Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sam Cheever Dishes on Cupid!

It's always fun when my author friends have a new book release!  Here we have an anthology with a diverse group, several I know well.  Hope you enjoy their take on love!  Today, Sam Cheever is in the spotlight!!!!

And, Sam will draw a winner for chocolate & fun stuff in the morning from comments!  So besure to get your name in the drawing!!!
A Fat Dude in a Diaper? I Think Not!
I never thought it was right to have a God of Love represented by a fat, curly headed dude in a diaper. I mean. Come on! Those cute little cherubs were fun on Valentine’s Day cards when I was in grade school, but once I grew up, I started to see them for what they are…a wasted opportunity!
The idea of a god-like creature with a single goal, to create love between two people, has unending possibilities. The concept is sexy, romantic, and provides fertile ground for an Author’s favorite question…What if?
What if the gods declared that the Cupid race must spend all their time finding love for others but could not find love for themselves? And then, what if Cupid did find someone she wanted to love…would they be able to force the Fates to change the law? Nocked Over
What if Cupid’s lover had a terrible secret? And what if that secret threatened Cupid and their love? Nocked Asunder
What if, in the course of doing his job, Cupid one day found the perfect woman…the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, but she was a cursed Demon Princess and the gods told them they could never be together? Nocked Senseless
What if Cupid was assigned to write a Love Note that would inspire a beautiful, lonely woman to fall in love with a jerk? And, what if, in the course of trying to find a way out of that scenario, Cupid fell in love with the beautiful recipient of the Love Note? Cupid Only Rings Twice
What if I can never stop asking that question and I spend eternity writing what if scenarios for potential Cupid books?
LOL, I think you get my meaning. The God of Love concept is ripe for fictional picking. And I’m just the gal to pillage those pickings for fun and sexy romantic fare! To some, Valentine’s Day means chocolate and kisses. Of course I appreciate those things too, but the holiday also represents much more. To me it means the opportunity to explore another fun what if.
It’s not a bad way to spend a holiday.
But a little chocolate wouldn’t be a bad thing either! #:0)
Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!
Buy the book!      
Rori Foster has had a lifetime of being disappointed by men, so, she’s not surprised when she overhears the cocky womanizer in the office betting his knuckle dragging posse that he can get her to shed a tear over the love note he writes. Instead, forewarned, she sees an opportunity to make him look foolish.
Damios Persis is an honest to god Cupid. He runs a love enablement company called, Delivery by Cupid. When the cocky womanizer asks him to write and deliver a love note to Rori that will make her shed a tear and allow him to win his bet, Damios’ instinct is to show the jerk the door. But he realizes if he doesn’t take the job, his arch rival the Love Demon will. So he agrees to write the letter and deliver it on Valentine’s Day.
There’s only one problem. As he spends time with Rori in what he tells himself is research for writing the note, Damios starts to fall hard for her.
When the client fires Damios and hires the Love Demon to write and deliver the love note, Damios knows they have a problem. The demon intends to infuse the note with magick to get Rori to read it.
Damios realizes he’s gonna have to do something drastic to save her from the plotting around her.
Even if it means losing her in the process.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Musings - Valentine Fun Coming Up~

Here it is almost the end of January and the month of LOVE looms ahead of us.  To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we’re going to kick off February 1st with 14 Days of Love with guests discussing their first love, first kiss, etc. and a drawing from the comments that day for a prize.  So, make sure you leave your comment or share your “first” each day to get your name in daily drawing.  The more you comment, the better your chances of winning!!!

