Category Archives: fun

Chocolate Drops

I haven’t had these since I was a kid. Then we saw them at a bake sale and decided they were something that needed to be brought back into fashion for Christmas this year.

So far we’ve made two batches. I don’t know how they disappear so quickly. Fortunately, they are very easy (and kid-friendly) to make.

 

Boiled Chocolate Drops AKA Chocolate Haystacks

1/2 cup butter or margarine (125mL)
1/2 cup milk (125mL)
2 cups granulated sugar (500mL)
1/2 cup cocoa (125mL)

2 1/2 cups rolled/quick oats (625mL)

Put first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 full minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in rolled oats. Drop by teaspoon full onto trays covered with waxed paper. Let harden. Makes 4 dozen.

Coconut fans can replace 1/2 cup of oats with 2/3 cup of coconut.

These harden quickly, so get them onto the tray ASAP.

(The recipe books says is great for first-time cooks, and they are. Easy and quick to make – there is no downtime to get bored.)

Whipped Shortbread

This is an old family recipe that I have never managed to get quite right. But this version is almost as tasty.

1 cup soft butter (salted)
1/2 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s/powdered sugar)
1 1/2 cups flour (sifted)
1/4 cup cornstarch
Maraschino cherries or slivered almonds

Put butter in mixing bowl. Sift other ingredients every top. Beat at high speed until creamy*.

Drop by teaspoon full on to tray and decorate with a piece of cherry or almond.

Bake at 325 F for 12 minutes.

Notes from Elle

* My recipe actually says “Beat at high speed until consistency changes. You’ll know it when you see it.” It sounds like terrible instructions, but if you are beating it and say “nope, it looks the same” then it hasn’t changed. For some reason, I think it takes 20+ minutes of beating (my mom used at hand mixture.) When the texture goes from cookie dough, to like whipped cream, you’ve got it! I’ve had it happen once. This year my mixer started heating up so much, the beaters got hot and started melting the butter. Folks, that shouldn’t happen! Creamy tastes just fine, and that’s usually where I stop because I don’t have the patience.

Hollis and Ivy – Sneak Peek

Only a week until Hollis and Ivy will hit your e-reader. Is December 11th circled on your calendar? I thought I’d tease you a little with a snippet from this sweet romance.

You can pre-order it now from Amazon, Amazon.ca, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Google Play.

**

There were numerous chain coffee shops in the village, but Hollis preferred to try independents when he travelled. A food truck with “Coffee Run” painted on the side, set up on the street beside the main parking lot had caught his attention. It was brilliant marketing for a town built on ski slopes.

He wasn’t the only one with caffeinated intentions. Sunlight was barely peeking over the mountains, signifying the beginning of the ski day, and the line was trailing off after the morning rush. Hollis found himself standing next to a tall, gangly man with a red and white striped hat and matching sweater. A woman in a wool coat—obviously not a skier—fell in behind him.

The service was quick, the drinks were steaming, and the sugar was on the ledge beside the order window, beside a wide-mouthed jar of biscotti. Hollis took a deep whiff of his coffee before setting his cup on the counter. As he tucked his gloves in his pocket, he took a step to the side to make room for the next customer.

“Good morning. The usual?” the man in the truck asked.

“Make it a double, Joel. Thanks.”

Something about the woman’s voice made him smile. Clear and light and a little husky, like she was used to speaking quietly. He noticed it had the same effect on the food truck worker, who offered her a big grin. “One of those days, huh? Don’t worry, Ivy, we’ve got you.”

Then she directed that voice his way. “Excuse me, please.” She pointed at the biscotti container, and Hollis sidled sideways two more steps. He wasn’t about to come between a woman and her cookie. She grinned, and it hit him twice as hard as her voice. She was gorgeous. Her long, dark brown hair matched her eyes, and her friendly but anxious “Coffee, coffee, yay coffee” whisper made him laugh. A puff of wind brought the scent of spring, a reminder of it even though winter had barely begun.

She used the tongs to pull a long, chocolate-topped cookie from the jar. He wasn’t sure of her next move; it happened too quickly to see. But after that, he saw her arm jerk, and watched in amazement as the cookie went up, executed a perfect backwards, double twist, and splashed down in his coffee.

Nobody spoke. Until she gave a horrified gasp and said, “And I’d like to buy the handsome man in the tan jacket a biscotti.”

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

Christmas isn’t Christmas without holiday baking, so let’s start with something easy to make, and a good way to get the kids involved in baking.

Unfortunately, these can’t be sent to school because they do contain nuts (I’ve heard of a Wow-butter version but have not tried it myself.) They are fine – and always popular – at home and work potlucks.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

1/2 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1-300 gram bag of butterscotch chips
1-200 gram bag of mutli-coloured mini-marshmallows (you can use white but why be plain?)

Melt the butter, peanut butter and butterscotch chips over a low heat. Remove and let cool a little as to not melt the marshmallows. Pour in marshmallows. Coat thoroughly. Press into a 9″x13″ pan. Chill in fridge for 1 hour. (You can line the pan with parchment paper for easier removal.) Cut and serve.

