This is it, Canada. The day we waited for all through those long winter nights. The longest day of the year. I can't speak for your area, but Winnipeg is HOT. And sunny and altogether delightful today. I hope you can get outside and enjoy it. Don't forget to watch the sunset tonight - it'll only be earlier from here on in.
Please leave a comment to tell me which of these options appeals, or if you'd like something else.
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- Baking only (cookies, cakes, desserts)
- Easy Entrees
- Kid-chef friendly
- Change it up every month
- add your own option
Rock goddess. Television star. Movie scene-stealer. Caitlin Kelly is taking Hollywood by storm as the new It Girl everybody wants.
And if you want her, you can get her book for only $0.99 until the end of February! Happy Valentine's Day to you!
Sean Glenn fell for Caitlin the first time he saw her, almost a year ago. Now that the rising star is working on his show, he could finally have a shot with her, if it weren’t for his well-known history as a player. Sean has his work cut out for him.
Entertainer Caitlin Kelly has spent the last decade taking every job she could get. Now all her hard work is paying off. When her new role on a hit show brings fame and a potential real-life love interest, she has to make some serious choices about her priorities.
While Caitlin is torn about decisions the spotlight forces on her, especially those regarding Sean, the actor is suffering his own problems with stardom. Sean finds himself in a stalker’s sights, and the safest place for Caitlin may be far away from him. Is love strong enough to keep them together?
Find the e-book on sale for only $0.99 at Amazon.com, Kobo, and Google Play, (Check the price at arnes and Noble and iBooks before you click - they are a couple days off the others).
I have teamed up with the Manitoba Writers Guild and am putting on an evening seminar to cover the basics of romance writing. If you are in the Winnipeg area, it will be in the ArtSpace Building (218-100 Arthur Street) on Thursday, February 15th from 6-9:30pm.
Please feel free to share with any writers you know. Tickets are available here.
As Valentine's Day looms, minds wander to thoughts of love (and heart-shaped, chocolate-filled boxes.)
MWG can help you with the love. If you are a romance reader and have always wanted to write one, Elle Rush will start you on your way with this Introduction to Romance Writing workshop.
Topics will include:
- What is a Romance? How does it differ from love stories, women’s fiction, and erotica? Participants will also examine the various sub-genres within romance, including Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, and more.
- How do I plot the story? There are four basic 'Acts' or segments of the romance story, each important to the plot. Find out what they are and how to 'flesh them out'.
- How do I avoid romance stereotypes? Elle will discuss common and popular tropes, character development for your protagonists, and why references to Fabio should be left in the 80s.
I'll be changing direction in 2018, and that path will be leading directly to sweet romance. I've decided to step away from romantic suspense for a while, and concentrating on what makes me happy - namely, a lot of flirting, a lot of laughing, and a kiss to seal the deal when my characters fall in love.
That said, I'm also changing up my newsletter to include more than book sales. In five weeks, my Valentine's
newsletter will be going out. What would you like to see in it?
- Gardening news and tips?
- Updates on my crafting projects and links?
- Travel snippets and pictures?
- Quick reviews about movies I've seen and books I've read?
The newsletter is for you, so I want to ensure you get something out of it. Do any of these topics appeal? Do you have any other suggestions? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks!
I spent the weekend baking (SO MUCH BAKING!) and have decided to do my future self a favour and put all my recipes under one post to find for next year.
Most of these (with the exception of the Candy Cane Cookies) are kid-friendly when it comes to baking and cooking, so give them a try!
And if you are reading this before December 31, 2017, don’t forget to download your free copy of 12 DATES FOR CHRISTMAS for over a dozen family-favourite holiday recipes, and sneak peeks at twelve holiday romances – including DECKER AND JOY and HOLLIS AND IVY.
This is a very fast recipe to make, and you probably have the ingredients in your house already. If you need to kill an hour or two, you should get something tasty out of it.
(If you are on a holiday baking kick, try my Candy Cane Cookie recipe.)
1 cup salted butter, softened (or margarine)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
(if using unsalted butter, add 1/3 teaspoon of salt)
Sprinkles and coloured sugar (optional)
Cream butter and sugar. Add flour. Roll out to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters (or cut squares with a knife). Bake at 300F for 12-15 minutes. (If your cookies are more than 1/4″ thick, you may need to bake longer.) Let cool on tray for 3-5 minutes before moving carefully to cooling rack. Makes about 3 dozen.
Decorate with sprinkles or coloured sugar before baking, or frost cookies after they have cooled.
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.)
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.
(This recipe is also available as part of the free 12 Dates for Christmas cookbook).
½ cup butter or margarine*
2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
3 tbsp milk
3 cups shredded coconut (medium or long strand)
½ tsp vanilla or mint flavouring**
Green food colouring* **
3 oz white chocolate for melting (chopped up baking squares or wafers) * **
Melt butter or margarine in a large saucepan or microwave. Remove from heat if using stovetop. Add icing sugar and milk.
Mix in coconut and flavouring. Add enough food colouring to tint mixture green.
Roll into 1” balls. Pinch tops to make into cones.
Place in refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 2 hours – preferably longer – to dry and firm.
Melt chocolate in saucepan or microwave. Dip tops of “trees” to give make them “snow covered”. Return to fridge until chocolate re-hardens.
Makes about 3 dozen treats.
Elle’s Notes from experience
* You can get fancy and leave your trees “white”. They look great with brown chocolate topping (melted chocolate chips work fine.) Or leave them as snow balls with white chocolate on top (see photo).
** If you want to go retro to the 80’s, you can make pink Christmas trees (remember those?). Tint the coconut pink, add cherry flavouring instead of mint, and dip in white or regular brown chocolate.