Discussing the contest idea with a friend of mine brought back memories of my first boyfriend.  As I’ve said before, me as a child and teen was a different person…shy, introverted and the last thing in the world I wanted was to be noticed.  That said, you can imagine my humiliation the Valentine's day I walked into 9th grade homeroom to find a box of candy and a card on my desk.  There had to have been a mistake, but the card bore my name so I tentatively opened it.  The note was lovely, talking about how much he liked me and hoped I’d be his girlfriend.
I looked across the room to find him watching my reaction and I think I attempted to smile, even though I wanted to the floor to open up and swallow me.  The need to disappear became more desperate when I noticed the rest of the class watching.  My response, slink down in my chair and pray for that cloak of invisibility.
When homeroom ended my admirer came over and I mumbled a thank you and like a scared rabbit scurried away.  After a week or so of trying to carry my books, attempting to have a conversation with a ‘chicken shit’ too timid to hold up her end…yes, I was a total geek,  he moved on to a girl willing to hold hands while he carried her books.
Needless to say, my high school weekends weren’t packed with dates.  And the first boyfriend attempt…well, he may have only been JV second string on the football team the year he had the misfortune to lay his heart on the line for me, but he evolved in to first string in high school and a major stud, with a lot of the girls falling all over him.  As for him…he stayed loyal to the girl he ‘liked’ after me.  In fact, I think they later married.
So there you have it…my pitiful first love connection, or lack thereof!  Thankfully, things did improve as I matured and I survived two childbirths as evidence.
What about you?  Did your first dive into the world of love result in a big blunder like mine, or was it all smooth sailing.  Did you flounder or flit like a bee from one relationship to the next?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Friday's Guest - My Pal, Tessa Berkley!!!

Sharing with us today is Tessa Berkley, one of my Passion in Print pals.  Tessa shares her love of cowboys and an excerpt from her new book.
And a lucky winner’s name will be drawn to win an eBook copy, so be sure to leave a comment to get your name in the drawing!!! 
It's true, my heroes are cowboys...
There is nothing that stirs the soul and brings out the internal need in a woman, that a cowboy. Uniquely American, these knights of the sagebrush are swirled in the mystique of history, folklore and legend.
They have fired the imagination of writers such as Owen Wister's Virginian considered by many as the first true western novel and involves iconic themes of high action, lust for revenge, the human emotions of love verses hate, and friendships that humans forge in order to survive in the harsh environment of the old west. Don't these sound like the basis for any romantic novel?
Cowboys are the heart and soul of the old west. Their stoic emotions of riding for the brand and doing what is right in the face of what is easy brands them and makes them stand apart. They are fiercely independent, preferring the wide lonesome wilderness to the hustle and bustle of towns. It's much easier to talk to a horse than to charm a woman. But a woman, worth her grit knows the heart of these wandering souls. Their want and need to care for their man over comes their fear of being alone.
Think about some of the great cowboy movies we've all watched. Those immortal lines "Shane, Shane come back!"  or Gary Cooper looking at the clock as Grace Kelly awaits her wedding day wondering if she will be a widow before properly married.
One of my favorites is in an old John Wayne film called Angel and the Badman, when the heroine Gail Russell comes to tears knowing that Quirt Evans, played by Wayne lives and dies by his gun. This is a direct conflict with her religious upbringing. She tells him, "I didn't know love could come to one and not the other. If you tell me you want me I'll go with you..." And before the rest of the words are uttered, Wayne sweeps her into his arms and gives her one of the hottest kisses I've ever seen.
Talk about branding your woman, that scene, that image has always stayed with me. I draw on that when I'm writing those passion-filled sequences.
In Walls of Jericho, I tap in to the emotions of men of means using their will to break up a love affair. But when the heroine, Charlotte Murray wants to capture the horse of her dreams only one man will truly do - Jericho Rivers, the man who left her over five years ago to marry another. When their love affair threatens to rekindle, her father sends another powerful figure in to break them apart. Will love prevail in spite of her father's determination to over ride his daughter's wishes?

The Walls of Jericho is out now at Passion in Print.

Jericho Rivers spent five years trying to forget Charlotte Murray and it's all for nothing. When an elusive stallion emerges, she must ask for help. One look and he remembers all too well. Passions flair and a bitter betrayal is exposed. When the walls of Jericho tumble, can lovers unite?

