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Be sure to stop by my author page from time to time

In the meantime, while you're here, pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee or a cuppa tea, have a piece of pie and always feel free to speak your mind, and your heart, here at Meanderings and Muses.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Squeeeee!



2013 has been a very good year.

And it just got better.

If there is one "Favorites List" I always look forward to at the end of the year, it's Lesa Holstine's.

Did I ever, EVER, think I'd see my name there?

Pfft!

Never.

Dreams do come true - - - -

Lesa Holstine's Favorite Books of 2013 - http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/2013/12/favorite-books-of-2013.html

My "Whimsey" is there along with some of my own favorites of the year.  With some of the writers I admire most, whose work is quite meaningful to me.

Sophie Littlefield, Beth Hoffman,Chris Grabenstein, Jessica Brockmole, Louise Penny, Ellery Adams, Nora Roberts, Gail Carriger, Craig Johnson, and - - a bonus book - Genreflecting: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests, Seventh Edition, edited by Cynthia Orr & Diane Tixier Herald. It's a readers' advisory book, and Lesa wrote the chapter about mysteries

Y'all - Life is Good.

And Lesa Holstine is a Fairy Godmother who has helped make many dreams come true.  Including my own.

Thank you, Lesa. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Books Read During 2013

This year's list in in no particular order because my original list was lost and I'm in the process of reconstructing it.  Most of it was reconstructed for me by Katy Munger, Wonder Woman in a beezillion different ways. 

If you're a lover of lists (like me!), I hope you'll enjoy this one. 

And, please, if you have a book recommendation, I would love to hear it!





THE DARK WITCH: BOOK ONE OF THE COUSINS O'DWYER TRILOGY by Nora Roberts

GARMENT OF SHADOWS by Laurie King

THE REAL THING by Marne Davis Kellogg

THE LOVE CEILING by Jean Davies Okimoto

WALTER'S MUSE by Jean Davies Okimoto

THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt

BLYTHWOOD by Carol Goodman

FOSSE by Sam Wasson

THE LION IS IN by Delia Ephron

EMPTY MANSIONS by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Jr. (ARC)

THE ALL YOU CAN DREAM BUFFET by Barbara O'Neal (ARC)

THE VANISHING by Wendy Webb (ARC)

THE FATE OF MERCY ALBAN by Wendy Webb (ARC)

THE LOST KEATS by Terence Faherty

PROVE THE NAMELESS by Terence Faherty

THE HAPPY ENDINGS BOOK CLUB by Jane Tara (ARC)

RUNAWAY SAINT by Lisa Samson (ARC)

AFTER I'M GONE by Laura Lippman (ARC)

SECOND STAR TO THE RIGHT by Mary Alice Monroe

HOW READING CHANGED MY LIFE by Anna Quindlen

CORPUS CHRISTMAS by Margaret Maron

BITTERSWEET by Miranda Beverly Whittemore (ARC)

THE SECRET OF MAGIC by Debora Johnson (ARC)

SWEETEST HALLELUJAH by Elaine Hussey (ARC)

MORNING GLORY by Sarah Jio (ARC)

THE DISAPPOINTMENT ROOM by Dee Phelps (ARC)

POISONED PROSE by Ellery Adams

THE FRENCH GARDENER by Santa Montefiore

THE PRINCE OF MIST by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

THE FUNERAL DRESS by Susan Gregg Gilmore (ARC)

DARE ME by Megan Abbott (ARC)

THE SUMMER GIRLS by Mary Alice Monroe (ARC)

THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET by Menna van Praag (ARC)

THE DEATH OF SANTINI by Pat Conroy (ARC)

THE BLACK BOX by Michael Connelly

THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

THE ANGEL'S GAME by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND by Jennifer McMahon

DEADSTICK by Terence Faherty

MOONRISE by Cassandra King (ARC)

NIGHT FILM: A NOVEL by Marisha Pessl

TAMARACK COUNTY by William Kent Krueger

CLOCHE AND DAGGER by Jenn McKinlay

BELLMAN & BLACK by Diane Setterfield (ARC)

NEVER GO BACK by Lee Child (ARC)

THE TILTED WORLD by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly (ARC)

THE THIRTEENTH TARGET by Mark de Castrique (ARC)

A DANGEROUS TALENT by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins

NANTUCKET NIGHTS by Elin Hilderbrand

THREAD RECKONING by Amanda Lee

THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS by Karen Brown (ARC)

