Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tea valentine

 

Quick — what’s the best Valentine’s Day present you ever received?  Here’s mine, hands down:

Bonnie with Billie's toy

 

This is what she looked like the day my husband gave her to me:

Bonnie baby picture

Totally irresistible!  I named her Bonnie (“My Bonnie Valentine”) and she’s been my constant companion ever since.  Everybody should receive a puppy for a present at least once in their life!

 

 

The view from my window

It is, as Pooh might put it, a very Blustery Day here in the Northwest…

The sky is slate gray, and a gusty wind is flinging raindrops against my office window.  From where I sit, I have a good view of the maple tree in our backyard.  A few last holdouts in its branches will soon join their compatriots on the lawn below, but at the moment they’re frantically waving yellow flags of surrender.

 

November is the PERFECT month for writing.

Who in their right mind would want to be outside in weather like this?  November always brings a string of days that find me perfectly content to be here at home, happily settled in the armchair where I do all my writing.  My laptop is open for business, I have a cup of tea close at hand (a delicious herbal brew from Teaforte called Blueberry Merlot at the moment), and the dogs are napping at my feet.

Well, OK, Bonnie’s napping at my feet.  Billie’s more interested in the “people cookies” that I’m about to tuck into.  No point in a cup of tea without a cookie or two, right?  Sorry, Billie — you just had a dog cookie.  No more treats for you!

November, December, January, and February are my most productive writing months for sure.  Not that I don’t write year-round — I do — but in the spring and summer and early fall, I’m always fending off distractions, particularly the lure of the outdoors.  This time of year, though, even the dogs don’t want to go for a walk.

What’s your favorite season of the year to write?

 

 

 

 

 

Will work for macaroons

Working from home definitely has its advantages.  The commute’s a snap, for one thing, and I can set my own hours, wear my pajamas all day, and skive off to the movies mid-morning while everyone else is stuck at their desks.  (Not that I ever do, mind you, but I could if I wanted to.)

It definitely has its disadvantages too, though.  For one thing, it can get pretty quiet around here, even though our Shetland sheepdogs are good company.

Office colleagues Bonnie & Billie

Plus, the boss is a slave driver.  Man, does she crack that whip!  What’s that, you say?  I’m the boss, so I have no one to blame but myself?  Um, I guess you have a point there…

Once in a while my mean old boss cuts me some slack and tells me to go have fun.  One of my favorite things to do in this case is have friends over for lunch.  It gives me an excuse to clean the house, for one thing, plus I love to cook.  And it’s always nice to have a reason to use my favorite pink china I inherited from my mother.

Today I made pumpkin soup, perfect for a chilly November day, and to go with it we had sourdough rolls, sparkling cranberry juice, and my friend Susan brought a delicious salad, while my other friend Sue (yep, two Susans–isn’t that funny?!) brought MACAROONS.

I am a sucker for anything coconut.

Especially yummy little cookies like these.  Aren’t they gorgeous?  Sue gave me the recipe, which is super-simple.  I can’t wait to whip up a batch myself!

COCONUT MACAROONS

1 14-oz. pkg.  shredded & sweetened coconut (5-1/3 cups)

2/3 cup sugar

6 T. flour

¼ tsp. salt

4 egg whites

1 tsp. almond extract

Preheat oven to 325.  Combine coconut, sugar, flour and salt in large bowl. Stir egg whites and extract together, then add to coconut mixture and stir until blended.

Using a cookie dough scoop or spoon, scoop coconut mixture into 1 T. size mounds, 2 inches apart, onto greased and lightly floured baking sheet (I like to use parchment paper).

Bake for 20 minutes or until edges look golden brown and lightly toasted. Transfer from baking sheet to wire racks and cool completely.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

 

WYWE winners!

Recipe for giveaway fun:

1.  Take one dog bowl and fill it with treats …

 

2.  Add over 250 names plus two eager dogs (preferably Shelties named Bonnie and Billie) …

 

 

3.  Ready, set, go!  (note blurry action shot as names are ejected from the bowl in the mad rush for treats)

 

4.  Gather up winning names…

 

5.  Drumroll please … time for the big reveal!

 

And the winners are — LACEY COLE, whose dream trip would be to Concord, Massachusetts; OONA, who wants to see Paris and about a zillion other places but doesn’t like airplanes; and BOOKLOVER B, who can’t decide between Paris, Italy, and Concord, Massachusetts!

Congratulations, girls!  Look for an email from me soon — I’ll be sending off your autographed copies of WISH YOU WERE EYRE as soon as I have your snail mail addresses.  Thanks for entering the giveaway, everyone!

Only two more days until PUBLICATION DAY!    Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

 

Can I go home now?

Look who was waiting for me when I drove up to get her at “doggie daycare” today …

That’s our Billie on the left.  Is she a cutie pie or what?  Don’t know who her pal is on the right, but he or she is pretty adorable, too!

It’s a rainy day here in Oregon, so Bonnie and Billie went off to play with their friends for a few hours.  They’re home now, resting up for their big moment in the spotlight this weekend — choosing the winners of the two GIVEAWAYS!  Stay tuned for the announcements…

 

Nest update

I count four little beaks, how about you?

Mama Robin is keeping a close watch on me as I watch her and her babies …

 

It’s been a busy day here in the Frederick backyard.  The nest is bulging with rapidly-growing baby robins, who look to me like they’re about ready to fledge (leave the nest).  I spotted a couple of way-too-interested crows hanging around earlier (unfortunately, crows like to snack on baby birds), so I’ve stationed myself close to the nest with my laptop, a glass of ice water, and, believe it or not, a canoe paddle just in case I need to swat at one of said crows.

I have to go inside to Skype with a mother-daughter book club in Wisconsin, so I’m going to let Bonnie take over for nest guard duty for a while.  Talk about teamwork!

 

 

And the winners are…

Giveaway judges Billie & Bonnie, ready to do their duty
Hat with names
Hat with names + dog treats (to interest judges)
Selection of winners in process
And we have lift-off!

Out of more than 60 participants in the fractured fairy tale Extrava-TOAD-ganza Giveaway, Bonnie and Billie chose:

Emma — Little Violet Sneakers

Liyah — Cinderella with the Too-Big Shoes

Mackenzie (not Sarah Margaret’s twin) — Princess & the Pea from the pea’s perspective

Congratulations, girls!  I’ll be contacting you shortly to get more information on where to send your prizes!