Read an except
"What happened or did not happen between us--” she paused. “Jericho, I couldn’t live knowing my actions cost you your happiness.”
They were so close. He could feel an unstrung rope swirl about them, binding their souls together. Her breath came in gulps and he could see the rise of her full breasts against her cotton shirt, which served as a barrier to his hands. He wanted her. No, he told himself and stiffened his resolve, choosing to focus instead on the long five years of simmering anger. “Nice words. Tell me, did you learn them in Chicago or New York?”
Her eyes widened, but he knew she was no innocent.
“You did not cover your tracks well, Charlotte.” He couldn’t help himself. He stepped closer. The faint scent of rosewater lifted from her body. Does she still carry that handkerchief dipped in that perfume between her luscious mounds? “Do you think the local papers would not have jumped on the reports of Michael Murray’s daughter dancing with the Governor’s son?” He leaned closer. Her color rose high in her cheeks. “What gowns you wore. Your latest conquests, all the way to the east coast.”
“It... It wasn’t like that,” she began to protest.
Jericho wasn’t in the mood. His blood stirred and overruled the cool of his head. His arms snaked about her middle and snatched her to his chest. His glance focused on her full lips. “Tell me,” he said, through gritted teeth. “Did they kiss like this?”
“Jericho, no.”
He silenced her with a crushing kiss. Her fingers flattened against his chest as if to push him away. He moved his mouth across hers as if she were some sugary confection he could not savor enough. Her fingers relaxed and sank deep into the muscles along his shoulders clutching him tighter. His plan to bring her to submission, make her remember all that they had been, all that they had lost, slipped away. The more his lips touched hers, the more he could not forget. 

 To purchase your copy...
You can catch up with Tessa on her web  http://tessaberkley.com/

MAKING CHRISTMAS - LRC Best Historical 2011

Thank you to everyone who voted at LRC to give MAKING CHRISTMAS the win for Best Historical 2011. I'm amazed because competition was stiff...go many great books!

And congratulations to all the winners in the other catagories.

Published by Musa Publishing


Also available at Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and All Romance eBooks


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Recipe Wednesday - Pan Seared Salmon Over Mediterranean Vegetables

Now that the holidays and the big trip are over, my focus is healthier cooking.  A conversation with the Honey’s doctor inspired me to kick it up another notch.  Her suggestion, going the Mediterranean lifestyle was taken to heart and I researched.  Turns out, I already incorporate a lot of the basics…olive oil, whole grains, fish and fruit, but need to kick it up another notch. 
We had this recipe with salmon and Honey loved it, but tonight I’m going to try it with chicken.  I think the vegetables with go with poultry too.
I also only made half of the recipe the first time around to see if we liked it.  In the future for fish I’d do the full batch of veggies and save half, cooking the fish fresh each time.

Pan Seared Salmon Over Mediterranean Vegetables
Serves: 4
Cook Time: 30 minutes
olive oil, divided
prosciutto, diced
fresh garlic, minced
1 1⁄2
red onion, chopped
button mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly-sliced
plum tomatoes, cored and diced
(packed) spinach leaves, chopped
fresh basil leaves, torn
4-ounce salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil in a small nonstick skillet over low heat. Add prosciutto. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until crispy. Stir in garlic; turn off heat.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms and sauté for 8-10 minutes, or until golden. Stir in tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Add spinach and basil and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in prosciutto-garlic mixture. Cover; keep warm. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper.
Heat remaining 1/2 teaspoon of oil in the same skillet used to cook prosciutto over medium heat. Add salmon, skin-side down. Cook, covered, for 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Use a spatula to loosen fish from its skin, which will stick to skillet. Divide vegetables among 4 plates, top with salmon and serve immediately.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Goals and Accountability!

As you know from last week’s post I’ve been in a down period, but I’m back on track and want to share some of my goals for this year.  This way I have a support system to hold my toes to the fire and keep me inspired.
First on my list:  The revisions and additions my editor wants on Emerging Magic.  Madly working on those and goal…have them to her by the first full week of February.
Second:  Revisions on Struck by Lightning, the award winning novel that I have my rights back on.  New title (probably Nordic Thunder) and a new cover, as well as added word count.  Deleting all references to the former series it was in at a publishing house that went bankrupt.  Objective, have it re-edited and self-publish as an ebook by end of March.
Third:  Decide where I want to place the books on which the rights reverted back due to the publisher’s website closure.  Will probably sign contracts with a couple of different publishers on several and self-publish others (after new edits and covers).
Fourth:  Finish the 3rd book in the Magical Love series by August (sooner would be lovely) and get it to my editor.  That would make for the possibility of 2 books in the series released this year!!
Fifth:  This is where the pressure comes in…write novellas or novels in 3 new (for me) genres.  These will have different names to avoid confusion for readers of Lizzie’s books.  In addition, they will require new websites and the promotions that will go with being new to those readers.
Yes, this feels like a lot when I read it, but it is doable…especially if I have people helping me stay focused.  So feel free to ask as the year progresses, “How are those goals coming?”
And that leads to a question for you.  What are your goals for 2012?  Does it work better for you to set one goal at a time or to have several you’re striving for over a period of time?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Guest Friday - Patrica Bates on Balancing an Author Life

Patricia Bates shares with us the balancing act authors accomplish each day.  Some of us have famlies, many of us have jobs outside the home and others a combination of the job/family that leads to a true juggling act to write the stories we have to write.  Thank you, Patricia for sharing insight into this with us today.

