Saturday, December 13, 2014

Baking Pies from Heaven with my Mom -- Take 3 -- ;)

It has been a year filled with amazing joy and devastating sadness. Our darling grandbaby Hank was born on February 17th ;), and we lost my Mom on February 28th ;(

I know that to everything thing there is a time and purpose under Heaven, but that doesn't mean it's gonna be easy. *sigh*

Right now as I am typing, I'm listening to Alabama's Christmas Album ... before that we've been listening to John Denver's Christmas Album, White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole's Christmas Album, and started with one of my all-time faves The Beach Boys Christmas Album ... a gift from my darling hubby in 1975 ;)

Soooo ... during the last year, I've signed off of Facebook and Twitter because it was just tooo hard to keep up during the grieving process. There are days when I just cry because I'm missing my Mom sooo. The hardest part is that I just wished she'd made the choice to be happy in the last 15 years, but know that she missed my Dad so much that she just couldn't get past that loss.

Soooo ... I'm going to try not to be bitter and embrace the amazing gifts in my life. There are sooo many. ;) We have three amazing children, all grown now, and a fabulous son-in-law and two darling grandbabies who never cease to make me smile and groan at the same time because it's getting harder to sit Indian-style on the floor where they seem to want to spend most of their time. It was a lot easier when I was younger! LOL!

Anyway, getting back to the point of this blog post, the day before Thanksgiving I was going to bake my usual pie crust when I found my mom's pie crust recipe that I thought I'd lost ... actually, I guess I misplaced it for the last 25 years ... Jeez, right?!? 

Don't you just love the peach-colored 3x5 card I typed it up on? I didn't have an electric typewriter back then, hence the strike-over on the 3/4 c ;)


It was definitely a sign that it was meant that I would bake pies with my Mom this year. I cried the entire time I mixed the ingredients and filled those precious pie shells with Blueberry filling, Apple, Buttermilk, and Pecan Pie. It really felt as if she was in the kitchen with me, so I talked to her like I always do ... OK, just roll with it I talk to my Dad, grandparents, and other relatives all the time ... they're up in Heaven too ;) 

Every year, I take orders for pie, this year it was sadness because no one wanted a Cherry pie or my Sweet Potato Praline pie ;(  But the bright side is that I have a can of Yams in the pantry and Christmas isn't that far away. Pie is one of those special treats that just seems to fit any occasion. IMHO ;)

Josh asked for Blueberry ... and for the first time since forever, I didn't make a happy face on the fruit pies this year. Maybe next year when our darling grandbabies will be here for Thanksgiving.


Phil asked for Apple ... FYI, that's cinnamon sugar on top of the pie ;)



Dave asked for Pecan ... which is actually Buttered Pecan Pie ;) The trick is to roast the Pecans before adding them to the filling. Makes for a very decadent pie with the dark brown sugar.



And I had one more crust to fill when inspiration hit ... I had fresh buttermilk ... Buttermilk pie it is ;) FYI I'm not a big fan of meringue, so I usually leave it off. The recipe I used this year was from the Mennonite cookbook Gram gave my Mom for Christmas in 1978. It was lighter than my other recipe but still yummy.



Anyway, where was I? Oh, so as we talked I realized that the recipe was for 3 pies. With making 2-crust pies, I needed to make up 2 batches of crust. Not a problem--but my pie plate sizes are all over the place as I've inherited one or two, and purchased the others over the years. I'm always losing pie plates, but my darling hubby reminded me not that long ago, that I used one of them in the cracked birdbath. Our birds don't always like standing on the rocks in the stream and pond we've created, so I do keep both birdbaths filled with water. Not an easy thing to do because all it takes is a few Robins, Blue Jays, or one of the other larger birds that visit us taking a bath and the water ends up on the plants around them. Kindof a win/win all around, the plants get watered, the happy birds get to take a bath, and I get my exercise refilling the birdbaths. ;)

The pie shells were full, but kindof shy crust-wise because I was using larger pie dishes and trying to stretch the crusts to fit. Next time, I'm going to have to do the math and divide Mom's recipe into thirds, so I can figure out how much to add to make it a 4-crust pie recipe ;)  The good news is that my guys told me that pie tasted different, but really good this year ;)

Growing up my Mom would bake 4 apple pies at a time, but she never did the 2-crust pies, she usually did a crumb topping or no topping, and store them in the oven ... we'd eat them for breakfast ... Yep, Apple Pie, it's what's for breakfast! My sister dropped off our Mom's antique Apple-peeler-corer a few weeks ago, but I haven't had a chance to clean it up and use it. Lord the good times we had watching Dad crank that sucker up and fill up a bowl with apples ready to be baked into pies. The slices were nice and thin and perfect for baking.

Pie ... it's what's for breakfast!!! 

