Thursday, April 29, 2010

Eagle Watch

The Hornby Island eagles are proud parents this morning! I was up early enough to witness the hatch, just before 6:00 a.m. Check out Mom, Dad and baby Phoenix on the the Hornby Island Eagle Cam!

Now the pacing begins again as we wait for the second egg to hatch.

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Week's News

I have a title! THE WEDDING BARGAIN, my second book set in San Francisco, will be out in January 2011.

Thanks to all who dropped by to help me celebrate the 10K. Found out yesterday that I placed 39th out of 169 competitive walkers (28th out of the 127 women walkers).

Last Thursday I posted a link to the Hornby Island Eagle Cam. As of this morning, a hole has appeared on one of the eggs and peeping can be heard from within. Oh my gosh, we’re having a baby!

Until next time,

Monday, April 26, 2010

10K Race Results

I did it! I walked ten kilometres yesterday morning. I've been training for this since January and my goal was to complete the race in under an hour and forty-five minutes. My actual time was 1:27:59 at a pace of 8.49 per kilometre, so I have to say I'm pretty darned proud of myself. Last month I walked in a 5K race with a time of 45:22 (pace 9:02) so as of yesterday I have a new personal best. It helped that yesterday’s course was less hilly.

More than 13,000 runners and walkers took part in the race, which is a fundraiser for literacy and the heart and stroke foundation. The elite runners finished the race in under 30 minutes. I know . . . inconceivable . . . but as many of you know, my participation in this race has been part of my journey back to good health and I feel every bit as accomplished.

The day itself was pretty much perfect. It started out cloudy and cool with very little wind, and then the sun came out. Much of the course is along the ocean, so the views were spectacular for anyone who looked up long enough to appreciate them.

The energy was amazing, and I think that’s partly what kept me moving. Spectators along the route rang bells and shouted encouragement. Every kilometre or so there was a band playing. And of course there were the most-welcome water stations. And one of the highlights was a hug from my dear friend Anita around kilometre seven.

I truly appreciate all the encouragement I’ve received from family, especially my daughter who ran the race in 1:06:18, friends, and the everyone who took part in the training clinic, especially our coaches, Doug and Elaine.

Today, in spite of a few muscles that seem intent on reminding that I really did walk 10K in under an hour and a half, I feel great, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

Until next time,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Eagles Have Nested

Okay, this is the coolest thing.

Doug and Sheila Carrick, residents of Hornby Island on Canada’s west coast, have set up a web cam above the nest of a pair of bald eagles who reside on their property.

This year the eagles have produced two eggs, and the eggs are set to hatch any day. Thanks to the Carricks, we get to have a bird’s eye view.

Click here to visit the Hornby Island Eagle Cam and witness the birth of two baby bald eagles.

For more information about Doug and Sheila and the eagles, visit their website, The Eagles of Hornby Island.

Bird watching at its best!

Happy Earth Day!

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This Week’s News

Did you watch Glee last night? Wow. I think it was the best episode yet. Incredibly well written, and even with the all the musical numbers there so many engaging and fully developed storylines.

On a personal note, I’m looking forward to hearing my son’s band perform on Thursday evening.

And please join me on the Harlequin American Romance Authors’ blog on Saturday.

This Sunday I'm walking in a 10K race. Please keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't rain! I'll post my results next week.

That’s it for this week’s news and reviews. Short and sweet.

Until next time,

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Fun—Spring DIY

My taste in decorating tends to be conservative and uncluttered with calm, neutral colors but an entire room filled with beige and cream and tan can be, well, boring. Which is what my living room was. It needed some accent colors and I finally decided on a shade of turquoise-approaching-teal with smaller hits of green.

I found this desk in a secondhand store—this photo was actually taken while it was still in the store—and my husband painted it off-white.

The desk needed a chair and I found this one on Craig’s List, cheap. One leg was damanged, the upholstery was musty and the stained wood uninspired.

I’ve had this little spindle table for ages, also a secondhand store find.

Here's how the chair and table look now.

I’m really pleased with how well the desk and chair work together, tucked into a corner of the living room next to the fireplace. My husband received the vintage panther lamp as a Father’s Day gift from our kids.

The little table is great with this slipper chair. The duck was rescued from a thrift store and the rattan basket (purchased for a dollar at a garage sale) holds magazines. I’m still putting together a collection of photographs for this wall so eventually it won’t look so bare.

My next project will be some toss cushions made from what’s left of the floral fabric from the chair seat and a coordinating striped fabric.

It's taken a while to assemble all these pieces and it's still a bit of a work in progress, but I'm really happy with the outcome so far.

Do you have a spring DIY project in mind? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Food for Thought—Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Nothing says comfort quite like a piping hot, fresh-from-the-oven casserole dish of bubbling macaroni and cheese. This is my favorite recipe.

Macaroni and Cheese

8 ounces macaroni
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 tablespoon flour
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the package. While it cooks, melt the butter in a small saucepan, whisk in the flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper, milk and eggs, and simmer till it thickens, stirring constantly. Stir in the cheese.

Drain the macaroni and put it in a greased, oven-proof skillet or shallow baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and mix well.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden.
So delicious. I use whole wheat macaroni and aged white cheddar. You can also experiment by adding a little cubed ham, some finely diced and lightly sauteed scallions and sweet peppers, or...?


Until next time,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday News

After an extremely stressful month that included surgery—very minor and all is well, I’m happy to report—and the loss of a close and very dear family member, I’m starting to feel more settled and better able to focus on writing. Right now I'm working on book proposals and anticipating revisions on my January 2011 book.