What is your day like?  If you write, do you struggle to work it in?  As a reader do you have to fight to crave out your time to curl up with a book or do you fit reading in in bites?

Join me in welcoming Patricia Bates!!!

Finding a happy medium with your writing:

For many of us authors, life is not simply about sitting at the computer for 12-16 hours a day. We have lives, work, families and each day is a carefully choreographed dance of time and responsibility. Some people will set their schedules to include the time for each project, some will just go by the seat of their pants. Regardless, any author will tell you one needs to create balance.

As an author I spend hours working on the next project, research, writing, plotting, which can take weeks if not months. As an editor however, I've learned how to work fast, thorough, and with the deadlines I not only get from publishers but from the clients I work with as well. Sometimes life interferes, sometimes it doesn't. But something I've learned is that one can never assume. So in the vague hope of creating a sense of normalcy in my life and in my house I had to discover a happy medium. To do this I purchased a white board and hung it over the computer desk.

On it I write the daily schedule. How long I have for each task I need. I do this for everything - writing, editing, cleaning the house, taking care of the personal stuff all while trying to leave room for my family, my life beyond the computer. Is it easy? No, but that's part of the fun of this craziness. If we don't accept the need for this medium we'll find ourselves flooded with thoughts, dreams, goals...that will never bear fruit because we're simply not prepared to work for the end result. A happy, healthy, entertaining writing career where I can write for a few hours a day and still have time for my family - who really are the ones I do all of this for.

Patricia Bates


Master's Mistress In a world of betrayal and murder, a vibrant Celtic slave woman holds the key to her Viking master's heart. #1 Bestseller for May - Champagne Books

The Viscount's Prize: A rugged spy, an innocent courtesan and a court bent on destroying them both. Carnal Passions

Love Thy Neighbor: In a land devastated by the Civil War, can water flow uphill to unite the two lovers destined to reclaim it? Champagne Books

Phantom's Pleasure: Can true love trascend death itself? Passion in Print

Firecracker: Love sometimes means accepting the inevitable.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monday on a Tuesday - Kicking the Blahs to the Curb!

I heard yesterday that the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year.  Could that explain why I felt not quite there on the Happy Scale?  January brings a lot of weather issues (yes, we had a front move in), the after holiday excitement drudges (not to mention the bills) and here in the U.S., time to get cracking on income tax stuff...yuk, plus a general dissatisfaction with weight, job and life in general. 

So today, I decided to kick the Blahs to the curb and get back into the fake-it-until-I-make-it mode.  Back to smiling (even at the cat that drove me crazy yesterday) and having the company of a Toddler today for a view of life through her eyes make help too.

As for the smiling…did you know it might save your life?  The sunny outlook can lead to fewer strokes and heart disease.  And yes, I plead guilty to falling into that category most days.  So here’s a few tips to help you (and me) get back in the happy saddle if you’ve fallen off like I did yesterday.

Shift one perspective at a time.   Instead of thinking about how bad a situation is (like book sales down), focus on writing a new book…maybe now is the time to try out the story in a new genre that’s been dancing through your head for weeks or even months.

Laugh!  Watch a funny show, read a funny book or just laugh for the hell of it!  It doesn’t matter if the cat looks at you like you’ve lost your mind, that’s his problem, not yours!

Hang with happy people.  This one I know to be a must.  The people in your life who constantly have a “glass is half empty” attitude can suck some of your “half full” view point off.

Negative thoughts and self-talk.  I read somewhere not to say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to others.  In some cases this may not work since some people have an uncensored mouth that goes with their uncensored thoughts.  So let’s rephrase…don’t say anything not nice to others or to yourself!  Replace those “I can’t” with “I can” and reprogram your self-love.  If we don’t love ourselves how can we extend love to others?

