Tag: ann deFee

Ann DeFee is Helping Send Books to the Military for the Holidays

Author Ann DeFee
Author Ann DeFee

Please join me in welcoming award-winning author Ann DeFee to our holiday party. Ann and I met  in the Pacific Northwest at a conference many years ago. Ann gives us a peek at her family’s experiences when they lived overseas and had an English Christmas.

What do you make, bake, create or purchase for the holidays, Ann?

As an Air Force family, we’ve had our share of “interesting” Christmas celebrations. One I particularly remember was our first Christmas in England. Let me give you a little back story on this tale. We moved to RAF Lakenheath in August, and finding housing at that time of the year, in a very rural area proved to be an adventure. Too big, too little, too far out in the country, too haunted.   As a last resort, we rented the gate house to a manor owned by a Lord and Lady–related to the queen and yes, I’m talking about that queen. It was bucolic, it was quaint, and it was like living in Barbie’s Dream House–everything was miniature, from the doors, to the rooms, to the kitchen. I kid you not, it was tiny, tiny, tiny, and to make matters worse, it was heated by a coal stove and a couple of portable propane heaters. Lord, I wanted a thermostat. I fantasized about a thermostat, instead I shoveled coal. Then along came Christmas. I moved furniture to make room for a very small tree. But I had forgotten about Christmas lights and the difference between 110 and 220. One by one, the lights met an untimely death. By that time the BX had completely sold out of anything resembling Christmas. On the morning of the 25th, we one tiny light. That was okay, but did I mention that our oven was the size of an Easy Bake oven? A turkey? Are you kidding–a small Cornish game hen was a stretch. As for a cookie sheet–no way. So I fell back on a goodie that our family loves–caramel corn. It’s hard to think of Christmas without remembering Cracker Jacks and the Gate House. Regardless of the time, place or situation, military families are incredibly flexible.   We celebrate our faith, our family and our friends.

An English Christmas Cracker Jacks recipe
1 gallon popped corn
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 cup white syrup (Karo)
1/2 tsp baking soda
dash salt
Combine sugar, butter and syrup – cook 4 minutes. Stir in soda and salt. Pour mixture on popcorn, coating every kernel
Bake on cookie sheet at 200 degrees for 1 hour. Cool and break apart. Careful–it’s totally addictive!

Check out the great excerpt Ann’s giving us from A Hot Time In Texas here.

Thanks for stopping by today, Ann!

Find Ann at the usual places:

Website: www.ann-defee.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AnnDeFeeAuthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AnnDeFee

Remember, you can do your part in supporting the military for the holidays. Harlequin will send one book for every 20 new subscribers to the Geri Krotow Newsletter. Sign up here.

Linda Cardillo is Helping Send Books to the Military for the Holidays

Author Linda Cardillo
Author Linda Cardillo

Today we welcome the divinely talented Linda Cardillo! Linda is the author of several novels and also the co-founder, with Ann DeFee, of Bellastoria Press. Linda and I met almost a decade ago when we both were winners of Harlequin’s Everlasting Love contest, which resulted in the first sale for both of us. It’s a unique bond and I’ve treasured our friendship as it’s grown.

What do you make, bake, create or buy for the holidays, Linda?

When I was a girl, the end of summer was always marked by two events—the week-long feast of the Madonna del’Arco and the canning of the bounty of my grandmother’s garden. My mother and my aunts sat at an oilcloth-covered table under the pergola that supported my grandfather’s grapevines, peeling, slicing and preserving bushels of eggplants and tomatoes that during the winter would become the basis for antipasto and Neapolitan marinara.
It was the memory of my Aunt Susie’s grape jelly that spurred my own initiation into the mysteries of turning ripe produce into preserves. When my husband and I lived in Germany, one of my husband’s colleagues with an orchard had a bumper crop of plums and shared them with us. I have a wonderful plum tart recipe from my mother-in-law, and made it that night. But I had far too many plums and had to figure out what to do with them before they turned to mush. That is when I remembered Aunt Susie’s paraffin-covered mason jars filled with Grandpa’s grapes and decided one purple fruit was as good as another.
Since that summer twenty-five years ago I’ve put up plums almost every year, sometimes sharing the weekend-long labor with friends, as my mother and aunts did. My fingers turn purple, my kitchen is sticky and fragrant, and at the end of the day my counter is covered with rows of glistening jars filled with luscious fruit. Those preserves have become my signature gift at the holidays, a special treat to sweeten winter days for friends and family.


Linda's Plum Preserves
Linda’s Plum Preserves

Plum Preserves
30 lbs Italian prune plums
12-15 lbs sugar
Rinse and slice plums into quarters.
Layer plums with sugar in a crock or large plastic container, in the proportion of ½ cup sugar for every cup of plums.
Cover and allow to rest for 12-24 hours.
Bring the sugar-fruit mixture slowly to a boil and simmer until the fruit is a deep purple and translucent. It’s important to cook the fruit in small batches of 4-6 cups at a time to preserve the best flavor.
Ladle fruit into hot sterile jars.
Stir the fruit to remove air pockets.
Wipe the rim, seal and store in a dark, cool place.
Yield: approximately 24 pounds of preserves (48 8-ounce jars)

Bellastoria Press Information: Linda Cardillo is the co-founder with award-winning author Ann DeFee. Inspired by the Italian words for beautiful history, Bellastoria Press books explore women’s lives and relationships in stories told with compassion and humor. Get more info here

You will find LInda at the usual places:

Website:  http://lindacardillo.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Cardillo-Author/230625938236

Linda’s Latest, The Boat House Cafe:  http://lindacardillo.com/on-the-bookshelf/the-boat-house-cafe/

Remember that you can do your part to support our military during the holidays. Harlequin is donating 1 book for every 20 new subscribers to the Geri Krotow Newsletter/Loyal Reader Program. Sign up for my newsletter here.

