Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's a gender thing....

Recently, I talked to a friend who is just a few weeks pregnant. The mama- and daddy-to-be are all excited about the baby, of course! They’re also beyond thrilled because--in just a few short weeks--they’ll be able to find out what they’re having.

And they do want to know. No surprises for them.

It wasn’t so long ago that moms and dads didn’t have the option of finding out this information ahead of time. They just waited to see what developed and then made plans--and painted walls--accordingly.

But, when their baby comes, my friend and her husband plan to be ready with every color-coordinated item they can think of!

It seems to me that some people are moving away from the standard choices. I’ve seen layettes and bassinettes and strollers decked out in every color of the rainbow and then some.

With your own kids and grandkids, have you tried something different?

Or are you a traditional, true-blue (and -pink) kinda girl when it comes to the babies around you?

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Apple Season

Although October is officially APPLE MONTH, September has always kicked off an apple-pie-baking frenzy in my family. As a child I'd tag along with my mother and grandmother to various produce stands along back country roads in southern Wisconsin mid-September through October. I remember sitting at my grandmother's kitchen table, eating apple peels while she and my mother baked pies. Grandma always used her mother's pie recipe while my mother enjoyed experimenting with recipes from women's magazines. The smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and apple never fail to trigger fond memories of those days.

A few fun Apple facts:

The top five apple producing countries in the world are: China, United States, Poland, Turkey, Italy.

The top five apple producing states in the US are: Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California.

The top seven apples varieties grown in the U.S. in 2003, accounting for 90% of the total apple production that year: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Rome.

Planting an apple seed from a particular apple will not produce a tree of that same variety. The seed is a cross of the tree the fruit was grown on and the variety that was the cross pollinator.

Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature than if they were refrigerated. For optimal storage, apples should be kept at 35-40 degrees with relative humidity of 80-90%.

Apples are a member of the rose family.

The science of apple growing is called pomology.

Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.

Most apples are still picked by hand in the fall.

The apple tree originated in an area between the Caspian and the Black Sea.

The average size of a United States orchard is 50 acres.

Apples are the second most valuable fruit grown in the United States. Oranges are first.

In colonial time apples were called winter banana or melt-in-the-mouth.

America's longest-lived apple tree was reportedly planted in 1647 by Peter Stuyvesant in his Manhattan orchard and was still bearing fruit when a derailed train struck it in 1866.

If you love apple pie and want to try a new recipe I'll be sharing some reader favorites in my October newsletter. If you haven't already signed up for my monthly newsletter you can do so at Just click on the Newsletter link. Then send your favorite apple pie recipe to and I'll include it in my newsletter.

Happy Baking!

Samantha's Cowboy (Aug 09)
A Cowboy Christmas (Dec 09)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When to quit the day job?

Sorry for the late post. It’s been one of those weeks and it’s only Tuesday. Only one day in Corporate America this week and I feel like I’ve worked a month.

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching of late. After almost twenty-three years in Corporate America, I’m tired. I’ve made some amazing friends and been given amazing opportunities. For the most part it’s been a fun ride. But Corporate America has changed. And I’ve changed. Now we work in constant fear of losing our jobs. We get pay cuts instead of raises. Benefits are reduced and more expensive. And watching talented co-workers lose their jobs has been the icing on the cake.

Okay, enough whining. On the flip side, I love writing. I’m on vacation the rest of the week and writing full time. It makes me feel good. It provides a feeling of accomplishment. I’d love to earn my living writing. But when is it time to take that plunge? Anybody else spooked by that giant step?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Military Family

Friday I spent a good portion of the evening watching documentaries of 9/11 on the History channel. The terror, chaos and desperation of that hideous day were portrayed in a montage of 911 calls, personal video cams, news footage and interviews. For me it emphasized the fact that as a nation we can neither ignore nor can we forget that day of infamy.

On a very minor level we had our own scare. Our son was working in the Department of Commerce building which is located directly across the street from the White House. From numerous calls with our daughter-in-law we knew that the entire area had been evacuated. We also knew that the cell lines were overloaded, they'd sealed off all the parking garages, cabs had disappeared from the streets, the Metro was inundated with panicked people trying to flee the District and that my son was going to start walking. To where - we didn't know. He actually ended up in a bar in Georgetown watching it unfold on TV. And that wasn't anything compared to the terror my friend experienced knowing that her husband was in the Pentagon.

That was also a day that changed the lives of military families for many years to come. My October release, Top Gun Dad, is a story about the joys and tribulations of a single dad and Air Force pilot. He's in Afghanistan when he gets word that his ex has abandoned their daughters and disappeared. From there he makes a quantum leap, both personally and professionally, to the world of undergraduate pilot training. And this story - at least in part - comes from experience. My husband was the Assistant Director of Operations at a pilot training base in Oklahoma.

We spent 26 years (and 21 moves) as an Air Force family and I loved almost all of it - the two wars, the numerous TDY's (temporary duty) and the alert cycles (my hubby sat in a concrete bunker waiting for the Soviets to launch a missile) notwithstanding. Being in the military is truly not just a job - it's a way of lie. Every assignment presented us with a new adventure and another extended family. My son went to three high schools and my daughter attended two. You might say that sounds terrible but they both graduated with a 4.0 and are the most flexible people on the planet - always ready for a new experience. In fact, they both married Europeans - interesting, huh?

So to military families everywhere - I salute you. You're wonderful! You have that pioneer "get it done" spirit that made America great, and I love you.

Ann DeFee

Top Gun Dad, HAR, October 2009
Hill Country Hero, HAR, February 2010