There you have it.  Me getting back on the right track and kicking the blahs to the curb.  If you’ve fallen off the track a little too, why don’t you join me in getting back on?  And please, share your tips on how you beat the blues.  I can always use more!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday's Guest - Christine DePetrillo Crosses to the Darkside!

Christine DePetrillo may get in touch with her darker side in Abra Cadaver, but she sure makes me laugh in her blog talking about the quest.  One lucky comment will be drawn for a copy of her crossover into the dark.  Get your coffee and relax for a fun read of both her thoughts and her excerpt!  Thanks for guesting with us today, Christine!!!!

Start with Death and Win a Free Book 


I was once accused of being too happy in my stories. Everybody was always smiling, the sun was always shining, puppies and kittens aplenty. I couldn’t help it. Creating love stories made me happy, and I wanted my characters to have everything good in the world.  
But that’s not very interesting now, is it?  
Characters need conflict in order to change and grow and realize what it is they really want out of life. Readers need a reason to turn the page. If everything always works out in every single scene, there’s no chance to hold your breath, to wonder, to worry, to rejoice—all things readers want to do. 
After receiving the feedback that maybe I had too much positive energy going on in my writing, I challenged myself to create something dark. This was really challenging me to be dark, which is not in my nature at all. I do smile a great deal. I like smiling. Smiling is good. Even if things are not going my way, a smile sometimes gets me through it. How was I going to keep the smiling to a minimum in my writing? 
Start with death, a voice not unlike the Grim Reaper’s rasped in my head.  
Sure, okay. I could try that. And so I did. My novel ABRA CADAVER is the result of my experiment with the Dark Side. A book with a synonym for corpse in the title has to be dark, right? My main character, Holly Brimmer, dies in a car accident. Her flesh has been torn away. She coughs up blood. Her heart ceases to beat. Breath no longer fills her lungs. Until Keane Malson comes along and gives her a second chance. 
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Hold on. Wait a second. She dies, but gets to live again? Isn’t that a glass-half-full scenario, Christine? Isn’t that a lucky break?” It would be, except that in order for Holly to stay alive, Keane has to kill demons and give their life energy to her. That’s kind of dark, right? Not to mention the fact that poor Keane is a cursed Celtic warrior and has been wandering the planet for centuries, unable to go in the sunlight, unable to choose his own path, always getting called to save someone from death’s grip. The dude has no life of his own. I’m getting all choked up for him all over again. 
Don’t worry. Although I did take a trip to a dark place, it’s still a romance novel and there’s still a guaranteed happily ever after in the end. There are laughs along the way too, but not a ton of smiling. Honest. 
So if you’re looking for a way to cut back on the daisies and rainbows in your writing or limit the pink bunnies and butterflies in your reading, start with death, I say. It worked for me.  

Blurb for ABRA CADAVER: 

Holly Brimmer never expected to be brought back from the dead. After a fatal car crash, a mysterious stranger gives her a second chance at life—but it comes with a price. To stay alive she must pay it forward, accomplish an important deed, thus making her mark in the world. Until she does, her savior is bound to her. Now she has a backyard full of dead bodies and one unwanted houseguest.

Keane Malson kills bad guys to keep the innocent alive, but he’s still a monster. Cursed by a witch moments before an honorable death on the battlefield, he’s lived thousands of years, roaming from place to place with no end in sight. It’s a lonely life…until he meets Holly.

When a wanted man targets Holly, Keane will do anything to protect her, even if it’s the last thing he ever does. 

Slowly, Keane sat up and ran a hand through his hair. Holly was enchanted by the way the black strands fell back into place. Her fingers literally itched with the need to feel Keane’s hair against her own skin so she stuffed her hands underneath her legs.  
            Keane slid his legs off the bed and, holding onto the headboard, he stood. Holly edged off the bed as well and prepared to support Keane. He held out a hand as if to tell her to give him a minute. He took a few steps deeper into the room and turned around.    

“Feel better?” Sweet Mary, he looked better. Damn perfect standing at his full height and rubbing his stomach with his hand.           

