Your Life & Mine: Treasured Memories

Holidays are often the times we accumulate some beautiful memories. This Christmas, my daughter-in-law thought to take a photograph of our granddaughters with their great grandfathers, my dad (far right) and my husband’s dad (far left). Both fathers are in their 90s and a very present part of our everyday lives, so sometimes we forget how unusual and wonderful it is to have them with us.

Did you make any special memories in your family this past 2017, during holidays or during regular everyday days?

We are blessed. I hope you are, too.

Love and Happy New Year,
Sue

(Photograph, copyright 2017, Tonya Harrison)

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January 2018 Free Book Winner!!

Congratulations to Jennifer Wilson McCracken, winner of our January 2018 Free Book!
Jennifer tells us that her favorite type of music is classic rock. I hope you also will enjoy a bit of Mozart!

Jennifer, please message me your address and I’ll send your book ASAP!
Happy Reading!
Sue

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January 2018 FREE BOOK!

During all the commotion of the Holiday Season, I did manage to get a few books read. MARRYING MOZART by Stephanie Cowell was one of them. I immediately knew it was a book I wanted to share with all of you, and what better way to share than to include it in the 2018 Free Books? Our free copy is a hardcover edition, brand new.

From the cover flap copy: “Mannheim, 1777. The four Weber sisters, daughters of a musical family, share a crowded artistic life in a ramshackle house. The sisters struggle with [their] marriage prospects as well as their musical futures — until one evening when twenty-one-year-old Wolfgang Mozart walks into their home and their lives. Eighteenth-century Europe comes alive with unforgiving winters and yawning princes, scheming parents and the enduring passions of young talent.”

This is a magical book, beautifully written, and well researched. I think you’ll enjoy it from the first page to its surprising (and true) conclusion.

To have your name included in our Wednesday, January 10 drawing, answer this question: What is your favorite type of music, or do you have more than one?

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Corsets & Lace: A Victorian Christmas Menu

During Victorian times, if you lived in a wealthy family, the Christmas feast was much more elaborate than most of our feasts nowadays. I found these Victorian Christmas menu items online and thought you might like to steal some ideas for your own Christmas celebration. Or not!

VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS MENU:

Appetizers: Blue Point Oysters; Olive Tray; Seared Scallops; Radishes and Sardines; Baked Camembert with Pears
Soup Course: Bisque of Clams; Cream of Asparagus
Fish Course: Trout; Baked Salmon with Sauce Hollandaise; Turbot in Lobster Sauce
Entrée: Roast Goose with Wild Rice Stuffing; Roast Turkey with Oyster Dressing; Roasted Lamb with Truffles
Accompaniments: Roasted Potatoes; Mashed Potatoes; Roasted Root Vegetables; English Peas
Salads: Lettuce; Waldorf Salad; Cranberry-Orange Relish; Cranberry Sauce
Hot Rolls with Butter
Palate Cleanse: Lemon Sherbet
Dessert: Plum Pudding with Hard Sauce; Mince Pie; Chocolate Mousse; Cherry Tart with Meringue

Each year, when I was a child, our “Aunt” Lillian Tost sent us a beautiful plum pudding with the requisite hard sauce. (She was actually the Grandmother of our Cousins, and not really related to us at all, but we loved her!) The paternal side of my mother’s family settled in the New England area in the 1600s. Perhaps that’s why oyster dressing was also a tradition at our home in Michigan. To please my husband’s side of the family, I serve regular turkey stuffing as well!

Do any of these items grace your Christmas Holiday Table?

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, God Bless You and Yours!
Sue

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December 2017 Free Book Winner!!

Congratulations to Leslie Paul Diaz who won our December 2017 Free Books!! Leslie tells us that her favorite Holiday celebration is to make cookies with her children! Such a fun time and a great way to make memories, Leslie!

Please message me your address and I will mail you your books. Happy Reading, Leslie!

Sue

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December 2017 FREE BOOK!

When I saw these three Amish Christmas novels, all grouped into one sweet package, I couldn’t resist! We’re giving them away as our “December Free Book,” three books ready for one lucky reader to take home for Christmas!