SARRANDA'S HEART, A LOVE STORY OF PLACE by Celia H. Miles

THE ISLAND by Elin Hilderbrand

THE CASTAWAYS by Elin Hilderbrand

A SOUTHERN PLACE by Elaine Drennon Little

THE WRONG GIRL by Hank Phillippi Ryan (ARC)

IT HAPPENS IN THE DARK by Carol O'Connell (ARC)

ONLY THE INNOCENT by Rachel Abbott

NECESSARY LIES by Diane Chamberlain (ARC)

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman

BEAUTIFUL DAY by Elin Hilderbrand

TAPESTRY OF FORTUNES by Elizabeth Berg

CRIME OF PRIVILEGE by Walter Walker (ARC)

ANTONIA LIVELY BREAKS THE SILENCE by David Samuel Levinson (ARC)

DEAD EASY by Phillip DePoy

DANCING MADE EASY by Phillip DePoy

EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE by Phillip DePoy

TOO EASY by Phillip DePoy

EASY by Phillip DePoy

A PLACE AT THE TABLE by Susan Rebecca White (ARC)

THE GUEST HOUSE by Erika Marks

ISLAND GIRLS by Nancy Thayer

FALLING HOME by Karen White

THE COLOR OF LIGHT by Karen White

OUTSIDE THE LINES by Amy Hatvany (ARC)

THE LACE MAKERS OF GLENMARA by Heather Barbieri

THE LAST ORIGINAL WIFE by Dorothea Benton Frank

DEATH ANGEL by Linda Fairstein (ARC)

THE TIME BETWEEN by Karen White

A SERPENT'S TOOTH by Craig Johnson

LOOKING FOR ME by Beth Hoffman

IS THIS TOMORROW by Caroline Leavitt (ARC)

THE WITCH OF LITTLE ITALY by Suzanne Palmieri

THE PERFUME COLLECTOR by Kathleen Tessaro

THE BOOKSTORE by Deborah Meyler (ARC)

THE COTTAGE AT GLASS BEACH by Heather Barbieri

ANGELINA'S BACHELORS by Brian O'Reilly

PARIS by Edward Rutherfurd

THE APPLE ORCHARD by Susan Wiggs

ELEGANCE by Kathleen Tessaro

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN by Louise Penny (ARC)

LOWCOUNTRY BOIL by Susan Boyer

ANGORA ALIBI by Sally Goldenbaum

THE DEBUTANTE by Kathleen Tessaro

THE BLUE RIBBON JALAPENO SOCIETY JUBILEE by Carolyn Brown (ARC)

SWEET SALT AIR by Barbara Delinsky (ARC)

WHISKEY BEACH by Nora Roberts

A MURDER IN PASSING by Mark de Castrique (ARC)

ONION STREET by Reed Farrel Coleman (ARC)

LITTLE GALE GUMBO by Erika Marks

PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY by Larissa Reinhart

DEATH IN FOUR COURSES by Lucy Burdette

WINDOW ON THE SQUARE by Phyllis Whitney

THUNDER HEIGHTS by Phyllis Whitney

THE CHRISTIE CURSE by Victoria Abbott

DIRTY WORK by Reed Farrel Coleman (ARC)

PEACH PIES AND ALIBIS by Ellery Adams

PIES AND PREJUDICE by Ellery Adams

BLUE FIRE by Phyllis Whitney

ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Krueger (ARC)

LIFE AFTER LIFE by Jill McCorkle (ARC)

A FATAL FLEECE by Sally Goldenbaum

THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS by Deborah Crombie

DECEMBER'S THORN by Phillip DePoy

THE WEDDING SHAWL by Sally Goldenbaum

A HOLIDAY YARN by Sally Goldenbaum

MOON SPINNERS by Sally Goldenbaum

PATTERNS IN THE SAND by Sally Goldenbaum

Z: A NOVEL OF ZELDA FITZGERALD by Therese Anne Fowler (ARC)

THE CORPSE'S NIGHTMARE by Phillip DePoy

DEATH BY CASHMERE by Sally Goldenbaum

FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER by Ellen Meister (ARC)

WATCHING THE DARK by Peter Robinson

SAFE FROM HARM by Stephanie Jaye Evans (ARC)

EIGHT GIRLS TAKING PICTURES by Whitney Otto

THE FITZGERALD RUSE by Mark de Castrique

MARINA by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD by Susan Crandall (ARC)

THE WATCHER IN THE SHADOWS by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

THE SLEEPING NIGHT by Barbara Samuel

TARNISHED SILVER by Susan Reiss


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve in Boone

I love Christmas.

