Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Our family has traveled north this Christmas to spend the holidays together in Maryland. This Christmas morning, as always, I am the first one up. The first of many pots of coffee has been brewed. Our traditional sweet rolls are in the oven. And I'm waiting for the pitter patter of feet, both large and small. Once I hear those, pandemonium is sure to begin. Before that starts, I wanted to wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases, the happiest of holidays, and to add my heartfelt wishes that the New Year brings us all health, wisdom and success.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy holidays, and some recipes

It's Christmas Eve, my second favorite day of the year.

My favorite...yes, you guessed Christmas!

I am so excited about tomorrow, and it's not about the presents, although I know there will be many. Too many, perhaps.

But the moment I live for is the one when my family sits around the dinner table, gives thanks for being together, and celebrates what a wonderful and privileged life we have.

Food is a big part of our holiday festivites so I thought I would share this year's dessert recipe - Eggnog Cheesecake - with you. Trust me when I say it is de-licious!

And of course we all know that calories consumed on Christmas Day don't count!

Eggnog Cheesecake

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
Combine crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 325 F for 10 minutes. Let cool.

1-1/2 pounds (750 grams) cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
In a food processor (or mixing bowl) beat cream cheese, sugar, cream and flour until smooth. Beat in eggs, rum and nutmeg. Pour over crust. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 250 F and bake for another 45 minutes or until edge is set and set and the centre still jiggles slightly. Turn oven off. Run a sharp knife around edge of cake, put it back in the oven and let it cool in the oven for 1 hour. Remove to rack and cool completely.

To serve, remove from pan and drizzle with melted semisweet chocolate.
Serves 10 to 12.

Today on my personal blog I'm also sharing a recipe for a wonderfully easy recipe for a festive couscous salad. I'm serving it with chili tonight at my family's Christmas Eve get-together.

With best wishes for a joyous and happy holiday,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Writing Advice

I'm posting writing advice on my author page at . Please stop by if you use Facebook and "Like" my page. Click on "Notes" to see what I have posted so far. I've included information about query letters, getting published, research, etc. and I'll continue to post more workshops and writing "goodies" from my files and experiences.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Tis the Season to be Thankful

As we near Christmas day, I'm taking this opportunity to tell everyone how thankful I am for my wonderful nieces and nephews in Louisville, KY. As many of you know from my Facebook posts, my older sister (actually, my only sister) Peggy fell and shattered her ankle in late October. Since then she's been in the hospital, had extensive surgery, and then recovered in a nursing home for weeks. At one point doctors thought her leg might not be saved. Her husband John is a diabetic with numerous medical problems and had to enter the nursing home with her since no one could care for him at home.

Even their cat, Bitsy, had to relocate but found a temporary home with a friend.

Now, thanks to lots of hard work from my nephews and nieces, Peggy and John are settled into an apartment as their home is not wheelchair accessible, and she won't be able to walk for many months. My husband and I drove from Texas to Kentucky last week and have been helping, as much as possible, to get them settled into the apartment. Having familiar items, furniture, art, etc. is very important to Peggy and John. Yesterday I spent the day hanging their favorite prints so they could see them, getting my sister's greeting cards and birthday list organized, and sneaking a favorite dessert in for us to share while my brother-in-law was at a doctor's appointment for five hours with my nephew.

I would like to think that I would do the same wonderful job as John G., Laura, Bek and John T. if I had to, but I'm not sure that's true. My nieces and nephews have done a tremendous job coming together to care for Peggy and John. They've made tough decisions (the family home must be sold) and performed many little acts of kindness to make their parents more secure and comfortable. Listening to their tribulations with Medicare, Adult Protective Services, and the Veterans Administration has made me realize how difficult growing older can be. I have no idea how people could exist for long without a caring family to do the hard work, fill out all the forms, and actually become the parents when their own can't perform that role any longer. It's a sobering and amazing realization.

My hope for the holidays is that you have a wonderful time with your family, however that family is pulled together, by blood or common interests or love. Hold fast to them and pray that they will always be strong and well, or if they are not, that they will have the benefit of a loving family to surround them. Be thankful for the time you have with them, this season and always.
(This photo, me beside our little Christmas tree at our lake house in Mineola, TX while our dog looks on.)

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone.