Friday, December 13, 2013


Tis the season and everywhere we go the music of the season rings out. I have many Christmas favorites from traditional to a few modern renditions. I have to admit I especially drawn to creative people who present the beauty of music in unusual ways.

I've always loved Tchaikovsky. He's one of my favorite composers, in part, because of his ability to tell a good story. His medium happened to be music and he touched the senses with those stories. His passion imbues his music. Tchaikovsky could tell a tale dark and ominous and do it well. He could also create whimsical fantasy with his music. He was willing to try different things to create the sound and mood he wanted. In one of my favorite sounds of the season, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky used a celeste to create the sounds for the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. It was a new and different instrument in his day. Instead of typical piano this keyboard had a four octave range and attached to hammers which struck graduated steel plates. It was both a percussion and keyboard instrument. It created a different sound. It was unusual.

Below, is another rendition of Sugar Plum Fairy, and is played on another unusual instrument, the glass harp. I have a few more traditional Christmas songs played on unusual instruments that I'll share in a few more posts. Meanwhile, enjoy this one!

  • Do you have a favorite Christmas carol?

Disclaimer: Although I'm curious how many bottles of good wine it would take to fill these glasses I did not help them empty wine glasses before they were played. Just sayin'  J

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


There are many ways writers work through knotty problems of characters not talking or plot points not working. My guest, romance author C.H. Admirand, tells us one of the ways she handles recalcitrant story issuesshe bakes.

As an author, there are days when the story just isn't flowing the way it should and my characters aren't talking to me. This happens from time to time and to clear my head, I can either do mindless mundane household chores or wander into my sanctuarythe kitchen and
start baking.

When my hands are busy smooshing butter in a deep bowl, adding in flour, sugar, spices, etc. my mind is free to go where it wants, oftentimes solving a plot point, or deciding just where I need to take my characters next.

But sometimes, all of that free-thinking has my recipes going haywire. Let me share a few pics of what was in my mind an epic failure—but the taste-test (provided free of charge by the men in my life) proved that while it might have looked like and epic failure, the flavor was stellar. LOL!

My daughter’s friend, Courtney, never tasted the chocolatey-peanut butter goodness of Funny Bones before Drakes’ Cakes closed their bakery. But, she heard about my sadness over not being able to buy them anymore and shared a recipe she had for peanut butter filled chocolate cupcakes.

They looked great in the picture, so I figured I’d give it a try. Well, there is one tiny tidbit you need to know. I never—well that’s not true, I rarely (closer to the truth) follow a recipe. I change it A.) Because I don’t have a particular ingredient, or B.) Because I don’t like a particular ingredient. LOL! Welcome to my kitchen.

Anyway, I didn’t have any paper muffin cups, so I decided to use my square shaped muffin tin instead. Mistake number one because the square shaped muffins weren’t as deep as the standard muffin tins.
Then I changed the recipe because A.) Things taste better with whole milk, and B.) I didn’t have any 2% milk. ;)

So far so good…


Here’s a picture of what they looked like after I struggled to extract them from the muffin tin—EPIC FAILURE! But I continued to salvage what I could. *sigh*

Meanwhile, I baked another batch and tried to add less in the muffin tins so they wouldn't do the whole Vesuvius-thing. The results were a little bit better—not so much oozing up over the sides of the muffin tin to form one large muffin. *sigh*

Here’s a pic of them iced before mega-consumption—yes and here is where I finally smile because although they didn't look like the picture, they tasted like “I’ll have another one—just to make sure.”

A BIG thank you to Ms. Courtney for sharing her recipe! And of course to my guys for being willing to try any baked good—no matter how ugly it might be before it’s iced. ;)

How do you handle creative projects when the ideas are flowing?

Happy Reading!


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Discover a New Love

There's No Place Like Home...

Grace Mulcahy thought she'd finally gotten Apple Grove, Ohio, out of her system. Then she's lured back for a family barbecue and spies a broad-shouldered hottie hanging out at the grill. He somehow seems utterly at ease, whether flipping burgers or horsing around with her hellion nephews. Why didn't her brother-in-law tell her he had such gorgeous friends? Suddenly her mouth is watering for more than her best friend's famous pie.

Some fires aren't meant to be fought…

When firefighter Pat Garahan sees Grace, it's like a five-alarm bell goes off and he's the one ablaze. She says she wants to leave Apple Grove, but he will do whatever it takes to keep her around. The life of a firefighter isn't an easy one though, and he'll have to prove their immediate spark can have a lasting chance at love…EXCERPT (Chapter 1, publisher website)


C.H. Admirand was born in Aiken, South Carolina, but 
grew up in New Jersey. She has been delighting readers with her Secret Life of Cowboys Series, featuring three cowboy brothers with Irish charm, as well as the Small Town USA Series, with the quirky characters of Apple Grove, OH. She lives with her husband, who is the inspiration for all of her heroes’ best traits, in New Jersey. For more information, please visit You can also find CH: Facebook and Twitter

Monday, December 9, 2013


Snuggled in my covers in between sleep and awake, I try to identify the sounds. Rain? Whatever. It’s not even eight-o-clock! I burrow deeper under the down comforter and reached for sleep only to be roused not more than twenty minutes later by gravel being thrown at my window.

Wait, gravel? What the hell?

Not gravel. Ice pellets. I pull the pillow up over my head. Doesn't matter. I can still hear old man winter whistling a discordant tune through the windows while scraping his fingers through the last of the leaves on the oak trees. His nasty little sprites, armed with machine guns, are shooting the side the house and windows reminding me that I forgot to lower the storm windows. Again.

Arrgh! I’m cursed this morning. So much for sleeping in.

I grumble as I pull on jeans and heavy socks and rummaged through my winter drawer for my Packers sweatshirt, which I drag over my thermal tee shirt. At least I was warming up. I forgot to turn on the heat the night before so the house was cold. Who thinks about turning on the heat when it’s sunny, warm, and 63 degrees? God bless central heat and coffee. J

I watch the horses through the window as they stomp their feet and blow fog sculptures. They’re waiting for hay. Funny how they know it’s the weather for hay and grain. Yesterday they watched as I offloaded bales of hay with mild interest but went back to grazing. Of course I was sweating like a pig yesterday in shirtsleeves as I worked insulating pipes, leveling and filling the water troughs, unloading the grain and dog food.

No sunshine this morning, just a whistling north wind, dirty cotton clouds and piles of white pellets.

I’m prevaricating. It’s frickin’ cold out there. The temps are still falling. I really don’t want to go outside but my babies are waiting for me. …fresh hay has to be put into the cat’s sleeping boxes and Rex’s new doghouse. We did a pretty good job with that despite not having a floor. Rex hates a floor in his doghouse. He’d rather dig a burrow in the dirt. Still needs a good layer of hay for insulation.

I set the cup down and reach for my wool scarf and gloves and pull on my coat. I stomp my feet into boots I haven’t worn since last February, grab my leather work gloves and head out the door. 

The horses rumble good morning and Sassy, me darlin’ is in fine form this morning arching her gorgeous neck, prancing along the fence line as I head to storage area of the work garage.  Sweet Tea is her usual bitchy self when food is brought out. Mine, all mine. Doctari is dignified and patient. Sassy knows I’ll feed her last and she lays her head on my shoulder and wuffles the edge of my stocking cap. I know what’s coming. She hates my winter caps. 5, 4, 3, 2, there it goes…plop and catches on the fence and she buries her nose in my hair. Damn horse. She makes me laugh and I soak up her love and affection. With a final hug I give her portion of hay.

I work my way through my list. At least it’s a relatively short list. My pride of cats bears me company as I work. A welcome comfort.

My final chore is Rex.  The pride follow me his area. They don’t mind Rex. He’s gentle with them. He sits close at hand, tongue lolling to the side, as he watches while I unload the hay and spread it in his nest. We have a pact you see. He sits patiently, sort of, while I lay the hay. I step back and gesture to the hay and he’s in the house pawing the hay this way and that until he has it arranged just so. Is he done? No. Next, he uses his nose and fine tunes the arrangement, lays down and wiggles around, then gets up again and noses it some more. I stand by grinning while he works. Several of the cats drape themselves along the roof of his house as he works and Jag is on the fence post by my shoulder. Sassy is finished eating and comes over to watch. I lean against her chest as she drops her head on my shoulder. She has such a soft nose. Rex bounds out of the house and back to me wagging his body in thanks. Sassy snorts but doesn't move away. Of course, it must be Pride approved. Couple of the cats jump down and look inside. Rex allows it.

I didn't want to come outside this morning. Cursed because I had to crawl out of a warm bed. It’s wicked cold. I’m already tired. My nose and the tips of my ears are about frozen solid. So why am I still standing here?

It’s the blessing, you see.

Love is a blessing. There is richness in love given and received. It doesn't matter whether that love is from two legged or four legged personalities. It’s something precious.

I close my eyes and give thanks for the blessings in my life. For the life I have today. For the love that surrounds me.

Something soft brushes my face. I open my eyes to big fluffy snowflakes softly falling around me. I feel like I’m floating in the snowfall. It’s beautiful. There is a hush to falling snow. A feeling of benediction. It’s magical.

I’m loved and life is good.