Gratitude Check: A Rendezvous to Remember is Back in Print!

Dearest Reader,

It’s hard to believe it’s November 1st. This was my grandfathers’s birthday, and is always a special day for me. All Saint’s Day is always November 1st, the day after Halloween.

Misha Makes me Grateful Everyday!
Misha Makes me Grateful Everyday!

When our family was stationed in Italy with the Navy we were able to see every single church and legal holiday celebrated as if it were the only holiday ever. I love November 1st because it heralds the beginning of the holiday season, and another chance for me to step back and plan so that I actually enjoy the holidays and not rush through them. My wish for you is that you, too, get a chance to catch your breathe and remember to slow down when you can throughout the next couple of months!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your overwhelming response to my first-ever published novel, A RENDEZVOUS TO REMEMBER. It’s back in print for a limited run and this new print edition is available only at my publishers website. It’s still available digitally at all the usual places, too, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Harlequin’s Art Department Rocks!

I am so grateful to the Harlequin Art Department for the beautiful new cover!

As a special treat I’m opening up the availability of my signed bookplates (sticker) to you if you live in North America (sorry internationals)! Write to me via my website, Facebook or Twitter (direct message) by November 15th  and I’ll send you the address where you can send a stamped, self-addressed envelope in which I’ll send out a signed bookplate for you to put in your new “vintage cover” copy of A RENDEZVOUS TO REMEMBER. I know I love to have the complete collection of my favorite stories, and for all of you who’ve asked how you can get a copy of my previous novels, this is your chance for this first book! Please don’t delay–the print run is limited and once the books are sold out, there’s nothing I can do to get you more copies.

Since November is the month of Gratitude here in the U.S. with our Thanksgiving holiday, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for great writing friends like Linda Cardillo and Ann DeFee. Both are wonderful writers and I’m blessed to call them my friends. We’ve been with each other from the start of our paths to publication and I wouldn’t pick anyone else to take the roller coaster ride with. Yes, it’s a ride, indeed–often the kind with upside-down loops. At times, I’ve felt as though I’m not wearing a seatbelt! But Ann and Linda keep me buckled in and remind me of what’s important in our writing journey.

Ripley is Grateful for His Toys!
Ripley is Grateful for His Toys!

Speaking of gratitude, there is no greater sacrifice than to give one’s life in service to our nation. For this reason I’ve donated the name of one of my characters in NAVY CHRISTMAS (November 2014, Harlequin Superromance) to the winner of the POW-MIA Families Raffle. For only $1 you can purchase a chance to be a literary character! More details are at the POW-MIA Families website. Much thanks to POW-MIA families for the privilege of serving with them in this great cause.

You’ll see more and more World War II history tidbits on my site, especially on my WWII Wednesday blog. I’m in the midst of writing a WWII subplot for NAVY CHRISTMAS and with the re-release of RENDEZVOUS it’s always on my mind. We owe much to this great generation.

It wouldn’t be November without a Thanksgiving recipe–here’s my quickie Roasted Brussels Sprouts that my family always asks for (really!).

Geri’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts, olive oil, kosher or sea salt, fresh ground pepper. Toss all ingredients together after you’ve halved the sprouts. Use as much oil as needed to make the sprouts glisten with Thanksgiving gratitude. A sprinkle of salt, a dash of pepper. Sometimes I mix in Turkey bacon that I’ve cooked up ahead of time. Spread it on a jelly roll pan or even better, a stone pan or enameled bakeware. Roast it all at at 375 or 400–depends on how long until the gravy is done for the turkey (real or tofu, your choice). When the sprouts start to brown, pull the tray out!

Please note: I’m a decent baker, not quite as good a cook. Can you tell?

Much Gratitude and Love to you and yours as we step into the holidays for 2013. Please take a moment to remember those who can’t be with their families for whatever reasons, and spread your joy wherever you go.




Peace, Joy, and Total Spring Madness

We’ve been back home in the States for 10 months. I’ve settled my office (um, er, well, you know–it’s functional), planted flowers and now vegetables, and both kids have made it through most of a full school-year. I’ve had more writing success than ever–I’m launching my Whidbey Island series in June with the first book (and my fourth published novel) NAVY RULES, and I’m in the midst of contract negotiations for a 3-book deal with Harlequin Superromance. There will be more Whidbey Island books–yeah!!

Cold Weather Blooms

The work-up for June promo, as well as getting ready to speak at RWA in July with my Romvets sisters, is exciting and exhausting. I’m so excited about all of the new changes and opportunities that I often find myself awake at 4 am, pondering the universe (or what subplot I should write next). I’ve found that when I’m getting too full of “me” stuff, it’s good to get grounded by reaching out and helping others. So this year I’m again happy and humbled to be a part of Brenda Novak’s Auction for a Cure for Juvenile Diabetes. Whether you’re a writer or a reader, there’s something here for you, including a book club basket from me and an Amish gift basket from the Three Glindas–me, Ann DeFee and Linda Cardillo. Check it out–there are so many wonderful items to bid on, and each bid takes us another dollar closer to a cure for this devastating disease. http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/.

I’m also getting geared up to meet my readers and re-connect with so many writing colleagues at many different events this spring and summer. Please peruse my bio page and scroll down to the Events list. If you can come out and meet me, please do! I’d love to meet you and talk about books, writing, knitting, military family life–you pick!

I don’t know about you but I’m going to brew a cup of tea now. Plain green. Peace.

Container Gardening–the Basil is from Seeds