Introducing DECKER AND JOY

Introducing the first book in my new sweet holiday romance series “North Pole Unlimited”.

**

Jaded P.I. Decker Harkness must track down a missing prototype if he wants a shot at a corporate security contract.

Sexy cat-lady Joy McCall has her own investigation running after someone breaks into her animal shelter.

When they cross paths during a triple kitten-napping, they’ll have to work together to close their cases. Will everyone make it home to celebrate a merry Christmas together?

Only Santa knows.

(An earlier version of this novella appeared in the limited-release Crazy Cat Lady anthology in fall 2016.)

Now available at Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play.

**

Want even more Christmas spirit – and Christmas books? Check out the 12 Dates of Christmas Facebook group page. We have a free book available, plus lots of holiday posts, Christmas romances, recipes, and more!

 

 

Decker and Joy – Sneak Peek

Decker and Joy is coming soon. The only thing better than a holiday romance is a holiday romance with kittens!  To celebrate the launch of my new North Pole Unlimited series, this sweet romance is only $0.99 until New Year’s Day.

You can pre-order your e-copy at Amazon, Amazon.ca, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play.  The book goes live everywhere on November 13th.

**

Is that what a bed of nails felt like? Decker had been examining the store’s merchandise, looking to see if E.L.V.I.S. was misplaced behind any of the massive bags of dog food, when an unknown assailant jammed a dozen knives into his back. He was ex-police and a private detective; nobody should have gotten the drop on him. He’d scanned the store when he entered. He was the only person in it, aside from Joy. She was unnervingly pretty with her auburn hair and brown eyes, but she hadn’t registered as a cold-blooded killer.

The razors trying to sever his spine moved. Decker tensed his thighs, preparing to spring backward and crush the attacker against one of the metal shelving racks, when a warm hand fell on the back of his neck. He stilled instantly.

“Don’t move,” Joy whispered.

Decker felt a slight pressure, and then the needles were extracted from his skin, one by one. He slowly stood and wondered if he’d get to the emergency room before he bled to death. One of the blades may have hit an artery.

“Are you okay, sweetie?” Joy asked.

“I’m not sure.” He wasn’t light-headed, and he was moving okay. There was surprisingly little pain. He might make it.

“I was talking to the cat.”

Free books! Including LEADING MAN for the first time


LEADING MAN is one of 75 free books available today only (some sales may go longer but I make no promises.)  Check out the OMG READS Treat Yourself sale and click away!

For the first time ever, LEADING MAN is *free* on all platforms, but only for a limited time, so grab it while it’s hot! (Don’t forget, SCREEN IDOL is also free, so you can be on your way to getting the whole series.

Nick needs a dance instructor to help him with his new role and Ashleigh seems perfect. Their relationship quickly heats up … on the dance floor and between the sheets. But when Nick learns about Ashleigh’s connection with his ex-girlfriend, he wonders if their relationship is real or staged.

 

Stars and Stripes

american flag

Happy Independence Day, United States. I wish you many barbecues and fireworks on your birthday.

Happy birthday, Canada!

Happy 150th birthday, Canada. You look wonderful!

Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver (1), I love your wildness, and your cities, your summers and your winters (except for that 3 week stretch in January where you are -40 for days on end), and all the land between the two coasts.

I love your maple sugar candies and your poutine, your broom ball and your hockey, and all your talented artists.

So get out there and celebrate the official birthday of Canada. Watch those fireworks, weather permitting. And kill those Canadian mosquitoes – it’s okay, it’s a national pastime.

If you really want to get into the Canadian spirit, check out Romance, Eh – Canadian Style, a blog of Canadian writers, and show your hometown pride.

(1) Land of the Silver Birch, by Pauline Johnson

 

The Ultimate Relationship Test

There are milestones in any relationship. First dates, first overnight visits, first time travelling together. They are all big events in their own ways, but the big test, the true test, on whether you and your partner will make it through the tough times comes…

when you try to assemble Ikea furniture together.

I’m pleased to tell you all that I am in a stable relationship that is going to last. In the past two months, we have assembled a bed frame, two night tables, and a dresser. We have one dresser to go.

We are still talking to each other.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Sure, all the instructions are in pictures, but if you get the pieces to fit in a way they aren’t supposed to, there is no way to undo some of the steps! If it were just screws or dowels, that’s one thing. But now they have these plastic nails with screw ridges on them that you hammer in. Those suckers aren’t ever coming out once they go in. Thank goodness we had a drill downstairs because I inserted a couple pieces backwards, and all of a sudden the holes we needed for step 8 were on the inside of the drawer instead of the outside. Thankfully, that was on the first drawer of my dresser. The rest of the drawers were fine, and I learned my lesson.

Partnership is working together, and knowing the difference between small problems and big problems and dealing with them accordingly. Accidents happen, apologizing and moving on is important on both sides.

It’s important to remember that you should not attempt this relationship step until you are sure you are both ready. If all goes well, the experience could teach you things about your partner you never knew…like how many curse words they know. Happy construction!

**

(This post originally appeared on the Romance Eh? Canadian Style blog. Over a dozen Canadian romance writers post about love and life every month, so feel free to check it out.)