To have your name included in our Wednesday, December 6 drawing, just answer this question. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

Peace and Joy!
Sue

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Your Life & Mine: Pumpkin Pie!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

I can’t say that pumpkin is my favorite kind of pie, but it’s up there in the top 5 — maybe after cherry, blueberry, raspberry, and apple. Of course, for Thanksgiving and Christmas I absolutely adore it. Years ago I found a great recipe in one of those lovely community cookbooks that includes all the “Grandma” recipes. This one is for a pumpkin pie made from an actual pie pumpkin. You know the kind — small and cute.

I’ve updated the recipe to simplify matters, and it’s really very easy if you have a blender.

Pumpkin Pie From Fresh Pumpkin

Halve a small pie pumpkin and scrape out the seeds. Bake cut side down at 350 degrees F. until the pumpkin skin easily slips off (about 1/2 hour).

Into your blender, place the following ingredients in the order they are given :

1 & 3/4 cup pumpkin, packed down well in the measuring cup
1 & 1/2 cup (a 12-ounce can) of evaporated milk (NOT condensed sweetened milk)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 & 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (or a mix to taste of cinnamon, grnd cloves, nutmeg, allspice — mostly cinnamon)
2 eggs

Blend in blender at liquefy setting until completely blended. Pour into 2 — 8 inch unbaked pie shells.

Bake at 425 degrees F. for 15 minutes and then at 350 degrees F. for about 45 minutes or until the point of a butter knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the pie. Serve with whipped cream!

What is your favorite kind of pie?

Happy Eating!!

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November 2017 FREE BOOK Winner!!

Congratulations to Janeen Hunt Radtke who won our two free books for November 2017!! When asked if she thought she could survive in a wilderness situation, Janeen said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Great attitude!

Janeen, please message me your address, and I’ll send the books your way!

Happy Reading, Janeen!!
Sue

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November 2017 FREE BOOK!

Actually, I should say, free bookS! We have two this month, and they’ll both go to one lucky winner.

These books are classics written by writers who have earned the reputation of being classics themselves. James Alexander Thom’s FOLLOW THE RIVER is a true story based on the ordeal of Mary Ingles in Virginia in 1755. Louis L’Amour’s DOWN THE LONG HILLS is a novel about two children — ages 7 and 3 — left orphaned on the high plains in 1848. It’s one of my favorite Louis L’Amour books.

To have your name included in our Wednesday, November 8 drawing just answer this question:

Do you think you would’ve been a good pioneer?
Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or explain if you’d like!

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Corsets & Lace: Haute Couture – The Victorian Age

My current novel-in-progress is entitled GILT. It’s set during the 1870s in New York City. I’m definitely a country girl (actually a backwoods girl), but the first time I visited New York (I was seventeen.), I fell in love with that huge, gritty (grittier then than now), glorious, amazing metropolis. In subsequent visits, both on business and on vacation, I haven’t changed my mind. I LOVE NEW YORK!

As I continue to write and do research for GILT, I’m immersing myself in the New York of the 1800s, and I’m fascinated! My main character, China Deliverance Creed is a seamstress, or at least she was before she married into a very wealthy New York family. She is amazed and delighted with her new life, especially the elaborate clothing, hats, and shoes that are now hers simply for the asking. As I began to write those scenes, I was perplexed about how to imprint the very elegant, very complicated Victorian clothing on my brain. I want to write about it as if I’d worn it every day of my adult life.

Then the miracle! A small book catalog somehow found its way into my mailbox. Here’s what I found. Yep, a coloring book!

When I told my literary agent, Victoria Skurnick, about it, she commented, “Ah, the coloring book. The bane of my childhood – I have no artistic talent whatsoever and could not stay within the lines. But now I think of it as a historical tool, which makes me appreciate coloring books anew.” Like Victoria, I’ve never been a good colorer (if that’s a word), but when I color Victorian clothing, I imprint my brain. What a great way to learn!

The other treasure I found was this — a book filled to the brim with fabric swatches:

The tactile experience of touching these swatches makes Victorian fabric come alive for me. I am a weaver, so I have that advantage, but I don’t have experience with many of the natural fabrics worn in those days, especially the silk, which is much too delicate and way too expensive for me to use on my loom!

I love to wear silk and cotton. Not wool, which makes me break out in a rash. Recently I’ve fallen in love with bamboo socks! Do you have a favorite fabric to wear, or one you don’t like?

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