This year, I had a hard time getting into the spirit of decorating, but our darling daughter and grandbabies saved the day and decorated the tree for us! Just one problem, one of the strings of white lights wasn't working, so they decided to use the red LED lights so it looked like a candy cane ... really? OK ... it's definitely festive ... and  the funniest part is that our daughter laughed and pointed out that the top  of the tree wasn't decorated because she couldn't reach that high! I'm not changing it ... leaving it this way is what happy memories are made of, because every time I look up I'll think of the fun time we had with her darling boys decorating. ;)







Family! It's the glue!!!


And although my muse went on hiatus after my Mom died, I have been able to edit, so I freshened up my Medieval Romance trilogy now that I have the rights back, and on the advice of the FAB Sahara Kelly of P and N Graphics, I gave the trilogy a Celtic name to go with the beautiful covers she created for the trilogy: Mo Ghrá Mo Chroí Go Deo Series (My love, my heart, forever). All three books are available right now in e-book, but I'm waiting on the print proof for book 3, A Scot's Honor, so that's not available in print yet, just the first two books ;)

Aren't they gorgeous? I love how she created the covers as tapestries and incorporated my Purcell ancestors motto: Aut Vincam, Aut Periam (I will either conquer or perish!) and the Runes from the first book ;)

                                       







PS: I'm reading Nora's BLOOD MAGICK -- Book 3 of the Cousins O'Dwyer trilogy -- and loving it ;)

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!!!!



Sláinte!
C.H.
 


Monday, August 18, 2014

Five Years of Photos Gone in a Flash by C.H. Admirand

It's been almost a month since the unimaginable happened. I always backup my writing, and now and again remember to backup my photos. I have--make that had--five years of photos of our gardens, family, feathered friends who visit our yard, walks in the woods, writing conferences and events, and favorite recipes baked. But by far the most heart-rending loss is the loss of Wedding pictures for our darling daughter and her hubby and grandbaby pictures.

It all started with my laptop crashing, not once, but three times. I'm usually diligent in backing up everything, but somehow this last time, I didn't get my photos on my memory stick. I'm devastated. 

I do still have the fab camera that my darling boys surprised me with at Christmas, but I keep getting these twinges and find myself grimacing when I remember all that I've lost. It's like that roll of film we took in 1985 when we drove to Nashville so that our oldest (and only at the time) son could meet his great grandmother. When we got back I took the film to be developed and something happened in the processing and the negatives were corrupted. I was heartbroken then too. 

But, I'm here, and I can take more pictures. No, I cannot recapture those precious firsts, those milestones from birth to nearly 3 years old for our oldest grandbaby, or from birth to six months old for our youngest grandbaby. But I do get to hug them still and try to snap pics of them ... but as they are constantly moving, I've got a 50/50 chance of actually getting a pic that's focused. ;)

I'm tired of being afraid that technology will let me down again. I'm tired of cursing my laptop. So I'm going to trust that when I upload a month's worth of photos that I've taken that they will make it onto my memory stick.

Fingers crossed ...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Amanda McIntyre's THE DARK SEDUCTION OF MISS JANE Release Day Blitz

The Dark Seduction of Miss Jane 
by Amanda McIntyre

Her future. His past. A deadly game of seduction.

A scandalous betrayal sets Miss Jane Goodwin on an unexpected journey to London to pursue her dream of being the first female investigative journalist, but she soon finds herself in a hotbed of murder and controversy. Seduced by the passions of a mysterious lover and stalked by a madman, Jane falls prey to her desires as tensions mount, only to discover a deadly secret that threatens more than just her trust in men.

Inspector Randolph Mansfield is one of Scotland Yard’s elite, battling the dark secrets of his past while trying to solve a rash of grisly murders threatening to mar Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. His respite is the anonymity he finds in the decadence of a private gentleman’s club, until a determined American journalist goes undercover in search of her stalker and he finds the lines between protection and passion blurred. But as tensions heat and her life is threatened, he must choose whether to reveal his true identity at the risk of losing both her trust and his career.

“A wonderful blend of sexy romance and sinister mystery!”~ USA & NYT Bestselling author, Caridad Pineiro

AMAZON AUTHOR: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002C1KH2Q

EXCERPT:

“Why don’t I tell you about our writing club while we wait?” Isabella suggested.

Jane drew in her head, less interested in hearing about the club than what was preventing their progress in getting there. She dropped her book and gloves on the seat beside her and gathered her skirts to exit the carriage. “If you don’t mind, I think I’ll just step outside and see what the reason for our delay is.” The truth of it was that the stifling heat inside the cab was making her nauseated.

“Watch out, miss,” a gruff voice boomed out of nowhere as she opened the door. Caught off guard, she missed the step entirely and escaped total embarrassment of landing on her face thanks to a set of strong arms that captured her waist. “You should learn to look, young woman, before you step from a coach.”

Jane steadied her legs, preparing to face her rescuer.

“Excuse me, miss. I’m in a bit of a hurry.”

“But I…” She barely caught a glimpse of him as he turned and headed at a quick gait up the street. From her view, she noted his hair, badly in need of attention, was thick, coal black and hung in deep waves over his collar. His dark brown coat flapped around his long legs in his determined haste.