Tonight I’ll be tuned in to Glee, which is back after an insanely long hiatus. Can’t wait!

Four fabulous new Harlequin American Romances hit the shelves today.

His Baby Surprise
by Lisa Childs

A Mother's Wedding Day
by Rebecca Winters and Dominique Burton

An Unexpected Father
by Lisa Ruff

The Officer's Girl
by Leigh Duncan

Check out the covers and more at

Happy reading!

Until next time,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Fun—Kitsch and Collage

The idea of creating a collage as a pre-writing exercise for a book has always intrigued me, but I’ve never actually made one. Partly because I can imagine myself getting caught up in a project like that and spending way too much time on it instead of on the actual writing, and partly because my creative abilities don’t extend to the art department.

Still, I tend to collect odds and ends that relate to my current project and I keep them on or near my desk. For my July 2010 book, Firefighter Daddy, I loved the story’s San Francisco Haight-Ashbury setting and had fun incorporating a little sixties culture into the book because the hero and heroine were both raised by hippie parents. Rory, the heroine of this story, still drives her mother’s old Volkswagen van, complete with painted flowers and affectionately dubbed “Vanna White.”

That theme is carried over to the bookmarks I’ve been using.

I also found this fabulous little toy hippie van and it’s been sitting on my desk—a source of inspiration and amusement.

Is this cute or what?

Someday I might try my hand at making a real story collage but for now I’ll settle for kitsch.

Until next time,

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Food for Thought—Butter Tarts

I don’t have a recipe for you today, but I hope you’ll join me for a virtual cup of coffee and a butter tart.

For me, butter tarts are the ultimate comfort food but I have to confess I’ve never actually made them. As a child, I remember watching my grandmother roll out pastry dough, cut it into circles and fit them into muffin tins. She would carefully trim the dough so it was level with the edge of the tin, then spoon in the filling and pop them in the oven.


There’s really no match for the ooey gooey goodness of a still-warm-from-the-oven butter tart.

I have made butter tart squares, which are a quick and easy version of the tart, although no match for the real thing. I looked for that recipe and couldn’t find it, but I might add that to this weekend’s to-do list.

Do you have a favorite comfort that satisfies your sweet tooth?

Until next time,

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesday News—I Have a Cover!

Waiting to see a new cover is always a mixture of nail-gnawing trepidation and tummy-turning excitement. Harlequin invites an author’s input into the cover art, but even so I always wonder...will I like it? Will it suit the story?

I saw the cover for my July release, Firefighter Daddy, for the first time today, and I absolutely love it!

What do you think?

Until next time,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful day filled with peace and harmony and love.

And chocolate.

Until next time,

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Food for Thought—Comfort Foods

This month’s food for thought here on The Writer Side is comfort food. Those delicious, delectable foods that make me feel as though I’ve just been wrapped in a soft, warm quilt and transported back to Grandma’s kitchen.

One of my favorite meals is a one-pot stew with dumplings. Chicken stew is my all-time fav, but beef comes in a close second. I’ve been using the same dumpling recipe since grade nine Home Ec. In other words, I’ve a lo-o-o-o-ong time! More recently, I started adding a little rosemary and now I love dumplings even more.

Lee’s Rosemary Dumplings

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cups milk
Combine the flour, baking powder, rosemary and salt. I pummel the rosemary with a mortar and pestle to break it up and release more of its pungent flavor and aroma. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender. Add the milk and stir.

Bring the stew to a boil and drop the dough by spoonfuls onto the vegetables and meat. Reduce heat. Continue cooking uncovered for 10 minutes, then cover and cook for another 10 minutes. You might have to reduce the heat a little more to prevent the stew from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

I always make enough to have leftovers because stew with dumplings is every bit as comforting the next day!

Until next time,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady

Last year I posted several excerpts from Edith Holden’s The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady. I recently found a copy of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady and thought it would be fun to share that as well. Here are a few snippets from her April entries.

April 1: Very still, grey day. I went to a little spinney to see a large bush of the Great Round-leaved Willow, which is a perfect picture just now, covered all over with great golden catkins, that light up the copse like hundreds of little fairy lamps.

April 7: Another glorious day. Cycled to Knowle. On the way found some Marsh Marigolds and Blackthorn in blossom. The Tadpoles have come out of the balls of jelly and career madly about the aquarium wagging their little black tails.

April 12: Painted the pony and colt all morning in the field. Very hot sun and cool breeze. Saw a beautiful Peacock butterfly and found some Purple Orchis in flower.

April 15: Easter Sunday. Anther brilliant day. Saw a pair of House Martins, watched some Trout in the Leet and found a Chaffinch’s nest nearly finished in a young Hawthorn.

April 28: Showers of hail and sleet.

She also includes this little poem.

The Cry of the Children
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The young lambs are bleating n the meadows,
The you ng birds are chirping in the nest,
They young fawns are playing with the shadows,
The young flowers are blowing toward the west—
Go out, children, from the mine and from the city;
Sing out, children, as the little thrushes do;
Pluck your handfuls of meadow-cowslips pretty,
Laugh aloud to feel your fingers let them through!

A lovely reminder to our inner child to take a few moments from what we’re doing and appreciate nature.

Maybe even go tadpoling! I remember being so intrigued by them as a child—first poking globs of frogs’ eggs with a stick, coming back to scoop tadpoles into a jar and watch them swim, and then later catching them when they were tiny frogs that still had their tails.

What’s your favorite part of spring?

Happy April Fools Day!

Until next time,