“Much.” He came to stand in front of Holly. He was close enough for her to wrap her arms around him, but she didn’t. “Don’t let me do that again, okay? I felt human for a few moments drinking that beer, but it’s not worth the pain.”            

“Guess you need tighter supervision.” A heat washed over Holly’s cheeks as she glanced up at Keane. His eyes were back to the brilliant sky blue, his skin flawlessly pale.           

“Yes, Miss Brimmer. That’s exactly what I need.” He grinned, and Holly forgot the rules.

Holly and Keane visit Holly’s parents at one point in the book. Due to the curse, Keane doesn’t eat, but Holly’s mother offers him cookies. Here’s my favorite cookie recipe: 


What You Need

2-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1-3/4 cups sugar, divided
2   eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
            What to do 
1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. Mix first 3 ingredients in large bowl. Beat butter and 1-1/2 cups sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Blend in eggs. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well blended. Shape into 1-inch balls.
3. Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon sugar. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets.
4. Bake 10 to 12 min. or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 1 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely and try not to eat them all in one sitting.  
Visit me at my website www.christinedepetrillo.weebly.com to pick up a copy of ABRA CADAVER along with my other books. I can also be found hanging at The Roses of Prose group blog at www.rosesofprose.blogspot.com on the 4th and 14th of each month.  

Leave a comment here on this post and be entered to win a free copy of ABRA CADAVER!   
Thanks for having me, Lizzie! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Recipe Wednesday -- Cheese Sandwich to Die For

Today I’m going to share the directions on the cheese sandwich we sampled on our trip to Borough Market in London.  The lady on the grill at the Kappacasein stand talked with me as she grilled up morsels of yum and told me how to make the gooey delights.

It’s about the bread and the cheddar.  Start with sourdough bread cut into sandwich slices.  They use shredded Montgomery cheddar and say the complexities are one of the reasons the sandwiches are so good. 
They also have a container of finely chopped white onion, red onion, scallions, shallots and garlic at the ready.   
Layer the bottom slice of bread with the shredded cheddar, pile on a handful of the chopped mixture, slap on the top slice of sourdough and place on the grill.  Close and grill.  You want the cheese melted and gooey, the bread nice and toasted.  Remove and enjoy!!!  No butter or oil is needed on the bread since the melting cheese supplies the oil base. 

It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in London because I could see this becoming a weekly addiction for me.  And I’m sure my efforts to duplicate will be good, but as the lady who walked me through the directions shared…her attempts at home never turn out as good as the ones at the stand.  But hey, I’m going to give it a try!
For your viewing pleasure, here are a few more shots of our trip.  London, though crowded was amazing, the hotel very nice and the kids delightful (for the most part), but I forgot my herbs so the hotflashes were fun..Not!
Climbing the Lions!

                                              Enjoying a Tower of London Tour

Monday, January 9, 2012

Herding Cats Around London & Beyond

Finally!  I'm over the jetlag and the cold a kind passenger sitting close to me shared on the flight home from London.  Now I want to share some of the adventure and a few pictures with you.

As some of you know we made the trip with the Teen and the Tween.  Fun as it was, it also reminded me of herding cats.  Teen would get pulled off by something that caught her eye and of course she's too old (at least in her world) to hold hands with doddering grandparents, or stretch her legs and walk yards ahead of us.  That would be fine, except the streets were crowded and trying to locate her in a mob wasn't always easy.  By the time I got her rounded up, Tween had been attracted by some glittery object and wandered off...so you see, just like herding cats.

But we didn't lose either of them, though they all lost me once when I went off after Teen, and we all made it back to Denver in one piece.

Day 1 we arrived in London to discover a train and subway strike.  That made getting to the hotel interesting.  Fortunately, one tube line did run to a major hub and the taxi ride didn't destroy our budget.  Taking one from the airport is expensive and the buses, well forget about it with luggage and all the bodies crammed in because of the strike.  Our plans for the afternoon were changed and we spent the afternoon wandering around Kensington instead of the trip across town for a walking tour.

Day 2 things were back on track with transportation.  We made it to the British Museum with no issues and even managed to find our friends without a lot of effort.  After fighting crowds there, we made it over to Trafalger Square where all kids got to climb and slide on the lions in yet, more crowds.  Think it's safe to say, we were all happy to relax over tea and enjoy the food and conversation at Fortnum & Mason.  Of course, we had tickets to the Ceremony of the Keys for that night and had to get back to the hotel and dress in more layers.  The girls enjoyed the longest running ceremony in the world and watching history in action.

