Saturday, December 05, 2009

Bargains galore

The holiday season is upon us. This year, things are tough. Businesses are shaky, and many are out of work. However, all is not bad. For the first time in ages, inflation is nonexistent. In fact, we’re experiencing deflation. That means that a dollar today stretches farther than a dollar last year.

People aren’t shopping as much, and worried merchants are offering all kinds of bargains to entice buyers. One of my favorites is free shipping from online retailers. I often shop online, sending gifts to loved ones directly via the Internet. In the past I could count on shipping fees that totaled as much as 20 percent of the cost of the gift. (Outrageous, but they had me coming and going!) This year, no one is charging for shipping. Gotta love that.

What are some of the great bargains you’ve come across?

Best wishes for a warm, safe and healthy holiday season,

Friday, December 04, 2009

Recipe of the Month: Applesauce Cookies

My mother made two kinds of cookies that I'll always love: Applesauce and Sugar. Now, you probably have a ton of sugar cookie recipes, especially this time of year, so I thought I'd share a recipe that's a little different. If you have children around, or overnight guests during the holidays, or just folks who love to snack, these cookies are great. They even have food value! I love them for breakfast with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. Enjoy!

Virginia Chancellor's Applesauce Cookies

1/2 c. shortening (or butter or margarine if you don't want to use shortening)
1 c. (or slightly less) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 c. applesauce (any type of plain applesauce, but stay away from the chunky kind)
1 c. 100% Bran Cereal or Bran Buds (see, I told you it had food value!)
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (I use more because I love nutmeg)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Optional: 1 c. raisins

Blend shortening (butter/margarine) and sugar in a large bowl. Sift dry ingredients (except soda) in a separate bowl. (In this modern age, I don't believe you actually have to sift flour, but at least mix up the dry ingredients.) Add egg to sugar and shortening and mix well. Add soda to the applesauce and stir gently. (Note: Make sure you have the applesauce in at least a 1 1/2 cup to 2 cup container because it will expand.) Alternate mixing dry ingredients and applesauce into sugar/shortening/egg mixture. Add bran cereal and (optional) raisins and mix well. Bake 2 inches apart at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, but check to make sure they don't get too done. The cookie will be moist and springy to the touch but the edges will be lightly browned. Try not to burn your hands or tongue as you can't wait to taste them. Enjoy!

Hint: If you put a sheet of waxed paper between each layer when storing them, they are easier to separate. Store in an airtight container or well covered with plastic wrap to avoid drying out.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Beagle Strikes Again

Last month, I relayed how I was at our beagle’s beck and call. After she tore her ACL, she needed surgery…and I was needed to cater to her every whim for two weeks. The good news is that her fur is growing back nicely, and while she’s not ready for a long walk, she is definitely almost back to normal.

The bad news? She’s almost back to normal.

Yesterday was a busy day for me. I needed to finish line edits for Second Chance Hero, my June 2010 release, and get them to the FedEx office by four o’clock. We’d also promised to make a pot of soup for church-Advent has started, and our church hosts soup suppers, followed by a brief prayer service.

But was mostly on my mind was finishing up my sister’s Christmas present. My sister Kelley lives in Athens, Greece. Every Christmas I send her a few boxes filled with all kinds of gifts for her and her girls. This year, they asked for makeup and movies. And all kinds of American junk food. For the last month, I’ve been buying things and gathering it all. Tuesday night I ran to WalMart and bought candy and Poptarts and Kraft Mac and Cheese.

Yesterday, every time I read over forty pages or so, I’d either make soup or wrap presents. Phoebe slept, which she pretty much does about twenty hours a day.

At five o’clock, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. Line edits? Sent off at three o’clock! Soup? Done! And there, sitting in the middle of my dining room table, was my crowning achievement for the day-Kelley’s presents were ready to go. I had the two boxes taped, addressed, and custom forms filled out. All ready for me to take to the post office this morning.

My husband and I went off to church. He served soup, I ate and chatted. We helped clean up. Then, just as we were walking into the sanctuary, my cell phone rings-it’s my daughter. Uh oh.