I always have.

From the time I was a little girl growing up in Cambridge, MD


Christmas with my folks was always important to me.

 
 
I missed only one Christmas with the two of them - 1968, the year I moved to Atlanta the day after Thanksgiving.
 
It was awful.  And I made sure it never happened again.
 
 
 
My dad is no longer with us, but Donald stepped into some big shoes and he's our Santa now.
 

 
 
 
The Christmas silliness continues.
 
 
With me, my mom, my Donald and a dog named Harley.


 
 
 
And we're sharing a few Christmas images with you all to wish you the Happiest of Holidays!
 

 

 
 

 












 


 





 
 










And  now I need to go get busy baking and putting together a few casseroles and paint my nails.  All in anticipation of Santa stopping by this evening.

I wish each of you the Happiest of Hoidays!

See ya!

 




Monday, December 16, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

 
You've heard me talk about our neighborhood here in Boone, and you know how much we love it.
 
One of the things we all look forward to every year is our annual Christmas party, which we had this past weekend.
 
Everyone brings a covered dish, and we always end up with a feast. This year we had loads of appetizers, salmon, jambalaya, oyster stew, baked spaghetti, salads and side dishes galore, along with several desserts. And, everyone brings a gift for the Santa exchange. Years ago when we were first getting to know one another, the gifts were pretty hysterical cheap gag gifts. We came to the realization that this is a group of very creative, amazingly talented people. We have artists, wood workers, potters, stained glass artists, writers, knitters, quilters, leather workers, weavers, gardeners and seamstresses, canners and cooks and bakers. This discovery letdto a whole different kind of gift exchange. Now a lot of the gifts are handmade items, and much treasured. 



We visit and catch up with what everyone's been doing since we were last together (a whole month ago!).  We eat and laugh and tease one another.
 
 
 
 




 
 




 






 
 
 
 
Then we get down to the business of choosing a gift from under the tree based on what number we've drawn from Mary Anne's hat.
 
And we all know that there are treasures under that tree.
 
 
 
 






Treasures you do well not to fall in love with.
 
Because.
 
Someone else is going to fall in love with it too.
 
 
 
And, they'll have no qualms about coming and taking it away from you rather than take a gift from under the tree. 




But.

What goes around, comes around.

And whoops!

There goes that gift again!!!!!


 
 
 
I forgot to take pictures of many of the gorgeous items, but I did get a couple.
 
 
 
 
Someone went home with a gorgeous original Jill Smith painting. This is a local neighborhood view painted by one of the most talented women I've ever had the privilege of knowing.
 
Have I mentioned how much we love it here?
 
 
 
 
 
 
And someone else (that would be me!) went home with a wonderful piece of pottery from the studio right down the road owned by Keith and Willie Lambert.  Isn't is scrumptious??  They do wonderful, wonderful work.  They also have a studio in Beaufort, NC.  So you can shop with them here in the mountains, or on the coast.

 
 
 
 
And this is a picture of the cake I took.
 
 
 
It's a French Vanilla Pound Cake, and the recipe is from Bibb Jordan's THE POUND CAKE COOKBOOK.
 

 
 
 
Recipe -
 
Do Not Preheat Your Oven!
 
One vanilla bean, cut into thirds
One cup of cream, room temperature
2 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups of sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups of cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
 
Butter and flour a large (10-12 inch) decorative bundt pan.
 
With a small knife, split half lengthwise the vanilla bean pieces.  Please the bean and cream in a small saucepan and warm the mixture to a simmer - making sure it doesn't boil. Remove from heat and allow it to steep while preparing the cake.
 
Cream the butter on high speed and slowly add the sugar; continue beating for about 5 minutes.
 
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
 
Sift the cake flour with the baking powder and set aside.
 
Remove the vanilla bean pieces from the cream.  Using a small knife, thoroughly scrape the insides of the pieces into the cream.  Discard the pieces after you've scraped them clean.
 
Alternately add the flower and cream to the butter, beginning and ending with the flour.
 
Beat in the extracts.
 
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
 
Place in a COLD oven. 
 
Turn the oven to 325 and bake for 65 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
 
Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cake plate.
 
OPTIONAL CHAMBORD GLAZE:
 
While the cake is cooling mix together:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar                               
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons Chambord (raspberry-flavored liqueur)                               
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

  • Whisk until well blended and smooth.

    Spoon over warm cake.