Day 3 we headed back to the Tower of London on our all day city tour.  The Crown Jewels were impressive and the girls enjoyed (heaven help me) the weapons.  Something about evil looking items to inflict pain attracted their attention.  After the Tower we stopped by Westminster and Buckingham Palace (can you believe the Queen didn't hang around for our tea) for pictures.  Our guide gave us a lunch break and then we were off to more sites including a tour of St. Paul's Cathedral.  Our day ended with being dropped at the London Eye to stand in what seemed to be a never-ending line, but once our time came the view of London at night was magical.

Day 4 had a free morning.  We wandered through some of the shops PopPop wanted to hit at the Burlington Arcade and had a great lunch in the Piccadilly Arcade.  From there it was the theatre district and Phantom of the Opera.  Dinner was at an Indian restaurant where the employees told us to pick up Tween the next day.  They were going to put her to work for the prank she pulled on me when I came back from the ladies room.  It's nice to have staff interact with customers that way.

Day 5...up bright and early to catch the 6:00 a.m. bus for our out of city tour.  Stonehenge first.  We got to go into the stone circle, but they now have rules that you can't touch the stone (new since our last trip) and there was a bit of excitement when a man not only touched, but leaned his head against one.  He objected loudly and strenuously to security's escort from the circle.  Turns out he'd parked along the road, climbed the fence and cut through the fields.

After Stonehenge, we had breakfast in Leacock at a pub built in the 1300s and wandered around the town that has been the setting for a number of movies including a Harry Potter.

Then onto Bath.  Sampled the water (not as bad as I thought) and toured the Roman baths, then roamed the town until time to leave.

Day 6 started at Burough Market.  A fun marketplace that girls had to visit to try the cheese sandwiches Samantha Brown raves about in her travel video on London.  Yes, the sandwich was worth the effort and the lady behind the grill was kind enough to share how to make them, so look for her yummy recipe here at some point.

After lunch we headed for Harrods.  Can you say horror show?  Oh my goodness, the people.  And once again the cats (I mean girls) kept getting caught up in the mob.  PopPop and I did divide and conquer.  He took one to keep track of and I the other, with a pre-arranged meet up place.

Our goodbye to London dinner was at a neighborhood pub on New Year's Eve.  We were all exhausted and didn't welcome in the New Year at midnight.  After all, we had to be up early and out to the airport for our trip back.  And yes, I'm glad to be home.  But also look forward to the next trip.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Chocolate Diva Shares!

Joleen Allis, our Chocolate Diva, kicks off the New Year sharing holidays beyond the usual to celebrate with chocolate.  Hey, any excuse for chocolate right!  Personally, I don’t really need an excuse though.  How about you?

If your chocolate celebration days are limited to Valentine’s Day and maybe your birthday, here is a calendar that lets you celebrate other important chocolate holidays!
January 1: New Year’s Day

Most people use New Year’s Day to make resolutions for self-improvement. Add to your other resolutions one to eat better chocolate, learn more about the components and history of chocolate, find new chocolatiers, and share your chocolate with others.

February 14: Valentine’s Day

You know the drill in the U.S.A.: it’s the men who go a-wooing with heart-shaped red velvet box of chocolates. But on February 14 in Japan, Korea and Taiwan it is the custom for women to bestow gifts of chocolate upon the men. Like being the only kid in grade school who doesn’t get a Valentine card, it is a source of embarrassment to Japanese men if they don’t receive any chocolates on Valentine’s Day (and Mom doesn’t count).

March 14: White Day in Japan, Korea & Taiwan

This holiday was created in 1965 by a clever marshmallow maker that sought to sell more product, promoting to men that they should pay back with marshmallows the women who gave them Valentine chocolate. The chocolate companies soon realized that they could capitalize on this marketing bonanza, and began promoting white chocolate. Now, Japanese men give marshmallows, white chocolate, milk and dark chocolate, to the women who thought of them on Valentine’s Day.

