Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Here's something a little different today. I've started to share scene snippets from my soon to be published novel "SUMMER RAIN" on my Facebook page "Jake and Maggie Maguire" (my main characters in the series). You'll find the first two scene snippets on that page.
Scene Snippet #3:
Jake smiled as he held the door open for the young woman. She was stunning in her red dress and high heels. He couldn't take his eyes off her as he got in line for his morning coffee. Turning to him she said, "Is it always this busy?"
"Usually," Jake replied. "It's a very popular place. After all this is Newport Beach."
"I'm supposed to meet a friend here," she said. "I hope I can find him in this crowd." As she looked around the coffee shop, her long blond hair flipped up and caught the tip of his nose. She smelled of strawberries.
Jake couldn't help himself, "If you don't find him, I'd be happy to share a table with you." She gazed back with a warm smile. He wondered what she was thinking. Probably something along the lines of - Why is this guy flirting with me? Doesn't he know how old he is? Although he is kind of cute, with those sparking blue eyes and touch of gray. Very distinguished actually, in a casual way, and not in bad shape either.
Thanks for reading. See you in a few days.
BTW - If you'd like to read the first two scene snippets, you can see them on my author page at: https://www.facebook.com/joanharrisauthor
Friday, December 27, 2013
One of my Facebook friends posted how she had already taken down her decorations, put them away and cleaned up the aftermath. Wow. Seems a little early to do that but maybe she's without power where she lives in the Northeast. Without power, an unlit Christmas tree would probably be a bit depressing at night, and I suppose doing all that work would help to keep a person warm.
This is definitely the time of year for some clean up. Not only putting away the holiday decorations, but for cleaning unfulfilled wishes out of your head before starting the new year. I pondered over those thoughts yesterday as I watered my garden. I live in the Southwest where we were experiencing 20% humidity yesterday. Couldn't put off watering with humidity that low. Now today I'll have to go out and clean up the leaves and debris created by those warm Santa Ana winds that came off the desert.
I don't mind the outside work - it gives me a chance to warm up in the sunshine and get a little exercise. Problem is - when I go back inside I gravitate back to the keyboard - right past the dirty dishes and dog hair rolling around on the floor. Sure, I pick up the occasional coffee cup and return it to the coffee bar, but other than that, it's either clean house or write. Decisions - decisions!
If you're wondering what my husband is doing while I'm ignoring the dirty house - well, he's reading. I finally broke down and bought an e-reader, and now he's hooked. He's currently reading my friend MJ Summers debut novel, #Break in Two, a sexy romantic story that is keeping him occupied while I do some on line clean up. I had been keeping my e-mails current until I started my writer's platform a few months ago. They started to pile up, and then we had to take the computer in for a tune up. Had almost 300 e-mails by the time we got it back. Yikes! Good news though - I've got it down to under 100. Hoping to get it down to zero by the end of the year.
So - are you busy cleaning up this week too? If not, are you available to come over to my house to do some cleaning? Thanks for reading - see you in a few days.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Yesterday my husband and I wanted to get out of the house for awhile, so we decided to go to the local shopping mall. Yes, we knew it was the weekend before Christmas and that it would be crowded. That was the whole idea. We wanted to lose ourselves among the crowds and forget our troubles. We're early risers so we had time to run over to the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park first, which happens to be fairly close to the mall. As members of the Zoological Society we pay once a year and can go as often as we want. We love animals, so to us this membership is a necessity rather than a luxury. We need it for our sanity.
If you read my Facebook posts, you already know that the Park has a pair of two week old lion cubs. Cats grow fast, so we wanted to check on their progress. Imagine our disappointment when we got there only to discover that they weren't going to be on exhibit for another hour. Normally we would have walked around while waiting to see them, but I wasn't wearing walking shoes. I was dressed for the mall, not the rolling hills of the Safari Park. So we left for the mall after our shortest stay ever at the Park.
Being early we had no trouble finding a parking space. So we parked and went to Panera for coffee and a bagel. Our disappointment over not seeing the cubs turned to pleasure as we savored our cranberry walnut bagels, complete with cream cheese. Did you know they not only charge separate for the cream cheese, but it's more expensive than the damn bagel itself? I didn't realize that until I looked at the receipt. Trying not to think about that fact, we sat and enjoyed our coffee refills (free refills - yeah) and watched the shoppers bustling about carrying their packages. At least the economy was improving for some people. A few years ago in that same mall, people walked around, but few were buying.
With fresh fuel in our systems, it was time to browse through the mall. At least there weren't any empty store fronts. After the recession hit a few years ago, that mall was littered with empty stores. The only stores that didn't come back were the book stores (too depressing to even comment on). The Apple store sure was busy. We foolishly stepped inside to see what was new, but after seeing the look on the clerk's face when we replied "just browsing, thanks", we moved on.
Once we got to the other end of the mall I couldn't pass us the pet shop. That's one place where more people look than buy - and with good reason! They rarely have kittens anymore so we were surprised to encounter one sleepy little two month old Himalayan curled up in a little kitty hammock hanging from the cage. Cute invention by the way. We weren't the only ones enamored over this furry little bundle. When we found out how much they wanted for this precious creature, we all settled for telling stories of our own cats and showing pictures. Well, isn't that what smart phones and Facebook are for - showing cat photos? On the way out of the store I thought back to a white Himalayan I once had. Got him free, so you know that was a long time ago.
