Do things like this make you smile? Do they bring you joy?
Finding joy in the little things matters, doesn't it? What a crazy world we are living in right now. We need balance and moments of joy to remain sane, right?
Now, authors' newsletters . . . Does reading them bring you joy? FYI, I hate to always tell you which books I have coming out. If you follow this newsletter or you follow me on Facebook, you probably already know. Maybe you’ve even told a friend.
So instead of doing that at the top of the newsletter, I thought I'd loop you in on what is bringing me joy. No, not folding socks or sweaters in just the right way. LOL I'm finding joy exploring my personal growth. Yep, even at this age, I can still "grow." Lately, I have been taking the time to focus on who I want to be going forward. I've chosen a word to represent this focus, and I think it fits. I'd like to be seen as BOLD. A person who takes chances. A person willing to risk failure. Who knows? Maybe I'll write something completely new. Something in another genre. Something I never imagined myself writing. No, I will not be writing a comic strip or a jokes book, although I will allow those creative talents to continue to bring me joy. I love a clever comic!
In this coming year, what word or path would you choose for yourself? What will bring you joy?
What do you know?
I love research! I've done deep dives into cheese and cookbooks and French cooking, and now fairy gardens.
So for this newsletter, I decided to research Valentine’s Day. Do you know how it started? It seems it began with some dark origins that I won’t go into here. (Here's a LINK on NPR if you care to read about it. Yipes!) As the years went on, however, the holiday grew sweeter. More joyous. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Handmade paper cards became the tokens-du-jour in the Middle Ages. And then, in 1913, Hallmark Cards began mass producing valentines. The event has not been the same since.
Speaking of joy, I'm so excited to be included in the L.A. Affairs 65 True Stories anthology. I wrote a piece about my love affair with my husband, and the Times published it in the newspaper and then invited me to be included in this lovely book. It's a wonderful tribute that I hope my family will enjoy in the years to come. I'm giving away a copy to one reader on the mailing list. Do you want to read some stories that will make you smile? If the giveaway winner would like one of my mysteries instead, that would be an option.
THE MAILING LIST WINNER FOR A COPY OF L.A. AFFAIRS 65 TRUE STORIES (or one of my mysteries)
You have until February 21st to contact me to claim your book. Email me using the above address at firstname.lastname@example.org and receive the True Stories book or a mystery. I look forward to hearing from you. Congratulations!
Did you really think I wouldn't tell you about my books? I had three come out in 2020. You can read more about each of them on my WEBSITE.
What are you reading?
I just finished listening to the audible version of READ AND GONE, a Library Ghost Mystery by Allision Brook. What a lot of fun this series is. Evelyn is quite a charming ghost. Also, I just finished reading ON DEADLY TIDES by Elizabeth J. Duncan. I had not read her work before and it was the last in the series, but it has prompted me to want to start at the beginning. Next up, SOUTH OF THE BUTTONWOOD TREE by Heather Webber, a captivating blend of magical realism and heartwarming romance. Perfect for February, don't you think?
What's to eat?
This recipe is based on one I received from my fellow author Peg Cochran. I tweaked it to be gluten-free and nut-free. It is delicious and easy and would add a lovely touch of red to a Valentine’s Day breakfast.
1 package gluten-free white cake mix (you will be dividing it)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (If you can eat nuts, swap out for chopped nuts)
1 package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup red raspberry preserves
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 350°.
13 X 9 - inch pan
TOPPING: Combine 3/4 cup gluten-free cake mix, melted butter and water. Mix until combined. Stir in white chocolate chips (or nuts if you can eat them; Peg used pecans.)
FILLING: In another bowl, combine cranberries, sugar, preserves and 2 tablespoons cake mix.
BATTER: In another bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs, milk, pie spice and remaining gluten-free cake mix. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium 2 minutes.
Transfer batter to a greased 13 x 9 -inch pan. Spoon cranberry filling over top to within 1/2 inch of edges. Sprinkle with topping to edges of pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 55-60 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
*If you can eat gluten, then use regular cake mix.
What’s up with Sparky?
Sparky received this adorable reindeer toy for Christmas and it is still his favorite toy. Isn't it amazing how pets can get attached to something? I thought he would throw it over for one of his previous toys, but no, this is the one that he hugs and loves and the one he wants me to throw for him each night at 7 p.m. Yes, each night! I guess it's like a kid asking for Mom to read him a book before bed. The throw game definitely wears him out.
That's it. That's all that is fit to print. May your joy come from reading. May your lives be filled with love.