“Ah, I see you’ve met our illustrious Inspector Mansfield.” Wesley hopped from the carriage. Together they watched him disappear around the corner of a building a few yards ahead. Other curiosity seekers were trotting toward the same direction.

“Come on.” Intrigued, she grabbed Wesley’s hand.

“Where to, Miss Jane?” He gave her a puzzled look, but kept up with her stride.


“To wherever he is going. He is the inspector, correct?”
“True, but…”

Jane lifted the hem of her skirt, empowered by the familiar rush of a reporter’s adrenaline infusing her stamina. She looked over her shoulder and spoke to Wesley, who lagged a few steps behind. “Then we certainly don’t want to miss whatever he is so hell-bent to get to.” This is what she lived for, the drama of everyday life. Perhaps it was the thrill of the unknown—the chase, as it were. A trait derived no doubt by her adventuresome parents. They never settled for long between their journeys, always, it seemed, in a constant state of preparation for their next mission. They loved Jane, of course, but as she grew older, she began to wonder if her conception had simply been another grand venture. When they were around, they were larger than life to her—filled with glorious stories and tales of their journeys. And when they were gone and her life was divided between boarding school and Aunt Cornelia’s house, their letters were all that Jane had to cling to in her adolescence. They had promised that when she was of a proper age, they would take her with them. But that promise—unfilled—followed them to their graves. Now it was up to Jane to find her own adventures.

“Miss Jane, it could be dangerous,” Wesley called as they waded into the crowd beginning to clog the street. He caught up to her, keeping pace with her tenacity in pushing through the throng.

“Very possibly, but what great story isn’t just a bit dangerous, I ask you?” She smiled at him with a quick glance as they neared the top of the hill to follow where the inspector had disappeared.


BIO: 
Growing up the daughter of a father who was a distributor for a New York Magazine Publishing firm, Amanda usually had her nose stuck in the latest issue of Vampirella or a Hitchcock Mystery book.

Amanda has been referred to as a "true artist in the writing realm' and her zest for life inspires her "character-driven" stories. Her passion is to take ordinary people and place them in extraordinary situations, delving into the realm of potential and possibility as she watches them become the heroes and heroines of their own stories. She counts herself fortunate to be able to do what she loves, aspires to stay fresh and unique to her voice and listen to her readers.

A member of RWA, and a multi-genre hybrid author, her work is published internationally, in audio, in e-book and in print. She currently writes sizzling contemporary and erotic historical romance, and while she believes everyone deserves the HEA, (happily ever after), frankly, the road there isn’t always a smooth one, which makes it all the sweeter when it happens!

You can follow Amanda on her social networks by visiting her website at http://www.amandamcintyresbooks.com


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Orleans in the early Morning by C.H. Admirand

On my third trip to this lovely city, my darling hubby accompanied me. We had two mornings and one evening to walk through the quaint streets of the French Quarter the Vieux Carre. Less than we had originally planned, but delighted that we were still able to attend the RT Convention in New Orleans together.










For those of you who have had the pleasure of attending the Romantic Times Booklover's Convention, you know how many wonderful reader parties, workshops, panel discussions, etc. there are to attend. But behind the scenes is where the real work happens. I've had the pleasure of working behind the scenes for a number of years until it's time to put on my author hat and go be an author ... mingling and meeting readers.




 


My DH loves working behind the scenes, this year he wasn't able to do the heavy lifting he normally does, but he worked hard just the same. We usually see one another in passing while we are at this convention, so these few mornings spent together walking and then grabbing a quick bite to eat was an unexpected pleasure.







I do have to say that going to the Cafe du Monde twice in one day was not a hardship for me. And yes I really did eat those yummy beignets twice in one day. The cafe au lait was delightful, but I confess I cannot seem to recreate the same flavor experience at home. Maybe because they grind their coffee/chicory mix daily and aren't using their already ground coffee/chicory mix. All in all, having cafe au lait on the Levee as the sun was low in the sky was a lovely experience.




I never did have the chance to see inside the Pharmacy Museum ...



I really loved peeking down alleyways and finding the unexpected ... lush gardens












I did have a chance to share a romantic dinner on the balcony of a lovely restaurant with my darling hubby ... but I confess, I had a few moments of sheer panic, because of the height and the narrow balcony. 




I'm not a fan of heights. But he kept reminding me that this was my chance to have a romantic dinner and in the French Quarter on a balcony ... I write romance, how could I say no? People watching is always fun, and we got to see a raven-haired bride walking down the street toward the cathedral in Jackson Square with her groom and bridal party. She was wearing a lovely white satin dress with cap sleeves and when she lifted the hem to step down off the curb, her deep royal purple satin spike-heel sandals made a statement that this was a woman unafraid to stand out. 





Jackson Square and the Cathedral in early morning
















Interesting window displays and street signs ;)



















Soooo I hope you enjoy the pics that I was able to take of this lovely city ;)












The one thing I did for myself this trip was to have my tea leaves read at the Bottom of the Cup Tea Room. What a wonderful experience, but even better because they give you your reading on a disc to take home with you.








Sláinte!
C.H.