Continuing on through the mall we tried to avoid the salesman handing out free samples of face lotion in front of a cosmetics store. We foolishly accepted the sample and were immediately sucked into the store for a demo. Actually it was a pleasant experience as we enjoyed our conversation with this former Israeli commando. I think he actually thought he had us sold on the product when he said he was selling it at half price - $200 - that was half price? "Oh, but it has flecks of gold in it and it's a year's supply" he said. When I said thanks, but no thanks, he handed us a bunch of samples and sent us on our way. I guess he figured we really needed that lotion!
As we walked out of the mall and back to our old beat up jeep, I looked around at all the nice new cars and wondered if we were living in the wrong neighborhood - or the wrong century.
Thanks for reading - see you in a few days - if we can keep our computer out of the shop long enough. And in case you were wondering - they only wanted $2,000 for that kitten!
These are the gold flecks that should be up with the cosmetics paragraph. Formatting problems prevented me from even deleting it.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
It's 39 degrees F outside. I know, that's warm compared to where a lot of you are. But I live in Southern California where it's supposed to be warm and sunny. The problem we warm weather people have is that our blood is thin. So to us this feels COLD!
I grew up in the Midwest, so I know a thing or two about cold, slushy, icy weather. I could handle it then because my blood had a chance to thicken up a bit during Autumn. I did my share of shoveling snow and standing at bus stops freezing my a.. off. My hour commute to work turned into an hour and a half in the winter - allowing time to scrape the ice off the windshield and warm up the car - and allowing extra time to find a place to park because the streets hadn't been cleared yet.
Yes, I spent my time in that weather. It was fun as a kid when you wanted to be out in the snow, building snow men, having a snowball fight or skating on an outdoor pond. But It's another story when you become an adult and have to get to work in the stuff - or have to shovel your way to the front door with frozen fingers after slipping and sliding your way through traffic just to get home. I still love snow, I just don't like the cold that goes along with it.
A couple of years ago I was offered a job in Northern California (where it snows), but I wasn't in a position to accept it as we own our house and houses just weren't selling then. I think I might have considered it if it hadn't been for that one little problem. The job was managing an RV Resort. We would have been living there, so no commute. I think I could have handled snow under those conditions.
Yesterday that resort posted several pictures of the recent snow in my Facebook news feed. I couldn't help but wonder if I would have adjusted to the change of seasons had I been able to accept that job, or would I be wanting to be in warmer weather - just like I am now.
Thanks for reading. See you in a few days - if I can keep my fingers from freezing!
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Here's a recipe for SPIRIT BALLS that I only made during the holidays. It's a good one for a house party as it needs to be made ahead of time. Also, because of the alcohol, it's best not to serve it with kids around.
The last time I made these I decided to also make a batch for a Christmas party being held at a local radio station. I wrapped them up nicely with a red bow, and made sure I included a note mentioning that one of the ingredients was RUM. This radio station played my favorite music at the time, plus some great Christmas songs, so I felt really good to be able to share something home made. After all - there were no kids there. It was an office party with,
So I went home and listened to the radio station while they had their Christmas party that afternoon. Nothing was mentioned about the rum balls. Little did I know that they decided to play a prank on the evening DJ, and they removed my note about the alcohol content. Apparently that DJ had a sweet tooth as he devoured one too many of the rum balls. About an hour into his segment, he started to slur his words. After awhile it dawned on him what had happened, and when he said "I think somebody slipped some booze into these cookies", I decided this was one recipe best not to share. But I'll share with you - so please, eat responsibly!
These Spirit Balls are UNBAKED
1 Cup sifted confectioners sugar
1 Cup chopped walnuts
1/4 Cup sifted cocoa
3 Tab dark corn syrup
6 Tab Rum or Bourbon
Dash of salt
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Roll into balls using about 2 teaspoons of the mixture for each ball. Then roll in colored sugar, cocoa or sifted confectioners sugar. Store in covered container for several days before serving. Makes about 35 balls. Enjoy.
Thanks for reading - see you in a few days.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Although I don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen these days, this time of year always brings back memories of big Thanksgiving meals and lots and lots of baking for the holidays. It's hard for me to resist buying fresh baking ingredients, but this year I managed to resist. I know they would go unused because I'm living at this keyboard until I get my first book published.
I figured there would be no harm in looking at recipes though - right? And I have plenty of them. When my son was very young, I quit work to be a stay at home mom. During those years I cooked and baked (from scratch) and collected an enormous amount of recipes. So during the month of December I am going to share some of them with you.
The recipe below is one that I originally got from my mother, but over time changed it. In spite of all my baking from scratch, this is one recipe where I used canned apples rather than fresh. That's because I used to make it before 6 am and took it to work to share. With getting myself and a toddler ready to leave, there wasn't much time left for baking. When Comstock stopped putting out the canned apples (I never used the pie filling), I switched to canned peaches. Some day I'm going to try it with fresh.
I used to use a large pizza pan to bake it in because I loved the browned edges. When flour no longer needed to be sifted, there was too much dough for the pan and it overflowed. So I switched to an oblong pan. This recipe freezes well so it can be made ahead for an occasion. One time I split the dough in half and used two smaller pans. I learned not to put the fruit on top of the second one until it was ready to be baked. I also used a pastry cutter to add the butter.
1-1/2 Cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 Cups butter (or margarine)
1 Cup milk (whole or 2%)
Canned apples or peaches (around 21 oz - you might have to experiment)
Cinnamon (to sprinkle on top after baking)