It’s cold and has been pouring rain all day. So, I tell my husband I’ll be right there and go take the call. Lesley’s upset. Uh oh. Immediately, I start worrying about car accidents and boyfriend troubles. Then I hear the news.

When she came home last night-not fifteen minutes after Tom and I had left-she found Phoebe and Suzy the wiener dog eating chocolate Santas on our basement floor.
Yes, you guessed it. Phoebe leapt up on the table, pulled a twenty pound sealed box off, dragged it downstairs, and together she and her buddy gnawed through the side of the box, chewed of f the wrapping paper and ate six chocolate Santas and a box of Milk Duds.

And the corner off of the Amazing Race, Season 1 Boxed Set, too.

To say I was upset is pretty much an understatement. After hearing that Lesley had everything under control and the dogs were outside, I went into the church service.
I’m ashamed to say that no matter how much the pastor preached about gratitude and forgiveness, I was thinking evil things about that beagle.

When we got home, the dogs ran around, happy as clams to see us. Chocolate doesn’t seem to affect them anymore than a can of Alpo. I looked at the destruction, thought of how I’m going to have to fix everything up again, and just about cried.

Yes. The beagle struck again…and won.

My husband poured me a glass of wine and told me to go take a bath.

Right now, it’s seven am. The beagle’s sound asleep, happily curled up on her sheepskin bed. I’m dressed and plan to go get my sister’s package ready again. By this afternoon, I know those boxes will be in the mail. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get them out of the house. See, I know they’ll be safer traveling to Greece than they will be on our dining room table.

Phoebe just better hope she doesn’t need surgery on her other ACL any time soon!

This is my only post for December, so I hope everyone has a blessed and peaceful holiday season…or at least no pet disasters. But if you ever have had a pet spoil a holiday, please share! I’d love to know I’m not the only one with a crazy, lovable, destructive dog!


Wednesday, December 02, 2009


CONGRATULATIONS Nicole S.! You’re the November winner. To receive your free autographed books please contact Ann DeFee and C.C. Coburn through their Web sites.

To enter the contest simply leave a blog comment and your name will go into the drawing. Easy and painless. And FREE BOOKS.

So check back often and be sure to leave a comment. Good luck and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Family favorite

Every year, my husband cooks the turkey and stuffing for Thanksgiving, and sometimes for Christmas as well. He’s tried numerous methods with the turkey, most of which work fine (we won’t mention the one or two years – out of thirty-one – when the turkey came out dry).

Through it all, he’s remained faithful to the same stuffing recipe. I have to admit, I’ve never tasted one to equal it, so I’m going to share it here.

This recipe makes enough to stuff a turkey. If you want, you can make a double recipe, put the remainder in a casserole and spread some of the pan drippings on it for added flavor.

I have no idea where this recipe came from. My apologies for failing to give credit.

Warning: this recipe is neither vegetarian nor kosher. And it is laden with fat and calories. Just reading this recipe might cause you to gain weight.

Raisin-Sausage Stuffing

6 cups of toasted bread cubes
1 cup of raisins
1 lb roll of pork sausage (mild or hot)
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons salt

Mix bread cubes and raisins in a bowl. In a pan, brown the sausage. Pour off the fat and save it. To the pan, add the celery and onion and cook until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the sugar, lemon and salt. Pour the sausage mixture into the bread/raisin mixture and stir. Add the reserved fat and stir. (I warned you.)
It’s now ready to stuff the turkey, or heat in the oven.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm a sucker for all cutsie Christmas crafts and this Santa is adorable!! I found this project at, but a fun variation would be to make three wise men. I would think the same basic instructions would work, only switch up the heads!!

What you'll need:
1 potato chip canister
2 sheets red felt
1 sheet white felt
1 sheet black felt
1 sheet peach felt
Cotton balls
1 large white pom pom
1 jumbo craft stick
1 glittery silver chenille stem
2 medium wiggle eyes
1 small pink pom pom
White craft glue or hot glue gun

How to make it:
  1. Print out patterns.
  2. Cover the top half of the potato chip can with peach felt.
  3. Cut the jumbo craft stick in half.
  4. Poke a hole in each side of the potato chip can; this is where the arms will go.
  5. Wrap red felt around the can, line up with the bottom of the can and trim so that it overlaps the peach felt. Do not glue to the can just yet.
  6. Hold the felt in place and use a black marker to mark a dot on the red felt where the holes in the can are. Remove the felt and cut a small slit where each marker dot is; this is where the arms will slide in.
  7. Glue the red felt in place, making sure that the slits line up with the holes in the can.
  8. Cut the jacket trim from the white felt using the patterns. Glue the center trim piece on to the red felt, starting from the top of the red felt. Glue the bottom jacket trim around the can, covering the center jacket trim at the bottom.
  9. Cut the arms of the jacket from the red and white felt using the patterns. Lay the white arm trim down first, the red felt on top of that overlapping the white. Lay the craft stick on top of both, the rounded end should be sticking out about 1” from the white cuff. The flat (cut) end of the craft stick should also be sticking out about ¼”, just enough to insert into the can. If it is not, trim the felt to allow some of the stick to show. Fold the felt around the stick to create the sleeve and glue in place. Repeat for the other arm.
  10. Cut the belt and boots from the black felt using the pattern. Glue the belt around the can, about ¾” above the bottom white trim. Glue the boots to the bottom of the can.
  11. Bend the silver chenille stem into a buckle, trim where needed. Glue onto the belt.
  12. Insert the arms into the slits/holes in the side of the can. Glue to secure.
  13. Glue a sheet of red felt around the top of the can, just at the rim. This will be the hat. For now, just glue the felt around the rim and continue to the next step.
    Starting at the back, glue cotton balls in place for hair and beard. Use the photo as a guide.
  14. Gather the felt of the hat and tuck in and glue as you go to create the cap shape. Bend the cap downward and tack to the side to keep it down (if needed) using glue. Glue white pom pom to the end of the hat.
  15. Glue on wiggle eyes and pink pom pom for nose.

**For the example, a cylinder chip can was used, but you can use any type of cylinder for this project. Try coffee creamer containers, juice cans or even an empty salt container.
**To jazz up this cute Santa, use white glitter felt for the cuffs and jacket trim instead of plain white felt.

Happy crafting!! ;-)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Package Stalker

The title says it all. I, Laura Bradford, am a package stalker.

Or, at least, I was this weekend.

You see, after waiting for what seemed like an eternity (though, in actuality it wasn't long at all), I got word via a fellow writer that January's author copies had been sent off...

A week ago.

While I was away (in St. Thomas).

And to the house I'd been living in for the past few months (yet no longer was).


Once I got word the box had been delivered (and accepted) by the new owner of said former house, I began to stalk. And I mean, stalk.

Unfortunately, as it was Thanksgiving at this point, the acceptee was apparently out of town.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

How do I know she was out of town? Because there was no sign of life every time I drove by. With "every" time being something like five or six times...

A day.

Until I hit finally hit jackpot yesterday afternoon.

I can't tell you how excited I was to finally have that package in my possession. Wait, actually I can. I was THRILLED!!!

Sure, I've seen my name on books before (both real and pen). And yes, I get excited every time. But this one was different.

Because it's my first-ever romance and it represents a burst of faith I had in myself--faith I grabbed with two hands as I took off in a sprint. KAYLA'S DADDY (Harlequin American, January) is the fruit of that faith in tangible form.

I can't tell you how many times I've looked at that book in the past day. Or how many times I've opened the cover and read the "Dear Reader" and "About the Author" sections. Or even how many times I've thought ahead to the first few readers who pick it up off the shelf in a store somewhere across this country...

It's magical. And it was more than worth the title of psycho stalker.


So how about you? Have you ever been so excited to see/get something that you couldn't wait for nature to take its course?

Have a great weekend!


P.S. A Daddy For Christmas--my first-ever Harlequin on-line read to kick off my first-ever romance novel--debuts December 7th at A new chapter will be posted each day for twenty days (weekends excluded). I hope you check it out!