April: Easter, Around the World

The Easter Bunny and his basket of treats for good boys and girls was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500’s—although chocolate as an Easter treat came later. It didn’t arrive in Spain until 1527, in drinking form, and wasn’t made into the first bars until 1847 in England. The first molded chocolate Easter Bunnies and chocolate-crusted sugar eggs were created in Germany after then, adding to the store of colored eggs.

May: Mother's Day in the U.S.

If you’re a mother, you’re entitled to great chocolate on Mother’s Day—and if you’re the child who brings it, you’re entitled to share. If Mom really loves chocolate, show you care by finding her the very best of her favorites—be they truffles or chocolate covered pretzels.

June: Father’s Day in the U.S.

Don't forget dads.  Chocolate bacon cupcakes for would be well suited for Dear Old Dad!

July-August: Chocolate Fondue Day

A floating day in July or August to celebrate chocolate and summer by enjoying sweet seasonal berries dipped in chocolate; and berries and other fruits and sweets dipped chocolate fondue. Yes, this is a made up holiday up; but only because the large chocolate companies aren’t on the ball like the Japanese marshmallow folks.

September: Fall Equinox, Worldwide

The Fall Equinox is a floating date around September 22-23 that marks the first day of autumn, when day and night are of equal lengths. For centuries, friends have gathered to celebrate the day and strengthen their spirits in preparation for the passage into winter.  Enjoy a chocolate autumn dessert buffet with friends to mark the first day of Fall.

October 31: Halloween in the U.S.

Just for kids, you say? Not when you see the beautiful treats made by great chocolatiers. Compartes Chocolatier Skull & Bones Bonbons, Cocoa Dolce Chocolate-Dipped Apples or Browniepops would bring a new dimension to your Halloween.  

October 31 - November 2: Day of the Dead in Mexico

Mexican people have celebrated the Day of the Dead, a ritual in which the living remember their departed relatives. From October 31 through November 2, graves are tended and decorated with offerings, and families expect a visit from loved ones who have passed. The offerings dedicated to the deceased, usually include foods and beverages, are also put in homes on elaborately decorated altars. Foods can include chocolate beverages, chicken with chocolate mole sauce, and sugar and chocolate skulls inscribed with the names of the deceased on the forehead.

December 25: Christmas Day, Everywhere

Instead of more things that you don’t need and don’t have space for, this is your opportunity to ask for one or two boxes of luxury bonbons (not too much—remember, they have a two-week shelf life), a collection of fine bars for tasting and study (they’ll keep a year or more), and a variety of fine hot chocolates to keep you warm for the winter. While others will have forgotten their gifts by mid-January, you’ll be happy with yours through spring

Thursday, January 5, 2012

15 Days of Christmas Winners List!

Here's a list of the winners from the 15 Days of Christmas.  If you're listed and have not heard from the author please contact them.  Some of you didn't leave emails.

Also, I need each of you to email me at lizzietleaf(at)comcast(dot)net with your snail mail info for the Brit Trinket that I picked up on my trip.

Threw all your names in a bowl and pulled out The GRAND PRIZE Winner:
Helen Hardt
Congratulations, Helen.  Lucky lady!!!  We'll connect to get you your box of tea brought back from London.

Daily Winners:

Day 1, Desiree Holt's winner is CONNIE KLINE

Day 2, Linda Wisdom's winner is JEAN P.

Day 3, Rebecca Grace's winner is CONNIE KLINE

Day 4, Sam Cheever's winner is JOANNE R.

Day 5, Helen Hardt's winner is ARLEY COLE (ebook)
                                                   AMY DENIM (20 pages of edits)

Day 6, Jeanne Stein's winner is HELEN HARDT

Day 7, ML Guiday's winner is SHONNA
           Cori Corsentions's winner is LISA FENDER
           Hillary Seidl's winner is CHRISTY

Day 8, Christina Jame's winner is J. Barret

Day 9, Lizzie T. Leaf's winner is BOOKS4ME67

Day 10, Shelley Munro's winner is JENNIFER MATHIS

Day 11, J.L. Langley's winner is DEBBY236

Day 12, Sandra Sookoo's winner is CARRIE ANN RYAN

Day 13, Lia Slater's winner is SHONNA

Day 14, Melissa Mayhue's winner is JENNIFER MATHIS

Day 15, Jessica Aspen's winner is SHADOW KOHLER