Harlequin American Romance Authors blog. It promises to be lots of fun, so I'm looking forward to it. As an added bonus I’ll be giving away an electronic copy of With This Ring.

Okay, back those great new books.

A Cowboy’s Promise
by Marin Thomas

Found: One Baby
by Cathy Gillen Thacker

Mistletoe Cinderella
by Tanya Michaels

The Good Father
by Kara Lennox

Beautiful covers this month, especially Marin's cowboy!

Happy reading!

Until next time,

Monday, April 13, 2009

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

The Spring Theme continues at the Wet Noodle Posse this week.

Monday: Merrilee Wren—TBA

Tuesday: Maureen Hardegree shares her “Top Ten Tips for Spring Cleaning”

Wednesday: Diane Gaston on "Keeping Records for Taxes"

Thursday: Maureen Hardegree shares her favorite “Spring Dessert”

Friday: Q&A Day—What Spring Fashions Will You Be Wearing?
Lots of great stuff. I hope you’ll join us.

Until next time,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

However you spend this holiday, I hope it’s a wonderful one.

My family is gathering for brunch today, and the French toast is ready and waiting to go in the oven.

My kids are now adults so there won’t be an Easter egg hunt, but the Easter bunny seems to have put in an appearance anyway. You’re never too old for chocolate, right?

Until next time,

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Sunday Brunch

Instead of a big dinner tomorrow, my family is doing brunch. I love brunch because most of it can be prepared in advance. Like the baked French toast (recipe follows) that I’ll make tonight, put in the fridge, and pop in the oven tomorrow. I’ll also serve locally made, organic breakfast sausages, a fresh fruit platter, applesauce cupcakes, and coffee and tea. And mimosas.

Make-ahead Baked French Toast

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
8 one-inch-thick slices French bread
4 eggs
1/2 cup light cream (10%)
1/2 cup milk
1/ 4 cup orange juice

Spread the melted butter in a 9" by 13" baking pan. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle half the mixture in the pan. Arrange the bread slices in the pan. You might have to squish them a bit, but make sure they don’t overlap.

Beat the eggs, then add the cream, milk and orange juice. Slowly and carefully pour this mixture over the bread, being sure the bread is evenly coated.

Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, remove the plastic wrap from the pan, and bake the French toast for about 25 minutes. Delicious when served with maple syrup and fruit compote.
I hope you have a wonderful Easter!

Until next time,

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—Carrot Ginger Cashew Soup

Last week my massage therapist told me about a carrot ginger cashew soup that she buys, ready to eat, in a tetra pack at the health food store. When I hear “health food store” and “tetra pack,” I also hear “expensive.” So I turned to Google and found a recipe for a very delicious homemade version.

Carrot Ginger Cashew Soup

2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup cauliflower, chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup toasted, unsalted cashews
1–2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed, ground
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer the broth, carrots, and cauliflower in a soup pot for 30 to 45 minutes, until carrots are tender.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onions until soft and translucent. Turn the heat down, add the garlic, cashews, ginger, spices, and salt and pepper, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Stir all of this to the broth and simmer for 15 minutes.

Process the soup in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender. If necessary, add a little more stock to achieve the consistency you like.

Serve and enjoy! If desired, garnish with a spoonful of plain yogurt and/or a sprinkling of finely chopped green onions.
This recipe makes 6 to 8 generous servings, and I’m sure it’s every bit as good as the prepared soup in the tetra pack. I haven’t done a price comparison, but I’m guessing it’s also less expensive. The carrots are loaded with beta carotene, ginger is good for digestion, and the cashews give it a lovely finish.

I hope you like it!

Until next time,

PS: I’ve decided to do an Easter Sunday brunch instead of a dinner. Check back tomorrow for my oven-baked French toast recipe.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's April!

Back in February I posted a piece on the Harlequin American Romance Authors blog about Edith Holden’s The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady.

At the time, I thought it would be fun to do a segment every month. I missed March, but this is Holden’s cover page for April. I adore rabbits, even though they can wreak havoc in a garden.

Holden’s notes for April 1 say:

"Still, warm, cloudy day. Gathered some wild Daffodils in a field."
She also painted those wild daffs, and included a well-known poem—“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” (also sometimes referred to as “Daffodils”)—by William Wordsworth.

I recently read several excerpts from Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal —she was William’s sister —and was interested to learn that it was one of her journal entries that inspired William to write this poem, which was published in 1807.

Here’s Dorothy’s journal entry from April 15, 1802 (five years earlier):

"When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side. We fancied that the lake had floated the seeds ashore and that the little colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were more and yet more and at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here and there a little knot and a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity and unity and life of that one busy highway."
Do you have a favorite sign that spring has arrived? Daffodils are one of mine. Especially on an overcast spring day, when they remind us there’ll soon be sunnier days. Sometimes I buy a bunch of daffodils and a bunch of deep purple irises and mix them into a single bouquet for the middle of the dining room table. I love that yellow-and-purple color combination.

I hope you’re enjoying spring, or at least the anticipation of it!

Until next time,